Archive for the 'dessert' Category

Clementine Cake


Clementines always sound good to me when I don’t have any in my fridge. The second I buy a bag, I no longer want any.

You can occasionally find a place that sells clementines individually instead of forcing you to commit to 3 or 4 pounds of them like most supermarkets. This is good except you run the risk of choosing all “bad clementines”. You know the kind. They’re dry and taste kind of off. They’re slightly bitter and maybe a little sour. Not the candy-sweet and juicy treat you were expecting. So it’s good to have a bag full of second chances.

It never fails, however, that I have half a bag of clementines racing toward the cusp of rotten and not enough mouths to shove them into. Marlo likes the idea of clementines, but the so-called “stringy things” she meticulously has to remove from each wedge before eating it can be cumbersome for a three year old, rightfully so. As you can imagine, I practically ran into the kitchen to make this cake the second I stumbled across this recipe. It cleaned up a good half dozen of the little citrus boogers for me.

This cake turned out to be one of my favorite little desserts I’ve made for a while. It’s mildly sweet, but satisfying. The crumb is dense, smooth and moist. It’s the perfect thing to serve your friend alongside a cup of afternoon tea.

Clementine Cake
Adapted from Mache Magazine

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cloves (I made this a generous 1/8, as I love cloves with orange)
1 cup plain yogurt (I used plain whole milk, the recipe called for 2% Greek – use what you have)
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. clemtine zest (from about 2 large clementines)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup flavorless oil (I used grape seed oil)

1/3 cup clementine juice (I needed about 6 or 7 clementines)
1/3 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10X5 loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cloves and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl whisk together sugar, yogurt, eggs, zest, and vanilla. Slowly add oil to wet mixture.
3. Using a spatula, carefully fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients. The batter will be a little lumpy.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle top with sliced almonds. Gently press the almonds into the batter a little. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center and removed is clean.
5. Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove the cake while it’s still warm and place on a wire cooling rack over a sheet of wax paper.
6. While cake is cooling in the pan, warm juice in a small saucepan. Stir in sugar until completely dissolved. Remove from heat.
7. With a long skewer, poke deep holes into the cake from the top all over the place. Then slowly pour the glaze over the cake while the cake is still warm. (The glaze will seep into the holes you poked adding moisture and flavor to the inside as well as the outside.)
8. Allow to cool before serving.


Strawberry Birthday Cake


I wish I knew how to decorate a cake. Like actually pipe frosting on in pretty patterns. I have all the equipment to make it happen, but never the time or the patience to attempt it. So instead I cop out and decorate with nuts or fruit or chocolate shavings or whatever else you can accessorize a cake with that happens to not be colored frosting.

I made this strawberry cake for Marlo’s second birthday. It’s void of the number “2”. It’s void of her name. There are no sugar flowers. No Care Bears. But it’s pink inside. And I think that counts for something.


The original recipe on Smitten Kitchen calls for traditional cream cheese frosting, instead I used a recipe I’ve shared here before for white chocolate cream cheese frosting. I did this because I’m not certain I’ve tasted a cream cheese frosting that I like better than it, and I thought that the hint of white chocolate would complement the strawberry cake nicely. It really did.

This was a perfect little cake for a perfect little girl.

Strawberry Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (16 oz bag) pureed frozen strawberries (thawed)
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk
1 to 2 drops red food dye (makes the cake a little more pink)

*This recipe makes a lot of batter. Enough for 3 9″ layers. I don’t have 3 cake pans, so I just made 2 layers and had a lot left over. I recommend following SK’s advice and butter the pans along as well as lining the bottom of the pan with wax paper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl using a whisk.
2. Using a stand mixer, cream butter for a minute until fluffy.
3. Add pureed strawberries to butter and mix until well incorporated.
4. Add flour mixture in 3-4 additions to the butter and strawberries.
5. Beat eggs with milk and red dye in separate bowl and add to batter in 2-3 additions, and mix only until well incorporated.
6. Pour the batter evenly into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 30-34 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Let cakes cool in pans for about 10 minutes before removing from pans and letting cool on wire racks completely before frosting.

