Raspberry Filled Almond Cupcakes with a Jam Swirled Almond Buttercream

I still can’t believe it, but the next generation of my (extended) family is about to be born. My cousin is full term, and I was lucky enough to attend our family’s baby shower for her while I was home for the holidays. She’s having a girl, so of course I wanted to make something pink. I chose to make these almond cupcakes, and decided to fill them with my mom’s homemade jam. The ingredients included: Cupcake Base:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberry jam

Almond Buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 14 raspberries, for decoration (optional)

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 15-17 minutes

Assembly/Decoration Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 14 cupcakes

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line two cupcake trays with liners. Cream together the sugar and the butter. Add the dry ingredients slowly, and mix until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites and almond extract. Gradually add the eggs mixture into the cupcake batter, and then mix in the buttermilk.

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Fill the cupcake liners half way, making sure that each liner has the same amount of batter. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until the edges have just begun to brown. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rackto finish cooling.

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While the cupcakes are cooling, make the  frosting. Mix together the butter, almond extract, and salt. Slowly add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Mix in the heavy cream. Whip together all ingredients for a couple minutes, until the consistency of the frosting is fluffy and light.

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Once the cupcakes are done cooling, cut out the centered of the cupcakes with a sharp knife. The circle should be about 1 inch in diameter, and about 3/4 inch deep. Make sure there is about 1/2 inch of cupcake remaining at the bottom, so that the jam doesn’t seep through to the bottom of the cupcake. Fill each cupcake with a tablespoon of jam, then place the top 1/4 inch of the cut out center on top the jam.

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To add a girlish touch, I rimmed the cupcakes with pink sprinkles. I lightly brushed them with melted butter, then rolled the edges in pink sprinkles.

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To frost the cupcakes, fill a Ziploc bag (I didn’t have any frosting bags or decorative tips at my sister’s house) with the frosting, and add the jam. Gently move the the jam around the bag, until it has been evenly swirled into the frosting. Cut the tip of the bag to create a 3/4 inch opening, and pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Finish the cupcakes with a raspberry on top. They tasted AMAZING! Then again, anything I make with my Mom’s jam always tastes delicious :D



Oatmeal Lace Cookies

This recipe is a keeper. These cookies are incredibly easy to make, look elegant, and taste like a little piece of buttery heaven. My client contacts and team agree with me on this one 😀 The ingredients include:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2¼ cups rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

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Preheat oven to 375º F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Set aside. Heat butter and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until butter has melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in oats, flour, salt, egg, and vanilla.

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Drop cookie batter by the teaspoon onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie to allow them to spread. They spread out quite a bit, so make sure you give each cookie enough room as it bakes. Bake for 5 -7 minutes, watching closely to prevent them from over-baking. The lace cookies should be golden brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes and remove, then move to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits


My friends and I planned a brunch before Santacon this year, and I wanted to try out a new biscuit recipe. The bakery below my office makes AMAZING bacon cheddar biscuits, and this is my attempt to recreate them. I used my favorite buttermilk biscuit recipe, and then added  bacon and lots of sharp cheddar cheese. I also added a teensy bit of reserved bacon fat to the dough. I think mine tasted almost as good as Donna Bellas 😀 I tripled the recipe so that it could feed everyone.

  • 6 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 17 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  • 3 cups butter milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
  • 6 oz. cooked bacon

