Category Archives: Cake

Tres Leches

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As we approach Cinco de Mayo, I look forward to great food.  Guacamole.  Fajitas.  Chips and salsa.  Mexican wedding cookies.  Tres leches cake.  After having a slew of spicy and flavorful dishes, this cake is a light and cool dessert that absolutely fits the bill.

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As if I need a reason to make and eat this cake.  A cake soaked in a blend of sweet milks and covered in fresh whipped cream.  I say, have it all-year round.  Birthdays, weekends, found-another-sweetened-condensed-milk-can-in-your-pantry days.  I definitely don’t need a reason.  Just a fork.

Tres Leches

adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking pow der
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour one 9×13 inch baking pan.
2. Sift flour and baking powder together.  Set aside.
3. Cream butter and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy.  Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well until fully incorporated.
4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well
blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Pierce cake several times with a fork.
6. Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the
top of the cooled cake.
7. Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon
vanilla together until thick in a stand mixer.  Spread over the top of cake.  Place cake in fridge until time to serve.

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Filed under baking, Cake, Desserts

Isaiah’s Curious George Themed First Birthday Party

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Let’s get some cliché things out of the way:

  1. I can’t believe he’s already 1!
  2. It seems like yesterday I just gave birth to him.
  3. This year has flown by with him.

*He is actually 15 months right now, but this post took a long time.  🙂

Cliché and so so true.  When he turned one I got really sad thinking of how much he’s grown.  From a tiny 7 pound baby to a 20+ pound tubby.  With his big hair, eight teeth and personality, he’s really not at all baby and has become a real boy.  And, it’s been quite an adventure with him.  Just when I think I have something figured out or a semblance of a routine, he changes and then we start again.  There is no relaxing with this kid.

As a crazy obsessed mother, I have been planning his first birthday much earlier than I want to admit.  I wanted it to be cozy and filled with family, close friends and things he loves.  What does this one year old love?  Curious George.  Balloons.  Without being too attached to everything Curious George, we kept the essence through the balloons, colors and some Curious George/monkey-themed items strewn about.  

First, for the invitations, we got a Curious George invitation and door sign, which helped kick off the monkey-themed party.  

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Similar to the one at my surprise birthday, I wanted to have a photo booth for kids to take pictures.  The photo booth was a hit.  Kids, families and parents really got into it.  The only person that didn’t?  The birthday boy.  He couldn’t sit or stand still to take a picture in front of anything.

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My sister, the Pinterest fiend, made a multi-colored balloon garland and decorated corners of the house with bunches of balloons.  This picture doesn’t do it justice.

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One of the main reasons I wanted to post this party is because of all the fun I had planning and putting everything into action.  And, with the menu I had, I had little to no work during the actual party.  I really despise having to be running around finalizing anything after guests arrive.  My house was prepped and ready to go on time.

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As the party was held from 2-5, I didn’t plan a big meal but offered heavy appetizers and desserts.

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We had more than enough variety and just the perfect amount of food but still have a little left over for later grazers – mostly me and my sister.

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Almost everything I made (except the grilled cheese) was make ahead. So, the day of, I was really just warming or baking, which is a much better project than cooking.  The grilled cheese came together in the last 10 minutes.  I will definitely make it again and I’ll show you the method to make grilled cheese for a party.  It’s a game changer.

The day before, I made a smash cake and didn’t focus too much on making it perfect as I fully expected my rambunctious kid to destroy it.  Well, turns out he had no interest in smashing it and preferred to eat it a bite at a time with a spoon!  If he would only do that with soup or any other meal.

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So, because he was so careful with the smash cake, we served it up with the cupcakes.  All of it – gone.  Made me so happy.

Finally, for favors, I wanted a food gift that was quick and easy to make.  Look no further than caramel corn, friends.  I don’t know why I was intimidated at all about trying it.  It was so easy, and a little effort makes a whole bunch of popcorn that really disappear quite fast.  (Recipe coming soon!)  Favors were stacked in Curious George containers to keep the theme of the party even as guests departed.

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If you’ve made it this far in the post, I appreciate you and wanted to share this special day with you.  All in all, I couldn’t have asked for a better day with family, friends, and a little boy who eats his smash cake with a spoon.  My outfit was eternally grateful for that, kid.

