Mini Valentine’s Chocolate Cake (Cheat)

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I went through so much to get this cake to work (none of which should discourage you from making it! You’ll see…)

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So Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I figured I’d find a mini chocolate cake to bake in my heart-shaped cake pan and share that with you guys!

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I found the perfect recipe. I precisely measured out all my ingredients and mixed them together, only to find that the batter had turned into a thick dough instead of a silky cake batter. In my state of despair, I added in a splash of milk to thin the batter, but no luck. I was utterly confused. Everything was perfect…right?

I decided to take a look at the recipe again, reading the first ingredients and – oh. It called for 1/2 cup of flour, but because I’m so used to making full-sized cakes, my mind automatically processed it as 1 1/2 cups. uGH. Unfortunately, I had to discard that batter (after eating a bit of it, of course), and starting over. You can observe this failure here:

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Also, the cake is meant for a 6-inch circle pan, but mine is heart-shaped so it’s smaller. I had a little bit of leftover cake batter, which I made into a cute little bear cake! I was planning on drawing on it’s little eyes and nose and mouth with melted white chocolate, only to find that I don’t have white chocolate at home. Since when is that a thing?? What happened to my emergency stash of 3 white chocolate bars?

And lastly, lighting was not my friend today. I must’ve tried taking photos in at least 6 different locations around the house, hence the inconsistency with backgrounds in these photos.

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Despite all that, the cake itself turned out amazing. Look at how fluffy it rose! It’s so fluffy and has the perfect chocolate flavor to it. If you wish, a chocolate ganache would pair beautifully with it, but a dusting of icing sugar works just fine as well.

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Mini Valentine’s Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Dessert for Two

Makes one 6-inch round cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (70g) all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons (37g) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream or yogurt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon warm coffee
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar or chocolate ganache (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, sour cream or yogurt, egg, vanilla extract, and coffee
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips
  5. Transfer the batter into a lined and greased 6-inch round cake pan and bake for 29-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  6. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate ganache (optional)

Best Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Cheat)

I don’t bake with fruit much, but bananas are an exception.

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Banana bread and banana cakes – I could never get enough.

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I had such a difficult time letting the cake cool enough to be frosted. As soon as I took the beautifully baked cake out of my oven, the entire kitchen was filled with the aroma of banana cake. It might not sound that appealing, but trust me, it took so much mental effort to not eat the entire cake right there and then. It smelled that good. It was honestly driving me crazy, and I went on this rampage around the house, desperately trying to find something to satisfy my cravings so that I wouldn’t eat the cake before frosting it. I was so keen on eating banana cake that I didn’t even want chocolate truffles, and let me tell you – I never turn down chocolate truffles…well, until now.

Finally, I had no other choice but to eat something completely different. I microwaved a plate of homemade dumplings leftover from yesterday, covered them in vinegar (I love vinegar), and ran away from the banana-scented kitchen. At last, my taste buds had calmed down and I could focus on other things again as my banana cake cooled in the kitchen.

Soon enough, my cravings started up again and I figured it was time to frost the cake up and start eating.

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I think I knew how good this cake was going to be, but nevertheless, tasting it for the first time blew me away. The banana cake is everything you’d want a cake to be. It had a crumb similar to banana bread, only fluffier. The flavour of banana was definitely there, and it paired so beautifully with the cream cheese frosting. I mean, the cake itself was amazing, but the cake and the frosting go together like peanut butter and jelly. It was a perfect combination of flavours and I’m so in love.

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Oh, and in case you were wondering, the cake was gone within two days. It was that good.

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Best Banana Cake

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed (1 and 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, room temperature

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces (224g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. For the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt
  3. In another bowl, use an electric hand mixer or in a stand mixer, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat until creamed together
  4. Mix in the eggs and vanilla, before adding in the mashed bananas
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, 1/3 of a time and alternating with the buttermilk (Stir in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, stir in 1/3 of the buttermilk, and repeat with the remaining). Do not over mix
  6. Spread the batter into a greased and/or lined 9×13 inch baking pan and bake for around 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting
  7. For the frosting, using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes
  8. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving
  9. Cover leftover cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for 5 days

My 17th Birthday Cake (Cheat)

~5-layer midnight cake with cheesecake filling, covered with a generous layer of pink buttercream, glossy chocolate ganache, and topped with whipped cream and Oreos~

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Guess who’s 17 years old!

