White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

I remember when I worked in an office and cake or cupcakes were brought in for a birthday… in the crowd there were always a few frosting people.

Frosting people only go for the frosting, sometimes only eating the cake part that actually touches the frosting or no cake at all. In either case they’re easily identified by leaving a pile of untouched cake left on their plate. I’ve never understood these people and certainly have never been one.


The frosting has almost always been my least favorite part of any cake.. homemade, store-bought, wherever. I’ve made buttercreams, whipped and meringue frostings myself, but none of them were really outstanding. Many times I make cake without frosting at all, just adding some powdered sugar or Cool Whip. Remember my Kitchen Tips post on Broken Buttercreams? Yeah.. I was no stranger to broken buttercreams either.

Then a few weeks ago my Sur La Table The Art and Soul of Baking cookbook hit another home run (seriously, guys.. please buy this book?). The winner this week is White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting. Yes.

I first made it to go with Devil’s Food Cupcakes for a friends birthday. I found myself going for the bowl of leftover frosting in the fridge in the middle of the night (please tell me I’m not alone here?). For weeks after that I tried to find a cake to make that would really compliment the frosting (the Devil’s Food Cupcakes were a little too dense). My plan was to make a Guinness Cake with White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting mimicking the head on a Guinness beer. My cake failed.

Last week though I paired it with Cookie Madness’ Really Good Chocolate Bundt Cake. Like the title says, the cake is really good! I’ve made it twice before and it’s always perfectly moist with a light crumb. I love adding coffee to chocolate cake because it really helps the cake actually taste like chocolate instead of flour (I’m not typically a big fan of chocolate cake.. they’re just not chocolatey!). This bundt and a drizzle of white chocolate frosting are a beautiful match. Please try it, and save some frosting for me.

White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking
makes enough to drizzle over one 10 inch bundt

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (I used low-fat with fine results)
3/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract
4 ounces white chocolate (I use white chocolate chips, I can’t stand the taste of melting chocolate)

Consider rereading my Kitchen Tips post on Broken Buttercreams – using room temperature cream cheese and butter is pivotal to avoid broken frosting.

Blend cream cheese, butter and lemon extract on medium/low speed in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer, but increase the blend time a little) for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl and beat again for a few seconds. Sift in confectioners’ sugar and blend on low for a few seconds. Scrape down the bowl again and add vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute.

Melt white chocolate (see our tips for melting chocolate), and cool for a few minutes. Stir white chocolate then add to the cream cheese mixture. Beat thoroughly.

Use immediately, or, frosting can be made up to 3 days in advance if kept refrigerated in an airtight container. To soften, allow it to sit out to room temperature for 30 minutes.

Not very halloween-y, but incredibly cool. Waaaaay beyond my skill level, but reminds me of some of the wicked cake decorating my sister has done. Anyone else got some cool cake art? E-mail us!

The 5-Minute Mug Cake? Really?

A friend of mine recently returned to school and as such has a much more busy schedule. We were talking recently and she mentioned something called the five-minute mug cake. Apparently, you make this concoction by combining all its ingredients into a standard coffee mug and microwaving for a few minutes. This sounds like a recipe for disaster to me; though I must admit to turning my nose up to using the microwave for any real cooking (Hello my name is Edwin and I am a food snob).

What’s your reaction? Have any of you tried this? I shall attempt this and report back!

Food Photography – Some Stellar Utah Cheesecake

While on our way to Zion National Park, we made a much-needed stop in a little town called Kanab, Utah. The drive from the Grand Canyon was long; not just because of the distance but also because there was nothing to see. Just desert and plains with nary a town in sight. Brutal. When we drove into Kanab we had to stop.

While there we had a quick dinner at Grandma Tina’s (which was horrible. don’t eat there) and then visited an establishment called The Rocking V Cafe. They claimed to have an amazing Pecan Caramel Cheesecake, winner of many local awards, and I have to say it was amazing. Maybe it was the lousy pasta we just had, but the way the caramel worked with the cheesecake and the pecans adding a slight touch was a work of art.

