Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

I’ve been trying to find new and more exciting things to eat for my weekday breakfasts.  Nothing too involved, since I don’t have THAT much time in the morning.  But cereal and English muffins, though tasty, get old.  And I am always STARVING an hour later.  I started making this fruit and yogurt parfait to go with my English muffins.  The fruit and dairy add some nutritional value to the meal that keeps me full… at least until 10 am snack time.  Normally, the parfait on its own would suffice, but now that I have a baby boy growing inside me, I need to eat a little more in the mornings, so I’ll usually pair it with some toast or an English muffin.

There’s plenty of granola options out there (some are even chocolately!), and you can use whatever flavors of yogurt and any type of fruit you want!  My favorite for breakfast is vanilla yogurt with mixed berries.  When I’m trying to be good, fruit and yogurt parfaits are perfect for dessert.  Dannon makes a Chocolate Raspberry Light ‘n Fit Greek yogurt that I LOVE – using that in my parfait, plus some chocolatey granola or even a crushed up chocolate graham cracker is SO good, you’ll almost forget that you aren’t eating that giant slice of cake… (almost).

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Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

Active Prep: 5 min
TOTAL: 5 min

Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 c granola
  • 1/2 c berries

Directions:

  1. In a small glass, layer half of the yogurt, followed by half of the granola and berries. Repeat layers.  Garnish with additional fruit, if desired.

Mardi Gras King Cupcakes

Mardi Gras earlier this week!!!  I usually celebrate by eating all of my favorite sweets, since I pretty much always end up giving up sweets for Lent.  It was a good day to bring in these King Cake Cupcakes!  I am no Mardi Gras expert by any means, but I do know that the “King Cake” is traditionally a sweet and often colorful coffee cake.  A plastic baby (symbolizing baby Jesus) is hidden inside of the cake, and whoever gets the piece with the baby inside has good luck for a year… at least that’s the version I know of.  There are many different legends.  It’s a fun way to bring a little friendly competition into the workplace.  I decided to transform the idea into cupcakes – and boy were they great!

The cake is a moist cinnamon-swirl cupcake and is topped with a light and fluffy cream cheese frosting.  I tinted the frosting with the official colors of Mardi Gras (yellow, green, and purple), and decorated with colored sugar and sprinkles.  They were really fun and everyone at work enjoyed them!

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Mardi Gras King Cupcakes

Active Prep: 15 min
Cook time: 20-24 min
TOTAL: ~40 min, plus cooling and frosting

Ingredients:

 Cinnamon Cupcakes

  • ¼ c unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ c light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 c confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ c milk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

 Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12-count cupcake tin with cupcake liners and a second tin with 6 liners.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1.5 tsp cinnamon together. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture slowly, alternating with the milk. Mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Batter will be thick.
  5. Spoon batter into cupcake liners filling halfway full (~1/4 c of batter) and top with ~1 tsp cinnamon-butter mixture (allow to drip down sides). Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Frost as desired with cream cheese frosting (recipe follows).  Yields: 16-18 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until well-blended.
  2. Reduce speed to low and slowly add confectioner’s sugar, alternating with milk. Add vanilla and increase speed to medium-high, whipping until fluffy and well-combined.  Add additional milk or powdered sugar until you reach desired frosting consistency.

Decorating tips for Mardi Gras!

  • Tint your frosting with yellow, green, or purple (or all three!)
  • Garnish with plastic Mardi Gras beads or rings
  • Hide a plastic baby (symbolizing baby Jesus) in one of the cupcakes (NOTE: do this AFTER baking – just stick it into the baked cupcake, then frost).

Piña Colada Cupcakes

I’ve been reminiscing about the summer, the beach, and tropical vacations.  What I wouldn’t give to be lying on a beach somewhere, roasting in the sun, and sipping on a fruity drink with one of those cute little umbrellas in it!!!  Since that’s not quite possible right now, I’ll bring the beach into the kitchen.  How does a Piña Colada cupcake sound?

