Cakes, Food Hoarding Confessions, Unfussy

This tasty and simple cake is based on a recipe by husband’s late aunt. It is an excellent use of that Cream of Wheat sitting in the pantry.


  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice


  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 lb. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups farina (Cream of Wheat, Malt-O-Meal)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Make Syrup Ahead: Bring water, sugar and lemon juice to a boil and reduce for 10 minutes. Cool.

For Cake: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ pan. In a large bowl, beat eggs and melted butter together with a whisk until well-mixed – about 5 minutes. Add farina, flour, sugar, baking powder and vanilla and whisk to combine.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until firm in the center.

Slowly pour the cool syrup over the hot Ravani. Let cool completely before cutting.

Chocolate Black Sesame Rugelach

A little bit fussy, Cookies, Food Hoarding Confessions

A little leftover hand pie dough, black sesame paste from my freezer, and a bar of chocolate with almonds all found each other today.


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, straight from the refrigerator
  • 1 stick butter, straight from the refrigerator
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Black Sesame and Chocolate Filling

  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (with or without almonds), chopped

1 beaten egg and coarse sugar for topping

For the dough: Cut the cream cheese and butter into cubes. Place flour, sugar and salt in food processor and blend. Toss in cream cheese and butter. Pulse until the dough comes together – check it by taking the lid of and pinching some dough – if it sticks together it is ready.

Divide dough into two pieces and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

For the filling: Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet. Let cool completely. In a food processor or blender, combine cooled sesame seeds, butter and sugar. Process into a paste.

Chop chocolate into small pieces and set aside.

When ready to assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil (these will leak a bit).

Divide the dough into two. One at a time, roll out on lightly floured surface to about a 10-inch circle. Spread 1/2 of black sesame paste onto one circle and sprinkle half the chopped chocolate on top.

Cut the circle into 16 pieces, like a pizza, first in half, then quarters, then into eighths, etc… Roll up each triangle starting with the fat end of the triangle. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

If desired, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Hello Dolly Bars

Cookies, Food Hoarding Confessions, Unfussy

These are completely uncalled for. This is a variation of a hand-written recipe titled “Hello Dolly Cookies” that has been in my recipe box for years, but I have no idea who’s handwriting it is (please let me know if this sounds familiar). It was a very forgiving recipe – I used up a variety of cookie crumbs and flavored chips that I was food-hoarding in the pantry. You could do the same. These are sweet.

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade speculoos cookie crumbs (or Biscoff or graham cracker crumbs)
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips (these can be hard to find, but they are not too sweet so I like them. I get them at the Amish grocery store in Iowa.)
  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs ( I used some of my chocolate shortbread cookie crumbs)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a 9″ square pan. Sprinkle speculoos/graham cracker cookie crumbs over butter and mix a little bit, then spread evenly. Sprinkle evenly over the top in this order: coconut, then chocolate chips, then cinnamon chips, then chocolate cookie crumbs. Pour condensed milk evenly over the top. Finally, sprinkle pecans.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until they are well-caramelized and not too gooey. They shouldn’t be wet when you press in the center.

Cool completely before cutting into small squares. Makes 16 diabetic sugar bombs.

Cherry Poptarts

A little bit fussy, Breakfast, Food Hoarding Confessions

Guys guys guys- after years of trying I finally nailed homemade pop tarts. Happy little accident involving self-rising flour I bought for no reason other than I heard a story about Loretta Lynn using it for biscuits. It makes the perfectly delicious cardboard-y tasting pastry I’ve been hunting for. The filling ended up being a great use of the half jar of morello cherries that was taking up fridge space. The key here is to roll the dough out SUPER thin. Like, when you say to yourself, “I think this is thin enough” – keep rolling until you say to yourself “this has GOT to be thin enough”.

  • Cherry Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cup jarred morello cherries, drained (reserve 3 TBSP liquid for optional glaze)
  • 12 pitted dates
  • 4 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • Crust:
  • 2 cups self-rising flour, if you have it
  • (or 2 cups cake flour, 3 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt)
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut in chunks
  • 1/2 cup milk

In food processor, process cherries and dates until crushed. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Whisk in cherries and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Add almond extract and set aside to cool. This can be done ahead of time and refrigerated.

Combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter in and work until it’s the size of peas, or a bit smaller (by hand or food processor). Stir in milk until combined and knead until the dough holds and is uniform. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half between long sheets of wax paper until very thin – (as thin as possible – 1/16″ maybe) and in the shape of a long rectangle. Dust with flour as needed to keep from sticking. Using a ruler or straight edge, trim the edges of the dough. Cut the dough in half, the long way, then cut every 3″ or so to make 3″x5″ rectangles. You should get 16 rectangles total from all the dough. Spread about 2 TBSP filling in half the rectangles, but leave about 1/2″ from the sides free of filling. You will have extra filling, which you can freeze for another poptarting. Brush the edges with egg wash. Poke the other dough rectangles with a fork 3 or 4 times, then sandwich the pop tarts. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush tarts with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. Dust with powdered sugar, leave unfrosted, or glaze.

  • Cherry Glaze:
  • 3 TBSP reserved cherry liquid
  • enough powdered sugar to thicken

Coffee Birthday Cake

Food Hoarding Confessions, Fussy

I make my birthday cake every year – it’s my favorite cake to make because no one gives me any guff for putting coffee or nuts or raisins in it. I went with coffee this year and used some freezer cake layers and bits of leftover chocolate as decoration. After decorating it, I immediately cut myself a piece and ate it with no fanfare. So there.

  • 2 layers white cake from freezer, cut in half (see passionfruit cheesecake recipe)
  • Coffee Diplomat:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 TBSP instant espresso powder
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3 TBSP butter, room temperature, cut into TBSPs
  • 115g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 272g heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Bring milk to a simmer in medium saucepan. Add espresso powder and dissolve. Whisk yolks, sugar and cornstarch together in small bowl. Add milk, a little at a time to temper the egg yolks, them pour yolk mixture into saucepan and whisk over medium-low heat until very thick, letting a few large bubbles pop before removing from heat. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes, then whisk in butter until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface, and cool.

Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Slowly pour in heavy cream, and beat until very stiff.

Whisk coffee cream until very smooth, then fold in whipped cream until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  • Chocolate Crumb:
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 TBS melted butter

Combine all ingredients except butter in the mixer and stir to blend. Add butter and stir until there are no dry spots left. Spread out crumbs on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring twice. Let cool.

  • Milk Chocolate Ganache:
  • 240g milk chocolate, chopped fine
  • 120g heavy cream
  • 1 TBSP instant espresso powder

Heat cream, add espresso powder to dissolve. Pour over milk chocolate and let sit 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let sit to room temperature. Whip with whisk attachment of mixer until light and fluffy.

Build cake: Put base layer in a 8″ cake pan. Spread 1/3 of the coffee diplomat and top with a layer of chocolate crumb on each of the layers, using acetate to build up past the top of the cake pan. Top with last cake layer. Frost with a crumb coat of ganache and refrigerate to set the ganache. Frost with remaining ganache and decorate as desired.

Note: This cake would be just as good as a naked cake – omit the ganache and serve with the layers showing.

Cornbread Skillet Cake

Food Hoarding Confessions

I have this problem throwing food away. My freezer can attest to this. I particularly like this recipe – it uses leftover cornbread, which is pretty much inedible after day one. It works for any meal- breakfast, dessert, or from first hand knowledge I know it makes a fine dinner accompanied by country ham and collard greens.

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups crumbled leftover cornbread
  • 1 TBSP butter

Preheat oven to broil on low. Adjust oven rack to the second highest level. Whisk cream, eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar together in medium bowl. Crumble cornbread into mixture. Stir to combine well – it’s okay to have some clumps of cornbread still in tact.

Heat a non-stick, oven-proof 6″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 TBSP butter and swirl. Pour cornbread mixture into the skillet, cook for a minute or two. Using a heat-proof rubber spatula, push the sides toward the middle, to let the wet run underneath. Cook for another few minutes, until the edges have firmed.

Transfer skillet to the oven and broil on low for 5-10 minutes, until the center of the cake is set and golden brown.

Invert cake onto serving platter. Top with maple syrup and butter.

Recipe adapted from Hell’s Backbone Grill cookbook With a Measure of Grace