Effortless Perfection

“These are the best macaroons I’ve ever had, and trust me – I know my macaroons!” I’m not usually one to brag, but this compliment (from my coworker Dianne who loves coconut) only confirmed how simply amazing these cookies are! I originally made these for a friend to congratulate his big win with the Spokane Symphony (congratulations Ross!) Wanting to create something both quick and easy, I came up with these Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons. I brought the remaining cookies to my office the next day – they disappeared almost instantly.
Though most Americans associate these as being macaroons, the “authentic” macaroon has no coconut whatsoever! It is instead a meringue-like cookie, made from almond paste and egg whites, that is believed to have originated within an Italian monastery several centuries ago. The term macaroon is derived from the Italian term maccarone, meaning “paste.” While the coconut variety is extremely popular in the US and the UK, its delicate, almond cousin takes the lead elsewhere.* That being said, if you like coconut and/or chocolate, you won’t think twice about these cookies’ departure from the norm – click HERE to bake a batch of these today!
And now for the musical pairing – I have to admit, cookies are always an interesting case for me. They can generally be assembled and baked in under 30 minutes. While these cookies were really easy to make, they had a surprising depth of flavor. This led me to choose a composer who is often seen as being simple, yet is far more complex when experienced: Bach. I chose his Fugue in B minor on a theme by Tomaso Albinoni. While there are only two voices in the work, it is beautifully intricate and surprisingly profound. The recording is by Glenn Gould, whose playing of this difficult fugue seems so entirely effortless – enjoy!   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQjF0TNsDCk

Sources Cited:
*”History of Macaroons.” The Nibble

Strawberries and Cozy Saturdays

As my previous post implied, this hasn’t been the easiest month for me – that being said, I’ve been dying to start blogging again. Considering I’m still on “the mend,” I haven’t been quite as active a culinarian…for those of you who know me, you can see why I had to do something during this “hurry up and wait” period. So I thought I could share a few recipes from my archives – aka photos of dishes that I never had the chance to post. So what better way to make a comeback than with Strawberry Chocolate Shortcakes with Whipped Cream?!
So why are we so addicted to shortcakes? Whether it be the crumbly, buttery biscuits or the bright, juicy berries, they have become one of the idyllic desserts in our culture. I used an interested method with these biscuits – rather than cubing cold butter and using a pastry cutter, I shredded the frozen butter with a cheese grater. The end result was a light, flaky biscuit. As you noticed, these are a little different than your “classic”  shortcakes – they have finely chopped chocolate bits – this is an optional add-in, but I loved the visual aesthetic. Click HERE to learn how to make these beautiful treats.
I’m blogging about these shortcakes on a Saturday, and quite frankly (since I’m relegated to limited activity) I’ve come to enjoy the refuge of these lazy days. Whether curling up on the sofa with a good book or enjoying one of the several TV shows on my queue (TNG and Justified are the current frontrunners), the weekends have proven ideal for summer rest. Though I don’t often listen to the works of Edvard Grieg, I felt that the Sarabande from his Holberg Suite, Op. 40 was the ideal pairing for such peaceful refuge. The suite is neoclassical (drawing from the Baroque style), though Grieg’s signature can be discerned throughout. This quality helped draw my connection to the idea that these shortcakes are also a thing “from the past.” Though the Sarabande is beautiful, the piece is relatively short – if you have the time, I recommend listening to all 5 movements. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjoBxMR095g&feature=related

