Another Family's Classic Cornstarch Pudding Recipe

You down with OPP? Yeah you know ME! 

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Allow me to clarify: when I say "OPP" I mean, of course, "other people's pudding". And I don't mean it as a euphemism.

I literally mean that I am, in fact, down with making and eating other people's pudding recipes.

Case in point: this classic cornstarch pudding recipe. It's a reader's family recipe, originally from Edie Bliss. It shared with me, and I made it, and I want to share the recipe with you.

Let me tell you how it went down. 

So, I have this Facebook page for CakeSpy, and one of my favorite things to do there is to ask people's opinions on various dessert-related things. For instance, I might ask "what is your favorite cake to enjoy with cream cheese frosting?" or something along those lines. I love reading people's responses. If you like talking about stuff like that, definitely check out my Facebook page! 

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On a recent crowd-sourcing conversation with readers, someone mentioned a unique pudding recipe in their family archives which includes vanilla, almond, AND lemon extracts. I was like "ooh!". 

Sure enough, not long later, that reader's daughter sent along the recipe! (title of the email I received: "Subject: My Mother's Pudding Recipe That You Were Interested In: Cornstarch Pudding").

I made it yesterday, and I have to tell you, this pudding is very, very special.

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For one thing, it's crazy-easy to make. You need like, zero skills and five minutes, and you can make this pudding, and it is glorious.

It is delicious and tastes like it took way more skill and time than it really did.

For another thing, it's delicious. I love recipes with lemon, almond, OR vanilla extract, but I don't believe I have ever combined all three in one recipe. While the pudding looks like a standard vanilla pudding, it has a truly unique flavor which has echoes of almond and lemon and will truly intrigue your taste buds!

Perhaps more importantly, I loved the intimate look that this recipe gave me into another family's traditions. Part of what makes foods so special is who you share them with, so for me, this was a beautiful way to interact with readers and see what type of food is part of their loving memories. It makes my heart sparkle, the very thought! 

In terms of eating: I loved this pudding still warm, but it's also great chilled. 

Thanks to Juli and Judi for sharing this recipe! It's a keeper, for sure. I'm keeping the recipe formatted just as it was sent! 

Cornstarch pudding

4 servings 

  • 1/3 C. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch 
  • ¼ tsp. salt


Mix these three together in a medium-size pan.

  • 2 egg yolks

Add to sugar mixture, and mix again.

  • 2 C. milk (2% or whole)

Add very gradually and stir well. Cook until it bubbles.

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. lemon extract 
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract

Remove pudding from heat and stir in.

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Variation:

For chocolate pudding, add 4 ozs. melted bitter chocolate and increase sugar by ¼ C. Omit almond and lemon extracts.

(Mom used the leftover egg whites to make meringue cookies or something else. Nothing went to waste!)

Do you have a favorite pudding recipe in your family?

Funfetti Explosion Birthday Ice Cream Cake

If you were a unicorn, what would you be eating at right this very minute? I can tell you what I'd be eating. THIS:

Reprinted with permission from Secret-Layer Cakes by Dini Kodippili, Page Street Publishing Co. Photo credit: Kodippili

Reprinted with permission from Secret-Layer Cakes by Dini Kodippili, Page Street Publishing Co. Photo credit: Kodippili

This splendid and magnificent thing is called "Funfetti Explosion Birthday Ice Cream Cake," and it is featured in the new book Secret-Layer Cakes by Dini Kodippili. Oh, you might know her as the celeb blogger behind The Flavor Bender. I'm kind of friends with her. It's no big (it's totally a big!). 

I should also tell you that recently, Dini made some donuts inspired by MY recent book, Stuff Unicorns Love. Be sure to check out that post, too! 

Her publisher was kind enough to grant permission for me to share this incredible masterpiece on CakeSpy. Please, promise me you'll make it every day? Here's the headnote from Dini and then the recipe. Enjoy! 

