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

“Real” Strawberry Cheesecake

The other week I had the great honor of attending BlogHer Food ’14 in Miami, Florida.  I have to tell you, I had so much fun.  While I had mentally chalked it up to a ‘work’ trip, in the end more time was spent smiling and laughing than working.Strawberry-Strawberry Cheesecake!  #cheesecake One thing I did while there was attend a demonstration put on by California Dairy and hosted by Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli.  He runs Eating House Miami and says things like, “Cooking is an art, and we’re making graffiti.”  


He was innovative.

The samples were delish.

I was inspired to get in my kitchen and use some Real California Dairy!

(For a complete list of California dairy products click here, and for a list of California cheese products click here.)

Strawberry-Strawberry Cheesecake!  #cheesecake  I recently posted a No-Bake Cheesecake that we love to make, but many of you asked for a version that used real strawberries.  This is my first attempt at creating the perfect “real” strawberry cheesecake.

You’ll notice I said “first-attempt,”  because this is a cheesecake I want to bake again. Strawberry Strawberry Cheesecake! #cheesecake And honestly, anything smothered in whipped cream and fresh strawberries and chocolate sauce… wait, did I mention the chocolate sauce yet? The Perfect Chocolate Ganache   I used this chocolate ganache recipe to add a rich layer of luscious silky chocolatey charm to the cheesecake. Oh, and I also used a chocolate cookie crust in place of the graham cracker crust!

(That I just purchased at the grocery store: I used 2 6-ounce packages and added 4 tablespoons of melted Real California Butter.  Then pressed into the bottom of a prepared 9-inch round springform pan.)

The recipe is barely adapted from Epicurious.

“Real” Strawberry Cheesecake


  • 10 ounces frozen unsweetened strawberries (about 1 cup)
  • 3 8-ounce packages California cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Puree thawed strawberries and juices in blender until smooth. You should have about 1 cup of pureed strawberry sauce.
  2. Add cream cheese and sugar to stand mixer and blend until smooth.
  3. With mixer on low, add in flour and eggs, one at a time.
  4. Mix until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Add strawberry puree, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and almond extract; mix until well blended. Transfer filling to prepared crust.
  5. Bake cheesecake until center is softly set and edges begin to color, puff and crack, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Refrigerate uncovered on rack until cold, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
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Strawberry Strawberry Cheesecake! #cheesecake   With all my adaptations, I inadvertently made the chocolate crust and topping the star of the show.  And while that is normally not a problem, when one goes to the trouble of making a real strawberry cheesecake, one wouldn’t want to distract from the strawberry flavor! Luckily the fresh strawberries in it and top were still distinguishable. And Yummy.

Next time, I think I will try this recipe with a graham cracker crust and some strawberry extract (think of it like vanilla… it will simply enhance).

A big thank you to California Dairy and everyone who made the demo at BlogHer Food a success!

I Am Baker

Red Velvet Cake with Peppermint Whipped Cream

This cake is basically a wintery version of my Chocolate Pumpkin Cake.  I have been wanting to do another version of that cake for a year now, and this seemed like the perfect way to do it.

Red Velvet Cake Covered in Rich Chocolate Ganache and Topped with Peppermint Whipped Cream #cake #Christmas

Other than the flavors, I did a couple things different with this cake.

First I baked two full red velvet cake recipes.  Each entire recipe went into one 8×8 pan.  (Make sure the batter does not fill the pan more than half way.)

Also, I did not level my cakes.  This was not a good idea!  I highly recommend that you make sure your cakes are leveled to the same height.

Red Velvet Cake Covered in Rich Chocolate Ganache and Topped with Peppermint Whipped Cream #cake #Christmas

Bake two red velvet cakes in square pans.

Prepare Milk Chocolate Ganache.

Prepare Peppermint Whipped Cream.

You will also use straws, and offset spatula, a piping bag and 1M tip.


Red Velvet Cake Covered in Rich Chocolate Ganache and Topped with Peppermint Whipped Cream #cake #Christmas


To assemble this cake place your first red velvet layer on the cake stand.  Cover in about 3/4 cup of chocolate ganache.  I love the look of letting it spill over the sides, but you can do whatever you prefer at this step.  Place other red velvet cake on flat surface and cover with about 3/4 cup of ganache.  Set aside.

Cut a straw into four equal sections.  Place the straws into the cake.  I make sure the straws are at least 1-inch in from each side and in each corner.  The homemade whipped cream is not sturdy enough to hold the weight of the top layer of cake on its own, that is why I add the straws.  Just be sure to tell your family when you cut into the cake.

Cover cake in about 1 1/2 cups of peppermint whipped cream.  I level the whipped cream to the height of the straws with an offset spatula.

Take other red velvet cake and center it on top of the cake on your cake stand.

Using a 1M tip, pipe out nine fancy swirls at least 2 inches high.  Cover in red and chocolate sprinkles.

I would recommend serving right away, but cake will keep for one day in the fridge.

Red Velvet Cake Covered in Rich Chocolate Ganache and Topped with Peppermint Whipped Cream #cake #Christmas

The Peppermint Whipped Cream is amazing.  It’s subtle, not overpowering.  Light.  Refreshing.

Such a perfect compliment to the rich Red Velvet and chocolate ganache!

I can’t recommend this cake enough.  It is seriously the PERFECT cake for any holiday celebration!

I Am Baker

Crispy Chocolate Caramel Cake

This cake is completely inspired by a “100 Grand” candy bar.

Its a caramel cake drenched in caramel icing.  Rice Krispies cover the cake which is then covered in milk chocolate ganache.

Its pretty darn sweet.

I might so bold as to even say its the sweetest cake I have ever concocted.  Which is kinda saying a lot for me.  My blog doesn’t exactly equal “subtle flavor”.

Why do I make such really really not healthy things?  (said in my best three year old voice)

Crispy Chocolate Caramel Cake


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup Caramel Dessert Topping
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. Beat butter, eggs, and sugar in mixer on medium high speed. With mixer switched to low, slowly add in caramel topping, then switch mixer back to medium high. Blend for 1-2 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternating with the milk (beginning and ending with the flour) add flour mixture and milk to sugar mixture.
  4. Blend until just combined.
  5. Divide batter between two cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature before assembling cake.
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To assemble this cake I baked up a caramel cake. (Recipe inspired by one found on MarthaStewart.com)

I then melted a 12 ounce bag of caramel bits and 2 tbsp water over medium high heat.  Let the caramel cool for a few minutes away from the heat.  In my glorious KitchenAid stand mixer I added three cups of powder sugar.  When the caramel has cooled a bit, and with the mixer on low, slowly add caramel to powder sugar.  I then added almost 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

Place one layer of caramel on cake stand and then add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of caramel frosting.  Place other caramel cake on top and cover with remaining caramel frosting.

Take one cup of Rice Krispies and press into caramel frosting.  Completely cover cake in Rice Krispies.  Place cake in fridge for 10 minutes to set up.

Prepare milk chocolate ganache.

Remove cake from fridge and place parchment strips around the base of cake stand.

Slowly pour milk chocolate ganache over cake.  Make sure top and sides are completely covered.  Place back in fridge until ready to serve.

Tips for Success:

This cake is best the day its made.  On day two the Rice Krispies start to soften and lose their crunch, and while the great flavor is still there, the texture is not as appealing.

If your ganache is too runny (as mine was!) simply place in mixer and whip it.  I even added powder sugar in 1/2 cup increments to thicken my ganache.

I am often inspired by weird things.  If you want to see some other examples, here are a few!

Oreo Covered Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake

Oreo and Heath Cake

Hydrangea Cake

Neapolitan Cake

Social Media Cake