pumpkin funfetti cake + treat yourself challenge

Please forgive me if every dessert on my blog from here on incorporates funfetti. The reason I like sprinkles is the same reason I like champagne, their mere presence calls for a celebration. That is what this cake is all about. Rich, spicy pumpkin cake with cool cream cheese frosting and crunchy candy sprinkles to top it off.  

pumpkin funfetti cake mindful eating
pumpkin funfetti cake mindful eating
funfetti pumpkin cake

you should eat cake 

This might come as a shock but mindful eating does not mean you can only eat local kale. In fact the philosophy is that nothing is off limits, instead, the focus is to joyfully take pleasure in a huge range of foods. Eat cake, please! Just pay attention while you are doing it, allow yourself to take pleasure in every bite. Focus on what makes your body feel good. Intuitively our bodies can tell us when they've had enough. One small piece of cake might give you a tiny sugar buzz, on the other hand, eating a whole tub of frosting may cause your stomach to freak out . When you are full, stop and take a moment to be grateful that someone made you a god dang gorgeous cake. My advice is to put away your distractions, eat slowly, and give the cake all the attention it deserves. 

mindful treat-yo-self challenge 

Try this as a fun treat-yo-self moment: take 10 mins just to eat a piece of cake and do nothing else. Set the timer on your phone, and really extend the experience. Try to do this when you are actually hungry, I don't know about you but in my experience being hungry usually makes things taste awesome. Pretend that you are a professional taste tester and have to submit a detailed taste review of this piece of cake (or an equivalently decadent treat) to a magazine. Compared to standing in the kitchen, texting, and scarfing it down in 2 minutes, my guess is the treat-yo-self way will be more satisfying. But don't take my word try it yourself!   

pumpkin funfetti cake

This has been adapted from Cooking Classy. I also have to give a general shout out to Molly from my name is yeh for just generally making funfetti cool again. Check out her gorgeous version of this here

ingredients
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 cups sugar ( I like to use sugar in the raw)
3/4 cup dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, soft/room temp
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk

frosting
12 oz. cream cheese, soft/room temp
3/4 cup butter, soft/room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 - 5 cups powdered sugar
rainbow sprinkles to taste (maybe 1/2 cup or more if you want to get crazy)

instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. This fills three, 9-inch cake pans. Or you can make a smaller cake and cupcakes (that is what I did). Just make sure to not over fill your cake pans as the dough will rise! Butter your cake pans. 

2. Mix together all your dry ingredients except the sugars.
3. In another large bowl, mix together the butters and sugars, then add the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Then add the pumpkin and milk to the wet mix. (Note - it is freaking amazing if you use actual roasted pumpkin here, but for use mere mortals, the canned stuff will do fine :) 
4. Slowly, add the flour mix to the butter/sugar pumpkin bowl. 
5. Pour into the cake pans and bake for 30-35min until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool. Frost. Add Sprinkles.

decorating pro tips
1. The most important thing is to make sure your cake cools down. Cover in plastic wrap right away out of the oven and pop it in the fridge or freezer for 15 mins, this helps retain moisture if you do it right away. 
2. To learn how to get the cake frosted very evenly, there are A LOT of youtube videos out there for you. But the short summary is: you cut off the 'cake dome' a very thin layer off the top to make a flat surface. Next you frost a very thin 'crumb' layer around the outside, after that you put the cake back in the fridge for 15 mins and only then do you frost the outside of the cake. If you have a turntable and a frosting spatula, you can make this sucker real strait!  

ginger spice ice cream sandwiches

I can't believe such perfect cookies for ice cream sandwiches came out of my oven. These are super soft and chewy which makes them an ideal ice cream sandwich partner and the sugar coating gives them a nice crunch. I am a sucker for spiced treats in the fall, so I really went for it with the ginger and cinnamon here, but feel free to use at your own discretion. You can freeze these and whip them out at dinner parties for oohs and ahhs.  The cookies are very simple and the ice cream only has two ingredients: bananas and cinnamon. 

soft ginger ice cream cookie sandwiches

put down the phone

All I ask is that when you eat these, please put away all your distractions. Turn off the TV, computer, and phone. Just take the time to only concentrate on this amazing cookie sandwich when you eat it. No one is so busy that they can't take 5 minutes to enjoy a treat, and only do that. I promise it will taste better if you take this advice. Just try it.

This recipe in concept was very heavily inspired by the wonderful folks at the minimalist baker who did an all vegan/gluten free version, and my bible: the cookiepedia by stacy adimando.  

ginger spice ice cream sandwiches

Makes: 4 Dozen Cookies
(or more if you make them tiny like me) 

cookies:
2 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 sugar (I like the course in the raw!) plus extra for rolling (it will change your life)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark molasses

ice cream:
5 ripe frozen bananas
4 tablespoons of cinnamon

note: you can swap in store bought ice cream. I ensure you these will still taste good! But really, try making banana ice cream, it is good.

instructions:

ice cream
If you are going to make your own banana ice cream, start now. Use bananas that are very ripe because they will taste a whole lot sweeter. Peel and cut the bananas into small pieces and put into a tupperware or wrap in parchment paper, or put into a ziplock bag. Freeze for at least four hours or overnight. After freezing, separate the pieces as much as you can before blending, if the blender stalls, add a little water or milk, or let the bananas thaw slightly. Then add your cinnamon (or get creative). Next put the banana ice cream back into the freezer until hard (probably 2-3 hours depending on your freezer). 

fall spice cookies
Combine all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and set aside. Cream the sugars and butter together, this works best with a mixer, but by hand will work as well. Add the vanilla and egg and mix well, then add the molasses and mix until combined.  Cover the dough for 15-20 mins in the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 325F. Pour some extra raw sugar into a small bowl, I also added a pinch of sea salt to this mix. Roll the dough into 1/2 inch -1 inch balls and then roll them around in the sugar/salt mix. Bake for 8-10mins at 325 (don't overcook so they stay soft). 

Assemble the cookies by freezing the cookies for about 15min-20min or until completely cold and hard. Let the ice cream soften just slightly. Then scoop and assemble! 
 

 

chocolate almond crunch bites + how to eat a cookie well

These puppies are pretty amazing. Every texture you could imagine is packed into this salty sweet and crunchy treat. It combines my absolute favorite peanut butter cookie recipe with a beautiful coconut chocolate coating and salty oven-roasted almonds. No one told me until much too late in my life that roasting nuts for a couple of minutes in the oven make them taste 500% better! I also use raw sugar and coarse sea salt to coat the cookies giving them a really wonderful crunchiness. The cookies are under-baked slightly so they and super soft and creamy in the middle.  I will not allow you to eat these with any guilt, just pure joy. 

how to eat a treat = stop feeling guilty 

Let's face it, eating sweet treats is both wonderful and can bring up a lot of mixed emotions. In addition to excitement and joy you might feel: guilt, anxiety about gaining weight, shame , the works! My opinion is that chocolates, cakes, cookies, fruits are the essence of celebration and its a huge shame that we (especially Americans) tend to wast the experience with all this baggage!

The secret  I've found is that if you learn to eat mindfully, slow down and bring your full awareness to eating sweets, with no judgment, you tend to be satisfied with less. And you are much less likely to over-do it or binge. Here are my quick tips for eating a cookie well:

  • Leave room! Really things taste so much better when you are actually still hungry
  • Wait before you eat! This is so hard with a tempting cookie in front of you. But taking a couple of deep breathes will help you center and keep your attention on the goods!
  • Take small bites, usually foods like these are so rich, that every tiny bite has an amazing amount of flavor. The bonus here is that your cookie will last so much longer = your pleasure it eating it will too! 

