Sweet Home Desserts (Recipes)

A collection of dessert recipes courtesy of Sweet Home by Phoenicia food writer Rebecca Miller Ffrench How to make: Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes, Mom’s Banana Cake, Black Bottom Ice Cream Pie, Pistachio Lover’s Pound Cake, Wacky Cakes-in-a-Cone, Sugared Mango and Anna Banana Muffins, and Nilla Wafer Pudding



The following are recipes from Sweet Home (Kyle Books, $24.95) by Phoenicia food writer Rebecca Miller Ffrench.

Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes

Serves 24

Tantalizing with thick frosting and a thin slice of strawberry, these cupcakes are especially hard to resist. The sweet pink color invites you to take a bite, and then the surprise: There’s a smidge of strawberry frosting inside the cupcake, too. Children and adults alike appreciate the fresh berry flavor (no red food coloring used) paired with the delicate, tender cake. Look for colorful red or pink cupcake liners when baking these adorable cakes.

Cupcakes:
• About ¾ cup hulled strawberries
• 2½ cups cake flour
• 3½ tsp baking powder
• 8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1¼ cups sugar
• 2 large egg whites
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup whole milk

Strawberry frosting:
• About ¾ cup hulled strawberries
• 24 strawberry slices for garnish
• 12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 4½ cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

To make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender. You should get about ½ cup puree; if not, puree a few more strawberries to yield ½ cup. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high for four minutes. Add the egg whites and beat for one minute on medium, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the strawberry puree and vanilla extract and mix on medium for 30 more seconds.
  5. In five portions, alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the mixer bowl, beginning and ending with the flour and mixing well after each addition, about 20 to 30 seconds. Fill the liners halfway with batter and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for five minutes, then gently release the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make strawberry frosting:

  1. Puree the strawberries to yield ½ cup.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for four minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the strawberries and mix. (The mixture may seem curdled, but will come together with the addition of the sugar.)
  3. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into the bowl one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. Using a teaspoon, gently scoop out a spoonful of cake from the center of each cupcake. Fill the cavity with frosting using a pastry bag or plastic bag with the corner snipped off. Replace the scooped-out cake piece. Frost the top of each cupcake and top with a strawberry slice.

» Back to all recipes

» Page 2: Mom’s Banana Cake recipe
» Page 3: Black Bottom Ice Cream Pie recipe
» Page 4: Pistachio Lover’s Pound Cake recipe
» Page 5: Wacky Cakes-in-a-Cone recipe
» Page 6: Sugared Mango and Anna Banana Muffins recipe
» Page 7: Nilla Wafer Pudding recipe

 

 
banana cake

Mom’s Banana Cake

Serves 12

I fondly remember my mother having some type of foil-covered treat — brownies, cake, bars — in the kitchen at all times. Dreamy, creamy banana cake was often in the pan, the perfect after-school snack. This recipe takes a slight twist on traditional banana cake. The addition of oats gives the cake an almost nutty texture, making it denser than what a classic recipe may yield.

Use overripe bananas to ensure a fresh, banana flavor — even mushy bananas work. Hard bananas will not give flavor or contribute to the moist crumb. Serve this cake straight from the pan with a cup of tea — or better yet, a big glass of milk. You’ll feel like you’re sitting right at Mom’s counter.

Banana cake:
• 8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• 2 large eggs, at room temperature
• ¾ tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 1/3 cup buttermilk or sour milk* (to make sour milk, add ½ teaspoon lemon juice to 1/3 cup whole milk and let stand for 5 minutes)
• 1½ cups all-purpose flour
• ¾ cup rolled oats
• 1 cup mashed bananas (2 to 3 very ripe)

Cream cheese frosting:
• 8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• One 8-oz package cream cheese, at room temperature
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• Dash of salt

To make banana cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan using baking spray.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars in the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 4 minutes on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, blending each time until incorporated
  4. In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the sour milk. Alternatively, add the milk mixture and flour to the creamed butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour (add the flour in ½-cup increments), mixing to fully incorporate the ingredients each time.
  5. Blend in the oats and mashed bananas. With the mixer on low, beat for 30 seconds.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely in the pan.

To make cream cheese frosting:

  1. In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese for 2 minutes on high, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into the bowl and beat for another 2 minutes, or until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and salt and beat on high for another 30 seconds.
  2. Using an offset spatula, frost the top of the cooled banana cake.

» Back to all recipes

» Page 1: Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes recipe
» Page 3: Black Bottom Ice Cream Pie recipe
» Page 4: Pistachio Lover’s Pound Cake recipe
» Page 5: Wacky Cakes-in-a-Cone recipe
» Page 6: Sugared Mango and Anna Banana Muffins recipe
» Page 7: Nilla Wafer Pudding recipe

 

 
black bottom ice cream pie

Black Bottom Ice Cream Pie

Serves 8

A dark, heavy chocolate cake has little appeal on a hot, humid August day. Perhaps that's why my sister, Lisa, who favors chocolate over most things, opts for ice cream pie instead of cake for her summer birthday celebration. Unlike a bowl of ice cream, which can't hold many candles, the expanse of this pie gives ample opportunity for ceremonious lighting. True to its name, Black-Bottom Pie has a tasty, dark-colored chocolate crust. A satisfyingly thick, fudgy sauce covers the crust before the ice cream is generously added. Mint chocolate chip is Lisa's preferred flavor, but almost any ice cream will work with this recipe: coffee, strawberry, dulce de leche, or even plain vanilla. Summer birthdays scream for ice cream, but so does any sticky, sweltering day.

Crust:
• 1¼ cups finely crushed chocolate cookie crumbs (about 25 cookies, such as Famous Chocolate Wafers)
• 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
• 2 tbsp sugar

Filling:
• 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
• 6 tbsp water
• ½ cup sugar
• 3 tbsp unsalted butter
• ¼ tsp salt
• ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 qt mint chocolate-chip ice cream (or your favorite flavor)
• ¼ cup chocolate cookie crumbs (about 5 wafer cookies)

To make crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Put the cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie plate, being sure to cover the sides of the plate too. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

To make filling:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the chocolate, water, sugar, butter, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted. Continue to cook for another 1 minute, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. Do not allow it to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
  2. Pour the sauce over the cooled pie crust and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.
  3. Once the sauce has firmed in the crust, soften the ice cream slightly so it will be easy to scoop and spread evenly into the pie crust. Fill the crust with the softened ice cream. Sprinkle the top with the cookie crumbs and freeze the pie for at least 2 hours, or until firm.

» Back to all recipes

» Page 1: Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes recipe
» Page 2: Mom’s Banana Cake recipe

» Page 4: Pistachio Lover’s Pound Cake recipe

» Page 5: Wacky Cakes-in-a-Cone recipe
» Page 6: Sugared Mango and Anna Banana Muffins recipe
» Page 7: Nilla Wafer Pudding recipe

 

 
pistacio lover's pound cake

Pistachio Lover’s Pound Cake

Serves 12

Unfailingly for the past 15 years, a tremendously big bag of Bazzini pistachios, sent by one of my husband's clients, has arrived at our door every holiday season. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining - I love pistachios. Making your way through five pounds can prove dangerous, though. By early February, I find myself dispensing pistachios to friends, neighbors, and basically anyone who stops by. In order to spread the love and use up the pistachios, I created this Pistachio Pound Cake. Dense and savory with a nutty flavor, it satisfies a pistachio lover's craving, and it's a great way for me to use up my plethora o' pistachios.

Pound cake:
• 8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter
• 1 cup sugar
• ¼ cup honey
• 3 large eggs
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup whole milk
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• ½ tsp pure almond extract
• 2/3 cup ground pistachios

Pistachio glaze:
• ½cup confectioner's sugar
• 1 tbsp unsalted butter
• 2 tbsp honey
• 1 tbsp heavy cream
• ¼ cup crushed pistachios

To make pound cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the two long sides of the pan. Grease the pan and parchment using baking spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and honey on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Alternately, add the flour and the milk in five parts, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat on medium-high for about 20 seconds between additions, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and the pistachios. Beat on low until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until cracked on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. After 1 hour of baking (or sooner if needed), cover the cake with aluminum foil to prevent the top from becoming too brown.
  6. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack set over wax paper.

To make pistachio glaze:

  1. Combine the confectioner's sugar, butter, honey, and cream in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue to cook for 1 more minute while continuing to stir. Remove the glaze from the heat.
  2. Slowly spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to soak in between spoonfuls. Some will run down the sides. Sprinkle the crushed pistachios over the top of the cake and let sit for 1 hour before serving.

» Back to all recipes

» Page 1: Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes recipe
» Page 2: Mom’s Banana Cake recipe

» Page 3: Black Bottom Ice Cream Pie recipe
» Page 5: Wacky Cakes-in-a-Cone recipe
» Page 6: Sugared Mango and Anna Banana Muffins recipe
» Page 7: Nilla Wafer Pudding recipe

 

 
wacky cakes in a cone

Wacky Cakes-in-a-Cone

Makes 36 cake cones

One of my proudest first-grade moments, alongside playing Mrs. Rabbitt in the school play, was when my mother made cake cones for the class. I beamed as she walked through the door carrying a tray of ice cream cones, topped with thickly swirled chocolate frosting and alit with candles. There was no convincing me otherwise, I truly through those cones were the coolest birthday treat ever! The Wacky Cake that fills these cones evolved from a tradition that hearkens back to the Depression era, if not earlier; when supplies were short - this cake is eggless and dairy free - and innovation necessary. The wacky reaction of the baking soda and vinegar causes the cake to rise. Part of the wackiness, too, was that the batter was mixed in the pan. Although the batter for these treats is whipped up in one bowl instead, baking it in cones makes it wackier still. With little effort, you too can make a child's heart sing.

Wacky cakes:
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 cups sugar
• ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 cups water
• ¾ cup canola or vegetable oil
• 2 tbsp white vinegar
• 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
• 36 flat-bottomed ice cream cones

Vanilla frosting:
• 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3 ¾ cups confectioner's sugar
• ¼cup heavy cream, or more as needed
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• Multicolored sprinkles

To make wacky cakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place 1 cone in each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan (it helps them remain upright when you put them in the oven).
  2. Stir the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract and stir until thoroughly combined, at least 150 strokes.
  3. Using a ¼ cup measure, fill each cone about three-quarters full. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted all the way into a cone comes out clean. Unless you have 2 standard 12-cup muffin pans, you'll need to repeat this twice with the remaining batter. Let cool completely.

To make vanilla frosting:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Slowly add half of the confectioner's sugar until fully incorporated. Add the cream and continue to beat until smooth and creamy. Continue to add the remaining sugar and beat until your desired consistency is reached, adding more sugar or cream as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  2. Frost the wacky cake cones and decorate with sprinkles.

Note: An empty egg carton makes a great container for holding and transporting the cones.

» Back to all recipes

» Page 1: Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes recipe
» Page 2: Mom’s Banana Cake recipe

» Page 3: Black Bottom Ice Cream Pie recipe
» Page 4: Pistachio Lover’s Pound Cake recipe
» Page 6: Sugared Mango and Anna Banana Muffins recipe
» Page 7: Nilla Wafer Pudding recipe

 

 
sugared mango muffins

Sugared Mango and Anna Banana Muffins

Sugared Mango Muffins

Makes 16 to 18 muffins

Saturday mornings spent at home call for big breakfasts. Still in our pajamas, we take time to prepare dishes that weekday schedules prohibit: Belgian waffles, baked eggs, and muffins. My family loves muffins, and our favorites are the ones laden with sweet, ripe fruit - blueberries, raspberries, peaches. While I prefer this recipe with mango, you can substitute any of the aforementioned fruits. Although usually available year round, mangoes are at their best in spring and summer, which is when I bake these moist muffins that aren't too dense and deliver the essence of mango. These muffins are best eaten the day they are baked.

Sugared mango muffins:
• 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 tsp  baking powder
• ¼ tsp baking soda
• 6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 2 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• ½ cup sour cream
• 2 to 3 mangoes, cut into ¾-inch dice (about 1½ cups)
• 2 tbsp sparkling white sugar or coarse sugar crystals

 

To make muffins:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place paper liners in 18 standard muffin cups.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Put the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium for 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, blending each time until fully incorporated, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. With the mixer on low, slowly add half of the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, stop and scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is moistened.
  5. Add the sour cream and beat until just combined. With the mixer on low, add the rest of the dry ingredients until moistened, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with the spatula. Do not overbeat. Stir in the mangoes using the spatula or a wooden spoon.
  6. Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, fill the prepared muffin cups three-quarters full. Sprinkle each muffin with ¼ teaspoon sparkling sugar.
  7. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in the pan.

Anna Banana Muffins

Makes 24 mini muffins

Formerly Hannah Banana Bread, this recipe, given to me by a former colleague, was renamed Anna Banana Muffins for our daughter, who gobbles up these sweet, healthy treats on Saturday mornings. (You can still use this recipe to make bread, but mini muffins are more manageable for little fingers.) I make them almost weekly. It's a great way to use overripe bananas - the mushier the better. I like to keep some muffins in the freezer for unexpected guests. Packed with fiber, these no-fail muffins are sure to become a family favorite. Muffins may be frozen in a Ziploc bag and defrosted individually for approximately 30 seconds in a microwave.

Anna Banana Muffins:
• ½cup safflower oil
• 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 3 medium-size ripe bananas, cut into small pieces, plus 1 banana sliced into 24 thin slices (optional)
• 1½ cups whole wheat flour
• ½cup wheat germ
• 2 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon

To make muffins:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan using baking spray.
  2. Cream the oil and brown sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth and moist.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the bananas and mix until the batter is smooth and most of the banana is pureed. Stir in the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and beat on low until moistened. Do not overbeat.
  5. Using a tablespoon or ice cream scoop, fill the prepared muffin cups. If desired, place 1 slice banana on top of the batter in each muffin cup. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Let the muffins cool in the pan.

» Back to all recipes

» Page 1: Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes recipe
» Page 2: Mom’s Banana Cake recipe

» Page 3: Black Bottom Ice Cream Pie recipe
» Page 4: Pistachio Lover’s Pound Cake recipe
» Page 5: Wacky Cakes-in-a-Cone recipe
» Page 7: Nilla Wafer Pudding recipe

 

 
nilla wafer pudding

Nilla Wafer Pudding

Serves 10 to 12

Pudding was an easy after-school snack when I was growing up. It was one of the first things I learned to cook, along with instant Cream of Wheat and cinnamon toast. One of my favorite recipe creations was vanilla pudding, bananas, and crushed Nilla Wafers. I would scoop it into a glass and stir in my toppings. (Later I learned that bananas and Nilla Wafers work well with ice cream in a blender too.) A little more time intensive than the Jell-O cook-and-serve packs of my childhood, this recipe for Nilla Wafer Pudding satisfies my sentimental side, while improving on history with a homemade pudding that's light, luscious, and pure. The yield is large enough to serve a crowd of kids or dish out at a backyard barbecue. For a more elegant presentation, assemble in a trifle bowl.

Nilla Wafer pudding:
• 3 large egg yolks
• ¾cup granulated sugar
• 3 tbsp corn starch
• ½tsp salt
• 3 cups whole milk
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
• ¼ cup confectioner's sugar
• 4 ripe bananas
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• 50 vanilla wafers, crushed, plus a few whole for decoration

 

To make pudding:

  1. Put the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl and whisk slightly. Set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Carefully add the milk to the pan, whisking constantly for 8 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken. Do not let the pudding come to a complete full boil, just a gentle one.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and pour half the thickened milk into the egg yolks and whisk well.
  4. Return the pan to the heat. Gently add the yolk mixture to the pan. While stirring constantly, bring the mixture back to a gentle boil, and continue to stir for 1 more minute.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and ½ teaspoon of the vanilla extract. Set aside.
  6. Whip the cream until light and fluffy. Do not overbeat. Stir in the confectioner's sugar and remianing ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.
  7. Cut the bananas into ½-inch slices and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Carefully toss to coat all the bananas.
  8. In the bottom of a 2-quart bowl, spoon in 2 cups of the vanilla pudding. Sprinkle with ½ cup crushed wafers. Arrange 1 cup of the sliced bananas decoratively over the wafers. Spoon in the rest of the pudding and coat with 1 cup crushed wafers. Arrange the remaining bananas (reserve a few slices for decoration) on top of the wafers. Cover the entire surface with the whipped cream. Decorate with the reserved banana slices and whole wafers. Serve immediately or put in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

» Back to all recipes

» Page 1: Strawberry Surprise Cupcakes recipe
» Page 2: Mom’s Banana Cake recipe

» Page 3: Black Bottom Ice Cream Pie recipe
» Page 4: Pistachio Lover’s Pound Cake recipe
» Page 5: Wacky Cakes-in-a-Cone recipe
» Page 6: Sugared Mango and Anna Banana Muffins recipe

 

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