Category Archives: Desserts

What do you want for your birthday?

That’s the question I ask Andrew each birthday, but I’m usually asking about food as opposed to a gift.  For Andrew, other family members, and a few special friends I loan them my copy of Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott for two days and tell them to pick a cake.  The cookbook was a gift from Momma and as a complete pie girl, it has become my essential cake guide, outside of a few family recipes.

There have been quite a few picks including Helen Hudson Whiting Celestial Chocolate Cake, Sweet Potato Pound Cake, Mississippi Mud Cake, etc.  With at least 30 options, Andrew can be counted on to choose the Red Velvet Cake without fail each year.


Since trying the recipe from Southern Cakes, I haven’t even looked at another one.  This year it was even better than usual and I attribute it to the freezer. One of the Beach Bunch Mommas (more on that later) always freezes her pound cakes for a little bit after they cool completely because they are moist and less likely to dry out.  I decided to try the same with these layer cakes thought it may have been dumb luck, I’m going to say this was the trick.  After the cakes cooled completely, I wrapped them up tightly and placed them in the freezer for a day.  The morning of Andrew’s party (more on that later take 2) I took them out of the freezer to thaw and iced the cake about an hour before the party that took place that evening.

I’m usually not a huge red velvet fan, but this recipe has made me re-think my stance on RV. Maybe I’ll even choose it for my birthday cake. Maybe, but highly unlikely since I’d have to give up my pie.

The Recipe: Red Velvet Cake

The Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour ( I used King Arthur’s Cake Flour–it was on sale :)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. buttermilk

2 Tbsp. cocoa

One 1-oz. bottle (2 Tbsp.) red food coloring

2 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar or white vinegar

The Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two round cake pans (9-inch) and line with wax paper.  Grease the paper and flour the pans. Prepare three mixtures which will become the batter.  Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl and use a fork to mix them together well.  Combine the vanilla with the buttermilk.  Mix the cocoa and red food coloring in a small bowl, and stir until it makes a smooth paste.

With a mixer in a larger bowl, beat the butter at a low speed for 1 minute until creamy and soft.  Add the sugar and then beat for 3-4 minutes scraping every few minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating after each until the mixture is creamy and smooth.  Scrape the cocoa-food coloring paste into the batter and mix evenly.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and then half of the milk, beating the batter with a mixer at low speed, and mixing only enough for for the flour and liquid to disappear.  Mix in another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the milk, and then the last of the flour in the same way.

In another bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar, stirring well.  Quickly mix this mixture into the red batter, folding it in gently by hand.  Pour the batter into the cake pans.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until the layers no longer jiggle in the middle.  Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn them out on the racks or on plates, remove the paper and turn top side up to cool.

Ice with your favorite Red Velvet compliment–we chose a rich cream cheese icing. Place on layer on a cake plate and ice the top.  Place the 2nd layer on top of the first and ice the top and then sides of both.

After icing the cake, refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer to help the icing set.

The Bibliography: Southern Cakes: Sweet & Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations by Nancie McDermott

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Missed Deadline & White Cake Bake Off

June and July are two different words.  The two letter difference shouldn’t have thrown me off, but it did and I missed a deadline.  Luckily this deadline wasn’t related to work though I can miss those every once in a while too (same issue with similar month names).

In 2012 I decided to try a few more food contests, okay really to try my first.  Every winter holiday Southern Living hosts a White Bake Off contest for readers to create a cake for the holiday season.  To provide enough prep time (I’m guessing) for creating, judging, announcing, photographing, etc. the deadline for the contest is June 30th which I chose to read as July 30th.  Enough with that though and on to the white cake that missed the deadline.

The idea came after my cousin Caroline made several servings of Oreo Truffles.  They’ve really gotten popular in the last few years, but last Christmas was the first time that I’ve had them and I inhaled them–every one I could get my hands on.  Andrew helped me brainstorm about possibilities and we both kept going back to chocolate and oreos.  With that in mind, I decided to take the Oreo Truffle concept and put it in cake form to the degree I could.

The result was a light texture chocolate cake with a creamy filling that reminded me of melted cookies and cream ice cream.  The outside cream cheese frosting was also light thanks to a little extra cool whip.  After several tastings we decided that my inability to read the calendar correctly worked out as it should.  Oreo Truffle cake was meant for the summer, not the holidays.

Recipe & Directions:


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Chop 4 oz. of Ghiradelli unsweetened chocolate into small pieces (almost shaved like) and melt in a saucepan with two sticks of butter.  Once melted, set aside to cool.  In another bowl combine 2 c. cake flour, 2 c. sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. soda and mix well. Add chocolate/butter mixture, but don’t stir until the additional ingredients have been added.  Add 1 c. buttermilk, 3 eggs, and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Mix well and pour into 3 lined cake pans.  Bake for 25 minutes and then check with a toothpick to make sure the middle is fully cooked.  Cool completely.


Put 17 Oreos in a food processor and chopped until almost fine.  Combine with 1-8 oz. container of cool whip, 1-8 oz. cream cheese, and 1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar.  Spread evenly in between layers while building the 3 layer cake.

The filling remind me of that lovely armadillo cake from Steel Magnolias! in color only..


Combine 1-8 oz. cream cheese with 1-16 oz. cool whip (probably could have used 8 or 12 oz. because I had a lot left), and 2 c. confectioner’s sugar.

Makes a 3 layer cake.

Bibliography: SFD Test Kitchen

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Strawberry Saturday-Rustic But Delicious

Made and served this about a month ago.  End of semester means behind in so many ways including writing anything on this.

Strawberry Season has presented a challenge–how many different ways I can use them before they spoil.When sick last year Mrs. LaVonne (my mother-in-law) and Fred brought me a set of Fine Cooking magazines to read and my favorite recipe based on looks was the Rustic Strawberry Tart (September 2000, pg. 52).  I love anything that is at its core pie. So much so that I’m pretty sure I could go without cake the rest of my life.  I saw that recipe and then Carrie sent this recipe to me.  I took it as a sign that this needed to be made.

This recipe at the height of strawberry season with a little extra tart from blackberries made for a very happy table. I also love that this is a recipe with which the finished project can look ugly.  The jagged edges and less than symmetrical look just add character.

The Bibliography: Fine Cooking, September 2000

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College Reunion 1: A Toll House Weekend

When trying to figure out how I could make an upcoming college reunion weekend remind us of the “good ole days,” I didn’t have to think too much further than a Toll House pie.  These pies were luxuries in our dining hall and I witnessed fights break out and women sprint to the dessert line to make sure they got a piece.  They were pure gold whether warm or cold–a very nice contribution to the freshmen 15 as well as the 5 each subsequent year.

The girls and significant others trickled in one-by-one until we were reunited on Saturday at lunch, the first time in 2 years.  We each have our own little quirks that make our personalities unique and so FUN.  They are my dearest friends and one has been gracious (and brave) enough to start the next generation by adding little Liam to the family.  He’s already taking after Eliz’s great style with a pair of New Balance kicks.

The Toll House Pie had the exact reaction that I had hoped for and even prompted Andrew to do this…

and others to say “YEAH!” or “why did you do this to us?”  I did it to us because it gave me an excuse to ignore my calorie count for the day and say I love you to my friends. And an excuse to use the recipe from the actual dining hall–it makes 3 pies!

Eliz, MB, Beth, and Michelle–thanks for being “my people.”  Let’s make sure we don’t wait another two years to share another Toll House Pie.



1 deep dish pie shell

2 large eggs

1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

3/4 c. butter, softened

1 c. (6 oz.) Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels


Pre-heat oven to 325° F. Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in morsels. Spoon into pie shell. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired.

The Bibliography: Recipe Above Directly From Toll House Website; Recipe I Used from MC

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Visit from Mags

Maggie B. (formerly Maggie H.) came to visit this weekend as part of an annual Christmas trip.  She loves Sundrop.  Loves should be LOVES Sundrop.  For her engagement pictures one was taken of her holding a Sundrop and her then fiancé, now husband holding a Cheerwine-that’s how much.  If you aren’t familiar with Sundrop, you want to be soon.  If you don’t like it when you try it, remember to try it again in the summer. It’s best when consumed while at the beach on a 96+ day when the drink is ice cold (and you have your toes in the ocean).

Being a few weeks past due on recognizing her birthday, I thought incorporating Sundrop into the weekend was necessary.  I found a recipe online for Mountain Dew Cupcakes from here at All Things Cupcakes and since there is a similarity between MD & Sundrop (though my personal preference is Sundrop-a lighter taste), I thought it could work.

Icing Sundrop Cupcakes

For the batter, I followed the directions pretty much to a T.  When it came to the icing, I wanted to make sure that the Sundrop stood out so I doubled (+1 additional Tbsp.) the amount that was recommended and didn’t include any lemon extract.  To replace the lemon extract, I included another 1/4 c. of fresh lemon and lime juice.

Two Sundrop Cupcakes

The Sundrop made an entrance with the icing and continued subtly in the cake.  My sister said it actually seemed close to Sundrop cheesecake.  Definitely a dessert  that is light and crisp in taste, yet rich, rich, rich.  I think Mags was happy and hopefully these cupcakes helped me keep the title of “Hostess with the Mostess.”  Already planning for her next trip…..

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