The Baking Adventures of a Girl and Her Dog

Author: JSterbenz

Cannoli Cake with Dulce de Leche

Cannoli Cake with Dulce de Leche

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! In a college town, once August hits, there’s a flurry of lease turnovers with pretty much the entire population moving out of their houses and apartments, and moving into new places. I haven’t had to move in […]

How To Make a Unicorn Cake

How To Make a Unicorn Cake

DISCLAIMER: This is for humans not dogs! I recently made a unicorn cake for my dad’s girlfriend’s daughter, Phoebe’s, 14th birthday. (There really needs to be a word for that because “dad’s girlfriend’s daughter” is just a mouthful). Anyway, it resulted in the picture above […]

Chocolate-Covered Coconut Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate-Covered Coconut Chocolate Cupcakes

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DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!

I’ve been swamped in medical school applications the last couple of weeks, but I’m moving out of my house to a new apartment soon, and I needed to clean my kitchen out a bit. After taking stock of what I had, I had a lot of extra coconut stuff, and what goes better with coconut than chocolate? Cupcakes are way less work to make than a layer cake so I decided to make some chocolate cupcakes and throw some coconut in there, and top them with coconut frosting. I had also seen chocolate-covered cupcakes somewhere recently, and decided that would be an easy way to make these cupcakes fun and fancy.

coconut chocolate cupcakes

These cupcakes really were quick and easy to make. I took my time, taking naps and watching TV in the process, and they were still done within three hours. The only part that takes a little bit of time is getting the frosting cool enough that you don’t accidentally melt it down when you dip them in melted chocolate. My solution was to throw the cupcakes in the freezer, and then fall asleep while watching an episode of Gilmore Girls. I also popped them back into the freezer as soon as the cupcakes were dipped in the chocolate. I’m not sure if it was necessary, but I didn’t want to take any risks.

beagle with chocolate dipped cupcake

A Couple Notes:

  1. Use your freezer, it really helps move the whole process along faster.
  2. Make sure that your cupcakes are at least room temperature before frosting them or you’ll have frosting melting off your cupcakes
  3. To pipe on the frosting, I didn’t even bother with a tip. I just cut a hole in the bottom of a piping bag and swirled the frosting on.

Seriously, these were really easy and straightforward to make. I have no secret tips for getting them awesome.

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4.75 from 12 votes
coconut chocolate cupcakes
Chocolate-Covered Coconut Chocolate Cupcakes

Chocolate cupcakes with coconut frosting, dipped in chocolate. A quick, easy, and fun recipe. Skip the chocolate covering for a more elegant look.

Servings: 12 cupcakes
Coconut Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1/3 cup oil (any kind)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup coconut shavings
Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp coconut extract
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup coconut shavings (sweetened)
Chocolate Covering
  • 12 oz milk chocolate (chips or chopped)
  • 3 tbsp shortening
Bake the Cupcakes
  1. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 350°F

  2. Mix together sugars and oil

  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time

  4. Add coconut extract

  5. If you want the best possible cupcakes, sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and incorporate it into the batter in 3 parts, alternating with buttermilk. If you want to save dishes (like me), follow the steps below.

  6. Mix in baking powder, baking soda, and salt

  7. Mix in half the cocoa powder

  8. Mix in half the buttermilk

  9. Mix in the second half of the cocoa powder

  10. Mix in the flour

  11. Fold the coconut shavings into the batter

  12. Fill the cupcake liners between halfway and 3/4 of the way full and bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

  13. Let cool to room temperature

Make Coconute Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Make a double boiler

  2. Combine egg whites and sugar

  3. Beat until the mixture reaches 140-150°F

  4. Remove from heat and continue beating until stiff peaks form

  5. Let sit for 5-10min until the meringue cools off

  6. Beat in coconut extract

  7. Mix in butter and beat until it looks like frosting. It may curdle at first and get grainy, don't worry, just keep mixing and it'll eventually look right.

  8. Fold in coconut shavings

Assemble the Cupcakes
  1. Frost the cupcakes. I just cut the tip off of a piping bag and swirled frosting on.

