Archive for the 'cake' Category

Sweet Potato Pudding Cake

November 18, 2010

You know what I love most about this time of year?  The color orange.  It’s everywhere!  I mean, besides the leaves changing to a bright saffron colored hue, it’s also the color of my favorite winter vegetables – sweet potatoes, and butternut squash and pumpkin!

With Thanksgiving only a week away, my favorite orange colored dish is just waiting to baked – pumpkin pie.  Nope, not the one with the fresh pumpkin where you add spices and sour cream or whipped egg whites, or cream or anything else that makes it absolutely divine.  I’m talking about the kind where the pumpkin and spices are already mixed for you in a can and you just pour it into a ready-made, store-bought crust.  Don’t judge.  It’s absolutely delicious and I wouldn’t want anything else for the holiday.

Needless to say, a post about canned pumpkin pie wouldn’t have cut it.  So I decided to step it up this year.  This sweet potato pudding cake has the texture of my beloved pumpkin pie, but a little more dense, a little less sweet and salutes my love affair with both the color orange and coconut.  It’s moist, luscious and has found a place next to my traditional pie on the Thanksgiving table.

Sweet Potato Pudding Cake (adapted from here)

Ingredients for Cake:
2-3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons coconut rum
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
14 ounce can coconut milk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Ingredients for topping:
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Cook sweet potatoes by baking in a 400 degree oven until tender (45 to 60 minutes).  Alternately, you can microwave the potatoes on high for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool, then remove the peel and mash potato until smooth.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9” round springform pan with cooking spray.

3. In a large mixing bowl,  beat mashed sweet potato and eggs until smooth and combined. Mix in coconut milk, brown sugar, rum and butter, blending  until combined.Sift in  dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Scoop mixture into prepared pan.

4. In a separate small bowl, stir together coconut, brown sugar and cinnamon – sprinkle over the top of the cake batter.

5. Bake cake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. Remove from the oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

6. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Gently run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the pan and slowly remove side ring – let cake cool for an hour, then place into the refrigerator until cold, about 3 hours.

Fresh Apple Layer Cake

October 12, 2010

A game that I like to play with my Indian Gujarati grandmother is the “How do you say this in Gujarati” game.  It’s quite fun, actually.  I get to learn ridiculous Gujarati words that I would never use in everyday language, while simultaneously hangin’ out with my awesome g-ma.  A win, win.  One day, as we were playing and thinking of the most obscure words, I realized that I had no idea how to say the word “apple” in Gujarati.  How strange.  So I asked my grandmother for the translation.  She looked at me thoughtfully, slowly took a deep breath,  and deliberately said, “ap-ple.”


This is when I had the apple epiphany: there is something so quintessentially American about apples.  Apple pie is served at Thanksgiving, the true American holiday.  State fair wouldn’t be complete without caramel apples, and apple bobbing is a real…American past time.  Okay, that may be a stretch.  But apples are ingrained in our American culture.  That’s why I’ve noticed that so many people have a family apple cake recipe that is passed down for generations that is made at just about this time every year.

I, however, do not have a family apple cake recipe for obvious reasons.  But after going apple picking and coming back with over 30 lbs. of apples (eh..oops), I realized that it is time for me to find one.  I wanted to make an apple cake that had an apple punch to it.  I do love cinnamon cakes with a slight addition of apples, but I wanted something to really bring out the apple flavor.  With five sliced apples, this recipe was perfect – amazingly moist and deliciously spiced with a lovely apple flavor.  Try it, love it, take it to your grandmother, and add it to your family recipe collection.

Fresh Apple Layer Cake (adapted from here)

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour a tube or bundt pan.

5 apples, of mixed variety, peeled, cored and sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1.5 tsp. nutmeg

Toss all ingredients together and set aside.

2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup apple cider

Blend all of the ingredients together with an electric mixer until combined.

Sift in:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

Continue to blend with mixer for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is thick and well combined.

Pour 1/3 of the cake batter into the prepared pan.  Evenly spread 1/2 of the apples onto the cake batter.  Continue with another third layer of cake, the remaining apples, and ending with the cake batter.  Bake in center rack for about 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 45 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.  Let cool completely.  Serve, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Coconut Cake

September 2, 2010

Coconut cake with coconut extract.  Filled with coconut custard with coconut rum.  Drizzled with coconut syrup with shredded coconut.  All with…chocolate frosting.

My sister’s birthday just passed, and just like every other year, she got to pick the cake she wants me to make for her big day.  There were several years of requesting boxed yellow cake mix with the chocolate frosting in the tub, another year when I went in a different direction and made orange cake with cream cheese frosting (the chocolate lover in her did not appreciate that one), one year with a caramel cake with chocolate frosting that ended up on the floor by mistake, and last year’s chocolate cake with raspberry filling.  This year, she took a chance with coconut.

Despite the lack of coconut in the frosting (though I doused it with coconut on the frosting), this cake was coconut heaven.  It seems that so many coconut cakes are just a white cake with coconut sprinkled on top.  That is certainly not enough coconut flavor for me.  Not only is every part of this cake flavored with coconut, the key is in the custard.  Oh my goodness, the custard.  Make it.  Eat a bowl of it.  You’ll see.  And then make it again and fill the cake with it.  The end result is so light and barely sweet that the coconut flavor shines through.  Beyond delicious.

Coconut Cake (adapted from Bobby Flay)

This cake takes quite a bit of time.  But seriously worth every minute!  Mostly because it tastes better after it sits for a while – gives time for the coconut custard and coconut syrup to seep through the cake for a bit.  I made the cake, filling and the syrup the day before.  And made the frosting did the assembling the day of.


Coconut Syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Coconut Filling

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablepoon coconut rum (recommended: Malibu)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup very cold heavy cream

Coconut Cake

  • 2 tablespoons softened butter, for pans
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, slightly cold

For the Syrup:

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir in the coconut, remove from the heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil and let cook until the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

For the Filling:

Combine the milks and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg mixture then return the mixture to the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.

Combine the custard and cream in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9 by 2-inch) round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment paper.

Whisk together the coconut milk, egg whites, vanilla extract and coconut extract in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With mixer running at low speed, add the butter, one piece at a time and continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more. Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 20 seconds longer.  Mix in the dessicated coconut.  Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pan and smooth the tops using a rubber spatula.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 22 to 24 minutes. Cool in the pan on baking rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the side of the pan and invert cakes onto the baking rack, removing parchment paper, and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick unsalted butter

Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring 1 cup of cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.  Add rest of the cream.  Using an electric mixer, whip until frosting-like consistency is achieved.

To Assemble:

Using a long serrated knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Reserve 1 of the flat bottom layers for the top of the cake. Place another layer on a cardboard round cut side up and brush with some of the coconut simple syrup. Spoon 1/3 of the coconut filling onto the cake and using a small offset metal spatula, spread it into an even layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the cake. Repeat with 2 more layers. Brush the cut side of the reserved cake layer with the remaining syrup. Place the layer cut side down on top of the cake.

Frost the sides and top of the cake with the chocolate frosting.

White Chocolate Cheesecake

August 24, 2010

Every home cook remembers the first recipe that they have ever made.  It is often inspired by their families, or gardens, or if you’re lucky like me…Mrs. Fields.  Um, let me explain.

The first thing that I ever baked by myself was a white chocolate cheesecake.  Divine.  And impressive for a 10 year old.  Why Mrs. Fields, though?  The famous cookie lady?  You see, there was no popular Food Network at that time, and cooking shows were not the first show of choice when my family was picking out something to watch.  But I was always intrigued by her  Saturday early morning show, Great American Desserts, and that day, I just got to the television before anyone else.

In the interest of full disclosure, it was not really the desserts that interested me.  Everyone had walked by Mrs. Fields’ cookies at the malls, but I a) never knew that a “Mrs. Fields” actually existed, and b) thought that if there was actually a Mrs. Fields baking cookies, she would be an old, fat, lovable, grandma-looking woman.  I was so intrigued by this young, attractive woman being so passionate about baking.  It was always so fascinating to me that she was the Mrs. Fields.

