Tag Archives: Christmas

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 10

Welcome back, everyone!

Are you done in from the Christmas season… the hustle and bustle, fighting the crowds, making a list and checking it twice?  When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I like to take the time to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and what it means to me.  The wonder and awe, the spirit of giving, the merriment of children are all around us during this beautiful time of year.  As I close my eyes and reflect on these things, I am instantly renewed with fresh purpose and drive, ready to finish all of those tiring Christmas chores!

Christmas Doesn't Come From The Store
In the Words of Grinch “Christmas Doesn’t Come From the Store”


And then, I bake a cake.  Today, though, not just any cake.  Today it is a cheesecake cake, a beautiful and festive Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake from 17andbaking.com.

Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake
Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake from 17 and Baking

This, my friends, is my idea of heaven!  The idea of cake and cheesecake baked into one irresistible goodie is enough to entice me, but gee, then to have it be red velvet cake AND frosted with cream cheese butter cream…OMG… I’m all in! I don’t think it can get much better than this so I have decided this is the desert that will be adorning my holiday table come Christmas day.

For those of you who may have some reservations about making this cake,  rest assured, it is not that difficult and can be done over the course of a couple of days by making the cheesecake the first day and finishing up with cake and butter cream the next.  Also, if you really want to make things easier, you can use a red velvet cake mix along with my tips for making a box mix taste like  homemade by clicking here.  Additionally, I have posted some really great pointers on how to make cheesecake like a pro and those tips can be found by clicking here.

I hope you find this beautiful Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake as appealing and delicious as I do.  I urge you to give this a go… you will definitely not be disappointed. I would love to hear your thoughts on the combination of cake and cheesecake together.  Do you find it as irresistible as I do?  To me, it truly is a thing of beauty! 🙂

So until  tomorrow everyone, take good care of yourselves and happy Christmas baking!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 9

How cute and whimsical is this semi-homemade Snowman Cake! This is another great Christmas Cake to make with your kiddos!  They will have so much fun helping you apply the coconut and assorted decorations.

Snowman Cake
Christmas Snowman Cake

This cake, featured at familydollar.com, calls for a white cake mix, but you could certainly use whatever flavor catches your fancy… red velvet would be a great alternative, as would chocolate or spice.  The choice is yours! Also, they suggest the use of melted candy coating to apply as “glue” to make the candy canes stick to the cones.  This really isn’t necessary, simply apply small dabs of the frosting to the cones and attach the canes.  One less ingredient to worry about! 🙂

Also, I know there are a lot of you out there who would never entertain the notion of baking a cake with a pre-made mix and that’s okay!  You can certainly use your favorite recipe to make this cake but, as for me, sometimes I am known to opt for the time-saving convenience of using a pre-made cake mix, particularly during the busy holiday season.  However, I do make adjustments to the cake to make it taste more like a bakery cake by following these simple steps:

  • Use equal amounts melted, unsalted butter in place of the vegetable oil.  The butter gives the cake a much richer, bakery like taste.
  • Use equal amounts whole milk in place of the water.  This also improves the flavor, as well as the texture of the cake.
  •  For those of you who like cakes made with buttermilk, use buttermilk powder reconstituted with water as per the instructions in equal amounts as called for in the cake mix. I personally love this stuff and use it frequently since it doesn’t require refrigeration.  I don’t know about you, but when I use fresh buttermilk I usually end up throwing some away and I so hate waste!  If you have never used buttermilk powder I urge you to give it a try.  It is readily available in the baking isle of well-stocked grocery stores.
  • Add 1 extra egg to the mix.  This makes for an even richer, fluffier cake.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract.  This also greatly improves the flavor and takes away that “cake mix” taste.
  • If you are using a chocolate mix, add 1 tbsp instant coffee granules to the whole milk and warm it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  This really livens up the chocolate flavor of the cake.

You will find that if you use the above substitutions you will end up with a cake that no one will ever suspect was made from a cake mix.  I promise your secret is safe with me (unless you tell them, of course 😉  )!

Semi-homemade should never mean you have to sacrifice flavor, not in my world at least.  And while I generally tend to make things from all natural ingredients, there are those times when I certainly fall back on a semi-homemade recipe.  They are true time-savers, particularly during the busy holiday season.

I would love to hear your thoughts on using semi-homemade recipes… do ya’ll love ’em or do you hate ’em? Be sure to let me know.

Until next time ya’ll, have a great day filled with great food and lots of love and be sure to stop back by for tomorrow’s new 12 Days of Christmas Cake and Cheesecake post.  I promise it will be another mouthwatering holiday goody!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 8

Christmas is coming, ya’ll! I love Christmas! The hustle, the bustle, the generosity and warmth of spirit, the excitement of the children… truly joyous and so heartwarming!

And,  oh yes, the food… let’s not forget the food! Cookies, candies, cocktails, appetizers… oh, my! If you are a foodie, like me, this is truly a glorious time of year. 🙂

So for today’s featured recipe I thought I would share with you one of my personal holiday favorites… the Bacardi Rum Cake. This cake was originally published in the 1970’s by Bacardi and has been a huge hit ever since.

Bacardi Rum Cake
Bacardi Rum Cake – A Christmas Holiday Family Favorite –                                                      Photo: Swimprincess327.blogspot.com

This is a semi-homemade cake that starts with a yellow cake mix and instant pudding.  Don’t let the simplicity of the recipe fool you.  This is truly a delicious cake.  I strongly suggest you make two because before you know it the first one will have disappeared.  It is… just… that… good!  In fact, make a bunch and share with your friends.  This makes a delicious Christmas gift, as well, and holds up beautifully for shipping to your distant friends and relatives.  My friends, this cake truly improves in flavor with age!

One more thing, ya’ll.  I hate to dampen your holiday spirit, but I have to share a personal pet peeve of mine.  I don’t know about you, but I find it very upsetting that one of our corporate food giants’ favorite marketing gimmicks is to reduce the volume of food in their packaging and then further rub salt in the wound by making claims that they are not raising food prices.  I guess they feel that we, as consumers, aren’t intelligent enough to figure this out!

I mention this to you because the recipe I am sharing with you today is affected by this.  As I told you, this semi-homemade recipe dates back to the 1970’s and features the use of Duncan Hine’s Yellow Cake Mix, which used to contain 18.25 ounces.  Today, however, this same cake mix now has 16.5 ounces.  Ouch!  Shame on you, Duncan Hines (and Pillsbury… and Betty Crocker)!

Wegman’s took the time to send a direct inquiry to Duncan Hines as to why they made this change…  here is a direct quote from Duncan Hine’s in response to Wegman’s inquiry:  “We have reformulated our Duncan Hines classic cake mix line to offer the same moistness and delicious taste you know and expect from Duncan Hines. As a result of the reformulation we were able to reduce the weight of our classic cake mixes from 18.25 ounces to 16.5 ounces and still deliver the same size cake/cupcakes, allowing us to provide the same great value to you despite rapidly rising raw material costs that would otherwise require us to raise our prices. You should continue to follow the directions on the box to ensure consistent results.”

Hmmmm… I am wondering, if the cake was already moist and delicious, why they felt the need to reformulate it to make the same moist and delicious cake we know and expect from Duncan Hines. Gee, why couldn’t it be a more moist and delicious cake and still stay at 18.25 ounces!  Because we all know, eventually, the price of the cake mix is going to be raised anyway, so now we end up with a smaller, more expensive cake mix, with bakers everywhere scratching their heads and frantically calculating how to adjust recipes that incorporate these mixes!

Luckily, I was able to find a smart baker who has done her homework and has modified the original Bacardi Rum Cake recipe to reflect today’s significantly smaller cake mixes. Thank you, Anne Papina! The cake is still delicious and will, forever and always, be one of my holiday favorites! Here also is a link from Rose Bakes with detailed instructions on how to convert semi-homemade recipes using these smaller mixes.

