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    Coconut Butterfly Pea Flower Boba Tea

    Ice cold, brimming with coconut flavor and eye-popping color, this Coconut Butterfly Pea Flower Boba Tea is summer’s best refresher!

    I’ve been so eager to try butterfly pea flower tea for months now, but I didn’t know where to start. I’ve seen it used by pastry chefs in cakes and mousses with beautiful (naturally blue!) results. However, since I’m a butterfly pea flower tea newbie, I started with its intended purpose. Which is herbal tea. Paired with sweet coconut milk and boba (bubble) tea pearls, it makes a lovely sippable dessert.

    A magic ingredient.
    The butterfly pea flower plant is native to most South East Asian countries, but has only recently been introduced outside its natural territory. You won’t find it at the grocery store (but I hear Whole Foods is trying to procure some). Instead you’ll have to purchase it online.  Aside from being used for tea or as a food ingredient, it’s been used as a popular plant dye for centuries. One of the neatest things about the tea is its color-changing properties. In its brewed state it is vibrant blue. Change the pH level with a little lemon juice and it turns bright purple!  

    Wow! SO pretty. The brewed tea has a slightly wheat-y flavor that I think has the aroma of whole grain cereal. Other people have described it as earthy and grassy, but it’s not as assertive as, say, matcha green tea (which is my measuring stick for ‘earthy and grassy’). It’s so light, and hides itself behind other bolder flavors easily.

    Bubble love.
    You may remember my first boba tea post (here) from years ago. For those uninitiated, “Bubble tea” or boba originated in Taiwan in the 1980’s. It first came to the states through Asian American communities. Now boba enthusiasts are everywhere! (Including right here, hi!). Reportedly, boba tea shops are in the midst of a boba shortage due to supply chain issues, but smaller packages seem to still be available for purchase online. However, if your local bubble tea shop is experiencing a shortage, you can still support them by purchasing their other menu items. It’s the least we can do to keep these shops alive and well!
    So. The very first order of business is cooking up some boba. You can usually find a small bag at international markets and online. This is the kind I used, which cooks quickly. Use the 5-minute variety for this recipe.

    Next, brew up the tea. Let it stand for about 10 minutes. It will go through several beautiful color intensities as it steeps. You’ll know it’s ready when the color is deep sapphire blue.

    Strain the flowers out and press with the back of a spoon to remove as much liquid as possible. Let it cool down before you use it.

    Next – the sweetest part! Combine coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk in a glass measure. Whisk together until no lumps of coconut milk solids remain.

    The serving size of this recipe is variable depending on your glass size. Poured in 12 oz. glasses you’ll get about 5 servings. Layer in as much boba as you’d like (I like a lot!) and fill each glass about 1/3 of the way up with the milk mixture. Fill up the glass to the top with crushed ice.

    Tea time!
    Pour in the steeped tea to the top of the glass. The milk and tea will slightly swirl and intermingle but they’ll stay mostly separated because the sweetened milk mixture is heavier than the tea. They’ll stay beautifully semi-swirled until you decide it’s time to mix it all up!

    This drink is sweet and creamy with refreshing coconut flavor. The soft, chewy tapioca pearls make this half beverage, half snack. The butterfly pea flower tea is present more in color than flavor, but it’s more than just a novelty to me. It’s a whole new sandbox to play in! The color is so beautiful, it reminds me of ocean water and I just want to dive into it head-first. And I pretty much did just that (yum!)!

    Coconut Butterfly Pea Flower Boba Tea

    Heather Baird

    This beverage is like a cool breeze on a hot day! So refreshing and more than just a drink – it’s sippable dessert.
    This recipe will yield about 5 servings if portioned into 12 oz. glasses. Simple syrup, butterfly pea flower tea, and sweet coconut cream can all be made one day ahead and chilled, if desired. Boba pearls are best eaten the same day they are made.

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    Prep Time 20 minsCook Time 7 minsTotal Time 27 mins

    Course Dessert, DrinksCuisine South East Asia, Taiwainese

    Servings 5

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Simple syrup1 cup sugar1 cup water1 teaspoon coconut extractBoba10 cups water1 package 8.8 oz. dried boba tapioca pearls quick cooking 5-minute typeButterfly pea flower tea1 cup dried butterfly pea flower buds2 cups boiling waterSweet coconut cream1 can coconut milk well shaken2/3 cup sweetened condensed milkCrushed ice for serving
    Instructions Simple syrupMake the simple syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes at 100% power. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. If granules remain, heat at full power in 1-minute intervals thereafter until the sugar is melted. Stir in the coconut extract. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to cool. If you don’t have a microwave, the simple syrup can be made in a saucepan on the stove top.BobaBring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the boba and cook for 7 minutes, stirring gently until the pearls float to the surface of the water. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove the pot from the heat source and let it stand for 5 minutes. Drain the boba with a colander, and rinse them in cool water for 20 seconds. Remove the simple syrup from the refrigerator and transfer the boba to the simple syrup. Let stand until completely cool, about 1 hour. Or, speed cooling in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes.Butterfly pea flower teaPlace the buds in a large glass bowl or container and pour over the boiling water. Stir the buds around and then let steep uncovered for 10-15 minutes. When the liquid is deep sapphire blue, strain out the buds using a sieve and transfer the tea to the refrigerator to cool.Sweet coconut creamCombine the coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk in a large glass measure. Whisk until completely smooth.AssemblePut as little or as much boba as you like in the bottom of a 12-ounce glass (I used about 1/4 cup per glass). Pour sweet coconut cream about 1/3 of the way up the glass. Add crushed ice and fill to the top. Pour the butterfly pea flower tea over the ice to fill to the top of the glass. Serve immediately with bubble tea straws or with spoons. Stir together before enjoying. Assemble more glasses as needed. Store the boba tea in its syrup in the refrigerator. Also store the coconut cream and butterfly pea flower in the refrigerator until ready to use.
    NotesI cook the boba slightly longer than the package directions. This seems to keep them softer a little longer.
    Boba pearls are best fresh. Leftover boba should be tossed at the end of the day.

