Chocolate Oreo Poke Cake…

Poke cakes have been around for ages. I’m not sure when they first hit the scene, but I bet if we could peek back in time, we’d find Martha Washington bringing a poke cake to the Revolutionary potluck (what? It could’ve happened…). Poke cakes are an American tradition, after all. :)

My favorite poke cake is this Piña Colada Cake, which is drizzled with cream of coconut (nectar of the gods, I tell you!) while hot and topped with pineapple-y whipped cream. A family favorite. BUT this Oreo version is pretty stinking awesome as well. Rich devil’s food cake studded with crushed Oreos, drizzled with Oreo pudding, then sprinkled with MORE crushed Oreos, and finally topped with whipped cream and you guessed it, more Oreos. An Oreo lovers’ dream come true.

Chocolate Oreo Poke Cake

1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
Oreos, roughly chopped (you’ll need almost an entire package. I use double-stuff)
1 large packet instant Oreo pudding
2 cups milk
1 small tub Cool Whip

Prepare the devil’s food cake as directed on box; stir in a large handful of the chopped Oreos. Pour batter into a greased 9×13 dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Combine the milk and Oreo pudding mix in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until smooth.

Using a chopstick or the end of a wooden spoon (while the cake is still warm), poke holes all over the top of the cake. Pour the pudding over the cake and spread evenly so it will soak into all of the holes (you’ll need to do all of this fairly quickly as the pudding will set and get thick after a couple of minutes). Top with more chopped Oreos. Allow cake to cool completely. Spread the Cool Whip over the top of the cake and sprinkle with more chopped Oreos. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Serves 12.

Recipe source: I didn’t follow any specific recipe, but I’m sure this particular poke cake has been around for awhile.

My little photographer’s assistant! :)

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**Disclaimer: I am NOT one of those women who believes any sort of food, herbal remedy or old wives’ trick can induce labor. I fully believe my little girl will come when she is good and ready, thus making the idea of this cake completely bogus in principal, but nevertheless, good for a chuckle.

Evening primrose oil, castor oil, spicy foods, raspberry leaf tea…I’ve heard of just about every trick out there to induce labor. Of course I believe they’re all complete horse pucky. So naturally, when I was reading on a popular baby discussion forum about all these women baking and eating these so-called “labor cakes” to induce labor, I laughed out loud. Of all the ridiculous notions….yeah sure, a boxed mix chocolate cake is going to kick-start my labor…riiiight. However, I sat there and got to thinking about a warm, gooey, chocolaty cake fresh from the oven and just couldn’t resist. While I don’t believe any amount of chocolate will convince Cassidy to get a move on, any excuse to shove my face full of cake is good enough for me. So I made myself a labor cake. Following the recipe exactly (box mix and all). And it was dang good. Did Cassidy come? Nope. Did I enjoy my cake and go to bed with a smile on my face? You bet.

“Labor Cake” (A dressed up chocolate cake)

1 box Devil’s Food Cake mix
1 small package chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 vegetable oil
1 12-ounce package mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and pour into a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

To make mine extra chocolaty, I topped it with my grandmother’s fudge icing:

Nana’s Fudge Icing (adapted to be a thin glaze rather than a thick frosting)

1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat all ingredients except vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until mixture is melted and beginning to thicken. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Cake recipe source: www.justmommies.com

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Sopapilla Cheesecake…

Let me start off by stating a few things: 1.) Happy New Year! 2.) Those of you who have resolved to eat healthier, lose weight, etc, just click away now, because this recipe is neither healthy nor diet-friendly. In fact, it’s pretty much just butter and cream cheese. And sugar. :) 3.) There’s really nothing about this recipe that makes it a “cheesecake” in any way, except maybe the abundance of cream cheese (in fact, it’s more along the lines of a cheese danish), but that’s what the recipe is called, so for propriety’s sake, I’ll continue calling it “sopapilla cheesecake”.

A few weeks ago, at our friends’ Christmas party, the hostess pulled something freshly baked out of the oven. The sweet, cinnamony smell immediately caught my attention and I was first in line to try a plateful. At first glance, it looked like some sort of cobbler covered in cinnamon-sugar, but with one bite I knew what I was eating- the sopapilla cheesecake I had seen plastered all over pinterest. Crescent rolls, cream cheese, butter, sugar. That’s it. And I have to admit, it was stinking delicious. My big pregnant self ate two helpings. Then I immediately came home and made one of my own for my parents to try. Embarrassingly easy, shamefully fattening and ridiculously yummy. A pregnant woman’s dream dessert.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

2 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
2-8oz blocks cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Unroll and press 1 can crescent rolls into the bottom of the baking dish press the seams together.

