Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Marbled Pumpkin Praline Cake

Its another pumpkin recipe... don't you just love fall! This recipe was sent to me from a friend who claimed it was one of the best cakes she's ever made. And she is right. This cake is amazing. I think its the pecan-praline layer which is my favorite part. Or maybe its the spiced whipped cream. Either way, this will be making an appearance in our house every fall. Enjoy!

The recipe come from Southern Living.

Pumpkin batter

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon group cloves
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk

Cream Cheese batter

2 - 3oz  packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 (9 inch round) cake pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour the prepared pans.

Prepare the pumpkin cake mix:
1. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil and eggs on medium until well blended.
3. Add pumpkin and beat until well blended.
4. Add buttermilk and beat until blended.
5. Gradually add flour mixture beating on low until just blended after each addition.
6. Pour into prepared pans.

Prepare and cream cheese batter:
1. Beat cream cheese, sugar, butter and flour at medium speed until creamy. This should take 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add eggs and beat until blended.
3. Drop batter by spoonful into the pans of pumpkin batter. Swirl with a knife gently to create the marbled effect.

4. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Then remove cakes from pans and cool completely on a wire rack. This will take about 40 minutes.

Pecan-Praline Filling

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 corn syrup
1/2 cup half and half
2 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

While cake is cooling prepare the pecan-praline filling
1. Bring brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil in a medium saucepan, whisking constantly.

2. Continue to whisk and boil for 1 additional minute until sugar is dissolved.
3. Whisk half and half and cornstarch together in a small bowl until smooth. Gradually add to brown sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Return to a boil and continue whisking constantly for an additional minute or until thickened.

4. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Cool 20 minutes.
5. Spread between the cake layers.

Spiced Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy cream
6 Tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Beat heavy cream on medium speed for 1 minute.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until soft peaks form. This means that when you hold the whisk upside down peaks are starting to form but after a second they fold back onto themselves.
3. Spread on the sides and top of the cake.



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Cupcakes - Hello Fall!

Like many of you, I love the fall because it brings all things pumpkin. After searching through tons of pumpkin recipes, I picked this recipe from Tracey's Culinary Adventures because it plays off my all time favorite cupcake, brown sugar. I had a feeling that combining them with pumpkin would be something special. And it was delicious.
These are topped with a caramel cream cheese frosting. Usually, I'm not a huge fan of cream cheese frosting, but this was the perfect pairing.


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line cupcake pan with liners.

1. Add butter to a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat. The butter will melt and begin to bubble and foam.

Eventually it will start to turn brown and smell nutty. This took a little while, but keep an eye on it because it can go from brown to burnt quickly. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a small heat proof bowl, something ceramic or glass. Set the bowl aside to cool.

2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs and the cooled brown butter from step one until they are thoroughly combined. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until just combined.

3. Divide batter among the liners filling each 2/3 full. Mine made 18 cupcakes. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Place the cupcake pans on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes then remove the cupcakes to the rack to cool completely.


1 lb confectioners sugar, sifted and divided
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. Sprinkle 1/2 cup powered sugar evenly in a small non-stick skillet. Place the pan over medium heat. Let the sugar sit untouched until it melts. It takes a little while to start melting but once it does it melts quickly. Continue cooking until it turns an amber color, stirring occasionally. Be sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.

Add 1/2 cup cream, the vanilla, and the salt - be careful it can bubble up. Stir until any bits of hardened caramel melt. Add the remaining cream and stir to mix it in. Strain the caramel into a heatproof bowl and set aside to cool.

2. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Gradually add the remaining confectioners sugar, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once all the sugar as been added, mix in cooled caramel. Beat the frosting on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Cover and chill until the frosting is firm enough to pipe. This took a little over an hour for me.

3. Frost and enjoy! These have to be stored in the refrigerator because of the cream cheese. Be sure to take them out about 45 minutes before you want to eat them to give time for the frosting to soften.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Perfect Lemon Cupcakes

I know that is a big claim to make, but to me these are perfect. Just the right amount of lemon, very fluffy light cake, and a lemon buttercream I could eat be the spoonful.

We have a back to school cupcake tradition in our house. This year I picked these lemon cupcakes. Everyone in my house is a lemon fan. My girls eat lemon slices. I knew lemon was the way to go this year. And this recipe didn't disappoint. The girls were thrilled.

I will say there was not enough frosting for all the cupcakes. However, I did frost them tall and used a lot of the buttercream. And my assistant and I had to have a couple spoonfuls to make certain it was ok... But, I was able to freeze 4 cupcakes. I made a half batch of the frosting and served them when my younger daughter had her first day a week later. They froze really well and tasted just as good the second time.

If you've never zested a lemon, and don't have a zester its no problem. Start by washing the lemon. Set a grater on a cutting board if you have a box grater or hold a flat grater at an angle. Scrape the lemon on the grater making sure you just get the peel and not the pith layer underneath. Turn the lemon slightly after each time you grate.

