Sugar Cookie Bars

I’ve been on a bit of sweet kick lately. I promise we are eating a lot more than brownie tarts, cookies, sorbet, and sugary bars. Sweet treats are just more fun to share! But I will be sharing some delicious savory recipes soon.

These bars are absolutely perfect for bringing to a potluck, Easter party, or family gathering. They’re easy to throw together and easy to transport. Jesse took half of these to work and he said his coworkers gobbled them up and raved about them. What’s not to love about a sugar cookie with frosting? For the frosting, I was going to make a traditional buttercream, but realized at the last minute I didn’t have any powdered sugar (doh!), so instead I went with my go-to fluffy vanilla frosting. You can use whatever frosting you like best.

The original recipe made a ton. I cut the recipe in half and used a 9×13 pan. I was able to get 32 bars and they were just the right thickness. The recipe below is exactly how I made it, if you have a larger party you can double the recipe and use a jelly roll or sheet pan.


 Here are some more great bar/brownie ideas to take to your next party!
Creamy Lemon Bars
Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies
Basic One-Bowl Blondies
Pumpkin Blondies

Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

And we’re back! My kitchen is unpacked, the cabinets are stocked, and the oven has been fired up! It feels good to get back to baking and the timing worked out perfectly for Jesse’s arrival back to the States and a pretty important birthday.

Two weeks ago Jesse said goodbye to his 20’s and hello to his 30’s. Unfortunately, I was in the US and he was still in China. Since I didn’t get to make him a cake on his actual birthday, I knew I would I have to have one waiting for him upon his arrival in San Diego. I usually try and make him a fun over-the-top cake (including last years Cookies and Cream Oreo Cake) but this year with everything going on, I just couldn’t get together any over-the-top ideas. So I decided to go basic and classic.

My best friend, Michelle, and I have a running joke that Yellow Cake and Chocolate Frosting is the official cake for boys. It seems like almost all of the boys we know list in their top 3 favorite cakes, if not their all-time favorite. This holds true for Jesse, too. “Mmmm,” he muffled through a half-full mouth, “One of my favorite cakes.”

It works out perfectly for me because I’ve been meaning to add a Classic Yellow Cake to my Baking Basics series. Everyone needs a good yellow cake recipe under their belt, and I this is mine. I love, love, love this recipe. The recipe doesn’t call for extra steps, such as folding in egg whites or using extra egg yolks, so it comes together pretty quickly. And the result is a buttery sweet cake with a soft, tender crumb that is still dense enough to work as a layer cake.


Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

How about another sweet Friday? Sounds good to me. Get the weekend started off right with these customizable Funfetti Cupcakes!

It’s football season and regardless of whether or not you enjoy watching football games, I think that most people can get down with festive and spirited tailgate/party food. We are Bengals fans (Who Dey!) so for our Sunday radio broadcast streaming (no NFL cable package for us, we have to stream to hear the game) I went with black and orange sprinkles. But the beauty of homemade Funfetti is that you can use any color sprinkles you like! If you’re a Chargers fan all you need are blue and yellow (gold) sprinkles. If you’re not a football fan, you can go for traditional rainbow sprinkles or celebrate the season and stick with my black and orange and call it Halloween. It’s totally up to you!

As for the cake part of the cupcake, it was nice and sturdy and not overly sweet. The tops domed nicely and the middle was moist and light. I did use jumbo liners so mine took forever and I think the outsides might have been a little overcooked, but they still tasted great. I tried something new with my frosting and I didn’t love it so I won’t be sharing that today, but I think the Fluffy Vanilla Frosting I have already posted would be perfect.

Now onto cupcake size. The cupcakes I made were giant. You see, a few weeks ago I needed cupcake liners and sent the boys to the grocery to pick up white liners. They followed my instructions to a T and brought back the stores only white liners – jumbo size. I don’t have a jumbo muffin tin but the box of liners said they would fit in a regular pan, so that’s what I did. They had a heck of a time baking so I highly recommend sticking with regular size cupcakes or even minis, just not jumbos. They still tasted great but like I said, the outside was just a little overcooked.

Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes
(Adapted from Simply Scratch)

4 whole egg whites
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted Butter, softened
1/3 cup Sprinkles, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk, and vanilla. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt, into the bowl of standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment*. Add the butter and half of the milk mixture and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then, with the mixer on slow speed, add the last half of the milk mixture. Mix on slow-medium speed just until combined. Scrape down sides one more time to make sure it is thoroughly mixed. Now add the sprinkles and gently fold into the batter.

Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake liners, filling each one just a tiny bit more than halfway. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool all the way before frosting. Finish each cupcake with a few more sprinkles.

Sit back, enjoy, and cheer on your favorite team!

* Most cakes can be made without a standing mixer by using a large mixing bowl and a hand held mixer, just be careful not to over mix.

Not-Ice Cream Sundae Cake


You know how certain rides at the amusement park have a warning like, “Those with heart disease, high blood pressure….” Well, I think maybe this cake should have that warning. It’s a little over the top. But isn’t that what birthdays are all about?

Yep, birthdays (and in my case birthday week) are all about going over the top. Calories don’t count on your birthday (or birthday week). Lucky for me, when you have a food blog you can actually go above and beyond over the top. So we won’t talk about calories. Or the health implications of consuming a piece of a cake that contains 6 sticks of butter, a cup and a half of heavy cream, and nearly 5 cups of sugar. Birthday calories don’t count. Also I’m a firm believer of “Everything in moderation.” So don’t make this cake and plan on eating the whole thing yourself. Instead, have a small slice and invite some friends over to enjoy the rest!

This cake is what I would like to call a “Not-Ice Cream Sundae Cake.” It’s a very vanilla, fluffy, white cake, filled with chocolate ganache and vanilla bean mousse, frosted with a whipped vanilla bean buttercream, topped with more chocolate ganache, sprinkles and another nice dollop of buttercream and of course finished with a cherry on top. Happy Birthday to me!

Not-Ice Cream Sundae Cake
(Sunny Side Up original idea; Cake adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody; Vanilla Bean Mousse adapted from Sugarlaws; Whipped Vanilla Buttercream adapted from Sweetapolita, Chocolate Ganache adapted from Savory Sweet Life)


1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Vanilla bean, seeds scraped from pod
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 oz), softened

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease two 8 inch cake pans with vegetable shortening, line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper, grease the parchment paper and flour the pans.

Combine milk, eggs whites, vanilla bean seeds, and extract in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer and mix at slow speed with a paddle attachment. Add butter. Continue beating at slow speed until mixture looks like wet sand.

Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat for an additional 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Do not overmix.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and gently shake to smooth batter.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes then invert onto racks to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Bean Mousse

1 Vanilla bean, seeds scraped from the pod
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2 egg whites
1 cup heavy cream

Whip together heavy cream, 1/3 cup of sugar, and vanilla beans, on high speed until soft peaks form. Set aside.

In a new, clean and oil free, bowl, beat egg whites until frothy, about 1 minute. Add 1/3 cup of sugar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Add the egg whites, 1/3 at a time, to the bowl with the whipped cream and gently fold together. Cover the mousse and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature before pouring over cake.

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 5 minutes on medium speed, until it is pale yellow and appears fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and (starting on low speed and working up to medium) beat for 5 more minutes.

How to Assemble Cake

Place one 8-inch cake on a 10-inch cardboard cake circle. Poke the top of the cake all over with a fork. Then, pipe a border on the top of cake all around the edge. Pour 1/3 cup of chocolate ganache onto the cake and use the back of a spoon to spread it out. Top with 1 cup of Vanilla Bean Mousse, using the piped border as a guide.

Place the second 8-inch cake on top. (Now is a good time to put it in the freezer for a few minutes to make it easier to frost.) Frost the top and sides with the Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream. You can pipe a border along the bottom to make it look pretty. Put the cake back in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Pour the chocolate ganache onto the top of the cake and use a spatula to carefully spread it close to the edges. It shouldn’t need too much prompting to start to drizzle over the edges. Finish the cake by piping more buttercream on top of ganache and sprinkling with sprinkles.

This cake should be stored in the fridge because of the egg whites in the Vanilla Bean Mousse.