If you landed here from one of my social media accounts, welcome! I’m really glad you’re here. I love to create fun, pretty and sweet treats like these delicious blueberry donut holes! The thing that really makes these special is the homemade blueberry sugar, which adds a burst of blueberry flavor. Freeze dried blueberries are combined with sugar to create a beautiful, flavorful sugar that you can use for many other things. It can also be used in tea, lattes, lemonade, cocktails or sprinkled on cookies or scones. Keep in mind that freeze dried blueberries are not the same as dried blueberries. Dried blueberries still contain some moisture, so they won’t work for this purpose.
The donut hole batter comes together quickly and easily. The most challenging part for me is frying them. I found that using a thermometer and testing one donut hole first, helps you determine the perfect oil temperature. Using a small ice scream scoop helps you get uniform donut holes. Make sure the outside of the scoop is clean between each donut to help them keep the round shape and avoid pointy tails.
Blueberry Donut Holes with Homemade Blueberry Sugar
Process freeze dried blueberries and sugar in a food processor or a clean spice grinder until finely ground. Be careful not to over process or you may end up with powdered sugar.
Blueberry Donut Holes
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract until well combined.
Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Do not over mix! A few lumps are okay.
Fold in chopped blueberries.
In a heavy saucepan, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil to 340ºF.
Drop tablespoon size scoops or spoonfuls of batter into hot oil. I used a #60 ice cream scoop. Don't overcrowd the pan.
Cook donut holes until golden brown on all sides, about 2-4 minutes, flipping halfway through. If donut holes cook too quickly on the outside, turn heat down.
Briefly drain donut holes on paper towels, then toss warm donut holes in blueberry sugar. Serve immediately.
Success tip: Use a small ice cream scoop sprayed with nonstick spray to drop donut holes into oil. Make sure the outside of scoop is clean between each donut hole to keep the round shape and avoid tails on your donut holes.
Crinkle cookies, also known as crackle cookies, have been around for a very long time. The pretty, crispy, cracked exterior and the soft, moist interior are what we love about them! There’s definitely no shortage of recipes for crinkles out there, everything from chocolate to red velvet. I noticed a new wave of interest in lemon crinkles on social media. I even saw an audacious cookie company selling lemon crinkles for twelve dollars each, more money than it will cost for this entire batch! So many of the recipes I tried were disappointing, especially the ones made with cake mix. So I created my own version and I’m sharing it with you. Here’s to making sure delicious lemon crinkle cookies are available for all to enjoy, not just a select few.
This recipe requires a bit of chilling, which I know many people don’t like because they’re impatient. I happen to be one of those people. Old fashioned crinkle cookies require about 3 hours of chilling. My recipe has the addition of cornstarch, which helps prevent spreading and allows for a shorter chilling time. As an added bonus, cornstarch makes the cookies more tender. Win win!
Fresh lemon zest and lemon juice in these cookies is crucial to the best lemon flavor. A bit of pure lemon extract is added to enhance that flavor. Don’t be tempted to use imitation extracts. The flavor will disappoint you. I added two drops of lemon yellow food color, which made them so pretty they look like pure sunshine!
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Lemon cookies with a crackled, crispy exterior and a soft, tender interior
Once upon a time, there was a little black bear who woke up from a long nap. As she stretched, she felt her tummy growl. She ventured into the morning sunshine and smelled something sweet. She sniffed the air, following the sweet fragrance until she came upon a beautiful purple tree. She climbed up to a comfy branch and ate the tender, purple blossoms to her heart’s content.
Bears, butterflies and bees know something good when they see it. We humans can also enjoy lilacs. I knew lilacs were edible, but I hadn’t tasted them until recently. The flavor reminds me of beets, slightly sweet with a vegetable aftertaste. I really wanted to try lilac syrup after seeing so many photos of pretty purple syrup online. I discovered that lilac syrup is not purple. It’s more of a dull, brownish blue-green. Many people use food coloring or blueberries to color their syrup. I decided to skip that step since I would be using my lilac syrup inside of cake layers. I made a simple syrup with lilac blossoms and let them steep for a couple of hours. It was just long enough to give a subtle lilac flavor without being too floral. If you want a stronger lilac flavor, I suggest using more lilac blossoms rather than steeping longer to avoid bitterness.
I paired the lilac syrup with this soft, fluffy vanilla cake and silky Swiss meringue buttercream. If you aren’t a fan of lilac syrup, feel free to use vanilla simple syrup instead and just use the lilac blossoms to decorate your cakes. They look stunning on any cake or cupcakes.
Lilac Vanilla Mini Cakes
Soft, fluffy mini white vanilla cakes with lilac syrup and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with lilac blossoms
Combine lilac blossoms, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently to dissolve sugar.
Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow lilac blossoms to steep for 2 hours. Pass lilac syrup through a mesh sieve.
White Vanilla Cake
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, oil and vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer at medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
On medium speed, beat in egg whites in two additions, then beat in egg until well combined.
On low speed, beat in one third of the flour mixture, then beat in sour cream just until combined.
Beat in the remaining flour in two additions, alternating with milk. Beat just until combined.
Transfer batter to prepared cake pans. Bake for 28-33 minutes, or until top is light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not over bake.
Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and continue cooling on a wire rack.
Cut cakes into twelve 2 3/4-inch rounds using a cookie or biscuit cutter.
Using a pastry brush, brush mini cakes generously with lilac syrup or vanilla simple syrup.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Combine egg whites and sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water.
Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and temperature of 160ºF is reached.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed, gradually increasing to medium-high speed. Whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form and mixture reaches room temperature.
Turn mixer to medium-low speed. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, allowing butter to fully incorporate before adding more. If mixture looks curdled, keep mixing and it will correct itself.
Switch to a paddle attachment. On low speed, mix in vanilla bean paste and salt. Continue mixing on low speed for a few minutes until smooth.
Remove about 3/4 cup of frosting and transfer to a small bowl. Using a toothpick, place two tiny drops of lilac gel food color and one tiny drop of violet gel food color into the bowl. Mix with a spatula until well combined.
Smear a bit of frosting on each mini cake board. Top with a cake round, frosting, then a second cake round. Frost with a crumb coat if desired. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Frost mini cakes with white Swiss meringue buttercream, then smear small amounts of lilac Swiss meringue buttercream around the sides and top. Smooth frosting with a bench scraper and smooth the tops with a small offset spatula. Decorate with lilac blossoms.
Vanilla Simple Syrup (optional)
Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. When sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract.
*If you can't find ultra fine granulated sugar, it's ok to substitute with regular granulated sugar.
Ever since a certain celebrity cut a hole from the middle of her favorite olive oil cake back in 2020, the internet has been obsessed with olive oil cakes. I must confess that I was a fan of olive oil cakes long before that! I first tasted one at a restaurant years ago and fell in love. The flavor and texture was so delightful, that all it needed was a dusting of powdered sugar on top. Now that the dust has settled, I’m sharing my favorite orange olive oil cake recipe. Not because it was ever trendy, but because it’s a really delicious recipe that tastes like spring.
I made cute little orange scented, personal cakes that are really just elegant cupcakes. The recipe is easily adapted to your tastes. You can switch up the orange flavor and substitute with lemon or any citrus of your choice. Even if you don’t like olive oil, you’ll still like these little cakes. I use light olive oil, rather than extra virgin olive oil, for a more subtle olive oil flavor. Feel free to use your favorite olive oil or replace it with the oil you prefer. Grape seed, avocado and canola oil are some examples of oil you can use as a replacement.
This recipe contains almond flour. It helps with texture and flavor, so it’s a necessary ingredient. Almond flour can be pricey, but it’s good to have on hand. Adding it to your baked goods will make them more moist and tender. To find almond flour click here,
If you love chocolate cake, this is the post for you! Chocolate cake is one of the best comfort foods there is. I’ve tasted many over the years, but my all time favorite was one I had growing up. I’ve spent years trying to duplicate it. Most cookbook recipes were either too dry, too dense or too spongey. Some books have some velvety, butter based recipes that use the reverse creaming method, but they don’t have the moist, nostalgic texture I was looking for. I noticed that nearly every chocolate cake recipe on the internet is a variation of the century-old recipe from the Hershey’s Cocoa tin. I think many people have passed it down as a family recipe, each grandmother adding her own personal touch. Even some celebrity chefs have claimed it as their own. It’s an easy, delicious, moist recipe and its popularity is well deserved. You can tweak the flavor additions a bit to make it your own too. It’s a recipe that’s hard to mess up.
The recipe I’m sharing here is my version of the vintage original, adapted over time by my family. I like to use dark or black cocoa powder in this recipe, which makes a rich, dark chocolate cake. The chocolate frosting recipe is one I developed, mostly because I couldn’t find a chocolate frosting recipe that didn’t taste gritty and/or look speckled from the cocoa powder. Swiss meringue buttercream with melted chocolate added is one alternative, but, while it is smooth, silky and perfect for piping, it’s missing that deep chocolate richness. Another option is chocolate ganache. It looks rich and creamy in those viral videos, but it’s a little too rich and overpowering to use as frosting in my opinion.
I think this frosting recipe is the one! it has the best of both worlds and is perfect for a classic chocolate cake. You’ll notice this frosting contains maple syrup. It gives a subtle maple note in the background, but mostly, it helps make the frosting silky and gives it shine.
Vintage Chocolate Cake with the Best Chocolate Frosting
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease two 6-inch cake pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Add sugar and stir to combine.
Combine egg, egg yolk, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Whisk lightly to combine.
Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix on low speed with a handheld electric mixer, until combined. Stop mixer. Scrape sides of bowl with spatula. Turn mixer up to medium speed and beat for 1 minute.
Add hot coffee and stir to combine.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans, dividing batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together maple syrup, water, cocoa powder and espresso powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar and salt until smooth with an electric mixer
Gradually add cooled maple syrup mixture and beat until combined.
Stir in melted chocolate until well combined.
*For smoothest results, use chopped bar chocolate and make sure chocolate is completely melted. Do not use chocolate chips
I wasn’t going to post this recipe until later this year because lavender blooms in spring and summer and that’s when most people are looking for lavender recipes. But since I had some culinary lavender on hand, I decided to post a TikTok video of these pretty scones. I used a heart biscuit cutter which made them extra adorable and perfect for Valentine’s Day. So I pressed “post”. Crickets. My video sat invisible in “processing”, according to a TikTok notice, for two hours. I tried to post it again with no luck. Then after after two and a half hours, it suddenly appeared.
The video took off like a lightning bolt. I typed the recipe in the comments. Everything looked good until I started getting comments that some steps of the recipe were missing. On my end, I could see all of the steps. I tried to repost the missing steps twice, but it only triggered something that made me unable to comment or reply at all. So I posted the recipe here to make sure no one was left disappointed. If you headed over here from TikTok, welcome! Don’t you love how you don’t have to scroll for hours to find the recipe here?
Before we part, let’s talk a little bit about lavender. I used one teaspoon of lavender, which I think is the perfect amount to give a hint of lavender, without tasting too floral. You can adjust the amount to your preference. Just taste the cream before adding it to the scones. You can use any culinary lavender in this recipe. English lavender is usually used for culinary purposes. Spanish and French varieties are too strong. I have Spanish lavender in my yard, but I just use it for decorative purposes because it’s so pretty!
The tradition of enjoying the Nutcracker Ballet at Christmastime is another thing the pandemic took from us. I’m not sure when I’ll ever feel safe sitting close to people in a theater for ballets, plays or movies. In the meantime, I can enjoy the music at home and share some Nutcracker inspired treats with you.
The Nutcracker Land of Sweets is a magical theme that has me mesmerized. Gingerbread, candy canes, gumdrops and billowy clouds of pink frosting are what dreams are made of. And that’s exactly what these dreamy cupcakes are made of. The cupcake flavor is a subtle spice cake. The recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart cake recipe I made last summer. The original cake was paired with blackberry jam, but I knew plum jam would be perfect for these cupcakes. I topped them with a mildly sweet, fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream.
Part of the fun of making these cupcakes began at the store as I collected the sweets to decorate the cupcakes. Another perk of the job is taste testing the candy. I discovered that purple spice drops are licorice flavored and red spice drops are cinnamon. Who knew?
The Nutcracker Land of Sweets Cupcakes
Spice cupcakes filled with plum jam, topped with fluffy pink frosting, gingerbread men and Christmas candy, and dusted with sugar snow
Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of gently simmering water.
Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and temperature of 160ºF is reached.
Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixture with a whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed, gradually increasing to medium-high speed. Whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form and mixture reaches room temperature.
Turn mixer to medium-low speed. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, allowing the butter to fully incorporate each time before adding more.
Switch to paddle attachment. On low speed, mix in vanilla, salt and food color. Continue mixing on low speed for a few minutes until smooth.
In early September, I saw someone announce the fall season on social media. In addition to people pointing out that it was too early for the announcement, the word police corrected the person with the word autumn. Since both terms are correct, we can call the season whatever we prefer. I think autumn is a pretty sounding word, so I’ll use it for the rest of this post. Whatever you call it, these Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves are a perfect little celebration of the season. They have just the right amount of pumpkin spices, making them so fragrant that your kitchen will smell like cozy autumn heaven.
I call them loaves because I originally made them in mini loaf pans. They’re so cute and delicious that I often give them as holiday gifts. This year I decided to try them in ramekins and I loved the results! I used 6-ounce ramekins, but you can use 8-ounce ramekins, any size mini loaf pans, a muffin pan or even a 9-inch loaf pan. Keep in mind that baking times will differ. To find the ramekins I used, click here.
Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves with Caramel Filling
Mini loaves of tender pumpkin bread with caramel filling and luscious cream cheese frosting
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour seven 6-ounce ramekins or six 8-ounce ramekins or any loaf pans of your choice.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
Beat in pumpkin and vanilla until combined.
Divide batter evenly into prepared ramekins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not overbake. (Mini loaves or muffins bake for 15-25 minutes, depending on size. 9-inch loaf bakes for 40-50 minutes)
Cool completely if serving in ramekins or remove from pans after cooling for 10 minutes. Continue to cool on wire rack.
Make 3/4-inch well in the center of each loaf. Fill with caramel sauce. (For the 9-inch loaf, make multiple holes with a skewer. Fill with caramel.)
Top with cream cheese frosting and pumpkin seeds
Cream Cheese Frosting
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add vanilla extract and salt and beat until combined.
Gradually add powdered sugar and beat at medium speed until combined.
Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined.
My dad used to take me on walks in the woods to look for fairy rings when I was a child. I wanted to see a real fairy so badly! I got a book about fairies, hoping to learn more about them. Fairies love little cakes, milk, honey and butter so I’m sure these Fairy Puffs would be fairy approved.
My Fairy Puffs recipe is loosely based on an old favorite mini muffin recipe. I tweaked it quite a bit, including the addition of pink dragonfruit powder. Dragonfruit has a subtle flavor, so the bright fuchsia powder is mostly for color. But oh what a beautiful color it is! You can find dragonfruit powder in healthy food stores or online. To find the dragonfruit powder , also known as pink pitaya powder, I used, click here.
Decorating these little cuties was so entertaining! After sampling multiple variations of sparkling sugar and cinnamon sugar, I decided that dipping the bottoms of the muffins in butter and cinnamon sugar, then dipping the tops in butter and sparkling sugar gave them the perfect balance of sugar and spice. I had purchased some edible flowers a couple of days prior, and they added a pretty, magical touch. The flowers I used are called bachelor’s buttons and I got them at a local gourmet flower seller.
Have you noticed the strawberry shortcake crumble topping trend? I noticed many people sharing various versions of the crumble recipe all over Tiktok. I’ve seen the topping on cake, cupcakes and countless other desserts. Most people seem to make it using strawberry gelatin mix and vanilla pudding mix. The version I’m sharing here uses freeze dried strawberries instead. I’m not opposed to using gelatin mix, I just seriously love the tart, natural flavor of freeze dried strawberries.
This topping is irresistible on these tender strawberry muffins. I wanted to pile on as much crumble topping as possible so I used tulip baking cups. They’re made of grease-proof parchment paper squares. You can buy them online or make them yourself with squares of parchment. You can use the link provided at the end of the recipe to find the ones I used. Keep in mind, if you use standard muffin liners, you’ll use less batter and topping for each muffin, so you’ll end up with a few more muffins.
I used fresh strawberries for the puree in the muffins, but feel free to use frozen, defrosted strawberries if you cant get fresh ones.
Strawberry Shortcake Crumble Muffins
Strawberry muffins topped with strawberry shortcake crumble
Have you ever had mudslide cake? It’s a deliciously messy chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and marshmallows, also known as Mississippi mud cake. I saw one covered in a layer of marshmallow fluff and it made its way into my dreams. I woke up with the inspiration to make a cookie version of the gooey mudslide cake.
I saw a few mudslide cookie recipes out there that used standard size marshmallows and chocolate chips mixed into the cookie dough. If you’ve ever baked with marshmallows, you know that they nearly disappear during the baking process. Chocolate chips melt beautifully into little pools of chocolate, but then harden once cooled to room temperature. I happily volunteered to address these challenges! After some trial and error, I created a satisfying cookie with plenty of gooey marshmallow goodness and a rich fudge filling that stays soft at room temperature. Dreams do come true!
Marshmallow Mudslide Cookies
Chocolate fudge-filled cookies topped with toasted marshmallows
Melt chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk together in a double boiler or in the **microwave in a medium microwave safe bowl.
Stir in chopped nuts. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350º.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer.
Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time and mix until well combined.
Add vanilla and mix until combined.
Add dry ingredients in two increments, mixing just until combined.
Roll fudge filling into tablespoon sized balls
Roll cookie dough into 1/8 cup balls then flatten into a disc with your fingers and place a ball of fudge filling in the middle of each disc. Wrap the cookie dough around the ball of filling, sealing it completely.
Place cookies about 2 inches apart on large baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
Turn on broiler.
Place a marshmallow on top of each cookie.
Broil cookies until marshmallows are toasted. This takes about 1 minute. CAUTION Watch cookies carefully when broiling! They can go from done to burnt in the blink of an eye!
*I used Kraft Jet-Puffed S'moreMallows, but if you're unable to find them, use jumbo marshmallows. Cut them in half lengthwise with kitchen shears. Place on cookies cut side down.
**To melt fudge filling in microwave, heat for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring until melted.
It’s Fall 2020. We need chocolate! We need pumpkin spice! And we need it drenched with caramel! These satisfying brownies check all of the boxes with multiple layers of comfort. A rich chocolate brownie is the base. The next layer is heavenly pumpkin cheesecake. The topping is a buttery crumble that rivals the best crumb cake. Finally, as if that isn’t enough, it’s drizzled with caramel sauce!
If it sounds complicated, don’t worry, it’s not. Each layer is super easy to make. You can use your favorite store bought caramel sauce to top it with. Vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream are optional, but highly recommended toppings also. Just saying.
The layers go unexpectedly well together and make the perfect dessert for Halloween or Thanksgiving. I’m even going to add these beauties to my Christmas dessert table this year. Enjoy! You deserve it.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Crumble Brownies
Chocolate brownies with pumpkin cheesecake and crumb topping, topped with caramel sauce.