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Valentine’s dessert

chocolate tacos with bananas

Valentine’s Day is Friday. Are you ready? Maybe this decadent chocolate dessert will get you in the mood.

Barbara Fenzl taught this recipe during the last semester of classes at Les Gourmettes Cooking School. It is too creative, beautiful and delicious to not share with you. <3

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February 10, 2014   2 Comments

the ultimate cupakes

As I’ve told you many times before, I am NOT a baker.

I don’t like to bake.
I don’t have the patience to bake.
I am not skilled at baking.

Toffee Crunch Mini Cupcakes

That being said – I baked these cupcakes… and they are The BOMB!

choc and toffee

Seriously! I gave Connor one to sample and his eyes rolled back in his head with delight! He made me promise him that I would make them for his birthday in May. That is a promise I intend to keep!

choc and toffee

The recipe came from HERE.

If every recipe on bakersroyale.com is as scrumptious as these cupcakes, and if YOU love to bake, you should be going to this site everyday from here on out!

mini cupcakes

All I did was change them from standard cupcakes to mini cupcakes. Otherwise, I followed the recipe almost as written and they were perfection! So much so, that I could eat the caramel frosting, with a huge spoon, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

OK, maybe not! The frosting alone has a pound of butter – but to be fair, there was quite a bit of frosting left over, even after all the cupcakes were made.

To prevent me from using a spoon to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I put it in the trash and then dumped the nasty contents of my Roomba on top of it!

I can’t have that sort of temptation around here!

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December 19, 2013   2 Comments

Pecan Pie for Karen

In the comments of the “help me, help you” post, Karen asked for “Pecan Pecan Pecan stuff!”  There are pecans in some of my Thanksgiving recipes.

My favorite Thanksgiving recipe with pecans is my stuffing. Man, I really love that stuffing recipe!

But I double checked and realized I did not have a recipe up for pecan pie. I haven’t made a pecan pie in years… it’s just so rich … and our family really loves pumpkin pie, so I figure, why bother?

But Karen asked, and I shall deliver!

And not just with any old pecan pie, but a pecan pie with chocolate … and with bourbon … and Cinnamon Whipped Cream … BOOM!

pecan pie 2

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November 22, 2013   5 Comments

south of the border muffins

chocolate banana bread muffins on scale

I’m calling these “Mexican-Chocolate” because of the cinnamon and chocolate combination. If you’ve ever eaten or cooked with the Ibarra brand of Mexican chocolate, you understand.

On a totally unrelated subject – I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I keep waking up before the sun – but that turned out to be a blessing yesterday.

I got out of bed at about 4:30 and decided to make these muffins since I needed to take something to our neighborhood Bunco later that evening.

muffin on pedestal

The day was a whirlwind, I wasn’t home for more than 15 minutes all day. If I hadn’t made the muffins early in the morning … I would have never had time to make a thing and would have had to resort to bringing a bottle of wine.

As you might imagine, that doesn’t fly when you have a cooking blog and teach people to cook!

mexican chocolate banana bread muffin

Sometimes sleep deprivation actually pays off.

Now, I know that for some, 4:30 or 5:00 is a normal and routine time to begin their day. I’ve had that schedule before, so I get it. But back then, I fell asleep before midnight or 1 AM too.

Let’s face it – sleep deprivation totally sucks! Conversely, these muffins do not.

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September 20, 2013   4 Comments

better than your average chocolate chip cookies


Last summer, I introduced my Illinois bestie, Jen, to Pinterest. One of the first things she spotted was these cookies. We went directly to the store and bought the ingredients.

Best. Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever!

Since they are so fabulous, I have not made a batch since!

Don’t act surprised, you know why… I’d eat them before they had a chance to cool and then loath myself for days on end. Yesterday I decided to tempt fate. I whipped up a batch, set them out to cool, and left the house.

Upon my return, I immediately packed them up and placed the cookies in the freezer. I did not eat a one.

Little miracles happen every single day!

Later this week, the frozen cookies will board a plane with me to Canada and be served at a 4th of July picnic.

Classic American Holiday + The Canadian Wilderness + Extra-Special Chocolate Chip Cookies = Perfection.


I used the reddish Alaea and the white Kona sea salts I brought home from Hawaii for two of the baking sheets of cookies and the pink Murray River salt for the third one. Use whatever sea salt you have on hand.

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June 30, 2013   2 Comments

a Sprinkle Bakes cake!


If you’ve read from this blog before, you most likely already know that I am NOT a baker. If I bake something, and it turns out, and I post it here, and I call it “my own” – you can rest assured that it is a fluke, a miracle, or a lie!

The exception, the fluke, if you will, is my carrot cake. I did “create” that. After making carrot cake after carrot cake over many years (and many years ago) I finally got a perfect carrot cake that I truly believe is the best you will ever have.

I do make a pretty mean cheesecake, but not because I’ve created anything new. But because I’ve discovered, while making many cheesecakes and by reading many other people’s opinions about cheesecake, and then stealing the best of their various ideas and putting them together, how to make a fool-proof cheesecake. My cheesecakes always turn out perfectly! For my three “must do” steps/tricks, go HERE.

Aside from that one cake and cheesecakes in general… I would no more be able to create a new and wonderful baked dessert than I would be able to take apart a car engine!

All that being said, I’ve found a woman, a blog, and a cookbook with pretty fantastic desserts! It’s called Sprinkle Bakes and I made the following Very Impressive, Very Beautifully Photographed, and Very Delicious cake from her very lovely blog for my cooking series last month.

In all honesty, I should just stop now and send you directly there. I’ve pared down her recipe to make it a bit more manageable, but I haven’t really changed it at all. Also, I should not post my photos, as they were taken with my iPhone at Les Gourmettes, in the rush of a cooking class for 16 students. Photos of food are not top priority in those moments. Cutting the cake and serving it to the lovely paying students, is!  But I made the gorgeous decadent cake, so you shall suffer through my photos, then go over and see Sprinkle Bakes’ very professional photos and her very helpful step by step photos and be inspired and amazed!

Now, be prepared, not only is this cake a mouthful, so is the name of the cake!

On a quick side note: Congratulations to my friend, Larry Fitzgerald, who received a Man of the Year award yesterday. It is beyond well deserved. Now I wait for him to receive the overall NFL Man of the Year award when it is announced Super Bowl week. Fingers crossed.  Larry lives up to his press, he truly is a wonderful man!

Oh, I almost forgot – Merry Christmas Eve! xoxo

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December 24, 2012   1 Comment

Tenth Day of Christmas Gift

One word about today’s gift from the kitchen. Bacon!

Almond, Chocolate, and Bacon Toffee to be exact. Yes, BACON in toffee!

It’s not something new. I didn’t dream it up. In fact, I’ve spoken of it before. I even made bacon peanut brittle just over a year ago. This year, I’ve decided to give the toffee a go at it.

You and your very lucky, and soon to be grateful, gift recipients will love it! Just be certain to chop your crispy cooked bacon fine … into little bitty pieces. I left mine a bit to big and although I still love that batch of toffee, it is better chopped more fine, as I discovered on my second batch.

On the tenth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:

Tins of Bacon Toffee
Rum Glazed Eggnog Bread
Fennel Cured Salmon
Spicy Guinness Mustard
Two Jars of Mustard
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Homemade Kahlua Liqueur
Lemon-Sugar Hand Scrub
Cranberry Citrus Vodka
and a bottle of Tomato Dust

Silvered almonds are used in the recipe. You can find untoasted silvered almond and toasted slivered almonds at Trader Joe’s. You will need toasted almonds.

To toast the untoasted almonds; place nuts on a dry baking sheet and into a 350 degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times until nicely browned. That’s it, now you have toasted slivered almonds and you are ready to make your delicious toffee.

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December 9, 2012   1 Comment

Auntie B’s cake

Today is Dave’s birthday. Connor came home from school for the weekend and HE, not I, made Dave’s birthday cake! All I did was take the action photos. Dave’s cake of choice is always his Auntie B’s Chocolate Cake. My mother-in-law sent me the recipe even before we were married so that I could make it for her boy who had moved so far from home.

Dave remembers the anticipation of The Beloved Cake when he would see a measuring cup full of milk, covered with a towel, sitting near the heater under the front picture window of his childhood home. You see, the recipe calls for sour milk. That old method of souring milk is no longer recommended since milk that is soured naturally may contain toxins. A safer, quicker, and much easier way to sour milk is to add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of 2% or whole milk and leave it sit on a counter for 15 minutes before using. All that being said, everyone in Dave’s family is healthy and happy after consuming many of Auntie B’s cakes that were made with naturally soured milk.

Happy Birthday, Dave! xoxo

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October 6, 2012   5 Comments

red velvet heaven or “SMTh” – Part 4

This post should be called “Surprise Me Thursday – Part 4″ except we didn’t make this dessert on Thursday.  No, we made it to serve 24 at our Teen Week graduation lunch on Friday.  Although, I did find it on Pinterest… and originally I had planned to make it on a Thursday.  Until, one of the students wrote down “Red Velvet Cake” on their menu suggestion card (which I have the teens fill out on Monday mornings), and I thought, “Hey this is the perfect opportunity to make those cute mason jar cakes I see daily all over Pinterest.”  Two birds – One stone.

These are so delightful and oh so delectable, that they are now my “go to” party dessert!

By the way, we made the recipe twice to get 24 jar.  You may double the frosting but don’t try to double the cake portion… instead, make two separate batches.

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June 23, 2012   3 Comments

angel food cake

I don’t know what my record high is for the number of photos in one post, but this may top them all.  Why would such a sweet, innocent, plain-Jane-looking, and in fact, angelic cake need so many (14) descriptive pictures? Because when we’re talking about angel food cake, we’re talking all about the “Incredible Edible Egg.”

Eggs truly are incredible!  Perfection in a shell.  Magical, if you will.  They are the workhorse of the kitchen, providing the strength to bind ingredients, the power to rise and puff souffles, and the delicacy to act as the wings of an angel food cake. Simple egg whites whipping up into soft, fluffy, light as air, clouds of creamy goodness.

Egg whites are mostly protein and have no fat.  When whipped, they hold air and their volume increases by up to 7 times. When whipping whites, what you are looking for is “peaks”. With soft peaks the bubbles are a little more pronounced, and when you remove the beating whisk, the peaks tip over. Stiff peaks stand up straight when you remove the whisk. Egg whites whipped to this stage are used in meringues and cakes when sugar is added.

Plus, once the sugar is added, you won’t need to worry about over-beating, and the meringue can be whipped almost indefinitely… but only once the sugar is in there, otherwise it is quite easy to over-beat the whites. They will become dry and separate into clumps. Once that happens – they are ruined.

A most important note: Egg whites simply will not whip in the presence of fat. Egg yolks contain all the fat in an egg, so if you drop a little bit of yolk into your whites, carefully remove it by scooping with a bit of egg shell, this works because the shell attracts the yolk (same is true if egg shell gets into your cracked egg -shell also attracts to shell).  If there is more than a drop of yolk in the whites, just toss that egg out and start over.  And always whip with a sparkling clean whisk and bowl.

Ironically, fresh cold eggs are easiest to separate but older room temperature eggs whip quicker and can achieve a bit more volume. Personally, I separate my eggs when they are cold and don’t worry about how fresh they are or even wait for them to come to room temperature, it is what it is!

The reason recipes often call for cream of tartar or lemon juice is because acid makes beaten whites more stable.

And the reason angel food cakes are inverted as they are cooling, is because this cooling method keeps the cake from collapsing or deflating once it is removed from the oven.  (I think my photo of the cake inverted on a wine bottle looks like a table lamp… but maybe that’s just me.)

Hopefully all this is more than you ever wanted or needed to know about the wonderful egg  -  now on to the main attraction – The Cake!

Oh wait, one more thing… real quick… I had to make a cake ahead of time, then the kids made the cake in class.  They frosted my cake and tomorrow I will show you what we did with the cake they made – Oh my word, you will L-O-V-E IT!

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June 20, 2012   6 Comments