monster cookie cake

I am officially 9 months pregnant and officially in major freakout nesting mode!!!!! I am of the textbook vibe: please-move-the-crib-there-no-please-move-it-there-or-maybe-this-wall-needs-to-be-painted-a-dark-mustard-color-ohmyguhhhhhh-we-don’t-have-enough-toys!!! *Sits in the gym parking lot and orders the playpen in the most frantic manner* *Can’t decide on any of the nursing bras so buys all of them* *Cries in the Old Navy baby department!!!!*

The good thing is that I’ve had the energy to get worked up about everything. Aside from the average two nights a week when I’m up all night long obsessing about things like rocking chairs versus gliders, I’ve been sleeping like a rock. I was totally bracing myself for the return of first trimester fatigue during my third trimester, as I’ve read is often the case, but I truly do not have the time to be tired right now. I have a list of meals to be prepped (I’ll blog about this soon!), a bunch of furniture to rearrange (or rather, direct Eggboy to rearrange), and a slew of recipes to edit for both Girl Meets Farm and blog posts that I’ll schedule to go live during my maternity leave. And I need to stay current on the Bachelor which is taking up so much time, gosh geez. Luckily I’ve been able to focus a lot of this energy into keeping up with my workouts which have consisted of lifting itty bitty weights and doing resistance stuff and also waddling quickly around the track (while listening to Unorthodox, obviously). Which I think has been key in not driving everyone around me too crazy. I think. They haven’t told me otherwise. But then again what monster calls a 9-month pregnant lady crazy to her face?

Speaking of monsters, I made a monster cookie cake! It was for Eggmom’s birthday! I didn’t know what a monster cookie was until I moved here and kept hearing about the gigantic gooey ones at the UND cafeteria. I’ve never actually had one because I’m afraid of getting caught sneaking onto campus but I’ve had others and they are sooo good: peanut butter, oatmeal, and M&M’s all folded into a soft chewy delicious cookie. It occurred to me that it needed to be turned into a cake when I was brainstorming cakes for Eggmom’s birthday earlier this year. She loves M&M’s. And has oatmeal every morning. And ate peanuts by the handful when she was pregnant with Eggboy. So a monster cookie cake seemed perfect!! The oats and peanut butter in the batter here make it extra dense and moist, and the chocolates (I went with Trader Joe’s naturally colored candy coated chocolates) add good textural excitement. This is a super heavy cake! It’s slathered with peanut butter cream cheese frosting which drives home the peanut flavor and also adds a hint of sourness that’s the perfect balance to the cake. This frosting is sooooo goooood, you might want to make extra so you can just eat it with a spoon. You can totally bake this batter into cupcakes (it’ll make a lot, like 40!) and if you’re really feeling the monster energy, I feel like a few marzipan monsters around the sides would be cute. Or you can just go the normcore rainbow route like I did!

I made this cake using Our Family ingredients, which was especially fitting since I made it for family!! <3


monster cookie cake

makes one 3-layer, 8-inch cake

Ingredients

Cake

2 c (472g) boiling water

1 1/3 c (106g) rolled oats

2 c (260g) all-purpose flour

1/2 c (64g) whole wheat flour, or more all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 c (200g) granulated sugar

1 c (200g) brown sugar

1/2 c (100g) flavorless oil, like canola

1 c (256g) creamy unsweetened peanut butter

2 large eggs

1 tb vanilla extract

1 c (240g) buttermilk 

2 c (320g) candy coated chocolates, plus more for decorating

Frosting

1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 c (226g) our family cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 c (64g) creamy unsweetened peanut butter

3 c (360g) powdered sugar

A pinch of kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

2 tb (30g) heavy cream

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Line the bottoms of three 8” round cake pans with parchment, grease the parchment and sides of the pans and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the boiling water and oats, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, oil, and peanut butter. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each. Whisk in the vanilla and buttermilk and then stir in the dry ingredients and then the oats. Fold in the candy chocolates (quickly, to prevent the colors from bleeding), and then transfer to the cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat to combine. Beat in the heavy cream.

Stack up the cake layers with a layer of frosting between each and then frost all over. Decorate with candy coated chocolates. Enjoy!


-yeh!

