Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb Cake

I have a confession to make.  I absolutely hate frosting cakes.  Gasp!  I always love looking at photographs of those gorgeous, perfectly frosted cakes, but I have never been able to replicate that look.  My cakes come out looking sad and just shy of a mess.  As many cakes as I have frosted over the years, you would think I would have figured it out by now… But, alas, not yet.  (There is always still hope though!)

Rhubarb Cake

Despite my frosting incapabilities, the cake still tastes darn delicious.  This cake definitely made it into my favorite top 3.  I MAY have had two slices a day, two days in a row. It’s that good.  It’s not overly sweet, but perfectly light, and you get the wonderful, barely tart, bite of rhubarb in every slice of cake.  Fresh rhubarb is chopped and added to a fluffy cake batter, then perfectly baked so it is moist and light, then frosted with a cinnamon-tinted whipped cream.  I mean really, need I say more?

Rhubarb Cake

Rhubarb Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups diced rhubarb

For the whipped cream frosting

  • 2 cups chilled, heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  To make the cake, grease two 9-inch cake rounds, then coat with flour, knocking out any excess.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the brown sugar and butter until light and fluffy on medium-high speed, 3-4 minutes.  Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until combined, then the milk.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.  With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture until combined.  Gently fold in the diced rhubarb.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.  Place the cakes into the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans onto a wire rack.  Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the whipped cream frosting, place all of the ingredients in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on high speed until stuff peaks form, 5-7 minutes.

Once the cakes are cooled, place one cake on a cake stand or plate, generously frost and smooth before placing the other cake on top.  Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.  Serve immediately.

This is best the day it is made, but will keep in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for 3-4 days.

Source: Lily’s Cafe Cookbook, Revised Edition by Kyra Alex

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

carrot cake whoopie pies

What is Easter without carrot cake?  At least, those were my thoughts for this dessert.  Yesterday was my son’s daycare easter party.  So, I thought these whoopie pies would be a fitting dessert to bring.  Bunnies like carrots after all. Ha!

carrot cake whoopie pies

These whoopie pies are moist, perfectly spiced and delicious.  And of course, you can’t forget about the cream cheese filling!  These are a simple bite-sized treat to make if you don’t feel like making an entire cake.  These make a wonderful treat, no matter what time of year!

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

Yield: about 14 sandwich cookies

For the cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

For the filling

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, cold
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Whisk to combine.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the brown sugar and butter.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and the vanilla extract.  With the mixer on low speed, blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Stir in the oats and grated carrot just until evenly mixed in.

Scoop a small amount of dough out onto the prepared baking sheets spacing about 2 inches apart.  Place in the preheated oven and bake until the cookies are just set and lightly browned, about 14 minutes total.  Let cool on the baking sheets a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the filling; combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip.  To assemble, pair the cookies up by size.  Pipe a small round of frosting onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair, and sandwich together with the remaining cookie.

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats, original cookie adapted from Martha Stewart, frosting adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Layer Cake

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Layer Cake

Last month it was my husband’s birthday.  Of course I had to make him a cake.  Usually he tells me what type of cake he wants, then I give him some options.  However, this year, he told me to make what I felt like making, as long as there wasn’t any cream cheese frosting.  I’ll tell you what, I was pretty excited to chose something that I have had in the back of my mind for a while, just never had an excuse to make it.  Wait, what? Since when do you ever need an excuse to make cake?

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Layer Cake

Since he is a chocolate lover, I felt that this cake would be very fitting.  Wow. This cake is unreal.  Incredibly rich, so delicious and down right amazing.  It definitely is time consuming, but so worth it.  Without a doubt.  The cake is moist, layered with a rich caramel buttercream frosting, then topped with a thick and creamy chocolate frosting.  Superb.  This cake would make any chocolate lover extremely happy.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel

Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Layer Cake

For the cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Generous pinch of sea salt, such as fleur de sel
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the frosting

  • 12 oz. good quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup very hot water
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (18 tbsp.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fleur de sel, for finishing

Directions

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Grease and flour the edges of 3 8-inch baking pans, shaking out the excess.  Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Mix on low speed to blend.  Add the vegetable oil, buttermilk, coffee, eggs, and vanilla to the bowl and mix on low speed until well blended and completely incorporated.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans about 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack, remove the parchment paper and allow to cool completely.

To make the caramel buttercream filling, place 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a medium saucepan.  Mix in the water.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Stop stirring and let the caramel cook, gently swirling from time to time, until it is a deep amber color (test a drop on a white plate or bowl if necessary), watching it carefully to avoid burning.  Remove the mixture from the heat and slowly whisk in the cream and then the salt.  Set aside and let cool.

Combine the egg whites and the remaining ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer).  Blend in the cooled caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

To make the frosting, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Set aside and let cool to room temperature.  In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and water and stir until smooth.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the melted and cooled chocolate until well incorporated.  Blend in the cocoa powder-water mixture until smooth.

To assemble the cake; place one of the cake layers on a cake board or serving platter.  Top with half of the caramel buttercream and smooth in a thick, even layer.  Place a second cake layer on top and smooth the remaining caramel buttercream over that.  Place the final cake layer on top.  Cover the top and sides of the cake with the chocolate frosting and smooth with an offset spatula.  If desired, use additional frosting to pipe decorative accents on the cake.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Before serving, sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally adapted from Sweetapolita, filling and frosting originally from Martha Stewart

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Last week, my son’s daycare had their Valentine’s Day party. I always get excited for these parties because it gives me the perfect opportunity to make themed desserts. The first thing that came to mind were these whoopie pies. I have been wanting to make them for ages, but never had the opportunity. I mean really, valentine’s day just shouts red velvet! (Sorry it’s after the holiday!)

