Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Last week was really hot in my area and I went on a mini-rant about how over it I was. I shared a recipe that was geared towards warmer weather.

This week, it’s a tad bit cooler, but still warm. But you know what? I’m gonna go ahead and share a recipe that is right up the alley of autumn anyway, because I just can’t wait any longer.

Maybe if I put out autumn foods more, it’ll attract more autumn weather to where we are–or not, but I can at least try. And even if it doesn’t bring the autumn vibes my way, I’m still sending good food vibes y’alls way no matter what the weather looks like in your part of the world.

That way, everyone wins.

I know at this time of year everyone loves to throw pumpkin into everything. Personally, I think pumpkin spice is overrated. And when it comes baking, I actually like to take a recipe that calls for pumpkin and swap it right out for sweet potato.

When they’re roasted & mashed, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, and even butternut/kabocha squash take on a very similar consistency. The flavors are different, but they function the same way scientifically during the baking process.

So, what I did here is incorporate a roasted/mashed sweet potato into a pound cake recipe, then added a lot of the autumn spices that are usually given to pumpkin baked goods. The orange zest is there to give it a boost of freshness. If you prefer to use pumpkin, butternut or kabocha squash instead, that’s fine. I promise it won’t mess anything up.

You should know that I originally intended to give this cake a glaze. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, then you know that I usually do. But by the time the cake was done cooling and I had gotten out all of the ingredients for a glaze, I hesitated, looked at it for a long moment and thought, “You know what? Nah. It’s fine.”

Apart from the flavor, the sweet potato keeps the cake itself really moist. The spices complement the sweet potato and give your taste buds a hug. They don’t need any help from a sweet icing and I’m glad that I followed my instincts and didn’t try to give them any.

This is autumn in one delicious bite. Or several, depending on how much of it you eat. And I think you’ll eat plenty.

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Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Land O Lakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan (or two 9 inch cake pans) and set aside.

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together. Stir with a fork until combined, then set aside.

In a glass measuring cup combine the milk with the vanilla extract and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing just until the yellow disappears. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you go to ensure even mixing.

Add the mashed potatoes and orange zest, mixing just until combined.

Continue to mix at a low speed as you add the flour mixture and the milk mixture. (Start and end with the flour.)

Spoon the batter into the cake pan(s). Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then turn the cake out of the pan and allow to cool completely.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #246, co-hosted this week, by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Mila @ Milkandbun.

Summer Berry Shortcake

So a couple weeks ago after dinner, I got this crazy hankering for shortcake. I really, really, REALLY wanted it.

I know that when a lot of ‘y’all think of shortcake you think of those spongy pre-made mini ‘dessert shells’ with the indent that you can find in the produce section of the grocery store near the strawberries. Y’know the dessert shells that should really just get called by their true name: sponge cake. I’ve seen some that are just straight up angel food cakes. Not that I have a problem with them per se. There’s no judgment here; depending on the company, those can actually be pretty tasty.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

In the first place, sponge cake isn’t shortcake. It’s light and airy and spongy. It’s…sponge cake.

All of the above adjectives contradict shortcake by it’s very definition. Shortcakes are actually very similar to an American-style biscuit, both in texture and the baking method. In a sponge cake, egg whites are beaten until they’re stiff to make the crumb as light as possible. The point of a ‘short’cake, is actually to make a ‘shorter’, denser crumb.

If you’ve tried any of my biscuit recipes on the blog already, then this ,method will look very familiar to you. The frozen butter (and we’ve already established why it’s important that it is frozen) is grated directly into the dry ingredients. I used cake flour to give it the best texture, then in addition to the sugar, flavored the dough with vanilla, ground ginger and cardamom. The spices aren’t overpowering–they’re just going to give the shortcakes a little something extra flavor-wise. You’re going to like it, promise.

The result is a shortcake that has just the right texture. It is slightly dense, but it’s also buttery and tender, with enough height to split it in two and sandwich with the good stuff. Now what that ‘good stuff’ is, I’m going to leave entirely up to you. This is summertime, which means there are plenty of delicious fruits that are in season that are perfect for shortcake; strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots. All are excellent choices. I went with the strawberries and blackberries, but it’s your shortcake so go with what you like best. And of course y’all know to make/use a ton of good whipped cream to cram inside and dollop on top.  It’s the summer–get downright nasty with it.

Linking this up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #230, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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Summer Berry Shortcake

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Shortcake

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, frozen
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed

For Berries

  • 2 quarts of your choice of berries (I used a mix of strawberries & blackberries)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Whipped cream, for serving

Directions

For Berries: combine the sugar and lemon juice together with the berries and allow to sit for one hour.

