Favorite Recipe: Lemon Berry Cupcakes by Pâtisserie Natalie

Hi buddies! This recipe was originally published in 2009 on this site; it's so good that it's worth revisiting. In case it's been a while, or if you have never seen this one before...enjoy!

Lemon Berry Cupcakes by Pâtisserie Natalie

CakeSpy note: since these headnotes were written years ago, obviously a bit out of date. But honestly, that's part of the fun: revisiting the past and reflecting on how many things have changed!

From CakeSpy: When you visit Pâtisserie Natalie, you'll undoubtedly be impressed. The pictures are simply gorgeous; the recipes are creative and sophisticated, yet unfussy. Here's a note from the girl behind the blog:

From Natalie: Hi, my name is Natalie, from Pâtisserie Natalie. I'm so excited to get to do a guest post for CakeSpy; I've been a fan for a long time. I'm a high school student from Seattle who loves photography, food styling, and baking. I've been interested in the arts since I was really little, and found my real calling through blogging. I didn't discover the food blogging world until recently. I also didn't realize how much I would love it. My blog gives me a way to share my design and creative flow with other people, as well as see other artist's work.

Lemon Berry Cupcakes by Pâtisserie Natalie

I started baking more seriously about 2 years ago, but it is now an addiction. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am more frequently in the kitchen then not. I absolutely cannot stay away from my kitchen aid mixer and my camera. I am self-taught in html/css coding, and do all my own graphics and layout work for my blog (CS Note: she's interested in pursuing a career in web/graphic design and photography).

I decided to make these Lemon Berry Cupcakes because as many people know, Seattle doesn't have that many sunny days during the year. Summer flavors for me are lemon and berries. Seeing as the sunny days are limited, I felt that I needed to make something that used those flavors. While I don't mind the rain at all (I love it, actually), many people are a little bummed that our summer days here are ending. With that in mind, I made these cupcakes as a sort of "summer revival." I've been working on the recipe for this lemon pound cake for a while, but I think I've finally got it. I'm often disappointed by lemon cake, as it doesn't actually taste lemony. That is not a problem for this cake at all. It's very moist and soft, which is not usually the case with pound cake. The frostings are made from raspberries and blackberries, which is why those frostings are

so

pink.

Lemon Pound Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter; softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 5 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk together in a large bowl thoroughly, and set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  5. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar one at a time, beating in between each addition.
  6. With the mixer on a low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the yogurt mixture in 2 parts. Start and end with the flour mixture.
  7. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and scoop even amounts of the batter into the cups, filling almost to the top.
  8. Bake for 16 minutes, rotating the pan after 8 minutes. Once golden brown around the edges, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for at least 2 hours before icing.
Lemon Berry Cupcakes by Pâtisserie Natalie

Blackberry & Raspberry Buttercreams

  • 2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter; softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar; sifted
  • 1/4 cup blackberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup raspberry sauce
  1. Beat butter and 1 cup of powdered sugar until smooth. Divide into two parts, removing half from the mixer bowl. Add the blackberry sauce to the mixer bowl, along with 3/4 cup of powdered sugar. Place buttercream in a piping bag and pipe a circle around the outer edge of the cupcake top, spiraling in towards the center.
  2. In the same mixer bowl, add the remaining half of the butter and powdered sugar that was set aside. Add the raspberry sauce and 3/4 cup powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Place in a piping bag and pipe an extra dollop on top of the blackberry buttercream.

Blackberry Sauce

  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

Combine ingredients in a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently until juices from berries boil. Using a wooden spoon, crush the berries in the pan. Let boil for 2 minutes to make sauce more dense. Strain the mixture if you prefer to have smoother frostings. Cool in refrigerator.

Raspberry Sauce

  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice

Combine ingredients in a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently until juices from berries boil. Let boil for 2 minutes to make sauce more dense. Cool in refrigerator.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies for Christmas

I'm bringing back this recipe because it's truly THE BEST! This is the only cookie recipe that I *always* make; others come and go.

Cookies

One of the most wonderful things about a recipe is all the places it can go.

Take, for instance, a recipe for two-tiered Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies that appeared in a women's magazine in the early 1980s. How could the recipe developer have known what a role this recipe would end up playing in the Spy family's lives?

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

After all, it was this recipe that struck the fancy of my mother (you know her as SpyMom) and intrigued her enough to bake a batch. And the whole family loved them. They were buttery and lightly crumbly but so soft and just ever so slightly chewy in the center, and the walnuts and pistachio and chocolate just worked so perfectly together. We all loved them so much, in fact, that the next year, she made them again. And the year after that. A tradition was born.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

But somewhere along the line--was it when her children went to college, moved away, began having their own lives?--the cookies stopped being made. Every year someone (usually me) would lament the fact that they were missing from the festivities, but year after year, they did not make an appearance.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

But this year, we brought the recipe out from hiberation. SpyMom found the handwritten recipe and told me that this was during her "penmanship phase", when she would stay up at night practicing perfect penmanship, trying to will her handwriting into something more perfect than it was. 

Pistachio Cookies

Since then, her handwriting has reverted back to its old, slighly messier, but in my opinion, more charming form.

But how wonderful to encounter this little slice of the past, complete with doodlings (mine? My little sister's?) and speckled with baking debris from years past. 

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

I baked the cookies while my parents were out, and when they returned, my mother shrieked. "What?" I cried out, thinking that perhaps she'd seen a mouse. But no. "They're just like I used to make!" she said. And I may be getting a bit flowery here, but I think that she and my dad both had a little moment, thinking sweet memories. And that made me extremely happy, in turn. 

How's that for season's sweetings?

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

Makes about 24

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 package (3 3/4 ounces) instant pistachio pudding (NOT sugar-free)
  • 6 ounces (half a bag) semisweet chocolate chips, plus 20-30 chips for garnish
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease them.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth, 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla; blend until creamy. Add the flour mixture in 3-4 increments, mixing until a stiff dough forms. Remove 1/4 of the dough to a separate bowl; add the walnuts.
  4. To the remaining dough, add the pudding mix and stir until completely combined. Fold in the 6 ounces of chocolate chips.
  5. By rounded teaspoonfuls, form the green dough into balls, and place 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Using the back of a teaspoon or a floured drinking glass bottom, gently flatten the tops of these dough rounds. 
  6. Grab the small bowl of walnutty dough. Form the dough into marble-sized pieces, and place a ball of this dough on the top of each pistachio dough mound. Sort of like a two-part snowman. 
  7. Place a single chocolate chip on top of each of the cookies, pressing gently to make sure it will stay in place.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for 8-15 minutes (listen, that long range is because I never calibrate my oven because I am lazy and I've baked these in a variety of ovens which have ranged though different bake times), or until set. It's going to be hard to see if they have become golden on the bottom, so mainly just look for a matte finish and an ever so slight golden color around the bottom edge. Remove from the oven and let cool on the rack for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar.

Easy Chocolate Pound Cake Recipe

The thing I'd like to talk about today is this: CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE. This is a fine specimen of the stuff:

Basically, the story behind it is this: I wanted to make a dessert that would please my beloved, who loves chocolate. But I felt like I might have to stab myself in the eye if I made one more flourless chocolate cake (bet you've never read that before). So I took a moment to observe that this was, indeed, a champagne problem--and then I began to look for another simple chocolate cake recipe that would yield a dense, buttery result. 

I quickly settled on a cake that if not glamorous, felt reliable: chocolate pound cake.

In particular, this chocolate pound cake from Chow.com. They had some fantastic photos and the recipe looked simple enough, so I gave it a try. 

I actually made a mistake with the recipe: I didn't add enough water (I missed the extra 2 tablespoons in the recipe below) to the cocoa mixture, and it didn't turn into a full-out paste before I added it to the batter. This means that in my finished cake, it was specked with a few tiny cocoa lumps. Far from a problem, these mini lumps were actually DELICIOUS. They were sort of like chocolate chips. I am not going to say I did a great thing by being laissez-faire with the recipe, but I am going to say it worked out OK, if you start feeling less than Martha Stewart at any point during the recipe. 

The resulting cake is nothing that you haven't tasted before, but every element is so good. It's chocolatey, buttery, definitely cake but far denser than, say, a birthday cake.

This is an assertively hefty, not-afraid-to-take-up-space-and-weight-in-the-world cake. 

I didn't feel like making the chocolate glaze featured in the recipe, instead opting to go creative with my slices. So far I've tried one with ice cream, one with a sprinkling of sea salt, and this version--my favorite--features a spoonful of almond butter...

Then a fat dollop of half and half, foamed with a milk frother.

THEN--finally--I added some cocoa nibs. Good stuff. 

Find some room in your life for this cake. You won't regret it. 

Chocolate pound cake 

1 hr 30 mins, plus cooling time - adapted from CHOW.com - printable version here

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used coarse sea salt)
  • 3/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan generously with butter; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt, and give it a whisk. Set aside for a sec.

Place the cocoa in a medium heatproof bowl. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the boiling water and whisk until smooth and paste-like. 

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium for 5 minutes--it should be pretty darned fluffy at this point. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Add the cocoa mixture, mixing on low speed until combined (I told you, mine didn't totally incorporate). 

Add the flour mixture last, mixing only until combined on low speed.

Spread the thick batter in the prepared pan, and smooth it on top as much as you can. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean--this was 40 minutes for me but I am at high altitude so it might take longer for you. 

Remove the cake from the oven; immediately run a knife along the edges to loosen. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for about an hour before transferring to pretty paper for blog photos.

Cut into slices and serve however the heck you want. 

