Tag Archives: cake

Annurca Apples of Campania


My dad inherited his way of cutting an apple from his father, who left his little mountain valley town of Italy for the United States almost a century ago. With a paring knife held a certain way, they both shave off little slices and bits. I’d never seen anyone else eat an apple like this–that is, until I visited my cousins in Italy for the first time. Sitting at the table after our pranzo, my dad’s first cousin took one of the glistening local annurca apples from the plate, picked up a knife, held the apple in that familiar position, and began to carve. In that moment, I realized time and distance could not erase the bond that is family.

Like my grandfather, the annurca apple is a native of this region of Campania between Naples and Benevento. A popular apple throughout Southern Italy, it has an IGP designation, meaning it must be grown in a specific geographical area in order to be called annurca. The apple is an old one, even Pliny the Elder wrote about it, and it appears in frescoes in the ancient city of Herculaneum, destroyed like Pompeii by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

Sweet and juicy, the apple is not only delicious but, according to a 2010 article in the Journal of Nutrition, it can protect against cancer.

While we visited, my cousin made the annurca apples into a delightful apple cake.

And while we visited Sant’Agata de’ Goti, the town where Mayor de Blasio’s mother’s family is from, we saw a shop selling annurca gelato.


–Dina Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People, available at Amazon.com

Authentic Italian

Sweets Week: Day 4: Sugar and Plumm

Sugar and Plumm on the Upper West Side is one of those places that appeals to the kid in all of us.  It’s part retail candy store, part café, part patisserie but all fun.  There are a number of specialty crepes, milkshakes, sundaes and cakes, but on my visit, I opted to try a little of all of them.  I ordered the earthquake in a fishbowl.  Earthquake in a fishbowl is a sharable dessert that could also be called kitchen sink because it has everything in it–chocolate caramel cake; key lime pie; Brooklyn blackout cake; New York cheesecake; butterscotch pudding; vanilla, chocolate and dulce de leche ice cream and whipped cream.  I’m not sure the bowl is really a fishbowl, as it has a lid on it, but it looks like a large bowl used to store candy in a traditional candy store.


My favorite parts of the fishbowl were the cheesecake, the butterscotch pudding, and the key lime, but everything tasted good.  This dessert was fun and delish.  It’s great for kids, a family, or a romantic date.


5 Fall Flavors in NYC

Every season in NYC is special, but the fall is a great time to be here.  Everyone comes back from summer vacation.  The lecture circuit heats up again (hey, I’m a nerd).  New restaurants open.  New students come from all over the world for a new New York adventure.  And new treats (and old) pop up with seasonal flavors like apple, pumpkin, maple, pear and sweet potato.  Enjoy one of these fall treats in NYC!

1.  Maple pecan pie macaroon from Danny Macaroons

photo used with permission of Danny Macaroons

photo used with permission of Danny Macaroons

2.  Pumpkin nuage from Lady M

3.  Caramel apple cupcake from Crumbs

4.  Sweet potato cake from Spot Dessert Bar

5.  Chocolate pear tart from Once Upon a Tart

photo used with permission of Once Upon a Tart

photo used with permission of Once Upon a Tart

Sweets Week: Day 3: Amy’s Bread

Enter my giveaway to win a copy of Susan Meisel’s new book, New York Sweets: A Sugarhound’s Guide to the Best Bakeries, Ice Cream Parlors, Candy Shops, and Other Emporia of Delicious Delights.

Amy’s Bread is a popular bake shop with breads, cakes, cupcakes, cookies and muffins and scones with locations on Bleecker Street and in Chelsea Market and Hell’s Kitchen.  As soon as I walked into the bustling bakery, I saw the yellow cake with pink frosting and knew I had to have it.  I also love red velvet cake, so I ordered a slice of that too.

Amy's Bread cakes

I love the pink and red together.  So pretty!

Verdict:  The cake layers are fresh, and the red velvet cake actually had a cocoa flavor, a nice surprise since so many red velvet cakes don’t have a cocoa taste.  The pink frosting on the yellow cake was a sweet buttercream.  For red velvet cake, I have to have cream cheese frosting.  When I tasted this red velvet cake, I knew it was a shortening-buttercream frosting, which is not a favorite of mine.  I later found out that it’s a Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.