Preheat oven to 425°. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven. In a small bowl combine the egg with the buttermilk and vanilla extract, set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cardamom and sugar—stir with a fork until combined. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg-buttermilk mixture and stir to combine with a fork. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the shortcakes to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut shortcakes, pressing scraps together to make more no more than two additional times. Discard the rest of the dough.  Place shortcakes slightly touching, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving. Just before serving, split open the shortcakes, spoon half the berries and whipped cream on the bottom half, top with remaining shortcake halves, and spoon on the remaining berries and cream.

Perfect Butter Cookies

Some of you may have noticed that there was no new post last week–or maybe you didn’t. I took a break last week from posting for no particular reason, but as I’m going to be taking a trip this coming week, I wanted to make sure I got one up today so that I didn’t let another week go by without updating the blog. I’m a stickler for consistency.

Having said that, because I am getting ready to travel, the theme of today’s post is short, simple and sweet.

Although I do like taking on hefty baking projects like layer cake, they do take a lot of time and effort. There are some times when I don’t have the time or energy to put in all of the work–but I’ll still want dessert. A good one.

So, what do I do?

I keep it simple. I keep it sweet. And I make butter cookies.

I don’t know, y’all. There’s just something so special about a butter cookie that’s executed perfectly. They have practically no embellishments at all, which means there’s no room for error and no other components to hide mistakes. Either that butter cookie is going to taste good, or it isn’t.

These do. In fact they’re more than good; as I’ve chosen to call them in the recipe, they’re perfect. You can call that choice over-confidence. I prefer honest. Tomato tomato.

You ready to find out how to make them? It couldn’t be easier.

There are several things that make these the ‘perfect’ butter cookie to me. The flavors are simple, but pronounced: vanilla with hints of a citrus of your choice (I chose orange.) The flavors are also going to improve in the next few days after the cookies are baked. They’re not overly sweet, but if you’re using a good quality butter you’re not going to need them to be.

The texture of these is also what I was going for. I do like soft, cakey cookies but when I want a perfect butter cookie I do prefer it to have a light crispiness. These have got it. If you’d prefer them not to, just take them out earlier.

Lastly, if y’all have been following this blog and seen a good number of my cookie posts before, you know that one of my baking petty peeves is when the cookies spread too much and become warped. I hate that. Because butter cookies are so simple, I like mine to look as clean and neat as possible. The cookies in this recipe hold their shape perfectly which means they’ll work for ANY cutter shape you want to use (hint, they’d make perfect Christmas cookies).

Okay. I think my work here is done. Have a good weekend y’all. Try the cookies–you’ll like ’em. Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #228.

R.I.P to Anthony Bourdain.

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Perfect Butter Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land O Lakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (preferably LorAnn’s Butter Vanilla Emulsion )
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • White sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

In a medium bowl combine the  flour with the baking powder and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld one) cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg, orange juice and vanilla and combine until just combined. Add the flour mixture in batches, mixing until just combined.

Scrape the dough out and onto a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a disc, wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Divide the dough into quarters, keeping the other 3 in the fridge while you roll out the one.

Sprinkle a clean work surface (like a pastry mat, wax paper or a cutting board) with powdered sugar or flour. Roll out the quarter of dough to your desired thickness (I wouldn’t go thinner than 1/4 inch) Cut into whatever desired shapes you like. I used a 2- to 2 ½-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes and placed them on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. I then used a ¾- to 1-inch  cookie cutter, and cut out the centers from half of the cookies. Reroll and cut the scraps as necessary. Also don’t throw away the centers, as they make delicious mini cookie bites.

Place the sheet pans in the freezer for around 10 minutes. Sprinkle the tops with the sugar, and bake for 6-10 minutes.  Let cool on pans for 3 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.

Red Velvet Marble Bundt Cake

I am so very, very, very excited. I’m practically bursting at the seams. As I’m writing this post right now, I’m beaming from ear to ear.

Go ahead and ask me what’s put me in such a good mood. Go on. Ask. I will answer your question with a question:

Do y’all know what is coming next week? Do you KNOW?

It’s probably the best thing to happen all year. I know it’s a just single day, but oh what a day it is going to be. It’s not even here yet, but I still know there will be much joy and excitement to spread all around. It’s also a day where a ton of money is going to be spent and made.

Any guesses yet? Yep. You’re absolutely right.

Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie is being released in the United States on February 16th. Let me say that again. Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie is being released in the United States on February 16th.

Y’all. Excited isn’t even the word.  Ever since news dropped that this movie was being made over a year ago, I’ve been so ready to see it. The cast alone is a winner: Forest Whittaker (who is my favorite actor, by the way. I’d watch him perform on an empty stage in a paper bag, riveted), Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B Jordan. I’ve waited patiently (and sometimes not so patiently), keeping up with the updates, watching the trailers repeatedly, ogling over the posters–and now, we’re finally here right before I get to see it.

