coca-cola cherry blossom cupcakes

With nostalgia for my Great Aunt Catherine (she loved the cherry blossoms), I made cupcakes. Of course, you could make these cupcakes from scratch, but in true Aunt Catherine form, I used box mixes! I have great memories of stopping at hot dog carts for a coke and a dog during my last trip with her to New York City. She was always on the move and liked to eat Chinese take-out while reading the paper.

White Cake Mix: substitute Coca-Cola for water, add 5 T Cherry JELL-O powder, follow box instructions.
Frosting: Cockylit is my go-to for Meringue, and I added about 2 t Cherry JELL-O Powder to her instructions.
Together: Cherry Vanilla Coke in a cake with a big dollop of pink sugary protein on top!

sweet st. paddy’s

Upon closer inspection of the baked goods I brought back to my hotel room, I realized they were appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day. Cupcakes: Dreamsicle | Pistachio. Whoopie Pies: Choco-Mint Chip | Bananas Foster. All from Flying Monkey. Wishing you the luck of the Irish and a reason to shout, “whoopie!”

teaberry teacakes

Last weekend while poking around antique stores and hardware stores in Noblesville, I spied Teaberry gum. I bought a pack (along with an Esquire cookbook from the fifties), and chewing it took me back in time. Every now and then when we were little, my mom would have a five-pack of Teaberry or Beeman’s gum in her purse that she would split with me and my sister.

Maybe it is the rosy color of the gum, but I have to remind myself that teaberry is actually wintergreen and not a fruit. These teacakes were inspired by that unassuming Teaberry flavor. I baked an old-fashioned white cake, cut out cylinders, sliced those in half, filled the middles with raspberry and coated them in wintergreen infused white chocolate. It may be a bit much for some, but they were cute lil’ cakes that would be nice at the end of a meal with an Americano or in the late afternoon with hot black tea.

P.S. Thanks to all who voted for my treat in the “So You Wanna Be a CakeSpy” contest. The results are in, and I don’t get to be a CakeSpy this time. It was sure fun being included in the list of finalists!

peanuts for payday

Sweet and nutty, YES. I must have copied this recipe out of an old church potluck cookbook, because I cannot find the source, and my penmanship is dated. I can’t be the only one with personal font phases. In any case, the PayDay bar seems to be the beginning in the progression of “energy” candy bars (followed by Baby Ruth, then maybe Snickers?). But it’s definitely dessert, and this bar recipe is all kinds of sweet, salty and easy.

Mix 1 box yellow cake mix, 1/3 c softened butter, 1 egg.
Press into an ungreased 9×13 pan.
Bake @ 350-degrees for about 12 minutes.

Toss 3 c mini mallows over the top and return to oven for 2 minutes.

Heat on low stovetop 2/3 c light corn syrup, 1/4 c butter, 2 c peanut butter chips till melty.
Mix in 2 c salted peanuts & 2 c Rice Krispies.

Spread over cake & mallow layers.
Cool & cut into squares.

desserts & installations


Just a few of my favorite things! I met up with my old college roommates and summer camp counselor friends in Grand Rapids Friday. It was the last weekend of ArtPrize 2011 filled with treats visually & gastronomically in good company. These desserts are from San Chez in downtown Grand Rapids, including Empanada de Chocolate (chocolate fudge filled pastry, dolce de leche ice cream, brandy caramel, raspberry sauce), Pastel de Queso de Cabra (vanilla goat cheese cheesecake with shortbread crust, lemon curd, blackberry caviar & pecan tuile), and Tarta de Chocolate al Whisky (whisky soaked cake, caramel pecan ice cream, brownie & white chocolate mousse), respectively. The dishroom didn’t have much work to do once we were finished.

bourbon spice pumpkin whoopie pies


Every year pumpkin season starts for me on September 27 when, to commemorate her birthday, my mom gets out the Libby’s and puts together two pumpkin pies to share. My sister’s family came to celebrate this weekend, so I hunted down my pumpkin whoopie pie recipe to make for our get together. I changed up the original recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking a bit with some bourbon, olive oil, allspice and extra cinnamon. The result was a less vanillan, more splendorous barrel spice pumpkin cake, sandwiching the lustrous cinnamon cream cheese sweetness. Looking forward to pie with Mom on Tuesday. Happy Fall!

Bourbon Spice Pumpkin Whoopie Pie Recipe (12 big ones or 24 lil’ ones)

Tops and Bottoms: 3 c all purpose flour / 1 t kosher salt / 1 t baking powder / 1 t baking soda / 2 T cinnamon / 1 T allspice / 1 T cloves / 2 c dark brown sugar / 1 c olive oil / 3 c chilled pumpkin purée / 2 large eggs / 1 t bourbon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper – important!

1. In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices together and set aside.  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the brown sugar and oil together until combined.  3. Add the pumpkin and combine thoroughly.  4. Add the eggs and bourbon until combined.  5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until combined.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto prepared baking sheets, about one inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you whip up the middle.

Middle: 3 c confectioners sugar / 2 t cinnamon / 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened / 8 oz cream cheese, softened / 1 t bourbon

1. Sift the confectioners sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  2. In separate bowl, beat the butter until it’s completely smooth.  3. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.  4. Add the confectioners sugar/cinnamon and bourbon and beat until smooth.

Assemble & Devour. Suggested beverage pairings: milk, Booker’s or Basil Hayden’s.

three is magical

My sister does such a good job at making occasions magical and so do her relatives.  She sewed my niece a new dress, Great Grandma made a special princess blanket and “Aunt Bef” sent her the sweetest fairy outfit that she had to change into right away.  Also ethereal was the surprise Oreo in the middle of that chocolate cupcake topped with raspberry marshmallow fluff buttercream frosting (another genius recipe from Everyday Food that was well executed).  What’s all the fuss?  This little girl inspires us all with her giant heart and zest for life.  She makes our lives magical by just being her.