A weekend of surprises & some seriously amazing cake


Happy Monday!

hokey pokey


How was your Thanksgiving holiday?

Did you eat too much?  Did you score any amazing deals on Black Friday?

What about today – are you a Cyber Monday kind of person?

My weekend was full of surprises!

Thing 2 and I were getting ready to head out on Friday – yes, I know I don’t DO Black Friday but my fuzzy crew needed food.

Clearly, I need to work on my planning because I totally could have made sure we had enough pet food before the holiday hit.

Anyway, we were getting ready to go – okay, I was getting ready to go…Thing 2 suddenly wanted to “wait about 30 minutes.”

What the heck?


And then ….


Thing 1 was there!!!

Pretty awesome surprise, if you ask me. 🙂

So, we hung out for a bit, went to lunch, did a few errands (I actually braved the Wal-Mart! Crazy, I know!), and chatted and watched tv.


Then, on Saturday, Thing 2 and I made a surprise trip to see MY folks and my grandmother!




I even baked a Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze to take with me!

My grandmother LOVES chocolate. And, I love my grandmother so….

The best part of the surprise was the fact that my mother called me while we were 5 minutes away from their house.

She wanted a picture of Thing 2 for her frame she was taking to work.


Okay, I think we can handle that!

5 minutes later, Thing 2 is knocking on her front door!

It was pretty spectacular.

I love that we were able to do that. 🙂



So, let’s talk about that cake. 🙂

Like I said, my grandmother loves chocolate and when I saw this cake recipe from Food and Wine, I knew I had to surprise her with it.

Bundt cakes can often be heavy and overwhelming but this one was light, moist, and decadent without being overpowering.

In fact, it was pretty amazing.

Om nom nom!


Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze
makes 10-12 servings (depending on how big you make the slices)

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee (I used Italian Roast)
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add half the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk, whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee, and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.

3. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake in the lower 1/3 of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. (Mine took 42 minutes so, depending on how hot your oven gets, I would start checking at 40 minutes. You don’t want an overdone cake!) Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out and let it cool completely.

4. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.

5. Pour the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes before serving.

6. Share with family and friends!


Question: When do you put your Christmas tree up? Are you an “immediately after Thanksgiving” person or do you wait a little longer?

We normally wait – mostly because I get frustrated with the mess it makes – but we came home yesterday to a surprise! My sailor had dug the tree out of our packed with boxes garage and put it up! Honestly, I’m really glad he did that. It looks awesome where he put it and I’m happy it’s up. 🙂

– jennifer

It’s my birthday and I’ll bake if I want to – a lightened up Harvey Wallbanger cake!

Hello, hello!

I hope everyone is enjoying the weekend! I sure am – today’s my birthday!

Yep, I’m 29…. again. 🙂


So, I woke up to this.


And then, when I took the doggies out, I was gifted with this!


I just knew it was going to be a great day. 🙂

In case you forgot, today was supposed to be the day I went for a Boston qualifying time in the Tupelo marathon. Well, because of my injury, obviously THAT didn’t happen but I did get out for a run this morning.


See what I did there? My tiny tribute to the marathon I couldn’t be a part of. It felt great this morning and I’m looking forward to starting my training program for Mississippi Blues in January. Whoop!

So, I decided that I wanted a Harvey Wallbanger cake for my birthday. I haven’t had one of those in ages! My mom used to make them.

What’s a Harvey Wallbanger? Well, it’s a cocktail made with orange juice, vodka, and Galliano liqueur. Yum! And those ingredients go both in the cake and the glaze!

Yes, my mother contributed to the delinquency of a minor and fed me drunk cake. It’s fine. Apparently, I wasn’t a fan then. Psshtt, what did I know? This cake is delicious!


Anywho, I wasn’t truly the baker of this cake.

I was more like the supervisor.


I’ve been teaching Ginny to cook and she’s been teaching me to supervise. 🙂

My sailor made this cake!


I taught him some baking secrets and he did all the work.  He did a great job!

We changed up the ingredients a little from the original recipe because, well, that’s what I do and I wanted to see if I could lighten it up a little. And, it’s my birthday. I get what I want.

So, we substituted some Greek yogurt for the butter, applesauce for the oil, and used 1 egg white in place of a regular egg (the recipe calls for 4).

And the results are AMAZING!

So moist, so flavorful and absolutely fantastic.

I made a good choice.

In both the cake and the man who baked it for me. 🙂


Harvey Wallbanger Cake

1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, and 6 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plain applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs (or 3 eggs and 1 egg white)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup Galliano*
1/4 cup vodka
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon Galliano
1 teaspoon vodka

*look for miniature bottles of Galliano at your liquor store. Otherwise, you’re going to end up spending $30 on a HUGE bottle and then you need to figure out what, besides a Harvey Wallbanger, you can make to drink with it. Or you can buy the whole bottle and have fun figuring out what, besides a Harvey Wallbanger, you can make to drink with it. 🙂

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-cup Bundt® pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, butter and salt until fluffy. Beat in the oil, then the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg completely disappears before adding the next one.

3. In a measuring cup, stir together the orange juice, Galliano, vodka, and orange zest. If everything’s cold, warm it for 30 seconds in the microwave.

4. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a separate bowl.

5. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture to the mixing bowl, mixing until it disappears. Scrape the mixing bowl.

6. Add the fresh orange zest with half the liquid. After it’s combined, add another third of the dry, the rest of the wet, mix, scrape, add the last of the dry ingredients and beat until the batter is smooth with one last scrape down for good measure. Now transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and smooth out the top.

7. Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes (don’t let it go too long, or it will get dry). The top will bounce back when you touch it lightly with your finger, and a tester or toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it in its pan for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, use a dull knife or pointed icing spatula to loosen the cake from the edge of the pan.

8. For the glaze, whisk the orange juice, vodka, and Galliano together until smooth. The glaze will seem a little thick, but that’s how it should be. Drizzle it over the cake while it’s still lukewarm. The heat from the cake will help the glaze travel over the cake and make a nice, smooth finish.

9. Om nom nom!



1. What’s your favorite birthday dessert?  Are you a traditional cake person or do you like to mix it up and do something different?

2. Have you ever had a Harvey Wallbanger cake? Have you ever baked with liquor?

– jennifer

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Heaven…cake

Today is one of my favorite days. It’s I Love Reese’s Day! Okay, seriously, I love Reese’s EVERY day but today I get to celebrate it loud and proud. AND, calories don’t count today! Woot! (Yes, I made that up. It’s cool. Roll with it.)

So, because I’m a total nerd and I have this day marked on my calendar, I’ve been planning how I was going to celebrate. I didn’t want to just eat a Reese’s – which would have been FABULOUS! – but, seeing as this is Thing 1’s last weekend home before she heads off to boot camp (!), I really needed to go big. It’s not every day your firstborn sets off to chart her own course. (Yes, pun intended. Remember, I’m a nerd.) 🙂 I decided to make my own version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in cake form. Yeah, you read that right. It’s ON up in this joint!


I found quite a few recipes for peanut butter chocolate cakes – CLEARLY, I am not the only fan of that combination! – and I decided to mesh two together. I already had a recipe for an amazing chocolate cake – Devil’s Food Cake – thank you Food and Wine magazine! That would be the jumping point for my creation. Add peanut butter mousse and a chocolate peanut butter ganache (found the recipe on Serious Eats and it comes from Yvonne Ruperti) and you’ve got heaven on a plate.


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Heaven … Cake

Classic Devil’s Food Cake
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk or sour cream, at room temperature

Peanut Butter Mousse
8 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup (3 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 cup heavy cream

Peanut Butter Ganache
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 bag Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup minis, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the paper.

2. In a bowl, sift the cake flour with the cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluggy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in the vanilla. Stir in half of the dry ingredients, then the buttermilk. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients until just blended.

3. Scrape 1/3 of the batter into the one pan and 2/3 of the batter into the other prepared pan and smooth the surfaces. Bake the cakes for 20-30 minutes, respectively, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then turn out the cakes and let them cool completely.

4. For the Peanut Butter Mousse: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese with sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until creamy and light, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Switch to whip attachment and beat cream on high speed to stiff but not dry peaks. Fold cream into peanut butter mixture. Keep chilled until ready to use.

5. Slice the larger of the two cakes into two layers. Place on serving plate and stack cake layers with peanut butter mousse. Keep chilled until ganache is ready to use.

6. For the Peanut Butter Ganache: Using the microwave or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, heat the chocolate and cream until melted and smooth. Gently whisk in peanut butter. Chill until just firm enough to frost, about 30 minutes. Frost cake and serve.

7. No, you have not died and gone to heaven. 🙂


– jennifer