We pre-bought our tickets, so I will be right there at the theater next Friday afternoon, front and center. I know it’s going to be fantastic. Any of y’all here in the States going to see it on Friday or later that weekend? You as pumped to see it as I am? So far as I’m concerned, it’s the most important thing that’s going to be happening next week.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Valentine’s Day is next week too. And since I did go to the trouble to make this cake, I guess we can talk about it for a few minutes.

I’ve made it a habit to bake something Red-velvet flavored for Valentine’s Day on the blog for a few years now and I figured that I may as well keep with the tradition this year. In a way I was kinda excited about making the cake because it would let me test out a new ingredient I’d recently bought and been itching to try out: the LorAnn Red Velvet Bakery Emulsion. LorAnn Oils is a company that has a pretty big collection of baking flavorings and extracts. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them and my first purchase was the Red Velvet emulsion, which is supposed to mimic red velvet flavor.

I was curious as to what specifically a ‘red velvet’ flavor emulsion would taste like. My guess was that it would just be a rich chocolate, but the flavor of it is more complex than that. There’s definitely chocolate in the first taste you get, but in the aftertaste you could almost swear there’s a tang in there that could pass for cream cheese. I have no idea how the LorAnn food scientists who cooked this stuff up managed to do that, but my hat’s off to em. I put the emulsion to good use in this cake by flavoring about a third of the vanilla batter with it, then layering it in the pan. There was no need to use a knife to marble/swirl the batters–the swirl design took care of itself while baking. I then went ahead and topped it with a plain white icing paired with an icing I flavored with more of the red velvet emulsion. Turned out pretty, didn’t it?

Happy weekend/Fiesta Friday#210, (co-hosted by Laurena @ Life Diet Health and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook)/Valentine’s Day y’all. More importantly, just one more week til Black Panther!

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Red Velvet Marble Bundt Cake

Recipe Adapted from MyRecipes.com

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Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon LorAnn Red Velvet Bakery Emulsion (or red food coloring)

For Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • Milk
  • Light corn syrup
  • LorAnn Red Velvet Bakery Emulsion (or red food coloring)

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 16 cup bundt pan. (You can also grease/flour two loaf pans but it will shorten your baking time).

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld mixer) cream the butter and shortening together until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a glass measuring bowl combine the milk with the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture alternatively to the batter, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula to ensure even mixing.

Remove 2 1/2 cups of batter to a small bowl. Add the cocoa powder and the red velvet emulsion to the 2 1/2 ups of batter, stirring with a fork until smooth.

Drop two cups of the batter into the pan, using a spatula to spread out. Use a tablespoon measure to dollop 2-3 scoops of the red velvet batter on top. Repeat around entire pan, covering bottom completely. Continue layering batters in pan as directed until all batter is used.  (You don’t need to swirl it with a knife, it will marble on its own as it bakes).

Lift the pan up and allow it to tap down on the counter (this will help prevent air bubbles.) Place the cake pan on a sheet pan, then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 65-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and inner cake temp reaches 195-200°F. Allow to cool inside the pan for about 30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Pour 3/4 cup of powdered sugar into one small bowl, and 3/4 of powdered sugar into another. Drizzle in light corn syrup and milk into one bowl, and corn syrup and the red velvet emulsion in the other, little by little (about 1 tablespoon at a time) until you have two thick icings. Alternate between drizzling the two icings on top of the cake. Allow to sit for about 30-40 minutes to harden before serving.

Melting Moments Cookies

Melting Moments1

Do any of y’all who follow this blog own a cookie press? How do you like it? If you do, what is the brand and where did you get it?

(As an aside for non-bakers, cookie presses are a device where cookie dough is inserted into a tube and manually pressed through a metal stencil plate. The stencils vary, but mostly cookie presses are used to make crisp butter cookies at Christmas time.) You can find them in places like Marshall’s, Home Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Williams Sonoma and (of course) online, and most are pretty inexpensive…which brings me to another point.

Here’s the thing about me and cookie presses….we don’t work together.

You know what? No. Let me rephrase that; I’M not the one with the problem. The presses are. THEY’RE the ones who don’t work. It’s THEM, I swear. You know why? Because I’ve bought two different cookie presses, and ended up discarding them both when neither one produced the goods. They either wouldn’t press out the dough completely in the shape of the design, or wouldn’t press it out at all. And believe me, I fiddled around with both and everything else I could think of to try and get them to work: the dough consistency, different plates, different sheet pans, chilling the sheet pans first. All useless.

I just could not get those presses to work.

So if any of you have a cookie press that you ARE able to use with no problems, do tell me which one you have. I’d also really appreciate any tips or advice in how you specifically get the most out of it. The thought of there being a kitchen gadget out there that I couldn’t get to work irks the daylights out of me. I’ve got to figure it out. So tell me what works for y’all and I might consider buying one more and hoping that the third time will be the charm for me and cookie presses.

