CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY BROWNIE BOMBS

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY BROWNIE BOMBS yields 24

1 box of brownie mix and the ingredients it takes to make them or a batch of homemade
3/4 cup chocolate frosting
15 ounces almond bark
1 jar maraschino cherries (see note)

  • Bake the brownies as directed and let cool completely. Do not overcook the brownies, crunchy brownie bits don’t make for good bombs.
  • Crumble the made brownies and mix in about 3/4 a cup of chocolate frosting – you want a similar consistency to cake pops. You may need to add a little more, but you want to start out on the low side and add more as needed. You want a consistency that stays together easily, but isn’t too sticky to roll into balls.
  • Use about 1 1/2 of brownie frosting mixture and roll it into a ball, but then make a hole in the middle.
  • Add one cherry into the center and fold the brownie ball in over the cherry making sure to seal the cherry in.
 Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Once you have all your bombs made, pop them in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  • Melt your almond bark. You may need a little more or a little less depending on how heavily you coat the bombs.

  • Remove the bombs from the freezer but keep them in the refrigerator.
  • Working with one bomb at a time, drop it into the melted almond bark, pull it back out, and tap off the excess chocolate.

  • Place it on wax paper and wait for it to dry completely.
  • If you want to add sprinkles do so IMMEDIATELY as the almond bark will dry quickly.

LEMON DROP CAKE

This makes quite a large cake, but is quite versatile to change the shape, layers or even makes as cup cakes.

LEMON DROP CAKE
CAKE
6 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cup unsalted sweet cream butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 LARGE eggs
2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Limoncello

1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup FRESH lemon juice

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray 3 – 9inch round cake pans with non-stick baking spray
  • In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
  • Using a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.
  • Add eggs and vanilla extract until combined.
  • Add the dry ingredients on low speed JUST until combined.
  • With the mixer still running on low, add the buttermilk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix again JUST until combined.
  • Pour batter evenly into cake pans.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through.

LEMON BUTTERCREAM
3 cups unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3 teaspoons FRESH lemon juice
3-6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Lemons, thinly sliced for toppings (see notes)

  • Using a standing mixer, cream together ALL of the ingredients until stiff and smooth peaks form.
  • Slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface.
  • Place 1 cake layer on your serving plate.
  • Evenly cover the top with about 1 cup of frosting.
  • Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with another cup of frosting.
  • Top with the third cake layer.
  • Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides.
  • Scoop remaining frosting into a large piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe dollops all over the cake.
  • Pipe larger dollops of frosting onto the top of the cake. (see notes)
  • Place the sliced lemons in between the larger dollops

CANDIED LEMON SLICES
Candied Lemons are super EASY to make!

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons FRESH lemon juice
2-3 lemons sliced to 1/8-inch thickness

  • In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer and add lemon slices in a single layer.


  • Simmer over medium-low for 15 minutes, gently flipping once or twice during the cooking process.


  • Transfer the lemon slices to a wire cooling rack or waxed paper and let cool.

 Let the candied lemons sit at room temperature for up to 24 hours before storing in an air-tight container.

NOTES:

  • When you have time, candy some lemons for decorations as an extra treat!
  • You can save any additional frosting for another use if you don’t want to do a bunch of extra decorating.
  • For a simply iced cake, sheet cake or cup cakes cut this recipe in half.

SAMOA CHEESECAKE

It’s girl scout cookie season or at least it was when I made this cheesecake, not so much when I actually posted it. 😀 I have never seen a girl scout selling cookies here in this area though – not even sure there are any troops. 🙁 I do miss that! Since we can’t buy them, why not make our favorite flavor cookie into a RICH, CREAMY and YUMMY cheesecake? BEST OF BOTH WORLDS!!!!

