Chocolate Cake Pan Cake + 5 Lovely Cake Links for Mother’s Day

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I think of her most often when the lilac bushes bloom in May.  I inhale their sweet floral scent deeply and see her as she was: short, dark curly hair framing her square face, beautiful brown eyes shining below thick eyebrows; strong hips sitting wide, above long skinny legs.  Her easy smile.

I kneel on the damp ground, searching for a four-leaf clover while blades of grass, small stones and drying mud stamp petrified impressions on my bony knees.  Looking haphazardly for luck, searching, minute after minute, for a clover windfall.  She walks by, the white rubber soles of her navy Keds grass-stained, her khaki chino shorts a bit stained with the morning’s bacon grease spatters and long tan arms brushing past her hips as she moves towards the grape vines and lilac bushes.  She pops a grape into her mouth, smiles. She pulls a pair of shears out of her back pocket and cuts a few clusters of lilacs, gathering them in her tanned, slightly wrinkled hands.  I love her absolutely, as only a child is able to love.  She is the great love of my life.

“What are you looking for, Kel?”

“A lucky clover.”

“You won’t find any luck around here.”  She says with a quick laugh and a half hearted smile.  [Decades later I will understand the multiple meanings of that one powerful sentence.]

Thirty years later, hip to hip, we inch across the driveway to my father’s car.  I carefully hold her twiggy arms.  Veins, tendons, bones now evident underneath her bruised paper-thin skin.  The weight of her body leaning against mine is barely felt.

[Time passes.  Time is an unsparing critic.]  

I want a chocolate cake for my birthday,” she says out of the blue.  I kiss her on the cheek and breathe in her powdery scent, hoping some of her smell will latch onto my shirt.  

“Ok, I’ll make you a chocolate cake.” I say as I ease her into the passenger seat pulling the seat belt across her concave chest, buckling her in like I do with own my children.  She smiles, turns away from me and stares straight ahead through the bug splattered windshield.  I know she is moving away from me, letting go.  She knows I understand this.  And yet, come August, with some luck, I’ll make her a chocolate cake.

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Chocolate Cake Pan Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting

cake recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Original Cake Pan Cake

whipped ganache recipe barely adapted from allrecipes.com

serves 8-10

Cake Ingredients:

1 + 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cup vanilla sugar

1/4 unsweetened natural cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk ( I used 2%)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease an 8 inch square pan and set aside.  (You may also use a 9 inch round pan.)

Place dry ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk together.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla extract, vinegar, oil and milk.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  Pour the  batter into your prepared pan.

Bake the cake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs.  Begin checking the cake around 22 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan sitting on a wire rack.

While the cake cools make the whipped chocolate ganache frosting.

Fluffy Whipped Ganache Ingredients:

9 ounces of semisweet  chocolate, chopped or use chips

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon dark rum

Directions:

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.  Heat the heavy cream in a sauce over medium heat until it just begins to boil.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the rum and whisk until completely smooth and shiny.  Cool the ganache until thick.  (I let it sit on our counter at room temperature for a couple of hours.)  Once cool whip the ganache using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment until very light and fluffy.  Spread evenly over cake.  Slice the cake and serve with a cold glass of milk.  Enjoy!  (Cake will last up to two days stored in air-tight container at room temperature.)

5 Lovely Cake Links for Mother’s Day

Treat your crazy mom to a crazy cake: strawberry pazzo cake with herbed creme fraiche. Pazzo means crazy in Italian which describes this cake well; balsamic vinegar drizzled over a sweet strawberry cake.  I’m intrigued!

Speaking of strawberries, check out my recipe for a cold oven strawberry pound cake mom is sure to love.  Or head to My Name Is Yeh for Molly’s cardamom vanilla cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting.  I’m drooling.

Looking for a simple yet delicious cake recipe?  Head to Food 52 for their olive oil cake recipe.

Don’t feel like baking? Check out Baker’s Royale lemon ice box cake.  Yum!

Cold Oven Strawberry Pound Cake + 5 Can’t Miss Pound Cake Links

 

This cake tastes like love Mama!  I think I know what you mean sweet girl, although its been awhile since I tasted love.  Lucky you.  Your first taste, something you will chase and I’m pretty sure find again.

I remember the first time I tasted love.  A hot dog encased in a buttery, toasted bun.  Papa made it for me.  [Do you remember him?  It’s OK.  You were so small, months from your fourth birthday.  You sat next to him on his hospital bed, old westerns playing on TV, though no one was watching. So brave of you!  He didn’t look like himself: pale, listless. Blue, really.  His hands looked like wax; incoherent with morphine.  I’m glad you don’t remember.]

Just shy of 8, on a humid summer day I spent the morning swimming in my grandparent’s pool, like most summer mornings many decades ago; only slightly tired after hours of play, but always famished.

