Sunday, May 31, 2020

Small-Batch Brown Butter Strawberry Cardamom Crumb Bars with Orange Icing

Strawberry Crumb Bars, Brown Butter Crumble, Small Batch Cookie Bars, Strawberry Bars with Orange Icing, Strawberry RecipesOne of many things I've missed these last few months is doing my own grocery shopping (with two little boys, I've only been able to occasionally go alone on weekends, or more often just use the grocery pickup option during the week, while we all wait in the car).  I really don't like having other people choose my groceries, especially produce, since I like to look it over carefully and pick the best fruit and vegetables.

My boys don't care about the shopping part, but they miss riding in the car cart and getting a free cookie to eat while I shop. And my oldest son really seems to miss being around other people and wants so badly to make friends - he kept trying to say hi to some workers who were replacing our neighbor's roof, and when we happened to be outside when our trash was picked up, he called out to them, "hey guys, you want a popsicle?"

Besides choosing my own produce, another advantage to shopping in the store is getting to see all the seasonal fruit that's available, especially now that we're heading into stone fruit season.  I buy blueberries and strawberries all year 'round, but there's no denying that they're best this time of year.  And while it's still strawberry season, I had to make another new recipe to celebrate this beautiful fruit.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

S'mores Cake

S'mores Cake, S'mores Recipes, Chocolate Buttercream, Graham Cake, Meringue Recipe, Marshmallow Cream Recipe, High Altitude S'mores CakeGenerally speaking, I'm not that into meringue or marshmallowy things, but when the days are warm and the evenings are cool, everyone slows down after a busy day to relax around a campfire while the sun sets and the light turns golden, I can totally get behind an ooey, gooey, sticky s'more.

Marshmallows on their own are not that interesting - unless they're homemade, which are much tastier than store-bought - but something sort of magical happens when a hot, toasty, melty marshmallow is squished between two graham crackers with a few squares of chocolate.  I've wanted to make a S'mores Cake with these iconic flavors for such a long time, and I couldn't be more pleased with how this cake turned out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Watercolor Cake with Macarons

Watercolor Cake, Cake with Macarons, Funfetti Cake, Pink Birthday Cake, Pink and Orange CakeOne of my favorite decorating techniques is watercolor buttercream - soft pastel hues, blended together to create the look of watercolor.  It's just so pretty.  For this cake, I chose pale shades of pink and orange, swirling them together into a soft ombre watercolor effect, finished with a little piping, swirls of buttercream and pink macarons.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream, Strawberry Frozen Custard, Ice Cream Cone, Ice Cream PartyWhile eating a scoop of the no-churn chocolate ice cream I'd made a few weeks ago, my husband confessed that he missed the deeper, richer, more complex flavor that you get from custard-based ice cream.  I realized it had been quite a while, maybe two summers ago even, since I'd churned a batch of "real" ice cream made with egg yolks.  I looked back over my ice cream recipes, and decided to re-visit the first custard-based ice cream I'd ever made, almost 8 years ago - strawberry.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Black and White Cheesecake

Black and White Cheesecake, No-bake Cheesecake, High Altitude Baking, Chocolate and Vanilla Cake
For Mother's Day weekend, I made this black and white cheesecake for my family (and shared with a few neighbors, as well).  With dark chocolate cake on the bottom, topped with creamy, no-bake vanilla bean cheesecake, this cake combines the best flavors and textures of cake and cheesecake into a luscious dessert that's both impressive looking, and simple to create.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Orange Lavender Chocolate Chip Muffins with Orange Icing

It's been a few years since my husband and I have been able to visit one of our favorite places, Paonia, Colorado.  We spent many happy, relaxing weekends there over the years, sipping wine, wandering through vineyards and orchards, photographing the gorgeous countryside, driving around sampling wine and balsamic vinegars, and filling the car with peaches and bottles of wine to take home.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Chocolate Ice Cream (a no-churn recipe)

Chocolate Ice Cream, No-Churn Chocolate Ice Cream, No-Churn Ice Cream Recipes, Chocolate Dessert, Frozen Chocolate DessertSpring arrives late in Colorado, but we've been experiencing some beautiful warm weather lately, with temps approaching 70, and warm sunny days means it's homemade ice cream season.

I've been really into no-churn ice cream recipes the past few summers, even though I have an ice cream maker.  But these are just so quick and simple to make, and as I currently don't have room in our freezer for the ice cream maker bowl anyway, I'll have to hold off on making any of my favorite custard-based ice cream recipes.  So today, I have a luscious no-churn chocolate ice cream recipe for you.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Blueberry Almond Crumb Bars

Blueberry Almond Crumb Bars, blueberry bars, shortbread bars, blueberry pie bars, blueberry crumb bars, high altitude baking,With the exception of my youngest son's birthday cake last weekend, I haven't been baking or decorating any new cakes lately.  I miss it, but with no one to eat them (I send most everything to my husband's work), it seems too wasteful to do much recipe testing until things get somewhat back to normal.

Instead, I've been stocking our freezer with things like cookies, banana bread and no-churn ice cream for our boys, with the occasional batch of muffins, pancakes or crumbly cookie bars.  These blueberry almond crumb bars are a bit like getting to eat blueberry pie, but the process is much quicker and easier than making pie.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Berries and Custard Tart

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It's that time of year when fresh berries are plentiful, and what better way to enjoy them than scattered on top of a beautiful custard tart?  I used my long French tart pan for this tart, and the narrow, rectangular shape looks particularly elegant.  Of course, a round tart pan will do just fine, too.

We had snow for Easter here in Colorado, and we're expecting more in a few days, but in spite of the cold, it is still spring, and this fresh berry custard tart is the perfect cheery treat that everyone will love.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Naked Chocolate Raspberry Cake

Naked Chocolate Cake, Naked Wedding Cake, Rosette Cake, Chocolate Raspberry Cake, High Altitude Chocolate Cake, Cake Decorating Ideas, Cake Photography, Cake Styling, Simple Wedding CakeWhen you bake as much as I do, you tend to have a pretty good freezer stash at any given time - extra cake layers, bits of buttercream, cookies, leftover cheesecake and ganache.  Dessert is never too far away when all I need to do is pull a few things out of the freezer to thaw out overnight, and then assemble the next morning.

While testing my Chocolate and Vanilla Sour Cream Birthday Cake recipe a month or so ago, I ended up with quite a few chocolate cakes in my freezer.  I'm saving one for my baby's birthday in a few weeks, but these six-inch layers were extras.  Also hiding at the back of the freezer was some leftover raspberry buttercream from the Lemon Raspberry Cake I shared in February.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Classic Banana Bread

Classic Banana Bread, High Altitude Banana Bread, Banana Bread with Butter
My baking continues to be pretty simple during these days at home.  Fewer cakes and other fancy pastries, and more muffins, cookies and breads that my boys enjoy and that I can easily stock our freezer with.  A bundle of over-ripe bananas on the counter was destined to be made into banana bread.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins with Crunchy Tops

Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins with Crunchy Tops, Blueberry Muffins, High Altitude Blueberry Muffins, High Altitude Baking

If there's one thing that tends to be on regular rotation in our house, it's muffins, especially blueberry muffins.  My three-year-old son dearly loves muffins, so I've been baking them more often again lately.  I've tried dozens of different blueberry muffin recipes over the years, and they will always be my favorite flavor of muffins.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Chocolate Muffins

Chocolate Muffins, Double Chocolate Yogurt Muffins, High Altitude Chocolate MuffinsWhile stuck at home this month amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I haven't actually been baking all that much.  With even basic baking essentials like flour, sugar, eggs and yeast in short supply - or completely sold out - I've been trying to be more conservative with our ingredients until things start to get back to normal.  But a few treats here and there make the days more fun, and give our boys something to do with me in the kitchen, so yesterday, I baked a batch of chocolate muffins.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Funfetti Cake

Funfetti Cake, Rainbow Cake, Sprinkles Cake, Cake with Macarons, Macaron Cake, Sprinkle Birthday Cake, Cake Decorating Ideas, High Altitude Funfetti CakeIf you've been following my posts the last few months, then you know that one of my blogging goals this year was to make more cakes, and just since January, I've shared twelve new cake recipes, all tested and perfected for high-altitude bakers.  Specifically, I wanted to continue my series of favorite, classic cake recipes, and I've added so many delicious cakes to my recipe index.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Chocolate and Vanilla Sour Cream Birthday Cake

Chocolate and Vanilla Sour Cream Birthday Cake, Chocolate Cake Recipe, Vanilla Buttercream, Chocolate Sour Cream Cake, High Altitude Chocolate Cake, Sour Cream Frosting, Cake Decorating Ideas, Chocolate Birthday Cake, Cake with Macarons, Cake PhotographyWhat is a more classic flavor combination than chocolate and vanilla?  To be honest, a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is a bit too much chocolate for me, but I absolutely love dark chocolate cake paired with other flavors like strawberry, coffee, peanut butter, and of course, vanilla.  And a chocolate cake with fluffy vanilla buttercream served at a birthday party is sure to please just about everyone, both kids and adults.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, High Altitude Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chewy Chocolate Chip CookiesI've always thought I knew that my favorite type of chocolate chip cookie was of the soft variety.  A pale bake, with soft edges, and even softer, almost underdone centers.  But tastes change, and sometimes, that's simply from discovering a new way of making an old recipe, and discovering that the best thing could become even better.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Classic Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake, High Altitude Coconut Cake, High Altitude Cake Recipes, White Cake, White Velvet CakeWhat is more dreamy than coconut cake?  It's light and white and fluffy as a cloud, frosted in sweet buttercream and covered in coconut flakes.  It's simple to decorate but looks so beautiful and elegant.  Coconut cake is a Southern classic, and having been raised in the South (although Colorado has been my home for longer), I had to include it in my lineup of classic cakes recipes I've been working through this spring.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream

Carrot Cake, High Altitude Carrot Cake, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe, Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe, High Altitude Cake Recipes, Naked CakeIn my series of classic cakes that I'm working through this spring, I obviously had to include a carrot cake.  Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting is the cake I often requested for my birthday when I was a kid, and to this day, it's one of my favorites.

I suppose you could say that I'm a carrot cake purist.  I add a little applesauce to mine, but I've never felt like pineapple, raisins, nuts or coconut belong in a carrot cake.  I don't mind a few toasted pecans or a handful of coconut sprinkled over the frosting, but not in the cake itself.  Warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger enhance the flavor of the carrots, and the buttermilk, applesauce and brown sugar make the cake so moist and delicious.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Wild Blueberry Pie and a Milk Powder Crust

Wild Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pie, Lattice Pie, Pie Decorating Ideas, Beautiful Pies, Milk Powder Pie CrustLast fall, for our fifth wedding anniversary, my husband and I took a mini belated honeymoon to the New England states.  We ended up being a bit early to see too many fall colors, which was a little disappointing, but we still had a wonderful and relaxing five days starting in Albany, New York, making our way through New Hampshire and Vermont, and ending the trip in Maine....

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Lemon Poppyseed Cream Cheese Crumb Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, Lemon Cream Cheese Muffins, Lemon Crumb Muffins, High Altitude Lemon Muffins, Lemon Breakfast Recipes, Lemon PastriesMaking a really great lemon muffin has been a goal of mine for years, and I've come back to several recipes time and again, changing this and that, to come up with a truly amazing lemon muffin.  The name of these muffins might imply that there's a dollop of sweetened cream cheese in the center of each, but the cream cheese is actually beaten into the sugar - taking the place of butter in the recipe - and makes a light-textured, fluffy muffin that tastes so incredibly delicious.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Chocolate Caramel Toffee Cake

Chocolate Caramel Toffee Cake, Chocolate Cake with Toffee, Chocolate Buttercream, Ruffle Cake, High Altitude Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Toffee CakeYears ago, I made a cake for my husband's birthday - chocolate cake, soaked in bourbon, frosted with chocolate buttercream and toffee sprinkled between the layers.  It's probably his favorite cake that I've ever made.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Best High Altitude Chocolate Chip Cookies

What can I say about chocolate chip cookies that hasn't already been said?

I expressed this to my husband once, and then, hoping for an interesting story about him as a cute little boy eating cookies and milk, said Tell me a chocolate chip cookie memory.

He shrugged his shoulders and looked at me as if to respond, how am I supposed to remember something about a cookie I've eaten hundreds of times in my life?

So maybe they are the most common, and possibly the most favorite cookie there is, and maybe all the chocolate chip cookies we've eaten in our lives sort of fade into each other in our cookie memories.  Yes, I think there's a special place in our minds just for cookie memories.

After all, have you ever eaten one so amazing that it stands out in your mind above all others?  We've all eaten way too many unexceptional cookies.  But truly great cookies - those happen rarely.  Happen is the wrong word, though, because a great cookie doesn't just happen.  It's the consummation of of butter, sugar, flour, eggs and chocolate, brought into perfect harmony.  And maybe I'm alone in this preference, but I'd far rather eat a chocolate chip cookie that's cooled off and set up after several hours than one that's warm and gooey just minutes out of the oven.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Vanilla Bean Butter Cake

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In working through this year's goal of updating and adding to my index of classic cake recipes, I revisited the most popular and beloved recipe on my blog, Vanilla Cake.  There is just something about a simple vanilla cake that everyone loves.  It's quick and easy to mix up, always tender and moist with both oil and buttermilk in the batter, and it can be customized with any flavor of buttercream or filling that you like.  Personally, my favorite cake on my site is my snowy White Velvet Cake, which takes a bit more time to mix up, though, and requires a stand mixer to beat the butter and sugar for 10-12 minutes.  But if you're looking for an easy, great-tasting vanilla cake that you can whisk up by hand, this is the cake for you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Chocolate Ganache Tart

Chocolate Ganache Tart, Chocolate Tart, Ganache Tart, Strawberry Hearts, Valentine's Dessert, Chocolate PieA chocolate ganache tart is a classic dessert that's the perfect end to a special meal.  With a cookie crust and a rich, decadent filling made of nothing more than chocolate, cream and butter, it's best served in small slices.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Cherry Vanilla Rosette Cake

Cherry Vanilla Cake, Cherry Cake, Rosette Cake, Pink Rosette Cake, Pink Rose Cake, Cake Decorating, Perfect Buttercream, Cake PhotographyIt's been too long since I decorated a cake all over with buttercream rosettes, and I thought that this Cherry Vanilla Cake with the loveliest shade of pale pink cherry buttercream would be just the cake to highlight this beautiful (and actually very easy-to-do) decorating technique.

Starting with the most popular post on my blog, my classic Vanilla Cake recipe, I paired the cake with cherry buttercream, flavored and colored with sweet cherry preserves.  Aren't the flecks of cherries in the buttercream so pretty?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Sparkling Chocolate and Peppermint Cake for Valentine's Day

Chocolate Peppermint Cake, Cake with Sparkling Sugar, Valentines Cake, Cake with Flowers, Wedding CakeOur Valentine's Day cake this year is pure romance.  The cake inside is dark chocolate, filled with chocolate buttercream, chopped chocolate, and extra cake crumbs soaked in chocolate syrup.  Outside, a demure coat of pink peppermint buttercream is covered in a shower of sparkling sugar that's infused with peppermint and vanilla bean.  The sparkling sugar is so beautiful that the cake doesn't really need any other decoration, but I placed a few roses on top for a little extra flair.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Valentines Sugar Cookie Bars

Sugar Cookie Bars, Soft Sugar Cookie Bars, Valentines Sugar Cookies, High Altitude Sugar Cookie Bars
 I just love looking at all the elaborately decorated sugar cookies this time of year.  The skill and practice that is required for such beautiful royal icing art amazes me.

For those of us who are barely beginners at all that (or just don't have enough time this year for something fancy), but still want to bake a pretty and delicious cookie for Valentines Day, I have this recipe for sweet and simple sugar cookie bars.  This is a fantastic bar cookie that's so soft and moist, and can be customized any way you like with mix-ins such as candy, chocolate chips, nuts, toffee, sprinkles...

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Lemon Cake with Raspberry Buttercream and a White Chocolate Rose

Raspberry Lemon Cake, Lemon Cake, High Altitude Cakes, High Altitude Lemon Cake, Valentines Cake, Pink Polkadot Cake, White Chocolate Rose, White Chocolate Flowers, Buttercream Cake with FlowersSince Valentine's Day is just around the corner, it's the perfect excuse to make lots of pretty cakes.  This one has the loveliest shade of pink buttercream, naturally tinted and flavored with raspberry jam whipped into the frosting, and inside are three layers of soft lemon cake.  This cake seems to say, I'm in the mood for a little romance and I can't wait for spring.  I can't think of a better cake for February.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Strawberry Orange Heart Cake for Valentine's Day

Strawberry Orange Cake, Orange Cake, Strawberry Cake, Valentines Cake, Heart Cake, Pink Heart Cake, Valentines Desserts, High Altitude Baking, High Altitude Cake RecipesStrawberries and oranges are so delicious together, so for a Valentine's Day cake this year, I paired them in this beautiful cake shaped like a heart.  Did you know that you can make a pretty heart-shaped cake without a special heart-shaped pan?  Read on to find out how.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Buttermilk Muffins

Chocolate Almond Muffins, Chocolate Muffins, Buttermilk Muffins, High Altitude Muffin Recipes, Brunch IdeasI've made quite a few muffins over the years.  In fact, muffins (made from a box mix) were one of the first things I ever learned how to bake on my own when I was in middle school, and I've loved them for breakfast ever since.

A few months ago, I had an excess of buttermilk on hand, so I experimented with some buttermilk muffin recipes and just loved the results.  The buttermilk adds a lovely flavor to the muffins and makes them wonderfully soft and tender.  I have three new recipes for you in today's post.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Ginger Streusel Lemon Cake

Ginger Streusel Lemon Cake, Ginger Lemon Cake, Gingerbread Streusel Cake, High Altitude Cake Recipes, Cake Decorating Ideas, American Buttercream, Buttercream Cake, Lemon Cake, High Altitude Lemon CakeWhen I was a kid, I remember my mom making this gingerbread sheet cake; sometimes it was dark and spicy, and other times she made a lighter, less spicy version with a crumb topping that we called "Pennsylvania gingerbread cake".  Either way, it was great, but the best part was the sweetly tart lemon sauce she'd pour on the side, which was just instant lemon pudding served warm.  Together, they made something magical.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars, Blueberry Breakfast Bars, Blueberry Crumb Bars, Blueberry Pie BarsBlueberry oatmeal bars are a simple treat to make that look and taste so nostalgic.  When I remember going to church potlucks and other gatherings as a kid, my mom was sure to bring a big pan of oatmeal bars, filled with blueberry or cherry pie filling.  There was hardly a crumb left by the end of the day.

What's nice about these bars is that the dough serves as both the bottom crust and the crumble topping, making them so easy to mix up in a hurry.  The fruit filling thickens to a jam-like consistency while baking, and the layers of crust, blueberry filling and crumbly topping are so tempting.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes

Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes, Valentines Cupcakes, Strawberry Cupcakes, High Altitude Strawberry CupcakesIt may seem a bit early for a strawberry rhubarb recipe, but if you're lucky enough to be able to find frozen rhubarb in your grocery store, then these cupcakes can be made any time of year.  And although it's January, spring will be here before we know it.  We have a rhubarb plant in our back yard, and I love watching for it to start peeking through the dirt when the weather turns warmer, but thankfully, since I freeze rhubarb each summer, I don't have to wait until spring.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Red Velvet Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Buttercream

Red Velvet Cake, Cream Cheese Buttercream, Vanilla Bean Buttercream, High Altitude Red Velvet Cake, High Altitude Cake RecipesRed velvet cake is one of those cakes that I didn't start eating until I was an adult.  Even though I grew up in the South, and red velvet cake tends to be a favorite down there, I don't remember my mom making it much, if ever.  And when I did finally taste it, it was not an instant love affair.  I wasn't sure what to think of the flavor, which struck me as rather bland, or the color, although I couldn't argue that the cream cheese frosting was delicious.  It took a few years and some recipe experimentation to learn that that first red velvet cake I tasted was not a very good one, but that when done right, red velvet cake is simply wonderful.