Creating the B-52 Cake – Classic Neopolitan Layer

I only managed to squeeze in one cake layer today. I had to stir it by hand in a bowl because my KitchenAid stand mixer can’t handle a double cake recipe. It’s a little crispy on top from being in the oven so long to bake all the way through, but that part gets lopped up during the leveling stage – which is going to be a beast, no doubt.

The reason I could only squeeze one cake layer in today is because I had to stop by the Big Dumb Fun Show to spend some time with my favorite on-air personalities and answer some questions about the B-52 (Behemoth 52nd) cake! I’ll be sure to post links to the interview as soon as they become available. For now, enjoy the video of us pulling this layer out of the oven, and a few pics from the evening. I also added in a picture of the de-panned “Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice” layer. It truly is a monolith!

Cake 50: Raspberry Cheesecake with Vanilla Peaches

I was stuck for inspiration on cake this week, but I went back to that food holidays page that I mentioned in the pina colada pineapple upside down cake recipe and saw that yesterday was National Cheesecake Day and that today is National Raspberry Cake Day so I combined the two. When researching what I wanted to do for this cake, I realized that most “raspberry cheesecake recipes” are actually plain cheesecake topped with fresh raspberries or a raspberry coulis, which isn’t quite what I wanted since I’ve done a similar recipe with my Thin Mint cheesecake recipe. I really wanted to have a raspberry cheesecake for heaven’s sake. I also wanted to do something special with peaches, per my husband’s recommendation and suggestion that peaches and raspberries complement each other well, so I tossed fresh slices of peaches with the grains from a Madagascar vanilla bean pod to take it to the next level. When I was done getting the grains out of the vanilla bean pod, I tossed it into my jar with homemade vanilla extract – look how dark it’s getting! I’m sure it’s ready or almost ready to use by now.

Raspberry Cheesecake Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup ground pecans
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup raspberry preserves

Raspberry Cheesecake Recipe Directions

Grind about 1 and 1/2 cups in a food processor to get fine graham cracker crumbs, and using a spice grinder do the same with the pecans. With a spatula or even your hands, mash together the graham cracker crumbs and softened butter until the butter is completely mixed in and you have a crumby mixture. Press your pecan graham cracker crust into the bottom of your cheesecake pan. Put your oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put a cake pan filled with water on the bottom rack. In your kitchen mixer, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment until it’s light and fluffy, and add the sugar gradually, beating until smooth. Mix in the milk, then add the eggs one at a time beating just until blended (don’t overbeat). Add the Greek yogurt, raspberry preserves and vanilla extract and beat until blended. Pour over your graham cracker pecan cheesecake crust. Bake for 1 hour, or until the middle is just a little jiggly and doesn’t seem quite set. Turn off the oven and let it set for about another half hour. Remove from the oven and cool completely at room temperature. Chill for 6 hours.

Vanilla Bean Coated Peach Slices Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 peach, peeled and sliced
  • Grains of 1 vanilla bean pod

Vanilla Bean Coated Peach Slices Recipe Directions

Wash and peel your fresh peach, which should be ripened to the point that it’s firm but allows you to squish a little bit with your fingers. Slice the peach thinly. (I need to learn some knife skills – I would love to have had much thinner slices!) Get the grains out of the vanilla bean pod. Here’s a tutorial on how to use vanilla beans. Toss the peach slices with the vanilla bean grains, then adorn the completely cooled cheesecake with the vanilla bean coated peach slices.

Rum Raisin Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Usually I have a hard time picking a favorite recipe when people ask, but I think I’ve finally decided. I’ve always loved my carrot cake recipe – it’s absolutely my favorite, most delicious one on the site. This is a modified version of my original carrot cake recipe to include rum-soaked raisins – a really delightful twist on the usual carrot cake. This cake is special to me – I asked my now-husband to be my boyfriend over a carrot cake cupcake in the streets of Austin, Texas at the SXSW music festival in 2010. I also made this carrot cake recipe without the rum raisins for our private wedding ceremony in September. And we plan to have this carrot cake recipe as one of our cupcakes at our big wedding next April. It’s close to my heart! Don’t like pecans or raisins? Don’t use ’em.

Rum Raisin Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

Rum Raisin Carrot Cake Cupcakes Recipe Directions

Combine the raisins and the rum in a small bowl, microwave for about two minutes on high until the raisins absorb the rum and become fat and squishy. Cover and refrigerate until you need them. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake tin with paper cups. In a large bowl beat together the room temperature eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Shred your carrots either using a grater, or using a food processor briefly, and stir the carrots, rum-soaked raisins and pecans into the batter. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mini-cupcake springs back when gently pressed or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup softened butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the softened butter, softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat it until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Pipe it onto your miniature cupcakes. Decorate with sugar pearls, or they’re perfectly beautiful without!

Rum Raisin Carrot Cake Bake Time Modifications

  • Miniature cupcakes – 10 to 15 minutes
  • Regular cupcakes – 20 to 25 minutes
  • Full-size cake – 45 to 50 minutes

Cake 17: Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake

I know I have done the chocolate and pumpkin thing before when I did the chocolate cake with pumpkin cream cheese filling, but it was Thanksgiving and this is what my dad wanted, so I obliged. It’s still a very different recipe. He made a lot of tasty cheesecakes and other things growing up, and is quite the chef and baker. But this Thanksgiving cheesecake was a doozy, so my dad, brother and I had to pool our efforts to get it out in time. It’s basically two cheesecakes in one.

Below is the recipe we modified for our purposes, and honestly, we took a lot less time than this because we were in a hurry and we were competing for oven space, but if you want it done right – start early and take your time. It’s definitely a prepare-ahead kind of Thanksgiving dessert. It’s a complicated cake recipe, but it is decadent and worth it, plus it does so well sitting in the refrigerator!

There are four parts you’ll need to make: chocolate fudge pecan crust, chocolate cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate ganache. (If you ever wanted to cut your work by a lot and simplify, you could do one or the other cheesecake and skip the combo. The crust and cheesecake even without the ganache would be delightful. So mix and match as you see fit!)

Photos by Cody Bashaw.

Fudge Cookie Pecan Crust Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup toasted pecans, crushed
  • 6 or so fudge cookies (we used Oreo Fudgees)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)

Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (chopped)
  • 0.25 cup brewed coffee
  • 12 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 0.75 cup white sugar
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • 16 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 0.75 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 0.25 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 0.25 teaspoon allspice
  • 0.125 (1/8) teaspoon cloves

Chocolate Ganache Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 12 ounces chocolate (chopped)

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe Directions

  1. Fudge Cookie Pecan Crust: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Toast 1 cup of pecans on a baking sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes or until browned a bit. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. In a food processor, or in our case a big sealed plastic bag, chop the fudge cookies and pecans until you get about 2 cups worth of crumbs. In a bowl combine the crumbs and the melted butter and stir together. In the bottom of a 9″ spring form pan, press the crumb mixture completely into the bottom until you have a uniform, flat crust. Lower the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Chocolate Cheesecake: Heat about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler over medium to high heat, and place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate and coffee in the top. Heat slowly, and stir consistently. In a separate bowl, put the 12 ounces of softened cream cheese, sugar and salt. Beat on low for a minute, then on medium for two more minutes. Scrape the batter down the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing, adding one egg at a time and beating on high for about 20 seconds each. Add the vanilla and beat in. Last, add the chocolate mixture in and beat in completely. Use a rubber spatula to turn the batter over a couple times and make sure it is blended evenly. Pour over the crust in the springform pan and set aside at room temperature to prepare the pumpkin cheesecake.
  3. Pumpkin Cheesecake: Coat the inside of a 9″ round cake pan (width is important here, folks) with about a teaspoon of butter. Line the pan with parchment paper and coat that with the other teaspoon of butter. In a large bowl, mix the 16 ounces of cream cheese, sugar, flour and salt and beat on low for 1 minute, then high for about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on high for about 20 seconds after each. Add the vanilla. Then add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice and cloves and beat until mixed completely. Use your rubber spatula to turn the batter a couple of times and make sure it’s mixed completely. Pour it into your prepared cake pan.
  4. How to Bake Cheesecakes:Put a pan with about 4 cups of hot water on the bottom rack in your 300 degree oven, and it should be at least a few inches below the center rack. Place both cheesecake pans on the center rack and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Leave the oven closed to reduce the risk of cracking. Turn off the oven after that time, and leave them in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for about a half hour in the pan. Then refrigerate the chocolate one, but keep the pumpkin one out, both still in their pans.
  5. Chocolate Ganache: In a saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream, butter and sugar over medium heat. Pour in the sugar, stir, and bring to a boil. Put your chopped chocolate in a bowl and pour the boiling cream mixture over the chocolate. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, then stir until it’s completely blended and smooth. Cool at room temperature.
  6. How to Assemble Cheesecake: Pour about 1 cup of the ganache over the chocolate cheesecake in the springform pan. Invert the pumpkin cheesecake, top side down, onto the chocolate layer and ganache. Press down gently to set the cake. Wrap the entire pan and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. (Now go put your feet up because you’re probably totally exhausted by now.)
  7. How to Finish the Cheesecake: Remove the plastic wrap from the pan, and wrap a hot towel around the sides of the pan for a minute or so. Slowly, carefully release your spring to remove the springform pan rim. Pour the remainder of the chocolate ganache over the two-layer pumpkin and chocolate cheesecake. Refrigerate at least another 30 minutes.

*Phew* You are finally done! This thing may seem like a complicated recipe, but if you take your time and prepare, it is easy to manage and totally worth it. The chocolate pumpkin cheesecake recipe is absolutely decadent and delicious and perfect for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dessert that will wow your family and friends.

Cake 6: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake #6 is a traditional carrot cake with delicious cream cheese frosting. This cake was one of the most moist and delicious cakes I’ve made to date.

I made this cake for a very special reason – because it is my “wedding cake.” My now-husband, Luke, is pictured helping me with this cake. He is a soldier in the U.S. Army, preparing for his fourth deployment – this time to Afghanistan. We did a small courthouse wedding this week, though we plan to have our full-size wedding with our family and friends when he returns. We choose carrot cake because it was in Austin during the SXSW festival, on the coldest day of our trip, that we decided to be a couple while holding a carrot cake cupcake in the middle of the street. Also, carrot cake was his parents’ wedding cake flavor – very fitting, as they have been married 32 years!

Notice that I have a new addition to my kitchen – that beautiful KitchenAid that allows my batter to mix while I drink a tasty ice cold beer and read my favorite foodie magazine – Vegetarian Times. Best. Wedding. Present. Ever. Thank you, hubster!


Carrot Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1.25 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 0.5-cup softened butter
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Recipe Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans. In a large bowl (or using your handy KitchenAid) beat together 4 eggs, vegetable oil, white sugar and vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Shred your carrots either using a grater (or I used my CuisinArt food processor “grind” setting) and stir the carrots into the batter. Add the pecans. Pour into your greased pans, and bake for about 45 minutes or until the toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for a while, then turn out onto your cooling rack or other cooling surface to finish cooling. (If anyone feels like helping an aspiring baker out, I could use some nice cooling racks!) To make the frosting – in a medium bowl, combine the softened butter, softened cream cheese, powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, and vanilla. Beat it until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir in your chopped pecans. Frost each layer of the cake, then ENJOY.

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