Quick Rice Cooker Castella


I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!  This is going to be a quick post on an easy and quick recipe that I saw today and just HAD to try right away.  I was browsing FB and saw this video:  https://www.facebook.com/dingo.food/videos/854615187974792/

Bake a cake in a rice cooker????  say what???1230161535-1pm

I always wondered why my Zojirushi Rice Cooker had a “cake” button and who would be crazy enough to bake a cake in their rice cooker… I guess I was crazy not to try it sooner!  At least with this Castella recipe, the rice cooker was just the right amount of heat and steam to make a fluffy, light, and airy Castella cake, which is basically a type of sponge cake, but a far cry from those dry sponge cakes that need to be soaked with syrup.  It’s a childhood favorite growing up and now my own children have adopted a love for them as well. Try it with a tall glass of milk!  You’re welcome.

And without further adieu, here are my converted measurements for the ingredients which were all in grams.  (If you know Korean and you watched the video, you may have noticed I substituted Mirin for Soju, since that’s what I have in my pantry and we don’t have soju in our home.)


Quick Rice Cooker Castella


  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided into 1/2 cups
  • 1 TB Mirin
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 2  1/2 TB honey
  • 1  1/2 cups cake flour
  • 4 TB oil (canola, vegetable)
  • scant 1/4 cup milk


  1. Grease your rice cooker with Canola oil spray.
  2. Whip 6 egg whites in a clean stand mixer with whip attachment and add 1/2 cup sugar in 3 increments until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
  3.  Whip 6 egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar.  Add the Mirin, salt, and honey and whip.  Add the cake flour and mix.
  4. Fold in a third of the meringue (egg whites) into the yolk batter and carefully fold in.  Add another third and fold.  Finally, add the remaining meringue and fold.
  5. Mix the oil and milk together then fold into the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into greased rice cooker pot and push your “cake” button or the video says “steam” setting for 60 minutes.
  7. carefully invert the cake out of the pot onto a plate, cool, and eat!

*Note: the top of the cake will look pale when you open the rice cooker and you may wonder if the cake is “cooked” through.  You’re welcome to try the toothpick test,  but it was nicely browned on the bottom of the cake (which becomes the top when you invert it).


Now go and try it yourself!!!  I’m  never baking my Castella in the oven again!!!

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!!!


Birthday Wishes… Shopkins

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My little girl just had a birthday; and of course no birthday celebration is complete without a cake topped with birthday candles to wish on before they are extinguished in one (or a few) puffs, which concurrently blankets the cake with tiny droplets of birthday girl germs.  But we digress… let them eat cake.  Germs are everywhere.  Besides, this cake is bulletproof!  It’s covered with homemade marshmallow fondant which no one likes to eat anyway.  I just peel mine right off and get to the good stuff: 4-layers of moist chocolate cake, devil’s frosting, and french vanilla frosting just under the peel, err… fondant.

I’m definitely not a fondant fan, but I must admit that certain cake requests (like this Shopkins cake) does require edible modeling clay to achieve that smooth, plastic look of a toy.  Most of my cakes are covered in buttercream or whipped cream, but I made an exception for this one since I didn’t think tinted buttercream would look as nice as fondant would.

My little princess got 2 birthday parties!  One on her actual birthday with family, including grandma who was in town, and her second party with a little group of friends at our humble home for a night of pizza, “Snow White” the movie, popcorn, and cake, followed by a spontaneous game of balloon war; organized chaos at it’s best!

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Of course I used Ina Garten’s Cheesecake recipe but without the jam, just topped with fresh raspberries.

So lucky mommy (yes, that’d be me) got to bake a cheesecake for her family party and this cute Shopkins cake for her party with her friends and I’m going to share my Shopkins cake construction process.

Little princess wanted a chocolate cake, so little princess got a chocolate cake for her special day.  I used Toba Garrett’s chocolate cake recipe from her book “The Well-decorated Cake” and I promise it’s the BEST chocolate cake you will ever taste!  She claims it’s good to the last crumb, and believe me, it is!  For the filling, I made a HUGE mistake and accidentally  made chocolate icing!!!  Like the kind that you drizzle over desserts for the nice chocolate-spilling-over-the-edge look, and that doesn’t work for a cake filling unless you want a “Sleeping Beauty” type of cake look with all the layers sliding and frosting dripping and the whole cake leaning like the Tower of Pisa.  That’s why, my friends, we should stick to tried and true recipes when attempting a special cake for a special occasion.  Lesson learned.  SO, instead of dumping the chocolate icing, I just doctored it by adding more butter and powdered sugar and it was fixed!  Now, I had delicious devil’s chocolate icing buttercream that was perfect layered with the chocolate cake.

After that detour, I decided I didn’t want to risk the dark brown color of chocolate frosting possibly showing through the light yellow fondant so whipped up a batch of our favorite vanilla frosting, which is also found in Toba Garrett’s book (see above link) called French Vanilla Buttercream.  This buttercream tastes like vanilla ice cream and has a texture that’s lighter and in between a buttercream and whipped cream.  Definitely one of my go-to recipes and have used it in many of my past cakes.

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I made 2 batches of marshmallow fondant and colored one batch yellow then left a larger part of the 2nd batch white and colored some pink and a little black.

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I wanted a taller, cake but I didn’t want to bake a 3rd cake, so I cheated and used my inverted cake pan as my 3rd cake layer to give the cake more height.

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I was in a rush and wasn’t careful removing my 2nd cake from the pan and it broke in several places!

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see how much of the outside broke off?!?!

