Plum Macaroon Cake

plum macaroon cake | apt. 2b baking co.
plum macaroon cake | apt. 2b baking co.
plum macaroon cake | apt. 2b baking co.
plum macaroon cake | apt. 2b baking co.
plum macaroon cake | apt. 2b baking co.

August is such a show-off of a month. The end of August, specifically, when stone fruit is at it's peak and the first fall produce is starting to show up is one of the best times to visit the market. Peaches and nectarines tend to hog most of the stone fruit spotlight, but plums certainly have a special place in my kitchen. They come in an outstanding array of shades and shapes, from tiny round Greengages to oblong purple Empress plums, they are all a bit sweet and tart which makes them perfect for baking and preserves.

A week or so ago Pete and I made a trip upstate for a fun film project, and one of the orchards we visited had a small orchard of plum trees, all hitting their peak. Pete spotted these guys, so deep in color they looked almost black in the bright sun (I think they were Damsons, but no one could confirm for sure) and I beelined down the row, knowing they would be perfect for baking. I had already filled up all of my bags and baskets with grapes, raspberries, and early apples so I grabbed as many plums as I could carry in my hands, all while seriously embarrassing myself freaking out about how beautiful they were. Eh, what can you do? Sometimes you just gotta exclaim about pretty little plums as families having a relaxing afternoon picking fruit together side-eye you...

I had bookmarked this cake in Tara's book ages ago, and with my fresh glut of plums I finally had a good excuse to make it. With a crackly coconut macaroon-inspired top, this plum cake has become a new favorite. It is the kind of cake you'll find yourself sneaking a tiny slice of, every time you walk by. It also keeps exceptionally well for a few days on the counter (covered), if you are the kind of person with a little more self control than tiny-slice-stealers like me.  

Plum Macaroon Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake

From Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady

This cake is sweet, nutty, and perfectly punctuated by wonderfully tart plums. I used tiny purple and red plums, so I just sliced them in half, rather than the sixths that the recipe recommends. Once baked and cooled this cake keeps exceptionally well for a few days on the counter at room temperature, if it lasts that long. 

Cake

1 1/2 cups (190g) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (60g) shredded coconut

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup (60ml) milk

about 1 pound (455g) red or purple plums pitted and cut into sixths (or small plums cut in half)

2 tablespoons demerara or granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Topping

1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons (25g) almond meal

seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup (60 g) shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350ΒΊF. Grease a 9-inch removable bottom cake pan or springform pan with butter.

To make the cake, whisk the flour, coconut, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set this dry mix inside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 2 more minutes. Decrease the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the almond extract and turn the speed down to low.

With the mixer still running, add half the dry ingredients to the wet, followed by all of the milk and then the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined, scraping the bowl once or twice.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Use a spatula to spread the thick batter to the edges of the pan. Stand the plums in rings in the batter, up on their ends. The fruit will shift inward during baking so arrange them nice and close to the edge of the pan, and do not cluster too many at the middle. Combine the demerara sugar and cinnamon in a bowl, then sprinkle across the fruited Stonehenge. Bake for 50 minutes.

While the cake bakes, make the topping. Whisk the butter, sugar, eggs, almond meal, vanilla bean seeds, almond extract, and shredded coconut in a pitcher with a pouring spout. Working quickly, remove the cake from the oven and pour the mixture over the hot cake. Return the cake to the oven and bake until the topping is puffed, evenly golden, and set, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Cool the cake completely, in its pan on a wire rack before serving. Serve as is or dusted with confectioners' sugar. The cake can be kept under a dome or loosely wrapped in its pan at from temperature for 3 days.

plum macaroon cake | apt. 2b baking co.
plum macaroon cake | apt. 2b baking co.
plum macaroon cake | apt. 2b baking co.

Full disclosure guys: I usually find these "hands offering" type photos a little cheesy, but I actually grabbed as many plums as I could and held them like this until I could find a bag, and honestly, how amazing are these colors?!?!? 

Tara O'Brady's Chocolate Chip Cookies

tara o'brady's chocolate chip cookies (yossy arefi)

I wanted to title this post "Tara O'Brady's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies" or "Tara's I need a chocolate chip cookie right now cookies" but both seemed a little wordy for a post title. l know that people are very specific/loyal/devoted to their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes, and you may be thinking to yourself,  does the world really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe? The answer is a resounding yes. These cookies are perfect: sweet, salty, generously studded with chocolate with crisp edges and chewy centers.

tara o'brady's chocolate chip cookies (yossy arefi)
tara o'brady's chocolate chip cookies (yossy arefi)

I have made and loved Ashley's chocolate chippers (from her blog and her mix) and the NY Times recipe is also great, but it calls for two types of flour and that's just too fussy for my everyday cookie needs. Tara's recipe is an amazing, I need a cookie right now, type of cookie. There is no softening of butter, or letting eggs come to room temp necessary. You do have to chop your own chocolate for best results, which to be honest, is one of my least favorite kitchen tasks, but it's worth it for these cookies. You don't have to age the dough for perfectly crisp/chewy cookies, although after the dough rests overnight they are even better. I was lucky enough to test this cookie recipe last year, and I have practically been sitting on my hands wanting to share it with you. Now that Tara's beautiful cookbook: Seven Spoons: My Favorite Recipes for Any and Every Day, is out in the world I finally can!

Basic, Great Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady

makes about 28 cookies

Β 

1 cup unsalted butter, chopped

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 ounces, semi or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

flaky salt, to finish

Preheat the oven to 360Β°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally. Take care that the butter does not sizzle or bubble which means it's losing moisture.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Pour the melted butter into a large bowl and whisk in the sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until just combined. Stir in the vanilla. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until barely blended. When things are still looking a bit floury, stir in the chocolate until all of the ingredients are just combined.

Roll the dough into balls, about 3 tablespoons each, and arrange them on the prepared pans, leaving 3 inches between each cookie. (At this point you can refrigerate the dough, loosely covered, overnight.)

To bake, sprinkle each cookie with a bit of sea salt and bake until the tops are cracked and lightly golden, 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, the move to a wire rack to cool completely.

tara o'brady's chocolate chip cookies (yossy arefi)
tara o'brady's chocolate chip cookies (yossy arefi)
tara o'brady's chocolate chip cookies (yossy arefi)