Category Archives: Cakes & Cupcakes

Jack Skellington Oreo Pops

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that I cannot decorate desserts for shiz. On a scale of one to disaster, I am definitely the onset of the apocalypse.

Welcome to How Not to Decorate Your Oreo Pops for Halloween 101…

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For a non-decorator, though, I have to admit that these Oreo pops are pretty damn cute anyway. Sure, they’re not chef-d’ouevres by any stretch of the imagination–but considering that I made this batch at 4 AM within 60 minutes, that’s got to count for something, right?

I made these for an adorable Halloween party that my friends over in the education/IS department threw last week. They weren’t the only themed appearances, either: there were spooky eggs, kitty litter cake, witch’s brew, and props & costumes galore!

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Last Sunday, the BIG Halloween festivities continued when my fambam and I paid a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth–Disneyland at Halloweentime is inexplicably amazing. The Dapper Dans come out to sing their ghoulish quartet songs in minor keys; the scent of pumpkin and $4.25 churros wafts through the air; the Haunted Mansion is taken over by Jack Skellington and his crew of mischievous misfits. But I’ll let you in on the biggest secret of all that made this Halloween at Disneyland the best one ever:

We ate dinner at Club 33!!!!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this hidden gem, Club 33 is a members-only venue located in New Orleans Square, right above the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the Blue Bayou restaurant. Membership is something like $10K per year, with a base fee of goodness-knows-how-much and an interminable waiting list.

We had been waiting to go in for two full years now. My brother’s friend, whose dad is a member, helped us secure a spot for my very belated birthday celebration, but renovations on the restaurant set us back a solid 24 months.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting for #OXOGoodCookies

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It’s that time of year again. OXO Cookies is supporting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and I get to share the deets with all of you!

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If you haven’t heard about them already, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity under the laws of New Jersey. Every year, they host this amazing campaign to donate funds to researching kids’ cancer. (Read: donations are tax deductible and 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.)

So what does that have to do with these Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes I’m sharing here today? I’m so glad you asked!

This month, OXO will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post dedicated to this campaign (up to their $100,000 commitment.) You can also look out for this sticker on their baking supplies, which means that they’ll be donating on your behalf when you buy labeled baking items:

When OXO sent me this cupcake supplies set to use, I was over the moon. Last year I made these cookies for OXO and this year I decided to stick with the peanut butter theme by creating these deliciously vegan chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. The cupcake base is vegan, but you’d never guess it–it’s my favorite chocolate cake recipe as well and involves literally throwing a bunch of ingredients all at once into a large mixing bowl! As for the frosting, you can’t really go wrong with PB&chocolate, can you?

No, I didn’t think so. Helloooo, best combo ever!

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If you’re looking for a great way to do good this holiday season, I totally recommend stopping by the store and buying one or all of these handy cupcake tools that I used to bake these cupcakes. I can vouch for the quality of these items: I’ve been working with OXO for nearly two years now and it’s one of the few brands I’ll trust to turn out amazing baked goods every single time.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Banana Crumb Cake

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Once, I my friends and I decided (as we do) that it would be a great idea to take on our local creamery’s famous ice cream challenge.

15 minutes, one sundae. Doesn’t sound that bad, right?

Wrong. Three pounds of ice cream and a quarter-hour later found each of us sunken into a comatose stupor–something between sugary crash-and-burn and uncontrollable (but lackadaisical) giddiness. I vaguely recall laughing a lot about cherry stems, but that’s about it.

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Of the twelve of us there, I was third to finish. Weirdly, as I looked around at my struggling companions, I had the strangest craving for more ice cream than I had already inhaled–yes I am a shameless bottomless sugar pit–but then again, I was always an ice cream fanatic. In fact, the heavy, sloughing weight on my belly was coming from an altogether different source of revulsion…

It was the banana. 

