Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cranberry Cake with White Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream

Here it is Christmas time again...the time flies so quickly anymore.  Christmas used to feel so far away when I was a child now it just comes so fast, it almost takes me by surprise.  I make a cake each year for our Christmas eve celebration with family and close friends.  It all started when my Mom wanted to have a little cake so we could sing happy birthday to Jesus.  And here it has become a tradition and my cakes keep getting bigger and better.

Here is this years 'Jesus' cake.  It is a beautiful white cake filled with a spiced cranberry jelly and covered with a white chocolate buttercream then decorated with sugared cranberries.  It was quite a process.

First you made 2 cake layers and then put them in the freezer so you could slice them in half.  While the cake was freezing, you made the cranberry filling.  It had cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in it ...the house smelled wonderful as it was on the stove top...it made it smell like Christmas.  The filling then needed to chill in the fridge overnight.  
So off to bed I went...on to day 2.

The buttercream was made first thing in the morning, then I sliced the cake layers and assembled the cake.  The cranberries were sugared and the cake frosted and then decorated.
I think it looks like a holiday!  I hope it tastes as wonderful as it looks! I will post a picture of a slice after we cut into it.

Merry Christmas To All!
Be Sweet

Christmas White Chocolate Cranberry Layer Cake
source:  Pineapple and Coconut


For the Cake
3⅓ c cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds from one vanilla bean
6 large egg whites
1 cup milk, room temperature (full fat NOT low or non fat)
For the filling
3 cups fresh cranberries
⅔ granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground allspice
⅛ tsp ground cloves
1 cup cranberry jelly or preserves (I used canned jellied cranberries)
¼ c cranberry juice
For the buttercream
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ c water
¼ tsp sea salt
8 ounces white chocolate, melted
1 ½ lbs butter, cut into pieces, slightly cooler than room temperature
For the sparkling cranberries
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 c water
½ c cranberry juice
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup organic sugar( larger granule sugar than regular sugar)
1 cup super fine sugar


For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 Deg F. Grease the bottom of two 9” cake pans with butter and line with parchment paper circles on the bottom only. Grease with butter again and lightly flour, tapping out any extra.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside
Ina bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter on medium until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar and beat again for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides when necessary. Add in the egg whites in thirds, beating well between each addition. Add in the flour mixture alternating with the milk, ending with flour until it is barely incorporated. Add in the vanilla and mix on medium about 20 more seconds. Scrape down the sides and divide the mixture evenly amongst the cake pans. Bake for 30-35 min, rotating pans a about 20 minutes into baking, and test for doneness with a toothpick. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool for another hour. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until the cakes are very firm.

For the filling
In a saucepan combine 2 cups of the cranberries along with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat as soon as most of the cranberries have popped open. Add in the remaining cranberries and transfer the filling to an airtight container. Chill completely. The filling can be made several days ahead of time. Bring to room temperature before cake assembly

For the buttercream
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and have the whisk attachment in place. In a high sided sauce pan combine the sugar, salt and water and place over medium-high head. Clip on a candy thermometer and stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it gets to about 220 degrees turn the mixer on high to whip the egg whites to a stiff peak. Keep the mixer running but drop it to medium speed, and watch the temperature on the sugar mixture. Once it reaches 245 deg F remove the pan from the stove and carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites. Once its all in, bring the speed back up to high and whip for 5-7 minutes, or until the bowl feels cool to the touch. In the meantime heat the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl until its melted. Let cool slightly. Once the mixer bowl is cool to the touch, add in the butter one tablespoon at a time, stopping to scrape down the sides when needed. Once all the butter is in and its fully incorporated, whip on high until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Add in the melted white chocolate and mix on medium until well combined. If frosting cake same day, leave the buttercream at room temperature. If not, transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Bring the buttercream fully to room temperature and then mix on low to get it back to the right consistency.

For the sugared cranberries
Rinse the fresh cranberries and pick out any mushy ones. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Combine the sugar, water, and cranberry juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t bring to a boil. Once almost at a simmer remove from the heat and add the cranberries. Pour into an airtight container and immediately refrigerate at least 4 hours if not, overnight. The longer the better the chance of the sugar sticking
Once they are ready, drain the cranberries reserving the simple syrup, and toss the cranberries with the organic or larger grained sugar. Let dry for an hour and then toss again in a smaller grained sugar and let dry completely. These can be made up to two days ahead of time

For Cake assembly
Take the frozen cakes and let thaw slightly. Cut each cake in half so you have 4 equal cake rounds. Place one with cut side up on a cake plate or stand .Lightly brush the top of the cake with reserved simple syrup from the sugared cranberries. Spread on a thin layer of buttercream, about ⅔ c, and top with some of the cranberry filling. If you want to pipe a ring around the cake edges to keep the filling from spilling out the sides, use a pastry bag with a small, ¼ “ round pastry tip and pipe a circle around the edges. Repeat with remaining layers ending with the last layer on top, bottom side up. Brush the last layer with the cranberry simple syrup.
Spread on a thin coat of the buttercream icing to seal in the crumbs. Chill until it is set. Once chilled, finish frosting with the rest of the buttercream, smoothing as best as you can. Top with the sugared cranberries and place them around the bottom of the cake. Chill again until ready to serve. Cut the cake when cold with a hot, sharp knife. Serve the cake at room temperature.

This is a great tutorial for Italian Meringue Buttercream!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Not so "Whoopie" Pies: Baked Sunday Mornings

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Whoopie Pies with Maple Marshmallow Filling

I must have done something wrong, because these whoopie pies had a really funny taste to them...not a delicious oatmeal cookie taste at all.  My marshmallow filling was really hard to work with and quite goopy.  
I guess I struck out on this one!  Not my favorite 'Baked' goodie.
Oh well...better luck next time *sigh*
  Next up for the Baked group is an Italian cookie, Brutti Ma Buoni...
sounds like it is more up my alley!  We shall see!

Until then...
Be Sweet

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Double Chocolate French Macarons: ABC

I simply love macarons.  I am getting better each time I make them....but still have not perfected them.  I am a stubborn old gal, so I am not giving up!  The ABC bakers had a macaron challenge last month.  We are baking from Scientifically Sweet a blog by Christina Marsigiliese.  I tried this recipe about a few weeks ago and it was a total fail...my macarons had no feet!  I have never made a macaron that did not have feet!  So I gave it another shot I got feet, but they were just a little flat.  Oh well, like I said, I will persist.  I will give it another shot another day.

All in all, flat...with feet or without they are all soooo delicious. 

The recipe for these macarons is here

Until next time
Be sweet


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Brown Butter Apple Cranberry Galette: Baked Sunday Mornings

A beautiful flaky crust...rich and buttery, not too sweet and a cinch to make!
Who could ask for more?

 A perfect rainy day project.
Now, if I only had some ice cream............... 

Recipe here

Baked Sunday Mornings

Until next time

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Salted Caramel Apple Cake: Baked Sunday Mornings

I am going way back on this one.  I love to bake along with the Baked Sunday Mornings group when I can, although there have been so many wonderful bakes that I have missed for one reason or the other and this delicious looking cake was one of them.  This recipe can be found in the Baked Explorations cookbook and the recipe is not "salted" but since I was going rogue, I thought I may as well go full tilt!  I went salted!  The rest of the group is making a tapioca pudding that sounds like it is to die for but we are celebrating my sister's birthday today and I wanted to make her a cake, so I scoured through all the recipes that I missed in the past with this group and found this little gem. 

I had to make applesauce and caramel sauce before making this cake.  The homemade applesauce, which went into the cake, was lovely (I should have made more!) and the caramel sauce went into the frosting,  was easy to make and turned out thick and rich.  The frosting was interesting, you made it with flour, granulated sugar, milk and butter (ofcourse).   I halved the recipe because I did not need a big 3 layer cake and it made a really nice 2 layer cake, 
perfect for our gathering.

It certainly looks tasty.  I will not know until we cut into it later on today.
I will post a picture of a cut piece later tonight.

Oh yeah...everyone loved it!

Be sweet!


recipe can be found here

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Truffle Cookies

These cookies taste the the edges of a brownie....sooo good! 
 A little crunch when you bite into it and a soft, 
decadent, over the top chocolatey center.
A chocolate lovers dream!

These should be illegal!


Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Spiced Apple Cream Cheese Coffee Cake: ABC

This looked too good to pass up.  
cake with a layer of cheesecake and then spiced apples on top....
how could you go wrong?  Well, I managed to go wrong somehow!  The cake was dry, the cheesecake layer was barely there the only good thing 
was the spiced apples on top.  

I think this could be a great recipe...maybe I did 
something wrong....dunno.  But I would love to try it again only 
with a different cake recipe and more of a cheesecake layer.  
The concept is good, my execution perhaps not so good.
I haven't really had much luck with any of the 
recipes from Scientifically Sweet.

My finished product did not even come close to what was pictured from the source...and for recipe see here.  But I have to say it improved the after it sat in the fridge for a day or two.  Hubby liked it...he ate 3 pieces!  

Just meh for me....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chocolate Covered Cheesecake Bites

Here I go again, baking while juicing is not an easy feat, but I enjoy 
baking and even though I know now that it is not the healthiest of hobbies 
I still am obsessed by it and enjoy doing it.  Only now, I don't eat 
any or as much as I did before.  One of these days, 
I will start to learn to bake vegan style....but until then, 
I am going to continue to do what I love.

This time I am baking for work.  We have corporate visits a few times a year and I always bake a little treat for them.  I found these cheesecake bites on my favorite past time... Pinterest.   I know, I know, I really need to get a life! 

These are quick and easy.  It is just cheesecake baked in a 8x8 pan then cut up into little squares and dipped in chocolate.  Easy peasy and you have a great little sweet for any occasion!


adapted from Handle the Heat

Yield: 36 bites

For the crust:

9 whole graham crackers
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the chocolate coating:

16 ounces semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons coconut oil

To make crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 by 8-inch square baking dish with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press mixture evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until light golden and fragrant. Reduce heat to 325°F.

To make filling:

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, add in the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, flour, and salt and beat until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. Pour the batter over the crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cheesecake is slightly puffed and center is set. If the center is slightly jiggly, that's fine.

Let cool completely on a wire rack. Freeze for 3 hours, or until very cold and firm, or overnight.

To coat in chocolate:

Once frozen, lift cheesecake out of pan and gently peel away foil. Using a sharp knife, cut cheesecake into 36 bite-size squares. If squares become too soft, freeze until chilled again.

Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. Place parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet. Dip cheesecake squares, one at a time, in the melted chocolate. Let the excess drip off and place on prepared sheet. Repeat for all the squares then refrigerate until the chocolate is set. Serve or store the squares in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Apricot and Almond Olive Oil Cake: ABC

It has been an age since I have baked along with my ABC group.  The Avid Bakers have been baking some wonderful and beautiful goodies without me....like Brown Butter Banana Bread, Tender Loving Crackle Cookies and Hazelnut Rocher Cake
 They all looked so good!

When I saw this cake, I thought that possible I could make a healthier version...so today, I gave it a try.
First I halved the recipe.  It is only my husband and I here and I am on a quest to drop weight and my husband is a diabetic, so as hard as it is...we 
really don't eat many sweets.  So half sounded like a good place to start.
I used almond milk instead of regular milk and stevia instead of sugar.  

 I think I got a fairly good result.  The cake was very moist and had only a hint of sweetness which played very well with the tartness of the apricots.  The almond milk added to the almond flavors in the cake.  I liked 
the crunch of the slivered almonds on top.  
I will give it a thumbs up!


Apricot & Almond Olive Oil Cake
adapted from Scientifically Sweet
Makes one 9-inch cake

¾ cup plus 2 tbsp (175g) sugar (used Stevia)
1 cup (230 ml) milk  ( I used almond milk)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (100 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (25g) ground almonds
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda 
¼ tsp salt 
5-6 apricots, cut into quarters
flaked almonds, for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly butter and flour a 9x9 inch round springform cake pan and line the base with parchment paper.

Place the sugar, milk, lemon zest and scraped vanilla bean seeds with the pod in a medium saucepan over low heat and bring just barely to a simmer while stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for 15 minutes to infuse and cool down.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk through ground almonds. Add the olive oil, beaten eggs and cooled milk mixture and whisk gently to form a smooth batter. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange the apricot quarters on top any way you like. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for 30–35 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the sides and leaving to cool completely. 

If you are using very small apricots, they may plummet to the bottom of the tin during baking. To avoid this, make a double layer of apricot quarters.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Everyone's Favorite Birthday Cake: Baked Sunday Mornings

It goes to show how much I love to bake...I am 3 days into a 28 day juice cleanse and here it is, my hubby's birthday.  I always make him a carrot cake (his favorite).  But, the baked group is making this cake.  How could I not make it?   I made it through the whole thing...not even a lick from my finger.  I try to look at it as a piece of art or a craft and try to disassociate the fact that it is edible. Well, it seemed to work....this time, anyway.  I have to admit it was hard not to lick the fingers...if I wear gloves it helps alot!  
Such a sad thing to be so addicted to sugar.

 The cake is a sour cream cake and it smelled heavenly when it
was baking...it looked like it was moist...  
My hubby said it was.  
The frosting is a chocolate cream cheese frosting...
what is not to like about that!
I halved the recipe, as I usually do.  It made a cute little six inch cake.

 My husband like the cake.  He said the frosting was very rich.  
I think he missed his carrot cake.  
I did a frosting technique that I have been wanting to try for some time now....
I need more practice...LOL!
It certainly looked delicious.  I am putting a piece in the freezer so I can
give it a try at a later date!

Happy Birthday Don!

Recipe here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Gonzo Cake: Baked Sunday Mornings

It has been an age since I have baked 
along with my Baked Sunday Mornings friends...but I just 
couldn't resist giving this purple velvet cake a go.  
Well maybe a dull greyish kinda purple...lol!  
I guess I needed 
a little more food coloring. 

I halved the recipe and made a cute little cake and the lavender is so lovely out in my garden that I decided to put a few sprigs on top...I know it is a little deceiving because there is no lavender flavor in the cake, but pretty, right?

This cake has purple yam powder in it....yes, you read it right...purple yam powder.  I got mine from Amazon, although I probably could have found it at Jungle Jim's...but that is on the other side of God's country...so I opted to order it...and it came just in time!

I think my cake turned out a bit dense, but it still had a nice flavor...not sickeningly sweet and the cream cheese frosting complimented it nicely.

It was nice to once again bake along with the BSM group!  Missed you guys!

Next up is Everyone's Favorite Birthday Cake...that falls right on my husbands birthday, so I will probably be baking along with that one!!!
Til then

Recipe posted here

Friday, July 17, 2015

Yes I CANnoli Cake!

This Italian girl loves a good cannoli!  
This Italian girl can make a pretty mean cannoli. 
 And now this Italian girl made a nice Cannoli Cake!

Another birthday is upon us...it is my step son's Alex's birthday and his girl is having a suprise party for him.  She asked me to make the cake.  Well, I knew that Alex loved it when I made my yearly cannolis for our end of summer bash.  One year I wasn't going to make them and he asked me to make them if he went and got the cannoli shells...he had to go drive an hour away to get them.  What can I say, I think he likes them.  He also loves chocolate soooo a Chocolate Cannoli Cake it was!

I discovered that making your own ricotta cheese is very easy and economical as well!  Not to mention it tastes a whole lot better...the store bought stuff does not even compare!  I used lemon juice instead of vinegar for this filling.
Here is a great tutorial!


I made a chocolate layer cake 2 layers in a 9 inch pans and cut those in half.
I used this recipe for the cake. It is easy and delicious!  You will have extra batter left over...always good to make some cupcakes!

While the cannoli cream was chilling I made the buttercream frosting.
It didn't make a whole lot but it was the perfect amount for what I needed.  I crumb coated the cake before frosting it and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. The frosting was gorgeous!!  I frosted the top and very sparingly frosted the sides and pressed chocolate chips into it.  I put the rest of the frosting in a piping bag and piped a nice decoration on the top and bottom edge.

Rich chocolate cake layers filled will creamy cannoli cream then frosted with a luscious cream cheese buttercream.
A beautiful and hopefully tasty cake for someone special in my life!
Happy Birthday Alex!

Until next time...
The Best Cannoli Cake
Adapted from: A Beautiful Bite
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
I did not make the cannoli for this cake, because of time restraints...but I do think that they would be an awesome addition.  Although if I would have done it I would not have done so many of them piled on top....maybe 10-12 of them...one for each serving.
  • 2 9" Chocolate cake layers split in half 
  • 36 Mini cannoli shells ( did not use these)
  • 1 cup Chocolate morsels if you'd like to dip your cannoli ends
For the Cannoli Filling:
  • 32 oz Ricotta cheese, drained overnight (see notes) (Made my own...I used a gallon of milk and drained it overnight)
  • 1 cup Confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Heavy cream
  • 6 oz Mini chocolate morsels
  • (I put a little 1/2 t vanilla and 1/2 t almond extract in mine)
For the Buttercream Frosting
  • 3 cups Confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter ( I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup cream cheese)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 cups Mini chocolate morsels for coating exterior of cake
  1. Prepare ricotta the night prior to assembling the cake. Place ricotta in a cheesecloth lined strainer and pull cheesecloth over ricotta to make a sack. Secure the ends and place a small plate overtop the sack and top with a heavy can. (I used a 28oz can of tomatoes) Place in fridge and allow the excess water to drain off overnight. This is a CRUCIAL step.
  2. If dunking cannoli shells in chocolate, heat morsels over medium heat in a double boiler until melted and smooth. Dunk cannoli ends in chocolate, shake excess off and place on parchment paper to harden. You can speed this up by placing the cannolis in the fridge.
  3. For the filling, mix together the drained ricotta and both sugars. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream into the cheese/sugar mixture. Gently mix in the chocolate morsels. Place in fridge while you make the buttercream frosting.
  4. For the buttercream, using a hand or stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until smooth. Add vanilla extract and cream. Beat until fluffy. If too stiff, add a little more cream.
  5. For assembly:
  6. Place one halved cake layer on a cake plate. Smooth about one cup of filling overtop. Place another cake layer on top of filling and repeat until all layers are in place. Set aside remaining filling to use for mini cannolis.
  7. Scrape any filling that has oozed off the sides of the cake. Place in fridge for at least two hours.
  8. After it sets for two hours, frost the tops and sides of the cake. Press chocolate morsels around the exterior of the cake to coat.
  9. Using a piping bag, fill cannolis with leftover filling. Place filled cannolis on top of the cake in a large pile.
  10. Enjoy!
Please be sure to read my instructions on draining the ricotta. It will make or break this cake. You must drain it overnight.