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Filed under Appetizers, Birthdays, Cake, Cupcake, Favorites, Life, Side Dish, Snacks, Soup

White Chocolate Mango Cheesecake

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Have you seen the movie The Truth About Cats and Dogs?  Fully identifying with Janeane Garofalo’s character, crushing on Ben Chaplin and Uma Thurman, and of course the adorable pets, I loved that movie.  But, looking back, the one thing I remember most is the cheesecake scene.  Do you know the cheesecake scene?  An image-conscious Thurman attempts to refuse cheesecake, but ultimately succumbs to being fed each bite by Chaplin.  Aside from the sheer awkwardness of the moment altogether, I remember studying the cheesecake a little too much.  As a child only left with a stash of Maria cookies (thanks, mom!), I longed for something so decadent.

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As strange as the cheesecake scene, I still think of that movie when I eat cheesecake.  Totally weird.

You can use whatever preserves, jam or fruit butter you have on hand.  Mango and white chocolate were heavenly together, but I know this would also work with raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.

White Chocolate Mango Cheesecake

adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese,
    softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fruit preserves, jam, coulis or butter

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tbsp white sugar and unsalted butter.  Press mixture into a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F.
  3. In a double boiler, melt white chocolate chips and half and half, whisking until smooth.  Once smooth,remove from heat and set aside to cool down.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Pour half of the batter over the graham cracker crust in the springform pan.
  5. Spoon half of the fruit preserves.  Pour the remaining batter over the preserves.
  6. Spoon the remaining fruit preserves and marble the preserves with the tip of the knife.  Marble according to your preference.  I wanted more pockets of mango butter so I didn’t marble as much.
  7. Place the springform pan on top of a cookie sheet filled halfway with water.  Carefully move the springform pan and cookie sheet into the oven.
  8. Bake the cheesecake for 55-60 minutes, until the cheesecake is set (no longer jiggling or wet in the middle).  Once set, turn off your oven, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for an hour.  Do not touch it.  Do not open the oven.  Just leave it.
  9. After an hour, remove the cheesecake and allow it to cool.  Once cool, cover with a plastic wrap, touching the cheesecake as you cover and place in fridge for at least 8 hours prior to serving.

 

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Filed under baking, Cake

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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I love coffee cake. I just do. More than just the perfectly crumb cake with a bountiful streusel topping, the cake signifies relationships. Impromptu gatherings or just meaningful conversations take place around these cakes. Usually accompanied by copious cups of coffee or tea, conversations abound with coffee cakes. And, this cake is a classic – simple to make and yields a bakery-like presentation.

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In addition to the decadence of having two layers of streusel, the cake, when cut, is a stunner. The sour cream is a wonderful addition to keep the cake from drying out without making it too heavy.

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And, when you’re with good company, the last thing you need is a fussy cake.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
  3. For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
  4. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with half of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork.

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Prune Cake

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My mom get ideas. Usually ones that are well deserved of my eye rolls. Her latest? Prunes. Prunes! I tried. The baby tried. Binks, on the other hand, did not. My dad once attempted to make me try prune juice. I wanted to cut out my tongue.

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But, turns out when you cut it up and put it in a cake and top it off with a surprisingly magnificent buttermilk sauce, prunes are delicious. In fact, the prunes lend a great deal of moisture to the cake. So, when I make desserts like this, it bodes well for me to hide the ingredients from my husband. Presented as a spice cake, I gave him a small piece. Without stopping for air, he ate the whole piece and asked for more. My mom, who was also over, requested more than one piece. After I was sure my husband couldn’t deny enjoying the cake, I revealed the magic ingredient – prunes. He paused and said, “it’s amazing!’ Then, he asked for another. I looked over at my mom who looked at me, smiled and said, “I told you so.”

Insert eye roll here.

Prune Cake

barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

CAKE:

  • 1 cup prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk

TOPPING:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
  2. Place the prunes in a small saucepan. Cover them with water. Bring to a low boil and cook until soft and mashable, about 8 minutes. Drain the water and mash the prunes into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs to the oil and sugar, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
  4. Combine the four mixture with the egg mixture. Add and stir in the buttermilk until just combined – do not over stir. The batter may be lumpy at this point.
  5. Stir in the prunes.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean.
  7. Meanwhile about 5-7 minutes before the cake is done, combine all the topping ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Continue boiling until the icing turns a light caramel color, 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and pour the topping evenly over the cake. Serve warm or cool.

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Berry Vanilla Cake with Whipped Frosting

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My husband’s family doesn’t care much for birthday celebrations.  But, they do make an effort for their mother.  In a family full of boys one her, it’s quite sweet to watch them devise a plan to celebrate her birthday.  This year, we were short on time and put together a quick plan to accommodate a rowdy baby and a son who was only in town for a short period of time.