1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar (in the raw is best!)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Coating
8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1/2 cup almonds (oven roasted for about 5 mins and chopped finely)
Extra raw sugar + a rough sea salt for coating

Preheat the over to 375F. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the egg and vanilla, add the peanut butter. Combine all the dry ingredients separately, then combine them with the butter/sugar mix. Before baking your cookies coat with a healthy dose of the raw sugar/sea salt mix. This adds so much texture! Drop even spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet (that have been lightly greased or use parchment paper)  Use a fork to lightly flatten the balls and bake for about 10 mins ( don't over cook these guys!)

Combine your chocolate and coconut oil and microwave unit just soft. Make sure the cookies completely cool. Dip each one into the chocolate coating and then sprinkle the almonds on top. I also added a little sea salt to the almond mix it brings out the flavor of the chocolate. I recommend using parchment paper here for ease of cleaning up!

ginger carrot cupcakes + wedding love

 

The best thing about carrot cake is how moist and creamy they turn out compared to other cakes. These little treats have amazing flavor depth and a little texture to keep it interesting. The roasted pecans, take this creation to another level. I've said it before and I'll say it again, roast your nuts friends, it makes all the difference in the world.  

I made for my dear friends' wedding last summer. The test runs all spring kept my friends happy, and my fiance in a near-diabetes state. This was the most professional baking situation I've ever gotten myself into. It turns out that baking 200 cupcakes takes a really long time. My saving grace was that I ended up with an amazing army of helpers that helped me enormously. (I need to give a shout out to the mother of the groom who let me destroy her kitchen for an afternoon)  

Photo Credits: Meg Haley (http://www.meghaleyweddings.com)  You should check out this amazing photographer!  

ginger carrot cupcakes

Serving: makes 25 cupcakes (I'll spare you the 200 serving version)

ingredients
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon (i go heavy)
- 1 tablespoon of very finely shredded ginger (or ground)
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup roasted pecans (mix with a little sugar before roasting for 5 min)
optional: golden raisins

frosting
- 8oz butter
- 8oz cream cheese
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- a little milk to thin if needed

instructions
1. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices into one bowl. Then mix the sugars, oil and eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Then add in the carrots to the sugar mix, then add in the dry mix one half at a time.  
2. Transfer the cupcake mix to greased cupcake tins or use cupcake liners. Bake at 350F for 20-25 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
3. Combine all the frosting ingredients, use a little milk if you'd like to thin out the frosting a little. An electric mixer helps here!  Make sure the cupcakes are absolutely, completely, 100% cool before you frost these puppies. My trick is to pop them in the freezer to speed up the process.

design notes: I used an inexpensive frosting bag and tips (you can get these from most big grocery stores) to create the frosting swirls. Also I added little orange food coloring to some of the frosting, and chopped some extra pecans for the garnish!  

 

 

banana ice cream w/ blackberry + coconut and cinnamon

If you've been living under a rock, let me catch you up: banana 'nice cream' is all the rage. This is a super simple recipe, ready for it: Blend. Frozen, Bananas. That is it! There are a lot of beautiful creations out there by nice cream masters. I have to admit when I first discovered this instagram black hole of beautiful 'nice cream' pictures, I was worried I might end up a pintrest fail. I am pleasantly surprised to report that it went really well, and I would highly recommend you try it in your kitchen. I put my special touch on this by mixing in a little cinnamon and blackberry to really make this creamy treat sing. Enjoy! 

blackberry nice cream

Other nice cream creators might say you have to own an amazing blender to pull this off, and while I do agree equipment is important here, but my nutribullet could handle it fairly easily. 

Ingredients
2 ripe bananas that have been frozen for 4+ hours
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup frozen blackberries

Instructions
Use very ripe bananas, this will make the treat sweeter. Peel and cut the bananas into small pieces and put into a tupperware, wrap in parchment paper or a ziplock bag. Freeze for at least four hours. After freezing, separate the pieces as much as you can before blending, if the blender stalls, add a little water or milk, or let the bananas thaw slightly. Then add your blackberries and cinnamon (or get creative). You can enjoy right away, or stick into the freezer for scoping an even firmer treat latter on.