Find White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting recipe here.

Old Fashioned Doughnut Hole Muffins


Why is the question always “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?”

Isn’t “What’s your favorite doughnut flavor?” just as important!

Maybe people aren’t as loyal to one flavor of doughnut as they are to their favorite ice cream flavor. However, I harbor extreme loyalty for my doughnut preference. When I was a kid I loved strawberry ice cream and strawberry frosting on my doughnuts, and I simply will not touch a doughnut that’s been injected with anything – jelly, cream, whatever – yuck! I don’t want a gooey surprise. I knew my hunch that I married the male version of my sister was more than just a hunch when I discovered they both only ate chocolate glazed doughnuts. That means something. It’s gotta. But as for my favorite flavor of doughnut now, I like my doughnuts to have a little more history. I shun the modern. I prefer the Old Fashioned kind. Old Fashioned Cake, Old Fashioned Glazed, Old Fashioned just plain fried dough is just plain great to dunk in my coffee (listen to me, I sound like an old man.) And these muffins, my friends, mimic the taste of old fashioned doughnuts. The kind that is just fried dough then rolled in sugar. Yeah that kind.

But don’t fret. There’s no yeast here. No rising dough. No frying. Just a couple bowls and traditional muffin ingredients – that I almost guarantee you already have in your pantry right now. (Ahem, which is exactly why these were made in the first place!) So skip the trip to the doughnut shop and make these instead.

Old Fashioned Doughnut Muffins
Adapted from Baking Bites

3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray. (you can use standard muffin tins if you prefer, you may just need to bake a minute or two longer)
2. In a large bowl, cream sugar and egg until light in color.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add to egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour in vegetable oil, milk and vanilla extract.
4. Divide batter evenly into 24 mini muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. (you may have a little bit extra batter for 2 more mini muffins, if it’s worth your trouble)
5. Bake for 14-15 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. While muffins are baking, melt butter and pour remaining sugar into a small bowl.
7. When muffins are done, lightly brush the top of each with some melted butter, remove from the pan and roll in sugar. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 24-26 mini muffins (doughnut holes).

Caramel Pecan Layer Cake

My mom is an excellent cook. She’s also an excellent baker. She does both of these things quite a bit, and she rarely has either of these things done for her.

Her birthday was Tuesday. I forgot to call her.

I’m not exactly paralyzed with guilt though, because we celebrated her birthday all last weekend. Marlo and I drove to Ohio and my sister flew in from New York. We took her to one of Findlay’s finest restaurants, the Bistro on Main, and the next day I baked her this cake. See? I remembered in advance. I’m excused, right?

I found this recipe in her More From Magnolia cookbook and realized I could make this from scratch without having to run to the store for an odd ingredient. This is how I make most of my decisions. While my mother seems to enjoy making multiple trips to the grocery store in one day, I loathe having to make more than two trips in one week. Having a one year old may have something to do with this.

Regardless, this cake was easy and absolutely wonderful. If I could rename it, I would call it Caramel Corn Cake, because it couldn’t possibly taste any more similar to caramel popcorn.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, both unintentionally. The original recipe called (very indiscreetly) for 3 cake layers. While reading through, I overlooked this and only baked two layers. Obviously, the layers were thicker and I had to bake a bit longer. This was not a problem; the cake did not overflow nor did it burn. Everything was fine. Also, I didn’t have self-rising flour so I used the conversion found on this page and again, the cake was perfect.

Caramel Pecan Layer Cake
Adapted from More from Magnolia by Allysa Torey

For the Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (see note above)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

For the Icing
(The book says to make this a day ahead of time so the brown sugar blends better and the texture isn’t grainy. I didn’t do this and I didn’t notice a grainy texture.)

2 cups unsalted butter, softened
5 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. dark corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper.

Spread pecans on baking sheet and toast in oven 10-15 minutes, until fragrant.

Meanwhile, begin preparing the cake batter. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours and set aside. In bowl of stand mixer, add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly add sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each additions. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

When the layers have cooled completely, ice the cake by filling between the layers first with Caramel Frosting and then sprinkling with half of the pecans. Then ice the top and sides, and sprinkle the top with the remaining pecans.

