Apple “Jack” Donut Cake


As you have learned from the past few weeks of blog posts, I love fall. From the changing leaves to the pumpkins everywhere to the seasonal foods, fall is definitely my favorite season.

One of my favorite fall traditions is going with my family to a local farm to buy apples, look at all the different pumpkins and gourds, and dig into fresh apple cider donuts. A relaxing day spent with the people I love… and cider donuts.

Apple cider donuts are an interesting food. They are soft, cake-like, and spiced on the inside with a firm outer crust that is covered in sweet sanding sugar… basically the perfect balance of textures and flavors. I love apple cider donuts so much that I actually had them instead of cake for my 6th birthday!

The apple farm is usually swamped on weekends, so apple cider donuts have been hard to come by this season. But when my mom showed me a recipe that she saw on Facebook for APPLE CIDER DONUT CAKE, I was sold. We had to make it and we had to make it now.

With a few tweaks, I think we made a pretty delicious cake. There are a couple stages of ingredients and steps, but the results are definitely worth it.

It starts with the dry ingredients.


In a large bowl, I combined flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Then set the bowl aside as I got the wet ingredients together.

The first component of the wet ingredients is an apple puree that is made from boiling cubes of apple in apple cider until they are soft and tender.


Any firm apple works here – I personally like granny smith or gala apples the best!
When the apples are tender, let the mixture cool slightly before transferring it to a blender or food processor. NOTE: when blending a hot liquid, only fill the blender up halfway and crack the top open and cover with a tea towel. This will prevent the top from flying off and hot apples going everywhere.


Puree until completely smooth. Pour out one cup of the apple puree mixture – if there is not enough apple puree, add in some more apple cider to make up the difference. Then add in a ¼ cup skim milk – stir to combine and then set aside.

Now it’s time to bring out the big guns… your stand mixer!


In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine some butter (okay, one stick), some granulated sugar, and some brown sugar. Beat until fluffy.


Then slowly add in three eggs, some vegetable oil, and some vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract and stir until combine. Then, with the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients alternatively with the apple puree – starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. I recommend using a spatula to do one last mix to combine anything that is stuck on the bottom of the bowl.


Pour the batter into a bundt pan, preferably one without a fancy pattern – this is a donut, after all! Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, you can whip up the two “toppings” for the cake – a glaze and a cinnamon sugar sprinkle.


For the glaze, heat butter, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and add in some…


… whiskey! Apples and whiskey (just like bananas and whiskey) go together really well. If you don’t like whiskey, you can substitute some apple cider instead. Then set the glaze aside until the cake is done.

Now, all that’s left is to make the cinnamon sugar.


In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously until combined.

Now we assemble!


When the cake is done, cool it for a few minutes in the bundt pan then turn it out onto a cooling rack set over a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Let the cake cool slightly.


When the cake has cooled, start to brush the cake with the whiskey syrup. I do this in several stages to allow for maximum syrup soakage.


When all the syrup has been brushed on the cake, sprinkle on half the cinnamon sugar mixture onto the cake, making sure to cover the top and the sides. Wait 10 minutes and repeat with the other half of the cinnamon sugar.

Now it’s time to dig in!


Not quite the same thing as a cider donut, but delicious nonetheless… A perfect homage to a childhood favorite!

So, kiddos, do you like cider donuts? What’s your favorite fall food? Let me know!

Your cider donut obsessed friend,


  • Servings: 12 people
  • Difficulty: medium
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For the cake:

1 firm apple (I like granny smith), peeled and chopped

¾ cup apple cider

¼ cup skim milk

2½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

⅛ teaspoon ground allspice

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar, packed

3 eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

For the glaze:

½ stick unsalted butter

¼ cup granulated sugar

⅛ cup water

¼ cup whiskey

For the cinnamon sugar:

