Category Archives: celebration cakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

chocolate peanut butter cheesecake by

Today is Caroline King v1.0’s birthday – and as I often do, I baked her a cake that I know she would love, even though there are a thousand or so miles between us ūüė¶ If you’re thinking we should ease up on the peanut butter chocolate desserts, you should make one and get back to me.  This cheesecake is PBC perfection!  The crust is so unique – it has loads of chopped chocolate in it, in addition to the chocolate wafers, and then you have the layers of chocolate and peanut butter plus that mouth watering sour of the cheesecake, mind BLOWN!  Even if you just eat a sliver you’ll feel like it’s a LOT because this one is rich deluxe.  HBD 1.0, I love you more than all the peanut butter chocolate desserts the world has to offer (and that’s quite a few!) -CK 2.0


Chocolate Crust
9 ounces chocolate wafers – you can use the outsides of oreos if you can’t find the famous kind which I use most often because they are easier to find)
6 ounces bitter- or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1 cup chips
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still hot

Fudge Layer
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
13 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons  smooth peanut butter (optional)

Cheesecake Layer
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Ganache Topping
1/3 cup heavy or whipping cream
4 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

  1. To make the Chocolate Crust – If planning to use a water bath, double-wrap outside of a 9-inch springform with 3-inch high sides with aluminum foil (heavy-duty if you have it). If you aren’t doing a water bath, still wrap at least once as there is not in existence a springform pan that does not leak that I know of.  In a food processor, blend cookies, chopped chocolate and brown sugar together until finely ground. Drizzle in melted butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down the bowl if needed. Transfer crumbs to prepared pan. Wrap fingers with plastic wrap and press crumb mixture up sides to within 1/2 inch of top, then evenly over bottom of pan. It helps to use the bottom of a cup to even out the bottom layer of your crust.  Chill crust until next step.  IMG_2343
  2. Make fudge layer: Bring cream to simmer in large saucepan. Remove from heat; whisk in chocolate and peanut butter, if using, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour into bottom of chilled crust and spread in an even layer. Freeze until fudge layer is firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. Make cheesecake layer: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar in large bowl until well-blended and fluffy. Beat in sour cream, then eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour over fudge layer that has set in the freezer.
  4. To bake in a water bath: Place foil-wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan large enough to hold it. Fill roasting pan with enough hot water to come 1-inch up the sides of the springform and carefully transfer to middle oven rack.
  5. To bake without a water bath: Place springform on middle baking rack.
  6. Both methods, to bake: Bake cake until slightly firm to the touch and the top appears dry, about 75 to 90 minutes. Cheesecake done times can be very tricky – Deb from Smitten Kitchen recommends this visual guide: The center two inches should only move slightly when pan is gently shaken. Transfer cheesecake to rack in the fridge until fully cool, at least three hours.
  7. Make ganache topping: Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering. Off the heat, whisk in chocolate. Pour on top of chilled cheesecake and spread to the edges. Return cheesecake to the fridge until the ganache sets, about 30 minutes.
  8. To serve: Remove foil from outside cheesecake pan if you have not already. Gently cut around between edge of cheesecake crust and springform pan to make sure it isn‚Äôt sticking. Unhinge the sides. You can serve it on the springform base, or, if you‚Äôre feeling confident, slide a knife gently under the bottom crust to loosen it from the springform base and slide the cake onto a serving plate. Serve in very small wedges.  Cake keeps for a week in the freezer and longer in the freezer.


Recipe (with hardly any changes because she’s a genius) from Smitten Kitchen, Feb 2014

Citrus Poppy Seed Cake

Citrus Poppy Seed Cake by

Every now and then I want to bake a show stopper – something that isn’t easy, and it shows. ¬†I was asked to bring a dessert to a church event and now that I have a pretty well established rep I decided to up my game¬†– and I have to say, this gorgeous Citrus Poppy Seed Cake was greeted with loads of ooh’s and aaah’s, but the real satisfaction came when people tasted it, OUTSTANDING! ¬†I love when a cake is even better than you want it to be. ¬†All the fresh citrus made for such an amazing bright flavor and the cake itself was the perfect texture which is sometimes elusive with from scratch cakes. ¬†Martha’s cream cheese frosting is the ideal¬†combination of sweet and tart and the lemon glaze adds even more incredible flavor and texture. ¬†Yes, it will take you a minute, but TRUST ME, it’s so totally worth it. ¬†I can’t wait to make it again!

For the Cake:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature – plus more for pans
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
7 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon each finely grated lemon, orange and lime zests
1/4 cup poppy seeds

For the Filling:
12 ounces cream cheese room temperature
6 tablespoons butter room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar

For the Toppings:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 small lemons)
poppy seeds for sprinkling
lemon and orange peel, cut into thin strips for garnish

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place two racks in center of oven. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line each with a circle of parchment paper. Butter paper, and dust pans with flour; tap out excess. Set aside. ¬†I didn’t have 8 inch pans so I used 9 inch which meant my bake time was reduced to 25-30 minutes.

  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-low speed until lightened, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat until color has lightened, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating on medium-low speed after each addition until batter is no longer slick but is smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stop to scrape down bowl once or twice so batter will combine well. Beat in vanilla on medium-low speed.

  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Alternately add reserved flour mixture and milk, a little of each at a time, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl once or twice. Beat in lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest, and 1/3 cup poppy seeds.

  5. Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake 35-40 minutes (less if your using 9 inch pans like I did),¬†rotating pans often for even browning. My oven is the pits so I set my timer and switched them around every 7 minutes or the cake on bottom would have burned. ¬†If you have a double oven that’s the best way to go so you don’t have one cake baking so close to the heat – or use convection. ¬†I have neither of those things ūüė¶ Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. ¬†Transfer to wire racks to cool, 15 minutes. Turn out cakes, and set on racks, tops up. Cool completely.

  6. Remove parchment from bottom of each layer. Save best-looking layer for the top. Place one layer on the serving platter. Spread 1 1/2 cups cream-cheese frosting over the top. Place second cake layer on top, and spread remaining 1 1/2 cups frosting over top. Place reserved layer on top. Chill cake, loosely covered with plastic wrap, 1 hour.

  7. To make the lemon glaze whisk together the 2 cups powdered sugar with the 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice until smooth.
  8. To serve, stir lemon glaze well, then pour onto center of top layer of cake, letting it run down the sides. Using a single-hole zester, cut long strips of zest from orange and lemon, if desired. Arrange zest in loose spirals on the top of cake, and sprinkle lightly with poppy seeds.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Cakes cookbook

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze

Chocolate bundt cake with bittersweet ganache glaze by
One thing I love about baking is that it’s something I do with my children and in particular my 6 year old Afton who is quickly becoming a master of the baked arts.  IMG_0803Sometimes I pull out a few books and let her pick what she wants to make which was how this chocolate bundt cake with bittersweet chocolate glaze came about.  It’s such a pretty cake, and on a Sunday afternoon there’s nothing I like better than spending time with my people and churning out delicious sweets.  This one is from my Martha Stewart Cakes book that has been a lot of fun to bake from.  I followed her recipe pretty closely, just increased quantities a little on the ganache glaze and in the future, I might add mini chocolate chips (1.5 cups) to the cake batter, because: obvious.  It was a really flavorful chocolatey cake though, and all the ingredients are on hand which makes it an easy cake when you need to come up with something quickly.  My cutest critic Afton was very pleased with the result and I’m sure you will be too!

For the Cake:
1 cup butter

1 1/2 cup sugar 

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Glaze: 
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped (if you don’t have fancy chocolate, chocolate chips will work fine)
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 and prepare a bundt pan by spraying with baking spray or butter then tap in flour to coat.
  2. Mix your milk and sour cream until combined.  In a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer whip up the butter and sugar until light and fluffy about 3-5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each.  Add vanilla to your butter/sugar/egg mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and mix together.  with your mixer on low alternate adding your dry ingredients and the sour cream/milk mixture in batches beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined (if using add chocolate chips last).  Batter will be thick.  Turn it into your bundt pan and even out the top.
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out completely clean.  Let cool in the pan 5 minutes then put on a cooling rack while you make your glaze.
  5. To make the glaze, heat the cream in a medium saucepan until it just barely starts to boil then take it off the heat and put in your chopped chocolate.  Wait 2-3 minutes then add your butter and whisk until smooth.  If for any reason you still have chocolate chunks heat in the microwave or stove on low until you can whisk it completely smooth.  Let it sit a good 10 minutes or so in order to get a little thicker glaze then pour over the top of your cake and serve.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Cakes cookbook 

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cake

Chocolate Raspberry Heart Cake by

Nothing says “I love you” like a huge chocolate and raspberry heart cake with a ganache center and raspberry cream cheese frosting. ¬†Not only do all these flavors compliment one another brilliantly, but there is a dramatic effect when you take out a slice, it’s like an edible valentine. ¬†I used a large heart shaped cake pan so there was a whole cake per pan, but if you use a small one you can either make two, or have higher cakes that you bake longer. ¬†You could also easily do this in 9-10″ round cake pans, just be sure to put equal amounts in each pan and deliver it with a kiss!

Raspberry Cake;

1 box pillsbury white cake mix

1/2 cup butter melted

2/3 cup raspberry juice (I used frozen raspberries I defrosted then strained)

1/3 cup buttermilk (I enjoy the little bit of sour flavor from the buttermilk, but you can use normal milk too)

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

a few drops red or pink food coloring

Chocolate Cake:

1 box pillsbury devils food cake mix

1 box jello instant chocolate pudding

1/2 cup oil (I use coconut oil, but vegetable oil of any variety will work)

1 cup sour cream

4 eggs

1/2 cup warm water

1 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate Ganache:

1 cup chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

Raspberry Cream Cheese Buttercream:

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese room temperature

1/3 cup butter room temperature

2-3 tablespoons raspberry syrup

1/4 cup milk

7-9 cups powdered sugar

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.  Grease and parchment line your cake pan.
  2. To make the Raspberry Cake mix the Raspberry juice, buttermilk, vanilla ¬†and eggs until combined then add the cake mix and beat just a minute or so. ¬†Last add food coloring until it’s the shade of pink you’re looking for.
  3. Bake time for my large heart pan was only about 22 minutes but doneness is much more important than bake time so bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  Turn out and let cool.
  4. For the chocolate cake combine the cake mix and pudding mix then add the oil and water followed by eggs one at a time mixing after each.  Next add the sour cream and once all the ingredients are incorporated add the chocolate chips.
  5. This is a higher volume cake so I made a 6 inch mini cake with the extra batter because I wanted my layers to come out even. ¬†It’s also a heavier cake so the chocolate should go on the bottom of your stack.
  6. Make the frosting before the ganache because in order to not have your filling bleed into your frosting you need to pipe frosting around the edge of your bottom layer before pouring in your chocolate filling.  Mix butter and cream cheese until a little fluffed and well combined then add your raspberry syrup (I made mine, which is easy, but you can buy it at the store as well).  I like to add powdered sugar and milk alternating until I get the desired texture adding more of either of those ingredients to make your frosting more thick or thin.  Once you have a nice thick but spreadable frosting either use a piping bag or make one with parchment and make a dam around the edge of your bottom cake layer.
  7. To make the ganache melt chocolate chips and heavy cream until smooth, I do this in a Pyrex with my microwave on defrost, but you can also use a saucepan.  Spread on to first layer filling in to where your frosting dam begins.
  8. Put the raspberry cake carefully on top and frost your cake being sure to never touch the cake, only the frosting, so you don’t pull up crumbs.
  9. Enjoy with someone you love! ‚̧ԳŹ



Pink Raspberry Birthday Cake

Pink Raspberry Birthday Cake by twocarolines

My second born just turned 3 years old and her only request was a pink cake. ¬†I quite enjoy cake, but typically “pink” cakes are something I wouldn’t bother eating. ¬†Usually they are flavorless and uninspired next to their chocolate, carrot, or spiced contemporaries. ¬†I made two goals 1.) to create a pink cake I would actually want to eat, and 2.) to make it not only pink but beautifully gradient in 3 tiers all different shades of pink. ¬†I totally achieved my first goal! But as you can see, I failed on my second goal ūüė¶ ¬† I poured my first layer too heavy and opted for a two-tone second layer instead of having them all be different sizes. ¬†Next time I will weigh out my layers to make sure I get 3, but I’m posting this cake anyway because I’m so pleased with how it tastes, it’s the first time I’ve ever been tempted by a pink cake! ¬†The frosting is a mix of a cream cheese and buttercream that is not too crazy sweet, but just perfectly accents the raspberry flavor in the other layers. ¬†I seriously love it – and so did my birthday girl, not that 3 year olds are the most viable critics, but watching her eat this cake with joyous wild abandon was the highlight of my year….so far. ¬†Also, I used cake mix as my base because it makes life easier and unlike cookie or brownie boxes a cake box can be manipulated into something truly delicious.

