Independence Day Cake – Red White and Blue Vanilla Cake

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Happy Fourth of July!!

Happy Birthday America!!

How are you celebrating? Fireworks? BBQ? Family fun in the sun? How about with cake?

Not just any cake will do. How about a cake that is a silent stunner? Plain and simple on the outside, but once you cut into it… BAM!! American flag flying high!!

Yes, yes I think this will do nicely. Bold and proud just like America!

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Independence Day Cake

Ingredients:

3 cups sugar
4 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, soft (18 TBSP)
1 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons milk, at room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs

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To Make The Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour three 9″ round cake pans. Set Aside.

1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.

2) Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.

3) In a measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla and add, all at once to the sandy flour mixture. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds until it looks just combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 25 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.

4) In the measuring cup that you used for the milk/vanilla, add all eggs and gently whisk together. With the mixer running at medium speed, slowly add eggs in three batches mixing until almost incorporated. Scrape the bowl once more, then beat at medium-high speed for 20 more seconds.

5) Separate the cake mix into three medium bowls (or 4-cup measuring cups to be as accurate as possible) and color one bowl red, one blue and leave the last white. Mix the dye thoroughly and transfer the batter to the prepared pans and smooth out the tops. c

6) Bake for 30 minutes until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs attached and the layers begin to pull away from the edges of the pan.

7) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.

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To Prep The Cake:

Using a serrated knife or cake leveler, slice the red and white layers horizontally in half. You’ll end up with a blue layer (2″), two red layers (each 1″), and two white layers (each 1″). Set one white and one red layer aside, those will be the bottom two stripes of the flag.

You only want a square of blue in each slice, not an entire layer. Stack the blue layer, white layer, and red layer on top of each other. Using a serrated knife, cut a large circle through all three layers. I used a bowl as a guide. Now you have a ring of blue (2″), a ring of white (1″), a ring of red (1″), and three inner circles in each color (the blue is 2″ and the other two are both 1″). Set aside the inner circle of blue and eat the outer rings of red and white. ;)

To Assemble The Cake: (see below for the frosting recipe I used)

Frost the bottom two layers together – set the uncut white layer on a plate and spread with frosting. Top with the uncut red layer. Spread the uncut red layer with frosting, then set the blue ring on top. Use a spatula to spread a very, very thin layer of frosting around the inside edge of the blue ring. This will help keep the blue layer and the two top stripes together.

Frost the white inner circle and place the red inner circle on top of it. Place both frosted inner layers inside the ring of blue. Frost the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting; don’t worry about perfecting it as this is just the crumb coat. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes to let the crumb coat set and harden. Remove cake from refrigerator and add final coat of frosting to entire cake.

In a small bowl, crumble the blue inner circle of cake you set aside earlier and sprinkle it on top of the cake. Slice and serve and watch the oohs and aahs roll in.

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Vanilla Buttercream:

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb confectioners sugar
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk. Beat at high speed until fluffy, adding an additional 1 tablespoon milk if necessary.

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Cake Cookies – TWD

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Have you tried greek yogurt yet?

It’s quite a phenomenon. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I couldn’t STAND it the first few times I tried it. I felt like I must be missing something. I begged for someone to LET ME IN ON THE SECRET!! It was sour and not sweet at ALL. So naturally I was turned off immediately. I tried it a few more times convinced that there was something about this yogurt that I wasn’t appreciating.

But I got creative this time: adding granola, dark chocolate chips, fresh cut strawberries (or any other berries) maple syrup, even raw honey. And that was it. That was my answer. My gateway drug, if you will. Honey. It really was as simple as finding that ONE thing that blew my taste buds away. And now I can’t get enough of the stuff.

I top my salads with it, put a dollop in my tacos, even bake it into things now. Like these cookies.

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They were supposed to be made with sour cream rather than greek yogurt but I didn’t have any on hand so I made a last minute substitution. I also doubled the cinnamon in these cookies. But you already knew that didn’t you?

They are cakey (hence being called CAKE cookies) so don’t expect a chewy cookie with a crisp outside. I am not really a fan of ‘cakey’ anything unless it’s, well… cake. So I wasn’t too excited about these but they weren’t a total loss. You could easily use these as ice cream sandwich cookies or even as whoopie pies, just smear whatever you want on one side and sandwich them together and enjoy!

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Thanks to Spike of Spike Bakes for choosing this and hosting. Click here for the recipe.