    Keyword boba tea, bubble tea, butterfly pea flower tea, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, tapioca pearls

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    Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread

    This cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread is a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Use ready-made pizza dough from the grocery store and you’ll have this on the table in a snap!

    I’m squeezing in a savory bake this week because this one was such a winner from the test kitchen. I simply could not wait to share. Plus, it’s something that a deserving dad might love for Father’s Day on Sunday. But honestly, I’d make it for no other reason than it’s totally perfect for snacking. Each little nugget of pizza dough holds melty mozzarella cheese and a single pepperoni slice. Get yourself some marinara for dipping and you’re all set!

    You could make your own pizza dough for this (I like this one) but ready-made refrigerated or frozen pizza dough is a terrific shortcut. You’ll need 2 lbs. of dough, so pick up a couple of bags from grocery store. Don’t go for anything in a can – we’re looking for true yeasty-stretchy pizza dough for this recipe.

    Roll & shape.
    Roll out the dough to a rough 13×9-inch rectangle. Cold dough will want to snap back when you roll it, but don’t let it boss you around! You’re the boss of it. Pick it up and stretch it to size with your hands. See the video at the end of this post for a few visual cues.
    Use a pizza wheel to cut the dough into 1 1/2- inch x 2-inch squares. It doesn’t have to be exact because the dough can stretch if needed. It should be large enough to fit a standard size pepperoni slice on a square.

    Cube up a block of mozzarella cheese to about 1/2-inch square pieces. Place a pepperoni and a cheese cube on top of a dough square pinch the dough around it tightly. Repeat, repeat, repeat! This part went faster than I expected. There are a lot of dough squares to fill, but the end result is totally worth it!

    Dress it up!
    Mix up some olive oil, Italian herbs, garlic powder, and salt in a bowl, then toss in the filled dough pieces. Mix ’em around to make sure they’re coated on all sides.

    Layer the pieces in a lightly greased bundt pan. When the pan is all filled up, lightly tamp them down with your fingers. Into the oven it goes!

    After about 5-10 minutes, turn the bread out onto a large plate. Add your favorite marinara sauce and start dipping! The bowl of sauce in the center is pretty, but this bread gets eaten so fast it didn’t stay put for very long! As a result, you may prefer it on the side.

    I opted for a simple sprinkle of Italian flatleaf parsley on this pepperoni pizza monkey bread, but you could load it up with more mozzarella, parmesan, black olives, – heck, anything! Pieces can be pulled off with appetizer picks, or pulled apart with fingers.

    This ended up as our lunch instead of being an appetizer. One pan will feed about 6 very hungry adults, or 10-12 as a party appetizer. I imagine this would be perfect as a game day snack, or even make-ahead tailgate party food. Actually, I can’t think of an occasion that I wouldn’t make this for. I kind of want it for my birthday next month. Enjoy!

    Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread

    Heather Baird

    This cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread is a true crowd-pleasing appetizer. Use ready-made pizza dough from the grocery store deli and you’ll have this on the table in a snap!

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    Prep Time 40 minsCook Time 40 minsTotal Time 1 hr 20 mins

    Course Appetizer, BreadCuisine American, Italian

    Servings 10

    Equipment10 cup bundt pan
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 1/3 cup olive oil1 tablespoon garlic powder2 tablespoons Italian seasoning1/2 teaspoon fine grain salt2 lb. frozen or refrigerated pizza dough thawed if frozen5 oz. package pepperoni slices8 oz. block low moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese cubed to 1/2 inch pieces2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf Italian parsley optionalMarinara sauce for serving
    Instructions Lightly coat a 10 cup bundt pan with cooking spray.In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt. Set aside.On a floured work surface, roll out 1 lb. of pizza dough using a rolling pin to roughly a 13×9 –inch rectangle. Cold dough will want to snap back, so pick up the dough and stretch it with your hands, working it to form the rectangle. Or, let the dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to loosen.Cut the rectangle using a pizza wheel or large chef’s knife into 1 1/2-inch x 2-inch squares (or thereabouts).Place a single pepperoni and a single cheese cube on top of dough square. Fold (and stretch if needed) the dough edges inward and pinch the edges together tightly. Repeat with remaining dough squares.Toss the stuffed dough pieces in the olive oil mixture and layer into the bundt pan.Repeat the rolling/shaping, cutting, and filling with the second 1 lb. pizza dough. Toss in the remaining olive oil mixture and transfer the pieces to the bundt pan. Tamp the pieces down gently with your fingertips.Preheat the oven to 350° F. Let the bread stand in the pan at room temperature while the oven preheats.Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, or until it is well-puffed, fragrant, and golden brown on top. Let the bread cool in the pan 5-10 minutes before turning it out onto a large serving plate. Serve with marinara sauce on the side.
    NotesUse a bundt pan that doesn’t have a lot of detail. This recipe works best in a standard ridged pan (as pictured).
    If you don’t have a bottle of Italian seasoning on hand, you can make your own blend using 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme. This will equal the 2 tablespoons needed for this recipe. 