5 Green Goodies for St. Patrick’s Day

photo used with permission

photo used with permission

Green is the color of St. Patrick’s Day, and you can find it at many NYC bakeries and restaurants.  Check out one of these 5 green goodies for a sweet St. Patty’s Day surprise!

1.  Luck O’ The Irish cupcake from Crumbs–Chocolate and vanilla (tinted green) cake filled and frosted with vanilla cream cheese frosting tinted green and topped with a sugar shamrock

photo used with permission

photo used with permission

2.  St. Patrick’s Day dozen from Georgetown Cupcake–Try a lucky lava fudge with green-tinted frosting.

photo used with permission

photo used with permission

3.  Green tea mille crepe cake from Lady M–Powdered green tea atop the signature mille crepe cake also infused with green tea powder.

Lady M

4.  Caramel apple cupcake from Baked by Melissa–Green apple cake, caramel icing, green sugar crystal topping

photo used with permission

photo used with permission

5 .  Green and white cookies from William Greenberg Desserts–The classic NY black and white cookie green and white for St. Patty’s Day

photo used with permission

photo used with permission

Snowy Day Chocolate Cake

chocolate cake

The best thing about baking a cake on a snowy day is that you probably have most of the ingredients on hand.  I used a basic yellow cake mix substituting olive oil for the oil.  For the buttercream, I used this chocolate buttercream frosting recipe only I used a whole stick of butter.  Don’t you hate when a frosting recipe doesn’t make enough frosting for the whole cake?  Well, you don’t have to worry about that with this frosting.  There’s plenty!

Atlantic Grill

Sometimes a girl needs a piece of cake, and she doesn’t want to feel guilty about it.  So she orders fish and veggies for dinner and then her cake.  Well, Atlantic Grill is the perfect place to do that.

Nicely grilled rainbow trout with broccolini and a few saffron potatoes.  A healthy, clean plate.

rainbow trout, broccolini, saffron potatoes

rainbow trout, broccolini, saffron potatoes

Below, the pièce de résistance:  salted caramel cake–vanilla bean-soaked white cake, caramel crunch and fresh berries.

salted caramel cake

salted caramel cake

10 Christmas Cakes from Around the World

While I was looking up Christmas cookies from around the world, I found some cakes too, so I thought I’d post on Christmas cakes. These are also from blogs.

Argentinian Pan Dulce

Australian Christmas Fruitcake

British Christmas Cake

Chilean Pan de Pascua

English Christmas Fruitcake

Filipino Bibingka Cake

Japanese Christmas Cake

Kerala Christmas Fruitcake

Norwegian Christmas Cake/Julekake

Polish Poppy Seed Strudel

Apple Gingerbread Cake

My mom loves this upside-down apple gingerbread cake.  I got the recipe from All You magazine.  Great holiday recipe for the season!

upside-down apple gingerbread

Two for Tuesday: Coffee Cakes

It’s hard to find a coffee house these days that isn’t a Starbucks.  That’s why the opening of Kahve in Hell’s Kitchen was so special.  Kahve is the Turkish word for coffee, and the shop sells Turkish coffee as well as Cuban coffee, perhaps because of the Turkish and Cuban ancestry of its owners.  The casual coffee shop fits well with the 9th Avenue vibe.  There are a number of good-looking bakery items as well, which is why I stopped in.  I decided to try a cherry coffee cake and a chocolate banana bread.  They also had a strawberry pie that looked like a good way to end summer.  I’m not a big fan of carrot cake, but they had an adorable, three-layer carrot cake that looked delish with slathered frosting peeping out.  Below is a pic of what I got.  The chocolate banana cake had cute piped frosting, but the cashier put it in the bag upside-down, so the frosting smeared.

chocolate banana cake and cherry coffee cake

The chocolate banana snack cake was fresh with a good banana flavor dotted here and there with chocolate chips for a little chocolate fix.  The cherry coffee cake had a thin, sugary crust on top with soft, fresh cake and a sweet cherry layer.

cherry coffee cake

I’m not a big fan of the bakery items at Starbucks.  Whenever I’ve had them, they were usually not fresh.  I do like the drinks at Starbucks.  I have yet to try the coffee at Kahve, but I want to and also look forward to that strawberry pie.  Welcome to the neighborhood!