Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

An easy, pretty idea that doesn’t even really require a recipe.  It’s also easy to use for themed parties or showers – just cut out a heart for bridal showers, a duck for baby showers or a turkey for Thanksgiving.

(1) Make cupcakes in cupcake papers – whatever kind you like, though I’ve found chocolate works better.

(2) Make or open some icing – a bright or contrasting color is most effective.

(3) Cut the tops off the cupcakes, so that the top of the cupcake is level with the paper. Using a tiny cookie cutter, punch out your favorite shape in the top that you cut off.

(4) Ice the cupcake, then put the top part that you cut off back on.  Save the cut-out shapes – they make cute garnishes!

These were for a bridal shower, hence the pink hearts.


Read Full Post »

One of my friends just got married, and we threw her a bridal shower. Instead of ordering a cake, I decided that I could handle designing, baking and decorating a pseudo wedding cake. What I came up with was a four-layer chocolate pound cake, with both white butter cream icing and chocolate glaze.  I also did some icing flowers (which I will not attempt to describe on a blog, unless there’s great demand). I doubled the cake recipe and tripled the white icing recipe. It fed 20 ladies with more than half to spare.

Chocolate Pound Cake

  • 1 c. butter (no substitutes)
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 oz. semisweet chocolate, grated

Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperate for 3o minutes.  Grease (I use the flour spray) halfway up the sides of two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, or a 10-inch tube pan.  In a medium bowl, stir flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Set pans and flour aside.

In a very large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electic mixer on medium to high speed for about 30 seconds or until softened. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium to high speed about 10 minutes or until well combined. Add vanilla – I always add more than the recipe calls for. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low to medium speed for 1 minute after each addition, scraping bowl often. Then, alternately add flour and milk, beating on low to medium speed just until combined. Fold in grated chocolate – which I believe I tripled.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Bake in a 325 degree oven about 1 1/2 hours for the tube pan or 30 – 35 minutes for the cake pans, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cook in pan on a wire rack for 10 – 15 minutes, then loosen sides of the cakes from the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and completely cool it/them.

– Adapted from a copied recipe my sister-in-law gave me from a magazine, whose title isn’t on the copy.

Cake decorating tip: Wrap your cake in plastic wrap after it’s fully cooled, and freeze it. Let it partially defrost and trim off any uneven edges or smooth the top while it’s still partially frozen. It cuts more cleanly and there are less crumbs to get into your icing.

Stack your cakes with whatever icing you like in between the layers.

Butter Cream Icing

  • 1/2 c. shortening (Normally I used butter and more butter, but this time I did half Crisco to make the icing whiter.)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 lb. (approx. 4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tbl. milk or water
  • 1 t. clear vanilla

Cream the butter and shortening. Add sugar, water and vanilla.  Using an electric mixer, blend until creamy. Yield: 3 cups. Smooth onto the sides and top of your cake.  I ended up having to do a double layer of icing because you could still see the brown of the chocolate through one layer.

Cake decorating tip: Using the right tools makes all the difference. Get an icing spreader that’s as tall as your cake, so you can do the sides in one swipe.

Shiny Chocolate Glaze

  • 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 Tbl. water
  • 1 Tbl. butter
  • 1 c. powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 t. vanilla

Melt the chocolate with your preferred method – I’m a microwave-the-chocolate-and-butter-together-for-15-seconds-stir-and-microwave-again girl. Gradually add butter (if you haven’t melted it with the chocolate already) and water to sugar, beating with an electric mixer. Add vanilla, and beat until smooth.  If it’s too thick, I add more vanilla. 

Drizzle artistically over the top.  Add homemade or premade sugar flowers as a kind of minimal accent.


Read Full Post »

My typically unenthusiastic husband ate one of these and exclaimed, “Wow! It’s like a little piece of coconut cream pie, with pineapple! It’s really good!” So, they must be good.  


  • 2 Tbl. butter, melted
  • 3 Tbl. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cans (8 oz. each) unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained


  • 1 Tbl. butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flaked coconut

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Combine flour and baking powder, then stir into creamed mixture.  Press into 9-inch square greased pan. Spread pineapple over the crust, and set aside.

For topping, beat butter and sugar until blended. Beat in eggs, and stir in coconut. Spread over the pineapple. Bake at 325 fr 35 to 40 minutes or until the coconut is golden on the edges.  It still looks a bit juicy at this point, but stiffens up as it cools. Cool before cutting with a thin knife. Yield: About 16 bars.

