Baking's my favorite thing to do at the moment, and as I've been feeling under the weather the last two weeks or so, I've been craving a lot of citrus lately. I wanted something that was actually sour rather than just slightly-lemon flavored and sweet, so when I found Deb Perelman's adaptable "lemon yogurt anything" 2008 Smitten Kitchen recipe, I got really excited. I made the cake last Thursday, and I was pleasantly surprised with just how sour my take on the cake turned out to be after I upped the lemon quantities! Deb also made the cake with blueberries, and I stayed away because they would be too sweet (though I normally love blueberries!) and settled on mixed berries instead. Thankfully, I found a pack of frozen cranberries, raspberries, mulberries, and blueberries that /weren't/ sweetened, and they were perfect. (I actually prefer cooking with frozen berries because 1) they're more accessible in Switzerland, and 2) they don't break apart as easily when mixed into batter.)
Extra plus to this cake: it's made with yogurt and olive oil, so even my "I won't touch anything with butter" mother who hates when I bake because she has no sweet tooth... actually loved this cake and asked me to never bake anything else again.
My take on the recipe is below the cut. I loved it so much that when I came down with another but different bout of the flu this week, I made the cake again.
As I was preparing to spend my first Christmas with my boyfriend’s family, I made a long list of different things I could bake to take with me. I thought of cakes and cookies, but I didn’t know what to choose until Lee gave me her go-to recipe for making chocolate crinkle cookies (this classic Williams-Sonoma recipe). What could be better than soft, chocolatey cookies?
Nothing, it turns out, other than even chocolatier cookies with a caffeinated twist.
Give me any chocolate-based recipe, and I will find a way to either make it chocolatier or to liven it up with coffee. Sometimes, I’ll do both. I resisted temptation to modify the chocolate crinkle cookie recipe the first time I made them (which turned out to be a good thing as my boyfriend’s already energetic kid brother ate most of them), but I’ve tampered with the recipe every time I’ve made them since then. I’ve tried adding a shot of espresso and upping the quantities of all the dry ingredients (a tasty but still disappointing success). I’ve added espresso powder, and I’ve added Turkish coffee powder. Both turned out well, but, if you can get your hands on any, I’d definitely recommend going for the Turkish coffee. It adds a stronger flavor with less powder. If you can’t find any, then you can use 3 teaspoons of espresso powder or, if you really can’t find anything else, a tablespoon of instant coffee.
Once I had the coffee infusion down, I decided to change things even more by adding a couple of chocolate chips to the center of each cookie. It was a gooey success the very first time I tried them.
While I wouldn’t recommend giving these to a child, I definitely recommend keeping them around for yourself:
Coffee-Infused Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
(Makes 20-24 cookies)
Grease baking sheets or place one sheet of parchment paper over baking sheets.
Put the confectioner’s (icing) sugar in a bowl. Put the chocolate chips in another.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In another large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and coffee powder. Beat until blended.
Add flour mixture one cup at a time, blending well between each addition.
Using a tablespoon, scoop up a rounded spoonful of dough. Place it in the palm of your other hand and add 3-6 chocolate chips (depending on size) into the centre. Roll into a ball. Roll in the confectioner’s sugar until covered. Place the ball on prepared cookie sheet, spacing the balls 3 inches or 8 centimeters apart.
(If for whatever reason the dough comes out too liquid to be rolled: Scoop up a rounded tablespoon of dough. Place directly on prepared cookie sheet. Place chocolate chips in center. Repeat until sheet is covered. Powder confectioner’s sugar over dough.)
Bake cookies 10-12 minutes until they are crackled and puffed. Remove and let cool. Repeat with rest of dough.
August has been quite the month again this year. I've spent a lot of time with A, working on our respective projects (thesis, him; conference, me), visiting museums, and relaxing over Friends and Community. We've also tried a lot of new places to eat and done our fair share in the kitchen. I remember we would barely eat when we were together last summer, both too nervous and excited by the newness of everything, and now we're all about food. We spent a good five hours in the kitchen last night, making some of my grandma's dishes to serve at A's family's Sunday lunch today and then experimenting with a burger recipe (it had melty cheese in the center!) and sweet potato fries for ourselves. A does most of the work in the kitchen (I spent a good hour of that time typing up notes at the table while he was frying up eggplants), which is excellent both because it pleases me that it messes with gender expectations and because it's just really nice to have someone cook for you.
Otherwise, August has mostly been about getting back to work. I've slowly been getting back into things, reading quite a few articles and trying to jot down ideas. It's been more frustrating than rewarding so far though because despite all the good the last few months have done for me, the guilt of not having more to show for it than my improved mental health is starting to hit me. I feel much better and I have new ideas, but the old "produce! produce! produce!" mentality is hard to shake. I was brought up to believe that great success is the only option and that mediocrity might as well be failure, and replacing that with a healthier, more realistic mindset has me struggling despite my efforts. I'm consequently going between phases where I'm paralyzed by fears that I won't be "good enough" for academia anymore and others where I'm super motivated to prove myself. We'll see where this goes in the next few weeks as the conference draws nearer.
I also spent this past weekend in Neuchâtel, and A and I managed to go into town to visit one of his favorite museums yesterday, so I should have another post coming in the next few days about that!
A and I went to a museum on our second date, and museums have played an important role in our dating life since then. We've been to quite a few over the last year, in London, Paris, York, and Geneva, and we like to set days apart every now and then to explore others. A few Sundays ago, we decided to spend the day in Lausanne so A could show me some of his childhood favorites. We went to the Palais de Rumine, which houses quite a few small museums, and then made our way down to Ouchy after lunch to go to the Musée Olympique (and to have amazing gelato). Here are a few of our photos...
One of the things that seems to happen when you move abroad as an American is that you suddenly crave these random things that you didn't frequently have back in the States. I rarely ate hamburgers when I was younger, but then fast forward to my move to Geneva six years ago, and I suddenly started to miss them. I've been on the hunt for good burgers ever since. I was constrained to veggie burgers for a long time, but the game changed after my doctor ordered me to start eating beef again.
Tonight, A and I decided to try someplace new and ended up at The Hamburger Foundation. Their trucks are unmissable if you live in Geneva, but as they only offer three different types of basic beef burgers (hamburgers, cheese burgers, and bacon cheese burgers), I couldn't really try them until now.
We first walked to their truck in the Parc des Bastions as they were there for Swiss National Day (Happy Swiss National Day!), but as the queue was at least fifty people long, we ended up walking across town to their restaurant in the Paquis instead. The restaurant was packed and we managed to arrive right after a tour group who was being told by their guide that they were at "one of the ten best burger places in the world," but we still got a table and didn't have to wait long.
While I wouldn't know about it being one of the ten best in the world, our THF hamburgers were some of the best we've had in Geneva. The meat was good (though still not as good as Inglewood, according to A), the cheese was plenty, and the burgers were well but simply garnished. I'd say where THF won though was with its presentation and with its fries. I love my fries fat, but THF managed to make theirs both skinny and meaty at the same time. They also served a simple but tasty salad to start, which is always a nice touch with burgers. We'll likely be back in the future (though maybe to one of the trucks as the restaurant is a bit out of our way).
Walking through Lausanne on our way back from the Shakespeare Festival the other night, I spotted bagels out of the corner of my eye, squealed, and then turned on the spot to see the newly opened Bagel on the Way. Since it was about 10 p.m., the shop was obviously closed, but A quickly found its Instagram feed and as its photos looked quite promising with shiny, fat bagels, I was excited to try it.
I took the train to Lausanne on Wednesday with that exact purpose in mind. I met A by the station and we went to Bagel on the Way to get a picnic dinner before making our way down to Ouchy to eat by the lake.
I've been meaning to make a little Geneva guide of my favorite places both on here and on tumblr for a while now, so I'm taking advantage of the fact that one of our good tumblr friends is coming (tomorrow!) to visit to push myself and finally post!
Coffee & Pastries
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I'm Olivia, a twenty-six year old grad student studying in Switzerland. This is where I share my thoughts on the academic journey, culture, travels, baking, and my daily life abroad. Read More.