Blackberry coconut tart

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen who was inspired by Heidi Swanson, I made this for Easter 2013 dessert.



Strawberry Muffins

I made these a few days after Vivian was born and brought them into our OB’s office to thank our nurses. The paper cups are from Paper Eskimo and worked beautifully.

Servings: 12

1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups hulled and chopped strawberries, divided, approximately 1-1/2 quarts of whole strawberries

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1-1/2 tsp. vanila extract

Mix dry ingredients
Preheat oven to 400 degrees-F. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

Prepare strawberries
Place 1/2 cup chopped strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Cook until strawberries are broken down and sauce is thick, approximately 8 minutes. Pass sauce through a fine sieve and discard the seeds, set the sauce aside. Place the remaining strawberries in a small mixing bowl and toss with the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

Mix wet ingredients
In a small mixing bowl, beat egg with a fork. Add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Make batter
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix with a fork just until combined. Add the chopped strawberries and sugar mixture and stir until distributed throughout batter. Add reserved strawberry sauce and stir until just incorporated.

Bake muffins
Fill 12  muffin cups with liners or spray with cooking spray. Drop batter into muffin liners by the spoonful evenly among the cups, filling to the brim. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool and serve
Remove muffin pan from oven and let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack. Serve immediately or store in airtight container for several days.

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Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake

I saw this beautiful cupcakes on Cooking Classy and couldn’t get them out of my mind until I finally made them. This was also my first use of these baking cups instead of liners. The cupcake is a little narrower and taller than a standard cupcake tin, and the cup doesn’t stick to the cupcake so it is easy to eat.

Servings: 24 cupcake

3 cups strawberries
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, divided
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Raspberry Linzertorte

I followed this recipe from Martha Stewart, but cut the ground ginger and cloves in half to reduce the gingerbread flavor. I might add those spices back in if I made this during the holidays.




Berry Bundt Cake


Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Banana Walnut Blondies

Another tasty banana recipe that isn’t Banana Bread.

Servings: 36 one-inch square pieces

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter plus 1 Tbsp., divided
1 egg
1 over-ripe banana, approximately 1/2 cup mashed
1/3 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Prepare pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees-F.  Grease an 8-inch square pan with 1 Tbsp. butter.

Melt butter and sugar
In a medium pot melt remaining butter and  brown sugar over medium heat. Stir with a whisk until smooth and incorporated.

Add remaining ingredients
Remove pot from heat. Add egg and vanilla extract and incorporate with a whisk.  Add flour and salt and incorporate with a whisk. Add banana, walnuts, and chocolate chips, and stir with a spoon until well mixed. Pour into the prepared pan.

Place pan in the oven and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until top is lightly browned.

Cool and serve
Place pan on a cooling rack and cool completely before cutting and serving. Store at room temperature covered in plastic wrap.

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S’mores Layer Cake

I made only a few slight changes to the original recipe in the new cookbook from the blogger behind the Smitten Kitchen blog, Deb Perelman. This is the second recipe I’ve made from the book and based on these two experiences and my multi-year devotion to following this blog, I wholeheartedly recommend everyone buy Pereleman’s book.

Servings: 16

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened, additional from greasing cake pans
4 whole eggs, room temperature
2 cups buttermilk
1-1/2 cup heavy cream
5 egg whites

1-2/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups graham cracker crumbs, ground fine (from about 12 full sheets)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/8 tsp. salt, divided
1 lbs. milk chocolate, chopped
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Make cake layers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees-F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line with 8-inch circles of parchment paper, butter both sides of the parchment. In a small bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, and 1 tsp. salt – set aside.  In the work bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and airy. Add 4 whole eggs one at a time, mixing completely between eggs. Add half of the dry ingredients from the set aside bowl and mix on low. Add buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Add remaining dry ingredients, scrape sides of the bowl, and mix until incorporated.

Divide cake batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating half-way through baking to ensure even baking. Test with a toothpick, inserted it should come out clean when cakes are done. Cool cakes for 10 minutes in the pans, transfer to cooling racks and remove parchment paper. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Make chocolate ganache
While cakes are cooling, in a double boiler over simmering water, melt the milk chocolate and stir with a whisk to ensure melted chocolate is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and remaining 1/8 tsp. salt. Whisk until smooth and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes, or until mixture is spreadable.

Assemble cake
Once cakes are cool and ganache is spreadable,  place a small dollop of ganache in the middle of a cake plate to secure the bottom layer. Spread half of the ganache on the top of the cake layer. Transfer frosted cake (the top layer has not yet been placed) to the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and place the top layer on the cake. Frost the entire cake with the remaining ganache. Transfer to the refrigerator again to chill for another 15 minutes.

Make marshmallow frosting
While cake is chilling, place the work bowl of a stand mixer over simmer water to form a double boiler. Add egg whites, remaining 1 cup granulated sugar, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Stir constantly with a whisk for 5 minutes over simmering water. Egg mixture will be thick and foamy. Remove from heat and beat on low in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Gradually increase speed and beat for 5 to 7 minutes or until frosting is thick and shiny.

Decorate and serve
When marshmallow frosting is done and cake is chilled, remove cake from the refrigerator and cover in a thick layer of the marshmallow frosting, careful not to dig into the ganache and mix the frostings. Reserve approximately 1 cup of frosting and transfer to an icing bag. Cut a 1/2-inch opening in the bottom of the bag and decorate the top of the cake with dollops of frosting. Use a kitchen blow torch (the kind used for creme brule) and carefully toast the frosting dollops and other edges of the cake as desired. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

My first pregnancy craving and I am more than 30 weeks pregnant: I needed to make chocolate peppermint cupcakes today. And these did not disappoint. Inspired by Cooking Classy, I made a few tweaks and would not change a thing from the recipe below.

Servings: 24 cupcakes

2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
2/3 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
2 tsp. peppermint extract, divided
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
4-1/2 cups Confectioners’ sugar

Make cupcake batter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees-F. Line two 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. In the work bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking power, baking soda, and salt. Mix with the whisk attachment until combined. Add oil, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 tsp. peppermint extract, milk, and eggs. Mix on low for 1 minute. Add sour cream and coffee, mix on medium-low for 3 minutes. Scrap the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly to be sure batter is smooth. Fill each muffin cup with batter, approximately 3/4 full – batter will be slightly thin.

Bake cupcakes 
Transfer cupcakes to the oven and bake for 9 minutes. After the first 9 minutes of baking, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees-F. Rotate cupcake pans to ensure even baking and bake for an additional 9 minutes. Test cupcakes by inserting a toothpick, cupcakes are done if toothpick comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and let cool completely, approximately 20 minutes.

Make  chocolate topping
While cupcakes cool on the cooling racks, melt chocolate chips over simmering water in a double boiler. Add heavy cream and mix with a whisk until smooth. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to cool for 10 minutes, then set aside on the counter until ready to decorate. Once cupcakes are cooled completely, frost each cupcake with approximately 1/2 to 1 tsp. of the chocolate topping.  Allow for about 1/4-inch around the edge of the cupcake to prevent the chocolate from dripping. Place cupcakes back in the pan or on a platter and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes.

Chill cupcakes and make peppermint frosting
While cupcakes chill in the refrigerator, use an electric mixer to combine cream cheese and butter and mix on medium-high for 3 minutes. Add remaining 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 tsp. peppermint extract. With the mixer on low, slowly add Confectioners’ sugar. Scrap sides of the bowl to incorporate all ingredients. Mix on medium-high for an additional 3 minutes. Transfer to an icing bag and set aside until ready to decorate.

Decorate and serve
When cupcakes are chilled, ice with peppermint frosting, leaving approximately 1/4-inch from the edge of the chocolate frosting and building the icing into a high dome. Garnish with a candy cane, peppermint bark, or similar candy. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Cookie Cutter Fudge

This is a variation on classic fudge that I made this year to give to colleagues at the office for the holidays. After fudge set, I transferred to small clear bags and tied with ribbon as the gift packaging.

Servings: 12 cookie cutters (dependent on size of cutters)

3/4 cup butter (1-1/2 sticks)

2/3 cup evaporated milk
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 package (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
7 oz. marshmallow crème
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat butter, milk, and sugar
Combine sugar, butter and milk in a medium pot. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Boil the sugar mixture for 5 minutes, or until the temperature of the mixture reaches 234 degrees-F. Remove from heat.

Add chocolate and remaining ingredients
Gradually add chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Add marshmallow and vanilla and stir until well combined.

Cool fudge in cookie cutters
Wrap one side of cookie cutters tightly with aluminum foil. Spoon batter into the cookie cutters, approximately 3/4 full. Smooth with a spatula. Let fudge cool at room temperature.

Once fudge is set, remove aluminum foil. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator until ready to serve or give away.

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