Cherry Chocolate Cake

  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 C dark brown sugar
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 3/4 t almond extract
  • 1/2 C ground almonds
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 C very strong black coffee, freshly boiled
  • 1 24-28 oz jar sour cherries in juice
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1 T icing sugar
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/4 t almond extract
  • shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

In the large bowl of a stand mixer add the sugar and half of the butter. Mix until combined. Meanwhile chop the baking chocolate into rough chunks. Melt the remaining butter in a small bowl and then add in the baking chocolate, mixing with a rubber spatula until the chocolate has fully melted. Add to the sugar/butter mixture. Beat until the chocolate is fully incorporated and it has cooled down some. Next beat the eggs in one at a time. Add in the buttermilk and extracts, mixing slowly so it doesn’t slosh over the rim.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt, and soda together. Slowly add to the batter, alternating with the almonds, mixing slowly after each addition until the dry ingredients are just barely incorporated.

Add in the boiling hot coffee and mix until a uniform consistency, making sure to use a rubber spatula to get any thick bits of batter up from the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Pour into 2 prepared (greased and floured) 8″ or 9″ round cake pans. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until just done in the centre.

Whilst the cake is baking, drain the juice from the cherries and pour into a small saucepan. Add water or another unsweetened fruit juice (cherry, cranberry, apple) to make about 1 C. Add in the sugar and bring to a boil, and reduce until a medium syrup is formed – it is noticeably viscous, but pours easily. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool.

Beat the cream in a very cold bowl until soft peaks form, add the sugar and extracts, and beat until stiff.

Once the cake is out of the oven, allow to fully cool. Once cool, trim the cakes so they are flat on top and then invert one onto a cake stand. Prick all over with a skewer and brush about half the cooled cherry syrup all over the cake. Add half the whipped cream spread evenly. Top with half the cherries. Place the next layer on top and do the same as with the bottom layer, prick with skewer, brush with syrup, add whipped cream and then add the cherries. You can either place them all in the middle for a more rustic looking cake, or arrange them in a pattern. Top with shaved dark chocolate.

Orange Cranberry Pound Cake

  • 1 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 c fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • zest of one orange
  • 2 1/3 c all-purpose flour, double sifted
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t orange extract
  • 1/2 t almond extract
  • 12 oz whole, fresh cranberries (frozen is fine)

Cream the butter and sugar together until fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one to add in as much air as possible. Add in the extracts, orange juice, and zest and mix until just combined.

Sift about 2 cups of flour into a bowl and then measure from that your 2 1/3 c of flour back into your sifter, Or you can whisk up your flour container to lighten up your flour and then gently measure from that your 2 1/3 c into your sifter. You want your flour to be as light and airy as possible or else you will add in too much flour and weigh down your cake.
Mix in your salt with your flour with a whisk.

In 3 batches, add your flour into your wet ingredients and mix until just barely combined, 15-20 seconds. Add in your cranberries. If they’re frozen you’ll probably want to mix them in with a wooden spoon because they will chill your batter and make it hard to mix in. If mixing in fresh berries, use a spatula so you don’t rupture too many of them.

Bake at 325°F for 60-75 minutes in a well greased loaf pan or small tube pan, or until a cake tester comes out clean (though you’ll get juiciness from the cranberries).

Lemon Muffins

  • 2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 1/2 T poppy seeds (opt)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 c yogurt
  • 8 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 t freshly grated lemon zest (zest from 1-2 lemons)
  • 1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 t lemon extract
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1.5-2 large lemons)
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes.

Cheesecake Brownies

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup + 2 T flour
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 C sour cream
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3-5 tablespoons white sugar, depending on how sweet you want it*
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan melt the chocolate and butter on low heat. Remove from the heat and add in the sugar and then the eggs, making sure the mixture is cool enough that the eggs don’t cook. Add the salt and vanilla. Sift the flour and cocoa together and add in to the chocolate mixture.

Mix the warm cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla together until smooth.

Grease and flour a 8″ square baking pan and pour the brownie mixture into it, spread evenly in the pan. Spoon the cheesecake mixture onto the top in dollops and swirl into the brownie batter with a small spatula.

Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until the top is slightly browned and feels set in the middle.

*If you like your desserts sweeter, which I generally don’t, use more sugar here and cut down on the cocoa in the brownie mix. These brownies are not extremely sweet and the cheesecake retains a pleasing tang that pairs very nicely with the dark chocolate of the brownie.

Orange Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

Cake Batter

  • 3/4 c softened unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c white sugar
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour or cake flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp mace or nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1 tsp orange extract

Icing

  • 1/4 c unsalted butter
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 c icing sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together, beating in an electric mixer for a few minutes until light and fluff, scraping down occasionally. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Add the orange zest and extracts. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the butter-sugar-egg mixture alternately with the orange juice, beating sparingly until just combined.  Bake at 325°F for 35-45 minutes in an 8″ square baking dish, or double the recipe and bake in a tube or bundt pan for 65-75 minutes.

For the icing, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the brown sugar and heavy cream. Take off the heat and stir together until smooth. Return to the heat and boil for one minute. Let cool, then whisk in 1 cup of icing sugar and 1 t of vanilla extract and beat until smooth and glossy. While still slightly warm and malleable, spread on the cooled cake with an icing spatula. If icing a bundt cake, double the recipe.

Banana & Dark Chocolate Chip & Espresso Cupcakes with Cream Cheese-Yogurt Icing

  •  4-5 very ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
  • 4 ounces of espresso (or very strong coffee)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso granules (opt).
  • 1/3 cup melted, unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 package bittersweet chocolate chips

Icing

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup full-fat yogurt
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 – 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, (add in 1/4 cup increments until desired sweetness and texture is reached. I like my icing on the tangy side)
  • pinch of salt

Zucchini Spice Bread

Adapted from this recipe on SmittenKitchen.com

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 t orange extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 t crushed anise seed
  • 1/2 t cardamom
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and orange extracts and the zucchini. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, spices, soda and baking powder. Add to the wet ingredients in batches until just barely mixed in. Add in the nuts and fruit/chocolate chips.

Grease and flour two loaf pans and pour the batter into them and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes until golden on top and done in the centre. Cool on wire racks and turn out when cool.

*I use freshly ground whole spices whenever possible, so for this I simply approximated the amount of spices I would need and ground them all together in my spice grinder. I crushed the anise seeds with a small mortar and pestle until they were mostly all cracked open. You could also grind the anise seeds in with the other spices if you wanted, I just thought the little bits of anise flavour would be nice in this.