[Can you picture me love?  Full of energy?  Playful?  Try. We are, we will be, more similar than you hope.]

I walked into the kitchen, a towel clumsily wrapped around me, a puddle of water forming around my feet.  Papa stood at the counter, khaki pants, navy t-shirt, sweat puddling above his giant, caterpillar eyebrows.  Eating, barely chewing a hot dog and taking long swigs of a cold Budweiser in between each colossal bite.  He smelled like gas and grass clippings.  [Some days I smell both.  Inhale deeply.  Think of him and feel nothing but gratitude.  A familiar smell may do the same to you someday.  Enjoy it, be thankful for it.]

Hungry? How about a hot dog Kel-bel?” [I wore hunger in my eyes just like you.]  I settled at their small, wooden kitchen table, still in my bathing suit and watched as he got to work. He placed a large dollop of butter into an old, greasy Teflon frying pan.  While the butter melted, he made 3 small slices in the hot dog and grabbed a bun.  Carefully he placed both in the pan while the butter crackled and danced around them.

[The smell of butter still comforting to me.  What will comfort you, goose?]

Minutes later the hot dog was ready, plated and decorated with a long, squiggly strip of ketchup.  I devoured it.  As I drank a glass of cold milk, I heard the the sizzle and sputter of butter in the frying pan, the smell of another hot dog frying to golden perfection.  Smart man.

[That’s the thing with love my one and only girl; once you taste it, you have a hankering for it.  Feast on it. Chase it. And, if you are very lucky, you will find love many times over.]

Cold-Oven Strawberry Pound Cake

A moist pound cake baked with fresh strawberry puree and topped with a slightly sweet strawberry icing

recipe adapted from Food 52 Baking

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

1 cup or 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened and cubed

1/2 solid shortening

3 cups of sugar

5 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup  low-fat milk

3 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 cup fresh, pureed strawberries

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Butter (really butter) and flour your Bundt pan and set aside.

Measure out your flour and add a teaspoon of salt.  Whisk to combine and set aside.

Hull and slice strawberries and puree in a blender.  You will need about 1 cup of pureed strawberries.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter, shortening and sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy.  Add the eggs and beat until well combined.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and then continue beating for another minute.

Add the vanilla to the cup of milk and then pour about 1/3 of the milk into the sugar mix.  Next, add a cup of flour and beat until just incorporated.  Repeat the process two more times: milk then the flour, beating until just combined each time.  Pour half of the batter into your prepared pan.  Pour 2/3 cup of pureed strawberries over the batter and swirl gently with a butter knife.  Add the remaining batter and smooth the top with a spatula.  Place Bundt pan in cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 300F and bake for 45 minutes.  Increase the temperature to 325F and bake for an additional 45-50 minutes.  The cake is ready when it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place pan on a wire rack and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge and invert it onto a serving plate.

Using a small bowl add 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons of the remaining strawberry puree.  Stir until smooth.  If the icing is too thick, add a little more of the puree until you achieve the consistency you desire.  Drizzle over the cake.  Serve as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

**The cake will last stored in an air-tight container, at room temperature, for several days.**

 5 Can’t Miss Pound Cake Links!

Cherry season is here so why not throw some into a buttery marzipan covered pound cake? Check out 1 Big Bite’s cherry and marzipan pound cake recipe.

Looking for a low-fat pound cake recipe? Bakers Royale has a recipe for you.

Summer berries are abundant now and perfect in a pound cake.  Head to Orangette for a raspberry-blueberry pound cake that sounds divine!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Coconut Key Lime Pound Cake.  Yes it exists.  Head to Baker by Nature for the recipe.

Lottie + Doof’s  salted caramel pound cake is on my must make list.  I’m drooling.

 

Pina Colada Cake + 5 Boozy Cake Links!

 

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Not bad, she thought, regarding her reflection in the full length mirror of a small hotel room she shared with her husband and three children.   The navy blue, white polka dot, full piece bathing suit fresh off the rack from Macy’s hugged her hips and small breasts, her smooth, pale Nordic skin almost pearlescent in the bright, Bahamian light.  As she turned to grab her ten dollar, drugstore sunglasses and scratchy hotel towel, she noticed her profile, pronounced in the warm light. She tenderly rubbed the soft space between her hip bones, a slight bulge, her body forever three months pregnant, abdominal muscles long gone; this space was once the home of her three children.

[Babies too large for her small frame and yet she willed herself to carry them.  And when they tore her apart, departing her body and entering the world, she felt nothing but relief.  Love would come…later.]

The family trip to the Grand Bahama was her idea.  He, her half present husband, the worst kind, acquiesced.  Anything to stop her nagging.  Anything to keep her questions at bay.  His soul’s sin would be revealed many years later.  An affair: yes.  But his real sin: insecurity.

[ A soul with a hole so cavernous no drink or woman could fill.]

So, when she found herself at the poolside bar, admiring the bartender’s dark brown eyes, golden skin, silvery hair and stainless white teeth, was she appalled by her desire for him?  No.  Like driving a car with a low tire, the air slowly, but surely escaping, something was amiss in her marriage.  This she she felt in her milky skin, her blue veins, her raging claret blood…her bones. 

She ordered a pina colada.  The bartender smiled, got to work.  She watched him: tan, capable hands adding ice, fresh pineapple, pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum to a blender; a bit of sweat twinkled on his brow and above his hairless lip in the mid-day sun.  

[Briefly, she thought of his lips on hers. This fantasy quickly dissipated when she noticed a gorgeous, buxom, blonde saddling up to the bar. She is who he wants.  Or, so she thought.]  

When he handed her the pina colda, complete now with a fresh pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry, he also gave her his number on a white cocktail napkin.  Ha!  Cheeks flush and gitty with surprise, she paid him.  After taking a long drink, she smiled, stood, turned and walked away. The cocktail napkin remained on the bar where he placed it, her sweating pina colada sitting directly on top of the scribbled numbers.  Nothing said, no door left ajar.  Condensation from glass would make the numbers bleed into each other.  And this memory of being seen again, fresh, would bleed into other memories of unexplored men handing her a drink.

She found her family sitting by the pool, her handsome husband with a beer in has hand chatting with their strawberry-haired, freckled faced boy.  His favorite, his only.  The girls, both husky, pretty tomboys, were huddled together on a chaise lounge, dripping pool water.  The older girl had found forty dollars in the hot-tub.  Such luck, she thought!  As the girl held the wet twenties overhead, victorious, her sister decided since they were a family who shared, they should share everything, including this serendipitous loot.  They laughed, not yet knowing, too much and not enough would be shared in the decades to come.

Pina Colada Cake

A moist cake studded with fresh pineapple and covered in a sweet rum glaze

recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

serves 8

Ingredients for cake:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces of coconut oil, at room temperature

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup cream of coconut (This is not coconut milk.  I found it in the Mexican food section of our local grocery store.) Shake well before measuring.

1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple, strained, juice reserved (from a can in juice not syrup)

Ingredients to brush over cake:

2 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice

Ingredients for glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon dark rum

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line with a circle of parchment paper.  Lightly butter and flour parchment paper.  Tap  out excess flour.  Set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and coconut oil at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.  Add rum.  Next, add cream of coconut.  The batter will look curdled.  Don’t worry! It will come back together once you add the flour.

Add half of dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl with a spatula, before adding the other half.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in chopped pineapple.

The batter will be thick.  Spread it evenly into your prepared pan.  Bake until golden brown or when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.  Cool in pan, on wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto the wire rack.  Remove parchment paper.

While the cake is still hot, brush it with reserved pineapple juice.

While cake is cooling, make glaze.  Grab a small bowl and add powdered sugar and salt.  Stir in milk and rum.  Stir until completely smooth.  Pour glaze into middle of cake and spread to the edges with an offset spatula or butter knife.  Serve immediately or refrigerate for 20 minutes until glaze is set.  Cake is best the day it is made.  Leftovers, stored in an air-tight container, at room temperature, will last for 2 days.  Enjoy!

5 Boozy Cake Links!

Still feel the winter chill in your neck of the woods? Warm yourself up with Food & Wine’s Maple-Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake.  I’m guessing it will hit the spot.

I love a good mojito.  Olive’s mojito cake is on my must make immediately list.  Yum!

Don’t wait until next St. Patty’s day to make Spoon Fork Bacon’s spicy chocolate stout cake with simple peanut butter frosting.  This combo sounds delicious!

Bubba loves a good margarita and never turns down a piece of cake.  I think it’s time to make him Pastry Affair’s boozy margarita cake.

My mom loves all things coconut so this Mother’s Day I may just make her Beth Cake’s triple coconut rum cake.  Coconut + rum equals a tropical vacation in a bite!

 

Grapefruit Crinkle Cookies + Strawberry Summer Cake

“I give you this to take with you: Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” Judith Minty, Letters to My Daughters

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We spent the weekend packing. It is odd how quickly a home can change when everything that defined the house is placed in a box. Suddenly, something so familiar and comforting becomes stark and cold. You see the house with different eyes. You separate yourself from it because you know it is easier to let go of it and what it meant to you than to carry it with you. Once all the stuff is packed you realize it is just that: stuff, replaceable crap. It is not so much the walls you will miss but the life, the moments, that place in time you cannot get back. It is accepting that “nothing remains as it was.”

