Chocolate Coconut Cake

chocolate-cocount-cake

This single layer cake is the perfect size for smaller gatherings.  Using coconut oil in the cake batter is not only a healthier alternative, but adds coconut flavor to the cake. Brewed coffee brings out the flavor of the chocolate. If you prefer not to use shortening in the frosting, use 1 cup of butter.

For Valentine’s Day, I used a 9 inch heart shaped pan.

Chocolate Coconut Cake
Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup brewed coffee

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round or 8-inch square baking pan with baking spray (Pam) or butter and flour.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder until well combined.
  3. Add the egg, buttermilk, coconut oil and vanilla and beat until very smooth.
  4. Stir in the coffee. (The batter will be thin.)
  5. Pour into your prepared pan.
  6. Bake 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from pan to a cake platter, bottom side up.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup softened Butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

2 cups sweetened flake coconut

Using a hand mixer, whip butter and shortening in a medium bowl until creamy. Add confectioners sugar in 1/2 cup intervals and beat until smooth. Mix in vanilla and milk.

Spread evenly onto cake and sprinkle with coconut. Decorate as desired.

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Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

homemade-hostess-cupcakes

This has to be one of my most requested cupcakes. They not only look fun and fabulous, but taste so much better than the store-bought version. If you cannot find the brown wrappers in the store you can order them online.

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

For the cupcakes
Hershey’s Deep Dark Chocolate Cake recipe:
1 and 3/4 cup unsifted all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

For the filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup marshmallow creme
Transfer filling to a decorator squeeze bottle or piping bag fitted with a filling tip.

For the Ganache
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Heat chocolate and cream in a glass bowl over a pot of hot, but not boiling water until smooth.
Add butter and vanilla, cool slightly

For the Swirls
Following the package directions, carefully microwave a cup of Wilton White Candy Melts. Transfer to a decorating squeeze bottle.

Directions:
Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients except boiling water; beat at medium speed 2 minutes
Remove from mixer; stir in boiling water (batter will be thin)
Using a quarter cup measure or ice cream scoop, fill cupcake tin lined with brown wrappers, 3/4 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes; test with a toothpick
Remove from pans; cool completely. Fill cupcakes. Dip top of cupcake into the ganache, cool in refrigerator until set. Top with 7 swirls, by piping melted Wilton white candy coating from a decorator squeeze bottle.

Lemon Custard Cakes

lemon-custard-cakes

Lovely, light and lemony, these custard cakes will make you feel like spring has sprung; even on a dark and gloomy winter’s day.

Lemon Custard Cakes

a recipe from Martha Stewart

Serves 6

You will need:

Unsalted butter, room temperature, for custard cups

Six 6 ounce custard cups

3 large eggs, separated

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 to 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest, (1 lemon)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

To make:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a tea kettle of water to boil. Butter the custard cups and place them in a baking dish lined with a dish towel.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy; gradually whisk in flour, then lemon juice, then milk and zest.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Gently fold into lemon batter with a whisk (batter will be very thin).

Divide batter among prepared custard cups; place baking dish in oven and carefully fill with boiling water to about halfway up the sides of cups. Bake until puffed and lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. While still warm, dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

candy-cane-blossoms-2

This festive, vanilla version of the Candy Cane blossom will be a pretty, pepperminty addition to your cookie tray. Make this little beauty for your next cookie swap.

Candy Cane Kiss Cookies

adapted from hotbeautyhealth.com

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Candy Cane Kiss candies
  • 1/3 cup sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Unwrap kiss candies and chill in the refrigerator.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and peppermint extracts and egg and continue to beat for 2 more minutes.

In a separate bowl, add baking powder, flour, and salt and whisk together. Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture in 1/2 cup intervals and beat until well blended.  I use a 1 1/4 inch cookie scoop to form cookie balls. Roll in sanding sugar, place cookie dough on cookie sheets lined with a silpat or parchment paper.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and press a cold candy cane kiss into center of each cookie. Cookie will crack around edges and kiss will become soft. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before carefully moving to wire rack to completely cool until kiss hardens. Makes about 38 cookies.

