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July 2013

Ultra-Rich Almond Torte


I had great fun being a part of Dove Chocolate's TasteMakers program, mostly because Santa Maria did the baking and I got to do the eating. But, as if in a testament to the impermanence of the Universe, this, like all good things, must come to an end. This is the final recipe. Not to worry, though, for it's a doozy: Ultra-Rich Almond Torte. Check it out: 

This is an old Austrian recipe, adapted from Camilla Way, the mother of my childhood best friend, Erica. Camilla is a renowned baker in my little central Pennsylvania hometown, and this golden, rich cake is perfectly complimented by the impossibly fluffy chocolate frosting. It is my brother, Hal's, very favorite, and a treat he used to regularly request for his birthday.

It is not difficult to make, but it does require patience and precision -- it's a lovely gift to offer friends and family for a special occasion.

You'll need over a dozen eggs (14 to be exact), and 4 sticks of butter, so plan accordingly so you don't run out later in the week! 

Sometimes I forget to get the butter out of the refrigerator an hour or so in advance so that it is easy to cream -- here's your reminder to do this too!

Ultra-Rich Almond Torte


For cake:

  • 3 ½ cups blanched almonds
  • ¾ cup pastry flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 eggs, separated


For frosting:

  • 4 oz. DOVE dark chocolate
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 6 egg yolks (you can freeze the whites and make meringues on another occasion!)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and parchment paper two 8 ½ inch cake pans.  (This is a fun activity for kids.)

Grind almonds in a blender until they look like coarse flour.  Mix with pastry flour.  Set aside.

Cream butter until pale and fluffy.  Add sugar gradually. 

Separate eggs.  8 egg whites in one bowl, 8 egg yolks in another bowl.  Make sure that the bowl with the egg whites is very clean.

Mix the egg yolks together gently.

Gradually add the egg yolks to the butter and sugar mixture.

Gently fold the flour/almond mixture into the butter/sugar mixture.

Beat the egg whites until they are rounded peaks (not stiff peaks).  The egg whites should slide when you tilt the bowl.

Gently fold the egg whites into the butter/sugar/egg yolk batter.

Carefully scoop the batter into the pans and spread it to the edges with a spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Cool cakes before frosting.

For frosting:

Melt chocolate and mix into the softened butter.  **Watch your chocolate carefully on the lowest ‘melt’ setting to ensure that it doesn’t burn.

Add vanilla.

Mix the sugar and water and boil about 5 minutes (til it spins a thread).  Cool.

Add the 6 egg yolks to the chocolate/butter mixture and beat with an egg beater for 3 minutes.

After the sugar water mixture is cool, add to the chocolate/butter mixture and beat for 1 minute.


If you are not going to eat the cake immediately, refrigerate it so that the frosting won’t melt;  allow 30 minutes to soften outside the refrigerator before eating.

This cake freezes well.  Cover with aluminum foil and allow 2 hours to defrost outside the freezer before eating.

Makes: 1 beautiful layer cake, serves 20.

Sunshine Muffins

Sunshine muffins

As I mentioned last week, I have recently partnered with Dove Chocolate, to become part of its TasteMakers program, which means I’ve developed a few recipes for them. To be precise, that means I’ve teamed up with Santa Maria, who is much better working with chocolate (there’s a reason you’ve never seen me write here about my experiments making mole sauce: trust me, you wouldn’t want what I came up with).

Here is her latest creation: Sunshine Muffins, which she cooked up a few weeks ago, hence her suggestion for making them on a weekend. Now, I know it’s probably a Monday morning when you’re looking at this but it’s not as if you were about to walk away from your computer screen and make them this second, right? Even though it is Monday, it’s okay to dream a little bit:

What is the best way to welcome the weekend?  Warm muffins! That mix the delicious aromas of dark chocolate and tangy oranges.  If you like to make freshly squeezed orange juice, just make a little bit extra and you'll be well on your way to making sunshine muffins.

These remind me of Spain, the land of Valencia oranges, very sweet with a lovely tartness at the same time.  You can use other oranges too.  This recipe is an adaptation of one made by a friend, Tamara, with whom I fell out of touch during my tumultuous twenties.  I hope she is well and still enjoying these tasty treats!

Sunshine Muffins

  • 2 medium Valencia oranges (wash and dry thoroughly) to make 2 Tablespoons grated orange peel and ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 - 3 oz. Dove dark chocolate bars (total 6.60 oz. dark chocolate)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick) softened at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 2 cups flour


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prep time – about 10 minutes. 

Grease muffin cups with butter (recipe will make 12 large muffins). 

Coarsely chop chocolate.  Set aside.

Beat sugar and butter til pale and fluffy. 

Beat in eggs. 

Add orange peel. 

Add yogurt, juice, baking powder and baking soda.  

Mix well (batter will be liquid-y). 

Sprinkle flour, then chocolate over the batter.  

Fold gently, just enough to blend the flour. 

Pour into the muffin cups. 

Bake 15-20 minutes or until springy to the touch.


Makes: 12 large muffins

Surprise! Cookies

Surprise Cookies 2

All good marriages are partnerships, and I don’t just mean between husband and wife. For a marriage to prosper, partnerships with friends and extended family members must be created. These connections counter the modern feeling of alienation that even romantic love can’t salve, as Alain De Botton writes in “Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion:

In the lonely canyons of the modern city, there is no more honored emotion than love. However, this is not the love of which religions speak, not the expansive, universal brotherhood of mankind; it is a more jealous, restricted and ultimate meaner variety. It is a romantic love which sends us on a maniacal quest for a single person with whom we hope to achieve a life-long and complete communion, one person in particular who will spare us any need for people in general.

So we need our friends, we need our extended families, and we need good partnerships. This blog is no different, and recently it has partnered with Dove Chocolate, to become part of its TasteMakers program, which means I’ll be developing a few recipes for them here.

As the Stay at Stove Dad household is perfect partnership (ahem, with a good sense of humor), I’ve teamed with Santa Maria to develop the recipes. She’s much better at the sweeter things in life than I am. Here’s her first recipe, for Surprise! Cookies. And, is there a better way to make connections with others than to give them cookies? Here is her report:

One of the happy memories from my childhood is of biting into a warm cookie fresh from the oven.  My mom is a prodigious baker: molasses sugar cookies, Scotch shortbread, Tollhouse cookies, lemon sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies, snowballs, and, once in a blue moon, humble cookies with a delicious sliver of mint chocolate in the center.

That last recipe is lost, so I’ve done my best to create an equally delicious version that will give you a lovely chewy golden cookie, with a molten mint chocolate surprise inside.

The recipe is quick and easy – and if you prefer an even quicker and showier version, you can simply press the chocolates into the top of the batter, and not cover it. I prefer the surprise version because, who doesn’t like an unexpected treat?  And also because the chocolate stays gooey longer, insulated by the cookie batter.

Surprise! Cookies

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package DOVE Mint & Dark Chocolate Swirl Promise

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Recipe will make 3-4 dozen cookies.

Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time.

Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Place a DOVE Mint & Dark Chocolate Swirl Promise drop on top of each mound of cookie dough then, with greased fingers, gently push the chocolate drop into the batter, then pull the sides of the batter over the top of the chocolate drop so that it’s covered completely.

Bake for 10 minutes or til golden brown.

These cookies are delicious anytime, but a special treat when served warm from the oven, with a gooey center, and a cold glass of milk! 

Dove Chocolate Winner: A Red, White, and Blue Fruit Salad


I received many great responses to the “How Do You Use Mint?” giveaway of Dove Chocolate, and my favorite came from Anne in State College, Pennsylvania. She makes a Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad, which is doubly fitting because the contest was timed for Independence Day. As she said in her email to me, “You should have had it for the 4th!”

She’s right. It sounds delicious, and though it is patriotic in appearance, it looks good for any hot summer day. Enjoy, and thanks to everyone who replied with tips about using mint.

Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad

Makes 14 one cup servings

  •  8 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  •  6 cups blueberries
  • 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 bunch mint, plus extra for garnishing

Combine the watermelon, blueberries and feta in a large bowl.  Mix together the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil and honey, stirring to dissolve the honey.  Remove the leaves from the mint stems and chop the leaves. Pour the dressing over the fruit and cheese, add the mint and toss together.  Serve very cold, garnished with extra mint leaves. 

Post 4th of July Freedom-from-Frustration Family Checklists and Free Dove Chocolate

In case you were out of town last week and away from your computer, I’m giving away a bag of Dove chocolates. There are some details here, and at the end of this post. In the meantime, in the spirit of revolution and freedom suggested by the 4th of July holiday, I’ve made some changes around the Stay at Stove Dad house.

I recently met the founder of a nifty company called WallCandy Arts, which makes removable decals with white-board or chalk surfaces. This means you can put them up on walls or other surfaces, and then let your children write on them.

I was interested in trying them out not because I wanted to turn each of my girls into a budding James Thurber (the New Yorker cartoonist used to draw on the walls of his office), but because I we’ve been struggling around the house with basic organization and getting domestic tasks done. This has been very frustrating for all those involved.

I had read that simple checklists have the power to revolutionize medicine, and I thought if highly educated doctors could benefit from checklists, so could our humble family. I figured the decals would be useful for creating checklists that the kids could have fun with.

I wrote up a list of daily tasks for each of my daughters, and posted them on the fridge. We created a “Shared Task” list for the two of them to divvy up the chores of setting the table (I wanted to crowd-source the assigning of chores—we’ll see how this works out…), and here is a picture of what I mean.


Nina and Pinta had so much fun with the checklists today that they wanted to create one for Santa Maria and myself. Here’s what it looks like.


Now about that free chocolate: As I mentioned in my post last week, I’m giving away Dove Mint & Dark Chocolate Swirl Promises, and other treats. All you have to do is tell me how you use mint in your cooking, and I’ll pick the most interesting one to send a bag of goodies. I’ve gotten some great replies already (Thanks!), but I thought I’d keep the contest going one or two more days. Be sure to write me by Wednesday.

In looking at all the ways I use mint for my post last week, I left out one thirst-quenching drink: Hot-Summer Limeade. Here’s how you make it, and, yes, it uses mint.

Hot Summer Limeade

  • 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 sprigs mint

        Boil the water, and stir it into the sugar to make a simple syrup.

        Juice the limes.

        Mix the lime juice with the simple syrup and 3 cups water.

        Garnish with mint leaves and slivers of lime peel.

        Serve with ice, like this:


Note: The Dove promotion is paid, though all checklists and opions are mine, and mine alone.