Category Archives: Cupcakes and Cakes

English Marmalade Chocolate Cake

When I was in Santa Barbara a few weeks ago, I made this lovely chocolate cake filled with orange marmalade as a special treat. It’s not quite as dense as a Sacher torte, but rather has a nice, fluffy crumb and a deep chocolate flavor. Super easy to make.

Adapted from Enlightened Chocolate by Camilla V. Saulsbury

English Marmalade Chocolate Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

8 oz of canned pumpkin, butternut squash or prune puree

3 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp grated orange rind

2 eggs

1 oz finely chopped unsweetened baking chocolate

1/2 cup jarred orange marmalade


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine flours, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a medium bowl whisk together buttermilk, canned pumpkin, water, vanilla, orange zest, and eggs until well-blended. Using an electric mixer set on low, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

4. Place the unsweetened chocolate in a small cup and microwave 45 seconds. Stir until melted and smooth and add to the batter. Beat the batter until blended and smooth.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. When cool, invert the cake onto a cake platter or plate and slice in half horizontally. Spread orange marmalade on bottom layer. Replace top. Feel free to frost with your favorite chocolate frosting!

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Posted by on February 10, 2009 in Chocolate, Cupcakes and Cakes


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Chocolate Blackout Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache

This chocolate cake is dark, luscious — and healthier than your usual egg-and-butter heavy cakes! Get the best cocoa powder you can afford; gourmet cocoa powder can make a huge difference in the quality of your chocolate cake.

We’re making this cake tonight for my sister’s 22nd birthday. Twenty-two may not be the most exciting of birthdays, but it sure deserves a big, rich hunk of chocolate cake.

Chocolate Blackout Cake

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp baking soda

1 Tbsp baking powder

2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups of egg beaters

1 Tbsp quality vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk (low fat)

1/2 cup butter (1/2 stick)

1 cup pear butter (feel free to substitute apple or pumpkin butter here)

1 cup strong coffee (I used French press coffee for the darkest, richest flavor)

1/2 cup raspberry jam


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) and spray cooking oil on 2 10-inch round cake pans.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl.

3. In another bowl (or in the bowl of a stand-mixer), cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and coffee until completely mixed.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until well-combined.

5. Pour into the cake pans and bake 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

6. Let the cakes cool completely. Slice off the top of one of the cakes so that it is completely level.

7. Spread the raspberry jam on top of the leveled cake. Top with the second cake.

8. Pour the chocolate ganache over and serve! (Recipe for ganache below):

Milk Chocolate Ganache

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

4 oz. regular chocolate chips (again, try to get the best quality)

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

8 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

2/3 cup confectioner’s or baker’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Melt the butter and chocolate over a double boiler.

2. Pour into a medium-sized bowl when melted and add the whipping cream and vanilla. Beat (with a hand-mixer or in a stand-mixer) until completely combined and slowly add the sugar until you’ve reached your desired amount of sweetness. Mix in the vanilla. Whip until fluffy.

3. Spread on top of the chocolate cake.

If not eating the cake right away, refrigerate.

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Posted by on November 25, 2008 in Cupcakes and Cakes


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Chocolate Banana Lunchbox Cake

Moist, chocolatey and crumbly, this is one of my favorite cakes. Unlike most cakes, which call for half a cup or more of butter, this one relies on vegetable oil alone. As a result, it’s not going to be quite like the rich cakes featured in fancy bakeries, but for an afternoon snack or a late dinner munch, it works just perfectly.

Chocolate Banana Lunchbox Cake

1 cup cake flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

3/4 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 honey or agave syrup

3 Tbsp. canola oil

1 egg + 1 egg white

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Combine the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg and egg white and add the mashed banana. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar, honey, vegetable oil and vanilla extract and whisk until well combined.

4. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold until just combined. Do not overmix! Fold in the chocolate chips and pour into the bundt pan.

5. Bake about 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean.

6. Let cool and then turn the cake out onto a plate. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve!


Posted by on June 2, 2008 in Cupcakes and Cakes


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Have your cake and eat it too

Who doesn’t love a slice of thick frosted cake? No, I’m not talking about the supermarket cakes of yore, those with icing so cloying and sweet, so artificially colored that you wondered whether you’d soon start turning bright blue, as they say you are what you eat.

I’m talking about those sky-high chocolate-on-chocolate cakes, the mocha confections, the carrot cakes with lush icing. In the Bay Area, my all-time favorite cake bakery was the Prolific Oven. Their chocolate mocha cake, dark, sensual and oh-so-rich was simply to die for. I loved the chocolate orange almond, with fluffy layers of almond intertwined with luscious chocolate and a hint of orange. And don’t get me started on their carrot cake. The cream cheese frosting, tangy and sweet, melts in your mouth, partnered with crumbly chunks of cake and carrot. Sigh.

In Los Angeles, the perfect cake could be found at Sweet Lady Jane, which made no healthy excuses in this land of models, stars and dieting and featured a display counter full of sin. My favorites were the carrot cake — the slices so thick and rich they were impossible to finish in one sitting — and the German chocolate cake.

I started dreaming of cakes after reading Alex Wichtel’s gorgeous essay in the New York Times today. She reminds us that while flourless chocolate cakes and fancy desserts may be in vogue, there’s nothing like a big hunk of cake to please the palate.
I loved this paragraph:

Whatever happened to good old-fashioned cake? Those tall, frosted showgirls of my youth, preening on their high crystal stands. Even birthday cakes used to be more fun, before every yuppie mother convinced herself her little darlings would grow up to be serial killers if she didn’t bake a lopsided, semi-burnt atrocity, instead of letting the professionals do it. Pink buttercream roses are a birthright, for heaven’s sake, and internists and hedge fund managers should recognize the possibility that someone else knows how to do something even better than they do.

The boyfriend is arriving in Santa Barbara tomorrow and I’m inspired to bake, so stay tuned for a chocolate cake recipe (a bit healthier than the one Wichtel gives you, I admit)!


Posted by on May 28, 2008 in Cupcakes and Cakes, Food Reads


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Cookies and Brownies and Bread! Oh My!

While surfin’ through the interwebs today, I found a blog written by the masters of baking over at King Arthur Flour, the Baker’s Banter. Filled with gorgeous, saliva-enducing photos and step-by-step instructions on how to make every baked good imaginable (check out this fab, fab, fab entry on how to make biscotti), these bakers have it down.

For the bake-aholic, King Arthur Flour produces a delightful catalog filled with everything a baker could crave. Along with selling gadgets and techie goodies, they sell some of the best flours for the devoted baker — plus they sell hard-to-find flours that are key for making artisan breads (like dark and light rye, spelt, amaranth, nut flours…).

I recently bought the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book and have made several really great recipes, including a bread packed full of cranberries and nuts. I highly recommend this cookbook for someone who is looking to switch over to healthier baking but is wary of “light” and “healthy” recipes.

I know, I can’t stop raving. I just love this company.


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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

These cupcakes are the perfect solution to a mid-afternoon or post-dinner sweet tooth without any guilt. Much like souffles, they are best eaten the day they are made. Serve them up after a fancy dinner party for a light but sweet finish or during afternoon tea.


12 large egg whites, cold (you can use the egg whites sold in cartons near the Egg Beaters)

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

grated rind from two lemons (you can also use limes)

1/2 teaspoon of salt


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Get out your cupcake liners — I prefer to use silicon liners for these cupcakes, since using regular paper liners tends to make them collapse at the end. You can find these at Crate & silicone_cupcake.jpgBarrel, Williams Sonoma or Target.

3. Combine egg whites, lemon juice, cream of tartar and vanilla extract. Using an electric beater (I use the KitchenAid Artisan mixer) on high speed, beat until the mixture is foamy. Slowly add 3/4 cup sugar until the egg whites become creamy white and begin to form soft peaks.

4. Combine the rest of the sugar, flour, lemon rind and salt in a separate bowl.

5. Gradually fold the flour mixture into the egg whites. Mix with a silicone spatula until the wet and dry ingredients are completely mixed. Handle the mixture carefully so that the egg whites don’t lose their fluffy appeal!

6. Fill the cupcake liners. Bake for about 25 minutes on the top rack of the oven or until the tops are a light golden color.

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Posted by on March 18, 2008 in Cupcakes and Cakes


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