Baked Chocolate Coconut Doughnuts


Back to my blog – hope you haven’t forgotten me. I have been cooking and baking a lot this fall but have not taken the time to update and publish. Let me know what you think of these semi-healthy doughnuts..

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray (I like the ones made with coconut oil)


First, mix together in medium bowl:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

Then stir in:

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil

1/2 teaspoon coconut emulsion

Transfer batter to gallon ziploc bag. Snip off corner, then fill each doughnut pan cavity 3/4 full. Bake until puffed and golden, about 8-10 minutes. After 5 minutes, gently transfer to wire rack to cool. Then prepare glaze.

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup good cocoa powder

4-6 tablespoons milk

Blend until smooth. Dip each doughnut in glaze and top with toasted coconut flakes and sprinkle with mini semi sweet chocolate chips.



French Toast Bake with Fresh Strawberries


This is the perfect weekend brunch treat for friends and family. You can even prepare it the night before and store tightly covered in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. There is enough for 10-12 hungry guests!


1 loaf crusty french bread or brioche bread

8 eggs

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup  heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

struesel topping

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup candied pecans  (optional)

on the side

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled, sliced and macerated in 1/4 cup granulated sugar.

Grease (with nonstick cooking spray or butter) a 9 by 13 inch or similar size rectangular baking pan. Tear the bread into 1 inch chunks and evenly distribute in pan. Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugars and nutmeg and pour evenly over bread. If you are making the night before, cover tightly and store in refrigerator. Make struesel topping, and store in sealed plastic bag.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add butter using a pastry cutter or fork, combine butter with dry ingredients until blended thoroughly and mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Bake 30 minutes, then remove from oven and top evenly with streusel topping. Return to even and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until medium brown on top. Serve immediately with hot maple syrup and macerated fresh strawberries.

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 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!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Choc Chip

Today is the first day it seems like fall – maybe because it is the first day in months I can remember it not being at least 90 degrees. Also, it is raining today – yay! (for most of you this might not be such a cause for celebration – but this is our first fall rain and we are in year three of a major drought in northern California) If you notice that your fruits and veggies are a bit pricier – that’s because this is where the majority of vegetables and nuts are grown in the US – and we have had a bone dry summer with several major wildfires. My hubby and I are wondering how all of this draught and smoke are affecting the wine grapes…..but that is a story for another blog post. In the fall I dig out all of my pumpkin recipes and pretty much go pumpkin crazy. I don’t think about the stuff any other time of year – but the first cool day and I start to is the proof:


This was what I brought home from my first trip to Trader Joe’s from last fall. I know….but those of you who are hard core foodies will totally get it. So for the next month or so, I will be sharing my favorite recipes from Pumpkinville. First up are these amazing muffins – low in fat, high in flavor. Grab one out the door in the morning with your cup of coffee, or keep them on hand for pop by guests. Super easy to make, and you can double the recipe if you are expecting a crowd for brunch.


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 can solid pack pumpkin (my favorite is Trader Joe’s Organic but you can use any brand)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli..and no, they aren’t paying me to say that. i just love their chocolate!)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 inch standard size cupcake tin with baking cups. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in medium bowl. In a larger bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and 1 1/4 cups sugar. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Divide batter among muffin cups , each will be about 3/4 full. Stir together last tablespoon of sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle equally over each muffin. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.


More pumpkin treats to follow….

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.