Strawberry Swirl Cake

This soft, incredibly moist cake is a happy experiment that successfully combines my favorite strawberry cake with cinnamon roll cake. Instead of cinnamon sugar, it has a swirl of strawberry sugar. It’s bursting with fresh strawberry flavor and it’s so good it doesn’t even need frosting. But of course, I added strawberry cream cheese icing, in the tradition of cinnamon roll cake, which takes it over the top.

Print Recipe
Strawberry Swirl Cake
Fresh strawberry cake with a strawberry sugar swirl and strawberry cream cheese icing
Course Dessert
Keyword cake, strawberry
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Strawberry Swirl
Strawberry Cake
Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing
Course Dessert
Keyword cake, strawberry
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Strawberry Swirl
Strawberry Cake
Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing
Instructions
Strawberry Swirl
  1. In a small food processor or a clean spice grinder, pulse the freeze dried strawberries to break them up a bit. Add the sugar and process to a fine consistency. Strain the sugar mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Mix in the flour, melted butter, salt and lemon juice until well combined.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. I used an Ateco #12 tip.** Alternately, you can snip the corner off a disposable piping bag or food storage bag, creating a 3/8-inch wide opening.
Strawberry Cake
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer the puréed strawberries until reduced by half. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan*** with parchment paper. Grease and flour the inside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, egg, egg white, and extracts, with an electric mixer at medium speed, until smooth. Alternately, you can whisk the mixture together by hand until smooth. Stir in 1/3 cup of the cooled strawberry reduction and the food coloring. (Reserve the remaining strawberry reduction for the icing.)
  5. Stir the flour mixture into the batter, in 2 additions, alternating with the sour cream. Mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the cake pan.
  6. Pipe the strawberry swirl mixture onto the batter in a spiral pattern. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
  7. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a cooling rack.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing
  1. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and strawberry reduction and beat until smooth and well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk a little at a time until your desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over the cooled cake.
Recipe Notes

*To find the food coloring I used, click here.

**To find the piping tip I used, click here.

***To find the cake pan I used, click here.

Blueberry Lavender Cookies

Blueberry Lavender Cookies

Blueberry cookies remind me of a time when I was little. Every year my family would take a road trip up to Northern California. My parents loved stopping at roadside stands to buy fresh produce on the way back. One year my dad bought an enormous box of blueberries. When we got home, for the next couple of weeks, we ate far too many blueberry pancakes. My dad also used the blueberries in his famous cobbler, which was delightful. Then he made biscuits which turned out like rocks and we all laughed. My favorite blueberry creations that year were the blueberry shortcake and blueberry cookies. I’m sharing my version of the blueberry cookies, with the addition of lavender to make them a little more special.

My Blueberry Lavender Cookies start with butter and homemade lavender sugar. The original cookies had fresh blueberries plopped into the dough, which is perfectly fine if you’re making muffins. To reduce the soggy spots that form as the fruit releases its juices while baking, I typically macerate or cook fruit before it’s added to many of my recipes. The extra step makes a big difference. A quick, cooked blueberry compote is folded into the batter of these cookies, making pretty blueberry swirls. I finished these cookies with a sprinkle of sparkly sanding sugar in a lilac shade. This is optional, but very pretty. You can also make extra lavender sugar to use for sprinkling on your cookies. Sprinkle the sugar on before baking or after the cookies bake, while they’re still warm.

Print Recipe
Blueberry Lavender Cookies
Chewy lavender scented sugar cookies with crisp exteriors and swirls of blueberry compote.
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Blueberry Compote
Lavender Sugar
Blueberry Lavender Cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Blueberry Compote
Lavender Sugar
Blueberry Lavender Cookies
Instructions
Blueberry Compote
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of water, stirring until the blueberries soften and start to release their juices. Smash the blueberries slightly with the back of the spoon. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Turn the heat down to low. Simmer until thickened to a jam consistency, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Transfer the blueberry compote to a small bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Lavender Sugar
  1. In a small food processor or a clean spice grinder, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with the lavender. Pulse a few times to chop the lavender into smaller bits. Add the remaining sugar and pulse a few more times to combine.
Blueberry Lavender Cookies
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF (180ºC) Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and lavender sugar with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the the egg white and vanilla and beat until well combined.
  5. On low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions and mix just until combined.
  6. Add dollops of the blueberry compote to the batter. Fold in gently, but don't completely combine it. You want to see swirls of blueberry.
  7. Place 2-tablespoon size portions of dough about 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. I used a #30 portion scoop.*** Sprinkle with decorative sugar if desired.
  8. Bake until tops of cookies are set and bottom edges turn light golden brown, about 10-14 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Do not over bake. Test one cookie before baking the entire batch if you are unsure about how to determine the doneness of cookies.
Recipe Notes

*To find culinary lavender, click here.

**To find the decorative sanding sugar I used, click here.

***To find the scoop I used, click here.

The Nutcracker Land of Sweets Cupcakes

Nutcracker Land of Sweets Cupcakes

The tradition of enjoying the Nutcracker Ballet at Christmastime has been in my family for over 20 years. 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?

You might also like my Nutcracker Land of Sweets inspired candy bark. It’s a delightful holiday bark I designed that is often imitated. To view it, click here.

Print Recipe
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
Course Dessert
Keyword cupcakes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Spice cupcakes
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Course Dessert
Keyword cupcakes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Spice cupcakes
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Instructions
Spice Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12 serving muffin pan with disposable baking cups. (I used silver foil liners.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla, one at a time, mixing until well combined.
  5. Add flour mixture in two additions, alternating with milk. Mix until combined.
  6. Divide batter evenly into wells of prepared muffin pan, filling about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake until light golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 16-18 minutes.
  8. Let cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes. Gently transfer cupcakes to cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Core the center of each cupcake, removing a 3/4-inch deep circle. Fill with jam and replace the circle top.
  10. Frost cupcakes with pink Swiss meringue buttercream. Decorate with cookies and candies. Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercreamgue Buttercream
  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of gently simmering water.
  2. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and temperature of 160ºF is reached.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Spice Cake