Castle Cake – Chocolate Chip Bundt

castle chocolate chip bundt

What else was I going to bake for the Game of Thrones season premier?

It also happened to be my husband’s birthday, and he requested chocolate chip. I used this recipe from Southern Living, though I did not do the pecan crumble. I didn’t want to mess up my turrets!

The cake came out perfectly—I was so excited it didn’t stick or break—and even tasted great.

Game of Thrones Cake

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Cara Cara Orange Cake

Cara Cara oranges, available late winter to early spring, look like regular oranges on the outside, but they are red inside, much like a ruby red grapefruit. In fact, if you buy one by mistake, believing it a regular orange, you might think you’ve gotten a small grapefruit when you cut into it. They are sweet and a little tangy, though, not sour/tart like a grapefruit.

I based my cake on Martha Stewart’s Orange-Yogurt Cake recipe, making a small heart-shaped cake and a few cupcakes. This was a simple, light cake, finished with powdered sugar and served with orange slices and zest strips.

Orange Cake

I do not have a lemon zester that allows for peeling thin strips of zest, so I removed some zest with a knife and cut it into thin slices, which worked fine.

Cutting orange segments always reminds me of my grandmother, who taught me the method ( has a nice tutorial).

Cara Cara Orange Cake

This cake would probably work well with any kind of citrus. I’m sure it would be a lovely summertime dessert with regular oranges or lemons. I served it after a heavier winter meal when a rich, frosted cake would have been overkill.

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Butterscotch Apple Cupcakes

butterscotch apple cupcakesI’m known for cupcakes and rarely is anyone surprised when I bring cupcakes to an event. However, sometimes I can be a little crafty.

A friend organized a last minute birthday dinner, and I whipped up a quick half batch that fit in a smaller container than my normal carrier. I was able to conceal the cupcakes for an afternoon of birthday pampering and most of the meal. Ha! I was pleased that the birthday girl was surprised.

katie bday surprise cupcake

For these cupcakes, I used an apple cupcake recipe from Chow, adding some butterscotch extract and using coriander instead of the other spices. I topped them with butterscotch buttercream frosting.

I’d bought the butterscotch extract at Olive Nation on a whim and had been waiting for an excuse to use it. It paired well with the moist and not-too-sweet apple cake.

inside apple cupcake

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes + Pumpkin Cupcakes

Peanut Butter with Chocolate cupcakes

For my office holiday party, I baked peanut butter cupcakes by request. They tasted peanut-y, but I thought they were a little dry. (Others disagreed on the dryness, I suppose I’m a harsh judge.)

The chocolate frosting, which included a little instant coffee to punch up the flavor, was a definite hit. The recipe may appear on the blog at a later date, I need to try it more than once, first! I used the extra frosting on some vanilla minis I baked for those who don’t like peanut butter.

Unfrosted Cupcakes

I made a last-minute decision to bake pumpkin cupcakes, too. They turned out to be the most popular at the party! I do like the pumpkin, myself, though I only tasted a peanut butter and a vanilla this round.

pumpkin & vanilla cupcakes

Happy holidays, everyone!

Nutcracker with Cupcakes

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Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

Birchbox Charity Bakesale

My husband’s company had a charity bake sale for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, and he made cupcakes!

Share Our Strength® is a national organization working to make sure no kid in America grows up hungry. They work with community groups, activists and food programs to surround children facing hunger with nutritious food.

I was proud that my husband wanted to bake cupcakes himself for the event. It was difficult for me to stand by while he took charge of the baking, but I did my best. I did formulate a recipe for him from his idea to mimic the taste of a nice hot cup of minty mocha.

Husband Bakes

Scoop and Pipe Cupcakes

Mixing, scooping and piping like a pro

The recipe is based on a basic chocolate but replaces some of the cocoa with coffee grounds. It was his idea to start there, as the chocolate cupcake recipe already uses a small amount of brewed coffee to enhance the flavor. He used fresh Birch Coffee beans, ground as fine as our electric grinder would grind them.

The whole batch left the house, but he bought a cupcake at the sale so that I could taste the results of his efforts. (I shared.) It did taste of chocolate and coffee with a sweet minty finish, much like a peppermint mocha. Great job! We make a good team, huh?

Mocha Peppermint Cupcake

Make the Vanilla Buttercream with a teaspoon of peppermint extract for these.

Recipe: Mocha Cupcakes

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs (room temp)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup buttermilk (room temp)
3/4 cup sour cream (room temp)
3 tablespoons brewed coffee
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons coffee grounds (finely ground)
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for five minutes. Then, add the eggs, one at a time, and add the vanilla extract.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, the cocoa, the baking soda and the salt, and the coffee grounds. In another bowl, mix the milk, the sour cream and the brewed coffee.

Add the two mixtures to the bowl with the butter, the sugar and the eggs. It is best to alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients. Mix well.

Put the batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. Bake them for 20 minutes. (Rotate after 10 minutes, check at 18 minutes.) Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to cool completely on racks.

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