Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting + Happy Birthday to Me!

My tradition of ugly but delicious birthday cakes continues…

A cake decorator I will never be.

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting...easy, yummy, moist, perfect for a birthday or special occasion | easy cake recipes, birthday cakes, chocolate cake recipes | #cake #recipe #chocolate

This cake, however, is suuuuuper delish.  I really wasn’t feelin’ it this year.  I was so tired and stressed that I didn’t even know if I wanted to bother making something.  My birthday was on a Tuesday (blah) in a super crazy week (among other things we were moving offices, had big deadlines, and I was getting ready to leave the country), and I knew it would be a super long day.

So looked for something simple but that really tugged at me.  And, man, peanut butter and a dark chocolate stout cake can get me every time. [Read more…]


Birthday Vanilla Spice Coke Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Every year (minus last year), I make myself a special birthday cake.  I try to pick something that’s really captured my imagination, that seems a bit fancy and more complex than I’d usually convince myself to tackle.  Something special.

This year, for reasons I can’t even quite explain to myself, I made a vanilla spice Coca-Cola cake with salted peanut frosting.

Vanilla Spice Coke Cake with Salted Peanut Frosting

Yes, you read that right.

It’s kind of conceptual…while I’m not a fan myself, boiled peanuts in Coke is considered a Southern delicacy.  Consider this the deconstructed cake version.  But without the weird texture issues.


It was really a gameday decision.  I’d pored over my whole Pinterest dessert board and nothing was really jumping out at me.  But then I finally got it into my head that this vanilla spice Coke cake was going to be my base.  I’ve never had a traditional Coca-Cola cake, but my understanding is that it’s almost always chocolate.  When I ran across this recipe from Local Milk, I was intrigued…the way the flavor profile was described so beautifully, and as an interesting transition into fall,I decided it had to happen.


But the frosting that went along with it was just way too finicky for my exhausted and busy self to deal with.  I looked at tons of different recipes but nothing really felt right, until I saw this salted peanut frosting.  Since I love all things peanut butter, I was on board right away, and I thought that it would be a fun complement to the cake.  While this was a bit overly sweet for my tastes (or maybe that was because I also ate a gallon of queso, so I felt a bit ill), the flavor was bomb and the cake was insanely moist.

I’ll definitely be revisiting this recipe down the road, and not just for a special occasion—the cake base itself (minus frosting the layers) was super easy and fast.  As you can tell, frosting cakes is not my particular skill set.

So happy birthday to me, and cut yourself a huge slice of cake and pour a Coke! [Read more…]

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

A month ago I was crowing about the glorious chocolate stout cake with chocolate ganache I made for my birthday. It was fudgy and rich but not too sweet, with a depth from the stout. Basically perfect. Then, a couple days later, my friends asked if I could bring a dessert to their dinner party. They’re both gluten-free, and I have a number of go-to recipes. But I couldn’t get that chocolate cake out of my mind.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Quinoa Cake with Chocolate Ganache

I knew I’d pinned a gluten-free quinoa cake months ago, but didn’t quite love the exact ingredient proportions. I found another, tweaked it a little, and used the same chocolate ganache as the other cake. I took the remaining three-fourths of my birthday cake and the quinoa cake to the party. I had to label them because they were identical, and honestly, I think people liked them equally. The only real difference you could tell was that the quinoa cake didn’t have the stout (on account of the gluten), but I plan to adapt it for a bourbon or similar at some point—just have to do my research on gluten and alcohol. And there was still some of the whole quinoa in it since my blender isn’t great, but if you use a food processor it will puree it and you’d never even know. [Read more…]

Chocolate Stout Cake with Ganache…Birthday Celebration Part 2!

Let me start by saying that this cake is way easier than it sounds. There’s something about “ganache” that sounds so fancy and unattainable.

Chocolate Stout Cake with Chocolate Ganache

This was the birthday cake I picked out this year, something kind of fancy but also quite simple—just good chocolate and good beer. (Although I’m sensing a theme of chocolate + alcohol birthday cakes…). This is a Smitten Kitchen recipe and it’s basically perfect. The cake itself has a dense richness, a little bittersweet from the combination of the stout and the darker Dutch-process cocoa. I also went a little scant on the sugar so the sweetness wasn’t overwhelming. I went ahead and frosted mine right away, which made the inside moist and fudgy, which is how I prefer my cake.

Chocolate Stout Cake finished

I’d never made a ganache before and thought it was going to be complicated and temperamental, but it was really quite simple and very fast. You want to use good quality chocolate to get the smoothest, creamiest texture and rich flavor. Overall, I would make this cake again in a heartbeat!

chocolate stout cake jamie bottle

And then there was this gloriousness. That’s right, my co-worker wrapped my birthday wine bottles with the one and only James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser. They get me. They really get me.


Chocolate Stout Cake w Chocolate Ganache

Okay, back to the cake… [Read more…]

Smitten Kitchen’s Whole Lemon Tart…Birthday Celebration Part 1

A few years ago I decided that, for my birthday, I’d make myself a dessert that’s just a little fancier than normal. Something I’ve been lusting after but required more time or effort than I’m typically willing to put into things. Since I don’t tend to like store-bought desserts that much, it was a way of making sure I got something I’d really like. And, boy, has it produced good results so far?! Two years ago I made these amazing vanilla almond cupcakes with peach jam filling, and last year I tried out Smitten Kitchen’s red wine chocolate cake.

Whole Lemon Tart

This year, since it’s a “technicolor” birthday (as my co-worker says), I decided that I didn’t have to pick between the two desserts I was eyeing. So this is part one of 30th birthdaypalooza, and Smitten Kitchen has once again done me a solid.

Whole Lemon Tart done

This lemon tart is absolutely jam-packed with flavor. While I love lemon things, I am often turned off by lemon flavor that’s cloying or fake tasting, which is always a danger. But this tart is so bright and fresh and in-your-face with its real lemonness. Lemon-ity?

whole lemon tart lemon slices

What’s also fascinating is that you throw the entire lemon into the filling (not whole, that would be weird…). I don’t know why that makes a huge difference, but it does. And while it looks like there are a million steps in the recipe below, it’s really not that difficult or time consuming. As long as you have time during a couple parts of the day (so you can make the tart crust and let it chill, then freeze a little, then bake), you’re golden. And the butter—oh, the butter! This tart is lemon-y, creamy, tangy, rich, custardy goodness. [Read more…]

Apple Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake

I think fall may finally be sneaking up on us here in Georgia. We’ve had a gorgeous late summer and early fall…making up for the terrible, rainy spring and summer we had. Even in mid-October we’ve had temps in the upper 70s and even 80s. I was laying out at the pool last weekend. For real. The pool was tarped over and there was only one chair left, but I was there.

fall rain

Then this week it turned gray and rainy and a little chilly.

bartok cuddle

This guy just wanted to cuddle. I don’t blame him. I’m not ready for fall weather, but I do think I’m ready for fall food. And is there a more quintessentially-fall dish than one combining apples, cinnamon, and streusel topping?? I think maybe not.

Apple Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake

I’ll be honest—I don’t think I’ve ever tried out a traditional coffee cake recipe besides the one I grew up on (my mom’s, which is amazing, and I will post for you soon). I mean, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? So last week when it was my turn to make treats for a co-worker’s birthday, and knowing that she loves cinnamon-y things, I figured I’d whip up my mom’s coffee cake.

Apple Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake close

But then I was browsing Pinterest and found a recipe I’d pinned a long time ago for an apple cinnamon chip coffee cake. “Hmm…” I thought,”Intriguing. I have all this homemade apple butter and I stocked up on cinnamon chips. Maybe this is fate.” [I typed “fat” the first time and almost left it because that seemed apropos as well]

Apple Cinnamon Chip Coffee Cake piece

So I gave it a try, and loved how easy the recipe was. But I made a number of adjustments, such as using half a bag of cinnamon chips instead of a whole bag (which really seemed like overkill). The biggest change I made, though, was swapping out the basic powdered sugar glaze the recipe suggested for the sweet and slightly crunchy cinnamon-sugar streusel topping that’s more traditional for coffee cakes. And it was amazing! This cake was so moist, even a couple days after I made it (I had to make it Sunday and serve it Tuesday). The cinnamon chips in the cake were like tiny little gems of awesome studded throughout. [Read more…]

Birthday Red Wine Chocolate Cake!

I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.
~W.C. Fields

Sometimes I have incredibly coherent, well-phrased, occasionally-beautiful thoughts. And then sometimes, like when I saw this recipe for the first time, I just blurt things out.


Red Wine Chocolate Cake slice

That’s pretty much how that conversation went in my head.

Last year my birthday fell on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) which was very sad from a food and wine standpoint. This year, it fell on the 8th day, the day after the Feast of Tabernacles, and unfortunately I spent the majority of it in airports and airplanes trying to get home from Steamboat Springs. I did get to have a lovely dinner with my parents the night before, however, and brunch with my mom that morning before I left. And I happened upon a lovely wine bar (Cru) during my 3-hour layover in Denver and celebrated in my own way—with flights of Cabernet and some creamy tiramisu. So not all was lost.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

I started a little ritual last year for my birthday, where I’d pick a dessert recipe that had really captured my imagination for some reason—maybe it felt a little fancy, needed a special occasion, was a little more work—and make it for my birthday. Except, scheduling being what it is in my life, it basically ends up being somewhere within a month window of my birthday. Which is kind of the same thing. I just wanted something that felt a little special, and an excuse to make something fun. Last year it was my vanilla almond cupcakes with homemade peach jam filling. And this year it’s this awesomeness.

Growing up, birthdays weren’t really a big thing. But to me, I like to make a tiny bit of fuss for it. Not go overboard, but just a little something special.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Baked

This cake really is special. First, there’s the Dutch cocoa (vs. regular), which has so much more depth than regular cocoa powder. Then you add the red wine and a hint of cinnamon, and this cake just perfectly encapsulates indulgence. It’s everything that’s great about being a grown-up. It’s rich but not sweet, super moist but dense, just amazing.

[Read more…]

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