For whatever reason, on that particular day, I felt motivated and chose to write down whatever she did.  Then promptly announced to my family that I would be baking a white chocolate cheesecake that day.  It was not the most beautiful baking event.  I did not have a springform pan, nor did I know what one was.  I also mixed the topping into the cheesecake batter because, quite frankly, I did not know any better.  I also added a handful of stray white chocolate chips on top, because I thought that it would look pretty (it didn’t).  But boy.  What a cheesecake.  It was the best thing ever.

This cheesecake became a Thanksgiving tradition in my family for years to come.  Until I became more adventurous and confident in the kitchen.  It lost its place on the menu for a pumpkin cheesecake one year, to a sweet potato gingersnap pie the next.  There was also the year that I thought that we all needed to be on diets and I decided to make all of the pies with half of the sugar.  We really missed the cheesecake that year.

But just last week, my cousin reminded me of this cheesecake and asked me to make it for him.  I no longer had the recipe, but after some internet searching and digging, I found the exact one.  Having made so many other yummy dessert recipes over the past several years, I did not think that I would be that impressed with this old recipe.  But it was just as delicious as I remembered it, and I think that it may find itself on the Thanksgiving table once again.

Just so you know, my cousin appreciated the long lost cheesecake as well.  And ate half of it in one sitting.  ..Not recommended.

White Chocolate Cheesecake – directly from Mrs. Fields


1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

5 tbsp unsalted butter – melted

To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter, and process in a food processor until combined. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan in aluminum foil. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Chill the crust.


18 ounces white chocolate

1/4 cup heavy cream

1-1/2 pound cream cheese – softened

1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream

4 large eggs

1tbsp vanilla extract

To prepare the filling, melt the white chocolate with the cream over hot, not simmering, water. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in the white chocolate cream. Pour into the prepared pan.

Preheat the oven to 275F. Set a shallow baking pan filled with hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.

Set the cheesecake on the centre rack and bake for 1 hour. Reduce the heat to 250F and bake for 1 hour longer. Without opening the oven, turn off the heat but leave the cake in the over for 1 hour. Cool the cheesecake on a rack for 30 minutes.

White Chocolate Ganache:

8 ounces white chocolate – finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Meanwhile, make the ganache. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream and butter to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand, covered for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Let the ganache col to room temperature.

Pour the ganache over the cheesecake and spread it smooth. Cover the cheesecake and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

To unmold, wrap a hot wet towel around the pan, then remove the sides of the springform.

Welcome! (and so many cupcakes!)

June 22, 2010

I’ve had this blog for 2 months now.  I keep thinking that I know what I want my first blog post to be about, but it’s either not interesting enough, or yummy enough, or not significant enough to be my first blog post.  I had so many reasons not to post.

But then.  Then something happened that basically screamed “1st blog post!!”  That something was cupcakepalooza.

Let me back up.  First of all, this is not the most typical food blog.  To really get the gist of what I’m trying to do, please go to the About Me section.  Any input would be tremendous.

Second of all, cupcakepalooza?  What is that?  Well, my wonderful cousin was having a pretty smashin huge birthday party and I (crazily, stupidly?) volunteered to make the cake.  For 200 people.  In New Jersey.

To try out the cupcake flavors beforehand, and to weed out the favorite flavors, I decided that I needed to have a cupcake party (i.e. cupcakepalooza) for some taste testing.  To get some Indian flavors in the mix, I made some chai latte cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream, vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with rose buttercream, pistachio cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream and mango cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting in addition to the dark chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting and lemon blueberry cupcakes with lemon buttercream.

I then asked about 30 of my closest friends to come over to try and comment on all of the flavors.  As it turned out, the chai cupcakes were a favorite.  No changes were necessary for that cake, and it made the cut for the party.  As for the others, the helpful comments included “couldn’t really taste the pistachio….or the white chocolate” for the surprisingly enough, pistachio white chocolate cupcakes, “tastes very rosy – but I don’t really know what rose is supposed to taste like,” for the vanilla buttermilk rose cupcakes, and “SO GOOD!” for the lemon blueberry cupcakes.

Taking these helpful and constructive comments into consideration, I decided to change the chocolate cupcakes to include a dark chocolate frosting for the chocolate lovers, and then take it completely in an Indian direction for the rest of the cupcakes – vanilla buttermilk cupcakes with rose syrup buttercream, mango cupcakes with mango cream cheese frosting, and chai cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream.

It seemed that most people thought that the light marshmallow frosting on top of the denser chocolate cupcake left a bit of an imbalance.  Though, overall, the chocolate cupcake was a winner – and every cupcake party should have at least one chocolate feature.  The mango cupcake was also well liked overall, but lacked some mango flavor.  To pump up the volume, I tripled the amount of mango that I put into the actual cake, while also adding some pureed mango into the cream cheese frosting.  The rose also needed a bit more punch.  I had a hard time deciding between using rose water and rose flavored syrup in the frosting, while keeping a vanilla buttermilk base.  The rose water was the only thing I used for the cupcake tasting, mostly because I thought that there would be a sweetness overload if I had used the syrup.  But even though it could be slightly detected, there wasn’t a strong enough rose flavor.  For the birthday party, I decided to use both.  Rose water in the actual cupcake batter and rose flavored syrup in the buttercream.

The party?  It was a success.  The transporting, the last minute frosting, the dependency on the arrival of a cupcake tier – all very stressful, but definitely worth it at the end.  And, if nothing else, it inspired my first of many blog posts.

I do hope that you come back here periodically to see what I’ve been cooking.  I look forward to having you.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake)

Yield: About 30 cupcakes


2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

3. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

Dark Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate frosting)

Yield: Enough to lightly frost 30 cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa.

2. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed.

3. Stir in vanilla.

Mango Cupcakes (adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)
Yield: A lot of cupcakes – 40, maybe?


4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups of pureed mangoes (I used fresh Alphonso mangoes – delish)
8 egg whites, room temperature
2/3 cup milk


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and mango puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk to blend.  Blend until soft peaks form.  Add the whites to the batter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate after each addition. Scoop into liners – filling until about 2/3 of the way full.

4. Bake the cupcakes for about 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take out of pans and let cool completely on wire rack.

Mango Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Lots o’ frosting.  We had quite a bit leftover after frosting the 40 cupcakes liberally


8 ounces unsalted butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (depending on how sweet the mangoes are)

¾ cup pureed mango


1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer.

2. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy.

3. Beat in pureed mango.

Vanilla Rose Buttermilk Cupcakes (adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)

Yield: About 48 cupcakes


3 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons rose water


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

2. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, rose water and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk until well blended. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition.

4. Fill each liner about half way (they really tend to rise).  Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Take out of pans and let cool completely on wire rack.

Rose Syrup Buttercream (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Enough to frost half of the vanilla rose buttermilk cupcakes


2 sticks butter, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 tbsp. cream, as needed

1/4 cup rose flavored syrup


1. Whip everything together until desired consistency has been reached.

Chai Latte Cupcakes (directly from Happiness in a Pot)

Yield: 12 cupcakes


1 cup soy milk or rice milk

4 black tea bags (or 2 tablespoons loose black tea)

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup vanilla or plain soy yogurt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch to 1/8 teaspoon ground white or black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line muffin pan with paper or foil liners
2. Heat soy milk in a small saucepan over medium till almost boiling. Add tea bags,
cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. When ready, dunk teabags a few
times in soy milk and squeeze gently to extract any soy milk before removing.
Discard tea bags. Measure the soy milk and tea mixture and add more soy milk if it is
less than 1 cup.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, and tea mixture until all
yogurt lumps disappear. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon,
cardamom, ginger, cloves, and pepper. Mix until large lumps disappear; some small
lumps are okay.
4. Pour into liners, filling ¾ of the way. Bake 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted
into the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely.

Cinnamon Buttercream (adapted from Food Network)

Yield: Enough to liberally frost 12 cupcakes


2 sticks butter, softened

3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 tbsp. cream, as needed

1.5 tsp cinnamon


1. Whip everything together until desired consistency has been reached.