Funfetti Birthday Cake

There are few people in this world who merit a 3-layer funfetti birthday cake. My sister in law, Devora, happens to be one of them. She’s the loveliest person and when she asked me to bake her birthday cake this year, I was honored. Devora is a huge sprinkle-lover (she introduced me to ordering vanilla milkshakes with rainbow sprinkles) and I knew immediately that her birthday cake had to be funfetti. Sprinkles just make people happy.  This cake tastes way better than the classic boxed cake version and elicits all the fond memories of that birthday cake you ate in 1998. While not for the faint of heart or organically-inclined (hello, butter!), this cake is perfection in every other way and enhances a birthday second only to cold-hard cash.  I decided to really go for it here and cover the entire cake in sprinkles. Ultimately, I’m glad I did, as it yielded the desired results – lots of oohs and ahhs, but my kitchen was a sprinkle massacre and hasn’t recovered yet from the whole ordeal. You’ve been warned.

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funfetti birthday cake recipe

funfetti cake recipe

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funfetti cake recipe

There’s something oddly ethereal about this pic.

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Funfetti Cake

Adapted from Molly Yeh’s recipe in her cookbook, Molly on the Range

Cake
2½ cups flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups sugar
4 large egg whites
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon clear imitation vanilla (I used McCormick brand)
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup rainbow sprinkles

Frosting
1¾ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3½ cups powdered sugar
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ teaspoons clear imitation vanilla
2 tablespoons whole milk

2 cups sprinkles for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and line the bottoms of three 8 or 9-inch cake pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the oil and the vanilla extract. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry mixture and the milk in two or three alternating batches and mix until just barely combined.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the sprinkles until they’re evenly distributed. Distribute the batter among the cake pans, spreading it out evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. for cupcakes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting: In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Add the salt, extracts, and milk and beat to combine. Frost the cake and decorate with sprinkles as desired.

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Key Lime Pie

Meal prepping is a lifestyle that’s just not right for me.  I respect the practice and know it has a lot of merit but it’s kind of depressing. First of all, who wants to spend a Sunday night boiling eggs and washing and chopping vegetables? The sunday scaries are hard enough.  Plus, you’re basically eating leftovers for a week straight. It sparks no joy in me. And if we were Marie Kondo-ing my life, we’d eliminate meal prep for this very reason.

At the opposite end of the spectrum in a place far away from 3-day old grilled chicken and quinoa is key lime pie. It’s decadent. It’s tropical. It’s fun!  It’s everything that meal prep is not and that’s why you should make one this week. 

Besides for the muscle required in juicing 10 limes, key lime pie is pretty easy to make. And the payoff is huge. Perfectly tart custard piled high with whipped cream all nestled in a buttery graham cracker crust. It’s sheer perfection as Mary Berry would say if she tasted a slice of my pie.

I used Alison Roman’s recipe from her cookbook, Dining In. This cookbook has quickly become a favorite – and I’m a discerning cookbook scholar. For the topping, Roman combines freshly whipped cream and Greek yogurt which yields a delightful tart yet rich topping which complements the lime nicely. She also uses coconut oil (in addition to butter) in the graham cracker crust for a nice tropical island vibe. Crank the heat in your apartment, turn on the reggae channel on Pandora and eat a slice of this pie on a Sunday night. It’s way better than meal prepping, I promise.

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Key Lime Pie

From Alison Roman’s Dining In

Crust
10 graham crackers
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
A pinch of kosher salt

Filling
4 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons lime zest, plus more for garnish
1 cup lime juice, about 10 limes
Pinch of kosher salt

Topping
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt


Preheat oven to 350°. Using your hands, crush graham crackers in a large bowl until coarsely ground. You can also use a food processor but don’t pulverize it; you want some nice texture.  Add the butter, coconut oil, sugar, and salt and mix until well blended. Press the crust evenly in a 9″ pie dish. Use your fingers and work the crust up the sides of the pie dish. Bake crust, until lightly golden brown about 10 minutes. Let the pie crust cool while you make the filling.


Using an electric mixer on medium speed or a whisk beat the egg yolks until pale and light – about 5 minutes. Add in the sweetened condensed milk and beat for another 3 minutes until mixture is pale and frothy.  Whisk in the lime zest, juice, and salt. Pour into the crust. Bake pie until filling barely jiggle in the center – about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.


Whip cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Add in the yogurt and mix until just combined. Top the cooled pie with the cream leaving the outer rim exposed for a nice contrast. Garnish pie with lime zest.

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Nectarine Corn Muffins

Confession: cooking in the summer stresses me out sometimes.  With the abundance of in-season produce comes the pressure to bake all the pies, make jam, pesto, corn salad, gazpacho, watermelon margaritas – the list goes on. It’s straight up fruit and vegetable FOMO.  Julia Turshen recently wrote a wonderful article in The Washington Post about simplifying summer cooking and it really put things into perspective for me. The article talks about how little you have to do to summer produce – it shines on its own. Julia included a fresh crop of simple recipes that I can’t wait to try including garlicky marinated tomatoes, crispy, smoky skillet corn and squash fritters with buttermilk dressing! I decided to try her nectarine corn muffins first because I love a corn muffin and my favorite summer fruit is the nectarine – which I didn’t even know you could bake with! You can make these delicious, tender muffins in one bowl and use any stone fruit you love. I ate three in one sitting and have 0 regrets.

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nectarine corn muffin recipe

easy corn muffin recipe for summer

Nectarine Corn Muffins

From Julia Turshen

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup regular buttermilk (I used regular milk)
  • 8 ounces chopped nectarines (I used 1 large one)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a size muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl.  Combine the egg, melted butter and buttermilk in a large bowl and mix.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the nectarines.

Distribute the batter among the prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and the toothpick test comes back clean.

S’more Cupcakes

I made these cupcakes in a kitchen that was roughly 97°F  –  before I turned the oven on. Perhaps the heat caused my brain to swell and I decided it would be a good idea to bake. Were they worth the sweat? Yes. Were they everything I dreamed of and more? Also yes.

The graham cracker cupcake is filled with a blob of delicious, rich chocolate and the whole thing is topped with marshmallow fluff which gets toasted under the broiler. These cupcakes deliver on that s’more flavor we all know and love. Plus, the presentation is A+. Happy sweaty summer!

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S’more Cupcakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

 

Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 graham crackers (rectangles)
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk

 

Filling:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • Pinch of salt

Frosting:

  • Marshmallow fluff in a jar

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, graham crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients and mix until combined, followed by 1/2 of almond milk, mixing again. Repeat until everything is combined.

Fill the lined  muffin tin 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Use a small knife to remove a small amount of cake from the cupcake center.

Place the chocolate and salt in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the almond milk and stir until everything is melted and combined.  Cool the chocolate mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes – stirring every couple of minutes.

Transfer chocolate into a plastic bag and snip off the corner.  Squeeze a small amount of chocolate into each cupcake.

Frost the cupcakes generously with the marshmallow fluff. Toast under broiler for about 2-3 minutes – monitoring closely so they don’t burn!

Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

 

I never made it apple picking this fall. I know fall isn’t technically over yet, but let’s get real – it’s not happening. And even if it did, sweater-clad families lining the East Coast have already picked the trees clean.

Instead, I’ve lived vicariously through friends and relatives … on Facebook. Scrolling through pics of newly married couples in matching vests posing in a pumpkin patch moved me. Seeing photos of my rosy cheeked nieces and nephews in Ohio chomping down on apples while their parents tried to pull off the elusive family selfie was heart warming.  But what really piqued my interest even more than the apples themselves were the fresh doughnuts my sister-in-law raved about. Fresh, hot apple and maple doughnuts that crowds lined up for. She said the whole family fell silent in the car (not an easy feat with two kids under 5) while they each devoured their doughnuts. Eating doughnuts and apple picking (secondary to the doughnuts, come on) are on my fall bucket list for next year.

In the meantime, here’s a fall baking project for utilizing those glorious fresh picked (or grocery store) apples. Nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice infuse these scones with classic, delightful fall flavoring. Whole wheat flour and oats create a really nice texture and the maple icing is quite simply – on fleek.

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Apple Scones with Maple Glaze

Adapted from Ina Garten

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 pound cold butter, diced

3/4 cup chopped apple (I used half of a medium sized granny smith apple)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 egg, lightly beaten with a little water for egg wash

Maple glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp maple extract

2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In an electric mixer combine flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add in the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add to the flour and butter.  Mix until the dough just comes together.

Place the dough on a floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough about 1 inch thick. Using the bottom of a glass or small bowl, cut the dough into little circles and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Brush the top of the scones with your egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden. Let the scones cool for about 5 minutes before topping with icing.

For the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, maple extract and milk. When the scones are done. Drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of the glaze. You can sprinkle the top of the scones with a few oats.

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Galette

In need of a supremely easy summer dessert that will impress your guests? Or just yourself? Look no further than the galette.  Not into artfully arranging fruit in a symmetrical pattern? This recipe is a straight mix and dump situation.  Top with vanilla ice cream for sheer perfection.

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Blueberry Galette

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 stick cold butter
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons sugar plus extra for the crust
2 tablespoons milk or almond milk

Filling:

2 cups blueberries
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)

In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Using two forks, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes course in texture.  Slowly pour in the ice water, a little bit at a time until the dough starts to stick together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and form into a flat round disk. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Mix the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and salt in a bowl.

Roll out your dough into a 12-inch diameter circle on a piece of parchment paper. Dump the fruit in the center of the dough. Fold the edges toward the center of the galette. Brush edges with egg wash.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m on a cookie kick. It started last Sunday morning when I woke up to the sound of little girls shouting outside my window. “Girl scout cookies! Girl scout cookies! $4 a box!” It realllly made me want to start my day with a thin mint. But I have more self control than that. I held off until about noon, bought 4 boxes of cookies and then decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies. If you are ready to take your chocolate chip cookie to the next level, you need to add sea salt to the mix. Both in the dough and sprinkled on top  – sea salt delivers on flavor. In a big way. These cookies are also the perfect blend of crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Cookie nirvana. IMG_4353IMG_4352

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Heat oven to 360°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well. Beat in sea salt and baking soda until combined, then the flour on a low speed until just mixed. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out cookie dough and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each mound with sea salt. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes until golden brown around the edges. Let the cookies rest for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Snickerdoodles

I never got on the snickerdoodle bandwagon. Once I learned that the cookies had no actual Snickers in them, I wasn’t interested. Why would someone ever choose a sugar cookie with a little cinnamon on top over a chocolate chip cookie? And furthermore, why hasn’t anyone baked a cookie with actual Snicker bits in it? I’ve got to get on that. I decided to be an equal opportunity cookie lover and baker and give snickerdoodles another shot. As I sampled a warm snickerdoodle straight our of the oven, I honestly felt like someone was giving me a warm hug. Delightful. Buttery. The perfect balance of cinnamon and sugar. I’m not saying it’s better than a chocolate chip cookie- that’s blasphemy. But, snickerdoodles, you won a place at my table and in my heart.

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Snickerdoodles

From Smitten Kitchen

2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks room temperature butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Form balls of dough with your hands and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about two inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after five minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

 

Coconut Brown Butter Cookies

We’re getting closer and closer to that glorious time of the year when diet-monitoring is thrown out the window and calories are consumed with reckless abandon. They don’t call this ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for nothing. So why not brown an ungodly amount of butter and mix it with sugar, white chocolate chips, sea salt and coconut flakes? These cookies are surprisingly light and crispy and they take on a delightful brown color in the oven. With these in tow at your next holiday bash, you are sure to be deemed ‘cookie goddess’ or ‘brown butter savant’ by your friends. And remember, there’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow  – it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
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Browned butter kind of looks like a nice ale – avoid chugging it.

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Coconut Brown Butter Cookies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

 

2 sticks unsalted butter

2 tablespoons water

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

Sea salt

4 cups dried, unsweetened coconut

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. You want the butter to melt, foam for a bit and then it will suddenly turn a darker amber color. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour butter into a glass measuring cup. Add in two tablespoons of water. Chill browned butter in the freezer or fridge until solid.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scrape chilled browned butter into a mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat on medium speed for about a minute. Add egg and beat until combined. Scrape the bowl down and add in vanilla. Add flour a little bit at a time and then add in baking soda. Add coconut chips and white chocolate chips and mix to combine.

Scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough and arrange on your cookie sheet leaving a lot of room between each cookie. Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt. Bake for 11-12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack.

Apricot Galette

A galette is a rustic free form tart that can be either savory or sweet. She’s pie’s effortlessly chic cousin who jets off to Europe for the weekend. Is she as refined and put together as pie? No. Is she as sweet as pie? Not a chance (only 3 tablespoons of sugar in this whole recipe!). Is she a little flaky? Yes. But, in some ways her simplicity makes her more sophisticated. She’s rough around the edges and gives zero f***’s. Galette, ladies and gentlemen.

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Apricot Galette

From Food52

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 stick cold butter or margarine
1/4 cup ice water
12 apricots, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons sugar plus extra for the crust
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons milk or almond milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a pizza stone in the oven.

In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar and salt. Using two forks, cut in the butter until the mixture becomes course in texture.  Slowly pour in the ice water, a little bit at a time until the dough starts to stick together. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and form into a flat round disk. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Mix the apricots in a bowl with the sugar and cornstarch.

Roll out your dough into a 12-inch diameter circle on a piece of parchment paper. Lay the fruit in the center of the dough arranging artfully. Fold the edges toward the center of the galette. Brush edges with milk and sprinkle the sugar on.

Place the galette on the pizza stone and bake for about 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let the galette cool on a rack before slicing.

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