Monthly Archives: August 2009

Divine dessert, dinner and other delights..

Since I’m on a roll with the amazing desserts, I thought I’d post my current *favorite* dessert. I made it to take to a friend’s house for dinner, and my girlfriend absolutely delighted me by going back, not just for seconds, but also for thirds and fourths. Awesome.  I LOVED how unabashedly she fully enjoyed the dessert.

This is from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer.  It’s called Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova.  You can make it with any seasonal berry fruit: blackberries, strawberries, but it really is the *best* with raspberries.

As my friend Laura put it, “I love meringue, I love chocolate, I love raspberries, put it all together, oh my god!”

And it’s so simple, thanks Nigella!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
for chocolate meringue base:
6 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, beat in sugar a spoonful at a time until stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over cocoa, vinegar and chocolate. Gently fold everything until thoroughly mixed. Mound onto baking sheet in fat, flat circle approx 9 inches in diameter. smoothing sides and top. Place in oven and immediately turn down to 300 degrees. cook 1 to 1.25 hrs. When done it’s crisp around edges, dry on top, but a bit soft in the middle when you prod the center. Turn oven off and leave slightly open, let the meringue cool completly.

for the topping:
2 .25 cups heavy cream
1 very full pint raspberries
2-3 tablespoons coarsely grated bittersweet chocolate

whisk cream ’til thick, pile on top, scatter over raspberries and chocolate.


Seriously, I want to make this again and again and again. Only problem is, i’ll eat it!

And then, on a somewhat related note… we had the most amazing evening hanging out with our dear friends. I LOVE how passionately the kids play together. Here are a few of my favorites:

These two two year olds are good buddies. The curly one is mine.

The joy of playing naked in the warm summer evening and being totally comfortable in your body is a blessing that most of us lost long ago..

And I’ll leave you with this one. Two very funny characters. Having a ball goofing around together.



A few weeks ago, while visiting my folks back, my kids experienced one of what I consider to be a quintessential summer experience.

Fireflies! A special treat given that we do not have fireflies in California.

We spent a magical evening catching and (mostly) releasing fireflies (there were a few that got squished, by “accident”).  Long after bedtime, you could still find us running around in the cool, moist evening air, our feet wet from dewy grass, gasping at a blink of light and laughing at the magic of the moment.

It was heavenly, and just the experience I was hoping my California children would have while visiting the east coast in summer.

I have no photos of this extraordinary experience. It was a “be in the moment” kind of evening.

Running in the humid air the next morning, I inhaled deeply the smell of lush green moist summer. I must admit I find myself sentimental for that smell.

(written a few days ago…) This morning I woke to the smell of burning redwoods, oak and whatever else is sadly burning away in a huge wildfire fire in the Santa Cruz mountains. The California landscape is so dramatically different from that of my childhood in Pennsylvania. I love them both.

What are some of your favorite childhood memories of being outdoors?

The Albert Family Chocolate Cake

Well, I’ve let way too long go by without posting. Not that I haven’t had anything to post, I’ve just been paralyzed by my learning curve with Lightroom 2.

A recently new online friend Christine Gross-Loh, author of The Diaper-Free Baby: The Natural Toilet Training Alternative“, a book I love, highly recommend, and used with great success, and creator of Origami Mommy, put out a request for an awesome chocolate cake.  I couldn’t resist the call. My family’s cake is divine, rich, moist and everything _I_ could hope for in a chocolate birthday cake. My friends probably come to our birthday parties just to eat cake.  After making the cake Christine asked if I would post the recipe here so she could share the joy. Sadly, I don’t have a stellar photo of said cake to share. But birthday season is just around the corner, so perhaps I’ll have to remedy that soon.

Meanwhile, here is the recipe, Enjoy!

Butter 2  9″ round cake pans (i prefer to line the pans w/parchment paper)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix in large bowl (love the kitchen aid for this):

2 cups sugar
1 stick butter

2 eggs beaten
then alterate:
2 cups flour
1 cup milk (i often use soy milk and it works just fine)

1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt

3/4 cup cocoa (i use hershey’s baking cocoa-this is NOT sweetened)
and lastly add:
1 cup boiling coffee

beat for 4 minutes
pour into pans
bake 20-25 minutes, check with a toothpick

Chocolate Icing:
6 TB butter
1/2 cup cocoa (for medium icing) or 3/4 cup cocoa (for dark icing)
2 2/3 cup confectioners sugar 10x
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (i usually add lots more)

cream butter, add cocoa, confectioner sugar alternating with the milk. beat to spreading consistency. add’l milk may be needed. blend in vanilla. makes ~2 c frosting.