Category Archives: Cake

Sweet Cinco de Mayo: Banana Tres Leches Cake with Strawberries

I love Mexican food. And before moving to Los Angeles, I never would have imagined that tacos, quesadillas, and burritos would become staples in my diet.  It’s impossible to avoid (nor would I want to) the delicious bounty of taco trucks, cheap Mexican restaurants, and beautiful ripe avocados. Not to mention my boyfriend’s obsession with quesadillas and expert ability to make them. So in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I wanted to make something that I don’t get to have very often. I decided on the delicious Mexican dessert that I had never had before moving here, Tres Leches Cake. I made this version with bananas and topped it with strawberries. This is by far the sweetest Cinco de Mayo I’ve ever had.



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Filed under Cake, Dessert, Heather Platt, In Season, Spring

Strawberry Season: Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

I’m happy that strawberries are in season again. In fact, when I overheard my pastry-chef friend talking about how good they are at the farmer’s market right now, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and joy. Why such an emotional reaction to such a small red fruit? I wondered this myself. And then I remembered something. When I first moved to LA three years ago, it was strawberry season. That was not the easiest time in my life…okay I was downright miserable.  But every Sunday morning I would get up, treat myself to a cappuccino and go to my neighborhood farmer’s market where vendors would smile and encourage me to sample their farm fresh berries.  They were the sweetest strawberries I had ever tasted. I would always buy three baskets and walk around with my coffee in one hand, eating strawberries with my other as I shopped. This ritual made me grow to love Los Angeles and realize it’s actually not such a bad place to live. I’m still living here three years later and still buying more strawberries than I can eat. This time with my baskets, I made strawberry shortcake cupcakes. I was on dessert duty for a dinner party and my inability to decide between making strawberry shortcake or strawberry cupcakes resulted in these fruity little treats.



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Filed under Cake, Dessert, Heather Platt, In Season, Spring

Hot Date: Warm Date Cake with Toffee Sauce and Whipped Cream

This month marks my three year anniversary of living in Los Angeles. Or in other words, it’s been three years since I left New York.  My heart fills with nostalgia when I think about it. But when I ask myself what exactly it is that I miss the most, I know it’s the friends who still live there and the food. My friend Claire was one of those friends  who tried everything to stop me from leaving.  “LA? You know you’ll have to drive there, right?” With a look of utter disdain and serious concern for my safety. Claire is a neurologist with a resume so impressive that I often wondered why a doctor like her had anything to do with me considering my most outstanding memories of New York involve  cocktails, high heels, and eating food I couldn’t afford.  But for some reason, she always had time for a mimosa-fueled trip to Bloomingdale’s or a late night beer and burger on Avenue C.  Now, her attempts to stop me have turned into graceful attempts to woo me back.  She has always known the best places to eat (and drink for that matter). Whenever I go back to New York these days, she shows me where to eat. And that means going to Moto in South Williamsburg for the herbed ribs and  famous date cake.  That date cake is enough to make even the happiest of Angelenos move back to New York. This date cake was my attempt to recreate it. It turned out SO good that I don’t have to move back after all.



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Filed under Cake, Dessert, Heather Platt

Sweet Valentine’s: I Love You Carrot Cupcakes

Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than a carrot cupcake.  So when three of the loves-of-my-life, my high school best friends, Lauren, Meagan and Kyla, were on their way to Los Angeles to visit me for the weekend, I decided to make a batch of cupcakes to express my adoration for them.

I love carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. And so for many years I was known to bake a carrot layer cake at my parents house to fill my time during vacations at home. I developed a reputation for this. And now every time I go home my 90-year-old grandma Nana asks my parents if I’m going to be making a carrot cake this visit.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I frosted some in the shape of a heart. For the rest, I spread liberal amounts of the maple cream cheese frosting and decorated them with chopped walnuts and finely shredded carrots. These toppings worked out nicely as decorative food coloring alternatives.



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Filed under Cake, Dessert, Heather Platt, Vegetarian

Happy Birthday, Ben! Chocolate Layer Cake

I think of myself as more of a cook than a baker. This is probably a good thing for a few reasons. Number one being, it seems  more practical to make dinner every night than to be baking dozens of snickerdoodles every day. Also, I simply can’t handle cooking dinner and making dessert. It overwhelms me. It has to be one or the other so I usually choose dinner. And finally, I would probably be 500 pounds if I baked as much as I cook. That having been said, as my sweet boyfriend’s birthday approached I was very excited for the excuse to whip up something sugary and buttery. I asked him ten times what his favorite kind of cake is and he said chocolate each time. (I think I get repetitive when I’m excited.)

I remember this one time when I was teenager in my parents kitchen. I had just cooked something and thinking I was alone in the house said out loud to myself as I tasted it, “This is delicious, if I do say so myself.” And my dad yelled down from upstairs. “It’s okay to say so yourself!” Well, I have to say that despite my lack of experience as a pastry chef, this is the most moist delicious cake I’ve ever tasted. And there’s no better way to say Happy Birthday than with a gooey, creamy and delicious homemade chocolate layer cake, if I do say so myself.