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

So, if you’re ever passing through Kanab, get the cheesecake!

Our 200th Post! Plus Red, White and Blueberry Trifle

Today is an exciting day at DinnerCakes because we get to celebrate! Not only is it our last work day before the start of a long holiday weekend, it’s also our 200th post! (Insert blaring trumpets here!)


A lot has changed around here since Edwin and I first started documenting our culinary adventures, making messes in the kitchen and packing away more food than we probably should.

If you’re new to DinnerCakes, we invite you to take a look around and enjoy a sample of our favorite recipes and most memorable recent posts:

Chef Edwin’s Favorites

Heather – Ghost Baker’s Favorites


But we also can’t forget, fourth of July weekend is upon us! Every year my husband wants to throw a party… not a fourth of July party, but specifically “America’s Birthday Party,” with party hats and all. Unfortunately he hasn’t yet moved from the idea stage into the logistics stage.

I’m all for celebrating America’s birth, but I’m not so much into cakes decorated like flags and such – that’s why a red, white and blue trifle works perfectly for me!

pound cake slices

This time of year is all about berries that burst with color, and I think they look amazing in a trifle bowl. I made a Double-Vanilla Pound Cake from Sur La Table’s “The Art and Soul of Baking.” You can even see the little vanilla bean flecks if you look closely. It’s an amazing book that offers a deep dive to those looking to get serious about baking. You can find the pound cake recipe reprinted here – the only thing I changed was that I used non-fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream and I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour (removing two tablespoons of all-purpose flour and replacing it with two tablespoons of corn starch, to imitate cake flour).

berries in trifle bowl

The pound cake turned out perfectly and full of delicious vanilla flavor. I also added vanilla pudding, fat free Cool Whip, and loads of blueberries and strawberries to my trifle. I tried hard to restrain myself from adding any extra sugar or sweeteners like coconut, jam or a spritz of juice. While these things can definitely make your trifle either more sweet or tart, the fresh berries, vanilla pound cake, Cool Whip and pudding give it enough flavor that it doesn’t need any extra.

What are you making for fourth of July festivities?


Red, White and Blueberry Trifle

Double-Vanilla Pound Cake (or pound cake of your choice, cubed)
1 pound strawberries, washed and sliced
1 pint blueberries, washed
1 3 oz. package of vanilla pudding
2 cups milk (for the pudding)
1 regular size container fat free Cool Whip

Combine 2 cups of milk with vanilla pudding mix on medium heat and bring to a boil, stir constantly. When done, set aside to cool.

Cube pound cake and add a layer to the bottom of the trifle bowl. Surround with a layer of strawberries and blueberries. Drizzle some pudding over the pound cake, followed by three dollops of Cool Whip. Repeat the layering process until complete. Scoop a large dollop of Cool Whip on top to complete. Serve chilled.

Lightened Up Strawberry Cake

It seems fitting to share this cake today, just after father’s day, because this is a cake I worked on with my father in mind.

batter that looks and tastes like strawberry ice cream

I’ve mentioned before that my dad adheres to an extremely strict and healthy diet (no eggs, butter, oil, cheese, etc.). This is hard for me, because I think trying to make desserts healthier is a slippery slope. I’ve been scorned by too many dry bran muffins and eggless applesauce cakes.


However, I saw a recipe for a Pink Lady Cake on Smitten Kitchen, and I thought it might translate well to a healthier version. Instead of a large triple layer cake I decided to cut down on the portions and make it into a bundt cake. I also used egg white substitute and I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter’s new Cooking & Baking sticks.

lightened batter

I also left out the cream cheese frosting. The cake was so moist that a rich frosting wasn’t necessary (nor did it fit with my plans of being healthy!). This is great with just some fat free Cool Whip and fresh sliced strawberries. Enjoy!

lightened strawberry cake

Lightened Up Strawberry Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 5/8 teaspoons baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter’s new Cooking & Baking sticks, room temperature
3/4 cups pureed frozen strawberries
equivalent of 4 egg whites using Egg White Substitute
1/3 cup non-fat milk
2 drops red food dye (makes it nice and pink)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour bundt pan.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add room temperature butter and strawberry puree; mix to blend the ingredients. Raise speed to medium and beat a few minutes until fluffy (at this point, Smitten says, the batter looks like strawberry ice cream and warns not to try it – and she is not lying! It’s delicious!).

