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Coffee Slice Cake 2If you like the flavor of mocha icing, you will love this cake.

I received this recipe from a friend, several years ago, and enjoy preparing it as an after dinner dessert, as well as for bake sales, and bazaars.

It always receives very favorable reviews.

Due to the rich texture of the frosting, I prefer to keep the serving pieces on a thinner side.

It may be prepared several days  ahead, as it stores very well, refrigerated of course.

It is also suitable for freezing, wrapped well in foil, and stored in a freezer zip lock bag.

Coffee Slice Cake serving

Cake Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients:

  1. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  2. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 2 Tbs. instant coffee grinds (I used Sanka)
  4. 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  5. 1 cup + 2 Tbs. butter, softened
  6. 3 Tbs. powdered sugar
  7. 1 tsp. vanilla extract (I use rum extract, or Grand Marnier Liqueur)
  8. 1/2 cup coarse cookie crumbs (I used crushed Nabisco Nilla Wafers)
  9. 10 candied coffee beans for decoration (I used Maraschino Cherries)

Cake Directions:

  1. Beat egg yolks (6 yolks) and half the sugar (1/4 cup), until thick and light cream color.
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  3. Beat in remaining sugar (1/4 cup).
  4. Fold whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Gradually mix in flour mixture into the egg mixture.
  7. Fold in the ground almonds.
  8. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  9. Line a 13 x 9 cake pan with parchment paper, and grease it well (dab some grease on the bottom of the pan, to hold the paper down. I always use Crisco Shortening).
  10. Spread batter in the pan, and smooth it evenly with the back of a spoon.
  11. Bake 10 minutes, or until done.
  12. Remove from the oven. Let is stand in pan for 5 minutes.
  13. Invert it onto a cooling rack, peel off the parchment paper, and cool completely.
  14. Cut lengthwise into 3 even strips.
  15. Set aside.

Filling Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix corn starch, granulated sugar, coffee powder, and a little  milk (2 Tbs), to form a paste.
  2. Heat the remaining milk in a sauce pan, until warm.
  3. Stir in the cornstarch mixture.
  4. Return to heat, and bring to boil, stirring constantly (to prevent burning on the bottom), until thickened.
  5. Mix in your favorite extract, and remove from heat.
  6. Cool, stirring continuously ( I use a whisk), so it stays smooth and does not form a crust (I place the saucepan in a large pan of cold water, while stirring, for faster cooling).
  7. Beat the butter with the powdered sugar, until fluffy.
  8. Gradually beat in the cooled coffee sauce, turning it into mocha filling.
  9. Before spreading the filling on the cake strips, you can prepare a cake soaking solution of some warm water and your favorite extract or liquor, and drizzle it over each cake strip, for added moisture.
  10. Place one of the cake strips on a platter, and spread it with a layer of mocha filling.
  11. Repeat the process with the other two cake strips, stacking them on top of each other.
  12. Use the remaining mocha filling to frost the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Decorate with candied coffee beans, or use your own idea.
  14. Keep it refrigerated until 15 – 30 minutes before  serving.

Enjoy this decadent dessert.

Layered Brownies – Recipe

Layered brownies 2These brownies are sinfully delicious.

The middle layer of white chocolate, nuts, and caramel, makes them “oozing” with goodness.

Not to mention additional chocolate morsels mixed into the top layer of these brownies….yum.

It is a total delight for chocolate lovers!

Layered brownies 4

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (I used 3/4 cup ground almonds)
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate unsweetened chips)
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted (optional  to drizzle over the top)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cocoa, and salt.
  2. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixer bowl, mix the butter with the white and brown sugars, until creamy.
  4. Add 2 whole eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Mix in vanilla extract.
  6. Gradually beat in the flour mixture.
  7. Reserve 3/4 cup of the batter.
  8. Grease well 8 x 8 inch baking pan ( I used Crisco shortening).
  9. Scoop the remaining batter into the greased pan, and smooth it evenly with the back of a spoon.
  10. Sprinkle white chocolate chips over the cake batter.
  11. Sprinkle the nuts on top of chocolate chips.
  12. Drizzle the caramel topping over the top.
  13. Beat remaining egg into the reserved batter, until creamy, and light in color.
  14. Stir in the 3/4 cup of semi-sweet ( or unsweetened) chocolate chips.
  15. Spread evenly over the caramel topping.
  16. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  17. Cool.
  18. Cut into squares.
  19. Melt 1/4 cup white chocolate chips in the microwave, mix to creamy texture, and drizzle over the top of the brownies.

I served these warm, by zapping them in the microwave for 20 seconds, just before serving.  They were totally awesome, nice and warm, and so soft and creamy inside.

