Tag Archives: dessert

Whoopie Pies aka Devil Dogs

Today is my husband’s birthday! He’s been stressing about it for a while since it’s his last year in his 20s and he’s not ready to be 30. At least he has 365 more days until he has to deal with that reality.

I’ve always believed that birthdays should be celebrated all day (if not all week – hello, college memories) but unfortunately, B had to work all day. And by “all day” I mean “wake up at the unfortunate hour of 4:30 am, shower, shave, kiss sleepy wife goodbye, work all day and come home at 6 pm”. I wish he’d had the whole day off but to make the evening as nice as possible I plan to meet him at the door with a white russian, throw some steaks on the grill, bake some sweet potatoes, saute some cabbage in brown sugar then devour a few whoopie pies.

Birthdays are delicious, or they should be, anyway, and I think that the person celebrating the birthday should be able to do whatever they want and, more importantly, eat whatever they want. I asked B a few days ago what he wanted for dessert tonight and he hemmed and hawed about pie for a few minutes until he stared me straight in the eyes and said “devil dogs”. I love my husband, but I’m from NC and he’s from upstate NY and we don’t always speak the same language. After some discussion I came to understand that he wanted whoopie pies. Of course I would make them, now that I knew what he was talking about.

devil dogs

Whoopie Pies
adapted from Bakerella
taken from the book Whoopie Pies

preheat oven to 375
prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper

1 2/3 cups AP flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
4 T unsalted butter at room temperature
4 T vegetable shortening
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 t molasses
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 cup milk

Sift together your dry ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl cream together the butter, shortening, sugars, and molasses until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for about 2 minutes more. Add half of the milk and flour mixture and beat on low until combined, repeat with remaining milk and flour mixture. Drop by 1-2 T onto prepared sheet pan, leaving 2 inches between each one. I used a scoop that I have. It can hold 1 1/2 T and made very nice sized whoopie pies. Bake for 10 minutes or until the top will spring back when gently pushed. Allow to cool for two minutes on the sheet pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

The Best Fluffy Frosting
I’ve seen variations of this frosting in a number of places online. Here’s my contribution.

1 cup milk
5 T flour
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2-3 t vanilla

Whisk the flour into the milk in a small saucepan. Make sure to do this carefully so it’s not lumpy. Ever had lumpy gravy? It’s the same idea here. Heat this mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens to a brownie batter consistency. Remove from heat and let cool completely. When you’re ready to make your frosting cream the butter and sugar until completely fluffy and smooth. This will take a few minutes, and if you have access to a stand mixer I recommend you using it. Make sure that the gritty feel of the sugar is gone and then add the milk mixture and vanilla. Turn the mixer back on, and watch as the frosting comes together. This can happen fairly quickly. You want the frosting to be light and fluffy like whipped cream. If it’s still separating keep beating it until it fluffs up.

For assembly take two pieces of cake that are similar in size and pipe (or spread) some frosting on one piece and top with the other. Delicious.

devil dogs1

I never knew it would be this easy to make someone’s birthday perfect. Happy birthday, B.


Spice Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream Frosting

I bought bananas a few days ago with the best of intentions to eat every last one. Life got in the way, however, as did some chocolate chip cookies, crunchy cheese balls, and lots of garlic bread. This morning I noticed that the bananas were starting to turn brown and getting a sweet smell. Normally I’d peel them, throw them in the freezer, and use them to make chocolate chocolate chip sour cream banana bread later. (I will share that recipe, I promise. Or you can jump the gun and go visit Alice at Savory Sweet Life. I won’t blame you if you can’t help yourself. It truly is amazing stuff.) This morning, though, after a night of very interrupted sleep due to C, and a lack of chocolate chips, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a recipe for spice cupcakes with banana buttercream frosting from Baking with Basil. It sounded like a wonderful way to make our home smell like fall and to use up a browning banana.

I managed to get these whipped up during C’s 2-hour nap (2 hours! Do you know how amazing that was?) and took some over to our friends who had just had a baby. They inhaled them, as did my husband and I. Even C got to taste some of the frosting. My husband didn’t think I was looking, but I was. Moms have eyes in the back of their heads, you know.