In another large bowl, whisk substitute egg whites, milk and red food dye to blend. Add the whites batter gradually, scraping down the sides of the bowl well periodically and mixing only until combined. Pour batter into bundt pan.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes (keep an eye on it though to prevent overbaking), or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with a dollop of cool with and fresh strawberry slices.

Day #2 of Rainbow Week – Cake Cones

You’re looking at day two of our Rainbow Week series. Click here to start on day one.

Welcome back to work (for many of you); we hope you had a great holiday! Rainbow Week continues here on DinnerCakes, and today I’ll be sharing rainbow cake cones.


Cake cones are ice cream cones filled with cake. My mom used to make them for me when I was little. It’s a fun twist on a traditional cake, and if you scoop ice cream on top instead of frosting, it’s perfect for dessert lovers who enjoy cake and ice cream. Cake cones also lend themselves particularly well to rainbow cake.



Yesterday Edwin recommended using standard food drops or fondant coloring gels. I divided yellow cake batter into small bowls and used about 1/4 teaspoon of Betty Crocker classic food coloring gels, stirring as little as possible.



I used a small spoon to pour one spoonful of each color batter into the cones. Because the cones are small, it’s easier to get an even layer of color, by moving the spoon from front to back, than it is with a large cake pan. Fill your cones about 2/3 full.

DSC_0051 (2)DSC_0070 (2)

To cook the cake cones, set the cones inside a muffin pan to keep them from falling over. For half of my cones, I made cream cheese frosting and added a few drops of food gel for color. I left the other half frosting-free so that I could scoop ice cream on top. I would recommend serving your cake cones with ice cream scoops. As you might imagine, I enjoy my cake with ice cream, but I also think it tastes better. The cake cones with frosting instead of ice cream is just a little too dry for me.


The yellow cake recipe that I used is from my Williams-Sonoma Desserts book. I will admit that I enjoyed the taste of Edwin’s rainbow cake using a gold cake recipe more than my yellow cake (yum!), but either gold or yellow will work well. Enjoy!


Finding the Perfect Yellow Cake & Frosting

If you don’t have the Williams-Sonoma “Desserts” book, I would recommend this recipe available online by Martha Stewart for a basic yellow butter cake, adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.” It is very similar to the one I used.

You may also use a box yellow cake mix if you’re so inclined. Though I will add that Edwin has said, “Every time a DinnerCakes reader makes cake from a box a piece of me dies inside.” So, do with that what you will, readers!

I recommend using an ice cream of your choice instead of frosting the cake cones, but for half of my cones I used cream cheese frosting. It doesn’t take much food gel to color the frosting; I separated the frosting into small bowls and used about 3 to 5 drops of food coloring gel. I put the frosting in a small ziploc bag and cut off the tip to create a makeshift pastry bag. For a good recipe that won’t make an obscene amount of frosting, check out this one from Anna at Cookie Madness. For a frosting that’s a little flashier, Edwin recommends this Coconut Cream Cheese recipe from 101 Cookbooks.

In case you missed Edwin’s detailed instructions on “How To Make Your Own Rainbow Cake” earlier in the week, please check it out for very useful tips and advice.

Happy Rainbow Week at DinnerCakes! Heather and I have been busy talking about things we’d like to do and the direction we’d like to take with our modest niche in the foodie world and today is one of our new things we’re trying out (you may have also noticed Heather’s Saturday post: Foodie News). Every now and then we’ll introduce a theme week, in which we’ll write about the topic of choice. This week’s theme is rainbow week. We’ll give you tips and tricks on how to do your own rainbow-inspired food along with ideas on where to take it. We hope you enjoy it and, as always, e-mail us if you have any suggestions!

