Chocolate Banana Bread

This bread is not healthy. I repeat, this bread is not healthy. It’s interesting how every time you have a fruit or a vegetable in the title of a recipe, it sounds like a healthier option. (Did you know that carrot cake at the Cheesecake Factory is one of their highest calorie count desserts? I’m telling you.. vegetables/fruits in a dessert is a lie!) Instead it’s an indulgent, rich chocolate bread which is full of chocolate chips and banana flavor. I think the role of the banana here is not so much to provide banana flavor (which it does) but to give it a rich, moist crumb that is not heavy.

I’ve seen a lot of banana breads on Instagram that have the floating bananas on top and always wondered how it is done. And the interesting thing is, no one writes how it is done! Even recipes with the floating bananas don’t mention the bananas on top of the loaf, they just mention putting the batter into the pan and bake. WHY?

Turns out, the bananas do not sink into the bread like I worried. But to keep it from turning color, a light brushing of fresh lemon juice will help it keep its pleasing yellow shade. Sprinkle the top with Sugar In The Raw (aka demerara sugar) and it will glisten with crunchy sugar crystals after it is baked.  It really is one of my favorite banana bread recipes and I think I’ll have a hard time turning back to my older one. On second thought, I might on the days I want to be a little “healthier”… that one uses half whole wheat flour. 🙂

Chocolate Banana Bread


1 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. Dutch processed cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large brown bananas (1 ½ c. mashed)
¼ c. (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
¼ c. vegetable oil
½ c. packed light brown sugar
1 extra large egg (or large if you don’t have extra large)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. chocolate chips
1 banana, ripe but not browned
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
demerara sugar (sugar in the raw) for sprinkling on top of loaf


  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F, grease and line your loaf pan with parchment paper. (I used this gorgeous pan and it is on sale!!)
  2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and kosher salt in a medium bowl and set it aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, add the mashed bananas, melted butter, and oil and mix until combined.
  4. Add in the brown sugar, egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  5. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and add in the flour mixture.
  6. While there are traces of flour in the batter, add the chocolate chips and mix just until combined.
  7. Pour batter into your prepared loaf pan.
  8. Slice your banana lengthwise and brush with fresh lemon juice
  9. Place it side by side on top of the batter.
  10. Sprinkle the demerara sugar all over the top and place into the oven.
  11. Bake banana bread for about 50-60 minutes, checking at 50 minutes to make sure you don’t overbake your loaf.
  12. Stick a toothpick in the center of the loaf to check, making sure to check in a few places as skewering a chocolate chip would make you think the batter is undercooked.
  13. Remove pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes before removing the bread from the pan.
  14. Let cool and serve.

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit MousseI’m feeling the post-holiday blues. I can’t motivate myself to go to the gym. I don’t want to leave the house and face the cold. Now that I finally put the Christmas tree away, there is a sizeable vacant spot in my apartment. The cats loved to spend time on the tree skirt and when it was gone, they sat on the bare floor with a confused look wondering why their butts were so cold. In my heart, I know that this is just one step towards warmer weather and one month closer to Disney World/Universal. (I’m going in May! I’ve never been! I’m excited to wear the Minnie headband, eat a dole whip, take a photo in front of the castle, have all the butterbeer, and visit Hogwarts.) But that seems forever away. Bah humbug.
Grapefruit MousseThere is something about the bright hues of citruses that lifts the spirits. Are there any types of fruit that are more refreshing? I think it’s ironic that they are at their peak season when the weather is so cold. I crave citrus fruits the most in the summer when the weather is hot and humid. The sharp acidity and mellow sweetness is the perfect answer to beat the weather. But I can’t argue that they’re the juiciest during the winter and I wanted to make the most of it when I saw the recipe for a grapefruit mousse in a magazine.
baked pavlovaGrapefruit MousseThe truth is whipped cream and any type of fruit will guarantee you a win and this recipe doesn’t disappoint. The lightly sweetened whipped cream goes well with the tart juiciness of the grapefruit. I love the contrast of the dark pink against the white.
Grapefruit PavlovaAs for the meringues, I took a cue from use real butter, and boiled down the grapefruit juice until it became syrupy. Then I brushed the syrup onto the baked meringues and let them sit in warm oven until completely dry. This way you get sparks of citrusy tartness with each bite of the sweet meringue. It’s delightful.
Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit MousseLooking back on the pictures makes my heart a little lighter. After all, how can we enjoy the warmth without having braved the cold? (Meh. In hindsight, I still think I could go without the cold, but I definitely appreciate it more after winter.)Grapefruit Mousse