  2. Let the chocolate mixture cool slightly and freeze the cupcakes for ~30min until the frosting hardens

  3. Melt the chocolate with 3tbsp of shortening (you can do this while the frosting is hardening)

  4. Dip the cupcakes into the melted chocolate

  5. Put the cupcakes back in the freezer (or refrigerator) until the chocolate hardens

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Cherry Panna Cotta Tart

Cherry Panna Cotta Tart

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! On Friday, one of my housemates said he wanted me to try making something with panna cotta. I wanted to include a baking aspect, and I thought it would be great in a summery tart. Panna cotta […]

4th of July Honey Naked Cake

4th of July Honey Naked Cake

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! After feeling really guilty about unknowingly serving a sugar-loaded ‘Muricake to a family friend who’s diabetic for Memorial Day, as a (hopefully) future health professional, I felt compelled to come up with a (slightly) less sugar-y dessert for […]

Patriotic Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Patriotic Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

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DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!

My brother, Tim, has been home for most of the summer, but he’s heading back to the east coast to where he goes to school at the end of this week. He was hoping I could make something for the Fourth of July that he could bring back to his girldfriend. He also emphasized that she likes strawberry shortcake. I pointed out that anything that resembled a strawberry shortcake was going to need to stay chilled the whole way back east from Michigan where I live, but he seemed to come up with a solution. (I learned long ago with my brother to just let him do what he wants and assume that things will fall into place). He asked me to see if I could make strawberry shortcake cupcakes and red, white, and blue them up.

patriotic strawberry shortcake cupcake

The nice thing about strawberry shortcake is that shortcake itself is pretty simple and it’s white. (Imagine trying to turn chocolate cake red, white, and blue). Strawberry shortcake cupcakes also wouldn’t be difficult since it’s essentially plain yellow cake. I briefly toyed with the idea of using genoise cake like a Japanese style strawberry shortcake which is my personal favorite kind of cake, but I got nervous just thinking about it. Genoise cake rises only with egg whites and its finicky enough when you’re making one big cake. I don’t even want to think of the challenges of keeping the batter from deflating while spooning it into cupcake liners and then hoping that they all rise about the same. Shortcake, on the other hand, is a pretty simple recipe that’s hard to ruin.

strawberry shortcake cupcake cross section

To make the cupcakes multi-colored, I split the batter up into three bowls after I finished mixing it up. I dyed one bowl red, one bowl blue, and left the last bowl plain. I always use gel food coloring. You only need a bit on a toothpick to tint an entire bowl. I’ve found that using liquid food coloring doesn’t color things as vibrantly and requires a lot more. Once the batter was colored, I spooned a bit of each colored batter into the cupcake liners. Then I swirled the colors together with a toothpick — gently so I didn’t turn them purple — before baking. The end result definitely looked like “patriotic strawberry shortcake cupcakes.” I was pretty pleased with myself (and hopefully my brother and his girlfriend were as well).

Whenever I do anything with whipped cream frosting, I always stabilize it. Stabilized whipped cream frosting is whipped cream with gelatin mixed in. This makes it much more unlikely that your frosting collapses on you, and, if you want to pipe it, you can. (This doesn’t mean you can suddenly pipe flowers out of whipped cream, but it will hold a simple shape). Essentially, the only extra step is pouring liquid gelatin into your cream once it reaches the “soft peaks” stage. Once the gelatin is in, whip it up to stiff peaks. NOTE: if you overwhip whipped cream and it gets all curdled and grainy, you can revive it by adding in some more unwhipped cream.

How I frosted:

I used the Wilton open star #21 tip. This tip gives you the nice, sharp edges I was going for

open star tip

Then, pipe a ring around the perimeter of the cupcake.

frosting ring

Fill in the center.

frosting layer 1

After filling in, place strawberries.


Next, pipe a smaller ring on top of the strawberries.

2nd frosting ring

Fill in the center again.

fill in 2

Place blueberries on top.

blueberries on top

Finally, pipe a small peak on top of the blueberries.

strawberry shortcake cupcake top

A couple notes:

  1. If you’re vegan/vegetarian, taking the gelatin out of the recipe will not cause an issue. The only difference will be that piped frosting may not hold edges as well.
  2. On the flip side, if you plan on piping the whipped cream, gelatin will be a big help. It keeps the whipped cream from “deflating” after a while.
  3. I am a big proponent of gel food coloring. It may be a bit more expensive and a bit harder to find than normal liquid food coloring but it’s much more effective in my opinion. A small amount lasts a while too.
  4. If your whipped cream gets overwhipped (you’ll know), just add in some unwhipped cream.
  5. If you make these before an event, store them uncovered in the refrigerator. Because the fruit has so much moisture, you’ll get a lot of condensation inside the container if you close it.

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4.8 from 10 votes
patriotic strawberry shortcake cupcake
Patriotic Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Easy to make red, white, and blue strawberry shortcake cupcakes

Servings: 12 cupcakes
  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • red and blue food coloring
  • strawberries and blueberries for topping
Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting
  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 8 tsp cold water
Bake the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F

  2. Cream the butter

  3. Add in sugar and beat for ~2min until the mixture is light and fluffy. (I always think it looks like mashed potatoes)

  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time

  5. Add in vanilla extract, salt, and baking powder

  6. Add flour in 3 parts, alternating with milk.

    In other words: 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour

  7. Bake for 20-30min or until toothpick comes out clean

  8. Let cool completely before frosting (or your frosting will melt).

Make whipped cream frosting
  1. Bloom gelatin by sprinkling gelatin over water in a small bowl and letting it sit for 5min

  2. Combine cream and powderd sugar in a mixing bowl

  3. Whip to soft peaks

  4. Microwave gelatin for 10secs or until it has dissolved completely

  5. Slowly pour gelatin into cream while continuing to whip until it forms stiff peaks

  6. Refrigerate until ready to use

Assemble cupcakes
  1. Cut strawberries into triangular shapes

  2. Put a layer of whipped cream on top of cupcakes. I did this by piping a ring and then filling in the center.

  3. Place strawberries in a circle

  4. Put another, smaller, layer of whipped cream on top of the strawberries

  5. Place a few blueberries on top of this layer

  6. Top with a peak of whipped cream


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Chambord and Amaretto Crepe Cake

Chambord and Amaretto Crepe Cake

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! My friend hit me up this weekend to do some baking, and we wanted to make something light and summery. We decided to go with a crepe cake (aka mille crepe if you’re feeling fancy) because crepes […]

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cups

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cups

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! I had a friend in need of some cheering up and she’s a huge fan of chocolate. It was also 90° so I really wanted something cold and not heavy. Mousse seemed like the obvious solution. Since […]

Nutella Cake with Fresh Cherry Mousse

Nutella Cake with Fresh Cherry Mousse

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DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs!

Two of my co-workers are leaving this week (bye, Meghan and Sirichai), so I did my usual thing and brought a cake into the office. When I’m making cakes (or other desserts) specifically for people, I usually fire off 5-10 questions that pop into my head and try to combine some of the answers into what I decide to make. My questions this time around were:

  1. What’s your favorite color?
    M: purple fasho
    S: none
  2. What’s your favorite animal?
    M: sheep
    S: dog
  3. Chocolate or vanilla?
    M: chocolate
    S: chocolate
  4. What’s your favorite fruit?
    M: strawberry
    S: cherry
  5. What’s your favorite candy?
    M: sour patch watermelon
  6. Is frosting yummy or gross?
    M: frosting is gucci as long as it’s not everywhere and overwhelming

After some very serious deliberation, I decided on Nutella cake with Nutella frosting and cherry mousse that I would decorate with purple buttercream flowers. I got to working and ended up with my batter exploding over my stove and then setting paper towel on fire while cleaning it up. If you decide to make this cake, I suggest using a very large pot for the first step. However, batter spill aside, the cake turned out looking and tasting good.

For the buttercream flowers, I made roses, rose buds, and 5-petal violets using a Wilton 104 petal tip. I filled in the negative space with the leaves. As an extra tip, I’ve always found that popping buttercream flowers in the freezer for a couple minutes before transferring to the cake makes handling a lot easier to avoid damaging your flowers. I use Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) to side almost all my cakes because it’s wonderfully smooth and I hate the taste of American buttercream (ABC), but if you plan on piping flowers, make some ABC. It’s a lot stiffer and SMBC has a tendency to wilt if you try to pipe it into shapes. I get most of my flower-making tipes from this book, which you can read for free if you have an Amazon Prime subscription.  

A couple notes:

  1. For real, use a large pot. The baking soda causes the batter to expand significantly when it starts to boil.
  2. Let the cakes cool! Mousse turns to liquid when it’s warm. So does buttercream. You don’t want your would-be beautiful cake to melt while assembling.
  3. For a nice squared cake, level off the round tops. It’s easiest to do this with a cake leveler or a long (mine is a 12″) serrated knife.
  4. I find the easiest and fastest way to cover a cake in buttercream is to pipe are the side using an extra large piping tip such as this one, and then covering the top with the leftover frosting. Use a smoother and offset spatula to smooth.
  5. If you’re having trouble making the top perfectly smooth, use the cheat I used, and using an offset spatula, spin your cake table and make a spiral pattern on the top.

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4.5 from 6 votes
Nutella Cake Covered with Nutella Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Filled with Fresh Cherry Mousse

A dense, chocolate-y cake covered in light fluffy nutella buttercream and filled with sweet cherry mousse.

Servings: 12
Nutella Cake
  • 2.5 cups light brown sugar
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate chips or chopped
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flower
  • 1 pinch salt
Nutella Swiss Meringe Buttercream
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 11.5 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick + 3.5tbsp)
  • 120 g Nutella
Fresh Cherry Mousse
  • 13 oz pitted cherries
  • 5.5 tbsp granulated sugar (separated)
  • 1.5 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Bake the Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare 2 9-inch cake pans

  2. In a very large pot or saucepan, combine light brown sugar, semisweet chocolate, butter, cocoa powder, nutella, espresso powder, baking powder, and water

  3. Place pot on stove and stir on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. (If the sugar doesn't dissolve first you could end up with a nice layer of hard caramel on the bottom and cake without sugar)

  4. Increase the heat to high and stir continuously, bringing the batter to a boil

  5. Remove from heat immediately after it comes to a boil and set aside to cool for 20min

  6. Beat eggs in, one at a time

  7. Stir in flour and salt, be careful not to overmix

  8. Pour batter evenly between the 2 cake pans and bake for ~40min or until a toothpick comes out clean

  9. Cool the cakes. I go so far as to stick them in a refrigerator or freezer to make leveling and stacking easier

Make the Mousse
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F

  2. Combine the cherries and 3 tbsp of granulated sugar and throw them into some kind of baking pan. (I used an 8in brownie pan but anything works really)

  3. Put the pan in the oven for 15min, stirring every 5min

  4. Puree the cherries and transfer to a bowl. For a super smooth mousse, strain the puree as you transfer to a bowl, but for the purposes of putting it in a cake, I wasn't too concerned with some bits of cherry so I didn't bother dirtying another thing to clean and waiting for the puree to strain

  5. Prepare an ice bath (or if you're like me and making a bunch of ice is difficult, make some room in your freezer)

  6. Bloom the gelatin by sprinkling it over 1.5tbsp of cold water and waiting 5min

  7. Combine 2/3 cup of your cherry puree (which should be almost all of it, you can discard the extra), with the remaining 2.5tbsp of granulated sugar in a small pot or saucepan

  8. Place on heat and stir continuously until the mixture comes to a boil and continue for another 30secs

  9. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1min

  10. Whisk in gelatin until smooth

  11. Again, if you want a super smooth mousse, you should strain it again at this point. I chose not to.

  12. Place the cherry mixture in your ice bath (or the freezer) and stir until the mixture has cooled and thickened

  13. Allow the cherry mixture to continue to cool and beat the heavy whipping cream until it forms stiff peaks using a stand mixer

  14. Fold the whipped cream into the cherry mixture in 3 parts very gently so it the cream doesn't collapse.

  15. Place the mousse in the refrigerator to cool and harden a bit more

Make the SMBC
  1. Combine 2 egg whites and sugar in a large mixing bowl

  2. Create a double-boiler by placing the bowl in a smaller pot filled partially with water. Heat on high while beating continuously

  3. Using a candy thermometer, continue to heat and beat until the mixture reaches 150-160°F

  4. Remove from heat and continue to beat until the whites form stiff peaks. (If you've already reached this point, set the meringue aside to cool)

  5. Beat in butter

  6. Continue to beat until light and fluffy (it should look and feel like frosting)

  7. Add in Nutella and mix until combined

Assemble the Cake
  1. Level your cake layers

  2. Spread mousse liberally on first layer and stack second layer on top

  3. Cover the cake with your buttercream

  4. Decorate with buttercream flowers or however you please


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Amaretto Cheesecake Cups

Amaretto Cheesecake Cups

DISCLAIMER: This recipe is for humans not dogs! For Father’s Day, I wanted to make some mini cheesecakes since cheesecake is one of my dad’s favorites. He’s more of a praline person but I had some extra almond extract and wanted to use amaretto. Instead […]