Category Archives: Cake

Japanese Cheesecake

I got interested in the Japanese Cheesecake about 2 months ago when I was talking to my granddaughters. They showed me the video of the making of the Fluffy, Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake and commented about how they would like to learn how to make it. I agreed to help them. Meanwhile, I had to research the project and make certain I could make the cheesecake. So I went from the video to the web site and found several problems. The measurements of some of the ingredients were different in the video than on the recipe. So I started following the comments for the recipe and found others had the same problem; no one had corrected the recipe or video- whichever was wrong.

It also seemed to me that the comments were of two types- those that seemed taken with the recipe but hadn’t really tried to make it, and those who had really tried to make it and were not complementary. There were bad comments about the taste. One person even suggested a recipe on a different web site as being better. So I decided I needed to look at that recipe.

I made that recipe, and it was a failure. So I continued research and finally found a combination of recipes that work for me.

I will also say that the original Fluffy Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake recipe had an area that I couldn’t figure out how to solve- they had the cheesecake coming out of the oven at cooking temperature and immediately being turned upside down on your hand to remove the pan and parchment paper- how to do that without getting burned badly had me stumped.

Here is a version of Japanese Cheesecake that I made and felt showed the final texture and rise of the product. I notice that almost all cooks serve the cheesecake with a sweet topping. Some are just fruit like strawberries, and others are jam glazes, or powdered sugar or a combination of these. I will use frozen strawberries as they provide moisture and sweetness.

I have decided to leave the ingredient list in international units- grams and milliliters where the measure is not a natural one. That was how I put the recipe together and had no real problem. My kitchen scale allows setting the units to grams, and the back side of my liquid measuring cup shows milliliters. If that is too big of a problem, there are conversion programs to aid in getting the units back to ounces and cups.

Japanese Cheesecake


  • (Optional)Remove frozen strawberries from freezer to come to room temperature over-night.
  • Remove cream cheese from refrigerator to come to room temperature over-night.
  • Move oven rack to lowest position.
  • Cut parchment paper to fit a 8×3 cake pan bottom; spray the sides and bottom of the pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with the parchment paper. Wrap the bottom and sides completely in foil to prevent the water bath from oxidizing the pan. (the water bath with heat turns aluminum black so the foil protects the pan.
  • Separate 6 eggs

Mise en place

  • 9 ounces cream cheese (ouch, it comes in 8 ounce packages)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 70g granulated sugar(this is half of the total 140g)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 100 ml whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 60g cake flour
  • 20g cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • —————–

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 70g granulated sugar (the other half of the 140g)

  • (Optional) Strawberries – to serve
  • (Optional) Powdered Sugar – to serve
  • (Optional) Cream Chantilly – to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (200 degrees C).
  2. Over a warm water bath (bain marie), whisk the cream cheese until smooth
  3. Add the egg yolks and continue to whisk
  4. Add half the sugar (70g and whisk
  5. Warm the milk and butter in the microwave or stove and whisk into the batter
  6. Add the salt and lemon juice and whisk
  7. Remove from the water bath, sift the flour and cornstarch and fold into the mixture.
  8. ————————

  9. Whisk the egg whites at low speed until foamy.
  10. Add the cream of tartar and beat at high speed till bubbles become very small but still visible
  11. Gradually add the sugar (70g)and beat till just before soft peaks form.
  12. Fold the whites into the batter 1/3 at a time.
  13. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and tap on the counter a couple times to remove air bubbles.
  14. Bake the cake on the bottommost rack in the preheated oven for 18 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees for 12 minutes; finally turn off trhe oven and leave the cake in the closed oven for 30 minutes. Open the door of the oven slightly at that time for 10 minutes for the cake to cool.
  15. Remove the cake from the cake pan, and remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar, and serve with a side of strawberries and Cream Chantilly. Enjoy!

I found that I was not as taken with the soft sponginess of the Japaness Cheesecake as others seem to be.

Individual Cheesecakes

Bday 001

Allison wanted her birthday cake to be cheesecake. And as always, I had to do something special. Since different folks like different tastes, I decided to make individual cheesecakes with a smorgasbord of sauces. Each cheesecake is about the size of a cupcake, and is complete in itself. And then there are the toppings with which each person can choose and complement their cheesecake. All the recipes are in this article, even if some have appeared earlier in other articles.

Bday 006

For toppings, I made a ganache, a caramel, a praline sauce, lemon curd, strawberries, blueberries, and pumpkin. The latter is because this year we celebrate Alli’s birthday on Halloween, and Halloween goes well with pumpkin cheesecake.

I obviously made way too many, and too much toppings. I was surprised to find that the lemon curd and the strawberries were probably the favorites, with the caramel running third. The ganache was not a favorite; as daughter Mindy told me later- who wants chocolate with cheesecake? Cheesecake is almost the anti-chocolate food.- She also said that she felt pumpkin mousse was not a topping for cheesecake, but if you want a pumpkin cheesecake, you should put the pumpkin in the cheese layer.

Individual Cheesecakes


  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 pkg (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 2 cups Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

The above Ingredient list is broken into 3 parts- bottom crust, middle filling, and topping.


