Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake

Hey friends.  I’ve got a cake recipe for you today.  Not just any cake recipe.  Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake.  This cake…oh my goodness, where do I start?  I am such a sucker for layer cakes.  Especially ones with homemade orange marmalade in between the layers.  Such as this one.

Luckily, my friend Shawna, who happens to have this fantastic gourmet cooking club that I’m a part of, is also a lover of layer cakes.  And we happened to have cooking club this past weekend.  So when I saw this cake from Southern Living show up in my email a couple of weeks ago, I immediately knew what I’d be taking.  And I won’t lie, on our way to cooking club I was having my doubts and second guessing my choice of cake.  I kind of started thinking maybe I should have done something with chocolate and peppermint (one of my all time favorite combos) or something a little more holiday-ish.  But my doubts were all put to rest after cutting into this baby.  Everyone loved it!  I have to admit, this is a GOOD cake.  The yellow cake is so moist and delicious with coconut mixed in and the orange marmalade and pecan cream cheese frosting just make the whole thing an amazing combination of flavors and textures.

A couple of notes about the cake.  You’ll want to make it in stages since it has a few components.  It’s nothing complicated, just plan ahead.  I made the cake layers one day and froze them.  One trick I learned for cake is that after it has baked, let it cool off for about 5 minutes, wrap it tightly in a couple of layers of foil and then put it in the freezer.  It traps the moisture and makes the cake SUPER moist and it only takes a couple of hours on the kitchen counter for it to defrost.  Next day I made the orange marmalade and then a couple days later I made the glazed pecans and frosting and put the whole thing together.

All in all, this was an absolutely divine cake.  Perfect for holiday parties and festivities.  Everyone will rave!

Enjoy!

Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ½ c. Shortening
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 5 Large Eggs, separated
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Whole Milk (or buttermilk)
  • 1 c. Sweetened Flaked Coconut
  • 2 T. Grated Orange Rind
Orange Marmalade
  • 1 c. Sugar
  • ¼ c. Cornstarch
  • 2 c. Fresh Orange Juice (I used 10 large oranges to get two cups of juice)
  • 3 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ c. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 T. Granted Orange Rind
Glazed Pecans
  • 1½ c. Pecan Halves
  • ⅓ c. Light Corn Syrup (I used Lyle's Golden Syrup)
Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 c. Pecans, toasted and choppped
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
  • ¼ c. Shortening
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
Garnish
  • ⅓ c. Flaked Sweetened Coconut, toasted
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2, 9-inch round pans and line with parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until blended.
  3. Whisk together flour, soda and salt. Add to sugar mixture alternately with milk, begginging and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in one cup flaked coconut and grated orange rind.
  4. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Divide batter evenly between the two pans.
  5. Bake for 25-28 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks or remove from pans, wrap in foil and store in the freezer until ready to use.
For the Orange Marmalade
  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a 3-quart saucepan; gradully whisk in fresh orange juice. Whisk in lightly beaten eggs. Bring to a boil (5 to 6 minutes) over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture reaches a pudding-like thickness. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and grated orange rind. If the mixture ends up with pieces of cook egged in it (mine did) simply push it through a very fine mesh sieve with the back of a large spoon in to a bowl. Cover, placing plastic wrap directly on curd and chill for at least 8 hours or until ready to use.
For the Glazed Pecans
  1. Combine pecan halves and corn syrup, stirring to coat pecans. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange pecan halves in an even layer in pan.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Stir using a rubber spatula and bake 3 minutes more. Remove from oven and arrange in an even layer on another piece of foil and let cool completely.
For the Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream Butter, shortening and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in powdered sugar on low speed until creamy and well blended. Stir in pecans.
To Assemble
  1. Split cake layer in half horizontally. Place a layer on a plate or cake stand and spread with a thin layer of frosting and then marmalade. Top with a cake layer. Spread with another thin layer of frosting and marmalade. Top with third cake layer and spread again with frosting and marmalade. Top with final cake layer and frost sides and top of cake with the remaining pecan cream cheese frosting. Garnish with glazed pecans and toasted coconut. Serve with remaining orange marmalade.
Notes
Serves 18.

