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Friday Favorites: 2020

Friday Favorites: 2020Happy New Year! This post is coming at you from the recent past—December 29th—so I hope no new terrible things have happened between then and this posting. 2020 was such a weird year. It started off okay, but quickly devolved to…well, whatever this is. I, for one, am hoping for hope in 2021.

As a preface to this list, I wrote three paragraphs about the events of last year (staying at home, flour shortage, bread, people learning to bake, blah blah blah) and then deleted them because, you know, you were there. It was a year where nearly everything changed, but at least one thing remained the same: I was here, baking in Brooklyn. Here are some of my personal favorite recipes from 2020.Friday Favorites: 2020
Mini Layer Cakes

There weren’t many layer cakes on here in 2020, but the ones that made the cut were teensy—just enough for 4-6 servings. Perfect for a pandemic, right?!Friday Favorites: 2020
Pecan Sandies

Buttery shortbread is difficult to beat for ease and pure deliciousness, but adding in a hefty dose of toasted pecans (and nostalgia) never hurt anything.Friday Favorites: 2020
Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

I got a little homesick around my birthday this year, so I made a Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}, which happens to be a Fort Worth favorite. You won’t find chocolate sponge or cherries in this recipe, but if you are into light-as-air almond dacquoise, whipped cream, dark chocolate and the best kind of chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag), you are in for a treat. Did I mention it’s naturally gluten-free?Friday Favorites: 2020
“I Got Yolks” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta} requires a whole lot of egg whites, which means you’ll have a whole lot of leftover yolks…which means you should make some “I Got Yolks” Chocolate Chip Cookies. To put it plainly, they’re simply the best chewy chocolate chip cookies to ever come out of my kitchen.Friday Favorites: 2020
Crispy, Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yes, this was a year with two chocolate chip cookie recipes. These crispy, crunchy ones were a long time coming, and were they ever worth the wait!Friday Favorites: 2020
Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

Rainbow sprinkles and cookie cake are two of my favorite things. Put them together and make them mini? How can I resist?!Friday Favorites: 2020
Buttermilk Pancakes

Perfect fluffy pancakes eluded me for years, but not anymore! These are really good and really easy. Oh, and those golden tops? They’re easier to achieve than I ever thought possible.Friday Favorites: 2020
Chocolate Quinoa Cake {Gluten-Free}

One of my biggest accomplishments this year was staying sober through…everything. While I normally don’t celebrate my sobriety date on here, it seemed important to publicly acknowledge it during a time of so much struggle. When I hit seven years in April, I celebrated at home with this Chocolate Quinoa Cake. It’s made with an easy blender batter, is naturally gluten-free, and absolutely delicious with a blanket of chocolate buttercream.Friday Favorites: 2020
Homemade Chocolate Shell

Making my own ice cream toppings is one of my favorite warm weather pastimes. This two ingredient Homemade Chocolate Shell has appeared on this blog many times over the years, but 2020 was when it finally got its moment to shine.Friday Favorites: 2020
Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

I brought in 2020 eating Almond Boterkoek on my friend, David’s couch. Eight weeks later (to the day!), I figured out the recipe for myself. It’s a simple cake, perfect for any occasion, including saying goodbye to our weirdest year on record.Friday Favorites: 2020
Brown Butter Nutella Swirl Muffins

Brown Butter. Nutella Swirl. Muffins.

Need I say more?Friday Favorites: 2020
Meyer Lemon Sweet Rolls

Imagine biting into pure sunshine, but with butter and icing. That’s what these are like.Friday Favorites: 2020
Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

These sweet, tart, teeny-tiny cookies are filled with a homemade ruby red grapefruit curd. So, so good. I cannot say this more explicitly: you must make these. Must.Friday Favorites: 2020
Oatmeal Puff Pancake {Gluten-Free Dutch Baby}

Puff Pancakes are my favorite weekend breakfast of all time, and making them whole grain and gluten-free? Well, that makes them even better.Friday Favorites: 2020
Oatmeal Waffles {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside waffles made without flour or animal products? You better believe it!Friday Favorites: 2020
Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Speaking of making things vegan and gluten-free, finally making a Gingerbread Cake for my friend, VJ, was a great way to end the year. It’s dark, perfectly-spiced, and slightly sticky. It might just be the only Gingerbread Cake recipe you’ll ever need.Friday Favorites: 2020
Pumpkin Spice Spread & Pumpkin Pie S’mores

If you’ve been here a while, you know I love to sing the praises of sweetened condensed milk—that stuff can do anything, including make a spreadable pumpkin pie filling for everything from toast to s’mores.Friday Favorites: 2020
Cream Biscuit Pecan Sticky Buns

Back when the pandemic began and shelves were empty, I threw my plans out the window and baked and blogged exclusively from what I already had on hand. These Cream Biscuit Sticky Buns were one of the results—a mash-up of two of my favorite things.Friday Favorites: 2020
Maple Sugar Cookies

These little sugar cookies have huge maple flavor. Made with brown butter, brown sugar and a double dose of pure maple syrup, they’re impossible to resist.Friday Favorites: 2020
Cocoa Brownies

I’d be remiss if I forgot to mention that this blog turned five years old in 2020! It was a highlight of my year, as was celebrating with the Cocoa Brownies from my first post. They’re easy, fudgy and so, so good.

Have you made any of these recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Friday Favorites: 2020

Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

Funfetti Cookie CupcakesFull disclosure, I am tired. Like in-my-bones tired. It’s been a long week and I haven’t been sleeping well and I just can’t seem to get my brain to concentrate on this blog post. I would say I’m trying my best, but I am actually trying as much as I absolutely have to and not the tiniest bit more. It’s that sort of day.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesI usually take pride in writing a “real” blog post, but was tempted today to just leave it at “Um, hi. I took cookie cake and threw sprinkles in there and made it smaller. Oh, and there’s a plume of vanilla buttercream on each one. Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes, y’all!” …and leave it at that. I mean, that about sums it up, right?Funfetti Cookie CupcakesWell, almost. It doesn’t tell you that these Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes were born because I deeply miss baking for groups. I really wanted to make a cookie cake for weeks, but resisted because who would I share it with?

When the thought of cookie cupcakes popped into my head, it only took me a day to make them and a few more hours before I found some friends to give them away to in exchange for petting their dog and some homemade lemon-basil sorbet. I doesn’t tell you how incredibly heartening it was to see (masked) familiar faces and love on my pup friend and casually envy someone else’s ice cream machine, even though I absolutely do not need another piece of kitchen equipment.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesFunfetti Cookie CupcakesThat rambling, incoherent, grammatically incorrect blurb says nothing of how the exteriors of these little cookie cakes crackle ever-so-slightly against your teeth when you first bite in, or how the centers are a tad underbaked and chewy like almost every great cookie out there. Just like their larger counterparts, these tiny cakes are a bit sunken in the center, perfect for holding a copious amount of frosting. That sentence doesn’t tell you that even when these aren’t fresh and get a little crumbly, they are still pretty wonderful, as all things topped with a small mountain of vanilla buttercream are.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesFunfetti Cookie CupcakesThere’s no mention of how much I absolutely love sprinkles, and how even though they mostly just taste sweet and waxy, I consider them (combined with vanilla and almond extracts) a flavor profile all their own. The little pops of color in and on these Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes make me happy, as does their buttery sugar cookie flavor. These are like having everything I’m nostalgic for all rolled into one single-serve dessert.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesAnd speaking of single servings, that half-assed blog “post” I wanted to write has one more gross oversight. These are perfect for socially-distanced celebrating or for delivering to someone you love and can’t really see right now. It doesn’t tell you that even though you bake all the time, even when you are tired and feel uninspired, making these will feel nothing like work and completely like joy. And how even when you’re a completely depleted puddle of a human who needs a weekend so badly it’s ridiculous, you’ll find a way to find the words to say it all.Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes
makes 2 dozen cookie cupcakes

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed (not dark brown sugar)
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract or imitation butter extract (optional)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)

For Garnish:
Vanilla Buttercream (recipe below)
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies or nonpareils)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Mix in egg and yolk, vanilla and optional almond extract. Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in rainbow sprinkles (jimmies). Scoop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments and press into prepared cupcake liners. Bake 12-13 minutes, until the tops no longer appears shiny and the edges are just slightly golden. Centers may not be fully puffed when baking is finished and will sink a bit during cooling.

Let cookie cupcakes cool 20 minutes in the pan on a rack before removing to the rack to cool completely.

Remove cupcake liners, if desired. Pipe vanilla buttercream into the center of each cookie cupcake (recipe below). Top with rainbow sprinkles.

Decorated cookie cupcakes will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Vanilla Buttercream
makes enough for 2 dozen cookie cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a medium-large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add heavy cream by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached.

How to pipe: Stand a piping bag fitted with a coupler and star tip in a tall cup and fold any bag overhang over the outside. Use a silicone spatula or spoon to “load” 1/3-1/2 of the buttercream into the bag. Unfold bag overhang and lift piping bag out the cup.

Press frosting toward the tip. Twist bag overhang closed and hold tight between your thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand, letting the main portion of the bag be held by your palm and remaining fingers. Use your non-dominant hand to tap the bag a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles. Pipe a dab or two of frosting onto a surface or small plate, just to get the buttercream going in the right direction.

Pipe buttercream into each cookie cupcake, refilling the bag when necessary.Funfetti Cookie CupcakesFunfetti Cookie CupcakesFunfetti Cookie Cupcakes

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBack in November, I made this Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake for a friend’s birthday. I thought it was cute, so I posted a picture of it on my social media with a #comingsoon…and then promptly forgot* about it because Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, my birthday, and so on and so forth.

*For the record, I did post a single-serve version.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBut I remembered now. Seven months later than anticipated, but I remembered. I promise you, Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake is worth the wait.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeWe’re talking about a rich, thick chocolate cookie studded with colorful candy and finished off with a flourish of chocolate buttercream. What’s not to love?!Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeIt’s easy too—it’s basically just a slightly smaller batch of my Double Chocolate Cookie dough with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeBake it up in a cake pan, let it cool, and pipe on a buttercream border. In my opinion, that last step is the thing that takes this recipe from “giant cookie” to “cookie cake.” Not that there’s a thing in the world wrong with a giant cookie, am I right?!Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeSlice it up and share with people you love this weekend or for the Fourth of July (with holiday-appropriate M&Ms!) or pretty much any old time. Or, you know, follow my lead and completely forget about it for seven months and then wonder why you didn’t make it sooner.

(Don’t be like me.)Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Chocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup M&Ms candy

For decoration:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
M&Ms candy

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Combine butter, brown sugar, and cocoa powder in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until butter is melted. Mixture will be a bit grainy.

Let mixture cool a few minutes before transferring to a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in flour, baking soda and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in M&Ms candy.

Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 24-27 minutes, or until the top no longer appears shiny.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan before inverting the cake onto the rack. Revert onto a serving plate. Decorate with Chocolate Buttercream and M&Ms as desired.

