Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting ~ ElephantEats.com

Pardon my lack of posts. There have been so many changes happening in the Elephant Eats household, making me a bit busy and causing me to have insomnia. I’ve been waking up at like 3 or 4 in the morning with my mind racing about various things…hence my finishing up this blog post at 4am. Surprisingly I haven’t been as tired as I would imagine the next day. I guess adrenaline will do that to you!

The house hunting thing is stressing me out a bit. Like how do you know when you like a house enough to want to buy it and that something better won’t come along? I’m obsessively combing the listings on a daily basis.

Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting ~ ElephantEats.com

This past weekend was super busy. It started with a little house hunting Saturday morning with a realtor. It made me realize how expensive things are for how little you get in this area. I’m hoping there will just be something that I fall in love with (that’s in our budget).

Then I rushed off to my friend Emily’s bridal shower and bachelorette! She was one of my maids of honor and I’m one of her bridesmaids. I, along with the other two bridesmaids, planned the whole shower/bachelorette weekend. We put a lot of hard work into it and I think it came out great and went off pretty much without a hitch!

Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting ~ ElephantEats.com

Plus, Emily told us she loved every second of it :) We did any Asian-themed shower because she loves sushi. I got some hanging paper lanterns in her wedding colors to decorate her soon-to-be sister-in-law’s house. They looked great! I unfortunately was too lazy to upload the photos but maybe I’ll add them soon.

The bachelorette went late into that evening and ended with a sleep over. I didn’t get much sleep and was up early to go house hunting some more on Sunday!

Spice Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting ~ ElephantEats.com

Nate told me he doesn’t care at all about the house and that it’s totally up to me. I guess he trusts my judgement.

It was so fun to go in all the houses, and driving around the suburbs on a gorgeous spring day made me dread going back to the city.

This is all completely unrelated to this recipe. I made it when we were down in PA two weekends ago, and it was a perfect way to end to our Easter dinner! (pardon the photos, as they were taken after daylight and I didn’t have my trusty food photography lights!)


Spiced Layer Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

very slightly adapted from Bon Appetit (11/09)

Print this recipe!

Makes one 3-layer cake

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup orange, peach or apricot jam
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)*

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Butter and flour pans; tap out excess flour. Sift first 8 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and orange peel in large bowl until fluffy.

Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture alternately with sour cream and milk. Divide batter among prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer pans to racks and cool 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread 1/4 cup jam and then 2/3 cup frosting over. Top with second cake layer. Spread rest of jame and then 2/3 cup frosting over. Top with third cake layer. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.)

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8-ounce packages chilled cream cheese
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chilled sour cream

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in sugar, then orange peel and vanilla. Beat in sour cream. Cover and refrigerate until frosting is firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

*note that I found the frosting barely covered the cake. In making this again I might 1 1/2 the recipe.

I’m such a sucker for the impulse buy items in the checkout line at the supermarket. It’s not the candy and gum, but every register in nyc has little packs of granola or nuts hanging enticingly in front of my eyes.

I try not to shop hungry, but when I need to grab groceries on the way home from work, I sometimes have no choice.

So a few weeks ago, I happened to see an orange-cranberry candied nuts mix. Being that I love that combination and I was famished, I fell into the very trap they had planted and shoved them in my shopping basket.

I opened them the second I got outside and ate half the bag on the way home. They were so good. I was really surprised by how much orange flavor came through and the cranberry added the perfect touch of sour and sweet. Needless to say I had no appetite for dinner that evening.

Ever since that night, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of cranberry and orange. Remember my Cranberry Orange Rice Salad I made a couple weeks ago?

Anyway, I didn’t want to get suckered into the total rip-off that is the checkout line impulse items again, so I promplty made it my mission to recreate these nuts at home.

I did a little searching and found an orange spiced nut recipe which I then added dried cranberries too. This one had the addition of cinnamon, which I was skeptical about, but after tasting the finished product I think it wouldn’t have been as good without it.

With cold weather coming, you should definitely make these. They’re perfect for fall!

But the best part about this recipe? I actually got to make it on a weekend and take the pics in daylight..YAY for natural light photos!

Cranberry Orange Spiced Nuts
Adapted from Taste of Home

Print this recipe!

Makes 20 servings


2 egg whites, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup walnut halves
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine egg whites and orange juice. Add nuts and cranberries and toss to coat; drain.

In another large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Add nuts/cranberries and toss to coat.

Spread in a single layer in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 250° for 30-45 minutes or until dry and lightly browned.

Cool completely. Store in an airtight container. 

So after making those ravioli the other day, I was left with more than half of the package of wonton wrappers left. Who could use so many wrappers at once?? After forming about 20 wontons for dinner, I totally lost the energy to make any more. Maybe they have an assembly line of chefs in chinese kitchens. Or maybe I suck at wonton-making…

Well, I decided to give it another go. I figured maybe if I put dessert in the wonton then I would have a longer wonton-making attention span.

I swear I have ADD, but my mom doesn’t believe me. I even want to take a break from writing this blog after two paragraphs. I think that means I have a problem…or I’m lazy. One or the other. I think I’d like to take a nap. Or watch some tv. I’d probably lose interest in that too.

Anyway, where was I. Right, Banana Butterscotch Ginger Wontons with Spiced Chocolate Sauce. Yummy, right? Plus, they’re baked, not fried so that kinda counteracts all that sugar they got goin on.

I don’t know how Asian these wontons are (although they do have ginger), but I’ll keep thinking of other combos to use with the other hundred wrappers that I still have left…I think it’s a never-ending package. I chose this combo because I had some butterscotch chips in my pantry as well as about a tablespoon of crystallized ginger left. The sauce was inspired by those Winter-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cakes I made for New Years.

Unfortunately, I’m not gonna post this recipe just yet. After biting into one of these babies, both Nate and I agreed that while the flavor combo was delicious, the filling was a little on the dry side (Note: after reading this, Nate said this made him sound like a jerk. The fact is I said it was dry and asked if Nate agreed and he said yes). I’m not sure how to moisten it up. I was trying to keep these on the healthy side (plus dairy free), but I think they prob just need some butter. Also, the banana I used was practically green (what can I say, I lack attention span AND I’m impatient ), so I caramelized it for a bit before putting it in the filling, but I think it could have been moister if it was riper. Is moister a word?

So anyway, I think I’m going to try this flavor combo again, maybe by revamping this dessert, or maybe by creating something new…who knows. But I hope the pics at least made your mouth water :)

Neither Nate or I like partying. For those of you who haven’t read the About Me page, Nate is my boyfriend. I was so glad when I started dating him because for once I didn’t have to force myself to go to bars just because the guy I was dating wanted to go out. It’s so much easier with Nate because we both like low-key nights at home…cooking dinner and popping in a dvd.

An artistic shot by Nate

What’s also nice is that Nate is very close with his mother who lives in PA (near DE) and whom we visit whenever we have a long weekend. Nate and I are both big on “home.” It’s a concept that makes us both so happy. I can’t put my finger on why, but it’s just so comforting. I’m definitely the kind of person who, while I love my life, often wish I could go back to the carefree days of childhood when my biggest worry was a test I had to study for.

I love baking in a big kitchen!

Now I realize his mom’s home isn’t MY home, per se, but it’s a home, with a mom who cooks for us, where we can laze around and do nothing. It’s an escape from the city and the work week.

Sunrise in the country

When we visit, I like to contribute by cooking dinner or baking dessert. So when we headed down there for New Years, I called up my own mother to get a good recipe to make for dessert on New Years Eve. Nate’s mom was already taking care of dinner by her tradition of cheese fondue on New Years Eve. To be healthy, I requested some peppers and apples to dip in the cheese, along with the bread.

Healthy eats for dippin

My mom told me that I absolutely had to make this recipe she found on Bon Appetit that she LOVES, for Winter-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cakes with Rum-Ginger Ice Cream…and let me tell you, it was out of this world!

Mmmmm mmmm


I do happen to like plain molten chocolate cakes, and might even prefer them to this recipe because the chocolate flavor takes center stage, but if you want to make a different version of the recipe, this is definitely the one you should go to. They were a hit!

Happy New Year!

Winter-Spice Molten Chocolate Cakes with Rum-Ginger Ice Cream
taken in its entirety from Bon Appetite

Ice cream

    1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened
    2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
    1 tablespoon dark rum


    14 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
    1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
    2 teaspoons ground coriander
    2 teaspoons ground cardamom
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
    6 large eggs
    6 large egg yolks
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    3 cups powdered sugar
    1 cup all purpose flour
    Additional powdered sugar
    Crystallized ginger strips

For ice cream:
Place softened ice cream in medium bowl. Using plastic spatula, fold ginger and rum into ice cream. Transfer to airtight container. Freeze ice cream mixture until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.)

For cakes:
Generously butter eight 3/4-cup soufflé dishes. Stir chocolate, butter, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and white pepper in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool slightly. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Whisk in 3 cups powdered sugar, then chocolate mixture, then flour. Transfer batter to prepared dishes, filling to top and dividing equally. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake cakes until batter has risen above dish, top edges are dark brown, and centers are still soft and runny, about 15 minutes, or about 18 minutes for refrigerated batter. Run small knife around cakes to loosen. Allow cakes to rest in dishes 5 minutes. Using hot pad and holding dish very firmly, place plate gently atop 1 cake and invert onto plate. Repeat with remaining cakes. Dust with powdered sugar. Top with crystallized ginger. Serve cakes with rum-ginger ice cream.