Chocolate Guinness Cake – Nigella

I cannot help myself, but I really like Nigella. I know people get weird about the “domestic goddess” thing, but she has always seemed like my kind of cook – do not take it too seriously and have a good time, and that is what I really try to do.

I have her cookbooks “How to Eat,” and “How to be a domestic goddess.” Oh, and “Nigella Summer.” I would love to have such a cool name. When you have a name that many people have – my name, it is kind of annoying. Thankfully my mom was ahead of the curve. There were no other Jennifers in my classes, but lord help you if you were a few years younger than me, there were Jennifers aplenty. Sometimes it helps to be in the forefront of a popular name. And then it is still kind of a thing that I would like a unique name. I guess that is why Jj works for me.

D&D_1945I am always looking for the ultimate version of a Guinness cake, so let’s see how this one stacks up to the other I made last year. I know it is not strictly the Guinness time of year (March), but I don’t really care. It’s what I want to make so it is what shall be made.

Butter for pan
1 cup Guinness stout
10 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9″ springform pan and line with parchment paper. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place on wire rack and cool completely in pan.

Break up any lumps in confectioners’ sugar – I sift. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.

Remove cake from pan and place on platter. Ice top of cake only to resemble a pint of Guinness. Because that is just really cool.

St. Patrick’s Day – Preview Day, sort of

Unfortunately, I will be out of town for St. Patrick’s Day this year as I have been in several other years and it makes me sad. St. Patrick’s Day was our first date – ish. I do not think the MotH planned it as a date, but I think it was inevitable and now it is probably the second most important date for us – the wedding date being the most important. Or maybe the other way around. Interesting, that both days were really just amazingly relaxed. Guess that is just us. I think that may be what happens when two adults realize they have found the right person for them.  Okay – I shall stop now because that sounds too sappy. I do seem to do that on occasion.

So back to St. Patrick’s Day, since I will not be around in my kitchen, I will replay some of my favorites for you to enjoy. I guess I need to figure out when St. Andrew’s Day (November 30th) is as he is the patron saint of Scotland and I am Scottish on both sides of my family. You do not look like me or like the Boy without some Scottish in you. When I think back, my father really had the look about him, but I just did not recognize as I do now in hindsight. I guess I have to figure out Scottish food, but I’m not entirely sure that will be a good thing. ?

Reuben Casserole – as I have said, not pretty, so not pretty, but pretty amazing.


Guinness Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s like looking at a really good pour of Guinness. That is something that has to be done correctly and it takes time – just wait, it will be worth the reward.


Guinness Brownies – I do not like brownies at all. But the first time I made these, well, hell, in small doses they were amazing. And I think the Boy liked the idea that there was stout in his brownies made him happy. Can not say that I blamed him for that.


Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting 

So I have been interested in cupcakes and muffins lately, and this was a request – lemon cupcakes. And I also want to use the new cupcake liners that I got from the Amazon. They are really kind of pretty. Not very fall like, but I do like the pink. dd_1645
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbs canola oil
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in lemon zest.

In a bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, oil, and lemon extract. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, folding with a spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix.

Fill muffin cups half full and bake 29 – 31 minutes or until toothpick come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Set on a rack to cool.

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
juice of one lemon and zest that lemon too, if you are going for it. You should
8 ozs powdered sugar, sifted**

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and lemon juice. Once smooth, sift in powdered sugar (sifting keeps the frosting smooth).

I think next time I will leave out the lemon extract from the cupcakes. It just seems to take over. Bugger all. I really think I like lemon extract less as time goes on. No, I know I do.

Apple Carrot Muffins – Leap Day

Leap Day – 29 February 2016


Carrot, Apple, Walnut Muffins

I don’t think there is any Leap Day food, I look at is an extra day to make something in the kitchen. Bake, cook, maybe trying something new.

Yes, I think try something new. But what?

So after the Boy and I made an excellent carrot cake from a recipe from my friend we had some extra grated carrots left and I remembered having recently seen this recipe and thought it looked good. Also nice that I had everything on hand. Bonus! Another breakfast food, at least in my opinion. Carrot, Apples, Walnuts – um, duh.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups grated carrots, about 3
1 1/2 cups grated Granny Smith Apple, about 2
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you can get good ones)

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Find some spiffy cupcake liners (this is a new thing for me). Line cupcake pan with liners.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a measuring cup, mix together oil and eggs. Break the eggs up. Make a well and add oil and eggs, mix to combine. The add carrots, apples, and walnuts.

Spoon batter into liners, 3/4 full. Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Sift in confectioner’s sugar. Apply frosting to cooled cupcakes.

Source: adapted from a recipe at Simply Recipes.

I made these one night and thought I would frost them the next day but I tried one after they had cooled a bit and decided to skip the frosting. They are great with no frosting. Even MotH likes them and that is saying something. I guess if you frost them then you can call them cupcakes. But I’ll stick with the un-frosted muffin. Besides, that way I can eat them for breakfast and feel good about eating carrots, apples, and walnuts …. for breakfast!! Woo Hoo!

Carrot Cake


Carrot Cake

This is a recipe from a friend. It is her grandmother’s recipe. I love grandmom recipes. I have so few from either of my grandmothers that I just love those grandmom recipes from friends. When a recipe goes down through a couple of generations it means something: It works; it is a favorite; it is loved; it is important. That has a certain Siren call to me.

To my way of thinking, that is largely what this site is all about. Leaving behind what is important to me, and hoping that The Boy finds them worth something in the future. That sounds a bit depressing, but I do not mean it in that way.

From my friend Elaine – from her Grandmother. This is a half recipe. It makes a 2 layer cake, but you could double it to make a 4 layer cake which is what the original recipe does.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, plus one large egg yolk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup grated carrots
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans (local Renfroes) *
1 tsp orange zest

Prepare two 9 inch round pans with baking spray, line with parchment and spray parchment. Preheat ove to 350 degrees.

Sift together over a piece of waxed paper the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer. In a large measuring cup add canola oil and eggs. Whisk with a fork to combine. Slowly add to dry ingredients while on low. Add carrots, pecans, and orange zest and mix until just combined.


Carrot Cake – for The Boy to take home.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through. Do the toothpick test. Remove and cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out, remove parchment, and cool completely.

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange juice
8 ozs powdered sugar, sifted**

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and orange juice. Once smooth, sift in powdered sugar (sifting keeps the frosting smooth).

Once cakes are cooled, frost those layers, and the sides if you want. But we did not do it.

Notes: This is the first time I’ve made the recipe and I’ve made just a half recipe because I only have two 9 inch round pans – that’s how it goes. I have been using a recipe from Mrs. Fields (you know, the cookie lady) since about the time The Boy was born and it has been a huge birthday cake for him for donkey’s years. But this was so much better. I think the canola oil (my choice of vegetable oil because it so neutral) made it so unreally moist.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be ugly about the originally recipe that I made, but this was one of those – wow! – moments. I am just going to say that some times, really old recipes are the best. Next time, I will add raisins because they really add something to carrot cake.

This is the L year. Ugh. This will be a theme. Unfortunately.

Wednesday Night Cooking (Baking) School


Carrot Cake Cookies


Carrot Cake Cookies

I think, based on the photocopy, that this is a Mrs. Fields cookie recipe – which is funny since my mom was a real Mrs. Fields. She (the cookies person) also happens to be the person that makes my favorite carrot cake, so this recipe makes some degree of sense. The original makes only 20 or so sandwich cookies, and that seems a lot of work for not much reward, so I’ve been doubling this recipe since almost the beginning and it works really well. Below is the doubled version.

Let me say, though, that these cookies do not have to be sandwich cookies.They can just be cookies, and they are pretty much excellent that way especially with my additions which I think are, kind of, required for carrot cake anything – raisins and walnuts. I do think the addition of oats in this recipe is a totally good call. Yes, you can call this a breakfast cookie and feel morally superior about it. That’s always a good thing. Although when you add the cream cheese filling, you probably can’t get away with the morally superior part.

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
splash of vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 carrots)
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature (1/2 block)
4 ozs unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, or more as necessary
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt

Make the cream cheese filling/frosting. Cream together butter and cream cheese, add lemon juice and salt and then add powered sugar until the right consistency. Keep in mind that the filling/frosting will thicken in the fridge by the time you need it.

Sift together over a sheet of waxed paper the flour, ginger, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, mix together oats, carrot, raisins and walnuts. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars, then add egg yolks and that splash of vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, then add the oats, carrots, raisins and walnuts. Mix until just incorporated.

Drop onto parchment-lined baking sheet in tablespoon size and flatten a bit – about 2 inches apart. These don’t really spread, so that’s not a problem, but you do need to flatten them especially if you want to make sandwich cookies out of them. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, turning the pan half way through. Cool for a minute then transfer to a wire rack.

If making sandwich cookies, put a little of the cream cheese mixture on the bottom of a cookie and then match it to another one. Or frost the cookies, or leave them alone and be morally superior and have breakfast cookies.

November 2004 – Thanksgiving
14 November 2015 – went over well at the office, and Tim (Shaggy’s) said these were his favorites. Not everyone likes carrot cake or carrot cake cookies, but I do think the oats make a differernce.

2015 Butter Usage (by month – April)

2 March 2015 – 8 Tbs. – Lemon Crispy Chews

3 March 2015 – 24 Tbs. – Carrot Cake

4 March 2015 – 8 Tbs. – Cream Cheese Frosting

7 March 2015 – 2 Tbs. – Currant Chicken

16 March 2015 – 1 Tbs. – Mexican Rice

43 Tbs. = 5.375 sticks = 1.34375 pounds

Pitiful. Really. Pitiful.

I have no excuse – I need to be baking more. Sigh.

Ugh, math.


Lemon Chewy Crisps


Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve been making this cake since the early 1990’s. It’s from a Mrs. Fields cookie cookbook (fun fact, my mom was a Mrs. Fields too). This is my adaption. The mixing method is more like I’m used to and I use unsalted butter and add my own salt to it. This is The Boy’s favorite birthday cake. It fits too, his b-day is in April and this just seems like an Easter time cake to me, although I have made it in the fall too.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

16 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups confectioners’ sugar or a bit more if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 nine inch cake pans with baking spray. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Beat together butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time then vanilla. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
Scrape down bowl, and slowly blend in flour mixture. Add carrots, raisins, and walnuts.
Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth the top. Bake 60 – 70 minutes, rotating pan half way through. Toothpick should come out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then on a wire rack to cool completely.D&D_9509
Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add lemon juice and vanilla. Add sugar gradually on low speed until smooth. So as not to make a mess.
Place one layer of cake on a platter, spread icing over top in a thin layer. Place second layer on top, rounded side up. Coat top and sides with icing. Refrigerate 1 hour to set icing.


22 April 2003 bday for Em
24 April 2004 11th bday
27 November 2008
18 April 2014 Em’s b-day and Easter
3 April 2015 Easter

Red Velvet Cookies


Red Velvet Cookies

I took these photos with my phone. And I am, by no means,  a photographer. I leave that to the Man of the House – he is  slightly amazing. But I have to say I am not embarrassed by these, but that just means I’m lucky.

These cookies are beautiful* and that has, pretty much, nothing to do with me.

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 Tbs red food coloring
Sprinkles for decoration

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 pound confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Sift together flour, soda, cream of tartar, salt and cocoa. With mixer on slow speed add to wet ingredients until just combined. Add red food coloring and beat in medium speed until uniform red color is achieved. It should be a deep red color.

Drop dough by tablespoons on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cookies spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool 5 minutes on baking rack, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

D&D_1648For the frosting, mix cream cheese, butter, lemon zest, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer until just combined. Add sugar and mix until smooth. Frost completely cooled cookies.

4 December 2010

16 January 2011

Source: SugarPies Food.

* I may be the queen of cocktail napkins. Even though, I don’t use them for actual cocktails.