I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth – it’s salty all the way for me. Give me the choice of crispy, salt-encrusted chips or a towering slice of achingly sweet chocolate cake, and the chips will be gone before you even had the chance to ask. As a child, though, I was fortunate enough to learn most of what there is to know about pastry from my godmother, who was a European-trained pastry chef with a cafe of her own where I would help out every summer. Consequently, baking is one of my favorite pastimes and I’ll seize any opportunity I can to indulge it. There’s nothing better to me than spending an entire day in the kitchen building one of those towering chocolate cakes, just zoning out and focusing on nothing but creating. I’ll have a nibble to ensure that it is up to my standards, and then pass it on to whomever I can. Recently, I had the chance to try one of the recipes from Bake It Like You Mean It, and it did not disappoint! These cakes are insane – seriously creative and nothing like what you’ll find at your local bakery. Almost an entire day went into the creation of the Mocha Ricotta Tower for a recent wedding shower, and it resulted in a 6-layer extravaganza of intense coffee-chocolate layers interspersed with ricotta-mascarpone-chocolate filling that gradually went from dark to light. At the end of the day, it felt like chocolate had seeped into all of my pores (I didn’t need any perfume that day!).
This 7 inch (!) cake was as fantastic as it looked, and the deep, dark, coffee-enriched cake base will be my go-to chocolate cake recipe from now on. I’m not going to write out the recipe here, and unfortunately the author doesn’t have this one on her website (gbakes.com), but if you’re feeling the need for a new cake cookbook, I’d highly recommend it! (And no, this is not endorsed – I’m just a big fan.) Below is the finished product. I prefer decorating with fresh, edible flowers (simple and pretty), but unfortunately there were none to be had and my garden hasn’t gotten up to speed yet. I had to make to do with some icing flowers 🙂
After the creation of this giant, I was ready for something savory, and quick (I’d already spent all day in the kitchen!). Chicken tostadas have been one of my favorites ever since the Kiwi introduced me to them a few years ago. His former roommate was from Mexico, and he taught him how to make these addictively crispy, goodie-laden tostadas. They were just the thing I needed after a day of inhaling chocolate!
These are super quick and easy, with the exception of the shredded chicken. If you really don’t have the time to shred the chicken, I suppose you can slice it into thin strips, but shred it if you can! The tostadas can also serve as a blank canvas for anything you might have. I keep meaning to try different toppings, but this way is so tasty and perfect that I haven’t changed it! Maybe someday… Let me know what you come up with!
serves 2 hungry people, or 4 not-so-hungry
1 chicken breast
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 oz. grated cheese (I used cheddar)
2 large handfuls lettuce, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
16 oz. refried beans, heated
salsa (as much as you want!)
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