Poppy Seed Cake

I wanted to make a poppy seed cake for my husband’s birthday, but he hadn’t been too thrilled with the original recipe. Fine. He was right. The first cake was not exceptional. So I pushed myself to create a better dessert. “Poppy Seed Honey Cake” sounded awesome, so at least I had a good name.

Warm honey syrup's poured over poppy seed cake once bakedI searched the web, but didn’t find anyone else who had used honey in a simple syrup to pour on while the cake’s still warm. But that was my plan. In my research, I did find an article about the virtues of not over-heating honey. Supposedly, the flavor is better when the honey isn’t baked into the cake, and it’ll retain more nutrients. Perfect—my plan was to thin the honey in a bit of warm water, then pour it over the baked cake. If it would have even more flavor this way, hurray!

I still let the poppy seeds soak in some scalded milk first; they pop a little this way, which I think improves the texture of this cake. An easy Bundt cake for casual gatherings, picnics, and such. And for my husband’s birthday! It’ll keep well too, as the honey syrup keeps it moist.

Serves 12.


  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 c. poppy seeds
  • 1 TBS. lemon juice
  • 6 eggs total (divided)
  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1 c. honey

Scald milk in small pot, remove from heat, Add poppy seeds and lemon juice; let stand for an hour or more. Use: > 1 1/2 c. milk > 1 c. poppy seeds > 1 TBS. lemon juice

Beat until light: > 6 egg yolks > 1 c. butter > 1 c. brown sugar

Set aside whipped yolk mixture; whip egg whites until stiff: > 6 egg whites

Measure and mix together: > 2 c. flour > 2 tsp. baking soda > 1/2 tsp. salt

Fold all the above ingredients together. Bake in well-buttered Bundt pan, at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

A few minutes before cake is done, mix together: > 1/2 c. boiling water > 1 c. honey

The cake’s done when a tooth inserted comes out clean. Leave cake in Bundt pan, pouring the honey mixture over cake. Let the cake sit in the pan for about an hour, until the liquid’s absorbed.

Remove from pan, inverting onto a plate. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Pasta Salad w/ Honey Mustard Dressing

This pasta salad is made with “Perciatelli”, AKA “”. Sounds fancy, but what is it, right? It looks like a fat spaghetti noodle, but it has a tiny hole in the middle. Kind of like a very skinny straw. This gives it a great “chew”, in my opinion!

Pasta Salad w/ Sweet PotatoesI love this salad. It doesn’t hurt that it also has grilled sweet potatoes in it, cooled off to build up their “resistant starch” (good stuff for our bods). And the grilled zucchini lightens it up some. Add a honey-mustard dressing, made from scratch, and it’s a treat! Perfect for potlucks and parties.

Serves 16 or so as a side


  • 1 lb. perciatelli pasta
  • 3 zucchini (about 1 11/2 lb.)
  • 3 sweet potatoes (about 1 11/2 lb.)
  • One recipe Honey Mustard Dressing (see below)

Add uncooked noodles to boiling, salted water and cook on medium low heat for 11 minutes, or to taste: > 1 lb. perciatelli pasta

Add sweet potatoes to hot iron skillet, adding water almost to cover. Let them steam as the water boils away, for about 5 minutes. Use: > 3 sweet potatoes

Turn sweet potatoes over, adding another splash of water, and cook until tender. As water evaporates, add a drizzle of olive oil. Let cool when finished.

Grill: > 3 zucchini

Let pasta and veggies cool in a big bowl. Toss the cooled ingredients with one recipe Honey Mustard Dressing (about 1 cup).

Garnish the bowl of pasta salad with fresh herbs. And maybe a nasturtium flower!


Honey Mustard Dressing

 We make our salad dressings from scratch at the deli, although we’ve never found time to make homemade mayonnaise. We just go through too much! So this dressing’s only made at home, for family and friends. It’s great on greens, and also, for the pasta salad recipe, above.

Makes just over a cup.

  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBS. Dijon mustard (.12)
  • 2 tsp. vinegar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. olive oil (.185)
  • 2 TBS. honey
  • 1/8 tsp. orange extract
  • 1/8 tsp. liquid smoke
  • fresh tarragon and thyme

In small, narrow container, whip the following with immersion blender: > 1 egg > 3 TBS. Dijon mustard > 1 tsp. vinegar > 1/2 tsp. salt

Measure olive oil into a pouring cup, and very slowly, drizzle in a few tablespoons of the oil into the above mix

Once the first oil is emulsified into the mix, slowly add the rest, beating continually until all the oil is absorbed.

Add and blend until ingredients are mixed in.: > 2 TBS. honey > 1/8 tsp. orange extract > 1/8 tsp. liquid smoke > fresh tarragon and thyme > 1 tsp. vinegar

Use for green salads, or as the dressing for pasta salads.

Refrigerated, keeps one month.

Mayonnaise (AKA “Aioli”)

I use extra virgin olive oil and garlic in my mayonnaise (it’s so much healthier than the alternatives), but that means it’s almost “Aioli”. Which sounds so classy. Aioli is an emulsion of garlic and olive oil, sometimes containing egg yolk to help it emulsify.

If the olive oil flavor is too strong, use part coconut oil or refined olive oil, for a milder dressing.

Make mayo w/ olive oil, healthy!I sabotaged my early efforts at making mayonnaise by using an over-sized mixing container. The food processor did work, as long as I was making deli-sized quantities. But for smaller, home-sized quantities, best results come with using an immersion blender and a narrow, tall container.

Note that, unlike the typical preservative-laden mayonnaise, homemade mayonnaise won’t keep as long. At all. Eat it all now! Or a week or two, for optimum freshness and flavor.

Makes almost a quart


  • 2 TBS. Dijon mustard
  • 3 egg yolks (or 2 whole eggs)
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 3/4 c. olive oil, divided
  • 3 TBS. lemon juice (or to taste)
  • Optional: Chopped herbs and black pepper

In a narrow, tall container, mix well with an immersion blender: > 2 TBS. Dijon mustard > 3 egg yolks > 1/4 c. olive oil > 3 cloves garlic > 2 tsp. salt > 2 tsp. white wine vinegar

Add the next round of oil in very slowly, letting it get emulsified into the mix: > 1/2 c. olive oil

As soon as it thickens, add remaining oil in steady stream: > 2 c. olive oil

When thick, stir in just until smooth: > Chopped herbs and black pepper > 3 TBS. lemon juice (or to taste)

Use this special sauce as a veggie or bread dip, or on seafood, in slaws, potato salad, etc.

Keeps one-two weeks.

Root Beer, Healthy Soda Style, Probiotic

I had been pretty disappointed in my earlier attempts at homemade probiotic root beer. I bought all these individual ingredients to make it from scratch, only to realize it would’ve been much easier to just buy natural (or even a ).

But then I started adding “Ginger Bug” to the second ferment of this “root beer”. I discovered this made a pretty authentic, healthy substitute for the typical root beer soda. And now that I have the root beer ingredients on hand, I can make many batches of this extract, for considerably less cost than buying the store-bought extract. And–the blend can be customized to individual tastes.

Root Beer, Homemade, Healthy, ProbioticI finally have a great root beer soda recipe, even though it took awhile. First off, some folks said, “boil the bark for for a long time”, or “pour more boiling water on the strained bark, to extract more flavor and make a second batch.

Nope–that did not work out well. I discovered that the best flavor comes from simmering the first four ingredients for twenty minutes only. I suspect that other less-desirable elements start coming out when it’s simmered for longer. Personal opinion- just sayin’.

This recipe makes 2-3 cups, enough for two or three batches of 32-oz. brew. The extra can be stored in refrigerator for several months.


  • 2 TBS.
  • Optional: 1 TBS.
  • 1/4 tsp.
  • 1 tsp. licorice root
  • 3 c. boiling water (filtered)
  • Optional: 1/4 tsp. each coriander, anise seed, clove
  • 1/4 c. + 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 TBS. lime juice


  • 1/3 c. “ginger bug” per bottle of second ferment
  • 1 c. finished root beer extract
  • Scant 3 c. first-ferment kombucha, ready for second ferment

Add to a small pot: > 2 TBS. sarsaparilla root > 1 TBS. sassafras bark> 1/4 tsp. wintergreen leaf > 1 tsp. licorice root > 3 c. boiling water (filtered)

Bring mixture back to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into a bowl or other container.

After straining the above mix, caramelize sugar. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar on medium-high heat just until all sugar has dissolved and is golden. Use: > 1/4 c. sugar

After the sugar has caramelized, add more sugar, stirring to dissolve. Use: > 1/4 c. sugar

To the pan of sugars, slowly add back some of the strained liquid. Stir until smooth, reheating to dissolve sugar, if necessary.

Add the strained liquid mixed with the caramelized sugar to a quart jar. Also add: > 1 tsp. molasses > 1 tsp. vanilla extract > 1/2 TBS. lime juice

Shake or stir well until dissolved. This “Root Beer Extract” will make two or three 32-oz. bottles of finished root beer “soda”.

For the second ferment “soda”, use one 32-oz. bottle. Add: > 1/3 c. “Ginger Bug” (see recipe) > 1 c. Root Beer Extract > scant 3 c. first-ferment kombucha (or kefir)

Leave the second-ferment bottle out for a day or two, until well-carbonated, then refrigerate. Refrigerated, it keeps up to a month.

Garden Pasta w/ Orzo, Carrots, Peas, Herbs

This was a popular thirty-some years back, when we first opened the deli. It still goes over well when I bring it to a potluck. One nice feature: it uses ingredients I usually have on hand–carrots and frozen peas. They give it color, and the sunflower seeds and pine nuts add a nice crunch.

Orzo Pasta Salad w/ Carrots, Peas, Pine NutsOrzo is a rice-shaped pasta. Rice could also be substituted for the pasta, making it gluten-free.

Serves 6-8 or so.


  • 8 oz. orzo
  • Splash olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. carrots, peeled
  • 1/4 c. mayo
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2.tsp. Vege-Sal
  • 1/2 TBS. rubbed, dry Italian herbs
  • pinch cayenne
  • Half bag (12 oz. size) green peas, frozen, thawed
  • 2/3 c. sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 c. pine nuts

Cook: > 8 oz. orzo

Drain and rinse pasta; let cool. Toss cooled pasta with: > splash olive oil

Steam or microwave until tender, then dice when cooled. Use: > 3/4 lb. carrots

In bowl, mix well: > 1/4 c. mayo > 1/2 tsp. pepper > 2 tsp. Vege-Sal > 1/2 TBS. rubbed, dry Italian herbs > pinch cayenne

Mix all ingredients in bowl, adding: > 12 oz. green peas, frozen, thawed > cooked, diced carrots > cooled pasta > 2/3 c. sunflower seeds > 1/3 c. pine nuts

Green Goddess Dip w/ Homemade Mayo

Back in the seventies, my first job was as a busgirl at a fancy restaurant. I filled the Green Goddess dressing crocks hourly during the dinner rush–it was a very popular, signature dressing at “Cooper’s Arms”.

The chefs-in-training got to make the dressing during off hours. Now I realize it would’ve been nice to check out their recipe and compare it to mine. But I would’ve wanted to make my own Paleo-style, healthy mayonnaise for the base, so it wouldn’t have been quite the same.

I made a batch of this to bring to the cabin on the family’s annual summer vacation. I guess it was a success–my granddaughter put it on several items and said she LOVED it. Nice. It was a hit!

Green Goddess w/ Homemade MayonnaiseA combination of herbs, garlic, and anchovy, blended with homemade mayonnaise, makes a delicious dip for veggies, bread, or a spread for sandwiches. Add spinach leaves to make a healthy substitute for Spinach Dip!

Makes 3 cups



  • 1 TBS. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 TBS. + 1/4 c. + 1 c. olive oil
  • 2 TBS. lemon juice


  • 1 c. green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 c. favorite herbs (tarragon, thyme, watercress, basil, mint, etc.)
  • 1/2 c. fresh parsley
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 2-oz. can anchovies
  • Optional: 1/2 c. sour cream
  • Optional: Sliced vegetables to dip

To make homemade mayonnaise, mix with an immersion blender, in a small, deep container: > 1 TBS. Dijon mustard > 1 tsp. white wine vinegar > 2 egg yolks > 1 tsp. salt

Add and mix some more: > 2 TBS. olive oil

Very slowly add the next quantity of olive oil: > 1/4 c. olive oil

Then blend in the last of the olive oil more quickly, as it will incorporate more easily: > 1 c. olive oil

Last, blend in: > 2 TBS. lemon juice

Remove mayonnaise to a separate bowl, and use the immersion blender to process the remaining ingredients: > 1 c. green onions, chopped > 1/2 c. favorite herbs (tarragon, thyme, watercress, basil, mint, etc.) > 1/2 c. fresh parsley > 4 cloves fresh garlic > 1 2-oz. can anchovies > 1 TBS. lemon juice

Fold the pureed herb/anchovy mix into the mayonnaise. Optional: Fold the sour cream in as well, if desired.

Serve with sliced vegetables or as dip for bread, or on sandwiches. Keeps one to two weeks.

*Substitute 1 1/2 c. mayonnaise for the homemade mayonnaise, if desired

Golden Milk AM Blend (w/ Power Herbs)

Turmeric! It’s anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and about ten other things. Basically, the answer for everything. (OK, maybe we can’t go that far…) It’s gone mainstream, too. I just saw “Golden Milk Powder” samples featured on display at a local store. But the product had dextrose and other weird ingredients in it and it was pricier, so I’ll continue to make my own. Mine is higher quality, even if it is a little more time-consuming.

The blend below is perfect for the morning. It includes matcha green tea, gelatin, and some serious power herbs. (The benefits of these herbs are impressive, as a quick word-search will prove.)

This recipe is not the one you stir together in the evening, in some “relaxing” ritual. (I don’t have time for that myself!) No, this is a quick, handy version, to get optimal nourishment in minimal time. Perfect for a fast breakfast, for those of us who need to stay healthy while keeping up with a tight, rigorous routine.

(If you DO want to go all out with an elaborate ritual, try this recipe, using fresh turmeric root…)

Golden Milk Mix for easy drinks, healthEvery morning, I whirl up a hot drink for husband Tom and I in the blender. I use a scant 1-oz. scoop of this Golden Milk AM blend, plus about 2 TBS. “bullet-proof coco-nut milk” (or coconut cream or oil), for two drinks. I fresh-grate some black pepper on top, since it works synergistically with the turmeric.

Oh, I also add a raw egg (yes, I sometimes feel like Rocky Balboa). But it’s delicious!

You can leave some of these items out. Or you could do like me and invest in these bulk herbs. After researching their benefits, I invested, and have been glad I did!

 This particular recipe yields almost a quart of concentrated blend, and will make about 40 drinks.


Mix the dry ingredients in a quart jar, shaking until mixed. Use: > 1/3 turmeric powder > 3 1/2 TBS. matcha green tea > 1/2 c. gelatin > 2 TBS. Eleuthrero Ginsing > 2 1/2 TBS. maca powder > 2 1/2 tsp. Fo-ti

For 2 drinks, process until frothy in blender: > scant 2 TBS. Golden Mix AM > 2 TBS. “bullet-proof nut milk” (or coconut cream/oil) > 1-2 c. boiling water

Grate fresh black pepper on top and serve.

White Chocolate Cake w/ Strawberries

My mom subscribed to Sunset and Bon Appetit magazines for years (back in the seventies and eighties), and was inspired to make fancy cakes like this, found among the pages. I made the cake again, some fifteen or more years ago, for our oldest son’s birthday. I guess it made quite an impression–he recently asked if I could make it again. I had to do some serious file-digging to turn it up, but I found it. We really enjoyed this birthday cake!

White Cake with Poppy Seeds, White Chocolate, StrawberriesI originally made this cake with cake flour. Well, I don’t make too many cakes, so the next time I went to use it, ew–it had bugs in it! So…I’m much happier with the alternative: using less regular flour and adding a bit of cornstarch. That brings the protein level to that of cake flour, and makes quite a light cake in the process.

Serves 12 or so.


  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. corn starch
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. sugar (.96 lb.)
  • 1 c. butter (.50 lb.)
  • 1 TBS. lemon peel
  • 4 large eggs
  • Scant 2 TBS. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. room-temperature buttermilk
  • 2 TBS. poppy seeds


  • 3/4 c. sugar (.37 lb.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 TBS. lemon juice
  • 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped
  • 3 c. cream, whipped
  • 2 pt. fresh strawberries
  • Optional: White chocolate curls or leaves*

Use 10″ spring form pan; line the bottom with a circle of buttered wax paper.

Mix and set aside: > 2 1/2 c. flour > 1/3 c. corn starch > 2 tsp. baking powder > 1/2 tsp. baking soda > 1/2 tsp. salt

In stand mixer, beat until light: > 2 c. sugar > 1 c. butter

Add one at a time: > 4 large eggs

Also add: > scant 2 TBS. lemon juice > 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Add alternately: > dry ingredients > 1 c. room-temp. buttermilk > 2 TBS. poppy seeds

Bake 50-60 minutes at 375 degrees, until toothpick comes out clean.

White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The sugar-lemon-egg mixture can be done pretty quickly in the microwave, or use a double-boiler. First, heat sugar and lemon juice until bubbly: > 3/4 c. sugar (.37 lb.) > 3 TBS. lemon juice

In a separate bowl, beat well: > 2 eggs

Pour the hot sugar-lemon mix into the beaten eggs, stirring well.

Microwave about three times, at about 11 seconds per time, stirring well afterward, until mixture thickens. Or, stir constantly while heating gently in a double boiler until thickened.

When eggs have thickened the mix, add: > 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped

Stir until chocolate’s incorporated, then let cool.

Fold cooled mixture into the following: > 3 c. cream, whipped

Cut cake into 3 layers, using buttercream and strawberry halves between layers. Optional—garnish with: > White chocolate curls or leaves, plus any additional strawberries

* If cake flour is on hand, use 3 c. cake flour, sifted (.75 lb.), omitting the all-purpose flour and the corn starch

* For chocolate leaves, microwave a half cup or more of chocolate for a minute or so, until melted when stirred. Then, paint the undersides of lemon leaves with the chocolate; refrigerate on wax paper until firm. Gently peel leaf away from chocolate.

Tres Leches Cake w/ Coconut

My husband says a cake can use a fancy name, to distinguish it from any average cake. Of course, a good recipe helps too!

Tres Leches Cake with Coconut- no leftover syrupThere are a lot of recipes for this type of cake, but I wanted one that wouldn’t leave me with pools of leftover Tres-Leches liquid. Yes, we managed to gag down the extra liquid the first time, when I had to leave some of the mix out to avoid an over-soggy cake. (We had some especially-good coffees.) But I didn’t want to make a habit of that!

I discovered I could sub coconut manna (found on Amazon here), for the evaporated milk–the cake had just the right consistency. (But I’ve also included directions for using the traditional ingredients too, sans coconut.)

I made this cake yesterday for a going-away party for two of our New Deli staff. I topped it with chocolate leaves, writing on it, “So sorry you have to leave”. That was fun!

Serves 12 or so.


  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. + 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 TBS. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk
  • 1 c. + 1 c. cream
  • 1/2 c. coconut manna (ie “spread”, “manna”, “concentrate”, “butter”)*
  • Optional: 14-oz. can evaporated milk to sub for coconut manna
  • 1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • Optional: maraschino cherries

Beat to soft peaks: > 4 egg whites

Add slowly, beating until stiff: > 1 1/2 c. sugar

Lower speed and mix egg yolks in one at a time, plus the vanilla: > 4 egg yolks > 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients together: > 1 1/2 c. flour > 1 TBS. baking powder > 1/2 tsp. salt

Slowly add the dry ingredient mix to the whipped egg mix, alternately with the milk: > 1/2 c. whole milk

Bake in buttered, floured 13×9″ (or 2- 9″rounds), at 350 for 30 minutes

Prepare the “three-milk mix”, stirring until smooth: > 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk > 1 c. cream > 1/2 c. melted coconut manna* (see directions below to sub evaporated milk for the coconut milk

Pour the mixture over the cake after it has cooled a few minutes. For that, poke holes in the cake with fork tines, and pour the three-milk mix over it. Loosen edges of cake as needed, for mix to flow everywhere.

Let cake soak for hours or overnight.

To frost, whip cream with the sugar until light. (For a layer cake, use double these amounts). Whip: > 1 c. cream > 1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar > 1 tsp. vanilla

Sorry you have to LEAVE (chocolate leaves decorate going away cake)Frost cake with whipped cream frosting. Traditionally, maraschino cherries might garnish the top, or festive, colored sprinkles. I’ve used candied citrus peel—also very good!

Chocolate Leaves worked well to decorate our going-away cake!

* Or sub 12-oz. can evaporated milk (the traditional ingredient), boiling the evaporated milk and cream down to about a third (1 1/3 c. volume or so)

Chocolate Sponge Cake w/ Raspberry

For our first granddaughter’s first birthday, my daughter-in-law and I made this cake. Everything went fairly well except that the cocoa powder was especially stiff; it did not want to break up, so the cake had teeny little cocoa balls in it! Not what we were going for, but it was still delicious.

Fancy First Birthday Cake decorated w/ rosesThis dessert uses the “Chocolate Sponge Cake” (recipe here). The frosting is made with “Crème Fraiche”, which is a fancy name for cream that’s been allowed to “mellow”. This adds a touch more flavor—delicious!

So, the cake and flavored layers are pretty fancy, but decorating the cake can go fast if you use something like real roses (or other edible flowers). Beautiful and easy.

Serves 15-20.


  • 1 qt. whipping cream
  • 1/4 c. buttermilk
  • Chocolate Génoise Cake (see recipe)
  • 1/3 c. seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/3 c. Frozen Raspberry/White Grape Juice Concentrate
  • 1/2 lb. blanched almonds*
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 TBS. almond extract
  • 6 1/3 c. chilled Crème Fraiche (or substitute straight whipping cream)
  • 1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. Confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 TBS. vanilla

Make the Crème Fraiche a few days ahead. Two or so days earlier, heat to lukewarm: > 1 qt. whipping cream (4 c.)

Remove from heat and mix in: > 1/4 c. buttermilk

Cover and let stand in warm, draft-free area until slightly thickened, 24-48 hours. Cover, refrigerate.

Prepare Chocolate Sponge Cake (see recipe under “Chocolate Sponge Cake”)

Prepare Raspberry Filling; microwave jam in a small bowl, using: > 1/3 c. seedless raspberry jam

Add to the bowl: > 1/3 c. Frozen Raspberry/White Grape Juice Concentrate

Prepare Almond Paste Layer, using: > .50 lb. blanched almonds*

Process dry, blanched almonds until smooth. To processor, add: > 2 egg whites

Process until fairly smooth. Add: > 1 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar > 1/2 TBS. almond extract

Set almond paste aside.

Prepare chocolate mousse filling, and frosting for cake. For that, microwave 30 seconds or so, and stir until melted: > 1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips > 1/4 c. water

Set the melted chocolate mixture aside and let cool off some. Meanwhile, whip just until soft peaks form: > 6 1/3 c. chilled Crème Fraiche (or substitute straight whipping cream)

To prepare the Chocolate Mousse, fold into the cooled chocolate mixture: > Approx. 1-2 c. of the above whipped Crème Fraiche.

Set aside.

Meanwhile, to the rest of the whipped Crème Fraiche add: > 11/2 c. Confectioner’s sugar > 1 1/2 TBS. vanilla

Set the frosting aside.

Split the sponge cake into three layers using serrated knife, setting the first layer (cut-side up) on a cardboard cake square (or flat, square plate). Set the other two layers on wax paper, cut side up. Drizzle the raspberry mixture over the cut side of all three layers.

For the first layer, after adding the raspberry mixture, add about half of the chocolate mousse mixture. Next, add half the Almond Paste, rolled out into a 9″ square (or whatever shape the cake is). Roll it between two layers of plastic wrap, then lift onto the cake, pulling the top half of the plastic wrap off afterwards.

For the next layer, carefully set the middle layer of cake drizzled with raspberry syrup, on top of first layer of cake, raspberry, and almond paste. Add the other half of the chocolate mousse mixture. Also, add the second half of the almond paste, again rolled into a 9″ square.

Finally, lift the top layer of cake (raspberry side down) onto the other two layers.

Frost the cake with the Whipped Crème Fraiche/Confectioner’s sugar mixture. Decorate accordingly. Can make a day ahead.

*For home-blanched almonds, dry them thouroughly before processing, for a smoother almond paste.