Welcome to my blog!

For years I’ve been known among family and friends for my various dishes, particularly desserts. So I’ve decided to start a blog to share some of the recipes and my adventures in cooking. Most of what I make is based on common recipes from the internet, cooking shows, etc. But like many, I customize them to make them uniquely my own. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Frosting

So this recipe, and the one that’ll follow it, are basically the same cake. I originally found the one I’ll post after this and was intrigued because it has Kahlua in it. It called for a strawberry frosting as well, which I thought was gross. Strawberry and coffee, which is the flavor of Kahlua, just do not go together as far as I’m concerned. So the next cake, which I make before this one, has a completely different frosting. Then a Facebook friend sent me this recipe, which was great! I made a few modification. The original called for 3 cups of sugar, way to much if you ask me. And I switched up the frosting, again I’m not a huge fan of buttercream frosting.

Now as I was on a cake kick, and this was really the 3rd cake recipe in a row, I decided to mix it up a bit. I made this into mini cupcakes instead. But you can certainly make this as a cake as well, either rounds or a sheet cake. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Frosting

Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Dutch processed cocoa powder (the darker the better)
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. real vanilla extract

Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp*
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 tbsp. real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely dices strawberries
  • 2 tbsp. strawberry syrup (I use DaVinci coffee syrup)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350° and line four 24 mini cupcake pans. If you’re going to make a cake, then you’ll want 3 round 8″ cake pans. Standard spray the non-stick cooking spray, parchment paper, yada yada yada. If cupcakes, use cupcake liners; super easy.

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder & soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Nuke the water until warm, about 1 minute. Add in the espresso powder (this really enhances the chocolate flavor).

In a large measuring cup, beat together the eggs and sour cream. Add in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Pour the warm water mixture and the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to fold all the ingredients together until combined. Like brownies, you don’t want to over mix it or you’ll get a chewy cake.

If making mini cupcakes, about 1 heaping tbsp. per cupcake of batter. Regular cupcakes, fill about 3/4 full. Rounds you’ll divide the batter evenly between 3 pans. Sheet cake, just dump it all in.

  • Mini cupcakes – bake for 15 minutes
  • Rounds – 35 to 40 minutes
  • Sheet – 40 to 45 minutes

Standard: you’ll know they’re done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. For cupcakes, pick on in the middle of the pan to test.

For the frosting:

Dice up the strawberries. Put them in a bowl, or I used a ziplock bag, and add in the strawberry syrup. I found that adding the syrup really enhanced the strawberry flavor. This is really helpful if you can’t find good, flavorful strawberries (heyI made this in February, it’s not like they’re going to be great).

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. *Note: as I mentioned in the previous recipe, for butter cream frostings you want the butter super soft. So while I say at room temp, the softer the better. Otherwise you’ll end up with chunks of butter in your frosting.

Once it’s smooth add in the strawberries and vanilla. Continue beating until smooth again and then turn down the mixer and slowly add in the powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Frost away and then eat!

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Cream Frosting

Ok I’ve been on a complete chocolate kick of late. This recipe is going to be 1 in a series of 3 that are all pretty close. In fact I realized that the next 2 that I’ll post are basically the same recipe, the only difference is one has Kahlua in it. Now with all three of these it’s all about the cocoa. Use good cocoa, not that Hershey stuff!

This one is my favorite of the 3 that I’ll be posting. It’s super moist and the frosting, which has Bailey’s in it, is super flavorful. The original recipe had the frosting as a buttercream, which I am not a fan of. So I cut it down by adding a little cream cheese and reducing the sugar dramatically. I mean really, do you need 6 cups of powdered sugar in your frosting? Enjoy!

 

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Irish Cream Frosting

Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (darker the better)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream of plain full fat yogurt (I used sour cream)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Guinness beer

Frosting:

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp*
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream liqueur

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°. Spray two 8″ cake rounds, or one 9″x13″ cake pan, with non-stick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and spray again.

Sift together, in a large bowl, the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda & powder, and salt. In a large measuring cup, beat the eggs and sour cream until smooth. Add in the vegetable oil, vanilla and bear.

Add the liquid to the sifted dry ingredients and fold together with a spatula until just combined. Like brownies, you don’t want to over mix it or you’ll have a chewy cake. Pour into your cake pan or pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes; or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Allow to cool completely.

In a stand mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. *Note: buttercream based frostings can be a real bitch. You want the butter soft, and I do mean soft! So while I put “at room temp” the warmer the better. But DO NOT MICROWAVE IT! Doing so has a tendency to make the butter melt in pockets and that won’t work for your frosting. Once it’s smooth Alternate the Bailey’s with the powdered sugar until it’s all incorporated and smooth. Then frost your cake.

Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies

I came across this recipe and it interested mostly because I have lemon curd on hand frequently. If you follow this blog, you know I use it in several recipes I’ve already posted. My Limoncello Tiramisu and Limoncello Cake both use it and you’ll want to check them out if you plan on making these as that’s where you will find the recipe for my lemon curd. Or you can get store bought. They were a big hit at work. Enjoy!

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Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup lemon curd (see recipe links above)

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350° and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg yolks one at a time, beating again until fluffy. Add in the lemon zest and juice, should be about 2 tbsp. of juice.

In a medium bowl shift together the flour and salt. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the flour until combined. Shape the dough into balls, about 1 tbsp. of dough will do. Place on the cookie sheets at least 1″ apart. Take you thumb and push down in the middle of each ball to form a well, this is where the curd will go. Bake about 20 minutes or until the sides barely start to turn brown. Remove from the oven and fill the centers with lemon curd, it’s take less than a tsp. Return to the oven and bake for another 2 minutes. Allow to cool and then dust lightly with powdered sugar (optional).

Blackberry Cheesecake Bars

This recipe was sent to me as a request to make. Even though they’re called bars, it’s basically a square cheesecake. Which makes it challenging in that they don’t make square or rectangle springform pans, which make getting the cake out super easy. The original recipe also called for making it in a 9″x13″ sheet pan. I didn’t really want one that big and I also didn’t happen to have that many blackberries. So I split it between two 8″ square pans. One thing that did intrigue me about this recipe was the crust. Most cheesecake is a graham cracker crust. This one calls for  vanilla wafers and pecans. Now I’m not a fan of pecans so I decided to try something a little different, I used candied pecans instead. And as I was using 2 pans, I made one blackberry and one blueberry. Keep in mind that since I did this, the topping recipe below was split in half. So where I used 1 cups of sugar, I put 1/2 cup in each type of fruit. They turned out delicious! Enjoy!

 

Blackberry Cheesecake Bars

Crust:

  • Foil, the heaver the better
  • 1 11 oz box vanilla wafers
  • 1 cup candied pecans
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla schnapps (optional)

Filling:

  • 3 8oz packages of cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla schnapps

Topping:

  • 4 cups blackberries (I used 2 cups and 2 cups blueberries)
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1 heaping tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 or so tbsp. cold water
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla schnapps
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tbsp.)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° and line your pan (or pans) with foil one way (long way if you’re using a 9″x13″ pan). Spray with nonstick spray. Take another pan, I use my lasagna pan, and fill it half way with hot water. Put it on the bottom rack.

In a food processor, pulse the wafers and pecans until fine. Remove any large chucks or crush them up. Add in the melted butter, vanilla, and schnapps (if using). Pulse until combined. All of the crumbs should be well coated with the butter. Press into the bottom of the pan (or pans, divide equally). Make sure you press it down nice and firm.

In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy (no lumps). Turn it down and add the eggs one at a time until smooth again. Add in the sour cream and beat until smooth. Pour into the pan (or pans, divide equally). Smooth out the top and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and open the oven door, allow the pan to sit in the open oven for 15 mins. Remove and allow to cool completely.

While it’s cooling; in a medium sauce pan (or in my case 2 pans) combine the fruit, sugar, 1/4 cup water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the fruit starts to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. In a small jar, combine the cornstarch and remaining water (divided if you’re make 2) and shake well. Add into the fruit and boil for another 2 to 3 minutes, it should really thicken up. Cool completely.

