Thursday, May 28, 2009

Learning to Stand

Photo via Mario Mitsis
They were kissing. Put like that, and you could be forgiven for presuming that this was a normal kiss, all lips and skin and possibly even a little tongue. You’d miss how he smiled, how his eyes glowed. And then, after the kiss was done, how he stood, like a man who had just discovered the art of standing and had figured out how to do it better than anyone else who would ever come along. Neil Gaiman
This is so beautiful... I can't stop re-reading.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Come Fly With Me

We went flying...

(For the full experience, go here first.)

We started here.  (No, not the RV...  Thankfully.)

I feel like something out of Casablanca.  Jarrett feels like something out of Borat. ("Verrry niiice!")

Amping up.

Here we go.

"Does it always make that sound?"

Griffith Observatory.

You've never seen LA like this.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vampire Baker

"You are a vampire baker.  You come out at night." -Andrea

When I heard my friend Sean's birthday was coming up, I knew no ordinary cake would do.  He and his wife Melissa are some of the new friends I've made at church, and while Sean may not be the first guy you notice when you walk in a room, his wisdom and kindness are coupled with a wicked sense of humor and killer skills on the dance floor.  (No joke.  Here's a video of the HILARIOUS first dance at their wedding.)

I've loved getting to know him and his wife because it's been like finding a $20 bill in your jacket pocket-- an unexpected treat. So when I was talking to Melissa and asking about his favorite dessert and she mentioned his penchant for pizookies-- those giant warm, oozing cookies baked a pizza pan and covered in melting ice cream-- I  knew I had found my inspiration.

Instead of making a giant cookie and topping it with ice cream, I decided to make five giant cookies and pile each high with whipped cream cheese frosting.  The components are simple-- chocolate chip cookies and cream cheese frosting lightened with a bit of whipped cream-- but add them together, turn up the volume a bit, and you've got one show-stopping celebratory confection.  

It just seemed like the right thing to do.

The night before the party I flicked on the kitchen lights around 9 and set to work creaming the butter and sugar, shaping the dough into five 9" discs (a process made infinitely easier by using a the ring of a springform pan as a mold, natch), whipping the cream... And by about 2am I had finally assembled it all into one colossal tower of simple nostalgia.  It's like your favorite after-school snack stacked into the perfect birthday treat.

Happy birthday, Sean. 

Like a giant cookie cutter.

Homemade whipped cream, step 1.

Cool Whip? What's that?

Assembly station.

Layer 1.

Looking good.

And then there were two!

It's like magic.

Oh momma.

Now we're getting somewhere.

Vampire baker.

We've arrived.

Do yourself a favor: make this cake as soon as possible.

Giant Cookie Cake 
(Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart)

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Put butter and brown and granulated sugars into mixer bowl; mix on medium until pale and fluffy. Mix in vanilla, eggs, and yolks. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the cream. Stir in chocolate chips.

For each of the 5 layers, drop 1 level cup batter onto center of a greased baking sheet. Using the ring of a 9" springform pan, press dough down into an even disc.  Remove springform ring and bake until edges are pale golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla
16 oz. powdered sugar

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Set aside.  Beat cream cheese and butter together, then slowly add vanilla and powdered sugar.  Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture in 3 parts until fully incorporated.

When cookies are fully cooled, spread a small amount of frosting in the middle of a cake plate.  Place a cookie on top and spread with about 1 cup of frosting.  Use a long spatula to create an even layer of frosting before topping with another cookie.  Repeat for the next three layers, and then top with the final cookie. 

Cover and chill until ready to serve.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

(Note: I refrigerated mine overnight before serving to allow the frosting to soften the cookies a little bit so they were easier to slice.  I recommend you do the same.)

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Currently loving:
  • Soft and stolen v-neck tees.
  • "Strawberry Swing" by Coldplay.
  • Carrots and hummus for dinner. (Followed by cookies and milk. Obviously.)
  • Smooth and silky summer legs.
  • My new snakeskin sandals.
  • How shiny and whole and wonderful the world looks after I talk to my best friend.
[This new smile.]

Never stood a chance:
  • Stirring the oil into the peanut butter.
  • How long my hair is getting. ("WHAT is touching my NECK?!")
  • The Check Engine light in my car.
  • Standing in the middle of Trader Joe's and having no idea what I want to eat for the rest of the week but Caramel Nut Brownie LUNA bars and Ranchero Egg White Salad.
  • Being out of flour and sugar. Sad story.