This recipe was developed in partnership with Our Family!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

valentine's day almond cake

Season 3 of Girl Meets Farm is a go!!!

We are working on the first six episodes right now and the remaining episodes will be filmed after Poppy Seed arrives, in the summer! It’s been so much fun! Of course, there are a few things weird about filming while eight months pregnant, like my arms get tired more easily since there is a growing baby the size of [checks pregnancy tracker app] three croissants in between me and the counter, and I’ve gotten some lame-o carpal tunnel action so sprinkling sprinkles takes some more effort, and of course my belly catches all of the food falling out of my mouth that would otherwise fall to the floor (I didn’t realize how much food fell from my face until there was something there to catch it?!) so it’s necessary for me to have two of every shirt that I wear. But, in general it’s been awesome because there is so much food everywhere!! Taco pizza, coconut cream pie, salt and vinegar potatoes, freezer friendly bagel breakfast sandwiches… this season is pregnant lady approved and sooo (!!!) tasty.

And of course, hanging out with the crew, being cozied up in my house and filming all day while it blizzards outside is kind of like my winter camp dreams come true. I love these people. And I’m excited that later this week I get to spend Valentine’s Day with them and introduce them to my annual Valentine’s Day almond cake. My mom will also be in town on Valentine’s Day, filming her guest episode, so it’s going to be the best day ever!!! Oh gosh I hope there’s enough of this cake to go around… It just occurred to me that I should maybe make a second one…

Anyway, this Valentine’s Day cake is extra special for two reasons: my Chrismukkah gift from Eggboy this year was a set of paintings of my Valentine’s cakes by our amazing artist friend Mollie. Mollie makes the most incredible watercolors, they’re miniature and beautiful, I have a corn dog that she made for me last year and I cherish it. When Eggboy presented me with her paintings of my cakes, I was floored! They’re not all literal, some of them are interpretations, and part of the gift was that Mollie is going to paint my future cakes as well! So one day when we’re all old and crusty, there will be a wall in our house covered with paintings of Valentine’s cakes. Oh geez, I’m so excited. 

Also, Better Homes and Gardens did a story on my tradition with their own beautiful rendition of this cake!! Pick up this month’s issue to read it!!

My cake this year was actually inspired by the cake that BHG did. I loved their idea of doing a layer cake and sticking cookies into the top. I wanted all of the cookies to be different, so during the polar vortex, I just took a whole afternoon and decorated these cookies and it was the best. Some are flower-inspired to look like little bouquets, but the others I just played around with. And of course the actual cake itself is the same fluffy almond cake that I make every year (it’s heavy on the almond paste chunks this year because I was suuper careful not to over beat it), covered with almond fresh whip that is the essential flavor of Valentine’s Day. It’s sitting in my deep freeze right now so that I can defrost it on Thursday. Because if there’s one rule I have about this holiday, it’s that Valentine’s Day cannot exist without this cake!

(You can see all of my past Valentine’s cakes here! 2018 / 2017 / 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011 / 2010)


valentine's day almond cake

makes one 3-layer 8” cake

ingredients

cake:

1c (96g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
12 oz almond paste
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c (150g) sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond extract

whipped cream:

2 c (480g) heavy whipping cream
1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract

pink food coloring, optional

assembly:
sprinkles of all sorts

my soft almond sugar cookies, baked with wooden skewers sticking out the bottom

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and line the bottoms of three 8” cake pans and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks and then gradually beat in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating to stiff peaks and then set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I usually just scoop the whites out of the bowl and transfer them to a separate bowl and then reuse my stand mixer bowl without having to wash it for this step), combine the almond paste and egg yolks and beat on high for 2 minutes until pale and fluffy (but allow some almond paste chunks to remain in tact), scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla and almond extract. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then fold in the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the pans, spread it out evenly with a spatula, and then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes.

Cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove to the rack to cool fully.

To make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and almond extract to stiff peaks. Add a few drops of pink food coloring if desired.

Stack up the layers with a thin layer of whipped cream between them and then frost all over with the remaining whipped cream. Decorate as desired with cookies, sprinkles, chocolate, etc., and enjoy!

Store decorated cake in the fridge until ready to serve. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to a few days.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!

wild blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting

We are babymooning in Hawaii right now! 

What happens on a babymoon? 

You sit by a pool and eat. And then waddle to the beach, eat some more, and apply more sunscreen. You space out, look over at Eggboy and his stack of newspapers and you ask what’s happening in the world today? And he tells you about some fun storyline about an obscure sports championship that’s going on or a record that’s about to be broken or discovery that might have just been made. Or he shows you John Mayer’s latest Instagram Story. Then you plan your next meal.  

Then you come home, put the car seat in the car, and have a baby! 

Or something like that?? (I dunno, Molly of last week wrote this, Molly of this week is not here right now.) My point is, even though I’m totally away this week, I wanted to leave you with this blueberry cake because I made it recently and the only thing that stopped me from eating it all was visions of failing my gestational diabetes test. I made it for Eggnephew Cliff’s baptism!

When I asked Eggsis what kind of cake I should make, she said blue! And I said, …berry?? And we got really excited. Blueberries have become kind of a default craving of mine since they go so well with my top craving of cream cheese. And I love that they work so nicely as a natural food coloring, even though their color skews more purple. This cake is a variation of my go-to rich buttery vanilla cake, which is the richest densest cake in all the land, and I’ve added some flavors that play nicely with blueberries: lemon zest for brightness, cream cheese for tanginess, and cinnamon for a muffin-like warmth. I also like using unrefined coconut oil in this for the faintest coconut flavor, it’s not overpowering and really lovely. It’s a lot like eating a party version of a blueberry muffin. I decorated it with marzipan cutouts inspired by those wooden toy letter blocks because… babies. 

Even though I haven’t tried it yet, I imagine that this recipe would be tasty with other fruits and berries. A strawberry cake or raspberry cake would be delicious. Or a mixed berry cake! 


wild blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting

makes one 3-layer, 8-inch cake (the cake pictured has an extra layer since I needed to make it bigger to feed all of Cliff’s friends)

ingredients

cake:

4 c (520g) + 1 tb all-purpose flour, divided

1 tb baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/4 c (300g) heavy cream, room temperature

1/2 c (120g) sour cream, room temperature

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 c (100g) unrefined coconut oil, soft but not melted

2 1/4 c (450g) sugar

zest of 1 lemon

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tb vanilla bean paste or extract

1/2 tsp almond extract, optional

1 1/2 c (210g) frozen wild blueberries

frosting:

1/2 c (70g) frozen wild blueberries

2 tb water

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c (168g) cream cheese, softened

4 c (480g) powdered sugar

a pinch kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

3 tb heavy cream

clues

to make the cake layers: preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottoms of three 8” cake pans with parchment and set aside.

in a large bowl, sift together the 4 cups of flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, and then lightly stir in the salt and set aside. in a large measuring cup, whisk together the heavy cream and sour cream and set aside. 

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, coconut oil, sugar, and lemon zest on medium high for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. add the vanilla and almond extract, if using. reduce the mixer to medium low and add the dry mixture and cream mixture in 3 alternating additions, mixing until just combined. toss the frozen blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour and fold them in (don’t rinse the blueberries). distribute the batter evenly between the cake pans, and spread it out evenly (don’t be alarmed if the frozen blueberries cause the cake batter to firm up, that’s ok!). 

bake until the tops of the cakes are starting to brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs on it; begin checking for doneness at 33 minutes and try your darnedest not to let it over-bake. let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

to make the frosting:

combine the frozen blueberries with the water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium for about 10 minutes, stirring and mashing occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the blueberries have broken down and released their juices. strain the juices through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl or measuring cup, using your rubber spatula to mash the blueberries and wring out any juices that they’re still holding onto. you should get around 3 tablespoons of liquid (if it’s much more than that, discard any excess or reserve it for another use). 

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese until creamy. gradually add the powdered sugar, and then mix in the salt, vanilla, blueberry juice, and heavy cream. mix until creamy.

to frost the cake, level the top of the layers and then stack them up with a layer of frosting in between. frost all over and decorate as desired! enjoy!


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!

caramel apple cake with cream cheese frosting

Confession time: I’m not lifting a finger this Thanksgiving! Not even a toe. There will be no cooking, no bird basting, no celery chopping, just the sweet sound of Broadway tunes from the parade on the TV. And then I’ll be waddling down to the beach. That’s it! I’m so excited. I can’t take credit for this idea, it’s all the brainchild of my mom’s side of the family who has been organizing an epic Thanksgiving weekend Florida family reunion that I have been looking forward to for months. 

My dream is that I’ll somehow be able to acquire a turkey and cranberry on rye on the beach, and I’m loosely tempted to bring boxes of pre-made stuffing for all of my relatives to hydrate in their hotel coffee pots. (Certainly weirder things have been done, no?) But if my options are poolside chicken fingers and fries with honey mustard, I won’t be mad. Because 1) we already had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner during filming for the Girl Meets Farm Thanksgiving episode, and 2) I’ll be with my awesome cool fam for the first time since cousin Ellie’s Bat Mitzvah! And that’s really what Thanksgiving is all about, right??? Being with your loved ones?? WOW, this got mushy fast. 

The one main kitchen thing that I will really miss this year is watching Eggboy make his pumpkin pie. He really hit his stride last year and, I don’t know, there is something so warm and fuzzy about seeing someone who you love so much getting excited about a thing that you love so much. Eggboy in the kitchen is truly somethin rad. Maybe he’ll make his pie for Chrismukkah…

Our plans to go to Florida reminded me of one of the last times I spent Thanksgiving in Florida, in my college days. For a few good years in a row, we all got together and cooked a feast at my cousin Jamie’s house. It was always a super solid classic Thanksgiving meal and for dessert there were definitely a few pies, but there was also this caramel apple loaf cake that looked pretty ugly but, oh goodness, it was soo good. It had a deeply caramelized flavor and it was wildly dense, but it was broken up by big chunks of crisp tart apples. It was the kind of cake that you just couldn’t walk by without shaving off *one* more sliver. A hot contender for winning the honor of Ending Bite, indeed.

This cake is inspired by that cake, which holds a place in our family cookbook. I’ve swapped in some whole wheat flour to add nuttiness and given it a not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting that adds the correct amount of tang and creaminess. Also, I screwed something up so that you don’t have to: I tried making this with the gala apples from our trees and honeycrisp apples from the store. They were both too moist and the batter, as thick as it was when it went into the pan, just didn’t reach the right consistency during baking. So use Granny smiths because they are super starchy and firm and they won’t add too much moisture to the batter. But past that, this cake is very unfussy and can totally be made a day in advance. If you, like me, are not lifting a finger this Thanksgiving, or maybe you’ve got your pie lineup set in stone already, keep this cake on hand for later in the season because its warmth and coziness is perfect for any winter occasion. 

And I am using Our Family ingredients in this cake! I find I use Our Family products even more during the holidays, when time is usually tight to buy a lot of groceries for all of my holiday parties and I just need easy to find, inexpensive, very reliable ingredients. They are the perfect party planning helpers! Thanks for sponsoring this post, Our Family


caramel apple cake with cream cheese frosting

makes one loaf

Ingredients

2 1/4 c (292g) all-purpose flour

3/4 c (98g) whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking soda 

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

A pinch of ground cardamom

1 c (200g) brown sugar

1 c (200g) sugar

3/4 c (150g) flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 large granny smith apples, chopped into 1/4”-1/2” pieces (4 c (368g) chopped)

Cream cheese frosting:

8 oz (226g) Our Family cream cheese, softened

1 c (120g) powdered sugar

1/4 c heavy cream

A pinch of kosher salt

Caramel:

15 storebought caramels

3 tb whole milk

a big pinch of salt

Flaky salt

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line a Pullman Loaf pan (8 1/2” X 4”, or similar) with parchment paper, allowing 1” wings to come up on two of the sides.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and oil until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each, and then add the vanilla. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and then fold in the apples. It will be very thick! Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, begin checking for doneness after an hour, but it could take up to 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan and then transfer to a serving plate. (You can totally bake this a day in advance and let it cool overnight, uncovered.)

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the heavy cream and salt until combined. Spread it over the cake.

To make caramel, melt ingredients together over low heat in a saucepan while stirring (or in a microwave), and let cool slightly.

Just before serving, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with flaky salt. Enjoy!


-yeh!

thank you, our family, for sponsoring this post

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen