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

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan Too)

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies | ZoeBakes photo by Zoe Francois

It’s the perfect time for comfort food and these Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies from Stephanie Meyer’s The 30-Minute Paleo Cookbook are the ultimate snack to satisfy. They are super decadent and rich with flavor because they are made with almond butter. The cookies, like everything Stephanie creates, is gluten-free, in fact, these have NO flour at all and can also be made vegan. Stephanie is a friend, a sista blogger and the master at batch cooking healthy meals. She is one of the most spectacular home cooks I know, and her recipes are always absolutely delicious. The recipes in the book just happen to be Paleo, so if you have dietary restrictions all of her recipes will work in your daily meal planning. 

Stephanie’s over-arching goal is to help people transform their health by cooking real food at home. Amen! The 30-Minute Paleo Cookbook is a great introduction to experimenting with fresh-food cooking and seeing how doable and delicious it is. Her Project Vibrancy Meals meal plans are a mapped-out system for making that happen most days of the week. The plans include menus, shopping lists, simple recipes, clean-up and storage instructions, and a community of supportive and knowledgeable people. I am a baker and not a cook, so her meal plans help me get actual food on the table, so my family has more than cake, pie, cookies, and bread! 😉

Find out more about her Project Vibrancy Meals This is the perfect time to be cooking great food for your family.

Here’s a link to give her Project Vibrancy Meals meal plan for FREE

One of the things my family likes most about her meal plans are the sauces she makes, so I’m so excited she created a book of just her Kickass Condiments: 20+ Little Recipes That Change Everything.

Stephanie kindly shared the recipe for her Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies (you can also make them vegan) recipe below and I have a video of making the cookies on my @zoebakes Instagram account. 

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies | ZoeBakes photo by Zoe Francois Read More

Guinness Chocolate Cake with White Knight Frosting

         

This Guinness Chocolate Stout Cake with White Knight Buttercream based on recipes from Zoë Bakes Cakes, was inspired by my trips to Ireland. I have had especially good fortune, which brought me to Ireland twice. In January of 2020, I spent a week seeing Ireland with my friends at Bake from Scratch magazine, Tourism Ireland and Williams Sonoma, just months before I was there with KerryGold to eat as much butter as I could and it turns out that’s a lot! 

With each trip I have fallen deeper in love with this country.

Ireland is beyond beautiful with the rolling hills of green grass and clover that fall off into the ocean and that’s just a description of the pastures where the dairy cows graze. They produce the sweetest, richest milk in the world, which makes Kerrygold’s Irish butter taste silky and creamy and glow a healthy, golden yellow. I used it make the White Knight Frosting in this amazing, Guinness infused Chocolate Cake. The recipe is below and you can see more photos of my trip in the Highlights on Instagram. 

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French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François

When I moved to Minneapolis from Vermont, I hadn’t expected to experience culture shock. I was raised mostly in New England with stints in Northern California. Somehow, those places, as far from each other as they can get on a map, are more alike than the vast land in the middle. I understood the food of the coasts, including the pie, dominated by apple and pumpkin or even lemon meringue. But, the Midwest has a pie culture all its own. I first learned of French Silk Pie in the 1990s from a local Minneapolis newspaper’s people choice award. Every year Bakers’ Square would win “best dessert” in Minneapolis with their French Silk Pie. I was painfully aware of this because I was baking my heart out at a local restaurant and despite all my efforts, I could never touch this pie’s popularity. I did finally taste one, and IMHO, it was sweet and lacking in any real chocolate flavor, but the texture was certainly worthy of the name. Out of spite (I was young and sillier then), I never served a French Silk Pie in any restaurant I worked at and honestly, this is the VERY first one I have ever baked. It comes from the beautiful new baking book, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland, by Shauna Sever. Not only did Shauna change my heart about this pie, but has taught me so much about the culture of baking in my own backyard. This pie is everything people loved about the one from Bakers’ Square, but is all about the deep chocolate flavor. Be sure to use a high quality, bitter chocolate (70-75% cacao) or the pie can get very sweet, FAST! In her book the pie is topped with a homemade Cool Whip, which is 100% in keeping with the traditional pie. I left the cream unstabilized and unsweetened, because I like the contrast of the sweet filling to the clean, rich cream on top, you choose which way to go, I offer both ways below. This recipe uses raw eggs, which doesn’t bother Shauna or me in the least, but if you are at all worried about eating raw egg, then buy pasteurized ones. 

You can watch me make Shauna’s pie in my instagram video and she graciously shared the recipe, which is below.

Do you have pie questions or need to troubleshoot your recipe? Check out my guide on how to make pie crust.

French Silk Pie | ZoeBakes Photo by Zoë François Read More

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

The only thing better than a single peanut butter cookie, are two with chocolate and peanut butter mousse between them in the perfect Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies! My friend and business strategist extraordinaire, Stephani, is pregnant and manages to work peanut butter sandwich cookies into every conversation we have. There’s no stopping the cravings of a pregnant woman and I think they may be contagious. These cookies are from the pages of the newest baking book from Bake From Scratch, The Cookie Collection. The book is a compilation of many recipes from their magazine and special issue editions and even includes some recipes from yours truly. I had Stephani in mind when I chose to make these, instead of my Piñon Mexican Wedding Cookies or Caramelized White Chocolate Sables with Sea Salt, which are both terrific, but I’ve made them many times and well, cravings! In the recipe from The Cookie Collection, they made the sandwiches with jelly, which seems like the perfect lunch box treat, but I went with a ganache instead, both ways will satisfy.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François  

You can watch me make these Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies in my Instagram video and recipe below. Read More

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers. It’s been several years, closer to two decades, since I worked in a professional kitchen as a pastry chef. After all those years, I still miss it. Every time I eat at a great restaurant, I wish I was in the kitchen to watch them create the magic. It is magical, but it’s also a crazy amount of work and a super-charged and stressful environment. I left that world shortly after my first son was born (yesterday was his 20th birthday), because it is a hard life on a young family. The hours are long and all the wrong times; nights, weekends and holidays are in high demand. To stay connected to the restaurant world, I’ve consulted on dessert menus. Creating the pastry program gives me all the joy of being a part of the action, without having to be on the line to create the food during the rush of service. The best of both worlds for me. I also stay connected by fawning over restaurant accounts on instagram. One chef I met on instagram, through a web of industry friends, is Neal Fraser. He has an acclaimed restaurant in LA called Redbird.

I just happened to be in NYC when Chef Fraser was going to be cooking, along with fellow LA chefs from The Strand House, at the James Beard House. He invited me to join them for the event (or perhaps I offered (begged him) to let me help and he graciously agreed.) Either way, I found myself in the most iconic kitchen in NYC, cooking with some of the most talented chefs of LA. I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, this would be on it. Chef Fraser was in charge of dessert and together we made a chocolate fudge cake with strawberry sauce, chocolate cremeaux, candied violets, sugared pansies and a quenelle of ice cream. You can see pictures of the dinner, the dessert and meet the chefs in my instagram video and watch the James Beard Live Stream of the kitchen as we prepared the meal.

I created this abbreviated version of Chef Fraser’s dessert to share with you. He graciously shared his warm, super fudgy, chocolate cake recipe and I added a fresh strawberry salsa and lavender ice cream to it, all of which you can watch me make Chocolate Fudge Cake with Strawberry Salsa and Candied Flowers in my instagram video. Read More