Classic Banana Bundt Cake – TWD (Rewind)

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I know, I know. This isn’t what you came to see.

It’s Monday night and I finally remember the impending TWD. I quickly consult my lovely Blackberry Memo clearly marked “Baking (TWD)” and find that I don’t have everything that I need and let’s face it, I’m not going out. I’m lazy, see? So instead I become as resourceful as I can, grab the bible…erm book and flip through it looking for great recipes that I previously missed out on, telling myself it’s ok to miss a recipe once in a while.

My intentions are good, cross my heart. As long as I’m virtually feeding you SOMETHING delicious, I get a free pass… right?

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So instead of this week’s TWD pick you get to hear about the black bananas I found in the back of my fridge (that I’m almost certain have been there for a month) and see this beautiful mini bundt instead of the caramel pots de creme you came to see. Let’s pretend it’s a fair trade. :)

I halved the recipe, used greek yogurt (which may explain the thickness of the batter) and baked in a 6 cup bundt pan.  This bundt cake is dense and tender. It comes together like a dream! You mash your bananas and everything else is toss in and mix. Dorie says to rap the pan against your counter to release some of the bubbles and to even the batter but my cake batter was so thick and heavy (think: a thick muffin batter) that it was impossible and unnecessary to do so. I leveled it off with my spatula, popped it in the oven, said a mini prayer and baked it up. It baked up beautifully golden brown and smelled amazing. The cake is delicious on its own but I just couldn’t stop myself from adding some honey glaze all over it! Sue me. But I did forget the ceremonious chocolate chunks. Sadness.

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For the honey glaze I whisked together 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons of honey and a light splash of heavy cream until uniform. If it’s too thick to pour add a small bit more cream.

For the recipe to this fab cake, click here.

If you love banana, try this one. I bet it would be great baked up in a square pan topped with cream cheese frosting, caramel drizzle, or even a peanut butter buttercream. Then served right out of the pan to friends with forks in hand.

Picture 122 copyFor the caramel pots de creme, head on over to Peggy the Baker for the recipe. I’ll be making it soon. But I’m sunburnt. And lazy. End excuses.

 

 

Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

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This bundt is deceiving.

It looks simple, plain… unspecial. (Is unspecial a word? Probably not. I make up my own words. That’s how I roll.)

This cake is anything BUT. It is SO tender and soft and fluffy. The flavor is perfect. And you can customize it to best fit you. Keep it plain to let the brown sugar shine, add chocolate chips to make it as close to a chocolate chip cookie as possible, or do it Dorie’s way and add pears and prunes and nuts and all sorts of other good stuff.

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Me? I went with a heaping 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon into the dry ingredients.  And I do not regret my decision.

Not one bit. I didn’t regret it so much that I added some caramel to my plate. Love is a warm slice of cake.

For the recipe head on over to Peggy from Pantry Revisited.

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This is a keeper!!

Peppermint Marbled Loaf Cake

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Sometimes all you need to cheer you up after a long morning is a few blogger friends to suggest baking something delicious together. You need to bake this anyhow as it is your next assignment, so why not? The only thing you have to lose are bragging rights that you typed and posted at 11:59pm on Tuesday night. So you dive right in (what the hayyy) and do it. And you are rewarded with not only smiles and a better mood, but a lovely marble loaf for your “trouble.”

And by “you” I mean me. :)

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Kayte was the first to answer my stress signal on Twitter. And although we could probably form the procrastination club together, I’d like you all to know that we baked this on Thursday. That’s right… not Monday night. And it was perfect timing as I could save me two slices and pawn the rest off onto my mom.

She will think that it’s a nice gesture and that I love sharing my baked goods with her but truth be told, I just need this damn cake out of my house, it’s SO good!! (Hi Mom!!)

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I went with the mint version which consists of white chocolate-mint and bittersweet chocolate swirls of lovely cake dough marbled together perfectly in a loaf pan. I didn’t have any trouble with this cake, although at one point I was afraid that I’d have a cake explosion on my hands, everything went smoothly. Even if I did accrue extra dirty dishes.

Slice this cake real thick, top with ice cream and caramel sauce (and chocolate sauce too, if you’re fancy like Margaret :P), dig in and slap yo mama. But not really.*

I’d like to thank the lovely Tracey, Kayte, Margaret, and Mary for brightening my day, even if they had no idea they were doing it.

