Italian Love Cake: Happy Valentine’s Day

Not sure on the history of why this is called love cake, but I will tell you its two major components are items I love dearly: chocolate & cheese!! (It’s ricotta, chill) Anyway, it’s not super laborious, but it’s also not your traditional cake. Set aside a good amount of time to make this and it’s actually best if you make the night before serving. Also! there’s an element of magic involved. That’s right kids, magic.

  • 1 boxed chocolate cake mix AND the ingredients listed on the box (I know I’m a disappointment to Martha but whatever, I love me a solid shortcut)
  • 2 lbs. (32 ounces) ricotta cheese (seemed like an insane amount when I was buying it but is actually the right quantity)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar (my coworkers seemed to think 1 cup would’ve been better as that layer wasn’t quite as sweet, so use your judgment)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (5.1 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup cold milk (yes that seems like too little, but just trust the recipe please, also I may swap this for Kahlua next time and see if that improves/ruins this “frosting”)
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9×13 inch pan and set aside. In a large bowl, prepare your cake mix batter according to the directions on the box. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a super strong whisking arm like mine), beat together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan and use an off-set spatula to spread evenly in the pan. Next, carefully pour the ricotta mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter. Gently spread the ricotta mixture so it evenly covers the cake batter. (The layers will switch while baking so the ricotta moves to the bottom and cake to the top – like magic or the scientific reason that ricotta weighs more than cake batter, whatever I am sticking with MAGIC.)

Bake for 60 minutes or until cake is set. Let cake cool completely before “frosting.”

Once the cake is cool, whisk together the pudding mix and milk until combined. Gently fold the Cool Whip into the pudding until combined. Spread the pudding mixture over the top of the cooled cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate at least 6 hours, or overnight, before serving. You know what -this cake SHOULD be called Love Cake because if I have to wait overnight to dive into this puppy I must really love you/it.

Not a very “pretty” picture but this is all I could sneak in as my coworkers devoured the cake.

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We are sending you all loads of Italian love this valentine’s day: tanti baci!

Happy Eating, XO.

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Aloo tiki

Aloo tiki or potato cutlet is a North Indian snack made of boiled potatoes and various spices. “Aloo” means potato, and the word “tikki” means a small cutlet or croquette. It is found in almost every chaat shop or stall in Delhi, as well as, in other parts of India. It is served hot along with, tamarind and coriander-mint chutney (sauce), known as Hari (green) chutney. I decided I need to learn how to make these after my best friend had a craving for them over the weekend and asked my mom to make us some. They are fairly simple to make and very filling. They are excellent to serve as an afternoon snack with tea or with drinks as an appetizer. Next time we have a craving, we won’t need to run home for them…yum!

  • 3 medium size potatoes
  • 1 small onion- finely chopped or a half of a medium
  • 1 green chili- finely chopped (remove seeds when chopping to minimize heat if you are worried about spice level)
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. fennel powder (I didn’t have any so I left out, you won’t die if it isn’t in there)
  • ½ tsp. red chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. dry ginger powder (I also added garlic powder in place of the fennel, mainly because I can’t eat most food without some sort of garlicky goodness)
  • ½ tsp. chaat masala powder (MDG is my fav brand, but there are tons of kinds out there & easy to find)
  • 2 tbsp. flour or corn starch (you cant skip this, it helps bind them and give them a crust, they will fall apart without it)
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves chopped (AKA cilantro. If you don’t like the flavor of cilantro, fresh parsley works as well)
  • oil for pan or shallow frying (vegetable is best since olive oil has a stronger flavor)
  • salt (I also added a pinch of black pepper)

Boil the peeled potatoes and after they are cooled a bit, using a grater to grate them. You can even use a potato masher instead of grating to save time. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Divide the mixture into equal portions and shape each portion into a round, flat tikki. (Pack them tightly so they don’t fall apart in the pan) Heat a non-stick pan on a medium to high flame and cook each tikki, using oil generously: think shallow fry, till both sides are golden brown. (you will be tempted to mess with them but let each side firm up & get browned, flip gently). Drain on an absorbent paper towel to catch any excess oil and serve hot. This is the Indian version of our latkes. It tastes like nostalgia/home.

Happy Eating, XO.