Apple Cake with Honey Cider Glaze

Apple Cake with Honey Cider Glaze

I grew up in New England and the apples from my childhood were MacIntosh. They are deliciously tart and have a soft flesh that practically turns to applesauce on a hot day. It wasn’t until I moved to Minneapolis that my apple horizons were broadened and now I am spoiled by the riches of so many local varieties of apples.

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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.

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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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Strawberry Passion Fruit Sheet Cake

Strawberry Passion Fruit Sheet Cake Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François
Strawberry Passion Fruit Sheet Cake! A sheet cake may be the simplest of cakes, but done right, it can be perfectly elegant. A special occasion doesn’t always require a piping bag (although that’s really fun too)! This classic, white cake is made Mother’s Day worthy with a big messy pile of perfect strawberries resting on passion fruit buttercream. It is super easy to put together but looks like sunshine and happiness, so no one will care that you didn’t have to work that hard. It will make the perfect dessert to bring to a party or just make you happy as you stand at the counter with a fork (which I can attest to because that’s exactly what happened right after these photos were taken). I baked the white cake from Zoë Bakes Cakes in a 9×13″ pan (instead of the layers I make in the book), covered it with my Swiss Meringue Buttercream that I mixed with fresh passion fruit (you can go with any flavor you love), and then tossed the fresh strawberries with lime zest, a touch of sugar and mint. Sometimes slathering together delicious, but simple flavors are all it takes to create something gorgeous. 
 
Recipes found in Zoë Bakes Cakes, which is a wonderful Mother’s Day Gift IMHO, along with some flowers and maybe a blowtorch! 
 
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Thanksgiving Desserts

If you’re like me, by the time November hits you’re already thinking ahead to Thanksgiving desserts. The holiday meal, of course, has plenty to offer, but what stands out more to your guests than the grand finale? Whether you are looking for simple or classic fall flavors, or want to try something a little different this year, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite Thanksgiving Desserts. Of course, if you want to keep it simple, you can always make a classic apple pie. Or better yet, if your guest list is big enough make the apple pie and one or two of these recipes.

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