Sticky Banana Toffee Pudding

Happy Mardi Gras! I am making our traditional King Cake today, but I thought that this dessert could also be an appropriate celebratory option. It reminded me of a New Orleans bread pudding with some of the flavors of Bananas Foster, another famous New Orleans dessert.

The recipe was part of a Food and Wine magazine article, contributed by Laura Rege, titled “Ugly Delicious!” The author makes the point that a lot of delicious food isn’t Instagram drool-worthy. I didn’t really think that this dessert was that ugly, but it was delicious! 🙂

Yield: Serves 9

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided, plus more for greasing
 (I used cooking oil spray for greasing)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 6 ounces pitted dates, chopped (1 cup)
 (I used Medjool dates)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 medium-size overripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • unsweetened whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection. Grease a 9-inch square metal cake pan with butter or cooking oil spray.
  2. In a small heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water over the dates; stir in the baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat 1/4 cup of the butter with 3/4 cup of the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  6. At low-speed, beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
  7. Add the date mixture and bananas, and beat at low-speed until just combined.
  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, the remaining 1/4 cup of butter, and the remaining 1 cup of brown sugar. Bring to a gentle boil over moderate heat, and cook until slightly thickened and deep golden, about 3 minutes. Keep warm.
  10. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Using a skewer or toothpick, poke holes all over the cake.
  11. Pour half of the warm sauce over the cake, and let stand until absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  12. Serve warm with the remaining sauce and the whipped cream.

One Year Ago: Pear & Cranberry Pie

Two Years Ago: My Mother-in-Law’s Napoleon Torte

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:


11th Birthday Rainbow Sprinkle “Fluffy” the Unicorn Cake

We try to be as fair as possible in our house…

So, while I’m sharing birthday treats, I am going to have to share my daughter’s 11th birthday cake too. Her birthday was in November! (I’m very behind on my posts…)

The bright side of having my daughter turn 11-years old was that she was mature enough to choose going to a Broadway show over having a birthday party. 🙂 We saw Aladdin!

The down side of having my daughter turn 11-years old was that she was mature enough to browse Pinterest for birthday cake ideas. 😉

Her Pinterest search resulted in another Universal Studios inspired birthday dessert. (We actually celebrated her birthday before having my son’s Harry Potter World Butterbeer Cupcakes, so maybe she actually inspired his dessert choice!) It was a very unicorn-themed day, complete with unicorn pajamas, unicorn slippers, and many horn “accessories” for other animals. 🙂

I used the Rainbow Sprinkle Cake recipe that we enjoyed last year on her birthday to create a “Fluffy” the Unicorn cake. It just makes sense that a unicorn cake involve rainbows in some way. For those of you who don’t know, this unicorn is from the Despicable Me and Minions movies. I doubled the recipe to make 2 1-pound loaves of cake for the head and body. I also made 4 cupcakes for the legs using the same batter.

The eyes, ears, and tongue were made using dough from my batch of unicorn and “11” Number Cookies. The horn was made with molded rice krispie treats. I also used rice krispie treats to support the position of the head. Rainbow candy was used for the mane and tail- this was a subtle but fun deviation from the actual unicorn from the movies. Pretty cute! 🙂

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup/220 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), slightly softened, more for pans
  • 3 cups/380 grams all-purpose flour, more for pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/3 cups/316 ml whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups/400 grams sugar
  • 2 whole eggs plus 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup rainbow sprinkles (not pastel, or naturally colored)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 24 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1 1/2 cups/330 grams unsalted butter (3 sticks), slightly softened
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • 9 cups/900 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Decorations:

  • sugar cookie eyes, ears, and tongue
  • rice krispie treats (store-bought or homemade)
  • gold sprinkles
  • “air head” rainbow candy
  • red gel food coloring
  • chocolate chips

  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, and place a rack in the center.
  2. Butter and line the bottoms of two 1-pound loaf pans with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides, then tap out any excess flour. Coat 4 muffin pan wells with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together milk and vanilla.
  5. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add egg and whites and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  7. Add half the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating to blend after each addition.
  8. Scrape down bowl and blend once more.
  9. Remove bowl and use a spatula or spoon to fold in sprinkles by hand.
  10. Fill the 4 prepared muffin pan wells about 2/3 full. Bake until the a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 16 minutes.
  11. Divide remaining batter evenly between the pans (approximately 1190 g per pan), and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking.
  12. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 to 4 hours, before turning out.
  13. Make the frosting: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, butter and salt together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  14. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add sugar and beat until smooth.
  15. Beat in vanilla just until incorporated.
  16. Taste frosting; you should be able to taste the cream cheese and a little bit of saltiness, as well as the sweetness. If desired, add more salt or sugar. Keep refrigerated.
  17. Turn cooled cakes out of pans.
  18. Slice loaves in half and spread icing between the layers.
  19. Place cakes on a platter positioned as a head and body. (I made a support ramp with rice krispie treats.)
  20. Using an offset spatula, frost the top surface as a crumb coat.
  21. Form the horn with one rice krispie treat, ice and cover with gold sprinkles. (I microwaved the rice krispie treat for 10 seconds to make it easier to mold. I also coated my hands with cooking spray!)
  22. Refrigerate until firm.
  23. Using a pastry bag and a star tip, place remaining frosting all over the cake.
  24. Color remaining frosting pink and ice the cupcake legs/feet. Top the cupcakes with sugar cookie and place on the cake.
  25. Decorate with cookie eyes, ears, and tongue.
  26. Pipe the pink decorative stripe on the snout.
  27. Using melted chocolate, pipe the nostrils.
  28. Using a star pastry tip, fill in the “fluffy” fur with the frosting over the head and body.
  29. Use either remaining pink frosting or rainbow candy, form the mane and tail.
  30. Refrigerate cake 30 minutes or longer to set. Serve cool.

One Year Ago: Rainbow Sprinkle Cake & a Festive “Candy Shop” Themed Birthday Party

Two Years Ago: Pig Party!

Three Years Ago: Birthday Red Velvet “Owl” Cupcakes

Four Years Ago: The Best Birthday Cupcakes  &  Apple Layer Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

Five Years Ago: Birthday Cake Gallery

Snickerdoodle Crumb Bars

I am drawn to cinnamon-sugary desserts in the fall. Especially if streusel is involved. 🙂 I wanted to bake this snickerdoodle-coffee cake hybrid dessert the second I saw the recipe. I was not disappointed! These cookie bars are not only delicious, they are versatile as well. They could be served for a special breakfast, snack, or dessert.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. We ate them for dessert. They were extra-fabulous served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For the Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), cut into pieces

For the Topping:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the Bars:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for dish
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

  1. Make the Streusel: Whisk together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut in butter until small to medium clumps form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Make the Topping: Stir together cinnamon and granulated sugar; set aside.
  3. Make the Bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter parchment. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  4. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, both sugars, and eggs. Add flour mixture; stir to combine.
  6. Spread half of batter into bottom of dish.
  7. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon sugar.
  8. Dollop remaining batter on top; spread evenly with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  9. Sprinkle evenly with streusel, then remaining cinnamon sugar.
  10. Bake until a tester inserted in middle comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes in a convection oven, or 30 to 35 minutes in a standard oven.
  11. Let cool completely. (In order to keep the layers intact, the cake must be completely cool before cutting it into bars.)
  12. Transfer to a cutting board using parchment overhang and cut into bars to serve, or store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

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Easy Baked Cake Doughnuts

We seem to have less and less time to enjoy special breakfasts in my house. 😩 Overscheduled and overbooked, I’m afraid… Thankfully, we’ve made time to enjoy these baked doughnuts on a few occasions. Eating cake for breakfast makes up for less frequent indulgences!

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. My pans made smaller doughnuts, so I adapted the cooking time. I made the vanilla glazed and powdered sugar-coated versions but included recipes for cinnamon-sugar coated, as well as for chocolate and apple cider glazes. I won’t stop until I’ve tried them all. 🙂 Such a treat!

Yield: 20 doughnuts

For the Doughnuts:

  • 4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 11. 25 oz (319 g or 2 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • cinnamon-sugar, Confectioners’ sugar, or assorted glazes
  • sprinkles, toasted coconut, or chopped nuts, for topping, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F, preferably on convection. Lightly grease two doughnut pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, beating to combine.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the lightly greased doughnut pans, filling the wells to about 1/4″ shy of the rim. (I filled each well with 2 small cookie scoops of batter.)
  7. Bake the doughnuts for 7 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 minutes before turning them out of the pans onto a rack.
  8. Finish with desired coating, glaze, and/or topping, as desired.
  9. For frosted doughnuts, see the three easy doughnut glazes (recipe below). Sprinkle the glazed doughnuts with sprinkles, toasted coconut, or chopped nuts, if desired.

For Cinnamon Sugar-Coated Doughnuts:

  1. For cinnamon doughnuts, shake warm doughnuts in a plastic bag with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup cinnamon-sugar.
Three Easy Doughnut Glazes: 
Yield: about 1/2 cup glaze each

For the Vanilla Glaze:

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Stir the ingredients together, adding extra liquid or confectioners’ sugar to adjust the consistency as needed.
  2. Dip top of doughnuts in glaze, or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Melt the ingredients together over low heat or in the microwave, stirring often. Add extra corn syrup if needed to make a smooth, shiny glaze.
  2. Dip top of doughnuts in glaze, or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

For the Apple Cider Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons bottled boiled cider
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 cup Confectioners’ or glazing sugar
  1. Stir all of the ingredients together, adding additional sugar or cream if needed to make the glaze the consistency of molasses.
  2. Dip top of doughnuts in glaze, or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

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Skillet Graham Cake with Peaches & Blueberries

I have been looking for an excuse to make this skillet cake since last summer. Graham crackers… peaches and blueberries… streusel topping… and baked in a cast iron skillet? Irresistible. I finally had to make it after having too many ripe peaches on the counter. 😉 What an excuse!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chicago chef Stephanie Izard. (I have loved her since she won Top Chef.) The cake is baked on the grill in the original recipe. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Streusel:

Make the Streusel:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat all of the ingredients together at medium speed until crumbs form.
  2. Press together to form a large mass.
  3. Transfer to ‹a bowl and break into clumps.
  4. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
Prepare the Fruit:
  1. Preheat an oven to  300° F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches with the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  3. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat.
  4. Scrape the fruit and any juices into the skillet.
Make the Cake:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk both flours with the graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with both sugars and the honey at medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the dry ingredients until just smooth.
  5. Spread the batter in the skillet in an even layer.
  6. Scatter the streusel evenly on top.
  7. Place the skillet on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until ‹a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. (The cake is cooked off of the heat in a grill for the same amount of time in the original recipe.)
  8. Let the cake cool for 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

I’m bringing my special skillet cake to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #184, co-hosted by Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook and Petra @ Food Eat Love. Enjoy!

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Crumb Cake Muffin Tops

I have another special summer breakfast recipe to share- although I’m sure I’ll be making these year-round. 🙂 I have to make sure that I put my Mother’s Day muffin top pan to good use!

Everyone in my house absolutely loves crumb cake. The genius of making crumb cake in a muffin top form is portion control (which we need!) as well as a reduced baking time. This recipe was slightly adapted from Serious; I incorporated whole wheat flour. This recipe would also work in a standard muffin pan, of course. Fabulous!

Yield: 12 muffin tops

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1 percent milk)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, optional

To Make the Cake:

  1. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. Grease muffin top pan with cooking oil spray.
  2. Whisk sugar, salt, melted butter, and oil in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk in egg, milk, sour cream, and vanilla.
  4. Stir flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl.
  5. Whisk into wet mixture until just combined.

To Make the Crumb Topping:

  1. Whisk flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl until combined.
  2. Add melted butter and vanilla, and toss with fingers until the mixture forms moist crumbs.
  3. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into each cup and spread evenly.
  4. Sprinkle with crumb mixture.
  5. Bake until light golden and cakes are just firm, about 15 minutes.
  6. Let cakes cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.
  7. Dust with Confectioners’ sugar, as desired.

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GĂąteau de CrĂȘpes

This incredible cake was a truly a Father’s Day tribute. I made it for my husband to celebrate what an amazing dad he is to our kids. ❀ We enjoyed it after spending the day at a gorgeous New York State Park, Planting Fields Arboretum.

Making a crĂȘpe cake was also a memorial to my dad. When I was growing up, my dad made crĂȘpes on Sundays for breakfast and he taught me how to make them. When my family brought me to college in Boston, we went downtown to a beautiful Williams-Sonoma and my dad selected crĂȘpe pans to give me as a “going away to school gift.” I treasure them.

I also built the cake on a special cake plate that once belonged to my French grandparents. ❀

I’ve wanted to make a crĂȘpe cake for quite some time. My food-blog friends Suzanne and Mimi inspired me to finally make this fabulous dessert. Thanks, ladies! 🙂 This recipe is from the New York Times, via Smitten The original recipe adapted the batter from ”Joy of Cooking” and the pastry cream from ”Desserts,” by Pierre Herme and Dorie Greenspan. I omitted the Kirsch, made the crepes in advance, and increased the sugar in the filling.

I’m sharing this special dessert at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #178. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 12

For the CrĂȘpe Batter:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch salt

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter

For Assembly:

  • vegetable oil, such as canola or corn
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or more ( I used 4 T in the cream plus 2 T for brĂ»lĂ©e)
  • 3 tablespoons Kirsch, optional
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, optional (if not doing brĂ»lĂ©e)

The day before serving, make the crĂȘpe batter and the pastry cream.

To Make the Batter:

  1. In a small pan, cook the butter until brown like hazelnuts. Set aside.
  2. In another small pan, heat the milk until steaming; allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. In a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Slowly add the hot milk and browned butter.
  4. Pour into a container with a spout, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To Make the Pastry Cream:

  1. Bring the milk with the vanilla bean (and scrapings) to a boil, then set aside for 10 minutes; remove bean.
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside a small bowl that can hold the finished pastry cream and be placed in this ice bath.
  3. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch.
  4. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then place pan over high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Press the pastry cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the small bowl.
  6. Set the bowl in the ice bath and stir until the temperature reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  7. Stir in the butter. When completely cool, cover and refrigerate.

To Make the CrĂȘpes & Assemble the Cake (the next day):

  1. Bring the batter to room temperature.
  2. Place a nonstick or seasoned 9-inch crĂȘpe pan over medium heat. Swab the surface with the oil (I used a brush), then add about 3 tablespoons batter and swirl to cover the surface.
  3. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 minute, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crĂȘpe with your fingers or a thin metal spatula. Cook on the other side for no longer than 5 seconds.
  4. Flip the crĂȘpe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat until you have 20 perfect crĂȘpes. (I made 22 crĂȘpes.) Note: I tightly wrapped the crĂȘpes in plastic wrap and refrigerated them for several hours before assembling the cake.
  5. Pass the pastry cream through a sieve once more.
  6. Whip the heavy cream with the 1-4 T sugar and the Kirsch, if using. It won’t hold peaks.
  7. Fold it into the pastry cream.
  8. Lay 1 crĂȘpe on a cake plate.
  9. Using an icing spatula, completely cover with a thin layer of pastry cream (about 1/4 cup).
  10. Cover with a crĂȘpe and repeat to make a stack of 20 (or 22!), with the best-looking crĂȘpe on top.
  11. Chill for at least 2 hours. Set out for 30 minutes before serving.
  12. If you have a blowtorch for creme brulee, sprinkle the top crĂȘpe with 2 tablespoons sugar and caramelize with the torch; otherwise, dust with confectioners’ sugar. Slice like a cake.

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