a balanced plate with room for dessert


Lightened Up Lemon Yogurt Cake

I’ve got a storm of baked goods comin’ your way. I would apologize for not posting healthier foods or main dishes, but I’m really not sorry. If you want someone to blame, you can start with Mothers’ Day. And then birthdays. Because all those occasions require baked goods. And when they all fall within a few days of each other… well, I end up pumping out a lot of goodies from my tiny kitchen.

I’ll start off with a lightened up lemon yogurt cake. I loved how light and spring-y this cake was. I’ve mentioned in the past how much I love lemons and their tartness. The next time I make this cake I will bump up the zest to 3 lemons and I’ll consider using a lemon-flavored Greek yogurt as well. I may double the glaze as well – I couldn’t get enough of that stuff! My sister liked it so much that she ate the top off a slice of the cake, leaving behind a sad naked slice. Rude 🙂

lightened up lemon yogurt cake |

Lightened Up Lemon Yogurt Cake
adapted from Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8.5″ loaf pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter and flour the pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir gently to combine. Mix in canola oil until combined.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake in preheated oven for 45 – 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice in a small pan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
  6. When cake is done, let cool in pan for 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack over a sheet pan . Using a toothpick, pierce top of cake several times. Pour lemon-sugar syrup over warm cake. Allow cake to cool completely.
  7. To make the glaze: in a small bowl combine lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth. Pour over cake.


Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot cake. I love it in all different forms and with all different sorts of add-ins and toppings. Nuts, coconut, pineapple, cupcake or cake: I will shove it into my mouth. In fact, I love it so much that it made an appearance at our wedding:

Photo taken by Alacrity Photography

I don’t think I’ve ever had carrot cake with lemon, though. Not surprisingly, I love carrot cake with lemon, too. I love it a lot.

Let me back up a second. This whole carrot cake madness started because of a recipe swap. This swap was Blogger’s Choice. I was assigned Feed Me, Seymour. I found so many recipe on Kim’s blog it was impossible to narrow it down. I had five of her recipes open on my iPad, no joke. I finally narrowed it down to two and couldn’t go any further. So, I made both. The other recipe I picked from her blog will be coming shortly. I just couldn’t wait to share this carrot cake with you!

healthy carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting |

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Feed Me, Seymour

for the cake:
2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups shredded carrots
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

for the frosting:
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon skim milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan with butter and line bottom with parchment paper. Grease parchment paper with butter. Set pan aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar, oil, honey, and vanilla until combined. Mix in carrots and ginger.
  3. In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together white and whole wheat flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Pour mixture evenly into prepared cake pan. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely and slice into 36 bars.
  5. To make the glaze: combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat on medium until well combined. Pipe onto bars and serve immediately or store, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

Thanks to Taste of Home Cooking for organizing! Make sure to check out the other recipe swap posts!


Domo Cake

I would like to take a second and…




Ok, so this cake is (obviously) for my sister’s birthday. She came home over the weekend and we had a dinner for her at my parents’ house. I asked her about a week ago what kind of cake she wanted – fruit? chocolate? She replied “cheese”, as in cheesecake. And then said chocolate fruit. I replied “chocolate cheesecake with fruit?” She said “haha, I don’t think so” and finally ended it by telling me to make whatever I wanted.

Yes ma’am.

I set out and found the perfect, beautiful cake to make – a chocolate raspberry layer cake from Bon Appetit. At the grocery store, I had a change of heart. Why stop at a beautiful cake? I should go above and beyond and cake-ify her favorite thing in the world – Domo.

Yeah, Domo. That weird brown creature thing that is actually really, really cute –

photo from here

So, here’s my edible version of Domo. I’m going to be upfront – this cake was not a quick project. It took quite a few hours to get all the components ready, including my weird sketch of the Domo dimensions (Domensions?). 

domo sketch

I don’t regret a second of it. The look on her face was priceless. We tried to capture her excitement when she first saw the cake, but all the pictures turned out really blurry. I guess bouncing around will do that!

becca & domo cake

Plus, Domo loved it, too 🙂

domo and domo cake

My suggested timeline – set aside one night and the next day to make this cake.

The night before: Bake cake and let cool. Store in cake pan covered. Make fondant and let rest in fridge overnight.

The next day: make frosting, roll fondant, decorate cake.

domo cake

Domo Shaped Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake
cake recipe adapted from Bon Appetit and fondant from All Recipes

for the cake:
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup skim milk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup canola oil
3 eggs

for the fondant:
8 ounces mini marshmallows
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar
red gel food coloring

for the frosting & filling:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam

2 Junior Mints, for the eyes
1 teaspoon cornstarch, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons water

  1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9×13 pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper and grease well with butter. Set aside. 
  2. Mix together lemon juice and milk and let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Form a well in center.
  4. Whisk together lemon juice/milk mixture with water, oil, and eggs in a medium bowl until well combined. Pour wet ingredients into well of dry ingredients. Whisk until just blended.
  5. Divide batter evenly between the two pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 – 30 minutes. Cool completely and cover baking pan with plastic wrap. Set aside until the next day.
  6. For the fondant: Place marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 1 minute. Mix in water and vanilla extract to hot marshmallows and stir until smooth.
  7. Grease mixer bowl and dough hook attachment well with shortening. Place mixture in well-greased mixing bowl. Add in powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead on medium-low with dough hook until fondant is smooth. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can do this by hand. Grease hands and kneading surface thoroughly with shortening.  Knead in powdered sugar by hand 1/2 cup at a time. Once all sugar is incorporated, continue to knead for 5 – 10 minutes, or until fondant is smooth.
  8. Divide fondant in half. Form one half into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon of red gel food coloring until remaining half of fondant and knead until color is well blended. Add more gel coloring as needed to reach desired color. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day:

  1. For the frosting: cream butter in a mixer on medium speed. Add in powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Beat on low until just combined. Increase mixer speed to medium and add in salt, vanilla, and whipping cream and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. To shape Domo: Place 1 cake layer on serving platter, short edge facing you. Trim off 1″ from one of the long edges and set aside (blue line). Trim a 2″ piece from the enter of the bottom short edge to form the two legs (purple lines). Remove the trimmed piece and set aside. Repeat with other cake.
    domo cuts
  3. Take reserved trimmed pieces and form arms. The 1″ section (blue cuts) – 4 pieces formed the arm on the left. The 2″ piece removed for Domo’s legs (purple cuts) turned into the right arm. domo cuts arms
  4. Assemble 1 layer of the arms on the bottom layer of the cake. Spread half the raspberry jam on top. Place other layer of the cake body and arms on top and spread remaining raspberry jam on top.
  5. To frost, fit a pastry bag with a Wilton #233 tip (the grass tip) and fill with frosting. Pipe frosting on sides of the cake first, working in sections. Continue to frost the remainder of the cake.
  6. To decorate the face: Place one Junior Mint about 1.5″ from the left side of the cake and 2.5″ from the top of the cake. Repeat with the other Junior Mint for the other eye.
  7. To make the mouth: Allow fondant to come to room temperature. Combine 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water and set aside. Dust surface and hands lightly with cornstarch. Take 1/4 of the red fondant and roll to 1/16″ thick. Cut into a rectangle 4.5″ long and 3.5″ tall.
  8. Take 1/4 of the white fondant and roll out to 1/16″ thick. Cut into 8 triangles 1″ wide and 1″ tall for the teeth. Brush the back of each triangle lightly with the cornstarch-water mix and place on arrange four triangles on the top of the rectangle and four on the bottom to make the teeth. Press lightly to adhere.
  9. Move “mouth” to cake. Place in center of the cake, about 1.5″ below the eyes.
  10. Take a deep breath, step back, and enjoy the cutest cake you’ve ever made 🙂

domo cake

And don’t forget the candle. After all, it is a birthday!

domo with candle


Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

I love challenges. I needed a dessert for a dietetic intern potluck. The catch – I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy it and one intern eats vegan and another gluten-free. Bring on the challenge, baby! I scoured the internet far and wide (ok, I only used Google and Pinterest) and ended up combing a bunch of different recipes to get this final product.

I got the base cake recipe from Eggless Cooking. It’s made with beets and chickpeas. I was really skeptical at first, but I decided to give it a try. Turns out you can’t even taste the chickpeas or beets! I used canned chickpeas and beets to cut down on prep-time and it turned out pretty well.

These cupcakes were soooo decadent. It’s not really cake-like. More fudge-like perhaps? They’re dense, rich, and definitely chocolatey!

(Sorry for the bad photo - I took this minutes before running out  
the door to get my butt to the potluck!)

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
yields 12 cupcakes 

For the cupcakes:
2 cups chickpeas, canned or freshly cooked
3/4 cup beets, cooked
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups vegan chocolate chips*

  1. Remove the thin outer skin from the chickpeas. Enlist help if you can – this will take a while! Use a food processor or blender to puree until smooth with a tablespoon or so of water.
  2. Puree beets into a smooth paste, using the cooking water.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with liners and set aside.
  4. Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 20 second increments, stirring after each until completely melted.
  5. Combine chickpeas, beets, and sugar in the food processor or blender until completely smooth – no lumps allowed! Puree in coconut oil, baking powder, coffee granules, lemon juice, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  6. Blend in the melted chocolate chips into the chickpea and beet mixture and let the food process or blender run for a couple minutes to allow chocolate to distribute evenly throughout the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared cupcake pan and bake for 40 – 50 minutes.
  8. Remove pan from the oven and place on a wire rack. Let the cupcakes cool completely in the pan.
  9. Remove cupcakes from cupcake pan when cool and frost with chocolate frosting (recipe below)!
For the frosting:
1 can regular coconut milk, opened and refrigerated overnight – do not shake!!
1 cup Smart Balance, room temperature
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 – 6 cups powdered sugar
  1. Scrape the thick layer off the top of the coconut milk into a large bowl. Add in Smart Balance and beat until well combined and smooth.
  2. Mix in cocoa powder and vanilla extract until well combined.
  3. Gradually add powdered sugar into frosting, 1 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached**.
  4. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered.

*I used Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips and they were pretty darn tasty!
** I ended up using some of  coconut milk left in the can to thin out the frosting and give it another boost of flavor. I ended up using about 5 cups of powdered sugar in addition to about 1/4 cup of the coconut “water” that was left in the can.

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Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

Well folks, I start my first dietetic internship rotation today. Since I’ll be spending my day talking about nutrition, I figured there was no better way to kick it off with something not-so-healthy.

These are time-consuming to make, but the results are so worth it. Delicious white cake topped with ganache and filled with a to-die-for custard? Don’t mind if I do!

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
 makes 12 cupcakes

For the custard:
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/3 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 large eggs
3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the ganache:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream

To make the custard

  1. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 more minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in butter until melted and then stir in vanilla. Cover pan with plastic wrap and chill for 2 – 24 hours.
To make the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with paper cups and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar on low. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing until well combined. Add milk and vanilla and increase the speed to medium. Mix until batter is light and fluffy.
  4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
To make the ganache:
  1. For the ganache: melt chocolate chips and whipping cream in microwave-safe bowl. Stir until smooth.
To assemble:
  1. Insert a small paring knife at a 45° angle about 1/8 inch from the edge of a cupcake and cut all the around to remove a cone. Cut the tip of the cone off, leaving about 1/4 inch of the top, creating a small disk. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.
  2. Fill a plastic bag with custard and cut off the corner of the bag. Fill the cupcakes with custard and top with the cake disk.
  3. Spoon chocolate ganache on top of the cupcakes and refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

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Peach Cake

I bought 3 peaches with the intention of making a dessert of some sort. I had no idea what dessert I wanted to make; all I knew is that those peaches looked good. And I needed them.

They sat in fridge while I looked and looked for a recipe that sounded good. A few days later, I paged across a Fresh Peach Cake recipe in Food Network Magazine. Bingo. This cake was awesome – moist and not-too-sweet with a perfect crunchy topping. I’ll definitely be making this one again!!

Fresh Peach Cake
adapted from Food Network Magazine, June 2011

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large ripe peaches
1/2 cup chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 inch square baking pan.
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Dunk peaches into boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove and plunge into ice water. Slip skins off peaches. Remove pit and slice into 1/4″ slices.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat butter and 1 cup sugar for 3 – 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy.
  4. With mixer on low,  add eggs one at a time. Mix in sour cream, yogurt and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients slowly to batter with mixer on low. Mix until just combined.
  6. In small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Spread half the batter into prepared pan. Top with half the peaches. Sprinkle with 2/3 of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Spread remaining batter on top of peaches. Arrange remaining peaches on top and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar and the pecans.
  8. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

I can’t help myself. Every time I go to the store, I buy strawberries. Walking through the farmers’ market is dangerous. I buy strawberries. I just love strawberries!!! I love them in salads, I love them in cakes, and now I love them in cupcakes!

This was inspired by one of Mike’s favorite summertime drinks – strawberry lemonade. I wanted a cupcake that echoed the taste of strawberry lemonade – sweet, but tart, and really refreshing.

I think this one really hit the spot. I found a recipe on  Annie’s Eats and modified it to suit my tastes. I love this! Be warned – the more strawberry and lemon you put in, the runnier the icing will be. I ended up with 5 teaspoons of lemon juice and the whole half cup of strawberries in my frosting. I wanted the flavor in there. I paid for it with runnier frosting. Worth it 🙂

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcake:
1 cup and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and diced

For the syrup:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

For the frosting:
½ cup fresh strawberries
6 ounces cream cheese
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
  2. In medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Stir together and set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in egg, scraping in sides, until well combined.
  4. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low until just incorporated. Mix in milk until smooth. Add remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in strawberries.
  5. Divide batter evenly into paper lines, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once cupcakes have cooled, whisk together lemon juice and powdered sugar for the syrup, until well combined.
  7. Poke holes into cupcakes with a skewer (I used a chopstick) and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.
  8. To make frosting, puree strawberries in a food processor or blender and set aside. Beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in powdered sugar until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla extract until incorporated. Mix in strawberry puree a little at a time until desired consistency and flavor is reached.
  9. Frost cupcakes and serve immediately or keep refrigerated.