 

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Funfetti Explosion Birthday Ice Cream Cake

This cake looks like a funfetti cannon exploded all over it. Kids love rainbow colors and funfetti, so it'll be perfect for a summer birthday party! A fudgy blondie layer is packed with funfetti and topped with a cake batter-flavored funfetti ice cream layer. Top it with some sparklers to complete the look. 

Makes one 8-inch (20-cm) cake

Funfetti Blondie Layer

  • 170 g (6 oz) unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 250 g (8.8 oz) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175 g (6.2 oz) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (113 g) funfetti (rainbow) sprinkles

Funfetti Cake Batter Ice Cream Layer

  • ¼ cup (59 ml) whipping cream
  • ¼ cup (61 g) milk powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.9 L (64 oz [4 pints]) vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1½ cups (339 g) funfetti (rainbow) sprinkles

Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • ½ cup (118 ml) water
  • 3¾ tsp (19 g) powdered gelatin
  • 5 cups (1 L) plus 1–2 tbsp (15-30 ml) chilled whipping cream, divided
  • 1 cup (130 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple gel food coloring

To Decorate

  • Funfetti sprinkles
  • M&M’s® candies

Funfetti Blondie Layer

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter an 8-inch (20-cm) wide, 3-inch (8-cm) tall springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and dust the sides with flour. Melt the butter, salt and brown sugar in a heatproof bowl in 30-second intervals in the microwave. Stir to form a smooth butter-sugar mixture. Set aside to let cool slightly.

Once the butter-sugar mix has cooled, add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and the flour. Fold in the funfetti sprinkles.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes (the blondie should still be soft and fudgy in the middle). Let the blondie cool in the pan.

When it has cooled, line the sides with parchment paper or acetate paper. Refrigerate the blondie layer until the ice cream is ready.

Funfetti Cake Batter Ice Cream Layer

Microwave the cream until it’s warm, but not hot. Add the milk powder and dissolve it completely. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Let cool.

Place the softened vanilla ice cream in a bowl, add the cooled milk powder mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the funfetti sprinkles. Spread the ice cream over the funfetti blondie.

Place the ice cream in the freezer until it freezes and hardens completely. This makes it easier to frost the cake quickly.

Stabilized Whipped Cream

Place the water in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to let the gelatin bloom. Microwave the bloomed gelatin in 10-second intervals, stirring in between, until the gelatin is completely dissolved (making sure that the gelatin does not boil).

Add 5 cups (1.2 L) of the chilled whipping cream and confectioners’ sugar to a cold bowl. Whisk with the whisk attachment of your hand mixer on medium speed. Add the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) of chilled cream to the hot, dissolved gelatin and stir to temper the gelatin. Add this gradually to the cream that is being whipped (being careful to pour it near the whisk, so that the gelatin gets mixed in with the cream immediately!). Whisk gently until you get soft peaks that still hold their shape. Use immediately.

Work quickly to frost the frozen ice cream cake. Divide the whipped cream into 7 portions, then combine two to make one larger portion (so that you have 5 small portions and 1 double portion). Color the small portions with red, orange, yellow, green and blue gel food coloring. Color the double portion with purple.

Decorate

Remove the completely frozen funfetti ice cream cake from the freezer, and unmold from the springform pan.

Spread the whipped cream on the sides of the cake to create a rainbow pattern—either rainbow patches, or rainbow ombre stripes—starting with red at the bottom and purple at the top edge and on the top of the cake.

You can use the leftover whipped cream to pipe rainbow swirls on top of the cake as well.

Sprinkle some funfetti sprinkles and M&M's on top (in the center). Return the cake to the freezer until you’re ready to serve. 

Who in your life needs this cake? 

People Love Stuff Unicorns Love!

Today, I'd like to discuss a subject near and dear to me: namely, how great I am.

Joking aside, I must say with all honesty that I've been humbled and absolutely delighted by some of the wonderful accolades which have been heaped upon my newest book, Stuff Unicorns Love.

If you're not familiar with my book, allow me to share the cover...

and the Amazon synopsis:

"A whimsical, humorous imagining of what unicorns really think and what they truly love—including recipes for unicorn food, crafts, and the history of these mythical creatures.

