Banana-Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

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Today is my lovely, beautiful sister’s birthday – Happy Birthday, Sharon! To celebrate this most joyous occasion, I decided to make an absolutely epic, multilayer, drenched/dipped/filled with chocolate cake. And then my plans were thwarted . . . by the birthday girl herself.

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Oh yes, Sharon had the notion that the birthday girl (and not the baker) actually gets to choose the cake! The nerve. She dropped hints about wanting a small (WHAT) cake and a warm cake (I said I could microwave my ten-layer one) and finally, it came out that she wanted individual molten chocolate cakes. Which, okay, I absolutely love. But I was still a little sad about missing an opportunity to create a dessert masterpiece. Continue reading

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Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

I first came across this cake – although, perhaps monster would be a better description? – at the Cheesecake Factory in Kansas City, Missouri.

Three of my closest girlfriends and I had spent the day driving (okay, I napped) to Kansas City, screaming our lungs out at Schlitterbahn Waterpark, and doing some pre-dinner shopping at the plaza. Basically, we were four really hungry girls on a mission: dessert first. As we started to peruse the cheesecake section of the menu, we came across a picture of this cake. I think I may have screamed.

The Cheesecake Factory’s version of this cake consists of two layers of their original cheesecake on top of two layers of red velvet cake . . . so I guess my cake is short one cheesecake layer. I would say sorry, but I can’t bring myself to apologize for this level of genius. Although, really, the genius belongs to Recipe Girl, who came up with a brilliant recipe for the cake.

I only modified this a tiny bit, substituting greek yogurt for sour cream (still delicious), and unsweetened applesauce for almost half of the oil. Props to my excellent baking buddy Lauren for noticing the monstrous amount of oil, prompting me to run to the fridge for my unsweetened applesauce stockpile.

Oh, also, if you happen to accidentally leave the eggs out of the cheesecake (not that this happened to me)? I have it on pretty good authority that it will still be delicious. But don’t try that at home!

Lauren and I actually made this cake for our friend Allen’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Allen!), and I think it was pretty well received. Not that it really mattered to us. We decided early on that birthdays are just an excuse to bake our favorite cakes, so . . . I didn’t even check if Allen liked red velvet cake. Sorry I’m not sorry.

Speaking of happy occasions, though, my friend Kat – the same one who toured Paris with me, and was on the Kansas City Cheesecake Factory trip – just got engaged yesterday! Congratulations!!!! So I think this cake is pretty much the best luck in the world. And who can say no to that?

Continue reading

Mini Coconut Banana Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Here’s the thing about minis: Who ever eats just one?

Seriously, though.

When’s the last time you ate one mini Snickers, or one mini Milky Way Midnight (my fav!), and thought, ‘Perfect! That one extremely tiny square of chocolate-nougat goodness was enough to satisfy all of my mid-afternoon chocolate cravings!’ and then went right back to work? …Exactly.

Minis are especially dangerous when they appear in the form of cupcakes. Especially, especially those coconut banana cupcakes that you (ok, well, I) have been dreaming about, topped with coconut cream cheese frosting.

And oh man, let’s talk about cream cheese frosting. How can I adequately describe my feelings on this subject? If you put too much butter in my cream cheese frosting, I might just punch you in the face. There’s a place for butter, and it’s called buttercream frosting. Phew, glad I got that off my chest.

But seriously. This cream cheese frosting is almost 100% cream cheese, with just a little butter and powdered sugar in there to justify the term “frosting.” Confession: I’d actually planned to add a bit of salt and vanilla extract to this frosting, but after I sampled the three-ingredient frosting, I refused to add anything else.

Side note: Am I completely crazy? Is cream cheese fiendish-ness normal? Please, please, if you, too, have strong opinions about cream cheese – one way or the other – let me know!

I could swim in this cream cheese frosting. Okay, actually, not really. But what I can do (and did) is eat this straight from the mixer. And on mini cupcakes. Three of them, to be exactly.

Luckily for me (and you!), these mini cupcakes contain bananas. And coconut (does it matter if it’s sweetened?). So, you’re really just eating small portions of fruit. And who doesn’t need more of that?

Now isn’t it time you went and baked (ate) these?

Mini Coconut Banana Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Banana Nut Coconut Cake)

Yield: 24 mini cupcakes or 12 regular cupcakes

Notes: As stated above, my frosting recipe reflects the fact that I absolutely love cream cheese. If you’re less into it than I am (it’s okay, we can still be friends), feel free to increase the ratio of butter to cream cheese. If you like your frosting sweeter, add more powdered sugar! Also, the frosting recipe makes enough cream cheese frosting for…me. Meaning, it makes a lot. Just a heads up.

Ingredients

  1. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  2. 1/4 cup butter, softened
  3. 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 4 small or 3 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  9. 1/4 cup milk
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  11. 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line mini cupcake tin with cupcake liners or spray with nonstick spray. You can also use a regular cupcake tin or cake pan.
  2. Cream together sugar and butter, then add in Greek yogurt, egg, and the mashed bananas.
  3. Stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Blend dry mixture in to the creamed mixture. Then, add in milk.
  4. Blend in vanilla extract, then stir in the shredded coconut. Pour into cupcake liners.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  1.  2 packages (16 oz total) of cream cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  3. 1 cup powdered sugar
  4. 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1.  Blend together cream cheese and butter, then add powdered sugar and blend until desired texture is achieved.
  2. Pipe on top of cupcakes, then sprinkle with shredded coconut.