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put cupcake papers into the bottom of 18 muffin cups
  3. For the crust, mix the graham crumbs, 2 Tablespoons sugar and butter until well blended, and press into the bottoms of the cupcake papers.
  4. For the filling, beat the cream cheese, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3/4 cup sugar until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Spoon over the crusts.
  5. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the centers are almost set.
  6. For the topping, combine the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over the surface of the warm cupcakes. Return the cupcakes to the oven and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.
  7. Remove the cupcake papers and arrange the individual cheesecakes for serving.

Since I made the seven toppings, I will give you recipes for each of them although you should probably only focus on a couple or three for your serving.

Ganache is a mixture of heavy cream and chocolate. I have used several of these in the past and am providing you with a pointer to some of those recipes as well as giving you a recipe herein. Perhaps the best previous recipe was with the home-made Ding Dongs. In that case, We wanted the ganache to set since it was an outside coating, and we wanted it to be shiny. So the amount of chocolate was more than the amount of cream, and we added fat (butter) for the gloss. Likewise, for holding cake pops together, we use a ganache. The recipe in the cake pop article is not strong enough compared to the recipe for white chocolate ganache in the Icings, Frostings and Glazes article; you really need a 4 to 1 ratio of chocolate to cream for cake pops. Here, we want a fairly liquid ganache, and use a 1 to 1 ratio.



  • 8 oz. Chocolate Pieces (any flavor or type, including white)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream


  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave proof bowl
  2. Heat the cream in a sauce pan until small bubbles start to appear around the edges (just to a boil but not boiling!)
  3. Remove from the heat, and pour over the chocolate.
  4. Let the mixture sit undisturbed for 5 minutes
  5. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth

An alternative approach is to place the ingredients in a double boiler over simmering water and cook, stirring until it is smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Since the chocolate is in a heat proof bowl, and the sauce pan is out, this should be an easy change from heating the cream separately and waiting for the chocolate to melt.

Caramel is a mixture of heavy cream and sugar. Most of the caramel I have used I have made from salted caramel chips, and used a ganache recipe; it works. However, if you want a straight caramel without salt, then the recipe I have in the Guinness Gingerbread Cupcakes article does a nice job.



  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool it to room temperature and refrigerate it in a covered container. Reheat over low heat until smooth and spreadable.

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the brown sugar and cream. Stir with a whisk until the sauce bubbles and gets sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

If ganache is Chocolate and Cream, and Caramel is Sugar and Cream, then I would say that Praline is Sugar and Sugar; it is a very sweet sauce, and this recipe adds chopped pecans to give it more of that Southern flavor.

Praline Sauce


  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespooons cornstarch
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a small heavy sauce pan, stir together the brown sugar and cornstarch
  2. Stir in the corn syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla.
  4. Cool slightly, and serve.

I tried many recipes for a lemon sauce, and found I didn’t like any of them. Then I found this recipe for Lemon Curd, and the way the people at the party liked it, I think it is a real winner. As one person said, “I can’t wait to have my toast with lemon curd in the morning”.

Lemon Curd


  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks in addition
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest


  1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating each into the mixture. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look lumpy but will smooth out in the next step as it is cooked.
  2. In a heavy bottom sauce pan, cook the mixture over low heat until it smooths out. The lumpy appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. The thickened mixture should leave a path on the back of a spoon, and will read 170 degrees F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture go beyond 170 degrees, or boil.
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming. Chill the curd in the refrigerator; it will thicken as it cools.

The curd will keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, and can be frozen for a couple months.

For the strawberries, I made the Strawberry Sauce recipe that is macerated strawberries. Again, I had tried several different recipes to get a good strawberry sauce, and finally settle on this one; it is juicy and sweet.



  • 16 oz. strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Mix the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Taste the resulting sauce, and if not sweet enough, add more sugar. Some recipes go to 1/2 cup of sugar, while others start with only 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

I started with the idea that I would macerate the blueberries, but then, who would want smashed blueberries. They really would not be very appetizing. So I left the blueberries whole; maceration seems to need the fruit to be cut, or opened such that its juices can flow.


For this “sauce” I added a couple tablespoons of sugar and some lemon zest to the blueberries, but next time, nothing but the berries. I think the zest turned people off; blueberry lovers want the simple pure fruit!

So finally, here is the pumpkin mousse that Mindy said was not proper for a cheesecake; she said the pumpkin should be cooked into the cheese layer of the cheesecake and not painted on top. However, this mousse would make an excellent filling for a simple pie- say graham cracker crust. And it would require no cooking- ready in a jiffy!

Pumpkin mousse


  • 2 small boxes of instant vanilla pudding (sugar free is okay)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 -15 oz. can pure pumpkin/pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp clove


  1. In a large bowl, combine the vanilla pudding mix, milk, pumpkin and spices.
  2. Whisk until smooth

That is all there is too making the mousse. Use it as you like.

Halloween Cookies and Cupcakes

both 001

This Halloween, beside the cake pops that I made, I also made the witch cupcakes again, and spider cookies. The cupcakes were to test if I had learned anything from last year; I think I did. The cookies are because both daughters sent me pointers to them, so I felt I should try them. Interesting enough, the article does not specify a cookie, but only the decorations- use any cookie.

witch 001

The biggest problem I seemed to have last year with the witch cupcakes was I thought the buttercream frosting sagged, and the witch face went into the cupcake. So I took an idea from the Christmas Tree cupcakes, and made the buttercream frosting much thicker so that it wouldn’t sag. I added 3/4 cup extra powdered sugar for 1 pound of powdered sugar in the recipe for The Decorette Shop’s Butter Cream Frosting. I think that did the trick. In fact, the frosting was thick enough that I was able to make long noses on the witches.