 

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Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe started off as blondies but somehow turned into cake.  Not sure what I did wrong but it’s all good because this turned out to be one of the best pumpkin cakes I’ve ever made.  It’s super moist and the spices are very pronounced which I love.  On top of all that, the orange cream cheese frosting is THE PERFECT frosting to complement all the spices in the cake…it’s absolutely delicious.  I added semi-sweet chocolate chips and dried cherries but if I did it again, I’d omit the chocolate chips.  The just seemed unnecessary and didn’t really add anything.  I did love the dried cherries but you could also leave those out if you prefer.

If you’re looking for a fantastic pumpkin cake recipe, try this one.  You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!

Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Ingredients
Spiced Pumpkin Cake
  • 2 sticks, plus 2 T. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1¾ c. Packed Brown Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ c. Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 1½ T. Cinnnamon
  • ½ t. Nutmeg
  • 2 t. Allspice
  • 2 t. Ginger
  • 1 t. Ground Cloves
  • 2¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ¾ c. Dried Cherries (optional)
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1, 8 oz. Pkg Cream Cheese, softened
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 T. Orange Zest
  • 4 T. Fresh Orange Juice
Instructions
For the Spiced Pumpkin Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla and pumpkin until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in dried cherries, if using.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely and frost with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.
For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and shortening until smooth. Add salt. On low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Beat in orange zest and juice. Frost cake.
Notes
Serves 18

 

 

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Simple Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe was inspired my two things:  1.  The abundance of strawberries AND strawberry recipes right now and 2. my brand spankin’ new cupcake carrier!  That’s right, I FINALLY am the proud owner of a collapsible cupcake carrier (yes, I had to improvise for quite awhile to transport them!) all thanks to my boss.  A couple of weeks ago it was Administrative Assistant’s Day and my boss was out of town so obviously I knew I wouldn’t get anything and it wasn’t a big deal to me.  But he got back the Friday of that week and when I came back from lunch, this beauty was sitting on my desk.  Ain’t she purty?  And can I just say this thing ROCKS??  It’s both a cake and a cupcake carrier.  I was a little skeptical it would work, but it totally does and I highly recommend getting one if you don’t have one yet!

As for the recipe, do you know how hard it is to find a strawberry cake recipe that doesn’t call for strawberry Jello and a white cake mix?  It’s dang near impossible!  But a couple of years ago and did manage to find one and for the life of me I can’t remember the website I got the recipe from but all I know is it’s titled Katie’s Strawberry Cake, so whoever Katie is, thank you!!  I was so happy when I found the recipe that I made it three times within two weeks…yes, it’s that good.

The method of this cake is a little different because you beat the butter into the dry ingredients and then add the liquid but have no doubt, it totally works.  I absolutely loved these cupcakes…there were small pieces of fresh strawberry in every other bite and the chocolate cream cheese frosting was to-die-for.  The only thing I’d do different is maybe just leave the chocolate out of the frosting next time and do a plain, vanilla cream cheese frosting, as the strawberry cake is such a delicate flavor it almost overpowers it.  But it’s still delicious.

If you are looking for a true “from scratch” strawberry cake, look no further!  This one definitely fits the bill.

Simple Strawberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Ingredients
Strawberry Cupcakes
  • 1 c. Strawberry Puree, room temperature (see below for recipe)
  • ¼ c. Whole Milk, room temperature
  • 6 Large Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2¼ c. Cake Flour
  • 1¾ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 12 T. (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened and cut into 1" chunks
Strawberry Puree
  • 2 c. Sliced Strawberries
  • 2 T. Granulated Sugar
Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1, 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
  • ¼ c. Crisco
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 5 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 4 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
Instructions
For the Strawberry Puree
  1. Place strawberries and sugar in food processor or blender and puree.
For the Strawberry Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the strawberry puree, milk, egg, vanilla and whisk well. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk thoroughly. Beat the butter into the dry ingredients on low speed and mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.
  3. Add liquids to the butter/flour mixture and beat a medium speed for about one minutes or until evenly combined. Stop mixer, scrape down sides of bowl and beat for 30 more seconds. Place three tablespoons of batter into each muffin tin.
  4. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for a few minutes and then remove from pans and let cool completely.
For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream the butter, shortening, cream cheese, salt and extracts on medium speed until combined. Beat in the powdered sugar and then the melted chocolate and beat until combined (do NOT overbeat or the cream cheese will break down). Frost cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting.
Notes
Makes 24 cupcakes.

 

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DC Bakery Review #2: Georgetown Cupcake

Line outside Georgetown Cupcake. Thank goodness it wasn't too cold!

Disclaimer (again):  Pics taken with phone, at night.  In two different places.

After our adventure at Sprinkles, Joelle and I headed to Georgetown Cupcakes…to wait in a really long line.  If you’re not familiar, these gals have a show on TLC and therefore have lines out their door that wrap around the block!  It actually wasn’t too bad when we arrived and I believe we ended up waiting about 45 minutes before we got inside.

Tried to get a good shot of the action...it was a madhouse.
Says it all.

The inside of the store was very cramped and definitely not made for crowds of people/fans.  There were only a couple of tables so we knew right away we’d wouldn’t be able to stay.  We picked out four different kinds of cupcakes and headed to the next bakery to eat them, hoping there would be adequate tables at the next place.

We didn’t have high hopes for this place.  Joelle had tried them once before and had not been too impressed and I had heard from other people that had been there that they weren’t great.  So we started trying them and the moment of truth–they weren’t bad!  I was honestly surprised!  The cakes were all moist and the frosting was pretty good, not the best I’ve ever had but definitely yummy.

Georgetown cupcake boxes...doesn't quite show how cute the pink boxes were.

Here are the flavors we tried and the description of each from Georgetown’s website:

Vanilla Birthday: Classic madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake topped with a traditional sweet vanilla buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles.

Chocolate Mint Crunch: Valrhona chocolate cupcake baked with mint cookie pieces, topped with mint-infused whipped Callebaut chocolate frosting and mint cookie crumble.

Lemon Blossom: Light lemon cupcake with a lemon cream cheese frosting topped with a candied lemon.

Chocolate PB Chip: Valrhona chocolate cupcake baked with peanut butter chips topped with a peanut butter frosting and a chocolate ganache drizzle.

Lemon and PB Chocolate Chip...the peanut butter frosting had a little frosting "landslide" issue on the way to our next stop.

Oh I should mention these cupcakes were UNDER $3 each which was nice!  And a total surprise.

Ok, so who has been to Georgetown Cupcake??  I want to hear your review!

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Whole Grain, Low-Fat Carrot Cake

I can confidently say that after making this healthy version of carrot cake, I will never, ever make the regular, sugary, fat-laden version EVER again.  I can’t even believe I’m saying that!  I just couldn’t believe how good this cake was not to mention it’s full of fruits, veggies and whole grains.  I made it for a dinner party and it was a huge hit!

The only thing I was a little unsure of was how the cream cheese frosting would turn out.  I wanted something pretty close to the real thing so I read up on ways to make my own powdered sugar out of Sugar in the Raw and much to my surprise it worked!  All you need is a coffee grinder, food processor or blender, throw the sugar in and give it a good whirl and voila!  Homemade powdered sugar!  Ok, so it’s not quite as fine as the real stuff but close enough!

This cake was totally delicious, moist and guilt-free!  I promise you will L.O.V.E. this cake and never want the “real thing” again!

Whole Grain, Low-Fat Carrot Cake
 
Ingredients
Carrot Cake
  • 2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Fine sea Salt
  • 3 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • 2 Large Eggs, 3 Egg Whites
  • ½ c. Safflower Oil
  • ¾ c. Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1½ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • 4 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 c. Grated Carrots, squeezed dry
  • 8 oz. Crushed Pineapple, drained
  • ½ c. Chopped Black Walnuts (or toasted pecans)
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 12 oz. Organic Neufchatel Cheese
  • 1 c. Sugar in Raw, processed to powdered sugar consistency in coffee grinder (or food processor/blender)
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ⅓ c. Black Walnuts (or toasted pecans)
Instructions
For the Carrot Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a medium bowl beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until fully incorporated. Stir in carrots and pineapple. Fold in black walnuts.
  3. Pour batter into a prepared pan and bake in oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Beat Neufchatel in an electric mixer until smooth. Add processed sugar and beat until granules have fully dissolved (there should only be a few). Beat in vanilla.
To Assemble Cake
  1. Trim edges off of cake and cut in half. Spread half of frosting on cake and place other cake half on top. Spread with remaining frosting and sprinkle with black walnuts.
Notes
Serves 16.

 

 

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Hummingbird Cake

My resolution to bake classic cakes has so far been a success, starting with this Coconut Cake and now the Hummingbird Cake.  If you’ve never heard of the Hummingbird Cake before, it goes all the way back to, well, it’s hard to tell where or when exactly it came on the scene.  The first published recipe for the cake showed up in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine and was submitted by a woman named Mrs. L.H. Wiggins but it’s roots trace from the deep south aaaaaallll the way to Jamaica!  How crazy is that?  You can read more of the history and details here.

I used a recipe from myrecipes.com that was a little of a modernized version of the cake with the addition of white chocolate to the cake and the frosting and a touch of almond extract.  I was tempted at first to leave the white chocolate out of the cake but I’m so glad I didn’t–I LOVED getting little bits of white chocolate in every other bite.  This cake is very, VERY dense, almost like banana bread and the flavors of the almond extract, cinnamon and banana are incredibly delicious.  I can’t believe I waited so long to make this cake!

Hummingbird Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Large Eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 t. Almond Extract
  • 1, 8 oz. Can Crushed Pineapple, undrained
  • 1 c. Chopped, Toasted Pecans, divided
  • 2 c. Chopped Bananas (about 3 medium-large bananas)
  • 4 oz. White Chocolate, finely chopped
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1½ c. White Chocolate Chips, melted and cooled
  • 1½ (8 oz.) Packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 6 T. Butter, softened
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ c. Chopped Toasted Pecans (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3, 9-inch round pans and then line with parchment paper (optional).
For the Cake
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened (do not overbeat). Stir in vanilla and almond extract, pineapple, pecans, bananas and white chocolate.
  2. Divide batter evenly among the three pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.
For the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until creamy. Add melted chocolate and vanilla, beating well. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at medium speed until mixture reaches desired spreading consistency (do not overbeat).
To Assemble the Cake
  1. Spread cream cheese frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle ½ cup of chopped pecans on top. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Notes
Serves 16.

 

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Cupcakes…from Walgreens?

Yes, you read that right.  Walgreens now sells cupcakes under the name Good & Delish.  Jeremy and I were in this past weekend when we saw them and our curiosity was piqued.  I mean, isn’t buying a cupcake from Walgreens the equivalent of buying one at a gas station?  I mean, you just don’t do that!  It’s cupcake SIN.  But, we had to try these.  I was curious about the claim that they were “all natural” and was certain they would be just downright horrible.  So, I picked out three at $1.99 each and off we went to try them at home.

First up, Strawberry.  It was indeed all natural, deriving the strawberry flavor and pink color from beet juice.  My first impression of this cupcake was that it was HUGE.  Way bigger than a normal size cupcake.  My second thought was…”hmm, this isn’t bad”.  I mean, it was actually…gulp…good.  Yes, I know!  It’s cupcake sacrilege but the vanilla cake was actually VERY dense and moist and honestly good!!  The “strawberry” flavored frosting tasted more like cranberry or some other slightly indescribable berry, which wasn’t horrible, just not strawberry. And don’t be fooled by the little dollop of frosting on top; there is a tunnel of frosting down the middle.

On to the second one, Red Velvet.  Ummm, it was good too.  Not out of this world amazing, but in a pinch, it would curb that craving you have for something sweet and is far superior than something you’d pick up from Wal-mart.  Although this one was labeled “All Natural Flavors” due to the red dye in it.  Ah, details.

And last, Tuxedo.  Ok, get ready for this people…I really, REALLY liked this one.  Jeremy and I both agreed it was our favorite. It was a dark chocolate cake that was honestly soooo good.  Very rich and super moist (how do they do that?!?) and the cream cheese frosting was yummy as well.

Oh, and this is a Black Cherry drink under the same label, that Jeremy just had to try.  Again, very good.  Awesome cherry flavor and it was lightly carbonated.

Needless to say, we were impressed.  Seriously, I can’t believe I’m saying that!!  I totally expected these to be the WORST cupcakes ever but that was not the case at all.

So, if the urge ever hits you around 2 a.m. for a cupcake, now you know where to go!

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New Year’s Eve Cupcakes

Yes, cupcakes. Again.  People love them, there’s absolutely no denying that.  When I first started researching for this post, I wanted to do cupcakes that were themed and decorated for New Year’s Eve but man, the selection and variety was abysmal!  So instead of coming up with (and making) something cute and clever myself, I opted for Plan B:  Boozy Cupcakes.

Are cupcakes and liquor a match made in heaven? Most certainly.  I love any chance I get to throw alcohol into my desserts and these cupcakes are an absolutely legitimate excuse to do just that.  So, for the guests at your New Year’s Eve party that love cupcakes and would rather eat their alcohol than drink it (or do both), whip up one or two of the cupcakes below…maybe create a cupcake “bar”??  I think that’s one bar-tending job I could handle!

 

White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes

Stout Cupcakes

Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

 

Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes

Mudslide Cupcakes

 

Jack and Coke Cupcakes

 

Margarita Cupcakes

Red Wine Cupcakes

 

Chambord Cupcakes

Cupcake “Shots”

 

 

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German Apple Cake

I’ve been blessed lately with an overabundance of apples, as I’m sure many of you have.  One of my favorite things to do with lots of apples, specifically Golden Delicious apples, is make my mom’s German Apple Cake.

She has been making this cake every since I can remember.   As a kid, when the air got cool and the leaves started changing color, we knew that apple cake and apple crisp were in the very near future.  Of course mine and my sister’s favorite part was each getting a beater to lick after my mom had whipped up the cream cheese frosting.  I’m sure I tried more than once to either steal or somehow trick my sister into giving me her beater…I was obnoxious like that.

I love making this cake as an adult because not only of the memories, but I can appreciate the simple goodness of it even more now.  The flavor of cinnamon and chunks of soft apples along with the smooth cream cheese frosting are downright yummy.  And I love that it forms kind a kind of sugary “crust” along the edges.  So, so, SO good.  If you have apples coming out your ears, try this cake.  You’ll love it.

German Apple Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 t. Cinnamon
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 c. Peeled, Sliced/Chunked Apples (About 4-5 apples. I prefer golden delicious.)
  • ½-3/4 c. Black Walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
  • 5 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (which is what I did) or grease and flour.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the apples and walnuts, mix in thoroughly and let set for 5 minutes or so, allowing the juices to soak into the batter. Spread into your baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes (mine took 40) until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and then frost with cream cheese frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese on high until smooth. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and mix thoroughly on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until smooth. Add vanilla and salt and thoroughly incorporate.
Notes
Serves 18

 

 

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Spiced Pumpkin Cake

My original intent for this post was that it would be a recipe for pumpkin BROWNIES (or blondies..whatever) but about a quarter of the way through whipping these up I realized that I was not going to end up with the dense, chewy, pumpkin-y brownies I was dreaming of but most likely, a cake.  And I was right.  I was definitely a little disappointed at first but got over it pretty quickly after my first bite.

