A friend and I are making the Cinco de Mayo dinner for the Eagles auxiliary on May 3rd and I have been experimenting with recipes for the dessert. These are dark chocolate cupcakes with a serious bite and are topped with a chili cream cheese frosting that has another back up bite.


1 box devil’s food chocolate cake mix
1 ½ – 2 teaspoons ground ancho chile pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon QUALITY cinnamon

1 ¼ cups water
⅓ cup vegetable oil
3 LARGE eggs

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • Whisk together the cake mix, ground ancho chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon.
  • Beat in water, oil and eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them 2/3 full.
  • Bake 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before frosting.

1 teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper
⅛ – ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
1 small, dried red chili, chopped after seeds removed (optional – if you dare)
4 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
½ teaspoon clear PURE vanilla extract, or to taste
24 small dried red chiles (optional)

  • Sift together the ground ancho chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon with the powdered sugar in a large bowl.
  • Beat in softened cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • Spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes in attractive swirls.
  • Poke a small dried chile, stem-side up, into frosting as a garnish if desired.


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.

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.


You’ll want to make the Lemon Curd and Candied Lemon slices first so they have time to chill and set up before you need them to assemble the cake.


1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch
6 tablespoons butter
3⁄4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks, beaten

  • In medium saucepan, mix together lemon zest, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 tablespoon cornstarch until smooth.
  • Add butter and sugar, bringing mixture to a SLOW boil over medium heat.
  • Boil for one minute, stirring constantly.
  • In small bowl, with a wire whisk, beat egg yolks until smooth.
  • Whisk in a small amount of the hot lemon mixture.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan, whisking well until well blended.
  • Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until thick DO NOT BOIL.
  • Pour mixture into medium bowl.
  • Cover with saran pressing so there is contact with the surface to prevent a skin from forming as it cools.
  • Cool to room temperature.
  • Refrigerate 3 hours.

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.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup butter
1 1⁄4 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1 cup milk

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Grease and flour two 8 inch round pans.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.


  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  • Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
  • Invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

2 tablespoons FRESH lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon curd
2 tablespoons WHOLE milk

  • Cream butter.
  • Add lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Gradually add in powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk until well blended.
  • Add lemon curd, blending until smooth.


  • With long serrated knife, split each cake layer in half horizontally, making 4 layers. THIS STEP IS OPTIONAL! I actually prefer just 2 layers most of the time. 😀
  • Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a serving plate.
  • Spread with half of the lemon filling.
  • Top with another layer, and spread with 1/2 cup frosting.
  • Press on final cake layer, and frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting.
  • Top with candied lemons.
  • Refrigerate cake until serving time.


1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional for greasing
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tablespoon flaked sea salt, plus more for garnish 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon FRESH ground nutmeg 
1 cup sugar OR monkfruit 
1 1/4 cups smashed overripe bananas
1/3 cup currants 
1/2 cup sour cream 
2 LARGE eggs
2 teaspoons homemade rum vanilla extract (see recipe below) OR PURE vanilla extract 
3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped 
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (OPTIONAL)

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg until well combined. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl soak the currants with the vanilla. Set aside.
  • Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream together until fully combined.
  • Add the bananas and mix another minute to make sure bananas are mashed thoroughly.
  • Add the sour cream and eggs.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until JUST combined. DO NOT OVER MIX!
  • Melt the chopped chocolate over a double boiler or microwave it in a glass or plastic bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring between intervals so the chocolate does not burn. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly.
  • In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup of the banana batter with the chocolate until well combined. Set aside.
  • Pour the banana batter into the prepared pan.
  • Pour the chocolate batter in the center of the batter and swirl throughout the batter with a spoon to create the marbling effect.
  • Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Allow the loaf to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer it from the pan to a cooling rack to continue cooling to room temperature.
  • Slice, sprinkle with flaked sea salt and a touch of chili powder.

Making your own vanilla extract is easy too.  Most recipes call for vodka, but I find flavored rums work really well to as do whiskeys. Just make sure to use a good qaulity brand for the smoothest flavor.

6 whole Vanilla Beans
1 cup QUALITY ALCOHOL (Rum is my favorite) of your choice

  • Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise with scissors or a knife, leaving a bit intact at the end just to make it pretty. Cut the beans down to fit the height of your jar.
  • Place beans in jar.
  • Cover with alcohol.
  • Screw the lid on tight or cork it and give it a good shake.
  • Place in a cool, dark place for at least 2 months. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor will be. Be sure and give the jar a shake every week or so.