SAMOA CHEESECAKE
40 chocolate wafer cookies
1/4 cup butter, melted
32 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 LARGE eggs
8 ounces FULL fat sour cream
1/4 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon coconut extract
3/4 cup caramel sauce
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup chocolate sauce

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Fill a roasting pan halfway with water and place on lower rack of oven.
  • Use a food processor to crumble the chocolate wafer cookies.
  • Wrap a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan with a double layer of heavy duty foil.
  • Spray the inside of the spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Mix together the cookie crumbs and melted butter until well blended.
  • Press crumb mixture into the spring form pan and 1 inch up the side of the pan.
  • Chill 10 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl at medium speed cream the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy.
  • Lower speed to low and add eggs, sour cream, flour and coconut extract for one minute JUST until blended.
  • Pour into chilled spring form pan.
  • Bake on center rack 1 hour and 10 minutes until center jiggles only slightly.
  • Run a knife around the outer edge to loosed the cake.
  • Let cool COMPLETELY on a wire rack.
  • Cover with saran wrap and chill AT LEAST 8 hours or overnight.
  • JUST before serving transfer to a serving plate.
  • Spread the caramel sauce over the top of the cake.
  • Sprinkle with coconut.
  • Drizzle with chocolate sauce.

CRANRASPBERRY APPLE SLAB PIE

This is the BEST recipe for the upcoming fall season. I made it last year for both Thanksgiving AND Christmas!! And I will again this year it was so good 😀

CRANRASPBERRY APPLE SLAB PIE
DOUGH (ingredients for single crust, but you’ll need 2!!)
2 1/2 cups AP flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup COLD butter
1/2 cup COLD crisco stick
1 LARGE egg yolk
1/4 cup COLD vodka**

  • Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
  • Grate the butter and shortening into flour mixture.
  • Using a pastry cutter make a crumbly mixture.
  • Whisk egg into vodka.
  • Gradually add egg mixture into flour mixture, tossing with a fork until dough holds together when pressed, adding more cold vodka or cold water as necessary.
  • Shape dough into a disk, wrap with saran and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Repeat the steps above for a second crust.

**NOTE: Vodka while being liquid will also evaporate as it bakes leaving a flakier crust.

FILLING
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup AP flour
7 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced thin (about 8 cups)
3 cups FRESH cranberries
1 tablespoon FRESH orange zest
2 teaspoons FRESH grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons QUALITY cinnamon
6 cups FRESH or frozen raspberries
EGG WASH

  • Roll out 1st disk of dough between 2 sheets of wax paper 13×18 inches.
  • Remove top sheet of wax paper.
  • Turn a 15×10 inch baking sheet upside down on the crust.
  • Using the wax paper lift carefully inverting crust into pan.
  • Remove wax paper and press crust onto bottom and up sides of the pan.
  • Allow to chill while preparing filling.

 

  • In a LARGE saute pan whisk together the flour and sugar.
  • Fold in apples, cranberries, orange zest, nutmeg and cinnamon.
  • Bring to a SLOW boil over medium high heat.
  • Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes until apples are tender and juices are thickened.
  • Remove from heat and stir in raspberries.
  • Cool mixture.

 

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Add cooled filling to prepared crust.
  • On a floured surface roll out the remaining dough disk into a 1/8 inch rectangle.
  • Cut and decorate as desired into strips or shapes to decorate the top.
  • Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  • Bake 45 minutes on the lowest rack until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
  • Cool on wire rack.

NOTE: You can change up the pie’s top crust with fall themed shapes or braids or basket weave. Sprinkle with granulated sugar to add a crunch and glisten to the crust.

PUMPKIN PECAN BUTTER CAKE with CARAMEL SAUCE & CINNAMON PECANS

PUMPKIN PECAN BUTTER CAKE with CARAMEL SAUCE & CINNAMON PECANS
CAKE BOTTOM 
1 Betty Crocker SuperMoist BUTTER PECAN cake mix
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 LARGE Egg

  • Preheat oven to 350°. 
  • Line the bottom of your 10 inch spring form pan with parchment paper. I cut a square sheet and close it into the seam of the bottom with the latch and then trim into a circle. Lightly spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray.  
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, melted butter and egg until well blended.
  • Press batter into the bottom of your spring form pan.

