Stout Chocolate Cake

I’ve been waiting to make this cake, and finally it was near valentines day and my sisters birthday-done.  A lover of chocolate and good beer a perfect combination.  The finaI creation with pecans and Carmel whiskey frosting and butter cream frosting on top. I stopped at the liquor store and found a four pack of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, sounds perfect.

This recipe makes three 8 inch cakes, that’s alot of cake. I chopped some pecans and sprinkled them in between the layers with the Carmel Whiskey Frosting. Why stop there, the top layer is chocolate Buttercream frosting. WOW it was like a turtle pecan candy. this cake is so good, must find another reason to make very soon.

Cake Recipe

Stout cake recipe from Epicurious

Carmel Whiskey Frosting

The birthday cake was great, enjoyed with a glass of the Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.

Chocolate Rum Balls

I’ve been thinking about Rum Balls all year, after trying my first Rum Ball at a holiday party last winter. They were bakery bought Rum Balls and I wanted to keep popping those rum balls into my mouth. I made my first batch this season. There are lots of recipes to choose from but I was looking for the most chocolate and rum I could get. I tried this recipe, it’s like baking brownies. As opposed to most recipes that call for wafer cookies. Those did not seem like it would give the richness I am after. Next time I would like to try some of the 90 proof rum I saw at the store. And instead of rolling them in crystal sugar, which was just to sweet and crunchy, try some chocolate shavings.  I have to say the search is still on for a better recipe. Perhaps more of a truffle approach cuz there is still one more batch to make for the holiday party. The quest for rum balls continues.

second attempt at making this recipe, I baked the brownie mixture a little longer to dry it out more in an attempt to add more rum.  This seemed to help, and them added a few more tablespoons rum, which did make it a bit more gooey.  So I took what i had on hand and mixed in another 1/2 cup of Ghirardelli hot chocolate mix. I also used the ghirardelli hot chocolate mix to roll the rum balls in-this was a big improvement on the last batch of rum balls.


  • Vegetable oil, cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside. Melt butter and chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in chocolate mixture, then fold in flour. Pour batter into prepared baking sheet. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until top is shiny and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with some crumbs attached, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Break up brownie into small pieces; transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With machine on low speed, pour in rum, and mix until crumbs start to come together to form a ball.
  4. Shape into 1-inch balls, and roll in sanding sugar to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet; refrigerate, uncovered, until cold, about 2 hours. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

RECIPE: Martha Stewart living


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies are soft cake like cookies with frosting filling sandwiched between the cookies. As you can tell the holidays gets me in the mood to bake and share with friends. So I’m not the only one slacking on the diet, no one likes to snack alone.  These cookies are very rich it is not just a cookie, it’s dessert. A good alternative to a pumpkin pie. Next time I will make them smaller more bite size portions. They should be stored in the refrigerator and best to eat and not let sit around too long. There are many versions of Whoopie Pies, I will need to explore more combinations. Perhaps a brownie with peanut butter filling…mmmm


  • For the Cream-Cheese Filling

    • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies

    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
    • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
    • 2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
  3. Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
  4. Make the filling: Sift confectioner’ sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)
  5. Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a zip lock bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.
RECIPE: Martha Stewart Living

Over Thanksgiving break we went to Chicago for a night and explored the Modern wing of The Art Institute. Great way to spend the rainy afternoon.

Pecan Pie

Thanksgiving was last weekend, which means lots of baking and over eating. Everyone brings their homemade recipes to share. I have been known as the desert girl for many years. This year my mother in-law made this awesome Pecan Pie.  I got to watch and snap a few pictures.  The part I enjoyed the most about this pie was all the chopped up pecans in the pie filling. She demonstrated the crimping of the crust and the careful placement of the pecans on top. It was as tasty as it was pretty. I was doing pretty good, didn’t go for seconds. But when it came to desert that was all I had left in me. It was delicious.

A friend just sent me this link…. now I want some more pecan pie- love it


Pecan Pie Recipe


  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1/2 recipe pie dough
  • 2 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whipped cream, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Place the pastry in a 9-inch pie plate that has been set on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and press it into the bottom edges and along the sides. Trim the pastry using scissors or a sharp paring knife. Crimp or decorate the edges of the pastry, if desired. Transfer to freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.
  2. Coarsely chop 1 1/4 cups pecans; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine eggs granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Whisk to combine. Add dark and light corn syrups, butter, bourbon, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until well combined. Add chopped pecans, and stir to combine. Pour into prepared crust.
  3. Arrange remaining 1 1/4 cups pecan halves decoratively over top of pie. Bake on a Silpat-lined baking sheet until crust is golden, filling is firm, and a cake tester inserted in center of pie comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before slicing. Serve with whipped cream.

Pie Dough


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons ice water


  1. Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream until mixture just begins to hold together.
  2. Shape dough into 2 disks. Wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour to 2 days

Apple Ginger Pie with Cider-Bourban Sauce

When I think of pie, I think my aunt’s thanksgiving pies.  Lined up on grandma’s counter tempting me all evening till dessert.  There was always several to choose from, the classic pumpkin, apple and perhaps a banana cream pie. My aunt makes the best pie crusts they are flakey salty and sweet.  I try to duplicate her recipe but it never seems to come out as good. And I have not mastered the rolling out the dough nice and even.  I did just read a recent tip of rolling out the crust between two pieces of plastic wrap, I will have to try this next time.  I found this classic apple recipe, I have to be honest it had me at Cider-Bourban Sauce. A nice warm slice of apple pie with some sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. mmmm What else says Fall.

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening
  • 7 tablespoons sour cream


  • 3 pounds Pippin apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream

Cider-Bourbon Sauce

  • 5 cups apple cider
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon

For Crust :
Mix flour, sugar, salt and apple pie spice in processor. Add butter and shortening and cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add sour cream and blend in using on/off turns just until dough forms. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Form each half into a ball; flatten into disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

For Filling:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss first 6 ingredients together in bowl.

Roll out 1 dough disk between sheets of plastic wrap to 13-inch round. Peel off top sheet; invert dough into 9 1/2-inch deep-dish glass pie dish. Peel off plastic. Roll out remaining dough disk between sheets of plastic wrap to 13-inch round. Peel off top sheet of plastic. Mound filling in pie dish. Invert dough over filling. Peel off plastic. Pinch edges of dough to seal. Trim excess crust. Crimp edges decoratively. Cut 5 slashes in top of dough to allow steam to escape. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, covering with foil if browning too quickly, about 1 hour.

Let pie stand until just slightly warm, about 1 hour. Serve pie with ice cream and Cider-Bourbon Sauce.

For the cider-bourbon sauce:
Boil apple cider in heavy medium saucepan until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 45 minutes. Add butter and sugar and whisk until butter melts. Boil 3 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat. Whisk in bourbon. Cool sauce completely before serving.

The left over pie crust makes a yummy crust crisp. Melt some butter, smooth over rolled out crust sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and bake till flakey.  Enjoy

Apple slice styled by food stylist Barb Standal.




Cheesecake with Concord Grape Sauce

I inherited a concord grape vine with my perennial garden when we moved into our home. My records estimate it is at least 20 years old. In past years I have made grape juice this time I was looking for something a little more adventurous. This year I have a bountiful harvest of grapes, which I have been diligently plucking off the vines before the neighboring raccoons get to them before me.  Most of the time I enjoy eating the grapes right off the vine, they have a very tart mouth puckering crunch.                                     What to do with all these grapes? I am not a jelly fan and after researching how much time involved peeling and seeding the grapes to make a pie I lost interest. So with a little more research I came up with this concord grape sauce, made with a port wine. Drizzled over a cheesecake it was rich and creamy.

1. Make your favorite cheesecake

2. Concord Grape Sauce                                                                                                                 2/3 cup tawny port or sweet red wine                                                                                     1/2 cup sugar                                                                                                                            2 Tbls fresh lemon juice                                                                                                            4 tps cornstarch                                                                                                                        4 tps water                                                                                                                           Combine juice, cornstarch, and 4 tps water, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Stir       cornstarch mixture into concord grapes, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer 3 minutes or   until mixture is slightly thickened and shiny. Remove from heat, cool to room                         temperature.     Cover and chill. Serve over cheesecake.  enjoy