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*Disclaimer: The Whimsical Cupcake (AKA: Jeannette) does not, in any way, condone slapping your mother. This may result in unfavorable consequences and/or a time out.

For the recipe, head on over to Carol from The Bake More. (Click here to go directly to the recipe).

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Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake

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Before I began baking, lemons weren’t a central part of my life.

I didn’t need them in my fridge. I didn’t use the zest. And I wasn’t that concerned if I didn’t get every drop of juice out of them.

Now that I am an avid baker… lemons are a must in this house. You never know when you’ll need one or a dozen. I used the juice for cakes, the zest for cookies and the sad remains to deodorize my cutting board and disposal.

Waste not, want not… right?

This pound cake is the perfect example of not wasting anything from this wonderful fruit. It uses everything… juice, zest, pith, everything!!

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Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Adapted from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Yields 1 loaf

For the cake:
1 & 1/2 lemons (do NOT use 2 whole ones, it will be very bitter)*
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

For the lemon glaze:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

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Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.

1. Using a sharp knife, remove the little green stem from the lemon skin. Cut the lemon into 8 pieces.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the lemon pieces (skin and all!) and 1/2 cup of the sugar until pureed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, so that no large lemon skin pieces remain.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Stir in the lemon pulp. whisk in the melted butter to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds to combine. Sprinkle over the lemon mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold until just combined.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes before unmolding the cake onto the rack for glazing.

6. For the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice, and sugar at a high simmer. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until reduced by half.

7. Using a pastry brush, brush the hot glaze all over the cake while it is still warm.

The cake keeps tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Defrost still wrapped at room temperature.

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* If you don’t already have a use for the other half of the lemon consider slicing it and adding it to a chicken or salmon dish. Or deodorize your wooden cutting boards (sprinkle your board with salt and scrub with the lemon half). Or deodorize your garbage disposal (put 1 cup of ice and half a lemon in your garbage disposal and let it run, rinse with cold water).

Zebra Cake

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Animal prints is something I never really got behind. It was something that I only saw on 75 year old blue-haired ladies that are way cooler than me or on kids who looked like walking cheetahs. Not really the look I go for.

Lately everywhere I look, there’s something with some form of animal print on it and I find myself liking it. Ok, not EVERYTHING but a few pieces here and there. I can probably attest some of this animal print tolerance to my sister, she’s so stylish sometimes that it kills me. ;)

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I’m not sure what kind of demographic I reach out there in internet land, animal print lovers or haters, but I’m sure your love or hatred won’t apply to this cake. It’s a zebra striped cake.

I said it. Zebra striped cake. And no matter WHO’s plate it sits on, it will ALWAYS be in style.

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This is a simple cake needs no pillowy frostings, no fancy ganaches, and no whippy creams. A light and beautiful dusting of powdered sugar, a plate and a fork… and you’re in business!

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Zebra Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields one 9″ or 8″ round cake

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup milk (whole, 2% or 1%)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Double Dutched Dark Cocoa

Directions:
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9″ x 2″ round baking pan with cooking spray (you can use a 8″ x 2″ for a slightly thicker cake). Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment, and spritz again. Set the pan aside.

2) In the bowl of your mixer, blend the sugar and eggs until lightened, about 2 minutes. On low speed blend in the oil, milk and vanilla until well combined and smooth.

3) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to remove any lumps. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients. Combine on medium speed 1-2 minutes or until the batter is smooth and lump free. Be sure to scrape down the bowl halfway through mixing.

4) Remove 2 cups of the vanilla batter and place it in the measure you used for the liquid ingredients. Sift the cocoa over this batter, and stir well to combine. Be sure to use a sifter to avoid cocoa lumps in the batter.

5) Now for the stripes. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of vanilla batter into the center of the cake pan. Next, spoon 3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter into the center of the vanilla batter. This causes the vanilla batter to spread out. Continue to alternate batters, in bulls-eye fashion until all batter is used. You will now have thin rings of each batter on the outer edges of the pan, thicker rings towards the center.

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6) Bake the cake in the center of the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Dust lightly with confectioners sugar or frost if that strikes your fancy.

Playing around: you can keep the cake batter all vanilla, divide it into two different batches and tint one any color you’d like and follow the same process. Heck, I bet it would work with three different colors :)

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Red Velvet Pancakes

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Happy Valentines Day lovelies!!

