Paula Deen’s Sweet Dessert Panini

Paula Deen wins my heart with this delectable and easy treat.

Paula Deen is one of my most favorite chefs in the entire world. Her winning smile, cheerful demeanor, and fabulously fashionable gray hair draws you into her warm kitchen.

Though she cooks everything with a ridiculous amount of butter (she is a Southern lady, after all), Paula’s Sweet Dessert Panini only uses butter to grease the pan. 

Good job on saving our arteries, Paula! I plan on making these soon with my favorite brand of hazelnut spread, Nutella.


photo from Foodnetwork

A peek into someone else’s oven

These are what my fellow food bloogers are mixing up and baking in their kitchens this week!

A Recipe a Day is currently cooking pasta and broccoli, but on Feb. 20, she revealed her favorite bread recipe, Crispy Cinnamon Streusel Banana Cream Cheese Bread, even though she doesn’t like bananas!

Cream cheese also makes an appearance on What’s Baking? in her Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies. While the star ingredient is cream cheese, chocolate cake mix is the basis for these delectable treats.

Something New is Cooking showcased another banana nut bread, minus the cinnnamon streusel topping. Simplisitic, yet sweet!

Gorgeously frosted vanilla sugar cookies are this week’s star at Cake Journal. The quick, two-step proccess is a no-fail way at making fantastic cookies.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off of Tami’s Kitchen Table Talk February Cookie Carnival choice: Chocolate Fudge Cookies with Toffee and Dried Cherries. Anything that has toffee in it is sure to win my vote!

Happy Fasnacht Day was the theme at a blog I just started checking out, Half Baked. She shared a bit of her family traditions with a post all about doughnuts.


The quest for the perfect cupcake

On my 17th birthday, my creative writing teacher threw a small bash for me. She gave me presents of fine-tipped markers, an amazing journal with the most beautiful paper I’ve ever had privilege to touch (I still haven’t used it), and an epically moist Easter cupcake (that’s one of the benefits of having an April birthday – all the jelly beans and chocolate bunnies I can eat).

easter-cupcakeIt was the cupcake to end the love affair with all other cupcakes in my life. It was an Entemann’s Holiday Cupcake – the perfect combination  of golden cake, fudge frosting, and piped swirl of vanilla icing – cupcakes that are made sporatically throughout the year. Never before had such beauty in pastry form passed my lips, not even my own baking.

It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I remembered the cupcakes that altered my life forever. I went in search of them at the nearest grocery store, but they were out of season.

Out of season – my cupcakes. I was devastated.

It is for that very reason that I took it upon myself this weekend to recreate this confectionery masterpiece with all the pastry skills I posses. The resulting cupcakes, while not decorated with “seasonally appropriate” sprinkles or colored frosting, is certainly less than the 290 calories a pop that the originals boast.

Easter cupcake photo from lonelybob on flickr.

Entemann’s Holiday Cupcakes: Niki-style


There are several parts and take over an hour to prepare. Makes 24+ cupcakes.


—Yellow or white cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Super Moist Golden Vanilla)

1. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box. Pour into lined cupcake pans.

2. Cool the cupcakes completely.

Fudge Frosting:

—2 Tbsp chilled butter

—1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (Hershey’s is my favorite)

—1 tsp vanilla extract

—2 Tbsp cold water

1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and the chilled butter. If you don’t have a double boiler, improvise with a bowl over a medium saucepan. DON’T melt your chocolate in the microwave!

2. Once the chocolate mixture  is melted thoroughly, add the vanilla extract, and then the cold water, tablespoon by tablespoon.

3. Put the mixture in the fridge to chill.

Buttercream Icing

—1 C vegetable shortening (I used Crisco butter flavor)

—1/2 C milk

—1/4 tsp salt

—2 tsp. vanilla

—2 lbs confectioner’s sugar (2 boxes)

1. Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer. You’ll have a LOT of buttercream icing for 24 cupcakes, but think about all the other uses it will have, like decorating cakes or brownies!

Assemble the cupcakes:

1. Spread a small amount of fudge frosting on top of the cupcake, smoothing it out to the edges. Place the cupcakes in the fridge as each is frosted. This will allow the frosting to set.

2. Fill a pastry bag (or a a zip-loc bag with the tip cut off) with a portion of the buttercream icing. Pipe a double border around the edge of the cupcakes. I used an Easy Decorator pastry bag set with a closed star tip. If you don’t have a fancy tip, don’t worry. It’s simple to make swirls with a zip-loc bag.

3. Put the cupcakes back in the fridge to chill or serve immediately!

Cream Cheese Pound Cake – from Shop Rite!


I was meeting with a friend last week, chatting about my past endeavors to be a pastry chef and my new blog, when suddenly she remembered an “amazing” cake.

“It’s the best cake ever. It tastes just like cheesecake, only it’s pound cake. You know what I mean?” she said. “It’s so good. I get it for everyone in the office when I go to Shop Rite.”

I was intrigued to meet this cake, and while my boyfriend and I were out shopping for cupcake ingredients, we picked one up. It cost us $3.99, which isn’t too bad for a college student’s budget, especially for the size of the cake. Cut into decent size pieces of about 2-3 inches across, this cake could easily feed 8 people.

Served straight from the cake container at room temperature, the cake is slightly dry and crumbles easily. At first it smells like it was fried, but eventually that goes away, leaving a simple browned outside and a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar. There’s also a clear lack of cream cheese flavor.

I put it in the refrigerator overnight and the next day, the pound cake was FANTASTIC. It was no longer crumbly, but moist and held together like other pound cakes I’ve eaten. The cream cheese flavor was well-pronounced; this cake really did taste like cheesecake!

This is may not be the recipe for Cream Cheese Pound Cake found in Shop Rite, but I’m still eager to try it. It claims to be dense and moist, which is just what pretend cheesecake – cake should be!

Quick Facts:

Serves: 8

Cost: $3.99

Best served: Cold, with a cool glass of juice

Tastes like: a crusty piece of cheesecake (minus the heavy richness of cream cheese)

Truffles, cookies, and chocolate cake, oh my!

I’m already out of the Valentine’s Day mood (even though I did spend an awesome day at the Adventure Aquarium), but my fellow dessert bloggers are still spreading the chocolate love!

What’s Baking? showcased how incredibly easy their chocolate truffles are to make. With four ingredients, including fat-free cream cheese, five dozen of these treats can be whipped up in no time!

February 8’s recipe at A Recipe a Day was decadentaly rich raspberry truffles. Not intended for children, the raspberry flavor comes from seedless jam and raspberry liqueur.

Culinarty: the Art of Microwave Cooking was all about their originial recipe: Fudgey Nutella Truffles. Only one tablespoon of chocolate liqueur adds a kick to the fudgey coating on these tiny bites of joy.

The Cookie Blog has been doing a series of posts about one of her most recent finds – the cookbook, “Death by Chocolate.” Since then, she’s been including different chocolate cookie recipes on her blog!

All Recipes has a “Daily Recipe” section that boasts innumerable recipes from cooks all over the globe. One cook posted her tribute to Presidents’ Day: a George Washington Chocolate Cake.