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Though not planned, it seems fitting that our best friends, the couple that introduced us to this house and this town 6 years ago came over for our last dinner with friends. I was newly pregnant with Charlotte when they mentioned the condo above them was for sale. Bubba and I took a look and 3 months later we left Boston for the burbs. We spent 5 years living in the same multi-family above two of our favorite people. It was like living with family who respected boundaries. It was built in social time for new parents who were a little shocked by how much a baby had changed everything.   Babies were born, jobs changed, friends and family married and divorced, a loved one passed, kids grew and we aged too. It sounds corny but the passage of time is so dam beautiful and heart-breaking all at the same time.

Surrounded by boxes and bubble wrap we spent our last Saturday night at the table chatting, laughing and drinking beer. It is what we do best when we are together.  I made 2 desserts; desserts that are perfect to share with friends.

Grapefruit Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from White on Rice Couple’s Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup packed light brown  sugar

1/2 cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 Tablespoon of Grapefruit zest

2 Tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice

1/4 cup  confectioners sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda for a minute and set aside.

Zest the grapefruit so you have 1 Tablespoon of zest. In a small bowl add grapefruit zest to the 1/2 cup of sugar and blend together with your fingers.  This will make the sugar very fragrant and you will end up with a tastier cookie.

In a mixer, with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and grapefruit sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, egg and grapefruit juice until well combined.  After two or three minutes scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for several minutes to make sure everything is well incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all of the flour mixed into the dough.

Sift the confectioners sugar on a large plate. Make the dough into 1 inch sized balls. (A small cookie scoop works great here.) Roll the balls in the confectioners sugar then place a couple of inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies just begin to turn golden and the tops of the cookies no longer look wet. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Strawberry Summer Cake

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for 9 or 10 spring-form pan

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of oat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

7/8 cup of granulated sugar (1 cup of sugar minus two tablespoons)

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound  strawberries, hulled and halved

2 Tablespoons Turbinado Sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. ( A nine or ten inch deep dish pie pan will also work. A standard pie plate will not work here because the batter will overflow.)

Whisk  flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.  In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and 7/8 cup of sugar until pale and fluffy with about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Slowly, add dry mixture mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. You may need to overlap them to get all of them on the batter. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes at 350°F then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown or until a tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Wet strawberries on the tester are ok.) Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

Cake can be stored, loosely covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Cake for Mother’s Day

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”  Emerson

Mother’s Day is tomorrow and I am looking forward to sleeping in even if it is only for an extra 15 minutes. Bubba will attempt to take both kids downstairs  without waking me up but this usually doesn’t work out. Our daughter, Charlotte, loves holidays because she loves a reason to celebrate anything. She will wake up earlier than usual with a level energy that I have never possessed in my 34 years. She won’t be quiet despite pleas from both me and John for just a few more minutes. Our son, Graham, will hear her and decide its time to start his day. Alice, our dog, will yawn and stretch as if to say “having kids was your idea, not mine.” We will all stumble downstairs, turn on the coffee, pour the milks and feed the dog. John will make pancakes and bacon while the kids watch morning cartoons and I will drink my coffee and wonder how to spend the day. I will feel torn. I will want time to myself, time to be alone but then I will feel selfish asking for it. I will want to spend time with my sweet babies and my husband because I know this time is fleeting. I will beat myself up about my indecision. We will eat breakfast which will taste especially delicious because I didn’t have to make it. Maybe will go for a walk in the woods. Maybe Bubba will take the kids to the playground so I can have a little time; a little time to reflect and breathe and be grateful for all of it, even the parts that are hard. I will reread this article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lea-grover/dear-less-than-perfect-mom and remind myself once again that I am not a perfect mom and nor is it necessary. Charlotte and Graham will be ok despite my imperfections.

After a day together, after another meal we will sit together and enjoy this cake that I made with love.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Cake

adapted from Seasons and Suppers

Ingredients

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter softened

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed

1 egg at room temperature

3 tsp. vanilla

1 cup Greek yogurt ( I used 2%)

2 cups fresh rhubarb

2 cups fresh strawberries quartered or halved depending on size

Topping:

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F. and grease a 10-inch cake or springform pan with butter. Line the bottom with  parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until it is well combined and resembles wet sand. Add the egg and beat until the mixture is well combined and there are no lumps. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla and beat to combine.

With mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Fold in rhubarb and strawberries gently. Spoon mixture into prepared pan.

Combine sugar (1/2 cup) and the 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Sprinkle liberally over the top of the cake. You may not use all of it so save the leftovers for cinnamon toast!

Bake in the preheated 350° F. oven for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. ***Start checking cake at 50 minutes. If the top is browning quickly, place aluminum foil loosely over the top.***

Place pan on a wire cooling rack and, if using a springform pan, allow to cool for 10 or 15 minutes and then run a knife around the edge and remove the side or the pan. Allow to cool a bit longer before removing bottom. If using a regular cake pan, allow to cool to lukewarm before removing from pan.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or enjoy plain.