#48, Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies, p. 80

Remember the old peanut butter versus chocolate argument? You don’t have to decide — you can have an abundance of both in this unbelievable brownie! (p. 80)


What do you do when teenagers can’t think of anything to do but stare into the screen of a laptop? Invite them to bake something they’ll love eating! In this case… a multi-step brownie recipe.


I sort of wonder why the Magnolia bakers call this a brownie. It seems more like a “bar”of some sort. A very good some-sort.IMG_1118

Multi-step? Cookie? Brownie? What would Shrek say?


Well….. What layers?

1) Crust (therefore the cookie/bar ref) – melted butter, flour, confectioner’s sugar, chopped peanuts.

  • camoji 2
    Next tool? A small rolling pin? Any other ideas? Still, kinduh fun to apply the baker’s personal, hands-on touch.

2) Filling – cream cheese and peanut butter (mainly) —– Total YUM !!!

3) Brownie – flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, chocolate, AND peanut butter chips !!

( You can see the peanut factor is multiplying.)

Remember the "teenager" remark earlier? This gif shows what was substituted for the computer screen.
Remember the “teenager” remark earlier? This gif shows what was substituted for the computer screen.

Garnish – MORE peanut butter chips — I failed to add these – for reasons to be explained.



Lava swirl perfection.


Why no final sprinkling of peanut butter chips?


Willie says it better than I do.

#47 Aunt Daisy’s Fresh Fruit Torte, p. 191

Here’s a quick and easy confection that lends itself to any fruit combination you might desire. We decided to use pears and cranberries for a delicious autumn torte. (p. 191)


We at Patisserie Chezbonneau decided to use Golden apples instead of pears, and then added 1/2 cup blueberries with the cranberries (because I needed to use them up).

So, starting with this,


and this,


and this.Unknown

It all progressed to this,


then this,


then finally, this.


Or rather like

Aunt Daisy’s Fresh Fruit Torte sharing space with a square of Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie (recipe #48).

Aunt Daisy’s Fresh Fruit Torte is perfect for a snack with tea or coffee. It could play a wonderful role at a proper Tea. I prepared this one as part of a Thanksgiving meal with friends. Most of it was eaten, but the competition with Pumpkin and Pecan Pie was tough.

DETOUR: The author’s note at the top of page 191 mentions that any fruit combination could work fine with this torte. I had handy three well-known fall fruits that are often found together – apples, cranberries, and blueberries. I took the liberty of mixing a portion of the fruit into the batter (as with the Blueberry Coffee Cake) and added a clump of blueberries in the center on top. I probably should not have put the clump of blueberries on top as it created a too-moist spot that required more bake time. I would repeat that part. SUCCESS? Yes, I believe so.

#46 Chocolate Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies, p. 49

An old-fashioned chewy chocolate cookie with little extra bursts of chocolate from the miniature chips. (p.49)


There are lots of cookies in the Magnolia cookbook still to go, but as I make my seventh cookie recipe, I gain a new appreciation for the difficulty of getting it just right. I want to make a great cookie, not just an ok cookie or even a good cookie, but a great one. And I want to do it consistently. I have not done either of those things yet.

My latest effort, the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies are my latest disappointment. Not a disaster. Kind kids say, “Pretty good!”

Not the cookies of Patisserie Chezbonneau

These cookies promised to be chocolaty yumminess to the N-th degree. You could just smell the rich, dark chocolate that was melted for the batter. But my old problem of not attending to detail in cookie cooking plagued yet another batch.

  1. One batch spread too far AND I didn’t cook them long enough.
    1. Why? I tried to squeeze these out as a present to my son’s baseball team. I wanted to be there for the final two innings and time was running out. I yanked the cookies out of the oven, left them on their cookie sheet and took them to the game. The cookies wouldn’t hold together, but if you like gooey chocolate yum, they didn’t dissapoint.
  2. Second batch (I made a double recipe) I baked too long – allowing myself to become distracted.
    1. This batch would have good clay pigeons for skeet shooting.

OLD LESSONS: Cool the batter down if you want your cookie to stand up and not spread out like an amoeba. In fact, fear not to freeze them. THAT’S what I’m gonna do for the next batch of “drop”cookies that I make. I will make them into a LOG and (at least nearly) freeze them, then bake them.


Mentioned above, I baked these for my son’s baseball team, the Rockies.

#45, Lemon Vanilla Bundt Cake

Jennifer’s mom, Susanne, developed this pound cake recipe about twenty-five years ago. It’s a surefire hit every time it’s served, and there’s never an Appel get-together without it. The secret to the tender crumb is the club soda. Kudos to Mom!


A 5-Star lemon treat


This cake is a Thanksgiving treat for those who work in ASD Admin offices – plus anyone who follows this blog.


#44, Devil’s Food Cake with Seven-Minute Icing and Coconut

This is the same recipe Allysa’s family has made for every birthday since the beginning of time, and the same cake we served at the bakery—but a different icing and the coconut garnish give it a whole new taste.


I promised to bake a birthday cake for three of my students whose birthday’s are in November. I told them to choose any Magnolia Bakery recipe that I had not yet cooked and that I would make it for them. They chose Devil’s Food Cake. I chose the version in the book with the seven-minute icing and coconut.

Helas! This is all that is left


of this


But, it started like this..


and then turned into this

camoji (1)

which folded into this…..


then lastly to this (see below)

camoji (2)

MY CUP OVERFLOWETHED: The recipe called for three 9 x 2 inch cake pans. As I poured the batter in, I thought that the pans were too full and that a fourth pan could have been used. I was right. The cakes rose and poured over the sides of the pans – not disastrously. When a cake overflows the pan, the cake is actually pulled back down and flattened a bit. I was worried that the cake would not cook correctly throughout and there was a fear that the edges would burn. These fears did not come true. I just trimmed the droopy edges off and all was fine.

CONFETTI COCONUT: Dried, sweetened coconut is not available in Doha; at least I have never found it. Family Foods has freshly shredded coconut available sometimes. (Request at the vegetable weigh stations.) I recently found frozen, unsweetened coconut at Mega Mart. I toasted the shredded coconut in the oven (5 minutes under low broil). I didn’t try to sweeten it because the icing was already SO sweet. I had FUN throwing the coconut onto the iced cake. It turned out rather well.

#43 Pecan Pear Cake, p. 29

“The cake can also be made with sweet or tart apples and with or without the glaze. You won’t be disappointed with any version.” (p. 29)


Let’s start at the very beginning.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 6.47.03 AM

Oh. Let’s begin again.

But wait !!! Oops. I almost forgot. Here’s the first step to take before working in the kitchen.

Hit it, Doc!

Now. Chop chop.

You may notice a can of “Baker’s Joy” resting inside the cake pan. Flour and oil ready to spray on the pan. Now there’s a reason to sing. “Doe, a deer…..”

This cake requires no big equipment to make. No mixer or blender or food processor. Just a whisk, a spoon, and some fancy handiwork.


Put it all together and pour it in the pan.

Lookin’ yummy. Chunks of pear and pecans everywhere.

BAKER’S JOY: A few notes on this production. The Baker’s Joy is so nice. Easy to use. The release at the end was perfect. That said, I actually enjoy the pre-industrial technique of adding the flour to the pan myself and bumping the pan all round. It feels like a little work of art each time.

DETOUR: I added more pecans than called for in the recipe. Why? I had a cup full of finely crushed, roasted pecans left over from an earlier recipe. I added that to the 1 cup of coarsely chopped pecans in the recipe. I think the results were lovely. I LOVE pecans and I LOVE the way the cake came out so nutty inside and out. Yes, “out”. The surface of the cake took on a real crunch that I find lovely. I hope those who eat this treat find it likewise so.

See what I mean?

The finale with the glaze.

And a couple of slices for the taste test.


High School teachers with hall and dining hall duty this week. See Mrs. Beck for details. ALSO and ALWAYS – Blog followers are automatically included in this gift. Just knock on Mrs. Beck’s door – and be nice.


#42, Banana Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

This recipe came about because Allysa wanted to make a banana cake using butter instead of the traditional oil as the shortening. The result is a cake with a very different and quite lovely texture, and it’s perfectly complemented by the white chocolate icing. (p. 115)



Thank you Crumm.com for the pic. I don’t know why I didn’t take pictures this morning. This is only the third cake from Magnolia that I’ve baked. I enjoyed the early morning in the quiet kitchen,


but things heated up a bit when at 6:30 am:

1) I was reminded that we had a 7:15 meeting at school,

2) everyone but me was still in bed,

3) the cake hadn’t yet been iced,

4) breakfast wasn’t ready (although a bowl full of Martha Stewart inspired pancake batter was ready to go!), and

5) lunches weren’t made.

Well, off with the monastic calm and on with the firefighter’s rush to have everything in order and out the door in time.

LEARNED: Don’t put a freshly made layer cake in the trunk of a car and expect it to be standing when you get to where you’re going. Ask someone to hold it instead. I failed to do that and it looked like something out of Disney when we got to school.

Luckily mine was only two layers – I managed to right the wrong and regained its former beauty.

When I got to school and saw the landslide, I got upset. So, being the economically minded couple that my wife and I are, she reasoned that it was her turn to be calm and rational and mine to do the opposite. Contrary to my normal testosterone laden, cortisol restricted behavior, I listened, and had the cake looking better than ever in a matter of minutes. Thanks, sweetheart.


So who ended up with this cake today?

Today’s cake was made for the delight of the high school teachers who have hallway and dining hall duty this week.

“Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.” (Mary Poppins)


There, there now children. I’m afraid I’ve run out of sugar. But I do have a delightful piece of cake.