    Keyword italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni slices, pizza dough

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    Cherry Limeade Layer Cake

    Celebrate summer with this sweet and tangy Cherry Limeade Layer Cake, inspired by the iconic fizzy beverage from Sonic Drive-In.

    Cherry limeades are nostalgic for me. I’ve loved them for ages – since my high school days. They always bring back memories of marching band. I was drum major my senior year, and a cherry limeade was often my reward after marching and practicing for hours in the blistering sun. Maybe someday I’ll digress on that amazing life-changing and very disciplined experience here, but for now I’ll stick to the sweet stuff. Sonic Drive In was on the way home from school, and the cold fizzy beverage was like an antidote to the heat and exhaustion. I’ve translated those sweet, tangy flavors into a summery cake made for sharing!

    The alternating layers of cherry and lime are doused in simple syrup. Cherry syrup for the cherry chip layers, and key lime syrup for the lime layers. It gives the cake a damp, almost wet crumb and really turns up the volume on the flavors.

    Baste those cake layers just like a turkey at Thanksgiving! Use a lot of syrup for a wet crumb, or a little syrup if you’re looking for a more spongy cake crumb. The texture you see here is a result of using all of the syrup. This makes the cake layers delicate to stack, so take a little extra care when handling them. Making this cake reminds me a lot of my 7UP cake – another beverage inspired confection!

    Now that get-togethers are a thing again, this cake is perfect for a crowd of people. Five 8-inch rounds makes a tall, generous cake, so it’s perfect for potlucks and all kinds of summertime events. The flavors are so refreshing. And with the syrup-soaked layers, I think this cake is fantastic chilled.

    Frosty-looking frosting? Yes!
    A hefty cake requires a lot of frosting to fill and cover it all, so expect to use a lot of butter. I must have tried five different frosting techniques before I found one that suited my vision. I wanted the cake to look frosty (like accumulated ice crystals) and white buttercream smudges over chilled pink frosting worked well enough. Just drag the white frosting around the cake using a bench scraper and don’t aim for perfection. I think I may try this technique on a winter-themed cake.

    To finish, add a few swirls of frosting on top, and the all-important maraschino cherry and lime garnishes. Sonic Cherry Limeades have exactly two cherries in the bottom of their large cups, unless you ask for extra. I always do.
    Side note – I dip-dyed the napkins you see here back in May, which matched this cake perfectly! I loved using them here. You can find my tutorial on how to dip dye your own right here on Confetti Fix.

    See all those soaked layers stacked up? So packed with flavor! I recommend using key lime juice in a bottle, because it’s one of those conveniences that doesn’t sacrifice taste. Key limes are tiny with bold, tart flavor, and juicing a bunch of them for this recipe would be a total pain. If you can’t find key lime juice in a bottle, then regular bottled lime juice would work, as well as fresh-squeezed standard limes.

    The cherry chip layers are so speckled with chopped maraschinos. If you’ve ever made a cherry chip cake, then you may see a familiar flavoring – almond extract. It really brings forth the maraschino flavor. Together with the lime layers you can’t help but feel like it’s party time. It’s just an all-around FUN cake!

    I have a summer bucket list this year, which involves lots of family time and patio parties and picnics on the lawn. I can’t wait to share this treat with my people. And it’s certain that I’ll be sending them home with a few slices.

    Cherry Limeade Layer Cake

    Heather Baird

    Celebrate summer with this sweet and tangy Cherry Limeade Cake, inspired by the iconic fizzy beverage from Sonic Drive-In. I recommend using bottled key lime juice in this recipe because it shortcuts to work of squeezing lots of tiny limes. This recipe also calls for ‘cherry juice’. By this I mean the juice from the jar of maraschino cherries. The soaking syrup in this recipe can be variable. Use all of the syrup on the cakes for a wet crumb, or lightly brush for a little moisture. The picture shows the texture when using the entire amount of syrup.

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    Prep Time 1 hrCook Time 1 hrTotal Time 2 hrs

