Tag Archives: vanilla

Classic Comfort Cake With Whipped Chocolate Frosting

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Vanilla Layer Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

There’s not much that cake can’t fix. A day-long headache. An awful date. A freezing cold day. Especially when it’s a no-fuss, classic cake. You know, the kind that you’d make with a box mix for a 5th birthday party. The kind you’d find at diner under a bright light and glass dome. They strike a cord in your soul somehow. There’s just pure good stuff waiting for you in that cake.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Vanilla Layer Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

I went into this baking hour with hopes to make something dramatic. Multi-layers. Two different kinds of frostings. Designed and decorated. But with no surprise, I ended up with this. When it comes to dessert, actually most food, fancy isn’t my style. I want that comforting cake that can cure my bad day or cheer up a friend. The one that’s about how it tastes. And how it makes you feel. Eat it breakfast, or at 1am after a Story of My Life dance party with friends.

It’s simple. It’s warming. It’s not made from a box. And it’s right in front of you.

Cupcakes for Breakfast: Vanilla Layer Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

Whipped Chocolate Frosting

  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy.
  2. Add chocolate, cream, and vanilla, and continue to beat until smooth.
  3. Add confectioners’ sugar in parts until it’s all incorporated.
  4. Frost on a cooled cake like this classic vanilla from Martha.

Wake up with Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

2013-02-18 10.10.46Good morning! Wake up! You have your coffee and probably some super healthy bland breakfast in front of you and you’ll looking at these photos and drooling, right? Ok let’s change that.

2013-02-18 10.10.09

You know I support cake for breakfast every so often, and I think I recently discovered the perfect one. I made a simple light vanilla cake (you could even do a box mix), but the best part was the strong coffee flavored frosting that I quickly whipped up and slathered all over it.

This sponge-like cake pairs so well with the sweet creamy cream cheese frosting and delicious coffee flavor. I’d also love this frosting on chocolate cupcakes or a hazelnut pound cake. So someone should try those and get back to me!

Of course it wasn’t beyond me to to pair it with even more coffee and curl up on my couch on a weekend morning with the two in hand. JCrew Saturday pants + a stack of magazines + this cake + big mug of coffee + a cozy throw + West Wing + hilarious group texts about the night before. Sounds perfect.

2013-02-18 10.08.17

Coffee Cream Cheese Frosting

Ok, let’s see if I can remember how I made this frosting. Something like this…

In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter and 8 oz (1 block) cream cheese. In a separate small bowl, dissolve some instant coffee or espresso in a little bit of water. I would say I used about a tablespoon and a half of water and about two teaspoon of instant French roast. It all depends on how strong you want your coffee flavor. Beat in the coffee mix and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Finally, incorporate about 2 cups of confectioner’s sugar to complete your frosting. Spread on a cooled cake and enjoy with more coffee.

Be My Valentine {vmac+cheese}

I’m honored to be spending today with one of my favorite ladies, Victoria from vmac+cheese. Not only did she prepare an amazing dessert for our Valentine’s celebration, but today is a special one for Victoria… It’s her first day as a full-time, self-employed rockstar, with her new biz Vivaleur! I couldn’t be more excited for her… so let’s celebrate with some dessert!

• • •

Hi everyone! Victoria from vmac+cheese here to share a fruit tart recipe I put together especially for Nikki and all of you. The best part about it? Well, other than being delicious, it’s easy to make (though it looks fancy) and you can also serve it pretty much any time of year, not just Valentine’s!

The crust in this pretty little tart is made with store bought graham crackers. A little homemade pastry cream (trust me, it’s simple!), and a garnish of fresh fruit, and you have a dessert worthy of Valentine’s Day, or even just a regular brunch with friends. Give it a try!

Vanilla Almond Tart Raspberries vmac and cheese Victoria dessert Valentine's Day

Vanilla Almond Tart with Raspberries

For the tart shell:

  • 12 graham cracker
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted

For the pastry cream (filling):

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks (I used extra large eggs, then saved the whites for breakfast!)
  • 5 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 4 tbsp butter, cubed
  • –pinch kosher salt


  • 2 half pints of raspberries
  • –can also substitute any fruit you’d like, and use other garnishes such as sliced almonds, pistachios, even white chocolate shavings
  • –optional: 2 tablespoons of apricot jam

Vanilla Almond Tart Raspberries vmac and cheese Victoria dessert Valentine's Day

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Break apart the graham crackers and add them to a food processor bowl. Grind until you have a fine meal. It should yield about 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker “flour.” In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker flour, the sugar, and the butter. Toss together until combined and the graham cracker flour is moistened.

