My Alaska family is made up of multiple households, one of which has a vibrant and energetic four year old. Coordinating the Santa Claus visit and hurricane of gift unwrapping at one house and the adult libations and conversation at another is an exercise in diplomacy and logistics. We settled on morning brunch with the munchkin and soup supper and dessert with the grownups. This Apple Spice Cake will make an appearance at our Christmas brunch.

Ingredients:

2 organic Gala apples, cored and sliced (peel optional)
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

6 tbs unsalted butter
3 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup honey vanilla greek yogurt

2 tbs unsalted butter, melted

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with Baker’s Secret or other baking spray with flour.

In a large Ziploc bag, combine the apple slices, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Zip up the bag and toss to coat the apples. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger.  In a standing mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and 3/4 cup of sugar together until fluffy. With the mixer on medium, add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the yogurt.  Turn the mixer off, then scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and ensure that there are no lumps or unmixed ingredients.

Spoon the cake batter, which will be thick, into the prepared baking dish.  Top with apple slices, making a pretty design.  Brush the 2 tablespoons melted butter over the apple slices.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

If you are making it ahead, let it cool and then wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap to keep it fresh.  Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

How It Came Out:

Lovely looking and tasting!

Apple Spice Cake

Photo courtesy of Thomas A. Chard II.

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This is a basic chocolate cake, garnished with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. Simple to make, yummy to eat.

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup Truvia baking blend
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup plain lowfat greek yogurt
1 can Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a bundt pan with Baker’s Secret or other baking spray with flour.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sifting it all together with a fork.  Combine the milk and yogurt together in a separate bowl.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and Truvia together until fluffy. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure you don’t have lumps. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each.  Add the vanilla.  Then add the flour mixture and milk mixture in three batches, alternating between the two (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry-wet).  Scrape the sides, making sure everything is mixed in. The result is a thick batter.

Fill the bundt pan with batter, smoothing out the top/bottom.  Bake on the center rack of the oven for 50 minutes or until your tester comes out clean but for a few crumbs.

Let the cake cool in the pan. When you’re ready to plate it, loosen the sides and center with a thin flexible knife. Turn the cake out onto a cake plate.  Spoon the chocolate syrup over the top — you can drizzle or drench, however you like.

How It Turned Out:

Chocolate Cake

This is not a super sweet cake, nor is it super moist.  It is, however, very chocolatey and stands up well to whipped cream, ice cream, and drizzles of extra chocolate sauce (or maybe some Bailey’s Irish Cream).

Photo courtesy of Thomas A. Chard II.

Everything is better with chocolate. Including pumpkin! This recipe uses organic pumpkin pie filling to get the rich pumpkiny taste and the perfect amount of spice.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of unbleached all-purpose flour Pumpkin Pie Mix
1 cup of Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups organic pumpkin pie filling
3/4 cup of organic lowfat vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup Stevia baking blend
1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar
5 large eggs

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two loaf pans with baking spray.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and Stevia until fluffy.  Add the brown sugar and beat to combine.  Add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly combining in between.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.  In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, yogurt, and vanilla.

When the butter mixture is done, add the flour mixture and pumpkin mixture in batches, alternating between the two.  You will have a dark chocolate brown batter when you’re done.

Fill the loaf pans 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs.

Serve warm with ice cream or at room temperature like pumpkin bread.

How It Turned Out:

Delicious!  Rich without being overpowering, this is great as dessert or a coffee break treat.

This weekend dawned cold and rainy, so of course a bright and cheerful cake was in order for breakfast. I figure that the blueberries, yogurt, and lemon juice more than make up for the fact that I’m having cake for breakfast.

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, softened
1/2 cup of Truvia baking blend
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup of low fat plain or vanilla greek yogurt
zest of 3 lemons
1 cup frozen blueberries (use frozen, not thawed)
juice of 3 lemons, reserved
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray. Use a paper towel to make sure all the channels in the pan are greased.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Beat the butter and truvia together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely combined in between. Add the vanilla.  Scrape the sides and continue to beat until there are no lumps or bumps.

Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the yogurt, until everything is well combined. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl and beat until completely combined. Add the lemon zest and a little less than 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and give it a quick mix.

The batter will be thick and sticky (I’m noticing this is a recent trend with my yogurt cakes — I wonder if it’s a chemistry thing).

Spread half of the batter into the bundt pan. Top evenly with the blueberries, and then gently spread the remaining batter over the top.

Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife before turning over on to a cooling rack. Let it sit another 15 minutes. While it’s cooling, whisk the confectioner’s sugar with lemon juice to make an icing. Add the lemon juice a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you want. Save the remaining lemon juice for future use.

Drizzle the icing over the top of the cake. You can serve the cake warm or at room temperature.

How It Turned Out:

While it was baking, the entire house was full of the smell of vanilla and lemon, so I was expecting a super-lemony cake. It is super lemony, and very tasty. It’s also super dense, which means it’s not really pretty enough for company. Much like the carrot bread turned out. This is not typical for my yogurt substitution recipes . . . even so, I’m going to try each of these again with buttermilk instead and see if that makes for a better result.

Lemon BB Bundt

Makes 8 servings (9 WW points per serving).

