I Am Baker

neapolitan dipped marshmallows

I wanted to make a super fast, easy and yummy dessert.  For some reason I thought, chocolate & caramel dipped marshmallows!  So I googled that, found a recipe and got started.

Neapolitan Dipped Marshmallows!

Well.  After an hour of dealing with caramel and dipping marshmallows and it pooling weird and the not setting enough to dip in chocolate and then giving up because ITWASUGLY, I decided to try these little guys.

Strawberry marshmallows.

Chocolate dip.

White sprinkles.

Neapolitan fun.

Neapolitan Dipped Marshmallows!

Now these, these are easy.  If you do not have strawberry marshmallows, don’t fret.  Make some from scratch!  Is there anything better than from scratch marshmallows?

If you don’t want to do that, use regular old white vanilla marshmallows, dip them in chocolate, then add some pink sprinkles.

Voila!  Neapolitan. Or at least, my version of neapolitan.  I basically refer to anything that is pink, brown and white as neapolitan.


chocolate shell for marshmallow dipping


  • 11 oz. chocolate chips or finely chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or shortening)


  1. Combine chocolate and oil in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Transfer to small container with high sides (like a drinking glass, just make sure its wide enough to fit cupcake), and let cool about 15 minutes.
  2. OR
  3. Place chocolate and oil in a tall glass in the microwave for 1 minute. Remove and stir. If chocolates not all melted, return to the microwave in 15 second increments until chocolate is all melted.
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I am giving a recipe for the chocolate shell, but you can even do something as simple as melting some chocolate chips in the microwave (15 second increments) and dipping the marshmallow in that.

The instructions are simple:

Insert marshmallow into a toothpick or skewer.

Dip into chocolate.  Let excess drizzle off.

Dip freshly chocolate coated marshmallow into sprinkle of choice.

Set on parchment to set.  (Can refrigerate to speed up process)

Best served within 24 hours.


Neapolitan Dipped Marshmallows!

The hardest part about this whole process should be finding a pretty sprinkle to embellish these beauties.

Now, since I love you all and we have no secrets here I will show you my colossal failure of marshmallows dipped in caramel and chocolate.

Marshmallows Covered in Caramel and Chocolate

Ok, ok.  So they were not a colossal failure.  I just didn’t like how the recipe nor the consistency nor the final appearance turned out.

Marshmallows Covered in Caramel and Chocolate

I tried a few different things and just found them all to be not up to par.

I think that the marshmallows have to be homemade, that the caramel needs to be homemade, and that the chocolate is a good quality dark chocolate.

So I promise, I am working on this recipe and will be sharing it when it is perfected!



For a VERY limited time my new book Surprise Inside Cakes is over 90% off!!  As of today, Nov. 20th 2014, you can get it for $1.99!!!

HUGE SAVINGS!!  Also, you can choose to “Give as a Gift”.  You can pick the day the book is received (like Dec. 25th?) and the recipient will never know you purchased it for less than $2!

I Am Baker

chocolate caramel ginger cookies

Let’s talk ginger.

Not the hair (although that would be fun too because I happened to have given birth to ginger baby).  The vegetable.  Or as most refer to it, the herb or spice.

Are you a fan?

Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies!

After seeing this recipe you will be, in one form or another.  Of this I am confident.

Know why I am so confident?  Because it is a subtle infusion.

It’s a hint of ginger.  An essence if you will.

I started out with a beautiful ginger infused caramel.

Ginger Caramels

But before I get into that you probably want to know why I am making ginger infused caramels.  Well, a little while back I was asked to participate in a challenge for Caribou Coffee.

Challenge: create a new holiday recipe inspired by Caribou Coffee’s Gingersnap Cookie Mocha using ground or fresh ginger. 

Once I saw the challenge was from Caribou Coffee I jumped at the chance to participate.  My husband is a huge fan of the coffee as well as the fabulous local coffee houses and spends a good deal of time there most weekday mornings.

But then I got totally thrown off by the whole “ginger”thing.  Shy of making their exact coffee blend into a cookie, how was I going to create a sweet and delicious treat inspired by ginger?

1. Make it into caramels.

2. The end.

Ginger Caramels!


I had my heart set on a cookie.

My vision was a decadent cookie resting precariously on the side of a steaming coffee mug in front of a roaring fire.  Feet up, cozy slippers on, Christmas music in the background and children happily reading books next to me.

