Category Archives: Holiday Treats

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

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As fun as summer has been, I am so ready for Fall! By time August rolls around, I’m usually over the humidity, heat waves, and constant “glistening” whenever I step outside. Fall brings so many great things, including boots season, beautiful foliage, and yes, PSL! I might be getting a bit ahead of myself, but I couldn’t resist making these Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes. And yes, that is a pumpkin spice caramel drizzle. The full recipe is included below:

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcake Batter:

  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ⅓ tsp. pumpkin spice
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:

  • 2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp  vanilla

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Recipe:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin spice

Bake time: 17 minutes

Yield: 12-14 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Place the flour, sugar, dark brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin spice into a large bowl. Gently stir to combine. Add in the oil and pumpkin, and stir until incorporated. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add in the espresso, and stir until the batter in smooth. Another option is to swirl this batter with my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe! I decided to combine the two batters, to give these cupcakes a more exciting look. I alternated scoops of each batter, then used a knife to create a swirled pattern. This doubles the yield of the recipe.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool. To speed up the cooling process, you can also place the cupcakes in the freezer for 15 minutes.

While the cupcakes bake, prepare the pumpkin spice caramel! Turn stove onto medium heat, and place a  pot over element. Pour in sugar. Using a heat proof stirring utensil (I use an old-fashioned wooden spoon), stir until sugar begins to melt into a clear liquid. Continue to stir, until clumps of sugar begin to form. Slowly the color of the sugar clump will deepen from white to amber. Keep stirring until all the clump of sugar have dissolved, and then turn off the heat. Mix in butter slowly, then stir in cream, salt, and pumpkin spice. Place in fridge to cool for 20 minutes, then pour into desired container. I put mine in a squirt bottle (for drizzling over cakes), but a mason jar or Tupperware container would work great too! The caramel will keep for several weeks in the fridge. You can see a full tutorial on how to make this caramel here.

Next, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time). To watch a full tutorial on how I make my frosting, you can click here.

Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, frost them with a Wilton 1M (open star) tip. Drizzle with Pumpkin Spice Caramel. Be sure the caramel is fully cooled, or else it will melt the frosting! Lightly dust the cupcakes with pumpkin spice.

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To take the decoration of these one step further, you can place them into the short cups from Starbucks (I filled the base with pumpkin candies, to make sure the cupcakes were elevated enough, and add a trimmed green straw!

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By swirling the batters together, you get the below look!

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The Ultimate Peeps Cake

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I had just enough time to make one more cake before Easter this year, and I wanted it to be epic. Nothing screams “EASTER” more than peeps, so they were in main inspiration for this cake! I used a pastel color theme to match with the peeps, and made a really fun checkerboard pattern on the inside. My favorite vanilla layer cake recipe works great for this, and I used 8 inch pans with 6″, 4″, and 2″ circle cutters. You can watch the full tutorial of this cake here. The recipes I used can be found below:

My Favorite Vanilla Layer Cake Recipe (divided into four parts, colored pastel shades of blue, purple, pink, and yellow with gel food coloring)

The Best Vanilla American Buttercream

White Chocolate Ganache (colored pastel blue, purple, pink, and yellow with gel food coloring)


  • 8 inch cake pans
  • 6 inch, 4 inch, and 2 inch circle cutters (or cutters that can cut cake rings of equal width)
  • Wilton 1M piping tip
  • piping bags
  • Peeps
  • whopper chocolate eggs

Begin by baking cake layers. I usually do this the night before, as baking an entire cake from scratch in one day can be a bit much. While my cake layers bake, I make my buttercream. As long as the buttercream is stored properly, it can sit out overnight at room temperature (just be sure to re-stir it before frosting the cake the following day). The ganache can be made in advance as well, but needs to be stored in the fridge overnight (you can see a full tutorial on how to make colored drips here). To use it the following day, simply heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute, until the bottle is slightly warm to the touch, and is fluid enough to make drops.

Once the cake layers are baked and fully chilled, level cake layers to a uniformed height (roughly 1 inch) using a serrated knife. Remove parchment paper, and use circle cutters to cut the cake into four rings (technically three, since the center ends up being a circle :P). Gently separate the rings from one another, and lay them out on counter. Following a set color patter (I went blue, pink, purple yellow), rearrange the rings into four complete cake layers.

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Once all layers are recombined, stack and frost layers with buttercream. Apply a thin crumb coat, and chill the cake in freezer for 5 minutes. Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, apply, a second, thicker coat of frosting. Smooth with a bench scrapper. If you want to see a full tutorial for how I get smooth sides on my cakes, you can click here. Place cake in freezer for 15 minutes. Once the cake is fully chilled, use a squirt bottle to add the ganache drips. You can learn all the tips and tricks I use to add drips to a cake here.

