Nona’s Chocolate Cake

Birthday cakes are really important to us. They might even be the most important birthday decision, and they are definitely the most delicious present. In our family, my Nona’s chocolate cake is often the birthday treat of choice. Boston Cream Pie or berry trifle sometimes make an appearance, but this cake celebrates birthdays with us at least a couple of times a year. We don’t know exactly where the recipe came from, but my Nona (grandmother) used to make it for me all of the time when I helped out at her house as a kid.

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While it may look like your average chocolate cake, this recipe is truly the ultimate. The cake is incredibly moist, perfectly chocolately, and destined to be paired with delectable cream cheese frosting. We have tired to make it in different types of pans, but the tube pan is the only one that does justice to our favorite chocolate cake. Continue reading Nona’s Chocolate Cake

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Here is a short and sweet, only slightly belated Valentine’s Day post! These red velvet cupcakes were a simple treat to bring into the office and share with co-workers for a holiday potluck. Luckily, red velvet is always a hit, so you can make these any time of the year!

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  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer for a few minutes until nice and fluffy.  Add in the eggs one at a time and beat for 30 seconds.  Mix in the sour cream, milk, food coloring and vanilla.  (Yeah, it gets a “little” red.  Don’t worry, the cocoa in the flour mixture will calm it down later.  You can add more food coloring if you like the classic red velvet look or less if you just want a hint of red.)  Now, mix in the flour mixture and beat slowly until just incorporated; don’t over beat the mixture.

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Note: While making this batch, I thought I had sour cream, but alas, I was all out.  So I poured 1 1/2 cups of milk in a glass bowl, added 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and let it set for about 10 minutes.  I used this 1 1/2 cups of sour milk in place of the 1/2 cup milk and 1 cup sour cream.  Still tasted great!

Place paper cupcake inserts into a muffin pan. Fill each cup about 2/3 full with the batter.

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Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.  Test to see if a tooth pick comes out clean or if the top bounces back. Let the cupcakes cool for about 2 minutes in the pan. Then, remove them from the muffin pan and let them cool on cooling racks.  Make sure you let the cupcakes cool to room temperature before frosting.

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  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Mix the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla and beat until fluffy – about 3 minutes.  Add in the confectioners sugar and beat another 5 minutes, until it is nice and smooth.

I like to pipe the frosting on the cupcakes to get a nice thick layer, or in this case, in the shape of a heart.  Add some red sprinkles and you’re good to go!

The BEST Carrot Cake

This might be a good time to mention that we are dessert snobs. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Even though ‘snob’ is commonly used as a derogatory term, in this case, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. We don’t rub our views in others’ faces or anything, but know what we like! We also know how to make a lot of the things that we like. Let’s take this carrot cake, for example. It truly is the best carrot cake we’ve ever tasted. It is the definition of perfection, so we are incredibly exited to share this recipe with you and spread the carrot cake love! We must warn you, however, that after you taste this baby, restaurant or bakery carrot cake will never taste the same again.

carrot cake 0018 IMG_1787At least, that is what happened to us. From time to time, we still sample other carrot cakes, but just about every one is either too dry, too soggy, too much pumpkin pie flavoring, bad tasting icing, etc. Yikes!

Continue reading The BEST Carrot Cake

Birthday Boston Cream Pie

When we are planning for and upcoming birthday in our house, the conversations don’t revolve around where the birthday person wants to go out to dinner or which gifts they desire. For us, the most significant birthday decision centers around the birthday dessert. The selections typically bounce between my Nona’s chocolate cake (my favorite!) and the Boston Cream pie. Other times, we make carrot cake (post coming soon), a trifle, or pound cake with berries, but those first two are the household staples. When you combine cake, homemade pudding, and chocolate, you get one of the most delectable desserts around. There is only one downside of a birthday Boston cream pie – it is tough to insert candles into the hardened chocolate shell. You’ll have to make starter holes with a small knife so that your loved one can blow out some birthday candles, but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make:-).

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A few words from Sarah: From one glance at this layered treat, I think we can all see that this so-called pie is indeed a cake. And let me tell you, it is not just ANY cake. It wasn’t enough for this cake to get sandwiched in between some loving layers of smooth and creamy pudding. Oh no. Then it decided to be blanketed with a generous coating of rich, chocolate glaze. I’m pretty sure this cake and I are on the same page because chocolate truly makes everything better. Perhaps you, like me, are wondering why on earth this intelligent dessert decided to call itself a pie. Let us turn to Wikipedia for the answer. “Although it is called a Boston cream pie, it is in fact a cake and not a pie… The Boston cream pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts, declared as such in 1996. However, it is not mass-produced in Boston.”

Continue reading Birthday Boston Cream Pie