Unsalted butter, for the pans
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 ½ pounds zucchini
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons QUALITY ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups light brown sugar
4 LARGE eggs
1 ⅓ cups avocado oil
¾ cups whole milk
1 ½ tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350º.
  • Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  • Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater, then wrap in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze dry.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger and cloves together in a large bowl.
  • In a second large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, eggs, oil, milk, fresh ginger, vanilla and grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  • Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans; smooth the tops with an offset spatula.
  • Bake the cakes until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  • Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  • Use a serrated knife to carefully cut each cake in half horizontally, making four layers. OPTIONAL!

24 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger, plus a few pieces sliced into thin strips, for garnish

  • Beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, beating until incorporated
  • Beat in the chopped crystallized ginger.

ASSEMBLY (NOTE: – most times I just make a 2 layer cake which really only needs half as much frosting)

  • Place a cake layer on a cake stand or platter.
  • Spoon a quarter of the frosting (about 1 1/2 cups) on top and smooth it evenly with an offset spatula.
  • Stack another cake layer on top; repeat with the frosting.
  • Continue with the remaining cake layers and frosting, leaving the sides of the cake bare. Top with the sliced crystallized ginger.


1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
3 2 3/4 cups + 2 scant tablespoons cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon CLEAR almond extract
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract powder
1 1/4 cups WHOLE milk, room temperature
2 ounces avocado oil

  • Preheat your oven to 335ºF.
  • Oil and flour two 8″ x 2″ cake pans or line 18 cupcake tins.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Whisk together milk, oil and extracts. Set aside.
  • Cream butter in a stand mixer until smooth.
  • Add sugar and whip 3-5 minutes on high until light and white.
  • Add in room temperature egg whites one at a time, letting each fully combine after each before adding the next.
  • Add in a third of the dry ingredients, combining well.
  • Add in half of the milk mixture, combining well.
  • Followed by another third of the dry, then the rest of the milk mixture and then the rest of your dry, mixing until just combined.
  • Add batter into prepared cake pans.
  • Bake at 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool ten minutes in pan and then turn out cakes onto a cooling rack for another 20 minutes.
  • Wrap cakes warm with saran and place into the freezer to flash chill to lock in the moisture.
  • Once cool, but NOT yet frozen, trim off the brown edges of your cakes and frost as desired.
  • Chill cake.

NOTE: Cake flour makes a much more tender cake, but you can substitute 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour. Cake flour and all purpose flour are NOT an exact substitution.

Everyone needs a good creamy, delicious frosting in the recipe file, but sometimes you need options. So here is a plain buttercream AND a cream cheese buttercream.

8 ounces egg whites (4-6 extra large eggs) room temperature
32 ounces (8 sticks) unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
32 oz unsalted butter room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon CLEAR vanilla extract

  • Whisk egg whites and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.
  • Whisk to combine on low then whisk on high, adding in your butter in small chunks, vanilla and salt. Turn mixer up to high and whip until light, fluffy and white.

4 ounces salted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
1 teaspoon of QUALITY, PURE Vanilla

  • Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a mixer until blended.
  • Add pinch of salt and powered sugar a cup at a time and continue to mix until sugar is WELL incorporated.



20 lemon or vanilla cream-filled sandwich style cookies I usually use OREO
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Finely crush cookies in food processor.
  • Add melted butter, blending until well combined.
  • Press mixture into the bottom of a 10″ springform pan and smooth it out.
  • Refrigerate the crust while you make the filling.

3 blocks (24 ounces) cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup FINE sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 LARGE eggs
3/4 cup – 2 VERY ripe bananas mashed
1/2 cup whipping cream

2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Wrap spring form pan with a double layer of foil and place in a deep baking dish or roaster.
  • Beat cream cheese with electric mixer until creamy.
  • Add sugar and cornstarch, blending well.
  • Add eggs one at a time, blending until incorporated before adding additional eggs.
  • Beat in bananas until well blended.
  • Add whipping cream and vanilla, blending until smooth.
  • Pour mixture into crust.
  • Fill roasting pan with hot water halfway up the side of the spring form pan.
  • Bake 15 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 300°.
  • Bake an additional 60-75 minutes, or until center is almost set.
  • Allow to cool COMPLETELY on cooling rack.
  • Before removing the pan ring, slide a knife around the edge of the cake to separate the cake from the pan cleanly.
  • Refrigerate cheesecake, uncovered, at least 6 hours.

