Archive for the ‘Cake and Frosting’ Category


My Most Popular Post: Grand Marnier Bundt Cake

January 3, 2014

When I looked at my 2013 annual report from WordPress, I was not surpised to see that my Grand Marnier Bundt Cake post was the most viewed post this year. The post is actually from 2009, and a lot of people seem to be searching for a Grand Marnier bundt cake recipe. Search no more, because this is an awesome cake.

Grand Marnier Bundt Cake

I’ve made this cake countless times, including just the other day, and it never disappoints. The original post shows mini-bundts. The slice in the photo above is from a cake baked in a 6-cup bundt pan. It’s great as-is, but you can make it prettier by garnishing with some whipped cream, or drizzling some chocolate sauce on the plate and putting the cake on top.

Give the Grand Marnier Bundt Cake recipe a try!


Banana and Chocolate Chip Upside-Down Cake

November 26, 2013

An upside-down cake may sound daunting, but this is one is easy to make. The few extra minutes it takes to melt the brown sugar and layer the bananas on the bottom of the pan is more than made up for by the simple mix-by-hand cake batter.

Banana Upside-Down Cake

Surprisingly, this cake is low fat. I’m not going to call it health food, but I bake enough to know that 2 Tablespoons of butter, 1 1/2 eggs, and 1/2 cup of low-fat sour cream means that this is a heck of a lot less sinful than a lot of other cakes. But with caramelized bananas on top and chocolate chips throughout, you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. If you’re a banana lover, this is a must-try recipe!

Recipe notes:

  • You can find the recipe here on David Lebovitz’s website.
  • For the topping, he gives an option of water or butter – I used water.
  • For the cake, he gives an option of regular or low-fat sour cream – I used low fat.
  • There’s also an option for chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. I used regular-size chocolate chips. I don’t recommend using mini-chips or tiny pieces of chopped chocolate though  – a substantial bite of chocolate really adds something to the texture and taste of the cake.
  • I made the cake the day before and served it at room temperature. The recipe suggests serving it warm and adding whipped cream or ice cream, all of which sound wonderful.

Two-Ingredient Chocolate Buttercream

November 12, 2013

Frosting made with just butter and chocolate chips? Believe it!


It looks like frosting, tastes like frosting, and is really easy to make.

Cupcakes with frosting

Heads up:  You need to plan ahead a bit because the butter and chocolate chips are melted, cooled, and then brought back to room temperature before mixing into a fluffy, smooth frosting. But it’s worth the wait! You’ll find the recipe here on Cookies and Cups. I made a smaller amount, using 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, which worked just fine.


TwD Baking with Julia: Savarin

June 4, 2013

I really enjoyed trying to pronounce this French dessert. Sahvahrunh, savarnnnnh…just say it fast with a nasal ending and call it good. But you may not want to listen to me, because 10 out of 10 French people agree that my accent is no good. The dessert, however, was quite good.


What’s in it? A base of yeasted dough that gets a soak with sugar syrup, and then in my case, is drizzled with Grand Marnier and filled with whipped cream and sliced strawberries that were tossed with Grand Marnier and sugar. Tthe recipe calls for a raspberry puree, mixed berries, and pear eau-de-vie.)

I thought this would be a lengthy project, but with quick rising times, it wasn’t too much trouble to make. I made 1/2 recipe and, lacking a ring mold, baked it in a 6-cup bundt pan.

The verdict? Delicious! The cake was light as air, even after being soaked in the sugar syrup. I loved the combination of the orange Grand Marnier with the strawberries. This would be an impressive, not-too-heavy dessert to serve to company.

This recipe, baked by the Tuesdays with Dorie group this week, is on page 416 of Baking with Julia. You can also watch a video from the show here, and you can see the recipe here.


TwD Baking with Julia: Lemon Loaf Cake

April 17, 2012

The second recipe of the month for the Tuesdays with Dorie group is Lemon Loaf Cake. Lemon desserts always look so good, but I don’t often bake them, so this recipe was a welcome selection.

Loaf cake baked in the round

6″ pans, what would I do without you? I made 1/4 of the recipe, and though a 6″ round pan wasn’t exactly the right size, it was close…or at least I thought it was. When I took the cake out of the oven, I was concerned that it looked awfully low and flat. So concerned that I decided to make some lemon curd to serve with it, just in case it needed a little bit of help.

When I cut into the cake, I was happy to see that it had the texture of a pound cake, so I was pretty sure it turned out like it was supposed to. But I’m glad I made the lemon curd because it was delicious! I used this recipe from Cooking Light – it was easy and definitely something I’ll make again. I’m already looking forward to stirring the leftovers into some yogurt.

After I assembled the cake and lemon curd, I realized that I should have tasted the cake on its own first. So I didn’t get a taste of “just cake,” but I really enjoyed it combined with the lemon curd. My husband enjoyed it and said that it was like pound cake, but “not boring.” Note to self: don’t make plain pound cake because he will declare it boring!

Side note: yes, I made 1/4 of the recipe. When I first started baking with the Tuesdays with Dorie group, I thought it was strange the people were making 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 of a recipe. Now I think it’s a great idea. There are only two of us eating much of what I bake (though I do give things away when I can), so we don’t need a ton, and if I bake smaller amounts I can bake more often and we can have more variety. Plus, it keeps my math skills sharp!

Ready to get your lemon on? You can find the recipe on page 252 of Baking with Julia. Thank you to this week’s hosts: Truc of Treats and Michelle of  The Beauty of Life. They will have the recipe posted on their blogs today.


Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s a holiday all about sweethearts and sweets, so to celebrate, my friend L and I got together over the weekend and made cake pops.

It was the first time either of us had made them, and boy is my arm sore…from patting myself on the back! We were pretty excited about the results. I knew we better not try any over-the-top designs, so we stuck with basic white- and chocolate-dipped cake balls topped with sprinkles. L brought some really cute Valentine lollipop bags and ribbon, and believe me when I say that even a less-than-perfect cake pop looks great packaged in a cute bag tied with ribbon.

I was shocked to learn that we didn’t have any styrofoam in the house. My handy husband came through by drilling holes in some foam core and taping it on a cooling rack. It worked well, but next time, I’ll make sure we have styrofoam.

Of course, there were some flops. Perfect for snacking though!

If you aren’t up to speed on cake pops, this video from Bakerella, the inventor of cake pops, will catch you up.


Tuesdays with Dorie: Date-Nut Loaf

June 21, 2011

Many of my baked goods go to our next-door neighbor Chuck. A while ago, I asked him if he had any requests and he said I should make something with dates, because that’s the only date he’s going to get. Chuck is a funny guy! So it was perfect timing that Mary selected Date-Nut Loaf for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Dates and I go way back. When I was growing up, we frequently had a Date Nut quick bread from a mix. I hadn’t thought about that for quite a while and wondered if they still made the mix, but I didn’t find it at the grocery store. My mom also made a date and chocolate chip cake, which I think I’m going to make now that dates are on my mind. Apparently, Chuck has been thinking about dates too, but he’s going to have to settle for a mini Date-Nut loaf for now.

What I did: I made the full recipe and baked it in three mini-loaf pans (5.75 x 3 inches each). I didn’t make any changes to the recipe!

How it went: This was quick and easy to mix up. I never remember to keep track of how long things were in the oven, but I think my minis took about 40 minutes (baking time for a full-sized loaf is 1 hour 20 minutes). I did not need to tent them in foil to keep them from getting too brown.

How it tasted: This is a solid buttery cake with crunchy walnuts and moist dates. It’s tasty – I especially like the buttery taste of the cake. Since I have a memory of a quick bread with dates, I kept thinking this would be like that, but really, it’s more like a pound cake. Once I figured out what it was, I enjoyed it! My husband said it was good but he’d prefer it without the dates. When pressed, he admitted that he’d prefer it without the nuts too. With no dates or nuts, we would be left with just plain Loaf.

Thank you Mary for the date-paved trip down memory lane! She has the recipe posted here. Or just open your copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours to page 228 and get baking!


Baking For a Crowd

June 10, 2011

A few months ago, my boss shocked me, along with everyone else who worked for her, by announcing that she was retiring at the end of May. Since we couldn’t talk her out of leaving, we decided that we would send her off in style. And what better way (at least in my opinion) than with a dessert buffet. A dessert buffet that I offered to make!

One challenge was that we didn’t know how many people would come to the party. Leftovers are fine; running out of food is not, so I baked a lot. There were leftovers, and they vanished the next day.

What I made

I decided what to make based on my favorite recipes, things that I thought would please a crowd, and things that I could easily transport to work. I didn’t get a photo of everything. I was busy baking! Links to recipes are at the end of the post.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Topped with a mini peanut butter cup.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Frosting

Topped with chocolate sprinkles.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Topped with toasted coconut. Cupcakes for the non-chocolate crowd.

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

I have a hard time picking favorites, but I will now declare that this is my favorite recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. I put each bar in a cupcake paper to make them easier to serve.

Lenox Almond Biscotti

Another Dorie Greenspan recipe. We served coffee and milk, so I thought that biscotti would be a nice addition to the lineup.

Chocolate-Cashew Biscotti

This is Martha Stewart’s Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti recipe with cashews instead of pistachios. Why? Because I had a bag of unsalted cashews in my freezer. It’s excellent with either nut.

Ranger Cookies

My signature cookie, which I’ve brought to work many times.


One of my coworkers brought two pans of yummy bars, which I now have the recipe for, so when I make them, I’ll post them here. She also dipped pretzel rods in white and semi-sweet chocolate and decorated them with colorful sprinkles. These were great additions to our dessert buffet.


I stored, transported, and served the cookies, biscotti, and bars in large plastic containers. I had too many cupcakes to fit in my cupcake carrier, so I was thrilled to find these large foil pans. They are deep, very sturdy, and cost $2.44 each at Target. I can’t say enough about these pans! I washed them and they’re ready to use again.

I covered the pans with Glad Press ‘n Seal, which worked great. The freezer wrap, which is on the two pans toward the back, is thicker and easier to work with than the regular Press ‘n Seal.


A little planning goes a long way. I tallied up the amount of each ingredient I would need. I compared that to what I already had and then made a grocery list and purchased everything a few days ahead. When I was done, I patted myself on the back for not needing any last-minute grocery store runs!  I also made a schedule of what to bake each day for the three days leading up to the party and did some prep work four days before the party, such as chopping peanuts and weighing and sifting dry ingredients for the chocolate cupcakes. I appreciated the prep work when I was in the thick of baking.

The buffet

Here are a couple of photos of everything set out at the party. I made signs with a brief description of each item. No forks needed, and no one had to cut and serve a cake, which was really nice.

Recipe Links

A note about frosting: How far a batch of frosting will go depends on how much you put on each cupcake. You should always have extra ingredients on hand in case you need to make more.

Final thoughts

This was a lot of fun! It was a little stressful, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I would do this again, and I think I could step it up a notch to make things a little fancier. There are only a couple of things I’d do differently next time. I would use larger piping tips for the frosting. I haven’t decorated a lot of cupcakes and thought I was using a large enough tip, but I think a larger one would have been easier and looked nicer. Also…next time I’d try to eat less of what I baked! When I’m just baking one thing and making a small amount, I can limit myself. It was a lot harder with such a large selection of tasty treats!


Tuesdays with Dorie: Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake

June 7, 2011

Geez, Dorie, why did you give this tasty cake such a blah name? Those of us who have baked a lot of Dorie Greenspan’s recipes know that her “plain” cakes are some of the best around. But others may be turned off by this recipe’s name. Why not call it Blueberry-Brown Sugar Cake? Or Blueberry-Brown Sugar Snacking Cake? The flavor and appearance are anything but blah or plain.

Thank you Cindy of Everyday Insanity for getting past the name and selecting this wonderful recipe!

What I did: I baked half the recipe in a muffin pan – not for the cuteness factor, but because I don’t have a pan that’s half the size of the 11 x 7″ pan needed for a full batch. I used fresh blueberries and 2% milk instead of whole. I got 7 (cute) muffins.

How it went: Even with the extra step of whipping egg whites, this was a pretty quick recipe. I baked my muffins for 22 minutes.

How it tasted: Good! Not too sweet (I didn’t top it with powdered sugar as recommended in the recipe), but there was a nice sweetness from the brown sugar and the blueberries. The tops of the muffins were a little bit crispy – my favorite part. My husband is a fan of fresh blueberries, and an even bigger fan of fresh blueberries in baked goods. He liked these a lot and commented that the blueberries retained their texture and that the cake was moist. These were a hit with us, and I liked that they aren’t as sinful as a muffin or cake with a crumble topping.

If you live in the U.S., blueberry season is here, or almost here. Why not give this great recipe a try? Open your copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours to page 36, or click over to Cindy’s blog to get the recipe.


Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Buttercream

June 3, 2011

I recently made cupcakes for a party and wanted a crowd-pleasing frosting recipe. I knew that Magnolia Bakery would come through for me and they did! I made their Vanilla Buttercream with a twist to make it Vanilla Bean Buttercream.

The recipe clarifies that this is not technically a buttercream, but is an old-fashioned confectioner’s sugar and butter frosting. That worked for me, because I was doing a lot of baking and did not want to fuss with a cooked frosting. This frosting was ultra smooth and creamy with a delicious vanilla flavor. Is it sweet? Yes, and that’s a good thing!


  • I substituted vanilla bean paste for vanilla extract. It gives the frosting a little bit of that vanilla bean speckled look, and I think it adds more vanilla flavor. The original recipe calls for an equal amount of vanilla extract.
  • I made this in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment. The original recipe says to use an electric mixer, with no further information about attachments. Covering the mixer with a towel will help prevent an explosion of powdered sugar in your kitchen!

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Adapted from Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6-8 cups confectioner’s sugar (also called powdered sugar)
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add 4 cups confectioner’s sugar and then the milk and vanilla bean paste. Cover the mixer with a clean towel and mix on low until the ingredients are combined. Remove the towel, increase the mixer to medium speed, and beat 3-5 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Add more sugar 1 cup at a time, beating about two minutes after each addition, until the frosting is a good spreading consistency. You may not need to use all 8 cups of sugar.

Frosting will set it chilled; use and store at room temperature. Frosting can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Magnolia Bakery has several cookbooks, but the one that I used is called The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey’s Home Kitchen.

In a serious chocolate mood?

Try Magnolia Bakery’s Chocolate Cupcakes and Chocolate Buttercream!

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