Dark Chocolate Dipped Madelines


The idea for this recipe came from Starbucks -they discontinued my favorite chocolate dipped madeleines and now just have the plain ones. Then I found this amazing product – Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers – that made this recipe even easier to make.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup sugar

4 ounces Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees if using a dark metallic nonstick madeleine pan). Melt butter in microwave. Let cool for 5 minutes then brush butter lightly into each madeleine plaque. Let remaining butter cool another 5-10 minutes until just warm. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Combine egg, lemon peel, vanilla bean paste, almond extract and sugar and beat for 15-20 seconds at medium speed. Stir into flour mixture and beat a few seconds more. Add reserved butter and mix thoroughly until just combined. (do not over mix) Spoon into molds of pan, dividing equally (each mold should be a little more than half full) Bake 12-14 minutes until just golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes, then unmold and transfer to wire rack to cool thoroughly. Melt chocolate in a glass Pyrex measuring cup in microwave. Dip each madeleine in glass cup and set on wax paper to dry. These are best served the same day, or you can store in airtight container an additional day or two.


Gooey Butter Cake – a St. Louis original!

Gooey Butter Close Up

This weekend the hubs and I are invited to a friend’s Octoberfest party and of course everyone is supposed to bring German food to share.  We both have some German ancestors, but I rarely, if ever, cook German food. So I was wracking my brain to think of German dishes as I was browsing recipes on my laptop while sitting in front of the television watching baseball – then inspiration hit. Watching my favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals, made me think of all of the uniquely St. Louis foods I remember eating growing up. My favorite was an awesomely decadent treat called Gooey Butter Cake.

Like most urban legends, there are several different versions of how it was created and each probably has some element of truth to it. This is how Wikipedia describes it: Gooey butter cake is a type of cake traditionally made in the American Midwest city of St. Louis. Gooey butter cake is a flat and dense cake made with wheat cake flour, butter, sugar, and eggs, typically near an inch tall, and dusted with powdered sugar. While sweet and rich, it is somewhat firm, and is able to be cut into pieces similarly to a brownie. Gooey butter cake is generally served as a type of coffee cake and not as a formal dessert cake. There are two distinct variants of the gooey butter: a bakers’ gooey butter and a cream cheese and a yellow cake mix variant. The cake was supposedly first made by accident in the 1930s by a St. Louis-area German American baker who was trying to make regular cake batter but reversed the proportions of butter and flour. John Hoffman was the owner of the bakery where the mistake was made. The real story is there are two types of butter “smears” used in a bakery: a gooey butter and a deep butter. The deep butter was used for deep butter coffee cakes. The gooey butter was used as an adhesive for things like Danish rolls and stollens. The gooey butter was smeared across the surface, then the item was placed in coconut, hazelnuts, peanuts, crumbs or whatever was desired so they would stick to the product. Hoffman hired a new baker that was supposed to make deep butter cakes, but got the two butter smears mixed up. The mistake wasn’t caught until after the cakes came out of the proof box. Rather than throw them away, Hoffman went ahead and baked them up. This was around the time of the Great Depression so that was another reason to be thrifty. The new type of cake sold so well, Hoffman kept producing them and soon, so did the other bakers around St. Louis. Today, the best place in St. Louis to buy it is here…

exterior Gooey Louie

This is Gooey Louie’s…yes an ENTIRE STORE dedicated to Gooey Butter Cake!

Tthey sell about 10 different variations in addition to the original recipe..my favorites are Chocolate Chip and “Hwy 40: Driving Me Nuts”.


The version I make is the “shortcut” version with yellow cake mix but honestly I have made it from scratch and with cake mix and the taste is almost identical. Try it and you can call yourself a St. Louisan for a day…then tell me if you can stop at just one piece!

Susan’s St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake


1 box yellow cake mix

3 large eggs, divided

8 ounces unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or good quality vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 by 9 inch or 9 by 11 inch baking pan with nonstick flour based spray.  In a medium sized bowl, combine yellow cake mix, 1 egg and melted butter. Press into pan with your fingers, making a crust up the sides. It should look like this:


Use an electric mixer to blend cream cheese, 2 beaten eggs and 2 cups powdeded sugar and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Pour into pan and bake 35-40 minutes or until edges are browned. Dust with remaining powdered sugar after cake has cooled. Serve at room temperature. Store in airtight cake safe at room temperature. We are off to the party – hope the Butterkuchen is a hit!


Light and Fluffy Vegan Pancakes


“Necessity is the mother of invention” – anonymous proverb.

One of our favorite things around here is weekend pancake breakfasts – my husband makes the most amazing pancakes!  Usually he makes them on lazy Sunday mornings or on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning – or whenever we have the time to hang out and relax. Recently a family member became a vegan (I can’t say who because she hates it when I talk to people about her being a vegan – but it is the only minor currently living with us.) We wanted to continue the pancake tradition so she could be included but didn’t want to give up the  amazing flavor of our homemade ones.

This recipe uses almond milk and vanilla bean paste for flavor, and extra baking powder for lightness and airiness. Even if you aren’t a vegan these are definitely worth a try –  this is a healthier, lower fat version of the original classic comfort food.


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups water

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into large mixing bowl. Whisk remaining ingredients together in seperate bowl. Make a well in center of dry ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until just blended; do not over mix  (batter will be lumpy.)

Heat lightly oiled griddle to 425 degrees. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto griddle and cook until bubbles form on top of pancakes and edges are dry. Flip and cook until browned on griddle side.  Repeat with remaining batter. Top with powdered sugar and maple syrup and serve hot. Makes about 12 medium sized pancakes.

Easy Bisquick Cinnamon Rolls


Happy April – I’m back! I am overdue for a post – and I have been thinking about what my first April recipe should be. I am always working on healthy and seasonal recipes and am working towards cooking and baking with only what is in season. That is my plan for this spring – no excuse when I live in Northern California and there is an abundance of local fresh fruits and veggies.  In my role as a non profit event manager (I haven’t yet figured out how to pay the bills blogging – ideas, anyone?) the last six weeks or so I have been planning for my first two events of the season (back to back weekends) so this is the first weekend that I have time to write. We are spending the weekend at our family cabin on the west shore of Lake Tahoe and  I brought along a couple of books I have been wanting to read – Anna Quindlen’s “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” is on the top of the stack.  This recipe is nether locally sourced or healthy – but for a holiday weekend brunch it is perfect! Sometimes you just need some comfort food and a good book to recharge your batteries…. and yes we are going on a long bike ride later this afternoon to burn up all of the carbs!


4 cups Bisquick dry mix

1 1/3 cups buttermilk

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped pecans

3 tablespoons melted butter, divided

3/4 cup butter melted and cooled


2 cups powdered sugar

4-5 tablespoons milk

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


In a large bowl, combine Bisquick, buttermilk and 4 tablespoons sugar, using a fork and just combining until a dough is formed. In a separate medium bowl, combine brown sugar, remaining granulated sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter, stir to mix thoroughly and set aside.

Generously flour rolling surface, then turn dough onto surface and using floured hands. Pat into rectangular shape. Use a floured rolling pin to roll out dough to approx 3/4 inch thickness. Pour remaining melted butter onto dough, using a pastry brush to spread evenly. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over dough. Start rolling dough from long end, away from you , jellyroll style until completely rolled. Slice roll into approximately 1 inch slices, using a wire pastry cutter or a large sharp floured knife. Arrange rolls side by side in a  9 X 13 glass or shiny metal plan, sprayed with a flour nonstick cooking spray or generously buttered. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until tops of rolls are just lightly browned. Make glaze and thin with additional milk to desired consistency. Remove rolls from pan individually, drizzling each with glaze before serving.


Here are the rolls ready to go into the oven. Don’t worry they don’t have to be perfect – they will taste amazing!