Grapefruit Pavlova with Grapefruit Mousse
Makes about 6-8 mini pavlovas

For the Grapefruit Pavlova:


300 g. superfine sugar
150 g. egg whites, room temperature
1 pinch cream of tartar
3 large grapefruit
1 tbsp. sugar
grapefruit mousse
mint, for garnish (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Spread sugar in an even layer over parchment.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites and the cream of tartar.
  4. Place sugar into the oven and bake until the edges of the sugar begins to melt but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Once the sugar begins to melt, turn the mixer onto high.
  6. Remove baking sheet from the oven and the eggs whites should be foamy.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium high and slowly pour the hot sugar from the parchment paper into egg whites.
  8. Once all the sugar is added, turn the mixer onto high and mix until stiff, shiny peaks form.
  9. Reduce oven to lowest setting 140˚F.
  10. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a pencil, draw 4 inch circles on the parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch border on each side. Flip the parchment paper over. The circles will be your guide lines for the meringues.
  11. Fit a medium open star piping tip into a piping bag and pipe little meringue cups starting from the center onto the edge of the circle. Once you get to the edge of the drawn circle, pipe one more layer of meringue on the outer edge, forming a bowl shape.
  12. Once you piped all the meringues, take a spoon and make an indentation in the center of each circle, deepening the bow.
  13. Bake the baking sheet with the 4-inch circles for 1- 1.5 hours until they are crisp and sound hollow when tapped.
  14. While the meringue is baking, peel and section the grapefruit.
  15. Reserve the sectioned grapefruit for the grapefruit mousse.
  16. Squeeze the juice of the remaining grapefruit husk to get approximately 1 cup of grapefruit juice.
  17. In a small pot on medium heat, simmer the grapefruit juice until about ¼ cup of the grapefruit juice remains. Set aside.
  18. Remove the baked meringues from the oven and using a basting brush, brush specks of grapefruit concentrate all over the meringues making sure not to over saturate the meringues (as in, do not paint it too generously or you it will lose its crispness).
  19. Place the meringues back into the oven.
  20. Turn off the oven and let it dry out for about an hour until the grapefruit concentrate is dried onto the meringue.
  21. If you are not yet ready to decorate the meringues, places the meringues into a zip lock bag until ready for use.
  22. If you are ready to fill the meringues, use a medium or large disher to scoop out round mounds of the grapefruit mousse into the meringue cups.
  23. Garnish with the smallest mint leaves if desired.

Grapefruit Mousse


Sectioned grapefruit reserved from the grapefruit pavlova (above)
3 tbsp. turbinado sugar
1 c. cold heavy cream
1 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

  1. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Line the sectioned grapefruit on the parchment paper in rows.
  2. Take a paper towel and dab the grapefruit to get rid of excess juices.
  3. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on the grapefruit.
  4. Take a kitchen torch and caramelize the sugar on each grapefruit section. (Alternatively, you can broil the grapefruit for 5 minutes in the oven.)
  5. Whip the heavy cream and sugar together until you reach firm peaks.
  6. Fold in the caramelized grapefruit.

Grapefruit meringue recipe adapted from Use Real Butter.
Grapefruit mousse recipe adapted from The Family Circle.

2016: A Year Recap

This was my #1 post this year.
This was my #1 post this year.

I’m not sorry to see 2016 go. I kind of felt like it could be salvaged until Carrie Fisher died. That kind of gave it the nail in the coffin. It was as if 2016 was saying, “Sayonara, sucker!” while waving a rude gesture. I’m not quite looking forward to 2017 either, the exception being that I am looking forward to creating more projects for you and sharing this and that about my life (hopefully good news, and not bad). By the way, I did finish the holiday cake I was raving about in my last post. Unfortunately, I came down with a severe case of sinusitis and I couldn’t work on the actual post. I think I will save it for 2017. (Side note: I hope unicorns are still relevant by this point next year.)

top posts 2016

Here are the top 10 posts from this year:

  1. Lucky Charms Cake (featured in beginning of post)
  2. Blueberry Cruffins (Croissant + Muffin)
  3. Paw Patrol Cake
  4. Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze
  5. Red Velvet Rose Pavlova
  6. Strawberry Ombre Cake
  7. Conversation Heart Macarons with Vanilla Elderflower Frosting
  8. Croquembouche with Vanilla Orange Blossom Pastry Cream
  9. Star Wars Mini Doughnuts – Part 1 & 2
  10. Calcifer Meringues

As always, thank you for sticking with me. I mean every word of it.

Gold Pineapple Cake with (Real) Pineapple Buttercream

gold pineappleThis year of blogging seems to be a year of making things that are out of my comfort zone, like the blueberry cruffins or the croquembouche. I used to steer away from projects that looked too difficult or time consuming, but this year I feel like the challenge just spurs me on. When I first saw this gold pineapple cake from adorn cakes, I thought it would be just something I would bookmark and never look back on. But when someone special to you loves pineapples, you make the prettiest pineapple cake that you can. (Seriously, he loves pineapples. One of the first things he ever said to me was, ” I love pineapples.” Kinda strange, I know.)
gold gum paste leavespineapple leavesI would gladly sit here and name off all the steps on the how-to on making this cake, but Aleta already did such a great job, that I’m just going to share the links with you.
YouTube link on how to build the outside of the cake.
Facebook link on how she made the top of the leavestiny cakeHere are some things I’ve noted while making this cake:

  1. It is time consuming. You need at least two days for this project. You will need one full day to shape, cut, wire, dry out and paint the leaves. It is probably a safe bet to bake the cake the day before too.
  2. Aleta uses modeling chocolate for her cake and so I ordered some. I’ve never worked with modeling chocolate before, and now I understand that it is a very soft medium. If I were to ever tackle this project again, I would use 50% (maybe even 25%) modeling chocolate and the rest fondant.
  3. I made a very small cake. A cake size that I usually use to make smash cakes and I nearly used the entire 2 g. jar of gold powder.
  4. A manicure scissor is really useful for cutting the tiny triangles on the cake.
  5. If you don’t have the green molding tool that is used on the video, just take your bladed molding tool and make three small lines in each pineapple diamond. It will mimic the effect pretty well

modeling chocolate cakegolden pineappleYes, the outside of the cake is important but what about the inside? I couldn’t have a pineapple cake that didn’t have a pineapple filling, so I filled it with a pineapple frosting. I’m a firm believer in using real fruit in all of my fruit flavored frosting so, the pineapple was a challenge. As you know, pineapples are juicy and I could not risk a runny frosting for a cake that required a lot of time sitting at room temperature. So, I solved my problem by using freeze dried pineapples.
golden pineapple cakegold pineappleFreeze dried fruit is an ingenious way to incorporate real fruit into your frosting without increasing the liquid content. I ordered my bag off of amazon and used the whole thing for the 4 inch cake. The resulting frosting had a pineapple tang and complemented the vanilla cake well. It was an expensive cake to make with the modeling chocolate, pineapples, gumpaste, and some extra tools I needed to buy, but well worth the effort. I mean look at it, it’s SO. GOLD.
gold pineapple fondant cakeReal Pineapple Buttercream
For a 4-in. cake


¼ c. sugar
1 large egg white
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1.5 oz. freeze dried pineapple


  1. Put dried pineapple chunks into a dry blender, and blend until a very fine powder forms. Set aside.
  2. Bring a small pot filled with about 1 inch of water to a simmer.
  3. Whisk egg white and sugar together in the bowl of your standing mixer.
  4. Place the bowl on top of the small pot and continue whisking the egg whites until you cannot feel the granules between your fingers.
  5. Move the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip until the mixture becomes fluffy and doubles in size.
  6. Add the butter and continue whipping until a smooth buttercream forms.
  7. Add in ¾ of the pineapple powder and mix until well combined.
  8. Taste and add the rest of the powder if desired.

Buttercream recipe adapted from smitten kitchen.

Strawberry Ombré Cake

Strawberry Ombré Cake The first day of spring came with snow in Jersey this week. I feel like I should be surprised, but I’m really not. The weather has been pretty off-kilter this year. Remember when it was 60 degrees during Christmas? This cake reminds me of springtime with its bold strawberries and fresh mint leaves. Decorated with tiny white fondant and frosting flowers and a few pink pearls, it is feminine and floral too.
Strawberry Mint Cake The secret to amazing strawberry frosting is to use fresh strawberries and cook it down until it becomes thickened. It is similar to making jam, except you are boiling down just strawberries, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of water. Add this mixture to your standard frosting, and you’ll have the freshest, strawberry-est tasting frosting ever.
Strawberry Ombré Cake When I make a strawberry layer cake, I tend to add a layer of fresh strawberries to up the fruit flavor. You just need to remember to slice your strawberries thinly to keep the cake layers intact. If you don’t, it might compromise the structural integrity of the cake and the layers might slide off of one another.

Strawberry Ombré Cake
Makes one 6-inch cake

You will need:

1 batch of vanilla buttermilk cake (recipe below)
1 batch of strawberry frosting (recipe below)
½ pint fresh strawberries, divided (7 small strawberries left whole, the rest sliced thinly)
1 batch swiss meringue buttercream (recipe below)
pink gel food coloring
fresh mint leaves
pink edible pearls
white mini fondant flowers


  1. Frost the top of one layer of vanilla cake with strawberry frosting.
  2. Put one layer of sliced strawberries on top of the strawberry frosting.
  3. Repeat with the remaining layers of vanilla cake.
  4. Use the remaining strawberry frosting to crumb coat the entire cake.
  5. Let cake set in freezer for 5-10 minutes. Until the crumb coat is set.
  6. Reserve three tablespoons of swiss meringue buttercream in a bow.
  7. Evenly divide the rest of swiss meringue buttercream into 4 bowls.
  8. Leave one batch white and color the other 3 batches in different shades of pink.
  9. Fill an icing bag fitted with a very large round tip with the white swiss meringue buttercream.
  10. Remove the cake from the freezer.
  11. Ice the cake from the top with the white swiss meringue buttercream, moving slowly down.
  12. Once the white frosting runs out, add the light pink swiss meringue buttercream to the same bag and continue moving downwards.
  13. Once the light pink frosting runs out, add the darker pink swiss meringue buttercream to the same bag and continue frost down the cake until you get to the bottom of the cake. (The cake will look bulky and messy. This is normal.)
  14. Using a flat spatula, start going around the cake and smoothing out the sides.
  15. As you move around the cake and start removing frosting, an ombré pattern will appear.
  16. Once the cake is relatively smooth, take a small offset spatula and using a light pressure, start moving the offset spatula in a circular pattern around the cake to create soft ridges.
  17. Top the cake with the whole strawberries with the leaves removed. Do not cut the strawberries. They will release their juices if they are cut.
  18. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small closed star tip with the reserved 3 tablespoons of buttercream frosting.
  19. Fill any gaps between the strawberries with the frosting.
  20. Take the mint leaves and arrange it around the strawberries as desired.
  21. Make tiny buttercream flowers with the closed star tip by squeezing the bag and releasing it in one spot. Place one pear at the center of these flowers.
  22. Fill the rest of the gaps with tiny white fondant flowers.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake


2 c. cake flour
1⅓ c. sugar
¾ tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ c. buttermilk, divided
6 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ egg yolks
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line four 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. On low speed, add ½ c. buttermilk and butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolks, ¼ c. buttermilk, and vanilla extract until homogeneous.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.
  6. Increase speed to medium, and mix until combined.
  7. Evenly divide cake batter into the four cake pans.
  8. Bake about 20-25 minutes until cake is done or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then move onto a cooling rack until completely cool.

Strawberry Frosting (for the filling)

1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
strawberry puree (recipe below)


  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add ¾ of the strawberry puree and mix until combined. Taste and see if it needs the rest.
  8. If it needs more strawberry flavor, add in the rest of the strawberry puree and mix until combined.

Strawberry Puree

¾ pint of strawberries, hulled and cut in halves
2-3 tsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp. water


  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries, lemon juice and water on medium heat.
  2. Use a potato smasher to smash the strawberries while cooking to get an even consistency.
  3. Cook strawberries for 5-10 minutes until thickened.
  4. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (for the outside)


1 c. sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Simmer an inch of water in a medium pot.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar together.
  3. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the egg white and sugar mixture continuously until the mixture becomes lighter and no longer grainy.
  4. Remove the bowl from the pot and transfer the bowl into the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  5. Mix on high until mixture becomes white and fluffy, and cool (check for this by seeing if the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch).
  6. Add in vanilla extract and butter one stick at a time until a silky smooth frosting forms.


Weekday Update

pink swirl cakeIt’s been a quiet few weeks on the busy spatula. Mostly, I’ve been busy filling cake orders and baking here and there. Not enough photos to write an actual blog about, but just enough for a glimpse of what’s been going on. (If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw some of these already.)

Pink and Gold Swirl Cake – It’s such a whimsical cake, I couldn’t help taking close up photos of this one. Swirled with pastel pink and white frosting then filled to the brim with pearls, gold stars, and dragees. It was four layers of chocolate cake filled with toffee coffee frosting.


Baymax Macarons – I wanted to post these for Valentine’s Day, but I never had the time. Place a few red heart sprinkles on each macaron and draw in two circles and connect with a line with a black edible color marker. I filled the inside with some leftover strawberry frosting. So simple and very cute.

baymax macarons baymax macarons

Pink Ombre Ranunculus Cake – The inside of this cake was layered with layers of pink ombre cake. Filled with fresh strawberry frosting and topped with fresh ranunclus, it was so pretty. I originally wanted peonies, but the florist didn’t have any that were in bloom. Did you know that you had to order peonies in advance? I never knew.

pink ombre flower cakeranunculus flowers on cake

Lemon Basil Macarons

Lemon Basil Macarons 2The first day of spring came and went with a generous dose of snow in New Jersey and there are still patches of snow here and there. Like many of you, I’m craving warm weather like a breath underwater. I kind of feel like I’m at the end of a race and I can see the finish line, but no matter how fast I run it’s not getting any closer.
Lemon Basil Macarons 4As I stared blankly into my fridge on a frigid Saturday morning, I saw a bag of lemons I bought a couple of weeks ago. Isn’t it funny how we tend to forget things in the crisper drawer? I swear, once I found a few grapes that were beginning to become raisins. Okay, that was kind of gross. Anyways, something about the bright yellow of lemons conjured up thoughts of springtime, warm weather, fresh flowers, sandals, dresses without tights, picnics and longer days, and I just had to use them right away.
Lemon Basil Macarons 7 Lemon Basil Macarons 6These lemon basil macarons are made with lemon macaron shells and filled with a vanilla basil buttercream and homemade lemon curd. The flavor of the basil is subtle and hits you at the very end. I should tell you that as the days go by, the basil becomes less and less pronounced so it is better eaten sooner than later. I thought about incorporating a stronger basil flavor by steeping some basil in warm milk before making the buttercream, but I got cold feet. In fact, I wasn’t sure if lemon and basil would make a good pairing. I’m a little wary of adding a savory element to my desserts but it turned out very tasty. If you love basil though, it might not be enough of a “punch” for you. I suppose you could add more basil to the frosting to increase the basil factor.
Lemon Basil Macarons 5For the lemon macaron shells, I used crystallized lemon. I happened to have some True Lemon lying around and I think it’s a better alternative to using lemon juice. As you know, macarons are very finicky and I’m not quite sure how the extra liquid in lemon juice would affect the batter. If you want, you can omit the crystallized lemon in the recipe. I feel that the lemon curd has enough of a citrus punch but if you can use it, I recommend it.
Lemon Basil Macarons 1The lemon curd recipe makes more than you need, but it’s so delicious that I’m sure you won’t mind having extra around. I’m already thinking of another recipe to use it in. These macarons really taste like springtime in your mouth. I think you’ll love it.
Lemon Basil Macarons 3Lemon Basil Macarons
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
1 ½ tsp. crystallized lemon
yellow gel food color
green gel food color (optional: for decorative brushstrokes)
vanilla basil buttercream (recipe below)
lemon curd (recipe below)


  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add the crystallized lemon and 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Add yellow gel food coloring little by little until the desire color is reached.
  9. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  10. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  11. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  12. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  13. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚F, if not then 325˚F.
  14. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  15. Once cool, mix a tiny bit of water with a small amount of green gel food color and with a small (food use only) paintbrush, paint small strokes onto the macaron shells. Let dry.
  16. Pipe a small circle of vanilla basil frosting on the outer border of a macaron shell. This creates a dam so the lemon curd does not ooze out.
  17. Fill the center of the macaron with the lemon curd and top with another macaron shell.