Okay, ya’ll… I’m off my soapbox, for now! 🙂 I would love to hear your thoughts on the sneaky marketing tactics used by our corporate food giants… as well as the delicious Bacardi Rum Cake recipe I have shared with you! Happy Baking and Happy Holidays!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 7

Welcome back, everyone!

For today’s featured recipe I have decided to choose a rather basic, but still beautiful, white cake.

Mrs. Billetts White Cake
Mrs. Billett’s White Cake – A Southern Living Recipe featured on myrecipes.com


How pretty is this cake! Known as Mrs. Billett’s White Cake, this is a very popular Southern Living cake recipe that is featured on myrecipes.com and would make a beautiful cake to serve on Christmas day.

I would like to suggest to everyone that they carefully follow the reader’s comments as they offer a wealth of tips and additional suggestions that will help in making this beautiful cake a successful addition to your baking repertoire.

Also, as you see in the above picture this is a very “white” cake, but if you are to follow the recipe as it is written your cake will have a more yellowish tint to it.  The reason for this will be due to the use of butter and vanilla extract.  If you wish to have a truly white cake then you will need to replace the butter with shortening and use “clear” vanilla extract.  The use of shortening will impart the cake with a different taste and texture so I leave that decision up to ya’ll! 🙂

For those of you who would enjoy watching a video on how to make beautiful white chocolate snowflakes to use as toppers with this cake please visit my Day 2 post of this Holiday Christmas Cake and Cheesecake Series.  Edible silver sugar pearls would also be very pretty, as would several other edible festive touches.

Once again, thanks for stopping by ya’ll. I would love to hear your ideas on other great ideas for decorating this beautiful cake.


12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 6

Holy cow!  Christmas is just a mere 10 days away!  I’m sure most of you have been shopping ’til you drop.  It truly is the most wonderful time of year, but also the most exhausting. So with that in mind, why don’t ya’ll come on in, grab yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa and cozy up next to my virtual fireplace.

Christmas Fireplace
Grab your hot cocoa and cozy on up next to my virtual fireplace.

Click here to enjoy the full virtual experience, complete with music! (Just be sure to come on back for today’s delicious Christmas confection.)

For all of you who have been following my 12 Days of Christmas posts you know that yesterday I posted a delicious recipe for the French classic Buche de Noel. I love roulades and the Buche de Noel is a fun and festive one to make during the holidays, not to mention totally delicious!

So, since cake was featured for Day 5 I decided for today’s Day 6 post that I would offer up a delicious cheesecake recipe.  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely adore cheesecake, any and all cheesecake.  I have never met a cheesecake I didn’t like. Their creamy, scrumptious goodness sends me over the top – all the way to foodie heaven… yummmmy!

The cheesecake I have selected today is a delicious peppermint, oreo and white and semi-sweet chocolate cheesecake from Kraft recipes.  It is so festive and pretty and would definitely look beautiful on your holiday table.

Kraft's Peppermint Bark Cheesecake
Kraft’s Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

I have had a lot of people tell me they are intimidated by cheesecakes and so they have never attempted to make them.  Let me just say right here and now cheesecakes are easy and fun! Please, do not be intimidated.  Here are some simple steps to follow that will assist you if you are not familiar with making these delicious desserts:

  • If the recipe calls for a springform pan be sure to use it.  These pans have a removable bottom and spring-locked tube that makes it easier to remove the cheesecake from  the pan.