Now here was the challenging part for me. I didn’t want to serve these in the pans with the foil as I’d cut the foil with the cakes and people could (would) have foil attached to their bites. So I  carefully used the foil to pull them out on to a counter, towards the edge. Took a plate and put the lip just under the edge of the cheesecake and carefully slide it forward by pulling on the foil until the cheesecake was all the way on the plate. Then I spread the fruit topping on it and chilled for an hour (or overnight, but cover it with wrap).  Cut into bars and enjoy!

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies

OK so this is one of the recipes where I found it on the interwebs, tried it, didn’t like it really, but let other people eat them anyway. And much to my surprise, they loved them! Clearly my taste should not dictate everything I make. I didn’t really make any changes to it, which for me says a lot. Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cups mini chocolate chips (more if you want to sprinkle some on top)

Directions:

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

In your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese but it’s smooth. Turn down to low; add in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Pre-heat your oven to 375° and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into about 1″ balls, place them about 2″ apart, and flatten them slightly. You can use the bottom of a glass or just your hand. If you like, sprinkle a few more chips on top before you flatten them.  Bake for 10 minutes, they should just start to turn brown around the edges. Allow to cool and then eat.

Stuffed Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Here’s another cupcake recipe that I’ve adapted. I liked the original but felt the need to bump it up a notch, added some Brown Sugar Bourbon to it. They were a big hit! Enjoy.

 

Stuffed Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Filling:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Brown Sugar Bourbon

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour*
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup espresso
  • 2 tbsp. Brown Sugar Bourbon

Topping:

  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Directions:

In a medium bowl beat together the peanut butter and unsalted butter until smooth. Turn down to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar and BSB. Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spoon the filling into a piping bag with a medium size tip.

Preheat your oven to 325° and line your muffin tins with cupcake liners. I spray mine with non-stick cooking spray, it helps pealing them off the finished cupcakes.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt. *Cake flour is different from all-purpose flour. It contains less protein and makes for lighter, well cakes. Combine the buttermilk, espresso, and vanilla; I use a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring.

In your stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You’ll need to scrap down the sides at least once. Turn down to low and add in the eggs one at a time, beat until combined. Turn up the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy again. Turn back down to low, add in 1/3 of the flour beat until combined. Add in 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture, beat until combined. Repeat until it’s all in there. Divide the batter between the muffin tins, filling them up about 1/2 way. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely.

Take the piping back of filling, shove it in the middle of each cupcake, and squeeze until you just start to see the filling ooze out from around the piping back tip.

Take the heavy cream and nuke it for about 90 seconds or until piping hot. Pour it over the chopped chocolate and let stand for about a minute. Stir until smooth. If it’s still lumpy nuke it for 15 seconds at a time, stirring in-between, until it’s smooth. Let stand for about 10 minutes. It should be thicker but not solid. You can either spoon it over the cupcakes or dip each on into the chocolate. I found spooning to be easier, dipping tended to leave some cake in the mix. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes or until the ganache is set.

Triple Lemon Cupcakes

I must say these were a huge hit at my work. I have quite a few lemon loving coworkers it turns out. I think they turned out really well but the lemon cream cheese frosting needs a little work. It was a little too soft for my liking. Enjoy!

Triple Lemon Cupcakes

Filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Frosting:

  • 1 8oz package cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup lemon filling
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract

Directions:

In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together all of the ingredients. Turn up the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the filling is smooth and thick. About 7 minutes. Remove from heat and pour through a strainer to get out any lumps. Allow to cook completely. If you’re going to put it in the refrigerator, place a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface of the filling to prevent a “skin” from forming.

Heat your oven to 375° and line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You’ll have to scrap down the sides at least once. Add in the eggs one at a time and continue to beat until smooth. Add in the lemon juice and lemon extract and again beat until smooth.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the flour mixture. Beat until smooth. Divide the batter between the cup cake tins, filling about 1/2 way.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

Once cool, take a paring knife and cut out the core of each cupcake being careful to not go through the bottom of the cupcake itself. Use a piping bag and fill in the center of each cupcake with the lemon filling.

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the extract and left over lemon filling, should be about 1/2 a cup. Beat until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, continue beating until smooth. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before frosting so it can set. Frost and eat.

Date Cookies

The base for this recipe came from my favorite cookbook, the one my mom gave to me when she kicked me out of the house. I’ve been running through it, looking for ideas, when I came across a recipe for California Fig cookies. Sounded good to me, except I didn’t have any figs on hand. But I did have dates! So I switched it up, added some Scotch and clove. And took out the walnut or pecan halves, they were optional anyway. Now I have to say these turned out amazing! They are now one of my favorite cookies. Enjoy!

Date Cookies

  • 1 cup chopped dried dates
  • 4 tbsp. Scotch
  • 6 to 8 tbsp. water*
  • 1 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 375° and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a small pan; cook the dates, scotch, and 6 tbsp. of water until the dates are super soft and like a paste. *You may need more water for this, it depends on how dry your dates are. Allow mixture to cool completely.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars. Once it’s light and fluffy, add in the egg and vanilla. Beat until it’s light and fluffy again, you’ll probably have to scrap down the bowl.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, clove, and salt. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour mixture and beat until combined. Now stir in the dates. Drop a teaspoon full of dough onto your cookie sheets, about 2″ apart.

Bake for 12 minutes. The edges should just start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool and then eat.

 

Cream Cheese Drop Cookies

This recipe comes from my Farmer’s Journal Country Cookbook. I didn’t do much modification to it. Add a little lemon extract and extra cream cheese, that’s about it. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Drop Cookies

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temp
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cup sifted cake flour*

Directions:

On medium speed in a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Turn down to low and slowly add in 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until smooth again. Combine the lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon extract. Slowly add it into the butter/cream cheese mixture. Once it’s smooth again, slowly add in the flour and lemon zest.

Of note here, cake flour is different from other types of flour and you can’t substitute. Cake flour has a lower protein content. You can make your own with all-purpose flour and either arrowroot or corn starch.

Once it’s all combined drop about a teaspoon of dough, roughly 2″ apart, on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until set. These won’t look done but they will be. You don’t want them brown. While still hot roll in the remaining powdered sugar and allow to cool.

Billionaire Bars

So this recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen. They have a recipe for millionaire’s shortbread. Why do I call mine Billionaire instead? Because I’ve bumped it up a notch and made it more decadent. I added some Bourbon to the caramel and some flake sea salt to the chocolate topping. Enjoy!

Billionaire Bars

Cookie Bottom:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 stick of unsalted butter, melted

Caramel Middle:

  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup cron syrup
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tbsp. Bourbon

Chocolate Topping

  • 9 oz chopped chocolate
  • Flake sea salt

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350° and place the rack in the lower-middle position. Take a 13″ x 9″ baking pan and line it with a foil sling. Having heavy aluminum foil really helps here. Line it the long way first, then another sheet the short way. This makes getting the bars out super easy. Spray it with non-stick cooking spray, this helps getting the foil off the bars.

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and combine until all of the flour mixture is moistened. Press into the pan until you have an even layer. It helps to use a flat object, like a measuring cup, to press the dough down. Take a fork and prick the dough all over. Bake until light brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool until it’s barely warm.

For the filling, combine all of the ingredients except the salt in to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. I like to use my Le Creuset Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is between 236 to 239 degrees. A candy thermometer really comes in handy here. This will take 20 or so minutes. Keep an eye on it, the bottom can scorch really quickly if you don’t stir enough. Once it reaches temperature, take it off the heat and stir in the salt. Pour, carefully as it’s molten, over the cookie bottom. Allow to cool completely (about 30-45 minutes if you put it in the refrigerator).

Once it is completely cool, put the chopped chocolate into a microwave proof bowl. Nuke for 20 seconds at a time. Stir in-between nukes and let it set for 5 minutes between. Keep nuking until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Pour ontop of the caramel and smooth out. An offset spatula really helps here. Sprinkle with flake sea salt and allow to cool complete.

Once completely cool, use the foil sling to remove it from the pan and carefully peal the foil away from the bars. Double check to make sure the foil didn’t rip and that you have pieces stuck to your bars. No one wants a bite of foil!

Carefully cut into bars, the cookie portion can be very crumbly.