Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fig cake with cream cheese frosting

A beautiful and spice-filled dense fig cake topped with an irresistible cream cheese frosting. This is a wonderful cake for a celebration (or just because)!
YOU GUYS. I have to tell you about this cake. I made it for my family for Mother's Day (that's how I roll - I like to make my own celebration meal!) and it was a huge hit.

I discovered the magic of figs fairly late in life, as fig newtons never really did it for me as a kid. Maybe it was the crunchy texture in the cookies that turned me off, but now I am a fig fan through and through. Fig jam is always at my house because that is the best jam flavor ever.
Well, I sacrificed some of my precious fig jam in order to make this cake. I had bought a jar of the jam at a farmer's market in Pennsylvania the last time I visited my parents. Parts of the jam melted beautifully into the cake, while glorious chunks of it sunk to the bottom to provide a lovely fig-bottomed bite.

I topped my cake with a glorious layer of cream cheese frosting and smeared it in between the two layers as well. Feel free to double the cream cheese frosting so you can have a batch to taste test. I won't tell!
Everyone in my family loved the cake. I have a feeling that I will be making this again since it was so incredible. The fall spices would make this a lovely fall cake as well, so maybe I will bake this for my birthday as well.

Fig cake with cream cheese frosting
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fig preserves
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 batch cream cheese frosting
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease and line two 8" pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the eggs, sugar and oil on low speed until well combined. Slowly add in the buttermilk and vanilla. Then add in the fig preserves and applesauce.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until everything just comes together. Evenly distribute the batter into your two pans and bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centers come out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool completely. You may want to level the cakes by slicing any domed pieces off with a serrated knife. These scraps are great for snacking!

To assemble the cakes, place one cake layer on a cake plate or platter, cut side up. Add about 1/4 cup of frosting on top. Place the second layer of cake, cut side down, on top of the frosting. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting.

The cake should be stored in the refrigerator and can be garnished with fresh figs or berries for a nicer presentation.

Yield: One 10" cake; about 10-14 servings

Source: MyRecipes; originally from Southern Living

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Funfetti sugar cookie bars

A perfectly soft and chewy sugar Funfetti cookie but in bar form so it's easy to share with others. These customizable cookie bars are topped with a fantastic Funfetti frosting for a special touch!
Addie shared a birthday party with one of her friends a few short weeks ago. She and this little girl have known each other since they were 3 months old. They were both enrolled in the same daycare and have been friends ever since. Last year, they even shared the same kindergarten teacher.

The girl's mom and I were discussing our birthday party plans for the year and just couldn't get motivated. We wanted to do something low-key without breaking the bank. We decided to do a fun swim outing at our local YMCA. We invited about 15 girls, and unfortunately only 1 or 2 of them were able to attend.
Rather than pay the $150+ to rent out the party room at the YMCA, we canceled the party and held at our friend's house. She ordered pizza and I bought an ice cream cake at the grocery store. Since I relinquished the cake to a grocery store this year, I figured that I could bake some Funfetti bars as an additional item.

The bars baked up beautifully, and I chose to use blue and white sprinkles to reflect Addie's favorite colors (of the moment). She is still obsessed with Frozen so the color scheme was perfect for her. I added the same sprinkles to the frosting to finish the look. You can absolutely customize the sprinkles to whatever color or shape makes you happy.

The girls loved these bars and had no problem finishing them off along with a slice of ice cream cake. I think they were sugared up for the rest of the afternoon. But, it was worth it to see their little faces light up that day.

Funfetti sugar cookie bars

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter or grease a standard 9"x13" pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

Add in the baking powder and salt until well mixed. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour until no dry streaks remain. Add in the sprinkles.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and spread it out evenly, making sure you cover all the corners. Smooth out the top. Bake in  your preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the tops and sides are golden brown. Allow the bars to cool completely.

While the bars are cooling, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed. Add in the vanilla and salt. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Slowly stream in the milk and beat until smooth and creamy. Fold in the sprinkles last.

Once the bars have fully cooled, spread the frosting on top. Bars should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 24 bars

Source: Inside Bru Crew Life

Friday, May 19, 2017

Skating Fridays

Bobbe Shire Spin Clinic 

I had the distinct privilege of working with Bobbe Shire again recently, as she traveled to our club's sister rink. Bobbe's seminar was very similar to one that I attended last summer (here are the recaps from Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

In addition to Bobbe's lecture and on-ice seminar, we also had separate breakout sessions for yoga, IJS and competition preparation. We even had our own adult group so we could get specialized attention for our needs. I found the IJS breakout session the most helpful since it was led by a technical specialist. She explained how IJS works and spent a lot of time answering our questions and how certain spins would get called under the system.