Glitter. Sparkles. Rainbows and shimmering manes. Sure, unicorns are magical, and their reputations have taken the world by storm, but how much do we know about what unicorns reallythink? What’s their favorite cookie? What about their favorite color? Would they really drink that pastel milkshake you found on Pinterest?

They sure would!

In Stuff Unicorns Love, you’ll get a guided tour of unicorns’ most treasured things straight from a unicorn’s mouth—from food recipes and crafts to beauty tips and their favorite activities.

Learn the truth about these adorable (and painfully honest) creatures, as well as the facts behind their origins. With illustrations and tons of fascinating unicorn facts throughout, this is a perfect gift for unicorn lovers of all ages."

I know, pretty great, right?

Well, I have to say that this is my absolute favorite book project to date. It's like the content just poured directly from my heart and soul onto the page. In that way, it was probably the easiest project I've ever worked on; I never had to seek out the muse, it was always there. As any writer or artist knows, that is the best kind of flow you can ask for! 

While the book has only been out a month and a half, it's already received some very kind words.

I'd like to share some of the kind reviews and attentions the book has gotten, if you'd care to listen. If you've purchased the book (or even received it), would you consider leaving a review on Amazon? You don't need to have purchased it from Amazon to review it. Any review or bit of attention is hugely helpful to me, and I appreciate it! 

The Flavor Bender: OMG. Dini of The Flavor Bender made the amazing donuts pictured at the top of the post, INSPIRED BY MY BOOK! You must click over to the recipe post, and you must buy HER book, which also recently dropped: Secret-Layer Cakes.

Sweet ReciPeas: Peabody (a longtime blog and IRL friend) says some really nice things about me here, and gives you a great recipe. 

The Nerdy Girl Express: A wonderful review that appreciates the joy that is this book! 

That's Normal: an amusing and totally sweet review! 

If I've missed a review that you've posted, let me know and I will add it! And once again: get ye to Amazon! Review my book! 

Love, CakeSpy

 

Easiest-Ever Potato Chip Cookies

So, I got some potato chips in the mail. Through this and that, cookies were the result.

The chips were sent to me by Tim's Cascade Snacks. As a bit of disclosure, the chips were sent to me at no cost, but I was not compensated for this post.

The flavors were interesting - Sweet Chili and Maple Bacon. The sweet chili sounds good to snack on, but the maple bacon proved inspiring for baking projects.

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According to the Tim's PR release, this chip flavor "imparts the perfect yin/yang  blend of sweet and slightly salty flavors. With its smoky fall flavors of Maple combined with bacon, Maple Bacon chips are cut extra thick and crunchy, and are sure to be a hit during game day. Gluten- free and with no preservatives or artificial flavors, since they are a Special Edition flavor, Tim’s Maple Bacon Chips will only be in stores for a limited time."

But I digress. When I saw them, my first thought was "I'd like to make some potato chip cookies". As previously noted, the maple bacon flavor seemed like a more natural fit, so I decided to use those.

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Only problem? I had no eggs, and many cookies require eggs. Unnnnnggghhh, it's too cold to go to the grocery store. But then what should I spy in my fridge but a tube of refrigerated sugar cookie dough? 

Perfect. So I decided to mash the chips into the pre-made dough and see what I could see.

Well, here's what I found when I combined the store bought cookie dough and chips and baked it up. 

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I actually quite liked how they came out. The chips added a nice salty-and-crunchy element to the cookie dough, and dressed it up so it tasted way more homemade. This is the type of cookie that you just need to embrace in all its non-gourmet goodness and maybe serve with champagne if you need a touch of fancy.

If you're looking for a quick snack for a game day, whip up a batch of these super easy cookies! 