Yield: 27 biscuits

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake time: 10-12 minutes

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Preheat your oven to 450°F. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor. Using a food processor is preferred, as it helps keep the butter cold, and does a better job of distributing the butter throughout the dough. You can mix by hand, but the heat from your hands can melt the butter, which will lead to less fluffy biscuits. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal. If using a food processor, just pulse a few times.  Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined.
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The dough should be very wet. Turn the dough out onto a floured board or counter top. Gently, gently pat (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it’s about 1″ thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick. Use a round cutter cut into rounds. You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be near as good as the first ones.
Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet.  If you like soft sides, put them touching each other. The biscuits will also rise higher if they are placed closer to each other. The science behind the wonderful, flaky texture of baked pastries comes from the butter. It’s all about the butter 😀 As pastries are baked at a high temperature (anything above 285 degrees F), the cold butter that has been layered into the dough (through the 5 fold overs) melts and forms water vapor. As this water vapor evaporates, it pushes the dough up and creates those lovely layers.
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Bake for about 10-12 minutes on a greased cookie sheet, until the biscuits are a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom. The chemical reaction that causes this is called the Maillard reaction, which gives the biscuits their golden brown color. This is caused by the high baking temperature, and is a reaction that occurs as the the simple sugars and amino acids breakdown and interact with each other. This reaction also is what gives bread its crust.
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My friend Paolo made the most amazing chicken sausage gravy to go with the biscuits! We also had scrambled eggs, a delicious bacon spinach quiche, and mimosas. It was a fantastic brunch, an was a great start to Santacon this year.
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Chocolate Campfire Cake


Stan has always been a big supporter of my baking endeavors. He helps me come up with recipe ideas, provides constructive suggestions, and has an unrivaled enthusiasm for baked goods. To celebrate his birthday this week, I needed to make a very special cake. I decided that the moist chocolate layers, fluffy marshmallow frosting, and graham cracker crumbs used in this recipe made it perfect for the occasion.

For the Chocolate Layer Cake:
  • 2-1/2 cups tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Cocoa (or similar premium brand)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups strong black coffee, hot
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
  • 4 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 cup Ovaltine Classic
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 oz quality Belgian chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
For the Toasted Marshmallow Frosting:
  • 16 large white marshmallows
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup butter,  room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 jar (213 g) marshmallow cream (Marshmallow Fluff)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 1 hour

Cool time: 30 minutes

Assembly: 50 minutes

Serving size: Feeds about 16 people

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Begin by making the cake layers. Preheat oven to 350° F, and prepare three 8″ round cake pans (butter, line bottom with parchment paper, butter paper, dust with flour). In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 2 minutes on low speed. This batter will be thin, but it’s supposed to be that way! Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.
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Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
While the cake layers are cooling, make the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the powdered sugar and butter, and beat on low speed for about 1 minute. Add malt powder, vanilla, and salt, and beat on low until all ingredients are combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add whipping cream and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
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To make the toasted marshmallow frosting, place the marshmallows on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place on lower rack of oven, and broil marshmallows until golden brown on top (30-60 seconds). Remove pan from oven and gently turn the marshmallows over, and broil until they are golden brown. (Be sure to keep an eye on them, they can burn very quickly). In an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and powdered sugar on low until blended, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and mix on med-high for about 3 minutes. Add marshmallow cream and toasted marshmallows, and mix on lowest setting for about 1 minute.
Crush one sleeve of graham crackers until the crumbs are uniformly sized, and resemble sand. I ran out of plastic bags to crush them in, so I just crushed them in the sleeve they come in. I then had my roommate help me finish crushing them with a muddler.
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The last step is to assemble the cake. Put a small dollop of frosting in the middle of a cake plate. Place your first layer face-up on the plate, and cover with an even layer of the Toasted Marshmallow Frosting, leaving about 1/2″ around the edge.
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Sprinkle crushed graham crackers on top of the marshmallow frosting. Cover the bottom the next layer with chocolate frosting, and place this on top of the graham cracker crumbs.
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 Repeat until you come to your final layer. Smooth the side of the cake by frosting  it lightly with the marshmallow frosting. 
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 Put the cake in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15 minutes to allow this crumb coat to firm it up, then resume. Frost entire outside of cake with Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting.
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To decorate, toast the remaining large marshmallows by broiling them for about a minute, let them cool, and arrange them in a circle on the top of the cake. I also used left over icing to pipe a boarder around the top and base of the cake.
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I also used the left over graham cracker crumbs to decorate the base of the cake. The graham cracker “sand,” the roasted marshmallows, and the swirls of chocolate frosting reminded me of a beach bonfire, which matched the the name of this cake to a T. I believe that this cake was up to Stan’s standards 😀
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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies


Considering yesterday was national brownie day, I felt a need to acknowledge this wonderful chocolate treat. I chose to celebrate by making these chocolate chip cookie dough brownies. The surprisingly thing about this recipe is that you only bake the brownie layer…..but it’s ok, the cookie dough is safe to eat raw! It has no eggs 😀 The ingredients include:


  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups mini chocolate chips

Serving Size: Makes 30 pieces ( 2 in. x 2 in) if made in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with nonstick spray. In a medium glass bowl, melt chocolate in the microwave (stirring at 30 second intervals), or on a low heat on a stove top. Melt until the chocolate is partially melted, then let the residual heat continue to fully melt the chocolate as you continue to stir. Set aside to cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter and brown sugar.

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Add the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk those in too. Mix in melted chocolate. Whisk in the flour and mix just until combined (don’t over-mix). Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 35 minutes. Watch closely and remove from oven when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.

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While the brownie layer is cooking, prepare the cookie dough. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Mix in milk, vanilla, and flour, and stir just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

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Spread cookie dough over the cooled brownies. Refrigerate until the dough is firm. It’s okay to speed up the process and place it in the freezer too. The firmer the dough, the easier it will be to cut into neat squares. Make sure to use a sharp knife to cut the brownies.

Review: I made a double batch (I doubled the above recipe), so my layers we a bit thick. This bothered me, because it made them a bit difficult to eat. Luckily they still taste delicious! The brownie layer is light, and cake-like,  which really nicely balances the dense cookie dough layer. I think that this treat made brownies everywhere proud.

Sharp Cheddar Jalapeño Bagels

My friend Sarah and I decided to have a brunch at our apartment this weekend…and before we knew it, we had 20 people over! Luckily, we planned appropriately and made enough food to feed the masses 😀 One of the items on our menu were these Cheddar Jalapeño Bagels, and they were delicious. Bagels always take a little bit of effort, but they are SO worth it. The ingredients include:


  • 4 cups high-gluten bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
  • 2-1/2 cups of water at room temperature


  • 1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1.5 cups jalapeños, membranes removed, finely diced (about 8-10 small peppers)
  • 3-3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 additional teaspoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
  • 1 tablespoon barley malt syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of honey

(Makes 14 large bagels or up to 24 mini bagels)


  • 1 cup sharp cheddar
  • Egg wash (beaten egg white)

Sponge: 5 minutes mixing, 2-hour rise
Dough: 1 hour (kneading, resting and shaping)
Delayed rise: Overnight
Baking: 15 minutes

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Begin by mixing the 4 cups of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of instant (rapid rise) yeast, and 2-1/2 cups of water in a 4 quart mixing bowl. It should have a thick consistency. Cover the bowl with plastic. Let the yeast do its job and allow the mixture to double in size (at least two hours).

Once the sponge has risen, mix 1 tablespoon of barley malt syrup, 2 tablespoons of honey, additional teaspoon yeast, 3 teaspoons salt, and about 3 1/2 cups of the bread flour into the sponge. Once the ingredients are fully incorporated, added in the jalapenos and cheddar.

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Note: I used a food processor to chop up the jalapenos, because my hands always react to the oil in jalapenos. If you do dice them by hand, be careful!

Once all of the ingredients have been mixed in, knead the dough either by hand or with a dough hook. Add the remaining flour as necessary, and knead until the dough is a little stiff (not tacky) and a little springy. It should be satiny and smooth, without any dry bits of flour. This takes about five minutes using a dough hook, or about 10 minutes if kneading by hand. Divide the dough it into 14, equally sized pieces.

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Shape each piece into a round smooth ball by using your thumbs to pull one surface of the dough around so that it forms a nice smooth skin, and squeeze the folds on the bottom together to seal this ball. Take it and roll it between both cupped palms to further smooth out the folds and form a nearly perfectly round ball.

Places these on a greased cookie sheet, or silicone baking pad. You should let them rest for about 10 – 20 minutes to allow the gluten strands to reform.

To shape the bagels, grab a ball of dough and push your thumb into the center. Poke with fingers of both hands, begin enlarging the hole. Work your hands around the circle so that the dough remains the same thickness around the hole. As the hole closes up, keep stretching it until it shrinks to no less than about 2″ diameter when relaxed.

As each bagel is formed, place it back on the greased cookie sheet, or greased silicone baking mat. Make sure to leave enough room between bagels; 6 – 8 bagels will fit on a cookie sheet. Once the bagels have been formed, let them rest for a few minutes to allow them to proof. As they begin to rise a bit, they are ready for the fridge. Spray the bagels with a light cooking oil spray and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over them.Place them in the refrigerator overnight. Chilling the dough allows the yeast to work on the proteins in the dough, which yields some of the classic flavors that make bagels taste like bagels.

Place two baking racks in the center of the oven, and preheat to 450 degrees F. Fill a pot with water, and add one tablespoon of barley malt syrup, and one tablespoon baking soda. The makes the water a little bit more alkaline. Bring the water to a boil. Prepare a couple of baking sheets. Take the bagels out of the refrigerator. Carefully lift the bagels, and place them two at a time in the boiling water.

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Boil them for 45 seconds to a minute on one side, then flip them over and boil for an additional 45 seconds to one minute on the other side. The longer you boil them, the chewier the crust will become.

Using a slotted spoon, place the boiled bagels on paper towels. Pat them dry, then place them on the baking sheet. Brush the bagel tops with egg wash, then place the cookie sheets in the center of the oven and bake for five minutes. Take then bagels out at this point, and sprinkle the tops with the shredded cheddar. Let the bagels bake for another 7 to 10 minutes, until they’re golden brown.

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My review: I really liked the amount of jalapenos in the dough. The cheddar helps balance the slight kick from the jalapenos, as does the cream cheese. The bagels also had a great chew and crust, and I will definitely make these again.

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I still can’t believe we fit so many people in our apartment. In addition to the bagels, we made a feta spinach mushroom egg bake, broiled grapefruit halves, and egg sandwiches.  The egg sandwiches were assembled using buttermilk biscuits, honey butter, a fried egg, and bacon. Based on how quickly the food was eaten, I would say everyone liked the spread 😀

Five Layer Red Velvet Cake


Another birthday at work called for another homemade birthday cake! But not just any cake. The birthday girl requested Red Velvet…so I did a lot of research, merged a couple recipes, threw in a little coffee (sounds weird, but it’s delicious!) and decided to use the following ingredients:


  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 3/4  cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon instant coffee, dissolved in 1 Tbsp boiling water


  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • dash salt
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Preheat oven to 325. Grease and lay a strip of parchment paper in two nine-inch round cake pans (see pictures). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring. Stir in the coffee, and white vinegar. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at time, mixing after each addition, until justcombined. Divide the batter evenly between five large bowls. Each bowl should have about 2 cups of batter.Bake in the middle rack for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Keep a close eye on the cakes, you don’t want them to over bake! It will continue to cook as it cools. You can bake two pans at a time to speed up this process. Let the layers cool in the pan for about five minutes, then remove them from the pans onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Slide a knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan.

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While the cakes cool, make the frosting. Combine the softened butter, cream cheese, shortening, vanilla, salt, and powdered  sugar in a large bowl. gently mix by hand, then finish combining with a hand mixer. Whip until the frosting is fluffy.

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Frost the cake with cream cheese frosting when the cakes have cooled completely. Lightly frost each layer, and then cover the entire exterior of the cake. Make sure to alternate the layers top up, top down, to help the cake remain level. Let this crumb coat harden over night, and reserve remaining frosting. Finish frosting the following morning, smoothing the exterior, and piping on decorative touches. 
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This is the moistest red velvet recipe I’ve ever made. I was pleasantly surprised by the balance in this cake. It’s not overly sweet, and each ingredient is able to shine. The frosting is also subtle, and I love that you get a bit of it in each bite since this cake has so many thin layers. This will now be my go-to red velvet recipe 😀