strawberry cake

can we institute adult spring break???

like a real life mandatory week off??

i mean i don’t feel like i’m asking for too much. i’m not asking for 3 months in the summer. i’m just asking for a week that i don’t have to take my vacation time for because that’s ya know… for those random friday afternoons i feel like taking a nap.

i think we should make that the law of the land.

adult spring break.

we’re gonna make it happen.

and i’ll make you this cake for it.

see it’s another one of those things that i make that i don’t eat.

which one of my coworkers asked me about… how i could make these cakes and things and not eat them. my simple reply. my waistline appreciates it. and honestly, i just like to bake and make people happy with it.

strawberry cake was another work birthday request and it just so happened that i had watched trisha yearwood make her grandmother’s strawberry cupcakes. i knew it was meant to be. i did a little bit more digging and decided that a white chocolate cream cheese frosting would be the perfect compliment because ya know… i love me some strawberries and cream cheese.

but don’t worry.

i can tell you everyone at the office LOVED this cake!

strawberry cake

strawberry cake

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 (3 oz) box strawberry jello
  • 2/3 c vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c frozen sliced strawberries in syrup, thawed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c water
  • white chocolate cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
  1. preheat oven to 350F. grease two 9 in cake pans.
  2. with a mixer, beat together the cake mix, strawberry jello, vegetable oil, strawberries, eggs and water. divide evenly among prepared pans; bake 22-25 min or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. remove from the oven and let cool 10 min in the pans before inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely. once the cakes are cooled completely, frosted with the white chocolate cream cheese frosting.

white chocolate cream cheese frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 6 oz white chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 c powdered sugar
  1. beat together the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. add the melted white chocolate and vanilla; beat until smooth. reduce the speed to low and add the powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. spread on / in between the strawberry cake.

kisses.

cake recipe from: trisha’s southern kitchen, frosting recipe from: two peas and their pod

this post is linked up to these fun link parties! what’s cookin’ wednesdays, what’s in your kitchen wednesdays and taste and tell thursdays

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chocolate cupcakes w/ mint chip buttercream

so i can’t believe it’s been like a year since i posted a mint and chocolate combination. i mean if i’m being honest it’s probably my favorite chocolate based combination. i mean it’s also one of my favorite food combinations period.

and it’s also perfect this time of year.

i mean i’m not entirely sure that the irish love mint flavored food as much as we like to pretend they do around st. patrick’s day. but i’ll just keep believing that in my head and dub this week…. MINT CHOCOLATE WEEK!!

holla!!

for real.

and today we’re going to keep it simple. we’re going to make some of sally‘s mint chip buttercream to jazz up some chocolate cupcakes.

seeing as how the mint and chocolate combination is one of my favorites, it should be no surprise that mint chip ice cream is in my top 5. no joke. that green tinted ice cream with flecks of chocolate throughout. it’s as perfect as a perfect vanilla. the flecks of chocolate give the plain ice cream base a little texture and pure heavenliness. so when sally recently posted this recipe, i knew it needed to be front and center this week.

and this was such a genius buttercream that i’m kicking myself for not thinking of it. that’s usually what happens with all the best ideas.

while sally made her cupcakes from scratch, i took the short cut of using a box mix. sometimes the short cuts are called for. also, you are jazzing them up by making the buttercream from scratch. sometimes, that’s more than enough. and i feel like this buttercream does the perfect job of jazzing up some dark chocolate cupcakes. it really does feel like you’ve put some mint chip ice cream on top, even though it’s not cold. and for someone who was never a fan of cake AND ice cream (like together), this is the perfect substitute!

chocolate cupcakes with mint chip buttercream

chocolate cupcakes w mint chip buttercream

  • 18 chocolate cupcakes (homemade or made with cake mix)
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3-4 c powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs heavy cream
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2+ drops green food coloring – start with 2 drops and add until you reach your desired color
  • pinch salt
  • 2/3 c mini chocolate chips
  1. beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. add 3 c powdered sugar, heavy cream, peppermint extract, food coloring and pinch of salt. beat on high until until the buttercream is light and fluffy. you may need to add more powdered sugar (if it’s too thin) or more cream (if it’s too thick). stir in the chocolate chips.
  2. spread a generous amount of buttercream on each of the chocolate cupcakes.
  3. enjoy any leftover buttercream off a spoon!