And of course, now that I know where to buy eyes (The Decorette Shop), I gave my witches buggy eyes. The eyes have imperfections where the pupils are not always centered; this gives the witches a wandering eye look where sometimes the eyes don’t look in the same direction.

For a cupcake, I chose to use the Black and White Irish Cream Cupcake recipe but to make it all chocolate. The only difference was that I added 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate to the entire batter rather than dividing the batter in half and only adding 3 ounces to one half of the batter. And I didn’t have the problem of filling the cupcake papers since I wasn’t trying to keep the black and white theme.

I had leftover ganache from when I had made the original cupcakes, and so after cutting the cone out of the cupcake for the hat, I frosted the cupcakes with the ganache to minimize their drying out. Then I piped the extra stiff green Butter Cream Frosting into the hollow and let it build up to create the head. I gave the buttercream a 24 hour wait to allow it to dry and crust before I tried decorating it. Meanwhile, I made the witches’ hats, including piping the orange band to fill in around the edge of the cone. Both the orange band and the black mouth are colored Royal Icing made from the Decorette Shop recipe; I like working with the Royal Icing for decorations as it drys quickly and hard. I also used it as the glue for fastening the cone to the chocolate wafer, and later for fastening the hat to the head.

When I attached the hats to the heads, I needed to flatten a spot on top of the head so the hat had an area of contact. After piping the heads, the top was left most often as a point. It turned out easy to cut off a small amount of the green buttercream to make the flat spot.

spider 003

For the spider cookies, I started by making a batch of Ethel’s Sugar Cookies as cutout cookies, rolling the dough out and cutting it with a 2 3/4 inch biscuit cutter. I like the results of that recipe for keeping its shape with little spread. Then I used brown Royal Icing to pipe the spider’s legs.

While I was making certain the legs were drying, I unwrapped my Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and used the brown Royal Icing to attach the eyes. Then a little Royal Icing on the top of the peanut butter cup and invert it onto the center of the legs for the spider.

Here is The Decorette Shop’s Butter Cream Frosting recipe:



  • 1/2 cup Hi-Ration Shortening (a Decorette Shop product)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 to 3 drops Butter FLavor (also available at the Decorette Shop)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. vanila
  • 1/4 tsp. Almond Flavor
  • 1 Tbsp. meringue powder (also available at the Decorette Shop)
  • 1 lb. powder sugar


Put all ingredients in bowl and beat at medium speed for 10 minutes.

Halloween Cake Pops

all 001

Having just finished the Decorette Shop‘s Cake Pops class, I had some candy melts that needed to be used. I also felt I had learned something from making the Minion Army after the class. So I dug out the cake crumbs I had frozen, and started making my Halloween treats. There were many more lessons to be learned!

As I have said before, I do not like dipping chocolates, and dipping cake pops is the same thing. By the time you get the excess dripped off, the rest has started to set. If I were lucky, all the excess would have dripped off but more likely, I still have some thick spots, and a bunch of tails where the drips have set before leaving the cake pop.

skeleton 001

In class, Linette the instructor had trouble getting the dipped pretzels for the skeleton to stay in place on the skeleton’s stick. I had thought about that and decided that I would try doing it in reverse order. I would dip the pretzels, let them dry, and then put them on the stick before even worrying about the skeleton’s head. The trick I saw was in mounting the stick horizontally so that the pretzels would hang down while the glue dried. After I did the bones, I worked on the heads. Here I learned that if you are going to use shapes for the cake pop, the shapes must be exaggerated. I shaped the heads so the chin area was narrower than the forehead, and then I poked holes for the eyes, nose and mouth. After gluing the heads to the sticks, and dipping the heads, I discovered that all the indentations had filled in and were lost. So the face got painted on standing out from the skeleton rather than embedded into the skull.

I used Royal Icing for all the extra design work on the cake pops, except for the bug eyes which I bought and glued on.

The other thing about the skeleton is that when I bought the pretzel, I just grabbed a bag. I think now that the pretzels are out of proportion to the skeleton. I should have looked for a smaller size pretzel which would have kept the ribs in closer to the body. Linette had said that we could also glue pretzel pieces onto the ribs to represent the arms. I gave it a try but decided it was going to be very difficult to hold the pieces in place while the candy melt set, so I skipped that step.

ghosts 002

While I had the white candy melt warm and working, I also decided to do a few ghosts. In this case, I took the ball with which all cake pops start, and tried to flair out the bottom to be like the flowing sheet that we all think of when we make our ghost. I think the ghosts look weak because a couple of the other cake pops have so much size. However, the ghosts are the correct size for cake pops. A cake pop should start with a small ball of dough, not bigger that about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. As it gets larger, the dough has trouble holding together through the dipping and tapping off the excess operations.

witch 001

The witch is also something I thought about how to engineer, and came up short in a couple ways. First, I made the hats. Here I rolled the ball of dough into a cone, and when it was coated I placed it on a wafer of an Oreo cookie. Notice I said when it was coated; I tried to dip the cones without a stick, and failed. The candy melt would set on the dipping fork and other implements I used before I could get the excess melt off the cone, then I couldn’t get the cone free from the dipping tool. So I ended up “painting” the candy melt down the sides of the cone using a spoon. When I finished covering the cone, I placed it on the Oreo wafer.