Sources Cited:
“Holberg Suite.” Wikipedia.com 

Carnival of the Cakes

I’ve been a little too excited about blogging on these two cake ideas. Mind you, I am always an advocate for taste over decoration…but every now and then I give in and run wild with cute frosting ideas. Two occasions merited these frivolous tendencies, and the result couldn’t have been cuter! The first was for the going-away celebration for my dear friend Jenny from work, and the second was for my friend Diana Wensley’s birthday party.
The Terrier Cupcakes were almost too cute to eat, while the Kermit the Frog Cake was a definite hit with Diana (a huge Muppets fan!). My piece of advice on decorative frosting: the freezer IS your best friend! Frost some, let it chill, frost some more, let it chill. Time and patience are the unwritten rules here, but they will make all the difference in the end result. The idea for the cupcakes came from this video, and the kermit design from this blog.
While design was clearly an incentive behind these two, I couldn’t abandon my standards on taste. As such, I used my go-to chocolate cake (a la Ina Garten) for both occasions. With coffee and buttermilk listed, this is a super rich dessert! These ingredients, though, represent two of the few instances where I take shortcuts in baking: instant espresso and powdered buttermilk. While I don’t recommend these for recipes where coffee and buttermilk are the key flavors, they are perfect companions to a recipe featuring more dominant ingredients (like chocolate!). Check out my chocolate cake staple by clicking HERE.
I also paired both of these cakes with cream cheese frosting (one of the easier frosting type to decorate with during the hot summer months – buttercream is definitely a bust). As for the other ingredients, the terrier cupcakes are made with: big marshmallows (snout), halved mini marshmallows (ears) with pink sprinkles, M&M candies (eyes), and chocolate-covered pomegranates (nose). I separated the frosting into three parts for the Kermit cake, using only green and red food coloring. The lines are upside-down chocolate chips.
As a side note: there was another cupcake at the office party worth sharing – I have a vegan coworker, so I made a batch of vegan chocolate cakes that turned out remarkably well! While not frivolous in nature, these cupcakes were undeniably delicious in taste! They were super easy to make, and apple cider vinegar did wonders in making these look and taste like the real deal. The terrier cupcakes occupied the better chunk of my evening, so I made a simple swirl of peanut butter melted with honey for the topping – it was perfect! Check out these vegan delicacies by clicking HERE.
These adorable desserts deserved a piece that could represent both the spirit of their appearance and the enjoyment of their taste. Subletter Erin came to the rescue with the perfect suggestion: Le carnaval des animaux (The Carnival of the Animals), by Camille Saint-Saëns. Only 30 minutes in length, this suite consists of 14 separate movements that each represent a different type of animal. Much the way that I rarely indulge in “frivolous” decorating, Saint-Saëns was nervous this piece would debase his musical reputation. He only published one of the movements during his lifetime: “Le cygne” (The Swan), arguably the work’s most famous movement. The remainder of the work was published posthumously, and has since become one of his best-known works.* I’ve included the “Finale” movement, performed by the Chicago Symphony with James Levine for the Disney production Fantasia 2000 (which I recommend watching if you haven’t yet, even though they’ve made cuts throughout the works featured in the film). Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8W98Ig39f2U&feature=related

Sources Cited:
*”The Carnival of the Animals” Wikipedia.com

A Match Made in Heaven

Peanut Butter…Chocolate…has their ever been a more perfect pair? The brilliance of combining the two borders on genius, and has captivated dessert lovers for generations. I’ve made these particular cookies several times, and they are always foolproof (and disappear in a matter of minutes). I can’t say enough about these mouthwatering cookies, and can guarantee that almost everyone will love these Peanut Butter Cookie Cups.
It’s thanks to Harry Burnett Reese for making “two great tastes that taste great together” a reality. Reese, a dairyman and shipping foreman for Milton S. Hershey (yup, this guy) invented the Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cup in 1928. He went on to create his own company as the addicting candy became more and more successful; Hershey®’s purchased rights to the brand years later.* Fun Fact: For those of you who can’t get enough of this perfect pairing, Reese’s® apparently creates enough peanut butter cups to provide every person living in the United States, Japan, Europe, Australia, China, Africa, and India with one cup per year!**  It should be noted that while Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are ideal, other brands can be used (I, for one, used the Trader Joe’s brand – shown in the photo above).
These cookies are fairly simple to make, though timing is everything – it’s absolutely crucial to have the candies unwrapped and chilled in the freezer for at least 30 minutes prior to baking the cookies. Otherwise you will have nothing more than a melted mess of Reese’s (despite how delicious melted Reese’s may seem, you don’t want to be cleaning that off your kitchen counters – this is from experience). Though you will hate the wait, allowing the cookies to cool for the appropriate amount of time is very important as well. So stop debating about whether or not to bake these – click HERE to get started on these awesome cookies!
The idea that peanut butter and chocolate are a “match made in heaven” evoked, for me, the romance of Robert and Clara Schumann. Schumann was a 19th century German composer, best known for his piano works and lieder, or songs for voice and piano. Clara inspired much of Robert’s writing, who said the following on his inspirations: “You write to become immortal, or because the piano happens to be open, or you’ve looked into a pair of beautiful eyes.”^ Robert fell in love with the piano virtuoso when she was only 15, and they were married 6 years later. Their love still stands as one of the greats in classical music history. For this pairing (thanks to Tim Wilfong!), I chose the song Widmung from Myrthen – a collection of songs dedicated to Clara. This recording is by coloratura soprano Diana Damrau, and is a beautiful interpretation – enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QpChVbsPm8&NR=1