It was probably one of the most moist pumpkin cakes I’ve ever had and so wonderfully spiced.  It’s good enough to stand on it’s own without frosting but would most certainly be even more awesome with a layer of cream cheese frosting or a dollop of homemade whipped cream.  I took it to a family function and didn’t bring any home, so that’s a good sign!  So, I suppose it worked out but I’m still on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin brownie recipe!

Enjoy!

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Spiced Pumpkin Cake
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1, 15 oz. Can Solid Pack Pumpkin
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 T. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat oil and sugar. Add eggs and beat until incorporated. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and beat into wet ingredients just until combined.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Notes
Serves 18. *I also put an 11 oz. bag of butterscotch chips in these but since they weren't thick like brownies, they all sunk to the bottom half of the cake. So, it's up to you if you want to add them or not.

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The Butterfinger Bites Disaster

Homemade Butterfingers by Plain Chicken

My friend Joelle had been raving on her blog about how amazing these things were called Butterfinger Bites.  My favorite candy bar of all time is Butterfinger, so naturally I just HAD to make these.  The only ingredients are candy corn, peanut butter and chocolate.  And not only that, you make them in the microwave.  Awesome!

Supposedly these little chocolatey gems taste EXACTLY like a Butterfinger.  But I, for one, will never know.  Because I totally and completely screwed up this recipe.  How you ask?  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  I followed the recipe and warmed the candy corn in the microwave for one minute.  They melted a little.  So I continued at 15 second intervals, stirring between each.  The candy kind of was kind of melting but it was also EXTREMELY hot and kind of starting to clump.  Uh oh.  I eventually got it into some sort of semi-melted blob and thought, ok, I’ll just throw in the peanut butter and see if it comes together.

No, it did not come together.  I could barely stir the mixture for all the clumps of candy corn in the peanut butter.  So I stuck it in the microwaved for a few seconds…and that kind of helped.  The clumps were turning into itty bitty candy corn bits.  So then I had the thought that I would throw it in my mixer and beat the crap out of it!  That didn’t help.  The tiny little candy corn pieces basically got distributed more evenly.  So I poured it into a pan and just stared at it for awhile.  There was no way this was solidifying or even tasting good.  So I threw it away.  Sigh.  So depressing.

I felt like a total failure, like I couldn’t bake at all!!  I mean, candy from a microwave?!  C’mon!  I went to the blog where the original recipe was posted to see if anyone else had issues with it…no, not one person.  Just me. So, I had to console myself by going back and looking at pictures of things I’ve made but never blogged about.  Yes, I was that depressed.  It actually cheered me up a little and reminded me that I’m not a total screw up.  Here’s my trip down memory lane…

Tons of homemade candy for the holidays…that was fun.  And I didn’t screw anything up!

14-Layer Cake with my baking buddy, Betsy.  We were pretty proud of that one.

A 1st birthday cake for a special little nephew.

Neapolitan Cheesecake Cake for a friend’s husband’s birthday.  Yum.

Maple Pecan and Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons, again with Betsy.  We got those right on the first try!  Woo hoo! Lots of high-fiving going on in the kitchen that day!

Buttered Pecan Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting for my sister-in-law Rachel’s birthday.  I think I need to make this one again…

Oreo and Cherry Birthday Cake for my friend Sarah Carter.  That was a fun one.

Ahh, I feel better.  Time to get back in the saddle!  Err, kitchen. Oh and YES, I most definitely will try to make the homemade Butterfingers again!

 

 

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GiGi’s Cupcakes

Last Friday night Jeremy and I visited one of the two new cupcakes places (yes TWO) that opened up this week in Springfield, MO.  GiGi’s is a franchise based out of Nashville, TN and I had heard good things about them so I was pretty excited to visit.  The place is cute, simple and clean inside.  No frills.  And quite frankly they don’t need frills because the cupcakes are gorgeous!  At three dollars apiece, they are good-sized and well worth the money.  And the frosting…OMG don’t even get me started on the frosting on top of these cupcakes.  The minute we stepped inside the doors and my eyes fell upon the mountain of frosting piped on top of the cupcakes, I was mesmerized and drooling.  I’m a frosting girl all the way!

Since it was their opening night and they had been giving away free cupcakes all day to all their fans on Facebook, they were down to some basic flavors but still a good variety.   I would have LOVED to have tried the Tiramisu or Red Velvet but they were out of those so we went with Wedding Cake (my choice), Midnight Magic (Jeremy’s choice) and Chocolate Salted Caramel.

The Chocolate Salted Caramel consisted of a yummy super dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream topped with chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of sea salt.  It was very good and I loved the salt and chocolate combination but the caramel buttercream was just a tad too sweet for both of us.  Somehow we still managed to eat most of it though…how did that happen?!

My choice, the Wedding Cake, was vanilla cake topped with vanilla buttercream.   The cake was on the denser side and not so light and fluffy and the buttercream was very thick, creamy and smooth, not greasy at all and had a wonderful vanilla flavor.  I really enjoyed it, especially the frosting.

Jeremy’s choice, the Midnight Magic, was our favorite.  It was a rich chocolate cake topped with an absolutely delicious cream cheese frosting and mini chocolate chips.  We ate the whole thing and loved every bite.

I’m really looking forward to going back and trying more cupcakes.  And I will go back!  I can’t stop thinking about the frosting…and the Tiramisu cupcake…and the Miss Princess (strawberry) cupcake…and the Red Velvet cupcake..and the frosting..and the Kentucky Bourbon Pie cupcake…and the…

P.S. Check out all GiGi’s offerings here!

P.S.S.  After linking to her page, I read her story of how she started and it is totally inspiring!  Check it out!

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St. Louis and Cheesecake

This weekend I went to the Joyce Meyer conference in St. Louis with a few other lovely ladies.  I’ve been several times before and it’s always a wonderful time of awesome music and challenging teaching.  It’s also a great time to sneak in some shopping and splurge on some good eating out!   On Friday, our sessions were at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. so during that gap me, my sister Hannah and friend Nicole high-tailed it to the Galleria for a marathon shopping session.

One of our stops was Urban Outfitters where I found these Kitty Cat Measuring Cups.  I am a HUGE cat person, so I pretty much died when I saw them.  I still regret not getting them.

I also came across this toothpaste at Urban Outfitters.  As much as I love cupcakes, I’m not sure I want to brush my teeth with them.  That just seems…wrong.

After the last session on Saturday, we went back to the Galleria for the Cheesecake Factory.  I know, I know it’s a chain and all but I’m sorry, I love the place.  We had some awesome salads and then left.

Just kidding!  Well, we did have salads but we most certainly ordered cheesecake too!  And no, we didn’t share a piece, we each got our own piece.  That’s right.  Total gluttony.  And it was sooooo worth it.  Here is a picture of all three of them taken with my crappy cell phone.

And here are some beautiful stock photos of what we got.  Much better.

My sister Hannah got Craig’s Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake.  It. Is. So. Good.  Layers of carrot cake, vanilla cheesecake, cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans.  Amazing.

I got the Lemon Raspberry Cream Cheesecake which consisted of Raspberry-Vanilla Cake, Creamy Lemon Cheesecake, Raspberry Lady Fingers and Lemon Mousse.  It didn’t have the lady fingers and didn’t quite look like this photo and wasn’t really my favorite, BUT it was good.  Just not my favorite.

What was my favorite?  My friend Nicole’s choice, the Kahlua Cocoa Coffee Cheesecake.  OMG.  I know that phrase is overused but seriously, OMG.  It was so, so, so good…a yummy brownie crust with a hint of coffee in the uber-creamy cheesecake filling and some seriously rich chocolate mousse and ganache on top.  I was *this close* to choosing the Kahlua cheesecake and I was KICKING myself for changing my mind at the last minute.  However, Nicole couldn’t quite finish all of her piece so like the good friend I am, I volunteered to help her out.

I had such a great weekend and was so sad to see it end but I’m thankful for the girl time and most importantly, God time.  And now, I’m gonna shut down my computer on this dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon and hold my husband’s hand as he rides the emotional rollercoaster that is fantasy football.  Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday evening.

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Alexandria’s Cupcake Cottage

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to drop into a new bakery in town, Alexandria’s Cupcake Cottage at 1332 E. Republic Road.  It’s a quaint little space full of antique and 50’s/60ss retro furniture, signage and decor.  It’s a little overwhelming when you walk in because the tiny space is crowded with so much…small and large tables, lots of non-food retail items such as aprons, dessert themed soaps and lotions and a few other fun items.

Eventually, I made my way to the bakery case to see what magical sugary delights awaited me.  There were a few chocolate truffles in the case, a couple of different cookies, cannolis,  birthday cakes and of course cupcakes.  I chose classics–a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and a red velvet cake with cream cheese buttercream.   At $2 a piece they were decently priced and sized.

So how were they?  Overall, ok.  The vanilla cake was very moist and the frosting was good but a little too sickeningly sweet.  As for the red velvet, Jeremy and I both agreed it was very disappointing.  The cake was moist but had a strange bitter taste from the cocoa and the cream cheese frosting was way too cream cheesey and tangy for my liking.  What I did like about these was the amount of frosting on the cupcakes–it was piled on!  Just wish it had tasted better.

I probably will go back because I’ve heard their cannolis are very good and I’d also like to try the chocolate truffles.  But for now I think I’ll stick to making my cupcakes at home.  Try them and let me know what you think!

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Blueberry Cookie Bars and Spicy Chickpea Salad

What is this!?  Fruits and vegetables on a dessert blog?!?  That’s right!  As long as it tastes good, I don’t discriminate.  These blueberry cookie bars are the result of needing something fairly quick and non-chocolate.   And despite having some technical difficulties (umm, spilling multiple ingredients EVERYWHERE) these turned out absolutely fabulous and addictive.   So deliciously chewy but still a little soft, with a deep, brown sugar buttery taste and pockets of juicy blueberry. (Just fyi, these were amazing the first day and had a definite cookie texture.  However, after sitting overnight the blueberries turned the whole thing into a wonderfully moist cake.  I’m not complaining either way.)

As for the chickpea salad, I made it tonight for dinner and just had to share.  Believe it or not, I LOVE healthy food and if you’re a fan of jalapeno, avocado, roasted almonds or spinach, you will love this recipe from Joy the Baker.

Ok, now for the cookie recipe…

Blueberry Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 c. Brown Sugar, firmly packed

1/2 c. Granulated Sugar

2 Large Eggs

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 c. AP Flour

1 t. Salt

1 t. Baking Soda

1/4 t. Ground Cinnamon

2 c. Fresh or Frozen Blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease a 9×13 pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on high until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda and set aside.

Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter/sugar mixture until each is incorporated.  Add the vanilla.

Add half the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.  Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Using a spatula, carefully fold in the blueberries.

Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan once during cooking time, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool completely.  Frost.

Note:  I think next time I will 1.5x the recipe just to get a thicker bar and up the cook time for 5 minutes or so.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

1/4 c. Crisco

8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold

5 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted

1/2 t. Salt

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

Cream butter, shortening and cream cheese on high until smooth.  Gradually add in powdered sugar and mix thoroughly for about 3 minutes, until smooth.  Add vanilla and salt and thoroughly incorporate.

 

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