Yes, folks–I almost lost an ice cream challenge to a banana. Three pounds of ice cream were no problem–even a whopping pound of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry couldn’t deter me–and while I wasn’t a huge fan of the whipped cream piled on top, or the three syrups in which the entire sundae was slathered, it wasn’t until I hit the innocuous-looking yellow fruit that I seriously considered giving up.

Of course, Mama didn’t raise no quitter, so in my final minute I sucked it up and shoveled down that banana with a mountainous scoop of strawberry ice cream, gulping it down as fast as I could to rid myself of that sickening scent of sweet rotting garbage (which is exactly what bananas taste like to me).

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I can’t remember a time when I didn’t intensely dislike bananas. There was a brief period when my grandma, meaning well, told me that I had to eat them for potassium, so I would begrudgingly swallow one down for show before running away and hiding, heaven forbid anyone followed me waving another five to be eaten.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

WHOA! or, How to Bake Letters into a Cake

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Every once in a while, I get to do something really cool and wacky and crazy that makes me feel like a legitimate food blogger (not that we were ever calling that fact into question, but I basically question its legitimacy all the time). Today I’m going to teach you how to bake letters into a cake, though–and I am SO excited to be sharing this fun creation with you guys today!

(I totally apologize in advance for the lack of process photos, by the way: this cake took me 6 hours to test and make–by the time I finished, it was already 2 AM! I’ve included a few, ahem, Snapchat photos that I downloaded at the end of this post, for reference.)

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Have you ever seen photos of cute things baked into other equally cute things? Like this heart baked into a cupcake, or oh my gosh I just Googled the phrase “baked into a cake” and this photo of three whole pies baked into a cake just came up and I kind of want to smoosh my face right into the screen!

Well, a couple of weeks ago I decided it would be a great idea to bake an entire word into a cake. I tried searching for a clear tutorial on how to do this, but ended up having to sort of cobble together my own version of how to accomplish this. One thing to note about this cake is that while it’s a bit of a pain to make, the WOW factor when I sliced in for the big reveal was massive. I’m talking mind-blowing, promotion-garnering levels of impressiveness here!

Other things to note about this cake before you start:

  • Your word will only be “presentable” on one side of the cake, i.e. the letters will appear backwards if sliced along the wrong long side.
Read more


Filed under Cakes & Cupcakes

Checkered Red & Blue Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Happy July 4th weekend to my folks in the States! For those of you who aren’t: howdy, and I hope you’re all enjoying the sudden onslaught of all things Red, White, and Blue that’s slamming your feed this week <3 guilty as charged.

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Growing up, I was never a huge fan of July 4th. As a non-meat-eating A/C comfort kind of gal, I just couldn’t see the appeal of a holiday where a) grilled meat popped up EVERYWHERE you turned, b) any and all outdoor activities promised to end in sticky, stinky sweat-bomb baths, and c) national levels of machismo bravado exploded by about tenfold.

And then I became a food blogger, and all of that changed overnight. Suddenly the choruses of the national anthem bellowed proudly overhead as I experimented with 4th of July-themed desserts; all around me, explosions of raspberries and blueberries on white cakes conspired to convert me to the grand old holiday. And hey, I ended up making this Checkered Red & Blue Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting for my team this week, so who’s to say it didn’t work, right?

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Ever since my dormmate told me what a checkered cake was in college, I’ve wanted to make one, and this year I thought July 4th was as good an excuse as any for the occasion. While the presentation could use some work, I was blown away by just how easy the process was once I decided to actually follow some instructions. On top of that, the red & blue velvet cake recipe I use here was hands down AMAZING: moist, rich, deep, and completely balanced by the sweet cream cheese frosting I slathered all around it. Trust me, it’s NOT just a chocolate cake or buttermilk cake with food coloring in it: it is so.… Read more


Filed under Cakes & Cupcakes

Steamed Strawberry Coconut Poke Cake for More-than-just-a-Mother’s Day!

Even as recently as high school, I recall taking it for granted that my mom’s identity was somehow singularly defined by motherhood – that, according to some unwritten and tacitly understood code of universal maternity, mothers were defined not by the lives they had led up to the moment of our births, but rather by their relationship to us, their children.

To me, my mom – my smart, sharp, wonderful, supportive mom – was therefore first and foremost a mother. Any other role she happened to inhabit – worker, wife, daughter, aunt, friend, sister – was incidental, almost like an afterthought meant to amplify her ability to continue to be, in my mind, the best mom in the world.

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It really wasn’t until grad school, a period when I finally started coming into my own and following some of the paths I had laid out for myself, that I learned the most valuable lesson about her: not only is she more than a supporting actor – she’s a dreamer, a visionary, an enabler, and one heck of a strong woman in her own right.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m not surprised it took me so long to realize this. Growing up, I distinctly remember telling my mom that I would one day become a famous actress, to which she replied: “It’s fine to think about – but don’t get your hopes up.” Never one to mince words or sugarcoat the truth, my mom was (and still is) undoubtedly a realist, and this fact made it difficult for me to perceive how, at the core, she was also the greatest dreamer I have ever known.

So when I started blogging three years ago, the hobby concerned her: did I have enough time to study? Were there enough hours in the day?… Read more


Filed under Cakes & Cupcakes

Chocolate Rum Bundt Cake with Chocolate Syrup {churned by Willy Wonka’s chocolate waterfall}


Exactly 7 days ago, our school hosted its annual Edible Book festival! And you bet your chocolatey pants that I entered.


After last year’s Calvin and Hobbes success, I gave myself exactly two days before I started brewing up ideas for this year’s festival. The idea behind the Edible Book Festival is simple: pick a book, create a food display inspired by the book, and show it off to a happy, hungry public. Perfecto, no?

Now is a self-proclaimed amateur connoisseur of both children’s literature and baked goods, you can imagine the sort of schoolgirl high I get every time the end of March rolls around. I mean, edible books? You might as well slap my name all over the marketing flyers and call it a day.


This year I decided to go the literal route and use the book that’s chock filled with edible references. Growing up, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory wasn’t on my list of favorite books–it wasn’t even on my radar until the seventh grade, and by then I wanted nothing to do with the grotesque author who had written abominably disturbing works such as The Witches. (I mean, have you read that book? Yeesh!)

In fact, it wasn’t until I began teaching children’s literature at the university level that I read the novel in its entirety – once, then twice, then five times and ten. I couldn’t get over all the zany demises of Charlie’s rivals, or the wonderfully awful Quentin Blake illustrations accompanying these descriptions – and let’s face it: a book all about chocolate? Twelve-year-old self, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???


Once the cogs started turning, there was no chance in holy fudge tarnations that they were going to stop. I knew I wanted to do a display inspired by my favorite part of the books: the tragic disappearances of each of the four naughty children who enter Willy Wonka’s factory.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates, Cakes & Cupcakes

Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Rum Cake for #SundaySupper

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Last Thursday, apparently I lost my wallet. I did not know I lost my wallet. In fact, if I hadn’t received the email from the police department the following afternoon, I probably would not have noticed until I was late for an important meeting and could not find my wallet anywhere. 

But I did not know. So the email was all like, Surprise! We gotz yer wallet! Come an’ get it. Humdiddlydum, Police Guys. 

And I was all: ……….Oh.

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So after somehow muddling on my boots and feeling pretty nervous, I mucked down to the police station where they had my wallet. It’s actually a simple process–thankfully for my mental well-being–and the first thought I had when I got my wallet and opened it up was, Thank GOD, good people DO exist!

Everything was still in it, exactly as I’d left it. The police had taken out my cash and ID to put in a little plastic baggy ostentatiously labeled “EVIDENCE,” but aside from that, all was well with the world. Or at least with my wallet. I almost kissed the police officer in happiness, but I hurried away before I could give in to the impulse and be arrested for unmeditated assault.

Before I left, I asked where and when they had found it, and the officer told me it had been around one of the streets near Trader Joe’s. Somebody had turned it in about 5 minutes after I passed that spot the night before.

I thought back.

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The last place I could remember pulling out my wallet to use was at TJ’s, when I decided to stop by to grab groceries after a nighttime gym run. It was almost closing time, so I was the second-to-last customer in line for the express lane.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Deep-Dish Tiramisu Pie with Coffee Crunch Crumble

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Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy…

But here’s my pie–follow me maybe?

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I love food festivals for many many good reasons, the best of which are 1) food, 2) eating, and 3) more food. In close fourth comes the company: there’s something oddly liberating about connecting with new people through the miracle of face-stuffing, ith delicious globs of cream dribbling down the side of your face as you and the stranger standing next to you rave over the ah-MAY-zing pie you both just tried.

Do you love coffee too? you ask. Cream pies are the best, right? he responds. What about that coffee crunch though? Isn’t it amazing? Are you going to finish that slice?

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A few weeks ago, my friend sent me info on a pie contest that a local radio station was going to host. Of course, I was 110% excited, because I love pies. Eating an entire cake sounds like a terrible idea, but there is nothing more comforting on an autumn evening than snuggling up in your loveseat, inviting an entire Costco-sized pumpkin pie onto your lap,  and eating the whole thing right up after a long swim meet.

Topped with a general scoop of homemade Biscoff meringue ice cream, if you fancy like dat.

After tons of debating and wiffle-waffling and probably more anxiety than necessary, I finally decided to adapt one of my favorite dessert recipes and create this Deep-Dish Tiramisu Pie with Coffee Crunch Crumbles. I slapped in a vegan shortbread chocolate chip crust, whipped up some rummy tiramisu filling, layered it with store-bought ladyfingers, dusted the top with cocoa powder, then topped the whole shebang off with this tricky but mind-blowing coffee crunch crumble, which was inspired by this famous Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake copycat recipe.

GOOD IDEA, ALA.… Read more


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes, Pies

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Swirl Cake with Caramel Penuche

(Congrats to Pearl, who won last week’s KIND bar giveaway! And thank you to everyone who showed their kindest support by entering.)

Once every few months, you probably have one of those days where you just stop and think, My god, that was a really good day.

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Maybe your friend surprised you with a late birthday present, or you got to go to the happiest place on Earth with friends, or maybe you ran 10 miles and then proceeded to stuff your face with 40 vendors’ worth of breakfast food samples, a giant chocolate-and-sprinkle dipped cookie dough ice cream cone with more sprinkles on top, and freakin’ bomb Chinese food.

Around here, these days are not the exception: they are the norm.

And yes, ALL of these things happened to me on this exceptionally normal day.

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I was browsing through my Brain archives tonight thinking about what I wanted to write, and it suddenly hit me that it’s been a long time since I’ve talked about ME. Instead, I’ve been off pontificating and musing and philosophizing about a whole bunch of things, which is totally fine, but then you’re probably thinking that I spend my self-professedly “busy” daytimes off running drug cartels or something.

Which I’m not. Btw.

In case you were wondering why I’m posting coffee cake instead of brownies this week. Ahrm.


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A lot–and I mean a lot–of my time has been spent researching. I’m also shuttling myself back and forth a lot these days due to personal issues, which is a cryptic way of saying that I’m on the road a lot and majorly burnt out. However, once in a while any time I’m not crashing and burning, I’m having an adventurous time doing things like going to a Pancake Day Festival where over 40 vendors bring out their best samples of food and you spend 3 hours eating 50 bajillion types of breakfast sammies, pancakes (of course), grit parfaits, veganaise-topped frittatas, salted caramel bread pudding, and dulce de leche churros (which is a breakfast food–obvi).… Read more


Filed under Cakes & Cupcakes