Sweet Things: Be Mine Vanilla Cupcakes

Well guys, what can I say. I’ve been hibernating. And then I looked at my calendar this weekend and realized that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Love it or hate it, Cupid’s very own holiday is a good excuse to bake. 🙂

Enjoy this ode to all things sweet, pink, and made with love.

xx Cocoa & Lace



  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Buttercream frosting (see recipe here)
  • 1 package of M&Ms



  • Melt butter in microwave safe bowl; Whisk in granulated sugar. Add vanilla extract.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Make a well in the center and pour in liquid ingredients.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, to center of bowl, gradually whisking into liquid ingredients.
  • Combine all ingredients thoroughly, but do not over-mix.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once cooled, spread vanilla buttercream frosting onto each cupcake. Layer with M&Ms (design as you wish!). Add another dollop of frosting to create multiple layers, as pictured.

Sweet Things: Vanilla Almond Stadium Pound Cake

In honor of my alma mater’s upcoming appearance at the BCS National Championship, I whipped up this special stadium cake that’s deceptively simple to make.



  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Combine butter (at room temperature – not completely melted) with sugars.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, to sugar/butter mixture.
  • Add vanilla and almond extracts to sugar/butter/egg mixture.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour butter mixture into center of well and whisk together.
  • Add Greek yogurt to batter.
  • Pour batter into pan. Bake for approximately 1 hour (should be golden brown – toothpick inserted into center should come out clean).

Go Irish!

xx Cocoa & Lace

Onward to 2013!

Hard to believe 2012 is coming to a close, isn’t it? For me personally, this past year feels both like a blink and an eternity all at once. I can’t believe that just a year ago, I was about to embark on my last semester of college. My classmates and I headed back to campus in January with an infinite amount of excitement en tow – it was almost electric. We were ready to enjoy a series of lasts without fully realizing the finality of graduation. With #YOLO leading the way, we charged through spring managing to balance academics with plenty (and I do mean plenty) of fun. From cruising off to the Bahamas for Spring Break to singing the alma matter with a degree in hand, this has been one heck of a year. And did I mention that life in the “Real World” also commenced? It’s certainly a change from college life, but parallels do exist. It’s about squeezing in just enough fun to make the tough days bearable, and remembering that no matter what, it’s the people that make every chapter of life worth living.

Here’s to a fabulous, prosperous, and healthy new year – live the life you’ve always dreamed of!

xx Cocoa & Lace

CL 12 29 12 New Year

  • The Toast: The Flirtini (marie claire)
  • The Dress: Morris Sequined Dress (BCBG)
  • The Party: Anywhere, USA (snapshot via Cocoa & Lace)

Sweet Things: Perfectly Pumpkin Bread


  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fig spread
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Combine liquid ingredients in an extra-large mixing bowl: blend pumpkin, yogurt, fig spread, eggs (one at a time), vanilla, water, and oil. Whisk in sugars until completely blended.
  • Combine dry ingredients in large mixing bowl: blend flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • Gradually add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients until combined.
  • Scoop into desired pan (I used 2 pans of 6 mini Bundt cakes – flowers, etc.).
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.
  • Makes 12 dozen mini Bundt cakes (or three 7 x 3 inch loaves).

Enjoy one of my favorite flavors of the season!

xx Cocoa & Lace

Sweet Things: Orange You Glad Chocolate Chip Cookies

Can you believe it’s Wednesday already?? As a midweek treat, set aside a half hour to make these delicious chocolate chip cookies with a twist: orange extract. The zesty addition pairs perfectly with dark chocolate chips and complements the rich oat texture. This recipe is also extremely versatile, as you can easily interchange orange extract for any of your favorite flavors.


xx Cocoa & Lace


  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large microwave safe mixing bowl, melt butter. Add sugars until thoroughly combined. Whisk in egg. Add extracts.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour with baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Gradually sprinkle flour mixture over the liquid ingredients, mixing gently until combined.
  • Fold in oats, then chocolate chips.
  • Use teaspoon cookie dough dropper to drop batter onto two cookie sheets.
  • Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies are light golden brown.
  • Yield: 24 cookies.

