Pound Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 Vanilla bean

4 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract

1 cup buttermilk


Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter pan using a paper towel to spread the butter evenly.  In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Beat together butter and sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed (I use setting 4 on KitchenAid mixer) until pale and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla and lemon extract until well combined. At low speed (“stir” setting on KitchenAid mixer) add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing and spreading evenly. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake until the tip of a knife or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan 1 hour, then invert onto a rack and cool completely, about 1 hour more.


Vanilla Bean Glaze


1 vanilla bean, split and scraped OR 1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste – 4 oz

2-3 tablespoons whole milk

approximately 1 cup confectioners’ sugar


Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into whole milk. Let sit in a spouted container, such as a large pyrex measuring cup, for about an hour. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually, whisking, until you get desired consistency–about 1 cup. You want to make sure that it’s not too runny, or it won’t dry white on the cake, and will run off too quickly. It should take a few seconds to whisk it, and it will feel too thick at first–keep whisking until you get desired thickness. If too thick, add a teaspoon or so of the vanilla milk.

Once the cake has cooled, drizzle glaze over top.


Adapted from: Sweetapolita (http://sweetapolita.com/2011/03/vanilla-bean-bundt-cake-with-vanilla-bean-glaze/)


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Slutty Blondies

A couple of months ago I shared a recipe for Slutty Brownies which I thought were the best thing since sliced bread.  But some people don’t love chocolate like I do (amazing right?) so I decided to come up with the blondie version of this yummy treat.  I’m sure there are probably many different versions out there, and maybe I’m a little biased, but I really like mine.  It has some of my favorites; toffee and butterscotch.  But you can definitely play around with the recipe and add nuts or white chocolate if you like.

The blondie mix is a bit thick than regular brownie mix to be sure that you have enough to cover the top layer.  You want to avoid spreading the batter too much and moving it around over the layer of oreo cookies.



  • 2 packages premade sugar cookie mix, room temperature
  • 2 package vanilla oreos
  • 18 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 3 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a buttered 9×13-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and mix, scraping down sides of bowl, until well combined. Mix in butterscotch and toffee; set aside.
  4. Spread sugar cookie batter on bottom of pan, about 1/4 inch thick.  Layer vanilla oreos on top of the sugar cookie batter.  One layer is enough.
  5. Pour blondie batter into prepared pan; spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into blondies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.



Slightly adapted from: Martha Stewart  (http://www.marthastewart.com/336130/butterscotch-blondies)


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Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

It’s kind of funny when I make these cookies everyone loves them and always asks for the recipe.  Little do they know it’s on every package of Nestle chocolate chip bags in the store!  I’ve included some tips that I’ve learned along the way but really it’s just a basic cookie recipe.  Adding toffee was something I came up with one day after finding a bag of toffee chips in the cabinet.  I figured, hey why not?  And a star was born.


Makes about 3 dozen



  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup toffee chips


Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until pale and creamy. On the Kitchen Aid mixer I use speed 4 four about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate and toffee chips.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop by rounded scoops onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. I usually bake for exactly 10 minutes so their still browned but will be soft once they cool.  Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Make sure you don’t let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for more than 2 minutes because the bottoms will continue to cook and become hard.


Slightly adapted from Nestle Toll House: http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18476/Original-NESTL%C3%89-TOLL-HOUSE-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies/detail.aspx


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Classic cheescake with strawberries & blueberries

Believe it or not I did not eat cheesecake until I went to college.  And of all the places I could have tried, it was Walmart’s cheesecake that got me hooked.  I know, I know…who goes to Walmart for cheesecake right?  But they must have had somebody’s grandma in the back making this stuff from scratch because it tasted so good that I had to make one myself.  That was over 10 years ago and I haven’t made another cheesecake since, even though I’ve eaten plenty.  It’s one of those things that I always intended to make but never got around to.  So I figured the Fourth of July holiday was a perfect time to make this pretty cake.

This cheesecake is just what the names says, a classic.  The texture and flavor are perfect and the crust is just right.



For the crust:

1-1/2 cups HONEY MAID Graham Cracker Crumbs

3 Tbsp. sugar

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted


For the cheesecake:

4 pkg. (8 oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

4  eggs



Preheat oven to 325°F.  Mix graham crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.  Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.  Bake 55 min. or until center is almost set. Loosen cake from rim of pan; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Top with fresh berries.



Adapted from: Kraft Foods, http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/philadelphia-classic-cheesecake-52544.aspx


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Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Love Snickerdoodle cookies? Well the cookie has been transformed into a yummy cupcake for our enjoyment by the lovely folks at Martha Stewart (or maybe Martha Stewart herself!).  As you all know I love cupcakes so adding cinnamon and sugar is a heavenly combination.  I ate two before I shared with my family, you know just to test them out, and they completely live up to the original treat.

I’m usually in the kitchen by myself trying new recipes but I was so excited when my younger cousin came over and offered to help me make cupcakes.  What’s even better is these cupcakes have simple ingredients and you should be able to make them with what’s in your cabinets.



For cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

For frosting: 

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature



For cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
  4. To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (Ateco No. 809 or Wilton No. 1A), pipe frosting on each cupcake: Hold bag over cupcake with tip just above top, and squeeze to create a dome of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

For frosting:

  1. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.
  3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.


Source:  http://www.marthastewart.com/316419/snickerdoodle-cupcakes


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Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

I have a confession, I used to hate mint chocolate.  I’m not a fan of Thin Mints, or Frango Mints or Andes.  I always felt like I was eating toothpaste!  But when I asked my friend and owner Shayna of Lizzie Lu Sweets in Atlanta to share one of her recipes I figured maybe, just maybe since it’s in cupcake form I might like it.  Cupcakes make everything taste better right?  Well I am proud to say that I am a changed woman because these cupcakes definitely have just the right amount of mint so it’s not too overpowering but you can still taste (and enjoy) the chocolate flavor.  And if you love mint then these are just right for you.  These cupcakes are a hit every time I make them.  I usually pair them with White chocolate cream cheese, regular cream cheese or vanilla buttercream frosting.

*Please note I have made some changes and the recipe below has been slightly adapted from the original. 


Yield: Makes about 24 cupcakes


For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup mint chocolate chips divided
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • 2 ½  cups, plus 5 tbsp of cake flour (do NOT sift!)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 ½  cups water

For the Frosting:

  • 4 ounces white chocolate
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For garnish:

  • Andes mints
  • Edible pearls

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners (24 total).  Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and ½ cup mint chocolate chips and butter together in a double boiler over low heat.  If you don’t have an actual double boiler you can simply use a glass bowl that will fit over the top of a sauce pan.  Melt the chocolate in the bowl stirring frequently.  Be careful not to let the water touch the actual bowl or to boil.  Pour melted chocolate into mixing bowl.  Add eggs, vanilla extract, mint extract and water and stir until blended.

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In a separate bowl combine sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.  Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the mixing bowl and blend on medium speed for about 30 seconds.  Repeat this twice with 1/3 of the mixture until well blended.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

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To make the frosting beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Mix in white chocolate and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until the mixture is fluffy on high speed for 3 minutes. Mix in heavy cream.  Frost the cupcakes as desired and top with 1/2 of Andes candy cut diagonally and edible pearls for decoration.


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Homemade Apple Pie

This recipe is very simple so feel free to improvise and add your own twist to it.  And don’t forget to post a pic of your creation!




1/2 cup sugar1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

7 cups thinly sliced pared apples

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 Pastry for double-crust pie (9 inches)

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 egg white

Additional sugar




In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and spices; set aside. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice. Add sugar mixture; toss well to coat. Line a 9-in. pie pan with half the pastry. Place apple filling into crust; dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry to fit top of pie. Cut a few slits in top. beat egg white until foamy; brush over pastry. Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes. Increase temperature to 400 degrees F and bake 10-15 minutes more or until golden.


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Slutty Brownies

Anyone who knows me in real life knows I LOVE chocolate.  I could probably do without candy like skittles and starbursts but I absolutely have to have chocolate at least a few times a week.  So during one of my major cravings I found the recipe for Slutty Brownies and the name had me from jump!

Basically it’s one layer of chocolate chip cookie dough, oreo cookies and brownie mix all baked together to form one deliciously sinful treat. I thought to myself what could be better than three of my favorite desserts together and why didn’t I think of this before!!  I know it may seem like cheating since everything is not made from scratch but hey sometimes you need something quick without a lot of fuss.  Well I’m glad I found the recipe so I could share it with all of my NCJ Peeps 🙂

Since this was my first time making them I had to “test taste” them right out of the oven and when I tell you they were good…that doesn’t even begin to describe it!  Luckily I was by myself because I’m sure me wolfing down that brownie was not a pretty sight.  After I realized how good slutty brownies were I knew I had to get them out of the house or else I might eat the whole pan.  So I brought them for my friends and coworkers…just sharing the love/calories!  The only thing that could have made it more perfect would have been a big bowl of vanilla ice cream.  Mmm…maybe I should make just a small pan this weekend 🙂

Yield: 1 9×9 brownie pan

Serving Size: 16 brownies per recipe




For the Brownie layer: 2 packages of Betty Crocker brownie mix prepared according to the package

For the Oreo layer:1 package of Oreo cookies, regular

For the Cookie Dough layer: 2 roles of Nestle Tollhouse cookie dough



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan with tin foil and then spray the tin foil with a layer of baking spray.
  3. Layer about 3/4 of the cookie dough on the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan, pressing down to form the bottom of the slutty brownies.  Feel free to add the remaining dough if you want a thicker layer like I did.
  4. Layer as many oreos that will fit on top of the cookie dough. No need to overlap. One single layer will do. If the oreos do not fit all the way around the edges of the pay, cut them to fit inside the pan so as much of the cookie dough is covered as possible.
  5. Pour the brownie batter on top of the oreo layer and make sure it’s evenly layers on top. You might have extra batter so just pour enough so that you end of with a smooth layer on top.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Test with a tooth pick or knife to see if the center is done. If the knife comes out clean, let the brownies rest before serving. If the knife comes out with batter still on it, allow the brownies to bake about 5 minutes more.
  7. Serve with ice cream 🙂


Source: What’s Gaby Cooking (http://whatsgabycooking.com/slutty-brownies/)


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Lemon Bars with Raspberry Puree

The inspiration for these came from a friend’s “Dessert & Cocktails” party I catered.  These taste delicious by themselves but to spruce it up like my picture, you can add some raspberry puree which we made with whipped cream vodka, frozen raspberries and sugar.



For the crust:

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed.
  3. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
  4. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
  5. For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
  6. Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.


Source: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-bars-recipe/index.html)


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Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake

Vanilla Cake Ingredients

  •  5 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup whole milk at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes


1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed for 30 seconds.

4. Add the butter and remaining 1/2 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.

5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.

6. Pour batter into cupcake cups and fill half way.

7. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not overbake. Check cake at 17 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before icing.


Strawberry frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup frozen whole strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch coarse salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract


1. Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy.

3. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners’ sugar; beat until well combined.

4. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not over mix, or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

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