Happy Birthday, Ben!

Chocolate Layer Cake

Serves 8-10

For cake:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1 tablespoon for greasing pans, 7 tablespoons melted)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fine baking sugar
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

For frosting:

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Using 1 tablespoon of butter, grease 2 (8-inch) round cake pans.

In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix together with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine the milk, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the brewed coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes until cool enough to handle then turn them upside to remove onto a rack to cool completely. If the cake is sticking in the pan, gently tap the sides and bottom of pan to loosen the cake.

While cake is baking and cooling, MAKE FROSTING.

In a large bowl, mix together with an electric mixer confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and milk. If frosting seems too thick, add more more milk. Reserve 1/2 cup of white frosting for decorating. Add cocoa powder and continue mixing with the electric mixer until frosting is smooth and creamy.

When cake is done cooling, place one layer bottom side (flat side) up on a flat plate. Using a spatula, place a heaping dollop of frosting on top of first layer. This will be the middle layer of frosting so be sure to put enough in. Carefully place the second layer of cake on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting on top and sides of the cake.

frosting the cake

Fill an empty plastic ketchup container with reserved white frosting and decorate as desired!



The best part! Decorating!

Proud baker

Happy Birthday Boy



Filed under Cake, Dessert, Heather Platt, Super Bowl, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday, Dad! Phi Tau No-Bake Cake

This cake is embarrassingly easy. The hardest part is actually finding the chocolate wafer cookies. I scoured three different grocery stores before I spotted the vintage-looking box in the cookie isle at Gelson’s in Silver Lake.  The packaging looks as though it has not changed since the sixties, which seems appropriate because that is when this cake became a tradition in my family.

My dad was social chairman of his fraternity Phi Kappa Tau at Cornell in the 60s. He loves to tell us about the Sunday dinners prepared by their beloved cook, Katie. He and his brothers would have to put suits on for dinner every weekend, and Katie would make this no-bake cookies and cream cake for dessert. My dad loved it so much that we continue to make it for him for his birthday every year. It’s unbelievably moist and sinfully delicious, and it’s one of the easiest cakes you’ll ever make. Happy Birthday, Dad! This one’s for you!



Phi Tau Cake

  • 1 package Famous Chocolate Wafers
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla flavoring
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • chocolate shavings

In a chilled bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar. Whip cream until stiff and forms soft peaks.

Spread cream between wafers to form a log. Use remaining whipped cream to cover the log. Refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle top with chocolate shavings.


Filed under Cake, Dessert, Heather Platt, Uncategorized

What’s for Dessert: Cornmeal Olive Oil Cake with Whipped Cream (Gluten-Free)

After making corn muffins for brunch on Saturday, I had some extra fine-ground cornmeal burning a hole in my pocket. So when I asked Heather what I could bring to dinner and she assigned me dessert duty (not exactly a chore), I showed up with cornmeal, olive oil, and a navel orange, and set about zesting and mixing.

Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe to be gluten-free, this cake is moist, hearty, and not too sweet. I usually don’t gravitate toward citrus flavors for dessert, but the orange flavor in this cake is subtle and refreshing and I was completely won over. The cake is fantastic with whipped cream, but is also good enough to stand alone.

It would also be excellent with afternoon tea, if you’re into that sort of thing (or British).

And don’t short the sugar on this one or you’ll end up with orange-flavored cornbread. Oops!


Cornmeal Olive Oil Cake with Whipped Cream

For cake:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, plus a few handfuls for topping
  • 1/2 cup champagne (or dry white wine or orange juice)
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup fine-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp. guar gum (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Pre-heat oven to 357F. Oil a 6×8 glass baking dish thoroughly.

Mix olive oil, eggs, 1 cup sugar, champagne, and orange zest until well combined. I like to zest my orange with a fine-toothed cheese grater, so the zest is big enough to be just visible in the finished cake. Mix dry ingredients separately and then stir into wet ingredients until just combined.

Spoon batter into baking dish and sprinkle top of cake with a generous layer of sugar (a few handfulls will do it) to make a crust. The layer should be visible when you put the cake in the oven.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

This recipe would also work beautifully baked in individual ramekins, or garnished with vanilla ice cream and a berry coulis.

Note: to make this recipe for gluten-eaters, swap the gluten-free flour for regular all-purpose flour and leave out the guar gum. Yum.

For whipped cream:

  • 1 half-pint whipping cream
  • fine sugar (a few tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chill your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer until quite cold. It’s even better if you can put your mixing bowl on ice inside of another mixing bowl (like a double-chiller instead of a double-boiler). The cold helps the fat in the whipped cream stick together and hold air to form stiff peaks.

Whip cream with a whisk (or use a beater at medium speed) until it expands in volume and forms stiff peaks (meaning it holds its shape well). Add vanilla extract and several tablespoons of sugar to taste, and serve.

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Filed under Cake, Dessert, Gluten-free, Vegetarian