Butter an 9″ tart pan, then set it on a sheet tray (this will just help you avoid a huge mess, and transfer the tart easily). Press the graham cracker mixture into the tart, and along the sides of the pan. I used the back of a measuring cup to press it and pack it in. Use a knife and run it along the top edge of the pan to sweep away any excess crumb (or you can leave it if you like a rustic looking tart).

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is fragrant and just set. It should feel firm to the touch, not crumbly like it was before baking.

Vanilla Almond Tart Raspberries vmac and cheese Victoria dessert Valentine's Day

For the pastry cream:

Combine the milk and half of the sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir gently to combine, and let it scald.

While the milk is heating, beat together the yolks and the rest of the sugar in a glass or non-reactive bowl. I like to whip them by hand using a whisk, but you could use a stand mixer if you wanted. Beat them for several minutes, until the mixture is very pale yellow and aerated. Add in the flour, the pinch of salt, and beat again until well incorporated. It should be thick, almost like a paste. Stir in the extracts.

Once the milk is hot, carefully pour in just a little bit into the yolk mixture, and immediately stir. You will want to move quickly, so the yolks don’t scramble. Once the first bit of milk is incorporated, add some more in, and stir again. This process is called tempering, and the whole idea behind it is we want the yolk mixture’s temperature to increase, but not so quickly that things scramble! Once you’ve added in about half the milk mixture, pour the egg/milk mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk, and set it over medium to medium low heat. Use a spatula to stir it, being sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. After a few minutes, it should thicken considerably. Stir to ensure it doesn’t burn. If lumps form, you can beat them out with a whisk. Once it’s hot enough that bubbles start to gurgle up through the cream, cook it for 1-2 minutes more, until it’s very thick, like pudding. Remove it from the heat, and stir in the butter.

Pour the pastry cream into a clean bowl, then cover it with plastic wrap. Be sure the plastic wrap directly touches the cream, so that a skin won’t form. Store in the refrigerator until cold. You could make this a day or two ahead.

Vanilla Almond Tart Raspberries vmac and cheese Victoria dessert Valentine's Day

To assemble the tart:

Spread the thickened pastry cream into the shell of the tart with a spoon. Garnish with fruit or whatever other items you’d like, then serve. OPTIONAL: To get that gorgeous, fresh from the bakery fruit tart look, mix apricot jam with a little water until it’s slightly liquified, then use a clean spray bottle to glaze the top of the tart. It’ll look shiny and super professional. Enjoy!

*The tart can be made a day in advance. Allowing the pastry cream to sit in the crust for at least several hours will help prevent the crust from crumbling when you serve it.

Pastry cream 911 tip:

If you refrigerate your pastry cream and find it’s not setting up (i.e., it’s still more liquid-y than pudding like), here’s a fix. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter and add in an equal amount of cornstarch. Whisk this together until it’s a paste, then whisk that into the pastry cream. Set it over medium heat, and stir constantly with a spatula or whisk, until you bring it to a slight boil again. It should be thick and spreadable. Refrigerate it again with contact plastic wrap, then use as you wish.

First Mixer Cake

So remember when I bought a KitchenAid stand mixer and I was so nervous about using it? After spending a few days just staring at it at the end of my kitchen, I took the plunge. I was waiting to find something that would inspire me. I thought about baking something elaborate, something flashy. I kept thinking about this gorgeous sparkly pink cake. But I didn’t have the right size pan I wanted and I didn’t have the decorations. It was all just getting too complicated.

Just make a damn cake Nikki. So I went in the opposite direction. Instead of something flashy, for my first mixer cake, I decided to make something comforting. Something that symbolized why I bought this mixer…to make delicious food that is meaningful for the people in my life. And for me that comfort came in the form of buttery vanilla yellow cake layers surrounded by creamy chocolate frosting. Classic. Comforting. Perfection. This cake makes my belly smile.

About to turn it on for the first time!

For the recipes I turned to two other classics…Martha and the Smitten Kitchen. I loved both the yellow cake and the fudge frosting (especially on the second and third days eating it!)


No more fearing the mixer! I’m ready to bake more and more with it. Maybe even something flashy too. What’s next? You’ll have to check back for that!