21st Birthday Cake

Baking date: May 20, 2017

The 21st birthday for my friend Lou’s daughter was celebrated at the Springfield Manor Winery and Distillery. Lou had reserved a large table, ordered sangrias, wines and food, and even secured a stretch limo to get us all to and from the venue safely. The party guests included good friends and family:

Ladies at the table (1)

All the ladies

a number of which were mothers/daughters that Lana (the birthday girl) had grown up with:

Moms and daughters

I have known Lana and her mom for many years – our sons have played baseball together for 8 years, and basketball a number of years. So — of course — a special cake was my gift to the birthday girl. Her mom told me chocolate on chocolate was good. And her favorite color is blue.

I made both the one bowl chocolate cake and the chocolate ganache frosting from scratch, which included cocoa powder. The very same cocoa powder that fell out of the cabinet at one point. The top popped off and the cocoa powder ended up all over my mixer. I’ll bet this shit never happens to Martha Stewart.


For the decorations on top of the cake, I hand-piped a two and a one using bright white candy melts. I covered the numbers with royal blue sugar. I piped on bursts of the ganache and set the “2” and the “1” into the ganache.

Using a very small star tip, I piped Lana’s name in script using the ganache. I then placed blue sugar pearls in the center of each small burst.

Around the top edge of the cake, I piped shells using star tip #21. Inside the shells, I filled in with large blue and white sugar crystals.


Around the base of the cake, I piped on bursts of ganache and placed a white sugar pearls in the center of each burst.


Happy 21st birthday, sweet Lana. And thanks for having me be part of your special celebration!



Get Well Soon Chocolate Lasagna

Baking date: April 29, 2017

Friends we met through baseball years ago have a daughter who I made Sweet Sixteen cupcakes for last year, a son the same age as our oldest who hit the first grand slam on the travel baseball team, and a youngest son who played baseball with our youngest, before our youngest moved on to lacrosse.

The youngest had to have emergency surgery in April, so a get well treat was in order. After checking with his mom to make sure their were no doctor-ordered dietary restrictions, I opted for a chocolate lasagna.

I used some of the leftover chocolate buttercream frosting from a peanut butter cake I had made the previous week to pipe on the get well message and a border around the top edge.

Here’s the finished product:


And here’s the sweet note I received from him after dropping the dessert off and sending his mom some pictures of him from the basketball team this season to help cheer him up.


Get well soon, Andrew!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Baking date: February 19, 2017

For my son Alex’s 15th birthday, I made cupcakes for his basketball team to enjoy after their weekend game. When I asked what he wanted, his one-word response was ‘chocolate’.

I have an easy chocolate ganache frosting recipe that I wanted to use, but I also wanted something more than a box mix. I turned to Pinterest, and found a recipe for One Bowl Chocolate Cake. Homemade and easy? I’m in!

The cake was very easy to make.  For the frosting, I used a 1M tip to apply it to the cupcake. I was under a time crunch and didn’t really let the ganache set enough before piping, so my fancy swirls drooped!

I finished off the cupcakes with Wilton Short Stack Blue Nonpareils Sprinkles and Betty Crocker white cupcake gems sprinkled on top, for the team colors.


In spite of droopy swirls, there were no complaints from the boys in terms of taste. Go figure – I’ve never known a 15 year old boy to turn away chocolate!


Happy Birthday, Alex!

Birthday Cake and Birthday Cupcakes

Baking date: May 15, 2015

My son Nick’s birthday is May 14. His birthday fell on a Thursday this year. My parents were coming for a visit to watch his brother Alex play a baseball game Friday night, and watch Nick play a lacrosse game Saturday morning.

I made a cake for Nick – chocolate with chocolate frosting. He is perfectly fine with a box mix and can of frosting, even though I had an awesome recipe from Ina Garten. I’ll save that one for an adult birthday reveler, who will appreciate a scratch made cake!

To add a little something to the cake, I put multi-colored jimmies around the edge. I used white sparkle gel frosting to write Happy Birthday Nick on the top. This is the cake the family enjoyed.


For his team to help him celebrate on Saturday, I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting. I topped these with multi-colored jimmies also, just dipping them in the container to cover the cupcake completely.

I did have 24 of these, but our lab Jake walked over to the kitchen table after I had frosted all of them and licked one. Even though my dad has always said “no one ever died of dog lick disease”, I didn’t want to take any chances.


Happy Birthday Nick!


Chocolate Kahlua Cake and Orange Dreamsicle Bread

Baking date: December 31, 2014

We attended a New Year’s gathering at my friend Rebecca’s house. It was a small party, so I only made three desserts.

For the kids, I made Rolo-stuffed snickerdoodles. I’ve made this recipe so many times and it is a fan favorite with the kids. I use mini-Rolos; regular size Rolos produce a HUGE cookie.

I also made Orange Dreamsicle bread. I had made this for Christmas in mini-bread format as part of my goodie baskets, and decided to make it in the recipe-recommended 8″x4″ loaf pans. A few notes about this recipe:

  • I have found that both times I made this recipe, I have more than enough of the cream cheese filling and don’t end up using it all.
  • The filling can be swirled around, but the batter is not very thick, so it tends to mix itself if you pour it around the pan instead of in just one spot.

Here’s how it turned out:


Finally, I made a liquor-infused goodie. It was Chocolate Kahlua Cake. A few notes about this recipe:

  • The chocolate chips in the batter may give the false impression of the cake not being done if you use a cake tester. Be sure it’s cake batter and not a melted chocolate chip on the tester.
  • When I pulled this out of the oven, the cake really condensed once it began to cool. Don’t freak if it starts to lose some height.
  • I used Pam baking spray with flour, and the cake slipped out of the pan very easily.
  • When I pulled the cake out of the oven, I brushed Kahlua on the base of the cake so it would soak into the warm cake. When I took it out of the pan and before I dusted it with powdered sugar, I brushed Kahlua on the top. Again, this was to get it to soak into the cake while it was still a bit warm and in case any of the Kahlua in the batter had baked off during the cooking phase.

Here’s how the cake turned out:


Chocolate Kahlua cake

The cake is rich and dense, and it was another winner!

Hope your New Year was spent enjoying time with family and/or good friends, as well as good eats!

Mother’s Day Cupcakes and Cookies

Baking Date: May 11, 2013

It’s no surprise to my readers that I spent a Sunday in the Spring at a little league ball park. In fact, I was in a total of three ball parks, for 4 games on Mother’s Day. My oldest son had a tournament – with all games rained out on Saturday crammed into Sunday. My youngest had one game.

For the moms on my youngest son’s team (well, for all the kids, moms and dads), I made Key Lime cookies and Orangesicle cookies.  These are from a box mix by Pillsbury – not sure if they are limited edition/seasonal or not.  There is also a pink lemonade flavor, and all flavors come in cake mixes as well, and have corresponding frosting flavors.

Key Lime OrangesicleI made the cookies and topped them with vanilla frosting and sprinkled the corresponding colored sugar sprinkles on top. Here’s what was left after the game:

Key Lime and Orangesicle Cookies

Key Lime and Orangesicle Cookies

For my oldest son’s team, we’ve been together as a group since the boys were nine (some of them, since their boys were 8). While a few players come and gone, the core group of about 8 boys has remained solid.  We have spent many a weekend together cheering our boys on during some unexpectedly frigid late Spring months and through blistering heat in the middle of Summer. Through it all, they’ve been a supportive group of families — on and off the field.

This year, I made Mother’s Day cupcakes for the moms. I made devil’s food cupcakes (from a box mix), topped with milk chocolate frosting (from a can).  I made roses using vanilla candy melts and the Roses in Bloom Wilton candy mold tray. I used pink candy sprinkles to give the roses a flush of pink, because we have two moms who are breast cancer survivors.

Mother's Day Cupcakes

Mother’s Day Cupcakes

Since we are the Lions and our colors are royal blue, black and white, I also got each mom a pair of “bling” paw earrings in royal blue from Thunder Rock Jewelry. For the two survivors, they got “bling” paw earrings in pink. I put them in a white netting bag, and tied them off with pink ribbon that had a paw print on it (what a perfect find at AC Moore!). For moms that don’t have pierced ears, the earring can be removed and placed on a necklace.

Paw Earrings in special bags with ribbon for each mom

Paw Earrings in special bags with ribbon for each mom

Hope you had a chance this year to find a way to honor all the moms who touch your life in a special way!