FRESH whipped cream
Caramel Sauce
Fudge sauce
FRESH sliced banana

  • Serve with FRESH whipped cream, caramel sauce, fudge sauce and FRESH sliced bananas.

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.

NOTE: Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Microwave 20-30 seconds to soften before serving.

1/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
scant 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted & cooled
3 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons golden rum

  • In a medium saucepan blend together the water, corn syrup dissolving the sugar and cocoa into it until smooth.
  • Bring to a low boil.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until smooth.
  • Gradually add the coffee and rum until desired flavor and consistency is reached.
  • Serve warm.

NOTE: Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Microwave 20-30 seconds to soften before serving.


I have no excuse for NOT making this recipe sooner and hubby is really mad that I didn’t.  This is one of those recipes that you could make each and EVERY week and NEVER get tired of!!

4 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
1/3 + 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup (garnish) finely chopped walnuts
1/4-1/3 cup golden raisins

  • Separate eggs. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Lightly grease 15×10 jelly roll pan. Line with wax paper and grease the wax paper. Set aside.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and pinch of salt. Set aside.


  • Prepare the cream cheese filling. (SEE BELOW)
  • Spread filling in prepared pan. Set aside.


  • Preheat the oven to 375°.
  • In a small mixing bowl beat the egg yolks with the vanilla, beating about 5 minutes until thick and lemon colored.
  • Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar beating on high until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • With a spatula fold in banana and 1/2 cup nuts until well blended.
  • Thoroughly wash the beaters.


  • In a separate chilled clean bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • Gradually add the 1/2 cup sugar until STIFF peaks form.
  • Fold banana mixture into the egg whites GENTLY and JUST until combined.
  • GENTLY spoon batter over the filling in the pan and carefully spread evenly.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until cake springs back.
  • Immediately run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn cake out onto a cheesecloth sprinkled with powdered sugar.
  • Carefully peel off wax paper and discard.
  • Sprinkle with 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts and raisins.
  • Starting from the short side, roll cake into a spiral.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
  • Prepare icing.
  • Spread with cream cheese icing.
  • Sprinkle with finely chopped nuts.

8 + 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk

  • Combine softened cream cheese in mixing bowl with the sugar, beating until smooth.
  • Add egg and milk, beating until well blended.

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk

  • Combine cream cheese, almond extract and vanilla extract, beating until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually beat in the powdered sugar.
  • Add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time to reach a spreadable consistency.

NOTEThis icing recipe makes enough to cover the ENTIRE roll thickly.  If you just want a drizzle, cut the icing recipe in half!


Recently a friend and I were debating the flavorings I was going to use in an upcoming recipe and it led us to question a couple definitions, specifically for extracts and emulsions used in baking.

The main difference between emulsions and extracts are that the emulsions are water based and not alcohol based. Yet they can be substituted 1:1 in a recipe. So how do you choose which to use and when to use it when so many meet your flavor needs while cooking and baking?  Best answer: you should choose an emulsion when you’re concerned about the flavor baking out of a recipe. Because they are water-based, bakery emulsions don’t evaporate as quickly as extracts, resulting in stronger aromas and tastes.

EXTRACT – an extract is a preparation containing the active ingredient of a substance in a concentrated form such as vanilla extract used in many cakes and cookies.    SYNONYMS: distillation, distillate, concentrate, essence, juice

EMULSION – I found SEVERAL definitions for emulsions:

  • A system (such as fat in milk) consisting of a liquid dispersed with or without an emulsifier in an immiscible liquid – liquids not forming a homogeneous mixture when added together.
  • A fine dispersion of minute droplets of one liquid in another in which it is not soluble or miscible.

But for me the most accurate definition I think is:

  • a mixture that results when one liquid is added to another and is mixed with it but does not dissolve into such as mixing oil and vinegar together which produces an emulsion.

Extracts and Flavors are great for both cooking and baking applications. Most extracts and flavors contain 45% alcohol by volume and require sufficient cooking time to evaporate the alcohol.

Use an extract or flavor in cookies, cakes, brownies, muffins, and other baked goods. You can also use extracts and flavors in homemade chocolates and candies.

Bakery Emulsions are water-based and alcohol-free versions of extracts. Use them the same way you would an extract but they are also especially great for flavoring frostings and other no-bake applications.

Bakery Emulsions have the same strength as extracts, so they can be substituted one to one in recipes. But conversely because they are water-based, bakery emulsions aren’t suitable for flavoring hard candies or chocolates.

I like the brands Cook’s and Lorann’s extracts and emulsions because they are fairly readily available in most specialty grocers.

Making your own vanilla extract is easy too.  Most recipes call for vodka, but I find flavored rums work really well to as do whiskeys.


6 whole Vanilla Beans
1 cup ALCOHOL of your choice

  • Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise with scissors or a knife, leaving a bit intact at the end just to make it pretty. Cut the beans down to fit the height of your jar.
  • Place beans in jar.
  • Cover with alcohol.
  • Screw the lid on tight or cork it and give it a good shake.
  • Place in a cool, dark place for at least 2 months. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor will be. Be sure and give the jar a shake every week or so.

RED VELVET CUPCAKES just like my 5th Birthday Cake

RED VELVET CUPCAKES  Yields 12 delicious cupcakes

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup salted butter, firm but not cold – just beginning to soften
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon white vinegar

  • Preheat oven to 350˚.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda, set aside.
  • In a separate large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 4 -5 minutes.
  • Add in eggs one at a time stirring after each addition.
  • Now stand back and add red food coloring and vanilla extract and mix until combine.
  • In a small bowl combine milk and vinegar.
  • Add milk mixture and flour mixture to cupcake mixture, alternating in two separate batches, mixing until combined after each addition.
  • Divide batter evenly among 12 paper lined muffin cups, filling each cup about 2/3 full.
  • Bake in preheated oven 20-23 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool about 2 minutes in muffin tin, then transfer to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to an airtight container to cool completely (this just helps them retain more moisture).
  • Once cooled completely, spread generously with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup salted butter, firm but not cold (if using unsalted add 1/8 tsp salt)
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  • In a large mixing bowl, using and electric mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until pale and fluffy (about 1 minute on high speed, then 3-4 minutes on medium high speed).
  • Mix in vanilla extract.
  • Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
  • Frost and go wild – add nuts, sprinkles or cookie crumbs.


Every year for the past 17 years my cousin Jenn and I have each made a birthday cake for her sister, Michelle. It’s a tradition that we began to remember Michelle by.  You see she past away on April 22nd 17 years ago and we “buried” her on her actual birthday, the 25th. We’ve added June 15th for her mom and November 17th for my dad.  I don’t usually write about this, but for some reason this year I have the need to spell it out.

This is a simple recipe, but VERY adaptable to layer cake, cup cakes, sheet cake etc… and a family favorite.


1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 JUMBO eggs
2 cups buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons PURE vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

  • Grease and “flour” pans.  I use cocoa instead of flour so the coloring matches.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs and beat well.
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda.
  • Add alternately flour mixture, vanilla and buttermilk until well blended and smooth.
  • Pour into prepared pan(s).
  • Bake 20-50 minutes depending on pan until center springs back and toothpick comes out clean.

1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1/3 cup flaked coconut
2 cups powdered sugar

  • Cream together cream cheese and butter until fluffy.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Add coconut.
  • Add powdered sugar, beating until smooth.



This is one of the lightest and fluffiest cakes I have ever made. Almost burning the toasted coconut adds a complex layer of flavor and crunch.

4 ounces German Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup  water
4 eggs, separated
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon  baking soda
1/4 teaspoon  salt
1 cup  butter, softened
2 cups  sugar
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
1 cup  buttermilk

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Spray pan(s) with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after every 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  • Beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside. 
  • Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. 
  • Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. 
  • Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. 
  • Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. 
  • Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.
  • Add egg whites; stirring gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.
  • BAKE 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. 
  • Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. 
  • Cool cakes in pans 10-15 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1 +/- tablespoons milk
1 cup “burnt” toasted coconut
1/2 batch Caramel

  • Cream butter.
  • Add powdered sugar one cup at a time to the butter and bled well.
  • Add vanilla and stir until smooth.
  • Microwave chocolate on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after every 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
  • Add chocolate to sugar mixture, blending well.
  • Add milk until desired consistency.
  • Fold in 1/4 cup toasted coconut to icing.
  • Ice cake and top with remaining toasted coconut.
  • Just before serving pour a bit of warm Caramel on top,

**If making a 2-3 layers cake double the icing so you have enough for between layers and on the sides.