Cherry Almond Cake

What exactly is an “original” recipe? As told to me by a totally credible food journalist during a food writing class I took with Florida Girl in DC, if you change just one ingredient…even if you up a quarter of a teaspoon to three-quarters of a teaspoon…it’s your recipe.

So what if you take a simple cake recipe from Cooking Channel TV and you dump in a quarter cup of ground almonds and a cup and a half of pitted, chopped sweet cherries and sprinkle sliced almonds on top? Is that your own?

I don’t know! I don’t care! I love it! I’m so proud of myself.

See. I’d been dipping into Dolcezza in Dupont Circle a lot over my long weekend – certainly their gelato is good, but it was the cherry almond scones that kept me coming back. But after five days of very dry scones (that’s how they should be, for the record) I was craving something of the softer, spongier variety.

Que the (sorta) new Cooking Channel. Hot day number dos, The BF and I were still holed up inside and watching Laura Calder’s French Food at Home when she made this Angel Cake. Angelic? Yes. A wee bit plain for what I was craving?Yep!

Combine my love of the cherry/almond flavor profiles and a soft, spongy (bonus points for being incredibly simple) cake and I felt like a culinary Einstein.

Don’t laugh at me. I can hear you!

Something about this cake, its intense almond aroma has you tasting it before it even hits your tongue. Then you get smacked by the almond extract! And the ground almonds actually in the cake! And the crunch of the almond slices on top! And then the cool, smooth roll of the cherries just round it all out.

It’s divine.  It’s all mine. And my co-workers’ who ate it all today. And now it’s yours too!

I hope you…

Enjoy! :)

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Granola Bars!

I love Ina Garten. She’s the Julia to my Julie. See, Ina has no formal training…and, like me, spent time in Washington, DC cranking it out in a government job (not like me) as a budget analyst (definitely not like me). Ina cooked because she wanted a release from the daily grind. She learned to cook from her cookbooks and, I would assume, later discovered that she could do a little something with this passion. So after years of working in a 9-5 desk job (and apparently flipping houses!?) she opened her own store, Barefoot Contessa. Then came cookbooks…then shows…and well, we all know how she’s doing now.

So after a bad day or a long week, when I bake cookies or make homemade granola bars I think about Ina. I doubt Ina ever had to cook in a galley kitchen with about three square feet of counter space BUT! She battled the daily grind with cups of packed brown sugar and ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolates and she came out on top. It’s a nice reminder that I/you/we can come out on top, too.

On to the granola bars though. I swear, every time I make something there’s always ONE ingredient I can’t find. I’ve come to expect this so I’ve also become quite good at improvisation. This time around I couldn’t find a jar of wheat germ anywhere in this stupid city…so I used flax seeds instead. Also, dates sounded lovely, but they’re expensive…and this gal’s on a budget. I had prunes laying around and used those.

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