To make the icing, in a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the milk, syrup, and vanilla, and beat until smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes. Use immediately or store, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Extra Spicy Gingersnaps

If I had a signature cookie, I guess this would have to be it. I make these every Christmas, and they’re always a big hit. Why? Because they have a ton of flavor, they are perfectly chewy, and the cayenne sets your throat on fire. Of course you can adjust or omit the red pepper to suit your taste. When I make these for others, I cut the cayenne in half and it still gives you some noticable heat. These will not disappoint.

Extra Spicy Gingersnaps
Adapted from Food Network

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
2 large egg whites

Combine the flour, baking soda, and spices in a mixing bowl and set aside. Cream the butter until smooth and fluffy in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer). Add the sugars and mix. Add the molasses and mix. Add the egg whites in 2 batches, mixing to combine after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing to combine after each addition.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread a few tablespoons of granulated sugar on a small plate.

Roll the dough into 3/4-inch balls, then roll each ball in the sugar until lightly coated. Transfer to parchment lined cookie sheets, leaving 1-inch of space between the cookies. Bake until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.

Classic Apple Pie

What to do with all this loot….


What to do, what to do…


Well, I’ve never made an apple pie before. I guess I could do that. I really don’t feel like screwing with pie crust dough though.


I guess I could just cheat.

Recently Updated11

I have to peel, core and slice how many apples?




What? This has to sit for 2 hours?! Well I guess I won’t be eating this pie today.


All these special steps better be worth it.


(They were.)

Classic Apple Pie
Adapted from Joy of Baking

2 1/2 pounds apples (about 6 large), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 8 cups sliced)
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Tapioca granules
Enough pie crust dough to line and cover a 9 inch pie pan.

Make filling:
In a large bowl combine the sliced apples, sugars, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Let the apples macerate at room temperature for about two hours. Then, place the apples and their juices in a strainer that is placed over a large bowl (to capture the juices). Let the apples drain for about 15-30 minutes or until you have at least 1/2 cup (120 ml) of juice. Spray a 4 cup (960 ml) heatproof measuring cup with a nonstick vegetable spray, and then pour in the collected juices and the 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of unsalted butter. Place in the microwave and boil the liquid, on high, 6 to 7 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to about 1/3 cup and is syrupy and lightly caramelized. (Alternatively, you could place the juices and butter in a small saucepan and boil over medium high heat on the stove.)

Make the pie:

Meanwhile, remove the top pastry crust from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes so it has time to soften and become pliable. Transfer the drained apples slices to a large bowl and mix them with the tapioca. Then pour the reduced syrup over the apples and toss to combine. Pour the apples and their syrup into the chilled pie crust. Moisten the edges of the pie shell with a little water and then place the top crust over the apples. Tuck any excess pastry under the bottom crust and then crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork. Using a sharp knife, make five 2-inch (5 cm) slits from the center of the pie out towards the edge of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill the pastry while you preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place the oven rack at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on the rack before preheating the oven. Place a piece of aluminum foil on the stone (or pan) to catch any apple juices.

Set the pie on the stone or pan and bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices start to bubble through the slits and the apples feel tender (not mushy) when a toothpick or sharp knife is inserted through one of the slits. Make sure to cover the edges of the pie with a foil ring to prevent over browning after about 30 minutes.

Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 3-4 hours before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream. Store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting


I promised I’d share this recipe with you a few weeks ago.

This was another treat we served at Marlo’s first birthday, and I’d have to say they were the most popular, perhaps solely based on intrigue.

A cupcake that tastes like a cookie? Yep! And these did taste just like snickerdoodles. Cinnamony and sweet and perfectly topped with delicious cream cheese frosting and crunchy demerara sugar. Try them!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
4. Pipe with frosting (recipe below) and sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Sophistimom

2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Using a mixer, mix the cream cheese can butter until thoroughly combined.
2. Add the vanilla extract and combine well.
3. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth and creamy.


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