Friday, April 27, 2012

Daring to do it: Armenian Desserts

I love desserts.  Really.  I grew up in a house where Thanksgiving was not about turkey.  We did the all-dessert Thanksgiving.  So this month's Daring Baker's challenge was one which sounded really cool.

The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake.

Before this challenge I knew nothing about Armenian food.  Now, while I don't know much, I know that I might have a new favorite kind of dessert!  I was concerned at first, because Passover fell right during this challenge.  Neither of these amazing recipes were ones which would adapt well...  I was confident that I would get one made in time, but not sure about both.
I started with the nutmeg cake.  I had a playdate scheduled for the day before we flew to Florida for Passover.  With extra mouths around, I figured it was the perfect opportunity.  The recipe, as the name gives away, calls for a good deal of nutmeg.  While I like nutmeg, I wasn't sure I liked it a full cake's worth.  So I used some nutmeg and some cinnamon.  I also topped the cake with cinnamon sugar (from my awesomely fun grinder...!) instead of the walnuts called for.  I didn't have walnuts at home, and wasn't about to go get some right before leaving!
The cake smelled amazing as it baked.  Like, so super good that we were all a bit disappointed that we would have to wait for the following day to taste it.  But man was it worth the wait!!  I absolutely loved the bottom "cookie" layer, and the nutmeg and cinnamon made the flavor just so warm.  This is absolutely a cake I will be making again.  And even if you don't consider yourself to be a Daring Baker, please try this.  It is pretty easy, and definitely delicious!

As for the nazook.  I really wanted to make it.  So I did.  The dough came together beautifully.  I used Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream called for in the recipe, but I don't think that made a difference.  It was silky, smooth and easy to work with.  So easy that Little Girl had fun rolling it out.  I made the traditional vanilla filling according to the recipe, but added cinnamon after the first two rolls were done.  I think my filling was a bit too wet, but that might be because I used margarine instead of butter.  Or just because that's the way things go sometimes...!  Either way, the rolls looked nice before going into the oven, so I was pleased.  Coming out of the oven?  Well, they smelled amazing, and the taste was fabulous.  But my rolls kind of exploded during baking.  It was a yeast dough, so rising accounts for some of it.  But wow...!

No matter the explosions, I loved these treats.  This is another keeper recipe.
Jason, thank you so much for introducing me, and all of us, to these Armenian delicacies!  I can honestly say that you opened my eyes to something special, and I am truly grateful!  Please do yourself a favor and check out the amazing creations of my fellow Daring Bakers!

Can't wait to see next month's challenge...  I'll give you a hint - the host is someone you might have heard of before...!  :)


  1. Your nazooks look like little croissants and I think they're lovely! The cake does smell good as it bakes, doesn't it? And your cinnamon idea is a good one. Will try that next time.

  2. These were both crazy good, weren't they? And if Armenian desserts are all like this - count me in!
    They looks great

  3. I think your nazooks look great anyway and I know they tasted fabulous! Good job!

  4. I felt the same way about the nutmeg cake - it smelled so good, tasted wonderful, and I will definitely be making it again! The nazook explosions look tasty AND fun to eat - maybe you've hit on something there? Cheers :)

  5. Delicious you made both of them. You have done a excellent job. I too enjoyed making them.

  6. Even though your nazook baked up a little wonky they still look delicious- as well as your cake!

  7. I agree, the cake was delicious. I was quite sad when it was over! Must make it again soon. Yours looks fantastic, and I am loving that cinnamon sugar grinder! I love the exploded nazook too - they look like they tasted amazing.
    Looking forward to next month's challenge. :)

  8. Now you've made me wish I made the cake too! Great work on the challenge.

    I hadn't thought of using greek yogurt in place of the Nazook's sour cream. I'll have to try that next time! Did you use full fat or a different percentage?

  9. Mmmm...I've never tried any Armenian desserts but I'm putting it on my sugar bucket list for sure!

  10. Your nazooks are too cute. the nutmeg cake sure smells heavenly :D. I too made both but for me the real star was definitely nazook. Love the super buttery and melt-in-your-mouth pastry.
    First time visiting here and m very impressed by your posts. Gladly following you from now on :D

  11. mmm, these looked yummy and i think my tummy rumbled hehe. Newest follower :D