Chocolate & Banana Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

While these cookies may sound like they have a lot going on they are essentially just a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. And we all know that peanut butter and chocolate are a match made in heaven. I honestly didn’t get any banana flavor from the banana chips (nor did anyone else who tried them). What the banana chips did offer was an extra crunch to the cookie, which you also get from the peanuts added. If you are looking for that banana flavor though you could add a mashed banana to the dough. Next time I make these though I will be omitting the banana altogether. I honestly don’t think they need that extra layer of flavor.

Chocolate & Banana Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Servings: 12 Large Cookies
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 cup peanut butter

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup roasted & lightly salted peanuts, chopped (plus more for topping)

1/3 cup banana chips, chopped or 1 banana cut into 1/4-inch pieces*

1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (plus more for topping)

*Can omit to make a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In large bowl, using a hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the peanut butter, both sugars and the butter until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue beat until well combined. With the mixer on low add in the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda until just combined. Add in the peanuts, banana chips / banana (if using) and chocolate chips and beat on low until combined.

Using an ice cream scoop (or 1/4 cup measuring cup) drop the dough on the prepared cookie sheets. Pat down the cookies to create 2-inch disks. The dough may be a little sticky. Sprinkle the tops of each cookie with additional chopped peanuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Bake for 10-11, or until the edges are golden but the centers still soft. Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from Christina Tosi

Tres Leches Bundt Cake

Happy Cinco de Mayo! To celebrate the day, I’m sharing a recipe that’s a slight twist on the traditional Tres Leches Cake, a Tres Leches Bundt Cake. I love a good Tres Leches Cake, but I thought that a Bundt version would absorb the tres leches topping a little better so that the cake wouldn’t be as wet. And I was right! One thing though, since the Bundt cake is a bit denser than a regular cake it’s best to pour the tres leches topping over the Bundt cake while it’s still warm and the crumb of the cake is soft. If you wait until the cake is room temperature or cooler the cake will still absorb the topping, but, it will just take a bit longer and it might not spread throughout the cake as well. If that does happen it’s all good as you can use some of the reserved tres leches topping to drizzle over your slice. And while the recipe didn’t call for it, I decided to spruce up the top of the Bundt cake with a little whipped cream and sliced strawberries. It was also a good way to hide the holes I poked in the cake for the topping.

Tres Leches Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 large eggs, at room temperature

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the Tres Leches topping:

1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 12oz. can evaporated milk

1/4 cup whole milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a Bundt pan with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and Kosher salt. Set aside.

Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) on medium speed beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three parts alternating with the milk.

Transfer the batter to the prepared Bundt pan and bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted come out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving dish. While the cake is still warm poke holes into it using a fork or a skewer. Make sure to poke the holes all the way thru the cake.

In a small bowl whisk together the condensed, evaporated and whole milk until well combined. Pour about 3/4 of the mixture over the cake. Make sure you pace pouring the milk mixture over the cake to give it time to be absorbed by the cake. Once the cake has absorbed the milk mixture cover it and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours. Reserve the remaining milk mixture to drizzle over slices of the cake.

Recipe from A Classic Twist

Pretzel Monkey Muffins

I always come across recipes for pretzels that sound amazing and I am tempted to make them, but it never happens. I attempted to make pretzels from scratch once years ago (before I even started blogging) and I must have been scarred by the experience because since then I haven’t tried again. Those pretzels were a complete fail so subconsciously I must be holding on to that. Recently though while scrolling through Instagram I came across a video from Food Network that used refrigerated biscuit dough to make Pretzel Monkey Muffins and I knew I had to try them.

After separating the biscuits, I cut them into quarters…

And then on a lightly floured surface I rolled each piece of dough with a rolling pin to flatten.

Next, I placed about a teaspoon of shredded cheddar cheese in the center of each dough piece and pinched it closed.

Here’s the one step from making traditional pretzels I couldn’t avoid. I boiled each of the dough balls in a pot of boiling water with baking soda & Kosher salt for about 30 seconds, until they were slightly puffed. I was concerned that they would open while they were in the hot water but none of them did. I did have to do a major cleaning of my stove afterwards since I had so much residue from the steam of the water.  

Next, I sprayed 8 cups of a 12-cup cupcake tin with baking spray and placed three dough balls in each. I then sprinkled each with an additional teaspoon of shredded cheddar cheese and topped each with the remaining dough balls.

After brushing each with an egg wash and sprinkling them with salt I baked them in a 400 F preheated oven for 15 minutes (per the instructions). When I took them out of the oven they did have a nice color to them, but, they looked slightly undercooked in certain spots and I didn’t like how moist the areas where the dough balls stuck together seemed. So, I placed them back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so…

And then they had the golden brown hue of a traditional pretzel. Trust me, they weren’t burnt! They were delish on their own but even better with a dollop of honey mustard to dip into.

Some things to note about these muffins though… They are best enjoyed the day they are made and within an hour or two of making them. They really didn’t reheat that well. They would be the perfect snack for a game night or such.

Pretzel Monkey Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup baking soda

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 16.3-oz tube of refrigerated biscuit dough (not flaky)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Flour, for dusting

1 egg

Coarse salt, for sprinkling*

Honey Mustard, for serving

*can use Kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large pot add 8 cups of water along with the baking soda and Kosher salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Separate the biscuits and cut each one into quarters. Lightly flour a work surface and roll each quarter with a rolling pin until flattened, about 3 inches. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the shredded cheese in the center of each flattened dough piece and pinch closed.

Once the water is boiling, working in batches, boil the dough balls, flipping once, until they are slightly puffed. Using a slotted spoon remove them from the water and place on the parchment lined baking sheet.

Spray 8-cups of a 12-cup cupcake tin with non-stick spray. In a small bowl beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water.

Add 3 balls of dough to the bottom of each prepared cupcake cup. Top each with an additional teaspoon of shredded cheese and place the remaining dough balls on top of each. Brush each with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Cool slightly before removing from the pan. Serve with honey mustard sauce.

Recipe from Food Network

Spice Market Carrot Cake

I’ve been using the same recipe for carrot cake for years. It’s a basic recipe with the only add-in being walnuts. No pineapple, coconut and/or raisins that you find in some recipes, but it’s delicious and moist nonetheless. I did try a different recipe a year or two ago and it just wasn’t that good. One of the reasons it never made it on here. I recently came across a recipe though that was completely different from any one I had seen before, a Spice Market Carrot Cake, that I instantly knew I wanted to try. I decided to make it for Easter this year. Which led me to wonder why is carrot cake so popular for Easter? Does it have anything to do with rabbits and their affinity to carrots? While I couldn’t find a definitive answer, I did learn this tidbit…  Carrot cake became popular in the 1970’s during the dieting craze. People apparently thought that by using carrots in a cake it would make the dessert seem healthier. I can get behind that. It’s like the theory that chocolate is a vegetable (some say fruit) since it’s a product of the cacao bean.

So, what makes the Spice Market Carrot Cake so special? It has a Moroccan-inspired flair thanks to the addition of ras el hanout – a Moroccan spice blend – and dried fruit (for the cake I made I went with apricots, but, you could use pitted dates instead).  Thankfully I didn’t need to go in search of ras el hanout and was able to make the blend myself using allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric and nutmeg. And to top the cake off, a twist on the traditional cream cheese frosting that I personally think is the best frosting for carrot cake, a Ginger-Orange Cream Cheese Frosting that includes ground ginger and the zest and juice of an orange.

This cake was a hit! All the flavors worked well together, and while I normally love nuts in my desserts, especially walnuts, I didn’t miss them one bit in this cake!