In the meanwhile, there’s this post–which happens to be relevant to this conversation as it stemmed from my hit and miss history with the gadget.

Amazon sends me notifications when huge discounts are given for things on my wishlist. For a while I’d had a Wilton decorating tip set saved on my list, as I wanted to step my decorating game up for things like layer cakes and cupcakes. One day Amazon sent me a notification that they were having a flash sale and that for the next hour or so, it would be more than 50% off.

You can guess what happened.

So, Aside from having more decorating tips than this novice baker knows what to do with, I’ve also now got an alternative to the cookie press for churning out pretty cookies. And y’all: aren’t these pretty?

Despite their frilly appearance, these are butter cookies and as such, the ingredients themselves are extremely simple. There isn’t much more to these than butter, sugar, vanilla and cornstarch. The milk is there in order to make the dough loose enough to be piped through the dessert tip, as I found that on it’s own it was a bit too stiff to be piped. I opted for a coil shape as #1, I found it visually appealing when combined with a fluted tip and #2, It was the easiest shape I could manage. (I’m going to work on my cookie piping skills though, promise).

These honestly remind me of the blue tin butter cookies. They’re light, crisp and full of vanilla, buttery flavor. And yes: the confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch does make them practically melt in your mouth. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about them.

Sharing these cookies at this week’s Fiesta Friday #208.

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Melting Moments Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of The Recipe Encyclopedia: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, optional

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.

In a small bowl combine the flour with the cornstarch with a fork.

Add the vanilla to the butter mixture. Sift in the flour mixture to the butter mixture (not all at once, in about 3 batches) until just combined.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Spoon the dough into a pastry bag or cookie press and pipe it into desired shapes that are about 1/2-1 inches in diameter. Once finished, refrigerate the sheet pan for about 30 minutes.

Bake in the oven on the middle rack until just golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Pillowcase Cookies

Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2018 is off to a good start for all of you, and that you’re feeling at least a little optimistic for the year.

Okay, so…I try to stick to a pattern in my posting schedule so that I’m not posting more sweet than savory or vice versa–variety being the spice of life and all. The 12 Days of Christmas series is usually enough of a sugar rush/overload for me where I need a break from making & eating sweets and for a while stick to savory and relatively healthy recipes on the blog.

Having said that, you all should know that I did intend to hold off on posting any sweets or baked goods for at least a few weeks, but well…here we are. Thing is, I’ve had this post sitting in my Drafts folder since August and I just couldn’t put off sharing it any longer.

You guys need to see (and make) these. You REALLY do.

If you know anything about my food preferences, you know that sugar cookies are in my Top 3 of favorite desserts. A good sugar cookie–one that is so good it doesn’t even need any embellishments from icing or glaze– just can’t be beat.

Some people like their sugar cookies crisp. Some like them chewy. Some like a combination of the two. Some like them to have a vanilla flavor. Others prefer almond.

I make my stance on this highly contested, divisive issue, loud and clear: I love and must have my sugar cookies thick and soft. I don’t mind almond extract in the dough, but the vanilla needs to be the star flavor for me.

The sugar cookies that I’ve posted on the blog thus far have met all of the above criteria. The first (and also, the most popular post on the blog to date) were these cut-outs. I’ve also shared two vanilla sugar cookies that are good for cookie stamps and molds, here and here.

As delicious as all of these recipes are, they do fall short in one area.

Although they’re all thick and soft, they’re still missing what I think of as the ‘cloud’ factor; where the texture of the cookie is SO light and soft that when you’re biting into it, you feel like you’re biting into a fluffy cloud of pure heaven. I’ve tried a lot of sugar cookie recipes that claim they deliver these goods, only to be disappointed because they just didn’t.

Guys. This recipe de-LIVERS.

I had my doubts before I made these just because the method is unlike any method I’ve ever done when putting together cookie dough. Rather than being creamed or melted, the butter actually gets cut into the dry ingredients just like it is when making biscuits and scones.  The eggs get beaten together with the vanilla and a little milk, then folded into the butter-flour mixture. I have no idea why this is. I have no idea how it works together with the rest of the ingredients. All I know is that it works. It works so well.

As a Southern recipe, this one supposedly gets its name from when the cookies would be given out to journeymen to store in their pillowcases by their families as they traveled around doing work. I’d certainly be a happy camper (or journeyman) if I had a pillowcase full of these to eat.

