Taking the Research out of the Recipes: Sweet Dutchess relentlessly researches, taking away her favorite ingredients and ratios, adding a few creative touches of her own, and creating her perfect recipe in order to create the ultimate confectionery experience.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Baking Tip, Bananas, and Winner, Winner

Bananas...I just love them. I REALLY love baking with them. But man, when you have the urge to bake up some warm, comforting banana goodness but you have brand new, hard and tasteless bananas sitting on the counter...the worst! Well I guess there are worse things in the word, but never fear! I have a little baking tip for you that will allow you to bake with bananas whenever you want without requiring you to stare at a brown bag sitting in the sunlit windowsill for a day or two.

Get your bake on and turn that oven on. Not to preheat for your cake, but to ripen those bananas! That's right, I said we are putting those bananas in the oven! A good 30-40 minute visit leaves you with sweet, soft bananas that are ready for mashing and mixing. So easy, right?! 

Here's how you do it, so go get to baking some banana bread, cake, cupcakes...whatever you desire:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Place unripe bananas on a baking sheet
3. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until bananas are dark brownish black and they are squishy when you poke them 
4. Remove and let cool for a bit before using

And now for the reason you are probably reading about bananas anyway...our winner of the Cupcake Courier giveaway! Drum roll please...the winner is Stacey Bennett!  Stacey, all you have to do to claim your courier is to PM Sweet Dutchess on Facebook or email at to disclose your mailing address and you should be carrying your cupcakes safely around in 1-2 weeks! Congratulations! 

Don't be dismayed if you didn't win! Chin up! There is another giveaway coming up soon so keep those peepers peeled and make sure you subscribe to the Sweet Dutchess blog! Thanks for stopping in, and remember, there is always room for cake! XOXO

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lunch Ladies and Giveaways

I have always daydreamed about some of the foods that I had the pleasure of consuming during my childhood years: orange drink in cartoons after field day, Thanksgiving dinner, and a few others that will forever be ingrained in my brain. I love how food can capture memories; taking one bite can take you back to times of familiarity and happiness and can trudge up a smile even on the darkest of days. By far the one I miss the most is the peanut butter brownies with chocolate frosting. So when one of my customers, who is also pregnant at the moment, brought up the deliciousness from yesteryear I just had to jump at the chance!

I had to do a lot of research to find what I remembered as perfection. There are a lot of new recipes out there, and I am assuming that the addition of oats in the brownies gave them more merit nutritionally. But I didn't want oats in my chocolate peanut butter brownies! I eventually discovered a few recipes I liked and did a little science and experimentation and came up with, what I feel, is a glorious replication that I am proud to call chocolate peanut butter brownies.

Once I pressed the dough into the tart pan and it began to bake I knew I had hit the jackpot: I walked into the kitchen and was immediately taken back to standing in line in the cafeteria in elementary school and spying those glorious treats wrapped in a napkin at the end of the line on a lunch tray. Now I am sure the lunch ladies from my elementary days did not use Bourbon Madagascar Vanilla, free range, organically fed eggs, or Cacao Barry Extra Brute cocoa powder, but fear not. These were a total success! Meet the newest member of the Sweet Dutchess family: The Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Tart!


And now to the GIVEAWAY!!!!! I am a baker...I sell cupcakes galore to both customers and a few venues .I initially transported cupcakes in boxes to certain venues but felt I was doing the planet a disfavor.  One evening I stumbled upon the Cupcake Courier when I was desperately searching for something that could hold more than a dozen cupcakes that was super sturdy, had a handle I didn't have to question, and wasn't insanely bulky. I found this little gem on Amazon and it has been a lifesaver. I ended up ordering a few more and I couldn't be happier! The Cupcake Courier holds...wait for it...36 cupcakes! You can also take the trays out and it transforms into a cake carrier as well! The individual cups on each stackable tray ensures perfect travel and keeps those cupcakes upright and beautiful.

Want to win one of these beauties?! Here is how you can get yourself signed up with 4 chances to win!

1. Comment on this blog post in the comments section below...what is your favorite childhood food that sparks a memory?! Comments must be on Sweet Dutchess blog under "Lunch Ladies and Giveaways" post in order to be entered.

2. Share this post on your timeline on Facebook! Don't forget to tell me about it below in the comments! Comments must be on Sweet Dutchess blog under "Lunch Ladies and Giveaways" post in order to be entered.

3. Become a friend of Sweet Dutchess and like me on Facebook...don't forget to tell me about it below in the comments! If you are already a friend let me know too in the comment area below! Comments must be on Sweet Dutchess blog under "Lunch Ladies and Giveaways" post in order to be entered.

3. Start following the Sweet Dutchess blog  by clicking "Follow" on the right side of the blog and post it in the comments section on the blog! Comments must be on Sweet Dutchess blog under "Lunch Ladies and Giveaways" post in order to be entered.

The giveaway will end on Tuesday, April 1st, so get those entries in and be sure to share with your friends! Good Luck! And remember, there is always room for cake! XOXO

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lemon Velvet with Fresh Blueberries and Cream Cheese AND Exciting News!

Spring has sprung in Dutch Country! The sun is out, the snow is melting, and it is time to share the sunshine with those taste buds! I made a Lemon Velvet cake this week that was tangy, sweet with a tender crumb at my daughter's request.

People ask if there is food coloring in my Lemon Velvet due to it's beautiful hue of happy yellow, but alas there is not. Wait, why am I saying that like it's a bad thing?! I attribute the sunny color from all the delicious lemon juice and zest I stick in there, plus the use of free range, organically fed eggs from Peaceful Pastures. The yokes are SO yellow, and SO flavorful!


I threw in some fresh blueberries to add an extra pinch of happy, spring flavor, and boy, what a fantastically awesome idea! This cake and cupcakes are AMAZING. Lemon is viewed as a spring and summer flavor and I like to think this is because, just as spring awakens the flowers and trees, lemon wakes up the senses and brings back memories of sun and cool breezes.

I topped the cupcakes and cake with my secret Cream Cheese Frosting recipe that is not too sweet and actually tastes like cream cheese. I swear I could eat it out of a bowl with a spoon. Ok, you caught me! I HAVE done's that good!

These little rays of sunshine are available this week and for the rest of spring! And make sure to check back in next week: ready for some exciting news?! Sweet Dutchess is having her first giveaway next week!!!!!! I'll give you a will keep those cupcakes off the floor. Keep your peepers peeled! Thanks for popping in! Have a sweet day and remember, there is always room for cake! XOXO

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Salted Caramel

I am in love with salted caramel! It enters your mouth with a velvety texture and the salty savoriness lingers on the tongue in a juxtaposition with sweetness . Heavenly! I have even discovered that even people who don't enjoy sweets (insert gasp here!) are enamored with the balance of sweet and salty it provides. Others, including myself, LOVE sweets and cannot contain themselves when the opportunity to mingle the sweet and salty on the palate arises. I will admit to having dipped more than my fair share of french fries or salty pretzels into a big scoop of ice cream or creamy milkshake. But regardless of what category you fall into, salted caramel has something for everyone.

Salted caramel is definitely a sensitive art, leaning more towards chemistry in my eyes: I view every batch as a new experiment. But boy is the outcome worth EVERY moment! I'll let you in on a little secret, which I feel really heightens the flavors the caramelized sugar, swirls of  rich cream, and pads of creamy, pale yellow butter: fleur de sel! Fleur de sel, which means "flower of salt" in French, is a salt that is harvested and skimmed by hand off the coast of France. This is the real deal people! What a heavenly, natural product that just highlights the best of everything, including my caramel! 

My favorite fleur de sel from Le Guerandais is spectacular! I got mine here and upon arrival I infused the fleur de sel with a robustly scented vanilla bean pod and its seeds. Vanilla Bean Fleur De Sel is born!

Keep your peepers peeled for what I am doing with this golden nectar! Thanks for popping in! Have a sweet day and remember, there is always room for cake! XOXO

Vanilla Bean Fleur De Sel

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Blue(berry) Velvet

Fresh Blueberry Puree
So I have to admit, even as a baker I never really found Red Velvet very endearing. I didn't quite get it. Yet as this past year progressed and I had order after order of Raspberry Red Velvet cakes and cupcakes I began to grow quite fond of this mysterious, not vanilla but not chocolate, cake. I have a few requirements for Red Velvet that I find many recipes do not yield: super moist, tender crumb, and a solid chocolate flavor. As I began researching more recipes I stumbled upon OTHER COLORS! There aren't just red velvet cakes out there: there are green, purple, lemon, white, black, you name it! Although they all vary in color, one ingredient remains the same: buttermilk.

Well, I was attracted to the blue velvet immediately! The deep, regal blue contrasting with the white, lush cream cheese frosting was just STUNNING! Since I love my Raspberry Red Velvet so much I figured I should throw a fruit in the blue velvet as well. And what fruit goes better with a blue cake than blueberries!

I started with my go-to red velvet cake recipe that yields an incredibly moist, velvety crumb and added in blueberry puree. I just love doing anything that involves my Cuisinart food processor. I don't know how I ever lived without this thing!

I also found this AMAZING blueberry sauce that I added in for a little extra umpf! St. Dalfour Organic Blueberry Sauce is an amazing addition to really anything: cakes, cupcakes, cookies, drizzle it on pancakes, you name it! I love how the company strives to create all natural, organic french cuisine. And let me tell you, the flavor is mind-blowingly delicious!

I whipped everything together and popped them into the oven. The aroma was heavenly. I loved the color too. It reminded me of  a denim blue, but not like the holey, hard working, dust covered denim; this was the dark and sultry denim that hugs every curve and is worn with stilettos.  I swirled on my famous cream cheese frosting that is slightly sweet and actually tastes like cream cheese and topped them with silver sprinkles. I think these may be the best tasting cupcakes I have ever made...ever. They are so moist, so soft and fluffy, and have an authentic velvet cake flavor with a hint of blueberry. Possibly the most perfect confection I have ever given my taste buds the pleasure of knowing.

Lucky for you, these heavenly blue angels are going to be available this weekend! Thanks for popping in! Have a sweet day and remember, there is always room for cake! XOXO

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chocolate Chip Roll Out Cookies For Valentine's Day

In light of the blizzard that is battering my little Pennsylvania Dutch town this morning my girls and I decided we needed to find something to do or we would go bonkers: well, maybe I decided that and pumped them up enough about the idea that they followed suit.
Enter in a Valentine's Day baking session with a fantastic Chocolate Chip Roll Out cookie recipe I came across on The Adventure's of Sugarbelle! I tweaked the recipe just a bit and we added a drop or two of Americolor Soft Pink food gel (obviously a girly, girl Valentine's must). 
And yes, that is a unicorn you spy there: I have girls, what can I say?! The cookie cutters came from another outing in an attempt to calm the stuck-in-doors crazy. I am fortunate enough to live near Foose Cookie Cutters and Tinsmithing, and I love going there and perusing all the beautiful cutters they make. They sell them online too, and one day I realized (after purchasing one off of Amazon and paying extra shipping) that I could literally drive five minutes down the road and get them myself!

The cookies come out nice and crisp, with and awesome flavor and the bonus of chocolate chips in a cut out cookie. Up until today I didn't even realize there was such a glorious sweet out there! The girls ate them up and enjoyed some tall glasses of milk along side them. What a better way to pass the time on a snowy day! We enjoyed them so much that we are packing up the leftovers for the little one's Valentine's Day party at school tomorrow...if they have school tomorrow.  

Thanks for popping in! Have a sweet day and remember, there is always room for cake! XOXO

 Chocolate Chip Roll Out Cookies 
adapted from Sugar Baker

  • 1 c salted butter
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c light-brown sugar
  • 1 extra large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 c all-purpose flour 
  • 2 drops pink food gel, optional
  • 1 c semi-sweet mini-chocolate chips

1. Cream the butter and the sugars until fully incorporated. Add in extra large egg yolk, 
    vanilla extract, and salt. Add in a drop or two of pink food gel, if desired.
2. Slowly, a half cup at a time, add in the flour. Once blended, fold in the mini chocolate 
    chips by hand. 
3. Wrap ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour.  
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. When the dough is chilled, roll out on heavily floured surface and cut out with your 
    choice of cutters.
6. Place cut out's on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper and bake for 10-
   12 minutes.
7. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before placing them on cooling 
8. Pour yourself a glass of milk and ENJOY!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Sweet Dutchess and Black Forest Photo Shoot

Hello there! I just could not wait to share some of the photographs that came out of a fabulously fun photo shoot with the lovely Jenna Herring from Jenna Herring Photography. What a sweet way to spend a Saturday morning!

I had the opportunity to not only debut myself as The Sweet Dutchess, but also was able to introduce my fans, and other people who randomly fall onto this blog site,  to the new, authentic Black Forest cake that will be added to the Sweet Dutchess menu. We went right to work and she snagged some fantastic shots as I began building the tower of dark and devilish chocolate cake layers, kirsch infused whipped cream, and kirsch-soaked dark sweet cherries.
What I love about this cake is the absence of the ridiculously sweet cake with maraschino cherries (what are those things anyway?!) and uber sugary frosting that we have come accustomed to. The whipped cream is infused with kirsch, or kirschwasser, which is a clear fruit brandy distilled from morello cherries. The dark, sweet cherries nestle themselves within the white, billowy clouds of cream and are the perfect pairing with the moist, tender crumb of the dark chocolate devils food cake. Oh, did I mention that the cake layers are also brushed with a kirschwasser simple syrup as well?! Utterly irresistible and and the perfect marriage of flavors, in my opinion.

Chocolate Cherry Cake

And look, there I am: The Sweet Dutchess! Looking pretty professional, baking wise, am I not?! I think it is hard not to when you put so much research and passion into what you do: I put myself into every confection I create and I love every moment of it!

Thanks for popping in! Have a sweet day and remember, there is always room for cake! XOXO