Spice Market Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon ras el hanout*

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten

3 cups (1 lb.) finely shredded carrots

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup honey

1 cup chopped apricots

For the Frosting:

1 orange – remove 2 teaspoons of zest and squeeze for 2 tablespoons of juice

1 8oz package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 – 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

*To make the ras el hanout stir together 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon & turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon each of black pepper, coriander, nutmeg and allspice.  

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 3 8-inch round baking pans with baking spray.

To make the cake: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, ras el hanout, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl stir together the eggs, carrots, oil and honey.

Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined and then stir in the chopped apricots. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and then bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

I like to wrap my cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight before frosting, but, you can frost them once they are completely cooled.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the orange juice and ground ginger and continue beating until both are incorporate. Switch the speed to low and gradually add in 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar. Continue beating until well incorporated. Gradually add in an additional 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is spreadable. Stir in zest.

Frost and stack the cakes and then decorate as desired. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens

Semi-Homemade Almond Croissants

One of my favorite pastries are Almond Croissants. I also love just a plain old croissant as well. I’ve looked at recipes to make both and while they don’t seem complicated, it’s just so much easier to buy them. Well, plain croissants that is. You can pretty much get them at any supermarket that has a bakery. Granted, some are better than others. Whereas I find that Almond Croissants can only be found at certain bakeries or cafés and unfortunately, they aren’t always that good. I have tried to make pseudo Almond Croissants with crescent rolls and almond paste and it was a total fail. Well, a fail in the taste department. They did look good. Recently though I came across a recipe for Almond Croissants that started off by using store-bought (or homemade if you are so inclined) croissants and were doctored with a delicious almond filling. I had high hopes for them. They were starting off with an actual croissant and filled with an almond filling that included almonds and almond paste – the more almond flavor the better. And I must say, they didn’t disappoint. These would be a great addition to your Easter brunch this weekend and could really impress your guests!

After getting a good batch of croissants…

I started off by making the filling for them. In the bowl of my food processor I pulsed toasted sliced almonds until they were finely ground. I then added in almond paste and sugar and processed the mixture until it resembled fine meal. Finally, I added in an egg, Amaretto, vanilla extract and salt and processed everything until it was smooth and creamy. As it was the mixture is too loose to spread on the croissants, so, I transferred the mixture to an airtight container, covered and refrigerated it overnight. The following day I let it sit at room temperature uncovered so it could get to the right consistency.

Once the almond filling was ready it was time to prep the croissants. I sliced each of them horizontally and spread a few tablespoons of the almond filling on the bottom of each cut half and arranged them on a large baking sheet.

Next, I topped them with the top half of the croissants and spread about a tablespoon of the remaining almond filling on top of each. I then pressed about a tablespoon of sliced almonds on each.

I baked them in a 375F preheated oven for about 8 minutes. After letting them cool for about 15 minutes I sifted confectioners’ sugar on top of them.

These were delicious, just as good and possibly better than any decent Almond Croissant I have gotten at a bakery or café.

Semi-Homemade Almond Croissants

Ingredients:

8 large store-bought croissants

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, divided

7 ounces almond paste*, broken into small pieces

1/3 cup sugar

1 large egg

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon Amaretto**

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

*Depending on the brand you purchase, you could also use 8 ounces.

**The original recipe called for brandy

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread 1 cup of the sliced almonds in an even layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Tossing the almonds at the halfway point. Let them cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor add the toasted almonds and pulse until finely ground, about 12 pulses. Add the almond paste and sugar and process the mixture until it resembles fine meal, about 15 seconds. Add the egg, butter, brandy, vanilla extract and salt and process the mixture until it is smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is firm, at least 30 minutes and up to 4 days. If you opt to refrigerate the mixture for more than 30 minutes, let it sit at room temperature uncovered for 15 to 30 minutes before using.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Slice each of the croissants in half horizontally. Spread 2 tablespoons of the almond paste mixture on the cut side of each bottom. Top with the top half of the croissant and place on a large baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining croissants. Spread about a tablespoon of the remaining almond paste mixture on each croissant top and then gently press the remaining sliced almonds onto it (about a tablespoon per croissant). Bake in the preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the almonds turn a light golden brown. Let the croissants cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

The croissants are best eaten the day they are made, but, can be stored in an airtight container for 1-2 days.

Recipe from Food & Wine

Almond Tiramisu

If you love the flavor of a Good Humor Toasted Almond Bar you are going to love this dessert. The recipe calls it a Toasted Almond Cream Cake but I am calling it an Almond Tiramisu since the ingredients and assembly are quite similar. Where it differs is that instead of dipping the ladyfingers in a coffee mixture you dip them in a milk mixture that contains Amaretto. You can use any type of milk that you like as well. As with your traditional Tiramisu this one also has a layer of mascarpone cream, it’s just given an extra almond flavor kick with almond extract and some more Amaretto. There’s also a layer of coarsely chopped almond slices and Amaretti cookies, that also get used for the topping.

When you slice into it, you can see those perfect layers of deliciousness that you get from any Tiramisu… The layers of ladyfingers and cream.

Looking for more variations on Tiramisu. Check out these recipes:

Salted Caramel Tiramisu

Pumpkin Gingersnap Tiramisu

Pumpkin Tiramisu

White Chocolate Blackberry Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Tiramisu Pudding Cakes

Tiramisu Cheesecake

Almond Tiramisu

Ingredients:

7oz. package of Ladyfingers – about 24 cookies

Mascarpone Cream:

8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur

Amaretti Topping:

20 Amaretti cookies*

1/2 cup sliced almonds

Dipping Mixture:

1 1/2 cups milk**

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur

*If you can’t find Amaretti cookies, you can substitute with almond cookies or biscotti

**I used whole milk, but you can substitute with the milk of your choice

Directions:

In the bowl of a food processor add the Amaretti cookies and the sliced almonds and pulse until both are coarsely chopped. Set aside.

Mascarpone Cream: In a medium bowl stir together the mascarpone and almond extract until well combined. In another bowl beat the heavy cream along with the sugar, vanilla extract and Amaretto with hand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Fold a quarter of the whipped cream mixture into the mascarpone mixture until incorporated. Continue to fold in the whipped cream mixture in batches until the two are well combined and no streaks remain. Set aside.

Dipping Mixture: In a shallow bowl combine the ingredients for the dipping mixture and whisk together.

To Assemble: Dip the rounded side of half of the ladyfingers in the dipping mixture and then arrange them in the bottom of an 8 x 8 – inch square baking dish. Top with half of the mascarpone cream and then sprinkle with Amaretti / almond mixture. Repeat the layers once more, ending the remaining Amaretti / almond mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Slice into squares to serve.

Recipe from Mangia Bene Pasta

One Bowl Baked Oatmeal

My go-to breakfast as of late has been 2 slices of wheat bread with peanut butter along with a bowl of fruits and veggies. On the weekend’s I cheat a little and the peanut butter becomes butter with a schmear of jam on top. I’ve been wanting to cut back on eating so much bread though and was trying to think of something else that would be quick and filling to eat. I used to eat hard-boiled eggs, but sometimes they become a little hard to swallow. And while I love oatmeal, I just don’t feel like making it every day and I haven’t gotten my measurements just right to make a big batch over the weekend to have for the week. I finally found something though that is delicious, healthy, and filling… Baked Oatmeal. I made this on a Sunday afternoon and I had breakfast for the entire week. I just heated in the microwave for about :45 seconds before enjoying. The first time I made it I used frozen mixed berries and the second time, a diced apple. Both versions were equally delicious.

A couple things to note about the recipe below, for the applesauce, instead of buying a large jar I opted to buy a 6-pack of individual servings and just used 1 to make the oatmeal. Instead of maple syrup you could use an equal amount of brown sugar. If you want a little crunch to your oatmeal squares you could top the oatmeal with a 1/2 cup of chopped nuts of your choosing before baking. The possibilities are endless so you don’t have to worry about getting bored quickly eating the same thing every day.

One Bowl Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups milk (of your choice)

2 large eggs

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce*

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups fruit of your choice (e.g.: mixed berries (fresh or frozen – do not thaw), diced apple, bananas, etc.)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×9 – inch backing dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients and whisk together until well incorporated. Pour into the prepared dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the center appears just set. The oatmeal will be soft. If you want your oatmeal to be drier and more solid, bake it until the center is set.

Cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Cover leftovers and refrigerate for 1 week.

Recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Pie

Happy Pi Day! Last year for Pi Day I made a delicious Peanut Butter & Chocolate Mousse Pie, this year, coincidentally, I made another mousse pie in honor of the day, a White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Pie. So, how did I come up with this flavor? Well, while brainstorming for a pie flavor to make I decided to make a spin on my favorite cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory, a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. The end result, a delicious take on my favorite cheesecake that’s much lighter and doesn’t require baking (except for the crust that is).

I will say, I did have some concerns about making this pie. I opted to use gelatin to set the mousse and I was concerned about two things happening; that it would give the pie a weird texture and/or that it wouldn’t work and that the pie wouldn’t set. Neither happened I am happy to say. I did leave the pie out of the fridge for a little too long and it got a little too soft, but, placing it back in the refrigerator solved that problem quickly.

White Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Pie

Ingredients:

For the crust:

24 Oreos

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Raspberry Sauce:

12oz. fresh raspberries

3 teaspoons water, divided

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons sugar

For the White Chocolate Mousse:

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided

6 oz. white chocolate, chopped*

For the whipped cream topping:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon Confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Don’t use white chocolate chips, they don’t melt the same as white chocolate and you will end up with a mousse that isn’t smooth.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with non-stick spray and set aside.

For the Oreo Crust: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the Oreos until they are fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times to combine. Transfer to the prepared pie dish and press the crumbs in an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the Raspberry Sauce: In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of the water, set aside. In a small saucepan combine the raspberries, the remaining teaspoon of water and sugar over medium heat. Stir and mash the raspberries. Once the mixture begins to simmer stir in the cornstarch mixture. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and allow the sauce to cool completely.

For the White Chocolate Mousse: In a medium saucepan add the orange juice and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let this sit for 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat over low heat stirring until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the chopped white chocolate and continue to stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for a few minutes before refrigerating. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened but isn’t set. Beat the remaining 3/4 cup of the heavy cream until stiff peaks form and then gently fold into the white chocolate mixture.

To assemble: Spoon half of the white chocolate mousse into the cooled Oreo crust and drizzle with the cooled raspberry sauce. Repeat with the remaining white chocolate mousse and more of the raspberry sauce (you want to leave some of the raspberry sauce to drizzle on top once you top the pie with whipped cream). Using a toothpick swirl the sauce into the mousse. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Before serving, make the whipped cream. Combine the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (or to a resealable bag and snip off the corner) and pipe dollops of the whipped cream along the edges of the pie. Finish by drizzling the remaining raspberry sauce over the whipped cream.

Keep the pie refrigerated until serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Granny Square Cardigan

While I’ve been crocheting for over 10 years it wasn’t until recently that I learned how to make a granny square. A little backwards since learning how to make a granny square is usually one of the first things you learn to make when you start crocheting. When you are pretty much self-taught though you learn things as you go and as you need. So, why did I finally learn? Well, I was asked if I could make a granny square cardigan and since I am always up for a challenge and I like to learn new things I said yes.

First though I had to learn how to make a granny square. Once I found a pattern that was simple enough to follow I used some extra yarn from my stash to test it out a few times to make sure I had the hang of it.

Next, I had to finalize the colors. The person who I was making it for had a color scheme in mind from a cardigan they already saw. They were looking for pastel colors so after going back and forth with different options she decided on the colors below.

Now, the fun part. I started making the granny squares. I made a few and sent her a picture to make sure she liked the colors once they were all put together.

Once I got the greenlight that those looked good I went ahead and continued to crochet more. Truth be told I didn’t have an exact pattern to follow for how many squares I needed. I looked at various patterns and pictures to get an idea. I knew that I had to make the equivalent to a size medium. From doing my research I initially went with making 30 squares and I placed them in the layout below. I had a feeling that it wasn’t completely right but I decided to move on to another part of the cardigan… the sleeves.

Normally with granny square cardigans the sleeves are made using granny squares as well, but, the person I was making it for requested the sleeves to be solid white and they didn’t want them to be granny squares. So, more research. I knew that when it came to making sleeves they needed to be tapered to accommodate a wider upper arm to a narrower wrist. But, I didn’t want to just wing it and start crocheting. I was able find a sweater pattern that had the sleeves broken down exactly as I needed them. The width on top was perfect to be placed in the center of two specific granny squares. I also went ahead and crocheted two additional squares and placed them in the empty spaces I had.

I started seaming together the squares for the back of the cardigan but I still had my doubts about the layout. It just didn’t seem like it was going to fit correctly.

I ended up crocheting four more granny squares and added an additional row to the back of the cardigan so it would sit better. I then finished seaming all the other squares together and then attached the arms and seamed them together. I tried it on and it fit perfectly.

And finally, I crocheted a border around the entire cardigan to give it a more finished look.

I am happy to say that the person I made this for was very happy with it. I may make one for myself one of these days!

Strawberry Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner you may be on hunt for a pink or red dessert. You can always turn to a tried and true Red Velvet cake but what about something a little different like a Strawberry Cake. Now, strawberry cake can pose some issues. Basically, how to get the strawberry flavor into the cake without it ending up being a soggy mess thanks to the extra moisture of the strawberries. You could dice up some strawberries and add them to your batter, but, that’s not really a strawberry cake. There’s also the option of reducing the strawberries into a syrup and then incorporating that into your batter. But, a much more simpler way is to use freeze-dried strawberries. For this cake, I simply processed the strawberries in my food processor to turn them into a powder that I then incorporated with the rest of my dry ingredients.

Once my batter was ready I decided to bake it in a 6-inch heart pan. If you don’t have a heart pan on hand you can bake it in a 6-inch round cake pan instead. You could also do an 8-inch pan, but, your cake won’t have as much height to it and you will also have to adjust your baking time.

Typically, most strawberry cakes are topped with a strawberry buttercream. I opted not to do that for one simple reason. I only had enough freeze-dried strawberries to make the cake! So, I did a little brainstorming and thought that a Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting would work well with the cake. I came up with a frosting that still has the flavor of cream cheese with just the right amount of lemon. I literally could eat this frosting by the spoonful.

To frost the cake, I decided to go a little fancy and use a small star tip to decorate and then sprinkled some Valentine’s Day sprinkles around the perimeter.

And I am happy to say that the cake and frosting worked well together! You can’t tell from the picture, but, my cake was a very light pink. If you want a cake with a deeper pink or red hue you can add in some food coloring once you are done making the batter to get to the color you want.

Strawberry Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

For The Cake:

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 oz. freeze dried strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

1/4 cup milk, at room temperature

1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

1 8oz. block cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 6-inch pan with baking spray or coat with butter and then dust with flour.

Using a food processor pulse the strawberries into a powder. 

Whisk together the strawberry powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add in the sour cream, milk, lemon zest & vanilla and continue mixing until well combined. Add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Frosting:

Using a handheld mixer (or stand mixer) beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth and creamy. With the mixer speed on low add in the sugar until well incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and add in the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla extract until all incorporated.

%d bloggers like this: