Self Care – Recipe: Chocolate Heven Cake

I’m bringing this here. It’s a recipe my mom and I came up with. I shared it on my old blog back in 2015. I’m gonna share it here, now…

(See what I did there? Chocolate HEVEN cake? Cause… heh… my last name is HEVENstone…




Carry on…)

How much do you love chocolate?

I hope chocolate is an obsession for you, because that’s required for this recipe. The cake I’m about to tell you how to make is beyond chocolate. It is another level.

These pictures are amateur, but still… look at this thing:


Oh yeah. Chocolate porn right there, folks.

Wanna learn how to make it?

Of course you do.

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Rant: Water Temperature for Tea

This is perhaps the most pointless rant I will ever write on this blog. It serves no political purpose, it’s not germane to any current events… I just…

I work at Teavana, and this is, by far, the single most common complaint we get from customers:

Customer (talking about our samples): This tea tastes so much better here then when I make it at home. And I do have the sugar.

Me: What tea are you making at home?

Customer: [It’s usually Youthberry/Wild Orange Blossom, which is a white tea blended with an herbal tea. But it’s almost alwaystea, and not an herbal tisane]

Me: And how hot is the water you use to brew it?

Customer: I mean, I [boil it on the stove/heat it in the microwave/get it from the Keurig/get it from the hot-water spigot/…]

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Self Care – The Great Bagel Debate

Ah, bagels. The world’s greatest comfort food (for me). Nothing, and I do mean nothing, beats a fresh-out-of-the-oven everything bagel, sliced horizontally, and topped with plain cream cheese, thick tomato slices, raw red onions, belly lox, and, if available, capers. But short of all that, even a good bagel by itself can make me feel wonderful…

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats seems to agree with me. In fact, he wrote an entire manifesto about what makes a good bagel, and it’s a thing of beauty. To be fair, he put it up in May of 2015, but I only found it recently.

I’m much pickier about my bagels now than when I used to be. And this manifesto is a great breakdown of why…

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Self Care – And Speaking of Green Tea… Matcha! (4 YouTube Videos)

Another one of my absolute favorite green teas is Matcha, which is a green tea powder. Like Gyokuro, the tea plant is shaded for at least 20 days before harvesting. Then, the leaves are harvested. If they are rolled out to dry, like Sencha, you end up with Gyokuro. However, if the leaves are simply laid out flat to dry, they’ll crumble a bit and become Tencha. The Tencha is then ground down into powder.

I’m going to give you two videos now. The first shows the modern, mechanical processing of Tencha leaves. The next (which is below the fold) shows the traditional method of grinding Tencha into Matcha:

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Self Care – How to brew Gyokuro tea (YouTube Video)

I’m obsessed with tea.

No, not bagged tea. I don’t mind bagged tea (not even Lipton! I’ve used it before, and I’ll use it again), but when I have access to loose leaf, why would I go with bagged?

Green teas, brewed properly, are my favorite. And Gyokuro is definitely the best. It’s Japan’s highest quality tea, and is a phenomenal one.

“Gyokuro” (玉露) is Japanese for “jewel/jade dew”. It’s a shaded green tea. What that means is that at least 20 days before harvesting, a particular varietal of the Camellia sinensis plant (either Asahi, Okumidori, Yamakai, or Saemidori) is shielded, usually with bamboo, from the sun. This forces a process in which theanine and caffeine within the leaves is increased, yielding a unique, interesting aroma and flavor.

The brewing process is also rather unique. The reason for this is, specifically, the water temperature. You see, most green tea is fragile. Try to steep it with full on boiling water, and what you end up with is a nasty, bitter, undrinkable mess of a brew. And especially with a tea as expensive as Gyokuro, that’s a complete waste. Gyokuro specifically calls for water temperature range of 122°F–140°F (50°C–60°C).

And how do you brew it, exactly?

Well… watch…

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Self Care – Boiled Water Recipe (from Serious Eats) + Comments (For Purposes of Laughter)

This has always made me laugh.

Back when the amazing Serious Eats was still new, and they were testing out the recipes section, Adam Kuban decided to post a detailed, step-by-step recipe for… boiled water. Obviously, it was a joke. And the comments just took it further.

Sadly, the original recipe is gone. However, the wonderful Wayback Machine came to the rescue. So I’m going to quote the recipe, and some choice comments, here for your enjoyment.

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