FILLING 
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
15 ounce can pumpkin puree
8 tablespoons UNSALTED butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1/2 teaspoon orange peel 
3 LARGE eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Caramel sauce (recipe below) 
Candied pecans (I used Fisher’s Cinnamon Pecans) 
Kraft Caramel Balls 
Smucker’s Pineapple Sauce, slightly warmed (optional)

  • In a large mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.
  • Add melted butter, vanilla and eggs, beating until well combined.
  • Fold in powdered sugar, orange peel and pumpkin pie spice until just mixed. 
  • Pour batter over cake base and smooth even.
  • Bake 60-75 minutes until cake is set and top is only slightly wobbly (similar to a cheesecake consistency)
  • COOL COMPLETELY on a wire rack BEFORE removing the pan.
  • Serve sliced with Caramel sauce, pineapple sauce, caramel balls and pecans. 

NOTE: You can use a 9×13 pan, but, YOU WILL NEED LESS BAKING TIME!

CARAMEL SAUCE 
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
2+ tablespoons water
  • Combine the cream and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. 
  • Remove from the heat. 
  • In a medium saucepan cook the corn syrup over a medium heat until bubbly. 
  • Fold in 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue to cook until the edges begin to turn a light amber color. 
  • Add in 1/4 cup sugar more and repeat until all the sugar is blended in. 
  • Continue cooking until amber color darkens stirring constantly. 
  • Remove from the heat and carefully fold in the cream mixture.
  • Cook over medium heat stirring frequently until caramel is bubbling. 
  • Serve warm. 
  • Makes 1 1/2 cups. 

Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Microwave 20-30 seconds to soften refrigerated caramel before serving. 

RASPBERRY RICOTTA ALMOND CAKE

I took a Ricotta cheese making class several months ago at a local winery, Joseph Jane. It was a wonderful night that culminated in this cake after a tasty lasagna meal. I also discovered my new favorite wine, Pink Panik.

RASPBERRY RICOTTA ALMOND CAKE
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 LARGE eggs
16 ounce container of FULL fat ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups raspberries, plus a few for garnish
1/4 cup sliced almonds

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 9 inch spring form pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Whisk together the eggs, ricotta cheese and vanilla until smooth.
  • Stir egg mixture into the dry mixture.
  • Fold in cooled melted butter until smooth.
  • GENTLY fold in raspberries.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Scatter the almonds and remaining berries over the top of the batter.
  • Bake 50 minutes or until golden brown and center is cooked through.
  • Let cool 20 minutes BEFORE unmolding.

Honestly making your own ricotta is easy, but ALSO time consuming and in my opinion not really worth the trouble when there are so many less expensive options. That said, if you really want to give it a try, here’s the recipe. The original recipe came from Career Girl Meets.

You will need some cheesecloth and a candy thermometer for special equipment.

1 gallon WHOLE milk
1 quart buttermilk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt

  • In a LARGE pot stir together the above ingredients.
  • Clip a candy thermometer to the pot. This is a crucial step as you are looking for an exact 195°.
  • Cook over low to medium heat and stir liquid occasionally. You will begin to see the milk separate and the curd form.
  • When the temperature reaches 195°, REMOVE the pot from the heat and let it sit for 35 minutes. DO NOT STIR DURING THIS TIME.
  • Line a colander with three layers of damp cheesecloth.
  • Place colander over a large bowl. This bowl will catch the excess whey as it drains.
  • Pour the cooled curds into the colander.
  • Use a spatula and GENTLY stir the ricotta to drain the whey from the cheese.
  • Wrap the cheese in the cheesecloth and GENTLY squeeze to allow the excess whey to drain.
  • Place the cheese in the refrigerator for several hours.
  • After several hours, unwrap the cheese and discard the cheesecloth.
  • Keep refrigerated.

