We partnered with Kristin Schell of The Turquoise Table. She shared her favorite easy dessert recipe to serve during evening conversations with friends and neighbors.
Life at the Turquoise Table is a multitude of tiny moments, mini-miracles really, strung together like radiant beams of light over the places we call home.
Like the night my neighbor Monique reached out. I was at the kitchen sink doing dishes after dinner when she sent a text asking if we could talk. “Sure,” I replied. “Meet me at the table in 5?” Monique had just made a major career decision and her mind was playing the second-guessing game. She didn’t need advice—just someone to listen. Plus, we were both happy to briefly escape the post-dinner family chaos.
A few minutes into our chat, our eighty-year-old neighbor Bob drove by in his red convertible. If every neighborhood were blessed with couples like Peg and Bob, the world would be a better place. Bob, whom we affectionately call “the Mayor,” asked how long Monique and I would be sitting at the table. Then, he drove off, resembling Santa Claus with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, hollering, “Wait right there!”
Ten minutes later Bob returned with warm sugar cookies—his favorite. He gave us the cookies in exchange for hugs and told us we were wonderful neighbors. As I hugged Bob, said good-night to Monique, and headed back inside, I noticed the dish towel was still flung across my shoulder.
Small moments matter. There was nothing planned or orchestrated about this simple after dinner meeting at the Turquoise Table. But, in the four years since our neighbors have been gathering at the table, we all know it’s the place to meet when we need “table time.”
Savor the Sweet Moments
Spontaneous moments after dinner at the Turquoise Table are frequent. It’s become a favorite way to let the kids blow off steam before bedtime while we get a few minutes to catch up.
Having cookies or something simple to offer just sweetens the deal. My mom and I often make dozens of the Turquoise Table Cookies at a time and freeze them. Then I always have a little something sweet on hand for spontaneous after dinner gatherings. If I plan in advance to have friends over, my go-to easy dessert recipe is Almond Sheet Cake. This old-fashioned recipe is a combination of the one my grandmother used to make for Bridge Club and my neighbor Jamie’s easy dessert recipe.
You can slice the Almond Sheet Cake and serve it on cute plates. But, it’s just as good straight out of the pan.
Whatever you bring to the Turquoise Table, dishing after dinner with friends is the best.
Almond Sheet Cake
For the cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup water
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
For the icing:
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a 12 x 17-inch rimmed baking sheet.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, over medium-high heat, melt butter and water. Stir until fully combined. Pour melted butter into the flour mixture and mix well with an electric mixer.
Add eggs, sour cream and almond extract. Continue mixing until batter is smooth.
Pour batter into prepared baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until cake is just golden brown and set in the middle.
Cool cake completely before icing.
In the saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add milk and almond extract. Stir until combined.
In a large mixing bowl, mix powdered sugar and melted butter until icing is light and fluffy.
Spread icing evenly over the cake. Cut into squares and serve. At larger gatherings I serve this cake straight from the pan, just like my grandmother did.
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Adapted from The Turquoise Table: Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard by Kristin Schell © 2017 Thomas Nelson, www.TheTurquoiseTable.com