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Zucchini Bread

zucchini-bread

An all time favorite that never gets old. Perfect at breakfast time or with afternoon tea.

Classic Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil or 1 cup applesauce
1 ½ cups sugar
3 medium zucchini, grated and well drained (2 cups)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Beat eggs lightly in a large bowl. Stir in oil (or applesauce) sugar, zucchini and vanilla.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt onto wax paper. Stir into egg mixture until well blended; stir in raisins and nuts. Spoon batter into two well greased 8 x 5 x 3 loaf pans or three 8 x 4 x 2 loaf pans.

Bake at 375 for 40 minutes for the 8 x 4 x 2 pans or 1 hour for the 8 x 5 x 3 pans (test with a toothpick). Remove from pans and cool completely.

Star Spangled Fruit Tart

Red White and Blue Fruit Tart

Perk up your 4th of July picnic with some patriotic flair. This easy, no bake fruit tart will wow your guests and leave them asking for more.

Star Spangled Fruit Tart

For the Crust:
Combine 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs with 4 tablespoons sugar and ½ cup melted butter. Press into 10 inch tart pan. If using a 9 inch pie plate, follow the directions on the graham cracker crumb box. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

For the Filling;
1 – 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1- 1 1/2 packages fresh blackberries (about 20 berries)
2 1/2 packages fresh raspberries (about 45 berries)

Directions:
Beat cream cheese at medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk. Add lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into cooled crust. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or until set. Once set, arrange fruit on top to resemble a flag. Pipe whipped cream in between rows of raspberries.

For the whipped cream:

Pour 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. (for best results, chill the bowl and the beater before using). Add 1 tablespoon sugar. Start on low and gradually increase speed to medium high. (8 on a KitchenAid stand mixer) The cream will start to thicken and soft peaks will form. Continue until the cream stands in stiff, sharp peaks. This only takes a few minutes; watch the cream closely and do not over whip.

Fudgey Oatmeal Bars

Fudgey Oatmeal Bars

Two all time favorites rolled into one. Layers of oatmeal cookie dough filled with semi-sweet, chocolate fudge. Chewy, chocolatey, decadent and delicious!

Fudgey Oatmeal Bars

(adapted from a recipe by Averie Cooks)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned whole-rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, for batter
half of one 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
about 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, for sprinkling

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, keeping a 2 inch over hang. Spray with Pam cooking spray and set aside.

  1. In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Whisk in cooled, melted butter until smooth. Add in oats and flour, stirring just until combined, being careful not to over mix.
  2. Use a spatula to spread 3 quarters of the batter out into pan to form a crust. Reserve remaining batter.
  3. Add 1 cup chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk to a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high in 30 second intervals until chips are melted. Stir to combine. Quickly pour and smooth chocolate mixture over crust (chocolate sets up quickly).
  4. Spoon remaining batter over chocolate and smooth out with a spatula. For soft bars, bake for 25 minutes, just until top is set. Topping will be pale in color. Baking until golden will result in crunchy bars.
  5. Remove from oven and top with 1/3 cup chocolate chips. Cool in pan for at least an hour. Lift out using foil overhang. When completely cooled, slice and serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Best Carrot Cake

A Flair for Fare

Carrot cake 2

I would have to say that Easter is my all-time favorite holiday. I have such fond childhood memories of getting all dressed up for a full morning at church, followed by a big family dinner and Easter egg hunt. Easter is especially beautiful in my hometown of Fairhope Alabama, and I miss the warm weather and blooming dogwood and azaleas.

I also love all of the baking that goes along with the holiday and one of my favorite Easter desserts is carrot cake. Whenever I bake a carrot cake I can’t but think of my red-haired, fun-loving, sister, Margie Faye.

