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There aren’t many things I like about the weather getting colder- mainly cuz I hate being cold and I love long lazy summer days. However, I do love that I can go on crazy baking sprees for the holiday season. I love the smell of delicious goodies baking in the oven. It spreads warmth, sweetness, and the scent of homemade all through the house. There’s nothing quite like it.

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I’ll have to get started on my baking list (to ship) soon, but I got caught on Smitten Kitchen’s cannoli pound cake recently and I had to check it out. I loved the idea of mixing creamy ricotta, crunchy pistachios, lemon and orange zest, and chocolate chips (yes please!) into a loaf. What perfect flavors to remind me of warmer nights!

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We first tried this out at my sister’s on a girls’ night. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t know my sister’s kitchen was not equipped to handle baking. We made do and the cake turned out okay, but way too sweet in my opinion. I still loved the idea of the cake, so… tweaks!

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I cut the sugar and chocolate chips in half and toasted the nuts. The whole thing came together after that-  it was still a sweet pound cake, but now you can taste the zesty undertones, savory nuts, and pops of chocolate goodness. I know, I know.. how could I decrease the chocolate chips?? Sometimes, you make the sacrifice when chocolate needs to play a supporting role rather than a starring role. Plus, you can always eat the extra chocolate!

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My parents like it with kung fu tea in the morning. I’ve grabbed a slice for a quick breakfast or dessert. I think it’d be great with a peppermint hot chocolate or mocha too! It’s pretty easy so it might be a good option for holiday potlucks at work or church or school. It’ll go quick though, so be sure to save some for yourself!

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Cannoli Pound Cake
Source: smitten kitchen

Butter or Pam to coat loaf pan
1/2 cup sugar (you can have a little bit more if you want, but it’ll be quite sweet – SK uses 1 cup)
Zest from 1 orange
Zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup whole-milk ricotta (I used skim cuz that’s all my store had)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch or two of allspice
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or 3 oz chocolate bar chopped up
1/2 cup pistachios, lightly toasted and chopped small

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat the inside of your loaf pan with butter or spray. Toast pistachios and set aside to cool, if you haven’t already.

Put the sugar in a large bowl and add the zest. Using your fingers, rub the zest throughout the sugar. It release the oils in the zest and perfumes the sugar so the flavor is all the way through the pound cake. Whisk in the olive oil, ricotta, and eggs. Add in the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice and mix lightly. Gently fold in the flour, pistachios, and chocolate.

Scrape the batter into the loaf pan. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, then take let it finish cooling on a rack if you can. Mine cooled overnight in the pan and it seemed okay the next morning. I put saran wrap over it before bed. This stuff gets better the second, and third day (should it last that long!). Keep it wrapped tight with plastic or foil. Entire loaves may make wonderful holiday or welcome hostess gifts!


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