I will give you instructions for a two tone gradient layer cake, as shown (minus my “medium” pink that was poured into my light pink layer) but feel free to make this into a 3 tone as I originally intended, all you will need to do is use a food scale and dirty some extra bowls as you mix the dark and light layer into a separate bowl creating a medium layer and make sure they are all about the same volume.

Cake Ingredients: 

1 box Pillsbury golden butter cake mix (The brands are not important, but these were the ones I used)

1 box Duncan Hines classic white cake mix

2 cups raspberries yielding 1 cup raspberry juice (you can use frozen, I used some frozen, some fresh, either can give you pretty pink flavorful juice)

2/3 cups butter melted

3 eggs

3 egg whites (reserve yolks for your next cream pie!)

1/4 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup water

red or pink food coloring

Frosting Ingredients: 

3/4 cup butter at room temperature of just softened

6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

1/4 + 3 tablespoons milk

8 cups powdered sugar (more if needed for proper thickness)

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

Make the dark layer:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. ¬†Grease and line with parchment two 9¬†inch cake pans (I used 9 inch this time, but you can use smaller if you’re doing 3 tiers).
  2. If your raspberries are frozen, defrost them in the microwave or on the stove.  Mash up raspberries and strain them through a fine sieve reserving all the juice you can.  Discard the smashed up leftovers.
  3. Mix 1/4 cup buttermilk, 3/4 cup raspberry juice, 1/3 cup melted butter and 3 eggs until well combined then add golden butter cake mix scraping down the bowl.
  4. Add drops of food coloring just a few at a time until you reach the color of pink you want for the first layer.
  5. If making two layers pour into prepared pan, but not too full, only about 3/4 of the way full, use the rest for some extra side cupcakes.  If making 3 layers set aside until your light layer is finished.

Make the light layer:

  1. Mix remaining 1/4 cup raspberry juice and 3/4 cup water with 3 egg whites and 1/3 cup butter (you can also use 1/4 cup oil, but butter tastes better).
  2. Add your classic white cake mix scraping down the sides and mix well.
  3. Add food coloring just a little bit a time until you get desired color.  I put 1/8 teaspoon of coconut extract in this layer, I loved it, but you can easily omit that and still have a great tasting cake.
  4. If making two layers pour into prepared pan being careful you don’t fill your pan too much or it will spill over. ¬†Only about 3/4 the way and use extra for cupcakes on the side.
  5. If making a 3 tier cake, take out your food scale and start mixing your light and dark in a separate bowl until you have one dark, one medium and one light, all about the same volume.

Bake your cakes together if you can get them all on the same rack and if not be sure you rotate them regularly.  Mine took about 29-31 minutes, but I used a large cake pan quite full.  Check at 25 minutes and bake until they are nicely risen and a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Let cool 5 minutes in the pan then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting.


Make the Frosting:

  1. Mix your butter and cream cheese until nicely incorporated.  Add milk,  and start to add powdered sugar scraping down bowl at regular intervals.
  2. Add pinch of salt and vanilla. ¬†If your frosting is too runny add more powdered sugar, if it’s too dry, add more milk. ¬†I think it’s easier to work with if you can refrigerate it for 10 minutes or so before frosting your cake.
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring until you get desired color of pink.

Put your bottom layer on a plate or cake stand and plop a good 1/4 or so of your frosting on top spreading a nice thick layer on top of your bottom layer. ¬†Put your second layer on that and use the rest of your frosting by putting all of it on top of your cake and pressing it out and around the sides with a frosting spatula or a knife being sure to never touch the cake, only the frosting, so you don’t pull up crumbs. ¬†Decorate as you please (not my strongpoint).