RECIPE REVIEW
TASTE: Just sweet enough, but not overly sweet.
TEXTURE: Tender crust with a pop of berry here and there and crunchy almonds.
EASE: Easy to hard – depending on whether you make your own ricotta cheese.
APPEARANCE: Appetizing and visually appealing.
PROS: Great meal for company.
CONS: None that I found!
WOULD I MAKE THIS AGAIN? DEFINITELY Yes. BUT, I would use store bought ricotta for the ease.

SHORT CUT APPLE PIE CUPCAKES

SHORT CUT APPLE PIE CUPCAKES

yields 24 cupcakes PREP 15 minutes COOK 15 minutes TOTAL 30 minutes

A fun and easy apple pie cupcake recipe made with a spicy cinnamon roll dough, spicy apples and a sweet crumble topping. Is there anything better than the sweet smell of an apple pie baking? I think not.

APPLE FILLING
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced in to 1/4-inch cubes
6 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons QUALITY ground cinnamon (I use red ape)
3/4 teaspoon FRESH ground nutmeg
SCANT 1 teaspoon salt
Juice from LARGE lemon

  • Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the diced apples and cook 5 minutes or so, tossing occasionally, until they start to soften.
  • Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and the salt.
  • Cook 5 more minutes, or until tender.
  • Stir in lemon juice.
  • Set aside.

CRUMBLE
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup WONDRA
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon
1 teaspoon FRESH grated nutmeg

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

  • Add the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts to a medium bowl.
  • Grate the butter with a cheese grater over the bowl.
  • With a pastry cutter work the butter in until crumbly.
  • Set aside.

CUPCAKES & ASSEMBLY
3 cans (8 count) refrigerated cinnamon roll dough (store bought or home made is up to you!)

  • Heat oven to 400°.
  • LIGHTLY spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
  • Separate cinnamon roll dough into 24 rolls.
  • Flatten each into 4-inch round then place into each muffin cup so it comes up the sides evenly.
  • Divide the cooled apple filling mixture evenly into muffin cups.
  • Top with the crumble topping.

  • Bake the cupcakes 15 minutes or until bubbly and tops are light brown.
  • Cool in the pan 5 minutes then transfer to a cooking rack.

TOPPING – your choice – store bought or home made is up to you!
Whipped cream
Ice cream
Caramel sauce drizzle

  • Serve the cupcakes with topping of choice.

BUTTERMILK FUDGE BROWNIE CAKES

BUTTERMILK FUDGE BROWNIE CAKES
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Grease 13×9 inch baking pan.
  • In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  • In a 2 quart saucepan combine water, butter and cocoa powder bring it JUST to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  • Add cocoa mixture to flour mixture, beating on medium until thoroughly combined.
  • Add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla, beating 1 minute more. Your batter will be thin and that’s okay.
  • Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake 25-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
  • Pour warm frosting over brownies, spreading evenly.
  • Cool at least one hour before cutting into bars.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERMILK FROSTING
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons buttermilk
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped roasted walnuts or pecans, optional

  • Combine the ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring JUST to boiling.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until smooth.
  • Topped with roasted nut of choice if desired.

LIMONCELLO CAKE

LIMONCELLO CAKE adapted from MOM ON TIMEOUT

This is a SUPER MOIST cake full of lemony flavor that is PERFECT for everything from a breakfast treat, afternoon snack or an elegant dessert!

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup avocado oil
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons homemade limoncello or lemon vodka
1 cup FULL fat sour cream at room temperature
2 LARGE eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 drops yellow food coloring

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Spray a 9×5 loaf pan or decorative rounds with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, granulated sugar, sour cream, limoncello, lemon zest, eggs, lemon extract, vanilla extract and food coloring, whisking together just until combined. Be careful not to over mix.

  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth top.

  • Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs. If using decorative rounds you’ll need to adjust your baking time accordingly.
  • Let the cake rest in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully removing and transferring to a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool completely before adding the glaze.

LIMONCELLO GLAZE
1 cup powdered sugar sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons limoncello

  • Whisk the powdered sugar and limoncello together until no lumps remain. If it’s too thin add additional powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. If it is too thick add a bit more Limoncello, a teaspoon at a time.)

  • Drizzle glaze over the top of the cooled cake. Let the glaze set up before slicing and serving.


HOMEMADE LIMONCELLO
10 LEMONS, washed
1 770 ML bottle of VODKA (brand of your choice)
3 cups water
2 cups sugar

  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peels from the lemons in long strips. Reserve the lemons for another use. If any of the peels still have pith on them use a sharp knife to remove and discard the pith.
  • Place peels in a 2 quart pitcher or bowl.
  • Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with saran.
  • Steep the peels for 4 days at room temperature undisturbed.
  • Add the water and sugar to a large saucepan over medium heat, whisking 5 minutes until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Cool completely.
  • Pour the syrup over the vodka mixture.
  • Recover and let stand overnight at room temperature.
  • Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer, discarding the peels.
  • Transfer the Limoncello to your bottle.
  • Seal and refrigerate until cold.
  • Keep refrigerated up to a month.

ORANGE RASPBERRY BUTTER CAKE

ORANGE RASPBERRY BUTTER CAKE Yield 2 9inch layers, 12-16 serving(s)
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 LARGE eggs
3 LARGE egg yolks
1 tablespoon PURE vanilla
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup WHOLE milk
1/4 cup orange liqueur (raspberry liqueur or rum also work well)

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  • In mixer bowl, on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar 4-5 minutes until fluffy.
  • Add eggs, then yolks, one a time, beating well after each, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.
  • Beat in vanilla.
  • In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Mix in about a third of flour mixture into butter mixture.
  • Stir in half the milk and liqueur, just until blended.
  • Stir in another third of flour mixture,.
  • Add the remaining milk and liqueur and then the rest of the flour mixture.
  • Spread batter equally into the cake pans.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool on racks in pans for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks and remove pans.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

NOTE: This cake is good with or without frosting or glaze.

ZEBRA CAKE

While this recipe didn’t turn out exactly as planned, the flavor was amazing so we will be trying again for a better stripe and a better picture. 😀

ZEBRA CAKE

VANILLA LAYER
2 ¾ cups cake flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened to room temperature
⅔ cup avocado oil
¾ cup whole milk, room temperature
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
6 LARGE or EXTRA LARGE egg whites, room temperature

  • In a stand mixer sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until thoroughly combined.
  • Turn your mixer to low speed and add butter, one tablespoon at a time, not adding the next tablespoon until the first is completely incorporated. When you’re finished, the mixture should resemble coarse sandy crumbs.
  • Add oil and stir until combined.
  • In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, sour cream, and vanilla extract and stir into batter until thoroughly incorporated.
  • In a separate clean, dry, chilled and grease-free bowl use clean beaters to beat egg whites to stiff peaks.
  • Use a spatula to gently fold egg whites into batter – DO NOT OVER MIX, but make sure there are no lumps of egg white remaining either.
  • Portion 3 cups of batter into a separate bowl. You’ll be left with 5 cups in the first bowl that will be used to make into the chocolate batter.

