Copycat White Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake

I tried my hand at making a fancy bundt cake for a friend’s birthday a few weeks back. It turned out amazing, so I just had to share it with you guys.

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I know, it doesn’t look like much, but this white chocolate raspberry cake was fantastic! I started with this recipe, and made a few changes and substitutions.

First of all, instead of the 3.4 oz of white chocolate Jello pudding, I used 1 oz of sugar free white chocolate pudding. It’s all I could find. And to make the batter a bit thicker, I used milk in the cake mix instead of water. We only had skim in the house, but you could use 2%, whole, or even half and half in a pinch.

Watch out for the chocolate chips sold at most stores. They aren’t true white chocolate chips. If you look closely, they say “white morsels.” Do not use these in the cake. They don’t melt correctly, and they’re made of a whole list of chemicals that I can’t even pronounce. I bought Ghiradelli white chocolate baking bars and chopped up the chocolate into very thin pieces, so they would melt evenly while the cake baked. This recipe calls for 1.5 cups of white chocolate chips, which ended up being one and a half 4 ounce white chocolate bars.

Finally, as always, I let the eggs come to room temperature before using them in the batter. I know, it sounds weird, but I swear that whenever I use eggs straight from the fridge, the cake isn’t quite as light as it is when I wait for the eggs to warm.

Be prepared for the cake to take somewhere between 55-60 minutes. I kept checking it after 45 minutes, but it was still liquidy. After 60 minutes, I took the cake out of the oven and let it cool in the bundt pan on a wire rack. once it was completely cooled, I wrapped the whole cake in plastic wrap and kept it in the fridge overnight, right up until I needed to frost it.

This was a huge cake, and not even a piece was left an hour after it was served. I got so many complements, and a few people even asked for the recipe. They said it tasted exactly like a cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes which would cost somewhere in the $40-$50 range. I’m definitely going to be saving this recipe to make again.

Christmas Eve Orange Cranberry Scones

We spend Christmas Eve with Dan’s family, and we start the day early. Since our big meal isn’t until 2pm, we usually have some breakfast goodies on hand. This year, I made these orange cranberry scones to share.

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I’ve never made these before, so I hope they’re good today! I thought the fresh cranberries added a nice holiday touch, so I decided to go this route instead of the mini chocolate chip or craisin scones I usually make.

I followed the recipe exactly, but I wish I had used orange juice or at least more orange zest in the glaze. Oh well, next time!

They’ll pair well with the morning mimosas we’re enjoying to get into the holiday spirit.

Mini Gingerbread Loaf Neighbor Gifts

I love this gingerbread loaf. I first made it for last year’s Wreath Decorating Party as a last minute snack idea, and I’ve made it a ton since then. My mom even bought me a special pan with gingerbread people on it to use every time I make this yummy bread.

Friends always ask for the recipe, and a few have made it on their own with tasty results. So, when I began to think about what to bake our neighbors this year, gingerbread loaves immediately came to mind.

Each loaf took an hour plus to make though (including baking time), and since I only had one pan, I knew this would become quite a process. That’s when I got the idea to make this loaf into minis. They turned out great!

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I doubled the recipe, and it made 8 mini loaves. I had bought 6 ceramic mini loaf pans in an end of the season sale at Michael’s last year, and knew they would be perfect for this. We had to adjust the cooking time, so don’t forget to do that. The recipe calls for 55 minutes. We started checking on the loaves at 25 minutes, sticking a toothpick in each loaf to see if it was done. They probably spent about 35 minutes in the oven total.

Once the loaves cooled completely, we sprinkled them with powdered sugar, which really adds something to the otherwise spicier dessert.

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Then, we wrapped them in cling wrap, packaged them in Christmas favor bags, and added a tag (find it here – and it’s customizable!) with some curly ribbon.

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It’s a small, simple gift, but the packaging makes it look fancy! I really hope the neighbors like this treat as much as I do.

 

Glazed Eggnog Cake

Woohoo – it’s Christmas week! Get ready for a special week – daily posts about all things Christmas!

I thought I’d start off with a tasty holiday cake that is much easier to make than it looks – eggnog bundt cake!

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I tried out this recipe a couple weeks ago for my mom’s birthday. She loves eggnog, so I thought of her the second I saw this cake.

Bundt cakes are pretty easy, especially if you don’t have a lot of time for prep or decorating a dessert. You just mix everything together, pour it into a pan, and let it bake. Plus, the pan’s shape makes the cake pretty on its own. The only thing left for you to do is make the glaze and pour it on top!

I was really pleased with the way the cake turned out. It was very eggnogy and super moist. My only complaint would be that it didn’t rise as much as  I thought it would. Many bundt cakes bake up the pan right to the top, but this cake stopped short. Weird, since I used 4 teaspoons of baking powder in the batter. Still, I’d make this cake again. Maybe for Christmas? I’m still settling on which desserts to make for the two Christmases we attend, and this cake is definitely on the short list.

Mini Eggnog Cheesecakes with Orange Cranberry Topping

Earlier in the week, I posted about the wreath decorating party that I hosted last weekend. I was so excited about sharing how all the wreaths turned out that I didn’t even mention the yummy treats we snacked on while we worked.

I wanted to make food that was easy to eat – in a bite or two – so we wouldn’t have to either stop decorating or wait until we were finished to eat. I came up with two items – a gingerbread loaf and mini cheesecakes. Unfortunately, the gingerbread loaf was cut, served, and eaten before I thought to snap a photo. Darn.

So, I’m going to share my mini cheesecakes.

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So colorful and festive!

I used this recipe as my starting point. I followed the recipe to the T, and the cheesecakes came out delicious. Still, I would change a few things next time.

First of all, the ratio of graham cracker crust to cheesecake seemed a bit off to me. I would use a bit less graham crumbs – probably reducing the total by a quarter of a cup – and maybe a tablespoon or two more butter.

For topping, I skipped the whipped cream and decided to add some color to the dessert by making a quick and easy orange cranberry topping. Just take 4 oz of fresh cranberries and warm them up in a pan with 1/4 cup orange juice and 1/4 cup white sugar until the cranberries pop and the mixture is mushy. For extra orange flavor, go ahead and add in some orange zest.

The rich eggnog flavor combined with the sweetness of the cheesecake and the tartness of the cranberry topping makes this quite a treat. Try them out for your next holiday party.

Friendsgiving Pumpkin Cheesecake

Last weekend, my dear friend, Lauren, hosted a Friendsgiving feast. She and her husband made two (!) kinds of turkey, and we all brought sides/dessert to round out the meal.

I made two desserts: the apple cider donut holes that I’d previously made for the bonfire and turned out to be delicious, and a new recipe for me – pumpkin cheesecake.

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I used this recipe as my guide. It was a time intensive dessert to make, but I think the payoff was absolutely worth it.

One serious note of caution – do not turn this cheesecake while it is baking. Usually, I bake an item halfway, turn the item in the oven, then keep on baking. I wasn’t going to turn the cheesecake, but then at the last minute, I decided I would turn it to make sure it cooked evenly on both sides. The second I touched it, the middle part of the cheesecake sloshed around and boom – the perfectly smooth top was ruined! Ugh!

I hoped it would even back out in the final 30 minutes of baking, but no. It came out of the oven completely cracked on top. I didn’t take a photo. I was too distraught.

Dan came up with the idea to add whipped cream to the top to cover the ugliness. Sounded like a plan to me. We whipped up a cup of heavy whipping cream, adding a couple teaspoons of sugar, for sweetness. The morning of Friendsgiving, we topped the cheesecake with the whipped cream and let it set in the fridge for a bit. It worked, mostly. You could still see what happened once we cut up the cake to serve it. See that dip where the whipped cream goes down into the cake on the right? That’s the cake-turning crack.

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Still, the cheesecake turned out to be so very tasty, imperfections aside. There were a lot of steps to it – first making the crust, then letting it cool, then making the batter, then baking it, then letting it cool, then refrigerating it overnight, but the active time isn’t much more than with any other cake. I would absolutely make this cake again. It’s perfect for any fall event and is sure to get a great reaction.

Bonfire Apple Cider Donut Holes

Over the weekend, I attended a lovely bonfire gathering at a friend’s home. It was so much fun getting a chance to catch up with our group from college group – something we don’t get to do all that often.

There was so much food, lots of fall beer, and even spiked apple cider to enjoy all evening. I volunteered to bring a dessert, and knew s’mores were already on the menu. I wanted to make something a little different, and decided to try my hand at baking apple cider donut holes.

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I was so glad that they turned out to be a hit!

I found this recipe, and used it as my starting point, but I made some changes.

First, I didn’t have cloves on hand, so I reduced the apple cider with some mulling spices, mainly a bit of allspice. Next time, I plan to use more mulling mix. I think it will give the donut holes a deeper, autumn-y flavor.

I also used a babycakes cake pop maker (to get that perfect spherical shape) instead of a mini cupcake pan or a mini donut pan. I sprayed the maker to keep the holes from sticking, which gave the outside a bit of a crisp to it, like a fried donut. The baking time in the cake pop maker is super quick – about two and a half minutes.

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You may need to pick off a bit of the extra dough batter that bakes outside the pan well, but it should easily come away from the donut hole.

Finally, I think we goofed by using plain old apple cider. I thought it was weird that the bottle was labeled apple cider, but no cinnamon, cloves, allspice, etc. was added to what appeared to be apple juice. Next time, I’ll be sure to use fresh spiced apple cider, to have more of the spicy goodness in these little donut bites.

The small size of the treats worked great at the bonfire. We passed them around the fire a few times, and by the end of the night, I think only about five or so remained.

I’ll definitely be making these again and again this fall season.

 

Honey Rhubarb Tart

Wow. Over 3 weeks since my last post? How can that be? I guess I’ve just been out and about enjoying the gorgeous summer weather we’ve finally gotten in Chicagoland.

Part of all that summer fun involved celebrating my dear friend Lauren’s birthday last weekend. She invited a group of our friends over to her home for a lovely brunch. I offered to bring a dessert, and settled on a rhubarb tart. It came out fancy.

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I used this recipe. Believe it or not, I had a hard time finding a good tart recipe. Rhubarb tarts must not be a thing in America – all the recipes were from England and France, hence the strange ingredient measurements. I did some googling, and I ended up having to approximate some of the measurements, which I hate doing in baking. Ingredients are supposed to be precise when you bake, so I was pretty nervous about how this tart would come out. It seems to have worked, so I thought I’d share the conversions I did:

Pastry/crust ingredients:

1 cup flour

6 1/3 tablespoons of cold butter

1 ounce of water

pinch of salt

 

Filling ingredients (I added to the original recipe):

4 stalks of rhubarb

3 tablespoons honey mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (to soak rhubarb in)

3 tablespoons honey mixed with 1 teaspoon white sugar (to brush on top of tart)

1 tablespoon fine sugar (I used baking sugar) to sprinkle on top of the whole tart before baking

 

Yeah, I added a lot of extra sweetener than the original tart recipe recommended. I was concerned that my rhubarb was not quite ripe, and would be bitter. The tart turned out great, and I think the extra sugar was definitely needed. The tart had a subtle sweetness paired with the slightly bitter rhubarb. My only complaint was that the extra honey left the crust a bit soggy. I probably wouldn’t add so much honey if I had perfectly ripe rhubarb. Still, the tart was pretty tasty so I’m putting this one in the win column.

Fall Harvest Caramel Apple Mini Pies

I baked these a while ago, but I want to make more. I just can’t get enough of these mini caramel apple pies.

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I find myself making these kind of “mini” desserts often. I think it’s because I find people are more willing to take a two bite mini pie than cut themselves a whole piece. Maybe it seems like less of a commitment? Trust me, if you make these, you won’t be taking any home at the end of the party.

Ingredients:

1 package store bought pie crust (2 crusts)

3 chopped granny smith apples (you can use any baking apple)

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp flour

cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cloves, and nutmeg to taste

1 egg (used to make egg wash)

turbinado sugar (to sprinkle on top)

caramel sauce (storebought or homemade is fine)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Start by taking a circle shaped cookie cutter (or a glass, like I used) and cut out the mini pie crusts. Put each circle into a mini muffin pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

In a big bowl, gently stir together the apples, sugars, flour, and spices. you want everything mixed, but you don’t want the apples to turn to mush. Spoon the apple mixture into the pie crusts, being careful to keep the juice you take along with the apples to the minimum.

Now, it’s time to do the top of the pies. I did half my pies in a lattice and the other half in a vented whole top. My feedback told me that there was a slight preference for the lattice top. I think the ratio of filling to crust is better with a minimal time. I’d recommend doing a lattice or a cut out shape (apple, leaf, etc) on top.

Once your pies are assembled, beat the egg with just a little bit of water to make an egg wash. Brush the tops of each pie with the wash. This will make the tops golden toasty and delicious. Finish each pie off with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar.

Now, I was nervous that the filling would become so hot that it would bubble over the top of each pie, making an ugly mess. To combat this, I wrapped the mini cupcake pan in foil, and baked it for 10 minutes. Take the foil off, turn the pan, and bake for another 10 minutes.

While the mini pies are still hot, drizzle the caramel over the top of each one. This gave the pies just  a hint of caramel flavor. If you want a stronger flavor, I’d suggest adding the caramel to the apple mixture before putting the filling in each pie. Still add caramel on top at the end, for a pretty effect.

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I’m hoping to post some of the other fall desserts I’ll be making over the weekend, so check back soon for more sweet treats.