So, here's a question that makes my head spin. 

"What's your favorite dessert of all time?" 

I usually follow this up with an uncomfortable pause, an "umm..." or two and then I get red in the face because dessert is my LIFE and I should have a solid answer for this question. 

"I'm still deciding."

I know. Bor-ing. I'm just not ready to commit!  But I can tell you this. Cheesecake is in my top 5, and this Baklava Cheesecake is definitely in my top 10. 

I was inspired by this recipe, and decided to re-work it a little. I thought it best to incorporate Greek yogurt into the cheesecake batter (that makes sense, right?) and ground walnuts can almost always use the loving touch of a little salt. I also made an embarrassing amount of honey syrup for drenching this filo covered cake, mostly because - have you ever had dry baklava?  Ugh. I don't even want to talk about it.

I think we can all agree that a dessert trifle is something you can count on in a pinch.

Don't have much time to make dessert?
Company's coming in an hour?
Need a pretty centerpiece for the table?

Trifle. Trifle. Trifle.

I came up with this recipe while looking to soothe a craving for strawberry shortcake. It's easy to make, and there's no baking involved since you start with your favorite ready-made cake doughnuts. A big bunch of fresh strawberries are sliced up and tossed with melted strawberry preserves before they're layered on, and fluffy whipped cream cheese is piled high on top. It's most delicious with in-season berries and definitely something I would take to a summer potluck.

Today I'm joining a talented group of ladies to help celebrate the fantastic flavors of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream! This theme week is the brain child of Kristan and Shelly (they have the best ideas!) and they asked Peabody, Julie and I to pick out our favorite Ben and Jerry's flavors and recreate them in a dessert.

Years ago I had Chocolate Therapy ice cream at the Ben and Jerry's inside the Opryland hotel. It's a mixture of chocolate ice cream swirled with chocolate pudding and it's studded with chocolate cookies. Love at first bite. Even though I'm a Karamel Sutra girl through and through, I ultimately decided on this flavor because I can no longer find it in my area (boo-hoo!). I really hoped to capture this trifecta of chocolate in a dessert - but which one? I mused on brownies,trifles and mini tarts but none seemed just right. My motto has always been, "when in doubt bake a cake." So that's what I did!

I started with my favorite chocolate cake as a base, then added two cups of chopped fudge-dipped cookies to the batter. Boy, does this ever give the cake an amazing texture! In the baked cake, the cookies are soft, and the chocolate coating becomes melty and creates little pockets of fudge in the layers. I spent a good bit of time perfecting the chocolate pudding buttercream, too. It's so decadent and it does a good job keeping the cake moist.

Mom's Cinnamon Rolls

When mother's day rolls around, I always feel a little stressed about how I'm going to honor my mom. She's an amazing person. If you're in her line of sight, she'll become your mom, too - and not in a bossy, pushy kind of way, but in her own quiet way that says "I see you, and I'm going to give you help if you need it.". She has a true servant's heart and I hope to be just like her one day. One thing is for sure, she deserves more than I could ever give her.

Mom and I are really close and, well, here's why. About a week before my ninth birthday my dad died. He had cancer. This was awful and sad as you can imagine (I'm sure some of you know the feeling first hand). My mom had to raise me on her own, and I know it was a struggle but she did so much for me as a single parent I don't feel like I missed out on anything important. Now that I'm an adult, there are at least a dozen things that come to mind every day that I want to thank her for - or say I'm sorry for.

Thanks for all the meals you made for me. I was not as grateful for them as I should have been.
I'm sorry for that boyfriend I had that one time (eye roll).
Thanks for letting me borrow your clothes when I was 16. I'm sorry that I did not always return them.
Thanks for helping me move all those times. If I were you, I would  not have helped me.
Thanks for teaching me how stir peanut butter and sugar together and eat it with a spoon. 

The list goes on and always will.


Mom passed down to me a love of bangle bracelets and coffee the color of caramel (but I did not inherit her green thumb, darnit). She also encouraged me to make good food. Years ago she gave me a cookbook with all the basics, and I was happy to give her my own cookbook in return all these years later.

If these little party cakes look familiar, it's because they were inspired by this sprinkle cake I made a few years ago. The minute I spotted Birthday Cake Oreos (!) at the grocery store, I knew they were destined to crown little chocolate sprinkle cakes. I baked one inside each cake, too!

A few people have asked how/where the pugs are lately, so I decided to include them in this post! They make regular appearances on my Instagram feed if you'd like to keep up with their curly tails (and antics) there.

To answer the question - they are well. Sweet and spoiled and all-around stinkers!

Oreo surprise inside!

I am a lover of all things pink coconut, (remember this?) and spring is the time when it shows up in my baking the most. I blame the darling buds of May. Around here cherry trees are raining their pink petals down like snow. It's a magical sight, but the event is too short lived. I guess this cake is my way of prolonging the magic.

It's also a riff (yes, another one) on the Hostess Sno Ball (I'm obsessed!) and the flavors are reflected here with dark chocolate sponge cake, marshmallow buttercream and moist, sweetened coconut.
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