CHOCOLATE LAYER
scant ¼ cup dark cocoa powder
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • In a large measuring cup, stir together hot water and cocoa powder – it will be thick!
  • Add sour cream and sugar, whisking until well combined.
  • Stir into the smaller bowl of batter and use a spatula to carefully stir together until completely combined

BAKING ASSEMBLY

  • Preheat your oven to 350°.
  • Prepare two 8 inch round cake pans AT LEAST 2” deep by lining each of the bottoms with a round of parchment paper and generously spraying the sides with baking spray.
  • Dollop approximately ⅓ cup of white batter into the center of each of your prepared cake pans.
  • Using a clean scoop, scoop just shy of ⅓ cup of chocolate batter and drop that directly onto the center of the white batter.
  • Repeat, alternating batter flavors, until you have used all of the batter.
  • Take a reasonable amount of care so that your white batter doesn’t touch another ring of white batter nor does a ring of chocolate overlap with any of the other chocolate batter, this will keep your stripes looking like stripes and not like marbled swirls.
  • Carefully transfer pans to oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs.
  • Allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes then run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen from the sides (if needed) and carefully invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • If needed, carefully level the cakes with a sharp serrated knife once completely cooled.
  • Decorate.

NOTES:

  • THIRD STRIPE If you would like a 3rd color stripe make a half batch of the vanilla cake and add food coloring accordingly. You’ll also need to use 9 inch pans. If making it a red strip I use a half portion of my red velvet cake recipe.
  • CAKE FLOUR I recommend cake flour for two reasons with this cake: 1) it has a lighter texture and when you use all-purpose flour the cake ends up a bit heavier and tends to sink in on itself a little bit. 2) it produces a finer crumb, which makes the stripes even bolder and more defined.
  • VANILLA EXTRACT you may substitute regular vanilla extract, but clear extract helps to keep the cake batter pure white.
  • COCOA POWDER I use “special dark” cocoa powder because it makes the zebra stripes darker and closer to black, but you may substitute natural cocoa powder.

RED VELVET CAKE
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon QUALITY cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups avocado oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 LARGE eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons QUALITY red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Lightly oil and flour three 9 by 1 1/2-inch round cake pans.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
  • Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans.
  • Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart.
  • Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans.
  • Invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.

FINAL ASSEMBLY

  • Place 1st layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand.
  • Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread 1/4 to 1/2 inch layer of the frosting over the top of the cake.
  • Carefully set second layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat.

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM (not as sweet as an American buttercream)
Yield: 5 cups

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is not as sweet as American buttercream which makes it PURE perfection in my book because it’s the ideal balance of sweet AND creamy, without being as sugary as American buttercream, but still as thick and pipe-able.

6 LARGE FRESH egg whites (approximately 230g)
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 350g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces and softened but still cool *see note*
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

  • Separate the eggs one at a time into a small bowl before placing them in a heat proof bowl.
  • Whisk sugar into the egg whites, then set the bowl over a saucepan filled with just two inches of simmering water over medium heat. Do not let the bottom of the egg whites bowl touch the water.
  • Whisk the egg whites and sugar together 4-5 minutes until sugar is COMPLETELY dissolved and the mixture has thinned out. (The mixture will be thick and tacky at first and then thin out and be frothy white on top.) To test that it’s ready, use your finger. Lightly and quickly dip your finger into the mixture (BE CAREFUL it will be very hot) and rub the mixture between your thumb and finger. You shouldn’t feel any sugar granules. OR use an instant read thermometer – the temperature should read 160°F (71°C).
  • Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment while it’s still warm.
  • Beat on medium high speed 10-15 minutes until stiff glossy peaks form and the meringue is no longer warm to the touch. This will take a few minutes more on particularly humid days. MOISTURE IN THE MAKES A DIFFERENCE. If it’s still not reaching stiff peaks, stop the mixer, place the uncovered bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, then return to the mixer and continue beating until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. You can put it in the refrigerator for a couple minutes if needed. If it’s too warm, the butter will melt instead of blend.
  • Switch to the paddle attachment.
  • On medium-high speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Wait for the butter to fully mix in before adding the next tablespoon.
  • Add the vanilla, salt and flavor if using beating 30 seconds until completely incorporated. It should be thick, creamy and silky smooth.

