Coconut Vanilla Bean Cake

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 1 c. butter, at room temp
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 5 egg yolks, whisked together
  • 2 c. cake flour
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. soda, mixed in 1 c. buttermilk
  • 5 egg whites, beaten
  • 1 c. shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract)
  • 1 t. coconut extract

FOR THE FROSTING

  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. coconut extract
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temp
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter, room temp
  • 1 t. sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

FOR THE CAKE

  • Prepare two 9” cake pans by spraying with cooking spray, lining with parchment paper and then spraying the parchment paper with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream butter and sugar together until smooth and fluffy (about 5 minutes), then add the egg yolks and mix completely.
  • Mix together cake flour and sea salt. In a separate bowl, mix together buttermilk and baking soda. Add the flour and baking soda alternately, in four additions, beginning and ending with flour. Mix thoroughly between each addition.
  • Add the vanilla bean and coconut extract.
  • Fold in the beaten egg whites and the toasted coconut.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

FOR THE FROSTING

  • With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk heavy cream, vanilla extract and coconut extract until stiff peaks form. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.
  • Beat together mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and butter until very smooth. Continuously wipe down sides of the bowl and make sure the mixture is well incorporated.
  • Add powdered sugar and beat well into the mascarpone/cream cheese/butter mixture until very smooth and there are not chunks.
  • Fold in the whipped cream.

TIP: Do the frosting one day ahead and put it in the fridge for a stiffer, thicker texture.

The journey to this recipe

I’m back! It’s been a while! I have been baking, and working, but I haven’t quite been proud enough of stuff I’ve made until now. I made this cake for my mom’s birthday/4th of July. Coconut is her favorite flavor, and it’s one of my favorites too. For the cake I went off this recipe from Epicurious. I changed some things; added sea salt, toasted the coconut, added vanilla bean and added coconut extract. I didn’t use the frosting recipe that the Epicurious recipe called for. I instead used my favorite frosting recipe that I previously used on the Berry Chantilly Cake that I posted about in April. It’s a great frosting that isn’t too heavy or overly sweet. I added coconut extract to the frosting to really lean into the coconut flavor. The vanilla bean really adds great flavor and richness to the cake and honestly made it so so good. I would recommend making the icing the day before. When it comes out right away, it’s very loose. Letting it sit in the fridge for an extended period of time allows it to stiffen and become thicker. I added raspberries and blackberries on top just for fun. This was a great cake and I was really proud of it. 10/10 would definitely recommend!

Berry Chantilly Cake

This is it.
This is the cake. I forgot to take prep pictures.

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
For the Berry Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 2 Tbsp water
For the Frosting:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
  • 1/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 t. sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper cut into rounds.
  2. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream for about 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time. Add egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. Stir together salt, baking powder and flour in a large bowl. Pour half of the mixture into the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Add half of buttermilk, then add the remainder of the flour mixture followed by the remainder of the buttermilk. Do not over mix.
  5. Divide the cake batter evenly between the pans.
  6. Bake for 33-38 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes up clean.
  7. Remove from the oven, place the pans on a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes. Then, turn the cakes out on the cooling rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
  1. With a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat heavy cream and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl.
  2. Put the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar in the mixing bowl and beat until very smooth.
  3. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.

FOR THE SYRUP:

  1. Mix the water and jam together in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a syrupy texture.

ASSEMBLY:

  1. Cool both cakes completely. When they have cooled, make the frosting.
  2. Brush about half of the syrup mixture onto the bottom layer of the cake. Be very generous and pay special attention to the edges of the cake.
  3. Spread about half the frosting on top of the syrup. Put the assorted berries on top. If the berries you are using are large, make sure you cut them into smaller pieces.
  4. Put the top layer on and repeat by brushing on half the syrup, spread the rest of the frosting and top with berries. Chill for an hour in the fridge, or 15-30 minutes in the freezer.

The journey to this recipe

I was inspired to make this when my sister bought a Chantilly cake for her husband for his birthday. I hadn’t made a Chantilly cake and wasn’t sure what it was, and I really wanted to try to make it. When I found out that it had mascarpone cheese in the frosting, I was sold. The frosting is the star of this cake. The cake itself is good, a yummy, moist yellow cake. But the frosting reigns. It is the Queen. It is the Queen Elizabeth II of the frostings. The Beyoncé of frostings. It is everything. I’m not always big on frosting, but I like cream cheese frosting, and this is even better. It’s like, cream cheese frosting on steroids. Besides the wonderful taste of this frosting, it’s also nice to decorate because it’s just super fluffy and flexible to work with and looks beautiful without being perfectly smooth. I didn’t do the sides, because it was 9pm and I had woken up at 4am yesterday (thank you thunderstorms). I think it still looked great without it. Tasted fine. I used blackberries because they were on sale, and raspberries, to go with the preserves (also raspberries are the BEST). You can use any berry though. All berries would be good. This frosting though. Can’t stop thinking about it. Make & enjoy!

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake (and cream cheese frosting)

Instructions:

  • ½ c. butter, room temp, plus 2 tablespoons to prepare pans
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 ½ c. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. red food coloring
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 ½ c. flour, sifted
  • 1 c. whole buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar

Instructions:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by buttering lightly and sprinkling with 1 tablespoon sifted cocoa powder, tapping pans to coat and discarding extra cocoa.
  • Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time and beat vigorously until each is incorporated. Mix in vanilla.
  • In a separate bowl, make a paste of the remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa and the food coloring. Blend into butter mixture.
  • Sift together remaining dry ingredients. Alternating in 2 batches each, add dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture. In the last batch of buttermilk, mix in the vinegar before adding to the batter. Mix until blended.
  • Divide batter among 2 pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Cool on a rack completely.
  • To assemble, trim the top of both cakes so they’re flat. Chill for 20 minutes in the freezer, so the cake doesn’t crumble while you are frosting it. Crumble the leftover parts of the cake to sprinkle on top later. After you’ve frosted the cakes together, chill again for 15 minutes in the freezer, or for about an hour in the fridge, so the frosting is set. Sprinkle with the crumbled cake leftovers.

Cream cheese frosting

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, room temp
  • ¾ c. (1 ½ sticks) butter, room temp
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 2 ½ c. powdered sugar

Instructions:

  • *Whisk together cream cheese and butter on high speed until light and airy, about 3 minutes. Switch to a beater and beat in vanilla and sea salt. On low speed, gradually beat in powdered sugar until silky and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Once you have frosted the cake, chill about 30 minutes so the frosting can set.

*I did this in a KitchenAid mixer. If you don’t want to manually whisk the butter and cream cheese by hand, just beat it with a hand-held mixer. It will still turn out nicely, just won’t be as fluffy. 

The journey to this recipe

Day late post! Whatever! It’s spring break, right? I’m visiting my sister and my brother-in-law and their birthdays are coming up, so we celebrated and they requested red velvet cake. I mostly used the New York Times recipe. I didn’t really experiment on this cake that much because I was making it for the first time and it was like, for other people and I didn’t wanna do something crazy to ruin it. I did use my own cream cheese frosting recipe, because all of the other cream cheese frostings are too sugary. I was really happy with how the cake ended up looking, because I’m pretty bad at frosting. I used sea salt instead of regular (of course) and it’s especially good in the frosting, where it adds a little sweet and savory. I also whisked the butter and sugar instead of beating it at the beginning. I feel like it adds more air into the butter and sugar, but it might not make much of a difference. Enjoy!

Stuffed Pork Chops with Veggies

Fresh green beans just look nice.
Finished product.
Second photo.
The accompanying salad!
Close up.

Stuffed Pork Chops with Veggies

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • Sea salt
  • Seasoned salt
  • 2 14 oz. cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 t. pepper
  • 1 bunch green beans
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 bunch of Brussels sprouts
  • 1 box StoveTop sage stuffing, prepared
  • 2 c. crispy onions
  • Feta cheese

Preheat oven to 375º. Rinse vegetables, chop broccoli, and sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt.

Prepare stuffing according to box instructions. While the stuffing sits, let it cool slightly as you prepare pork chops.

Individually wrap pork chops between plastic wrap. Pound them with a meat hammer until the pork chops are thinner, wider and longer. Season each side generously with seasoned salt and pepper. In the middle of the chop, sprinkle some feta cheese and spoon in stuffing. Fold the sides over until the stuffing is covered, and hold together with a toothpick if necessary. Brown the pork chops in a skillet, 2 minutes on each side.

Whisk together milk, pepper and cream of mushroom soup. Put the pork chops in a 9”x13” casserole dish. Add the vegetables where they fit, and pour the soup mixture over, making sure everything is covered. Sprinkle with crispy onions.

Put in the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes. Halfway through, take it out and mix the vegetables so the soup covers the vegetables and they don’t dry out.

Enjoy!

The journey behind this recipe

This recipe is actually my own, as far as I know. The whole “pork chops and stuffing idea” came from something my mom made one time, and they just go together really well. I decided to have the pork chops stuffed, with a little feta cheese because why not, and add vegetables. When I made it, I used bone-in, and I highly recommend not doing that. It makes it so hard to stuff. You could probably use lots of different veggies in this recipe, but I just stuck with these. It’s kinda like a green bean casserole except not really at all, but you have the green beans, crispy onions and cream of mushroom soup. Crispy onions are super fun and yummy, so I tossed those in. This was a particularly inspired moment that I was proud of, I had the idea for the pork chops to be stuffed and I was at the grocery store and I was like all of these things would be so much fun! For the sake of my bank account, I scaled my ideas back and streamlined them.

I made a “greek salad” to accompany it, it was chopped up romaine, feta cheese, red peppers, grape tomatoes and cucumbers. Like a true Midwesterner, I put ranch on it. Later, my mom added olives, which is a really good idea and proves my mom really should be making everything. Hope you enjoy!

Carrot Cake

Pistachios. They just look pretty.
Fold in those pistachios.
Cooling cakes, ready to go on the cake stand. (I love this pink cake stand)
Decorated. Not crazy about those edges, but it looks ~good enough.
The cake, at a better angle.
Cut my dad a piece. Payment for his help with my taxes.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 c. pistachios
  • 1 c. coconut flakes
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled & coarsely grated
  • 1 c. buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • ½ t. ground nutmeg
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2 t. sea salt
  • ¾ t. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c. sugar
  • ¾ c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 t. pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. cool whip

For the frosting

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, temp
  • ¾ c. (1 ½ sticks) butter, room temp
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ t. sea salt
  • 2 ½ c. powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat two 9’’ diameter cake pans with nonstick spray. Next, toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Whisk flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, on high speed, beat eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and stream in the oil gradually.
  • Add dry ingredients, in 3 additions, and carrot mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until smooth. Add cool whip, mix until incorporated.
  • Fold in pistachios and coconut flakes. Scrape batter into prepared pans.
  • Bake cake until a tester comes out clean, about 33-43 minutes.
  • Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting and assembly

  • *Whisk together cream cheese and butter on high speed until light and airy, about 3 minutes. Switch to a beater and beat in vanilla and sea salt. On low speed, gradually beat in powdered sugar until silky and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Once you have frosted the cake, chill about 30 minutes so the frosting can set.

*I did this in a KitchenAid mixer. If you don’t want to manually whisk the butter and cream cheese by hand, just beat it with a hand-held mixer. It will still turn out nicely, just won’t be as fluffy. 

The journey behind this cake

I made this cake by request. I had never made a carrot cake, so I was excited to try something new. This recipe is partly inspired by the Bon Appétit carrot cake, but I made my own modifications. I like pistachios better than walnuts, so I substituted those instead. I threw in coconut flakes, because, why not? I also used sea salt instead of regular salt. It is most noticeable in the frosting, but as a nice compliment to the sweetness. The frosting is not salty at all. I also whisked together the cream cheese and the butter in the frosting for like, 3-4 minutes because I wanted it to be very light and airy, and then switched to a beater for the rest of the ingredients. I also decided to add the cool whip, because I discovered last year (through a baking accident) that adding cool whip to cake makes it super fluffy and moist. In the past, I have usually added the whole container of cool whip but this time I got nervous and played it safe and added a little less, probably around a cup. I didn’t measure it. And I got the extra creamy kind, because, why not?

It turned out really well, and I was pretty happy with it. It got my dad’s stamp of approval. The cake itself isn’t crazy sweet, but the frosting was so. good. that it makes up for the savoriness of the cake. They go really well together. My dad suggests pairing this cake with a cup of coffee. Make this and enjoy!

Veggie Packed Kind of Cream of Mushroom Soup

Prepping the veggies.
Simmering soup!
Finished product.

Veggie Packed Cream of Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 16 oz. container of white mushrooms
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 32 oz. vegetable broth
  • 1 c. cream
  • Two sprigs of thyme, to taste

Directions:

  • In a large pot, melt butter at and sauté the garlic and all the vegetables except the broccoli, until tender, at medium-high. May take about 10 minutes.
  • Toss in flour, salt and red pepper and half the vegetable broth. Mix until smooth, then add the rest of the broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the broth has thickened.
  • Stir in the cream and stir for a couple minutes, then reduce the heat. Throw in the broccoli and thyme. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the flavors are combined and soup is thick, 15-20 minutes.
  • Eat and enjoy!

The journey to this meal:

A month ago, I had actual cream of mushroom soup at Stomping Grounds, and have been craving it ever since. I’ve always had it in stuff, like green bean casserole (the health food of Thanksgiving), but never on its own. I found a very simple recipe, but wanted more substance, so I threw in all the vegetables I had that would probably go bad soon. (My 2019 New Year’s resolution was to let “less stuff go bad in the fridge”.) The original recipe just called for pepper, but I have gotten into the habit recently of throwing in red pepper flakes where recipes call for pepper. I never measure it when I add it, so I have no idea how much I put in. It’s a creamy soup, so it probably won’t turn out super spicy anyway. Also threw in some thyme because couldn’t hurt? It was very tasty, and super filling. Probably the longest that took to cook was the sweet potatoes. I add the broccoli at the end just because whenever you sauté broccoli with a bunch of other stuff and stir it around a lot it starts to break apart and it doesn’t look as pretty and the pieces get smaller. Also, I put in sea salt. My roommate Brianna got me into sea salt a year and a half ago, she puts it on a lot stuff, and I put in sea salt almost every time a recipe calls for salt. It’s just a little more flavor.

Thank you for reading! Enjoy!