Vanilla Basil Buttercream

½ c. whole milk
3 tbsp. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced and stems discarded


  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and minced basil and mix until combined.

Lemon Curd

5 egg yolks
1 ¼ c. sugar
⅓ c. lemon juice
zest of 4 lemons
1 pinch of kosher salt
4 oz. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 8 pieces


  1. Start a double boiler by adding water in a small pot and bringing it to a simmer.
  2. In a medium metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth. (Make sure the metal bowl is wider than the small pot of water.)
  3. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Place the metal bowl above the small pot of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is thickened. About 8 minutes or around 170˚
  5. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in butter one piece at a time, making sure each piece has melted before adding the next.
  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

*Macaron recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel.
** Lemon curd recipe adapted from Alton Brown.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  3Is it the middle of February already?? I feel like February just started and here it is already nearing its end. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I can’t help but feel a little more love and happiness in the air. Maybe it’s all the hearts plastered every way I turn or people posting all things related to love on social media, but I’m digging the atmosphere. Yes, I know that you should show your love and affection to your significant other/ loved ones every day of the year but what’s the harm of celebrating that love?
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  2I once had an ex-boyfriend who frequently bought me chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva. Not knowing how much they cost ($7 a piece!!), I used to eat them in one seating without much thought. I only found out how much they cost recently and boy, do I feel bad about not savoring them. But that was my first encounter with chocolate covered strawberries and it’s been one of my favorite flavor parings since.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  4This cake is my spin on a chocolate covered strawberry. A rich dark chocolate cake is filled and frosted with fresh strawberry frosting and covered in a chocolate ganache and adorned with chocolate dipped strawberries. Because fresh strawberries in February are not the tastiest, I suggest buying frozen strawberries for the frosting to ensure full strawberry flavor. I happened to have this cake pan that I bought on clearance a year or two ago, and I thought it fit the theme perfectly. If you do not have the cake pan, you can always make the same cake sans the strawberry frosting heart in the middle. Talking about clearance, am I the only person that scours the holiday section at Target after every major holiday? I cannot resist the themed sprinkles and sparkling sugar at a deep discount. Sometimes, I’ll land on a real gem… like this cake pan at 75% off. It’s a guilty pleasure and I look forward to going to Target post February 14th. 😉
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  1Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Cake

1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
¼ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1. tsp. kosher salt
½ c. vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. strong, hot coffee


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and line 2 cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, both cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
  4. With the mixer speed on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Turn off the mixer. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the two mixtures.
  6. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot coffee to the batter. Once added, raise the speed to medium until completely homogenous.
  7. Divide batter equally among the two cake pans and bake about 25-30 minutes. Checking at 20 minutes for doneness with a toothpick test.*
  8. Let stand for 5-10 minutes when done, then put onto a cooling rack to fully cool.

Strawberry Puree

2 lbs of strawberries, smashed
1 tbsp. lemon juice


  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries and lemon juice on medium heat until mixture thickens and reduces 1/3-1/2 of the original volume, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting

2 c. whole milk
½ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract


  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Strawberry Frosting

1 batch of strawberry puree
1 batch of vanilla frosting


  1. Mix vanilla frosting with strawberry puree until the mixture turns strawberry pink and fluffy.

Chocolate Ganache

8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
¾ c. heavy whipping cream


  1. In a heatproof bowl, pour heavy cream on top of chocolate and microwave for one minute.
  2. Let stand 3 minutes and stir until combined.


1 batch chocolate cake
1 batch strawberry frosting
1 batch chocolate ganache
6-8 strawberries, rinsed and dried


  1. Fill and frost chocolate cake with strawberry frosting.
  2. Chill in freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pour ¾ of chocolate ganache and use offset spatula to push ganache over the edge.
  4. Before the ganache sets completely, dip the strawberries in the remaining ganache and garnish the cake.

* Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows and Coconut White Hot Chocolate

Coconut White Hot Chocolate 1As a subscriber to Bon Appètit magazine, I fell in love with their section on holiday desserts in their newest issue. It was filled with such beautiful photographs (seriously, OMG how gorgeous is this cookie wreath?) and unexpected flavor pairings; I had to make something from it. The blood-orange marshmallows were calling my name and that’s where my journey started.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 1If you’ve never made homemade marshmallows before, I can only describe it as a springier, fluffier, less dense version of the store bought kind. Without the preservatives, the marshmallows melt in your mouth and it is best consumed as soon as possible. While I loved the idea of blood orange marshmallows, I just felt that pomegranates were more of a winter fruit so I substituted pomegranate juice for the blood orange juice and it worked out great. The problem was when I tried to make the coconut half of the marshmallow, it wouldn’t whip up fluffy like the pomegranate layer. I used the low fat coconut milk as the recipe stated and I tried it a second time, using less coconut milk and subbing water for the rest of the liquid stated but again, it did not puff up as it was supposed to.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 2My “spider-sense” tingled when I first read the recipe thinking that it was odd that there was any kind of fat in a marshmallow recipe. After all, a marshmallow is a stabilized meringue and fats are meringues’ number one enemy. So having two failed batches of coconut marshmallows, I just dumped it on top of the pomegranate layer and hoped for the best. It set alright and the coconut marshmallow was definitely denser than the pomegranate half, but tasty nonetheless.
Coconut White Hot Chocolate 2I had some coconut milk leftover so I decided to make it some white hot chocolate with it. Heat some coconut milk and low fat milk, add some white chocolate Lindt truffles and stir until it melts. You can blend it in a blender if you want some froth too. Top with whipped cream (I uh… whipped mine for a little too long hahaha) and some marshmallows and it’s a flavor bomb that is just rich enough for it to be indulgent but not heavy.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 3All in all, I think making marshmallows at home is a fun weekend project and people are always amazed when you make homemade candy.  As for packaging, you can always cut them out in fun shapes, or you can cut them into neat squares and put them into treat bags tied with a little ribbon.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 4Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows and Coconut White Hot Chocolate

Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows

Note: I will state the recipe as written by the original author with my adaptations. I’m going to chalk up my coconut layer not forming because my light coconut milk was not “light” enough. I bought it from Trader Joe’s.


For the pomegranate layer:
3 ¼ tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
¼ c. cold water
¾ c. sugar
½ c. 100% pomegranate juice
5 tbsp. light corn syrup, divided
red food coloring

For the coconut layer:
3 ¼ tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
¼ c. cold water
¾ c. sugar
½ c. low-fat coconut milk
5 tbsp. light corn syrup, divided

powdered sugar


For the pomegranate layer:

  1. Spray a 13×9 in. baking pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, add the ice water and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let gelatin bloom for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, add the sugar, pomegranate juice, 2 tbsp. corn syrup and cook until the mixture hits 230˚F.
  4. Add the remaining 3 tbsp. corn syrup to the gelatin mixture.
  5. When the mixture hits 230˚F, turn on the mixer to high and slowly drizzle the pomegranate syrup down the side of the bowl.
  6. Beat until soft, fluffy peaks form and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  7. Beat in a few drops of red food coloring until you reach the color you desire.
  8. Quickly add the pomegranate mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with an offset spatula coated with nonstick spray. Cool.

For the coconut layer:

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, add the ice water and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let gelatin bloom for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, add the sugar, coconut milk, 2 tbsp. corn syrup and cook until the mixture hits 230˚F.
  3. Add the remaining 3 tbsp. corn syrup to the gelatin mixture.
  4. When the mixture hits 230˚F, turn on the mixer to high and slowly drizzle the coconut syrup down the side of the bowl.
  5. Beat until soft, fluffy peaks form and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  6. Quickly add the coconut mixture on top of the cooled pomegranate layer and smooth with an offset spatula coated with nonstick spray. Let set for 12 hours before unmolding.


  1. Dust a cutting board with powdered sugar and unmold the marshmallow slab on top of it.
  2. Dust with additional powdered sugar and cut marshmallows either with a cookie cutter or into 1-2 inch squares.
  3. Package as desired.

Coconut White Hot Chocolate

⅓ c. low-fat coconut milk
⅔ c. low-fat milk
3 white chocolate Lindt truffles
whipped cream for garnish


  1. Heat coconut milk and milk together until hot.
  2. Stir in Lindt truffles and stir until melted.
  3. Optional: Blend in a blender for froth.
  4. Pour into mug, top with whipped cream, marshmallows and a Lindt truffle.

Marshmallow recipe adapted from Bon Appètit.



Peaches and Cream Crêpe Cake

Crêpe Cake 6It’s been a while. Residency was kicking my butt and I ate too well for my birthday week and decided to go on a diet. Two weeks later, residency is still kicking my butt and the diet was a disaster. What happens when a food blogger decides to go on a diet? They lose content. Lesson learned. I won’t do it again. I promise.
Crêpe Cake 3Several weeks ago my good friend, H, brought two slices of crêpe cake from Lady M Confections. If you don’t know already, Lady M is a chain of cake boutiques that specialize in crêpe cakes. I never tried a crêpe cake before and was pleasantly surprised by the delicate layers and the light taste. But when H told me how much she paid, I was shocked at the price tag. $8 for a slice of cake?? As delicious it was, I could not justify that kind of cost and said I would never pay that that much for a slice of cake, ever.
Peaches and Cream Crêpe Cake 1Fast forward two weeks and as my birthday approached closer, I couldn’t help but think of that ridiculously expensive crêpe cake. Do I just bite the bullet and buy it or should I try it on my own? I’ve never attempted at making crêpes at home but it was my birthday, and I decided I would make one if I wanted to.
Crêpe Cake 2I know some people think making your own birthday cake is sad or depressing and until this year, I’ve been blessed with significant others that would buy me the cake of my desire. But you know what, making your own cake is better because you get exactly what you want and how you want it. Plus, if you make a mistake or mess up, you don’t feel guilty or pressured about ruining someone’s special day.
Crêpe Cake 4I had some fresh picked peaches when I went peach picking in August, so I decided to incorporate it into the cake. If I could redo this cake, I would make the crêpes thinner. As a novice, I was worried about it tearing and made them on the thicker side. In hindsight, it wasn’t necessary. So go thin if you decide to make it.
Crêpe Cake 5In the end, it was worth the effort and I suggest eating it immediately after caramelizing the sugar.  Because when you take a bite of the crisp bits of sugar with the light cake, you will be in heaven. Plus when you refrigerate it, the sugar melts and you get an odd syrup that may or may not pool all over your refrigerator shelf. (Yes, this happened. No, I was not fun cleaning it up.)

Peaches and Cream Crêpe Cake

For the Crêpes

6 tbsp. butter
3 c. milk
6 large eggs
1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
7 tbsp. sugar
pinch kosher salt


  1. Prepare the batter a day before you want to serve the cake.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt and brown the butter.
  3. In a separate saucepan, heat the milk and cool for 10 minutes. (Do not boil milk.)
  4. In a food processor, pulse eggs, flour, sugar and salt until fully combined.
  5. Add milk and butter and pulse until fully combined.
  6. Refrigerate batter for 8-24 hours.
  7. On the day of, bring the batter to room temperature.
  8. Heat a 6” nonstick pan and spray the pan with nonstick spray and wipe off.
  9. Spread 3 tbsp. of batter and swirl to cover the pan.
  10. Cook until the bottom begins to brown and flip the crêpe cook the other side until it sets.
  11. Repeat until all of the batter is used.

For the Pastry Cream

2 c. milk
¼ c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg
¼ c. cornstarch
¼ c. sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. Prepare the pastry cream a day before you want to serve the cake.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and ¼ c. sugar to a boil.
  3. In another medium bowl, mix egg yolks, egg, cornstarch and ¼ c. sugar until a paste forms.
  4. Using a ladle, drizzle a ladleful of milk while continuously whisking the egg mixture. Continue to drizzle in hot milk a little at a time until you mix in ¾ of the milk.
  5. Take the egg milk mixture and pour it into the saucepan with the remaining milk.
  6. Cook the mixture while stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture is thickened and pudding like.
  7. Remove saucepan from heat and mix in butter and vanilla extract. Set aside.

To Assemble

1 ½ c. heavy cream
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. Kirsch
3 large very ripe peaches, cut into small bits
granulated or powdered sugar for garnish (optional)
sliced peaches for garnish (optional)


  1. Whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
  2. Fold in prepared pastry cream, Kirsch and peaches.
  3. Lay two crêpes on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of peach pastry cream. Cover with a crêpe and repeat until all the crêpes are used. Save the best looking crêpe for the top.
  4. Chill for at least 2 hours to set.
  5. When ready to serve, you can:
    1. Dust the top with powdered sugar.
    2. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and caramelize with a blowtorch.
    3. Garnish the top with sliced peaches, sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and caramelize with a blowtorch.

Crepe Cake recipe adapted from NY Times.