Coca-Cola Cake is a Southern favorite, a dense chocolate cake that pairs perfectly with chocolate butter cream frosting. My version uses dark chocolate cocoa instead of unsweetened cocoa, and I omit the traditional marshmallows and pecans.

CocaCola Cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 /2 cup vegetable oil
3 tbs Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a cupcake tin with festive cupcake wrappers.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom saucepan.  Add the oil, cocoa, and Coca-Cola and whisk together.  Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.

In a large heat-proof mixing bowl, sift together the sugar and flour.  In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk.

Pour the hot liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula. Add the buttermilk mixture, then the eggs, then the vanilla, stirring to mix into the batter in between each ingredient.

Fill each cupcake tin about 3/4 full.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely.

Frost the cupcakes with a simple chocolate buttercream frosting: beat together 3 tbs dark chocolate cocoa, 1 stick of butter, 3 tbs half and half, and confectioner’s sugar (about 3 cups, depending on the consistency you want).

Makes 20 cupcakes (I don’t know why it makes an odd number).

How They Turned Out:

Make sure you have plenty of ice cold milk! These are amazing!!

This flourless chocolate cake is quick and easy, lovely by itself or with a little panache.

Ingredients:

Cake

1 4 oz bar of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 cup of Ghirardelli semisweet morsels
1/2 cup of butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds

Organic Berry Coulis

2 cups frozen organic mixed berries
the juice of 1/2 organic lemon
1/2 cup organic sugar

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a springform pan with baking spray (Baker’s Secret, Pam with Flour, etc.).  Cover the bottom of the pan with the sliced almonds and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a glass bowl in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring in between.

While the chocolate melts, whip the egg whites in a stand mixer (use the whisk attachment) until soft peaks form.  You should have a nice fluffy cloud of egg whites when it’s done.  Transfer the egg whites to a clean glass bowl.

Add the eggs yolks and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and change to the normal beater attachment.  Beat the egg yols and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the melted chocolate mixture and beat on medium-low speed until smooth.

Use a rubber spatula to fold the egg white cloud into the chocolate mixture.  Gently (gently!) fold everything together so it’s well combined.  Transfer the batter to the prepared springform pan.

Bake the cake (on a cookie sheet) for 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester comes away clean.  Let cool 15 minutes before skimming the sides with a knife to loosen.

For the berry coulis, I used this recipe from Inspired Bites, using mixed berries instead of just raspberries. Just puree the fruit, sugar, and lemon juice in a food processor. Then strain it through a fine sieve to remove the berries.  There seems to be more berries than sauce, but you’ll get a good amount of sauce in the end.

Plate the cake with a little sauce and whipped cream (homemade or from a can).

How It Turned Out:

The cake is light and airy. At first, it looks arid, but it’s actually quite nice, especially with the surprise almonds on the bottom and the sauce and whipped cream,

Chocolate Torte

My fabulous assistant’s birthday is this weekend, so I made him a cake.  He asked for something healthy, and since carrot cake is already on its way to being a vegetable, that’s what I made.  This version is based on a Cooking Light recipe, with a few tweaks.  I subbed out the buttermilk in the cake, added extra carrot and some organic cranberries, and used a little vanilla glaze instead of the cream cheese frosting.

Carrot Bundt Cake 2

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups organic pre-shredded carrots (in the produce section)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 large organic vegetarian-fed eggs
1 container fat free vanilla Activia yogurt (a risk, but it was what I had and it worked)
1 cup dried organic cranberries
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbs (plus a little) 1% milk
1 tbs vanilla

How I  Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with Baker’s Secret or Pam with Flour.  I use a paper towel to spread the spray evenly in the grooves of the pan.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the shredded carrots to the flour mixure and combine thoroughly.  You’ll begin to wonder about this recipe at this point, because you’re used to the wet, mushy, grated carrot going into the batter and adding moisture.  It looks weird and “rustic,” but it turns out great. Set that bowl aside.

In the Kitchen-Aid mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars (white and brown) together. When that is light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry mixture in batches.  Mine blended just fine even before the yogurt, but you can alternate with spoonsful of yogurt if you want.  However you do it, add the yogurt and blend until just combined.  With a rubber spatula, fold in the dried cranberries last.

The cake batter will be thick.  With the spatula, transfer it to the bundt pan and be sure that it fills the pan evenly.

Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until it is a golden brown on top and the cake tester comes out clean but for a few crumbs.  Let it cool in the bundt pan on a wire rack for about twenty minutes.  Loosen the sides and center by sliding a knife around the perimeter of the pan.  Flip the pan over, give it a light thump, and let it sit on the rack.  The cake will gently come free in a few minutes.

When the cake is cool, make a glaze by whisking the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and milk together to get the consistency you want — not too thick, not too runny.  You might need a smidge more than 2 tablespoons of milk.  Also, 1 tablespoon of vanilla makes a VERY VANILLA glaze that is caramelized in color.  If you want a less intense or whiter glaze, use less vanilla and more milk.

Drizzle the glaze over the cake with a spoon.  Cover the cake until you are ready to serve.

How It Turned Out:

I made this the night before to take into work today, and we didn’t eat it until late afternoon.  Not only did it remain moist (but not smooshy), it smelled and tasted lovely.

Makes 12 normal portions, or 16 skinny ones.