Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Simple Buttercream Cake

For my student's music recital I made a mexican-spiced chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Blackberry-Raspberry Pie

Finally! A berry pie recipe that I really, really love! I compared lots of recipes and the ratios of sugar to berries to cornstarch (or flour for some). And, I came up with one that is everything I was looking for!  I have been making berry pies for years and although it always turns out delicious, the pie never seems to thicken up enough during baking and cooling. 

I think part of the problem is when a recipe calls for frozen berries. Frozen berries and even berries that you freeze yourself might be the reason the pie turns out runny even after cooling. This recipe calls for fresh berries and also the cornstarch amount is almost double what other recipes call for. It thickened up really nicely and was still so juicy and delicious. 

I always use my mom's amazing pie crust recipe too, which is incredibly flaky, tender and exactly what a pie crust should be. It pairs wonderfully with the berry filling which is the perfect balance between sweet and tart. I just love it! You'll definitely want a dollop of sweetened cream or vanilla ice cream to go with. 


We picked these berries ourselves, just a day before making the pie. Blackberries, red raspberries and golden raspberries.

Pie Crust: Yield: 2 crusts (one top and one bottom)

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/4 cup cold water

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Add the shortening and cut, using a pastry cutter, until the shortening pieces are pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Mix together the egg, vinegar and cold water. Add to the flour mixture and stir together until a smooth dough forms (I usually reserve a little liquid just in case I don't need it all). Separate dough into two equal pieces, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Berry Filling:

3 cups fresh blackberries
3 cups fresh raspberries
*Feel free to use any berries you want as long as you have a total of 6 cups. Blueberries would be a delicious addition. I used blackberries, red raspberries and golden raspberries.
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

Gently rinse your berries and let them dry on a clean towel. Toss the berries with the sugar and cornstarch and allow mixture to sit for 10 minutes or so while you roll out your pie dough.

Take the first piece of pie dough and begin rolling out on a lightly floured counter. Lift dough from counter and rotate 90º and continue rolling, adding flour to counter when dough sticks. Continue this process of rolling, rotating and adding flour to counter until your round is large enough for your pie pan.

Lightly spray your pie pan with cooking spray. Lay the crust gently inside. Pour berry mixture over the crust. Roll out the other piece of pie dough. Lay the crust on top of the berries and seal all the edges by tucking the top layer under the bottom. Cut a few small slits into the top crust.

Bake until golden brown- about 50 minutes. Allow pie to cool for 30 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or at room temperature if desired.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Homemade Marshmallows

If you have never had a homemade marshmallow, then you are missing out! Seriously. They are little pillows of sugary delight that don't even closely compare to their store bought sisters. In a good way. 

Some people might feel intimidated to try making them because they seem a bit technical. But, honestly, as long as you have a candy thermometer lying around and you don't mind making a little powdered sugar mess in your kitchen, then you will be just fine! Scouts honor. ;)

You can cut them with cookie cutters to make cute shapes if you don't like the classic square. You can also add flavors (just don't over do it because the flavor will get stronger as the marshmallows set) like orange extract, almond, coconut, etc. Then you could dip them in dark chocolate (or a lower class chocolate if you can't handle the good stuff) and voila! The most scrumptious and adorable little sweets have just been created in your own kitchen. You will be so impressed with yourself. 

Homemade toasted marshmallows on chocolate and homemade graham crackers made an awesome s'more!

You can find my homemade honey graham cracker recipe HERE.


1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) cornstarch
1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
3 T. plus 2 t. unflavored gelatin powder (4 packets)
1/3 cup water, plus 1/2 cup
2 cups (14 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
3 large egg whites
1 T. vanilla extract
pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 t. salt

Lightly coat a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and powdered sugar. Dust the bottom and sides of greased 9 x 13 with mixture and tap the excess back into the bowl. Save the bowl of extra cornstarch and powdered sugar for later use.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the 1/3 cup water. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water. If using a vanilla bean, cut the vanilla bean open and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat until it reaches 246º F (use a candy thermometer clipped to the pan).

While the mixture cooks, combine egg whites, vanilla extract, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Once the syrup reaches 230º F, turn the mixer on low speed. When the mixture reaches 246º F immediately turn off the heat and whisk the softened gelatin into the hot syrup until there are no lumps.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup and gelatin mixture into the egg white mixture in a thin stream. When all of the syrup has been added, raise the speed to high. Continue to whisk until the mixture has cooled down to room temperature (you can tell by feeling the sides of the bowl) and stiff peaks have formed.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared 9 x 13 pan and smooth the top as best you can. Dust the top with some of the cornstarch and powdered sugar mixture. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside. The marshmallows need to set for at least 6 hours before you cut them (you can also leave them over night if you want).

Once they have set, use a knife or an offset spatula to gently pull the edge of the marshmallow away from the pan. Invert the slab of marshmallow onto a cutting board dusted with the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Using a lightly oiled knife, cut the marshmallows into desired shapes. Dust the marshmallows in the bowl of the extra cornstarch and powdered sugar so the edges aren't sticky anymore. Store in an airtight container or bag.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Advanced Cake Decorating Final Project

For my Adv. Cake Decorating final we had to have a fake cake consultation with the instructor, Chef Sharyl. Chef was the pretend client and I had to present her with a consultation form that I created and discuss what she wanted for her cake. She gave me a picture of exactly what she wanted and I had to create it as best as I possibly could. 

I had to hand carve all the layers, cover them all with homemade fondant, stack the layers, make all the flowers, pearls, etc. to decorate it with, make the wire cake topper, etc. It took a lot of hours! haha. But, I matched her picture almost perfectly! I was really happy to have it finished and to please my client. ;)

Rachel with her final project and me with mine. We spent hours working along side each other and almost cussing out our stupid cakes a few times. haha!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Cake Doughnuts

Doughnuts will always remind me of my sweet, hard-working Grandpa. He owned a small doughnut shop in Dallas, Texas where my mom remembers falling asleep on bags of flour after a long day at school. I will never forget the amazing smell of sweet glazes and freshly fried doughnuts upon entering his shop and getting to wake up in the middle of the night to help him start doughnuts for the early morning deliveries. I don't think I have ever eaten a doughnut without the most wonderful memories of him coming to mind.

My favorite doughnuts, if you absolutely MADE me choose... :), are cake doughnuts. I love any type of cake doughnut, really. But, old-fashioned are definitely near the top of the list.

These old-fashioned sour cream cake doughnuts are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and incredibly moist! I absolutely love them! This recipe will forever more be a favorite of mine.



2 1/4 cup (255 grams) cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
canola oil


3 1/2 cups (350 grams) powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup hot water

In a small bowl whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, mix the sugar and butter. Add the yolks, one at a time, scraping the bowl often. In about 3 increments, add the sour cream and flour mixture, alternately, ending with the flour. Scrape the bowl between each increment. When the dough comes together, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pour about 2 inches of canola oil into a dutch oven or a really heavy pot (cast iron works great). Heat over medium heat. Use a candy thermometer to get the oil to about 325ºF.

Lightly flour your counter. Roll dough onto counter to about a 1/2 inch thickness, picking up often to make sure it does not stick to the counter. Use your doughnut cutter or a large round cutter and a small round cutter to cut dough into doughnut shapes.

Place a few doughnuts in the oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side (about 4-5 minutes total) or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove from oil and place on a brown paper bag to cool. Cook the rest of the doughnuts.

To make the glaze, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Fully immerse each doughnut in the glaze and place the doughnuts on a cooling rack. Allow the doughnuts to sit for about 20 minutes after glazing so that the glaze has time to set.

Eat them all! :) Or, you can place the leftovers in an airtight container for a few days.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Homemade Blueberry Basil Poptarts

I'm finally in the mood for blogging about my baked goods again! It turns out, having a baby kinda slows you down a little bit. :) My little man is 2 months old now. And, although having him hasn't slowed my baking down, it just made me lose some steam in the blogging department.

A few weeks ago my husband and I loaded up our 2 boys and a couple of bags into the car and headed to Niagara Falls for a little weekend getaway. It was absolutely gorgeous in the winter! All the falls were mostly frozen and heaps of ice lay beneath them. It was truly magical.

But, anyway... road trips mean junk food in my family. So, we grabbed a bunch of horrible, processed snacks for the trip, including a box of poptarts. I hadn't had poptarts in years! And, having a poptart for the first time in forever was really nostalgic. Since that trip I have been craving them. So, I figured I'd better come up with a delicious homemade version to make the guilty pleasure a little less guilty and a little more pleasurable.

So, here you go: A poptart recipe that is not only WAY more delicious than the store bought, but also easy to make and you can vary it in a number of ways.

They are buttery, flaky and very tender with a delicious filling and topped with icing and sprinkles. Enjoy!

Homemade Poptart Recipe:   Yield: 9 poptarts

2 cups flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into large chunks
2 eggs
2 T. milk

1/2 cup jam or preserves of your choice- I used a homemade blueberry basil jam

1 T. butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 drops of food coloring

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter chunks. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until very crumbly and pea-sized butter chunks remain. In separate bowl, whisk together 1 egg and the milk. Pour into the dry mixture and mix together. Use your hands to gently knead the dough together until all the flour is incorporated.

Split the dough in two. With each half, roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Lift dough off counter after every few rolls to make sure the dough doesn't stick to the counter. Roll each into a 9 in. x 12 in. rectangle shape (or as close as you can get). Cut each rectangle into thirds horizontally and vertically (9 pieces per rectangle, 18 pieces total).

Whisk an egg in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to brush egg onto half of all the pieces. On the other pieces, spoon about a spoonful of jam on the center of the piece. Place the egg washed piece on top (egg wash facing down) and use a fork to seal the edges all the way around.

Place the poptarts on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350º F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on pans for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

For frosting, comine all ingredients. Add a few drops of food coloring and stir until completely colored. Spread a spoonful of icing on top of each poptart.

*adapted from Lark + Linen recipe

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sailing Around the World Cake

In my advanced cake decorating class we had to complete a project involving cake carving. We had to stick to the basic shapes..... no face sculptures or anything crazy like that... haha! I decided to carve my 6" cakes into a sphere shape and my 9" cakes into an hourglass shape. I kept the hourglass shape pretty subtle but after covering the cake in fondant it was almost un-noticeable. I guess that's why I'm in school, right? To figure these things out! I am learning new things every day. :)

We didn't have to decorate the cakes after covering them in fondant. But, I am always anxious to try something ambitious and so I designed a "Sailing Around the World" cake which turned out decent enough. The inspiration for this cake came because my husband and I have a dream to sail around the world some day. Of course our sailboat will need a decent oven or I will refuse to go... ;)

I made the sphere into a globe. I used a marbled blue fondant for the water and marbled green for the continents. Marbling the fondant was actually pretty easy! With a very short amount of time to complete the project, I ended up in a really big hurry to decorate the cake. So, instead of cutting accurate continents I just made random shapes and blobs that are similar enough to earth. haha!

The hourglass base was covered in a pale blue fondant. Then I cut wavy strips of white, light blue and dark blue fondant to layer and look like waves. Finally, I embellished a bit with the boats and the red markers on the globe to tie in the red sails.

I had so many more ideas that didn't end up on the cake because of a lack of time. But, I guess sometimes simplicity is best. Maybe someday someone will want me to make a similar cake and I can go to town then! :) Anyone? Anyone?

The finished project

NOT an accurate depiction of the interior of the Earth. haha! Chocolate and vanilla cake layers with chocolate swiss meringue buttercream filling. My 2 year old couldn't wait to cut it open! 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Red Velvet Brownies

With Valentine's Day right around the corner I thought these lovely (and absolutely delicious) red velvet brownies seemed appropriate. And, boy, were they good! The recipe is originally from that skinny chick can bake but I did a lot of adapting and used my own frosting recipe because I think cream cheese frosting is a must with red velvet. Anyway, I hope you enjoy! 


1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons red food coloring

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8x8 pan with foil and grease the foil.

In small bowl mix cocoa powder, red food coloring and 1 tsp. vanilla to form a paste. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and remaining 1 tsp. vanilla making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl often. Then beat in the red cocoa paste. Add the flour and salt and mix just until barely combined. 

Spread batter into greased pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

For frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments, scraping the sides of the bowl between additions. When frosting is completely smooth and tastes the way you like, frost the cooled brownies.