Tag: dessert

Unbelievably Delicious Fruitcake For The Holidays

Unbelievably Delicious Fruitcake For The Holidays

Unbelievably delicious fruitcake that has a gingerbread aftertaste! YUMIf you’re going to post a fruitcake recipe, then make sure it’s an out-of-this-world- unbelievably delicious fruitcake recipe… if not, why bother. I’ve taken a little break (more…)

Cherry Almond Mini Cakes

Cherry Almond Mini Cakes

Some things are sooooo good, they should only come in small bites.  It leaves you wanting more but gives you the opportunity to nibble on a delectable piece of sweetness and not have the guilt that goes along with eating a huge piece of dessert. These beyond heavenly cherry almond mini-cakes are in a category all their own, and could be enjoyed after dinner as a mini dessert or perfect for a classroom of children. ENJOY!!!!!!

Ingredients for Cherry Almond Mini-Cakes:

  • 10 – tablespoons of butter
  • 7 – ounces of almond paste
  • 1 – cup sugar
  • 1- cup flour
  • 1/2 – teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 – egg whites
  • 1 – teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 – teaspoon almond extract
  • 32 – Melissa’s Produce cherries (pitted)
  • 32 – mini cupcake holders


  1. In a small sauce pan over a low flame melt butter. Stir every so often until butter is slightly browned. Remove from heat and place to the side to cool for 15 minutes.
  2. In a mixer add almond paste and mix on medium speed to break up paste for 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl add sugar, flour and salt and mix together. then add to the almond paste and continue to mix for 3 minutes. Until most of almond paste is incorporated. If you see that some pieces of almond paste are much bigger then others. Stop the mixer and break them up with your hands, by grinding your fingers together to form small grains of almond paste.
  4. Then pour browned butter into almond paste flour mixture, and mix till combined.
  5. Add in egg whites, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix on medium for 3 minutes. Then turn mixer off and let dough rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven for 400 degrees fahrenheit. Line mini cupcake tins with paper liners and set to the side. Pit the cherries and set to the side.
  7. Fill each paper liner with 1 tablespoon of almond paste batter, then stick a cherry in the middle of each cup. 
  8. Bake for 14 minutes. Then remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  9. ENJOY!
“Cherry Social” with Whole Foods Market Cherries. Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding Recipe

“Cherry Social” with Whole Foods Market Cherries. Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding Recipe

Eating fruit at it’s peak in the season is the best gift Mother Nature provides.  This luxury of sweetness can only be found in a piece of fruit at the height of it’s ripe/maturity.  Right now the spotlight is shining brightly on Cherries! Whole Foods Markets are celebrating their 3rd Annual Cherry Fest by bringing the best cherries to their stores for us customers to sink our teeth into. When this type of opportunity is conveniently placed at your fingertips you take it and run.  I bought several bags, around 6 pounds worth.  I thought “I can eat them all by myself or I could be a friend and invite some pals over for a Cherry Social.”  I decided to do the latter.  We enjoyed some in their natural glory and with the other I created a few dishes to serve at my gathering of friends.  The Cherry Menu:  Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding, Chicken Cherry Salad Sandwiches and Cherry Watermelon Sangria!

Run over to Whole Foods Market, grab a few bags of cherries in their peak season sweetness and make these recipes.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

For the Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding, I bought all the ingredients at Whole Foods Market.  WFM makes my all-time favorite store bought cookie sold in their amazing bulk section, Amaretti Cookie.  I love the flavor sooooo much I incorporated it into the bread pudding thinking Cherry and Amaretto work wonderfully together and boy was I right. Hee-hee!  I also used their chocolate pound cake and Greenlee’s Best Cinnamon Bread (also sold in store).  This Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding was made in a pyrex dish then spooned into cupcake holders to serve individually.  Topped with a fresh cherry.  Enjoy.

Ingredients for Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding:

1o – Amaretti cookies (crushed)

5 – cups chocolate pound cake (cut into 1 inch cubes)

5 – cups Greenlee’s Best Cinnamon Bread (cut into 1 inch cubes)

2 – cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1 – cup sliced almonds

2 – cups fresh cherries (pitted and cut into 4 pieces)

1 1/4 – cups sugar

4 – eggs

1 – teaspoon cinnamon

1 – teaspoon almond extract

1 – teaspoon vanilla

3 – cups half and half

1 – cup whole milk

5 – tablespoons unsalted butter (melted and brought back to room temperature) plus a little extra to butter your dish.

 All photos taken by Nicole Presley

Preheat oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit.

Crush Amaretti cookies and cut pound cake and cinnamon bread into cubes.  Combine all in a big mixing bowl.

Next add in chocolate chips and sliced almonds.  Mix well.  Set to the side.


Wash cherries and pitt them all.  Then slice each cherry into 4 pieces.  Set to the side.

Generously grease a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish, now take 6 cups of  bread cubes and place in baking dish, arrange neatly to make your first layer.  Then add all cherry slices.

Place remaining bread cubes mixture on top of cherries and press down to compact dish. Set to the side.

With a electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs together on high for 4 minutes.  Next add cinnamon, almond extract, vanilla, half and half, milk and butter.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Carefully ladle egg/half and half mixture over prepared bread cubes.

Once egg/half and half mixture is poured in, gently  press down on bread cubes with both hands to make sure they are soaked in egg/half and half mixture.

Now in a large baking dish or roasting pan (15 x 10 inches) fill 1 inch deep with hot water to create a water bath, then place the 9 x 13 inch prepared bread pudding dish in the middle of the 15 x 10 water bath (you want the bath to go halfway up the side of the 9 x 13 inch dish) and place in oven for 1 hour.

As soon as the bread pudding is ready, remove from water bath and and let it cool for 1 hour.

Spoon bread pudding into cupcake holders for individual servings.  Top with a cherry and sprinkle with Amaretti cookie crumbs if you have any left. 🙂  Place in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours or overnight.



Scroll down for the Chicken Cherry Salad Sandwiches!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by Whole Foods Market. However all opinions and recipes are my own. I genuinely love Whole Foods Market. 🙂
Thanksgiving Dessert: Pumpkin Coconut Mini Cupcakes

Thanksgiving Dessert: Pumpkin Coconut Mini Cupcakes

 This coming Saturday my community is holding a pre-Thanksgiving celebration for families in need.  I will be in charge of teaching the children how to bake and decorate cupcakes.  This is the recipe I came up with along with the finishing decorating look that screams the colors of fall.  Note to reader: These cupcakes are friggin’ delish and a perfect alternative to pumpkin pie for your T-giving dinner!

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley 

Ingredients for Pumpkin Coconut Mini Cupcakes:

3 – cups of sugar

4 – eggs

1 – 15 ounce can Libby’s Pumpkin Puree

1 – cup vegetable oil

2/3 – cup water

3 1/2 – cups all purpose flour

1 – teaspoon salt

2 – teaspoons baking soda

1 – teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 – teaspoons ground ginger

1 – cup shredded sweetened coconut

Ingredients for Cream Cheese frosting:

8 – ounces cream cheese (room temperature)

1 – cup butter (room temperature)

1 – teaspoon vanilla extract

2 – cups confections sugar (powdered sugar)


1/2 -cup dried cranberries

1/2 – cup pumpkin seeds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Line mini cupcake sheet with cupcake baking cups. Set to the side.

In a mixer combine sugar, eggs, Libby’s pumpkin puree, vegetable oil and water. Mix until well combined about 2 to 3 minutes.


Meanwhile in a medium bowl mix flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger together. Once all dry ingredients are combined add in coconut and mix well.

Now add flour/coconut mixture to the pumpkin mixture a little at a time with the mixer set to medium low. Make sure to mix well.


Fill each mini cupcake baking cup with 1 tablespoon of mixture. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Once cupcakes cool…. make the cream cheese frosting.

