Tag Archives: cakery

Cinnamon Cayenne Pepper Brownies

3 Apr

No, I’m not losing my mind. And yes, I actually did make brownies with cayenne pepper.

They look like this.

They started out looking like this.

And at one point looked like this.

And in the end just looked good enough to eat.

So how did the whole cayenne pepper brownie idea start?

I saw these cinnamon baking chips at Wegmans. And I pretty much had to have them. Like, IMMEDIATELY.

Because…I might have a slight fascination with all things cinnamon and chocolate. And by fascination I mean…mild addiction and/or obsession. I even buy this crazy Abuelita Mexican hot cocoa that Nestle makes because it has cinnamon in it. And don’t even get me started on how much I love cinnamon lattes. I can quit any time, I swear.

Since the cinnamon chips aren’t chocolate, I needed to combine them with something that was chocolate. And since cinnamon has a bit of a kick, it’s the perfect spice to join forces with cayenne pepper.

I also had some semi-sweet chocolate chips left over from the 16 ounces debacle, so I added those in just to make things extra gluttonous yum. Don’t judge. Lent is over in like six days.

If you’re worried that the cayenne pepper is going to make things too spicy, don’t be. It gives the brownies a little something extra, you know, like if my resume was pink and scented.

And besides, when was the last time you got to say “oh, these are spicy brownies” in normal conversation?

Cinnamon Cayenne Pepper Brownie Recipe:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bag cinnamon baking chips
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips (maybe 6 ounces??)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the butter and them combine with the sugar in an electric mixer. Add in the eggs and vanilla, and mix until well combined. Mix in the cocoa powder. Slowly add the spices, then gradually add the flour and mix until smooth. Stir in the baking chips and pour into a greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.


Bake it Forward

30 Mar

How far would you go to make someone smile?

I’ve got this aunt. She’s awesome. And super fun. And she let me wear lipstick when I was nine. Or maybe eight.

And I pretty much thought she couldn’t get any more awesome until yesterday.

When I got this.

Bake it forward.

The concept is simple.



Spread the bake love.

Track your tin.

Because a cup of kindness goes a long way. I love this. It’s like asking to borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor only you’re not asking, you’re just sending a bunch of sugary goodness.

I love this entire idea. It’s so simple and straightforward and it captures one of the best things about baking–you get to make people smile. Like I did last night when I came home and I had a) a package to open and b) said package was filled with awesome sauce.

And hello, who doesn’t want a polka-dot magnet?

My aunt knows me pretty well, because she included a note, with instructions that I must find a young, hip way to spread happiness via baked goods. Because then I can trademark it, become fabulously wealthy, and spend my days eating bon-bons and baking cakes.

Or, I’ll buy a Mega Millions ticket.

On the topic of sugary goodness, Bake it Forward is from the Imperial Sugar Company. We don’t have Imperial Sugar here in Upstate NY, but the name sounds fancy.

To learn more about Bake it Forward and the happiness movement, click here.

**On a side note, I also came home to bon-bons yesterday, in the form of a delicious goodness known as sponge candy. Sponge candy is my absolute favorite thing in the world and probably reason #257 why my mom is rocks.

So Cheesecake and Cupcake Walk Into a Bar…

26 Mar

Where they met chocolate and banana.

And THIS is what happened.

Part cheesecake, part chocolate cupcake, part banana. Banana…you know, for vitamins.

I saw this recipe on Bakerella last week and pretty much had to test it out. Because, well, it combined lots of my favorite things. In cupcake form.

The recipe is about as straightforward as it can be–you make a batch of chocolate batter, then the cream cheese chip topping. One batch makes about 18 cupcakes. I decided to double it, which meant I needed 16 ounces of chocolate chips.

Guess what size bag chocolate chips come in? 10.5, 11, 11.5, 12 and 24 ounces. AWESOME. You know what this reminds me of? Hot dogs and hot dog buns.

Let’s just cut to the cakes.

Chocolate banana cake on the bottom.

And then cream cheese cake mixture on top.

28 short minutes later…banana-chocolate-chip-cheesecake-cupcakes.

These turned out very…chocolately.

A few quick notes on this recipe, in no particular order. I’d recommend pureeing the bananas in a food processor or blender, quick and easy. The recipe calls for all-purpose flour…but use cake flour. And follow the rule of baking cupcakes one pan at a time. Lastly, these look stellar when they come fresh out of the oven, but after cooling…the top sort of loses its “luster.” Next time, I think I would make these with mini-chocolate chips and then put a light frosting on.

Either way, we say yes to cupcakes! Enjoy the recipe!

Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large bananas, pureed
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream Cheese Topping

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 small banana, pureed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. To make the chocolate cake, stir together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the wet ingredients and mix until well combined. Next, in a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese and other topping ingredients (except the chips) until creamy. Stir the chocolate chips into the cream cheese mixture. Scoop the chocolate batter into paper-lined baking cups, and top with the cream cheese mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes and you’re done!

Who Dreams of Owning a Mini-Storage?

25 Mar

Things One Might Dream of Owning:

  1. A really, really, fast car.
  2. The Hope Diamond.
  3. The Yankees.
  4. A closet that would make California Closets jealous.
  5. Alpacas.
  6. Original Tiffany glass windows.
  7. A parking spot at Google headquarters.
  8. Did I mention the Yankees?
  9. A claw-footed bathtub.
  10. Lear jets. With John Travolta as the pilot.

But a mini-storage? When is the last time you woke up and said “Hot damn! I’d love to own me a mini-storage park!”

I’ve got…a friend. Who claims her husband’s dream (dream?????? seriously? DREAM????) is to own a mini-storage. Said friend has even put an offer in on a mini-storage park. And by “offer” I am referring to an OFFER TO PURCHASE a mini-storage.

And no, I didn’t take a trip to The Land of Make Believe.

This mini-storage sitch exists in real life, man.

But enough about mini-storage. Who wants some cake?

As in, the best carrot cake EVER. Seriously. The. Best.

This time around, I tried not to be so much of a “food pornographer,” as my future husband Anthony Bourdain would say. So I’ll just give a quick run-down of the best carrot cake ever.

This recipe is from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. Her photos are much more…controlled. I suspect she did not photo her cake at 8:30 a.m. in the office kitchen with a tiny plastic knife while convincing those around you that carrot cake is clearly a breakfast food because carrots are high in beta carotene.

The recipe makes enough batter for three layers, but as I somehow only have one cake pan…and didn’t figure that out until I had made cake batter…and was cooking at 10 p.m., I ended up with two even-ish sized layers. On the plus side, only having one pan ensured I only put one pan in the oven at a time, ensuring even oven air flow.

Another thing I really LOVED about this recipe is that it calls for crushed pineapple, not coconut. Weird, I know. A lot of carrot cake recipes call for coconut, which I am not a fan of. This one is full of delicious things like carrots and nutmeg and cinnamon and pineapple and sugary goodness.

When it’s in the oven, your house will smell heavenly.

I was a bit worried about running out of frosting, but the recipe made just enough. I use almond extract in my cream cheese frosting for a good hint of flavor and something a little different from vanilla.

If I could eat this cake every day, I would.

Carrot Cake Recipe:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (1/2 cup milk + 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar)
  • 2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 pound finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup raisins

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3-to-4 cups confectioner’s sugar

Preheat your oven to 350F. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg together. In an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, sugar and vanilla together until well combined. Stir in the pineapple. Add in the dry ingredients until fully incorporated. Stir in the carrots and raisins until they are evenly distributed (I did this by hand, not with the mixer).

Grease and line with parchment paper two 9-inch cake pans. Divide the batter evenly, and bake one pan at a time for 35-40 minutes at 350F. Cool the cakes 10 minutes or so in the pan, then remove and continue cooling on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter and extracts. Add in the sugar until the frosting has the desired consistency.

Frost the cake and enjoy!

Share Some Love: Karma Cupcakes

21 Mar

I work with some AMAZING people. They’re smart, talented, and a little…quirky.

Did I mention that they’re also award-winning?

Last Thursday night was the Rochester Advertising Federation’s 2012 Addy Awards. The Addys are an annual celebration of all the mind-blowing creative work that happens in the ROC. Because let’s be reasonable…ad people love to do two things. 1.) Talk about their own ads and 2.) Talk about other people’s ads.

But on to the cupcakes.

Delicious, mutli-colored, velvety, cream cheese frosted cupcakes.

These use a red velvet cupcake recipe, which I doctored up with some neon (yes, 1980’s neon) food color. And for the record, as a flavor, “red velvet” is just regular cake with a few teaspoons of cocoa powder and red food coloring.

But with neon you can make lots of colors. Like blue. And pink.

And orange. And green. Just like Karma Water.

In case you didn’t guess already, my coworkers won two Addy Awards for work done with Karma Water. You can see it online here.

I do need to take one small moment to point out casually mention that I did not use my cookie scoop to make these. Yes, they’re perfectly round and evenly portioned because I’m just that good.

It also helps to only bake one pan of cupcakes at a time. It does take longer, but air flows through the oven more evenly if you only put in one pan at once. So things bake more evenly. Yet another reason why I need a double-oven and two kitchens. Just saying.

These cupcakes made me a true believer in cake flour. If you want light, fluffy cupcakes, you need to use cake flour. Why? Cake flour has less gluten–and gluten is great for things like breads and brownies, but bad for cupcakes. So use cake flour. It’s awesome sauce.

See? Light and fluffy. With mmmmmmm delicious frosting.

Neon velvet goes well with cream cheese frosting–and I’d advise using lots. LOTS. OF. FROSTING.

I’d advise against asking your mom if eight ounces was half a poundwhen you have a MS in MathSHAME RATTLE.

YUM. Perfect for Karma. Or Easter? Or March Madness? Or Gay Pride Week? You decide.

Red Velvet Cupcakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 generous teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (or neon!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
For the frosting:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 cups confectionaire’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the wet cake ingredients in an electric mixer and mix until thoroughly combined. Sift together the dry ingredients (or not) and slowly mix until the wet ingredients. If you’re doing different colors, separate the batter into batches and add food coloring to each. Bake one pan at a time for 15-20 minutes. Makes about 24 cupcakes.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together in an electric mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add in the vanilla, and slowly add in the confectionaries’ sugar until the frosting has reached desired consistency.

Peanut Butter, Now in Cupcake Form

11 Mar

Mmmmmm…peanut butter. One of my favorite food groups. And yes, I do consider it a food group. There’s like 80 flavors!

I made these peanut butter reese’s topped bites of deliciousness for a work luncheon. Nothing says “thanks for a job well done” like cupcakes. delicious, delicious, cupcakes.

To switch it up a bit, I wanted to make a cupcake that wouldn’t require frosting.

(Confession: I was being lazy and just didn’t feel like making frosting. So I got creative with the topping.)

The recipe for these is from the Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes. If you are into cupcakes, BUY THIS BOOK. It has tons of creative ideas for decorating cupcakes, tasty recipes, and new flavor combinations. My favorite part about the book is that it has lots of “cupcake hacks” for lazy efficient people like myself. For example–it will tell you how to make the cake batter from scratch, or how to doctor up box mixes to get the same effect.

One batch of the recipe made 24 cupcakes, scooped out with my Oxo large cookie scoop. I made the topping by crushing Reese’s Pieces…into more pieces. LOLLLLLLL! Seriously, I crack myself up sometimes.

Also, it’s REALLY FUN to smash things. REALLY REALLY FUN.

These definitely do not need frosting. But…they did need something extra. Something more.

So, I made some cupcake flags on the Cricut. And then I got all 90’s and added stickers for more pizzaz. You know that saying about taking off one accessory before leaving the house? I soooo don’t follow that rule.

Before you all think I’m one of those crazy single people that has a secret horse obsession…our work lunch is celebrating some great work for one of my favorite clients, W. F. Young.

And I’m really looking forward to the Kentucky Derby this year.

Peanut Butter Cupcake Recipe:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 1/3 cup cake flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sale
  • Reese’s Pieces
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter for 30 sec. Add the sugar in small increments and mix well. Mix in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and peanut butter. Beat with mixer until well blended. Combine dry ingredients, and add to peanut butter mixture slowly. Add in the milk at the same time, alternating with the flour mix. Beat with mixer until combined. Top with Reese’s Pieces and it’s baking time. 25 quick minutes in the oven at 350F and you’re good to go.