#41, Blueberry Coffee Cake with Vanilla Glaze

This light and moist coffee cake is simple to prepare and makes a good addition to breakfast or brunch.


Well, the authors of the Magnolia Cookbook suggested this cake for a breakfast of brunch, so I chose breakfast (for guests).

My wife invited some quilting friends over for a morning quilting social this past weekend and I was volunteered to cook. Fine by me. It is such a complement to be asked this favor and an opportunity for an early morning weekend smile on the faces of those who matter most.

Hey, Grumpy! How ’bout some fresh blueberry cake that Snow White’s prince charming just made?

Well, maybe. But it needs some icing on it. Just look at that. Who ever heard of such a thing?IMG_1059

Grumpy, You got a point. How ’bout this?

Now that’s more like it!

But it might not taste as good as it looks.

But it DID taste as good as it looked.

I highly recommend this cake, as did the authors, for a morning or brunch coffee cake. It is very, very light, moist and delicious – as per my family and friends. Please do yourself a favor and bake this cake.

It will definitely bring a smile to your face.


#40, White Chocolate Pecan Drop Cookies

Two of Allysa’s favorite ingredients—toasted pecans and creamy white chocolate— together in what is definitely the most often baked cookie at her house.


These cookies were baked to keep a birthday promise for some of my French 3 students. We had an unusual class that day, spending the entire period playing a series of games in French (Monopoly, Scrabble, Guess who) and putting together French jigsaw puzzles (Mont St. Michel, Astérix). The cookies added to the festive atmosphere.

What about these cookies? Nothing really new discovered, but an old problem revisited.

“SOFTENED BUTTER” – No doubt that the temperature of the butter can make a big difference in the way a cookie turns out.

Guess which ones started out to warm?

The cookies on the left went straight into the oven after mixing. They taste great, but they are more difficult to control in terms of baking time. A bit too little, and it tastes not quite cooked and falls apart. A bit too much and they get hard and brittle quickly.

The cookies on the right came from batter that spent about 10 minutes in the fridge after mixing to allow them to firm up a bit. I also chilled the cookie sheet to help keep the cookies keep a better shape. A better cookie, I think, especially to offer to someone else.

#36-Red Velvet Cake with #37-Creamy Vanilla Frosting and #38-Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake with #39 Buttercream Icing

A tale of two cakes, two potential disasters, and a double birthday party!

Red Velvet Recipe    Creamy Vanilla Frosting Recipe

“This was one of our most popular cakes at the bakery.” (p. 113)

Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake Recipe     Chocolate Buttercream Icing Recipe

“We think this is the ideal chocolate layer cake.”(p. 112)

All’s well that ends well. So goes the saying and so went a long night of baking.


Verify! That’s the word to remember here. I verified everything for making this red cake, except the red food coloring.

I knew I had some and I was right. But the recipe called for six tablespoons and I had about 1/2 teaspoon worth.

OK. Now what?

“Honey, I’ll go get some red food coloring for you.”
La bête saved by la belle.

La belle did find some food coloring, but it was in a powder form that neither she nor la bête had seen before. And now they know they never want to see it again. As it turned out, the powdery food coloring was actually yellow (not red) and was 96% salt, 4% color. But that was only discovered after making the batter, seeing it turn burnt orange and taste salty. THEN “you-know-who”, the “one who cannot be named” read the label on the can.

Back to square one. Throw the three cake pans of cake into the garbage an begin again.

Yep. You got it.

Honey. I’ll go to a different store and try again to get you some red food coloring for the cake.

Uh huh.

Belle found the right stuff for Bête.
And the right stuff happened.


This is the story about a pan on a shelf in a house in the desert.


The pan was a tall pan, a cake pan, a tall cake pan, said Sam. Sam liked tall things, and didn’t like seeing tall things stuck on short shelves. So Sam had an idea…

Why not USE the tall thing on the short shelf?

And so it happened. Sam took the tall pan, the tall cake pan, from the short shelf, and filled it with all the cake batter he could find. Sam was good at finding cake batter. Sam was so excited when he put the tall cake pan with all the cake batter he could find into the not-so-tall oven, that he forgot to look at the clock or set the timer. So, after a whiling-away time for quite a while, Sam was wondering. “How long has that tall cake pan been in the not-so-tall oven?” Well, said Sam to himself, there’s no real telling. So let’s take a look.” And look he did. And what did he find?

Sam found a very funny thing but it didn’t make him laugh. The tall cake pan in the oven that was not-so-tall had no cake at all. Inside the tall cake pan was a tall amount of liquid with a very firm hat on top. “What to do?”, thought Sam. “I know”, he said out loud, “I’ll lower the temp on the tall cake pan. Lower means slower”, he said feeling proud.

And so he waited, and he waited, and he waited. And then he looked again. And, what did he find?

He found that it all worked out just fine.

Then Sam put the very tall cake pan back on the very short shelf and went to bed.