This spice cake is heavenly. I altered the spices a bit to accommodate what I had (I know that I’m not the only one who bakes in her pjs and refuses to go to the store!). I’ll admit that I hesitated at the banana in the buttercream at first (the main reason I picked this recipe – to use up a banana!) but the flavor isn’t overwhelmingly banana. It’s just plain good.


Spice Cupcakes with Banana Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Baking With Basil

preheat oven to 350
I used silicone baking cups. Spray them before baking and the cupcakes will remove easily.

Spice Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
3/4 t ground cloves
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups applesauce
2 eggs

Stir together all dry ingredients. Add butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and applesauce and beat for 2 minutes until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.

To achieve a nicely domed cupcake: Fill the liners 3/4 full and put in preheated oven. Immediately lower heat to 325 and bake for 30 minutes. I know it sounds crazy, but this method produces a nicely rounded cupcake that is incredibly moist. After baking allow them to cool in pan for five minutes on a cooling rack and then remove. Before baking more cupcakes make sure to return your oven temperature to 350. It sounds like a lot of extra work and a very long baking time, but this produces the best cupcakes I’ve ever had.

Banana Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 large mashed banana
1/2 t lemon juice
dash of salt
3 cups powdered sugar

Beat the butter until fluffy then add the salt and beat a minute more. Mash the banana in a small bowl and mix in the lemon juice to prevent browning. Alternate beating the banana and powdered sugar into the butter. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes, keeping in mind that the frosting is mostly butter and will droop in a warm kitchen. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.


These are delicious. I know you have a languishing banana in your kitchen, so put it to good use.

Red Velvet Cheesecake

I made and served red velvet cheesecake for my dad’s birthday. Red velvet is one of his favorite cakes and this is such a great spin on it. I hadn’t made a cheesecake in years and was very pleased with how it turned out. I found this recipe at Annie’s Eats a few months ago and bookmarked it, knowing that I would want to make it for a special occasion. Although I’ve had a lot of opportunities to make a dessert I’ve kept the knowledge of this recipe my little secret until this weekend.

The cheesecake came together very easily during a nap time for the wee one and everyone loved it. It’s definitely something I’ll make again!


Red Velvet Cheesecake
From Annie’s Eats

This is best made a day ahead of when you need it. It can chill in the refrigerator overnight and you can make the topping before serving. You will bake this at 350 for an hour and 15 minutes, or until just set in the center.

Start by lining the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Then make the crust by combining the following until just moistened and press evenly into the pan.

25 oreo cookies, frosting removed, crushed (I went this route so we’d have half a package of oreo cookies in the house. You can buy the pre-crushed ones and use 1 1/2 cups of them.)
1/3 cup melted butter
1 T sugar

3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, brought to room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 T cocoa powder
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 t vanilla
1 t distilled white vinegar
2 (1 oz bottles) of red food coloring

Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until creamy and fully combined. I still had my mom’s stand mixer on loan for making the tamales, but this can be done in a bowl with a hand mixer. Just wear an apron when you get to the red food coloring. Add the eggs, cocoa powder, sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, white vinegar, and food coloring. Mix on low until combined and pour into your springform pan.

A note about buttermilk: I rarely ever have it in the house. Instead I make my own substitute by mixing a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice with a scant cup of milk. Stir and let sit for five minutes and voila, buttermilk. I was a little wary of using this substitute in my cheesecake, but I did and it turned out beautifully.

Bake as directed above, then remove the cheesecake to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before running a clean knife around the edge of it to separate it from the springform pan. Cover and let it chill out in the refrigerator.

4 oz cream cheese, brought to room temperature
2 T butter, brought to room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Remove the sides of the springform pan and spread the topping evenly over the top of the cheesecake.


Check out how red that is! Don’t be like me and take so long to make this recipe. Go find a reason to celebrate and enjoy it!

Praline Brookies

It’s amazing how a group of friends can find each other. My three good girl friends and I met in three very different ways: Rachel-through the church, Christina-through my old job, and Molly, my beautiful dark-haired salsa dancer amiga at a Halloween party. She was a mouse and I was a cat. We were obviously meant to be friends.

I know that many people have friendships that are older than I have with these ladies, but in the four years that we have all known each other I have been able to rely on them for anything. We’ve all shared countless shopping trips, late night talks while camping, and we’ve cheered each other on during exciting times. I love sharing happy moments with friendship is being able to rely on one another during difficult times.


Tonight after the wee one goes to bed these three women are coming over and we’re going to paint our toes, drink some wine, and eat. From the outside looking in, it may seem like we’re just hanging out, gossiping, or catching up. But really tonight is going to be about our love for each other and a celebration of our friendship. One of my friends is going through a very rough patch in her life and the rest of us are going to love and nurture her tonight.

I knew that I wanted to have some comfort food here when they showed up, so I baked this dessert to share. It’s the gooey marriage of brownies and cookies and is perfect for a girls night in.


Praline Brookies
recipe from my mom

Bake at 350 in a greased 9×13 pan.

This is another dessert with multiple layers. It involves a little more effort than my Blackberries and Cream Cheesecake, but the outcome is just as delicious, maybe even more so, if you’re in need of a chocolate fix.

For the first layer mix together:
1 box brownie mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs

Then bake this for about 25 minutes while you make the second layer.

Second layer:
1 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 t vanilla

Bring the above ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for three minutes while stirring constantly. Pour over hot brownies.

Third layer:
1 roll refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

Cut the cookie dough into chunks and pat them flat, then place them on top of the second (praline) layer. Bake for an additional 23-28 minutes and let cool completely before cutting. What happens if you cut them while they’re still warm? A hot praline lava, that’s what. It’s both delicious and painful.


Tell someone you care. Or better yet, make them some dessert and really show them.

Blarney Stones

Clinton is a small town in Iowa nestled next to the Mississippi River. My mom grew up there and my childhood is dotted with fond memories of a fourteen-hour drive that ended in time spent with my grandparents, riding bikes by the river, and trips to the Sweetheart Bakery. This bakery was my favorite place to go when I was little and honestly…not much has changed. They make the most amazing black rye bread, frosted cookies, and blarney stones. (And yes, they ship, so those midnight black rye bread cravings? They can be fulfilled.)


My grandmother loved their bear claws and lemon curd filled doughnuts but was especially fond of the blarney stones. Lois, or Omie, as we called her, was an incredibly strong woman. She always matched her red nail polish to her lipstick, was married for over fifty years, and raised four daughters. The two oldest daughters were four and three when my mom and her twin were born. She had four daughters under the age of four and only one bathroom in the house. Don’t tell me my Omie wasn’t an amazing woman.

We lost Omie last year and when her birthday rolled around I decided to do something special for my mom. I looked into having some blarney stones shipped down from Clinton but decided that I could do better than that because there is nothing more wonderful than homemade treats. I’m not sure if there’s a better way to celebrate a life than with food and was confident that these blarney stones would be appreciated. And man, are they good!


Blarney Stones

4 separated eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 t vanilla

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl (normally I skip this step, but it’s important in this recipe so everything will get mixed in equally with the boiling water in a minute). Beat your egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Set them aside and beat egg yolks until they’re thick and lemon colored. Gradually add sugar, beating continuously. Add dry ingredients alternating with boiling water. Add vanilla and beat well. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake at 350 in a well-greased 8×11.5 pan for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If you want more blarney stones–and they will be thinner!–you can bake this in a 9×13 pan. Just watch how long they’re in the oven.)

Now you have a few options. You can let them cool in the pan and frost just the top if you’re taking them to a party and don’t want to deal with individual blarnies. Or, if you’re like me and want to recreate the real deal as closely as possible, go ahead and flip the cake out onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely. Then use a sharp bread knife and cut them into two-inch squares.


1 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla
crushed salted peanuts
maraschino cherries, for garnish

While they’re cooling go ahead and make your frosting. Cream the butter, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until completely smooth. Spread each blarney stone with a generous amount of frosting and roll all sides with the crushed peanuts. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.


Congratulations, you’ve made a bit of my childhood. Isn’t it sweet?