This recipe came from Shugarysweets blog.

Lemon Cupcakes

5 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 lemons, zested
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cup cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1. In a small bowl mix egg whites, 1/4 cup buttermilk, and lemon zest. Set aside.
2. Beat butter and sugar until creamy at least 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Slowly add egg white mixture. Add remaining buttermilk.
4. Pour into cupcake liners and bake for 15 minutes at 350.
5. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Buttercream

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 Tbsp heavy cream

1. Beat butter for 3 to 5 minutes until pale in color.
2. Add powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice (about 2 Tbsp), and cream. Beat 3 to 5 minutes until fluffy.
3. Frost cupcakes. I used a 1M tip.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Salted Caramel Cheesecake with Chocolate Genache

If you read my first post you know I have a special place in my heart for caramel. This cheesecake has an amazing caramel flavor. Then to cover it with salted caramel sauce and chocolate genache - heaven. And I have to admit, I felt pretty proud of myself seeing all the pieces come together to make such a beautiful, impressive dessert.

It has been awhile since I've made a cheesecake. My youngest, Maya, can't eat them. So this recipe sat, waiting to be made. Thankfully I needed to bring dessert to a friends house. Since she was the one to point out the recipe to me and is always willing to be my taste tester, it was the perfect chance to finally make it! Thankfully Maya was more then happy to have a few of the extra Oreos left over from the crust.

I know this recipe looks intimidating. It takes time and there are many different components to make. But, none of it too difficult. If you don't want to spend the time to go through all the steps, try the salted caramel sauce. It was delicious and could be used for so many things. I used the left over sauce as a topping for vanilla ice cream - so good.

This recipe came from a blog called Tidy Mom.

Oreo crust

45 Oreo cookies crushed in a food processor
7 Tablespoons melted butter

1. Grease a 9" springform pan.
2. Combine the crushed Oreos and butter until all the crumbs are moistened.
3. Press into the bottom and sides of the prepared pan. Freeze until ready to fill.

Salted Caramel Cheesecake Filling

3 - 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup caramel flavored coffee syrup such as Torani

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment beat cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended.
4. Add 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream and 1/4 cup caramel syrup. Beat until blended.
5. Pour filling over crust and bake 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes or until edge is set at least 2 inches from edge of pan but the center is still giggly.
6. Turn the oven off, leaving the door propped open 4 inches. Leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 30 minutes. Once removed from oven, run a small metal spatula around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan. Cool for another 30 minutes on a rack. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Caramel sauce

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons caramel flavored coffee syrup
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt

1. In a saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and caramel syrup. Heat to boiling, cook and stir one minute until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Stir in 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream and return to boiling. Remove from heat and cool 20 minutes.

Chocolate genache

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate
8 oz heavy whipping cream

1. Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high 2 minutes. Whisk, then put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds and whisk again. Repeat at 30 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated into the cream. Let cool 5-10 minutes. It should be still pourable but no longer hot.

Stable Whipped Cream

1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar


1. After Cheesecake has cooled in the refrigerator for at least 6 hrs, make the caramel sauce. Once it has cooled 20 minutes pour it over the top, Put it back into refrigerator while moving to step 2. You will not use all of the caramel.
2. Make the chocolate genache. Once cooled 5-10 minutes pour over the top. I actually ran a metal spatula around the edge and removed the side of the pan before adding the chocolate and whip cream because I thought it would look better in the end. The recipe has the sides left on until serving.
3. Make homemade whip cream and pipe onto cheesecake using a pastry bag and 1M tip.
4. Drizzle some of the left over caramel over top.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Pink Ombre Cake

Last week was my anniversary. You might wonder why I choose this cake for an anniversary. It is pink after all. But, I've been wanting to make an ombre cake for awhile and I knew my daughters would have fun with pink. And lets face it, my husband has two girls. He lives in a pink world!

This cake recipe came from a blog called This is the first time I've made it and I'll be making it again. It was delicious with a nice vanilla taste and perfect sweetness. Easily the best vanilla cake recipe I've ever made.

I loved how the layers came out. The progression of the pink was fairly easy to do and looked great.

For the frosting I decided against a standard vanilla buttercream. Instead I choose to go with one of my favorite frostings, a white chocolate buttercream. The recipe came from Southern Living. I've made it several times to frost a variety of cake types. For my daughters birthday I paired it with strawberry and the combination was delicious.

Cake recipe

2 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg at room temperature
1 1/2 cup ice water
3 large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Make sure the oven rack is in the middle of the oven. Next prepare 3 round cake pans. There are going to be 5 layers so they will be baked in two batches. I use shortening to grease the pans. I also line them with parchment paper to make sure the cake comes out cleanly. The paper also needs to be greased. Then flour the pan, taping out any excess flour. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl sift together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on, cream together the butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Beat on medium until fluffy. I usually let this go for 2-3 minutes. When I first started baking I didn't cream the butter and sugar enough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Add the egg and beat until just combined. With the mixer on low add the flour, alternating with the ice water, in three additions. Begin and end with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites and cream of tarter until soft peaks form. This means that when you hold the whisk upside down peaks are starting to form but after a second they fold back onto themselves. You can also use a hand mixer to make this step easier - I did. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter. An easy way to do this is to take a rubber spatula and cut down the center of the mixture folding half over while holding the bowl in your arms. Repeat this gently until it is incorporated.
6. Divide the batter evenly into 5 bowls. The women I got the recipe from measured hers on a scale. I decided mine didn't need to be exact so I measured it out with measuring cups. They all ended up looking even. Using food coloring tint the bowls pinks gradually getting darker and leaving one white. I used Wilton Rose food color which is a gel. It would've been easier to use a liquid that you could count out drops. Bowl 2 gets 1 drop, bowl 3 gets 2 drops, etc. I just eyeballed the amount of gel that went in.

7. Pour 3 of the colors into the prepared pans. Place in the oven and cook 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Mine were actually ready in 18 minutes. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Then invert cakes onto the rack and cool completely. Once the cakes have been inverted wash the pans and prepare two of them for the remaining two layers. Prepare pans and cook the last 2 layers the same as the first 3.

White Chocolate Buttercream

While the cake is cooling begin making the buttercream.

1 - 4oz white chocolate baking bar, broken into small pieces.
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup butter, softened
1 - 2lb - package of powered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (you can use table salt. However, table salt is stronger in taste. Use about half the amount)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Microwave chocolate and 1/3 up heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl at medium (50%) power for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30 second intervals. Be careful not to overheat it, once you do you can't go back. Let cool to room temperature. This takes about 30 minutes.
2. Beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add powered sugar and 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at low speed until blended after each addition. Beat in salt and melted chocolate until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla.

Assembling the cake

If any of your layers are uneven you can use a serrated knife to trim them to level. Mine all came out close enough to even that I just left them as they were. Place the darkest pink layer (cut side down if you cut it) onto the plate. I prefer to put a little buttercream on the plate in the center to hold the layer in place. Spread buttercream on top of the layer. Add the second darkest pink layer on top of the buttercream cut side down. Evenly spread a layer of buttercream on top. Repeat with the remaining layers.

Some people use crumb coats to make the cake perfectly frosted without crumbs in the frosting. It really isn't necessary. If you want to skip the crumb coat, the cake will still turn out fine.

Crumb coat - Place a very thin layer of frosting all around the cake to hold in the crumbs. This frosting should be slightly thinned with water so it won't tear the cake. Put in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to allow the coat to firm up.

Frost the top and sides with the buttercream. One thing I like do is a trick I picked up from my mother in law. When the cake is frosted wet the cake a little and go over it. It creates a nice, smooth finish. My cake also has lots of dots of frosting at the base and edge - that was my daughter Maya's call. If it was up to her the cake would've been covered. The more frosting the better!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Caramel Cake

I love caramel. There isn't a better dessert flavor. It takes time and attention to make, but its always worth it when you take that first bite.
On the hunt for the perfect caramel cake I've tried several recipes. My favorite turned out to be the very first one I tried. I picked it because the author had memories of her mom eating the cake for breakfast. I knew it was the recipe for me. And really, this is the perfect breakfast cake. It isn't overly sweet and goes so well with a cup of coffee. The cake might not look pretty - the frosting it hard to work with - but its delicious.

This recipe came from breezermom on

Cake Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Personally, I always use shortening to grease cake pans. I just feel it works the best. I also line the bottom with parchment paper before preparing the pans.
2. Beat 1 cup of butter on medium until creamy. Gradually add 2 cups of sugar beating well. Add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition.
3. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and cocoa; stir well. 
4. Add this flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and water, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. Use a toothpick to test. Cool for 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack. Remove from pans and cool completely. (If you lined the pans leave the paper on until they are cooled.)

Frosting Recipe

Be prepared this frosting takes time and attention. Also, it hardens quickly and needs to be spread on the cake right away.

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine the sugar, butter and milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, cover and cook 2-3 minutes to wash the sugar crystals from the side of the pan.
2. Uncover and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches a soft ball stage or a candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees. This usually takes 7 to 10 minutes.

I use a thermometer because I think its easier. You can also drop it into cold water and it will form a soft ball when it reaches this stage.
3. Remove from heat and add the vanilla without stirring. Let it sit 10 minutes.
4. Beat the mixture for 8 to 10 minutes with an electric mixer until it is the right consistence for spreading. Quickly spread the frosting between the layers and over the top and sides of cake. This really does need to be done quickly. It doesn't stay spreadable for long. Enjoy!