Sweet Things: PB & Butterscotch Bread Pudding

Prepare for a sinfully delicious combination of melt-in-your-mouth flavors with this decadent bread pudding recipe. Between the warm, gooey goodness of wholesome peanut butter and the sweet swirls of butterscotch chips throughout, this is a sweet treat worth every calorie…but who’s counting anyway? 😉


xx Cocoa & Lace


  • 6 slices of buttermilk white bread
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside a 8 x 8 inch aluminum pan.
  • Slice bread into small cubes. Place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir together peanut butter and oil. Add sugars until blended. Whisk in milk. Add eggs, whisking one at a time.
  • Pour liquid mixture over cinnamon bread cubes.
  • Stir in butterscotch chips.
  • Add batter to pan. Bake 45-60 minutes until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Sweet Things: Nutella Brownies


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 x 8 inch aluminum pan.

Measure 1 c flour and 1/4 t salt into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Melt unsweetened bittersweet chocolate with butter over low heat on stove top or in 30-second increments in microwave. Blend in a medium size mixing bowl.

Add brown sugar and regular sugar to butter mixture. Stir in vanilla extract.

Add eggs, one at a time, to chocolate/butter/sugar mixture.

Add liquid ingredients to flour and salt in large mixing bowl. Fold in chocolate chips.

Swirl in 1/2 c Nutella. Do not mix completely. Batter should have “swirls” of Nutella, allowing for fudgier consistency when baked.

Add mixture to greased brownie pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

*Optional Nutella frosting*
While brownies are still warm (but not immediately out of the oven), spread Nutella evenly over top of baked brownies. The Nutella should melt to make spreading easier. Add more or less depending on preference.

Enjoy, chocolate lovers! Tip: mix it up by adding peanut butter chips or white chocolate chips to the brownie batter. This base recipe for fudge brownies can be changed up quite easily — it’s versatility at its tastiest! Check out my Mocha Brownie Buzz recipe for a caffeinated variation.

Have a great day!

xx cocoa & lace

Sweet Things: Nutella Banana Bread


Nutella makes everything better. In this case, classic banana bread gets a sinful twist with a dollop (or two) of everyone’s favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread. Enjoy!

Nutella Banana Bread

1 3/4 cup (c) flour

1 teaspoon (t) baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 t cinnamon

3 medium bananas, ripe

1 c sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 c vegetable oil

2 tablespoons (T) Greek yogurt

1 t vanilla extract

2 T honey

4 T Nutella

1 c milk chocolate chips* (may also use semi-sweet or white chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.

Mash bananas in a medium mixing bowl. Mix in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Whisk gently until just combined. Mix in oil, honey, and vanilla extract. Stir in Greek yogurt until completely combined.

Create a well in the middle of the bowl of dry ingredients. Pour half of the wet ingredients into well. Whisk gently before adding the other half of wet ingredients. Do not over-mix, but do make sure all dry ingredients are incorporated.

Add four generous tablespoons of Nutella to the batter. Do not over-mix, although batter should take on a chocolate color. Swirls of unincorporated Nutella are encouraged.

Pour in 1 cup of milk chocolate chips. Semi-sweet or white chocolate chips can also be used.

Grease 9 x 5 inch pan with method of choice. Pour in batter, leaving about 1/2 inch of pan exposed. Extra batter may be poured into muffin cups and eaten as bite-sized samples. (Just be sure to take the extra batter out of the oven before the large loaf is done, as the bite-sized samples will only take about 15 minutes depending on the amount in each muffin cup.)

Bake loaf about 50-60 minutes. Check at 50 minutes by poking center with knife. If knife comes out clean, it’s done.

While loaf is still warm in pan, spread Nutella (generously!) across the top. Make sure surface is covered. Sprinkle with sugar crystals if desired.

Happy Sunday, everyone! Enjoy!

xx C&L

**Note– I mix all of my recipes by hand unless otherwise noted. Please be advised that electric mixers will do the job more quickly, but it is also easier to over-mix and thus toughen the batter.