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Place leftover frosting into a piping bag with a Wilton 1M tip, and pipe large swirls in a ring around the top of the cake. Be sure to leave at least 1.5 inches of room between the edge of the cake and the swirls, so that the peeps will fit!  Next, place a peep on top of each swirl, and nestle whopper eggs between the swirls. And that’s it! Then all that’s left to do is cut into the cake, to see that beautiful checkerboard pattern 🙂

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New Year’s Eve Pink Champagne Cake

img_5592I can hardly believe 2016 is almost over. It’s been a big year for me, both in the kitchen and in my personal life! It only seemed fitting to celebrate it in style, and a raspberry pink champagne cake fit the bill. I used the below recipe in a live stream for the Food Network:

Pink Champagne Cake Batter:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and room temperature
  • 1 cup egg whites (about 6 large egg whites)
  • 1 cup pink champagne (or prosecco)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 2 drops pink gel food coloring (I use the Americolor deep pink shade)

Raspberry Compote:

  • 1 bag frozen raspberries (13 oz.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Champagne Buttercream:

  • 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp champagne flavoring (or 1/4 cup champagne reduction)
  • gel food coloring (optional – I did an ombre pattern)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line 4 7-inch round cake pans.

Start by making the pink champagne cake batter. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl. Gently stir dry ingredients together, then slowly beat in chunks of butter. Mix on low until mixture becomes crumbly, then mix in the egg whites. The mixture will be very thick. Mix in the champagne on low, then the buttermilk. Add in oil, and vanilla, then mix at a medium speed until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Mix in gel food coloring, and continue to mix until batter is evenly colored. Divide batter between the four prepared baking pans, and bake for 38 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow layers to cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans to separate the cake layers from the pan. Remove layers from pan, and place in freezer to finish cooling.

While the cake layers bake and cool, prepare the raspberry compote. Heat a large pan to medium heat, and add frozen raspberries and sugar. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in lemon juice and cornstarch, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour mixture through a strainer to remove seeds. Set aside to cool.

Next, prepare the champagne buttercream. Beat the butter on high for 30 seconds, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla, champagne flavoring, and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Once cake layers are fully chilled, assembly the cake! Stack cake layers, applying a generous layer of buttercream between each layer. Drizzle raspberry compote on top of the buttercream. Repeat with remaining cake layers, then apply a thin crumb coat of frosting. Place the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes, to allow the crumb coat to set. Apply another layer of frosting, and smooth with a cake bench. Top with additional raspberry compote, frosting swirls, and fresh raspberries. I also added a bit of edible gold dust and some white sanding sugar, to give it a little extra glitz 🙂


Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

Fall is upon us, and that means one important’s pumpkin spice latte season!! Naturally, I had to make PSL cake! The recipes used can be found below.

Pumpkin Cake Batter (modified from Natasha’s Kitchen):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Pumpkin Spice Buttercream:

  • 4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice

Orange White Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (about 4 oz.)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (6 oz.)
  • orange gel food coloring (optional)

Option Decorations:

  • straw
  • green fondant pumpkin
  • Wilton 1M (open star) frosting tip (for the “whipped cream”)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line and grease four seven-inch pans.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, and sift together to remove any clump. Add in oil, and stir until fully incorporated. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Then stir in the pumpkin puree. Mix until all ingredients are fully. Pour batter evenly into the four pans, and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to finish cooling on wire racks.

While the cakes cool, prepare the pumpkin spice buttercream, and the orange white chocolate ganache. Whip the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer, until it is smooth. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar, adding it in multiple installments. As the frosting thickens, add the salt, pumpkin spice, and vanilla. Continue to mix, and add cream until desired consistency is reached.

For the white chocolate ganache,  heat heavy cream in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds-1 minute, until bubbling. Gently pour white chocolate chips into the heavy cream, making sure they are fully covered with cream. Allow mixture to sit for 2 minutes. Stir slowly until the cream and white chocolate are combined, then heat again for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat as necessary until all the chocolate bits are fully melted and incorporated. Then add the orange gel food coloring. Allow to cool until desired viscosity is reached.

Assemble cake by stacking layers, and applying a thin layer of buttercream between each layer. I decided to shave my pumpkin spice cake into the shape of a coffee cup, and then decorate it like a pumpkin spice latte. I spread the orange white chocolate ganache on top of the cake, and drizzled a little over the sides for an overflowing PSL.  To see the full decoration tutorial, click here.



Champagne Jello Shots

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The end of the year is upon us. It’s a time for sparkles, glitter, and champagne…jello shots 😛 This recipe is incredibly easy (only about 15 minutes of active time), and will definitely be a crowd-pleaser. Just look at those bubbles!

