Mandarin Tahini Cake

I’ve wanted to write a baking recipe for the blog using tahini for forever and now it’s finally here. Tahini by itself can be kind of bitter but in baking it lends this awesome deep nutty flavor to anything, without being so transparent as its loud cousin, peanut butter. That is, it plays much more nicely with others, such as the mandarin orange.

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Bourbon Chocolate Cake

It’s Derby Day!

I grew up in Kentucky, and even though I moved away 6 years ago now, I’m still surprised when people from other states don’t watch the Derby every year.

Come on, guys, it’s the perfect setup.

  1. You get to spend the entire day drinking mint juleps and eating bourbon-infused desserts.
  2. Unlike sports with human athletes, there aren’t those fans who know every statistic for every player and over-anazlyse the entire game all day. You just pick a horse that looks cool, has a cool name, or that was shown playing in a mud puddle earlier in the day (oh, or I guess you can look at the official odds, if you wanna be THAT person). Bets are pretty low-stakes at $2 and up, so you can bet on your favorite just to give you someone to root for.
  3. The actual race takes likes 2 minutes, so even the shortest of attention spans can handle it.

Now, traditionally the dessert at any derby party is either Derby pie or bourbon balls. But I’ll let you in on a little secret that people who still live in Kentucky wouldn’t dare admit– Continue reading Bourbon Chocolate Cake

Blood Orange Carrot Cake

You know how when you finish watching the finale of a TV show you like, you feel like you just could not possibly wait another minute to start the next season? I feel that way about winter right now. We’ve had a taste of spring, so WHY is it not just actually HERE yet?

Fortunately, we do have something to tide us over in the meantime, kinda like the DVD special features. Alright, that might be enough of that analogy. What I’m building to here is that we are still in the end of the peak citrus season, so blood oranges are still pretty widely available.

For me, no food says “It’s Spring!” like a good ol’ carrot cake. Well, that and peas. But cakes are, of course, way more exciting, and this one gives us the perfect hybrid of the end of winter citrus with the beginning of spring desserts.

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Brandy & Brown Butter Strawberry Shake

I mean, do I even need to describe this one? Did you READ the title? Booze. Brown butter. Ice cream. And yes, I do realize that it is February. But just look at how awesome this would be as a shared shake for your Valentine! Or have some friends over and have a boozy shake night with a funny movie. Or take inspiration from me, who despite doubling the recipe and adding two straws for the sake of the photo, continued on to drink that whole thing as a dinner one night.

This recipe is another collaboration with Marie Teckmyer, who crafted her own version of a boozy shake. Make both and let us know whose is better! Or just love us both equally and spare me the stress of a competition. That works too.

We are both using local ingredients in our shakes. I used an awesome cocktail mix called Summer Crop by Molly’s Crafted, a local small batch mixer company here in Cleveland. As you might expect from the name, it’s like summer in a bottle, and I’ll take my summer any way I can find it right now. I’m also using the delicious ice cream from Mitchell’s, another local favorite. None of these companies are sponsoring this post, they just make great products. If you don’t live in the Cleveland area, you probably have your own great local brands you could support.

Okay, I’ll stop distracting you from shake-making. Carry on.

You will need:

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp nonfat dry milk powder
  • Half a pint of good vanilla ice cream
  • 1.5 ounces Cognac brandy
  • 3 ounces Molly’s Crafted Summer Crop
  • Chocolate, whipped cream, cookies, etc. for garnishing

To make the brown butter:

Begin melting the butter in a pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the dry milk powder over it with a spoon so that it doesn’t just form one giant clump, then whisk it through juuuust to make sure. Let that cook for a few minutes until you notice the milk solids turning brown. Those solids are where most of that toasty flavor come from in brown butter, which is why we’re using only those.

As soon as they look brown, like in this thoughtfully provided photo,

remove the pot from the heat. Pour the whole affair through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to strain out that beautiful brown deliciousness. Reserve the clarified butter part for another use. You can see me demonstrating what the separated results should look like in this second convenient visual aid.

I will say that if you don’t have milk powder, there will still be some milk solids in your butter, but to be honest, it probably won’t yield enough to really make a difference to your shake unless you’re making a whole stick of brown butter. You can omit the brown butter part entirely if you must, but only if you want a lot less sunshine in your life.

To make the shake:

Firstly, make sure you plan your garnishes ahead of time. If you’re just doing some whipped cream and chocolate shavings or something, you’re good to go. I, however, prefer shakes with as many garnishes shoved in as possible. I mean, you’re making a boozy butter milkshake, let’s not pretend this is the time for calorie restraint. Things like chocolate rims on the glass, that double-helix I piped inside of mine, etc. need to be done ahead, since you don’t want to be flipping glasses upside down once they’re full of shake.

Alright, so you’ve got that out of the way. Make sure your ice cream has softened on the counter for 5-10 minutes. Note that I called for GOOD vanilla ice cream. I used Mitchell’s Vanilla Bean, so I’d definitely recommend that if you live in the Cleveland area. If not, just get something with actual visible flecks of vanilla in it. None of that yellowish vanilla ice cream that comes in the giant tubs for middle school ice cream socials. Your brandy deserves better.

Okay, and now for the actual shake-making, which is ridiculously easy. Are you ready? Throw your softened ice cream, brown butter solids, brandy and Summer Crop into the bowl of a blender or large food processor. Blend just until smooth and clump-free but not too thin. And you’re done. Pour it into a glass immediately and add any remaining garnishes.

This recipe can easily be expanded for parties. Although personally if I were making this for a party, I’d probably serve them in smaller quantities as little shooters or something.

If you make this shake, be sure to tag me on Instagram @nhubble or use the hashtag #followthatfork so I can see your spin on it!

Brandy & Brown Butter Strawberry Shake

  • Prep Time: 10h


  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 pt good-quality vanilla ice cream
  • 1 1/2 fl oz Cognac brandy
  • 3 fl oz Molly's Crafted Summer Crop


To make brown butter:

  1. Begin to melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle dry milk powder over the butter and whisk to break up any clumps that form.
  2. Continue to cook for a few minutes, whisking as the milk solids color. Once they are lightly browned, remove the pot from the heat.
  3. Pour brown butter through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to separate the solids. Set aside the solids to use and reserve the clarified brown butter for another use.

To make the shake:

  1. Let the ice cream soften on the counter for 5-10 minutes before dumping it in the bowl of a blender or large food processor.
  2. Add the brown butter solids, brandy and Summer Crop mix to the ice cream. Blend just until combined, making sure there are no big lumps of ice cream.
  3. Pour into a glass, garnish and serve immediately.


Mulled Wine Poached Pears

Well, Christmas is over. And so begins that terrible part of the year where the rest of winter drags on without any of the festive holiday stuff. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Just because the holidays are technically over doesn’t mean we can’t keep enjoying some of the things that are typically reserved for December. And by “some of the things,” I mean mulled wine. Obviously.

So, is leftover mulled wine a thing? It tends to be for me, but I suspect that might just be thanks to my insistence on making it in such large quantities. If you have some too, then great! Use it up with this. If an elf snuck in and drank all your wine, or if you never made it to begin with, you can just make a new batch with the recipe below.

You also probably have some extra pears hanging around from a giant box a long distance relative sent you, right? I’ll assume yes. Here’s a great use for them.

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Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

So, I know Thanksgiving is still a couple days away. And yes yes, most of you have the whole thing about not “skipping over a whole holiday” and doing Christmas too early. But excuse me. Target has had Christmas stuff out for like a month and a half now, and I spend about half my life at Target. So, yeah, I’m ready for Christmas.

And you know what the best part of Christmas is? The cookies. Although I would also have accepted family, gifts, lights, music, hot chocolate, fireplaces, drinking or general merriness, if only that had fit into what I’m building to here. That’s right, gingerbread! Continue reading Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies