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Entries in recipes (582)


Straight-Up Simple: Amish Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Pumpkin bread

I suppose I'd better just say it: there is absolutely nothing remarkable about this pumpkin bread.

But--hear me out--it is in that unremarkable nature that it is simply sublime.

Listen, I know we're in the Age of the Cronut, the Oreo-stuffed cookie, and heck, I'm even the one who shared a lot of this type of recipe with the world--Cookie Cake Pie, Cadbury Creme Eggs Benedict, and so on. So I realize that this may be surprising, coming from me.

But sometimes, plain and simple is absolutely the best. When I discovered this pumpkin bread recipe in Simply Delicious Amish Cooking (recipes from, of all things, the Amish population of Sarasota, Florida--no, really), I made a conscious decision to not mess with the recipe at all--that meant not substituting butter for the oil, no adding chocolate chips or nuts--just baking the straight-up bread, plain and simple.

Breakfast of champions

Simple doesn't mean that a recipe has to be devoid of joy. The batter came together in minutes, and then for more than an hour, my house was filled with the warm aromas of pumpkin and spice. Forget yoga, meditation, or therapy--this is truly calming and soothing stuff, just living in the aroma of pumpkin bread baking. 

Pumpkin breadPumpkin bread

The bread came out perfect. It doesn't have a flavor that zings the taste buds, but it tastes earthy, spicy, and sweet. It's satisfyingly dense. It plays well with other flavors--over a few days, I tried it plain, with chunky peanut butter on top, and warm with butter gently melting on top with a sprinkle of cinnamon. All variations were highly delicious. 

Don't make this bread if you're looking for a flashy dessert. But do make it if you want something cozy, calming, and delicious.

The only thing I changed was the pans--I don't have two loaf pans, so I baked the bread in one 9x9-inch pan filled 2/3 full, and the rest as little pumpkin bread cupcakes. The cupcakes baked for 30 minutes, the bread was right on the mark for 60 minutes in my kitchen.

Oh, I lied. I also used one 15-ounce can of pumpkin, because no way was I going to open another can just to use one ounce. It worked fine. 

Pumpkin bread

Pumpkin bread

Pumpkin Bread

From Simply Delicious Amish Cooking: Recipes and stories from the Amish of Sarasota, Florida by Sherry Gore

Makes two loaves

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients (through the ginger) and mix well. Add the 4 moist ingredients. Mix well. Pour into 2 bread pans. Bake 1 hour or until done. This bread freezes really well.


The Bake-Off is Coming: Oatmeal Cookie Granola Berry Parfaits Recipe

Oatmeal cookie 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! 

Now here's a treat that is virtuous enough (fruit, yogurt) to be served for breakfast on a Monday, but tasty enough (oatmeal cookie crumbles) to make it pleasurable all week long. It's a simple and delicious treat, and it doesn't hurt that it's pretty, too. It was dreamed up by April Timboe of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. 

Oatmeal Cookie Granola Berry Parfaits

Prep Time: 30 Min Total Time: 30 Min Makes: 8 servings


  • 1 package Pillsbury® Big Deluxe® refrigerated oatmeal raisin cookies
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 cups plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup Blueberry Preserves
  • 80 fresh raspberries (about 12 oz)
  • 16 fresh mint leaves


  1. Heat oven to 325°F. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften.
  2. In large bowl, mix cookie dough, pecans and coconut with wooden spoon or knead with hands until well blended. Crumble mixture evenly on cookie sheets.
  3. Bake both cookie sheets at the same time 18 to 28 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes and rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking, until golden brown. Cool completely, about 20 minutes. Break granola into smaller pieces.
  4. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix yogurt and blueberry preserves until well blended. Refrigerate.
  5. To assemble parfaits, spoon 1/4 cup of the granola into each of 8 (8 oz) glasses. Top each with 3 heaping tablespoons of the yogurt mixture and 7 raspberries. Repeat with remaining granola and yogurt mixture. Top each with remaining raspberries and fresh mint leaves.

The Bake-Off is Coming: Lemon Pistachio Blackberry Thumbprints Recipe

Lemon cookies

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! 

I appreciate the power of a promise. And these cookies, designed by Joan Cossette of Colbert, WA offer a delectable one: "Each bite of these sugar cookies promises a bit of sweet jam and a drizzle of sweet icing." Oh, yum.

Lemon Pistachio Blackberry Thumbprints

Prep Time: 25 Min Total Time: 35 Min Makes: 36 servings


  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1/2 cup shelled salted roasted pistachios, chopped
  • 1/3 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup Blackberry Jam
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey


  1. Heat oven to 325°F. Line large cookie sheets with parchment paper. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften.
  2. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Add pistachios, flour and lemon peel. Mix with wooden spoon or knead with hands until well blended.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.
  4. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. With thumb or handle of wooden spoon, make indentation 3/4 inch wide in center of each cookie. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon jam into each indentation.
  5. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until set but not browned. Remove to cooling racks. Cool 3 minutes.
  6. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar, honey and 1 tablespoon water until smooth. If necessary, stir in water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until of drizzling consistency. Drizzle honey glaze over warm cookies. Store in covered container.

The Bake-Off is Coming: Strawberry Cream Cheese Cream Puffs Recipe

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cream Puffs Recipe

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! 

These sweet treats are a sure-fire recipe for success. They have so much going for them:

  • Strawberries and cream are a match made in heaven, not to mention the fashionable style of a cartoon icon.
  • Cream Puffs are delicious and delicate.
  • And when it comes to baked goods, cream cheese makes just about any flavor richer, creamier, tangier, and tastier. 

See? I've bullet-pointed the reasons why these scientifically rule, so it's now fact.

These Strawberry cream cheese cream puffs were dreamed up by Dawn Logterman of Verona, Wisconsin, who says "Who doesn't love strawberries and cream? Here's a tasty way to serve up the combo."

Simple but sweet, and they come together in just 30 minutes of active time. Score!

Here's the recipe.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cream Puffs Recipe

Prep Time: 30 Min Total Time: 1 Hr 30 Min Makes: 12 servings


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Strawberry Preserves
  • 1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1tablespoon powdered sugar


  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In 2-quart saucepan, heat 1 cup water, the butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boiling over medium-high heat. With wooden spoon, stir in flour. Reduce heat to low; beat vigorously about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Beat in 1 egg at a time, beating vigorously after each addition until mixture is smooth and glossy. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 3 inches apart on cookie sheet, forming 12 mounds.
  3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from pan to cooling rack; prick side of each puff with tip of sharp knife to release steam. Cool completely, about 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat cream cheese and preserves with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Fold in whipped topping until combined; refrigerate.
  5. Just before serving, cut each puff in half horizontally. Spoon about 1/3 cup cream cheese mixture into bottom half of each puff. Place tops over filling. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Store in refrigerator.



The Bake-Off is Coming: Breakfast Panini with Caramelized Bananas in Coffee Syrup

Breakfast Panini with Caramelized Bananas in Coffee Syrup

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! 

Monday! It does not have to be no fun-day. Nope. Not when you start the day right, with a sweet breakfast sandwich made with bananas, choco-hazelnut spread, and some coffee liqueur sandwiched sweetly between biscuits. 

It's not hard to see why this tasty morsel is a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Let's all take a moment to silently thank Lisa Speer of Palm Beach, Florida, for dreaming it up.

Breakfast Panini with Caramelized Bananas in Coffee Syrup

Prep Time: 25 Min Total Time: 40 Min Makes: 8 servings


  • 1 can Pillsbury® Grands! Flaky Layers refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup coffee-flavored liqueur or brewed coffee
  • 2 ripe firm large bananas, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup Chocolate Flavored Hazelnut Spread
  • 8 small strawberries, halved


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Bake biscuits as directed on can. Cool 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in 10-inch nonstick skillet, cook brown sugar, butter and coffee liqueur over medium heat, stirring constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in bananas; cook 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; keep warm.
  3. Heat closed medium-size contact grill or panini maker for 5 minutes. Spray grill plates with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.
  4. Split biscuits. Spread 1 tablespoon of the chocolate hazelnut spread on cut side of each biscuit bottom to within 1/2 inch from edges; top with remaining biscuit halves. Place filled biscuits 3 to 4 at a time on grill; close grill. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining 4 filled biscuits.
  5. Top panini with bananas and syrup. Garnish with strawberries.

Nacho Mamma's Cake: Nacho Cakelets inspired by Bake and Destroy

Nacho cake.

This is nacho mamma's cake. Well, unless that is your mom is prone to making savory nacho cake. 


Listen. My bloggy BFF Natalie of Bake & Destroy has a book out. Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad VegansThis book is totally vegan, but I don't care about that. What I do care about, and what is even more important, is that it is wonderful. When the book came, I all but had to restrain myself from doing a happy dance. 

 It's funny, it's creative, it's edgy, it's covered in tattoo art...just like Natalie. It's illustrated by Betty Turbo. There's a blurb on the back written by...well, me. Awesome!

So when her publicist (I love casually mentioning how my friends have publicists) contacted me to see if I'd help promote the book by posting a recipe on my site, I said of course. Because Natalie is pretty awesome and she's always supportive of what I do. 

The recipe for Nacho Cupcakes caught my eye right away, because it sounded...interesting. And I like keeping things interesting.

If you're expecting a real nacho-infused cake, think again. As the headnote reads, 

"technically this is a muffin. I think I just enjoy the horrified look on people’s faces when I say things like, “Have you tried the nacho cupcake?” Sadistic. Anyway, serve these with a bean salad and a side of guacamole and you’ve got yourself a fiesta. Better yet, bake the muffins and let your guests top their own!"

Now. I don't know why exactly, but probably because I couldn't find cupcake liners at the moment of baking, but I baked the cornbread batter in a 9x13 inch pan instead of as cupcakes, and treated them as cakelets. I chose my own adventure with the decoration, garnishing with "cheez" sauce, green chile (I'm in New Mexico at the moment, and when in Rome...), corn, salsa, and...of course, a nacho chip on top. 

These are a wonderful snack cake, and could even make a nice light lunch with a salad. A candy salad, that is!

Nacho cake

Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans

Makes 12 cupcakes


  • 1 cup (235 ml) soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (127 g) yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium-size jalapeños, diced with seeds
  • ⅓ cup (50 g) corn kernels (thawed, if frozen)
  • ¼ cup (60 g) blended silken tofu
  • ⅓ cup (67 g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
  • Unhydrogenated vegetable shortening, for greasing pan


  • 1 (15-ounce [425 g]) can refried beans
  • Sliced olives
  • Additional jalapeño slices, ground seitan, guacamole, etc. (optional)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce


  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and grease a twelve-cup muffin pan or a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a measuring cup, combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle for a few minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper. In another bowl, whisk together the soy milk mixture, jalapeños, corn, tofu, sugar and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  4. Fill the prepared muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on wire rack.
  6. To nacho-fy the “cupcakes”: Warm the refried beans on your stovetop; spread a layer of beans on top of each muffin. Sprinkle with olives and additional peppers or other toppings, if desired. Top it with a tortilla chip, serve with Nacho Chee-Zee Sauce, and get ready to party.

Triple Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip from Peanut Butter Comfort

Cookie dough dip

When I think of peanut butter, visions of happiness, butterflies, unicorns prancing, and cotton candy clouds dance in my head. I love the stuff that much.

So when I received the book Peanut Butter Comfort: Recipes for Breakfasts, Brownies, Cakes, Cookies, Candies, and Frozen Treats Featuring America's Favorite Spread, I was pretty psyched. Especially since I happened to have plenty of peanut butter around at the moment.

Naturally, I was drawn in pretty instantly by this recipe because it had pink thingies in the photos. But then, upon futher review, I found that the recipe was for something amazing: Triple Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip. Like, OMG. That's a dip I can get into!

Cookie dough dip

Even better, the dough is egg free, so that dough can get right in your mouth.

What would one use cookie dough dip for, you ask? Well, that's kind of a dopey question because I really hope you already have some ideas. It would be a great, indulgent frosting, or a nice dip for graham crackers, or...you know, great by the spoonful. Yum.

Here's the magical recipe.

Peanut Butter Triple Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Adapted from Peanut Butter Comfort: Recipes for Breakfasts, Brownies, Cakes, Cookies, Candies, and Frozen Treats Featuring America's Favorite Spread

Makes 4 1/2 cups dip, or 2-3 servings (kidding)


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened to cool room temperature
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened to cool room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not quick cook or instant)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup m&m candies--plain, peanut, or peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips


  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese, peanut butter, and butter, mixing on high speed for 3 to 4 minutes until nice and smooth and creamy. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 
  2. Add all the sugars and the vanilla, and beat for 2 to 3 minutes on medium high speed. Start slowly, then increase the speed to keep from having a sugar snowstorm. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the oats and salt and beat until incorporated, 1 minute on medium high speed. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition. Only add enough to give it your desired dip consistency.
  4. Fold in the m&m candies and all those chocolate and other chips by hand or with a couple swipes of the mixer on low speed. Serve right away, or keep chilled. Keep this tastiness in the fridge for up to a week.

New Orleans Bread Pudding: Palace Cafe Recipe

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

I like bread pudding. But usually, "like" is about as far as my affection goes. I like it. I'll eat it. But I'm never like "yeah! Bread pudding!" and happy dancing about it or anything.

That changed when I tried bread pudding in New Orleans. I said to myself, "they get it here, man. They really get it." The texture is not so much like custardy, soaked bread as it is like velvet. It's so smooth. And they put this sauce on it which is as addictive as I imagine crystal meth to be. At just about every establishment at which I sampled bread pudding in New Orleans, it was one of those situations where I was like "OK, I'll have a bite" and then ended up eating the whole thing and scraping the spoon on the bottom wanting more. 

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Upon inspection of a variety of recipes and talking to bakers from the area, I think I've pretty much figured out the secrets behind the bread pudding success in New Orleans: they basically double the butter, cream, and eggs, and add booze besides. And the results are stellar.

I'd like to try as many of these New Orleans bread pudding recipes as I can. Will you taste along with me? 

First up is the White Chocolate Bread Pudding from the Palace Cafe. It's owned by Dickie Brennan, a famed restaurateur in the area. 

This recipe intrigued me, quite frankly, because I had a lot of white chocolate on hand. 

White chocolate

I'll tell the truth: I made some changes. First, I halved the original recipe. I just didn't have 15 eggs on hand, and it seemed like it would make more bread pudding than two people needed in my household. 

Halved, the recipe worked great. The texture is like butter. It's so soft, and so moist, it practically oozes like a tres leches cake.


This is probably owing to the glaze. It seems like an obscene amount of liquid at first, but somehow the bread pudding absorbs it all. The white chocolate tastes wonderful with the dash of bourbon I took the liberty of adding to the recipe. Actually, after a few bites, everything in the world looks glorious.

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

White Chocolate Bread Pudding

Adapted from Palace Cafe: The Flavor of New Orleans - printable version here

6 servings

  • 1 loaf French bread (you are not going to use the whole thing, but have it on hand)
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces white chocolate, chopped (or use chips)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 7 egg yolks
  • A rather generous glug of bourbon

White Chocolate Sauce

  • 8 ounces white chocolate (broken into small pieces)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk


  1. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Divide it in half--you'll definitely use half, and you might use some of the rest of the cubes. If you don't, you can make croutons, yo. Place the half you're using in a large bowl. Set to the side.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch pan. Set to the side.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the whipping cream, milk, and sugar over medium heat. Dash in the salt. When hot, take off the heat and add the white chocolate pieces; stir until melted.
  4. Combine the whole eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the eggs in a steady stream, whipping the eggs as you pour. If you wanna, add that glug of bourbon now. 
  5. Add the mixture to the bowl with the bread pieces.
  6. If the bread is positively swimming, add some more bread until the bread is covered, but not by much.
  7. White Chocolate Bread Pudding
  8. Feeling good? Now, transfer it to the prepared pan. The cubes of bread will poke up but it's really liquid-y.
  9. Using a spatula press down the bread so everything is absolutely saturated.
  10. White Chocolate Bread Pudding
  11. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until set and golden on top. You don't want brown, just lightly golden. 
  12. While it bakes, prepare the sauce. Bring the milk to a boil in a small sauce pan. Take off the heat and add white chocolate; stir until smooth and completely melted. It's going to be a fairly liquid sauce. White Chocolate Bread PuddingPour over the bread pudding right when it comes out of the oven. It may look like an obscene amount of liquid but the bread pudding will absorb it. White Chocolate Bread Pudding
  13. Let cool and enjoy. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days.

SpyMom's Devil's Food Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Devil's food cake

There are many good things about moving out of your parents' house. You get to watch tv whenever you want, not be told to make your bed, and eat cupcakes for dinner if you wanna. And often, I wanna.

But one of the less awesome aspects of moving away from home is that if your mom is a great baker, you don't as often get to indulge in her delicious creations. 

But in an effort of maintaining a baking bond even from a fairly long distance, SpyMom recently sent over a recipe success with me, which I am in turn sharing with you. It's a Homemade devils food cake (from an old Fannie Farmer book), brought up to modern times with a generous coating of Magnolia Bakery's buttercream frosting recipe. As SpyMom says, "Imperfect looking but the taste was perfect." 

I disagree that it looks imperfect--those layers of tender-crumbed, moist chocolate cake beautifully held together with light blue tinted buttercream look perfect--and completely delicious--to me. Like a classic cake dream come true.

Here's the recipe.

Devil's food cake

Devil's Food Cake with Buttercream Frosting (Printable version here)

Makes 1 2-layer 8-inch cake

Adapted from recipes in The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old-Fashioned Recipes From New York's Sweetest Bakery and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

For the cake

  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees f. Butter and lightly flour two 8-inch round cake pans. Put the cocoa, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and 3 tablespoons water in a small pan and cook over low heat until smooth and blended. 
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter, add the vanilla and 1/2 cup of the remaining sugar, and beat until light.  Beat in the egg yolks, and then add the cocoa mixture, beating well. Mix the flour, cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda together, add to the first mixture, and blend until smooth.
  4. Beat the egg whites separately until they are foamy. Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold the whites into the rest of the batter.
  5. Spread in your prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes before turning on to racks to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, 4 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for about 2 minutes after each addition, until icing reaches desired consistency; you may not need to add all the sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Oatmeal Bars, with Love from Haydn

Haydn Bars

When it comes to cookbooks, are you attracted to the unusual ones? 

Well, you're not alone. I simply cannot pass by a rummage sale, secondhand store, or bookstore's dollar rack without checking out the unusual cookbooks they always seem to have.  I've found a few great ones this way, including my personal fave, Cooking in WetLeather (a biker recipe book). Yes, it exists. 

At a yard sale recently, I was purchasing a $10 sofa and this book caught my eye: Haydn in the Kitchen.

haydn2 haydn

Since I was already shelling out for the sofa, they gave it to me for free. Score!

As it turns out, this recipe book was put together by the Denver Symphony Guild to benefit the orchestra. Unfortunately, the recipes have little to do with famous composers, and the only way that they incorporated music was to call the chapters things like "Symphonic Variations", "Finales", and "Intermezzi". Nestled in the Intermezzi chapter was a recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars. 

I made a few changes to the recipe, one of which was using honey peanut butter, and then I added banana. Oh my, were they ever good. Sort of in the blondie family, but with a much more mellow, rounded flavor. The rich peanut butter with the golden, sunshine-y honey. haydn7 haydnbars2

The moist and gooey banana bits. The vaguely healthy tasting oats, adding a nice nuttiness. The slightly caramel-y taste from the brown sugar. All in a fairly dense bar cookie. They're very, very good. 

They certainly disappeared quickly in my house. Bet they'll disappear faster than a symphonic overture (is that a thing?) in yours, too. 

Haydn Bars

Makes 16 - printable version here.


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup honey peanut butter (or, plain peanut butter with 1 teaspoon honey mixed in)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick cook oats
  • 1/2 a banana, cut into small pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Cream the sugars, butter, and peanut butter until smooth (or as smooth as the chunky peanut butter will get). 
  3. Mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure that they're mixed fully.
  4. Stir in the rest of the ingredients all together, until combined.
  5. Spread in your prepared 8x8-inch pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden on top and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan, then slice into squares. These bars keep well for 3 to 4 days, well wrapped.
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