Paige’s Genius Cake

Alternate title: No Bake Chocolate Cake with Nutella Whipped Cream Frosting
Nutella Cake
And because Paige is a Chicago girl now, the Suggested Pairing is for her: (music to cook by): The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack Recording, especially the Sweet Home Chicago track.

When I invented my version of Nutella whipped cream for her (see Bonus Recipe below), she returned the favor by suggesting this masterpiece. Most people who know my daughter think of her as a sciencey-type, so this is food genius put it into a scientific formula:

Scientific formula

Ingredients: (three – count ’em)

  • 1 C Nutella
  • 3 C heavy cream
  • 1 package Famous Chocolate Wafers

Put the Nutella in a large mixing bowl that you will later use to whip the icing. (Tip – I coat the measuring cup with some heavy cream first to make it easier to un-measure it into bowl.)  Gradually whisk in heavy cream, fully incorporating before you add more. Chill very well. Whip mixture until stiff:

Nutella Whipped Cream
Then, slather the cookie wafers with the whipped cream and stack them on their sides (as you would for a Famous Chocolate Wafer refrigerator cake – recipe on side of box). Once all the cookies have been stacked, use the remaining icing to completely coat the sides:

Iced cake

Refrigerate for hours – I prefer overnight.  The point to this cake is that the moisture from the whipped cream is absorbed by the crisp cookies, turning them into chocolate cake.
It’s magic! It’s science! Mostly though, it’s delicious.
For the purposes of this photo op, I set aside one cookie, smushed it to crumbs and sprinkled them on top.

Credits: Paige’s genius. Her suggested title: Paige is My Favorite Child and Everything She’s Ever Done Has Been a Pure Work of Art Cake.
Love you Sweet Pea.

Bonus Recipe – Cupcakes with Nutella Whipped Cream Icing

  • 1 package white cake mix, plus
  • 3 eggs
  • oil to make according to package directions BUT
  • ADD: 1 teaspoon almond extract

Bake and cool cupcakes.
Ice with Nutella whipped cream. (You will have too much icing if you use the proportions above. Hand out spoons to anyone under 30.)


Nutella cupcakes

Leaf Pile

Leaf Pile Holly Cookie Wreath Suggested pairing (music to cook by – sorry no Sample button!): Shrek – Music From the Original Motion Picture I made these cookies for Thanksgiving (because what goes better with pie than cookies?!) – really because they are so much fun to ice. I used my family recipe for the cookies – a little different because of the almond flavor, but my personal favorite. See a Halloween sample here. (Warning – zombies included.) Our family name for the recipe, & for which I have no explanation, is: Little Mirror Cookies Cream together:

  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/2  C butter

Mix in:

  • 1 egg yolk (save the white for the icing, below)
  • 2 Tablespoons cream
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract


  • 2 C flour

This makes a very stiff dough and a stand mixer is recommended if you can get your hands on one.  If you are going to have a cookie-icing party, I suggest doubling or tripling the recipe. Cover and chill for at least an hour. (The dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic and frozen at this point.) Preheat oven to 375.  Roll out thinly, cut, and bake 8-10 minutes. Use this on your baking sheets – it makes life so much easier: reusable parchment paper.  Watch for browning around the edges. Perfectionists take note!  I have been doing this for 30 years, and I never get them rolled out evenly or cut out perfectly: Remember that there is ALWAYS someone who loves the burnt edges. And as my friend Tina says, “It’s not the Magna Carta!”  (Insert personal perfection reference here – Sistine Chapel, Taj Mahal, Cary Grant…) Icing:

  • 1 egg white, whisked until a little foamy & a little ribbony (I’m sure there’s a technical term for that somewhere)

Whisk in:

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gradually whisk in:

  • 3/4 C powdered sugar, sifted

Divide into small bowls or ramekins and mix with food coloring choices. Grocery store color will do in a pinch, but you will be much happier with the results if you go for the good stuff: Wilton Icing Colors Ice thinly. Experiment with spreader knives, toothpicks, craft bottles, to get the look you want. If you paint on a base coat then add another color you can spread it around. If you want a discreet line or design, wait until the base coat has dried completely. (Note – this icing is not very tasty wet – it’s great when it’s dried & part of the cookie – I promise.) Disclaimer: this icing uses raw egg whites. Please use fresh eggs. That said, my family has been using this recipe for many years & I don’t know of a single person that has gotten sick from it. Please don’t be the first one.

Bacon Cornbread Cupcakes with Green Chili Icing and Chive Sprinkles

Suggested Pairing (music to cook by):

Today, by Raul Malo (try the Listen to Samples button)

While watching Cupcake Wars, hiking on the treadmill, and listening to Lady Gaga (don’t judge me!), I couldn’t help but think the cupcakes could be somehow… better.
And how does one make anything better?  ADD BACON!
So to kick off my blog, I’ve invented the following recipe:


  • 12 ounces bacon, cooked & chopped
  • 1 C chopped green chilis (roasted Hatch chilis – if you have ’em,
    use ’em), divided. (1/2 C well-drained for cupcakes, the rest for the icing.)
  • 1/2 C butter + extra for pan
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C buttermilk (I’m not sure I could tell the difference if regular milk was used.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 C cornmeal
  • 1 C flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Chives (My store sells a 0.75 oz package – I use half for icing & half for sprinkles.)
  • 6 ounces whipped cream cheese (Or sub regular & thin with milk/cream.)

Suggested tools:
ziploc bag
mini muffin tin
mini food processor


Preheat oven to 375.
Combine cornmeal, flour, & salt in large mixing bowl.
Melt butter in medium bowl in microwave. Mix sugar into butter, add eggs & beat well.
Whisk baking soda into buttermilk, then mix in to butter mixture.
Pour liquid mixture into dry, stir a couple of times, add bacon & green chilis & stir just until mixed.

Using a mini muffin tin, put a tiny dab of butter into each cup. Place tin in oven for a few minutes to get hot, but be careful not to burn the butter. (I have gotten the butter dark golden brown & used it with no problem.) Remove tin from oven & quickly fill with cornbread batter. If you fill to the top, it will make a high crown & about 24 mini cupcakes. I prefer to fill them halfway so that they are only 2-3 bites big, & I throw the batter that won’t fit in the 24 mini pan into another pan. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the top of the muffin is firm. Cool.


Wash & dry the chives very well. Chop half of them fine. Do not try to skip this step and throw them into the mini food processor, because they will just stick to the sides in strings and say, “Ha! I laugh at your whirling blades!” in a voice that sounds suspiciously like John Cleese doing a bad French accent. Into the food processor, do put the green chilis, lifted out of any liquid, & the finely chopped chives (if using here). Puree. Add a couple big spoonfuls of cream cheese & process. Add all the rest of the cream cheese & process until smooth and yummy. Put into a ziploc bag and refrigerate.

Sprinkles: Take the rest of the chives and chop into
sprinkle-sized pieces.

Before serving, cut a small corner off of the ziploc bag & squeeze icing onto the cupcakes. Sprinkle with chives. Send me feedback!

Credits: I modified this recipe for the cornbread:
Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread
And many thanks to Jeanne & Steve Stearns for hosting their Chile 101 Party (NOT political, but hey there’s an idea…) & all the folks who taste-tested.