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon nutmeg



  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease your bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a small sauce pan, combine the chopped apple and cider. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes until the apples are tender. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before blending. If you are using a conventional blender, fill only halfway, slightly crack the lid (to prevent the top from blowing off), and then cover the lid with a towel before blending. If you are using a food processor, only fill to the max liquid line. Blend until completely smooth.
  3. Measure out one cup of the apple puree – if you do not have enough liquid, add in additional apple cider to make the full amount. Add in the skim milk, stir to combine and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Stir to combine and set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add in the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffly, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, followed by the vegetable oil and vanilla bean paste/extract. Stir to completely combine, stopping to scrap down the sides.
  6. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture and the apple puree, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  8. While the cake is baking, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the whiskey – be careful because the mixture will bubble up! Set aside.
  9. While the cake is baking, make the cinnamon sugar. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously. Set aside.
  10. When the cake is finished, allow it to cool for about 5-10 minutes in the pan. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack set over a wax paper-lined baking rack. Let the cake cool completely.
  11. When the cake has cooled, brush the cake with the glaze – work in batches to cover the top and sides, allowing one coat to sink into the cake before adding in another. When all the glaze has been brushed onto the cake, sprinkle the cake with the cinnamon sugar – I recommend sprinkling half the cinnamon sugar onto the cake, waiting ten minutes for it to set, and then sprinkling on the second half.

Serve alongside a cold glass of milk. Enjoy!


Recipe lightly adapted from:


Nutrition Information (1 serving):

391 calories Ÿ• 54gm carbohydrates Ÿ• 1gm fiber Ÿ• 4gm protein •Ÿ 17gm fat Ÿ• 8gm saturated fat Ÿ• 330mg sodium Ÿ• 77mg cholesterol Ÿ• 2mg iron Ÿ• 68mg calcium

American Flag Cake


Happy Monday, kiddos!

How’s it going? How was your 4th of July? Did you have a great weekend with your family and friends?

I had a wonderful holiday full of family and good friends. E came home to celebrate, her godparents stopped for a visit as they were driving home from vacation, and we had two good friends come for dinner/dessert/fireworks. That’s exactly how I like my Independence Day celebrations – friends, family, food, and fireworks.

While dinner was all about the traditional cookout food, we decided to rebel and not serve pie for dessert (gasp!). I saw a really cool concept for a layer cake in Instyle Magazine and I had to try it out.

It starts with boxed cake mix – one box on red velvet and one box of white vanilla cake (not the yellow cake, the actual box that says “white”, or else the colors will get wonky).


I made the red velvet cake according to the package in two eight-inch pans that were sprayed with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper (for easy cake removal). For the white cake, I prepared the batter according to the directions and pour half of the batter into a sprayed and parchment-papered eight-inch cake pan. With the second half, add some blue gel food coloring into the batter until you reach the perfect shade of blue (this is about a third of a 1oz jar of food coloring).

Now, it’s all about the assembly. I cut the perfectly risen vanilla layer in half, so I had two vanilla layers. Since my red velvet cake and blue cake layers didn’t rise very much (!), I ended up having less layers in the cake than the Instyle cake. But it all worked out fine!


Place one red velvet cake layer on a plate lined with wax paper (I’m a messy icer!).


Spread on a thin layer of vanilla icing… and yes, I am using icing from a can (two and a half cans of the stuff in total).

Then place a vanilla layer and add another thin layer of icing… and yes, I forgot to take a photo of these steps.

Then plunk another red velvet cake layer onto the growing cake stack and add more icing.


Finally, it’s time to deal with the blue layer. Take the blue layer and cut a four-inch circle out of the middle of the layer.


Place the blue ring layer on top of the cake.

Then grab the second vanilla layer and cut out a four-inch circle. Pop the circle into the middle of the blue ring.



All that’s left is to frost the cake!


I usually pile a bunch of icing on the top of the cake and push it to the edges and let it fall over the sides. Then it’s easy to spread the frosting on the sides.

It’s important to pop the cake in the fridge for a little bit to let the frosting set up.


Then cut into it and show off your American pride!

Enjoy, kiddos!

Your cake makin’ friend,



Grab this recipe from Instyle Magazine’s website at!

Happy Birthday, The Cat!


Happy Easter and Passover to all who celebrate! Wishing you all the best today as you relax and enjoy your family and friends.

My Easter is officially next week, but today we are celebrating two big events – Palm Sunday and The Cat’s 11th birthday!!

And you cannot have a birthday without cake… it’s an ancient rule written somewhere. Promise.

