Cakes and Cupcakes · Chocolate · Dessert · Pizza · Recipes

The Soul Sisters

I miss the Soul Sisters.  Isabel, Lucy and Pearl came out to California for their annual visit.  We had a great time feasting together.  We made ice cream for vacation Sunday, and we had a pizza party at our house.  We swam, actually floated in Veronica and Joey’s pool until our fingers and toes were shriveled up.  That’s a lot of floating time.  More on that later.  First I want to show you the cake I made for their last day in town.  It’s a chocolate-chocolate chip cake with cream cheese frosting.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 box Duncan Hines devils food cake mix
  • 1 box chocolate pudding mix
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1-8 ounce block of cream cheese
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla
  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine ingredients for the cake and mix for 3 minutes.

Place in 2-10″ round cake pans lined with parchment. Do not butter and flour the pan. You actually want the cake to cling to the sides of the pan to ensure straight sides to the cake. I like to use baking strips . The top of the cake stays flat, and the sides do not overcook. Bake for 35 minutes. I tap the cake in the oven, if it jiggles, it needs to continue baking. Cool on a wire rack, then wrap the pan in foil until ready to frost. That usually means the next day for me.

To make the cream cheese frosting:
Cream butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle until smooth. Add the vanilla. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar.
Frost the cake, refrigerate overnight.

I used smaller cake pans and loaded them up a little too much.  The cakes sunk in the middle, so I cut off the top to even them out.  I used the rest of the cake to make these cake balls.  I dipped them in dark chocolate, and then drizzled them with the white chocolate.

Check out Lucy, she’s enjoying a little pre-taste of our home-made vanilla ice cream.

Lucy is one talented artist.  I’ve commissioned her to paint something for me.  We’re not sure what she’s going to paint yet.  You can’t rush artists.

We had to have a pizza party!  Everyone made their own.  Pearl’s looks amazing, with a lot of cheese and just a sprinkling of pepperoni.

We had an awesome conversation about her goals.  She plans to marry a professional football player who’s loaded with money so that she can open a ski resort.  She plans to have five houses at different locations.  She told me sometimes her goals are a little hard to achieve, but it’s worth trying anyway, even if she’s a little disappointed when things don’t turn out as planned.  How old is she?  So wise for such a young age.  And then she mentioned she would like to be a mermaid.  And it would be great if she could just take a pill and transform back into a human.  Then she could have twice as many friends.  Ahhh, yes, she really is eleven.

Lucy and Isabel have plans to open a bakery.  Or maybe a bakery/tattoo parlor.  Or maybe a bakery with cakes that are adorned with tattoo-like art.  I just know that I can’t wait for whatever it is they decide.

Can’t wait for next year!

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Recipes

Suzie’s insanely delicious cake

Look what we got in the mail!  Suzie made this amazing cake and sent it to us!  It’s insanely delicious.

She warned me not to get carried away with garnishing it, but I just couldn’t help myself.  It really doesn’t need a thing.  Suzie’s cream cheese pound cake makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

She was kind enough to include the original recipe from Bon Appétit along with the cake.  The cake is put into a cold oven, and then slowly bakes at increasing temperatures.  She said you’ve got to follow the directions exactly, otherwise it won’t turn out.  Here is the recipe as originally written.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted all purpose flour
Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.  Using electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add sugar and salt; beat 10 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Beat in flour at low speed until batter is smooth (do not overbeat).  Transfer batter to pan.
Place pan in cold oven.  Set temperature to 200° F; bake 20 minutes.  Increase to 275° F; bake 10 minutes.  Increase to 300° F; bake until tester inserted nearest center comes out clean, about 1 hour longer.  Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes.  Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely.  Can be made 3 days ahead.  Wrap; store at room temperature.
Nice packaging!
Smells so good, even through the wrapping!  Buttery love.
Mom sent her favorite grand dog another pretty little dress.  Paige wore it for 3 days straight.  She really likes dressing up.
Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Holiday · Recipes

Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting for Easter

Cupcakes for Easter!  These are rich and decadent.  They should be, there’s almost a pound of butter between the cake and frosting.  But it’s Easter, so live it up.

This recipe comes courtesy of  Happy Easter!

