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This Thursday is summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year and the official beginning of summer. Some cultures celebrate this day with festivals and rituals, but at our house we just tend to stay outdoors and marvel at how it's still daylight at almost 10 pm.

There's a certain magic to this time of year that hides in plain sight. Maybe you've noticed that green things are awake. Plants and vines are growing wild under summer's spell, and I can't seem to keep well-camouflaged caterpillars and leafy-looking bugs off of my tomato plants. I wanted to make something sweet that celebrated the green things taking over our landscape, so I began digging through my overfilled box of cake decorating supplies.

Father's Day is just around the corner, and we're hosting a proper cookout for the special guys in our lives. I already have a couple of potluck-style desserts in mind for the day, but I also wanted to make something cute and kind of funny. Inspiration struck when I found a bag of smoky Lapsang Souchong tea in the pantry. Steeped in heavy cream, it makes a marvelous smoked ganache - and it's a fitting flavor for a chocolate cigar!

You won't need a fancy gadget to make these. Waxed paper rolled into tubes makes a simple and effective cigar mold.

I hope you're not tired of seeing cactus cakes, because I have yet another to add to the ever-growing collection that fills our Instagram and Pinterest feeds. Lately I've been paying special attention to things that make me smile, and there's just something so funny - almost silly - about these little succulent cakes. I certainly had a laugh at the end of this project, not to mention a slice of lemon buttercream-covered cake!

Cakes get a lot of attention here, and maybe that's why this blog is a little deficient in brownie recipes. It doesn't make much sense because I adore brownies, especially when they are dark, dense and fudgy like these.

Summer all but here (and officially on June 21st), so that makes me want to celebrate tropical flavors, like coconut! Not only do these brownies have a heaping helping of golden toasted coconut on top, they also have a coconutty secret ingredient inside.
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