I’m the youngest of 7 children in our family of 6 girls and 1 boy. All of my sisters are talented cooks and have inspired me in many ways, but especially when it comes to cooking and baking. All have their specialties, and I’m sure they’d all agree, the carrot…

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Sour Cream Lemon Pie

Sour Cream Lemon Pie

I love lemon in any fashion, be it in candy, cookies, bars or pie. This sour cream and lemon pie is so creamy and delicious; I used Meyer lemons for a sweeter, less tart lemon flavor, but using common Eureka lemons will make a pie that is just as delicious.

Sour Cream Lemon Pie

adapted from Inside NanaBread’s Head

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon lemon zest and 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup whole milk
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup sour cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
One 8″ pie shell

Directions:
Bake your pie crust and let it cool completely.

Add first five ingredients to a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until thick, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until well incorporated. Prepare a large bowl of ice and cold water large enough to hold the saucepan. Place saucepan in ice water, adding additional ice as needed. Stir occasionally until mixture cools completely. Whisk in the sour cream.

Pour into your pre-baked pie crust and refrigerate at least two hours.

Prior to serving prepare whipped cream and top pie as desired.

For the whipped cream topping:

Pour 2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. (for best results, chill the bowl and the beater before using). Add 2 tablespoons sugar. Start on low and gradually increase speed to medium high. (8 on a KitchenAid stand mixer) The cream will start to thicken and soft peaks will form. Continue until the cream stands in stiff, sharp peaks. This only takes a few minutes; watch the cream closely and do not over whip or you might end up with butter.  Add whipped cream to a piping bag with decorative tip and pipe decorative swirls onto the pie as you wish. I used a large Wilton tip. For best results, do not use ultra-pasteurized whipping cream.  I find that using a whipped cream stabilizer helps the whipped cream hold up longer.

Serves 8. Keep refrigerated.

Lemon Cream Pie 2

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Trying to decide the best way to describe this banana bread, and my husband says that YUM pretty much sums it up. As if perfectly moist, sweet, banana bread wasn’t yummy enough, adding peanut butter and chocolate chips takes it to a whole new level. Serve it slightly warm and enjoy every gooey, peanut buttery, chocolatey, banana bite!

Peanut Butter- Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1/3 cup melted butter
4 ripe mashed bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
3/4 cup Reese’s peanut butter chips
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a  9 x 5 loaf pan with cooking spray (Pam).

In a large mixing bowl, use a heavy duty spoon or spatula to combine butter with the mashed bananas. Fold in sugar, egg and vanilla. Add baking soda and salt and mix in. Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts, peanut butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Spread evenly in loaf pan,  Bake for 50 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then remove and move to a wire rack. Slice while still slightly warm and enjoy!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Banana Bread 2

Double Coconut Cream Pie

I find anything made with coconut to be simply irrestisible. This pie reminds me of the coconut pudding pies my Mother made during the holidays. Crowned with an old fashioned meringue topping, the custard is made using cream of coconut  which puts this sweet, creamy dessert over the top.

Double Coconut Cream Pie

from Better Homes and Garden Magazine

For the filling you will need:
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups milk
3/4 cup cream of coconut
3 beaten eggs
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup flaked coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla

1 baked pie shell

For the meringue you will need:
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flaked coconut

Separate 3 eggs and bring egg whites to room temperature for 30 minutes.

Prepare and bake pie shell.

Make filling. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in milk and cream of coconut. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.
Temper the egg yolks by stirring in about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks. This prevents the eggs from cooking when they meet the hot milk mixture. Add back to the saucepan.
Continue cooking and stirring until bubbly. Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter and mix until melted. Mix in 1 cup coconut and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Pour hot filling into baked pastry shell.

Make meringue. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cream of tartar on medium speed of an electric mixer until soft peaks form and tips curl. Gradually add in 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Top filling with meringue and spread evenly, sealing edges. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons coconut. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Cool for 1 hour on a wire rack. Cover and chill 3 to 6 hours before serving. Makes 8 servings.

Note: if you can’t find Cream of Coconut in the baking aisle, check the liquor section of your store.

Cream of coconut pie2

Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies

This pressed cookie is a Christmas classic. Beautifully delicate, buttery, melt in your mouth deliciousness. Use a variety of disks for an impressive display on your cookie tray.

The following recipe came with my 70’s WearEver Super Shooter cookie gun. How’s that for a blast from the past? That was a fun toy for many years but it is long gone and a traditional cookie press has taken it’s place.

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Using a stand mixer, beat butter, gradually adding sugar until light and fluffy. About 5 minutes.

Add egg yolks, vanilla and salt and beat well.

Add flour in 3 additions, mixing well after each addition. Dough will be stiff.

Fill cookie press, following manufacturers directions, using desired disk.  Press onto cold, clean cookie sheet. Do not use non stick pans, parchment or a silpat; the dough will not stick.  Space cookies about 2 inches apart.  Decorate with candied fruits, nuts or sprinkles.

Bake 8 minutes or just until edges start to turn a light golden brown. Let cool on pan for several minutes, then carefully remove. Complete cooling on a wire rack.

Makes 6-7 dozen cookies.

Spritz Cookies 2

Gingerbread Cookie Bars

Gingerbread Cookie Bars

No time for cutouts? Here’s a delicious alternative that will surely satisfy your gingerbread cravings.  And even better, it’s slathered with a dreamy, orange, cream cheese frosting. These bars are moist and chewy and quite tasty on their own, but that tangy topping really makes them rock.

Gingerbread Cookie Bars

adapted from SixSistersStuff.com

Cookie Bars

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ⅓ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with Pam cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, cream melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and molasses.
  4. Add egg and beat until completely incorporated.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl, add baking soda, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt and mix until well combined. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 additions. Mix well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  6. Press dough evenly into the bottom of prepared pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Do not over bake.  Cool completely in pan.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Cream butter and cream cheese together in a large mixing bowl. Add powdered sugar, juice, zest  and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.
  2. Spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cooled Gingerbread. Garnish as desired with colored sugar, cinnamon or nutmeg. I used Wilton Royal Icing decorations.
  3. Cut into squares. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 1/2 hour before serving.

Easy Chocolate Fudge

Easy Chocolate Fudge

You won’t find a quicker, easier way to make the perfect fudge than with this recipe from Eagle Brand. So creamy, with just the right amount of sweetness. I like to add walnuts for that added crunch.

Easy Chocolate Fudge

from EagleBrand.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (18 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Dash salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  • Line a 9-inch pan with  aluminum foil, leaving a 1 to 2 inch overhang. Butter the foil.
  • Melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and nuts. Spread evenly in prepared pan.
  • Chill for 1 to 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan by lifting edges of foil; remove foil and cut into squares. Store is a tightly covered container.

Candy Cane Blossoms

Candy Cane Blossoms

This variation of the blossom cookie is made super easy with a devil’s food cake mix that’s rolled in powdered sugar for a crinkle effect.

Moist and chewy with that refreshing pop of peppermint, you’ll love this fabulously, festive holiday treat.

Candy Cane Blossoms

adapted from YourCupofCake

You will need:

1 box  Pillsbury devil’s food cake mix

2 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

26 Hershey Candy Cane Kisses

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

To Make:

Unwrap candy cane kisses, place in a single layer on a plate then place in the freezer.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with a silpat or parchment paper.

Using a hand or stand mixer, combine eggs and oil with cake mix until well blended.

I use a 1 1/4 inch cookie scoop to form cookie balls. Roll balls in confectioners sugar.

Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bake for 7 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes then press candy cane kiss into center of cookie.

Move to wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an air tight container. Makes 26 cookies.

Candy Cane Blossoms 2