#82, Chocolate Brownies with Caramel, Peanut Butter, and Pecans

“This is a variation on a brownie that we served at the bakery for years. In this version, though, the caramel and pecans, plus the surprisingly tasty addition of peanut butter chips, are layered between the graham cracker crust and the brownie.” (Excerpt: Magnolia)

The end of a harrowing journey.


This journey looked as though it would be a cake walk. I had everything needed for the recipe.


Got to use my food processor to turn graham crackers into powder.

I can feel the power of the steel blades.

Reached stage 2 with a promissing crust and everything ready to roll.


I should say, ready to pour.

I smell sweetness brewing! Caramel, chocolate, butter.



Officially way too much caramel. My sweet tooth was in the driver’s seat.

No sign of danger yet.

This layer is the caramel, peanut butter chips, crushed pecans and walnuts – not yet finished sprinkling on the walnuts.

Decpetive tranquility.

Chocolate brownie layer. Fits perfectly.

10 minutes later, I peeked inside the oven and saw and smelled a caramel volcano oozing and dripping down every side of the pan. BUT !!! I could tell that the brownie was holding its place over most of the surface. So I was determined to let the caramel run its course and let the baking proceed.

lava flow

The resulting brownie lava field AFTER having scraped around all the edges.

Trim off 1 inch perimeter of candied caramel and an AMAZING brownie awaits.

Best brownie of my life.

Dense. Just beyond gooey into the pleasantly chewy realm of YUM. Yep, back to the land of YUM and glad I made the journey.


Strawberry Shortcake (a.k.a. #75)

“Here is an old-fashioned favorite that doesn’t seem to go out of style. ”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l



As it turns out, I had some strawberries left over from the previous recipe. So, I looked around (or rather, inside the Magnolia cookbook) and found a recipe for strawberry shortcake. “Waste not. Want not.”

But, for some reason, I was in a hurry to get this one done. Oops. Getting in a hurry while baking usually spells trouble. And, well, a bit of trouble followed.

A tender, buttery, light cake. Well worth making and well worth waiting for – to avoid breakdown.


What was I thinking? I dunno. I thought I could lift this cake out of its tin well before the suggested cool-down period. SEE?! Now I get it. THAT’S why they say let it rest and cool down for a few minutes. Cake and cookies are generally very tender and prone to come apart if handled right out of the oven. They tend to solidify in the cooler air of room temperature. As you can see, the main cake fell all apart.


Lemons… lemonade. Torn cake…….?

Strawberry shortcake parfait!!

Yo doodle!! No complaints here.

What about “plus-que-parfait”?

Oooh. Cool idea – I think – but it didn’t quite hold up in presentation mode.

Worth doing again. I would pursue the parfait idea more on purpose next time. I like the small tartlet idea too. Needs more thinking.


(It’s bedtime where I live. At least, it’s bedtime for bakers.)

Strawberry Tart with Black Currant Cream Cheese Filling


This post was supposed to be about Magnolia’s Srawberry Double-Crust Pie, but I was in such a mood for France, and the whole “tart” tradition, that I just couldn’t bring myself to make an American style pie. I ended borrowing from here and there to create the desert of the title and pictured below. I’ll explain:


The stawberry filling follows the recipe found in Magnolia’s Strawberry Double-crust Pie.

The cream cheese filling comes from the Cream Cheese Pecan Pie. But I added two tablespoons of the black currant liquer, Crème de Cassis, plus 1/4 cup of black currant jam. The double-crust pie has no cream cheese filling,


The crust was a classic,buttery, Pâte brisée.


I cooked, cooled, then arranged the strawberry filling on top and put it in the fridge overnight.


We ate this at home on the weekend, keeping it all to ourselves.

I plan on making a very similar pie for the weekend ahead of us, the Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie with Graham Cracker Crust. But that is still a few days away.


Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes (#77) with Vanilla Buttercream (#78)

““Everyone was always asking us which was the most popular cupcake at the bakery. Most people were surprised that it was what we called the vanilla vanilla—the vanilla cupcake with the vanilla icing (and the most popular color for the icing was pink).”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l



My daughter and I baked these beauties last weekend. School work was caught up (or so it seemed), we had everything we needed and it just seemed like the right thing to do. After all, this recipe represented 50% of the book completed for my project – which is obviously running behind schedule —- but still running.

Nothing unusual – butter, sugar. “You know the routine.”


Only this time, we multiplied by 3.

Do the math: 12 x 2 x 3 =


What to do with 72 cupcakes?

Have a party! Make new friends! Make an old friend smile!

I think that cupcakes are the the quintessential “smile desert”.


IMG_1584 copy


  1. Bananas: Not all of the 72 cupcakes were simply vanilla. I had some bananas that were headed south, so we threw them into the mix of a later batch. Every one brought a smile to someone’s face.
  2. SIGNATURE FROSTING DESIGN ! Oh no!@#$#! Although I need to develop my own style, I thought I’d try to copy the Magnolia signature style. It ain’t that easy. According to a Magnolia baker, it requires about 40 hours to master the style. Well, I’ve put in one of those hours.
  3. FROSTING QUALITY – Even though everyone said they were great (Thank you all of you sweethearts!), I know that the icing was not what it needs to be. Still too grainy and not stiff enough. What to do? Research tells me that I need to 1) beat the butter-sugar longer, 2) don’t be afraid of very soft butter, 3) let it sit for a few hours. I’ll let you know in a future post.511g9RsiBWL__SL500_AA300_

#81 Cherry Jamboree with #76 Sweet Vanilla Whipped Cream

“We started making this at the bakery when a staff member remarked that her grandmother made a dessert just like our cream cheese chocolate pudding squares but with cherry pie filling instead. It turned out to be even more popular with our customers.” Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l



This recipe reminded me a lot of a desert my mother used to make called “Cherry-O-Cheesecake”. The crust in this recipe is NOT the graham cracker crust my mother used, and “cheesecake” was not the right word for her delicious desert. This desert comes from the Icebox Deserts section of Magnolia – the crust is the only part that is cooked.

If mom had only known about adding nuts to crusts. We had a pecan tree just outside the kitchen door.

This desert is definitely layered: Crust-filling-crushed pecans (my addition)


-cherries-whipped cream


pecans for deco.



Hmmm. What did I do differently from the recipe? Not much. I added a layer of crushed pecans between the cream cheese and cherries (probably not a worthwhile addition) and splashed a couple of tablespoons of Spanish brandy onto the cherries (Mom would probably not approve).

What about that tart pan? The cookbook says to put this in a glass pie dish. But I LOVE my fluted tart pans – L O V E ! ! So I took a chance (sometimes the only way to learn) and, voilà, it worked. The bottom of the tart pan is removable. The “pie” slipped right out of the mold and was lovely to behold – thankfully.



#80, Rum Mocha Cheesecake with #79, Chocolate Glaze (and Raspberries)

“The rum, espresso, and chocolaty-creamy filling atop a dark chocolate cookie crust makes this cheesecake pure decadence.”

(Add to that a layer of Chocolate Glaze and Raspberries and … what comes after “decadence” ?)

………Rum – Espresso – Vanilla……. ……….Say no more!……….


Are you familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son? The part I’d like to mention is how the father does not care to hear excuses from his son when he returns from a far-off land (being a naughty boy!). The young man starts to ask for forgiveness and the father butts in to start giving orders for a party. OK. So, I’ve been gone from the blog for quite some time — Party time! OK?

What party? Well, a reading party in the ASD MS/HS Professional Reading Library to be exact.

Lots of new books are on display for the teachers, and Patisserie Chezbonneau was asked to offer some treats to pull in some reading customers. So………..

Teachers can find the following in their professional library today:

  1. Mocha Rum Cheesecake (with Chocolate Glaze and Raspberries) – the subject of this blog.
  2. Banana Bread with Toasted Pecans and Coconut
  3. Blueberry Coffee Cake with Vanilla Glaze
  4. Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Icing


This was only my second cheesecake ever. I was excited about the flavors and that’s why I chose to bake it for this special occasion. Yes. It’s riskly to do something new for the public, but I had no time for a trial run and the whole year is a risky one for this Learner-Baker.

Risk #1, the crust

Crust of chocolate Graham Crackers (lucked out when I saw these at the store!) and butter. Baked for 10 minutes, let cool, then it was time for risk #2.

Risk #2, the filling

Visual flavor

In the end, it all came together.

And then came apart! In the best sense.

So far so good. Chocolate has a way of attracting followers.


Actually, this cheesecake frightened me a bit. While in the oven, it puffed up in a very uneven way. The surface never broke, but the cake began falling around the perimeter and created a kind of moat all round at the edge. That’s when I decided to add the chocolate glaze and ring the perimeter with raspberries.

Yes, the final touch was damage control. However, the damage control took the cake to a higher level. Chocolate, cheesecake and raspberry. Here’s what the taste looked like:

rat taste
Speechless in Doha.


And have a sweet day.