I decided to whip up Williams-Sonoma Devil’s Food Layer Cake (in cupcake form) for The Cat’s big day. It is a super simple cake that is full of chocolate flavor!

It has four different components.


A chocolate mixture, which is a combination of unsweetened natural cocoa powder and boiling water.


A dry mixture, which is a combination of flour, baking soda, and salt.


A milk element – it is supposed to be buttermilk, but I never ever have buttermilk in the house. My easy substitute? I put one tablespoon of white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup and fill the measuring cup with milk until it reaches one cup. I let stand for 5 minutes and tada, a good buttermilk replacement.

Finally, you need a bowl with room temperature butter and some sugar.


The WS recipe calls for the batter to be made with a hand mixer, which works fine… but if you have a stand mixer, break that baby out of the cabinet. Using my hand mixer, I got butter and sugar (and then chocolate cake batter) all over my cabinets, walls, counters, and floor… so please, if you have one, use your stand mixer.


When the butter and sugar are all combined, add in the eggs one at a time. Splash in some vanilla too!


Then slowly drizzle in the cooled chocolate mixture. When it’s all combined, alternate adding in the flour and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. (forget to take pictures of said steps…)


All that’s left is to dish them up into cupcake tins lined with cupcake liners and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.


The best birthday treat ever!

You can frost the cupcakes with the recipe’s frosting but I was impatient and used a little bit of leftover canned frosting I had in the fridge. You can decorate with sprinkles, chocolate-covered candies, or just leave them unadorned… you have total creative license! Just make sure you have room for the birthday candle.


Happy Birthday, The Cat! I’m so glad that you’re mine. Now make a wish!


Enjoy the rest of your weekend, kiddos.

Your chocolate cake- and cat-obsessed friend,


This recipe can be found at Williams-Sonoma’s blog, Taste. I substituted the buttermilk with 1¼ skim milk mixed with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.

Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes


You all know that I don’t really do the whole Throwback Thursday thing, but I’m throwing it back to this weekend when I whipped up some amazing chocolate molten lava cakes.

Chocolate cake + molten center = a happy Grad School Foodie

And this recipe by Emeril Lagasse is super simple to whip up!

It starts with a bunch of ramekins that are liberally greased with butter and flour.


I actually used baking spray (because I’m lazy) and the cakes didn’t come out of the ramekins easily (very frustration). Please don’t be like me… butter and flour them (well)!

The chocolate mixture of this cake is super simple.


Butter, powdered sugar, some heavy cream, and semi-sweet chocolate chips (Emeril uses bittersweet, so use whatever your heart desires!). Yum, yum, yum! They get melted slowly over a double boiler until the chocolate and butter melts.


Perfection. Please resist the urge to grab a spoon and dig in as it cools. And can you please marvel how shiny this chocolate is? You can see my kitchen curtains in it!

Now we just need to whip up the “cake” part of these babies and then it’s time to bake!


In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Whip the mixture on medium-high speed until it becomes light, pale yellow, and forms thick ribbons.


Sift in some flour.

Fold in the cooled chocolate mixture…


… and portion them into the ramekins. The recipe says that it makes 4 cakes but I think it actually depends on what size ramekin you used.


For me, this recipe makes four ½ cup ramekins, one 1-½ cup ramekins, and one size-undetermined heart-shaped ramekin. So I really can’t say how many cakes this will make – it’s totally individual to you!

Then all you need to do is bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.


And then dig in!

Enjoy, kiddos!

Happy Thursday,


Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 stick of unsalted butter

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon of table salt

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Butter and flour to grease the ramekins



  1. Pre-heat your oven to 450°. Grease and flour your ramekins very well and place them on a baking sheet.
  2. In a double boiler (a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water), melt butter, chocolate, heavy cream, and powdered sugar together – stir continuously until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat to cool.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whip on medium-high speed until the mixture becomes light, pale yellow, and thick ribbons form – about 3 minutes.
  4. Sift in the flour into the egg mixture – fold to combine. Add in the cooled chocolate mixture and fold in gently.
  5. Divide the batter between each ramekin. Place ramekins into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the sides and top are just set but still soft. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly before unmolding onto a plate.

Serve the cakes by themselves or with a dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Recipe slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


Happy Last Monday of October! Can you believe that Halloween is on Friday? I may need to get more candy… *burp*

Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.

Despite to proliferation of candy in my house, Halloween (to me at least) means pumpkin baked goods. And my favorite pumpkin baked good is pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

My parents discovered these nuggets of happiness during a winter festival in our downtown many, many years ago. They loved them so much and actually bought the muffin recipe book so that they could make them for the rest of their lives.

And they have. These pumpkin chocolate chip muffins have become insanely popular amongst our family and friends. They have become fixtures during our elementary school playdates, become a bonding moment with college roommates, and midnight snacks for dietetic interns.

All in all, they are pumpkin perfection. Here’s my adaptation of my favorite holiday treat.

In a skillet heated over medium heat, toast up some sliced almonds. Watch them carefully, or they’ll burn!


A note about the type of almonds to use. My dad prefers sliced almonds. My mom prefers slivered almonds. My sister prefers no almonds. I prefer whatever gets the muffins into my mouth the fastest… and since I only had sliced almonds, that’s what I used. But feel free to use slivered almonds if you want. Follow your bliss!

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.


Stir to combine.

Then in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can do this by hand if you want!), dump in some pumpkin puree and two eggs.


Beat them together until combined.

Please excuse the dark, grainy photo…


With the mixer on low, pour in some melted butter.


Then slowly add in the dry ingredients.

When the dry ingredients are just combined, remove the bowl from the mixture and dump in the toasted slivered almonds and some mini chocolate chips.


Stir to combine and then portion out into mini muffin tins.


I used a tablespoon but a mini ice cream scooper would be the best to get each one the same size.

Then bake them up!


And dig in!


As much as I love them room temperature, they taste even better frozen (but that’s just me!). A spectacular treat for after-school snack, dessert, or midnight snack by the light of the fridge.


Enjoy the last bit of October, kiddos.

Your pumpkin lovin’ friend,


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • Servings: 40-48 mini muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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½ cup of raw almonds, slivered or sliced

1⅔ cups of all-purposed flour

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon of ground allspice

1 teaspoon of baking soda

¼ teaspoon of baking powder

¼ teaspoon of salt

1 heaping cup plain pumpkin puree

2 eggs

1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips



  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4 mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a skillet heated over medium heat, toss in the almonds and toast until golden brown.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if you want to work out your arm muscles, you can mix the batter by hand!), add in pumpkin puree and eggs. Beat together until combined.
  5. Slowly drizzle in the melted butter. Stir until combined.
  6. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Remove from stand mixer.
  7. Fold in toasted almonds and mini chocolate chips. Using a tablespoon or a mini ice cream scoop, portion out the batter into the greased mini muffin tins.
  8. Bake the muffins for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffin comes out clean. Cool completely before serving… but they taste even better when frozen!


Recipe adapted from Muffins by Elizabeth Alston.

Nutrition Information (1 muffin):

94 calories • 13gm carbohydrates • 1gm fiber • 1gm protein • 5gm fat • 2gm saturated fat • 63mg sodium • 17mg cholesterol • 1mg iron • 12mg calcium

Double Chocolate Brownies

Every so often, I get hit with a huge chocolate baked good craving. Okay, so maybe more frequently than “every so often”. Let’s face it, nothing calms and de-stresses me like baking something rich, chocolate-ly, and homey. This weekend’s de-stress dessert was double-chocolate brownies.

I am not 100% sure how we got this recipe originally. My aunt lives out in the Chicago area and apparently got this recipe from an acquaintance, a Mrs. Goldstein… I think that’s what her name was. Or maybe it wasn’t. Dear whoever invented this brownie recipe, you have given me the key to many people’s hearts… I greatly appreciate it.

What makes these brownies awesome is that it takes minimal vessels to make (only a medium saucepan and a bowl) and all the mixing can be done by hand. It is a simple recipe that is easy to make (I started making it by myself at 13-14 years old) and the recipe is pretty easy to remember. And when people eat them, they think you worked all afternoon creating the warm, gooey perfection currently sitting on their plate.