Rainbow Cake

Today’s post is about the basics of rainbow baking. We’ll discuss what you need to do, concerns and considerations, as well as give you a recipe to try your own (in case you just want to just follow some steps).

The Color – Drops and Gel
To color your batter, you’ll use food coloring. You’ve got two choices: you can go with the standard food drops or you can go with coloring gels (like the ones used to color fondant). Both work, but there’s a slight trade-off. The gels will give you a more vibrant color, but since they’re not liquid they’ll require more stirring. More stirring means more gluten, which means less rising during baking. This is generally not a good thing for cakes; it’ll be less light and airy. With the drops you have less stirring but the colors are fainter. The ones below are with gels.

Rainbow of Colors

The Cake – Dense
Coloring your cake batter is going to require additional work after you’ve completed all your steps short of the actual baking. Even if you choose the drops, there will be more stirring which creates more gluten bonds. More gluten bonds means the cake will rise less. You really want to choose a denser cake. The effect will be less dramatic. If the cake has folded egg whites in it, forget it. Gold and yellow cakes are good candidates and, while I haven’t tried it yet, I bet a pound cake would work as well. I would not recommend this for angelfood cake.

Now, Heather says I should point out that you technically CAN use cake from a box. The rules are the same (though I’m not sure if cake mix has any real flour to form gluten with). But really, why would you want to? Every time a DinnerCakes reader makes cake from a box a piece of me dies inside, knowing we have failed you somehow.

Mixing the Batter

The Process
The process is pretty straight forward. Decide on how many colors you want (I suggest six or less and remember, the batter is already one color you could use) and separate your batter into that many portions. Add your drops of your gel. If drops, 7-12 should be enough, though it does vary depending on how dark you would want it and which color you’re working with. With the gel, see the picture below. Either way, add it all at once and start first by folding the batter and eventually transitioning to stirring. The folding distributes the coloring quickly and the stirring smooths out the color. Be sure to scrape the bottoms and the sides so everything is colored (if you have glass bowls, use them). Remember, you want to stir as little as possible


Once you’ve got your prepared batters, divide them among the cake pans. Pour one at a time directly in the center of the pan. You’re not going to get flat layers stacked on each other (I’ve tried). What you’ll get is each portion of batter pushing the other batter to the side as it fills in. It won’t result in perfect vertical bars, but it’ll definitely get the point across.

That’s all there is. Give it a shot and let us know how it turns out!

Pouring the BatterRainbow Batter

Rainbow Cake
Original recipe from Joy of Cooking.

2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
8 egg yoks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 cup milk

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cream the butter and sugar on high for 2-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat the yolks, vanilla and lemon zest for several minutes until thick and a pale yellow. Beat into the butter mixture. On low, beat the flour mixture and milk in alternates (flour-milk-flour-milk-flour). Continue until well combined.

Separate your batter into the portions and follow the guide above. Enjoy.

Two thumbs up to Anna at Cookie Madness for including on her site an archive of “Go-To” recipes. I found myself there last week as I was looking for ideas for my brother’s birthday cake. His birthday isn’t until this Saturday, but because he happened to be home for Easter I had to improvise.

My brother seems to really enjoy Cool Whip based desserts (pumpkin pie that has a layer of Cool Whip – which we refer to in the family as “Silly” Pumpkin Pie, Million Dollar Pie, Banana Cream Pie, etc.) as well as desserts that have a lot going on – like fruit, nuts and coconut. He’s not interested in things like rich chocolate cake or red velvet. Apparently there are a lot of people like that out there, but I’ve never really understood them myself. Luckily Anna had tried and tagged pretty much the perfect cake.

hummingbird cake

Hummingbird Cake
is Southern Living’s most requested recipe ever! First published in 1999, it combines chopped bananas, crushed pineapple and pecans for a unique and delightful cake. In 2001 they even posted a Lightened Hummingbird Cake, which cuts down on the sugar, eggs and oil, and removes the pecans entirely. Hummingbird Cake is also made without the assistance of either an electric beater or stand mixer (but sorry, I did use one for the frosting!).

I went for the original, non-lightened version, but I did change the frosting. The Southern Living recipe recommends a cream cheese frosting and, while I love cream cheese frosting, it just felt all wrong for this cake. I like cream cheese frosting on fairly plain, rich cakes. The Hummingbird Cake has so many neat flavors that I thought cream cheese frosting would just make it thick, unnecessarily dense and take away from the other things going on.

As you might have guessed from my comments above, I decided to use a Cool Whip based frosting. I added just a tiny bit of fat free cream cheese to the Cool Whip to give it a little thickness. Even though the cake recipe doesn’t call for it, I also added coconut (I was already so close to the Million Dollar Pie recipe that my brother loves that I figured, “why not?”).

I had to spread my frosting a little thin so that I’d have enough to cover this entire three layer cake. I’d probably recommend adding a little extra Cool Whip so that you don’t have to worry about skimping, but I’m so glad that I changed the frosting from the original cream cheese. It really left the emphasis on the cake, while giving it a little “oomph” and adding oh-so-delicious coconut. If you’re shopping for cake ideas for someone who doesn’t love decadent cakes, you have GOT to make this!

hummingbird cake slice

Hummingbird Cake Recipe
from Southern Living

Coconut Cool Whip Frosting

2 oz. fat free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered/confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
8oz. fat free Cool Whip, thawed (plus a little extra)
1-2 cups shredded coconut (start out with 1 cup and add more as desired)

In an electric or stand mixer add cream cheese and beat until softened. Slowly beat in sugar and milk. Now, fold in Cool Whip (do not beat!) using a spoon until fully incorporated. Stir in desired amount of coconut.

Cinnacrumb Cake

Hello, folks. I’m not feeling too chatty at the moment. Sadly my grandmother (my dad’s mom) passed away earlier this week. She lived a long life (over 90 years) and thankfully did not experience a debilitating and drawn out illness. My husband and I will be heading up north for the funeral and to be with family, so I’ll be unable to answer your comments and questions for a few days. You will, of course, have Chef Edwin available to answer all your DinnerCakes needs.

combining the cinnamon mixture

In times of stress I’m grateful that I can turn to baking to relax me; I can get into the rhythm and let stress (usually) melt away. I was able to squeeze in a crumb cake this week, inspired by a beautiful “big crumb coffee cake” found on Smitten Kitchen.

swirl the cinnamon mixturebig crumbs

The Smitten recipe calls for a rhubarb filling that frankly made me a little nervous. I decided to replace it with a Cinnabon/cinnamon roll filling which worked out really well. It kept the cake moist (I’ve known some crumb cakes to be sadly dry) and gave it a little depth of flavor. I use the past tense because the cake is now gone.

cinnacrumb cake

Cinnacrumb Cake

For the cake and big crumb recipe, please see Smitten Kitchen.

Leave out the rhubarb filling and replace it with the following –
Cinnabon/cinnamon roll filling
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
dash allspice
1 tablespoon ground pecans

Follow Smitten’s instructions for the cake. Pour half the batter into a prepared 8-inch-square baking pan (I lined mine with parchment paper). Combine the cinnamon filling ingredients and sprinkle over the batter and try to spread it out evenly. Using a toothpick, marble the cinnamon mixture into the batter. Finish by pouring the rest of the batter on top and sprinkle with crumbs in large chunks.

On my cake, the cinnamon mixture bubbled up over top of the crumbs a little bit in one corner. I was fine with this, but if it will bother you then you may want to cut the cinnamon filling in half.

Bake for about 50 minutes on 325F; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.