My favorite thing about the cookies is their texture. It’s just perfect. They rise with a perfect dome and have that thick, soft, fluffy center that practically melts in your mouth. And, no: they absolutely don’t need any help from icing or glaze. These are delicious enough to eat all on their own. This is THE sugar cookie of my dreams, the one I’ve been searching for–which is why I just had to share it with all of you now.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #205, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

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Pillowcase Cookies

Recipe Adapted from LouisianaCookin.com

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking power
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup of sugar and baking powder and stir together with a fork.

Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. (If you don’t have a box grater that’s okay. Just cut the butter into small cubes and stir them evenly into the dry ingredients with a fork.)

Stir the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Use a rubber spatula to make a well in the center of the bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract with a fork, then pour into the well you made in the dry ingredients. Flour the rubber spatula and mix together, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed and it forms a slightly sticky dough. (You may need to add additional milk, 1 tablespoon at a time to make it all stick together; that’s fine.)

Generously sprinkle a clean work surface (like a pastry mat, a cutting board or wax paper you tape to your countertop) with flour. Dump the dough out onto the surface and knead together with your hands just until it forms a large ball. It will get messy, but that’s okay; just keep sprinkling with either flour or powdered sugar until it’s relatively easy to pick up in one mass.)

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at LEAST one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray, set aside. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough cookie dough out to about 1/4 inch thick, then use a 3 inch cookie cutter to cut out circles. Place the cut cookies on the sheet pans. Either refrigerate for about 45 minutes, or freeze for about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sugar, then bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden brown on the bottom & slightly puffy on the tops. Allow to cool on the sheet pan for 1 minute, then remove to wire racks to allow to cool completely.

(Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Honey Spice Madeleines

The madeleine is a tiny French sponge cake. It gets its shape from special cooking pans with ridged indentations. Often it’s flavored with butter and vanilla, but as with many traditional recipes, there are many ways to put a twist on it with different flavors and additions. I’ve also seen them be lightly iced before. They’re what I would think is a perfect ‘tea time’ style treat.

I’ve know about madeleines for a while, but it wasn’t until a few months ago when I knew that they were called madeleines. I’d seen the sea oblong shell thingys in pictures and I remember one of my niece’s playmates shared one with her once, I just didn’t know what they were specifically.

I’ve already talked about how Amazon is one of my minor addictions and sources of temptation. I have a wishlist that just seems to grow week by week (and sometimes day by day). For several months, I had a madeleine pan sitting in it. I kept eyeing it and weighing the pros and cons of whether or not it would be ‘worthwhile’ to buy one.

On one hand, it wasn’t like I could have multiple ‘uses’ for it–it’s a madeleine pan and to my knowledge there’s not much else it can be used for except to make madeleines. That would definitely make it a splurge buy.

On the other hand…I didn’t have a madeleine pan, I really wanted to try to make madeleines, and it wasn’t that pricey. And I cooooould rationalize it by just resolving to make madeleines on a regular basis, right?

Well right or wrong, that’s what I ended up telling myself, because I totally got that pan.

I knew that when I bought the pan I was going to make madeleines and that if I liked how they turned out, I would share them for this years 12 Days of Christmas series. Since it was a Christmas themed series, I wanted to try and make the madeleines a break little bit out of the traditional flavor profile and make them taste…’Christmast-y’. This recipe does just that. The batter is flavored with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and a touch of pepper for added spice. There’s also some orange zest in there as well. The batter does need to rest overnight, as it improves the overall texture of the sponge.

From what I understand, the metal baking pans work better than the silicone or dark plated ones because it causes the madeleines to bake more evenly. I greased mine with cooking spray and when the cakes were done, they slid right out, no problem. I did decide to leave mine plain but if you like, you can dust yours with some powdered sugar. Like I said, these are a perfect for tea time: they taste so moist and delicate. Those spices really come through and would pair perfectly with coffee or tea.

If y’all are interested, here is the madeleine pan I bought. It gave me no trouble whatsoever and I was very happy with how it made my cakes turn out. Here’s for making madeleines a regular sight on the blog, both at Christmas time and year round, eh?

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Day 2: Smoky Chili Crackers

Day 3: Spicy Chocolate Gingerbread

Day 4: Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Day 5: Honey Spice Madeleines

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Honey Spice Madeleines

Recipe Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves (or a little less, if you prefer)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of  1/2 orange
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Powdered sugar, optional

Special equipment: 12 cup madeleine pan

 

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking power, salt, spices & pepper and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer or another bowl, pour in the sugar with the citrus zest. Rub it together with your fingers until the sugar is fragrant.

Add the eggs to the bowl and use the whisk attachment (or a handheld mixer) to beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is pale and thick, about 2-3 minutes.

Beat in the honey and vanilla extract. Use a spatula to GENTLY fold in the dry ingredients, and then the melted butter.

Cover the batter with a piece of plastic wrap pressed up against the batter. Refrigerate overnight,

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter and flour the madeleine pan molds and place the pan on a bigger sheet pan. Fill the batter into the molds about half-way (don’t overfill). Bake for 11-13 minutes until the tops spring back when touched. They should come out easily. You may have to bake in batches. Sprinkle the madeleines with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Sugar Skull Butter Cookies

I really do need to chill with this preoccupation I have with collecting cookie stamps. I can admit that it’s starting to become an obsession. To my own credit though, I will say that I’ve kept it an inexpensive one. Most of the ones that I’m finding, buying and using are inexpensive and the results that they’ve been yielding are so great that I justify it to myself that it was too good of a deal to pass up.

Secondly, I also think that I just may be addicted to the actual process of making them. There’s something I’ve found to be very therapeutic to being alone in the kitchen, rolling out cookie dough, stamping out the design, transferring them to cookie sheets, chilling them, then baking them and seeing how pretty they turn out, all while music or a podcast plays in the background.

Third, whenever I’ve found a new stamp/mold and tested it out with stellar results, I’m always excited to pull out my camera to take pictures and write up a post so that I can show it off to all of you. That’s always lots of fun.

I’ve known I was going to do this post for months, which is when I first bought these cookie cutters/stamps from Amazon. They’d been on my wishlist for a while but they were at a price that I found to be….excessive. Fortunately my patience paid off because eventually it lowered waaaaay down to where they were practically a steal and I ordered them straightaway.

I’ve been baking for Dia de los Muertos for a few years on the blog. Both of those recipes were variations on the Pan de Muerto, which is a traditional bread that’s typically made and eaten for the holiday. Skeletons and elaborately designed sugar skulls are a huge part of the celebrations and overall aesthetic as well. So when I saw these cookie cutters, I knew at once that I would want to make them as both a Halloween and Dia de los Muerto post.

Y’all I’m so happy with these cookies. They came out EXACTLY like I wanted them to, and I have to attribute it to the consistency of the dough. As I’ve mentioned before, when making any stamped cookie, it’s important to work with a dough that isn’t going to spread or puff up so that the intricacy of your design will be preserved. Shortbread is perfect for this, as are most standard butter cookie recipes, like this one.

I really wanted the design of the cookie to be the star here, so I kept the flavor of these simple: two teaspoons of vanilla bean paste did the trick. Although, I could see almond, lemon or orange extracts working well too. The consistency is thick and soft, just how I like my sugar cookies to be.

Let me also say that although I did provide the link for where you guys can buy these cutters for yourself, this cookie recipe will work great for ANY cookie stamp/mold that you have. You also don’t have to use one at all; either just roll out the dough, cut out any shape you want or shape the whole thing into a log then cut off into rounds, and follow the directions for baking as usual. Either way, I guarantee that you’re going to love the cookies. Happy Halloween, Dia de lose Muertos and Fiesta Friday #195 co-hosted this week by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Sandhya @ Indfused!

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Sugar Skull Butter Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Springerle Joy

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Ingredients

  • 2 sticks, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened (250 grams)
  • 150 grams powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 450 grams all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld mixer) cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until combined.

Stir together the flour and salt in a small bowl. Add it to the wet ingredients in small increments until thoroughly combined. Scrape dough together into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least for one hour.

Sprinkle a clean surface (like a pastry mat or wax paper) with flour. Divide the dough into quarters, keeping the dough you’re not using in the fridge while you work. Roll out each quarter to about 1/2 inch thickness. Sprinkle the surface the dough lightly with flour. Dip your cookie cutter into flour, then tap out to release excess. Firmly press the cutter into the dough, wiggle it around a little to release the excess, then lightly tap it down on counter to release the cookie.

Place stamped cookie onto a sheet pan you’ve lined with parchment paper. Keep the sheet pan in the fridge while you repeat the above process with the rest of the cookie dough. (Note: You MUST flour and tap out the excess of each mold, EACH time you stamp out a new cookie. If your dough is too soft, place it in the fridge until it hardens back up enough for you to cut it out.)

Allow the cookies to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Take the sheet pan out of the fridge and bake on the middle rack for about 14-15 minutes, until the bottoms of cookies are just turning beginning to turn golden. Allow to sit on sheet pan for about 60 seconds before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

 (Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Browned Butter Spice Cake

So…Amazon.

Amazon is a bookmarked tab on my web browser. I have the mobile app. I look on the website at least once a day. I can admit it: I’m slightly addicted. This addiction may be made even worse by the Wishlist feature. I feel like the Amazon Wishlist is a like the grown-up version of a kid’s Christmas List for Santa Claus.

The downside to that comparison is that when you’re an adult you’re (presumably) not going to believe in a rotund, elderly magical elf who visits your house on the night of December 24th to give you presents. You know that he doesn’t exist and that unless your loved ones decide to be gracious, you’re gonna have to shell out the money to buy yourself the things you want.

I don’t know about you guys but with the number of items that are currently saved on my wishlist (also taking into consideration the condition of moi’s funds), let’s just say that ‘WISH’ is the operative word of the term. Most of the time my visits to Amazon are spent browsing or just looking at all the items on my wishlist for the umpteenth time, as if by some miracle the necessary funds will appear in my bank account to afford them all.

It still hasn’t happened yet.

But occasionally, at times when it isn’t Christmas or your birthday where you may be gifted with something you want from someone else, you just want to play Santa and spoil yourself with a gift that you really want. I don’t do this often, but if I’m feeling like ‘loving on myself’ and the timing and price is right (meaning low enough) on a particular item on the Wish List…I’ll spoil myself.

That’s kinda what happened here.

When we moved out here to the West coast, I had to leave behind all of the lovely bundt pans in my mom’s collection that I would borrow to bake in.  That was harder than I thought it would be. I had two loaf pans and three round cake pans of my own to bring with me, but I still found myself missing baking with the bundt pans. They help cakes to bake so much more evenly, and some of the more intricate ones give them such a pretty shape when they come out.  I have several saved to my Amazon Wishlist. When I got a notification that two of them had their prices lowered, it so happened to come on a day when I felt like ‘spoiling myself’ so I went ahead and got them. One was a simple round bundt pan, the other had the beautiful swirled fan design that you see in this cake.

This cake. Let’s talk about that now.

I’ve already let you guys in on the best kept secret of browned butter in chocolate chip cookies and banana bread. Now you get to find out how awesome it can be in cake. As I’ve said before, browned butter has a very rich, nutty and toasted smell/flavor that comes through in whatever you put it in. That toasty caramelized flavor gets combined with a combination of warm spices that complement the approach of autumn: cinnamon, coriander, cloves, nutmeg. All that good stuff.

All of THAT good stuff combines together to form the VERY good stuff that is this cake. If your eyes aren’t doing enough of a job to convince you, get them checked. This cake is every bit as delicious as it looks. It’s moist. It’s sweet. It’s slightly spicy. It came from a bundt pan that was worth every penny. However, if you don’t have the one I do, don’t let that dissuade you from making this: any standard 10 cup cake pan will do, OR two loaf pans with the batter divided between them. Try this. Kinda not asking or suggesting.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #190, co-hosted  this week by Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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Browned Butter Spice Cake

Recipe Adapted from Lauren Chattman

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Ingredients

For Cake

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 (2 sticks) cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup whole milk

For Glaze

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or spray with cooking spray, a 10-cup Bundt or tube pan (you can also use two loaf pans). Sprinkle with flour & tap out excess. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, coriander, cloves and nutmeg. Set aside 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture for the glaze.

Heat the 1 cup of butter in a saucepan over medium heat, about 5-7 minutes, or until the milk solids on the bottom are dark brown and the mixture smells nutty& caramelized. Stir the rest of the spice mixture into the butter and let cook for about 10 more seconds. Immediately pour into a shallow dish and place in the freezer. Leave in there until the mixture is firm, like the texture of regular butter, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

When the browned butter has become firm enough, place it in bowl of a standing mixer or a large bowl. Add the light brown sugar, then use the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer) to beat at medium speed until creamed, light & fluffy. At medium low speed, add the eggs and egg yolks (one at a time EACH and beating well after each addition). Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl down regularly to make sure the ingredients are well combined. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Alternate between adding the flour mixture & the whole milk to the batter, starting and ending with the flour mixture. After last addition, turn up to medium speed and beat for about 30 final seconds. Spread the batter in the pan, using the spatula to smooth the top out. Lift the pan up and tap it onto the countertop 2-3 times to prevent air bubbles while baking. Place the pan on a sheet pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until golden brown, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean & inner temp reaches 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For Glaze: heat 1/4 cup butter in small saucepan over medium heat until milk solids on the bottom are dark brown and the mixture smells nutty& caramelized. Remove from heat & slight cool. Use a fork or a whisk to mix in the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk, lemon juice, salt and reserved 1/2 teaspoon of spice mixture. Adjust the thickness and thinness of glaze to your desired consistency. Use the tines of a fork to drizzle over the cake. Allow to set for about 40 minutes before serving.

Cookies n’ Cream Layer Cake

There is a tangible difference in food that’s been made with care and love versus food that’s been made without them and don’t you let anyone tell you there isn’t. Anyone who says there isn’t has never had food made for them with love, and that’s truly unfortunate. When I was younger, I thought it just boiled down to some people were good cooks and some people weren’t–now that I’m older and that I’ve learned how to cook and bake rather well myself I understand that it’s a bit more complicated than that.

I’ve eaten in swank restaurants where the food was both expensive and undoubtedly delicious, but given the choice I still would’ve rather been in my grandma’s house eating a dish of her smothered steak and gravy.  I would take her Lemon Pound Cake over the most pricey, fancy souffle from the best pastry chef in the world ANY DAY.

Know why? Because regardless of whether or not the fancy food tastes delicious, I know for a fact that there is more love for ME personally in her dishes than anything a chef that doesn’t know me from Eve can put into his food, no matter how technically flawless it is. It may sound corny, but for me, food made with love tastes like home; the taste that gives you the ‘itis’ where you’re full, satisfied, and want to take a nap afterwards, then wake up and have a little bit more.

The only thing more gratifying for me than eating food made with love is being the one to make it for my loved ones, especially when it’s a special request/favorite of theirs. Because I know them, I know exactly what they want and how they’re going to want the food to taste and that knowledge makes me all the more determined to put as much care and consideration into what I’m doing to make sure the food meets their anticipation for it. My fellow food bloggers/cooks out there will know the immense feeling of satisfaction that comes with watching someone you love eat and rave over their favorite food and know that YOU were the one to make it for them. It’s a wonderful thing.

My twin sister came out to visit us a few months ago. There’s little to nothing that I don’t know about her, including the fact that she loves practically ANYTHING cookies and cream flavored. The Cookies and Cream flavor is best described as that of the Oreo sandwich cookie: a sweet vanilla base mixed with chocolate. She mostly eats ice cream, and we very well could’ve just got a pint of it to keep in the freezer but when she booked her flight to come out here I decided to make something that was bit more special than ice cream to surprise her with.

This may be the easiest layer cake I’ve ever made. Unlike most others that have lengthy ingredients and complex instructions this cake is so simple it doesn’t even require a standing or hand held mixer. If you’ve got a large bowl, a whisk (or even a fork), you can make this cake and have it baking in the oven in less than ten minutes, no joke. The recipe that I included does give instructions for making whipped cream from scratch. However. In the case that you don’t have a standing or handheld mixer….lean in closer. A little bit closer. Little bit closer.

*whisper*  You can buy pre-made cool whip that you thaw and it will still work out fine.

The finished product is what is probably the most “Cookies and Cream”-y thing I’ve ever seen or tasted. Normally I’m not even a huge fan of chocolate cake, but the combination of the cake with the cookies and cream whipped cream filling just really works. The cake texture itself is very moist, the chocolate flavor isn’t overwhelming and there’s a fluffiness in the whipped cream that adds lightness to the cake that cuts some of its richness. Then again, I DID make it with lots of love. That was bound to have an effect on the tastebuds.

Sharing this cake at this week’s Fiesta Friday #180  co-hosted this week by Tracey @ My Baja Kitchen and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Cookies n' Cream Layer Cake

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons sour cream (or plain yogurt)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Whipped Cream

  • 50 Oreo cookies
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9 inch cake pans with cooking spray, then line with wax or parchment paper; spray the paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt with a fork or wire whisk and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla and beat with a fork or a whisk. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones and mix thoroughly.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and place the pans on a large sheet pan. Bake in the oven until cake separates from the sides of the pans and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Allow cakes to cool in pans for about ten minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely on wire racks.

Take a knife and cut 10 of the Oreos in half and set aside. Put the rest of the cookies in a Ziploc plastic bag and use a rolling pin or the bottom of a glass to crush into crumbs.

In a mixing bowl beat the heavy cream in 2 batches, 2 cups at a time until the cream has stiff peaks. Beat the vanilla and powdered sugar in with the second batch, then combine them together. Reserve about 3/4 cup of whipped cream in a small bowl in the fridge.  Gently fold in all but about 1 cup of the crushed Oreo cookie crumbs with a spatula.

Level both cakes so that they are flat on the tops. Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on the platter.  Spread about half of the Oreo whipped cream onto the cake, then place the second cake layer on top. Use a spatula to cover the tops and sides of the cakes with a thin layer of the cream, then refrigerate for about 1 hour until the layer is firm, to allow a crumb coat to form.

Place the rest of the cookie cream on top and on the sides of the cake. Take the reserved cookie crumbs and press evenly onto the sides of the cake with your fingers. (This may get a little messy so you can place a layer of foil or wax paper underneath the cake to pick up any of the spare crumbs.) Take the Oreos you’ve sliced in half and press onto the top of the cake. Remove the bottom strips of parchment paper. Take the reserved whipped cream and pipe small rosettes in between the sliced Oreos and along the bottom of the cake to form a border. You can also place one whole Oreo in the center of the cake and pipe rosettes around that, if you like.

Refrigerate for about 1 hour to allow whipped cream to set before slicing and serving. Keep cake refrigerated when not eating.