Mrs. Goldstein’s Double Chocolate Brownies

Makes 16 normal-sized brownies… or 8 Grad School Foodie-sized brownies            

Grab a medium saucepan and a bowl. This recipe is similar to making muffins – we make a wet mixture and a dry mixture and combine them.

The Wet:

In your medium saucepan, place ¾ cup of granulated sugar, 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, and 2 tablespoons of water.


Melt over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. The butter might not completely melt, but residual heat will take care of it. 


Mine happened to melt all the way.

Set this to the side to cool slightly as you get the other ingredients organized.

The Dry:

Side note… I pulled out my flour and sugar containers and found that I am dangerously low on sugar. That should have been my New Year’s Resolution – check all ingredient stores before baking. 


Anyway, grab ¾ cup of all-purpose flour and place it in your bowl (or in my case, these awesome pourable measuring cups that my cousin got me for Christmas!). Add in a ¼ teaspoon of salt and a  ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and mix thoroughly.

IMG_2170Funny story – I was making this for the first time in a while last year and put in 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Not good. So please, do not substitute baking powder for the baking soda in this recipe. It will not be awesome. Trust me.

Set the dry mixture to the side and turn your attention back to the wet ingredients.

Putting It All Together:

Pour in 1 cup of good semi-sweet chocolate chips into the butter-sugar mixture.


Mix until thoroughly combined.

Don’t worry if it looks a little grainy… it will sort itself out in a second.


Now the chocolate mixture should be pretty cool but proceed with caution for this next step… Slowly add 2 beaten eggs that have 1 teaspoon of vanilla in them.


It helps if you have these awesome pourable measuring cups. Which I clearly am not using for measuring…

With the addition of the eggs, the grainy chocolate mixture transforms into a dark, luscious pot of awesomeness.


Now grab your dry ingredients. Like with the eggs, slowly add in the flour mixture – I sprinkle in about a third at a time.


To put the double in the double-chocolate brownies, stir in another cup of chocolate chips… plus a little extra, if you like to live on the edge.


Pour into a 9X9 baking pan (excuse my 8X8, it’s all I got) and bake at 350° for 25-35 minutes, depending on your oven. The brownies will still be gooey in the center but they should still be pretty set.


And ta-da! Mrs. Goldstein’s Double Chocolate Brownies!! Perfect on their own with a glass of cold milk, or as the based for a chocolate brownie sundae. Or as breakfast. Your choice!


I hope you enjoy this recipe and pass it along to those you love. Nothing says love like a good brownie.

Your brownie guru,


Double Chocolate Brownies

  • Servings: 8-16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9”X9” baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
3. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt butter, sugar, and water together until sugar is dissolved. The butter might not be completely melted, but that’s ok! Remove saucepan from heat.
4. Stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips into the butter-sugar mixture. Mix until chocolate is melted.
5. In a separate bowl, beat eggs with vanilla. Slowly add the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly.
6. Slowly add the flour mixture into the chocolate-egg mixture. Stir gently until completely combined.
7. Stir in remaining 1 cup chocolate chips. Pour batter into baking pan.
8. Bake 30-35 minutes – the middle will still be gooey ☺

The Ultimate Chocolate Tart

  IMG_2109Let’s talk about this awesome creation.

I don’t usually name drop in this blog, but this is the Ultimate Chocolate Tart from the annual best recipes magazine published by the conglomerate that owns America’s Test Kitchen, the TV show/website and Cook’s Illustrated magazine.

And it is really the ultimate chocolate tart.

Look at the beautiful shortbread crust (which has almonds in it for a wonderful nutty counterpart to the bittersweet chocolate).


And the glossy, silky sheen, which is due to a sweet glaze adorning the top.


It also cuts like a dream!

IMG_2118 And tastes wonderful with a heavy dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream.


First bite…


… chocolate nirvana.

Second bite…


… this was totally worth the 30+ steps and the 36 hours of prep to make this thing.

Third bite…


…umm, yeah.

Check out the magazine for this awesome recipe and try it for yourself.

Enjoy, kiddos!

Your chocolate addicted friend,


**This post was not sponsored by America’s Test Kitchen or Cook’s Illustrated – just the personal opinion of this grad school foodie.**