After chatting with the tech specialist, I realized why I have never gotten one of my spins called. My coach had been under the impression that the difficult spin variations were available for each foot (assuming you are changing feet and doing a change foot spin). Apparently, the rule is that the variations are only available once per program, and not once per foot. This is a big deal because once you 'use up' a variation, you cannot repeat it again. While I did not repeat a variation, the IJS code for the difficult elements was the same for both. And because I couldn't repeat a variation, the 2nd one never got called. Cue light bulb and frustration.

All in all, the seminar was a great refresher. We mostly worked on forward scratch spins, back spins, sit spins and camel spins. We ran out of time and did not have the opportunity to work on any additional spins or spin variations. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to get Bobbe's thoughts and expertise on some of the new spins I am trying to work on (coming soon!).

I did ask her a fun question and inquired about her favorite spin to teach. She said that she enjoys teaching layback spins and playing with arm positions.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Double chocolate muffins

These super moist double chocolate muffins are sure to knock your socks off! With no oil or butter, they are healthier than the bakery versions. Eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack!
When my 7 year old daughter isn't asking me to make butterscotch pudding, she's asking me to make chocolate muffins. She scoffs at blueberry muffins now and won't touch anything without chocolate chips. I guess I am raising a mini chocoholic, which is fun and scary at the same time.

These muffins were one of the best breakfast items I've made this year. Since they don't contain butter or oil, I don't feel quite as bad when I eat more than one in a given day. And you definitely know that's happened!
I replaced the butter and oil with applesauce, which keeps the muffins from drying out and keeps them light and springy. I loaded my muffins with extra chocolate chips because I'm a chocoholic like my little girl. Feel free to top these with a sprinkling of coarse sugar for a little extra crunch or throw in some chocolate chunks for variety.

If you want to eat cake for breakfast but can't justify it, make these instead. They're pretty dang close to cake so it should satisfy your cravings. Enjoy!

Double chocolate muffins 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 and ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I made my own by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar into 1 cup of milk)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Generously grease or line 2 standard muffin pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, applesauce and vanilla. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently fold everything together until a few dry streaks remain.

Add in the chocolate chips and mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pans, filling each well about 3/4 full. Top with extra chocolate chips if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 3 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool before serving. Keep them in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days. Muffins can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 15 muffins

Source: Barely adapted from Pretty.Simple.Sweet

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Chocolate cake for one

A single serving chocolate cake that you can easily share - or not! This fun alternative to a mug cake is a great way to get your chocolate fixing and have no leftovers!
Happy Mother's Day, everyone! If you are still looking for a special dessert to serve the mothers in your life or simply want a single serving cake all for yourself, have I got a treat for you! This cake is large enough to share with a friend... or not. Your call. No judging from me.
I gotta admit that the baking method is a bit unconventional, as this cake is baked in an empty can of soup (or vegetables - just use whatever you have laying around). The cake will rise up halfway up the can, and you can slice it in half to add your favorite frosting or filling in the middle. Then spread additional frosting on top and around the cake and garnish with your favorite toppings.

I shared this cake with my husband and daughter and there was still cake left over at the end (yes, we are strange). One note about the frosting below is to make sure that your Greek yogurt is at room temperature or slightly warmer so the chocolate doesn't seize up.

Enjoy, and Happy Mother's Day!

Chocolate cake for one
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons egg, beaten (save the rest for scrambled eggs!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Chocolate ganache
  • 9 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (can use a blend of chocolates here, including milk chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons Greek yogurt, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Clean out two standard canned food containers (the kinds that canned veggies comes in - clean out the insides very well and peel off any labels and residue from the exterior).  Spray the interior with baking spray and lightly dust with flour or cocoa powder. Line the bottoms of the cans with rounds of parchment paper and spray with baking spray. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the milk, egg and vanilla.

In the ball of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt with a spatula. Add the butter and half of the milk mixture and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.

Turn the mixer to medium speed and continue mixing for another 45 seconds or until the mixture gets lighter and airier. Add the remaining milk mixture and mix until well incorporated.

Transfer the batter into your prepared baking cans.

Bake in your preheated oven for 27-29 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the cans for about 10 minutes. Then run a sharp paring knife around the cakes and turn the cakes over on a wire rack. Remove the cake from the cans and allow them to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolates in a microwave-safe bowl (heat it up 30 seconds at a time). Stir the chocolate until it is smooth and allow to cool completely. Beat in the Greek yogurt, vanilla and salt. Make sure the chocolate is cool and the Greek yogurt is at room temperature or else your frosting will seize up.

Cut the cakes in half. Place one half on a serving plate and add frosting to the top. Add the second layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake. Repeat with the other cake and decorate as desired.

Yield: Two mini cakes (I halved the recipe above so I only got one cake to share - it was honestly big enough to share with my family of 3)

Source: Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers by Debby Maugans

Friday, May 12, 2017

Skating Fridays

Photos from my Freestyle Event

I was browsing the official photos from Adult Nationals the other day and came across these two of my freestyle event. I was so excited to see that I was actually smiling and looking like I was enjoying myself. Also, I noticed that my arm extension has improved.

Here's to progress!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Brownie cookie dough layer cake

A truly epic brownie cake filled with an eggless cookie dough filling and topped with luscious ganache. This cake is so rich and amazing that you'll want to keep it for yourself!

Hi friends - this cake is EPIC. There is just no other way to describe it. I baked this once last fall for my birthday when I went to my friend E's house to celebrate. We baked this together one evening since our birthdays are two days apart. She was gracious enough to let me take a large slice home to share with my family, and I had been dreaming of this cake ever since.

The photos I took that night were not the best. I didn't have natural lighting and only had my smart phone. So I made a mental note to recreate this cake.

Addie's birthday was coming up and I asked her what type of cake she wanted me to bake. When she told me to keep it a surprise, there was no question what I was going to make her. It was the perfect opportunity to bake this cake again.

Don't get overwhelmed with the ingredients or the steps. It's really very easy. The cookie dough filling can be made in advance. Just make sure you don't eat it all when you're taste-testing and save some for the actual cake! It's hard, I know. The brownie cake layer can also be made in advance. Just wrap the layers in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. You can always assemble the cake a day or two later.
This cake is very dense and very rich. Addie was so excited to eat this for her birthday cake, and we were even more thrilled that her grandparents were here to help us celebrate and eat the cake with us. I should have sent them home with some, but we've been happily snacking on it bit by bit since we cut into the cake.

If you like brownies, and you like cookie dough, then this is the cake for you. It stores well and is easily sharable so it will definitely feed a small crowd. Enjoy!

Brownie cookie dough layer cake
Brownie layer
  • 1 and ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Cookie dough filling
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 and ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • 2 and ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Ganache frosting
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (can substitute with chocolate chips)
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Extra chocolate chips, for garnish
Bake the brownie cake layers: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line three 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper (this is important so your cake doesn't stick). In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until well combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding another. Add in the vanilla and stir well.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Slowly transfer the dry ingredients into the large bowl with the egg mixture and mix until everything is just combined. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter into your 3 prepared baking pans and bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with some wet crumbs. Allow the cake layers to cool completely before removing from the pans. Cakes can also be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature overnight before assembling.

Make the cookie dough filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the powdered sugar until well combined. Add the flour and powdered sugar and mix well. Add the milk and vanilla and continue beating until well incorporated. Set aside.

Make the ganache:  In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat the heavy cream until hot but not boiling, about 45 seconds. Remove the bowl from the microwave, and add the chocolate chips into the cream. Let the chocolate chips rest for about 30 seconds. Then beat with a spatula until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and mix well until everything is fully combined. Set aside.

Assemble the cake:  After the cakes have fully cooled, place one layer on top of a cake platter or plate. Add about 1 cup of the filling on top and spread with an offset spatula all the way to the edge of the cake. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and filling, ending with a cake layer.

Put the cake in the refrigerator to chill for at least 10 minutes.

Pour the about 1/2 of the ganache on top of the cake and push until the ganache drips over the edges. Put the cake back in the refrigerator for another 20 minutes for the ganache to set. Top with remaining ganache and allow to set. If desired, add more ganache or decorate with additional chocolate chips.

Leftover cake should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 8" layer cake; about 8-12 servings

Source: Lemon Sugar


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