[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


Berry Crumble Bar Cookies

A buttery short crust with hints of cinnamon and the hearty flavor of toasted oats cradling an ooey tart-sweet center of jam.  Perfect for picnics, lunchboxes or a random Monday afternoon.

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The first time I made these cookies was for a winery tour of Virginia that was a gift for my mother.  Since she’s not a huge chocolate fan (yes, please read my last post re: her world-famous chocolate cake … go figure … I digress) and needed to be portable (read sturdy), I went hunting for a bar cookie recipe.  This is an amalgamation of several I came across so apologies for not sharing the lineage.  I proudly dub this’n a mutt cookie.  And we all know mutts are the best…. no pomp or pretense… just good stuff.

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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


Christmas Sugar Cookies

A buttery sugar cookie in its purest form.  Rolled thick for a nice softness or thin for a crisp bite, this cookie only gets more magical with a simple buttercream.  Sprinkles optional; enjoyment is not.

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O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.

Mahalia Jackson or Nat King Cole singing that carol are pure Christmas spirit and everything wonderful I feel about the season. Growing up, December 1st always meant the arrival of  Mom’s stack of Christmas albums; the Advent wreath, a stiff wire form covered in fresh greens, red berries, and ribbons, topped with four candles – three purple and one pink; and the Advent calendar tacked to the kitchen door to the basement.  The season had arrived and cookies were not far behind!

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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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