NOTES

TROUBLESHOOTING TOO THICK  If the meringue has separated, curdled, or is too thick at any point after you mix in all of the butter, place the mixture in your heat-proof bowl back over a pot of 2 inches of simmering water – DO NOT STIR. Let the edges of the meringue warm up 1-2 minutes and become liquid while the center of the meringue is still be solid. Remove from heat and return to the mixer. Beat meringue on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to medium-high speed and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

TROUBLESHOOTING TOO THIN If the meringue becomes too thin after you add the butter, place the entire bowl in the refrigerator for no more than 20 minutes at a time (any longer will make the butter solid) to cool down. Return it to the mixer and beat on medium-high speed until thickened.  If it’s still soupy, place back in the refrigerator again before re-whipping again.

EGG WHITES For best success use FRESH eggs. FUN FACT – eggs separate much easier when they’re cold. Be sure and separate the egg whites one at a time into a small bowl and then place the egg white into a large heat-proof mixing bowl, double boiler or the metal mixing bowl from your stand mixer before separating the next. This way, if a yolk breaks in one of them, you don’t waste the whole batch.

BUTTER This buttercream will become liquid-y (too thin) if the butter is too warm. Make sure you’re using butter that is slightly cooler than proper room temperature butter. Remove butter from the refrigerator and set it out for just 30-40 minutes before you need to add it to the meringue.

FLAVORS adding flavors can be tricky. Substituting extracts for the vanilla is one of the most fool proof ways.  Or even a teaspoon of espresso powder or frozen fruit powder. Taste, then add a touch more if desired. For potent extracts, like peppermint or almond use just 1/2 teaspoon. For chocolate, beat 8 ounces of PURE (like Baker’s OR Ghiradelli) melted and slightly cooled chocolate of choice into the buttercream at the same time you add the vanilla and salt.

COLORS If you are coloring use gel food coloring so it does not add any liquid.

HALVING OR DOUBLING If you halve the recipe the time to reach stiff peaks and cook time will be less. I DO NOT recommend doubling this recipe. If you need a double recipe make it in separate batches so you don’t overcrowd the bowls.

OR

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
juice of 1 LARGE lemon
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar

  • In a medium bowl beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  • Add lemon juice and vanilla. Beat until blended.
  • Add powdered sugar gradually until well blended and smooth and you reach desired consistency.
  • Ice first layer and then add 2nd cake top and ice again including sides of cake.
  • Refrigerate 1 hour to set icing before serving.

CHERRY CHEESECAKE BITES

These super simple and oh-so-scrumptious ‘cupcakes’ are quick and easy, but look and taste like they took you all day!! You can make the glaze as thick or thin as you like to change your look. I was trying for a new Easter recipe and I was looking for a new version of a hot cross bun 😀

Yields 24-26 cupcakes

CHERRY CHEESECAKE BITES adapted from REAL HOUSE MOMS

CRUST
1 1/2 cups ginger snap FINELY ground crumbs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 325°.
  • Line two regular sized muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  • In a small bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner.
  • Using a juice glass, press crumbs into an even packed layer.
  • Bake for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let rest while you make the filling.

FILLING
32 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 LARGE eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Beat cream cheese until fluffy.
  • Gradually add in sugar and mix until smooth.
  • Add eggs, one at a time.
  • Add vanilla and salt, mixing to combine.
  • Pour 3 1/2 tablespoons of the cheesecake filling into each cupcake liner.
  • Tap muffin tins on the counter to bring the bubbles up to the top and pop them with a toothpick.
  • Bake cheesecakes for 22 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.


TOPPING
8 ounces SMUCKERS tart cherry jam (or jam/preserves of choice)

1 cup powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract

  • Place 2 teaspoons of jam on top of each cheesecake where a little dip forms.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla until smooth. Vanilla glaze will be a little on the thick side, but should still drizzle off a spoon. Add more heavy cream as needed to reach your desired consistency.
  • Drizzle over cheesecake tops.

  • Chill for 2 to 4 hours.
  • Remove from liners and enjoy!