With only six ingredients (it’s really five, water doesn’t count, right??), they’re ready in a flash!! And don’t worry – unflavored gelatin can be found at almost every grocery store, in the baking aisle.


  • 3 tablespoons (3 envelopes) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cold champagne
  • 1 1/2 cups cold ginger ale
  • 1  1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries

Active Time: 15 minutes

Inactive time: 3 hours

In a saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cold water, and allow the gelatin to absorb the water for 2 minutes. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, and stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the gelatin mixture to a bowl, add the sugar, and stir until dissolved. Stir in the champagne and ginger ale. Refrigerate until thickened (about a 1.5 hours). Fold in the strawberries gently, and spoon into 7 to 10 individual molds or cups. I used clear disposable plastic cups. Refrigerate until firm (1.5 additional hours). Unmold the shots by dipping the cups in warm water for about 15 seconds, then use an offset spatula or knife to ease the jello out of the cup. I served them upside-down on a platter with the extra strawberries I had.

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Swirled Brownie Chocolate Chip Cookies


I really struggled with the name of this post. They’re basically a brookie, since they’re part brownie, part cookie. But when I hear brookie, I think of cookie cups or bars…and these beautiful swirled cookies deserved a different name! This recipe combines the two cookie batters, a decadent brownie cookie batter, and a browned butter chocolate chip cookie batter. Two balls of each dough are rolled together to create these wonderful swirled cookies. The recipe I used listed below.

Brownie Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Yield: 36 cookies

First, make the browned butter cookie dough. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process (or else little bits on the bottom of the pan will burn!). After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips. Allow dough to chill dough for 2 hours.

Next, make the brownie cookie dough. Cream the butter and sugars together with a hand or stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom as needed. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly mix it into the wet ingredrients. The dough will be quite thick. With a rubber spatula, mix in the milk and then fold in the chocolate chips. Allow this dough to chill for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line cookie sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper (I prefer a silicone baking mat!). Measure 2 Tablespoons of browned butter cookie dough, and roll into a ball. Take 2 Tablespoons of brownie cookie dough, and roll into a ball. Swirl the two balls together,rolling them into 1 large ball. Repeat for each cookie. The chocolate cookie dough will stick to your hands, so wash/wipe them as needed throughout the process. It is important the chocolate cookie dough is chilled, or else it will be even harder to handle.

Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes. The cookies will be soft and barely set, but they will continue to set and bake as they cool on the baking sheet. I like to press a few more chocolate chips into the top of the cookies when they are still warm, to make them prettier.

I got tired of swirling together cookie balls towards the end of the process, and make one giant swirl cookie for fun. I use two tennis ball sized portions of dough, and baked for about 20 minutes.


These cookies last up to 10 days in an airtight container.

Giant Christmas Cookies

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Happy Holidays! Now that it’s finally December, I figured it’s time to make some giant Christmas Cookies. For the cookie base, I used my favorite browned butter, chocolate chip cookie recipe. I mixed in some Christmas chocolate chips (had no ideas these existed until a week ago!), a couple handfuls of Christmas M&Ms, and snowflake and gingerbread man sprinkles, and the cookies were transformed into festive Christmas cookies!! I’m positive Santa would approve 😛

Cookie Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup Christmas chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Christmas M&Ms
  • Holiday sprinkles (I used snowflake and gingerbread man sprinkles)
  • 6 chopped up peppermint Oreos
  • Peppermint kisses (for decoration)

Servings: 8 Giant Cookies (or 20 regular sized cookies)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Chill Time: At least 2 hours

Bake time: 9-10 minutes

Begin by browning the butter. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, until it begins to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning, and let it cool.

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With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt,  and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all holiday mix-ins using a spatula. I used some Christmas colored chocolate chips, Christmas M&Ms, holiday sprinkles, chopped peppermint Oreos, and peppermint kisses 🙂 Make sure you don’t add in more than two cups of mix-ins, or else the dough will be overloaded!

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Chill your dough overnight, or AT LEAST 2 hours. This allows the dough to absorb the flavor of the brown butter, and results in a chewier, thicker cookie. Trust me, don’t skip this step!!!

The following morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For giant cookies, form cookie dough balls with about 3 tablespoons of cookie dough. Place the cookie dough balls onto a greased cookie sheet about 4 inches apart, and gently flatten the dough with your hand. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.

If you want to make regular sized cookies, use 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough, and place cookie dough balls 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

I made a few giant cookies, and a dozen normal sized cookies.

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Let the cookies cool on a wire wrack. After they’ve been out of the oven for about 10 minutes, press a few additional chocolate chips and peppermint kisses onto the tops of the cookies. Once the cookies are fully cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

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