Category Archives: sweets

Orange Cardamom Yogurt Cake

orange cardamom yogurt cake from Dinners for Winners

Here we are with September nearly escaping me before I shared a single recipe. This month has seen me cross the threshold of a fifth year married to a wonderful man, my twenty-ninth year on this earth and a week-long staycation to celebrate both. All month, Nathan and I have been seeing so many friends; dinners, breweries, board games, brunches, day trips, happy hour, church, cooking together. With new friends and dear old friends, our days and hearts have been so full.

More recently, I’ve spent the past week kicking a brutal cold/flu virus — that always seems to really signal the beginning of Autumn, sadly, doesn’t it? Many folks at work are ill, and I imagine schoolchildren are facing the same. We all need a little something to keep our spirits up.

Though I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth, every now and then a piece of cake reminds us what is good in life. A slice of this orangey treat makes morning coffee a novelty, brings an evening meal to succinct finish, or gives a dinner party something to linger over as conversations wind and weave.

orange cardamom yogurt cake from Dinners for Winners

orange cardamom yogurt cake from Dinners for Winners

I love this tender loaf cake with the fragrant spice of cardamom, which brings to mind notes of chai tea, speckled throughout with flecks of bright orange zest. It’s perfect for gifting to friends, sharing with coworkers, surprising a set of new parents. The recipe is from a favorite blogger of mine (and brand-new mom!) Emily at Five and Spice. Her recipes never fail to please and I trust her implicitly. While my cake doesn’t look nearly as pretty as hers, I had to share this treat that we have enjoyed on so many occasions. Every time I bake a loaf, I’m reminded of simple comforts.

Baking weather has finally arrived in the Northwest, blowing in with more than 2 inches of rain in two days this weekend and gusting winds to boot. I couldn’t be more pleased to switch on the oven (as long as the power stays on). Enjoy!

orange cardamom yogurt cake from Dinners for Winners

Orange Cardamom Yogurt Cake

Recipe from Five and Spice

yields 1 loaf (which is why I always double it)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the center. Grease a loaf pan, then cut a sling of parchment to fit into the bottom and come up two sides. Grease the parchment inside the pan as well, and dust flour over everything, tapping to release excess flour.

In a medium bowl, rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingers to release the oils and fragrance. Add flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt and whisk together.

Measure the yogurt into a glass 2-cup measuring cup with the olive oil, then whisk in eggs and vanilla (or use a bowl, but I like keeping the number of dirty dishes down). Fold yogurt mixture into dry ingredients just until combined, gently. Pour into prepared pan, smooth the top a bit and bake 45 – 55 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick tested in the center comes out cleanly.

Let the cake cook in the pan for 15 minutes or so, then lift out using the parchment paper sling and allow to cool on a rack on its side (to avoid deflation). Enjoy!

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salted chocolate waffle ice cream sandwiches

chocolate waffle ice cream sandwiches

Recently, I heard my grandpa praying before a meal. The whole family was together for dinner — my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, my cousins’ kids. Grandpa always prays to bless our family dinners with phrases that have remained nearly unchanged for decades, and the sound of his voice, the cadence and rhythm of his prayer is something quite familiar. While listening to his “thys” and “thous”, my mind was whisked away to my childhood, when he would pray before dinner in the same manner. I saw through my closed eyelids the lacquered finish of my grandparents’ kitchen table in their farm house, at the end of a long gravel road, set with placemats and their Corningware dishes. His prayer, a sound so commonplace, so habituated in my memory, was like hearing the doorbell and getting up to answer it; my grandpa prays for a meal; then we eat.

And eat well.

And in my memory, we were going to eat chocolate waffles. And I could not wait.

My grandparents would watch us often as kids, while my parents went on a dinner date or maybe a short weekend trip away together. We loved staying with my grandparents because a) soda-ban exemption and b) television-ban exemption. My only childhood experiences with Pepsi, Steve Urkle or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were thanks to my grandparents’ relaxed rules. We loved it so much that we would all cry “nooohhhh!” when my parents came in the door to pick us up. We wanted to stay forever.

Best of all, we could have dessert for dinner. Dessert as dinner!

We always begged my grandma to make chocolate waffles. But we had to wait til Grandpa was finished praying before we could dig in. I was an impatient child. I don’t really remember what those waffles tasted like, exactly, but Nathan and I just bought our first waffle iron and what do you know, chocolate waffles were the first thing that came out of them.

chocolate waffle ice cream sandwiches from dinnersforwinners

These waffles are not very sweet, which is why I love them. They sing with a buttermilk batter and flecks of bittersweet chocolate, if you want to add some. I can already affirm that they are delicious fresh off the waffle iron with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, or with butter and maple syrup, which I’m pretty sure is how Grandma served them. But spreading some vanilla ice cream between these triangles of deeply-cravassed waffle was my best variation yet. The intensely chocolate batter, sprinkled with some smokey Maldon sea salt, is the perfect accoutrement for velvety, rich vanilla ice cream.

chocolate waffle ice cream sandwiches from dinnersforwinners

These are so good.

It’s still summer, yes it is, despite Halloween’s arrival in stores….. and you might need an ice cream sandwich to get you through the last few warm weeks. Later maybe you can stay up past your bedtime watching Family Matters. Don’t forget to say your prayers.

chocolate waffle ice cream sandwiches from dinnersforwinners

Salted chocolate waffle ice cream sandwiches

makes 12 seven-inch waffles or 24 ice cream sandwiches

waffle recipe adapted from Alton Brown

  • 7 ounces (1 1/2 cups) flour
  • 1 3/4 ounces (3 tablespoons) sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (less if using table salt)
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, or coconut/olive/vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 – 4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate squares or chips, shaved or chopped (optional)
  • flakey smoked sea salt, such as Maldon, or a finishing salt of your choice
  • 1 pint vanilla bean ice cream or frozen yogurt

Begin by preheating your waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl (or large measuring cup — measure and stir in one step, save dishes!), whisk eggs with melted butter or oil, vanilla and buttermilk.
Pour wet ingredients into dry mixture, add chocolate shavings if using and beat well with a whisk until smooth. Let batter rest for five minutes.

This batter is not very thick so I like to use a ladle to pour onto the hot waffle iron. Sprinkle quickly with a pinch of finishing salt before closing. Cook until just becoming crisp.

Allow waffles to cool completely — if you’ve got the space, use cookie cooling racks, because waffles stacked on each other become soggy. At this point they can be sealed in plastic bag in the fridge until you’re ready to fill with ice cream if you want to cook the waffles ahead.

To assemble sandwiches, let ice cream sit out for 20 – 30 minutes to soften. Separate each waffle into four triangles or squares. Scoop about 1/2 cup onto one section and top with another quarter, pressing gently. Freeze in a single layer until firm, after which they can be stacked in an air-tight container for storage (up to 2 weeks). Enjoy!

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