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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Honey Cake

I have some news concerning my blog format (for all 5 of my faithful subscribers).  I have decided to expand the content that I discuss here and make a more consistent effort to share my mad culinary skills.  I will now post twice a week – every Tuesday and Friday.  Fridays will be to highlight desserts (both my own and linking you to other amazing desserts I find throughout the week.  Tuesdays will be for discussing general food/cooking.  I will share recipes and tips on my favorite dishes (because if I am being honest I have spent way more time perfecting my stuffed pepper recipe than I have on my honey cake).

Speaking of honey cake…

Honey Cake

Did you know that it is pretty much impossible to make gluten-free phyllo dough?  I found recipe attempts online for creating the paper-thin sheets of crispy baked goodness…but the fact is you NEED gluten to form the dough.  Long strands of gluten are formed in the dough which are stretched thinner and thinner until the sheets are as thin as tissue paper.

Why is this relevant to honey cake?

I have four friends here in California (actually, I have more than four friends, but right now I am just referring to a specific four) and we like to get together for potlucks.  These are basically an excuse for us all to gather at someone’s house, drink half a dozen bottles of wine, and play Dance Central.  Our last potluck was “greek” themed food.  Of course I immediately thought of baklava!  However, two of my friends can’t have gluten; hence the search for gluten-free phyllo dough that ended in bitter disappointment.

So I bought regular phyllo dough and made little apple pies for me and my husband.  But this isn’t about little triangles of crispy apple deliciousness, it’s about honey cake.

I considered making a dessert with figs, but the fresh ones weren’t in the grocery stores yet (all fruit should be available at all times of year in California, but apparently the grocery store disagrees).

And so, Honey Cake was born!  This is a very sweet dessert and easy to make.  I made it gluten free by simply substituting an all-purpose gluten free flour mix for the regular flour.

Other notable desserts found on the web this week include:
Seven Sins Chocolate Cake from Sprinkle Bakes
Clean Eating Strawberry Scones from Sugar Free Mom
Fun and Easy Treats for Memorial Day from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen (including a delicious looking Cherry Limeade Pie in a Jar!)

Honey Cake
Adapted from
Makes 16 pieces

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).  Grease and flour a 9 or 8 inch square pan.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and orange zest.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Alternately add the flour mixture and milk (start and end with flour).  Mix until just incorporated.
  4. Pour the batter into your pan and bake for 40 minutes (or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine honey and water.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice and simmer 2 minutes more (it will have the consistency of a thin syrup).
  6. Cut the cake into small triangles (quarter the cake and then cut each square diagonally into four triangles to make 16 total pieces).  Pour the honey syrup over the cake.

*The cake is best served warm or at room temperature.  The more the cake sits, the more it will soak up the syrup!


Margarita Pudding Cups

It’s officially summer!!  I know, because we fired up our grill on Mother’s Day and once you start to BBQ, then it’s officially summer (this is a FACT).   Technically in California you can BBQ all year long, but in December it just doesn’t FEEL right.

One of my favorite things to enjoy on a hot summer day is a good margarita!  They are delightfully refreshing.  This is what inspired me to make these:

Margarita Pudding Cups!

Margarita Pudding Cups are a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of a margarita!  A pretzel bottom provides a salty contrast to the sweet (and boozy) margarita pudding.

In creating this recipe, I drew a lot of inspiration from recipes for margarita pies I kept seeing on Pinterest.  My husband and I were having another couple over to play Settlement (have you ever played this board game?  OMG AMAZING!) and planned to serve tostadas.  I wanted a margarita flavored dessert, but I didn’t want to use ice cream.  Well, why not replace vanilla ice cream with vanilla pudding??   And thus, Margarita Pudding Cups were born!

In truth, I am WAY too much of wimp to take a tequila shot

So delicious!

Our friends brought over some homemade pineapple coconut ice cream which we served with the pudding cups and it was delicious!  Looking back, I should have made a rum sauce to drizzle over the top and then we would have had piña colada ice cream!!   I may have a slight obsession with turning alcoholic drinks into dessert form…

Delightful Dessert Duo!

Mine were pretty strong (a little tequila goes a long way), so I suggest adding the alcohol a little at a time until you get the margarita taste you like.  My husband and I tend to double the tequila in our margaritas since we like them strong, so I was a little heavy-handed.

Margarita Pudding Cups
Makes 8 pudding cups

  • 1 3.4oz package instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup milk (I used non-fat but any kind of milk will work)
  • Zest from one lime
  • ¼ cup tequila (use less if desired)
  • 2 tbsp Triple Sec
  • 1 container Cool Whip (thawed)
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter (melted)
  1. Mix the crushed pretzels with the sugar and butter.  Press about ⅛ cup into the bottom of 8 small cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the instant pudding with the milk.  The pudding should be very thick.  Mix in the lime zest, tequila, and triple sec.
  3. Fold the cool whip into the pudding mixture until completely combined.
  4. Divide the mixture evenly into the 8 cups.
  5. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Blood Orange Angel Food Cakelets

I freely admit that I am spoiled.  Mostly by my husband, whose greatest joy in life is doing things to make me happy.

It’s true, I asked him one time.

He even woke up on a Sunday at 6:30am to drive me to a 5K because I didn’t want to drive the half hour by myself.  After, he took me to breakfast AND coffee (although the coffee doesn’t necessarily count because we do that every Sunday morning).  The weekend before that, he took me to see The Hunger Games for the second time (because I’m a little obsessed with that movie right now).  And before that he went to Target and bought me Tangled because I was bored and it wasn’t on Netflix anymore.

Also, I’m pretty sure I can expect a shiny piece of jewelry contained in a pretty blue box for my our anniversary this summer.  You know what blue box I’m talking about and you know where it comes from!  It means he loves me A LOT!

So yeah, basically I’m completely spoiled.

I’m also spoiled because I live in southern California.  With the exception of May Grey and June Gloom (those are real things, you can google it and everything) we can rely on nice sunny weather pretty much every day.

You see that blue sky? No folks, that’s no green screen or photo editing. PERFECT WEATHER (almost) ALL THE TIME!! It’s in all caps so you know I’m really serious.

We also have an abundance of Farmer’s Markets.  Pick any day of the week and you can find one going on somewhere in Orange County.  My personal favorite happens every Saturday at the UC-Irvine campus.

A while back, I purchased a VERY large bag of blood oranges.  This was kind of an impulse buy because normally I hate fruit that is hard to eat and/or stains my hands.  But I had recently come across a recipe for grapefruit angel food cake and felt a sudden inspiration when I looked at those blood oranges…

Tiny little cakelets of citrusy joy!

Deliciously sweet blood oranges fresh from the farmers market baked into angel food cake?  Yes please!

I decided to make them into little mini desserts because I don’t feel bad about eating sweets when they are bit sized.  I’m pretty sure that once something is reduced to two bites it loses all calories.  I use the same logic with broken cookies–if you only eat part of a cookie then it doesn’t count.  Even if you eat all the other parts of that cookie later in the day.

Presentation is everything! Things taste better when they are artfully arranged on tiny spoons.

Edit: I want to add in a couple tips about this recipe.  First (and this applies to anytime you make cake) it is very important that you let the ingredients come to room temperature before you begin mixing.  Cold ingredients, especially the egg whites, will not come together correctly or as easily.  I put out my egg whites first thing, and then measured out all my other ingredients and prepared the cupcake pan; by the time the eggs had reached room temperature everything was ready to go and mixing was a snap!  Second, when whipping the egg whites make sure everything is very clean and dry!  Egg whites can be temperamental and won’t whip up if there is excess water or residue on the bowl or mixer.

Blood Orange Angel Food Cakelets
Adapted from Back to the Cutting Board

  • 6 large egg whites
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 tsp. blood orange zest
  • ¾ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp. fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup strained fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries (optional)
  1. Place egg whites in a mixing bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Fill mini cupcake pan with paper liners (or spray the pan with cooking spray and forgo the liners).
  3. Sift powdered sugar and flour together three times. Stir in orange zest. Set aside.
  4. Add cream of tartar, 2 tsp. orange juice and salt to the egg whites. Beat on medium speed until frothy. Gradually add the ⅓ cup sugar and beat on high speed until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.
  5. Gently fold in flour mixture, ¼ cup at a time. Gently spoon batter into cupcake pan, filling about ¾ full. Use a knife to cut through the batter to remove air pockets. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, stir together ½ cup orange juice and ¼ cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat slightly and simmer until the mixture has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  7. Serve the cakes drizzled with the syrup and garnish with fresh raspberries.