In a separate bowl blend the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla; spread evenly over top of dough. Unroll the second can of crescent rolls and place on top of the cream cheese mixture pressing seams together again. Pour the melted butter over top layer of crescents.

Mix the reaming 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture generously over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until bubbly and browned. Allow to cool before serving (personally, I like it better warm, so I let mine cool for only 15 or 20 minutes before serving). Serves 8.

Recipe source: barely adapted from Real Mom Kitchen, via Mommy’s Kitchen

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Pumpkin Pound Cake…

I waited as long as I could. I really did. But when we got that blast of glorious fall weather this weekend, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer; it was time to bring in fall! I’ve gotten out all my fall decorations, made soup, homemade applesauce (recipe to come!) and baked this pumpkin pound cake. And lemme tell ya- I feel GREAT! Nothing like a cool breeze and the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon to lift a girl’s spirits! Sure, it’s supposed to get back into the 90′s next week but for now, it’s fall outside and I’m enjoying every second of it. My mom is responsible for me baking this cake- she thought a pumpkin pound cake sounded great and charged me with finding a great recipe to try. I did a little searching and came up with exactly what I was looking for! The cake is delicious- not too sweet, super moist, dense and full of warm spices. I loved it with my morning coffee- the perfect combination!

Pumpkin Pound Cake

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, combine sugar and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves and pudding mix; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

Transfer to a greased bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serves 12-16.

Recipe source: Adapted from Taste of Home

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Southern Caramel Cake…

If you’re like me and about 80 gajillion other people, you’ve just read The Help (or saw the movie) and loved it. I thought it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, but frankly, what stuck with me most from the book was Minny’s famous caramel cakes mentioned so often. I’m a sucker for a good Southern recipe (duh) and this famous caramel cake the author mentions so many times definitely had me intrigued. I come from a peach cobbler-buttermilk pie type family, so cakes didn’t play a huge roll in our family get-togethers; but good old fashioned Southern cakes like this one are very much a part of my heritage. As soon as I finished this book (like, 3 days ago), I set out to make myself a caramel cake. Where did I turn? Why, Baba’s American Woman’s Cookbook, of course. If you want a good old fashioned recipe, be it buttermilk biscuits, a Lady Baltimore cake, or perfect-every-time pie crust, this book will never let you down! Sure enough, I found exactly what I was looking for!

I’m not going to lie and say this was a simple cake to make; in fact, I’ll go ahead and fess up to having to make more batches of caramel than I’d like to admit. There are 3 different caramel-y aspects to this cake: the caramel syrup that goes into the batter, the caramel filling (more like a glaze) and the caramel buttercream, which I did not get from the cookbook, but here instead, since it was more along the lines of what I was looking for. Other than lots of caramel making, this recipe is extremely easy (it’s just like any other cake you’ve ever made…except WAY more delicious!), so don’t let all that caramel scare you- if I can do it, YOU can do it!

Now, the verdict: holycowhallelujahwowomigoshjeezlouise! After just one bite, every sense in my body told me this was the best cake I’ve ever made. Even Joel, who isn’t a big fan of caramel couldn’t shut up about this cake! All it took was that one bite and I knew, “this is Minny’s caramel cake. I’ve nailed it.” As I read about Minny cooking her caramel and bringing the finished cakes to people’s houses, this was exactly how I pictured it. And heck, it may not be anywhere close to what the author was talking about, but in my mind it’s perfect and I’ll never make a caramel cake any other way. It’s incredibly moist, absolutely bursting with sweet, caramel flavor and the gooey caramel center….pure heaven. Making all that caramel may be a bit of a pain, but do your friends, your loved ones and yourself a favor and make this cake ASAP- then take a bite and experience the South.

Caramel Cake

1 3/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup hot water
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the caramel syrup: place 1/2 cup of the sugar in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts. When it becomes a dark amber color (about 5 minutes- watch it closely!), remove from heat and whisk in the hot water VERY slowly until dissolved. You’ll be left with a syrup about the consistency of simple syrup. Cool completely. *The first time I tried this I added my hot water too fast and ended up with a rock-hard lump of caramel, so be sure to add the water VERY slowly while whisking!

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and the cooled caramel syrup; blend. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately, beating until smooth. Pour into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans lined with wax paper and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Caramel Filling

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Cook the sugar, butter, cornstarch and milk together in a double boiler until thick (mine never got too thick and I cooked it for at least 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and add vanilla. Let cool for about 5 minutes then pour over the warm cakes still in their pans (I poked holes all over my cakes with a toothpick so it would soak up the liquid better). Let the cakes sit out at room temperature in their pans until completely cooled.

Caramel Buttercream

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar

Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat and very slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth (be careful, as the mixture will definitely bubble up and possibly splatter a bit as you add in the cream). Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, gradually add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer, and then add caramel. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate if not using immediately (or to harden the frosting a bit).

To assemble the cake:
*This part was a little tricky since I had to somehow figure out how to get the wax paper off the bottoms of the cakes while they were gooey with caramel! Slide a dull knife all the way around the edges of the cakes to loosen the sides from the pan and (using a spatula or possibly your hands- however you deem fit, really), lift the cake from the pan, peel the wax paper off the bottom and place, caramel side up on a cake platter.

The second layer is easier- just line the cake up evenly with the bottom layer and gently overturn the pan, setting it upside down (caramel side down; so you’ll have caramel-to-caramel), then peel off the wax paper.

Using a cake spatula, gently and evenly spread the caramel buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until about 1 hour before serving. Makes one 2 layer, 9-inch cake. Phew! :)

Recipe sources: cake recipe adapted from American Woman’s Cookbook; caramel frosting from Gimme Some Oven

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Old Fashioned Yellow Cake…

In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a good old fashioned yellow cake with chocolate frosting. There’s just something so comforting and homey about it. While I do love a good chocolate-on-chocolate cake, the combination of a moist, buttery yellow cake with rich, creamy chocolate frosting is unbeatable! Makes me feel as if I were sitting at my mom’s kitchen table after school. I love desserts like that- nothing fancy or intricately decorated, just simply frosted, like my grandmother would do.

And I have to say, this is the BEST yellow cake I’ve ever had. I was unsure which recipe to use (there are so many good ones out there), but luckily my friend Bridget of The Way The Cookie Crumbles did an in-depth yellow cake comparison on her blog recently and took all the guess work out of it for me! Thanks Bridget (she’s done lots of these comparisons on her blog, so be sure to check them all out!)! I ended up choosing a Cooks Illustrated recipe and it definitely did not disappoint! It’s definitely the most moist yellow cake I’ve ever had and by far the most flavorful. The butter flavor really comes out and the texture is just perfect- light and tender. I paired it with my favorite chocolate frosting recipe and it was just scrumptious. We LOVED this cake (in fact, I’ve had an embarrassing amount of it in the past few days)!

For those of you who are searching for the perfect yellow cake recipe (and I know there are a lot of you!), this is it. I’ve made Martha Stewart’s recipe as well and it doesn’t compare. It may be a little more involved than your average cake recipes, but trust me, it’s worth it.

Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake

Makes two 9-inch round cakes

2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Grease the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and knock out the excess. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a large bowl. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the flour mixture to the now-empty mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape the whisk and sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Lightly tap the pans against the counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

Bake until the cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-22 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the cakes from the sides of the pan with a small knife, then invert onto a greased wire rack and peel off the parchment. Invert the cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup cocoa powder
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Stir melted butter into cocoa and alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 3 1/2 cups frosting.
Frost cake when completely cooled, as desired.

Recipe sources: cake recipe seen on The Way The Cookie Crumbles, originally from Cooks Illustrated. Frosting recipe from Hershey’s.

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Baba’s Lady Baltimore Cake…

This is a very special, nostalgic cake for my family. It was my great-grandmother, Baba’s favorite go-to cake recipe. The Lady Baltimore Cake. It’s dainty, delicate, feminine and beautiful to look at. It starts with a light, tender white cake, filled with a delicate orange marmalade filling, spread with a fluffy marshmallowy frosting and sprinkled all over with sweetened coconut. Baba made this cake for special occasions, birthdays, holidays, etc. My mother’s birthdays were made so special because Baba would always make her this cake. And finally, after years of being too scared to try it for myself, I made it for my mother’s birthday last week. I love making something that Baba used to make- it’s almost as if it transports me through time and I’m standing next to her in her kitchen, baking alongside her.

Food is so powerful. One taste can bring back old friends, memories, and family. Glancing at an old, hand-written recipe can bring back smells and emotions and feelings from your childhood. Eating at your mom’s table, no matter your age, can make you feel safe and happy. Sharing a dessert with your husband can make you feel so loved and secure. And baking a cake from a book that your great-grandmother once used links you to something you can’t quite explain. I was so happy to make this cake for my mother, because for one short moment, we both got to be with Baba again. This is a very special cake. One I hope to be making for years and years to come.

(That’s Baba’s china my mom let me use in the pictures- we thought it only fitting! Isn’t it gorgeous?)

The cake portion of this recipe is very similar to Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake (my favorite white cake recipe), which is why it’s so light and fluffy. However, I noticed something odd while reading over the frosting portion of the recipe; no butter. NO butter?! What?! But I trudged on, thinking to myself, “Baba used this recipe a ton, so it must be right!” Upon actually making it, I realized it’s basically a marshmallow frosting. YUM! The frosting takes a little extra time and effort but in the end, it’s worth every second. I couldn’t get Joel to stop eating it! If you ever need an impressive cake for a special occasion, try the Lady Baltimore Cake- it’s different from your run-of-the-mill white cakes and really looks beautiful on a cake stand. It would really be perfect for showers, actually.

Lady Baltimore Cake

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
grated zest of one lemon
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 3 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease generously.

Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Combine milk, water and vanilla. Add small amounts of flour mixture to creamed butter mixture, alternately with milk mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.

Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into batter. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cakes shouldn’t get very brown on top. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then transfer cakes to wire wracks to cool completely.

For the Orange Marmalade Filling:
3/4 (18-ounce) jar orange marmalade
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (or any orange liqueur), optional

Heat the marmalade, orange juice and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat just before it reaches boiling point. Remove from heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Strain out the peels and allow to cool to room temperature.

For the Frosting:
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla

sweetened, flaked coconut, for garnish

Using a mixer, beat egg whites until stiff.

Boil sugar, water and cream of tartar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, or until a small amount of syrup will form a soft ball when dropped into very cold water (this is what’s known as “soft ball stage”).
With the mixer running, slowly pour the hot syrup over the egg whites and continue to beat until the mixture is of spreading consistency (this could take up to 10 minutes; don’t be alarmed if your mixture is runny, just keep beating and eventually it will thicken up.). Add vanilla.

To Assemble:
Spread half of the orange marmalade filling in the center of the bottom cake layer, leaving an inch border around the outside (when you add the frosting, the marmalade will spread). Gently spread some of the frosting over the marmalade and place second cake layer on top. Repeat with the other half of the marmalade filling and more frosting, then place the third cake layer on top. Frost the whole cake with the frosting (be generous, the recipe makes a TON of frosting!) and sprinkle generously with coconut. Refrigerate until 30 minutes to one hour before serving.

Recipe source: adapted from Baba’s favorite, The American Woman’s Cookbook

I hope this cake made your birthday extra-special, mommy! I love you!

 

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Red Velvet Cake Napoleons…

I’m actually not the world’s biggest fan of red velvet cake. Never have really seen the big deal. However, lately I’ve been craving it like crazy! I guess because so may delicious looking red velvet recipes have been popping up all over the blogosphere lately. I guess February is definitely a red velvet kind of month. A year or so ago, I copied down my great-grandmother’s recipe for red velvet cake and have been wanting to try it ever since. I figured now would be as good a time as any, then my friend Kelsey recommended I try her recipe- in fact, her exact words were, “try my recipe- I dare you not to love it.” Well, how can I resist THAT?! And luckily, upon comparing the two recipes, I found that Kelsey’s is almost identical to my great-grandmother’s, with only a couple of very minor differences. Excellent!

I didn’t want to make a traditional cake (which is very unlike me, but I just decided to ride the wave…), and ended up baking the cake in a jelly roll pan. After baking and cooling I found myself looking at it thinking, “well….what the heck do I do now?!” I knew I wanted to somehow do something heart-shaped, for a Valentine’s theme, but beyond that I was lacking inspiration. Lucky for me, my friend Leah suggested Napoleons. Perfect Leah, thanks! Napoleons (or Mille-feuille) are traditionally made with puff pastry and pastry creme, but I thought in honor of Valentine’s Day a cute little red velvet cake Napoleon would be oh-so-fun! The red velvet cake turned out so delicious- especially with the tangy cream cheese frosting! These little guys were so much fun to make and so easy! A perfect little sweet treat for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day!

Red Velvet Cake Napoleons

For the cake:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

For the frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
squirt of fresh lemon juice

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.

Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.

When the cake is cooled, flip it onto a large surface and peel the parchment paper off. Using a heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts and set aside. Using a serrated knife, slice each heart in half. Set aside while you make the frosting.

For the frosting:
Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and lemon juice together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes (you’ll end up with some left over).

To assemble:
Place a small amount of frosting on one of the hearts, place another heart on top, pressing down slightly, then more frosting; finally place one last heart on top and a dollop of frosting (that’s 3 hearts total). Top with sprinkles, if desired. Repeat with the remaining hearts. I ended up with 14 Napoleons.

Recipe source: cake and frosting seen on Apple A Day, originally from Saveur.com

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Peachy Pound Cake…

What do you do when you’re snowed in with only 1 stick of butter? Why, make half a pound cake, of course! You can bet that this cake is pretty special to me, seeing as I had one opportunity to bake (while snowed in), with ONE stick of butter to my name. I could have chosen anything. Any recipe. But I chose this one. THIS pound cake. Brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it? No? ……..ok.

A long time ago, Joel’s mother bought me a Williams-Sonoma cake mix for peach pound cake. It was magical. Moist and buttery and brushed with peach schnapps while still warm. I’ve never forgotten that cake. And recently, while snowed in with one stick of butter (stop me if you’ve heard this story before…) I decided to recreate it. I chose Paula Deen’s recipe for pound cake, as it is my favorite. I baked in some peach schnapps with the batter as well as brushed the whole outside of the cake while still warm. It was close; perhaps not quite as good as I remember the Williams-Sonoma mix being, but DARN good, just the same. And even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! A snow day baking success! That last stick of butter really did itself proud….

(And yes, I took lots of pictures. That’s what you do when you’re snowed in….apparently.)

Peachy Pound Cake

1 stick butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon peach schnapps

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
With a mixer, cream butter and shortening together. Add sugar, a little at a time. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix in vanilla and the 1 tablespoon peach schnapps. Pour into a greased and floured 9×5 loaf pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.

While the cake is still warm, remove from pan and brush the top and sides with the remaining peach schnapps. Let cool completely before serving.
Serves 6-8

Recipe source: adapted from Paula Deen

**If you’d rather not use alcohol, this quick and easy peach simple syrup would be a great alternative!

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Cinnamon Pound Cake…

If you love cinnamon, be sure to bookmark this recipe because it’s just bursting with it! This cake is one of my very favorite things around Christmas (and winter)- my mom used to make it every single Christmas and the whole family loved it. Now my sister and I both make it for our own families every Christmas. It’s wonderful for parties if you don’t want to take the same old cookies or candy, but still want something quick and easy (and of course impressive).

This cake is incredibly moist and just FULL of warm cinnamon flavor; a real treat during the holidays! Perfect after a delicious meal with a cup of hot coffee. If you’re looking for that perfect Christmas morning breakfast treat, this would be delicious! And it keeps beautifully, so feel free to make it a day or two before! This cake is Christmas to me and I just love it. In fact, I’ve posted it before, but it was a looong time ago and the pictures were just awful. I decided to feature it again, so that it might get the attention it deserves! Thanks Mommy, for a delicious recipe! :)

Cinnamon Pound Cake
-my mom’s recipe (I’m not sure where she got it from originally)

4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 yellow butter cake mix (don’t use white cake mix – it has to be butter)
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup canola oil
1  8-ounce container sour cream
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a bundt pan.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle half of the mixture in the greased bundt pan – shake it all around to coat the entire pan. Mix cake mix with pudding, oil, sour cream, eggs and other half of cinnamon/sugar mixture. Pour into pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes until springy. Cool for 20 minutes before taking out of pan.

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