In a mixer combine cream cheese and butter, and mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add vanilla and mix till combined. Last add in confectioners sugar a little at a time till completely combined.  Spread cream cheese frosting on top of each cupcake and decorate with dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds for a festive holiday look.  ENJOY!

Makes 72 mini cupcakes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Dessert – Candied Yam Korean Pear Squares.

Thanksgiving Dessert – Candied Yam Korean Pear Squares.

 I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with Korean Pears  before , but it can be quite a task if you’re doing anything other than eating them fresh.  I had it in my mind that I wanted to create a pear tart using asian pears for Thanksgiving, but the truth is Korean Pears don’t change much in texture if you bake them.  After experimenting in my kitchen lab with a few Korean Pears I came up with a final dessert that made my Momma swoon.  She said “Your little candied yam korean pear squares taste like a treat someone would offer you at a friend of a friend’s house during the holidays.  You would gladly take a square gobble it down, think it was unlike anything you ever tasted yet embodied all the sweet flavors of late Autum.  Then you’d sit there looking at your plate…. dreading you didn’t eat it slower. Wishing you could ask for another piece, but your manners get the best of you so you don’t.”  She said this as she served herself another slice in the comfort of her daughter’s home.

All photographs taken by: Mando Lopez

Ingredients for candied yam Korean pear squares:

2 – Melissa’s produce- Korean pears (peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)

2 – sticks of cinnamon

2 – cloves

1 – cup brown sugar

1 – tablespoon vanilla

1 1/2 – cups water

3 – cups yams or sweet potato ( peeled and cut)

1 – stick of butter (melted) plus 2 tablespoons (room temperature)

2 – tablespoons orange juice

10 – graham crackers (each cracker has the ability to become two squares-20 squares total)

1 3/4 – cups whole pecans

1/2 – teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 – teaspoon ground ginger

1 – cup mini marshmallows

Let’s start with the Korean pears.

In a saucepan over a medium flame add 1 stick of cinnamon, cloves, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.

In the meantime peel and cut your Korean pears.


Remove cinnamon stick and cloves from boiling brown sugar mixture, then add cut pears and boil for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pears can easily be pierced with a fork.  Remove from flame, and set to the side.  Reserve brown sugar liquid for a later use.

Lets’s move on to the yams.  Peel and cut yams or sweet potatoes.

In a large sauce pan filled with water halfway over a medium flame add a cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Then add yams and boil for 15 minutes or until a fork can easily pierce through. Drain.

Place drained yams in a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher. Then mix in 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter, orange juice, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar liquid that pears poached in, 1/4 cup brown sugar. Set to the side.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit

Let’s make a crust. In a food processor, add graham crackers, pecans, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and ground ginger. Pulse until crumbs are formed.


Remove 1/2 cup of crumb mixture for a later use and set to side. Then add melted butter to the remaining crumb mixture and pulse to combine.

Spray an edge brownie pan or a metal 8×8 pan with a non-stick spray, then fill with crust mixture. Using your fingertips press down to form crust to the bottom of pan.


Place crust in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Then remove from oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Next evenly spread in the layer of mashed yams.


Remove all Korean pear pieces from any remaining liquid and  place on top of mashed yams.

Place back in the oven for 25 minutes.  Then remove from oven and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of reserved crust crumbs.

 Then top with marshmallows.

Place back in oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Then turn off the oven and put under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes or until marshmallows turn golden brown. Remove from broiler and serve warm or cold.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Presley’s Strawberry Cream Hand Pies!

Presley’s Strawberry Cream Hand Pies!

I woke up today and realized the month of September was coming to an end….  I smiled at the thought of fall and all my jacket wearing days that lay ahead.  Then for a brief moment I started to panick thinking with the warm weather sneaking out the back door my beloved strawberries would be taking a leave of absence as well.  Oh the horror!  As soon as the thought entered my mind it was rescued with the realization that California strawberries are grown all year long , and could be picked up fresh or frozen.  Either way I’m going to celebrate my california strawberries this fall/winter wearing a jacket!

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley 

Ingredients for strawberry cream hand pies:

2 1/4 – cups flour

1/2 – teaspoon baking powder

2/3 – cup sugar

6 – tablespoons cream cheese (room temperature)

1 – stick butter (room temperature)

1 – teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 – large egg

Mix flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and set to the side.  Then put cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer and mix for 3 minutes or until fluffy.  Add vanilla and egg in and mix well.  Then slowly add in flour mixture until combined.  Divide dough in half and pat into two disks.  Wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge for an hour or over night.



Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line cookie sheets with wax paper or a non – stick baking mat.

Take one disk of dough of of the fridge.  On a lightly floured surface roll dough about 1/4 inch thick.  With a round 2 1/2- inch circle cookie cutter cut as many circles as possible. With the scraps re-roll and continue cutting until you’ve cut all the dough.  Then place your circles on prepared cookie sheets and place back in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Grab your second disk and repeat process.



While you are waiting for your dough to chill, let’s make the filling.

Ingredients for the filling:

6 – tablespoons cream cheese (room temperature)

3 – tablespoons confectioners sugar

1/3 – cup strawberry preserves

3 – strawberries chopped


Mix cream cheese and confectioners sugar with an electric mixer till combined, then set to the side in a small bowl.  Chop strawberries into tiny pieces and mix into perserves in another bowl.


On half of the pie circles place 1/2 teaspoon of cream cheese mixture in center of circle, then place 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry mixture on top.


Now on the other half circles take a small cookie cutter and barely imprint the center with the cutter (I used a strawberry cutter, this step is optional) make sure not to push all the way down.  This is purely for decoration.  Then place pie circle on top of circle with cream cheese and strawberry mixture to make your pie.  Press around the edges with your finger to seal, then take a fork and indent all around.


Place in the oven and bake for 7 minutes then rotate cookie sheet and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are golden.  Remove from oven.

Ingredients for topping: 

1/2 – cup sugar

1 – teaspoon cinnamon

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Then dip each hand pie in sugar mixture while still warm set on wire rack to cool completely!  Enjoy.  Should make 15 pies total.


Strawberries wrapped in warmth!  

Blueberry Pluot up-side down cake

Blueberry Pluot up-side down cake

A good friend of mine asked me for a dessert recipe that not only taste good, but is simple to prepare and appealing to the eye.  I immediately thought of an up-side down cake.  I happened to have a tribe of pluots hanging out in my kitchen fruit bowl, and a box of cake mix in the pantry.  I thought to myself  “why wouldn’t those little pluots make for spectacular cake?”  They did.  I incorporated blueberries in the mix for an added “OH MY WORD”, and the results left me ecstatic.  Ended up making this cake two days in a row, because I couldn’t keep it around long enough to photograph.  Enjoy!

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley

Ingredients for blueberry pluot up-side down cake:

1 – box yellow cake mix (I use Betty Crocker)

1 1/4 – cups water

1/3 – cup vegetable oil

3 – eggs

1 1/2 – cups blueberries

6 – tablespoons butter

1 – cup brown sugar

4 to 5 – large pluot (each pluot cut into 4 parts, then each part sliced into 3 pieces)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a mixer add cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Mix until combined for 2 minutes. Then add 1 cup of blueberries. Set to the side.

In a small saucepan over a medium flame add butter and allow to melt. Once melted mix in brown sugar. Mix well for 1 minute. Then pour into a 13 x 9 metal pan.

Now neatly place your pluots in a row on top of melted brown sugar mixture. Then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of blueberries.

Next pour cake batter over top of fruit.

Place in the oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the tester toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Once the cake comes out of the oven let it sit in the pan for 2 minutes, then turn pan up-side down onto a big platter and remove pan. PRESTO! Up-side down BLUEBERRY PLUOT cake…. YUMMERS.