do you think the irish love mint and chocolate? because i’m celebrating it again on thursday!

kisses.

buttercream recipe from: sally’s baking addiction

This post is linked up to these fun link parties! What’s Cooking Wednesday and Taste and Tell Thursdays

red velvet sandwich cookies

ah valentine’s day….

you either love it or loathe it.

personally, i’m not a huge fan. i mean i just don’t get it. but a day to celebrate being in love… shouldn’t you celebrate all the time?

but i mean i guess i could potentially get on the bandwagon of a holiday that involves presents and chocolate and champagne.

that sounds like my kind of holiday.

and let’s face it… in the food blog world, valentine’s day means red velvet. while i’m not a traditional red velvet fan, i am a huge fan of these cookie sandwiches. see red velvet usually means cream cheese frosting which i could totally do without. but you take some super simple cake mix cookies and add in my new favorite marshmallow buttercream….

*ding ding ding*

winner!

for real. these cookies take the simplicity of cake mix cookies and throw in the homemade buttercream and they are addicitive. like i couldn’t-walk-into-the-kitchen-at-work-without-trying-to-practice-some-serious-restraint addictive. even one of the guys at work who swears he doesn’t like red velvet liked these and there may have been a request for some for a birthday in there.

red velvet sandwich cookies

red velvet sandwich cookies

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs water
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 recipe marshmallow buttercream 
  1. preheat oven to 350F. line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat if you have one.
  2. pour dry cake mix into a mixing bowl and whisk to break up the chunks. add oil, water and eggs. stir to blend well. stir in the white chocolate chunks.
  3. use your handy cookie scoop and drop the cookie dough on the cookie sheets about an inch apart.
  4. bake 10-12 min or until lightly browned. let sit on the cookie sheet while you put the second sheet in the oven then remove to cool on a cookie rack. once completely cool, pipe (or spread) a good amount of buttercream on one cookie and place another one on top.

i think this is my favorite version of cake mix cookies.

if you’re a valentine lover than you should totally make some of these for those you love.

if you’re a valentine loather than you should totally make these for yourself because they’re totally awesome.

kisses.

this post is linked up to these link parties! what’s cooking wednesday

vanilla frosted sugar cookies

true story…

i made you a king cake…

and then i overbaked it until it was toast.

i know… i’m sad. i was trying to be really on top of having a festive mardi gras treat for y’all today and it was toast.

another true story.

i’m making up for it with cookies.

shocking no?

but for real. these cookies. y’all these cookies.

there aren’t the words for these cookies. seriously… i’m rendered speechless.

we all know that i like good vanilla so needless to say i’ve been pining for shauna sever‘s newest cookbook pure vanilla and i finally gave in a bought it for myself for my birthday. can i just say HOW.FREAKING.EXCITED. i am about this cookbook. so when it came in i sat in myself down… ok i lie… it was delivered to my office so it was my lunchtime reading….. i knew i needed to make something out of it ASAP and these cookies jumped off the page at me.

these are super soft cookies slathered with a super vanillaly buttercream. shauna created them to rival the ones that you find in the grocery store with the bright and seasonal frosting. to say she nailed it is a complete and utter understatement. these are soft like those cookies but have a punch of vanilla.

and hey if you really wanted… you could add some food coloring to the buttercream and throw some sprinkles on there.

vanilla frosted sugar cookies

vanilla frosted cookies

  • 3-1/2 c cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs light corn syrup
  1. sift together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. in a small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs and corn syrup until well blended; set aside.
  2. beat together the butter and vanilla extract until creamy. add the sugar and salt; beat until light and fluffy. reduce mixer speed and beat in egg mixture into the butter/sugar mixture until smooth and fluffy. reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add in the dry ingredients until just combined. cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  3. preheat oven to 325F. line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. using your cookie scoop, scoop out dough about 2 in apart. bake until just brown around the edges 12-15 min, be careful not to overbake. let cookies cool 10 min on the baking sheet before transferring to a cookie rack to cool completely. once cooled competely, frost with a generous amount of vanilla buttercream.

vanilla buttercream

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 4 c powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. place all the ingredients in the mixer bowl and begin beating on low gradually increasing mixer speed. beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.

seriously. you need to make these cookies today and eat them all before you decide to give up sweets for lent tomorrow.

happy mardi gras y’all!!

kisses.

recipe from: pure vanilla by shauna sever 

this post is linked up to these link parties! what’s cooking wednesday

chocolate red wine cake

i don’t know about where you are but the weather here is miserable.

i mean like really really really miserable.

not only is it hot… ok maybe not hot but i consider the high 70s in january hot…. but i feel like the rain is never going to stop. we’re pretty much just going to float away here.

but that’s ok. i’ll just make this cake and everything will be dandy while i’m floating.

this cake…

oh this cake.

i pinned it a while back because we all know i like cake and i like booze so it was like a natural fit. i didn’t really know when i was going to make it but then it was christmas eve and the time was right. it was calling. plus i had discovered my new favorite buttercream so it was like destiny or fate or something like that.

lindsay makes this cake with blackberry wine and uses some blackberry preserves between the layers. i’m not an exceptionally huge fan of blackberry and even less of a fan of jam (or preserves) in between my cake layers. other than changing the wine to a sweet shiraz, discarding the the jam and using marshmallow buttercream, i stayed true to her recipe. and it didn’t disappoint. this cake is definitely a show stopper!

chocolate red wine cake

chocolate red wine cake

  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 & 3/4 c flour
  • 3/4 c cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 c sweet red wine
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 batches of marshmallow buttercream
  • 1 batch chocolate glaze (below)
  1. preheat oven to 350F. spray 3 9in round cake pans with baking spray (cooking spray with flour).
  2. combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. whisk to combine. add eggs, buttermilk, wine, oil and vanilla to the dry ingredients and beat until all are just combined. divide evenly among the 3 pans. bake 30-35 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 10-15 min, or until cool enough to handle. turn the cakes out on the a cooling racks and cool completely.
  3. once the cakes are cooled completely you can assemble them. if they have domed up during the baking process, cut them level so you have a nice even top. add about 1/2 c  of the buttercream to the top and spread evenly. press the second layer on top; add another 1/2 c of buttercream and spread evenly. add the final layer of cake on top. add a thin layer of buttercream to “crumb coat”  the cake. stick the cake in the fridge for 15-20 min for the crumb coat to set.
  4. once the crumb coat has set, frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. stick the cake back into the fridge for another 30 min while you prepare and cool the glaze.
  5. once the glaze has cooled slightly, spread it on the top of the cake, letting it drip over the sides until you like the way it looks. you may not need all the glaze.  stick the cake back in the fridge until set.

chocolate glaze

  • 3.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbs heavy cream
  • 4 tbs powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4-5 tbs warm water
  1. place the chocolate and heavy cream in a double boiler; stir until melted and smooth. remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth. add 1 tbs water at a time until the glaze is a good pouring consistency. let cool at least 10 min before pouring on the cake.

you might notice that my cake doesn’t quite have the noticeable buttercream layer between each cake layer. that’s because i only made 1 batch of buttercream and wish i had doubled it.

trust me on this.

kisses.

recipe slightly adapted from: love and olive oil

hot cocoa thumbprints

i don’t even have words.

let me start with this…

i had initially written the body of this post friday night while, like many others, i was glued to my tv trying to take in the day’s events. normally, i’m a complete smartass and sarcastic and any other word you can think of similar. that is my honest personality. but with these events, i feel that i can take a moment from that. i can be serious and honest. especially since it feels like anything i have to say is irrelevant. my heart is absolutely broken for the people in the community of newtown, ct. it weeps the deepest tears.

like i said, i was going to be smartassy about my cookie exchange that was inspired by the food blogger cookie swap. but that smartassiness can be put aside for one post. i am not a serious person by nature but in light of what happened, i’m going on the serious side of the cookie exchange.

i am so thoroughly excited that i participated in the food blogger cookie swap and was inspired to host one with my friends. while not everyone that i would have liked to have been there could attend, the friends that were involved hold an absolutely unbelievable place in my heart and i could not have been happier than to have them all together. at this time of year, especially with what has transpired recently, i feel like it is a time to hold your family close to you, even if its family who do not have the same blood running through their veins. my friends are some of my most cherished “things”.

i take this serious note because there are two things that help me… cooking and writing. i know there is very little i can personally for the community of newton other than send my deepest, heartfelt prayers that they find peace but if i could, i would send every single person that lives in that community these cookies.

hot cocoa thumbprints

hot cocoa thumbprints

  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/4 c cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 c semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 1/4 c sugar + more for rolling
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg yolk, room temp
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. sift together flour, cocoa and cinnamon; set aside. melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler until smooth; set aside to cool slightly.
  2. beat together butter, sugar & salt until pale and fluffy. mix in yolk, vanilla, and melted chocolate chips. on low speed, mix in the flour/cocoa mixture and mix until just combined. refrigerate 1 hour, covered.
  3. preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment/silpat.
  4. put 6 tbs of sugar into a bowl for rolling. using a cookie scoop, scoop cookie dough into 3/4 in balls; roll in the sugar to coat. place balls 1 in apart on the cookie sheet; press center down slightly with your thumb. bake 10 min. press centers again with the end of a wooden spoon making 3/4 in indentations. bake until slightly cracked and set, about 5 min. cool completely before filling with marshmallow buttercream.

marshmallow buttercream

  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 1 7 oz jar marshmallow creme
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
  1. beat butter until creamy. add in marshmallow creme, beat 2-3 min before adding the  vanilla. on low, beat in 1 c of powdered sugar at a time; beat 2-3 min more.

these cookies were absolutely fantastic. and that buttercream… well i’m kinda obsessed. as in this is my new favorite buttercream and it will be making an appearance again. you can bet on that.

oh and you might notice mine aren’t rolled in sugar… because i totally forgot so just pretend like its there k?

hold on a little tighter to those that are dear to you tonight.

kisses.

cookie recipe adapted from: martha stewart’s cookie cookbook, buttercream recipe from: how sweet eats

peppermint white chocolate frosted brownie bites

i don’t know about where you are but down here is weird.

what i mean by that is that it kinda feels like the holidays are in full swing but then i step outside and i lose the feeling. i mean it’s supposed to get to close to 80F here today and i just can’t seem to quite find the holiday spirit when it’s hot outside.

and worse than that…

i feel very wardrobe challenged. i mean with the temps where they are, i want to be in shorts and sandals but my head is telling me it’s december and it’s boot season and i look forward to boot season so i need to be wearing boots. and then try shopping… i mean all the stores have these cute sweaters and longsleeve shirts but i’m here dying of heat.

this all makes me very sad.

what doesn’t make me sad though is baking this time of year. it’s like you can bake everyday and it’s completely acceptable to have a mound of cookies, brownies and cake on your desk for breakfast.

holla!

i’ve been craving a brownie recently. i’ve also been craving a cupcake with all it’s glorious buttercream on top. and i remembered i had these little gems pinned and it solved both! and bonus… they’re all pepperminty which is totally a flavor of the season! yay!

peppermint white chocolate frosted brownie bites

peppermint white chocolate brownie

  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbs milk
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 12 oz white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  1. preheat the oven to 375F. spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with mini cupcake liners.
  2. sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. in a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs and vanilla. add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until it’s all incorporated. fold in the dark chocolate chips.
  3. spoon about 1 tbs of batter into each of the muffin wells. bake 10-15 min, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the bites comes out clean. remove from the oven and let cool 1 min before cooling completely on a baking rack.
  4. make the buttercream: beat the butter; add in the melted white chocolate. beat until creamy. add in the powdered sugar, milk and peppermint extract. mix 2-3 min until it’s smooth and fluffy.
  5. frost the brownie bites and sprinkle some red sprinkles on top.

even though these aren’t “cookies” they would make a great addition to your holiday cookie swap. and you could even change out the white chocolate for semisweet and make them peppermint double chocolate.

what holiday baking do you look forward to most?

kisses.

recipe lightly adapted from: shugary sweets