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Cookbook Club: Snacking Bakes
Simple recipes for everyday cravings with Yossy Arefi, in-stores today!
Nobody balances familiar flavors with an elevated twist quite like Yossy Arefi. Slightly rustic but always styled with a touch of finesse, I’ve been admiring Yossy’s beautiful, effortless-looking photos for a decade. You may have seen her recipes featured on NYT Cooking, but it was her second book, Snacking Cakes, that blew everyone away.
Back again with recipes that deliver on taste and originality, I am thrilled to be sharing her third book with you all today.
Snacking Bakes is full of the same, but this time for cookies, bars, brownies, and cakes. Think a truly one-bowl Mixed-Berry Tahini Cake, chewy, crunchy Coconut Cookie Bark, and vegan Magical Peanut Butter Cookies made into thumbprints to be filled to match any mood.
If you are new to baking, hate doing dishes, and/or want to satisfy an instant craving, these recipes are for you. With recipes made with minimal tools, pantry staples, and often in under 60 minutes, Snacking Bakes satisfies your anytime sweet-tooth.
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Tessa Huff: Why did you decide to write this book?
Yossy Arefi: I always aim to write super approachable recipes that get people excited about baking. I find that a lot of people are afraid to try baking because they think it's super scientific and requires extreme precision. There are definitely some recipes that require that sort of specificity, but there are lots of more casual recipes that are quick and easy to make and still super delicious.
After writing Snacking Cakes I realized that the demand for that type of recipe is really high, and I wanted to create a new book full of a wider variety of bakes that were low fuss, low mess, and low time commitment.
TH: Which recipe should readers try first?
YA: Oh it totally depends on your mood! I love the Blueberry Swirl Blondies, the Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies, and the Apricot Coconut Cake.
The Mazurkas have a special place in my heart though. They are inspired by a treat I used to share with my mom when I tagged along with her to work.
TH: Can you name a must-have ingredient or signature flavor that you use in your recipes often?
YA: I love to use pantry friendly flavor enhancers like espresso powder, malted milk powder, and freeze dried berries. These ingredients are relatively inexpensive, have a long shelf life, and can take your baking to the next level.
TH: What keeps you inspired and creative in the kitchen?
YA: My love for sweets and dislike of dishes, haha! I also am inspired by the change of season and find myself craving cozy flavors in the fall and winter and brighter flavors in the spring and summer.
Mostly, I just love baking. I find it really calming and meditative. I recently had a baby and couldn't wait to put that baby in a carrier and get back in the kitchen.
TH: What were you listening to or reading at the time of writing this book?
YA: I like to listen to Phillip Glass, Johnny Greenwood's movie scores, and lo-fi beats while I am writing. Anything with lyrics is too distracting. I also tend to pause reading cookbooks and food media while I am writing so I can really focus in on my own style.
TH: Walk into a reader’s home and where can you find your book? Displayed on a coffee table, next to the bed for late-night studying, or splattered with batter in the kitchen? What is the main takeaway you want readers to get from your book?
YA: I hope it's in the kitchen, splattered and dog eared. People have sent me photos of Snacking Cakes with pages literally falling out because they have been used so often and there is nothing more gratifying than knowing that people are baking my recipes and coming back to them often.
TH: What is one important key to success for home bakers wanting to try new recipes?
YA: Start with small, easy recipes and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Sometimes that's the only way to learn!
Chocolate Ricotta Cake
This cake is incredibly moist, fudgy, and even easier to make. Whisking the baking powder and baking soda into the batter first eliminates the need to sift the dry ingredients together separately. This prevents us from overmixing the flour that can lead to a dense cake. Truly a one-bowl wonder!
Yossy’s photo of her Chocolate Ricotta Cake looked so mouth-watering with its swirls of chocolate frosting and colorful sprinkles. While the cake is tasty enough to be eaten plain or with a shower of powdered sugar, I was too tempted and had to make a quick chocolate frosting (with a heap of Nutella added just for fun). - Tessa Huff
1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¾ cup (165g) whole-milk ricotta
½ cup (95g) neutral oil or mild-tasting olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup (87g) Dutch process cocoa powdered, sifted if lumpy
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (128g) all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar (optional), for dusting
Coat an 8 X 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray or brush with butter. Line the pan with a strip of parchment paper that hangs over two of the edges.
In a large bowl, whisk the granulated sugar and eggs until pale and foamy, about 1 minute. Add the ricotta, oil, vanilla, cardamom, and salt and whisk until smooth and emulsified.
Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Whisk in the baking powder and baking soda. Fold in the flour with a spatula and mix until well combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the cake until puffed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes.
Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for about 15 minutes, then use the parchment paper to lift the cake out and onto the rack to cool completely.
If desired, dust with powdered sugar before slicing.
Store loosely covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Chocolate Nutella Frosting
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¼ cup (65g) Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
2 cups (250g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted as needed
1 to 2 tablespoons milk, as needed
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy, 1 minute. Add the Nutella and mix until smooth.
Turn the mixer off and add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and salt. Begin mixing on low speed until the ingredients come together - scraping the bowl occasionally.
Turn up the speed and mix at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the frosting is fluffy.
If needed, add the additional milk until desired consistency is achieved. The frosting should spread smoothly without tearing the crumb of the cake.
Just before icing the cake, vigorously stir the buttercream with a wooden spoon or stiff spatula for 30 seconds to knock out some of the air bubbles.
If you want to use another pan…
MUFFINS/CUPCAKES: Line a muffin tin with paper liners and fill the cups two-thirds full. Bake until puffed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Makes 12 to 18 muffins/cupcakes.
9-INCH ROUND: Grease and line a 9-inch baking pan. Bake the cake until puffed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.