Additional thoughts: I might try them again in muffin pans, so each bar is its own mini-pie. 

Modified from Pineapple Coconut Square recipe in Best of Country Brownies and Bars.

Read Full Post »

I’m experimenting for my Dad’s birthday next week, and I thought I’d adapt a basic chocolate cake recipe for dark chocolatety goodness.

Dark chocolate cake

  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 – 2 t. vanilla (I love vanilla; I always add more than stated…)
  • 1 egg

Grease an 8 or 9-inch round baking pan, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add milk, oil and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg and beat 2 more minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool cake on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Advantages: It doubles easily for an easy two-layer cake. It’s moist and not overly sweet. If you want to skip my dark-chocolate variation, you can use regular chocolate all the way.

Chocolate buttercream icing

  •  3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c. butter, softened
  • 2 – 3 t. vanilla
  • 3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 – 4 T. milk

Mix powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl with spoon or electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and chocolate.

Gradually beat in just enough milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk. I almost always add more milk and vanilla so it’s spreadable – this recipe tends to be thick.  Also, I like lots of icing, so I tend to add a smidge more of each ingredient so I have plenty.

Modification: I added cut-up Snickers in between the layers and on top of the cake when I made it for Dad, since he’s a huge Snickers fan. It was even better! 



Read Full Post »

Mint Brownies

This recipe is one of my all-time favorite and most requested. Several of the folks I work with demand that I bring them in for the monthly office birthday party.  Also great for St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas.

DISCLAIMER: I haven’t met a recipe I can’t change. For instance, in this recipe I add mint extract to every level (brownie batter, icing and chocolate icing), which I think makes it even more delectable.

List of Ingredients

-1 19.5-ounce box fudge brownie mix
-1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
-1/4 cup water
-2 large eggs
-1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
-1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-1 tablespoon milk
-1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

– Green food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Frosting
-1/3 cup whole milk
-1/4 cup butter
-1 12-oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 cup powdered sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, then prepare a 13×9-inch baking pan by spraying it with a light coating of non-stick spray. Cut a piece of parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil to the same width as the bottom of the pan, but make it much longer than the pan so that the left and right ends go up and out of the pan on the left and right sides. This will create a “sling” that will help you lift the brownies out of the pan after they’ve baked. (Yeah, never done this… just grease the pan.)

2. Make the brownie batter by first sifting the box of ingredients. This will remove the clumps. (I don’t do this either, and I’ve yet to have a problem.) Add the melted butter, water, eggs and peppermint extract and mix the batter by hand just until all the dry stuff is mixed in. Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and bake it according to box directions, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. Allow brownie to cool before frosting.

ALTERNATIVE to (1) and (2): Follow the box brownie directions in a 13-x-9 inch pan.  Add some mint extract in, too, if you’re feeling adventurous.

3. Make the peppermint buttercream frosting by beating together 1 cup of powdered sugar and the softened butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer. Mix in another 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, and then add 1 tablespoon of milk, and the peppermint and vanilla extract.  Also add green food coloring if desired. Mix for about 1 minute to make the frosting smooth. Add an additional 1/4 cup of powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin and light. You want a frosting that can be spread easily, yet it should be firm enough to hold up the layer of chocolate frosting that’s coming next. When the brownie has cooled, use a spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the top. Put the brownie in the fridge to firm up the buttercream frosting. (This step actually IS important.)

4. Make the chocolate frosting by bringing 1/3 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup butter to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour the chocolate chips into a heat-safe bowl. When the milk and butter comes to a boil, pour the mixture over the chocolate chips and let it all just sit there in the bowl for a couple minutes. ALTERNATIVE: Put the milk, butter and chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl, and nuke it at 20 second intervals, stirring in between.  Add the vanilla extract to the mixture and whisk until smooth. Use an electric mixer to beat in 1 cup powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth. Spread the chocolate frosting over the white frosting on the brownie. This recipe makes a little more chocolate frosting than you need, so hold back about 1/3 to 1/4 cup. Or dump it all on there – your call.

5. Stick the brownie back in the fridge for about an hour before removing it from the pan and slicing.  The leftovers will keep well for several days covered in the refrigerator. 

Read Full Post »