And then I made pie.

10 Mar

First, can I just say how cool it is that someone in the Philippines read my blog? Much love to all of you who have been reading, following, and commenting.

And now onto the pie.

A few months back, on one of my excursions to the mecca of dealhounds, Marshalls, I got this delightful mini-pie press. In the shape of a star. It took me roughly thirty 0.3 seconds to decide that yes, I needed a mini-pie mold. Everyone should own a mini pie mold. Pie is delicious and mini pies are even better.

I hadn’t had a chance to use it, as I didn’t have a good reason for making mini pie. Luckily, I needed to bribe my coworkers. Yeah, luckily.

Given that winter in Rochester lasts forever (foooorrrrreeeeevvvverrrrrr), the only type of pie worth making is apple.

As I always say, because I’m lazy efficient, I used the Pillsbury roll-out refrigerated pie crust. You can make five pies from one package. You’ll have to combine the dough and re-roll it out to make the last two crusts.

I don’t use a recipe for apple pie–which makes it more impressive when people ask if you use a recipe. I more go by a few rules of thumb. The rule of thumb?

Here’s how it all goes down:

  • Get a couple apples. Two apples made the five pies, with some to spare. How about them apples?
  • Three parts white sugar, one part brown sugar. Enough to coat the chopped apples but not too much. Else your filling gets runny.
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon–just give it a good squeeze.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • A few tablespoons flour.
  • Egg wash (i.e. egg yolk + water) to coat the top crust.

Combine all the ingredients, and spoon into your pie crust. Make sure you seal the edges carefully and lightly brush the egg wash on.

Bake on parchment paper at 400F for about 10 minutes, and then turn down to 325F until the pie looks done. Trust me, you’ll know when it’s done.

My only complaint is that my pie did not hold its star shape. Whatever. You can’t win them all. The pie was still delicious.

Small moment of bragging: my coworker left me a voicemail saying this was the “best pie he had ever tasted.”

Bonus points if you got all the references without looking at the links.

Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes, Perfectly Sized

28 Feb

Lately, I’ve been dreaming of cake. So much so, that I make some form of cake every chance I get. I’m attributing this to the crazy diet I am on (details to follow) but until then, I am baking. Cakes. Lots. Of. Cake.

When you need cake, a good cookbook to turn to is Cupcakes, Cookies and Coffee Cakes. It’s full of beautiful photography and easy-to-make recipes–everything I’ve baked out of here has tasted like amaze sauce.

Like these yellow lemon chiffon cupcakes.

And, since the recipe for these is so straightforward, I even followed ALL THE DIRECTIONS. I sifted flour.

Well, I at least sifted for the first batch. And honestly? I don’t think it made a difference. But, I did get this super-cool flour sifter last week that I needed to try out. It’s from Progressive International and the best part about it is the attached bottom bowl–which catches the flour as you sift. Amaze sauce. I may become a sifting convert.

If you’re wondering why my cupcakes are so perfectly sized and rounded, the answer is a tip I picked up from My Baking Addiction–use an ice cream or cookie scoop to portion out the batter. For the cupcakes above, I used the OXO Large Cookie scoop.

See? It even makes them look good while they’re waiting to get baked in the pan.

I may also own the OXO scoop in small and medium…don’t judge. Every girl needs multiple ice cream scoops, right?

The frosting is equally easy to make–butter, lemon juice and confectionaries’ sugar. YUM. The lemon flavor isn’t overpowering, just enough to balance out the sweetness of the sugar.

I took a break from piping today and instead did a swirly-type maneuver with an icing knife.

My one and only complaint with this recipe is that it doesn’t make a lot of batter. I got 9 cupcakes from a single batch. However, it is right-sized if you’re looking to try a new flavor or simply just don’t want to make multiple dozens.

Pucker up and enjoy!

Cupcake recipe:

  • 8 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Slowly add in the sifted flour, until just moistened. Bake at 375F for approximately 20 minutes, or until your cupcakes are done.


  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cup confectionaires’ sugar

Beat ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Adjust lemon juice and sugar, to taste and for frosting consistency. Frost cupcakes and enjoy.

Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes with Ganache

23 Feb

It’s a bundt. A bundt? This cake has a hole in it. Yes, I am referencing this.

I made these bundtlette cakes for two reasons. First, I had a Junior League meeting and needed a good “thank you” for my committee members. Second, I really wanted to make ganache. I’ve always thought about it, but never actually noshed on some ganache.

Plus, my kick-ass mom graciously “donated” a super-nice mini-bundt pan to me which clearly was a sign that I needed to make cake. Must make cake. IMMEDIATELY.

This recipe was extremely easy and most of the ingredients I already had (bonus!). The only thing I didn’t have was buttermilk. Which, let’s be reasonable, no one ever has on hand. And buttermilk always seems to come packaged in a not-convinient size, like one quart when all you need is one cup.

The solution? Mix one cup of milk with one tablespoon white vinegar and ta-da! Buttermilk substitute.

In addition to substituting for buttermilk, it should be duly noted that I because I am lazy efficient, I also did not butter & flour my pan (used Pam for Baking) and I did not sift together the dry ingredients (“fluffed” them with a fork and called it a day).

When you read the recipe, you’ll notice it calls for coffee. Coffee? Seriously? I want chocolate cake, not coffee cake.

Have no fear, little butterfly. The coffee enhances the chocolate flavor–and you don’t even taste it. I’m a firm believer that any good chocolate cake recipe should involve coffee.

I won’t bore you with how to mix a cake–I’m pretty sure you can figure it out. Let’s just skip to the good part. Ganache. Yea, let’s nosh on some ganache, man.

Ganache is actually fairly easy–I used the Ganache Three Ways recipe from Savory Sweet Life. Just boil the cream, and then whisk into the chopped chocolate. To give my ganache some extra flavor, I used 8 oz of an orange-flavored dark chocolate and 4 oz of regular semi-sweet chocolate.

If you use your ganache right away, it makes a great glaze. Else, you can whip it into frosting or pipe it after it’s cooled a bit.

Now, because I had extra ganache, and I hate wasting things, I filled the bundt cake centers with ganache. If you do this, and then heat before you serve, they are almost like lava cakes. But wait, isn’t there a hole in those cakes?

Well…let’s just say I might have overfilled my bundt pan…so the bottom of my cakes might have baked together. And we’ll leave it at that.

Note: saying a cake is “chocolate topped with orange-chocolate ganache” is an easy way to impress people. Trust me, I’ve said “ganache” about 80 times at work today…

You can see all the steps to delicious cake in the gallery below. Now go get your ganache on!

Grown-Up Party Favors

10 Feb

I thought I’d title this post Adult Party Favors…but then I realized some people might get the wrong impression. (insert immature 12-year-old giggles here…)

Remember the paper flowers I was making here? Well, many pages later, they found a home as the decor for my grown-up party favors.

Instead of the goodie bags full of sugary snacks, temporary tattoos and hideous hair scrunchies that you often received at childhood parties, the favors I passed out involved delicious goodness known as Jameson.

And no, I didn’t pass out treat bags full of airplane bottles…although, now that you mention it…mental note: make giving out airplane bottles trendy…

Mmmm, glug glug yum.

Instead, I made delicious (and nutritious!) Irish Cream. Yes, I like to DIY my alcohol, thankyouverymuch. The recipe was pretty simple, and there’s lots of variations out there. I used this recipe that I first saw on Pioneer Woman. Most of the ingredients I already had–minus the heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk.

When you start, your counter will look like a mess of goodness, like this:

On the way to some awesome sauce.

The skim milk really makes it healthy…LOL. And, I’d strongly encourage using Jameson if you make this at home. I feel that it gives it such an “authentic” Irish flavor. And let’s be reasonable…no one wants the hangover that you get from Evan Williams…yikes. If the Jameo is too strong (or not strong enough!) you can dial-down the intensity by adding in a little bit less than the recipe calls for.

The Pioneer Woman/Tasty Kitchen say this stays good for about two months, but I’m not exactly sure. I packaged mine into half-pint bell jars, and I hope my friends are boozebags don’t wait two months to drink it a half pint! One batch makes 2.5 pints, aka five half-pints.

All that’s left for you to do is impress your friends with your boozy culinary skills.

Anyone need a straw?