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 20

    Equipment8 inch round cake pans (3)cake smootherPiping bag with large closed star tip
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cherry chip layers1 3/4 cups whole milk room temperature6 egg whites room temperature3 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice1 teaspoon pure almond extract2 1/4 cups granulated sugar3/4 cups unsalted butter room temperature3 1/3 cups cake flour1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder3/4 teaspoon fine grain salt1 drop red soft gel food color1 cup finely chopped maraschino cherriesCherry soaking syrup1 cup sugar1 cup water1/4 cup maraschino cherry juice2 teaspoons almond extractLime layers4 large eggs room temperature1 cup milk2 Tablespoons vegetable oil1/4 cup key lime juice2 1/2 cups cake flour1 1/2 cups granulated sugar1/2 teaspoon) salt2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 tablespoon lime zest fine1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter softenedA few drops of lime green soft gel food color such as Chefmaster Neon Brite GreenLime syrup1 cup sugar1 cup water1/4 cup key lime juiceLime buttercream and decors2 1/2 cups unsalted butter room temperature6 cups confectioners’ sugar6 tablespoons key lime juiceMilk or cream to thin1/2 teaspoon fine grain saltA few drops of soft red gel food color such a Chefmaster Super Red8 maraschino cherries with stems8 fresh lime wheels2 tablespoons white nonpareils optional
    Instructions Cherry chip layers and cherry syrupPreheat the oven to 350°F. Coat three round 8-inch pans with flour-based baking spray.In a large glass measure, whisk together the milk, egg whites, cherry juice, and almond extract.Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl.In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.Set the mixer to medium speed and alternately add the flour mixture and liquid mixture; begin and end with the flour. Scrape down the bowl. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add a small drop of red gel food color; mix. Fold in the chopped cherries.Evenly divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in the pans 5 minutes before turning them out on a wire rack to cool completely.For the cherry syrup, heat the sugar and water in a microwave-safe glass measure for 2 minutes at 100% power. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cherry juice and almond extract; stir. Baste the cake layers on all sides using a pastry brush. Use all of the liquid for wet crumb, or use about half of the syrup for a drier crumb.Lime cake layers and lime syrupPreheat the oven to 350 degrees.Coat two round 8-inch pans with flour-based baking spray.In a large glass measure, combine the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and lime juice. Whisk together until combined.In the bowl of an electric mixer add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lime zest. Whisk to combine.Turn the mixer to medium speed and add butter a little at a time. Increase to medium speed until the butter has coated the flour and the appearance resembles coarse wet sand.Slowly add half of the wet ingredients until a thick batter is achieved. Mix for 1 minute and scrape down the bowl. Add 1-2 drops of lime gel food color; mix. Add remaining wet ingredients and beat until incorporated. Divide batter between the two pans.Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cakes 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.For the lime syrup, heat the sugar and water in a microwave-safe glass measure for 2 minutes at 100% power. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lime juice; stir. Baste the cake layers on all sides using a pastry brush. Use all of the liquid for wet crumb, or use about half of the syrup for a drier crumb.Buttercream and assemblyCream the butter in the bowl of a large standing mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and mix on low. Dribble in the lime juice a tablespoon at a time. Increase mixer speed. Add milk or cream a little at a time to bring to spreading consistency. Beat in the salt. Whip on high speed for 3-5 minutes, until lightened and fluffy.Remove 1 1/2 cups of frosting to piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip. Cover the tip with a damp paper towel so the frosting doesn’t dry out.Begin with a cherry chip layer placed on a serving plate of cake board. Do this carefully if you used all of the soaking syrup as the wet cake layers will be delicate. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top. Repeat process alternating lime and cherry cake layers. (Order: cherry, lime, cherry, lime, cherry.) Coat the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream (crumb coat). Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.Tint the remaining frosting with 1 small drop of red gel food color. Mix well. Increase color intensity if desired with more food color (aim for a medium pinky-red color). Cover the chilled cake with the tinted buttercream and smooth evenly with a cake smoother or bench scraper. Refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes.Place a few dots of white frosting from the piping bag on the outside of the cake over the pink frosting. Use a cake smoother or bench scraper to lightly scrape the white frosting over the first layer of frosting. Don’t aim for a perfectly smooth surface, the outside edge should look like accumulated frost (small accumulated ice crystals).Use the bag of white buttercream to pipe 8 mounds of frosting on the top edge of the cake. Top each mound with a maraschino cherry. Add a fresh lime wheel half between each mound. Sprinkle over the white sprinkles, if using.Serve slices of cake at room temperature or chilled. Cakes with a wet crumb are especially good chilled and eaten on a hot day.
    NotesThis cake is more enjoyable to make if you divide the work over two days. Bake the cake layers and refrigerate them. Also make the soaking syrups. The next day baste the cakes, make the buttercream then fill, frost and decorate the cake.
    Hand the soaked cake layers with care. They will be tender and will break apart if not handled gently.
    Food colors in the cake layers can be optional. If you choose to leave them out, the cherry layers will be mostly colorless with specks of red throughout. The lime layers will be creamy light yellow.

    Keyword cherry chip cake, key lime buttercream, key lime cake, key lime juice, marachino cherries

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    Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake

    What’s better than a Hostess Cupcake? A super-sized one! This Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake is three chocolate layers with a cream-filled center and rich ganache frosting.

    Nostalgic childhood treats prove to be a very rich well of inspiration for me. You may remember this Snowball Cake that I made all the way back in 2012. It’s still such a favorite! Well, today I’m adding a new one to the recipe index. This Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake has been a while in the making, with repeat testing and even a few fails along the way. Now it’s just right. I’m totally obsessed with the texture of these cake layers. And, there’s a literal core of cream filling inside!

    It’s easy to complicate things when developing a recipe. Usually the secret to success is to keep things as simple as possible. I had to remind my self of that after a few setbacks. This recipe has three main components, each fairly simple. The first is really great chocolate cake. It freezes well and has a firm yet moist crumb. Second – whipped filling that’s actually a frosting your grandma might have made. Seven minute frosting is so light it’s almost like marshmallow. And third is good ol’ trusty ganache. You just can’t go wrong here!

    It’s what’s inside that counts.
    The filling little more than cooked egg whites and sugar with the whipping power of an electric mixer. It’s so easy. Always keep in mind that the enemy of meringue is fat. Always make sure your mixing bowl and whip is without a trace. To be sure, cut a lemon in half and wipe down the bowl with it. Do the same to the whip then wipe them down with a paper towel. This removes any trace of fat or grease.

    The word billowy comes to mind! Other frostings were attempted, but this one was the lightest and best contrasted all of that chocolate.

    The buttermilk cake layers don’t really puff up much during baking, so I didn’t even have to level them (who doesn’t love that?!). Cut out the centers of the bottom two layers using a large round cutter, or just free-hand it with a serrated knife.

    Fill the cake all the way to the top with that amazing fluff!

    Removing a cake slice reveals the creamy center, which will sigh down slightly, but won’t totally spill out of the cake. It just kind of relaxes.

    See? I feel relaxed just looking at it (wink). A slice of this cake will definitely remind you of the flavors of a Hostess Cupcake. The soft outer covering of creamy ganache just seals the deal. The creamy center makes this so decadent. I wish I could teleport a slice to each and every one of you!