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But it’s okay!  Just take those broken cake crumbs and mix it with your frosting and now you have chocolate cement to fill in the cracks.  (This is also how you can make cake pops.  crumble cake, mix in frosting, shape, and stick onto sticks)

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Whew, there. Now the cake is good as new 😉

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I split my 2 cakes in half so I got 4 layers.  Put some frosting on my “fake” cake layer then stack cake, frost, stack cake, frost… you get the picture.  I purposely left the top layer rounded since I wanted to keep the rounded look for the Shopkins Wishes cake.  Refrigerate your stacked cake for about 30 mins so it’s easier to cover with frosting and doesn’t shift.

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Smooth on your vanilla buttercream frosting with an offset spatula and refrigerate again while you work on rolling out some fondant. Notice how I frosted my cake pan, the bottom layer of my “cake”.

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After you work your fondant with your hands to get it pliable again, roll it out as big as you can.  I wasn’t able to get it big enough to drape over the entire cake, so I just cut out two 6″ strips (height of the side of cake) and stuck it on.  Get a wet paper towel and run it over your fondant so it will stick to the cake. (dampen only the side that will be touching the cake)

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Carefully smooth it out with your hands or a fondant smoother tool.

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I used two strips to cover the sides of the cake. (you can see the small seam on the left)  It’s okay, I’m going to add the arms there later.

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Roll our your white fondant, then use an 8″ cake base (cheese board from Dollar tree) as a guide to cut out a circle.  You want enough of the white fondant to come over the side of the cake.

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Use a sharp knife to cut around the fondant like above to achieve the look of icing drips.

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Again, dab a wet paper towel over the fondant, then carefully position over the top of the cake.

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Now for the pink band around Wishes.   Roll and cut out an appropriate sized band

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Stick it on with some water then use a blunt knife or I used a wooden skewer to make the slanted indent patterns on the pink band.

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Now make your eyes, nose, arms, and lips and attach with some water!  It already looks so cute!

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Make 3 white snakes then coil into these little swirls


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Attach the swirls and make some white “sprinkles” and the cake is complete!  She wanted a “6” on her cake and didn’t want just green candles (which is what Wishes has).

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She loved her little party and was so excited she kept hugging me and telling me ‘thank you’.  That’s what makes my Saturday spent on a birthday cake, all worth it!

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Eating a slice or two of cake helps, too.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

adapted from Toba Garrett’s “The Well Decorated Cake”


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1  1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2  1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1  1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temp.
  • 1  1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2  1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 6 oz. melted semisweet chocolate (good quality), melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and parchment line two 8″ cake pans (2″ high).  Melt chocolate, set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugars together on med- low speed until fluffy.
  3. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl, set aside
  4. Add eggs into the butter mixture, scraping bowl as needed.  Add vanilla.
  5. Add in a third of the flour mixture, mix. then a half of the buttermilk.  Mix and scrape bowl. Repeat until you have ended with the rest of your flour mixture.  Scrape bowl.
  6. Add in your melted chocolate and beat on med-high until well mixed.  Scraping bowl as needed.
  7. Pour into your prepared cake pans and bake in preheated oven for about 50 mins or until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 mins then remove carefully onto cooling rack.
  9. Frost cake after completely cool.
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Her friends got to go home with these cute Shopkins keychains from the supplies I had left from a past party where I had bottlecap necklaces.

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I found that printable for free on pinterest and taped them onto pink craft bags.  My girl is into word searches so they got a word search booklet and mechanical pencil (from Dollar Tree) and a pretzel rod dipped in white chocolate w/ sprinkles, plus the keychains.


Good luck with your baking adventure!  Thank you for reading and please subscribe!


“Thunder Cake” Happened…


I borrowed this book ,”Thunder Cake”, from the library a couple weeks ago to read to my children when it was raining nonstop here in the bay area and we had some hail and thunder (but alas, we saw no lightning, much to my son’s dismay).  Maybe because of the hills, trees, and homes that block our view of the sky…  But as my High School Chemistry teacher always used to say, “we digress”!

This book is a story about a little girl who is afraid of everything, especially thunder, and how her grandmother “distracts” her into overcoming her fears as they gather the ingredients to make this special ‘thunder cake’ that needs to go into the oven right when the thunderstorm is above them.  Much to my children’s delight, there was a recipe at the end of the book for this special thunder cake which uses a surprising secret ingredient in the chocolate cake that (I must admit) made me giddy with excitement to try.


We did our own “gathering” of ingredients for the cake, most of which I already had stocked in my pantry, but we ran to the store to buy the ‘secret’ ingredient and some strawberries.   Our run to the store could have been spared since we didn’t end up baking the cake until today and only because the strawberries wouldn’t last any longer if we didn’t bake it and I didn’t want to make another run to the store for one ingredient.

So what is the ‘secret’ ingredient you ask?  Well, it’s pureed tomatoes!  Isn’t that something?  I was skeptical but hopeful that it would turn out into a delicious chocolate cake and BOY, did it turn out into a scrumptious chocolate cake! And dare I say, it may be the best tasting chocolate cake EVER, especially paired with some light, fluffy chocolate frosting and fresh strawberries.  My kids are funny.  They start with the strawberries and then they eat the cake.  Every morning, I give them their fruit after their ‘main’ otherwise, they won’t finish their food and only eat the fruit.


*SEE BELOW for UPDATED METHOD!!! Some pointers about making the cake.  The recipe really doesn’t give the step-by-step directions I’m used to in a recipe, but having baked enough cakes in my life, I started off creaming the butter (I substituted the shortening for unsalted butter) then added the sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks.  Then I transferred the butter mixture to a large bowl, thoroughly cleaned and dried my stand mixing bowl to whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  I sifted the dry ingredients together and set it aside.  But here is where I panicked!  I added the water and pureed tomatoes to the butter mixture and of course with that much water, the butter is NOT going to incorporate it and looked like a curdled mess with the tomato puree and water mix.  But I just kept going, putting trust in the recipe (and crossing my fingers that it would turn out).  I started adding the flour mixture into the butter mixture then folded in some of the egg whites and repeated until I had cake batter!  It looked lumpy with butter still not incorporated in the liquid, but I still baked it according to the recipe and the cake turned out great!  It really tastes SO soft and moist!

*1/14/2016  So, I had to make this cake again and found a much better way to make this cake batter come together without lumps of butter.  

  1. Preheat oven to 350F . Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans
  2. Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, and the egg yolks.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Measure out the cold water and pureed tomatoes. (I strained it so no seeds or tomato skin pieces) 
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the dry mix to the butter mixture, next add half of the tomato/water mixture, then another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the tomato/water mixture, and finally the remaining third of the flour mixture.  (So basically dry, wet, dry, wet, dry into the butter mixture.)
  6. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form w/ whip attachment.  
  7. Carefully fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
  8. Divide the cake batter evenly into the two cake pans and bake about 30- 35 mins (toothpick test)

P.S.  I used fresh pureed tomatoes (and my son drank the rest and wanted more 🙂


Oftentimes, I find butter cakes to be not as moist and soft as cake mixes, but this cake is so soft like a cake mix and tastes delicious!  I could only slightly taste a hint of the tomato (maybe because I knew there was tomato in it… the hubby couldn’t tell), but it was very good and even gives the cake a slightly red-velvet cake-ish hue.  I’m curious how the tomato helps the cake taste so good!

Now, the recipe in the book only says to frost the cake with a chocolate butter frosting.  SO, I used this chocolate frosting recipe:

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate (melted)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

I melt the chocolate carefully in the microwave at 50% power in 30 sec increments or you can melt using the double boiler method.  Beat the butter until light, then add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt until light and fluffy.  Then add the melted chocolate (shouldn’t be hot).

After tasting the frosting, I decided I wanted to lighten up the frosting and whipped about a cup of whipping heavy cream added a bit of powdered sugar then folded it into the buttercream frosting.  It made the creamy, intense chocolate frosting, into more of a chocolate mousse-like lighter frosting that I think paired perfectly with this cake and the strawberries.

So, there.


Who knew pureed tomatoes could make the best chocolate cake, ever!!!

My 7 yrs. old has already requested that I make a copy of the recipe and save it so he can have it for his birthday (which is not ’til Sept).  Then his 5 yrs old sister chimed in and said she wanted the same!  It’s really that good!  Don’t believe me?  You’ve got to try it yourself!

Daddy came home while we were enjoying dessert so he got to read the book “Thunder Cake” to them while they ate their ‘thunder cake’!  Nothing grand going on here, but they were all so happy.  It’s the little things that count.  🙂  I love my family.


Thanks for reading!




Castella Cake + Whipped Cream = Korean Bakery Cake


My youngest just had a birthday and the baby in our family has turned a whopping 3 years old!  It’s hard to believe that this spunky little “baby” is already a little human-in-training: walking, running, eating like there’s no tomorrow, talking, and asking the most annoying question in the cutest little voice, “why?” on repeat, constantly, like a broken record. I love this little person so much and enjoyed a little moment of nostalgia this morning as I held her asleep in my arms; her warm, snuggle-y little body resting against my chest in a deep, sweet slumber.  I didn’t want to move until I finally accepted the reality that it was time to pick up my #2 from preschool and hoped that I might be successful in transferring my sleeping “baby” to her carseat without waking her so it could count for her nap for the day.  She has always been pretty good at transferring and continued to sleep until we got to big sis’s school, so thankfully, we didn’t have a cranky 3 yr old throwing tantrums left and right due to an inadequate nap tonight.

Months before my little C’s birthday, her two older siblings had already started planning her birthday party, including the theme, colors, cake, and friends to invite, when I hadn’t the tiniest inkling of throwing a big party for my 3 year old.  Perhaps it’s her fateful lineup as the youngest of the three children in the family, because I do recall throwing a big party for my first on his 3rd birthday, and a smaller party for my second on her 3rd as well… This time with my third child, I thought, I’ll invite a few of her friends over for a little playdate and make a special day for her, which I hope to accomplish this week…I hope. But rest assured, we did have a family birthday party for my little pup with a special dinner, cake, presents, and even invited grandma, her favorite person!

Now on to the cake!  Korean bakery cakes with their light, sponge cake layers frosted with fresh whipped cream and decorated with a variety of colorful fruit nestled into more mounds of cream all covered with a little shaving of chocolate, are one of my favorite cakes.  It might top a deep dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate frosting on certain days.  When I got into baking, one of my first recipe quests was to find that right sponge cake to make one of those Asian bakery copycat cakes.  I’ve tried a variety of sponge cakes, with and without soaking cake layers in sugar syrup, and none of them made the cut… until I figured out I could use this Castella recipe to make my fresh cream cake.  And it is perfect!  You don’t need any sugar syrup to soak the cake layers and you don’t get dry cake when you don’t use the sugar syrup.  What you do get is a beautiful, soft, moist, yet well structured sponge cake that tastes just right with the fresh whipped cream I like to slather on to turn it into a cake.  Castella is normally a popular Japanese cake (with Portuguese roots); it’s not frosted but is baked in a square or rectangle, chilled, sliced, and eaten with a cup of tea or milk.  You can use this recipe to do just that by baking it in a square pan OR you can bake it in two 8″ round cake pans to make a layered cake even better than the ones at the Korean bakeries!

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Prep: Grease and line your cake pans, sift your cake flour, microwave the milk, mirin, and butter.


Separate your eggs, place 8 yolks in mixer bowl and set the whites aside.


Whisk the yolks with sugar, honey, and salt until pale yellow and ribbons fall when you lift the whisk. Set aside.


Whisk the only 1/2 cup of the egg whites in a clean and dry mixer bowl with clean and dry whisk attachment


Add sugar when it starts to foam.


Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Lift your whisk and the peak should gently fall over.


Add a third of the whites into the yolk mixture, gently fold in, fold in half of the cake flour, gently fold in, then repeat ending with the remaining egg whites.


Add a big dollop of the cake batter into the melted milk, mirin, and butter mixture and mix. Pour it into the cake batter and gently fold in.


Pour batter into prepared cake pans and drop onto the counter several times.


Bake 350°F for 10 mins then lower heat to 335°F and bake for another 15 mins


Whip your cream and add sugar and vanilla. Whip until soft peaks form


To make lemon whipped cream filling, fold 1/2 cup of lemon curd to 1½ cups of the whipped cream in a separate bowl


I got that glass round from the dollar store and it’s a perfect 8″! I think it’s actually a cutting board. And using a nonskid mat works wonders when decorating a cake.


Once you cake is completely cool, slice each cake in half to make a 4 layered cake.


Smear a dollop of cream to the cake round so the cake will stick


Add a layer of cake. I should have had the cut side facing up…


Make a little dam by piping an edge around the perimeter of the cake then spread the lemon filling into the middle. You can use just regular whipped cream for the filling as well.


I added raspberries that I split in half.


Repeat the process for two more layers


Add the last layer then you will frost the entire cake.


Place a generous scoop of whipped cream to the top and let it fall over the edge


carefully cover the sides of the cake. Use lots of frosting and don’t let the spatula touch the cake or you will introduce cake crumbs into the pretty frosting.


Use a spatula to smooth out the top and the sides. I like to use a handheld pastry scraper to hold it along the side of the cake while I turn the cake turntable. Using a hot spatula also creates a smooth finish.


Decorate it any way you want!

Castella Cake
  • 2½ TB milk
  • 2 TB mirin
  • 1½ TB unsalted butter
  • 1 cup + 1 TB cake flour, sifted 2-3 times
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar, separated (see directions)
  • 2 TB honey
  • pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare cake pans by greasing and lining all sides with parchment paper. (I just line the bottom and use a sharp knife to run around the sides for the cake since I’ll be covering it with frosting)
  2. Combine milk, mirin, and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in microwave for 40 secs (until melted) then set aside to cool.  Sift the cake flour 2-3 times onto a piece of wax paper and set aside.
  3. In a clean mixing bowl, place all 8 egg yolks, 1/3-1/2 cup sugar (more or less depending on your sweetness preference), honey, and a pinch of salt and mix on medium to high speed until it turns a very pale yellow and starts to show peaks. If you don’t have another mixing bowl, then transfer the yolk mixture to a large bowl and wash this mixing bowl and dry it very well (also the whisk attachment).
  4. Place only 1/2 cup of egg whites into clean and dry mixer bowl (save the rest of the whites for another use), and beat with whisk attachment until it starts to foam.  Then slowly add 1/3 cup of sugar and beat only until SOFT peaks form.  The peak should fall over when you lift the whisk upright and not stand stiff and straight, so watch your whites carefully.
  5. Add a third of the egg whites meringue to the yolk mixture and quickly but gently, fold it in.  Then add half of the sifted cake flour and also quickly but gently fold in.  Repeat with another third of the meringue and the rest of the cake flour then end with the remaining meringue.
  6. Add a large dollop of the cake batter to the melted milk, mirin, butter mixture and mix it together.  Then add the milk mixture back to the cake batter and gently fold it in.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans then drop the pans down onto the counter a few times.
  8. Bake the cake at 350°F for 10 mins then lower the heat to 335°F and bake for another 15 mins.  The cake should be done when it’s golden brown and springs back up when gently pressed.
  9. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 mins then gently remove from pan to finish cooling on a cooling rack.
Whipped Cream
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup lemon curd (optional for filling)
  1. Whip the cream until it foams then add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until soft peaks form.  Don’t overwhip or it’ll curdle.
  2. To make the Lemon curd cream, add 1½ cups of the above whipped cream to a bowl and fold in ½ cup lemon curd. Use this cream to fill your layered cake.
  3. Use the rest of the whipped cream to frost the outside of your cake.
  4. Decorate ! Conjure up your creative side~


Oh, and did I mention that refrigeration does wonders for this cake?  No more hard cake straight out of the fridge!  I used to have a strawberry flavor oil? and when I added it to the whipped cream after whipping it, it tasted SO good when I made this cake with strawberries instead of raspberries and no lemon curd, just whipped cream filling.


We are a bookworm family so please excuse all the books scattered on the table. They were some of the gifts little C received for her bday. 🙂

Weekend Mashup: Cherry Blossoms, Cupcakes & Egg Hunt


Spring and Easter season have the best colors!  The pretty pastels in pink, yellow, blue, the cute little bunnies, eggs, and chicks; flowers blooming, and the world waking from a winter slumber.  It’s definitely one of my favorite time of year.  I had heard there were pretty cherry blossoms at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park during March and April and I had been wanting to see them.  So our family took a trip out to see some pretty cherry blossoms Saturday morning, but I was disappointed.  I saw one fully bloomed, beautiful cherry blossom tree at the entrance of the garden and didn’t see any more inside.  The garden is really beautifully landscaped and we still had a good time taking photos, walking around the garden and watching the Koi in the pond, but I had envisioned paths strewn with cherry blossom petals that fluttered down from the branches throughout the garden.  Perhaps I need to go later in April or take a trip out to Japan!  (or a reality check)


I had the privilege of taking dessert to a friend’s Easter egg hunt at her beautiful home over the weekend.  Her home had the perfect layout for hiding eggs and a nice size grass lot for the kids to run off all their sugar and play games like egg toss, egg-on-a-spoon-race, and more.  I know my kids had a blast and my youngest, C, who is not yet 3, participated in all the games.  It was fun watching her balance an egg on her spoon.

As you probably know, I enjoy baking and constructing layered cakes (eating them too!) but there’s something about pretty cupcakes, frosted and decorated in soft pastels that really make me happy.  I can’t look at one without eating them, which is why I get into trouble whenever I bake these little morsels of heaven.  I had been wanting to eat coconut cake, given it’s Easter season, so of course I thought I would make coconut cupcakes!  I love coconut, but I know not everyone is a fan, like my daughter A, who can’t stand anything coconut and banana.  Still can’t figure out why… they’re so tasty.  To make her happy, I added sprinkles on some cupcakes and only added shredded coconut on half of the batch.  I tried to make bunny ears with marshmallows like I’d seen on Pinterest, but they looked a bit awkward on the mini cupcakes.  I had recruited help from B and A to make the marshmallow bunny ears, but I didn’t use most of them.  Now they’re sitting in a container on my counter and getting snacked on every time I enter the kitchen.  I should probably move them to the back of my highest cabinet.

IMG_0221 Awkward on the mini cupcakes…

I used my go-to yellow cupcake recipe which uses cake flour and sour cream and replaces half of the vanilla extract called for in the original recipe with almond extract.  I did the same to the cream cheese frosting recipe and added almond extract so it would compliment the coconut nicely.  Perhaps it’s the cake flour or perhaps it’s the sour cream, but this recipe produces soft, moist, almost melt in your mouth cupcakes.

Yield: a dozen regular cupcakes or 40+ mini cupcakes


Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar (I usually add 2/3 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Prepare a mini muffin pan by greasing the cavities or inserting cupcake liners. (You may also use regular size muffin pans, see below for longer baking time)
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light.  Add one egg at a time and then add vanilla and almond extract.
  3. Add half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then half of the sour cream and repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake mini cupcakes for 12-14 mins.  Bake regular size cupcakes for 20-25 mins.
  5. Let cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Almond Frosting
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer  or a handheld mixer until smooth.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts and beat until smooth.
  • Sweetened shredded coconut
  • pastel colored sprinkles

After the cupcakes have cooled, use a butter knife or a small spatula to frost the cupcakes (or you can pipe) then top with shredded coconut or sprinkles.  I like using the shredded coconut for this rather than the flaked ones.  (They look better)


Happy Baking and thank you for reading!


Orange Pound Cake with Lemon Mascarpone

It’s technically winter and spring isn’t here for another 8 days but it’s been warm the last couple days and I see beautiful, sweet berries at the store so I decide it’s okay to eat raspberries layered with orange pound cake and lemon mascarpone as dessert for book club before spring/summer.  This is my first time hosting book club and I’m still a newbie in the club so I was racking my brain for days trying to come up with a dessert to serve and I remembered this Trader Joe’s Cookbook recipe I love that uses ladyfingers soaked in orange juice layered with berries and lemon mascarpone.  I decided to try it with Ina Garten’s Orange Pound Cake and it had to be pound cake since the characters in the book had pound cake after their eventful dinner.  We just read the book “Mother of Pearl” by Melinda Haynes and we all agreed the first third of the book was really hard to get through.  There was a lot of crude words and language that really didn’t need to be there and should have been cleaned up by the editor.  Plus the story was difficult to follow as was keeping track of the characters in the beginning.  But once we got through the first couple hundred pages of the book, it finally started to pick up and things were starting to make more sense.  Also, we weren’t reading swear words and the crude words for body parts in every other sentence (okay, I exaggerate).  There were great relationship developments towards the end and it was overall a good read, IF you didn’t end up tossing the book at the beginning :).

I baked the Ina Garten Orange Pound Cake the night before so all I had to do was simply mix the lemon curd with mascarpone and layer with the pound cake and berries.  I think the raspberries go really well with the lemon mascarpone and the Orange pound cake rather than other berries, but strawberries would work well too.  It tastes great with ladyfingers but also tastes even better with the orange pound cake and all the wonderful citrus zest it it makes for a fresh, delightful dessert!  
It’s assembled into an 8×8 inch glass baking dish but can be made in individual glass cups for an even more elegant presentation.  It it is so fast and simple to make and even more so when you use store-bought ladyfingers!  Here are the recipes below! 
Orange Pound Cake by Ina Garten – it makes two loaves and you only need one loaf for the trifle dessert so you can always give away the other half, eat it yourself, or freeze it.
adapted from “The I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook”
1 (10oz) jar Lemon Curd
1.5 (8oz) containers mascarpone
1/2 cup orange juice
1 loaf Orange Pound Cake (recipe link above) or 1 package ladyfingers
about 2 cups fresh raspberries, washed and dried
1. Mix the lemon curd with the mascarpone cheese until smooth but don’t overbeat.  May become grainy if you beat too long.
2. Slice the pound cake into 1/2″ slices and dip it in orange juice.  Place dipped side up in the bottom of an 8×8″ dish and repeat until you fill the bottom of the dish.  Do the same for ladyfingers, if using.

3. Spread half of the lemon curd mascarpone mixture over the cake then top with half of the berries.
4. Repeat with another layer of sliced pound cake dipped in orange juice and top with remaining lemon mascarpone and raspberries.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour.
Serve and enjoy~
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Black Forest Cake Williams Sonoma Style


Birthday boy (hubby) wants Black Forest Cake every year and this year is no different.  So Black Forest Cake it is, despite cherries being $7.99/lb at Safeway!!!!!  Of course, I go to Trader Joe’s today and they’re selling about the same amount of cherries in a pack for $4.99!  I was tempted to snatch up the pack and buy it even though we just had cherries the other night and I was already going way over budget with my grocery shopping.  Rest assured, I didn’t buy the cherries JUST because they were cheaper, which I think I have a tendency to do…

