Big Mountain's daughter turned six last week, so I of course made her a birthday cake! You can read more about the story of her birthday here. I'm sharing the recipe with you just in case you have similar ingredient constraints (maybe you're baking in rural Panama, I don't know!) or maybe you're opposed to butter (I'm sorry) for health reasons. The cake is really good, for what it is. But it doesn't compare to, say, my Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Malt Frosting.

Putting the second layer on:
The cake recipe I used is from Seasoned to Taste. It's really simple and it doesn't call for any exotic ingredients. The only thing I did differently was to chop up a bar of white chocolate and add it to the batter instead of adding orange zest.

To form the smaller second tier, I simply halved the recipe and used a smaller pan.

The frosting is Betty Crocker chocolate. It was actually pretty good, although as you probably are aware I'd much rather have made my own.

The finished product:
 
 
This cake, dear readers, is a birthday cake classic. The person lucky enough to receive one of these from your kitchen for his or her birthday will thank you. So will everyone at the party. 

This is not a "light" cake. (In case you were wondering, cakes aren't really supposed to be in that category to begin with.) This one is particularly rich, with a generous coating of chocolate malt frosting to round out the moist, yellow cake inside.
I made it for my best friend from college, Katie, who turned 24 on June 2nd. It may have taken me nearly two months to get this posted, but I wasn't about to forget to share it. No-way-josé.
Recipe for Yellow Cake with Chocolate Malt Frosting
From She Wears Many Hats
Makes 2 9-inch round cakes.

Ingredients
For Cake:
2 3/4 cups flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature 
1 cup milk, divided
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

For Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder
7 tbsp milk

Instructions
For cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two nine-inch round baking pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and 3/4 cup milk to the mixture and beat until just combined. 

In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, remaining 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla extract together. Gradually add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over beat. 

Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

For frosting:
Beat butter and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add in powdered sugar, cocoa powder and malted milk powder; lightly mix. Add in milk, one tbsp at a time, until smooth. 

Note: When I frost cakes, I line the cake stand with strips of wax paper. After the frosting has set, I just pull the strips out, and the cake stand or platter is free of errant icing globs. Voila!
 
 
I'm back from China, and that means I'm back in the kitchen . . . Baking. I'm trying not to go crazy and make every cookie, brownie, and cake recipe I've pinned on Pinterest, but it's tough knowing that come August, I won't have my own kitchen (much less oven). Life in Libo, China will be decidedly less sweet, but on the bright side, I will get to eat as many sea cucumbers and chicken feet as my little heart desires. Oh, no. Sad face.

So I've been back for a few weeks now, and I've only baked two things! (I think that means I get to bake more things soon! Maybe even today!)

We had six over-ripe bananas in our kitchen when I returned from China, and I know my mom was leaving them out (and not throwing them in the compost) as a hint for me to make something. Even if she denies it . . .

We also had half a bag of Ghiradelli mini chocolate chips in the pantry, and to prevent my younger brother from consuming the rest of the bag before I got to use them, I threw them in the muffins.

I doubled this recipe since we had six bananas, and it made a TON of batter--probably enough for 30 muffins. I only have two muffin trays, so I filled the cups up high and put the remaining batter in a ramekin, resulting in 24 regular muffins and one GIANT muffin.

Recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
From Keep Your Diet Real
Makes 12 regular sized muffins.

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder (I know, it seems like a lot!)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place liners in a muffin pan.

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or fork. Add the sugar, oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla; mix well.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir with a spatula just until combined. Do not overmix, or the muffins will be tough. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill the muffin cups with batter and bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops of the muffins spring back (and do not sink) when pressed with a finger and a toothpick comes out clean.
 
 
This may sound slightly off-topic, but I love salad bars. I like my salads light on the lettuce and heavy on the toppings--carrots, mushrooms, roasted beets, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, hard-boiled egg . . . You get the idea. And this is relevant because? I like my cookies the same way. While I can appreciate a soft sugar cookie as much as the next person, what I really love is a cookie that has it all. And these cookies, dear reader, have it all. "Everything but the kitchen sink," as they say.

I used pastel M&M's, which gave them a very festive look just in time for Easter. Not that these cookies made it anywhere near next Sunday. I had to hide four of them just so I would have enough to photograph the next day.
Recipe for Kitchen Sink Cookies
Adapted from Bakergirl
Makes 26-30 cookies.

Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oats
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup M&Ms
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
2/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and following five ingredients, through coconut.

In a large bowl, beat sugars and butter until combined, about one minute. Add egg and vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining ingredients (M&Ms, white chocolate chips, raisins, and pecans).

Roll the cookie dough into 1-inch balls (or slightly larger). Place on prepared baking sheets and bake 10 minutes on the middle rack, one batch at a time.
 
 
In a complete 180-degree turn from the types of recipes I have been posting for the last month, I present to you a decadent cake containing all kinds of ingredients I have shied away from during my Whole30 Challenge. (Flour! Sugar! Yogurt! Butter! Red Wine?!) My reflective post on the Paleo Diet is on its way, but I wanted to get this out to you so that if you are so inclined, you can make this dessert, impress all of your friends, and recognize it as one of the most perfect endings to a dinner party, ever.

It is as good as it sounds. And the whipped cream is one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted in my life. I am not exaggerating.
Recipe for Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Honey Mascarpone Whipped Cream & Berries
From The Pastry Affair
Makes one 9x5 inch loaf

For the cake:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt).

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Beat in the wine and yogurt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the whipped cream:
Ingredients:
1 cup (8 oz.) mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup honey

Instructions:
In a medium bowl, whip mascarpone, cream, and honey until soft peaks form. Spoon on top of cooled cake and serve with fresh raspberries and blackberries. If you are so inclined, sift a bit of powdered sugar over the cake for a more elegant look.