Monday, June 25, 2012

Never Underestimate the Power of Cake

One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou says "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" . It's a motto I try to live my life by, especially in the month of June (Lol)! I may have mentioned that June is a big birthday month for me. I know at least 10 people with birthdays in June and I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate several of them. There's something special about baking someone a birthday cake for their birthday. It makes them smile, it makes them happy, it warms your heart and makes them feel... loved.

Happy Birthday to all my family & friends born in June!!

For my Sister-in-Law, I made Dorie Greenspan's French Yogurt Cake, but I filled and topped it with with fresh berries, peaches and whipped cream. It was light, creamy and delicious. The perfect ending to a heavy meal.

My good friends Yvonne, (my partner in crime on this blog & other things), and Teresa both have birthdays late in the month. We have a long history together and I wanted to make something special for each of them for their surprise birthday get-together. For Yvonne, it was a no-brainer, I made her favorite cake, German Chocolate, using the recipe for my German Chocolate Cupcakes but turning it into a cake. For Teresa, I had to use a sneakier approach. I went on her Pinterest board and checked out her pins. The girl had a lot of Cheesecakes pinned and since Cheesecakes are my specialty, it was pretty much a done deal. I came up with a Lemon Scented Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust topped with a Blackberry compote and a mixture of Fresh Berries.

The birthday girls

The girls  sure did some damage on these cakes!

My God-Daughter, Lexi, asked me to bake her something special for her birthday and left the choice up to me. Since her favorite flavor is Cookies & Cream, I made mini Cookies & Cream Cheesecakes and threw in some Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes for good measure! Since I didn't have Mascarpone Cheese on hand, I used a different recipe for the frosting which I will post below.

After all that, the big task was sending something to my sister for her birthday. Her favorite cake also happens to be German Chocolate, but since she recently moved to the Bay Area I wasn't able to bake and ship her a cake. Instead I decided to send her cookies incorportating some of her favorite flavors. For her, I made Coconut Cranberry Chews (she loves these cookies but somehow they keep getting crossed off of the Holiday Cookie List), Dark Chocolate and Espresso Shortbread and what I call "Brookies" which is a combination brownie-cookie that starts off with boxed brownie mix. Hey, after all that baking, I had to take one shortcut....

Today I am sharing the recipe for the "Brookies". I saw this recipe on Pinterest and the picture was so enticing I had to give it a try. The only update I made was to add a dash of vanilla extract and increase the amount of chocolate chunks  called for in the recipe. In my opinion, you can never have enough chocolate chunks. I hope you enjoy the easy and delicious recipe.

Makes about 20 cookies
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

** Plan ahead. Dough needs to be refrigerated for 2 hours before baking. **


1 box brownie mix (your favorite brand)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup butter melted & cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water (or more if needed)
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chunks (I chopped up part of the Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bar)


Preheat oven to 350

Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

In a large bowl, whisk the brownie mix, flour and brown sugar.

Using a heavy wooden spoon, stir in the eggs one at a time. The mixture will still be very dry.

Stir in the melted butter and vanilla extract. The dough will still be dry with some flour spots remaining.

Stir in the 2 tablespoons of water. At this point the dough should come together and resemble a cookie batter. If the batter still feels very dry and has a lot of flour spots, stir in 1 additional tablespoon of water. I did not have to add the additional water.

Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Cover dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets or use a small cookie scoop. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.

This is the dough before flattening

Bake 8-10 minutes, until slightly set but the cookie still looks slighly moist in the middle. Do not overbake. You want the cookies to be slightly gooey in the middle.

Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Now doesn't that look like a brownie and a cookie?

These cookies are best enjoyed warm or within one day of baking. Can be reheated for a few seconds in the microwave to refresh the goo-factor.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting (used for the Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes)


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup strawberry preserves
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (can also use half & half or milk)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using your hand mixer), beat the softened butter at medium speed until creamy and fluffy, approx 3 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the strawberry preserves and mix well to combine. Add one cup of the powdered sugar amd mix well at medium speed, gradually add the additional powdered sugar while the mixer is running and beat to combine well. Add the tablespoon of heavy whipping cream and beat to combine. Check consistency, it should be a nice, creamy, pipeable consistency. Add more powdered sugar if you like stiffer frosting or add a little more cream if you prefer it creamier.


  1. Wow you were busy! :D I think you win the best friend award!

    1. Yes actually, I think I should now that you mention it! (haha) It was my pleasure and I totally enjoyed it.

  2. Absolutely loved the cookies!