We Got Married!

Hello, my cake loving friends! It’s been a looong time since I’ve posted on here. This is probably the longest I’ve ever been away from my blog, but I promise I’ve had good reason. I got married last month, and Aaron and I got back last week from our honeymoon in Turks and Caicos. Let’s just say that it has been a challenge getting back to real life. I still wake up in the morning wondering why there is no view of the beach outside my window and why nobody is handing me a rum punch as I laze by the pool. It was a relaxing vacation, but I’m finally ready to get back to baking!

I don’t share too much personal stuff on this blog, but I wanted share a few unofficial photos to tide you over until the next recipe. Most of these were taken by friends and family (professional photos to come). Keep in mind, my family is Indian, so we had quite a colorful wedding. Aaron and his family were good sports about the whole thing, and in case you are wondering, he is riding a horse in the 2nd picture!

photo 3-4Wedding2WeddingWedding3

Turks and Caicos was the perfect destination for both of our vacation styles. Aaron is a lot more adventurous than I am. He loves camping, hiking, and all things outdoorsy. He’s also a SCUBA instructor in his free time. I’m more of what Aaron describes as an “Eating ice cream on the beach while reading and petting a puppy” kind of girl. While we did get to do all of these things (including pet puppies), we also got to do some diving, which is something I never would have done on my own. I’ve only dived in Texas lakes before, so the blue water was a new experience for me. In honor of shark week, I’ve included a link to my very first shark spotting! See you soon with a new recipe.

19 Random Things About Me

Natasha in Peru

Since today is my birthday, I thought I would take a moment to tell you a little bit about myself. I always wanted to do one of those 25 random things about me notes on facebook, but I never got around to it, so, better late than never! I love getting to know my readers, so feel free to leave a comment with a random or interesting fact about yourself.

1. I was born on February 19th, 1982. That falls right on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces, but I’m a Pisces in every way. And I only sort of believe in that stuff.

2. I am a coffee addict. I buy espresso beans from a local coffee shop, grind them fresh everyday, and make a 1 shot, 6 ounce cappuccino with organic 2% milk every morning.

3. I’m a certified scuba diver.

4. I have 2 cats that I love dearly, but I’m a dog person at heart. I hope to adopt one in the near future.

5. Layer cakes are my favorite desserts to make. I find the process of baking, frosting, and decorating them to be therapeutic. That being said, the dessert I crave the most (and make the most often) is chocolate chip cookies. Does that count as 2 things?

6. I’m a night owl, and the only time I will voluntarily get up early is when I have jet lag.

7. I have never liked milk, and the only time I will ever drink it is in my coffee or with warm chocolate chip cookies. I rarely put it on my cereal, and I will absolutely never drink cereal milk.

8. I’ve never met a vegetable I didn’t like. As much as I love sugary treats, I also love broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach.

9. By day, I’m a musician. It’s not the most lucrative job in the world, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

10. I love British period dramas. I’ve read all the Jane Austen novels, I have a crush on Mr Darcy, and I’m completely obsessed with Downton Abbey.

11. I’m still trying to get my students to teach me how to use Twitter, and I totally don’t get the hash tag thing.  #iamreallyold

12. I’ve been playing tennis since I was a kid, and even though I’m still not especially good at it, I love to play. I’m currently on a women’s doubles team called the Lob Stars.

13. I am a pescetarian, which basically means I’m a vegetarian who occasionally eats seafood. I’ve tried to convince myself that it was because seafood is more sustainable, but really, it’s just because I haven’t found the discipline to give up sushi.

14. The only soda I like is Cherry Coke, and I will only drink it at the movie theater. With buttery popcorn. And Buncha Crunch.

15. I’m not much of a girly girl. I still don’t know how to put on makeup, I can’t walk in high heels to save my life, and I don’t like shopping (unless you count grocery shopping).

16. After grad school, my friend Cat and I wanted to take an international trip. We chose the location by the cheapest plane ticket we could find, and ended up having the trip of a lifetime in Peru.

17. My secret dream is to be a ballerina. I think ballet is an amazing form of art, but I’m way too old and not coordinated enough to take ballet, so I live vicariously through movies and documentaries about ballet dancing. I have seen Center Stage at least 50 times.

18. I turn into a whiny baby when I’m cold. I grew up in Indiana, so I’m happy to be living in a warmer climate now.

19.  When I was a kid, the only acceptable cake for me was chocolate. Now that I’m older, I have a new respect for vanilla, and this is the first year that one of my birthday cakes (I always make 2) will be vanilla. I can’t wait to share the recipe with you!



Mini Funfetti Birthday Cakes


It’s birthday week here at The Cake Merchant, and I can’t think of a better way to start the week than with a post over at Best Friends For Frosting. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I love layer cakes and miniature desserts. These mini funfetti birthday cakes combine both of these things.

Tomorrow is my actual birthday, but I like to prolong the celebration, so this week is sure to be filled with lots of sugar and gluttony! Stay tuned for more birthday cakes, but for now, click over to Best Friends For Frosting for this Mini Funfetti Layer Cake recipe.

Drink Week Part 3: Cherry Limeade Sangria

















A couple of months ago, I stopped by Sonic to get a cherry limeade. It had been a really long day of teaching, and it was just starting to get hot here in Texas. I was grumpy, sweaty, and I remember thinking that I wished that the cherry limeade I ordered was a little bit stronger. Then I thought, hey, I could make something like that! Cherry limeade sangria!
It just so happens to be drink week here at The Cake Merchant, and I had an abundance of limes left over from last week’s local grocery delivery. Since cherries are also in season, my cherry limeade sangria dreams have finally come to fruition.
Although sangria is traditionally made with red wine, I am a total lightweight, and nothing puts me down faster than a glass of red wine. Seriously, one glass and I’m passed out on the couch snoring. It’s not cute. Since this sangria was to accompany our 4th of July celebration, I thought white wine would be the best option so that I could actually be awake to see the fireworks. The fact that it’s cut with a little bit of soda makes it very drinkable. I would go so far as to say it’s dangerously drinkable, but who doesn’t like a little danger in their sangria?

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Drink Week Part 2: Adult Cherry Coke Float

I’ve been in Texas for four years now, and I have yet to feel 100 percent at home here. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things I like about Dallas. There are good restaurants, things to do, and generally nice people. There’s enough diversity here that sometimes makes me forget that I am in Texas. That is, until I get behind the wheel. When I’m driving, I remember where I am, and all of those general niceties are replaced with road rage. In Texas, bigger is better, and apparently the biggest car always has the right of way. This doesn’t bode well for me and my little Hyundai. There are trucks here that have wheels that are bigger than my entire car! Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but not much.

This drink is bound to sooth even the worst road rage. Cold, sweet, fizzy, with a hint of cherry, and topped with ice cream. What could be bad about that?
















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Drink Week Part 1: Patriotic Punch

















Some of my favorite things to make are layer cakes, but I have yet to post one on here. After all, I am the Cake Merchant. I had all kinds of aspirations to make a beautiful layer cake this week, I really did. But with the temperatures being over 100 degrees every day this week, I just couldn’t bring myself to turn on the oven. I know that these high temperatures are not isolated to Texas, so you may be feeling the same way (unless you’re lucky and live in Southern California). I’ve decided to devote this coming week entirely to drinks- cold, fizzy drinks with lots of ice! Plus, I came across these really cute star shaped ice cubes at the store the other day, so it’s fate. Drink week has officially begun!








I came up with what I thought was a brilliant and original idea for a red, white, and blue layered drink for the 4th of July. After I googled it, it turns out that my idea is far from original. There are lots of layered drink recipes on the internet, which turned out to be quite helpful since it took  some of the guess work out of making them. After a bit of research and experimenting, there seem to be two keys to making layered drinks. First, make sure that each layer has a different sugar content, with the most sugary drink being on the bottom. Second, pour slowly! The slower, the better. This will ensure that you get a red, white, and blue drink rather than a purple drink.

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Chocolate Chunk Walnut Banana Bread

I don’t like bananas, but every once in a while, I’ll try to convince myself that I do. I tell myself, they’re good for you, they’re the perfect post run snack, they make a quick and easy breakfast, they don’t taste that bad. Every month or so, I’ll have the same inner dialogue at the  grocery store as I pass by the bananas, and lo and behold, they end up in my basket. I promise myself that this time, I really will eat them, but inevitably, they sit on the counter until they look something like this.














The only thing worse than a banana is a brown, mushy banana. Unless of course, you can disguise it as dessert.

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Tofu Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse











Yesterday, I had some tofu haters over for dinner. For me, it’s hard to believe that people hate tofu. As a vegetarian, it’s a staple part of my diet, and I love that it’s so versatile. I was determined to convert these tofu hating folks, and I figured, what better better way to do that than with chocolate and peanut butter?

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