Individual Double Chocolate Cake

To say that I am a choco-holic is, quite frankly, an understatement. I can, and do, eat chocolate in some form Sometimes twice a day.


Having said that, of course, making single serving desserts has become quite a thing for me lately. Alexander would rather eat ice cream, Sabrina dislikes “too much” chocolate (I swear she’s not related to me..), and J turns into a gremlin if he eats sugar too close to bedtime.

More for me, that’s the way I see it.


The original recipe for this includes placing a dollop of peanut butter in the center of the cake before baking – which, given my undying affection for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, is a very good idea indeed.

Individual Double Chocolate Cake – adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbs granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk
2 tbs. butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tbs. chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and sugar until combined. Whisk in milk, butter and vanilla until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into a microwave-safe ramekin. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Consume with gusto!

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread

Ever since I was little, I’ve always been an over-the-top organizer. I keep my clothes arranged by season, color, and style…. my shoes are kept the same way. Every six months I go through my closet and discard items that are past their prime, worn/stained beyond repair, and anything that is clearly out of my age range.

Cut off shorts were discarded years ago. Thank goodness.

I’m on the brink of driving J and the kids insane with my constant organizing and rearranging of the kitchen. I’m simply trying to find the best and most productive locations for everything, which includes putting frequently used food items in glass jars that are clearly labeled.

Clearly. Labeled.

“Mom, where are the chia seeds for my smoothie?”

In the jar. Labeled. Right in front of you. Organized with the mini blender, flax seeds and protein powder for your smoothie as well. Which are….wait for it…..clearly labeled.

Apparently I’m the only one that finds that amusing….

Anyway, given my long term habit of needing order amongst my things, I was highly intrigued when I read about the latest organizational phenomenon circling the web these days – the KonMari method of keeping your clothes folded and perfectly tidy. I’m not sure how I feel about folding versus hanging. But if you’ll excuse me I have some work in my closet I need to attend to…….

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread – adapted from Williams Sonoma

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder, plus more
    for dusting
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 package (12 oz.) miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 12 tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 1 cup very hot water

Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the 2 1/2 cups flour, the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, the baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and pepper.

In another bowl, toss the chocolate chips with the 2 tbs. flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a 4-cup glass measure or a bowl, whisk together the molasses and hot water. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the molasses mixture in 3 batches, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with the spatula and beating just until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and is firm to the touch, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely.

To serve, lightly dust the cake with cocoa powder and cut into wedges.

Ginger Stout Cake

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays nothing but a memory now, life as we know it has resumed a bit of normalcy around here. Of course, the definition of normal in this house is wide open to interpretation.

I can hear my father snickering from here.

I’ve hit almost all of my goals for this week, with the exception of the gnocchi I haven’t finished yet. It’s a project much like the pierogi – time consuming, but well worth every bit of effort. Now that my flow chart (a topic for another time) is complete, my plans are laid out, and everything is where is should be, I think this is a perfect time to get started. After all, the weather is lousy (drizzling and cold), the fireplace is on, and the dogs are quiet.


Time for a slice of this cake and a steamy mug of coffee for fortification..

Ginger Stout Cake – adapted from NY Times

This cake is really, really good. The flavor improves as it sits and the hit of fresh ginger makes it pop. It’s not a holiday-ish cake, but definitely one for cooler weather.

  • 2 tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup stout (I used Guinness)
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tbs. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 3 tbs grated fresh ginger
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan well with the softened butter. Coat the entire pan with  sugar so that it sticks to the butter. Turn the pan over to dump out any excess sugar.

Add the stout and molasses to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Carefully whisk in the baking soda and let cool to room temperature. Be careful as the stout mixture will bubble up.

Sift together the flour and ground spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the fresh ginger, eggs, vanilla extract, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed for five minutes.

Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the oil. Mix for another 5 minutes. Slowly add the stout mixture and mix for another 5 minutes.

Carefully add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing well in between each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes and then flip upside down to release while still warm. Let cool completely.


Ricotta Cheesecake

As much as I loved this cheesecake, I was a bit bothered by the simple fact that it didn’t have a crust. I suppose I’m a purist like that, and I suppose it would be very simple to add one the next time I make it. I guess the question is, what kind of crust would you add? Graham crackers, while traditional, seem out of place. Pastry crust? Too heavy, in my opinion. Crushed cannoli shells? Now we’re talking!

Wait…… it just dawned on me that I have a recipe for Cannoli Cheesecake on this site, complete with a crushed cannoli shell crust. No wonder the flavor/concept seemed so familiar…..

Seriously though, the main difference between the two recipes (aside from a crust), is that this recipe calls for separating the eggs and whipping the whites, which results in a texture akin to a souffled cannoli.

That is, if one could actually souffle a cannoli…..


Ricotta Cheesecake – adapted from Food Network

6 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbs pure vanilla extract
Two 15-ounce containers whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray the springform pan with cooking spray. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in one of the large bowls and the yolks in the work bowl of a food processor.

Add the sugar and vanilla to the work bowl of the food processor and process until thick and light yellow, about 1 minute. Add the ricotta and zest and process until smooth, another 30 seconds. Scrape the mixture into the other large bowl.

Beat the whites on high speed with the mixer until they hold stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the ricotta mixture and scrape into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula.

Bake until the cake is deep golden brown and the sides begin to pull away from the pan, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Transfer to the rack to let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day. To serve, release the sides of the springform pan, dust with confectioners’ sugar using the strainer, and cut into wedges.

Tiramisu Poke Cake

In another edition of, “I’m pretty sure this is not what the Italians had in mind when they made the first Tiramisu”, I present to you a cake of epic proportions:


Don’t be fooled by what looks like a measly slice of cake. Ok, ok, it is a measly slice of cake, I had to scrounge and trim because a certain someone (Sabrina) found the slice I had set aside for photography purposes.


J and I hosted a small get together about two weeks ago for a few of his business associates, and this cake was at the top of my list of things that I wanted to make/try. It had all the components I look for when we have company – it’s good for a crowd, it can be made ahead, and gets better as it sits.

Too bad someone ate the last slice….

Tiramisu Poke Cake – adapted from Will Cook for Smiles

  • ½ cup of butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature (save the yolks!)
  • 2 cups all purpose  flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1⅓ cups buttermilk

Mascarpone Cream:

  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbs granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 tbs granulated sugar
  • 4 tbs amaretto
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder for dusting
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee, sweetened with 2 tbs granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9×13 baking pan.

In a bowl, beat butter for about thirty seconds, then add the sugar. Beat for about a minute, until light. Add egg whites one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the bowl, add vanilla, and mix until combined.

Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder together.

On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk in two parts, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Transfer the batter into the baking pan, spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before proceeding

Mascarpone Cream:

Beat the cream and 1 tbs of sugar in the cold bowl of an electric mixer, until soft peaks appear. Set aside. Without cleaning the bowl, whip the egg yolks and 3 tbs of sugar thoroughly, on medium-high speed, for about 3 minutes, until light yellow, thick and frothy. Lower the speed and add the mascarpone cheese and amaretto. Mix on low-medium speed just until well blended. Using a large spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cream.

To assemble:

Poke holes all over the cake.

Pour the coffee evenly over the top of the cake. Spread the mascarpone cream over the top, then dust heavily with cocoa powder.

Chill for several hours before serving.

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.