We’ve all needed a little cheering up at times, especially this past past year. These cute, happy tarts won’t take your problems away, but they can certainly make you smile, especially if you make them for someone else. They’re super easy to make and they taste better than the ones in the box we ate as kids. You can use store bought pie dough if you want to streamline the process. Any flavor of jam or preserves you have on hand works too!
Feel free to have fun decorating these little cuties. The possibilities are endless. You can use edible glitter, purchased candy eyes or even add mustaches. Happy baking!
Have you noticed the strawberry shortcake crumble topping trend? I recently noticed many people have been 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.
Since strawberry season is in full swing, I used fresh strawberries for the puree in the muffins. Feel free to use frozen, defrosted strawberries if you cant get fresh ones.
Strawberry Shortcake Crumble Muffins
Strawberry muffins topped with strawberry shortcake crumble
Each spring, I look forward to the sight and fragrance of beautiful botanical blooms, especially cherry blossoms. Feeling inspired, I baked some cherry blossom cookies just in time for Mother’s Day. These perfectly pretty, pink cookies are easy to make and fun to decorate. You can sprinkle sparkling sugar on them before baking and call it a day or you can make some pink cherry icing and add sugar pearls or sprinkles. Either way, they look beautiful and taste delicious!
Cherry Blossom Cookies
Pink cherry flavored sugar cookies with cherry icing
Every winter, when blood oranges come back in season, I start keeping an eye out for them at grocery stores and farmers markets. This year was different. I’ve been at home, having my groceries delivered instead perusing the local produce aisles. If you’ve been entrusting strangers to do your shopping like I have, then you know delivery produce selections are hit and miss. So I was elated when a bag of perfectly beautiful, ripe blood oranges landed on my doorstep. This simple joy made my day. There was no choice. I had to make something worthy of the gorgeous red beauties!
I didn’t get enough of gingerbread this holiday season, so I decided to make a gingerbread cupcake recipe that I created a few years ago when I was experimenting with blood oranges. I used blood orange zest in the cupcake batter and brushed the warm cupcakes with the blood orange syrup left over from making the candied oranges. If you don’t make the candied oranges, you can easily make a batch of the syrup* or skip this step altogether. They will still be delicious. I topped the cupcakes with cream cheese icing made with more orange zest and some blood orange juice mixed in. The juice makes the icing turns a soft shade of pink.
Candied blood orange slices are so stunning, that I can’t bring myself to just lay them on top of a dessert. They remind me of stained glass windows. I like to place them on toothpicks so they can stand up in regal style! Many recipes out there will instruct you to boil the orange slices, then let them air dry. This is perfectly fine if you don’t mind floppy candied oranges. For this recipe, boiling the slices, then letting them dry in the oven on low heat will give them enough stiffness to stand up.
If you can’t find blood oranges where you live, here’s a link to get blood oranges shipped to you. This recipe will also work with other types of oranges. You won’t get the deep scarlet color and the flavor will have a bit more tartness, but it will still be beautiful and delicious!
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Preheat oven to 350º. Spray the wells of a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed, until smooth.
Add brown sugar and orange zest and beat until light and fluffy.
Add molasses and beat until combined.
Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
Mix in dry ingredients in two additions, alternating with buttermilk. Beat just until combined.
Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tin, filling wells 2/3 full. (If you have any remaining batter, prepare an additional muffin tin.)
Bake for 15-18 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan.
Place cupcakes upside down on cooling rack and brush generously with orange simple syrup. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed, until smooth.
Add butter, orange zest and salt and beat until combined.
Add powdered sugar. Beat at low speed until powdered sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth.
Add blood orange juice and beat, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Candied Blood Orange Slices
Slice oranges into thin 1/4 inch slices.
Combine sugar and water in a shallow saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Add orange slices to saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Drain oranges, reserving syrup.
Heat oven to 175ºF. Place on a large baking sheet lined with a baking mat in a single layer and bake until orange slices begin to stiffen, about 2 hours.
Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. If desired, insert toothpicks when slices are cool enough to handle. The slices will continue to stiffen as they cool.
*To make orange simple syrup, combine the juice of one orange with enough water to make 1/2 cup. Combine mixture with the zest of one orange and 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and transfer to a glass container. Refrigerate until ready to use.
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.
My relationship with Valentine’s Day has transformed over the years. When I was a child, I joyfully skipped home from school with my bounty of tiny Valentine cards, candy hearts and a cupcake someone’s mother baked. As I grew older, I was hot and cold towards Valentine’s Day, depending on the state of my love life at the time. After having kids, Valentine’s Day became about red construction paper, doily hearts and glue sticks. I happily cleaned up sprinkles and kissed chubby, frosting-stained cheeks. Now I think of Valentine’s Day as simply a day to celebrate love. I embrace Valentine’s Day and all the hearts, roses and chocolates that go with it! Show your loved ones that you love them on Valentine’s Day, but more importantly, show them throughout the year, by loving, respecting and accepting them for who they are every day.
If your heart beats for a chocolate lover, then this Valentine cake for two will have them swooning. It’s small in size, but grand in chocolate indulgence. It has three layers of moist chocolate cake, rich, white chocolate buttercream and a silky chocolate glaze. As if that isn’t enough, I loaded the top with chocolate candy! Some of the candy is store bought and some I made with candy melts and chocolate molds. Click here to find the cherub mold.Click here to find the heart mold.
I hope you share this Valentine cake with someone you love! However you celebrate the day and whoever you love, have a happy one!
Chocolate Lovers' Valentine Cake for Two
A mini chocolate cake with white chocolate buttercream, topped with chocolate glaze and chocolate Valentine candy. Perfect for sharing!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease & flour three 4-inch cake pans. *See note below.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Add sugar and stir to combine.
Combine egg, 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 until incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans, dividing batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.
White Chocolate Buttercream
Melt white chocolate in a double boiler over gently simmering water. (Alternately, you can melt the white chocolate in the microwave. In a small microwaveable bowl, heat the white chocolate for 30 seconds, then stir. Heat again for 10 second intervals, stirring until melted, being very careful not to overheat it.)
Set white chocolate aside to cool until lukewarm and still soft.
In a medium bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and creamy.
Add vanilla extract, salt and melted white chocolate. Beat at low speed until combined. Stop mixer. Scrape sides of bowl with spatula.
Add powdered sugar. Beat at low speed, until powdered sugar is combined. Beat at medium speed until buttercream is smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl occasionally. Keep covered at room temperature until ready to use.
When cakes have cooled completely, trim the cake layers to 1-inch tall.
Attach one of the layers to a cake board with some of the white chocolate buttercream. Apply 1/4-inch thick layer of buttercream to the top of the cake layer, followed by the second cake layer, another 1/4-inch thick layer of buttercream, then the final cake layer.
Apply a crumb coat (thin layer) of buttercream to the cake. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Apply chocolate sprinkles to the bottom edge of the cake.
Melt chocolate drip glaze ingredients together in a double boiler over gently simmering water. Let cool slightly.
Spoon chocolate glaze into a piping bag. Snip off the end of the bag with kitchen scissors. Drizzle chocolate glaze along the edges of the perimeter of the cake, then fill in the middle. Smooth top with a small offset spatula.
Top cake with assorted chocolate candy. If desired, you can stack some of the candy and adhere them with melted chocolate to give some variation in height.