Vanilla Bean-Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

Reduced coconut milk:

  • 2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk* (preferably organic)


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
  • Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)

For reduced coconut milk:  Bring coconut milk to a boil in a LARGE DEEP saucepan, not a small pan like I did.  It pays to read the directions all the way through.

Reduce to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.   Boil until the coconut milk is reduced to 1 1/2 cups.  Cover and chill.  Can be prepared 2 days in advance.

See my little saucepan?  And the puddle of coconut milk underneath it?  Now I’ve got some clean up to do.

For the cupcakes:  Preheat oven to 350°.  Sift the dry ingredients.  One of my favorite baking tools is my tamis.  It makes sifting so easy.  Just add all of your dry ingredients in the middle of the tamis lined with parchment.  Then give it a few taps and it’s done!

A lovely vanilla bean.  Save the empty pods and put them in a bag full of sugar.  Then you’ve got vanilla sugar.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffly.  Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg first before adding the next egg.  Add the vanilla seeds and coconut milk.  Add half of the sifted dry ingredients until just mixed together.  Add the remaining dry ingredients until just incorporated.  Fill lined cupcake tins with batter, you should be able to fill 18 cups.  Bake for 20 minutes, the tops should be lightly browned.

For the frosting:  In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add the coconut milk, vanilla bean and powdered sugar.  Continue to whisk until the frosting is light and fluffy.  Fill pastry bag with frosting fitted with a piping tip.  Frost the cupcakes, leaving a rim of cake exposed.

Aren’t they pretty?

When we were kids… coloring Easter eggs.   That’s John, me in the middle and Chris on the right.  Veronica wasn’t feeling so good.   I hope Mom has some eggs for us to color today.  I don’t care if I am moments away from being 50 years old, I still want to find an Easter basket, or some plastic eggs filled with goodies in the backyard.  Dad, are you going to hide something on the roof for John to find?

See?  There’s Veronica, trying to get some sleep while the rest of us are apparently trying to prevent that from happening.

Check this picture out of all four of us Schwartz kids.  Doesn’t Chris look just like the E-Trade baby?  Apparently riding the dog is FROWNED UPON in this ESTABLISHMENT!  Good stuff.

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Recipes

easiest cake ever

It’s pineapple angel food cake….it’s easy, delicious and it’s light!  I made this for Melissa’s birthday dinner.  I got this recipe from one of my Weight Watcher buddies a long time ago.  It’s not much of a recipe really…a box of angel food cake mix and a 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple.  Mix it, dump it in a baking dish sprayed with a little cooking spray, and bake at 350° for 25 minutes.  That’s it.  I added a little whipped cream and berries.

It’s been at least one million years since I’ve made this.  I thought it looked a little funny when I pulled it out of the oven.

Poor Paigey…she’s a little embarassed in her bikini.  Grandma Sherry sent her some more lovely outfits.  Sunshine said…”Oh Sherry….you are the next Tyra Banks.  Maybe a show called “The Next Top American Dog Model”….

Cakes and Cupcakes · Chocolate · Dessert · Recipes

s’mores peppermint and ganache ice cream cake

This is a Christmas Eve tradition.  Tommy and William are expecting it again this year, so who am I to dissapoint?  I made this for our party last night….yummy deliciousness.  Dreyer’s makes the peppermint ice cream as a seasonal treat, so get it while it’s hot!

S’mores Peppermint and Ganache Ice Cream Cake

  • 9 ounces chocolate wafer cookies
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 quarts peppermint ice cream
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 7 ounces jar marshmallow cream
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows

Make the crust: Crush wafer cookies in a food processor (or in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, or a wine bottle).    Add melted butter.

Dump the mixture into a spring form pan.  Press to the bottom and sides with the back of a large spoon.  Place in the freezer.

Remove ice cream from the freezer to soften.

Make the ganache:  Chop the chocolate into small pieces.  Bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil in a small sauce pan.

Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Mix to combine.

Add a third of the chocolate to the chocolate crust, swirl the pan to distrubute the ganache evenly.  Return the the freezer.

Add half of the ice cream to the spring form pan.  Return to the freezer to harden.  Add a third of the ganache, rotating the pan to spread evenly.  Return to the the freezr.  Add the last of the ice cream, and return to the freezer.