Sources Cited:
* “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups” Wikipedia.com 
** Reese’s Website 
^ “Robert Schumann: A Romantic Hero.” NPR.org 
# “Robert Schumann” Wikipedia.com 

Finding the Perfect Balance

There’s this small hole-in-the-wall bakery near my apartment that I had been dying to visit. The owner had won the lottery a while back, then cashed in and opened his own bakery! I just had to meet this guy. My roommate Jenn and I finally went, and after introducing myself we began talking about our shared passion for baking. We both immediately agreed upon the one book that every baker should own – Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible. No baking kitchen is complete without it! Recently when I was asked to bake a cake for a coworker’s going-away party, this “bible” certainly lived up to its name when I made the Chocolate Butter Cake with Mocha Espresso Buttercream.
What’s ingenious about Rose’s book is not the recipes themselves, but the science that structures them. Rather than assuming the old measured ratios, Rose explores the chemistry behind baking and how the different components react with one another. All of the recipes includes actual weight measurements, as well as an explanation behind the process and ingredient ratios. Additionally, she provides the basics so you can choose from a variety of cake batters, frostings, etc. to build your own!
This was the first time I had made a cake where the dry ingredients are added before the butter. Normally, the butter is creamed with the sugar to aerate the butter’s proteins and disperse the sugar crystals. By adding the butter after the dry ingredients, the fats in the butter are able to coat the gluten in the flour, and prevent the batter from toughening during the mixing process. The result is a melt-in-your-mouth cake whose texture is far more consistent than that from the traditional creaming method. The only downside to this process is that cakes won’t rise quite as high as they would with the creaming method. Since I was baking this for my entire office, a short double-layer cake wouldn’t quite cut it. Upon realizing this, I decided to bake a second batch. I used only one of the cakes to make a triple-layer, and froze the leftover for another use.
This buttercream is to die for, but I will warn you – I nearly lost the entire thing thinking I had botched it. Water and sugar is boiled to a “soft ball stage,” or when a spoonful can be dropped into very cold water and forms a ball while in the water. Patience is key here – I dropped several little drops into a constantly refilled glass until it reached that  point. My agony could also be blamed on the ridiculously hot weather, with my buttercream resembling a milk shake more than a frosting. So I refrigerated it for about 30 minutes, then removed it and whisked it with a hand mixer once again – the end result was gorgeous. To make it espresso, I added both instant espresso powder AND Kahlua. Click HERE to learn how to make this decadent cake.
To honor Rose’s baking wisdom, I wanted to choose a piece that reflects the way the different ingredients interact with one another. This led me to chamber music – unlike a large ensemble, every performer in a chamber setting plays a crucial role. The unique balance relies on the reactions the musicians have with one another, almost like a musical conversation. One person who arguably understood the “chemistry” of chamber music was Beethoven. Every voice in his works has a purposeful, expressive quality that is truly brilliant. This is especially true of his string quartets. For this cake, I chose his String Quartet No. 1 in F major, op. 18. The recording below is the Alban Berg Quartet performing the first movement, “Allegro con brio” – enjoy!

Sources Cited:
– Beranbaum, Rose Levy. The Cake Bible. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 1988.

