Cannoli Cheesecake

So….. you *may* have seen the nifty little widget on the side of my blog advertising the fact that my birthday is just a few days away. I thought it was a nice touch, even if I don’t need to be reminded that I’m getting older.

And becoming more astute, pragmatic, a bit wiser, and better looking, too. One can only hope.

Anyway, I decided to firmly embrace my English-Italian birthright, and commence birthday celebrations starting today. Oh, you didn’t know that was a legitimate right? My parents (hence the English-Italian part of the story) are steadfast believers in not just a birth-day, but a birthday month. I like it, even if I’m waaaaaay behind in starting the party. About 16 days behind, to be exact. Eh, no worries – now that I have a free pass to indulge in all of my favorite desserts for the next few days, I’ll be caught up in no time.


I like that idea even more.

Cannoli Cheesecake – adapted from Rosie’s Country Cooking

  • 7 oz pkg cannoli shells (or graham cracker crumbs)
  • 3 tbs. unsalted butter melted
  • 2 tbs. sugar
  • 4 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs. orange zest (I used the zest of one whole orange)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment. Crush canolli shells in a food processor, add butter and 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to pulse into crumbs. Press mixture firmly onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool.

Beat ricotta cheese, remaining sugar and flour in bowl of electric mixer on medium until well blended. Add vanilla and zest; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing just until blended after each addition. Pour over crust.

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, then sprinkle top with the chocolate chips delicately, pressing chips in lightly. Continue to bake 10 more minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake. Cool before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate 4 hours or more. Before serving, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.  Top with whipped cream if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator, serves 10.

Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Yesterday, Sabrina and I took an unplanned excursion into downtown Austin. What prompted  the trip was a promise I made to her the other day, which was that if she cleaned out (read: organized) her closet, I would take her shopping for new clothes. Personally, I didn’t think she would do it. She takes after a certain family member, who shall remain nameless, that has a tendency to hold onto clothing far longer than necessary. Some items were so threadbare you could see through them, some were too big, some too small, and some made me ask her, what exactly were you thinking when you bought this?

She didn’t appreciate my commentary.

Our adventure began at the Round Rock Outlet Mall so she could pick up a new pair of jeans. We (and I’m calling her out on this as well) must have been temporarily insane to go anywhere near a mall, for school starts Monday (see previous post for proof of that). Everyone and their extended family, including their dogs, were out shopping. The mall was packed, and after about 20 minutes, I was done. Fortunately we located the Guess store location relatively quickly, and three pair of half price jeans later, we split.

However, during the drive to the mall, which only takes about 20 minutes (kind of like driving to Chicago, right Dad?), we started talking about food, and that evenings’ dinner plans, specifically. She’s been complaining for at least three months now on how she misses Chinese cuisine, how there aren’t any good Chinese restaurants here , she’s afraid to eat at any of them anyway because of her MSG/nut allergies and blah blah blah blah blah.


As luck would have it, I had received an email of this recipe for Takeout Style Sesame Noodles earlier in the day, so in a last ditch effort to halt the nonstop verbal assault on my eardrums, I said, let’s go to the MT Marketplace, find the required sesame paste, and make these dang noodles!

Suddenly, there was peace and quiet in the car. All you could hear was the hum of the engine. Ahhhhh. And then she said, “Really? We can do that tonight?” I handed her the address, told her to program the navigation system, and off we went. Of course, making our way through the market, where just about everything is written in Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino, and Japanese, well, that’s altogether another funny story.

Side note: I am pretty sure we purchased Sesame Paste, unless Eye of Newt Puree tastes like sesame seeds…..

Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake – adapted from Food Network

This cake was the definition of “the bomb”. Sabrina and I loved it. I purposely picked up more blueberries from Costco earlier in the week, just so I can make another cake. It’s super light, moist and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries (about 1 pint)

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a nonstick 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Beat 2 sticks butter, the granulated sugar and vegetable oil in a bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, at least 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Add about one-third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk; beat until almost incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk. Beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until just combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat 30 seconds. Finish incorporating the flour by hand to avoid overmixing.

Spoon one-third of the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle in half of the blueberries, then top with another one-third of the batter. Scatter the remaining blueberries on top and cover with the rest of the batter; smooth the top. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 30 minutes in the pan. Run a small sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto the rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I had a great idea to make loaf of banana bread this morning. And, yes, it was in direct relation to the overripe bananas sitting on the counter, giving me the evil side-eye each time I passed them.

They’re threatening a hostile takeover if I don’t take action soon….

The problem I encountered is that when I went to find a recipe, I was confronted with 25 different variations on my site. Wait, what?

Um, yeah….. about that..

I have got to narrow the list down, and soon. After all, I am making great progress with the cookbook (obviously not in the banana bread department, thankyouverymuch….)

The way I see it, this is either going to be really easy, or really hard.

The bigger question, though, is how in the world do I have 25 variations of banana bread?

Yeah, I’m betting this is going to be reallllllly hard…..

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake – adapted from Serious Eats

Although this isn’t a marble cake per se, I modified it by removing about a cup of batter, and blending in 1/4 cup of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. After spooning the chocolate chip batter into the pan, I poured the chocolate batter on top and barely swirled it through.

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

    Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10 to 12-cup bundt pan. Stir butter with sugar in a large bowl until very creamy. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl. Stir until almost combined. Stir in chips until combined and no white streaks of flour remain. Spoon into pan and bake until golden and just set, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cake cool in pan 45 minutes, then invert onto serving plate or cooling rack.

Mocha Biscotti Icebox Cake

Over the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about drive. And ambition. Enthusiasm, too. All the things that motivate you to jump out of bed every morning, full of vigor and make you excited to take on the day.

For me, my greatest passion is baking. Every single day, I look forward to that moment when I have my recipe ready, baking supplies mise en place, knowing I am going to create something delicious that I can share with my trusted tasting crew.

And even though every recipe I try doesn’t receive a 5 star rating (there have been more than a few unsuccessful ventures lately...), I never stop pushing forward and reaching for another goal.


Goals are good. Achieving them is even better.

Mocha Biscotti Icebox Cake – adapted from Ina Garten

2 cups cold heavy cream
16 oz Italian mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua liqueur
2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbs.  pure vanilla extract
9 chocolate chip biscotti, crumbled

  • 12 crisp ladyfingers (saviordi)
  • 1/4 cup espresso sweetened with 2 tsp sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms firm peaks.

To assemble the cake, arrange a layer of ladyfingers in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. Drizzle half the espresso over them. Then spread about a third of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the top. Crumble three biscotti and sprinkle them over the mocha cream. Place another layer of ladyfingers on top, drizzle with the remaining espresso, and follow with another third of the cream. Crumble another three biscotti and sprinkle them over. Cover them with the last third of the cream. Smooth the top, then sprinkle the remaining biscotti over the surface. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Cut in wedges, and serve cold.

Super Crumb Crumb Cake

Today is my last day of peace, quiet and serenity.

Ahhhh – bliss…….

Tomorrow it all comes to a screeching halt, as the posse will be returning to Austin in the morning. What this means is a substantial increase in the amount of  noise, a definite surge in the amount of cooking/baking, and a high probability of rambunctious teenagers (read: Alexander’s friends) loitering about in the hopes of being invited to stay for dinner.

I think I see the potential for negotiation: dinner = helping out at the ranch.

It’s a good (albeit slightly devious) strategy…..

Super Crumb Crumb Cake – adapted from Serious Eats

There’s crumb cake, and then there’s CRUMB cake. Be warned: it’s extremely delicious…

  • For the Batter:
  • 1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbs. (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. cinnamon
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 18 tbs. (9 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9- by 9-inch baking pan. To make the batter, stir the flour, sugar, brown sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add butter, oil, egg, vanilla, and milk to bowl and whisk until smooth. Spread into prepared pan.

For the topping, in the same unwashed bowl that contained the batter, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add vanilla and melted butter, and then toss with a fork until mixture forms large moist crumbs. Scatter over top of batter. Bake until center is firm to the touch, about 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool. Serve warm or room temperature.

Cannoli Icebox Cake

For a dessert that was declared, “One of the best cakes you’ve ever made, honey”, you might think I would have tried to get a better picture of it.


Truthfully, I was lucky to get A picture of it. J and I absolutely loved this cake, and demolished it in about 3 days. With the summer heat in full swing, no-bake cakes and pies are high on my list.

Along with air conditioning and fruity beverages……

Cannoli Icebox Cake – adapted from Bake or Break

  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • about 18 honey graham cracker sheets
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbs. granulated sugar

    Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the ricotta, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and yogurt until smooth.

    Arrange a layer of graham crackers in the bottom of a 9-inch square pan, breaking the crackers as needed to fit and cover the bottom. Carefully spread about a third of the ricotta filling over the crackers. Top with another layer of crackers and half of the remaining filling. Repeat with another layer of crackers and the remaining filling. Top with a final layer of crackers, then place the pan in the refrigerator.

    Place the cream in a large, cold mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, beat at medium-high speed until the cream begins to thicken. Add the sugar and continue beating until you can lift the whisk out of the whipped cream and a peak that curves downward forms in the cream. This should take 2 to 3 minutes. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the icebox cake. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

    Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Keep refrigerated.

Perfect Oreo Cake

Last month, I hosted a birthday party for my beloved J. I started planning the soiree months ago, as many of his closest friends live out of state. I found the cutest invitations on Evite (does anyone do paper invitations anymore?), then started a highly detailed spreadsheet and Pinterest page for menu ideas.

Yes, I’m a geek like that. 

Hey, I also had elaborate spreadsheets for Alexander’s birthday, and Sabrina’s birthday/graduation dinners, so I could prepare as much as I could ahead of time and not forget anything important. But…. even with all my planning, I forgot one item of extreme importance. I neglected to take pictures of Sabrina at her graduation. I’m not even kidding. We didn’t get one.single.picture of her in her cap and gown. It was crowded, suffocatingly hot, and she wanted to split from the venue ASAP and head to Ihop for pancakes. Fortunately though, the school graciously emailed an order form to me with several pictures to choose from. Saved by the school…..

You probably won’t hear me say that ever again.

Anyway, J’s party was perfect in every way. I had the right amount of people, a creative mix of food, and the cutest little setup of desserts:


I made individual tiramisu, lemon cream pies:


chocolate mousse, and no-bake cheesecakes:


The coup de grace, though, was the Oreo cake for dessert. Literally, a “cake” of Oreo cookies:


It was quite a focal point of conversation, although no one dared touch it. I guess they were hesitant to come between a man and his Oreos….

When all was said and done, I was exceptionally happy with the way everything turned out – and more importantly, J enjoyed himself immensely, everyone had a wonderful time, and cleanup was minimal.

The following week, we had a family dinner and I made a “real” cake for him:


Yes, it’s as insane as it looks. Two layers of the most amazing chocolate cake (even better, in my opinion, than the Chocolate Cake That Started It All), then filled with whipped cream and lots of chopped Oreos. I had a blast making this, and was so pleased with the way it turned out.

So now that I’ve made my way through three birthdays and one graduation, the next big event is my birthday. Suffice to say, there will be chocolate and peanut butter this year. yum……

Perfect Oreo Cake – adapted from two different sources


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup hot coffee
Grease and flour three 9 inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk together. Add eggs, buttermilk and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
4. Add vanilla to hot coffee and add to mixture. Mix well.
5. Pour into the prepared pans and bake at 300 degrees for about 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.
6. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pans to cooling racks to cool completely.

Filling / Frosting:

  • 50 Oreo cookies, chopped (plus an additional 5 cookies, cut in half, for decorating)
  • 4 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. pure vanilla extract

Make the Oreo whipped cream in 2 batches. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whip attachment, whip 2 cups cream on medium-high speed to soft peak, spoon into large bowl and refrigerate. In same mixer bowl, whip remaining 2 1/2 cups cream, sugar, and vanilla to soft peak. Fold into already whipped cream. Fold in Oreos and chill until ready to assemble cake. Reserve about 1 cup of filling for cake decoration. 

Place one cake layer on a cake circle. Spoon about 1/3 of filling onto cake and spread gently to edges. Place another cake layer on top, and repeat. Top with third cake layer and spread remaining filling on sides and top of cake. Pipe remaining filling in rosettes on top of cake, then top each rosette with half an Oreo. Chill until ready to serve.