Taking into consideration my mother in law’s preferences for cake, I knew I had to construct something light, not-to-sweet and definitely included fruit.  As long as I’ve known her she’s ordered these magnificent cakes with glazed fruit, slivered almonds and whipped cream frosting.  With hours to make it, I found some supplies I had on hand to put together a cake she would love.

With my favorite American buttercream being too sweet for her taste and not having time to make Swiss meringue buttercream, my options were limited.  So, I tried something new based on what I had on hand.  I’m so glad I did.  This cake was a hit.  Bringing back memories of when she would bake cakes for her sons, she ate her cake happily.  It was a good day.

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Frosting using heavy whipping cream can be finnicky and not always the stable when you want to make a presentation.  Although you can stabilize it with powdered sugar, this frosting using Cool Whip is way more stable.  Especially with the addition of powdered sugar, I was able to keep the cake and frosting in its proper form through the afternoon while we ate pieces of the cake.

If I would have changed anything, based on supplies I had on hand, I would have added more blueberries on the top.  If you want to make more layers (cut each layer in half for a four layer cake), just make sure you double the filling and frosting.  I had just enough frosting for a filling layer, the outer layer and just enough for piping.

Berry Vanilla Bean Cake with Whipped Frosting
cake slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction and also used here
makes a two layer 8′ inch cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • seeds scraped from one vanilla bean or 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 1 cups berries (mixed or pick one)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar

Frosting:

  • 1 (8oz) container of frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (3.5 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar. sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish/Decorating

  • berries
  •  sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. If you make cupcakes, line with cupcake liners. If you are baking cake layers, grease two eight-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a large and separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the milk and eggs. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, on medium heat, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, until the mixture is very light/pale.
  5. Add the vanilla extract until fully incorporated.  Carefully add and mix in half of the milk mixture until all is combined.  Then, mix in half of the flour mixture until fully combined.  Add the remaining milk mixture until combined. Finally, add the flour mixture until incorporated.  Once everything is incorporated, beat the mixture for a good 2 minutes to ensure that everything is smoothly combined.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.  Cool completely before frosting.
  7. Prepare filling:  While cake is baking, in a bowl, mash together the 1 cup of berries coarsely – I still like big chunks.  Pour in sugar and mix together.  Set it aside.
  8. Prepare frosting:  In your stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer (using a large bowl), whip together the heavy cream, instant pudding powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.  Mix until its smooth and getting thick.  Remove from the mixer and by hand, fold in the whipped topping until fully incorporated.  Do not over mix.  Once there are no white streaks, place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.  Once firm, assemble and frost cake.
  9. Assemble and frost:  Place one layer of cake on a cake board.  Spread the fruit to within an inch of the border.  Then, spread the whipped frosting on top of the fruit and then place the final layer on top.  Frost the cake completely.

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Chocolate Banana Bread

One of my favorite combinations is banana and chocolate.  More so than chocolate and peanut butter.  (Gasp!)  And, as it seems like I have a thing for baked banana items, chocolate banana bread is one of those things that have been on my to-bake/cook list for a while.  And, as usual, I had the perfect amount of over-ripe bananas sitting around for just this occasion.

 

Won. Der. Ful.  And, that would be an understatement.  We actually made two loaves.  Binks was devouring piece after piece of the first loaf when we received some news from a neighbor, which deserved (at the very least) a loaf to be gifted.  That was probably the saddest my husband has ever gotten about banana bread in his life.

 

This bread is really a denser cake that is full of deep, rich chocolate flavor, without losing the banana foundation.  The chocolate chips in the bread add so much that it really moves this up from a ‘bread’ to a ‘dessert’.  I can promise you on my loaf pans and the pathetic look on Binks’ face when I moved one loaf away from him that this is absolutely addictive.

Chocolate Banana Bread

slightly adapted from Savory Sweet Life

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large ripened bananas mashed ( or 2.5 small bananas)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (mini chocolate chips work great here)
Instructions:
  1. Preheat over to 350F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter, salt, and sugar together.
  4. Stir in egg, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended.
  5. Mix in baking soda, cocoa, and flour.
  6. Mix everything until well incorporated, about 3 minutes in an electric mixer.
  7. Add chocolate chips.
  8. Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes – 55 minutes, until a toothpick entered in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  9. Remove from heat and allow bread to rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.
  10. After 10 minutes, invert the loaf onto the cooling rack.

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Filed under baking, Bread, Cake, Desserts