Let’s do ourselves a favor and combine the sweet, summer flavors of pineapple and coconut into cake-form and top with a creamy coconut frosting.  Top it with some sweetened shredded coconut and one of those cute umbrellas, and it’s almost like we’re on the beach… right?!

I hope this Piña Colada cupcake brings you a little taste of paradise as we continue waiting for the summer sun to arrive!

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Piña Colada Cupcakes

Active Prep:  15 min for cupcakes, 10 min for frosting
Bake time: 20 min
TOTAL: 35 min, plus cooling and frosting

Ingredients:

 Cupcakes

  • 1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ c granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 c canned coconut milk
  • 1/3 c pineapple juice
  • ¼ tsp coconut extract
  • 1 c pureed pineapple

Frosting

  • 1 c unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 Tbsp canned coconut milk
  • ¾ tsp coconut extract
  • 3 ½ c confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ c sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, pineapple juice, and coconut extract. With mixer on low speed, slowly add flour mixture, alternating with pineapple juice mixture until just combined.  Fold in pureed pineapple.  Do not over-mix.
  5. Add batter to prepared cupcake pan (~1/4 c of batter per cupcake). Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Frost with coconut buttercream as desired.
  6. Coconut Frosting: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add coconut milk and coconut extract.  Slowly add powdered sugar until combined, then increase speed to medium-high to whip together.  Add additional powdered sugar or coconut milk until you reach desired consistency.  Frost cupcakes as desired, then garnish with shredded coconut. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake for Two

SNOW DAY!!!  John and I BOTH got the day off today – do you know how rare it is for either of our work places to cancel?!  We are expecting about a foot of snow do fall today, so now we are stuck in one of the coziest situations I could imagine.  Just the two of us (plus Riddle), in our pajamas, with no place to go.  Even though I really don’t like the snow or the cold, there’s something about a snow day that is just so comforting!

We slept in (til 6:15!!) and decided that we deserved more than just a quick bowl of cereal or oatmeal to start the day.  Coffee cake sounded great to both of us, but I didn’t want to make a huge coffee cake that would end up going to waste in a few days.  So I went to my trusty America’s Test Kitchen The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook and found a recipe for a cinnamon pecan coffee cake – the perfect size for two people (or even four!).  We ate half of it this morning and will be able to have leftovers tomorrow.

This coffee cake is SO GOOD.  Nice and moist, plus a delicious crumbly topping.  I always like to add more cinnamon than coffee cake recipes call for – I feel like a good coffee cake should be loaded with cinnamon flavor.  I will be making this again very soon!  Thank you, America’s Test Kitchen, for yet another perfect recipe!  I tweaked it just a bit, but the basis of the recipe is all ATK!

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Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake for Two

Active Prep: 15 min
Bake time: 30 min
TOTAL: 45 min

Ingredients:

 Topping

  • 1 ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 c chopped pecans

Cake

  • ¾ c all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¼ c buttermilk
  • ¼ c granulated sugar
  • ¼ c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Grease a 6-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Using a pastry blender, combine all topping ingredients except pecans. Blend together until the mixture resembles sand.  Stir in pecans.
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, sugars, egg, and butter until combined.  Slowly fold in the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle topping evenly over the top.  Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and serve while still warm.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This week we found out if we are having a boy or a girl!  To reveal the news to our family, we decided to make a “gender reveal” cake.  We decided to make a chocolate cake (our favorite) with some of the most delicious cream cheese frosting to compliment it.  Blue or pink frosting would be on the inside, and the outside would be white frosting.  When we cut into the cake, it would be revealed whether we were having a boy or a girl!

The cake recipe is based strongly off of a Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe.  I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder to give it that extra dark flavor, and I used hot coffee instead of boiling water to bring out the cocoa flavor even more.  The result is a super moist cake packed with chocolately flavor.  The cream cheese frosting recipe is the perfect balance for this cake.  It’s not overly sweet, so it really compliments the chocolate cake.

So… was it a boy or a girl?!  Check out the photos below!  I added pink and blue sprinkles to the entire outside of the frosted cake to make it a bit more fun.  Enjoy! 🙂

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Dark Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Active Prep: 30 min
Bake time: 30-35 minutes
TOTAL: ~1 hr, plus cooling and frosting time

Dark Chocolate Cake

 Ingredients:

  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 ¾ c all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • ½ c vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c brewed hot coffee

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate small bowl, beat together eggs, milk, and vegetable oil.  Add to flour mixture and beat on low until just combined.
  3. Slowly stir in vanilla and coffee. Batter will be very thin.  Pour into prepared cake pans and bake at 350 °F for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove from cake pans and cool on wire racks completely. Frost as desired with cream cheese frosting (recipe follows).

Cream Cheese Frosting

 Ingredients:

  • 2 (8 oz each) blocks of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 lb confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ – ½ c milk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

 Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add softened butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium-high speed until combined and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to low and slowly add half of confectioner’s sugar. Add ¼ cup milk and vanilla, then continue adding the remaining sugar.  Add additional milk if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
  3. Scrape down sides of bowl and increase speed to medium high for 1 minute until well-combined. Frost cake as desired.

It’s a boy!!!

Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting

I don’t think I’ve posted a cupcake on this blog yet – HOW CAN THAT BE?!?  Cupcakes are my FAVORITE thing in the world to make (and eat!).  Making and decorating cupcakes is my favorite hobby.  I just can’t get enough!

I promised Lauren (my twin sis) that I would make her some Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes for her (our) birthday (yesterday!).  The thing is… pregnancy brain struck and I LITERALLY forgot to make them!  I had all the ingredients bought and ready to go, and I just completely blanked out and didn’t realize what day it was until I woke up yesterday and realized that the promised-cupcakes were still in ingredient-form!  OOPS!  So, I made them today to bring to her tomorrow. 🙂

These Chocolate Oreo cupcakes have a surprise Oreo baked on the bottom.  The chocolate cupcake recipe is adapted from one of my FAVORITE chocolate cupcake recipes from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  The frosting has a butter and cream cheese base, plus lots of crushed Oreos mixed in.  I hope she doesn’t mind getting a box of 11 – a baker’s dozen from me is 11, not 13 😉 (hey, the baker needs one, too!)

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Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes

Active Prep: 15 minutes
Bake time: 18-20 minutes
TOTAL:  ~35 minutes

YIELDS: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • ¾ c all-purpose flour
  • ½ c Hershey’ Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ c light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ c white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ c buttermilk
  • 12 Oreo sandwich cookies

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Prepare a cupcake tin with paper liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add brown sugar, white sugar, oil, and vegetable oil and mix on medium high with an electric beater until well-combined.
  4. Add half of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk, slowly folding in after each addition. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk.
  5. Place one Oreo cookie in the bottom of each cupcake liner. Add ¼ cup of batter to each liner.  Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, until toothpick in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.  Frost with Cookies and Cream Frosting and decorate as desired!

 

Cookies and Cream Frosting

Prep: 15 minutes

YIELDS: Frosts ~12-18 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 oz cream cheese (2 blocks), room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 c confectioners’ sugar
  • 6-8 Oreo cookies finely crushed (~1 cup)
  • 12 mini Oreo cookies, for decoration (optional)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and salt on medium-high speed until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
  2. With mixer on lowest setting, slowly add confectioners sugar. Once incorporated, increase speed to medium-high to blend well, about 1 minutes.  Reduce speed to low and add ¾ c of the Oreo crumbs.  Mix until combined.
  3. Frost cupcakes as desired. Garnish with mini Oreo cookies and remaining Oreo cookie crumbs.  Enjoy!

Marble Bundt Cake

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend!  This weekend I had the honor of celebrating my great aunt’s 94th birthday!  NINETY-FOUR!!  And she is just as lovely as ever.  She is more like a grandmother; in fact, my sisters and I call her just that – Grandma Blan.  That’s a story for another day, though. 🙂

Growing up, Grandma Blan would always bring over the most delicious and beautiful baked goods and confections – I think that’s part of the reason why I love baking so much!  She’s also send us care packages in college filled to the brim with all of her delicious treats!

For her birthday, I made a marble Bundt cake topped with a chocolate glaze.  It was good – moist and flavorful and not overly sweet (I tend to like things on the super-sugary side, but I know not everyone is into that so I figured I’d tone it down!).  I recommend serving this with some fresh whipped cream on the side for those of us who must have some type of frosting on their cake. 🙂

Special thanks to Foxy Folksy for the cake recipe!  Head on over to her blog for lots of other great recipes and DIY ideas!

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Marble Bundt Cake

Active Prep: 10 min
Bake time: 40-60 min
TOTAL: 50-60 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ c unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c buttermilk
  • 5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp boiling water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high setting until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla extract.  Beat well, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
  4. Turn mixer to low and slowly add half of the flour, followed by half of the buttermilk. Repeat until all of the flour and buttermilk has been added and mixed in.
  5. Take one-third of the batter and put it in a separate bowl. To this bowl, add the cocoa powder and 2 Tbsp boiling water and mix well.
  6. Alternating between the vanilla and chocolate batters, place dollops of batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Shake pan lightly and tap down to get batter to settle.  Use a knife to gentle cut through the batter a few times in different spots to create a marble affect – do not overdue this!
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes until done. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 min.  Invert directly onto serving plate.  Decorate as desired (chocolate fudge glaze recipe below).

 

Chocolate Fudge Glaze

 Ingredients:

  • 2 c confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 5-6 Tbsp water

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients. If needed, add additional water to achieve desired consistency.

 

Dark Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Buttercream


I finally had time to make John’s birthday cake!  I’m only 5 months late… sorry John!  Since this cake was SO long overdue, I decided it had to be the absolute BEST chocolate cake I could make, and nothing less!  It had to be moist, rich, and dark.  And big.  REALLY big… so I opted for four layers.  Did we really need a giant 4-layer cake for just the two of us?  Probably not… but now we have cake for daysss (and hey, no one is complaining!).

If you are a chocolate lover like me, you will absolutely love this recipe.  The cake recipe is one of my favorites, adapted from Deborah’s recipe over at Taste and Tell.  The frosting is made using the to-die-for Hershey’s recipe using Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder.  This cake will satisfy even the most intense chocolate cravings!  Enjoy!

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Dark Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Buttercream

Active Prep: cake – 20 mins; frosting – 10 mins
Bake time: 30-35 minutes
TOTAL: ~1 hour, plus cooling and decorating

Dark Chocolate Cake

 Ingredients:

– 3 ½ c all-purpose flour
– 1 ½ c Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
– 1 Tbsp baking soda
– 1 Tbsp baking powder
– ½ Tbsp salt
– 4 c white sugar
– 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
– 2 c milk, at room temperature
– 4 large eggs, at room temperature
– 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
– 1 ½ cups hot coffee

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Line four 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. (*Be sure to sift the cocoa powder or your batter may end up with unmixed chunks of cocoa powder in it – not tasty to bite into!)
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until combined. Add the milk and then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Slowly stir in the flour mixture.
  4. Once combined, add the hot coffee and mix slowly until just combined. Batter will be thin.
  5. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans and bake at 350 °F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Leave cakes in pans for ~15 minutes, then turn them onto cooling racks to let cool. Frost and decorate as desired.

 

Dark Chocolate Buttercream

 Ingredients:

– 2 1/2 c (5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
– 3 1/3 c Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
– 15 c confectioner’s sugar
– 1 2/3 c milk
– 1 ½ Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the melted butter and cocoa powder. Stir on low until combined.
  2. With mixer on medium speed, add confectioner’s sugar and milk a little at a time, alternating between the two. Add vanilla.  Turn mixer up to medium-high for 5-10 seconds, until frosting is well-mixed.  Add additional sugar or milk depending upon the desired frosting consistency.  Frost cake as desired.  Makes ~10 cups frosting (enough for one 4-layer cake).