Decorated cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Chocolate Buttercream
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream

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

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here), or spread with an offset icing knife.Chocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie CakeChocolate M&Ms Cookie Cake

Red Velvet Cookie Cake

Red Velvet Cookie CakeIf you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I love the Oscars. Besides seeing all the nominated films, talking about Oscar politics with one of my best friends, and making statistically-based predictions, I have a traditional Oscar Night meal that always ends with Red Velvet CakeRed Velvet Cookie Cake
…or at least it used to. Gone are the days of hosting/attending Oscar parties (I tend to get a little worked up during the broadcast) and I’m about as single as it gets, so making an entire layer cake just for me is a little silly.Red Velvet Cookie Cake
But tradition is tradition, right?Red Velvet Cookie Cake
Last year I made some adorable Oscar-shaped Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies, but I don’t have that kind of time this year. I’ve got a day job, a mid-week dinner party to prepare, another blog post, and two movies still to see—I’m far too overscheduled to mess around with royal icing!
Red Velvet Cookie CakeThis year, I’m keeping it simple with this Red Velvet Cookie Cake!
Red Velvet Cookie CakeIf you’re into easy-but-impressive desserts that are as adorable as they are delicious, this is the recipe for you. The red velvet dough comes together in ten minutes and bakes up in twenty. Oh, and it doesn’t require a mixer 🙂
You could certainly leave this cookie cake plain, but what’s red velvet without cream cheese frosting? This addition requires a mixer and a piping bag, but it’s totally worth it.Red Velvet Cookie Cake
I just love that frosting border, especially dotted with these little gold star sprinkles!
Whether you’re planning to watch Sunday’s broadcast with friends or make Oscar Night a quiet evening in, you’ll love this Red Velvet Cookie Cake! It’s got all the chocolate-meets-vanilla flavor you love, a thick, chewy cookie texture, and just a hint of tangy cream cheese frosting. Oh, and it’s red like the red carpet ❤Red Velvet Cookie Cake
I haven’t set my Oscar predictions just yet, but one thing is for sure: this recipe is a winner.Red Velvet Cookie Cake

Red Velvet Cookie Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon red gel food coloring (I use Wilton)
1 cup white chocolate chips

For Decoration (optional):
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
white chocolate chips
sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with foil and grease lightly. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, buttermilk powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix in eggs, followed by vanilla and red gel food coloring. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold in white chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 20-22 minutes, until the top no longer appears shiny and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use foil to lift cake out of pan. Peel off foil and place cake on a serving plate. Decorate with Cream Cheese Frosting, white chocolate chips, and sprinkles as desired.

Decorated cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Cream Cheese Frosting
makes about 2 cups (more than you’ll need)

4 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Once combined, beat on high for two additional minutes, until light and fluffy.

Load frosting into a piping bag fitted with a coupler and star tip. Decorate as desired.

Leftover frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

Red Velvet Cookie CakeRed Velvet Cookie Cake

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter.

Chocolate Chip.

Cookie Cake.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeTake it from someone who has made three of these cakes since Saturday–this stuff is dangerous.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeIt’s basically one huge chocolate chip cookie that’s been amped up with brown butter. Oh, and the brown butter is melted rather than chilled and softened, so this is a no-waiting, no-mixer recipe. And there’s tons of deep caramel flavor from dark brown sugar. And chocolate chips.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeIt’s dangerous, I tell you.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeDid I mention the Chocolate Buttercream? It’s pretty important–I consider it one of the two things that makes this dessert a cake instead of just a gigantic cookie (the other is that it’s baked in a cake pan). This frosting is everything. Seriously. It’s sweet, buttery, and intensely chocolaty, but also almost ethereally light and fluffy. And easy. And difficult to stop eating with a spoon once you’ve finished using it for decoration 😬

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie CakeSo basically what I’m saying is that you absolutely should make this Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake, but don’t attempt it alone. You’ll need someone to keep you from eating the whole thing.

Luckily for all of us, it’s always more fun to share dessert.Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes 1 9-inch round cake

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For decoration:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk dark brown sugar into the brown butter, followed by egg and yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 20-22 minutes, until the top no longer appears shiny.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan before inverting the cake onto the rack. Revert onto a serving plate. Decorate with Chocolate Buttercream and sprinkles as desired.

Decorated cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Chocolate Buttercream
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
3 tablespoons heavy cream

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

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here), or spread with an offset icing knife.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake