Vanilla cake

It’s appealing, right? A piece of vanilla cake. It’s safe, it’s predictable. It’s well received by almost everyone.  After fruitcake, vanilla cake seemed like a sensible choice

He was moderately interesting. Good job, good conversationalist, nice. All good. For about an hour. And then I remembered why people embellish vanilla cake, adding frosting, maybe sprinkles, strawberries. Basically an attempt to say, vanilla cake is fine but it needs encouragement, it needs…something.

He was a nice guy, really. For one date. After that I felt I would be looking to add embellishments. And frankly, at this point of my life, he better show up already adorned!

I am a big fan of Gale Gand’s desserts. BIG fan. And her vanilla cake is spectacular. Make cupcakes, they are more fun! Don’t take my word for it, try it. and don’t forget the buttercream and sprinkles


Gale Gand’s vanilla cupcakes



White Buttercream:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
4 egg whites
1 pound butter, cut up and softened slightly
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
Regular or silver cupcake paper liners


Make the White Buttercream: Put the sugar in a saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer and pour the water down the walls of the pan to moisten the sugar without letting sugar crystals wash up on the walls of the pan. Run your finger through the center making an X to allow the water to seep into the sugar if it hasn’t already. Bring the sugar to a boil over high heat and continue cooking to the “softball” stage (234 degrees F.).

Meanwhile, in a standing mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites to soft peaks and hold them on low speed until the sugar is ready. When the sugar syrup is has reached the softball stage, turn the mixer up to high and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixer. Let it continue to whip to cool down. When it’s feeling somewhat cooled but still a little warm, start adding the butter a few pieces at a time until you have a smooth, whipped butter cream. Add the almond extract. Use right away or cover and chill. Re-warm or let sit out to warm up to room temperature to use. (Or buy some, I won’t tell her)
Make the Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixer with a whip attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to cream. Gradually add the vanilla and eggs and mix in well. Sift together the dry ingredients; then mix into the butter mixture alternating with the milk. Pour batter into cupcake paper-lined muffin tins filling them 3/4 full. Bake until puffed and firm in the center and light golden brown on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.
Decorate and Assemble the Cupcakes: Using a small spatula, frost the tops of the cooled cup cakes with the buttercream.






Dating and Dessert-The Chocolate Lava Cake

M2 was a chocolate lava cake. He jumped off the menu right onto my table! And he was welcome…  Entirely interesting, sweet, warm and complex, powdered sugar on top. What’s not to like?

We texted and talked on the phone for several weeks.  We had many things in common, much to talk about and our communication style was quite similar and comfortable.

So we made plans to meet. Because if molten chocolate cake sounds good on a menu, it should be even better in person. Unless it has cold feet… and instead of the inside being warm and molten, it is frozen. And chances of a thaw were remote at best.

Well,  idea of this elegant cake sounded good; in theory anyway. Never happened and actually my fitness pal said I had no calories left, so it’s probably better that way!


Molten Lava Cake Recipe

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (you can substitute 2 or 3 oz of semisweet chocolate if you like it a little sweeter)

1/2 cup AP flour

10 tablespoons unsalted butter (be careful not to use salted butter)

1.5 cups confectioners sugar

3 large eggs plus 3 yolks

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp orange extract or orange liqueur

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Grease 6 ramekins (use a good amount of cooking spray). Melt the chocolate and butter slowly in a double boiler, stirring with a rubber spatula frequently. Add the flour and sugar to the chocolate mixture. Stir in the eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and orange extract. Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins. Put the ramekins on a cookie sheet and into the oven; bake for 14 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates.










Take 2 of dating and dessert…

This week is brought to you by…cheesecake. People like cheesecake. It is versatile and it seems like a good idea. There is a nice crust, giving the impression of stability. The cheese is good and not overly sweet.

M is a cheesecake. M seems like a good idea. He is a little outside My comfort zone, but that can be a good thing, right? He asks good questions. He’s been at the same job for 30 years.  Stable.  Until he isn’t, like you opened the oven while the cheesecake was baking and it fell down.

Several days of texts, with a date set to meet, M remembers that he is still in love with his girlfriend, the one he had before he was married   No, he hasn’t talked to her in 25 years, but it’s definitely the right time to reach out to her. Never should have been on a dating website, he says. Want to be honest with you.  (Maybe fruitcake would have been a better choice!)

That’s when I remember the reasons I don’t eat cheesecake- cheesecake is very dense.  Oh and I’m lactose intolerant. Duh. What was I thinking.

Nevertheless, the right cheesecake can make you smile, at least temporarily; give this one a try. I recommend only a few bites, cheesecake is good in very small doses to remind you that there are lots of other desserts you may like a lot better!


Food network’s basic cheesecake recipe is great place to start.  Then experiment…Add chocolate chips or peanut butter,  instead of vanilla extract try almond or lemon extract.  I personally don’t think this needs a topping, unless you want to use some fresh strawberries or raspberries. Enjoy


Online dating at 48…

I didn’t imagine writing a blog; but then I never imagined I would be online dating either. It’s not fun. Trust me. I would much rather be at home, in my kitchen, glass of wine in hand, baking something wonderful. The textures, smells, colors…but I digress.

At 48 years old, being single and attempting to traverse the online dating world is, shall we say, exhausting.  Not the technology, mind you, but the process. The swipe left, swipe right, geographically undesirable (which apparently means anything over a 5 mile radius!) and, when you get to the actual date part, the regurgitation of “what do you do”, “do you have children”, “where did you grow up”, blah blah blah.

I have not been on many first dates since I began this journey a few months ago,  but just enough that I began to realize that I can’t easily remember who this guy was, what that guy did for a living and what I thought of each of them. I needed a mnemonic to help me remember. And one evening, on the way home from such a date, it dawned on me… You see, I bake. Like I really bake. I used to own a bakery and baked all day long. So now, when I am happy or bored or inspired, I bake.  So if I want to remember these men, who they were and how I felt about them, I would need to tag them each with a type of dessert. Then it would be a straightforward matter indeed!

And thus my categorization began. I will use only first initials, we don’t want anyone to feel put down, do we? Not like the guy who lives in the city but won’t date outside a 5 mile radius. Because of course the love of his life would know better than to live in the suburbs!!

The first guy I met via online dating, whom we shall call A, is stored on my head as the fruit pie.  And not like an apple pie, rich and soothing. No, this is like a multi berry, multi fruit pie that has way too much going on and it wants desperately to tell you about it all, right now!  The flavors are all overwhelming, the colors melt into a heap of brown, and you are left wondering why anyone would want so much sense stimulation in such a short time.

Just in case you are someone who enjoys that type of experience, here is a RECIPE for a multi berry, multi fruit pie.

This is not the pie for which you need to make your own crust. Any store bought crust will do…


3 cups of mixed berries (I use strawberry, cherry and blueberry)

Frozen peaches (or any other frozen fruit slices)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice-fresh preferably

2 tablespoons cornstarch

dash of salt

TOPPING (brown of course):

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup oats

1/4 melted butter

1/2 teaspoon allspice (or cinnamon if you prefer)

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Melt the butter and stir in the topping ingredients, it will be crumbly. Set aside
  3. In a small pot, add berries, peaches, and balance of filling ingredients. Cook on medium heat until it thickens a bit (5-6 minutes).
  4. Pour the filling into the prepared crust
  5. Crumble the topping over the top of the pie
  6. Put pie on cookie sheet and into oven for 45 minutes until brown. If you see that the topping is getting too dark, cover with tin foil for the remainder of the baking time.
  7. Remove from oven and cool for 10-20 minutes before serving.