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I have a love-hate relationship with birthdays. I love everything about them, except the fact that I’m another year older. I prefer other people’s birthdays, with all the celebrations and games and cakes and gift-opening, but without me being consciously aware of my ageing.

It’s weird, isn’t it? The way that day by day, hour by hour, we age, but it’s only once a year for 24 hours that we actually acknowledge it. Then again, acknowledging our constant ageing would take some of the fun out of birthdays.

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I don’t understand why people want to get older. A pessimistic way of putting is is that every year, you’re a year closer to death. You become more likely to get sick. You have more responsibilities. Then again, an optimistic way of seeing is is that every year, you are faced with new opportunities. You’ll graduate and start a new chapter of your life. You might get a job. You might meet “the one”. You might get married. You might have kids. Who knows? In the end, the best way to predict your future is to live it the way you want. Sometime’s it’s just easier to be passive to all that happens around you, so that when things go wrong, you can blame the world and carry on, but wow, that must get boring. The happiest people are those who take control of their lives and steer it the way they want to go. When things go wrong, they acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them, and when things go right, they’re living Heaven on Earth. You pick (hint: I’d go with the second one).

I always seem to get really reflective on my birthday. Is it just me?

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But let’s focus on the real reason you’re here: CAKE!

Another reason why I always get excited about birthdays – cake. This year, I decided to bake myself a 5-layer midnight cake with cheesecake filling, covered with a generous layer of pink buttercream, glossy chocolate ganache, and topped with whipped cream and Oreos. Helll yes.

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To be honest, the cake is pretty much just a chocolate cake with black food colouring added. I used to not like chocolate cake. I thought that it was too rich. I’d always opt for vanilla or red velvet. Chocolate cake just wasn’t my thing, but alas, times have changed. Maybe I’d been deprived of chocolate cake for too long, but this chocolate cake was the bomb. Even before I baked the cake, the cake batter was waving chocolatey scents at me, trying to get me to give in and admit that chocolate cake is one of the best kinds of cake. While I was trimming the cakes, I nibbled on some of the cake crumbs and I was in awe, trying to understand how I had ever disliked chocolate cake. This chocolate cake is velvety. It’s suuper moist and it’s perfectly sweet. It has a wonderful cocoa flavour that isn’t overwhelming, and it pairs beautifully with all the other flavours going on in this cake.

Speaking of other flavours…THE CHEESECAKE FILLING. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but cream cheese frostings are magical. Maybe that’s a biased opinion because they’re my favourite, but tbh I’ve never met anyone who dislikes cream cheese frosting. The cheesecake filling tastes pretty much just like cream cheese frosting, but there isn’t as much butter. The butter’s replaced with whipped cream, which is just folded in at the end, so that you end up with filling that’s extra fluffy and light, but definitely is not missing any flavour.

I don’t want to be writing an essay here, so I’m just going to tell you that the buttercream, chocolate ganache, whipping cream, and Oreos are perfect. Simply, utterly, perfect.

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5-Layer Midnight Cake with Cheesecake Filling and Pink Buttercream

Adapted from various sources (linked below)

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 1/4 cups (285 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g) superfine sugar
  • 1 cup (120 g) “black” unsweetened cocoa powder (or regular cocoa powder with 1 teaspoon black gel food colouring)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, room temperature

For the cheesecake filling

  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g freshly whipped cream
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted

For the pink buttercream

  • 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups (500g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink food colouring

For the chocolate ganache

  • 5 ounces (150 g) best-quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt)
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey

For the whipping cream

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar, to taste
  • Oreos, for topping

Method

I’ve included generic bad-quality, unedited photos that I took while I was assembling the cake for reference. Let me know if you have any questions!

  1. For the cake, preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, black cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla, and then mix in eggs
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter equally among the three lined and greased 8-inch cake pans or weigh for accuracy. Each pan should weigh about 600 grams
  5. Bake the first two layers until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn onto rack to cool completely. Repeat with the final cake layer. When ready to assemble the cake, wrap the layers in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
  6. For the cheesecake filling, use an electric mixer to whip cream cheese, butter, and icing sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold in whipped cream until combined
  7. For the pink buttercream, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until pale and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar, vanilla extract, food colouring, and 1 tablespoon of whipping cream and beat until combined
  8. To assemble the cake, trim the cake layers, and then halve them so that each cake becomes two layers.
  9. Place approximately 1/2 tablespoon of the cheesecake filling (or buttercream) on the center of a cake board, and place your bottom cake layer onto the cake board. Add about 1/2-3/4 cup of cheesecake filling onto the top of the cake, and using a small offset spatula, spread the filling so that it covers the top of the cake. It’s okay to let a little bit of filling go over the side. Add the next cake layer and repeat until you’ve reached your final cake layer
  10. Cover the cake with a thin layer of the cheesecake filling (or buttercream), also known as crumb coating it, and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes
  11. Cover the cake in pink buttercream and chill in fridge for at least 15 minutes
  12. In the meantime, make the chocolate ganache. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate, butter, corn syrup and salt in the microwave, about 50 seconds, and stir until smooth. Let cool until it thickens slightly, about 15 minutes
  13. For the whipping cream, use a whisk or electric hand mixer to whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the powdered sugar. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip
  14. (Assembling, continued) Remove the cake from the fridge and spoon the chocolate glaze to the edges of the cake, gently pushing some over the side and letting it dribble down. When you’ve finished putting chocolate glaze on the edges of the cake, spoon chocolate glaze into the centre until covered
  15. When the chocolate has set slightly, pipe the whipped cream around the edges of the cake and top each swirl with half an Oreo
  16. Serve!

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Chocolate Sprinkle Banana Bran Muffins (Clean)

You guys should probably all know by now that I love muffins. They’re perfectly sized on-the-go snacks, especially when traveling! In a couple of weeks, I’ll be heading off to Sri Lanka, so I’m going to need lots of yummy snacks for my long hours of traveling, and that’s where these guys come in – chocolate sprinkle banana bran muffins!

They’re not only suuper delicious, but they’re healthy too! They’re sweetened with coconut sugar and naturally sweetened thanks to the bananas, and I’ve reduced the oil to just 1/4 cup of coconut oil! But going back to the bananas – do you guys have any idea how good bananas are for you? A friend of mine just wrote an extensive article about it with 24 scientifically-backed reasons why bananas are your best friend. You guys can check out the article here (or http://www.well-beingsecrets.com/bananas-health-benefits/).

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These muffins are everything you could want. They’re fluffy, and are covered in chocolate sprinkles and granola (my favorite part).

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I’m literally getting hungry just from looking at these photos. I really want a muffin now.

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In case any of you were wondering, the chocolate sprinkles I used in these muffins is “hagelslag”, which is a Dutch chocolate sprinkle for putting on bread. We always buy a ton of them when we go back to the Netherlands, but I seem to be the only one who eats them, so I figured I’d incorporate them into these muffins to get the rest of my family to eat them. It’s not that they don’t like chocolate, but they just don’t actively crave chocolate like I do.

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Chocolate Sprinkle Banana Bran Muffin

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 cup soy or almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 + 1/4 cup chocolate sprinkles, divided
  • 1/4 cup banana nut granola (or granola of choice)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 370 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and coconut sugar, before whisking in the bananas, milk of choice, apple cider vinegar, wheat bran, coconut oil, and vanilla
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and fold together gently until just combined
  5. Fold in 1/2 cup chocolate sprinkles
  6. Scoop the batter into a greased muffin tin and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate sprinkles and the granola
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean

Sugar-Free One-Bowl Apple Oatmeal Muffins (Clean)

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I’ve posted muffin recipes before, but all of the classics – blueberry oatmeal muffins, double chocolate muffins, chocolate chip…but never apple oatmeal. In fact, I barely even have any apple recipes around here. I think it’s start I adding to that collection.

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I always seem to have too many apples in my fridge. My brother loves apples. He’d literally eat an apple every day, so we’d be perfectly fine buying a bag of apples every time we went grocery shopping (which, with me in the house, happened pretty often). Now, he’s off at college, and we seem to always have apples in the fridge. My mom tries to get me into the same healthy apple-a-day routine as my brother, but to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of apples.

Not to say that I dislike apples, but like, in terms of texture and flavor, I’m kinda meh about them. What I do love, though, is incorporating them in baked goods. Remember that apple pie I made ages ago? Yeah, that was a damn good pie and one of my favorites.

Point is, to me, apples are okay on their own, but they get so much better when combined into baked goods and paired with some good old-fashioned spices.

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I love this recipe because it’s so easy, and if you’re like me (with a fridge full of apples 24/7), you can whip these up pretty much anytime you want. The whole recipe comes together in one bowl, and only takes 5 minutes or so.

Not to mention, they’re so good for you! They’re naturally sweetened with applesauce and stevia, with only 2.9 grams of sugar per serving! That’s practically nothing. FYI – a 46g Kit Kat bar has 22g of sugar.

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Sugar-Free Apple Oatmeal Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon powdered stevia (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium or large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 205 degrees Celsius or 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a bowl, stir together oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, stevia, and salt
  3. Mix in the applesauce, eggs, coconut oil, milk of choice, and vanilla extract
  4. Stir in the chopped apple and chopped nuts, if using
  5. Transfer batter into a greased or lined muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes

Chocolate and Walnut Breakfast Cookies (Clean)

I usually try to keep things from being repetitive on this blog, and by that, I mean I never post two muffin recipes without at least 4 other types of recipes in between. Yeah….that’s changed. It’ll probably be a one-time thing, but nonetheless, I’m guilty.

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Two posts ago was the recipe for these AMAZING cranberry and dark chocolate oatmeal cookies. In that post, I told you guys that my new favorite go-to snack were cookies, and I still stand by that. I am literally eating one of these cookies as I type.

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These cookies have the classic chewy texture of any other oatmeal cookie, with a slightly crispy exterior, especially when you re-heat them in the oven. When heated, they get so aromatic thanks to the walnuts, and the chocolate chunks melt and go all gooey and you will find yourself eating more cookies than you planned, but that’s okay, cause they’re pretty damn good for you.

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Chocolate and Walnut Breakfast Cookies

Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest

Makes 25 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, flaxseed, baking soda, and salt
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the coconut oil and peanut butter together for 30 seconds, then whisk to combine. Add in the mashed bananas, egg, honey, and vanilla extract and whisk until combined
  4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until the dough comes together. Fold in the dark chocolate and walnuts until well combined
  5. Scoop out a heaped tablespoon of the cookie dough and roll into a ball. Place onto a greased or lined baking sheet and flatten into your desired shape. They will not spread while baking. Repeat this for all of the dough
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes

White Chocolate Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies (Cheat)

I need to make cookies more often.

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I’ve always loved oatmeal cookies, but the addition of fresh, plump blueberries and sweet, smooth white chocolate take these cookies to a whole new level of yum.

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These cookies are crispy on the edges, yet still soft and chewy in the center. I didn’t chill my cookie dough before baking it, so they turned out to be a little flat, which personally, I don’t mind. If you want them to be more puffy and cakey, then I’d recommend chilling them for an hour or two before baking.

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White Chocolate Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from Broma Bakery

Makes 14-16 large cookies

Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch (optional, omit for a crunchier cookie)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ⅔ cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius, or 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a medium mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. With the wet ingredients mixing on low speed, slowly incorporate in the dry ingredients until almost combined. Fold in oats and white chocolate chips with a spatula until fully combined, and finally carefully fold in the blueberries, making sure not to break them
  4. Using a cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a lined baking sheet (or just roll them into balls using your hands), leaving 2 inches in between each cookie. If you want a more puffy and cakey cookie, chill the cookie dough in the fridge for 1-2 hours before baking (I didn’t)
  5. Bake cookies for 19 minutes, or until just beginning to brown. Allow to cool on cooling rack before serving