Category Archives: Holidays

Lemon Berry Tart

lbtOriginally published March 22, 2015

It has come to my attention that not everyone loves to bake and that easy holiday dessert recipes are something that many people really appreciate to get them through Easter. I saw a video for some lemon tarts yesterday on YouTube on the Simple Cooking Channel. Lots of fun videos to watch!

I decided to try my hand at the Lemon Tarts. I did make two modifications to the very simple recipe.

Lemon Berry Tart
6 mini graham cracker crusts or one regular size one
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp of Knox plain gelatine – not in the original
Fresh or frozen berries of your choice – also not in the original

1. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and plain gelatine and beat until a little fluffy.
2. Spoon into crusts.
3. Refrigerate for a few hours until set.
4. Top with berries of your choice and serve!

The original recipe didn’t call for the gelatine but I decided to add it because I was skeptical that the tarts would set. I knew that if I added a tiny bit of gelatine they would. Of course, this addition makes them unsuitable for Passover. But have no fear! My Mini Pavlova are perfect for Passover!

Holidays can be such a blessing. Gathering with family and friends to celebrate your faith is a gift, even though it is often fraught with stress and angst. I hope this simple recipe can help relieve you of some of that stress.


Springtime Cake Bites

SCBLate into the winter each year, our church has a Spaghetti Lunch and Dessert Auction to raise funds for summer youth programs. It’s loads of fun to see all the clever creations all the amazing bakers come up with. I also enjoy trying to find something new and exciting to make each year. We’ve made a really fun Angry Birds cake, a Mustache cake, and Snapchat cupcakes.

I had a lot of success with my Festive Rum Cake Balls. Not only did they taste great, they got me over my fear of dipping! I feel like a dipping pro now! So I decided to invest in some small cookie cutters for the express purpose of making cake bites to sell at the Dessert Auction.

Springtime Cake Bites
1 box yellow cake mix, prepared according to the instructions on the box. A rectangle is fine.
3 cups powdered sugar
2- 6 oz bags of Wilton Candy Melts

  1. Bake your cake and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. It should still be warm.
  2. Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. The resulting mixture should be quite sticky.
  3. Press onto baking sheet. It should be about 3/4 inch thick.
  4. Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Using your cookie cutters, cut a bunch of cake bites. Just like you do with cookie dough, press it back together and if needed, chill again. Continue cutting cake bites until you are out of batter.
  6. Chill your bites for another 30 minutes.
  7. Melt the candy melts according the instructions on the package.
  8. Carefully did, one at a time. I find the easiest way to cover the bites is to plop into the bowl and use a fork to flip so all sides get coated.
  9. Gently remove onto a sheet of waxed paper.
  10. Chill until set.

My test run went very well. My Faithful Assistant was very pleased with the final product. We was very happy to be the taste tester. He did pay close attention to the dipping process so he will be able to help next time and cut the prep time in half.

If you’re interested in something for a more adult audience, use rum or whiskey in place of half the water (or milk) in your recipe. Our cake bites were made with about 3 oz of whiskey. They have a nice flavor but they aren’t too boozy.

I’m excited for our Auction next week. Our congregation is not only generous but so creative. And I love how involved the youth are in an event that benefits them. It’s a great way to get them interested in helping others as they help themselves.


Easy Chocolate Ganache

ECGAre you living in fear of Valentine’s Day? Do you have no idea what to buy? Do you think you’re a terrible cook and incapable of baking? Don’t worry about it! I’m here to help!

I have several baked goods on which I use Chocolate Ganache. It’s rich and creamy but not too sweet. That makes it a great topping for cupcakes and cookies, and even a wonderful fruit dip. That means you can go buy some simple cookies like Madeleines or even Chocolate Chip cookies, dip them in ganache, and present your Valentine with a semi-homemade treat that will be sure to wow.

The picture is my oldest son’s birthday cake that I’ve been making him since he was maybe 13. He’s 20 now and the cake has become a treat we have all grown to love. Isn’t it pretty? It’s shiny and so delicious!

Easy Chocolate Ganache
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

  1. Fill a sauce pan half full of water and heat on high.
  2. Place the chocolate the the cream in a bowl that will nest on top of the sauce pan. Heat until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  4. For smaller items, you can dip and let set on a sheet of waxed paper. For larger items like cakes, slowly pour starting in the middle of cake, and spread with a rubber spatula.

I love Valentine’s Day because it’s my oldest son’s birthday, hence the heart shaped cake. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he is the best Valentine gift I will ever get and I love nothing more than making his favorite foods for him on his special day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Festive Rum Cake Balls

frcbFull disclosure. What you are actually seeing here is a cake fail. HUGE. CAKE. FAIL.

When you are the one who says to all your coworkers, “LET’S HAVE A POTLUCK,” you should probably put some actual effort into your offering. Like make something with your own two hands. No cheater pit-stops at the market, even if it is Whole Foods and the cupcakes everyone loves are on sale.

You can imagine my dismay when I flipped my scrumptious Chocolate Chip Rum Cake over to remove it from the bundt pan and it stuck. And not a cute little piece it back together sticking. A keep half the cake in the pan and laugh in your face sticking.

I am not a cooking quitter. It was time to turn to my Remarkably Well Stocked Pantry and look to see what I had to help me out of this predicament. What I uncovered there amazed even me.  I found some powdered sugar, green candy melts, and red sugar. SCORE!!!

Festive Rum Cake Balls
One box cake mix prepared with rum instead of water
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar
1 bag candy melts

  1. Prepare the cake mix using rum instead of water. Stir in the chocolate chips. I used Yellow cake. You can use whatever you like. Chocolate would be okay, too. Double the chocolaty goodness!
  2. Bake the cake according to the instructions on the box.
  3. Allow to cool for ten minutes, then crumble into a bowl.
  4. Stir in powdered sugar until sticky.
  5. Form into one inch balls and freeze for 30 minutes.
  6. Melt candy melts according to instructions on bag in something big enough to roll the frozen balls in.
  7. One at a time, roll the balls in the melted candy. Place on wax paper and sprinkle with the sugar.

I have to say, I am really proud of myself. Not only are these cake balls festive (as the name tells you), they are very darn delicious. And they were super easy to make.

If you didn’t figure it out, the recipe for the rum cake simply involves swapping out rum for the water in the recipe and baking in a bundt pan. Please make sure you allow the cake to cool for a few minutes before you try to get it out of the pan. Please. Learn from my mistake.

I have had horrible luck in the past making cake balls. I’m not sure why these actually worked. But who cares! I can walk into work with my head held high, holding my plate of Festive Rum Cake Balls up for all to see, instead of a grocery bag!

Five more days! Hope all the work of the season is winding down and you are close to sitting back and relaxing with your loved ones for a few days.



White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

wcrcI am a big fan of shortcuts in cooking and baking. I am also a big fan of Immaculate Baking Company Yellow Scratch Cake Mix. It’s got a nice buttery flavor. Delicious.

We woke up to some nasty freezing rain in Central Maryland. I don’t have to be anywhere until 3:00 and even that outing has moved to a tentative status due to the state of the roads. Perfect day for baking. I have two boxes of my favorite baking mix that I got for My Faithful Assistant to use over Thanksgiving weekend. He opted out of my diabolical plot to have baked goods with no work. My loss is my own gain, I guess!

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes
1 box Immaculate Yellow Scratch Cake Mix prepared according to instructions
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1 cup fresh raspberries – Sorry! Frozen are not recommended for this. Too mushy.

  1. Prepare the mix according to the instructions on the box.
  2. Fold in the melted white chocolate so it’s sort of streaked through the batter.
  3. Gently fold in the raspberries.
  4. Transfer to muffin tin and bake according to the box instructions.
  5. Carefully remove your cupcakes from the pan and, when cool, drizzle with melted white chocolate.

In a word, AMAZING! My cupcakes were tender and buttery and practically melted in my mouth.

As you can see, I am not a very good drizzler. I melted a small amount of chips in a measuring cup and the spout wasn’t really conducive to drizzling so we have more of a plop.

This would make a very tasty brunch cake, and with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, I think there will be a lot of people having some lovely Christmas brunches. Not a fan of raspberries? No worries! Pick a different fresh fruit. As I mentioned above, frozen are not recommended for this. They will be mushy and ruin your cute little cakes.

If you’re stuck inside, I hope you’re getting some baking done too!