Vanilla Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting


This recipe started not with the cupcakes, as a matter of fact, but with the frosting. A while ago I was in charge of bringing a dessert to a big family dinner. I was planning on making a strawberry tart…except the pastry cream didn’t set. It didn’t set. And with approximately five minutes until I had to leave the house, I had an empty (and still slightly warm) tart shell, a handful of strawberries, and a bowlful of soupy milk that was definitely not pastry cream.

It was at this point that I remembered this instant chocolate mousse, and with some very enthusiastic yelling from my sister, whisked enough cocoa powder, sugar, and milk together to make a pretty decent tart filling. And then it occurred to me the next day…this might make a pretty decent cupcake frosting too.


Turns out it makes an even better than decent cupcake frosting; in fact, it’s thick and smooth and rich enough to be pretty similar to chocolate ganache, except a whole lot easier to make and probably better for you too.

As for the cupcakes, the only giveaway that they’re any healthier than most is that slightly darker coloring from the coconut sugar. Otherwise they’re just as light and fluffy and moist as any regular recipe, but much more high vibe.


I don’t make a lot of cupcakes, much less over the top ones like so many others, and I’m definitely not too skilled at decorating them. These aren’t “Strawberry Margarita Cinco De Mayo” cupcakes or “Death by Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl with Cinnamon Cookie Crumb” cupcakes either. They’re just a plain vanilla cupcake with a dreamy chocolate frosting, and I’m just gonna stop there.

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Straight Up Blueberry Pie


During the Olympics one year, my 1st grade class had a little competition. Every student picked a country, hung a construction paper version of their flag from the ceiling, and each time that country won a medal, they got to glue a little gold, silver, or bronze circle onto the back. Naturally, I picked Greece as my country. The only problem?

It was the Winter Olympics.

My poor little flag hung bare for the entire two weeks. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure the lucky little punk who wound up with the USA had to start putting medals on the front of their flag because they ran out of room.

This Olympics is much more fun. I hope you’re watching. Are you watching? You better be watching.


I’m trying to think about how to tie in blueberry pie to the most famous international sports competition in the world, and as I type this I realize I absolutely should have added strawberries for some hard core red-white-and-blue action. Dammit.

Even with just blueberries, though, this pie is stellar.

(But if you make this in the next week and a half, you really should add the strawberries)


It’s a pretty standard fruit pie recipe: berries, sugar to taste, cornstarch to thicken, some lemon for brightness, and a pinch of cinnamon for a little something extra. Nothing unnecessary, or any funky ingredient to throw you off. It’s just a straight up blueberry pie, and it’s a classic.

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So it turns out glass bowls are not heatproof. I feel like this is something I definitely should have known… yet I still found myself with a shattered pile of glass and a saucepan full of eggs, sugar, and the leftover water from a double boiler still simmering away while trying to make this cake.

Just add it to the long(ish) list of kitchen utensils I’ve ruined attempting to bake.


As you can see, round two was much more successful. This was my first time making a cake in a 6-inch pan, and it made me wonder why I’ve taken so long to downsize. It’s so much more practical when there aren’t a ton of people to feed! Not to mention very cute.

There aren’t really too many plain cake recipes like this around here because, truth be told, I don’t make them that often. I come from much more of a pie family, and I can hardly remember ever making an actual cake to celebrate a birthday. But! Then I read about a Hot Milk Cake, which sounded so exciting I decided I had to try it.

Turns out making a Hot Milk Cake is almost exactly like making most cakes…but that cake turns out pretty freaking delicious so it’s okay with me.


I was originally going to top this with some plain whipped cream, buuuuuut we didn’t have any, so greek yogurt frosting it was. The trick here is to add a bit of coconut oil, which typically isn’t present in greek yogurt frosting. But it makes the frosting that much richer and firms up in the fridge, creating a much thicker icing to top your cake. All that’s left to do is throw on a handful of blueberries (or really, any other berry you can get your hands on), and you’re all set!

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Easier Than Pie Plum Crumble


Pies are fun. They really are. I like making them and I like eating them. But good grief sometimes they’re just a hassle. Making two crusts and chilling them and trying to keep the bottom crust from getting soggy. Then rolling and crimping and egg washing. Much easier to just dump some oats on top of your fruit and call it a day.

In fact, if you don’t make a crumble this summer, you’re wrong.


Buy a bunch of stone fruits. Chop them up and cover them with oats and throw them in the oven. Fire up the grill. Set the table outside. Scoop too big servings of crumble. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

That last one is mandatory. Just FYI.


What you’re going to do is toss together some sliced plums (or other stone fruit of your choice) in a pie plate– no need to dirty an extra bowl. Add some sugar for a bit of sweetness, lemon and cinnamon for flavor, and cornstarch to thicken things up so your filling isn’t runny. Top it all with a mix of oats, walnuts, and honey. It’s like pie…except a whole heck of a lot easier.


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Magic 3 Ingredient Instant Chocolate Mousse


I apologize that this recipe looks almost exactly like the espresso granita I posted a few weeks ago.

Except actually no I don’t because it’s magical and incredible and you deserve to have it in your life right now.

There’s something to be said for quick, on-the-fly recipes that put dessert in your stomach in less time than it takes to preheat an oven. This mousse, however, might be the most ultimate version around. Because literally all you do is stir together cocoa powder (splurge on the good stuff!), sugar, and almond milk. Throw in a pinch of salt if you feel like it.

And that’s it. No chilling required, no heating on the stove top or even in the microwave. You don’t need to dirty a whisk if you don’t feel like it, and you can forget about needing a food processor or blender. I told you– magic.