    Serve slices on their sides instead of upright. They’ll be a little top heavy and the cream filling will ooze out otherwise. The flavor and texture of the chocolate cake is just outstanding. I refrigerated my layers overnight and I think this made the texture even better. Enjoy!

    Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake

    Heather Baird

    This Giant Hostess Cupcake Cake is three chocolate cake layers with a cream-filled center and rich ganache frosting. It’s a great all-purpose cake for nearly any special occasion. Save the cut-out cake centers. You’ll have a little leftover cream filling and can assemble your own personal-sized mini cake with the scraps and leftovers.

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    Prep Time 45 minsCook Time 35 minsTotal Time 1 hr 20 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 15

    Equipment8 inch round cake pans (3)
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Cake layers1 cup unsweet cocoa powder1 cup hot water1 cup unsalted butter room temperature2 cups granulated sugar4 large eggs room temperature1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon fine grain salt1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 cup full fat buttermilk3 cups all-purpose flourGanache3 cups semisweet chocolate chips1 1/2 cups heavy creamCream filling1/2 cup egg whites about 2 1/2 egg whites, I used carton egg whites1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar1/2 teaspoon vanilla extractConfectioners’ glaze for décor1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar plus more if needed1-2 teaspoons of milk or cream plus more if needed
    Instructions Cake layersPreheat the oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray.Combine the dark cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth and dissolved. Set aside.In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and mix again. To the creamed mixture add the baking soda, salt and baking powder. Mix again briefly.In a 4 cup or larger glass measure with a pour spout, combine the dissolved cocoa mixture and buttermilk. Whisk until combined.Mix in the flour in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk/cocoa mixture (Order: 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 the liquid, 1/3 flour, remaining liquid, remaining 1/3 flour). Mix on low speed until each is incorporated.Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out to cool completely on wire racks. When cakes are cool, cut out and remove a 3.5 inch circle from two of the cakes. Save cake scraps for snacks, cake pops, or for a quick hot fudge sundae.GanachePour the chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the cream and tamp the chips down into the cream so they are all covered. Microwave at 100% power for 2 minutes. Let mixture stand for 1 minute then whisk together until a shiny, thick ganache is formed. Transfer to the refrigerator to firm. Stir ganache intermittently until mixture is of soft spreading consistency, like buttercream, which should take about 20-30 minutes.Cream fillingBring a pot with 2 inches of water to a simmer. Place egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar into a stainless-steel mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set the bowl on top of the simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Check by rubbing a little of the mixture between your fingers. If the mixture is still grainy, keep whisking and cooking. Mixture is ready when the sugar is melted and an instant-read thermometer registers 160F.Remove the bowl from the simmering water and pour into an electric stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat for 5-7 minutes on medium high until the mixture is thick and billowy, and holds stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla extract.Place a cake layer with a hole in the center on a cake board or server. Frost top edges with ganache. Top with the second cake layer with a hole in the center. Frost top with ganache. Pour cream filling into the center, filling the hole all the way to the top of the hole (You will have a little cream filling left over). Top with the final cake layer without a hole. Frost the entire cake with a crumb coat of ganache. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.Ganache will set, so re-heat, if necessary, in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, or until loosened. Remove cake from the refrigerator and apply a second thick coat of ganache.Confectioners’ glazeMix the confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon of milk in a small bowl. Whisk together until a very thick paste is formed. It should hold in the balloon of the whisk and very slowly fall out. Use more or less of each of the sugar and milk to reach this correct consistency. Remove to a piping bag or zip-top bag with a small hole snipped in the corner. Pipe a series of consecutive loops on top of the cake in Hostess Cupcake fashion.Serve slices of cake on their sides instead of standing upright. The filling will fall out of the cake slices otherwise. Serve with ice cold glasses of milk for an extra dose of childhood nostalgia.Cover cake leftovers with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
    NotesIf you’re not using carton egg whites as I did, beat three whole egg whites lightly in a bowl, then pour into a 1/2 cup measure. 

    Keyword buttercream filling, chocolate cake, ganache frosting

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    Pink Pineapple Pie

    Pink Pineapple Pie has a hint of berry flavor thanks to a little strawberry puree mixed into the batter. Colorful sprinkles baked right into the graham cracker crust add an extra ounce of fun!

    It’s been a while since I’ve made a pie, and this one has all the summer vibes. Pink Pineapple Pie – it’s fun to say, isn’t it? I recently learned that pink pineapples are totally a thing, but I didn’t use them for this recipe. Instead I decided to add a little strawberry goodness to my favorite no-cook pineapple pie filling.

    I really wanted this pie to look happy and fun. So first thing I did was whip up a graham cracker crust and add some pink and yellow sprinkles. (I’m a crust sprinkle-er from way back, see here and here). It’s too easy, with just graham crumbs, butter, and sprinkles. It bakes for 10 minutes to set the crumb, and the rest is a no-bake affair.

    The pie filling is so creamy with a no-nonsense list of ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, crushed pineapple, and strawberry puree. I had hoped the puree would give the filling a more pink color, but in the end it needed a little help with drops of pink food color. Whisk this up until well combined.

    Next add in some whipped cream -ah! This makes the pie so light. Fold it all together until no obvious white streaks remain.

    Pour the filling into the cooled crust and chill. It takes about 3 hours to firm in the refrigerator. The spring form collar will slide right off easily because of the butter in the crust. If you don’t have a 9-inch spring form pan, you can make this in a 9 inch deep dish pie pan.

    I had so much fun with the garnishes. I used more whipped cream, more sprinkles, some pineapple leaves, a strawberry half, and a little pineapple cube. It kind of looks like an umbrella drink you’d get at Benihana!

    I’d almost re-name this ‘Happy Pie’ if Pink Pineapple Pie wasn’t so darn catchy and a much better description. It’s cheerful-looking for sure, and so tasty! It’s a cold, creamy treat that’s easy to make when you crave something tropical on a hot day.

    Pink Pineapple Pie

    Heather Baird

    This creamy, tropical-tasting pie is a refreshing dessert that’s easy to make. Serve slices chilled on a hot day.

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    Prep Time 20 minsCook Time 10 minsTotal Time 30 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 8

    Equipment9-inch spring form pan
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Crust1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs1/2 cup unsalted butter melted1/3 cup pink and yellow jimmies ice cream sprinklesPie filling14 oz. sweetened condensed milk 1 can8 oz. crushed pineapple undrained 1 small can1/4 cup lemon juice1/4 cup strawberry puree sieved to remove seeds2-3 drops liquid pink food color1 cup heavy cream3 tablespoons granulated sugarGarnishes1/2 cup heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks1 tablespoon granulated sugar1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract3 tablespoons pink and yellow sprinklesPineapple leaves1/2 strawberry1 cube pineapples or wedge
    Instructions CrustPreheat the oven to 350F.Combine the graham cracker crumbs and unsalted butter in a bowl. Mix with a rubber spatula until all the crumbs are coated with butter and the texture resembles wet sand. Add the sprinkles and fold them in until well dispersed. Pour the crumbs into a 9-inch spring form pan and press in the bottom and 2 inches up the sides. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool crust completely.Pie fillingCombine sweetened condensed milk, undrained pineapple, lemon juice, and strawberry puree in a large bowl. Whisk together until well combined. Add drops of pink food color. Whisk again to disperse color.In a separate medium bowl, whip the heavy cream until slightly thickened. Slowly add in the granulated sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat to stiff peaks. Add the whipped cream to the pineapple mixture and fold together until well incorporated. Pour the filling into the crust. Refrigerate until set, 3-4 hours.GarnishesBeat the heavy cream in a medium while gradually adding the granulated sugar. Add the vanilla extract and beat to stiff peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large closed start tip. Pipe stars of whipped cream around the top edge of the pie. Pipe stars in the center of the pie also. Immediately add sprinkles. Place three or more pineapple leaves standing upright in the center of the pie. Add the strawberry half and pineapple to finish. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
    NotesIf you don’t have a spring form pan, this pie can be made in a 9-inch-deep dish pie pan.
    If you don’t have pink food color on hand, try using a few drops of red.
    You’ll need about 5 oz. of fresh or frozen strawberries (thawed) to yield the 1/4 cup of puree for this recipe.

    Keyword crused pineapple, heavy cream, strawberry puree

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    Peanut Butter Cookie Banana Pudding

    An old-fashioned favorite gets a new twist! Peanut Butter Cookie Banana Pudding swaps vanilla wafers for peanut butter sandwich cookies.

    There’s a sense of normalcy easing its way back into our lives. We’re having family dinners again, and summer weather means potlucks and picnics won’t be far behind. I’m so eager to share this new banana pudding recipe with my friends and family. It’s just like regular scratch-made banana pudding, but with a peanut butter surprise!

    First, you’ll start with a good scratch-made vanilla pudding. Homemade vanilla pudding is so simple that it’s best to use high quality ingredients. It should taste of cream and vanilla, and never overtly of cornstarch. I always finish my batch of vanilla pudding with at least two tablespoons of butter, which adds homemade flavor.

    After the pudding cools, layer it in the bottom of a trifle dish, 2 quart dish or bowl. Next, on goes a layer of sliced bananas. I like to line a few around the edge of the dish so it looks pretty.

    Peanut butter love!
    Now, for the best part: peanut butter sandwich cookies. If you plan to eat your banana pudding right away, give the cookies a quick dunk in milk. This helps them to soften faster. Otherwise, it takes a good 24 hours for the crisp sandwich cookies to soften in the pudding.
    Use any peanut butter sandwich cookie you like! These are Mother’s brand Peanut Butter Gauchos, or use Nutter Butters, which are available nearly everywhere.

    The texture of the cookies soften and leave pockets of peanut butter filling throughout the pudding. It’s so dreamy! We couldn’t stay out of this bowl.

    Peanut Butter Cookie Banana Pudding might just replace this recipe as my picnic fave – but who am I kidding? I’ll probably make both, especially if any kiddos show up. They love those little pouches of pudding.

    Add a few chopped salty peanuts on top, and some more crushed cookies – now you’re in business!
    We first enjoyed this last Monday on Memorial Day, but it would be wonderful for a July Fourth cookout. I’ll make it throughout the summer and probably even into November! It’s that good!

    Peanut Butter Cookie Banana Pudding

    Heather Baird

    An old-fashioned favorite gets a new twist! Peanut Butter Cookie Banana Pudding swaps vanilla wafers for peanut butter sandwich cookies.If you plan to eat the pudding right away, use my cookie dunking method to speed the softening of the peanut butter cookies. Otherwise cookies will naturally soften over 24 hours, however the pudding will be well-chilled at 6 hours – serve at your discretion.

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    Prep Time 20 minsCook Time 15 mins30 minutes cooling time 30 minsTotal Time 35 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 8

    Equipment2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish or trifle bowl
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 3 cups whole milk3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch1/8 teaspoon salt3/4 cup sugar3 egg yolks2 tablespoons butter2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract4 large bananas1 package, approx. 15 oz. peanut butter sandwich cookies such as Gauchos or Nutter Butter1 cup milk for dunking cookies optional2 cups heavy cream1/4 cup powdered sugar1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts chopped
    Instructions Mix 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the remaining 2 3/4 cups milk, salt, and sugar together. When the mixture is barely warm whisk in the egg yolks. Whisk constantly until the mixture steams. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the cornstarch mixture. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and bubbles slightly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish to speed cooling. Cool 20 minutes then cover the surface with a piece of plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming. Chill for 10-15 minutes.Chop bananas into 1/4-inch rounds. Set aside 3 peanut butter cookies for garnish.Layer pudding in the bottom of a 2 to 2 1/2-quart bowl or trifle dish. Top with half of the bananas. Add a layer of peanut butter cookies. (Dunk each cookie quickly in the 1 cup of milk if you plan to enjoy the pudding right away. Otherwise, it takes about 24 hours for the cookies to soften on their own in the pudding.) Repeat layering – these don’t have to be perfectly even. Just do the best you can.For the whipped topping, beat the heavy cream on medium-high until slightly thickened. Add the powdered sugar gradually. Beat to stiff peaks. Top the layered pudding with the whipped cream.Garnish the pudding with two of the reserved cookies. Crush the remaining cookie and sprinkle the crumbs on top. Sprinkle on the salted chopped peanuts.Enjoy immediately or chill for 6 hours before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

    Keyword fresh bananas, homemade vanilla pudding, peanut butter sandwich cookies

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    Tiramisu Semifreddo

    Tiramisu Semifreddo is a mashup of two classic Italian desserts in frozen form. Frozen espresso mousse is surrounded by soft lady fingers and topped with sweet mascarpone cream.

    I’ve decided that this is my new favorite dinner party dessert for summer. It’s so decadent, but also silky and light in texture. And it’s so easy to make ahead! Assemble it days in advance and store it in the freezer, then bring it out when you need a beautiful ending to a meal.

    First thing, get yourself a couple of packages of soft lady fingers from your grocery store’s bakery. Line them up around the sides of a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover the bottom, too!

    Next whip up some egg yoks, sugar, and espresso in a double boiler. This makes a quick custard base for the espresso mousse. I always keep instant espresso powder on hand because I’m a Tiramisu fanatic (see here, here, and here). It’s so good in this recipe so I recommend using it! Delallo is a great brand of espresso powder.
    After the custard base cools, you’ll fold it with some lightly sweet whipped cream.

    Next, pour all that billowy espresso mousse into the lined loaf pan. It will fill the pan almost to the very top. Give the pan a few taps on the counter top to knock out any air pockets that might be hiding. Now its time to freeze! Three or four hours later, you’re ready to top it with fluffy mascarpone cream.

    Heavy cream and mascarpone cheese along with a little powdered sugar makes the perfect topping. But I couldn’t stop there.

    Indulge a little more!
    I couldn’t help myself! Tiramisu always needs a chocolate element (unless it’s my Quick Berry Tiramisu) so I went all in with a chocolate ganache, chocolate shavings, chopped almonds, and chocolate-covered coffee beans. The latter is courtesy of Sconza. I can’t say enough good things about their products. They are one of my favorite food gifts to give to colleagues, friends, family – everybody!

    Semifreddo means partially frozen. So if you’re expecting a frozen rock hard brick of dessert, then think again! Even well-frozen your knife will meet little resistance. The mousse stays soft. The texture is just so silky, and the lady fingers make it cake-like. And it becomes cloud-like as a slices warm to room temperature.

    Let’s end all of our summer dinners this way, okay? This dessert tastes restaurant-quality, and it’s not hard to make. The video below will help you get better acquainted with assembly.

    Tiramisu Semifreddo

    Heather Baird

    This restaurant quality dessert can be made a few days ahead and stored in your freezer. Enjoy the classic flavors of Tiramisu in frozen form.

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    Prep Time 25 minsCook Time 10 mins4 hours freeze time 4 hrsTotal Time 35 mins

    Course DessertCuisine Italian

    Servings 8

    Equipment9×5 inch loaf pan
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Semifreddo2 tablespoons instant espresso powder1 tablespoon hot water30 soft lady fingers4 large egg yolks1/2 cup granulated sugar1/4 cup dark rum1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream4 oz. mascarpone cheese5 tablespoons powdered sugarChocolate toppings1/2 cup heavy whipping cream1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate1/3 cup chocolate shavings1/4 cup chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans such as Sconza2 tablespoons chopped almonds
    Instructions SemifreddoDissolve the espresso powder in the hot water; set aside.Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap that overhangs all sides of the pan. Line the sides and the bottom of the pan with the lady fingers, standing up vertically around the sides of the pan. Tear small pieces of lady fingers and press into gaps in the bottom of the pan (see video).Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. Set a large metal bowl on top and add the egg yolks, sugar, rum, and salt. Add the espresso mixture. Whisk until the mixture thickens like custard. The mixture is ready when an instant read thermometer registers 160F. Remove from the heat and cool 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the whip attachment until the bowl feels cool to the touch, about 5 more minutes.Beat 1 3/4 cups of the heavy cream on medium-high until slightly thickened. Add 3 tablespoons of the powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the beaten espresso custard mixture. Spoon the mixture into the lined loaf pan. Smooth the top and tap on the counter top to remove air bubbles. Fold in the plastic wrap and freeze until solid, about 4 hours or overnight.Beat the remaining cream on medium-high speed gradually adding the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add mascarpone a little at a time while beating. Whip to stiff peaks. Spread the top of the frozen semifreddo with the whipped mascarpone cream. Return to the freezer.Chocolate ganache and toppingsHeat the heavy cream in a saucepan until steaming but not boiling. Add in chopped chocolate. Let stand one minute and then whisk together. Let cool until thickened yet still pourable, about 15-20 minutes.Remove the semifreddo from the pan from the overhanging plastic. Unwrap and place on a serving tray. Cover with chocolate ganache. Sprinkle on chocolate shavings, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and almonds. Serve immediately or return to the freezer until set. When the chocolate is set, cover in plastic wrap until ready to serve.

    Keyword espresso mousse, mascarpone cream, soft lady fingers

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    The Ultimate Southern Brunch Board

    Homemade pimiento cheese, grits waffles with peach-bourbon syrup, and buttermilk biscuits are just a few offerings on this bountiful southern style brunch board.

    Holy smokes, will you look at that?! I am obsessed with beautifully styled, bountiful brunch boards in general, but this one is special. Making this Ultimate Southern Brunch Board was pretty much my dream come true. As a born and raised southern girl I can tell you this. Everything here reflects the place where I’m from. My East Tennessee home is within the Appalachian Mountains, where food traditions have deep roots. And ‘there’s always room for one more at the table’ is practically our family motto.
    I wish I could invite every single person reading this over for a taste of this feast. But for now, the best I can do is share some of my favorite heirloom recipes. Some of which already live here on the blog. First up – my favorite pimiento cheese recipe, which is a combination of Southern Living’s and The Lee Bros. recipes.

    Pimiento cheese serves us well as a sandwich spread, appetizer, or beside a pile of pickled okra on this brunch board. Forget the pre-shredded stuff. The secret to really great pimiento cheese is a block of extra-sharp cheddar.

    Simple is best!
    The best pimiento spread has few ingredients. A box grater and an 8 oz. block of extra sharp won’t take long to break down into feathery shreds. Add the cheese to a bowl, along with some jarred pimiento patted dry on paper towels. Add a little cream cheese, JFG mayo (or other, if you must) and a coarse grind of black pepper. Stir it up and enjoy!
    You’ll find the recipe in greater detail at the end of this blog post.

    Next – eggs. What would brunch be without eggs? You can’t go wrong with boiled eggs from the deli section at the supermarket (no peeling!). A few folded up crepe/omelet-style eggs can be neatly tucked in here and there.

    Buttermilk is a magic ingredient!
    Tangy buttermilk biscuits can be made into sandwiches with salty country ham (it’s like the Appalachian version of prosciutto) or spread with another southern favorite – tomato jam. If you find yourself with a bumper tomato harvest this year, make jam!
    Buttermilk Grits Waffles is another favorite that has buttermilk tang and uses up leftover grits as an ingredient. I usually don’t have any leftover grits when I make them, so my first step is whipping up instant grits, which takes just 5 minutes.

    In addition to maple syrup, peach-bourbon syrup is a must for waffles. Make it with fresh peaches for the tastiest results. You can find out how to make it in the Grits Waffles recipe notes.

    Most importantly? Cornbread. Get my all-time favorite buttermilk cornbread recipe right here. Southern cornbread is unsweet, but that just makes it more perfect to stuff with butter and drizzle with sorghum or honey. My grandmother would crumble cornbread into beaten eggs for a hearty scramble. It’s good, especially with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
    Grandma’s silver pitcher makes a fine vase for pretty flowers!

    Get the whole run-down of everything seen here in the list below. The recipes are linked, along with some things you can pick up at the store or easily throw together, like a pot of grits!
    Homemade Pimiento Cheese with crackers (recipe is at the bottom of this blog post)Southern Buttermilk Biscuits Southern Cornbread with honey or sorghum syrupButtermilk Grits Waffles (with Peach-Bourbon Sauce in recipe notes)Cherry Tomato JamBoiled eggs and scrambled (crepe/omelet style) eggsCountry ham, bacon, and sausage linksPickled okraMaple syrupGrits with butter and black pepperSalted butter, for serving on biscuits, cornbread, and waffles

    Homemade Pimiento Cheese

    Heather Baird

    Pimiento cheese is a simple mix of Cheddar, jarred pimiento (cherry pepper) and mayonnaise. However, this spread’s ingredients are as varied as the southerners that make it. Purists only use mayonnaise as a binder, but I find that cream cheese makes it heartier and extra-creamy. Spread it on crackers or between soft or toasted white bread. This recipe serves about 8 as an appetizer or makes 4 sandwiches (1 1/2 cups of spread).

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    Prep Time 15 minsTotal Time 15 mins

    Course AppetizerCuisine American, Southern United States

    Servings 8

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 8 oz. block extra-sharp cheddar cheese3 oz. cream cheese at room temperature4 oz. jar pimento peppers patted dry on paper towels3 tablespoons JFG mayonnaise or other high-quality store-bought mayonnaise1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauceFreshly ground black pepper to taste
    Instructions Grate the cheese on the large holes of a box grater.Place the grated cheddar in a large mixing bowl. Pull apart the cream cheese and scatter over the cheddar along with the pimentos, and mayo. Add Worcestershire and a few grinds of black pepper. Using a spatula, mix the ingredients together until well incorporated. The mixture will be thick. Add more black pepper to taste. Add salt if desired, but I never need to because the cheddar adds enough salt for my taste.Transfer the pimento cheese to a jar or plastic lidded container. Store the pimiento cheese in the refrigerator. This will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.

    Keyword cream cheese, extra-sharp cheddar, JFG mayonnaise

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