As with all visions, it should start with baby steps.  So first, the caramels.

Next, the decadent cookie.

Process shot of Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies

I knew I wanted to stuff that amazing carmel into a cookie dough, but finding the perfect dough was a challenge.  Most chocolate cookies that I tried were cocoa based and couldn’t hold their own when paired with the caramel.

But, I finally was able to find a recipe that worked.  This recipe uses only actual chocolate to flavor the cookie which is exactly the pure and intense zing I was going for!

Ginger Caramel Recipe

chocolate caramel ginger cookies


  • 12 ounces mini bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter cut into chunks
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Ginger Caramels cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1 teaspoon crystallized ginger


  1. Place chocolate and butter into a heat safe bowl and set bowl over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of simmering water.
  2. Stir chocolate until fully melted then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Whisk in eggs and sugar until fully incorporated.
  4. Now add in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until dough comes together and then chill for about 2 hours.
  5. When ready to prepare cookies, remove dough from fridge and using a small cookie scoop, prepare 12 scoops of dough. (Each cookie will use 2 cookie dough balls.)
  6. Be sure your cookie sheet is lined in parchment.
  7. Press the dough ball flat to about 1/2 inch thickness and place a ginger caramel inside. Press another flattened dough ball on top and press sides together, making sure there is a tight seal.
  8. Do this six times and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake six cookies for 8 minutes. (you will be baking for one more minute after adding ginger. If not adding crystallized ginger, bake cookies for 9 minutes.) Repeat until dough is gone.
  10. If adding crystallized ginger pieces, add 5-7 pieces evenly dispersed over cookie. Cookie will spread out considerably, so place ginger pieces all the way to the edge of the cookie.
  11. Put back in oven for 1 minute.
  12. Allow cookies to cool slightly before eating.
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Recipe adapted from myrecipes.com.

Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies!

So the cookie isn’t resting on the mug, but I think next to it will do.

Tips & Tricks

I recommend making the caramels at least one day before making the cookies.  They worked best cooled to room temperature and cut into squares.

If you are using crystallized ginger make sure you chop it into VERY very small pieces.  (After a great deal of feedback I think my pieces on the cookies above were much too big and too close together.)  It is extremely potent stuff and will overpower the chocolate & caramels.  When placing the pieces onto the hot cookie, try sprinkling it like it is sanding sugar.  Make sure the pieces are spread out over the cookie as much as possible.

The dough can be made 1-2 days in advance and kept in the fridge.  Cookies will last about 1 week in an airtight container.

HINT: Put the cookies in an airtight container that is slightly bigger than you would need.  Set cookies in, then place a piece of bread in the container.  The bread will turn hard and the cookies will stay soft!

Chocolate Caramel Ginger Cookies!

We have decadent cookies.  We have a hot cup of fabulous Caribou Coffee.

I guess the only thing left is the roaring fire, and I think that is up to you.  The rest of it… well.  I will just be happy with the cookies. :)




For a VERY limited time my new book Surprise Inside Cakes is over 90% off!!  As of today, Nov. 20th 2014, you can get it for $1.99!!!

HUGE SAVINGS!!  Also, you can choose to “Give as a Gift”.  You can pick the day the book is received (like Dec. 25th?) and the recipient will never know you purchased it for less than $2!

I Am Baker

Naked Cakes and Live TV

One of the perks of living in MN is Twin Cities Live.  It is a local show that is nationally recognized for the talent and quality of programming.  I am slightly biased because I happen to adore one of the hosts (well both actually!!) , Elizabeth Ries.  But even if I didn’t know her, I would still be a huge fan of the show!

Not only am I a #bigfan of the show, but occasionally I get to be a guest!  My most recent appearance was all about Naked Cakes.

Cookie Crisp Naked Cake!

This bottom of this cake is three layers of yellow cake prepared in 9-inch round cakes pans.  I used two yellow cake recipes and divided it between three pans.

The top tier is one yellow cake recipe equally divided between two 6-inch round cake pans.

Cookie Crisp Naked Cake!

Peaking out just a little bit is the frosting that I used between the layers… cookie dough frosting!  This is a really subtle way to create a cookie dough flavored naked cake.  You could also make the layers themselves with chocolate chips and yellow or white cake.

Cookie Crisp Naked Cake!

For the embellishment around the cake I used Cookie Crisp cereal!  Talk about a flash from the past.  You knew it was a special occasion if you got this for breakfast!

You could also make mini chocolate chip cookies if you prefer.

Naked Fruit Cake!

I also prepared a Chocolate Naked Fruit Cake.  This is two recipes of chocolate cake divided between four 8-inch round cake pans.  For the sake of travel and TV, I chose to only use three of the four layers.  It just got to be too high with four.

Naked Fruit Cake!

I used white buttercream in between the layers and added grapes, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and a beautiful pear on top.

I sprinkled the cake with powdered sugar right before the segment.  And of course, using a rustic cake stand helps to create a rustic feel!


To serve you may want to have a cut up pear on hand (as well as more of the other fruit) so that you can leave the decorative pear on the cake as long as possible.

Also, I love the idea of drizzling a fruit syrup over the cake right before serving.  Since fruit is a living thing, it will move and squish and leak wonderful fruit juices over the cake.  (which I love) If you want to incorporate that into the design the fruit syrup drizzle will help!

This is how the cakes looked a few minutes before the segment.  I ended up making it through the hour long drive with minimal damage, but you can see the frosting really seeped out of the bottom layer of the fruit cake.  I added a bit more fruit around that spot to try and cover up the mishap.

As I mentioned, RIGHT before I added the powdered sugar.  (which you can see in the actual segment)

See that pretty pink pastry bag in the back?  That is from Bakerella’s new line of products!!  I am super excited about her new line and have been so impressed with the quality if everything I have used so far.

Elizabeth Ries and iambaker.net!

Miss Elizabeth is going to have her first baby in just a few weeks! Such an exciting time.

If you want to check out my segment here it is!  Also… I cannot be held responsible for rogue cake decorating.  #justsayin #lookingatyouSteve

Are you local to Minnesota and have an idea that would be perfect for Twin Cities Live?  Just contact them here and let them know!



For a VERY limited time my new book Surprise Inside Cakes is over 90% off!!  As of today, Nov. 20th 2014, you can get it for $1.99!!!

HUGE SAVINGS!!  Also, you can choose to “Give as a Gift”.  You can pick the day the book is received (like Dec. 25th?) and the recipient will never know you purchased it for less than $2!

I Am Baker

creamy cookie dough frosting

UPDATE:  You can see my TV segment here!

Today I am preparing some cakes for live TV.  And, as I often do when faced with what to make for the live segments, I decided to make something new.

Because we all know that you should experiment and do something different when you are going to be on live TV.

Creamy Cookie Dough Frosting (No Egg!)

I hope you can sense my sarcasm. Sometimes I just shake my head at myself for the dumb choices that seem not-so-dumb in the moment but then in hindsight  I realize are oh-so-dumb.

Wish me luck today, I have a feeling I am going to need it.

Creamy Cookie Dough Frosting (No Egg!)

creamy cookie dough frosting


  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 cup semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips


  1. Beat brown sugar and butter together in stand mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add in flour, vanilla extract, and salt into creamed butter until fully combined.
  3. With mixer on low speed, and in milk 1 tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated.
  4. Remove bowl from mixer and add in mini chocolate chips. Stir by hand until incorporated.
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Slightly modified from allrecipes.com.

Creamy Cookie Dough Frosting (No Egg!)

Tips & Tricks:

You will see that I wrote 16 tablespoons in the recipe.  As annoying as that is, I found that I liked the texture better when the milk was very slowly incorporated.  You can certainly just add in 1 cup of milk.

I used far more milk than the original recipe suggested.  The reason I did this is because the frosting was being used in a layer cake and it was far too hard to spread as-is.  So I doubled the milk to achieve a much creamier and smoother frosting. I highly recommend that for use on cakes.  If you just want to put a big dollop on a cupcake, try halving the milk and seeing if you prefer that consistency.

I preferr semi-sweet (or even bittersweet) chocolate chips in this frosting.  The slightly bitter chocolate compliments the sweet cookie dough quite nicely.

I used a Easiest Chocolate Cupcake recipe to test out my frosting on.

It was a match made in heaven of course!




For a VERY limited time my new book Surprise Inside Cakes is over 90% off!!  As of today, Nov. 20th 2014, you can get it for $1.99!!!

HUGE SAVINGS!!  Also, you can choose to “Give as a Gift”.  Maybe for a fun birthday gift or Christmas?  You can pick the day the book is received  and the recipient will never know you purchased it for less than $2!


I Am Baker

HUGE announcement!

You love cake.  You love finding new recipes and baking and decorating and licking frosting off of spoons.

But most especially, you love the shocked, delighted, even elated look on people’s faces when they see the beautiful cake you have created just for them.

Balloon Surprise-Inside Cake!

photo by Susan Powers

Does that describe you?

If it does, today is your lucky day!

Bunny Surprise-Inside Cake!

photo by Susan Powers

I wrote a little book called Surprise-Inside Cakes and it truly has something for everyone.

There are wonderful recipes for basic cakes, there are amazing designs for the INSIDE of cakes and there are beautiful frosting techniques for the OUTSIDE of cakes.

Opposite Cake from Surprise-Inside Cakes!

There are cakes that are as easy as opening a box and baking. This is the Opposite Cake which is perfect for anyone who loves chocolate, vanilla and a perfectly simple stunning cake!

Cowboy Boot Cake from Surprise-Inside Cakes!

There are cakes that involve molding and shaping cake like a fine sculptor does his finest piece of art.  This is the Cowboy Boot cake which I happened to make for a very special famous friend!

Vampire Cupcake!

There are cupcakes, for special occasions that require something a bit simpler.

There are treasured stories and secrets and embarrassing moments that I have never shared on my blog or elsewhere.

Sunset Surprise-Inside Cake!

SUNSET CAKE photo by Susan Powers

This book is worth every cent of the $30 cover pricetag.

But I just found out the price changed!

I think you will like the change though.  It went from $30 down to…





The entire book.

Yours for less than 2 dollars!

You can purchase the book on Amazon with the click of a button. It has been painstakingly designed to perfectly accommodate your mobile device.  (This is the e-book version, not the hardcover.)

Surprise-Inside Cakes-Rainbow Cake

You can finally find out how I made the famous Rainbow Heart Cake! For just pennies!

Also, this is a GREAT time to buy Christmas and Birthday gifts as well as everyone in your life who loves to bake!  You can easily buy a Kindle book for a friend, just click on “Give as a Gift” .   There is also the option to chose the delivery date of your ebook gift, so you could have it delivered on their birthday or any holiday! (They will have no idea that you are getting the huge discount!)  What a fun birthday “cake” to get!

AND… if you do choose to purchase an ebook for a friend and want to give it for a gift, I will send you an autographed name plate.  (Just in case you want something to put in their actual stocking!)  Email me at manda2177@gmail with your proof of purchase and a mailing address.

Vertical Layer Rose Cake!

Vertical Layer Rose Cake… this is a Patriotic Cake (red, white & blue) in the book!

Click HERE to get your copy now!  (My apologies, but the sale is only good for Amazon USA.)

Surprise-Inside Cakes on Amazon

Your support and kindness through this process has meant the world to me.  You mean the world to me.  Your generosity floors me!

I would like to thank you, even if it is in a small way.  For every person that buys a copy and leaves a comment telling me so, I will enter you in a drawing to win a $50 gift card.  Personally sent out by me with a thank you card.

That is a pretty good Return on Investment if you ask me. :)

Thank you so, so much!


I Am Baker

bourbon chocolate tipsy cake (and a contest)

Today’s post has me in quite an unusual state!  I am a bit flustered and embarrassed and confused.  But there is cake involved so it will all be alright.

I was recently asked to participate in a baking challenge with Better Homes & Gardens Magazine.  Since this is not a question I get often, my first and immediate response was YES.  What was the question?  Never mind, I don’t care.  It’s yes.

I skimmed over details and facts and words words words to… “recreate a BHG recipe with your own twist”.  YES!  Now that sounds fun!

So I chose a Bourbon-Chocolate Tipsy Cake.  It is a bundt cake with a sauce and I turned it into a layer cake (da) and added more frosting (double da).

Bourbon Chocolate Tipsy Cake!

I, um… I sorta love it.  And loved the crazy Hard Sauce that they added and loved the addition of bourbon (which is SO not like me) and loved every single bite of that glorious combination of flavors.

There are a lot of components to this cake and I will just share one here today.  There is Bourbon Chocolate Cake, Hard Sauce, and Chocolate Frosting.  Click on the bourbon cake recipe to see how it all came together!

The recipe I am sharing is the non-alcoholic version of an amazing Chocolate Cake.

non-alcoholic chocolate cake


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


  1. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl and mix until combined.
  2. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
  5. (I prepared my cakes in two 8in round cake pans then divided each layer after they had cooled to create four layers)
  6. Can use hot water in place of the coffee.
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Bourbon Chocolate Tipsy Cake!

But now for the nitty gritty.

Turns out in all the details and facts and words words words… this is actually an Ultimate Baking contest.  I am actually competing in the Ultimate Baking Challenge.

“Sixteen bloggers added their own twists to classic Better Homes and Gardens recipes!”

And not only am I competing, (which is scary enough as it is) but I am competing against some of the most talented and well respected bloggers in the world.

Starting at 9:00am CST you can, “…vote daily for the four bloggers that you think should advance to a bakeoff at our headquarters!”

Chocolate - I am Baker & Inspired by Charm

Which means you will need to vote between myself and Michael from Inspired by Charm.

I cannot in good conscience tell you to vote against Michael.  He is a talented and thoughtful and kind friend and honestly, I will be voting for him.  I would be honored to lose to him and this beautiful Boozy Chocolate Shortbread Recipe!  And thrilled to see him have the opportunity to compete in the BakeOff at the BHG Test Kitchens.

I do ask that you vote, but also ask that you vote as organically as possible and do NOT cast a vote my way because you think you should.  Just vote however you feel it best!

CLICK HERE (from 9am CST to 9pm CST on Nov.13th-ONE DAY ONLY-updated) to vote for which chocolate dessert you like best!


UPDATE:  My apologies, but the voting for my cake was moved to THURSDAY, Nov. 13th.  If you would like to vote for Michael’s beautiful Boozy Cookies or for myself, the voting is from 9-9 tomorrow!!  Thanks for understanding!

I Am Baker

christmas cookie sandwiches with wondra

As a baker there are two things that I value greatly:

1. Time

2. Quality ingredients

Holiday Cookies!

Sometimes, as much as it pains me, I have to set certain recipes off to the side because of the time involved.  This is never a fun choice because we all know that the care put into a recipe is often a direct correlation to the quality and flavor of that recipe.  I mean, cake mix cookies are fine in a pinch, but having a chocolate chip cookie from quality ingredients that took 48 hours to prepare is a magical thing.

Sugar cookies is one of those recipes that benefits greatly from ‘rest’.  Chilling in the fridge (anywhere from one hour to overnight!) is a line that is in practically every roll-out sugar cookie recipe.

Holiday Sugar Cookies!

I recently tried a new (to me) product in the world of baking.  It is called Wondra® and is from the folks over at Gold Medal Flour.

Wondra® Quick Mixing Flour has always been known as your go-to flour for extra- creamy, lump-free gravies and ultra-flaky and crispy pie crusts. Its lightness and easy mixing qualities have made it perfect as the dredging flour for fish and poultry. But new research behind the product has revealed a hidden quality that will take this product from the unsung hero of the kitchen to the holiday baking tool that everyone is talking about!

Holiday Sugar Cookies!

No chilling. No refrigerator time.  No down time.

Immediate sugar cookie gratification.

I decided to try it.  I prepared my dough with all room temperature ingredients and looked at it on my counter.

It took everything in me not to wrap it up and put it in the fridge!  But I didn’t.

I rolled it out immediately and started punching out cookies.  I put those un-chilled cookies right into the oven and backed away slowly, expecting the impending doom of unrecognizable blobs of crispy browned sugar cookie dough.

But… it didn’t happen.  They baked up beautifully!  The flavor and consistency was just like my go-to sugar cookie recipe.  And they held their shape quite quite well!

This product is nothing short of revolutionary for sugar cookie artists!

sugar cookies with wondra


  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar


  1. Mix powdered sugar, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheet. (or prepare as you prefer)
  3. Divide dough in half. Roll out first half 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured (with Wondra!) surface. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
  4. Bake 7-8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on wire rack.
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To make the sugar cookie sandwiches in this post, I used a very small cookie cutter and cut out the tree image before baking.

Christmas Sugar Cookies!

After baking allow cookies to cool slightly and sprinkle the cookies (with tree cut out) with sanding sugar or dusting powder. (I used red and green)

Place a solid cookie face down, fill with about 1 tablespoon of buttercream, then place cut out tree cookie on top.

You now have a perfectly festive, quick, easy and delicious Holiday Sugar Cookie Sandwich!

Holiday Sugar Cookies!

A few tips before using Wondra®:

Do not expect it to look and feel exactly like your traditional all-purpose flour.  Do expect it to work the same, if not better.

Do not be alarmed if your cookie “puffs up” while baking.  Do smile brightly when you remove it from the oven with it’s shape perfectly in tact.

Do not expect it to taste different.  Do expect it to taste delicious.

Do not waste one more second waiting on chilling dough or sticky dough or cookies that taste stale in 2 days.  Do use Wondra® and roll out beautiful dough that stays fresh longer!

This post brought to you by Gold Medal Flour and myself.  All recipe testing, opinions and images are my own.

I Am Baker

chocolate pistachio and ginger tart

Every now and then, I feel like acting as if I am classy. (Be advised, it took everything in me to not write classy with a k.  Just a testament to the fact that classy, I am not.)

Chocolate Crystalized Ginger and Pistachio Tart!


Not through what I wear or say or do, but with cuisine.

More specifically, dessert.

My first choice in dessert is usually cake. I mean donuts.  I mean frosting.

I mean all of the above.  Someone please make me a glazed donut cake covered in frosting. #newblogpost

Chocolate Crystalized Ginger and Pistachio Tart!

Wait!  I am acting classy.  So a frosting covered donut cake simply will not do.

But this, this will be perfect.

A decadent chocolate ganche poured into a buttery pistachio tart and sprinkled with crystalized ginger.

Flavors that compliment each other in a refined way.  A firm ganche (due to the lesser amount of cream) that holds up in the crust but melts into a fudgey pool of chocolate in your mouth.

The pistachio adds a distinctively salty and nutty kick to the chocolate.

That ginger though… that is what puts this dessert over the top.  Such a fantastic burst of earthy sugary spiciness!

chocolate pistachio and ginger tart


  • erves: 12
  • 3/4 cup shelled salted pistachio nuts, lightly toasted, divided
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup McCormick® Gourmet Collection Ginger, Crystallized


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 1/2 cup of the pistachio nuts in bowl of food processor; cover and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Mix flour and sugar in medium bowl, then cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add pistachio nuts; toss to mix well.
  4. Add water; stir until a soft dough forms. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of a prepared 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
  5. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire rack.
  6. Place cream and chocolate in medium microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute, stirring halfway through cooking time. (Chocolate will not be completely melted.)
  7. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool just until mixture starts to thicken.
  8. Spread evenly in bottom of tart shell. Cool completely.
  9. Place crystallized ginger in bowl of food processor; cover. Pulse until just coarsely chopped. Add remaining 1/4 cup pistachio nuts; cover. Pulse until chopped. Sprinkle over chocolate in tart shell.
  10. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
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Recipe shared with permission from McCormick.com.

Chocolate Crystalized Ginger and Pistachio Tart!

This fancy and delicate dessert is posh enough to be served at the most elegant affair, yet delicious and easy enough for the kids to enjoy after a dinner of hotdish on a Tuesday night. #thatshowweroll

I Am Baker

The Easiest Chocolate cupcakes

I was in a pinch.  Ever since our chickens started laying eggs, I vowed to never buy eggs again. (It’s not for vanity reasons or anything, it’s just that our eggs are so delicious and naturally organic and wonderful, all other eggs pale in comparison.  Literally.)

The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcake!

I found myself without any eggs but needed to make a chocolate cake.  So I started googling and came upon a recipe from Epicurious for “The Easiest Chocolate Cake.

Not only was it easy, it was vegan.

Now, I am the farthest thing in the world from a vegan and would eat eggs in one form or another every single day for the rest of my life if I could. (I mean, technically I can, no one is telling me I can’t.  And quite honestly I already almost do!)

The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcake!

Back to the cake.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how moist and fabulous it was.

So I decided to make it into cupcakes.

With a few small adjustments to that recipe, I think I have found one heck of a delicious and easy cupcake.

It really truly does live up to the name, “Easiest Chocolate CakeCupcake”.

The EASIEST ever Chocolate Cupcake! (One bowl!)

In an effort to be consistent and useful, I decided to make the frosting vegan as well.  Little did I know I already had a recipe on my site that could be easily adapted to become vegan!

the easiest chocolate cupcakes


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Frosting
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1-2 teaspoons water or almond milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place liners in 2 muffin pans for 24 cupcakes. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Make sure your salt measurement is accurate. Set aside. (Be sure there are no lumps)
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the vanilla extract, oil, vinegar, coffee and water.
  4. Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. The mixture will be quite wet, but this is okay.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans (about 2 tablespoons per cupcake liner) and bake about 18 minutes. (The baking time is 24 to 26 minutes in a non-convection oven.)
  6. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. Frosting
  8. Cream shortening and vanilla in bowl using a handheld mixer for 2-4 minutes.
  9. Add in powder sugar, one cup at a time. If you find your mixer struggling, slowing add in water.
  10. Use more water for a creamy consistency, use less water for a stiff consistency.
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I scaled down the frosting recipe quite a bit, you can easily double or triple it.

The EASIEST Chocolate Cupcake! (that just happens to be vegan!)

These are good.  Moist.  Chocolatey.  Delicious.


I Am Baker

Buckeye cake and the biscoff book!


My dear, sweet, loving, kind, wonderful, amazing, beautiful friend Katrina has a book coming out today!  I have been waiting for it for a long, long time.  Let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

Buckeye Cake from The Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook!

Katrina wrote the beautiful new book The Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook. (go get your copy now, it’s wonderful)

I had no idea just how versatile and useful Biscoff was! Katrina has shared recipes for cupcakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, frostings, bars, and much more!

When deciding what to make I was torn.  There were so many beautiful and wonderful options, it was not an easy decision.

I finally ended up on this Biscoff Buckeye Cake.

Buckeye Cake from The Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook!

It’s nothing short of genius.  The flavors and textures are perfection.

The chocolate cake recipe is magnificent and the Biscoff filling… that filling is what dreams are made of.

Biscoff Frosting

I could not keep my spoon out of it.  So light and fluffy and unique and beautiful.  I love that Katrina choose to make it such a dominant part of this cake.

Then there is the Biscoff Chocolate Ganache-like topping that oozed over the edges and teased me with its glossy gorgeous-ness.

She is a wise cake maker, that Katrina.

She is even letting me share a recipe!

Biscoff Buckeye Cake


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Filling
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Creamy Biscoff Spread
  • 4 cups powered sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (or milk)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Glaze
  • 14-ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons Creamy Biscoff Spread
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a handheld miser or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and lighter in color.
  4. Slowly add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.
  5. Add the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time to the wet ingredients in your mixer bowl until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
  6. Divide batter between prepared cake pans.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
  8. Cool cakes for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Filling
  10. In a large bowl using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and Biscoff Spread until smooth and fluffy (about 4 minutes).
  11. Slowly add 2 cups of powdered sugar.
  12. Pour in heavy cream (or milk) and add vanilla.
  13. Gradually incorporate the final 2 cups of the powdered sugar.
  14. mix on low speed until all the ingredients are smooth and mixed well.
  15. Glaze
  16. In a saucepan over medium heat combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips and Biscoff Spread.
  17. Stir constantly until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Do not allow to come to a boil.
  18. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  19. Let set for a few minutes while you assemble the cake.
  20. If the mixture gets too cool you can heat it up again just before pouring over the cake.
  21. Assembling the Cake
  22. Level cake rounds and place bottom layer on a cake stand or large plate.
  23. Spread filing (it will be a thick layer).
  24. Top with second cake round.
  25. Pour glaze over the top of the cake, letting it run down over the sides.
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Buckeye Biscoff Cake from The Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook!

I could not wait to cut into this cake; it was a glorious crumbly chocolately Biscoff filling and glaze soaked masterpiece.

There were chocolate crumbs everywhere and glaze stick to my fingers and one of the most beautiful messes that I have ever tasted.  I hope to replicate it at least once more this week!  (This cake needs to be shared!)

In addition to sharing this lovely recipe I am so excited to tell you that one lucky reader gets a copy of Katrina’s new book!


You can WIN a copy of The Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook! GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Simply leave a comment telling me, “Have you tried Biscoff before?”

Giveaway is open from Nov. 3rd until Nov. 6th at 12:00am.

You can see the official rules HERE.




For a VERY limited time my new book Surprise Inside Cakes is over 90% off!!  As of today, Nov. 20th 2014, you can get it for $1.99!!!

HUGE SAVINGS!!  Also, you can choose to “Give as a Gift”.  You can pick the day the book is received (like Dec. 25th?) and the recipient will never know you purchased it for less than $2!