[My] World’s Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

An amazingly moist rich chocolate cake with light-as-air chocolate frosting.  This is the ultimate chocolate layer cake.

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I consider my birthday to be my personal New Year and celebrate accordingly.  No overcrowded soirees and schwanky duds for this chicken; I prefer good company, introspection, bubbles, and my du jour favorite foods.  This year, I had a hankering for Cuban sandwiches and chocolate cake.  Cubans are pretty straight-forward (except that I used chicken … I just cannot help myself with the experimenting… it was okay; pork’s better).  Cake, on the other hand … cake takes thought.  Given that I’ve grown up with the queens of chocolate cakedom (Nonnie and Mom), this couldn’t be any ordinary cake… it had to exceed expectations.  I was having a needs-expectations-exceeded birthday so the pressure was real.  Birthday drama is my jam. Even made up cake drama.

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Dark Ale Chocolate Cake with Dark Ale Ganache

Deep rich chocolate cake with the subtle bitterness of a dark beer, hints of coffee and caramel, and covered in a thick dark ale ganache.

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I am in awe of – and look for – anyone who can take a dream, combine it with hard work, a lot of sweat and tears (hoping no blood) and turn it into a thriving business.  This is how we found New District Brewing.  It’s within walking (a stretch) and biking distance of our house.  It was born of a home-brewing business (I have a soft spot given BD’s foray into esophogeal-charring jalapeno beer which turned into our Christmas Eve traditional beer cheddar soup) and is now a brick-and-mortar business putting out some fine beers.  We’ve been going there since they opened in 2017 and are thoroughly enjoying the evolution of their beers. Altruistically, we support local.  Selfishly, we like good beers! Read More


Choco-Colada Cheesecake

Sitting atop an intensely chocolate cookie base is the creamiest coconut cheesecake swirled with dark chocolate throughout.  An indulgent crowd-pleaser of a dessert.

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I’ve been baking since I was a kid.  For a long time my repertoire was limited to cookies, brownies and sheet cakes. Nothing to sneeze at but I felt the need to expand my horizons.  My mother is queen of the layer cake so a phone call in that direction could always get her world-famous (or at least anyone-who’s-ever-tried-it famous) chocolate cake whipped up if’n you were in her good graces; so why bake when you could get delivery?!  It’s like DiGiorno only better.  And chocolate.  I decided my foray in a new direction would be “fancy” cakes and I would start with cheesecake.  Et viola!  The choco-colada cheesecake came to be in my life. Read More


Cranberry Bliss Bars

A homemade version of the very popular Christmas treat at Starbucks known as the Cranberry Bliss Bar.  A white chocolate and cranberry flecked citrus blondie with just the right schmear of cream cheese frosting.  Perfect any time of year with your cuppa … tea or coffee.

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I can’t remember exactly when I had my first Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar but I do remember thinking (in no particular order): it could become a very expensive habit, sitting out in the air too long would make them go stale quickly, and only having them available during Christmas holidays was not an option…. I mean, what’s a girl to have as a treat with her coffee mid-March? A cake pop?! Pfft! That’s so last fad.  Never to be outfoxed by a baked good, I went searching into the ether and came back with a promising knock-off recipe … which I further knocked off.  Peace and sanity were restored and mah belly was happy.

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Grandma Zemke’s Gingerbread Cookies

This delicious ginger-spiced, molassas-darkened gingerbread cookie can be rolled thick and chewy or thin and crisp.  It can be adorned with frosting and sprinkles or left in it’s bare-baked splendor.  It can be enjoyed with a cold glass of milk or a dram of your favorite whiskey.  It is this family’s favorite Christmas cookie.

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The universally agreed upon greatest Christmas cookie in our house isn’t even one of my family recipes. It’s BD’s maternal grandmother Helen Molnar Zemke’s gingerbread cookies.  Up until two years ago, I had never attempted the cookies. I didn’t need to.  I’d just wait until Pat (BD’s mother, Helen’s daughter, my mother-in-law … you following?) would go into her baking frenzy and suddenly boxes of gingerbread cookies would appear in our house. Read More


Strawberry Pa Looza!

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Angel food cake with roasted strawberries

Recipes for everything strawberry!  Homemade ice cream and fudge sauce, roasted strawberries for the perfect angel food cake, strawberry limeade, and strawberries and cream biscuits.  Stretchy pants optional but recommended.

Every Spring I look forward to two things of the verdant variety.  First is planting my pot garden (that still amuses me; for the easily scandalized among us, I am referring to my vegetable container garden) and the second, more reliable, is strawberry season.  I start trolling the pick-your-own farm websites at the beginning of May and then give a week or two to clear out the scary die-hard pickers (those folks that come in with their own containers, jam and jelly on their minds, and a sense of territory that would put a pit bull to shame).

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Lemon Cheesecake with a Shortbread Crust and Raspberry Coulis

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I forgot how much I love this cheesecake.  I’ve made it on and off – obviously mostly off recently – for the better part of my baking life.  The first time I made it was for a boss’s birthday many moons ago and then for quite a while it was my go-to party dessert. Somewhere along the way, much like mood rings and shoulder pads in ladies suits, it fell out of favor or I got bored with it … In either case, my loss.  But no more!

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