Easiest-ever potato chip cookies

makes about 24 medium sized cookies (or 12 jumbo cookies)

  • 1 tube refrigerated cookie dough (I used sugar cookie dough)
  • 2 cups potato chips (UNCRUSHED) - about 2 generous handfuls 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or as specified on the cookie dough package). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. Combine the cookie dough and chips in a large bowl. By hand, mash the mixture together until the chips are crushed into, and evenly dispersed, throughout the dough. I suppose this could be done with a mixer but by hand it felt cathartic. 
  3. Shape into approximately 1-inch balls, and place evenly spaced (with a little room on all sides) between 2 baking sheets. 
  4. Bake for 11-14 minutes (or as specified on the package instructions for the cookies). Remove from the oven; let cool briefly on the pan before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store covered at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

Have you ever "doctored" store bought cookie dough?

Pie Crust Crackers

Yo, you need some crackers quick? Use pie crust.

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Usually, when I have extra pie crust, I make roly polies. But recently, I found a new and savory alternative to the sweet nuggets: pie crust crackers.

Let me set the scene for you. I happened to be making a cheese ball, and needed some crackers to take appetizing photos of it. I didn't happen to have crackers, but I did happen to have a disc of pie dough (you know how every recipe yields two? Sometimes you find yourself with an extra)

So I went ahead and rolled out that disc of dough and cut it into little rectangles. I "painted" them with an egg wash (whole egg plus a teaspoon of water) and sprinkled them with sea salt and some Italian seasoning mix.

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Then I baked 'em up and here's what I got:

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YUM! Pie crust crackers are completely delicious. They're crumbly and rich and flavorful.

The one problem with pie crust crackers, though, is that they are delicate. So for instance, if I were to try to use one to scoop a bit of cheese ball, the cracker would in fact explode. So as long as you know not to try to test these crackers like that, or to stack them carefully before eating, you're golden. 

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I was fairly laissez-faire about baking, I didn't actuallly monitor how long it took, so please just use this as a general recipe concept/template. 

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Pie crust crackers

  • Pie crust (a full dough disc or scraps)
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
  • seasonings of your choosing

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Roll out some pie crust (a full one, or just your scraps from making a pie), about the same thickness as if you were making a regular pie crust. Then, cut the dough into small rectangles (I'd estimate mine were about 1 inch by 2 inches?). 

Place the dough rectangles on a lined baking sheet. Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with seasonings of your liking.

Bake until deep golden brown - I'd say that mine took about 5-8 minutes but really, just keep an eye on them because I kind of forget the actual time it took and your oven might be different than mine. 

Store at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

Note: the egg wash is not completely necessary for these crackers but it is responsible for giving them that beautiful brown finish. 

What do you do with leftover pie dough scraps?

Can You Make Rice Krispies Treats Without Cereal?

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but who cares, because THESE RICE KRISPIES TREATS CONTAIN NO CEREAL. 

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The other day, I opened my cabinet and found a half-empty box of Lofthouse cookies I'd impulse-purchased at Target a couple of weeks prior. They were too stale too eat plain, but they still looked OK so I thought, maybe I could make something out of these. 

I played around taking photos of them for a while...

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and then I found myself wondering, "I wonder if I could make Rice Krispies with these cookies instead of cereal?". 

Turns out I had some mini marshmallows and some butter, so I hastened to make it happen. 

I crumbled up the cookies, and they measured about 2 cups' worth. I figured a cup of marshmallows and a big ol pat of butter would even them out. 

So, I melted the butter and marshmallows, then added the cookies, and stirred. It was cohesive!

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Since it wasn't quite enough to fill a pan, I just lined a loaf pan with some parchment and pressed the mixture into about half of the loaf pan. I let it set.

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Visually they were kind of ugly in the pan, but once sliced they looked more fudge-like and kind of fetching. 

You guys. These things were almost too delicious. 

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I took a little bite of one of the scraps and then was like "holy yum". I then quickly hastened to put as many as I could into my mouth. The frosting from the cookies was dotted here and there and they were rich and delicious. 

I can officially say that this is my new favorite way to use leftover cookies (though if you need more ideas, here are some other good ones). 

Plus, no cereal was harmed in the making of these bars. 

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No-cereal cookie treats 

Listen: basically your ratio is half as many marshmallows as crushed cookies. So if you had 1 cup of crushed cookies, use 1/2 cup of marshmallows; if you have 4 cups of crushed cookies, 2 cups of marshmallows. Got it? Good.

1 big pat of butter (I used about a tablespoon) 

1 cup mini marshmallows

2 cups crushed cookies 

Grease and line with parchment a loaf pan (or a larger pan if using creater quantities of cookies).

In a large saucepan, melt the butter and marshmallows. Once the marshmallows are mostly melty, add hte cookies and stir until coated evenly. 

Press the mixture into the pan; you can kind of mold it to make it is tall or as short as you like. Really jam it in there.

Let it set until room temperature, then cut into squares to serve. Feel free to write me a thank you note or send me a unicorn figurine in gratitude. 

Have you ever made creative Rice Krispies treats? 

The Only New Year's Food Resolutions You Need

Here ya go, sweeties! A few foodie resolutions that should be FUN to keep. 

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1. Challenge your food beliefs.

"I don't like coconut." "I hate raisins." "I don't eat chocolate on Saturdays." How many of you make broad statements like this? I do, for sure. But if you've been saying one of these things for years...is it really true, or are you just used to saying it? How about this year, you and I both resolve to challenge these food beliefs? After all, sometimes these things can change and you can actually find yourself enjoying something. 

I'll give you an example. I used to think I hated coconut cream pie and I just didn't eat it. Then one day I tried the version that Dahlia Bakery in Seattle made. It was so well made that it transcended my sweeping dismissal of this dessert. The fact is, when something is done well, it can make you a believer. It might not always be the case, but don't shut yourself out of experiences because of something you decided long ago! 

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2. Make something new (even if you fail). 

Are you enchanted by Baked Alaska but too scared to make it? Or, does something like making your own pie crust make you break out in cold sweat? Fact is, buddies, your first attempt is unlikely to be perfect or pin-worthy (at least mine rarely is). But you know what? the fact that you tried something new and delicious is celebration-worthy on its own. I did a post a while back about how even a pie crust made with melted butter (which is like, a cardinal sin) tasted pretty ok. The fact that you've made something and it's homemade already makes it pretty good; you need time to learn how to really do it. Progress, not perfection! 

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3. Be creative.

The first time I saw a lattice crust, I was intimidated by it. But when I tried it, I learned it was a lot easier than it looked. From there, I was able to add it to my repertoire and make other creative things using the technique. For instance, I was really proud of these basket weave cookies for Craftsy, wherein the lattice crust technique was applied to cookie dough. Don't just be bound by the constraints of recipes that already exist! Forge your own path.

4. Make food your destination! 

While of course delicious food will taste good anywhere, some foods just taste better in their natural habitat. Case in point: a lobster roll enjoyed on the Maine coast; a black and white cookie in New York City; Key Lime pie in Florida. When you travel, be sure to try the local specialties in their home setting and see for yourself if it makes a difference. As for me, I am going to the Gulf coast soon and I can't wait to try shrimp and who knows what else there! 

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5. Discover foods from different cultures. 

I suppose this is related to the resolution above, but it's something that doesn't necessarily require traveling. You can discover the foods of different cultures by cooking at home; or, it's likely that there's a foreign food you've never tried which is accessible in your hometown. For instance, last year I discovered, and made, and fell in love with, khachapuri, a Georgian eggy flatbread. Not only does discovering a new food expand your horizons, but it makes you more interested in the world and makes your palate more broad! 

6. Focus on pleasure.

Many people resolve to eat "healthier" around the new year. Whole 30 and paleo diets and whatever abound. Personally, I think it's kind of BS. I don't think that focusing on healthier eating is a bad thing at all, don't get me wrong. But I think it's important to focus on your mental health, as well. And sometimes, a great cookie or brownie or cupcake can do as much for your soul as a superfood salad does for your body. If you focus on truly enjoying and appreciating the treats you give yourself, I promise you won't need to overdo it. So rather than focusing on denying yourself these items, focus on truly enjoying it when you do treat yourself. 

7. Be tolerant of others. 

It's never a bad thing to be tolerant, but I am specifically talking about food. If someone follows a different diet than you, or eats more or less sugar than you, etc, etc, let them be that way. Don't try to dictate your diet mentality to others, and let it wash off of you if others try to tell you how to eat. Live and let live, ok? 

8. Discover new techniques.

When I went to Los Angeles a few years ago for a baking adventure with King Arthur flour, I learned a nifty technique of making pie crust with your hands. For some reason, this made pie crust "click" for me--clearly, I had found the technique that worked for me and that made me enthusiastic about making pie crust. Sometimes, a new technique can enliven your cooking like that! Keep on discovering new techniques for things you do frequently and you may discover something that works perfectly for you. 

9. Treat yourself every day.

This relates back to the "focus on pleasure" resolution. Remember to treat yourself every day! As Dale Cooper said in Twin Peaks, "Harry, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don't plan it. Don't wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men's store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee." Your treat might be a manicure or it might be a cake truffle. OK, so technically it doesn't have to be food, but it does have to be sweet and geared toward yourself. Whatever it is, be sure to be kind to yourself in some way every day! 

What's your New Year's resolution?

 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Piñata Bundt

Your New Year's health resolution is boring to me. Let's eat cake instead.

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But not just any cake, friends: a Mexican Hot Chocolate Piñata Bundt Cake! This beauty is from the brand new book Beautiful Bundts: 100 Recipes for Delicious Cakes & More by Julie Anne Hession

OK, so this book is awesome. It delivers on the promise of the title, with plenty of beautiful bundt cakes in all shapes and sizes. However, it also has some unexpected recipes. From savory bundts to pull-apart options, there are creative options in addition to the classics. It's truly a book that will challenge the view of the bundt pan as one trick pony in the kitchen!

I'm delighted to have received permission to share this recipe for a Mexican Hot Chocolate Piñata Bundt cake on the blog. This happy cake is perfect for parties, Cinco De Mayo, or really, let's be honest, any day of the year that you crave chocolate and joy (which is most days for me!). 

 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Piñata Bundt

Photo credit (above) and headnote (below): Julie Anne Hession

A piñata Bundt? That sounds fun! Indeed. This Bundt is full of surprises and guaranteed to turn any occasion into an instant fiesta. Cut into the whole cake, pull out the first slice and you’re met with a cascade of colored chocolate candies spilling out onto your plate. Take your first bite, and what you thought was a standard chocolate cake hits you with notes of cinnamon and spicy cayenne. Whether or not you hit the dance floor, your taste buds will definitely be doing the salsa!

Makes 12 to 14 servings

Tips

After filling cake, it’s best to invert it onto a serving plate instead of a wire rack. Because sections of the cake have been removed and replaced, the cake should be moved as little as possible.

The ganache thickens quickly once poured over the cake. To coax it down the sides, firmly tap the cake-topped plate or wire rack on the counter a few times.


Before you bake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C); dark pan, 325°F (160°C)
  • Get yourself a minimum 12-cup Bundt pan, and spray it with nonstick spray

Ingredients:

  • 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour (625 mL)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted  (250 mL)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (5 mL)
  • 1 tsp salt (5 mL)
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon (15 mL)
  • 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 tsp cayenne pepper (1 to 2 mL)
  • 2 1⁄4 cups  granulated sugar (560 mL)
  • 3⁄4 cup vegetable oil (175 mL)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature 
  • 1 tbsp coffee-flavored liqueur (such as Kahlúa) (15 mL)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (10 mL)
  • 1 1⁄2 cups  buttermilk (375 mL)
  • 1 3⁄4 cups mini candy-coated chocolate pieces (such as M&Ms), about 11 oz (330 g) 
  • 1 recipe Mexican Chocolate Ganache (see recipe below)    

Instructions

1.    In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cayenne.

2.    In the stand mixer bowl, beat sugar and oil on medium speed until blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in liqueur and vanilla.

3.    With the mixer on low speed, alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour and two of buttermilk, and beating until incorporated. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top.

4.    Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until puffed and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then carefully invert cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5.    Prepare cake for filling as directed on page 88. Pour candies into the “moat,” filling it to about 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) from the top. Trim cut-out cake sections so that they fit snugly back together on top of the candies, pressing to adhere and completely covering up candies. Carefully invert cake onto a serving plate.

6.    Pour ganache over the cake, letting it drip down the sides (see tip). Let ganache set for at least 20 minutes before serving.



Mexican Chocolate Ganache

Makes enough for a cake baked in a 10- to 12-cup pan

  • 6 oz dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped  (175 g)   
  • 1⁄3 cup heavy or whipping (35%) cream (150 mL)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter (15 mL)
  • 1⁄2 tsp    ground cinnamon (2 mL)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp coffee-flavored liqueur (such as Kahlúa) (30 to 45 mL)

1. In a small saucepan, stir together chocolate, cream and butter over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and liqueur to taste.

Have you ever made a creative bundt cake?

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies for Christmas

I'm bringing back this recipe because it's truly THE BEST! This is the only cookie recipe that I *always* make; others come and go.

Cookies

One of the most wonderful things about a recipe is all the places it can go.

Take, for instance, a recipe for two-tiered Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies that appeared in a women's magazine in the early 1980s. How could the recipe developer have known what a role this recipe would end up playing in the Spy family's lives?

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

After all, it was this recipe that struck the fancy of my mother (you know her as SpyMom) and intrigued her enough to bake a batch. And the whole family loved them. They were buttery and lightly crumbly but so soft and just ever so slightly chewy in the center, and the walnuts and pistachio and chocolate just worked so perfectly together. We all loved them so much, in fact, that the next year, she made them again. And the year after that. A tradition was born.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

But somewhere along the line--was it when her children went to college, moved away, began having their own lives?--the cookies stopped being made. Every year someone (usually me) would lament the fact that they were missing from the festivities, but year after year, they did not make an appearance.

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

But this year, we brought the recipe out from hiberation. SpyMom found the handwritten recipe and told me that this was during her "penmanship phase", when she would stay up at night practicing perfect penmanship, trying to will her handwriting into something more perfect than it was. 

Pistachio Cookies

Since then, her handwriting has reverted back to its old, slighly messier, but in my opinion, more charming form.

But how wonderful to encounter this little slice of the past, complete with doodlings (mine? My little sister's?) and speckled with baking debris from years past. 

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

I baked the cookies while my parents were out, and when they returned, my mother shrieked. "What?" I cried out, thinking that perhaps she'd seen a mouse. But no. "They're just like I used to make!" she said. And I may be getting a bit flowery here, but I think that she and my dad both had a little moment, thinking sweet memories. And that made me extremely happy, in turn. 

How's that for season's sweetings?

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies
Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

Chocolate Chip Pistachio Cookies

Makes about 24

  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 package (3 3/4 ounces) instant pistachio pudding (NOT sugar-free)
  • 6 ounces (half a bag) semisweet chocolate chips, plus 20-30 chips for garnish
  • confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease them.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth, 2-3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla; blend until creamy. Add the flour mixture in 3-4 increments, mixing until a stiff dough forms. Remove 1/4 of the dough to a separate bowl; add the walnuts.
  4. To the remaining dough, add the pudding mix and stir until completely combined. Fold in the 6 ounces of chocolate chips.
  5. By rounded teaspoonfuls, form the green dough into balls, and place 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Using the back of a teaspoon or a floured drinking glass bottom, gently flatten the tops of these dough rounds. 
  6. Grab the small bowl of walnutty dough. Form the dough into marble-sized pieces, and place a ball of this dough on the top of each pistachio dough mound. Sort of like a two-part snowman. 
  7. Place a single chocolate chip on top of each of the cookies, pressing gently to make sure it will stay in place.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for 8-15 minutes (listen, that long range is because I never calibrate my oven because I am lazy and I've baked these in a variety of ovens which have ranged though different bake times), or until set. It's going to be hard to see if they have become golden on the bottom, so mainly just look for a matte finish and an ever so slight golden color around the bottom edge. Remove from the oven and let cool on the rack for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar.