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The Bake-Off is Coming: Toasted Coconut Cheesecake Parfaits

Bakeoff recipe - mini cheesecake parfaits

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Narrowed down from zillions of entries, I'll profile some of the 100 finalists--but of course, based on the subject matter of this site, I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below the post to see which ones have been posted so far. Enjoy! 

Hey! Did you know that today (July 28) is National Milk Chocolate Day? And Tuesday (July 30) is National Cheesecake Day? It's true. And it's a great day to enjoy these easy to prepare Toasted Coconut Cheesecake Parfaits, which, as the name might imply, are packed with tasty stuff--including milk chocolate frosting! Therefore, it's the perfect sweet to celebrate this extra special week. This recipe is from Bake-Off finalist Gloria Seymour of Rohnert Park, California.

Toasted Coconut Cheesecake Parfaits

Prep time 30 minutes - Total Time 1 hour, 30 minutes

Makes 12

  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 tablespoon Smucker's® Caramel Flavored Topping
  • 1/2 cup Pillsbury® Creamy Supreme® Milk Chocolate Frosting
  • 2 teaspoons brewed coffee, room temperature
  • 3 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (14 oz) Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix (from 4-serving size box)


  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread 1 cup of the coconut in ungreased shallow pan. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes.
  3. In small bowl, mix toasted coconut and caramel topping. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave frosting on High 15 seconds or until smooth and creamy. Stir in coffee until well blended. Set aside.
  4. In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, scraping bowl occasionally until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cup coconut and pudding mix; beat on low speed until well blended.
  5. To assemble, spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons of the toasted coconut mixture into each of 12 (4 oz) glasses. Top with 3 tablespoons of the coconut cream cheese mixture, 1 teaspoon of the toasted coconut mixture and remaining coconut cream cheese mixture. Top each with about 2 teaspoons frosting mixture; sprinkle with remaining toasted coconut mixture. Refrigerate 1 hour. Store in refrigerator.

The Bake-Off is Coming: Red White and Blue Dessert Tacos

Dessert tacos

CakeSpy Note: OMG! The 46th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming! Since I so deeply loved attending the 45th Bake-Off, I thought I would get you excited early by sharing some of the finalists' recipes. Narrowed down from zillions of entries, I'll profile some of the 100 finalists--but of course, based on the subject matter of this site, I will focus on sweets! You can follow them by clicking the bakeoff tag below the post to see which ones have been posted so far. Enjoy! 

The first recipe I'll feature? A wonderful one: Red, White, and Blue Dessert Tacos. Created by Charlotte Giltner of Mesa, AZ, all you have to do is "Fold flaky biscuits around whipped cream and berries to create a taco-inspired dessert." Easy and sweet! Here's the recipe.

Red, White, and Blue Dessert Tacos

Total time: 30 minutes

8 servings

  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1cup fresh blueberries
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 can Pillsbury® Grands!® Flaky Layers refrigerated Butter Tastin'® biscuits
  • 2 tablespoons Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4cup Crisco® Pure Vegetable Oil


  1. In medium bowl, gently mix strawberries, blueberries and 4 tablespoons of the sugar. Cover; refrigerate, stirring occasionally.
  2. In small bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on low speed until slightly thickened. Increase speed to medium. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Cover; refrigerate.
  3. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Sprinkle flour on work surface; press or roll each biscuit into 6-inch round.
  4. In 12-inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add 2 biscuit rounds to skillet; cook 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side or until light golden brown. Repeat with remaining biscuit rounds, adding more oil as needed. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle one side of the biscuit rounds with the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar.
  5. With slotted spoon, spoon 1/3 cup fruit mixture lengthwise in middle of unsugared side of each biscuit round. Spoon rounded 1/4 cup whipped cream along outside edge of fruit; fold biscuit round over to form taco. Serve immediately.

For more Bake-Off fun, visit the official website.


The Story of Animal Crackers

Animal crackers

CakeSpy Note: Sometimes, I like doing sweet things for you, readers. And so I decided to share an inside look at one of my favorite stories--and recipes!--from my new book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts. This tale is all about animal crackers. Enjoy! 

“Animal crackers and cocoa to drink that is the finest of suppers I think; when I am grown up and have what I please I think I shall always insist upon these.”

—Actor and writer Christopher Morley

Everyone loves those curious animal-shaped cookies that pack a crunch and are called “crackers.” But how is it that these proud little animals began marching their way into our mouths and hearts?

Well. The custom of crafting cookies that resemble creatures is nothing new— as early as the 1600s in Germany, bakers were making sweet treats resembling savage beasts. But it wasn’t until the 1800s that the wheels began to turn, set- ting off the chain reaction that made these sweet crackers a snacking staple. For this we owe a thank-you to the industrial revolution: that’s when biscuits, cookies, and crackers began to be manufactured in factories.

In Victorian England, “crisp biscuits”—that’s sweet, cracker-like cookies, to Americans— were very popular. Some of these biscuits were shaped like animals. A hint of things to come was evident when Zoologicals, animal-shaped cook- ies made by Philadelphia baker Walter G. Wilson, were sold at the Centennial Exposition of 1876—the first world’s fair in America. (This pivotal event yielded many innovations, including the introduction of the Dewey Decimal system, the ice cream soda, and the grand debut of the Statue of Liberty’s torch, before it was affixed to the rest of her body in New York City.)

After acquiring two New York City bakeries that produced animal-shaped biscuits, the National Biscuit Company (later Nabisco) began producing animal-shaped biscuits on a commercial scale which allowed for widespread distribution.

Animal Crackers

Serendipitously, this timing coincided with P. T. Barnum’s growing reputation as an international showman and circus owner. Perhaps sensing a sales opportunity, several companies had begun marketing foods of all sorts with circus-themed packaging, and these biscuits were a natural tie-in. The National Biscuit Company did it most famously, with their 1902 debut of the animal-shaped crackers. Marketed as a specialty holiday item, they were sold in a small box resembling a circus cage with a handle at the top, for displaying as an ornament.

The crackers proved so popular that they were soon being produced year-round, the ornament string promoted as an easy way for children to transport the cookies. In 1948, they were renamed Barnum’s Animal Crackers, which is what they’re still called today. But for all the glittering success of the Barnum associa- tion, the circus man did not receive payment for the use of his name: according to an article in the Washington Post, he never got a cent for the crackers.

Ready for a recipe? Here's an adaptation of the one in the book. For more sweet stories and recipes, buy the book: The Secret Lives of Baked Goods: Sweet Stories & Recipes for America's Favorite Desserts.

Homemade Animal Crackers (Printable version here)

Makes about 6 dozen


  • 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3⁄4 cup (1 1⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to cool room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, stirring until combined.
  3. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Form the dough into 2 disks and wrap well with plastic; refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Chilling the dough will ensure that the shapes hold once cut out and that the dough will not spread too much during baking.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. Allow the cookie dough to warm slightly at room temperature before rolling it. On a floured work surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to about 1⁄4 inch thick. Use small animal-shaped cut- ters to cut the dough (of course, other small cutters will work, too). Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Gather up the dough scraps and re-roll to make more cookies. Leave a small amount of room around each cookie to allow for spreading. If desired, you can use toothpicks to enhance the details on the animals, or add faces.
  7. Let the cookies chill (on the baking sheets) in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking. This will ensure even further that the dough retains any details you’ve added.
  8. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes ,or until firm, just lightly brown on the edges, and with a dull finish on top. Let cool on the pan for several minutes, then transfer to a flat surface (they may fall through a wire rack) to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 7 days.

And in closing:

Per Panati's Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, children across America tend to “nibble away at the animals in definite order of dismem- berment: back legs, forelegs, head, and lastly the body.”


Taste of Summer: Cherry Pie Shortbread Bars

Cherry pie shortbread bars

Confession: I love cherries, but I do not love cherry pie. I can't tell you why. Maybe because it tastes like health food to me? 

But, you know, I believe that every now and again it's worth taking a moment to re-evaluate your likes and dislikes. Like, do you actually despise cherry pie, CakeSpy? Or is it a notion that you have about yourself that you haven't bothered to challenge for a while? 

I figured that if there was going to be a way to make cherry pie into something loveable for me, I figured that adding shortbread probably be a good place to start.


Basically, I altered a cherry pie recipe into one for bar cookies. I swapped the typical pie crust for a pressed crust of mashed shortbread, and then topped the crust layer with a fairly classic cherry pie filling. I baked for the same amount of time specified in the recipe, and hoped for the best.

But oh, oh, oh! They turned out even better than I thought.

Cherry Pie Shortbread bars

For one thing, they sliced cleanly and beautifully, even while still warm (who can wait til it cools entirely?). For another, the tart cherries I used were wonderful--not overly sweet, and beautifully paired with the slightly oaty shortbread I used--they almost tasted like cherry pie mashed together with an oatmeal cookie (no raisins!). 

Cherry pie shortbread bars

They made for a true taste of summer: tart and sweet and refreshing, but that shortbread and butter crust kept it firmly in dessert, and definitely not health food, territory.

Oh, and in case you're wondering if they go well with ice cream...don't be stupid. Of course they do!

Cherry Pie Shortbread bars

A fantastic recipe to try!

Cherry Pie Shortbread Bars (Printable version here!)

For the crust

  • 2 boxes Duchy Shortbread (I used one box of the plain butter kind, and one box of the "Oaten Biscuits")
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

For the topping


  • 2 cups pitted sour cherries  
  • 1 cup white sugar 
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Mix together the crushed cookies and butter; press into a well greased 8-inch square pan. Set aside.
  3. Place the cherries, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium-sized non-aluminum saucepan. Allow the mixture to stand for 10 minutes, or until the sugar draws out the cherries' juices. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Lower the heat; simmer for 1 minute, or until the juices thicken and become translucent. Remove pan from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla. Allow the filling to cool to lukewarm.
  4.  Pour the filling on top of the crust. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven on the baking tray for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for several hours before slicing.

Shortbread Cookie Truffles Recipe

Shortbread truffles

Recently, I wrote up a tutorial on How to Make Oreo Cake Pops for the lovely and amazing website Craftsy.com. An important life skill if ever there was one!

And naturally, they were delicious. Here's a sneak peek:

Oreo Cake Truffles

and gosh are they tasty! (tutorial for those can be found here).

But the process got me thinking...could I do this with other flavor combinations? For instance, could I substitute shortbread cookies for Oreos, and fancy chocolate for the candy melts?

Why the heck not?, I thought, especially as I have a boatload of freebies I'd recently received, including tasty shortbread (Duchy Originals) and Tcho Chocolate. I thought: I'm going to make some shortbread cookie truffles, or die trying!

Actually, it wasn't so dramatic. I didn't actually think death was a possibility. But I suspected deliciousness was dangerously close!

So, I won't keep you in suspense. Here's how they came out:

Shortbread Truffles

I know, beauties, right? Here's an inside shot. 

Shortbread Truffles

And I am happy to report that they taste as good as they look. Lightly salty. Very buttery. A little nutty, owing to the fact that I used part regular shortbread and part "oaten biscuits". Nice and moist inside--the shortbread didn't crumble as much as I thought it might. And the chocolate was to die for. I used the Tcho Milk Chocolate discs (from their baking chocolate series), and I can say with no hesitation that this is not your typical milk chocolate. It almost tasted...caramelly. The flavor just lingered in your mouth. Yum yum yum yum yum. They're pricey, but if you have a recipe that will really let the chocolate shine, I say go for it. 

Nice little morsels--decadent, but hey, that's why they're in small portions, right? Next time I try this recipe, I'd like to try using dulce de leche or melted caramels instead of the cream cheese to moisten the crumbled cookies. Yep: I have visions of Millionaire's Shortbread Truffles dancing in my head! 

But for now, here's the simple version. Gosh-darn are they good.

Shortbread Cookie Truffles (Printable version? Right here.)

Makes 12-16

  • 2 boxes Duchy Shortbread (I used one box of the plain butter kind, and one box of the "Oaten Biscuits")
  • 1/2 block cream cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1 bag chocolate morsels (I used an 8 ounce bag of Tcho Milk chocolate)
  1. Prepare the truffle innards. First, prepare a baking sheet like so: lay a sheet of waxed or parchment paper on top, and set to the side. You’ll be happy to have this handy a few steps down the line.
  2. Now, you need to crush the cookies. If you have a food processor, put the whole cookies inside, and pulse several times, until the cookies have been reduced to fine crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, place the cookies into a heavy duty plastic bag and crush using the bottom of a heavy tumbler or the side of a rolling pin. This is very fun for kids (with supervision, of course!)!
  3. Once the cookies are completely crumbled, place them into a large bowl. Add the cream cheese, and using your impeccably clean hands, thoroughly mix the cookie crumbs and cream cheese. Since the shortbread is already pretty buttery, it should be able to form nicely into balls.
  4. Clean your hands so that you have a clean surface to roll the “dough” by hand. Roll it into balls, about 1 inch or so in diameter. Maybe an inch and a half. Place them on the baking sheet. If you're lazy, you can also just put them on a plate, but they might stick a little bit. I'll be honest. While I want to tell you how to do it the "right way", I in fact did not. I put them on a plate in the freezer on top of some ice cream. 
  5. Shortbread Truffles
  6. Speaking of which, you do want to chill them. Place the baking sheet into the refrigerator for an hour, or the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  7. With the dough still in its chilling place, begin to melt your chocolate over low heat.
  8. It will gradually begin to melt and become smooth. Once mostly melted, the last bits will melt rapidly in the residual heat, so keep a close eye on the pan. 
  9. Shortbread Truffles
  10. Remove from heat, and take your baking tray out of the refrigerator or freezer. It's time to enrobe.
  11. Shortbread Truffles
  12. I like to place the dough on a fork and drip the chocolate on top using a spoon--the tines seem to allow the excess coating to drip off.
  13. Shortbread Truffles Shortbread Truffles
  14. Transfer to a wire rack with a sheet of waxed paper or paper towels beneath, to catch drips.
  15. If desired, drizzle sprinkles over the truffle. You need to do this directly after dipping or they will not stick.
  16. Shortbread Truffles
  17. Let set for at least an hour before serving.



Caramel Chocolate Pecan Ebelskivers


Where there's a well, there's a way. No, that was not a spelling error. I mean "well". Actually, I meant seven wells, because that's how many you'll need in your ebelskiver pan to make these tasty treats.

But...first things first. What the eff is an ebelskiver?

Well, first, picture a pancake. Now, shrink it to about the size of a ping-pong ball and puff it up a little bit, and fill it with something tasty. You're starting to get the idea. They're a traditional Danish pancake, and they're mighty tasty. They're filled with any number of different flavors and ingredients, but I think they're best when they're served sweet.

True or not, there is a rather charming story behind the history of the ebelskiver. As it goes, they were created by the Vikings following a long day of unsuccessful battle. Gathering around the fire, the weary soldiers set to making some pancakes (just what I want to do after a long day of battle, how 'bout you?). But they couldn't find the griddle! Instead of admitting defeat, a quick-thinking soldier thought to pour the batter into his dented shield. The batter settled into the dents and baked up as nubbly little pancake popover-type puffs. The ebelskiver was born! 

Truthfully, it's much more likely that the Danes picked up the idea in the course of their trade and travel in Asia, where one of the regional specialties they came across were a sort of pancake puff, notably the takoyaki, a savory pancake puff popular in Japan. It required a specific type of pan. In China, a pancake-y treat called gai daan jai, similarly called for a pan with wells. Likewise, in India, the paniyaram pan is used to make tender puffed breads called kuzhi paniyaram. It's likely that these concepts were adopted and adapted in Denmark, and it was a sort of evolution that led to the ebelskiver.

In case you didn't grasp it yet...with ebelskivers, you *do* need a specific pan. It's called (wait for it) an ebelskiver pan. It looks like of like this: 

Here's a recipe for chocolate caramel pecan ebelskivers, care of the book 150 Best Ebelskiver Recipes.  

Caramel Chocolate Pecan Ebelskivers

This recipe makes 28 puffs.


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (works best for the small puffs)
  • vegetable oil
  • 14 individually wrapped soft caramel candies, unwrapped and cut in half
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, egg yolks, milk, butter, and vanilla until well blended.
  3. Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended (the batter will be slightly lumpy). Gently stir in pecans and chocolate chips.
  4. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat egg whites until frothy. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix one-third of the egg whites into the batter. Gently fold in the remaining whites.
  5. Brush wells of pan lightly with oil. Set pan over medium heat. When oil begins to sizzle, add 1 tablespoon of batter to each well. Place a caramel candy half in the center, and top with 1 more tablespoon of batter. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Using two skewers, flip the puffs over. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown and the puffs are firm to the touch. Remove pan from heat and transfer puffs to a plate. Let pan cool slightly.
  6. Repeat with remaining batter and caramels, brushing wells with oil and reheating the pan before each batch.
  7. Dust the ebelskivers with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

How to Make Doughnuts Using Biscuits from a Tube

Biscuit doughnuts

Want to make homemade doughnuts for National Doughnut Day (that's today, btw) but feel like it sounds, well, too hard?

Well, listen up, sweeties, because I've got a tip that can take you from zero to doughnuts in less than 15 minutes. Seriously. This scene could be your life in less time than it takes to watch an episode of the Simpsons:

Biscuit doughnuts

The secret to this sweet success? Pop-n-bake tube of biscuits! Totally not kidding!

Pop the magic

They're a fantastic shortcut to surprisingly tasty doughnuts that you can make at home. And they're so, so easy! All you need is some oil, a skillet, and whatever sweet garnish you like on your doughnuts. 

Biscuit doughnuts

Donut believe me? Well, that's your right. But I can prove it by telling you how to make this delicious dish, right here and now. I donut know who invented this recipe, but I am so glad they did. And I'm happy to share it with you. You'll be rewarded with cakey, lightly sweet doughnuts that really do pass quite well for "real" doughnuts!

Biscuit doughnuts

How to Make Doughnuts Using Biscuits From a Tube (Printable version here!)

Makes 8 doughnuts, and 8 doughnut holes


  • A heavy, large skillet
  • Tongs or a slotted spoon
  • Paper towels
  • Several shallow bowls or plates for putting toppings


  • 1 tube (usually 8 to 10) pop-n-bake biscuits. The brand doesn't matter.
  • Vegetable Oil, for frying (you want about 1/2 inch or so in the pan)
  • If desired, melted butter (to help toppings adhere)
  • Toppings: confectioners' sugar, crushed cookies, honey, nuts, chocolate sauce, sprinkles--whatever you want!

Pop open that tube of biscuits. Separate them.

Biscuit doughnuts

Using an apple corer (or, like me, the top from a bottle of water), cut the holes out of the centers. Gently remove them and set to the side (doughnut holes!). 

Biscuit doughnutsBiscuit doughnuts Biscuit doughnuts

Pour the oil in your skillet until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Heat the oil on medium heat until it has reached 375 degrees. Don't have a thermometer? You can also break a small piece of dough off and toss it into the pan. If it starts bubbling assertively right away, you're probably ready to rock and roll.

Biscuit doughnuts

Gently transfer a couple of the doughnuts at a time into the pan (don't crowd them!). When they start to rise in the oil and turn brown.

Biscuit doughnuts Biscuit doughnuts

This won't take long--about a minute, if that. Now, turn them over using tongs or a slotted spoon. Once you've flipped them, the second side will take a slightly shorter amount of time.

Once fully fried, transfer to the paper towels to blot excess oil. Continue with the remaining doughnuts and holes until everything is fried. Turn the heat off. 

Biscuit doughnuts

Now, you're ready to decorate! What I did was set up a little toppings bar / decorating area. I had shallow plates with confectioners' sugar, chocolate sauce (ice cream sauce), rainbow sprinkles, crushed cookies, pecans, honey, et cetera.

Biscuit doughnuts Biscuit doughnuts

If you want to dust them with confectioners' sugar, simply place them in the dish, and turn until coated. Tap to dust off excess. If you're not going to eat them right away, roll them again once more before serving because the sugar can become gummy if it sits for a few minutes on the doughnut. Some people find that brushing the tops with melted butter can make the sugar stick better.

Biscuit doughnutsBiscuit doughnuts Biscuit doughnuts

If you want to make a frosted doughnut, dip one side of the doughnut into the chocolate sauce; lift, and let the excess drip off. Once dripped off, dip it in the sprinkles gently, and transfer to a plate to set. 

Biscuit doughnutsBiscuit doughnuts Biscuit doughnutsBiscuit doughnuts Biscuit doughnuts

You could also garnish with honey and pecans...

Biscuit doughnuts

or crushed cookies...

Biscuit doughnuts

or a little bit of everything.

Biscuit doughnuts

But either way, you're bound to have a ball. Enjoy! 


Funfetti Gooey Butter Cake Recipe

Funfetti Gooey Butter cake

Gooey Butter Cake is one of those inherently perfect foods. I mean, just consider the name. Gooey Butter Cake. No part of that is wrong. But how to make it even more right? Since many St. Louis-style Gooey Butter Cake (if you want more about the history of the cake, btw, click here) recipes call for cake mix anyway, I figured, why not add an ingredient that has "fun" in the mix: Funfetti Cake Mix! Everyone knows that Funfetti is more fun than regular old yellow cake mix. Why? Well, last time I checked, yellow cake mix didn't have rainbows hidden inside. You simply can't argue that logic.

Funfetti Gooey Butter cake

So, I broke out the Funfetti and got to work, simply swapping it out for the called-for yellow cake mix in the recipe. I also garnished it with rainbow sprinkles, you know, for additional magic.


Gooey Butter Cake is already sort of an indulgent, guilty-pleasure food, and the Funfetti made it even more so. The little pockets of sugary rainbow bits in the cake don't take away any of the pleasure of this cake, and the sprinkles on top made it festive. While it wasn't a huge change from the original recipe, I truly believe it was a small swap that made it magical! 

Funfetti Gooey Butter Cake

Here's the recipe; enjoy!

Funfetti Gooey Butter Cake Recipe (printable version here)

  • 1 box Funfetti Cake Mix
  • 4 extra large eggs 
  • 1 stick melted butter 
  • Pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese 
  • 1 box confectioners' sugar (3 1/2 cups)
  • Butter or nonstick spray, for greasing pan
  • 9 X 13 Pan 
  • Stand Mixer
First, make the cake crust mixture. 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your 9 x13 pan generously.
  2. Put the Funfetti mix in the bowl of your stand mixer. DO NOT FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE CAKE BOX. Add 2 of the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mix together on low speed until combined. The batter will be moist and quite thick, so you should be able to transfer all of it quite easily to the pan. Spread evenly along the bottom of the pan, pressing the sides up about 1/2 inch for a little "ledge", like a shallow swimming pool that the gooey batter will be resting in. 
  3. Clean off the mixers and bowl. 
  4. Now, it's time to make the gooey mixture. 
  5. Funfetti Gooey Butter cakeFunfetti Gooey Butter cake Funfetti Gooey Butter cake
  6. Put the softened cream cheese and about 3/4 of the confectioners' sugar in your mixing bowl; set aside about 1/4 of the box for topping to sprinkle on after the cake is baked and cooled (you can also skip this and just add sprinkles). Mix together on low speed until smooth. Add the remaining eggs and mix until smooth and creamy in consistency. Pour this mixture on top of the crust and spread to make it even. If desired, add rainbow sprinkles.
  7. Funfetti Gooey Butter cake
  8. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top of the cake is browned. You want to make sure the gooey mixture on top of the cake is not too gooey otherwise it will be like a liquid. It is okay if the edges are brown and the top of the cake is lightly browned as well. 
  9. Funfetti Gooey butter cake
  10. Once cooked remove from oven and let cool about two hours before cutting (you could also put it in the fridge) and adding remaining powdered sugar before serving (if desired). Slice and serve. Keep leftovers refrigerated.
  11. Funfetti Gooey Butter Cake

10 Layer Peanut Butter Cake for Peanut Butter and Co.

Let me take a brief break from telling you about my book tour (remaining dates here, btw--I'm in the Chicago area tonight, at the Aspen Drive Library, 701 Aspen Drive, Vernon Hills IL, from 7-8 p.m.) to tell you about this amazing cake I crafted for my friends at Peanut Butter and Company.

It's a 10 layer cake, inspired by Smith Island Cake (the recipe for that one is in the new book). 

Regarding the peanut butter cake, here's what I have to say about it:

Want to really show off with your next dessert offering? Well then, you’ll definitely want to make this cake. It looks like a pretty normal cake on the serving plate, but once cut into, the amazing interior is exposed. Composed of 10 thin stacked cakes, each sandwiched with a layer of White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter frosting, this is “frosting with the cake,” a delightful treat that begs for a glass of milk. It’s a peanut butter-ized version of a famous cake from Maryland (actually, if you want to get technical, it’s the Official State Dessert!) called Smith Island Cake, which is given out as the prize during community events. But no need to sing and dance when you’ve got this recipe–everyone’s a winner!

Find the recipe here.


Aztec Chocolate Creme Fraiche Pound Cake. Yes. 

Aztec chocolate cake

Dear Gesine Bullock-Prado,

Dudette, I love you. Not in a creepy way, because it is true you're kind of a baking big-shot. And deservedly so. But right at this moment, I am in love with you because you are the one who brought a little something called Aztec Chocolate Creme Fraiche Pound Cake into my life.

Before, I enjoyed regular old pound cake like a jerk. But I am telling you that I will never--can never--go back. Because it's so much better when it's crammed full of chocolate and creme fraiche in addition to butter, sugar, flour, and egg. Thank you for the recipe, which I found in Bake It Like You Mean It: Gorgeous Cakes from Inside Out

Yours in deliciousness,


P.S. Here's how you make that ambrosial treat, sweeties. You're welcome.

Aztec Chocolate Creme Fraiche Pound Cake. (printable version here!)

Aztec chocolate cake

For the cake

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coffee, very hot
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup creme fraiche

For the glaze

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (my adaptation)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • Candied walnuts, to garnish (my adaptation)

To Make the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally spray a large nonstick bundt pan with nonstick baking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the chocolate and very hot coffee. Allow to sit undisturbed for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to melt, then stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between additions until each egg is completely incorporated. Add the vanilla bean paste.
  4. Aztec chocolate cake
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cayenne.
  6. Add the creme fraiche to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  7. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and mix on low speed, then add half of the creme fraiche-chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Continue alternating additions until all the ingredients are incorporated and well combined. Aztec chocolate cakeSpoon the batter into the prepared mold and level the batter with the back of a spoon. Bake for one hour and 20 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for about 20 minutes. Unmold onto a cooling rack.
  8. Chocolate cake 
  9. To make the glaze, heat the cream and chocolate over low heat until combined. Add the butter, stirring in until combined. Stir in the corn syrup until nice and smooth. Drizzle over that tasty cake, and garnish with the candied walnuts. 
  10. Cake
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