It’s strange how something – or someone, like a parasitic worm – infiltrates your dreams. Suddenly things and people you haven’t thought of in months or years suddenly are right there in your mind, throwing questions and possibilities into the fray. Not real questions or possibilities. Just things the mind concocts to throw you a little off balance for a couple of days.

Oh, even Oslo – in the sun – can be beautiful. Even though summer is over and daylight hours are mercilessly short. The coming of autumn and threat of winter have been hardest this year of all years.

Lemon cheesecake cookie cups


Another recent experiment in baking, as I wind down the baking fun, is the lemon cheesecake cookie cups I found on the Life Love and Sugar blog.

I got some positive response on this: apparently it was wonderful (and people seemed to anticipate these and wanted to jump right on them).


Lemon cheesecake cookie cups with berry garnish

Cookie cups

3/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour (I used slightly more than this)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornstarch

1. Coat cupcake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugar together for 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat until well combined.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth. Dough will be thick.
5. Makes balls of about 2 tbsp of dough. Press cookie dough in bottom and about 1/3-1/2 way up the sides of each cupcake cup, forming a cup shape.
6. Bake for 9-11 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. If the centers aren’t cupped enough to add filling, use the end of a wooden spoon or the bottom of a tablespoon to press the center down a bit. Then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.

Cheesecake filling
12 oz (340 g) cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest

8. Once cookies have cooled, make the cheesecake filling. Blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and lemon zest together until smooth.
9. Scoop cheesecake filling into cookie cups.
10. Top with fresh berries. As desired.
11. Store in refrigerator.





The Soul
Nedelcho Ganev/Неделчо Ганев
The flame is full
of thick tree shadows
In it shrivels
the forest’s soul.
I gaze at the fire
and the light’s morse code transmits to me:
-the flame is your life:
burn small
and you’ll die out.

And this:
-the flame is your life:
burn big
and you’ll quickly turn to ash.

Small green devils
leap over the fire like kids
and play with it.


fruity cake?


Nearing the end of my tenure as enthusiastic amateur baker (I remain forever an amateur but not enthusiastic any longer), I am using up ingredients I have on hand. I am also thinking about the “fruity cake” my friend Esteban and I have been joking about forever.

I tried out this lovely Berry Mascarpone Layer Cake from Life Love and Sugar. I don’t normally bake cakes so this was just… new. An experiment of sorts with a few slight modifications from the recipe in the cited blog.

Vanilla cake
2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
2 cups (414g) sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (240ml) milk
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup (240ml) water (this is what the original recipe called for but I used about half this amount)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and prepare three 8-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray and parchment paper in the bottom. (The original recipe called for non-stick spray and parchment. I went with the old-fashioned grease and flour. I experienced absolutely no problems with this cake sticking to my pans even though the original recipe said that there is a tendency for the recipe to stick.)
2. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and combine. Set aside.
3. Add the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and eggs to a medium-sized bowl and combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
5. Slowly add the water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
6. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and bake for 24-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
7. Remove the cakes from oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Mixed berry filling
1 1/2 cup (240g) mixed berries (I used a frozen selection of strawberries, raspberries and …? I can’t recall. I threw in a few frozen blueberries as well. No idea if it is okay or not! Lab rats to the rescue…)
3 tablespoons (45ml) water
3/4 cup (155g) sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch

8. To make the berry topping, add the berries and water to a food processor and puree until smooth. You should end up with about 2/3 cup puree.
9. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir in the berry puree.
10. Cook over medium heat, stirring until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 8-10 minutes.
11. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat. Refrigerate and allow to cool completely.

Mascarpone cream frosting
2 1/2 cups (720ml) heavy whipping cream, cold
1 1/2 cups (173g) powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz (452g) mascarpone cheese, chilled

12. Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and whip on high speed until soft peaks form.
13. Add the mascarpone cheese to the whipped cream and whip until stiff peaks form. It will happen fairly quickly. Set whipped frosting in the refrigerator.

Put it all together

These are the instructions from the original recipe – I did it a bit differently. You can of course decide what works for you.


14. To assemble the cake, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes.
15. Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Pipe a dam of frosting around the outside of the cake. I use Ateco tip 808 for the dam so that it’s tall.
16. Spread half of the berry filling evenly on top of the cake layer, inside the dam. It should fill the dam about half way full.

17. Add some additional mascarpone frosting to the top of the berry filling and spread into an even layer to fill in the remaining dam space.
18. Add the second layer of cake and repeat the filling layer with the remaining berry filling and additional mascarpone frosting.
19. Add the final layer of cake on top, then smooth out the frosting around the sides of the cake.

20. Frost the outside of the cake.
21. Finish off the cake with some swirls of frosting and fresh berries.

22. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Cake is best for 2-3 days.