There are a lot of ways I could describe this mousse, most of them slightly uncomfortable. Thick, luscious, dreamy, rich, decadent… I think you get the picture. It’s as good if not better than any other kind I’ve had. Basically, it’s a dream! Both taste-wise and preparation-wise.

A quick note: this is a very dark, chocolatey mousse that’s just barely sweet. Feel free to add more sugar than what’s called for if you want to sweeten it further. Also, because there are so few ingredients, the cocoa powder you choose will determine the ultimate flavor of your dessert. So pick a good quality kind! (I got mine from the bulk bin section at Whole Foods, just a heads up).


The following recipe makes two servings, enough for you and a friend… or just you. But you can easily scale up to feed a crowd!

This takes approximately 5 seconds to make and uses ingredients you likely already have around. In other words, you have no excuse not to make this right now.

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Strawberry Cardamom Upside Down Cake


When I tell people about my sister (like the fact that half of my wardrobe is made up of clothes I’ve stolen from her, or that she terrifies me, or that she’s far better at doing her makeup and hair than I can ever be, or that she never calls), they assume she’s older than me.

She’s not.

She’s fifteen. She’s fifteen, but she’s the oldest fifteen you’ll ever come across. I once told her that sometimes I think she acts more grown up than I do. Her response was a knowing smile, a metaphorical pat on the hand, and a superior, “Sometimes I think that too.”


Usually at the beginning of the summer, we go strawberry picking. By this, I mean I pick strawberries while she complains about the heat and gives me a recap of all the juicy school drama from the past year. It’s something we didn’t get the chance to do this year, meaning this cake was made with frozen store-bought strawberries. Next year, though, I’ll make sure that I make it from a crap ton of fresh lowcountry strawberries instead (so mark your calendar, Hali).


Thanks to those (frozen) strawberries, this cake is juicy and sweet and needs very little in the way of toppings. In fact, the only addition I’d really suggest is a dollop of whipped cream (because when is that ever not a good idea). The base of the cake itself gets most of its moisture from greek yogurt, a heavy lifting baking ingredient that goes a long way in preventing your cake from drying out without letting it get gummy. The real key, however, is the cardamom. It’s one of my all time favorite spices, in that it’s so unexpected. Earthy and bright, it’s the perfect compliment to those summery berries. And it’s guaranteed to make whoever tries a slice ask “Now what exactly is that flavor…?”

It’s cardamom, hon. You’re welcome.

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But wait, there’s more…


Espresso Granita with Coconut Whipped Cream


Since the last time we talked, I have:

Written 40 pages for a paper about pie; survived a week of exams; become a college senior; turned 21 (bring on the booze!); eaten an official Hot Brown in Louisville; and moved to Cleveland! (for the summer).

One thing I have not done? Baked, with the occasional exception (including making an apple pie OUT OF RITZ CRACKERS. It fooled everyone and is now my new party trick). I didn’t even get to make myself a birthday cake, even though I’ve had Alice Medrich’s pistachio cake bookmarked since September.


And to be honest, I’m not entirely sure if this granita counts as baking. It’s so ridiculously easy and turns out as one of the most refreshing things you could enjoy on a hot summer day. I’ve only made granita once before, and haven’t really given it a second thought since until the other day, when a dude started chatting all about his trip to Rome and raving about the espresso granita he had there.  And then, armed with a lingering Starbucks giftcard, I knew I had to make it.

(PS: Unless you have your own espresso maker, the 2 cups worth of espresso you’ll need for this recipe is kinda pricey. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine you could also just use some super strongly brewed coffee instead.)


This granita is a sweet, cold, bitter mess that remains pretty for all of two seconds before your spoon digs in and that beautifully whipped cream becomes stained brown and runny from the coffee, but you don’t care because it’s basically like you took your favorite latte and turned it into a grown up frozen dessert that has so much more coffee flavor than you could ask of your typical ice cream cone.

That’s the most offensive run on sentence I’ve ever written but I honestly don’t care.

Make this make this make this. It’s way more simple than making your own ice cream and far superior to your morning cup of coffee. Promise.

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Key Lime Curd


Omg omg omg. If you’ve ever taken a peek at the About page over to your right —> or have picked up on random references throughout my posts, then you’ll know that I go to school at UNC. As in, the very same school that is competing for a national championship tonight.

As you are reading this, I’m probably both hyperventilating and excessively sweating (even if you opened this post as 7am when it was published)(…because I’ve been awake since 5:30 to stake out tickets to watch the game at a bar tonight). The point is, I’m a hot mess. A nervous, bumbling hot mess who is probably going to swear way too much tonight (sorry Mom) and wind up crying either from happiness or devastation.

Which is the main reason I made sure to post today. Because whatever happens tonight, there’s no way I’m going to care AT ALL about anything related to baking for the rest of this week. And this curd is just way too good to keep to myself for that long.


A little over a year ago, I made lemon curd and fell in love. So I have no idea why it took more than twelve months for me to swap out the lemon for key limes. And now that I have made the switch, I’m kicking myself for waiting this long before letting this beautiful substance into my life.

This stuff is basically spreadable key lime pie. Except it’s a whole lot quicker to make and you don’t even have to bother with a crust. It’s super tangy and packs quite the punch, so a little goes a long way too.

At least, you’ll think that a little goes a long way. Until you start eating a spoonful straight from the fridge every time you enter the kitchen and you realize that once full jar of curd is dwindling alarmingly fast.

Good thing it only takes ten minutes to make some more!


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go resist the urge to throw up from nerves and remind myself that losing tonight would not be a good reason to drop out of school and give up on everything in my life.

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