    Springform Pan
    Springform Pan
  • One of the most frequent complaints in making cheesecake is the appearance of a surface crack(s).  This can happen for a number of different reasons but to assist in preventing them it is useful to use a water bath.  This is achieved by selecting a pan larger than the springform pan with a depth of 2 – 3 inches and placing very hot water into it to a depth of about 1/2 to 1 inch.  Before placing the springform pan in the pan with the water be sure to wrap the bottom and partially up the sides with heavy-duty aluminum foil. The water bath will also assist in evenly baking the cheesecake.
  • Always use full fat cheese and milk.  In my opinion, the use of lower fat dairy will result in an inferior cheesecake.  It’s all about the cheese in cheesecake dearies – you want that full fat flavor! And since it is a dessert that you probably won’t be making on a daily basis then, hey, it’s worth the splurge. 🙂
  • Allow your ingredients to come to room temperature.  This is true for all baked goods, but in this case it is particularly helpful in removing all of the lumps from the cream cheese.
  • When adding the eggs avoid over mixing as this can trap air in the batter and also result in a cracked surface.
  • Bake your cheesecake in a low temperature oven… 325 deg. is usually the optimum temperature.  Bake your cheesecake until the center  is just set – it should still be slightly wobbly and slightly moist.  At this point, turn your oven off and allow your cheesecake to remain in the oven for an additional hour.  The slower you cool your cheesecake the less the chance of developing those surface cracks. At the end of the hour carefully take your cheesecake from the oven and remove the foil.  Use a knife to go around the outer edge of the cheesecake and allow the cheesecake to completely cool to room temperature.  This will allow the cheesecake to pull away from the pan as it continues to cool.
  • Once completely cooled again use the knife around the outer edges and remove the sides of the pan.  Place the cheesecake in the refrigerator and allow to chill for an additional 4-6 hours.
  • If you find that you still have ended up with a crack in the surface (because, alas, they do still happen from time to time no matter your precautions) then you can choose a topping to put over the top to hide that pesky crack.  Whipped cream, sweetened sour cream, and fruit make great and tasty choices. Luckily, since this recipe calls for a whipped topping you don’t to have to worry so much in the event of a crack in the surface.

Speaking of whipped cream, this featured cheesecake calls for the use of Cool Whip.  I personally believe that if I am going to go to the trouble of making a spectacular cheesecake then I want a true whipped (chantilly) cream. Nothing wrong with Cool Whip, mind you, because I do use it from time to time but NEVER for cheesecake! 🙂

Here is the recipe that I use:

Whipped Cream (aka Chantilly Cream)

1 cup heavy cream

1 – 1/2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (I aso use regular sugar if I don’t happen to have confectioner’s on hand).

1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For successful whipped cream I always place my bowl and beaters in the freezer until they are ice cold.

Once cold remove the bowl and beaters and add the whipping cream to the bowl.  With your mixer whip the cream until loose peaks form.  Add in the confectioners or plain sugar and the vanilla and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Do not over beat or you will end up with butter.  Use in place of the Cool Whip called for in the above recipe.

Well ya’ll, I really hope you enjoy this cheesecake.  It’s a beautiful and delicious cheesecake.  The combination of chocolate, oreos, and peppermint is over-the-top, gotta-have-a-second-piece, ooooohhhh sooooo good delicious!

Be sure to drop back by tomorrow for Day 7 of Christmas Cake and Cheesecake as I will have another awesome goody waiting for you to grace your holiday table with.

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake.  For those of you who read my Day 4 post I left hints at what I would be sharing today with the words “Daring Baker”, “French” and “Chocolate”.  For those of you who guessed Buche De Noel you were right! 🙂

For those of you who would like to know the history behind the Buche De Noel visit fellow wordpress blog Why’d You Eat That. Come to find out the Buche De Noel actually can be traced back to ancient Celtic history when the cake become a replacement for the burning of logs.  Hey, I didn’t know that!

Buche De Noel
Buche De Noel via Saveur

The cake recipe I have chosen to feature is posted on Saveur and it is a very good representation of a more traditional Buche De Noel. This delicious and beautiful cake features a chocolate roulade (French for roll), chocolate filling, and meringue mushrooms.   Instructions are included for all of the components of this rich confection.

For those of you who may like to try a different filling here is one for Chestnut Cream (yum!) at erecipe.com.

And here’s a delicious Cherry Cream Filling (another yum!) at bigoven.com.

And last, but by far from the least, here are recipes for many, many different fillings and frostings at bartleby.com.  (oh my, decisions, decisions…. coffee cream, french cream, strawberry, lemon, orange, coconut…)

So now, head to the market and off to the kitchen you go! And, let’s bake…this….cake!!! I’m not gonna lie, this cake is not for the feint of heart, but I can tell you that if you carefully follow the instructions you too can do this! You can, you can, you can…yes, you can! So go bake…this…cake and share your creation with all of us here at Dibbles and Dabs!

Once again, thanks for stopping by – it’s been fun!  I wish I could offer you up some hints for tomorrow’s cake date, but alas, I myself have yet to figure out the featured cake…decisions, decisions, decisions…so many to choose from!  I can promise you though that it will be AWESOME! So til’ then have a wonderful Christmas season filled with lots of love, gratitude, and of course….great food!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 4

Today I thought I would share with you a Christmas cake that is festive, whimsical, and great fun to do with the little ones!

Oh, and did I mention easy? With just 4 ingredients, it doesn’t get much easier than this! All you need is pound cake, whipped cream, decorator icing, candies… and your kids!

So grab the kiddos, head to the store (kids are optional for this 🙂 ), and click here  to have some Christmas fun!

Christmas Tree Cake

Semi-Homemade Christmas Tree Cake from B-Inspired Mama

Taking time out from your busy holiday schedule and spending some time with your children and other loved ones can bring the true meaning of Christmas back into perspective.  The magic of Christmas exists not in the material gifts we give and receive, nor in the hustle and bustle of attending festivities, baking goodies, and decorating our homes. The true meaning of Christmas resides within us, not around us.

The generosity and warmth of spirit that becomes so palpable during the holiday season is a radiation emanating deep within our collective souls. This should tell us how powerful we can become when we unite together and focus on the truly important things in life and provide us with the desire to carry these feelings all throughout the year, not just during the Christmas season!

Here’s a beautiful Christmas Song by Enya, “The Spirit of Christmas Past”,  for you to listen to and  reflect on the beauty of Christmas!

The Spirit of Christmas Past by Enya
The Spirit of Christmas Past by Enya

Since I let you off easy today and gave you a semi-homemade cake to share with your family, tomorrow’s post will be a bit more challenging for all you daring baker types out there!  For your hints, think of a famous French Christmas cake and chocolate!

See you tomorrow and may the spirit of Christmas fill your heart and soul! 🙂

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 3

So for day 3 of my Christmas Holiday Cakes and Cheesecakes I am offering two cakes with fruity, boozy goodness (optional for one of the recipes)…and if you guessed fruit cakes, yep, you are right!

Wait, come back, don’t run away!

I realize that fruit cakes are one of those things that you either really, really love or really, really hate! And, for all you fruit cake haters there seem to be a million jokes to champion and further support your dislike of this poor little beleaguered cake. So, heck, to join in the holiday spirit of things, even though I happen to love fruit cake, I couldn’t resist getting in on the action by sharing with y’all this cute little video below…

Grandma’s Killer Fruitcake – A Holiday Song  for All You Fruit Cake Despisers (and those of us fruit cake lovers with a sense of humor)!

Grandma's Killer Fruitcake Music Video
Grandma’s Killer Fruit Cake YouTube Music Video

I hope you enjoyed the song! 🙂 So now back to the business of  fruit cakes…

Since there seems to be no middle ground for the love of fruit cake, I decided that perhaps for the first cake I could offer a popular Jamaican version called Black Cake .   While Jamaican Black Cake also contains the dreaded citron and other dried fruits that seem to be the root cause of why people despise fruit cake the fruit for this cake is processed into mushy goodness through the use of a food processor, so what remains are smaller bits of the dried candy rather than usual big chunks as is the case for regular fruitcakes.

Luckily, I happen to have been blessed with the gift of receiving one of these delicious cakes from a Jamaican friend returning from Christmas holiday a few years ago. Her mom had lovingly made several of them for her to bring back to the states to share with her friends. What a blessing those cakes were! A true gustatory experience… one which I still lovingly dream of to this day… (sigh, licking my lips, relieving that delicious first bite of her mom’s cake which quickly led to another bite, and another, and…) Oops, sorry! I’m back from dreamland!

So anyway, since I don’t have her mom’s secret recipe, I have found a version which is very similar and uses the same ingredients. I’ll warn you now, though… there are a lot of ingredients and, yes, a lot of booze too (two kinds to be exact)!  But the end result of this cake is truly worth the time and effort, I promise you!

For those of you who watch the cooking channel’s “My Grandmother’s Ravioli” with Mo Rocca (he is such a nut!) you may have seen this popular episode – everyone loved Venetta Lurine Williams as she served up this delicious Jamaican Black Cake recipe in the Island Eats episode.  Since the video does not contain the complete recipe, I am also including a link to the actual recipe which contains the list of ingredients and step-by-step  instructions:

Grandma Venetta’s Jamaican Black Cake Recipe Video with Mo Rocc from Cooking Channel TV’s “Not My Grandmother’s Ravioli – Island Eats”

Mo Rocca and Grandma Venetta - Jamaican Black Cake Video
Mo Rocca and Grandma Venetta cooking up a delicious Jamaican Black Cake in “Not My Grandmother’s Ravioli – Island Eats”

Visit this link for the full recipe and instructions for this delicious Black Cake!

Grandma Venetta's Jamacain Black Cake Recipe
Grandma Venetta’s Jamaican Black Cake Recipe

Finally, my 2nd and final fruitcake choice is a light fruitcake that has received great reviews and is the perfect recipe for those of us who LOVE fruitcake.  The addition of alcohol in this cake is entirely optional (but oh, so good!).

Golden Fruit Cake
Tools For Kitchens – Golden Fruit Cake

This golden fruit cake recipe featured on Tools For Kitchens is noted as being moist and delicious – just the way a fruitcake should be.  Plan on making this cake two weeks ahead of time (you might want to get started now 😉 ) if you wish to soak the cake in brandy or cognac (oh, please do!).

Okay, I know I’ve certainly given you lots to think about in this post.  I do hope you will give one of these delicious fruit cake recipes a try – I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

And before you go, please tell me… are you a fruit cake lover or a fruit cake hater –  ‘cuz their seems to be no in-between! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit me again tomorrow for Day 4 of my Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake recipe roundup.  For a hint on tomorrow’s recipe, think “easy and fun to make with the kids”!  Take care ’til then, y’all!

12 Days of Christmas Holiday Cake and Cheesecake – Day 2

Hmmmmm… chocolate and truffles and cheesecake… yummy!  This next Christmas treat is truly a sinful confection of Holiday goodness!  I don’t know about you but cheesecake is truly one of my favorite desserts and this Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake from Southern Living (via MyRecipes) certainly does not disappoint. I collect cheesecake recipes the way my kids used to collect fireflies on a hot, summer evening.  I have made many a delicious cheesecake in my day and this recipe is a great example of a mouthwatering, oh-so-good, melt-in-your-mouth, chocolately goodness cheesecake. Oh my dears… it truly is!

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake
Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake | Southern Living | Photo: Jim Franco; Styling: Lydia DeGaris Pursell

A link for the instructions, along with a free template, for the pretty and festive white chocolate topper is also included in the recipe.  For those of you who would enjoy watching a video on how to make beautiful white chocolate snowflakes visit the Cake Journal’s YouTube tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

I hope you have enjoyed Day 2 of my 12 Days of Holiday Cakes and Cheesecakes I’d love to hear your thoughts on this cheesecake recipe along with what other favorite cheesecake recipes you enjoy.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow for Day 3’s recipe(s) featuring (hint) some “fruity, boozy” goodness! 🙂