While driving the kiddos to school yesterday morning, we decided that we would try to throw together a simple surprise “party” (really not a party) for my husband when he got home from work that evening.  So I scrambled last minute to buy the ingredients for the cake and the shrimp scampi (Ina Garten’s recipe) that he so loves and turned my kitchen upside down baking and assembling the cake, then scurrying to make dinner after taking the kids to their dental appointments.  Thank goodness all three of the kids passed their dental check with flying colors and each got balloons which we used for our “decorations” in the entryway! According to my kids, we’re not ready for a party unless we have balloons, albeit just 3 with our dentist’s logo. 🙂    
Now about the cake…I love to poach the cherries myself instead of using jarred cherries; they taste so much better!  And we love the combination of chocolate cake with light freshly whipped cream studded with chocolate curls (crumbled curls).  Just blogging about it makes me want to eat the leftover slice of cake right now!  I’ve used this Black Forest Cake recipe from “The Williams Sonoma Baking Book” for a few years now and it never fails and is requested every year by this man.  And I must confess, I just got myself a slice and ate every last crumb and cream… don’t worry, there’s more, hubby.  
The cake calls for a 9-inch round cake pan, but I split the batter into two 6-inch cake pans to make a taller 4-layer cake.  If you make it as a 9-inch cake, then split it into 3 layers.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease one 9-inch round pan or two 6-inch pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. Melt the butter then set aside to cool.  Sift the cake flour and cocoa powder together on a piece of waxed paper and set aside.  Beat the eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed until tripled in volume (about 5 mins) and when you lift the whisk it leaves a trail of thick ribbons of batter.   (See video below)
Can you see how much it has inflated in volume and falls into thick ribbons when you lift the whisk?

 Remove the bowl from the mixer and carefully sift half of the flour/cocoa mixture onto the egg mixture.  Quickly fold it into the egg mixture before sifting the rest of the flour/cocoa mixture over the batter and again fold it in, being careful not to deflate too much.  Then add a large dollop of batter into the melted (cooled) butter, mix, then pour into the main batter and fold in.  The batter will naturally deflate some while you mix in the other ingredients so don’t panic!

How I “fold” in the powder mixture into my egg mixture with one hand doing the “folding” and the other holding my camera.  Yes, you should actually be holding the bowl still with your other hand while you fold. 🙂

Pour the batter into prepared cake pans and place into preheated oven and bake for about 30 mins.  Check with a toothpick to see if it is done.  Toothpick should come out clean.  Let it cool in the pan set on a wire rack until it is completely cool.


While your cake is baking and cooling, poach your cherries, make the sugar syrup, and shave your chocolate (to decorate your cake).

Poach the cherries: Bring 1 ¾ cups water and 1/3 cup granulated sugar to a boil then add 1 cup of pitted cherries and simmer for 10 mins.  Drain and cool.

Sugar Syrup: Bring 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar to a boil over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, cool and stir in 1 tsp Kirsch (opt)

Chocolate Curls: Use a peeler to “shave” curls off a thick bar of semisweet chocolate.  I like to warm my chocolate with my hands (covered in wrapper) which makes nice curls instead of brittle chips.  

When the cake is completely cool, run a butter knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert the cake, remove parchment, and slice horizontally to make desired number of layers.  

I like to eyeball it when I cut my cake layers, but you can use the toothpick method to cut your cake layers perfectly, a cake leveler, or whatever other trick you have up your sleeve.  After you have your layers, brush your sugar syrup onto the layers on the cut side.  
Pour the heavy whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar into a clean mixer bowl and whisk until medium peak consistency.  (Trick: Place your metal mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer until you are ready to whip your cream. Keeps your cream cold for best results and no runny, melted cream)  It should be stiff enough that it retains the peaks and ridges when you lift your whisk (that way you don’t have whipped cream sliding off the cake and will stay put).
After you reach the desired consistency of whipped cream, place a layer of cake onto a cake board or plate, spread with whipped cream, place poached cherries on the cream, cover the cherries with a thin coat of whipped cream, then add another layer of cake and repeat.
Be sure your cake is nicely centered on the cake board/plate and get down to eye-level with your cake to see if it’s lopsided and if it needs more cream or you need to place a thicker layer in a certain part of the cake.  When you are done stacking your cake, cover the entire outside with the cream being careful not to introduce cake crumbs into the frosting.  Use plenty of cream and “push” the cream onto the exposed cake and lift carefully so you don’t pull up a bunch of crumbs.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth on the outside since it will be covered with chocolate shavings. 
Protect your surface with waxed paper then start covering the top of the cake with chocolate shavings and “throw” some on the sides until you are satisfied with the way the cake it covered.
 Place some cherries on top and you’re done!!!

 You look good enough to eat, you!
And eat it, we did!
Black Forest Cake (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
Poached Cherries
  • 1 cup pitted fresh Bing cherries (or frozen)
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Sugar syrup
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp Kirsch (opt)
  • Semisweet chocolate curls (decoration) 
  • Fresh Cherries w/ stem (decoration)
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature 
Whipped Cream (filling/frosting)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar (more or less to taste)
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease either one 9-inch round cake pan or two 6-inch round cake pans then line the bottom with parchment paper.  Melt the butter and let cool. 
Sift together the flour and cocoa powder onto a sheet of waxed paper and set aside. 

Beat the eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment on high speed until tripled in volume (about 5 mins) and when you lift the whisk it leaves a trail of thick ribbons of batter. Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift  half the flour mixture over the egg mixture carefully fold in then repeat for the rest of the flour mixture.  Fold a large dollop into the melted butter, then fold back into the egg mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until the cake is puffed, about 30 minutes. Toothpick to come out clean (except for a crumb or two). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the sugar syrup, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add the optional flavoring (Kirsch) if desired, once cool.

To make the poached cherries, bring 1 ¾ cups water and 1/3 cup granulated sugar to a boil then add 1 cup of pitted cherries and simmer for 10 mins.  Drain and cool.
When the cake is completely cool, run a butter knife around the inside of the pans and carefully invert the cake, remove parchment, and slice horizontally to make desired number of layers.  Place the top layer, cut side up, on a cake plate.  After you have your layers, brush your sugar syrup onto the layers on the cut side.  
To make the whipped cream for filling and frosting the cake, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream and confectioners’ sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. 
Place the top cake layer on a cake board/plate, cut side up, and spread your first layer with whipped cream, strew some poached cherries on the cream, cover the cherries with a thin coat of whipped cream, then add another layer of cake and repeat.  Be sure to leave a 1/2-inch border of cream around the edge so the cherries don’t peek out between the layers. Spread the remaining whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake. 
Press the chocolate curls onto the top of the cake and “throw” some on the sides of the cake. Place some fresh cherries on top of the cake in desired pattern.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8 to 10.

Banana Cream Pie meets Key Lime in a Cake!

I’m definitely blessed to be living in California where we are currently enjoying sunny, fairly warm weather in the high 60’s almost 70’s and it’s the middle of winter.  Whereas those living in the east coast will be cursing their California relatives while they blunder about mummified in a twist of coats, scarves and hats.  So please forgive me for conjuring up thoughts of fresh, cool bananas and key lime pies.  Actually, you can blame my husband for injecting my mind with such criminal thoughts in the middle of winter.  He would then turn around and point his finger at me since I was the one who asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday coming up this Superbowl Sunday!  He’s turning the big 3-0 and too bad we don’t have the budget presently for a big birthday/Superbowl party for him.  Maybe we’ll do one for him next year.

I’m always excited when we have a birthday coming up because I know I have an excuse for those butter-laden hunks of goodness glopped with generous amounts of BUTTERcream.   Any other time, I try to be more health conscious by baking with margarine or oil and sneaking in blended chickpeas into my kids’ chocolate chip cookies.  None of that in this green beauty!

So if you haven’t already guessed, he said he would like either a banana cream pie, a key lime pie, or a Black Forest Cake.  I’ve already made Black Forest cakes for his birthday before (twice, from scratch without any of those yucky maraschino cherries) and I remembered saving a recipe for key lime buttercream and a banana lime cake that I thought he wouldn’t mind if I changed up his request a bit and made it into a cake instead of a pie.  Besides, who has pie for a birthday cake??? OK, maybe some people do.  But he’s getting the better end of the deal with me including both the banana and the lime (and we can’t forget the cream) into the cake here!

The recipes are from here and here
I changed it up a bit and made it into a cake, instead of cupcakes and instead of the shortening/butter buttercream recipe they used, I just added the lime zest and lime juice to a swiss meringue buttercream recipe instead.  I’m not a huge fan of those butter and powdered sugar-type frostings… they taste too sweet and are quite unpalatable for me.  I do make them when I don’t feel like whipping a meringue and boiling the sugar syrup, my favorite is the Sprinkles Cupcakes strawberry buttercream recipe revealed by Martha Stewart.  I just prefer the taste of Swiss buttercream, but we digress.

Banana-lime cake layered with sliced bananas and whipped cream, frosted on the outside with Key Lime Buttercream frosting, topped with crumbled graham cracker pie-crust, with dollops of more whipped cream and decorated with slices of lime.  Can you say YUMMMMMM~


There’s a whole lot of steps to make this cake, so feel free to make the buttercream ahead of time and refrigerate it, then just bring it back to room temperature and beat it on your mixer with a paddle attachment and it’ll be good as new.  Bake the cake (you could bake it a day before and refrigerate it), make the graham cracker crumble and whip the cream on the same day you will use it.

After the cake is cool, I like to cut off about a 1/2″ crust from around the cake so that you don’t have the crunchy/hard part in you cake.  But that is optional.

I then use a bread knife to cut off the top so that we get a flat surface to work with when we stack the cakes.   No sliding cakes from Sleeping Beauty here.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, I just eyeball it.

I like to make a dam before I fill layered cakes with whipped cream, especially with a denser cake like banana cake.  You pipe the lime buttercream close to the edge, all around the cake.  Then you fill it with the whipped cream and bananas and a little more whipped cream.  That way when you stack the other cake layer on top, the weight of that cake won’t completely squeeze the whipped cream out the sides.  (Since whipped cream is so light compared to buttercream)

There’s a nice looking pre-dressed cake that looks more like a mint patty hamburger than a cake.
You know when you try to frost a cake and the frosting breaks off cake crumbs every time you lift the spatula and so you end up with unwanted cake crumbs all over the frosting?  Well, I like to bypass the crumb coat and pipe the frosting all over the outside of the cake so that all you have to do is smooth out the frosting with a spatula and you’re good!  No cake crumbs!  Just make sure you cover the cake well with plenty of frosting so you don’t introduce any crumbs.  

Next you add the crumbled graham cracker pie-crust all over the top of the cake, make pretty swirls with your whipped cream, and decorate with sliced key lime.  

It was a big hit!  Really good cake!  Sweet banana cake with the perfect balance of key lime tartness topped off with light whipped cream and crunchy piecrust!  SOOO good!

Here are the recipes:

Banana-Lime Cake

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter (1  1/2 sticks)
1  1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 T lime juice
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp lime zest
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. 
In large bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, lime juice, vanilla, banana and lime zest; mix well.  Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream; blend thoroughly but do not overmix. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on rack; remove and cool completely before decorating.
*I used two 8″ cake pans

Key Lime Buttercream with Swiss Meringue base

5 egg whites
1 cup plus 2 TB sugar
pinch of salt
1 lb (4 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 8 key limes
1  1/2 TB lime juice
*I added 1 drop of green food coloring

  1. Mix the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl for your stand mixer and set it over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until it’s warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (you shouldn’t feel any sugar grains when you rub it between your fingers)
  2. Using a whisk attachment, start on low speed and gradually increase to medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Keep mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool, about 10 minutes.
  3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla, lime zest and lime juice. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day.
  4. (Optional) To tint buttercream (or royal icing), reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.
adapted from Martha Stewart recipe

P.S.  When you are whipping the butter into the meringue mixture, don’t panic when it starts to look like cottage cheese!  Don’t throw it out either!  Just keep mixing for a few mins or more and it’ll come back together.  Cover the mixer with a towel so you don’t spray your kitchen (or yourself) with frosting.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Add sugar to the cream and whip with whisk attachment on stand mixer until soft peaks form then whisk by hand (with a whisk, not your hand silly) until you get stiff peaks.

Graham Cracker Crumble 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
2 T sugar
spread over a baking sheet and bake at 400 F for about 8-10 mins. We are using it as a crumble decoration/topping and not a piecrust so you don’t need to press down.

1-2 bananas (sliced, for cake filling)
thin sliced key limes for decoration (about 4)

Click here for printable recipe (Recipes only, no step-by-step pictures for putting the cake together)

Chocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake

So I copied this recipe down from a Woman’s Day magazine years ago while I was waiting forever at a doctor’s office.  The recipe sounded too tempting to just leave.  WELL, that was almost 3 yrs ago and I finally got myself to make it for my hubby’s birthday.

Next time, I think I’ll mix less Nutella into the frosting because it was a bit too rich for our liking, but oh man, this cake is SUCH CHOCOLATEy goodness.  It is so good!  Can I say that much?

The cake recipe is really good as well, I didn’t have Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) but I used a had some hazelnut flavoring so added just 1 TBS of that and it seemed to be the perfect amount.  It’s a whipped cream based frosting so you need to refrigerate the cake but the cake is still moist and not hard, and the frosting actually tastes better when it’s more firm. 🙂

So here’s some pictures and I actually found the link to the recipe.  http://www.womansday.com/recipefinder/chocolate-hazelnut-layer-cake-recipe-121830

  • 3 cup(s) heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2 bar(s) (4 oz each) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup(s) boiling water
  • 1/2 cup(s) Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread; buy two 13-oz jars)
  • 1 cup(s) buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoon(s) Frangelico hazelnut liqueur (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) sugar
  • 1 stick(s) (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) Nutella
  • 1 cup(s) hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
  •  Garnish: chopped toasted hazelnuts and chocolate curls
  1. Microwave cream in a large bowl on high until steaming. Add chocolate; let stand 5 minutes. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours.
  2. Cake: Heat oven to 350°F. You’ll need two 9 x 2-in. round cake pans, greased and floured.
  3. Whisk cocoa powder and water in a medium bowl, then Nutella and buttermilk, Frangelico and vanilla.
  4. Beat sugar, butter, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl with mixer on medium-high speed 3 minutes or until pale. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. On low speed beat in flour in 3 additions alternating with cocoa mixture in 2 additions, beating just until blended. Pour into prepared pans.
  5. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until a pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of each layer; turn out on rack and cool completely.
  6. Insert several toothpicks halfway up side around both cake layers. Using picks as a guide, cut layers in half with a long serrated knife.
  7. Filling & frosting: Beat cold chocolate mixture on medium speed until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. Put Nutella into a bowl; stir in 1 1/2 cups chocolate mixture until smooth. Fold into remaining chocolate mixture until combined. Remove 2 1/2 cups to a bowl; stir in hazelnuts for filling. Reserve remainder for frosting.
  8. To assemble: Place 1 cake layer on serving plate; spread with 1/3 the filling (1 scant cup). Top with second layer and 1/2 the remaining filling; repeat with third layer and remaining filling. Top with last cake layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting over top and sides; refrigerate 15 minutes to firm. Spread top and sides with remaining frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish just before serving.
  9. Wrap cooled cake layers and make frosting (through Step 1) up to two days ahead. Cover the frosted cake and refrigerate up to three days.

I had already baked the cake layers three days in advance and froze them in the freezer so I could quickly just make the frosting and decorate it on Sunday without having to slave all day over a cake.  It tastes just as good as when it came out of the oven.  I used two 9-inch cake pans like it called for and then split both cakes so I got a total of 4 layers.

Then I beat the whipped cream (that had already been melted w/ choc and chilled) and filled and frosted the cake.  

cut out strips of parchment paper and put it under the cake before you start frosting it and it’ll catch all the frosting mess.

Here’s a neat trick, after you cover the cake generously w/ the frosting, and roughly even it out w/ your offset spatula, use a pastry scraper and smooth out the edges.  It helps if you have a cake decorating turntable thing, but I’m sure a lazy susan would work as well.

nice and smooth

use your offset spatula to smooth out the top as well and remove the strips of parchment paper so it’s all nice and clean and no frosting all over the plate.

Then I decorated the cake by dusting cocoa powder just on top, throwing (literally) choc sprinkles onto the sides, and then topped w/ Ferrara Rocher chocolates.  OH, forgot to mention that I also crushed some Ferrara Rocher chocolates into just the cake filling mixture and it added a nice touch, especially since I didn’t get hazelnuts to add to it.

Ina Garten’s Honey Vanilla Pound Cake

I LOVE Ina Garten’s recipes!  They always turn out great.  So I needed to bake something quick to take w/ me to my in-law’s and came across this recipe as I was leafing through my cookbooks.  Had all the ingredients so started measuring and pouring and baking.  
The results:  WONDERFUL~  tastes soooo good, and not dry.  Especially yummy when you toast it in the toaster oven for a few mins to get it warm, or not and still tastes great.
The only thing is… I don’t know if it’s my oven, but it browned a lot on the outside so had to cut off a little bit of the crust that touched the pans… maybe since I didn’t line the bottom w/ parchment paper since I was out.
Here’s the link to the recipe