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

These were DE-licious. Just a hint of chocolate while still boasting the red color. And don’t even get me started on the cream cheese filling. Perfection! It’s my favorite. These are the perfect treat to make, well, any time of the year!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Yield: about 18 sandwich cookies

For the cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  •  red food coloring

For the frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  Mix in the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  Blend in the food coloring.

Scoop the batter with a small cookie scoop onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before frosting.

To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip. (Alternatively, spread with a flat knife or spatula.) Pair the cookies up by shape and size. Frost one flat side of each pair. Then sandwich the cookies together and gently press down until the filling reaches the edges. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Source: Annie’s Eats, cookies originally adapted from Better Homes and Gardens 2008, and frosting adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot Cupcakes

A few weeks ago, my family got together to celebrate my dad’s belated birthday. His birthday is at the end of December, but most of the family was elsewhere. I offered to make him a cake or cupcakes as my gift to him. His immediate request was carrot cake. I searched far and wide for a carrot cake recipe that satisfied me.

I could not find one.

Seriously folks.

Every recipe I came across had strange ingredients, or the ratios that didn’t sound quite right. I didn’t want to spend time messing around with a recipe. I needed something I knew was going to work first time around and taste good too. So I resorted to cupcakes instead.

Carrot Cupcakes

Let me tell you, these cupcakes were a real hit. They were awesome! Perfectly moist with a wonderful blend of spices. And of course a cream cheese frosting. My favorite! You can’t beat it. My dad was extremely pleased. Especially since I made enough for him to take several home. A fabulous, simple cupcake to please any carrot cake lover.

IMG_6998

Carrot Cupcakes

Yield: about 20-22 cupcakes

For the cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb. (6-7 medium) carrots, peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil

For the frosting:

  • 12 oz. cream cheese (cold)
  • 7 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups). Add the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside.  Wipe out the bowl of the food processor and fit with the metal blade. Process the sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With the machine running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube.  Continue to process until the mixture is light in color and completely blended, about 20 more seconds. Transfer the mixture to the mixing bowl with the flour mixture and carrots. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is fully incorporated and no streaks remain.

Scoop evenly into the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake for about 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth and fluffy.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats, cupcakes originally adapted from Baking Illustrated and frosting originally adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

I hope you all aren’t getting tired of peppermint yet, because I have several more recipes to share with you. Hey- it is the season! When I saw this recipe, I just KNEW that I had to make it immediately! And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even really chocolate cake. What the heck is going on! I guess I am indulging in the holiday spirit, to say the least. It’s a good thing I have plenty of family around that is willing to take some baked goods off of my hands. That is, if I am willing to share!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

Let me tell you about this cake. It is heavenly. It has taken mint chocolate chip to the next level. Who loves that ice cream flavor? I know I do. I decided to make my favorite chocolate cake, but add this killer frosting. And the cake is eggless as well! This is a new favorite in my book. It was a huge hit all around! Moist, chocolate cake topped with minty, chocolatey frosting. Perfect!

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

For the chocolate cake

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • green food coloring
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. To make the cake, grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the hot water, oil, vinegar and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk the water mixture into the flour mixture. Whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth, about 1 minute. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Make sure not to overbake, or else you will have a dry cake. Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then gently run a a knife around the edges and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting; In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, heavy cream, vanilla and peppermint extract on medium speed until smooth. With mixer speed on low, slowly add powdered sugar and mix until just combined. Add a few drops of the food coloring and increase speed to medium high until the color is fully incorporated and the frosting is fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. If frosting is too thick, add another tablespoon or two of cream and beat for 30 more seconds. Stir in the chopped chocolate.

To frost the cake, place one cake layer on a serving plate. Slather a large amount of frosting over the top, making sure to spread it evenly and smooth the top. Place the second cake layer over the first. Spread the remaining frosting over and around the entire cake. Store covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days.

Source: Cake from Lily’s Café Cookbook, by Kyra Alex, and frosting from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Mini Ginger Whoopie Pies

Mini Ginger Whoopie Pies

Yay, it’s December! The month I have been patiently waiting for. I can finally indulge in listening to Christmas music, consuming eggnog and other holiday treats, and decorating! I am SO excited. This year, I am really looking forward to actually decorating the house. We finally have a house large enough with enough surfaces that I can do more than just string up a few christmas lights. I have been perusing Pinterest, looking for craft ideas to make with the kids. Salt dough and cinnamon ornaments are on the the top of my to-do list. As well as sewing little christmas trees with scraps of fabric, to serve as garlands. Yes, I am excited.

The first holiday treat I wanted to share with you all, are these delicious and cute mini ginger whoopie pies. They are like gingerbreads with spoon-licking good cream cheese frosting. And did I mention they are mini? The perfect bite-sized treat. So you don’t feel as guilty eating multiple, right? They are the perfect combination of sweet, rich and delicious. And since they are so little, you don’t get the stomachache feeling of too much sweet halfway through. My husband, of all people, complains about that with regular sized whoopie pies. He’s crazy. These are the perfect treat to bring in the holiday baking!

Mini Ginger Whoopie Pies

Yield: About 20 whoopie pies

  • 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 Tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt

For the filling

  • 1-2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

To make the whoopie pies; preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with silpat or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg. Scrape the sides of the bowl. On low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients. Mix in the molasses, then the rest of the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk. Mix until completely combined. Drop the batter by the teaspoonfuls on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven for 9-12 minutes, or until puffy and just set in the middle. Let cool on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to cooling racks until to cool completely.

To make the filling; in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, butter and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy. Add more confectioners’ sugar to taste.

To assemble the whoopie pies; spread  a small amount of filling on the flat side of half of the whoopie pies, then top with the second half. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, then serve.

These can be kept in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Source: Adapted from King Arthur Flour