Storage? It won't last long enough to go stale, but keep it covered at room temp for up to 3 days or freeze slices and bring them back to room temp before serving. 

What would you put on top of a slice of this cake?

What Happens When You Make Hawaiian Rolls with Mountain Dew?

Guess what I did, you guys. Well, if you guessed "made Hawaiian rolls with mountain dew", you're right.

If you aren't familiar with Hawaiian rolls, let me briefly educate you. These are a puffy, egg-enriched, sweetened type of roll. They're squishy, and vaguely brioche-like in texture.

They're most famously sold in grocery stores, in a plastic bag, under the label "King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls".

These rolls are oddly addictive. They can go sweet or savory, and are equally great for sliders as they are as an ingredient in bread pudding. 

When I found a recipe for a homemade hack on King Arthur Flour's website, I got super excited...until I realized that I had no pineapple juice.

The idea of going to the store seriously bummed me out. I had baking mojo now! No interruptions!

So I looked around for something else to use, and my gaze settled on a can of Mountain Dew. It had been living in the fridge for quite some time--my other half sometimes indulges in the stuff along with popcorn while watching movies. 

Well, it had been there long enough.

I was going to do the dew...in my dough. 

dewandsugar.jpg

Other than the Dew, I stayed pretty true to the recipe. And here's how they came out:

Awwww, girl. Awwww, yeah. These rolls came out delicious!

Actually, the Mountain Dew mellowed out during the baking process, and gave the rolls a fascinating flavor. I have since made the traditional version of the rolls, with pineapple juice, for a post on Craftsy.com. Visually they were pretty much identical, but between you and me, I actually think that the Dew ones tasted better. They had a lightly sweet flavor, but something in the carbonation or the sugar in the soda condensed into a slightly malty, sweet flavor in the Mountain Dew batch of rolls. 

The rolls tasted fantastic with a pat of butter, just out of the oven, but they were similarly delicious when lightly toasted and used to make mini chicken salad sandwiches later that day. They were also great for breakfast the next morning, served alongside eggs and bacon and with some butter and maple syrup. What versatile rolls! Who knew that Dew could do this?

Honestly, I consider these a great success. Who knew? Mountain dew in bread rolls = a very good thing. 

Bread made with Mountain Dew? Why not?

rolls5a.jpg


Mountain Dew Hawaiian Bread Rolls

Printable version here

Adapted from King Arthur Flour  

Makes 16 rolls

For the sponge

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2 tablespoons lukewarm water

For the dough

  • 1/2 cup Mountain Dew
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk; reserve the egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Prepare the “sponge”. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine all of the sponge ingredients. Let them rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the Mountain dew, butter, brown sugar, eggs and yolk, and vanilla, mixing until combined.
  3. In a separate bow, sift together the remaining flour, starch, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the liquid ingredients in the stand mixer bowl.
  4. Begin to mix the ingredients using the paddle attachment. The mixture will start out quite sticky. Once the ingredients have come together, continue to mix and knead until the mixture becomes smooth and elastic. You can continue with the paddle attachment or switch to the dough hook. (Author’s note: I do not have a dough hook so I used the paddle attachment for 5 minutes to knead, pausing and scraping the dough that might have stuck to the bottom of the bowl and the paddle attachment a few times during the process.).
  5. Lift the dough out of the bowl for a moment. Lightly grease the bottom of the mixing bowl, form the dough into a ball, and place it back in the bowl. Cover, and let rise until puffy, about 2 hours.
  6. Grease a 9″ x 13″ pan. Gently, deflate the dough. Divide it into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, until you have 16 equal pieces.
  7. Form each piece into a smooth ball, with the seam, if any, facing down. Space the buns in the pan (two rows of 5, and one of 6).
  8. Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the pan for 1 hour, until it’s nicely puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Mix the reserved egg white with about 1 tablespoon of water, and brush over the tops of the rolls. This will give them a shiny finish.
  10. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden on top.
  11. Remove the rolls from the oven, and place the pan on a wire rack. Let cool for several minutes, then remove from the pan to serve warm.

Have you ever used Mountain Dew in baking?

Easy Chocolate Pistachio Coconut Oil Truffles

Not so long ago, I was invited to a potluck which was attended 100% by yogis. Now, in case you've never been to such a potluck, when baking for yoga people, it's often important to make dishes that are vegan, gluten free, and/or raw. I know.

But I wanted them to be eaten, not just become the subject of a conversation about food allergies and what people don't eat, so I went down that virtuous road. 

Well, these truffles aren't raw because I'm pretty sure the temperature I used to melt the chocolate exceeded their cap of 118 degrees F. But they are vegan and gluten-free, and they're freaking delicious. 

They're SO chocolatey, I don't even know if "chocolatey" does the trick. It's like you're eating the pure essence of chocolate. They're rich, and so smooth with the coconut oil. They taste way more decadent than they actually are!

A simple recipe for a why-is-everything-so-hard monday. Just keep in mind, the coconut oil in these truffles make them pretty sensitive to heat, so keep them in the fridge if it's hot out!

Chocolate pistachio coconut oil truffles

Makes 12 or so - printable version here

  • 1 bar (3.5 ounces) Good quality dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup salted pistachios, crushed

Procedure

Melt together the chocolate, cocoa powder, and coconut oil in a double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the pistachios. Let the mixture cool for 20 minutes or so in the fridge, or until solid enough to roll into balls. Don't let it chill out for too long or it will set.  

Roll into balls. Dust with cocoa powder or roll in shredded coconut if desired. 

Keep chilled until ready to serve. They can get messy if they get too warm (but still so good). Please, don't mind the remnant of blue nail polish on my thumb, I promise that's all it is, not something weird. 


Have you ever made vegan truffles?

What Happens When You Make Jell-O with Evaporated Milk?

Can you make jell-o with evaporated milk? Friends, it's possible that you've never wondered about this question. But I did for you, and I can also supply an answer. This happens: 

I know! It looks legit, right? When I put a picture of it on Instagram and had people guess what it was, their guesses included avocado ice cream and matcha pudding. I was pleased that they thought so highly of me and the picture, but in truth, the actual ingredients were far more humble:

All I did was pour the jell-o powder in a heatproof bowl, heat the can of evaporated milk until it simmered, then poured the hot milk over the powder.

I stirred it briefly, poured it into a clean plate (I used a pie plate) and then put it in the fridge for several hours to set. 

It came out looking like this.

It scooped like this.

And it tasted....well, I will tell you, it tasted way classier than it should, considering the ingredients, one of which was canned, the other boxed, and that was all. It almost tasted like a key lime pie filling. You know, not necessarily a fresh key lime pie, but the type that you might buy in the freezer aisle. Maybe not the freshest and definitely far from farm-to-table, but surprisingly serviceable as a dessert course.

Hey, want to give it a try? Here's how you do it.

Jell-o made with evaporated milk

Printable recipe here

  • 1 box of lime jell-o (the smaller, 3 ounce or so size)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) evaporated milk
  1. Pour the jell-o powder into a heatproof bowl. Set to the side.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the evaporated milk to the simmering point over medium-low heat. Once it simmers, remove from heat and pour over the jell-o powder.
  3. Using a whisk, stir until everything is combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into a heat and cold-proof bowl. Transfer to the fridge, and let it set for several hours or overnight.
  5. Enjoy!

Have you ever made jell-o with anything other than water?

Because I Like Blondies Better than Brownies

I love brownies...but I love blondies better.

And these ones, with a slightly chewy, moist interior, gently crisped golden top, and rich, caramelly-buttery-brown-sugar-vanilla-y with a touch of salt flavor, are highly craveable. 

Don't get me wrong. I don't hate brownies. In fact, quite the opposite. If you hand me a dense, fudge-like brownie, I will be your friend for a good long time. There are some moments when only a brownie will satisfy your needs.

But if I were pressed to make a choice to have one or the other only for the rest of my life...I'd choose blondies over brownies.

What is it about blondies?

Maybe it's the texture: just chewy enough to provide a little resistance when you take a bite, to keep things interesting. Not too cakey, but definitely not a cookie. 

Maybe it's the color: blondies do have an awfully alluring toasty, honey-colored hue. 

Maybe it's the fact that the milder flavor lets the flavor of nuts really shine, whereas they can get lost under the powerful chocolate flavor of brownies.

Or maybe it's the flavor: each bite with flavor undertones of butterscotch, graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk, caramel, and shortbread, even though blondies contain none of these things. Maybe it's how the subtle flavor fills your mouth with sweet with a touch of salt flavor, and makes you want more and more and more.

Maybe it's all of these things. Probably.

But honestly, while I can get very thoughtful about the whole thing, I'd rather just eat some blondies. This is a particularly nice recipe, adapted from the Whole Foods Market Cookbook.  


These blondies rule

Makes one 9-inch square pan - printable version here

3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the pecan pieces on a baking sheet, and roast them until they are nicely toasted, 4 to 6 minutes. I do this as the oven preheats; if you smell the fragrance of the nuts, they're ready. Once toasted, remove from the oven and set to the side for the moment.

Generously grease a 9-inch square cake pan, and insert a strip of parchment paper (I do this so I have "handles" to lift the bars out later).

In a medium bowl, stir the flour and salt to blend.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until fluffy (2-3 minutes on medium speed). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. 

Remove the bowl from the mixer, and stir the flour in by hand. Fold in the toasted and cooled nuts. 

Spread the thick mixture in your prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden and just set in the center. 

Remove from the oven, and let cool for several minutes. If you've added that little handle I told you about, you can pull out the blondies in one solid unit.

Enjoy!

Do you prefer blondies or brownies?

Whole Foods' Flourless Chocolate Cake With Dark Chocolate Glaze

There isn't much I love more than spending $30 on a chocolate cake at Whole Foods.

Oh wait, yes there is: having chocolate cake and not spending $30.

The problem is that the Whole Foods near me makes a really, really tasty chocolate cake.

SOLUTION: use a Whole Foods recipe to make my own flourless chocolate cake! This thing came out beautifully, and since I saved myself a bunch of money, to say thanks, I shelled out (at Whole Foods, natch) some of my savings for the fancier chocolate, thus making my cake even better. 

Just look at that hunk of chocolate I used:

To say I'm feeling smug right now would be an understatement. 

But the cake backs up all of my overconfidence and more. Taking a bite of this thing is like taking a bite of the very soul of what chocolate is and should be. It's deep, it's dark, it's rich. It sticks to your teeth. Dieters will take one look and run away to the nearest treadmill (good riddance). Yeah, it's that good. 

And to cap it all off, it's topped with a sort of honey-chocolate ganache. 

I added a bonus to mine by adding candied nuts. Let me tell you, I don't regret doing this one bit.

Please, would you make this cake right now? You will not regret it. 

Save $30 Awesome Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Whole Foods - printable version here 
Serves 12

Ingredients: 

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped, divided 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

For the glaze 

  • 6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 ounces half and half 
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment. Grease the parchment on top. Set pan to the side. 

Place the chocolate and 2 sticks of butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.

This is your brain on chocolate and butter.

This is your brain on chocolate and butter.

Stir often, until the mixture melts and blends. Stir in the sugar until completely incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until no streaks remain. 

Sift the cocoa into bowl and stir just until blended.



Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake has risen and top has formed a thin crust. A little jiggle in the center is OK. 

inspringformpa.jpg

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove the springform sides and invert on to a wire rack. Remove the parchment circle, and let the cake cool completely.



Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze. Set the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and drizzle the honey on top. 

In a saucepan, heat the half and half until it comes to a simmer. Once it simmers, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate and honey. Whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and cohesive. Stir in the vanilla, and mix until smooth. Let the mixture set for 15 minutes or until it has achieved a thick, honey-like consistency: you want to pour it over the cake, but not so liquid that it will run over the sides of the cake immediately. 

Pour the glaze on top of the cake. Using a spatula, smooth it along the top and sides of the cake. 

cake22.jpg

Regard its beauty.

cake20.jpg

If you wanna, top it with nuts or something.

cakefinish.jpg

Put the cake in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes so that it can set, and the cake will slice cleaner. 

Have you ever tried any Whole Foods recipes?

Win at Summer: Cassata Ice Cream Pops

Cassata is one of my favorite cakes. Not only is it fun to say, but it's delicious to eat: a traditional Sicilian cake involving marzipan, cannoli-like cream, and more goodness (you can read about a really good one I ate in New Orleans, here).

And guess what? Cassata translates well in popsicle form. Hooray! 

This delicious popsicle comes from the book Ice Pops! by Nadia and Cesar Roden. Somehow this book manages to combine a sophisticated adult palate with enough whimsy and summer fun to make this book a true pleasure, page after page. Viva la popsicle!

Here's the recipe from the book.

Cassata

We’ve managed to put Italy on a stick here, with this traditional Sicilian dessert converted to an ice pop. Creamy ricotta is mixed with chopped nuts like almonds and pistachios, chopped candied fruits, and tiny pieces of chocolate.

8‐10

  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1 3⁄4 cups heavy cream
  • scant 3⁄4 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4–6 tablespoons milk, depending on the thickness of the ricotta 1 ounce candied orange peel
  • 1 ounce candied lemon peel
  • scant 1⁄4 cup shelled pistachios
  • scant 1⁄4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 1⁄2 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest (optional) 

Procedure

  1. Put the ricotta, cream, sugar, and vanilla in a food processor and blend very briefly until smooth. (The mix will thicken slightly.) Pour into a bowl and stir in the milk to thin the mixture, but not too much, as the chopped ingredients need to float in the mixture.
  2. Chop the candied peels, nuts, and chocolate into small pieces and stir into the ricotta mixture. Mix in the zest, if using.
  3. Spoon the mixture into your ice pop molds, and bang the molds hard on the table so there are no big air bubbles. Leave 1⁄4‐inch at the top to let the mixture expand when it freezes. Insert the ice pop sticks and freeze. If you like, save a little chopped chocolate or candied fruit to sprinkle onto the frozen ice pops. 

Reprinted with permission from Ice Pops published in 2015 by Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. © Cesar and Nadia Roden. Photography by Adam Slama

What is your favorite popsicle flavor?

Breakfast and a Snack All at Once: Cereal Milk Popsicles

Do you want breakfast, or do you want a sweet treat? Why decide, when you can have both in one deliciously summery form: cereal milk popsicles!

These delightful treats are featured in the fantastic new book Ice Pops! by Cesar and Nadia Roden. This fantastic book features some truly creative popsicle recipes, and beautiful, simple photography that lets the finished product shine. 

This is one of my favorite recipes in the book, for creamy popsicles that have the inimitable flavor of delicious leftover cereal milk. Here's the headnote from the book:

 

Cereal milk Popsicles

Inspired by the famous cereal‐milk soft serve that created a frenzy in New York City, we’ve created our own version by freezing Lily’s morning cereal onto a stick and it was quite a hit! You can experiment with your favorite cereal. We know you’ll agree it will taste even better in this frozen form.

8‐10

  • 1 1⁄4 cups whole milk
  • generous 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup your favorite breakfast cereal (we like Cheerios), plus extra to drop into the molds
  • 1 ripe banana, cut into 3⁄4‐inch slices 5–6 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Procedure

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight to let the liquid take on that unmistakably delicious cereal taste.
  2. The next day, put the steeped mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into your ice pop molds, and drop in some extra pieces of cereal. Leave 1⁄4‐inch at the top to let the mixture expand when it freezes. Insert the ice pop sticks and freeze.

Reprinted with permission from Ice Pops published in 2015 by Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. © Cesar and Nadia Roden. Photography by Adam Slama  

What is the most creative popsicle flavor you've ever tried?

Vegan Fudgesicles With a Surprise Ingredient

SPOILER: It's avocado. Don't be scared. Just look, they're magnificent. Keep reading. 

These vegan fudgesicles are not only beautiful, they're also gluten-free, and (most importantly), delicious. It's a guest recipe from my friend Lauren @ alovelysideproject. I did a guest post on her site, too. I think you'll like it.

In case you've never seen her site, it's a fantastic healthy living and lifestyle website. There recipes are mainly vegan and gluten-free foods, but with a strong emphasis on deliciousness, which I can appreciate. Even gluten-free vegans should have dessert, too. 

I'll let Lauren take it from here. Enjoy her recipe!

A note from Lauren


Hi Cakespy-ers! I'm Lauren from alovelysideproject.com, a healthy-living lifestyle site focused on gluten-free, plant-based foods and fun fashion. I'm excited to be collaborating with Jessie on this summer treat post, as I am a huge fan of her ridiculous talent and delicious recipes. 

Lauren's food story

Before we get into the yummy vegan chocolate goodness, I’d like to talk a little bit about my relationship with healthy eating. Discussing this topic is tricky for me and I know it is for many others due to the personal relationship we all have with food. I applaud Jessie for speaking so openly and honestly about her relationship with food and the bravery and guts it takes to do this .

The first time I remember taking notice to what I was eating was when I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I was in a new city, surrounded by ambitious beautiful girls. Coming from a small town but being a perfectionist, I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep up but knew I would try my hardest to do so. New York was a place where stick thin models were revered. Yearning for the same thigh gap and protruding collarbone that seemed like every successful girl in the city had led to an increased interest in how much I eat, what I ate and when I ate it. Food groups were avoided and a fear of unhealthy fats lead me to dismiss most of what FIT’s kitchen had to offer. This translated into a dorm meal plan diet that consisted of dry cereal, bananas, and fat free frozen yogurt. This strict diet allowed me to feel like I had some sort of control in my life during a first somewhat-stressful year of school. (Realizing that the dream you focused on for so long may not be your actual dream can throw you for a loop.) This majorly increased awareness of what I was putting into my body also lead to hair falling out and brittle nails. Glamorous, I know.

Due to many reasons, including unavailable housing and a general lack of direction, I then transferred schools to work on a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition. My course curriculum focused on the ideal American diet, Body Mass Indexes, and how each calorie is digested in the body. Counting calories became a common theme in my life which then led to a somewhat unhealthy obsession with maintaining the “perfect” amount of caloric intake on a day to day basis. I stayed true to my college course-focused ADA food pyramid and avoided fats like the plague. Enter fat free potato chips laced with Olestra, artificial sweeteners, and genetically modified veggie burgers. Healthy, right?

Over the next few years post-college, I started to develop a much healthier relationship with myself. I became kinder and less harsh on myself and the negative self-talk started to diminish. Around the same time, I became interested in learning about what foods actually nourished and fueled my body. I now (happily) no longer count calories or have my thoughts consumed by what I just ate and what my next meal will be. I’m interested in eating foods that nurture my body and make me feel the best I possibly can, which is why I stick to a plant-based diet. Days of feeling exhausted, bloated, but still hungry are long gone. My daily diet now leaves me feeling energized, happy, and healthy, and I continue to learn more about myself each day. The relationship you have with yourself is a precious one, so remember to be kind.

If you have any questions or comments on this topic, or would like to discuss more, you can find me atalovelysideproject.com or alovelysideproject@gmail.com.

And now onto that yummy gluten-free vegan recipe…..


Since converting to a gluten-free plant-based diet, I am frequently experimenting with how I can adapt old junk-food favorites to fit my current eating habits. These Vegan Fudgsicles are the perfect example of how eating clean, whole-foods does not mean saying goodbye to your favorite foods. The popsicles are made of avocado (trust me, they're delicious) and cacao powder (cacao beans milled at low temps to preserve nutrients) and are just as creamy and delicious as the childhood favorite. 


Vegan Fudgsicles


serves 6

  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (can sub coconut milk)
  • 6 tbsp cacao powder (can sub cocoa powder)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  • a few drops liquid stevia to sweeten (optional)

1. Combine avocados, milk, cacao powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt in a high-speed blender and puree until completely mixed. Add stevia to taste.
2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds or dixie cups, add sticks. 
3. Freeze overnight. 
4. To serve, run popsicle mold under hot water for 30 seconds to ease removal (or let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes). 
 

Would you try fudgesicles made with avocado?

Cakey Brownies Are Not Useless: 10 Tasty Ideas, Plus a Recipe

In spite of what you might think, cakey brownies are not completely useless.

Listen, I don't think that cakey brownies are any real prize all by themselves. Give me a fudgy brownie any day, with chewy taking second place.

Cakey brownies? Not too much use for them. So why, why, why do they continue existing? 

Well, as you know, I am very into yoga and part of all that om-ing is cultivating acceptance and understanding. And after much thought, I have come to see the light on cakey brownies. I have realized that they are far from useless. No, I'm not going to be reaching for them as a stand-alone dessert course, probably ever, but they are a fantastic component in more involved desserts. 

This is not an insult: rather, it's an epiphany about the role that cakey brownies can play in my dessert-loving life. The cakey brownie has a unique texture, more dense than a spongey cake, but not so dense that it is hard to handle; this makes it a great player when constructing more complex desserts. 

10 Ways to Use Cakey Brownies

Don't just eat that cakey brownie: amp it up in one of these creative ways!

As the base for Baked Alaska

Cakey brownies are actually a great base for Baked Alaska: absorbent enough for the ice cream on top, but not too heavy. Perfect. 

As the base for bombes

Ditto with bombes, which are basically the wider category including Baked Alaska but also non-meringue coated frozen desserts; cakey brownies make a great base. I made some bombes recently with a cakey brownie as the base, and they came out splendidly. A thick, fudgy brownie would not have worked quite as well with the mousse; the cakey brownie acted like a sponge, sopping up flavor yet acting as a sturdy base. 

As part of a trifle

Cakey brownies are a great component in a trifle. Since they are spongier, they're a better medium for sopping up the flavor of the cream and fruit in trifle. 

As a creamy dessert accessory

I think that a great fudgy brownie should be enjoyed all by itself, perhaps with a glass of milk, but otherwise unadorned. The cakey brownie, however, is a different thing. It's a great canvas to pair with pudding, mousse, ice cream, or custard. 

As cake layers

Listen up: instead of chocolate cake, bake a couple pans' worth of cakey brownies and use them as cake layers. They're more substantial than many chocolate layer cake recipes, and are firm enough to hold their shape when frosted. 

As the inside of petits fours

Spongey yet firm, cakey brownies are an ideal midsection for petits-fours: easy to cut and shape and stack, yet absorbent enough to take on the flavors of the fillings you add. 

Poke brownies!

You know poke cakes. Why not try the same method with cakey brownies? I can only imagine how delicious cakey brownies would be if poked all over and doused with a sweetened condensed milk mixture like in this poke cake recipe

As pancake batter 

Instead of whipping up pancake batter, use the cakey brownie batter for your next short stack. It's guaranteed to make pleasant morning memories for all. 

For sculpting cakes 

If you are making a cake that requires sculpting, cakey brownies might be just the ticket. They are fairly malleable and don't flake too incredibly much, so you can cut and shape them for dimensional cake creations. 

 

For cake pops 

Brownies are slightly denser than a typical yellow or chocolate cake, so they are ideal for cake pops. Cake pops are so small that they can afford a little extra decadence, and the brownies will deliver. Simply swap cakey brownies for the cake called for in cake pop recipes.


Easy Cakey Brownies

This cakey brownie recipe is an ideal base. It is made with olive oil, which gives it an interesting taste. Makes one 8x8-inch tray. Printable recipe here.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease an 8x8-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, cocoa, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Not the prettiest part of the process. More like modern art.

Add the flour and salt. Mix gently at this point, only until you see no more white streaks of flour. 

Pour into your prepared pan, and bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, and let cool to room temperature. You can invert the brownies out of the pan or cut them right in the pan. 

Do you like cakey brownies? 

No Knead Pizza Dough

I know what you're thinking. It's probably something along the lines of "what the #*&% is CakeSpy thinking? This is a website for sweets, not savories."

My response is this: people, you need to pre-funk for cake somehow. And pizza is the way

I love pizza--growing up in New Jersey, and spending my formative years in Brooklyn and Manhattan, I think my blood runs part tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. 

I'm not the only one: everyone loves pizza. And so, as a service to the pizza-loving masses, I want to share this recipe for no knead pizza dough. Foodies, it's nothing you haven't seen: the no knead method is famous. However, now I personally have a recipe to bookmark for myself on my own website, and you do too.

This recipe is simple as can be but gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Plus, it yields four balls of dough, which means PIZZA MOST OF THE REST OF THE WEEK!

Enjoy.

 

No Knead Pizza Dough

Adapted from Baking Steel, who adapted from Jim Lahey - Printable version here

Ingredients 

500 grams (17 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for shaping
1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon honey 
350 grams (1 1/2 cup) lukewarm water

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt until well combined.

Add the honey and water, and mix again, using a wooden spoon. 

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a moistened but not wet kitchen towel. Allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72 degrees F) until it has more than doubled in volume. This time may vary depending on the temperature and humidity of the room. 

Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface. Divide it into four equal parts. 

Gather the dough so that you have four little seams. Bring them together. Align the seam down. This is not kneading - it's making your dough a perfect little circle.

You can use the dough immediately, or wrap in plastic or in plastic containers for up to three days in the refrigerator. Return the dough to room temperature by leaving it on the counter for 2-3 hours before you want to make pizza.


Have you ever made no knead dough? 

What Happens When You Put Jell-O in an Ice Cream Maker?

Today's question is this: what happens when you put Jell-o in an ice cream maker?

I woke up with this question in my mind, and it was such a powerful and burning question that it didn't take too long for me to have a batch of Jell-O in the works so I could test it out.

Now, let me pause to answer some questions that you might have. Namely...why? Why did I want to see what would happen when I put Jell-O in an ice cream maker?

Well, let me answer your question with three simple words:

  1. Summer

  2. Fun

  3.  Because. 

Luckily, I had my ice cream maker drum in the freezer (you know, in case inspiration might strike) so I didn't have to wait the interminable chilling period. All I had to do was make some Jell-O, wait for it to set (a much more manageable chilling period), then pop it in the ice cream maker to see what would happen.

I set to work. I grabbed some orange Jell-o that I had in the cabinet, and made it per the instructions. Nothing special or fancy in my methodology. 

I let it chill. While the Jell-O chilled, I dreamed of slushy jell-o flavored delights that awaited me at the end of this experiment. 

Finally, when the Jell-O was cooled and set, I plopped it into the ice cream maker. I say "plopped" because it really did come out of the bowl in one unit, and made such a sound when it landed in the ice cream maker's drum.

Then I set the ice cream maker for 18 minutes.

At first, the Jell-O began to form lighter, slushy-looking bits.

But as the churning progressed, it began to lighten in color all over.

When the churning was done, all of the Jell-O came out of the ice cream maker in one impressive unit.

I transferred the mixture to a bowl and gave it a stir, and here's what it looked like.

And then I gave it a taste.

So what does Jell-O made in an ice cream maker taste like?

It tastes like a Jell-O Slushie. I say this as a good thing. It's almost like Jell-o met and had a baby with Italian ice: a thick, viscous, sweet, slushy baby. 

What makes the Jell-O Slush special is not necessarily the flavor, which is pretty much standard Jell-O...but it's more the texture. It is like a thicker version of Italian ice or sorbet. It's a great summertime treat texture.

So, my vote is this: if you're into Jell-O and want to give it a hot weather makeover, serve it as slush. All you need is an ice cream maker.

I think that this Jell-O Slush would also taste great combined with vanilla ice cream, or served with whipped cream. I haven't done it yet so I can't report, but I feel pretty confident that both of those variations would be Good Things. 

There you go! If you put Jell-O in an ice cream maker, you will get smooth, wonderful, sorbet-like Jell-O Slush. And you'll be happy you did.

Here's the recipe. You can also find a simple printable version here

Jell-O Slush

  • I box Jell-O (your flavor choice)
  • An ice cream maker
  1. Chill the ice cream maker drum, if applicable. 
  2. Prepare the Jell-O per the package instructions. Let it chill in the refrigerator until set and cold.
  3. Place all of the Jell-O in the drum of your ice cream maker.
  4. Set to churn (I set my ice cream maker to churn for 18 minutes).
  5. Once you're satisfied with the texture, transfer to a bowl.
  6. Enjoy immediately, place in the fridge if you will enjoy the Jell-O Slush within the next hour or two, or store in the freezer for longer term storage. It will lose some of its softness in the freezer.

Have you ever put Jell-O in your ice cream maker?