Strawberry Malt Cake

One of the things I miss most about living in Los Angeles is having access to all different kinds of food at any time of the day. After I finished graduate school, like all good starving artists, I worked at a restaurant to make ends meet. My weekend shift usually ended around 10:30, and my roommate and I would often find ourselves at Canter’s Deli at midnight, drinking malts and eating fries.

Other than Whoppers, I had never had malted anything until then, but malted milkshakes got me addicted to the flavor. Now I want to malt all the things. Malted milk powder adds such a unique depth of flavor to baked goods. I added just enough to this frosting so that you know something’s up, but you’re not sure what exactly it is. However, if you want a less subtle malt flavor, feel free to add more.

Strawberry Malt Balls

This cake was inspired not only by my LA days, but also by a pack of strawberry malt balls I saw while grocery shopping. I usually got vanilla and chocolate malts when I was at Canter’s, but I was intrigued by the combination of strawberry and malt. I kind of expected them to be gross, so I’m not sure why I bought them, but they were surprisingly delicious.

The first time I made this, I added malt powder to the cake as well as the frosting. In the end, I didn’t like the texture it gave the cake, and thought the maltiness came through better in the frosting. I ended up using my favorite white cake recipe, and just swapping out strawberry puree for half of the milk.

Strawberry Malt CakeStrawberry Malt CakeStrawberry Malt Cake

I’ve struggled in the past when trying to make strawberry flavored desserts. I’m not a fan of using gelatin, and you can’t add a lot of fresh strawberries to cake or frosting without adding too much moisture. I eventually came across this recipe for strawberry frosting, and have been using the cooked strawberry method ever since. Basically, you just cook down fresh or frozen strawberries until they reduce down and the flavor intensifies. It takes some extra time, but you’ll get a lot more flavor without adding any artificial ingredients. Without food coloring, the cake is barely pink and the frosting is pale pink like you see in the pictures, but you can add a few drops if you want more color.

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Tropical Carrot Cake

by Natasha on April 10, 2014

Carrot Cake

Have you noticed the sudden popularity of BuzzFeed quizzes lately? They’re popping up all over my Facebook feed. I’m guilty of spending too much time taking them myself, and in case you’re wondering, I’m a Shuba Inu, The Dowager Countess, Rachel, Dumbledore, an oboe (ha!), should live in Portland, and know entirely too much about Gilmore Girls. Now that I’ve exhausted the BuzzFeed quizzes, I’ve moved on to the BBC America quizzes, which have turned out to be a even better procrastination tool. How would I die in Victorian England? Acid milk, of course.

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Vanilla Sour Cream Cake

by Natasha on April 4, 2014

Vanilla Sour Cream Cake

I’ve got a big, colorful cake for you today! My friend Ruth Ann runs a chamber music series here in Dallas, and I always make the desserts for the receptions after the concerts. Since last week was the final concert of the season, I decided to go all out with this 4 layer cake. I chose to color each layer to match the organization’s logo, but you can use whatever colors you want (pastels would be great for Easter). I did have one lady at the reception tell me that the yellow layer was her favorite because it was the most buttery. Hmmm…maybe I’ll start dyeing all of my cakes yellow from now on.

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How To Freeze Cookie Dough

by Natasha on March 30, 2014

Cookie Dough

I know what you’re thinking. You’re going to tell me how to freeze cookie dough? Have you run out of ideas, Natasha? I was debating whether or not to even write this post, but when a friend told me that she had never thought of this and it changed her life (well, not quite, but you know what I mean), I figured it may be helpful to at least a few people. This is the method that I have been using to freeze cookie dough for as long as I can remember and it works like a charm, so even if you’re skeptical now, keep reading. We’ll be BFFs shortly.

So let’s talk dough.

I have a complicated relationship with cookies (and dough). Here’s why.

-I love them way too much, therefore I eat them way too much. Large batches of cookies do not stand a chance around me.
-I don’t like day old cookies. I know this makes me sound like a snob, but I am. Only fresh out of the oven cookies for me, please.
-Every time I attempt to make cookies, Aaron steals half my dough, so I get less cookies. Sad face.

Freezing cookie dough solves all of these problems. Originally, I starting freezing cookie dough when I had to bake for large events. It helped me do a lot of the work in advance so I wasn’t so stressed out the day of. I used to do the thing where I would roll it into logs, wrap it in plastic, and then cut it, but this way is so much easier.

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Nutella Birthday Cake

by Natasha on March 15, 2014

Nutella Birthday Cake

Last week, I had the pleasure of celebrating my mom’s 60th birthday with her. My brother and I decided to throw her a little party, so obviously, there was cake. My mom is a true chocoholic, so for her, it’s not really dessert unless chocolate is involved. Originally, she had requested these Nutella Bomb Cupcakes, but a birthday just isn’t a birthday without a layer cake, so I ended up reworking the cupcakes into cake form.

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Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

It’s Small Batch Saturday! This recipe, like so many others out there in the blogosphere, was inspired by an overly ripe banana (and a chocolate craving). I made this on a whim, dumped a few ingredients I had on hand in my mixer, and ended up with a delicious chocolaty muffin. This has to be some kind of miracle, because nine times out of ten when I experiment, I end up with a gloopy mess.

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Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

by Natasha on March 4, 2014

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

I’ve been away from the blog a little longer than anticipated, but it’s not because I haven’t been baking. Well, that’s not totally true. I guess you could say I’ve been no-baking, if that’s a thing. I know I promised you cake, but this year, instead of two cakes for my birthday, I wanted to make one cake and one pie. Specifically, a no-bake vegan pie.

Since I’ve been traveling so much lately, being on the road and living out of a suitcase has not been agreeing with my stomach, and the thought of coming home to a buttery sugary carb bomb of a cake just wasn’t appealing (this may be the first time this has ever happened). I’ve had vegan pie on the brain for a while now, and after finding a great recipe for a sugar free, gluten free crust, I needed to find the perfect filling.

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Birthday Cakes in a Jar

by Natasha on February 16, 2014

Birthday Cakes in a Jar

Now that Valentine’s Day is over, let’s get on to more important things. Like my birthday. Technically it’s not until Wednesday, but I like to make my birthday week filled with as many obnoxiously sprinkly posts as possible. Unfortunately, I’m going out of town tomorrow for work for my entire birthday week, so I went with a sprinkly portable cake that I plan to take with me on my trip. Don’t worry, though, my real birthday cakes (I always make two) will be coming, but just a little later than usual.

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Nutella Bomb Cupcakes

by Natasha on February 12, 2014

Nutella Cupcakes

The original title of this post was One Bowl Cupcakes with Nutella Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting, but per my fiancĂ©’s request, I went with a more interesting title. Actually, his exact words were, “These are my favorite cupcakes you’ve ever made. Can you please not name them something boring?” Other reactions included, “Holy @#%! these are good,” and “It’s like a Nutella bomb went off in my mouth!” Hence, Nutella Bomb Cupcakes were born.

You may be thinking that there is entirely too much frosting on these cupcakes. That’s where you’re wrong. Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a magical concoction of which there can never be too much. Unlike American Buttercream, it’s not super sweet, and there’s no powdered sugar involved. Personally, I think a one to one ratio of frosting to cake is perfect.

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Babycakes: A term of endearment. This can lead to other cute nicknames such as babyface, sweetcheeks, and noodlenose.

Mini Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cakes

Baby Cakes: Miniature Layer Cakes that fit in the palm of your hand.

Mini Chocolate Strawberry Cake

I know I said that Small Batch Saturday would be every other week, but I thought I’d throw some baby cakes your way around Valentine’s Day (the cake kind, not the noodlenose kind). Leave it to me to be off schedule the 2nd week into a blog series.

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