Lemon Almond Butter Cake

A few weeks ago, I was an extra for a cake baking competition TV show, but sadly no cake was served during the shoot.  I was so disappointed that I went home and baked a Lemon Almond Butter Cake.  Disappointment turned into elation when the cake turned out to be one of the most amazing things I’ve baked.  The combination of rich, tart lemon curd nestled throughout a light fluffy almond cake makes this cake dangerously irresistible.  It takes a bit of extra time to make the lemon curd from scratch, but the cake itself comes together pretty quickly.

A few days later, I couldn’t stop thinking about how good the cake tasted, so I experimented with adding Nutella (instead of lemon curd) which made the Nutella fans in my life very happy.  Fast forward to a few days after that, I wanted to pull together a quick dessert and used strawberry jam as the add in.  Again, deliciousness ensued.  It appears you just can’t go wrong with this cake recipe.

Lemon Almond Butter Cake.  The globs of lemon curd make the flavors of this cake over the top in the best possible way.


Lemon Almond Butter Cake.  My brother ate three slices of this.


Nutella Almond Butter Cake.  How can you not get excited about a dessert that involves Nutella?


Strawberry Jam Almond Butter Cake.  Another successful flavor pairing.


Lemon Almond Butter Cake

Makes 8 servings
(adapted from NY Times Cooking)


Lemon Curd

Grated zest and juice of 2 medium or large lemons
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
3/4 to 1 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (I used 3/4 cup when I baked this with the Nutella topping)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
½ cup almond flour


Lemon Curd

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, beat together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and eggs.
  2. Add the butter, and place over a saucepan over low heat until the butter melts.
  3. Over low-medium heat, cook the mixture while stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until it thickens into curd (I like to do this slowly over lower temperature so that the egg doesn’t cook too quickly.  Depending on the heat you use, it could take about 5-12 minutes to get the curd to the right consistency.  Do not let it boil!  For a visual of how to tell when your lemon curd is ready, check out this page.).
  4. Using a fine sieve, strain the lemon curd into a bowl (this will help get rid of any cooked egg whites and ensure the curd is smooth).
  5. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate the lemon curd until it is cool (at least 1 1/2 hours).


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan with 1 tablespoon of butter, and dust with 1 tablespoon of flour, shaking out the excess.  Or line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment (no buttering or flouring needed).
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together 8 tablespoons of butter and 3/4 (or 1 cup with you want your cake a little sweeter) cup of sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture, and mix until combined (don’t overmix).
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until they start to foam. Do not overbeat or the cake will be tough.
  7. Add the eggs and the almond flour to batter, and mix until well combined.
  8. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared pan, and spread it evenly.
  • Drop 8 individual tablespoons of lemon curd (or whatever add-in you’re using) around the perimeter of the batter, leaving a 1-inch border, and space the drops evenly.  Drop 3 to 4 tablespoons of lemon curd into the center of the batter. (You will have leftover lemon curd which you can refrigerate for another use.  It’s also OK to use all of the lemon curd.).
  • Sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional.  I did this for the lemon curd version but not for the Nutella or strawberry jam add-in versions).
  • Bake the cake until it is toasty brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the cake (not the curd) comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes.
  • After letting the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes, remove the sides of pan, and cool completely.  Or if you’re baking in an 8×8 inch pan, remove the cake by using the parchment paper.

Note:  The lemon curd version of this cake should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  The Nutella and strawberry jam versions can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Milky Way Cookies

Milky Way Cookies are exactly what they sound like (if you’re not thinking of the constellation)… chopped fun-sized Milky Way bars mixed into a basic cookie recipe.  The chopped up Milky Way chunks create craters of oozing caramel that occupy the landscape of a chewy, buttery cookie.  But don’t stop at just Milky Ways, this cookie is also a solid base for other add-ins.  So get your creative juices flowing and stuff these cookies to your heart’s content.


Milky Way Cookies

(from Cookies & Cups)
Makes about 3 dozen medium sized cookies


1 cup butter, 2 sticks, room temp
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
2½ cups all purpose flour
1 (11.24 oz) bag of fun sized Milky Way bars, chopped (I usually cut the the bars into 6 pieces)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside.  This is very important as the caramel from the Milky Ways will ooze out and stick to the cookie sheet if it’s unlined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and sea salt, and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together.
  5. Add and mix in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Add the vanilla, and mix well.  Scrape down the sides as needed
  7. Turn mixer to low, and add in the flour mixture.  Don’t overmix.
  8. Stir in the chopped Milky Way.
  9. Using a cookie scoop or spoons (the dough will be soft), drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet, and space the dough balls about 2″ apart.
  10. Bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes until the edges are golden.  The caramel may ooze out the sides, or the cookie may lose a little of its nice rounded shape, but don’t worry, they’ll still be delicious.
  11. Remove the cookies from oven, and let them cool on the pan for 5 minutes.  Then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Apple Fritter Bread

If you’d like more apple fritter in your life but don’t always want it in doughnut form, here’s your next best option – Apple Fritter Bread.  This cake is swirled with chunks of cinnamon apples and a cinnamon-brown sugar ribbon and topped with a thick glaze.  The other pro is that because it’s not deep-fried (like the doughnut version), it may be less likely to give you the post-apple fritter indulgence tummy ache.  No guarantees though.


Apple Fritter Bread

Makes one 8-inch loaf
(from Averie Cooks)


Apple-Cinnamon Mixture

1 large apple or 2 small peeled, cored, and diced into 1/4-inch pieces (approximately 1 heaping cup diced)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Mixture

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon


1 large egg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt


1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray an 8×4-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan.  Set aside.

Apple-Cinnamon Mixture

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the apples, sugar, and cinnamon until combined.  Set aside.

Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Mixture

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.


  1.  In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg and sugar until smooth and well combined.
  3. Add the oil, sour cream, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth and combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  Don’t overmix.
  5. Pour half the batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.  Because there is just enough batter, do not add more than half of the batter.
  6. Sprinkle half the apple mixture over batter in an even, flat layer.
  7. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the apples.
  8. Pour the remaining half of the batter into the pan, and smooth the top with a spatula, making sure to push the batter all the way into the edges of the pan.
  9. Evenly sprinkle the remaining apples mixture over the batter.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture over the batter.
  11. Put the loaf pan on a rimmed baking sheet (in case the apple juice overflows during baking).  Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes until the top is domed, set, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  12. If the top seems to be browning too quickly, during the last 10 minutes of baking, tent the pan loosely with foil.
  13. Cool the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before turning out onto rack.  Cool completely before glazing.


  1. In a small bowl, add the confectioner’s sugar and slowly drizzle in the heavy cream/milk.  Whisk until smooth and well combined.
  2. Add heavy cream/milk as needed for desired consistency.
  3. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze on top of the cooled bread.  Extra glaze can also be spread on the cut surface of the bread.

Note: The bread can be stored in an airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Milky Swirl Brownies

If you’re going to break your New Year’s diet resolution, it might as well be with these Milky Swirl Brownies because you won’t regret it…not one bit.   The combined super powers of chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso powder  result in an intensely chocolatey and rich brownie, and swirls of sweetened condensed milk amplify the already moist and fudgey center.  Fire up that oven because making these brownies has turned into your new New Year’s resolution.

P.S. Using a high quality cocoa powder makes a big difference in taste and texture.  My baking fairies (MG and SB) gifted me with  Rodelle baking cocoa, and my world has been extra chocolately ever since.


Milky Swirl Brownies

Makes one 9×13 inch pan of brownies (that’s a lot!)
(from Fine Cooking)


12 ounces (24 tablespoons) unsalted butter; more for the pan, softened (Yep, that’s A LOT of butter, but that’s why these brownies are so good)
4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (1-1/3 cups) Dutch-process cocoa (use the best quality possible.  I used Rodelle baking cocoa)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
16 ounces (2-1/4 cups) granulated sugar
2 ounces (1/4 packed cup) light brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large eggs, cold
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional, but not really since it’s part of the chocolate trifecta)
1 can sweetened condensed milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment (make sure it goes up the sides of the pan and overhangs on the longer sides) or aluminum foil (butter lightly to ensure the brownies don’t stick too much.  Buttering the parchment is not needed).
  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour and cocoa powder until well combined, and set aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
  5. Increase the heat to medium and simmer, stirring while the butter hisses and pops. Continue cooking, scraping up any brown bits that form at the bottom of the pan, until the butter is golden yellow.  Remove from the heat, and stir in the chocolate until it has melted, and the butter and chocolate are well combined.  Set aside.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the sugar, brown sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder (if using.)  Whisk on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy (about 7 minutes), scraping down the bowl as needed.
  7. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and pour in the warm chocolate mixture in a slow steady stream.  Mix until well incorporated.
  8. Turn off the mixer, and fold in the flour mixture in thirds with a spatula, and fold until well combined.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth with an offset spatula.
  10. Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, drop one-tablespoon scoops of condensed milk on top of the brownie batter in a configuration of five rows (vertically) of four (horizontally).  Drag a butter knife through the milk and batter, and very lightly swirl.  Do not mix too much or the swirls will disappear.
  11. Bake until the brownies are glossy and just barely firm, 25 to 30 minutes.  If you insert a cake tester or toothpick into the center, a few crumbs will cling to it.
  12. Cool to room temperature. Use the parchment or foil overhang to lift the brownies from the pan, then cut into 24 pieces. Do not cut the brownies while they are warm as they won’t hold their shape well.  Also, you may need to clean off your knife between cuts, as things can get a bit gooey.
  13. Store in an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature.

Lemon Bread

Recently I went into a huge lemon curd making frenzy after a neighbor gave me loads of Meyer lemons from her tree.  Afterwards, I realized that my options for consuming thus lemon curd were fairly limited.  Yes, eating it directly off a spoon is a totally reasonable option, but with the amount of lemon curd I made, I needed additional options.  What’s the perfect accompaniment for lemon curd?  My answer was more lemon… specifically Lemon Bread (cake).  On its own, this lemon bread probably won’t garner “oh my god this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever eaten” praise, but it’s a perfect partner to lemon curd.  It’s a tender and moist cake, yet dense enough to stand up to a heavy slather of lemon curd on top.  Plus, it’s easy to whip together.  I left the lemon glaze off  to make room for every little bit of lemon curd (and to make sure things wouldn’t get too sweet).


Lemon Bread

Makes one 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf
(from Fine Cooking)



1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup (6 ounces) buttermilk (I used reconstituted dried buttermilk powder) or yogurt
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs


(I didn’t make this because I topped my bread with lemon curd)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.  I used baking spray with flour and my cake came out of the pan easily.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk (or yogurt), lemon juice, and lemon rind, and set aside.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well combined.  It will look a bit crumbly.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk mixture.
  8. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. [NOTE: since I didn’t make the glaze, I stopped at this step.]
  9. While the bread is baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients (1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/2 cup sugar) to dissolve the sugar.
  10. Remove the bread from the oven, and poke it all over with a cake tester, skewer, ice pick, or other long, thin tool.
  11. While the loaf is hot, drizzle it gradually with the glaze, stopping periodically to allow it to soak in. Set it aside, and let it cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
  12. Remove the bread from the pan, and allow it to cool completely before slicing.

Note: The bread can be stored in an air tight container on the counter for up to 5  or frozen for up to 3 months.

Cinnamon Marshmallows

It’s taken three years, but I finally feel like I have made all possible interesting variations of caramel and nut brittle.  So, my holiday sweets experimentation for 2017 was making marshmallows.  I don’t like sticking to the usual flavors (actually there seems to only be one common flavor of marshmallow), so I whipped up a few batches of cinnamon marshmallows for holiday presents.  I did not expect them to be such a hit, as in general, I and most people I know are not especially big fans of marshmallows, but the comparison between homemade marshmallows vs. store bought packaged ones is like watching magic close up and live vs. watching magic on a tiny airplane TV screen (like this one).

Some of my favorite comments in response to eating my cinnamon marshmallows include:

  • “I didn’t know you could make marshmallows at home from scratch.  Don’t they just come from the store?”
  • “I don’t usually like marshmallows, but these are ridiculous.”
  • “I’m hiding these from my family.”
  • And from someone who never asks me for anything, “Do you have more marshmallows?”

Making marshmallows involves strict adherence to the recipe and no substitution of the main ingredients, so if you tend to improvise and don’t have a candy thermometer, it’s best to skip this one.


Cinnamon Marshmallows

Makes  95 one-inch marshmallows
(from Fine Cooking)


3 ounce (3/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/8  ounces (1/4 cup) cornstarch
Cooking spray
4 (four) 1/4-ounce packets unflavored powdered gelatin
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, or 2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste ( prefer using vanilla bean paste)
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.


  1.  Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch into a medium bowl.
  2. Generously coat the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan (preferably one with straight sides) with cooking spray. Dust it well with about 1/4 cup of the sugar-cornstarch mixture, tapping any excess back into the bowl; set aside.
  3. Put 3/4 cup cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water, and stir until lump-free. Set aside to hydrate, at least 5 minutes.
  4. Put 1/2 cup cold water, the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon stick in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan. If using a vanilla bean, split it and scrape the seeds into the pan; add the pod, too. Stir with a heatproof spatula just to combine (try not to get any sugar on the sides of the pan), then bring to a boil over medium-high heat without stirring. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.
  5. When the syrup reaches 240°F, begin beating the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks form, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the speed down to low.
  6. At this point, the syrup should be 250°F. If so, remove the vanilla pod (if using), and remove the cinnamon stick.
  7. Increase the speed on the mixer to medium low, and carefully pour the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl. (If not, turn the mixer off until the syrup reaches temperature and turn it on before adding the syrup.)
  8. With the mixer running, break the hydrated gelatin into several pieces, and add it to the bowl one piece at a time, beating until incorporated.
  9. Increase the mixer speed to high, and beat until the marshmallow is white, thick, and almost tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
  10. If using vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, add it now.  Add the ground cinnamon, beating until just combined.
  11. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan, smoothing it into the corners with an offset metal spatula.
  12. Sift about 1/4 cup of the sugar-cornstarch mixture evenly over the top. Let set at room temperature for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.
  13. Run the tip of a paring knife around the edge of the baking pan to loosen the marshmallow, and invert the pan onto a large, parchment-lined cutting board. Lift a corner of the pan and carefully free the corner of the marshmallow with your fingers, after which it will fall onto the board. Generously coat a sharp chef’s knife with cooking spray and cut the marshmallow into 1-inch pieces, respraying the knife as needed.
  14. Gently toss each marshmallow in the remaining confectioners’ sugar mixture to coat, shaking off the excess.

Note: Store the marshmallows in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies with Maple Bacon Buttercream Filling

Oatmeal Whoopie Pies with Maple Bacon Buttercream Filling.  Take a moment to savor those words and let them fully sink in.  These Oatmeal Whoopie Pies with Maple Bacon Buttercream Filling may just be everything you have ever dreamt of … and more.  Imagine breakfast all rolled up into one decadent, handheld sandwich of oatmeal, smokey bacon, and maple syrup.  It’s as epic as it sounds, and you totally need this in your life.


Oatmeal Whoopie Pies with Maple Bacon Filling

Makes about 24 two-inch whoopie pies
(from Whoopie Pies: Dozens of Mix ’em, Match ’em, Eat ’em Up Recipes)


Oatmeal Whoopies

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not fast-cooking), separated into 3/4 cup and 3/4 cup
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

Maple Bacon Buttercream Filling

4 thick strips bacon, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
3 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon salt


Oatmeal Whoopie

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy and smooth.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  5. Add the vanilla, and beat until light and creamy.  Set aside.
  6. In a food processor or blender, process 3/4 cup of oatmeal until it resembles whole grain flour.
  7. Transfer the ground oatmeal to a medium bowl and add the remaining 3/4 cup of oatmeal, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir well to combine.
  8. Add the oatmeal mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, and beat on low speed until just combined.  Do not overmix.
  9. Using a spoon or a cookie scoop, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, making sure to leave at least 2 inches between each scoop of batter.
  10. Bake one sheet at a time for 8-11 minutes or until the cakes begin to brown.
  11.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes.  Then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Maple-Bacon Filling

  1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and powdered sugar on low until combined.
  4. Add the heavy cream, sour cream, vanilla extract, maple syrup, maple flavoring, and salt, and beat on low until smooth.
  5. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the bacon bits until just combined.

Assembling the whoopie pies

  1. Spread the filling onto the flat side of one of the cakes using an offset spatula, knife, or spoon.
  2. Top it with another cake, flat side down.  Very lightly press down.
  3. Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling.

Note:  I store these in the refrigerator so that they stay as fresh as possible.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

In my attempt to cull down my constantly growing collection of cookbooks, I set a rule for myself.  If I haven’t made anything from the cookbook in at least a year, it’s time to consider moving it off my shelf.  And having a full cookbook devoted solely to whoopie pies seemed a bit decadent, so it was time to do some intensive whoopie research.  For those unfamiliar with whoopie pies, they’re cookie shaped cake disks with a creamy filling sandwiched between.  Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling seemed like a safe bet to start out with since red velvet cake is generally delicious.  Turns out these little handheld cake-cookie treats are just as good as, if not better than, the cake or cupcake version.


Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

Makes 48 whoopie pies
(from Whoopie Pies: Dozens of Mix ’em, Match ’em, Eat ’em Up Recipes)



2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 ounce (one small bottle) red food coloring
1 cup buttermilk

Cream Cheese Filling

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium size bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy and smooth (approximately 5 minutes).
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is well combined before the next addition.
  6. Add the vanilla and food coloring, and mix until well combined.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk to the wet ingredients, and beat until incorporated (don’t overmix).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  8. Add the remaining flour and buttermilk, and mix until everything is well incorporated.
  9. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop 1 tablespoon of batter onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing the whoopies about 2 inches apart.
  10. Bake one sheet at a time for approximately 8-10 minutes.  The whoopies are done when they spring back when pressed gently.
  11. Remove from oven and let the whoopies cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes.  Then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Filling

  1. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat together the cream cheese and butter until well combined.
  2. Add the sugar, and beat on low speed until combined.
  3. Add the vanilla, and beat on medium speed until creamy and smooth (approximately 4 minutes).

Assembling the Whoopie Pie

  1. When the whoopies have fully cooled, using an offset spatula, spread a thick layer of filling on the bottom side of a whoopie.
  2. Place a matching sized whoopie over the filling (to create a sandwich), and press together lightly.
  3. Store the whoopie pies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Make sure to store the whoopie pies separated by parchment paper as they’ll stick together if stacked directly on each other.


Almond-Pistachio Vanilla Nougat Candy- no recipe

Following a successful and encouraging first experience at making nougat (see Chocolate Almond Nougat Bites), I got cocky and decided to make nougat candy with a limited amount of add ins so that the nougat would really stand out as the main component.  The nougat recipe I chose sounded especially promising because it had a good amount of honey in it, and pistachios and almonds would provide just the right richness and balance to the sweetness.  However, once I started cooking, my attitude changed very quickly.  Never have I ever hated a recipe as much as I hated this one.  I was irritated and stressed by EVERY SINGLE step involved in making the nougat.  At every step of the way, I was sure the final result would be failure.  Somehow I pushed through, with each step getting more difficult and frustrating, and at the end of it all, somehow, miraculously, I had amazingly delicious little squares of Almond-Pistachio Vanilla Nougat Candy.  I don’t know how that happened, but one thing I know for certain is that I will never ever ever never ever never never make this recipe again.  So, you will not find the recipe below, but enjoy the photo.

The bane of my existence, but oh so delicious.

Chocolate Almond Nougat Bites

(Sung to the tune of the Beatles “Let It Be”)
“When I find myself in times of trouble
Candy bars are there for me
Easing all the stress

A series of flight delays and other airport hassles on a Sunday night led me to treat myself to a See’s Candies Nut & Chew Bar from an airport See’s kiosk.  And you know what?  It made my travel experience a little sweeter and inspired me to make nougat from scratch.  Most people barely know what nougat is, and you don’t really need to know much more than that it’s the chewy stuff that holds together a Snickers bar.  My experimentation with nougat was in the form of Chocolate Almond Nougat Bites- a mini twist pretzel covered in a mound of chewy, fluffy nougat with two roasted almonds on top, smothered by dark chocolate.  It turns out the nougat wasn’t as difficult to make as I thought it would be, but it still requires proficient use of a candy thermometer and coordination skills that allow you to slowly and carefully pour boiling hot sugar into a rapidly turning mixing bowl.  So, it’s definitely not a process for the candying making novice.  That said, the results are pretty ridiculously delicious.  Note, the nougat doesn’t take too long to make (under an hour), but it takes quite a bit of time to individually assemble each of the candies.  Plus chilling time is needed, so this recipe can be quite a time intensive project.

The nougat in all its beauty and glory.  You can see the candies to the left before they’ve been covered with chocolate.

Hours later, the Chocolate Almond Nougat Bites are ready to eat.

Chocolate Almond Nougat Bites

Makes approximately 100 pieces
(From Hand-Crafted Candy Bars)


Mini twist pretzels (buy a big bag to make sure you have enough.  The number of pretzels you use will depend on how much nougat you pile on top of each pretzel)


3 egg whites
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) corn syrup
1/4 cup (60ml) water
2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Whole roasted almonds, approximately 1 pound (16 ounces)

1 pound of melted dark chocolate (I used a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate bar)


  1. Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Put the pretzels on the baking sheets in a single layer.


  1. Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, and continue to boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 235°F on a candy thermometer (about 6 minutes).
  4. When the sugar mixture has reached 235°F, begin whipping the egg whites on low speed, just until they are a bit bubbly.
  5. Continue cooking the sugar syrup until it reaches 245°F.  Take it off the heat.
  6. With the mixer on low, pour a splash of the sugar syrup into the egg whites, aiming for the space between the rim of the bowl and the whisk attachment.  Make sure not to add too much sugar syrup at a time because it could cook the egg whites.
  7. Continue whisking, and slowly add the rest of the hot sugar syrup.
  8. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix until the nougat reaches a full, frothy foam (about 4 minutes).
  9. Add the vanilla and salt to the nougat.
  10. Keep whipping at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3-6 minutes.
  11. Allow the nougat to cool in the bowl, and once it has reached room temperature, you’re ready to assemble the candy.

Assembling the Candy

  1.  Using two spoons or a small cookie scoop, put a mound of nougat on each pretzel.
  2. Lightly press 2-3 whole almonds on top of the nougat.  Repeat with all the pretzels.  Set aside.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl set over a boiling pot of water.
  4. Spoon the melted chocolate over the almond/nougat, and spread lightly over the sides if desired.
  5. Place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to allow the chocolate to harden.

Note: These can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days, in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or in the freezer for 2 months.  I prefer to keep them in the fridge.