Two Cupcakes, Both Alike in Delectability

One guaranteed way to brighten up a roomful of people is to present them with a platter of cupcakes. While other desserts can be equally as enchanting, there is something more special about the personal enjoyment cupcakes can provide. Each one is its own little present, waiting to be unwrapped and enjoyed. My office loves it when I make cupcakes, so for the monthly birthday celebration (when we acknowledge all of our coworkers with birthdays that month), I brought two very distinct varieties: Sour Cream-Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella and Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting.
Ever since visiting Germany with my youth orchestra when I was 16, I have had a true appreciation for the genius of Nutella: a sweet, spreadable delight that has no parallel in either flavor or form. Nutella is truly a baker’s best friend, given it is sure to please any who try it. In fact, it’s so amazing I decided to just use it AS the frosting alone – perhaps one of the tastiest shortcuts I’ve ever taken.
The cupcakes themselves are a little tricky – the sour cream gives them an inherent lightness in texture, to which the melted chocolate lends a beautiful silkiness. This makes the batter a little capricious (I had to toss 3 or 4 that sort of collapsed within the cups – they were that delicate). I cut holes out of the top to fill with the nutella, and I suggest using a serrated knife so you don’t “drag” the cake. The flavor of this cake made the effort all worthwhile – click HERE to check out these chocolatey delights.
This next recipe has been in my repertoire for quite some time now, and it has never failed to please. It is quite time consuming, given all the prep work and steps involved. The reduced coconut milk isn’t too scary to make, just be sure to keep an eye on the pot to prevent scorching. Vanilla bean is absolutely necessary here – it is what gives these cupcakes their profound taste. Trust me, you won’t regret taking the time to create these – click HERE to learn how to make these fantastic cupcakes.
Now I mentioned I made these for an office birthday party – someone had purchased a gallon of vanilla ice cream, and I started noticing that a few of my coworkers were halving one of each cupcake and placing the two types in a bowl together with a scoop of ice cream. I thought I had seen it all, but this was definitely a novel concept: pairing together two entirely different flavors with a “loving” scoop of ice cream. Funny thing is, they were a match made in heaven!
This inevitably led me to choose my musical pairing for this piece: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture. I had initially intended to post these two recipes separately, but this was the perfect way to combine the two:  This piece is styled in sonata form (fast-slow-fast), with the middle section containing the work extremely well-known “love theme.” This work, which runs at just under 20 minutes, hopes to capture the passion and color of the story, rather than narrate the tale itself. Below I’ve included a recording of the London Symphony Orchestra with Valery Gergiev – Enjoy!

Finding a Sweeter Sunrise

Waking up is rarely an easy task: thoughts of the day ahead and the work left to be done are little help. The cure? Freshly baked muffins. The ambrosial scent of these morning delights can rouse any sleeping beauty. While the gorgeous Boston summers are arguably what make the winters tolerable, we had a rough stretch of weather for a good part of May. To help “rouse” the spirits of my fellow coworkers, I felt that freshly baked muffins were in order and made the following: Banana Nut Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Vegan Blueberry-Orange Muffins.
The term “muffin” is believed to been derived from the French term moufflet, or “soft bread.” The original cakes were made using yeast, and tended to be round, flat, and sweetened with a touch of sugar. Today’s English muffins are much closer to this variety, only they are cooked on a griddle rather than baked. Muffins as Americans know them are substantially different: they are made without yeast, baked in small pans, and are much sweeter. The 19th century saw rise to this style of muffin, with classics such as “blueberry” and “bran” gracing a number of American cookbooks. The actual origin of muffins is extremely convoluted, and is as traceable as the origin of bread itself.*
There is only one answer for ugly, overripe bananas: muffins. Banana muffins are, in essence, miniature versions of banana bread and thus extremely simple to make! This recipe is from one of my favorite cooking blogs, SimplyRecipes, with the only difference being my addition of chocolate chips (at the request of my coworker Victor). These muffins are fantastic, and I guarantee they will be consumed within a matter of hours (as were mine). Check out how to make these breakfast delights by clicking HERE.
The term “vegan” is a scary one for a baker to hear, yet I was willing to attempt one such recipe for the sake of my vegan friend Rosena. I chose to go with THE classic: blueberry. The trick here was to get a muffin that had a velvety texture, yet wasn’t too dense. If I had chosen to label these as traditional blueberry muffins, no one would have guessed they were vegan. The apple cider vinegar is a crucial ingredient, giving these muffins a lightness akin to the regular variety. I chose orange zest over lemon, wanting a more summery taste – it was possibly one of the best decisions I could have made. Trick your taste buds and try these vegan muffins by clicking HERE.
Since muffins are best enjoyed with a cup of coffee and a golden sunrise, I paired these with one of my favorite works: Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No.2. This is honestly one of the most beautiful pieces, and has been a favorite of mine for years. The work in its entirety is a ballet of three parts, and stands as Ravel’s longest work at nearly at nearly one hour in length. The story is based upon the legendary romance of a goatherd named Daphnis and a shepherdess named Chloé.**
Ravel later selected excerpts from the ballet to create two orchestral suites. The second suite is perhaps the most popular, encompassing the more complex elements of the overall work. The suite opens with “daybreak,” where a sleeping Daphnis is awakened to be reunited with his beloved Chloé, who has just been rescued by the god Pan from a band of pirates.** I have included here the opening of the Suite No.2 with the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan. The sad thing about this video is that it ends RIGHT before one of THE solo of all flute solos in orchestral repertoire takes place…which is why I’ve included a second link with my biggest flute crush playing the solo: Emmanuel Pahud. Luckily, it’s the same orchestra (different conductor), making it the closest thing to a continued recording as YouTube can provide. This is genuinely a gorgeous work, and I hope you enjoy it!

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm6zNYZoHJs
2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HdpAoI8Ciw

Sources Cited:
* http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq2.html#americanmuffins
** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daphnis_et_Chloé

Harnessing a Taste for Derby

Derby Day Celebrations are perhaps some of most ironic of all sporting affairs. In Kentucky there is a two-week long festival celebrating the race, which is all of 90 seconds. That’s right – the Kentucky Derby lasts no more than 2 minutes, yet is the state’s most prominent annual event. Nonetheless, one can’t help but be enchanted with Derby enthusiasm and its beloved traditions: mint juleps, ridiculous attire (especially hats), endless parades, garlands of roses, and every pie imaginable.* My friend Beth McDonald (having completed her Bachelor’s at the University of Kentucky) is a genuine Derby enthusiast. She hosted her second annual Derby Day Party this past weekend, and enlisted my pie expertise. So I arrived at the party donning an enormous hat with the following two pies: Kentucky Bourbon-Walnut Pie with Chocolate Ganache and Peanut Butter Silk Pie with Pretzel Crust.
I have never been, and never intend to be, one who relies on a box – “from scratch” shall forever be my baking mantra. Pillsbury frozen pie crusts make it seem so simple to, when, in fact, pie crusts are an inherent art form to a number of culinary traditions. The creation of the perfect pie crust takes place over the course of two to three days, ideally. This includes chilling, resting, and baking. I always cube my butter and freeze it the night before I make pie dough (tip from SimplyRecipes). I then wake up early enough the next day to make the dough, and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours. Patience is what makes the perfect pie crust – so if you are craving a pie last-minute, then and only then is Pillsbury your best friend.
No Derby is complete without a “Derby Pie”. A Kentucky tradition dating back to 1950, the original Derby Pie was a chocolate-walnut tart created by Walter and Leaudra Kern, owners of the Melrose Inn. A popular addition to this pie is a quarter cup of Kentucky Bourbon, as well as substituting pecans for the walnuts. I opted for the traditional walnuts, but added some of Kentucky’s finest: Woodford Reserve. The title “Derby Pie” is  a trademark strongly defended by the Kerns’ Kitchen, so any publication of the recipe, from this blog to the Bon Appétit cooking magazine, must use an alternate title.** For some reason the top of my pie was less seemly than normal (half the walnuts migrated over to one side of the pie, and the chocolate was more prominent on the other), so I covered mine in a silky layer of ganache. And besides, who doesn’t love melted chocolate? Check out my version of this classic by clicking HERE
If there is such a thing as a pretzel addiction, then I am guilty as charged. I LOVE pretzels (as all my friends know). The duplicity of this pie is what makes it truly remarkable: sweet and salty, silky and crunchy, peanut and pretzel. This pretzel addict was sold.
This recipe was a combination of two recipes. It makes a very soft pie (fair warning) but with a fantastic flavor! That being said, keep this pie chilled until ready to serve.  Both the filling and crust are fairly simple (compared to the previous pie in this post), and can be made either the day of or the night before. For the sake of convenience, I almost always try to make things the day before, if possible. I made this pie with crunch peanut butter, to add some more texture to the filling. Click HERE to learn how to make this sweet and salty delight.
The musical pairing for these pies was a no-brainer: William Tell Overture. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, think of every TV Show/cartoon with racing horses…remember that theme? Yes, this is a cliché choice for Derby Day pies, but the selection is far too fitting to ignore. This overture is (in actuality) the opening to Gioachino Rossini’s Guillame Tell – an opera that tells the story of the Swiss legend and hero William Tell. Yet the popular radio/television series The Lone Rangerhas forever displaced the context of this overture for millions of Americans. The overture is divided into four continuous sections. The known and loved excerpt comes from the Finale – the “cavalry charge” (contextually part of the battle scene in Guillame Tell) that served as the opening sequence for the classic television series.*** The video I have included here include the final two sections: the Ranz des Vaches, or “Call to the Cows”, and the Finale. The Ranz des Vaches has a pastorale quality, and features the English Horn; this section is yet another highly recognized theme. The recording features conductor Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic – I highly recommend taking the time to listen to the video “Part 1” as well to get a sense for the whole piece. Enjoy!

Sources cited:
* “Kentucky Derby.” Wikipedia.com
** “Derby pie.” Wikipedia.com
*** “William Tell Overture.” Wikipedia.com

The Darker Charms of Cocoa…

Rich, dark, and handsome – can a more perfect chocolate cake be described? 😉 While I tend to go for the less-complicated types (assembly-wise), a chocolate layer cake is the definition of baked perfection. With a velvety texture and creamy frosting, this cake can definitely turn heads. Prior to this making this version, I thought I had found my “one and only” recipe for chocolate cake – this one proved otherwise. Equally rich and twice as dark, I had found a new treasure. My go-to will probably always be my first love, but this Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting has won a special place in my recipe chronicles.
Now you’re probably dying to know my all-time favorite recipe, but that will have to wait for a later post (it’s too special for a simple shout-out). This is a RICH cake – the velvety texture comes from a cup of sour cream (making it necessary to finding a creative use for the rest of the 16 oz carton I had to buy – referred to in my previous post) and Dutch Process cocoa. Natural unsweetened cocoa powder was all I had used in baking for years, yet this recipe compelled me to do my research. Natural cocoa is untreated, ground cocoa powder – its bitter taste provides a depth of flavor that is ideal for brownies and cookies. Dutch Process, on the other hand, has a far more subtle taste as it has been treated with an alkali (often a potassium solution) to offset its acidity; this neutralization also imparts a darker hue on the powder, making it an ideal cocoa for darker cakes. Many people prefer the taste of Dutch Process, believing natural cocoa imparts a tangible acerbity on cakes. It is safe to substitute natural cocoa for Dutch Process, but not the other way around.*
This recipe had been on my radar for some time now – the original calls for a Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting with a Chocolate Ganache topping. While that looks fantastic, I was more interested in the cake itself. Additionally, while I baked all three layers, I only used two in the final assembly considering there would only be 8 guests total (the unused cake layer I topped with frosting and stored in the fridge for later). As you can tell from my post not long ago, vanilla bean has become a new obsession of mine. While I admire the convenience and affordability of extract, nothing beats the intensity and beautiful aesthetic of vanilla seeds. I adapted the cream cheese frosting from the original recipe to make this vanilla frosting. I added some lemon juice to counterbalance the sweetness of the cake. You can find out how to make this decadent dessert by clicking HERE
For this work, I wanted to reflect on the contrasts of this cake – the rich quality of the chocolate paired with the subtle beauty of fresh vanilla bean. After several considerations, my friend Audrey Wright (violinist) recommended the Strauss Violin Sonata. I had never heard the work, but was immediately convinced after finding the (below) recording with Sarah Chang. Strauss was only 24 when he composed the piece! The sonata places formidable demands on the performers, both technically and musically, revealing a devotion to the grander textures of orchestral writing (as revealed in his tone poem from that same year – Don Juan).** The sweeping phrases infused with moments of lyrical clarity pair beautifully with this cake. Additionally, the passionate quality of this work finds credence in Strauss’s recent acquaintance with his future bride. What better way to complement the charm of this recipe? It was a pleasure to become acquainted with this piece, and I can only hope you will feel the same. Enjoy!

Sources Cited:
*”Cocoa Powder FAQ: Dutch-process & natural cocoa powder.” DavidLebovitz.com
**”Richard Strauss.” Wikipedia.com