Birthday Shannagins

I just finished a book called Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell. It is about this girl named Cath, who coincidentally is a lot like me. She is entering her first year in college, along with her twin sister, Wren. Both girls are completely obsessed with a series of books that revolve around this fictional character, Simon Snow. {ie. Harry Potter in my case.}  She is so enthralled with the books, that she writes fan-fiction to keep the characters alive in their magical world of Mage and has thousands of followers waiting with baited breath for the next chapter to be released . She is otherwise known as, a complete genius and obvious introvert. {See? Just like me.} She stays up all night reading and writing in her baggy sweatpants and hair in a bun, while her twin, the more confident one, goes out to frat parties and lives the typical college life.

After I finished the book, it got me thinking. Could I write Harry Potter fan-fiction? I know it exists. I know of several forums that authors use just for the sake of Potter fan-fiction. And I have read the books so many times, that I feel like I was a part of their life, just as much as they were a part of mine. And for that matter, could I create a world like J.K. Rowling did? On paper napkins? Or even Post-its? My mom definitely thinks I can.


For now, I am satisfied with writing about my Potter themed birthday.

Potter birthday

I just so happened to design and construct my own cake this year. My usual request is a double stuff, extra-large cookie cake from the American Cookie Co. I know. I get it. I’ve heard it a million times. There are a ton of bakeries and patisseries around my area and I choose a lame, commercially manufactured cookie cake. But moooooomm, it tastes like my childhood. Anyway, with the Potterhead theme underway, I thought it only fitting that I make my own cake.

Potter birthdayI’ll admit, I got a little carried away. The more I thought about it, the more extravagant things got. I wanted to do my first ever 3-layer cake. Then I wanted to construct my first ever fondant owl. Then the fondant had to have a cobblestone affect. Finally, I had to have a banner. Because duh. Who doesn’t love a banner on their cake? So I made my favorite vanilla spice cake with whipped Nutella frosting and then wrapped my layers in homemade marshmallow fondant. I dyed it grey and made a cobblestone imprint with a fondant stamp I had. Then I brushed the cobblestone with confectioner sugar so that they would stand out a bit. {However, I soon discovered that the sugar melts into the fondant a whole lot faster than I expected.} Finally, I piped the extra Nutella frosting I had around my layers. I constructed my fondant owl using a bunch of videos I found on YouTube, along with my collection of fondant tools and cut outs. :)

Potter birthday

Each layer was a different house color for Gryffindor. The bottom layer was yellow and the top layers were red. Unfortunately, these were the only photos I had of the cake because we devoured it not long after they were taken.

In addition to the cake, all of us went out to do a little Potter painting.

Potter birthday

The amazing staff at Painting With a Twist happily created this one-of-a-king, never before introduced, Harry Potter inspired painting just for me. If you look carefully, you will notice Hogwarts at the top of the mountain, the Whomping Willow to the left, and a few of us even put in a Hedwig. Because Hedwig never really goes away, does he?

I call it…99 Problems but a Snitch Ain’t One.

Potter birthdayThe boys got a little carried away with the paint…

No one told them it had to stay on the canvas.

Potter birthdayI think pink works for him…

Potter birthdayI adore my friends and family. They made my birthday oh, so, special…here are just a few.

Potter birthdayFellow girly geek and con participant.

Potter birthdayMy pretty Momma…

Potter birthdayA big thank you to everyone who made it out. It was one of my best 29th birthdays so far!

Spiced Carrot Baby Cakes with Amaretto Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Carrot Baby Cakes with Amaretto Cream Cheese Frosting

Can I just begin by telling you about all the bunnies in my neighborhood? There are like, hundreds, really. It’s like a total bunny apocalypse.

Ok. Not really, but believe me, there’s a lot.

In the garden.

In my driveway.

Hopping all around the block.

With their little cotton tails and their cute, furry faces. We have even “adopted” one that hangs out in our garden. His name is Oscar. He drives the dogs crazy. Oscar hangs out behind the holly bushes until the puppies come out to play and then it is on. He actually camouflages in the garden and waits to be chased. The thing is, Oscar is small enough to slide through the slats in our fence. The dogs are not. So it is complete and utter torture for the pups.

To honor all things bunny related, I made the most amazing spiced carrot cupcakes. And instead of the typical cream cheese frosting, I made things a bit more exciting with amaretto. Because duh.DSC07042_600x400

I had made a similar carrot cake for Easter, but decided to make them into little cakes this time and spice things up. I kept the coveted carrot cake basics…crushed pineapple, raisins, carrots, pecans but added cardamom, cloves, buttermilk, and switched up the raisins to golden raisins. You could add shredded coconut as well, but I opted out cuz the Hubster is allergic.

Also these little cakes are ridiculously easy to put together. They act like regular cupcakes and so you can pick your favorite baking liners to pour the batter in or maybe find little tin liners to give it a more rustic feel. Then just top with rich and creamy amaretto frosting using your favorite decorating tip.

These baby carrot cupcakes are not for the faint of heart. They are rich… And sweet… And moist… Even I couldn’t bear to part with them, so none of my friends had the chance to sample the goods.

Spiced Carrot Baby Cakes with Amaretto Cream Cheese Frosting


Spiced Carrot BabyCakes with Amaretto Cream Cheese Frosting


    Spiced Carrot Baby Cakes:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, unsalted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • Amaretto Frosting:
  • 1 cup {2 sticks} unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 - 4 cups confectioners sugar, depending on desired consistency
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons Amaretto liquor
  • cinnamon {optional}


    Spiced Carrot Baby Cakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper lines and set aside.
  3. In your stand mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars.
  4. Add eggs; one at a time.
  5. Add vanilla extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
  7. Alternating, add the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the egg mixture, ending with the dry ingredients.
  8. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  11. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.
  12. Amaretto Frosting:
  13. Cream butter in your stand mixer bowl for 3 minutes.
  14. Slowly add in confectioner sugar.
  15. Add Amaretto liquor, one tablespoon at a time.
  16. Add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  17. Use your favorite decorating tip to top your cakes with frosting.
  18. Sprinkle with cinnamon{optional}.
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May the Fourth be With You Sugar Cookies

I went red a few months back and I couldn’t be more happier. I am no stranger to trying new things when it comes to my hair. I’ve been purple, pink, blonde, brunette…I even did the “Jennifer Lawrence” before Jennifer Lawrence. But I feel red suits me the best.  I mean…come on…all the best people are ginger nowadays. Take Ron “Won Won” Weasley, for example. He is easily the best character in all of Harry Potter. And what about the Doctor…he is always wishing that his new regeneration be a ginger, but alas Peter Capaldi is no redhead. And I am convinced that even Princess Leia has a hint of red in those auburn buns of hers.

Speaking of….today is a very special day. It just so happens to be May the Fourth…as in May the Fourth be With You.

So for all of you Star Was fans out there, I made cookies…

May the Fourth be With You

Now I am a complete cookie decorating novice, so I went to the web to research a few things. First, I used the loyal and trusted Royal Icing recipe found on Sweetopia. To be honest, I always end up thinning out my icing with a few more tablespoons of warm water to make it more pliable and easier to work with.

May the Fourth be With You

Second, I read her tutorial on how to use a Kopykake projector. I recently purchased one to help me become a better decorator. Because I am left-handed, it is difficult for me to really freehand any images onto my cakes or cookies, so the the Kopykake basically does the work for me. It projects an image onto a surface below, without much heat, so that I can trace or copy the image onto my cakes or cookies.

May the Fourth be With You

Finally, I had really never worked with black icing before, so I made sure I found the black food coloring to icing ratio that I wanted to ensure that my icing would be black, instead of a dark grey. I found that if you take about a tablespoon of black food coloring to 1/3 cup of icing, then that would give you a nice, black color without the yucky taste of food coloring.

May the Fourth be With You

In addition to it being May the Fourth, this weekend also happened to be Free Comic Book Day, and the 16th anniversary of the battle at Hogwarts. Ahhhh…..a geeky girl’s dream. Happy May the Fourth, you guys!

May the Fourth be With You

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Royal Icing Recipe

Chocolate Layer Cake with Nutella Frosting


I recently started working with chocolate transfer sheets. They are totally easy and fun to work with and they have about a bazillion different designs and colors to choose from. The design I choose for this particular cake was a Springy blue and green gingham. Ya know. To make things fun and festive for the season. If you have never worked with them before, rest assured, you can do this. Chocolate transfer sheets are nothing more than strips of acetate that are embellished with cocoa butter. Sound complicated? Keep reading…


Begin by measuring the height of your cake. I started with a 6 inch round cake, about 4 inches tall. I had already lightly frosted my cake in butter cream, so it was all ready to go. Go ahead and pick up a bag of candy melts, any kind will do, but I like Wilton’s light cocoa, and follow the directions on the bag on how to properly melt them. Now you want your chocolate transfer sheets to be a bit taller than your cake, so when I got to measuring, I made sure to cut my transfer sheets in 4 1/2 inch tall strips. This gave me a little wiggle room when it came to putting it all together.

Place the raised side of your transfer sheets up on a prepared cookie sheet lined with parchment. You can use a small dot of melted chocolate as adhesive to “glue” the transfer sheet to the parchment paper. Don’t worry. It won’t hurt the transfer sheet and it will make the melted chocolate MUCH easier to work with. Gently spread your melted chocolate using an offset spatula to about a 1/8 thickness. Make sure to mark with a knife where your transfer sheet begins and ends.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then score it to the desired width. In my case, I scored my chocolate about 2-inches wide. Allow it to sit for a half hour to 45 minutes or until set. Once they are firm, go ahead and peel away the transfer sheets and use the scores you made before to separate your pieces. You may have to do this a few times to have enough pieces to go around your cake.


Once I had enough pieces, I overlapped them just a little to add some dimension. If your butter cream is cold or you don’t seem to have enough, just add a little to your transfer sheet to help attach it to the cake. Just be careful because the chocolate can be fragile. You could also wrap a pretty little bow around it to keep it all together as well.


I had some leftover broken pieces, so I decided to create a little topper for my cake as well. All you have to do is carefully cut them into different shapes and place on top. Done and done.


I used my most favorite chocolate cake recipe for this cake and then created a very simple, fluffy Nutella frosting. The Nutella frosting compliments the rich, moist chocolate cake perfectly. I am totally smitten with this cake and could’ve eaten the entire thing by myself. Happy Spring, you guys!

Most favorite Chocolate Cake recipe

Nutella Frosting

3 1/2 cups confectioner sugar

2 sticks{1 cup} unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup Nutella

5 teaspoons milk


In your stand mixer bowl using your paddle attachment, cream butter and slowly add confectioner sugar one cup at a time. Add Nutella and mix well. Add milk, one teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency. Mix on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.


Over-the-Rainbow Orange Spice Cake {Gold Leaf Tutorial}

Over the Rainbow Orange Spice CakeI don’t know what it is about St. Patrick’s Day that makes me want to drink a tall Guinness and blast a little Flogging Molly, but every time March comes around, I can’t help but get a little giddy. I buy corn beef, slow cook it in Bass Ale and spices, and create a spicy, Guinness sauce to drizzle on top. Then I slap it between two pieces of fresh sourdough and add a little provolone. It is beyoooond amazing. I can’t take credit though. It is totally a Paula Deen recipe I found years ago in a magazine and the Hubster asks for it each and every St. Patty’s Day. And I just can”t help but oblige…wink wink nudge nudge…

But this year, there is a new dessert in town to compliment my oh-so-delicious black and tan sandwich tradition.

Over the Rainbow Orange Spice Cake

The recipe I used to create this 6-layer rainbow cake is actually pretty versatile. You can use it for a traditional vanilla cake, or you can make it more exciting by adding different extracts, spices, and other add-ins. For this cake, I added in a few spoonfuls of orange extract and baking spice to give it a more spice cake flavour. Another option would be to add in orange peel if you happen to have oranges on hand. The icing is a whipped buttercream, again flavoured with orange and vanilla extracts. It is light and fluffy and compliments the cake nicely.