Add the last of the ganache, spread evenly with an offset spatula.  Cover with foil and freeze.

When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and spread the marshmallow cream evenly over the top to cover.   Add marshamallows.  Torch until lightly browned.

Blow, Tawny. Blow!!!!!!!!!

And there you have it.

Santa Molly, she’s a sweetheart.

Cakes and Cupcakes · Chocolate · Dessert · Recipes

Goodbye Corey!

Sadly our little Corey at work is leaving us and moving on to bigger and better things:)  As his last request before heading off to NYC he’s chosen a Mexican themed department breakfast.  We will miss you my shark obsessed friend!

I’m brought these mini boozy bundt cakes.  Not exactly breakfast fare, but who doesn’t love a boozy bundt cake anytime of the day?  I have yet to meet you, if you’re out there.

Mini Mexican Chocolate Bundt Cakes

  • 1 box Duncan Hines devils food cake mix
  • 1 box chocolate pudding mix
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon (a little Mexican twist)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips
  • Kahlua
  • caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine cake mix, dry pudding mix, sour cream, cinnamon, eggs, oil and water.  Add chocolate chips.

Spray mini bundt pan with Pam made especially for baking.  Add batter until 3/4 full.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes.  Turn out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pour a little bit of Kahlua in the center of each cake while still warm.  Cakes can be made a day ahead.  I cover the cakes with another layer of parchment and then cover the baking pan with foil.

Drizzle with caramel sauce and serve.

Greg says:  I’m going to be a bit indulgent with this pairing. I usually try to find pairings that don’t cost a fortune, but I just couldn’t help myself with this choice – Tommaso Bussola 2003 Recioto della Valpolicella Classico, Robert Parker scored it 95 Points and had this to say: “This is textbook high-class Recioto. This opulent, silky-textured wine possesses gorgeous aromatics and layers of raisin, mineral, licorice, chocolate, spice and dark cherry flavors that flow onto the palate with dazzling style, superb persistence and a long, finessed finish. It is not to be missed.” I agree!

Cakes and Cupcakes · Dessert · Recipes

French lessons

I wanted to learn French, so I picked up a cookbook, The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan.  I could have bought the Rosetta Stone French lessons, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun.

These little gems are called Les Canneles de Bordeaux.  They’re like a little creme brulee chewy cake with a crisp, caramelized exterior.  Each tiny cake is baked in its own little mold.  There’s just a hint of dark rum, which I love.

I’ve got the molds if anyone wants to give them a try.  Or you can just come to my house and I’ll make them for you.  Here’s the recipe from Anne Willan’s cookbook.  More French lessons to follow, I’ve got a whole book to get through.

Les Canneles de Bordeaux

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • melted butter, for the molds
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum (I used Myers)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

12 medium cannele molds

Place egg yolks in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix until blended.  Add sugar and whisk until coarse crumb forms, about 2-3 minutes.  Add whole egg and continue to whisk until light and mixture holds a ribbon when the whisk is lifted.  Split the vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the mixture.  Add the bean to 1 cup of sugar to create vanilla sugar for another use.  Whisk in milk.  Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir with a whisk until it thickens, then curdles and separates, about 3-5 minutes.  Set aside to cool, stirring often so the eggs do not clump together.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush molds with melted butter and set them on a baking sheet.  When mixture has cooled, stir in sifted flour until smooth.  Stir in rum and oil.  Pour into molds until  two-thirds full.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Let cool for 2-3 mintues, then unmold while still warm.

Greg Schroeder, owner of Amazing Grapes Wine Store

Greg says:

There are few, make that VERY few wines I’ll ever recommend from Temecula, but the Wilson Creek Angelica Sherry is worthy of respect and my choice for your Canneles. Normally, creme brulee gets paired all day long with Sauternes, but because this is essentially a cake, with a caramelized exterior and a hint of rum, this recipe calls for a sweet sherry.

The Wilson Creek Angelica Sherry is made from 100 year old vines. In fact, Angelica is considered the first wine made in California.  It was used in ceremonies by the Padres in the California missions.  This fortified dessert wine became known as “Angelica” in that it was sweet, heavenly, and long-lived.  With its beautiful flavors of caramel, hazelnut and vanilla, this sherry pairs beautifully with creme brulee or many other holiday desserts!