Having learned from the skeletons that any features had to be exaggerated, I ended up making the witch’s heads too large so that I could get a nose and sink the eyes. The original witches were at the top of the stick, and after dipping the head, I would place the hat on top of the head where it would glue to the fresh green candy melt. Unfortunately, the hat size was small compared to the head, and appears comically on top of the head. So I experimented. I drilled a small hole in the bottom of the Oreo wafer- 3/16 inch- and made the witch head smaller and moved it about 1/2 inch down the stick. After dipping the head, I slid the hat onto the top of the stick. It all looks much better in proportion.

pumpkins 001

Finally, I used all the rest of the cake crumb dough I had in making pumpkins. I had tried to use some shaping on the dough to give the vertical segmentation that is natural to the pumpkins, but like most of my shaping, it seems to disappear in the dipping and dripping. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the pumpkins is that I used broken pretzel pieces as stems.

At this point, I have completed my Halloween Cake Pops for this year. The photos all show how I decided to present my cake pops; I filled a clear plastic 12 ounce glass with M&M candies to give it weight, and then stuck the sticks of the cake pops into the glass. It works, and the receiver also has a lot of M&M candy after the cake pops are gone.

I need to get some answers to why my dipping experience is not what I think it should be. I hope this gives you some ideas if you are making cake pops for Halloween.

Itialian Cream Cake

coconut cake 004

This cake went all the way from my home in Beaverton, Oregon, to daughter Mindy’s place in north Seattle, Washington, in my luggage and on the train!! And the only damage was that it slid one inch on the 10 inch cardboard cake circle on which I had built it! Of course, I did take some extra care in packing it to go. As I was assembling the cake, I used some Royal Icing to cement the first layer to the cardboard. Then, after frosting it, I cut 5 bamboo skewers to 5 inches and stuck them through the cake to make certain that the individual layers didn’t move relative to each other. And finally, I put the cake in a 10 x 10 x 5 cake box for transporting; the cake box I placed in my duffle bag and hand carried the duffle keeping it flat. I forgot once, placed the duffle on top of my rolling suitcase and tilted the suitcase to roll; that is probably when the cake slid to the edge of the cake circle.

There is more to this story. I hadn’t planned on making and taking a cake with me. But I talk to Mindy every weekend, and the weekend before I was to go, she mentioned that she had almost bought a KitchenAid mixer so she could make the Coconut Cake- another name for the Italian Cream Cake. So I knew I had to make it for her. After all, I make everybody who asks locally a cake, so I needed to make her favorite cake for her birthday.

This is a darn good tasty cake. I think I have only made two cakes recently that I give those qualifications; the other is the Guinness Gingerbread cake, which I did as cupcakes. Both of these cakes are moist and can easily lead to a-second-piece syndrome. I took the photo in a hurry, and my colors were not quite right so the frosting appears more brown than in real life- it really is white with pieces of nut showing through. Here is the recipe.

Italian Cream Cake

(Coconut Cake — Margaret McBryde 1976)

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 egg – separated
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 1/2 oz. coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cake Directions

  1. Cream together until light and fluffy the butter, shortening and sugar.
  2. Add and mix well the egg yolks.
  3. Into a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients alternating with buttermilk. Mix all ingredients very well.
  5. Then add coconut flakes and walnuts.
  6. Beat the egg whites stiffly with the vanilla, then gently fold them in.
  7. Grease and flour 3 8-inch cake layer pans. Divide batter evenly between pans.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
  9. Cool pans on rack before removing the cake layers and icing the cake.



  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 16 oz. (2 packages) cream cheese
  • 2 lbs. (2 boxes) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Mix butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla thoroughly.
  2. Add the chopped walnuts.

September 12, 2015, NOTE: When I first made this cake last month, I was confused about what size cake pans to use. Then I looked at Marlys’s old cake pans and discovered that the only set of 3 pans she had were the 8 inch pans with the old fashion piece that swivels around the middle of the bottom to loosen the cake bottom from the pan. They worked well, and all I had to do after swiveling that bottom piece around 360 degrees was use a knife around the vertical edges.
Since then, I talked to my friends at the Decorette Shop about using their Real Ease product to grease the pans. They said that because of its composition, it is not necessary to flour the pans after applying it. That will save a mess of bouncing flour all over the sink, so I will be trying it without flour this week.

Guinness Gingerbread Cupcakes

guinness 004

Daughter Jenn brought this recipe to my attention, so I surprised her and made it for her birthday cake. The original recipe appears on the internet to be by Kim Laidlaw; I have taken a few liberties in adding my own touches to it.

Guinness Stout adds depth and richness to a classic gingerbread, and helps it stay moist. The batter is thin enough it can be made without getting the stand mixer out; I used a hand mixer, or it could be stirred using just elbow grease. If you prefer to not use beer, then just substitute the same amount of espresso or very strong coffee for the Guinness.

The batter can be used in three ways without change; it can become a Bundt cake, a normal round cake, or 24 cupcakes. For the Bundt cake, generously grease a 9-inch Bundt pan. When the cake is cooled, warm and drizzle the caramel sauce over the top and serve in wedges. Serve any remaining sauce in a small pitcher so it can be added to the wedges. A Bundt cake would probably need to bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.