Over the Rainbow Orange Spice Cake

What really makes this cake though is the green fondant clovers and gold leaf coins that decorate the bottom. I kinda see it as the gold at the end of the rainbow, ya know?

Earlier this month, I had ordered a chocolate coin mold on Amazon. I had been wanting to work with edible gold leaf for some time now and these chocolate coins seemed like the perfect opportunity, so I ordered edible gold-leaf too.

If you have never worked with edible gold leaf before, there are a few things you oughta know:

According to Candy:

Definition: Edible gold leaf is a gold product that can be used to decorate food. In candy-making it can be used to cover whole candies like chocolates or truffles, or applied sparingly as a small decorative touch.

Is Gold Leaf Really Edible?

In most cases, yes. Gold is considered “biologically inert,” meaning it passes through the digestive tract without being absorbed. When selecting gold leaf, make sure to get gold that is as pure as possible–this means 22-24 carats. Gold leaf with a smaller carat value has more impurities and is less safe to eat. If you are careful and buy gold leaf that is clearly labeled as “edible” and has 22-24 carats, eating gold leaf is harmless.”

What’s important to remember is that if you plan to use gold-leaf on your cakes or other edible decorations, you need to make sure that your gold-leaf product is at least 22-24 gold carats. The product is usually labelled; you just need to check before ordering.

Edible gold-leaf tutorial

 How to apply gold leaf:

Gold Leaf Tutorial

Before I begin, let me tell you that this was the first time I had ever used gold leaf before and it is just my experience using it. If you have any tips or helpful hints, I am happy to listen!

What you will need:

  • Paper towels
  • 2 dry, small paintbrushes
  • edible gold leaf
  • chocolate coins
  • tweezers{optional}
  • latex gloves{Wearing latex gloves helps to prevent it from sticking to your fingers.}

What to do:

  • Lay down a few sheets of paper towels so that you have a clean workspace for your gold leaf coins.
  • Use tweezers to carefully lift up a small corner of the gold leaf sheet. Once you’ve caught it, use your small paintbrush to pick up the second corner and slide a small piece of the gold leaf onto your chocolate coin or edible decoration.
  • Use the other paintbrush to gently pat and smooth the gold leaf onto the decoration.
  • Continue to smooth out the remaining gaps or bubbles with your paintbrush.
  • Carefully pat down the edges with your paintbrush and remove the excess gold leaf.
  • Carefully place on cake.

Over the Rainbow Orange Spice Cake

Over-the-Rainbow Orange Spice Cake

Yield: 2 8-inch rounds

Recipe by Carrie


  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 ounces{1 stick} unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup{4 ounces} milk
  • 2 teaspoons orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking spice or cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line 2 8-inch round pans with parchment paper; spray with flour spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking spice.
  3. In your stand mixer bowl, beat butter until creamy and fluffy; about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add your sugar to your butter and beat until combined.
  5. Add your eggs and egg yolks; one at a time.
  6. Pour in your extracts; one at a time and mix well.
  7. Alternating, starting and ending with your dry ingredients, add your dry ingredients and milk.
  8. Mix for about 30 seconds and evenly pour into your prepared pans.
  9. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  10. Note In order to make the 6-layer rainbow cake, you will need to triple the recipe and use gel food coloring to color the cakes.
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Glow-in-the-Dark Chocolate Cake

Glow in the Dark Chocolate Cake

So if you have been following me on Facebook {and you totally should}, you might know that the Hubs and I have been doing a little redecorating lately.  We wanted to update our living space, and sorta kinda make it more, um,  doggie friendly. If ya know what I mean…

I am not proud to admit this, but my dogs are not the best behaved dogs.

Oh sure, they are friendly enough and most certainly adorable. More so than most dogs in my opinion. They don’t mind loving on you and giving you kisses. Or snuggling up with you under the blankets when it’s cold. But when it is time to decipher whether to go potty outside or on Mommy’s couch, well that’s when we run into a situation.

We have tried just about everything. We go outside with them several times a day. Praise their potty behavior. Give them treats. But to no avail, they continue to leave me surprises. Any tips or tricks are much appreciated..

So when we started furniture shopping, we decided on a more modern and clean look. We ended up with a a dark brown tufted, leather couch with a chaise attached at one end with lime green accent pillows. It was one of those packaged whole room deals, so it came with new end tables and the most amazing, board-gaming, coffee table I have ever seen. It literally has two benches that pull out so that you can eat, play, or let’s say,  pull out your latest version of Harry Potter s Scene It? Cuz I mean, who doesn’t have Harry Potter Scene It?

I am totally smitten with my new living space and have claimed the chaise as my official spot. I know. So Sheldon Cooper of me. I almost forgot. I made cake.

Glow in the Dark Chocolate CakeA friend of mine has a daughter who is turning 16 in a couple of months and she asked me if I could  make her a glow-in-the-dark cake. At the time, I had no idea how to make cake glow, so I took to the internet. The only thing I could find was Ghoulishly Glowing Cupcakes from Recipe Snobs. They created a fairly simple recipe made from lime green jello and tonic water that when placed under a black light, glows bright.

So to test it, I decided to take on a more 80′s feel with a splatter glow look for my cake. I followed the recipe posted for green glowing frosting and poured the jello part into a spray bottle and quickly sprayed my cake. It leaves a pretty, artsy feel to the cake, but doesn’t change the flavor of the frosting. I also added some bright green nonpareils and silver sprinkles because obvi.

I just love how my sprinkles turn purple under the black light.

Glow in the Dark Chocolate Cake

A couple tips I’ve found  for using the green glowing frosting..

1. If you are using a spray bottle, make sure you only pour the jello mixture into the bottle when you are ready to spray. It will congeal in the bottle if left by itself for too long.

2. Make sure your cake has been frosted and chilled, so that your jello spray doesn’t melt your frosting. Better yet, make sure you have an ice bath for your jello spray, so that it can keep cool while you spray.

Glow in the Dark Chocolate Cake

But the best part about this cake is that it looks just as pretty in the light..oh and that it’s chocolate. Duh.

Chocolate makes everything better. Especially when it is as easy as this recipe is. This is my go to chocolate cake recipe and it literally takes me less than 20 minutes to get it into the oven.

Moist. rich. and oh so chocolate-y.

Glow in the Dark Chocolate Cake

Glow-in-the-Dark Chocolate Cake

Yield: Two 8-inch rounds

Recipe by Carrie


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup {1 stick} unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350° and prepare two 8-inch pans by lining the bottom with parchment paper and flour spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In your stand mixing bowl, cream butter on medium speed.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, until combined.
  5. Add vanilla extract.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add half the dry ingredients to the wet.
  7. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, add the rest of your dry ingredients until combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
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No-Better-Way-to-Say-I-Love-You Cookies


I have been on a bit of a cookie kick lately, but I just can’t seem to help myself.

It is like my New Years cookies sparked a whole new world filled with different flavors, icings, and add-ins.

And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I just couldn’t wait to come up with something new to show you guys how much you are loved.

The Hubs and I don’t really partake in the whole Valentine’s Day celebration. We might give each other a card. Maybe go out to dinner. Say a million I-love-you’s throughout the day, but that’s pretty much normal, every day life for us. But this year, I plan on making him dinner{with meat..I am a vegetarian} and I have hinted around that I would love to be wearing this as a little token of his affection.


It is the Mickey Mouse Birthstone Bangle by Alex and Ani and I am quite enamored. I am so obsessed, that I actually want the red July birthstone instead of my pink June birthstone because it looks way more Disney to me. Don’tcha think? #totaldizgeek


I think my favorite part about these cookies was how easy they were to put together. No, seriously. I plan on writing up a tutorial post on all the how-tos of these cookies, but for now, I will break it down to the bare essentials.

To begin with, I used my basic sugar cookie recipe to create my valentine cookies. The Hubs had bought me an adjustable rolling pin {see below}a few weeks back and it is truly one of my very favorite tools in my kitchen. Not only does it help in making sure my cookies are all the same width, but because of that, they bake more evenly. I like my cookies on the thin side, so I used the 1/16 disc to roll out my dough, but it also comes with 1/6, 1/4, and 3/8-inch removable discs as well.


Once baked and cooled, I came up with a faux royal icing to “glue” on my fondant. Just spread a small amount onto the cookies and then carefully lay your fondant on top. It takes only a few minutes to make, but is much easier to decorate with and tastes great. Simply mix all the ingredients together in your stand mixer bowl. Fast. Easy. And it doesn’t dry out like real royal icing.

I had decided to use a homemade marshmallow fondant recipe I found, rather than spending up to $20 on store bought fondant. I don’t necessary like the taste of store bought fondant and in my opinion, it doesn’t last as long. Homemade fondant is fluffy, sweet, and stays soft on top of your cookies. Like a little marshamllow-y cloud of goodness.

To create the fondant patterns, I used the following mold below. They are really easy to use. Just dust the mold with confectioners sugar and carefully roll a small amount of fondant onto the desired design until thin and then peel away the excess. I also used a small fondant tool to smooth out my edges as well.


I promise the hardest thing about these cookies was taking photos of them. We are in the midst of a “snow storm” here in the south and everything is so dark and dreary. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for a hot cuppa and a good book.

No-Better-Way-to-Say-I-Love-You Cookies

 Recipes and Resources

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe

Marshmallow Fondant

Faux Royal Icing:

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

8 tablespoons heavy cream

*You can add more cream for a thinner icing or use less if you like a thicker icing.

Happy 3rd Bloggy Birthday, Bake No Prisoners!

Cherry Almond Cake

I am so excited for today! I can’t even…

Wanna know why?

This week marks Bake No Prisoners’ third blogiversary!

I can hardly believe it has been three years since I began Bake No Prisoners.  What started out as a little conversation of what-ifs with the Hubs has completely transformed into a journey of fun, learning, making new friends, and endless baking opportunities. I never dreamed in a million years that my little hobby would turn into something so important in my life.

To celebrate the occasion, I have compiled a little list of a few things I have learned over the past three years from baking, blogging, and you!

1. Originality – It is not as easy as it seems and you have to applaud those who have it and strive yourself, to own it.

2. Mistakes – You will make mistakes both in the kitchen and in life. I embrace those mistakes because it has made me a better baker, blogger, and friend.

3. Photography – I now know the ins-and-outs of what a good photo should look like. When I forget, please refer to #2.

4. Friends – Your friends aren’t just the ones you see face to face each day, they are also the ones on your computer screen.

5. Learn – The learning opportunities are endless. From the recipe creation stage to the writing itself,  I am continuously learning new things and because of that, I feel I will always be in love with BNP.

I cannot begin to thank all of you who continue to read, support, and encourage each week…

Cherry Almond Cake

Have a slice of birthday cake, would ya?

Cherry Almond CakeI wanted this year’s bloggy birthday cake to be somewhat rich and extravagant. I mean, how many times does a blog turn three, amiright? So I decided to make this 4-layer almond cake with tart cherry preserves. Then to make it even more amazing, I smothered it with rich buttercream and drizzled decadent chocolate ganache on top. Perfect birthday treat, I’d say…
Cherry Almond Cake

4-Layer Almond Cake with Tart Cherry Preserves

Yield: Two 8-inch rounds

Recipe by Carrie


    Cherry Almond Cake:
  • 1/12 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces {1 stick} unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup {4 ounces} milk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Tart Cherry Preserves {I found mine at Target}
  • Buttercream frosting:
  • 1 cup {2 sticks} unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 lb. confectioner sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • splash of heavy cream
  • Chocolate ganache:
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


    4-Layer Almond Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and place your oven rack to the middle position.
  2. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with flour spray and line bottom with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  4. In your stand mixer bowl, cream butter for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Slowly add sugar to your butter and mix until light and fluffy.
  6. Add your eggs and yolks, one at a time, until combined.
  7. Add your vanilla and almond extracts.
  8. Starting with your flour mixture, slowly add half to your butter blend, until combined.
  9. Carefully add your milk and then end with your other half of the flour mixture.
  10. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for another minute.
  11. Add a little more than a cup to each 8-in round pan.
  12. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean; making sure the pans are at least 3 inches from each other and the sides of the oven.
  13. After 5-10 minutes, slide a knife around the sides of the pan. Remove the cakes from pan and transfer to wire rack.
  14. Allow cakes to come to room temperature before frosting.
  15. Buttercream frosting:
  16. In your stand mixer bowl, cream the butter on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes making sure to stop to scrape the bowl once or twice.
  17. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioner sugar and meringue powder.
  18. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla.
  19. Add a splash or two of heavy cream until you achieve the desired consistency.
  20. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
  21. Any unused frosting can be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator until future use; let frosting come to room temperature before using.
  22. Chocolate ganache:
  23. Pour your heavy cream in a medium saucepan and place on low heat.
  24. Chop your semisweet chocolate and place in a oven safe bowl.
  25. Once your cream begins to simmer, slowly pour over your chocolate.
  26. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
  27. Using a rubber spatula, slowly incorporate your chocolate into your cream.
  28. If it is too thin, let it sit for a few minutes to thicken up.
  29. Assembly:
  30. Use a serrated knife to level the top of your cakes {I normally wrap my cakes and put them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before I do this}
  31. Place the bottom cake layer on a cake plate or 8-inch round cake board.
  32. Place about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of tart cherry preserves on the top of the cake layer, and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife.
  33. Gently place the second cake layer face down on top; spread the cherry reserves on top and repeat with the following layers.
  34. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake.
  35. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  36. Remove from refrigerator and cover cake with a final layer of frosting.
  37. Drizzle sides with ganache first, using a pastry bag snipped at the end.
  38. Then carefully spread a thin layer on top.


To make four layers, you will need to double the recipe.

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London Fog Tea Cakes

London Fog Tea Cakes

I have discovered the tea of all teas.

The most magnificent drink in all the land.

I’m serious here people… It has changed my life forever.

May I introduce you to the London Fog Tea Latte.

I first discovered its existence on Instagram. A friend of mine had posted a photo of her latte and just went on and on about it. So the next day, I stopped in at my neighborhood coffee shop to try it for myself. Honestly,  I wasn’t sure if they would know what I was talking about. I live in a pretty small town compared to most. But here’s a secret, if you go to Starbucks, they call it the Earl Grey Latte. It’s all the same though. Earl Grey tea with lavender, vanilla, and steamed milk or rather soy for me.


After I had drank about 5 or 50 lattes, I decided I needed to step it up a bit. I needed to somehow take my new favorite drink and turn it into a cute, little cake-y dessert. It had to be light and fluffy and lavender. Oh, and it had to be pretty. So I made these…

London Fog Tea Cakes

The first step is to make your earl grey infused tea butter. I melted 1 cup or 2 unsalted sticks of butter in a nonstick pan over low to medium heat. Then I added 2 Tazo Earl Grey tea satchels to the melted butter and let it steep for several minutes. Even though the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup  or 1 stick of unsalted butter, I used 1 cup of butter because some of the butter will get lost in the process due to evaporation and then you will inevitably lose a bit trying to transfer it from the pan to the bowl. I have infused butter with tea before when I made these and absolutely loved the flavor, so I couldn’t wait to do it again for my London Fog Tea Cakes.

London Fog Tea Cakes

So I have to share a secret with you guys. My most favorite part about these cakes is the lavender. Not only did I use lavender extract, but I also added lavender sugar. I know I know. Lavender is an acquired taste. I have heard people say, I love lavender, just not in my desserts. But to me, it is absolutely delightful with the Earl Grey tea infused butter.

London Fog Tea Cakes

I am also totally obsessed with my new tea cup cupcake mold. Aren’t they adorbs?!I just couldn’t wait to find the perfect reason to pull these babies out…

London Fog Tea Cakes

London Fog Tea Cakes


    For the cakes:
  • 1/2 cup {1 stick} unsalted butter, steeped in Tazo Earl Grey tea
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vanilla lavender sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • For the frosting:
  • 1 cup {2 sticks} unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 lb. confectioner sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender extract
  • splash of heavy cream


    For the cakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a standard 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. In your stand mixer bowl fitted with your paddle attachment, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add tea infused butter, sour cream, eggs, and extracts; beat at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix again for about 30 seconds.
  5. Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared muffin pan.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cakes from muffin pan and transfer to wire rack.
  8. Allow cakes to come to room temperature before frosting.
  9. For the frosting:
  10. In your stand mixer bowl, cream the butter on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes making sure to stop to scrape the bowl once or twice.
  11. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioner sugar and meringue powder.
  12. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla.
  13. Add a splash or two of heavy cream until you achieve the desired consistency.
  14. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
  15. Any unused frosting can be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator until future use; let frosting come to room temperature before using.
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Champagne-Frosted New Years Cookies

Champagne Frosted New Years Cookies

I have always said that New Years Eve is my least favorite holiday.

The champagne, the staying-up-late, and the New Years resolutions just don’t appeal to me. Like at all.

Whether it is a sip or a glass of champagne, my body totally does a 180° and yells at me the next morning. I mean, I am not a crazy drinker to begin with, but there definitely is something in the champagne that makes me feel like I am going to die a slow, painful death the next morning.

As for staying up late, I am more of the early to bed, early to rise kinda girl. I hate to waste daylight hours on sleeping in when I could be whipping up a new recipe for you guys or holding a Harry Potter marathon in my living room. ;)

To me, New Years resolutions are just, plain silly. If I have something I want to accomplish or overcome, then why wait until the new year to set my goal. I started a new goal to lose a few lbs. in the middle of the holiday season this year. I know, crazy, right? But it taught me to watch what I ate during the worst possible time of the year. And you know what? I have lost 12 lbs.

So to brighten my outlook on New Years Even, I made cookies.

Champagne Frosted New Years Cookies

I have to admit, these champs cookies were a total last minute. I had purchased the champagne glass cookie cutter a few days after Christmas on Amazon and never dreamed that it would get here in time. But of course, Amazon proved me wrong and it arrived early yesterday. So I whipped up a batch of sugar cookies and got to frosting.

Champagne Frosted New Years Cookies

When it comes to royal icing, my go-to recipe is from Sweetopia. Not only does she provide the most amazing royal icing recipe from Antonia74{}, but she also gives some great tips and helpful hints.

Champagne Frosted New Years Cookies

To give it some champagne flavor without the actual champagne, I added a few drops of champagne flavoring oil to the icing. A little bit goes a long way… Adding too much can overpower the cookie and you definitely don’t want that. Cuz these are good..#nomnomnomnom

Champagne Frosted New Years Cookies

I used a small brush and some yellow sugar crystals to mimic the bubbles in champagne. I started at the top and worked my way down, making a stamping motion with my brush. I also added this brittle, transparent sugar glass to make the stem of the champagne glass look more realistic.

Champagne Frosted New Years CookiesI hope you have the happiest of New Years filled with joy, love, and cookies…


Champagne-Frosted New Years Cookies

Yield: 4-5 dozen

Recipe by Carrie


  • 1 cup {2 sticks} unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Champagne flavoring oil {add just a few drops to your royal icing}
  • Royal Icing


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line cookie sheet with silapat or parchment paper.
  2. In your stand mixer bowl, combine butter and sugar; mix well.
  3. Add egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract; mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda.
  5. Add dry ingredients to your stand mixer bowl.
  6. Chill dough for 1-2 hours.
  7. Take small portions at a time to roll out and cut.
  8. Bake for 5-7 minutes; watch carefully, as these can burn easily.
  9. One completely cooled, frost cookies accordingly.
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