Tag Archives: cake

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (and a story about burnout)

Hi. Is anybody still here?

I’ve been a little MIA recently, owing mostly to the burnout I’ve been rocketing toward for the last year. It happened gradually—I went down to one post a week in February, quit posting to social media in June, didn’t do anything blog-related during my vacation in August, then took three more weeks away. I tried everything in my power not to disappear completely from this place, but nearly seven years into this endeavor, I was just…tired.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (and a story about burnout)​

Running this one-woman show isn’t easy. Between testing, photographing, writing, posting, and promoting, each post takes about twelve hours start-to-finish. I make income from this blog, but throwing all the daily tasks of running it on top of my day job, trying to have some semblance of a social life, and regularly scheduled introvert hours had me on the verge of a breakdown. So, I stepped away.

I didn’t stop baking though. In fact, I have baked more. I have baked, dare I say, *better.* With more passion, without any expectations. I made things I wanted to make, whether or not they were seasonally appropriate or trending.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Take this Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, for instance. I wanted to make it for months, and finally did it once I took the pressure off myself. It’s old-fashioned and simple, made with my go-to chocolate cake recipe and finished with a silky, tangy chocolate frosting. It’s rich and chocolaty, unfussy and unpretentious, with a glossy finish usually reserved for the cover of Southern Living Magazine. In short, it’s everything I want in a chocolate cake. I’m just glad I finally took the time to make it. I hope you will, too.

I am a little hesitant to dive back in here, but I think I am ready to get back to blogging. I’ve missed it. Posts may be twice a week or may just be once depending on how the rest of my life is going. For now though, I am back and oh-so glad to be in this little corner of the internet.

Hello, out there.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Chocolate Cake
makes two 9-inch round layers

Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch Process)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon espresso granules (optional, but recommended)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)
1 cup boiling water

For assembly:
1 recipe Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (below)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, espresso granules (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to distribute ingredients evenly. Set aside.

In a separate medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla and buttermilk. Whisk half the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, just until combined. Add half the boiling water. Whisk in the remaining egg mixture followed by the remaining water. Batter will be thin.

Divide batter evenly between the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in their pans for at least 30 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and discard parchment. Allow to cool to room temperature.

While layers are cooling, make the frosting (recipe below).

Assemble the cake. Place one layer on a cake plate. Top with about 3/4 cup frosting, then sandwich the other layer on top. Frost and decorate cake as desired.

Frosted cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, and in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
makes enough for two 9-inch round layers

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (heaping 1/3 cup) full-fat sour cream

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk together to distribute evenly.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in half the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl as necessary. It may seem like too much, but it will incorporate. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Add vanilla and sour cream, then beat on high for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Use to frost a 9-inch round layer cake (or whatever).

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

I happily bake year-round, but I’ll be the first to tell you that my favorite kind of summer baking is no-baking. Like leaving the oven off. Like letting the fridge do all the work. Like not heating up my remarkably well-insulated New York City apartment on an already steamy day, and still having incredible dessert.

Today’s recipe is a variation on the queen of no-bake desserts: icebox cake! At its simplest, it’s just layering whipped cream and thin cookies (usually chocolate wafers or graham crackers) together and then letting the assemblage chill out in the fridge for a few hours. The cookies soften against the whipped cream and become cakelike—it’s very good.

Icebox cakes have been around for a good long time now, since the advent of the home refrigerator. In all those years—and in all the recipes I’ve tried—I’ve yet to find one that isn’t outstanding. Icebox cakes can be as easy or complicated as you want them to be. Low brow, high brow, whatever. The two ingredient classics are just as delicious as more intricate variations. I guess what I’m saying is that you should absolutely get on the icebox cake train if you haven’t already, and then, once you are a believer, twist up the original recipe and make it Triple Raspberry.

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

Oh yes, this cool & creamy pink icebox cake is loaded with raspberry flavor. From whole fresh raspberries to spoonfuls of raspberry jam to airy raspberry whipped cream, this cake is about as raspberry as it is possible to be!

All the ingredients are stacked in a loaf pan with plain honey graham crackers to divide the layers. After a long chill, the crackers are tender as can be, making for clean slices.