If you celebrate, I hope that your day is filled with red and pink hearts, lots of hugs and sugary sweet chocolate.

Those who don’t celebrate, might I suggest celebrating discount chocolate Tuesday?!

I know I’ll be celebrating both!!

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But on a serious note, I’d like to take a second to thank my husband for being exactly who he is.

He’s the one that swoops in and picks me up from an upsetting situation.

He’s the one that knows a hug can seriously heal all things ailing me.

He’s the one that makes any and all jokes just to possibly make me smile.

And mostly, he’s the one that loves me for exactly who I am… and doesn’t try to run away ;)

I love you pickle, with everything that I am and everything that I have to give.

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So let’s pretend that I made you these pancakes for breakfast and let’s pretend that you actually liked them. I’d hate to have such vibrant beautiful red pancakes go to waste.

Ok….. so let’s pretend you made them for me.

Oh babe, you’re the best!!

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Before you look at the ingredients list, YES there is packaged cake mix in there. It was the quickest and easiest way to make these. After all, who wants to spend the day trying to figure out how to make totally from scratch pancakes when you have valentines to open?

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Red Velvet Pancakes
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

makes about 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup red velvet cake mix
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 cups milk (I used vanilla almond milk)

Combine flour, cake mix, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and mix. Add 1 cup of milk, egg and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. You want the batter to look like regular pancake batter; not too thin, not too thick, slightly lumpy. This will vary greatly on the brand of cake mix you use (I used Betty Crocker with great results). Start with 1 cup of milk and add more if needed.

Preheat a skillet on medium heat (or an electric grilled and turn it to 250 degrees). Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Serve with vanilla glaze.

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
sprinkles (optional)

Mix milk, extract and powdered sugar until glaze forms. You may need to add a little more sugar or water/milk to reach desired consistency. Mix into glaze and drizzle on pancakes.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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The stores are bursting at the seams with red and pink… everything.

Hearts adorn everything from windows to pillow cases.

And you can’t go to Martha Stewart’s website without getting a million and three ideas of what to make (or not make) for your sweetie.

So if you have ill feelings towards Vday, I suggest you look away because it won’t be any different here.

Red, check.

Hearts, check.

Sweet, check.

Giftable, check check.

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Even if you don’t celebrate Vday, you can still make these and give them to your mom or your kids or heck… even your neighbor. Or, make them for yourself, wrap them up real nice and leave them on your desk and pretend that someone else made them for you so that your crush knows that you’re in demand ;)

I have my go-to red velvet cake recipe but I wanted to try another one to broaden my horizons. The only thing that hinders these from being my go-to is that the color isn’t as vibrant as I’m used to. But if that doesn’t bother you, get out your bowls and spoons because these are great!!

And do try to stay out of the frosting bowl. :)

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yields 24 frosted cupcakes

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Heart sprinkles for decoration

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Directions:

To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Frost each cupcake with a small offset spatual (or butter knife) or your favorite piping bag tip.

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TWD – Chocolate Madeleines (rewind)

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It’s never a good sign when you have to dust off a baking pan.

Back when I laid eyes upon my beautiful madeleine pan, I thought that I’d use it every week at LEAST. The sad truth is that it’s been used twice.

I love you sweet madeleine pan, I swear I do! But you compete with my brownie pans, bread pans, cupcake pans, cake pans, springform pans and cookie sheets.

I have no favorites, I love them all equally.

And to prove it, I am making up a recipe that I missed baking with TWD. And no, it had nothing to do with the fact that they are CHOCOLATE madeleines. ;)

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When I set out to make these, I imagined delicate, buttery chocolate cookies perfect for a cup of tea. Instead I churned out HUGE chocolatey cakes that begged for a glass of milk!! Not that I’m complaining…

These were originally to be filled with marshmallow fluff and I would have filled them but I didn’t have any fluff left. I rarely buy the stuff so I thought I’d sub for Nutella. But I was out of that too. WHAT?! No Nutella?! But I digress. I didn’t fill them but I did dunk some in melted chocolate and dusted others with powdered sugar. Delicious!!

A big thanks to Margo of Effort to Deliciousness for choosing this recipe and forcing me to dust off my madeleine pan and whisper sweet nothings to it. Click here for the recipe.

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PS. Please excuse the pictures, rushing home and taking them at 5:30pm on a cloudy day just didn’t work out too great. Not to mention that I wasn’t photographically inclined either. Ever have those days?