For a total indulgence, these would be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.


Whole-Wheat-Varenyky-Pierogies-crepesCream of Broccoli Soup

On Monday, February 20th, the Eastern Right Catholics begin their First Day of The Great Lent.

The Roman Catholics have until Ash Wednesday, for The Great Lent to begin.

This period of 40 days, ending on Easter Sunday, calls for an increased spiritual awareness, humbleness, and meatless meals on Fridays, and optional on Wednesdays.

Those who love meat in their daily diets, might find it challenging to prepare meatless meals, even if it’s only once or twice per week.

Have no fear, Suburbangrandma is here to offer TWENTY FIVE meatless meals suggestions.

  1. Varenyky (Perogy) – Filled Dumplings.
  2. Palushky - Potato Dumplings, also knows as Lazy Perogy, or Gnocchi.
  3. Halushky – Pasta with cabbage.
  4. Vegetarian Holubtsi - Cabbage Rolls.
  5. Crepes - Nalesnyky.
  6. Tuna Melts – warm, open face sandwiches.
  7. Veggie Burgers – very tasty and healthy.
  8. Tomato Soup – homemade version.
  9. Fruit Filled, Steamed Dumplings – so light and fluffy.
  10. Vegetarian Matzoh Lasagna – much lighter than the traditional pasta.
  11. Ukrainian Traditional Borscht – Red Beet Soup.
  12. Pasta with Mushrooms – quick and easy.
  13. Grilled Salmon – very tasty, even if seafood is not your favorite choice.
  14. Homemade Apple Fritters – not just for breakfast.
  15. Sweet Potato Palushky - gnocchi.
  16. Pasta with stir-fry veggies – light and tasty.
  17. Sorrel Borscht – Shchav soup.
  18. Easy Red Beet Borscht – use Veggie Broth for vegetarian version.
  19. Broccoli Cheese Soup – use Veggie Broth for vegetarian version.
  20. Corn Potato Soup – use Veggie Broth for vegetarian version.
  21. Stuffed Green Peppers – with Rice and Mushrooms.
  22. Stuffed Red Peppers -  Bulgar (replace turkey with veggies).
  23. Zucchini Casserole - so good and simple.
  24. Potato Balls – Knedle.
  25. Potato Pancakes - suitable as a main course with side dishes.

Korovai, Greeting Bread, and Icons, DisplayI was delighted to be invited to, and able to attend, a very nicely organized Ukrainian-Irish wedding.

I really enjoy weddings with numerous special traditions, intertwined with the typical wedding traditions, such as the cutting of the wedding cake, the garter and bouquet tossing, the mother-son dance, the father-daughter dance, etc.

I also like to photograph special decorations, the wedding cake, and other items that make the wedding different from all the rest.

This wedding also included many special rituals, practiced on many Ukrainian and Irish weddings.

I am very grateful to The Master of the Ceremony, who so kindly offered to share his copy of the explanations of these different rituals and blessings, which I could share with all of you.

The top picture in this post is the display of the Greeting Bread, The Korovai, Holy Icons,  Periwinkle Wreaths resting on an embroidered pillow, and gorgeous embroidered scarfs, “rushnyky”.  All these items have been used during the wedding ceremony and reception, and become keepsakes for the Bride and Groom.

This display is in front of the head table of the Bride and the Groom,  and the whole Bridal Party.

Bride and Groom Wreaths

The Periwinkle Wreaths (or crowns in some churches), are placed on the heads of the Bride and Groom, during the Crowning Ceremony.  These wreaths represent love, purity, and fertility.  They are a symbol of dawn of the new kingdom to be ruled, side by side, by the newlyweds from this moment on throughout their married life.

The pillow for the periwinkle wreaths, was embroidered by one of the Groom’s  sisters, specifically for this special occasion.


Korovai - close up Greeting Bread

The Korovai and the Greeting Bread was baked by the Groom’s 90 year old great-aunt, who also baked 6 beautifully decorated traditional Ukrainian Tortes, for the wedding reception.

The Korovai decorations (love birds, cones, Tree of Life branches) were created by the Groom’s sisters, who also assembled this whole Korovai.

Rushyky - Embroidered Ukrainian Runners

The Groom’s mother was very proud of her Ukrainian heritage, and its rich culture.  She was passionate about Ukrainian embroidery, so I just had to capture a close up view of the intricate work on these embroidered scarfs (towels)- Rushnyky, displayed on the Korovai table.

Part of the wedding reception rituals was a traditional wedding gift giving to the Bride and the Groom.

These traditional gifts, would not be so traditional at a non-Ukrainian, or non-Irish wedding, but in this culture, they represent a long-standing tradition of bestowing gifts upon the Bride and the Groom on their Wedding Day.

Gifts can come in all forms, such as best wishes, friendship, homemade gifts, or store-bought gifts.  Some of the best traditional gifts are passed on from generation to generation.

Ukrainians and Irish have many such treasures to share, so I will share some of these with you, and include short captions of their symbolism.


Honey, Linnen Handkerchief, Garlic

Honey - is sweet as the love that binds the new couple.  They will adhere to each other for support and happiness.   Their sweetness will attract others to celebrate life with them.

Garlic – represents health and strength.  In presenting garlic, we wish them health and longevity, to enjoy many happy years together.  Garlic also supposed to ward off evil spirits from their home and family.

Irish Linen Hankie – a little Irish Luck is sure to come your way

by carrying this sweet hankie on your Wedding Day.

Hand decorated Ukrainian Easter Eggs

Pysanky - Hand decorated Ukrainian Easter Eggs.  The egg represents life, and new beginning.  The etchings on its shell are full of decorated symbols, representing health, happiness, love, eternity, and God’s Blessing.

Ukrainian Treasure Box and gold coins

Ukrainian Jewel encrusted Treasure Box filled with Gold Coins -  13 Gold Coins are given to the Bride as a symbol signifying that the Groom will support her.  The number 13, represents Christ and the 12 Apostles.  The coins hold good wishes for prosperity. They are housed in a traditional Ukrainian bejeweled box, representing the home.

There also was a bottle of Honey Wine (I did not capture it in my pictures), which was believed to be the best way to ensure a new and happy beginning for the marriage.

The Newlyweds also received a traditional gift of a 10 lbs. loaf of rye bread, which they shared with all the gusts later on.  This gift of bread signified well wishes of good luck, so their home and family will always have plenty of food, and never shortage of bread.

Traditional Irish Blessing for the Newlyweds

Another very special gift presented to the Bride and Groom, was this beautifully created ceramic plaque, with the Irish Blessing.  I was able to get a close enough picture to display the full script.

Now you know what I meant at the beginning of this display, that these “traditional” gifts are not so traditional at other weddings, yet they are very special to this couple, and add a special tough to their Wedding Day celebration, reflecting their family traditions.

The Wedding Cake

Last, but not least, is the gorgeous Wedding Cake.  It looked stunning, and it was equally delicious.  To support the Bride’s Irish tradition, it was made with Irish Whiskey.  It was one of the best tasting wedding cakes I had in a long time.

The Wedding Cake - close up

You know how I love flowers, and admire beautiful crafts, thus I had to share a close up view of the wedding cake decorations.

Hope you enjoyed this post, and learned a lot about  wedding traditions you have not heard of, or seen before.

As for me, I am looking forward to another wedding, so I can take more pictures to share with you.

Valentine Cookies – Recipe

Valentine  cookies - close upRoses and chocolates are most popular to impress your Special Valentine with, but these heart-shaped cookies are even more special.

They are very delicate, delicious, and quite simple to make.

Your sweetheart will definitely be impressed with your baking skills, and best of all, you both can enjoy them together.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened at room temp
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1½  cup powdered sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Strawberry jam for filling

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, blend softened butter, egg yolks and eggs.
  2. Mix in the lemon rind, vanilla extract and powdered sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder.
  4. Mix flour mixture into the egg mixture, until well blended. You can use a mixer, or work the dough by hand.
  5. Cover the dough, and keep it refrigerated for at least an hour, or overnight.
  6. Once chilled enough, work with a 1/4 of the dough at a time.
  7. Massage the dough in your hands, for a minute or so, to soften it.
  8. Place it on a floured work surface, flatten slightly, flour lightly on top, and roll out to 1/8 inch thickness.
  9. Cut out cookies with heart-shaped cookie cutter.
  10. Cut out a circle, or a small heart, in the middle of 1/2 of the cookies, so the jam will show through, once filled and sandwiched together with the whole cookies.
  11. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet, at least 1/2 inch apart.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven, at 350 degrees F, for 10-15 minutes, or until set, and the edges are lightly golden, not browned.
  13. Remove baked cookies onto a wire cookie rack, to cool completely.
  14. Spread a thin layer of jam on the whole cookie, and top it with the cookie with a cut out circle or heart.
  15. Press together gently.
  16. Store in an air tight container, in a cool place.
  17. Before serving, sprinkle tops of cookies with powdered sugar.

Enjoy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


TIP: These cookies freeze well.  Place them in a zip-lock freezer bag, and freeze up to 3 months.  Thaw in the same bag, in a refrigerator, for at least 12-24 hours.

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