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

Can we discuss the cross-sections of fresh raspberries and ruby red streaks of jam? Because those…well, they’re my jam. I mean that in every sense of the word.

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

Like its predecessors, this cake is so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s about as easy as from-scratch summer desserts come, and about as raspberry-forward as it can be! It’s berry good, if I do say so myself.

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake
Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake
makes one 9x5-inch cake, about 8-10 servings

Raspberry Whipped Cream:
6 tablespoons pulverized freeze dried raspberries
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 cups heavy cream, very cold

For Assembly:
10-12 whole graham crackers (4 sections per cracker), divided
1 6-ounce package fresh raspberries, divided
1/2 cup raspberry jam, divided

Decoration & Garnish:
1/2 cup raspberry jam, strained
2-3 teaspoons pulverized freeze dried raspberries
fresh raspberries

Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang on the long sides. Set aside.

Make the raspberry whipped cream. Place freeze dried berries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 45-60 seconds. Alternatively, place the berries in a sealed zip-top bag and crush well with a rolling pin or other heavy object.

Measure out 2 tablespoons of pulverized berry powder, and reserve any remaining powder for another use.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, and pulverized berries. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream).

Gently spread 1/3 of the whipped cream in an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Scatter 1/3 of the raspberries over the top and spoon 1/3 of the raspberry jam over, so that there are little globs everywhere. Tile a single layer of graham crackers over the top, breaking the crackers to fit, as needed. Press the graham crackers down *lightly* with your palm to adhere. Repeat layering step 2 more times.

Gentry cover the loaf pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to serve, remove the pan from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Place a serving plate upside-down over the pan. Holding tightly to both the pan and the plate, flip them over so that the pan is now sitting upside-down on top of the plate. Gently lift the pan up to remove it. Gently peel off the parchment.

Decorate. Place jam in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 15 seconds so it’s a bit loose. Push through a fine mesh strainer (set over a bowl) to remove seeds. Transfer warmed, seedless raspberry jam to a piping bag and snip the tiniest corner. Drizzle the cake with the jam as desired.

Dust cake with pulverized raspberry powder. Garnish with whole fresh raspberries. If not serving immediately, refrigerate.

Serve cake cold. Slice with a serrated knife, wiping it clean between cuts.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet

Last year, I posted a recipe called Easiest Ever Mango Sherbet. The gist is that you blend frozen fruit and a can of sweetened condensed milk, then freeze it and scoop it like regular sherbet/ice cream…but you don’t have to have an ice cream machine, you know? And that’s ideal because I think if I bring another piece of equipment home, my beloved roommate will abandon me and I’ll have to build a house out of all my cake pans.

But I digress.

Today, I took that easy formula and complicated it in the very best way: the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake way! That’s right—all the flavors that you love in the undisputed queen of everyday cakes are packed into this cold, creamy, scoopable treat! The base is buttery brown sugar-roasted pineapple bliss, and every bite is filled with bits of vanilla cake, maraschino cherries and butterscotch sauce!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet starts with a whole pineapple. You could, of course, do this with about 2 1/2 pounds of pre-cut pineapple, but buying whole is much cheaper. Don’t fret—I’ve detailed how to slice up a pineapple in the recipe.

Once it’s sliced up, the pineapple is brushed with melted butter & brown sugar and roasted until tender, fragrant, and rich yellow in color. This concentrates the flavor and softens the fruit’s natural tartness. Also, it smells out-of-this-world good. Please resist eating half of it in one sitting so you can make it into no-churn sherbet, okay?!

After roasting, let your pineapple cool before freezing it. The sherbet base requires only frozen fruit and sweetened condensed milk—don’t try to take any shortcuts here! I find it easiest to freeze the pineapple by arranging it in one layer on a small sheet pan, then freezing until…well, frozen. You can do this a few days (or even weeks!) in advance; just transfer your frozen roasted pineapple into a freezer bag for longer storage.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet

Next up: blend the base! This is easy. Just combine your frozen roasted pineapple and sweetened condensed milk in a blender and blitz away! Pour half the creamy, pale yellow mixture in a loaf pan, then top it with Pineapple Upside-Down Cake mainstays like maraschino cherries, cubes of vanilla cake, and spoonfuls of brown sugary butterscotch. Repeat the layering with the remaining pineapple base and toppings and then freeze until scoopable. Finish it with more butterscotch and cherries, if desired. Pineapple bowl optional, but recommended.

One quick thing before I get to the recipe. This recipe has a lot of steps, but can be as easy or as complicated as you like. For instance, I baked my own vanilla cake and made a batch of butterscotch for this sherbet, but this recipe would work just as well with store bought pound cake and jarred butterscotch (or caramel sauce or dulce de leche). As with all the recipes on this site, we’re aiming for delicious and fun here. If making the base, some cake and butterscotch ceases making this process enjoyable, by all means take some shortcuts.

I won’t tell anyone. I’ll be too busy shoving bites of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet into my face to even care.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet
makes about 8-10 servings

Roasted Pineapple:
1 whole pineapple (about 4 lbs)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

For the Sherbet Base:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

For Assembly (all divided):
2/3 cup maraschino cherries, drained & cut into small pieces
3/4-1 cup butterscotch sauce (or caramel sauce)
1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch vanilla cake cubes (cake recipe below)

Roast the pineapple. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

Place your pineapple on its side on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to lop off the top & bottom. Move the pineapple so that it is standing on the flat spot where the bottom used to be. Use the knife to remove the rind (skin) in strips, being sure to also remove the brown dots beneath it. Slice around the core, then discard it so that only the flesh (good fruit) remains. Slice your pineapple flesh into spears, and then split each spear into 2 shorter spears. Place them in an even layer on the prepared sheet pan.

Place butter and brown sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until butter is melted and mixture is combined.

Brush half the butter & brown sugar mixture on the pineapple pieces. Roast pineapple 20 minutes. Flip the pieces and brush with remaining butter & brown sugar. Roast another 20 minutes. Cool pineapple completely.

Freeze the roasted pineapple. Line a rimmed sheet pan that will fit in your freezer with parchment. Arrange roasted pineapple pieces in one layer on the pan, then place the pan in the freezer for at least four hours or overnight. If not making sherbet immediately, remove frozen roasted pineapple to a freezer bag before returning to the freezer.

Make the sherbet base. Combine frozen roasted pineapple and sweetened condensed milk in a high-powered blender. Blend on high for about 1 minute, or until smooth and thick. Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the carafe as necessary.

Assemble the sherbet. Transfer half the sherbet base to a loaf pan or other vessel. Scatter with half the maraschino cherries and cake cubes. Drizzle on butterscotch sauce, or drop on by the spoonful. Top with remaining sherbet base, spreading it to the edges to cover the add-ins. Top with remaining cherries, cake cubes & butterscotch. Freeze 4-6 hours before scooping and enjoying.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet will keep covered in the freezer for up to a month.
Vanilla Cake
makes 1 9x5” layer

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (not skim or fat free), room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment, leaving some overhang on the two long sides for easy removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in the egg. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk. Add remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 33-37 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in its pan for fifteen minutes. Use parchment overhang to lift cake onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off and discard parchment.

For Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet, you will only need about half this cake (1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubes). Use the other half for snacking, or triple wrap in plastic and freeze for up to 3 months.
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Sherbet

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

My birthday is tomorrow, so let’s talk birthday cake! From elaborate layer cakes to ice cream cakes to marble cupcakes to cookie cakes, the cake you choose to have at your birthday celebration is highly personal. Some people have the same thing every year. Others, myself included, like to change it up. No matter which camp you fall into, I have loads of cake recipes for you in my archives. Here are some of my absolute favorites.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

While feeling homesick on my birthday last year, I decided to recreate a Swiss-style Black Forest Cake that is hugely popular in my hometown. You won’t find any cherries or chocolate cake here, just layers of airy almond dacquoise, whipped cream and dark chocolate. It also happens to be naturally gluten-free and so, so good. I’ll be having the real deal for my birthday this year (lucky me!), but this homemade version hits the spot if you’re not near Fort Worth, Texas.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake

Who doesn’t love ice cream cake? This one is simple as can be, starting with sandwiching mint chocolate chip ice cream with two layers of chocolate cake, then finishing it with whipped cream and anything else you like! Feel free to change up the ice cream flavor or just use this as a template and change the recipe completely. There is no wrong way to ice cream cake.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

When I was a kid, all the best birthday parties involved cookie cake. The same is true as an adult. I have Brown Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate M&Ms and Red Velvet Cookie Cakes in my archives, but this almost-36 year-old could really go for these colorful, miniature Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes right now!

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes

We all know a red velvet person. I usually save it for Oscar Night, but I think these Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes would fit the bill for birthdays too!

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake is a thing to behold. Made with all vegan, gluten-free ingredients and stacked tall with vegan chocolate buttercream, it might just surprise you and become a favorite.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Something about Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting screams “birthday” to so many people. Mine is made with very good things like sour cream and brown sugar, mixed using the reverse creaming method, and finished with an irresistible chocolate frosting.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Not quite ready to start celebrating with larger groups yet? A mini layer cake might be the perfect solution! This tutorial has everything you need to make a birthday cake for 4-6 people.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

M&Ms Surprise Cake

This is the cake for that person in your life who’s a little extra. The one who likes all the bells and whistles and would enjoy slicing into a cake full of candy—this cake is for that person. Also? Hi, I’m that person.

Have you made these or any of my other chocolate chip treats? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​

My birthday is coming up this weekend, so this week is all about birthday cakes!

I have made a lot of birthday cakes—a lot!—and they have all been highly personal. I’ve had requests for everything from mousse cakes to Funfetti to Neapolitan to Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut, but Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting is the favorite by far. For whatever reason, it just screams “birthday” to a lot of people. And while I am inclined to rebel against anything that everyone seems to love (hello, I am a Gemini), I can’t say I’d be anything but delighted to blow out candles on a Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​

I mean, what’s not to love about an egg-yellow vanilla butter cake with rich chocolate frosting? Nothing, that’s what. This cake is a classic for a reason.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​

That said, not all yellow cakes are created equal. Yes, they’re all made rich and yellow from lots of eggs, yolks and butter, and they all have some amount of vanilla, but that is frequently where the similarities end. Some are too dense, others too light. Some taste vaguely like cornbread despite containing zero cornmeal (so weird). Even the really good ones vary wildly in terms of flavor and texture. I can say that from experience—I’ve tried a lot of them.

This Yellow Cake though? I like to think it strikes a balance. Yellow, buttery, vanilla-scented, not too dense, and not a hint of cornbread flavor to be found (seriously, it’s a thing). It’s made using the reverse creaming method I use for white cake. You mix the butter into the dry ingredients, then add loads of eggs and a mix of milk and sour cream. It feels wrong, but it’s so simple and produces tender results every time.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​

I haven’t even mentioned the Chocolate Frosting, but as you can hopefully tell from the pictures, it’s absurdly good. Made with cocoa, melted dark chocolate and just enough confectioner’s sugar, it’s pure luxury. I like to frost this cake simply for a homemade look with lots of swoops, but feel free to increase the batch size if you want to pipe. Birthday person’s prerogative, you know.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
makes one two-layer 9” round cake

Yellow Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup full-fat sour cream

Chocolate Frosting:
3 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
rainbow sprinkles, for garnish (optional)

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Combine flour, cornstarch, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients together (I like to do this by running my mixer on its lowest speed for about a minute).

Add butter to dry ingredients. Gradually turn the mixer from low up to medium, to mix in the butter until there are no large pieces and the texture is sort of rubbly. This will take a few minutes.

With the mixer running, add eggs and yolks one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix until combined.

In a measuring cup or small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together milk and sour cream. Running the mixer on medium, add the milk mixture in two installments and mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl well to ensure even mixing.

Divide batter among prepared pans. Tap each full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake layers on the center rack for 31-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let let layers cool in their pans for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the layer before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Make the Chocolate Frosting. Place chopped dark chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring just until melted. Cool to room temperature (this can be done quickly by putting it into the fridge for 5-8 minutes, then whisking with a fork).

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until very light and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes). Beat in confectioner's sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix in melted chocolate, followed by vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Fill and frost the layers as desired. Garnish with rainbow sprinkles, if desired. Serve.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting