Hot Chocolate Layer Cake

Hot Chocolate Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

This hot chocolate cake from Zoë Bakes Cakes is unbelievably delicious! Combining layers of moist Devil’s Food cake and creamy, luscious chocolate frosting, the entire cake is topped with homemade toasted marshmallows. This recipe is the perfect dessert for any occasion!

With hot chocolate as its inspiration, it has layers of Devil’s food, slathered with a deep, dark, luscious chocolate icing, that is like whipped ganache, but better, then I topped the whole thing in homemade marshmallows. I am not a big fan of bagged marshmallows, which taste like sweet, dried out sponges, but the homemade version are amongst my favorite treats. When they are toasted, with a torch, of course, they are soft, melty and delicious. You can flavor them with anything from vanilla to cardamom, or even swirl in chocolate.

I made this cake twice, once with my tried and true Devil’s food and then again for my friend, Stephanie Meyer’s birthday. Stephanie (Fresh Tart) doesn’t eat gluten, so I made the cake with a gluten-free flour blend and it came out just great. This cake was inspired by a cake I saw years ago in Fine Cooking Magazine. Read More

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

This chocolate peanut butter pie recipe is oh-so delicious. With a graham cracker crust, a smooth peanut butter filling made with cream cheese, a layer of chocolate ganache, and a whipped cream and candied peanut topping, this dessert is deluxe and irresistible. Be sure to chill your chocolate peanut butter pie for two hours or overnight before serving.

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Cold Desserts For Hot Days

Glasses of Vegan Mango Pudding

When the dog days of summer hit I find myself looking forward to cooler weather, fall flavors, and days of baking in the oven without worrying about heating up the house. It’s not that I don’t like summer, but the Minnesota seasons are so rich and distinct that partway through one I look forward to the next. To help live in the moment, I put together this list of some of my favorite summer treats. There’s still plenty of (hot) summer left and these cold desserts are tasty and fun treats to make without worrying about heating up your house (or yourself).

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Fourth of July Desserts

Don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t put together a beautiful dessert table when the weather is hot. Summer days call for cool treats, but also anything with fresh berries. Here are some of my favorite red, white and/or blue 4th of July desserts.

4th of July Baked Alaska, one of Zoë François's favorite 4th of July desserts.

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Father’s Day Desserts

Apricot Peach Pie

Father’s Day is a holiday that doesn’t seem to be tied to any specific food. A nice BBQ, perhaps? But the lack of a traditional meal is kind of nice because it means you can make exactly what your dad loves. To help, I’ve put together this guide of Father’s Day desserts for every kind of dad or father figure. From brunch to ice cream to cakes, I have a recipe that fits every kind of sweet tooth.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cakettes

A Chocolate Peanut Butter Mini Cake on a white plate with a gold fork

Sometimes a baking fail is just the inspiration I need to try something new. I originally baked my Devil’s Food Cake from Zoë Bakes Cakes in cupcake liners that promised to be sturdy enough not to need a muffin pan to support them. Well, I put them to the test and it was a complete fail! The liquid batter poured out of the sunken liners after about 5 minutes and I knew I was going to have a mess on my hands. One of the best lessons I learned in culinary school was not to panic. If things aren’t going as planned, pivot. That’s exactly what I did and ended up with these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cakettes (larger than a cupcake, but still an individual-sized mini cake). Since I had to rescue the cake from the liners and the pan (see my Instagram story for the visual), I ended up with lots of scraps of cake. Instead of just snacking on the scraps (which is how I typically roll), I used them in the Chocolate American Buttercream (also from my book, Zoë Bakes Cakes), which gave the center of these little cakes even more flavor. I added peanut butter and chopped peanuts to add a crunch and flavor that I knew would be a big hit (these were destined for my neighbor’s house and it is her favorite combo). No one looking at this post would assume it started out as a kitchen disaster. Stay flexible and give yourself permission to experiment and you will come up with something fabulous and delicious, even if it starts out a bit wonky. In my book I have a chapter called the “Cake Academy” for people looking for some of the hows and whys of cake baking. It is a fun bit of food science and technique that can give all bakers a little more confidence to play with their cakes. 

“François is really just a hippie at heart who wants to spread the love through cake.” Jenny Rosenstrach from her review of  Zoë Bakes Cakes in the New York Times! I will not lie, it is a total jump-up-and-dance thrill to read her generous words about the book. She captured all that I felt about writing this book in her review and I am so grateful.

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