For a round cake, butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. When serving the cake, spread the caramel sauce over the top. To accompany the cake, perhaps some poached pears (see the bottom of this article). Using a round springform cake pans, I am guessing the cooking time will be 45 minutes at 350 degrees F. But that is a guess so use a toothpick to test that the cake cooked through. then cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing the cake. It can be served warm at this time with the caramel sauce drizzled over the top.

gingerbread 002
September 15, 2015- NOTE: I decided I wanted to make the round cake but instead of a single layer, I wanted two layers so I could put the caramel sauce between layers and then frost the top. (The original suggested only the caramel sauce drizzled over the top of the single layer.) Instead of butter, I used the “Real Ease” product from the Decorette Shop as a pan lubricant, but followed the directions to also use the parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. I was amazed that the cake layers came out of the pans without any trouble, and the extra work of putting in a parchment bottom was not necessary; it stayed in the pan when I took the cake out. The cooking time was 35 minutes, and cooled in the pan on wire racks for 10 minutes before removing to cool. Oh, yes, the original recipe says a 9 inch springform pan; I used two 10″ cake pans so my two layers is probably a bit shorter than using a single 9 inch pan.

For cupcakes, we will use 24 muffin wells lined with cupcake papers. The cupcakes will be frosted first with the caramel sauce, and then with a cream cheese frosting.

I have a few hints about making these cupcakes that you need to see before jumping into the recipe. For example, the caramel sauce can be made ahead of time, and then brought back to a spreadable state; to do this, I zap the container of sauce in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each time until it becomes spreadable. You could reheat it over very low heat on the stove, but that would mean transferring it to a heat proof cooking pan.

In the directions, I have suggested bowl sizes for both the wet and dry ingredients; these are the sizes of my bowls. The trick is to see that the wet ingredients are dumped into the dry ingredients so the dry ingredients need the larger bowl. I wouldn’t want you to get caught with the dry ingredients sifted into too small of a bowl.

The recipe will make 24 cupcakes. They do not rise a lot and so the directions say to fill the muffin wells nearly full. The first time, I filled the wells too full- none of the cupcake paper showed above the batter- and only got 20 cupcakes. And the little rise there was cooked the cupcakes to the muffin pans above the cupcake paper top. So I recommend leaving about 1/8 inch of cupcake paper showing when you fill the muffin wells.

Guinness Gingerbread Cupcakes

Ingredients for the gingerbread

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup Ginness Stout
  • 1 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons peeled and grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces) chopped crystallized ginger
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the caramel sauce

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions for the caramel sauce

The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool it to room temperature and refrigerate it in a covered container. Reheat over low heat until smooth and spreadable.

  1. To make the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan.
  2. Add the brown sugar and cream. Stir with a whisk until the sauce bubbles and gets sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and salt.

Ingredients for the frosting

  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • pinch of fine salt

Directions for the frosting

  1. To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and salt and continue to mix until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 muffin pans with cupcake papers
  2. In a bowl (~1 1/2 quart), beat the eggs until smooth.
  3. In the same bowl, whisk together the Guinness, molasses, brown sugar, oil, and fresh ginger.
  4. Add the crystallized ginger.
  5. In a large bowl (~4 quart), sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and salt.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
  7. Divide the batter among the muffin wells, filling them nearly full.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
  9. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes and let them cool on a wire rack
  10. Spread the cooled cupcakes with the caramel sauce, and then pipe the frosting onto each cupcake.

If you are making the round cake and would like to accompany it with the poached pears, this is how I did them.

Ingredients for poached pears

  • 6 ripe but firm pears, peeled, quartered and cored
  • peel from 1 orange removed with a vegetable peeler to avoid the bitter white pith
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean

Directions for poached pears

  1. Bring the water and sugar to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the pears and orange peel.
  3. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife; add the pod and seeds to the pan.
  4. Adjust the heat so the liquid simmers gently. poach the pears until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Let the pears cool in the poaching liquid

Black and White Irish Cream Cupcakes


This recipe was brought to my attention by my Seattle Muse who saw this picture. I decided to track the recipe down and make it. This picture has been “pinned” on social networking sites many times; I tracked the recipe down at the Better Homes and Gardens site, I found that nearly 40 people had rated the recipe such that it was at least a 4 star rating.

When I first made the recipe, I ran into several problems. Perhaps the biggest two were that when the batter is finished, the chocolate batter is far denser than the white batter, and so it is difficult to get the two batters into the cupcake papers with a nice vertical split of black and white. The white batter wants to flow over the chocolate batter giving a more marbled, if not horizontal split of black and white.

The second problem was with what they called the icing. It just didn’t come together. Instead I was left with brown fluff which was slightly moistened powdered sugar. I cheated on the recipe at this point and added more moisture until the “icing” came together. Even then, it was too stiff to swirl. (I was taught by my friends at the Decorette Shop that this is a glaze, not an icing).

At that point, I read the recipe reviews; there were only two. The newest review was interesting from the point that it said simply– please email the correct recipe for the icing–. So for a year, nothing had been done to the recipe on the web site. I wrote my own review calling the web site out for not correcting the errors.

That got some results. Colleen, the test kitchen cook wrote a new review stating that —all the recipes on the web site are tested before being published. She got a good vertical separation of the batters by using two scoops, one in each hand, and releasing them together for the cupcake. And, oops, there is an error in the icing recipe–. Is that not total vindication and an oxymoron? The recipe is tested but there is an error!

Anyway, I had already embarked on a process of discovering how to do it better. I first felt I had to address the size of the recipe which stated it made 28 cupcakes- who wants to make 28 cupcakes at a time? I mean, the muffin tins come in multiples of 6; I have a lot of tins and this would take all of them. My approach was to reduce the recipe to 6 cupcakes while experimenting; it is easy for anyone to double the recipe once or twice to get 12, 18, or 24 cupcakes, as many cupcakes as they would like.

My second step was to even out the density of the two batters. This could be done by either thickening the white batter with more flour, or thinning the chocolate batter by adding water. It turns out I did both. I thickened all the batter, then when I added the chocolate to half the batter, I also added water to keep the batters more consistent. That is the recipe I am giving you here. Here is the picture of my results.

first six 003

Black and White Irish Cream Cupcakes

For 6 cupcakes


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoons Irish Cream liqueur
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 recipe Irish Cream Ganache
  • 1 recipe Irish Cream Glaze


  1. Allow butter and egg to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Prepare 6 muffin cups with cupcake papers. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. Mix the cocoa powder in the boiling water and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth; let cool.
  3. Preheat oven 350 degrees F.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar, liqueur, and vanilla and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the egg and beat well.
  5. Alternate the flour mixture and buttermilk, beating on low speed after each addition just to combine.
  6. Divide batter in half (about 3/4 cup); stir dissolved cocoa in one half. Fill cupcake papers with some of each batter.
  7. Bake about 20 minutes; cool for 5 minutes in pan on racks. Remove and cool completely.
  8. Spread tops with Irish Cream Ganache; let stand about 1 hour to set. Spoon Irish Cream Glaze onto centers of cupcakes and spread with the tip of a spoon or knife.

Irish Cream Glaze


  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Irish Cream Liqueur
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla


  1. In a small bowl stir ingredients together. Glaze needs to be thin enough to spread; add drops of water and stir if it is too thick. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar by the teaspoon at a time.

Irish Cream Ganache


  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon Irish Cream liqueur


  1. Bring heavy cream to a boil; remove from heat and add chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes. Add liqueur and stir until smooth. Cool until slightly thickened.

The two batters are more consistent now, but are still too thin to stay on their own sides of the cupcake while the second batter is scooped and put in. Thus, if the vertical divide is really important for the looks, I think you will have to go with what Colleen says and put the two batters in the cupcake simultaneously using two scoops and two hands. Maybe a friend will offer to help with this step and handle one of the scoops.

I think the ganache recipe is superb, and will save and use it even without the black and white cupcakes. However, the glaze is not the right stuff to use on the cupcakes; I made some and refrigerated them for a couple days, and the glaze all melted where it was on the ganache. There is too much liquid in the ganache for the glaze. I would suggest using a simple Royal Icing or Buttercream, but must admit I need to try it first myself. But, do not expect the glaze to look nice after a couple days!

The cook time seems to be somewhat critical. I left a batch in the oven for an extra 5 minutes and it dried the cupcakes out and made than hard- more like biscuits- rather than soft and moist. The 20 minutes is just right for me.

I did learn one other trick from the recipe- how to make cupcakes without papers. This is nice since you then do not need to peel papers and have a trash receptacle around. All it takes is to grease and flour the muffin tins; the cupcakes turn right out. I tried it with a cooking spray the first time, but I disliked getting the tops of the muffin tins all sticky and messed up. So the second time, I used shortening and kept it inside the indentations, and then floured them; this worked well. The only trouble was when I was scooping the batters and trying to handle two scoops simultaneously, they would drip onto the top of the muffin tins. Other than looking bad before and after being in the oven, the muffin pan cleaned up easily.

The original recipe used only the white of the egg; I might go back and try that again. I dislike throwing the yolk away, and my thoughts are that first, it might be adding some color to the white batter, and second, it might be stiffing the cooked cake since it does contain cholesterol.

Notes: 8/21/2015- I baked some more of these cupcakes, and at the last minute decided to experiment with further stiffening the dough. So I added another 1/4 cup of flour making it a total of 1 cup flour instead of the 3/4 cup. It made for more total batter- I could have made at least 7 cupcakes, and the amount of batter to save for the white side needs to be increased if you are doing this; my seventh cupcake would have been totally chocolate. I was worried about the cooked product being dry; it wasn’t. It was nice and soft, with the exception of the outside. I cooked the cupcakes an extra 3 minutes to make certain they were cooked completely; I have a tendency to under-bake my products, and was reminded of that this week and decided I had to get out of that mode- thus the extra cooking time. As noted, unfortunately that dries out the outside and the cupcakes are slightly crusty. I will say that stiffening the batter did make a difference in getting it into the cupcakes; it is nearly enough to do each half as a separate operation instead of putting both colors into the cupcake simultaneously.

Home-made Ding Dongs

dingdong 002

A while back when I was making stuffed cupcakes (Storm Troopers for the twins fifth birthday). I was explaining it to my Seattle muse, and she said that I should make Ding Dongs. I said that it seemed like stuffed cupcakes with chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. And she said “No, every bite needs to have all three components- cake, chocolate frosting, and filling”.

So I started to investigate Ding Dongs, and experiment with the best way to make them. And that is what I will describe in this article. Mindy says there are recipes that you make once for curiosity, or some other reason, but once you have made them, you will never make them again because they are just too much work. I think Ding Dongs might belong in that category. I found it best to spread the work over three or four days so that the various steps could cool and set before going forward.

And this recipe takes some specific equipment. I used a 2.5 inch biscuit cutter, a 1 inch cutter from the center of a doughnut cutter, my wide spaced wire racks and a couple piping bags. You could get away with a 3 inch biscuit cutter, but the smaller cutter should be at least 1.5 inches smaller. I say to use wide spaced wire cooling racks because you want the dripping chocolate to fall through and not get stuck on the rack. And while you could use tableware spoons to move the filling and ganache into the center of the Ding Dong, it is far easier with the piping bags.

Home-made Ding Dongs


Chocolate Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk

*Measure the flour by using a spoon to fill the measuring cup; scooping the measuring cup directly into the flour will firmly pack it and result in too much flour.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 10 oz. heavy cream
  • 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons butter

Marshmallow Filling

  • 3.5 oz. marshmallow cream
  • 3 Tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. in a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and cocoa powder.
  4. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  5. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition; scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the sugar/butter mixture about 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the buttermilk
  7. Pour the chocolate cake batter into the parchment lined baking pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack


  1. Place the chocolate chips, butter and salt in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Bring the heavy cream to the boiling point, but do not boil it
  3. Pour the hot cram over the chocolate and let it set for a minute
  4. Stir the chocolate until all is melted and the mixture is smooth without any lumps
  5. Set aside to cool. When ready to use, it may be necessary to heat it up a small amount so that it flows easily.


  1. Place the marshmallow creme and butter in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
  2. Stir in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar, mixing well until light and fluffy


  1. Take the cake out of the pan onto a nice flat surface; fold back the parchment paper.
  2. with the large biscuit cutter (2.5 inch) cut cake disks out of the cooled cake and set aside. I usually get 12-13 of these pucks from the cake.
  3. With the small cutter (1 inch) cut the center core out of each puck. Trim the core horizontally into three pieces; a top and bottom piece about 1/4 inch thick and the center piece which can go with the cake scraps. (See Cake Pops and Trifle for using the cake scraps)
  4. Place the bottom piece back into the puck and press it down back into place.
  5. Set the top piece and the cored puck aside until all the pucks are ready.
  6. Put a small amount of ganache onto the bottom piece in the puck; about 1-2 teaspoons. This is easiest with a piping bag. The ganache is to seal the bottom piece back into the puck so the filling doesn’t leak out around the edges of the bottom piece.
  7. After the ganache seal has cooled, pip the core of the puck full of filling up to about 1/4 inch of the top; place the top piece back on the puck.
  8. Place the pucks on a wire rack over a sheet pan to catch the drips. Spoon ganach onto the top of each puck, and smooth it over the edges to run down the sides. So not try to cover the sides at this time
  9. When the top ganache has cooled and hardened, turn the pucks over and repeat the spooning of ganache on the new top side.
  10. With a soft pastry brush, paint ganache onto the sides of the pucks where there has been no run down from the ganache on the top.
  11. Leave at room temperature for the ganache to set completely before serving.

    Here is a photo of the homemade Ding Dong versus the commercially available Ding Dong. I was a little anxious to take the picture before the ganache had set and so you can see which is which by the chocolate streaks.

    dingdong 005

    One of the experiments I tried was using foil instead of parchment paper to line the cake pan; it was a mistake. The cake came out more moist that it should have been, and tore when I tried to cut out the pucks.

    I found that I could heat the heavy cream to a boiling point in the microwave, so I left it in the glass measuring cup and nuked it for 2:20 minutes. Most recipes say to put it into a sauce pan and heat it on the stove; that is just another pan to wash. To reheat the ganache, I nuke it in the microwave for about 15 seconds, and then stir it so the melted sides are mixed with the still cold middle of the container.

    I discovered that in order to paint the sides of the pucks, I needed to leave space between the pucks. So as a result, I actually used two wire racks and sheet pans so the pucks were farther apart. It is important that the ganache flows easily; if it is not warm enough, it tends to be thick and stick more to itself than to the cake. Then, when a Ding Dong is picked up, the ganache wants to stay on the platter.

    At some point in the future, I plan to make cupcakes out of this cake recipe, core and fill them with this filling recipe, and frost them with the chocolate ganache. I think people will be just as happy with them as with these Ding Dongs with chocolate ganache in every bite.

Cake Pops

Lenette 004
When I originally wrote this article, I had not yet taken the Cake Pop Class; today I was making some cake pops and discovered that this aritcle really was bad. So I am editing it (June 2016)

Another great use of the left over cake pieces is in making cake pops. (Or you can make a cake just for this). This first set of photos are from the Decorette Shop where Lenette works, and made these Cake Pops. You can see that cake pops don’t stop with the little round balls on the ends of a stick. Indeed, they can take on all sorts of shapes and decoration. Between Lenette and Marilyn, they got me started; I think I should probably take Lenette’s class on making cake pops because it is obvious that she is quite skilled at it.

My first take on making cake pops is that it is just as hard as making dipped chocolates; first there is the making of the filling, then the melting of the candy melts, and finally bringing it all together. It is a little like dipping chocolates, but easier since the stick provides a good handle.

I am going to be a little vague about quantities in the ingredient list; in my case, I was using the left over cake from making home-made Ding Dongs, and left over chocolate ganache. Lenette says that she uses left over cake from when she levels a cake to flatten it; she just puts the pieces in the freezer and when she has enough and time, goes into Cake Pop mode. Even without taking the class, she gave me plenty of hints on how to proceed; I didn’t use all that she said because I wanted to get the basics down and learn how the candy melts worked. On the non-ball shaped cake pops, Lenette said that you shape the cake before dipping it in the candy melts; I had assumed that you shaped the warm candy melts.

I measured some of the ingredients today, and this is what I know. I used a single 8 inch round cake layer-(1/2 a cake mix box). I crumbled it in the food processor, and then added the ganache. The ganache required 6 ounces of chocolate and 1.5 ounces of heavy cream. (I made it backwards by heating the cream in the microwave, and then adding the chocolate to it; normally you pour the hot cream over the chocolate). In the end, I made 3.5 dozen cake pops. I used my #60 scoop to form the dough balls, and it took 16 ounces of melted chocolate to glue the sticks into the balls, and to cover the balls.

Cake Pops


  • Baked cake- either left over pieces or one made just for this
  • Ganache- that will set up stiff (e.g., ganache recipe below
  • Candy melts- I used 16 oz, for 36 pops
  • Sticks
  • Sprinkles (optional)


  1. Crumble the cake in a food processor, in batches if necessary, and empty into a mixing bowl
  2. Mix into the cake crumbs the ganache; use enough to make the crumbs stick together in a dough ball
  3. Scoop and form into one inch balls; place on a sheet pan temporarily.
  4. Melt the candy melts; do not over heat- treat like chocolate.
  5. For each cake pop, dip the end of a stick in the candy melt and then insert into the cake pop until you feel the end coming through.
  6. Do NOT refrigerate the cake pop dough; that will cause the chocolate in it to shrink. Then, when you dip the cake pop and the candy hardens, it will crack as the dough expands back to room temperature.

  7. Coat the cake pops one by one by dipping into the candy melt and rotating to coat completely.
  8. After coating the cake pops, decorate with sprinkles and other attached items before the candy melt hardens, and stand the cake pop upright in a styrofoam block or top of a box

You can also add other decorations to the cake pop by drizzling with chocolate, or other colors of candy melt.

pops 002

Taking a hint from the Cake Pops I saw at the Decorette shop, I got out the “food marking” pens I used on the marshmallows of the Storm Troopers, and drew faces on many of my Cake Pops.

The ganache that holds the cake pop dough together has to be a very thick ganache. The normal 1 to 1 ganache is not going to work well.

Chocolate Ganache


  • 3 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 12 oz. Candy melts or Chocolate Chips (Semi Sweet and Dark Chocolate seem best)


  1. Put the melts or chips in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream to a boil- but don’t let it boil
  3. Pour the cream into the bowl with the chocolate, et al. Let sit a minute to start melting the melts/chips.
  4. Whisk the mixture until smooth and the melts/chips are all melted.


trifle 004

Sometimes, you have some leftover cake; sometimes, the cake you cooked failed. But in either case, if you have some cake, and want to make a nice dessert, think about a trifle. And of course, you could always just cook a cake planning to make it into a trifle.

I was first introduced to trifles when we were making a birthday cake for Jeff. It was an angel food cake, and for some reason, it didn’t cook right and we had what I thought was a mess, and time to start over. But Marlys said NO. She proceeded to cut the cake up into pieces and make a trifle from cake, whipped cream, and strawberries.

More recently, I have been experimenting with making Ding Dongs. After cutting out the cake circles, there is a lot of cake left over. So I decided to make a trifle. It is chocolate cake, vanilla pudding, strawberries and whip cream.

Basic Trifle Recipe


  • 1 pre-made cake
  • 2 packages of instant pudding (3.4 oz each)
  • 2 lbs fresh fruit or thawed frozen fruit
  • 3/4 cup whipped cream (see Creme Chantilly)
  • 1/3 cup liquid (sherry wine or fruit juice or water)


  1. Prepare the pudding according to its directions.
  2. Mix the drained, prepared fruit with the liquid. Save a few pieces as garnish
  3. Cut the cake into cubes about 1 inch on a side.
  4. Place half the cake in the bottom of the trifle bowl.
  5. Drain and layer half the fruit on top of the cake layer.
  6. Top with half of the pudding mixture.
  7. Repeat layering with the rest of the cake, fruit, and pudding
  8. Top with the whipped cream, and garnish with the saved fruit.
  9. Chill well before serving

There are lots of combinations of cake flavors, pudding flavors and fruit that go together well. I have already mentioned angel food cake and strawberries; in that case, Marlys used more whipped cream for the pudding layer. And this trifle is chocolate cake, vanilla pudding and strawberries. Other ideas:

  • Angel Food cake, mixed pineapple, mangoes, papaya, vanilla or lemon pudding and maybe shredded coconut as a garnish.
  • Spice cake, apple pie filling and custard.
  • white or chocolate cake, sliced bananas, vanilla or custard.

I am certain there are some cake and pudding flavors that would go well with blueberries; if you have a suggestion, please send a reply to this posting so others can see it.