Cheesecake Is The Best Summer Dessert. Here’s Why.

The way to my heart is through all things doughy: bread, pie, and biscuits. But I’ve baked a lot more cheesecakes since meeting my husband, because they are his favorite dessert. The way to his heart is through creamy custards, preferably with a tart h…

The way to my heart is through all things doughy: bread, pie, and biscuits. But I’ve baked a lot more cheesecakes since meeting my husband, because they are his favorite dessert. The way to his heart is through creamy custards, preferably with a tart hint of tang—add a cookie crust, and he’s done for. I’ve been experimenting more with cheesecakes ever since learning this, and along the way I fell in love by proxy. (And since cheesecakes are really custard in a crust—they sound a bit like a pie to me! #teamcheesepie.) In the most recent episode of Bake It Up a Notch, I dived deep into cheesecakes and shared a ton of recipes, as we head into my favorite season to make them. While I bake cheesecakes of all flavors year-round, they truly are a perfect summer dessert. Here are three delicious reasons that may convince you I'm right.

1. Cheesecake Is Served Chilled.

One of my favorite things about cheesecakes is that they are usually served cold. This alone makes them ideal for summer—what’s better than something chilled and sweet when it’s hot outside? (I’ve also heard of folks who enjoy eating frozen cheesecakes without letting them thaw, for an extra-cold twist.) This also speaks to me as a lover of make-ahead options. It’s a dessert that can be made whenever you have time to bake, then enjoyed for many days to follow (assuming it lasts that long). Since it can be made ahead, it’s also perfect to take with you—maybe pack some slices for a summer picnic or try some easy-to-serve cheesecake bars or mini cheesecakes to bring to a barbecue. It’s refreshing, it’s a crowd-pleaser, it’s the definition of creamy and delicious.

Read More >>

Erin McDowell’s 8 Best Cupcake Recipes for an Extra-Special, Extra-Fun Dessert

Cupcakes are a constant for me, not a baking trend. As someone who bakes a lot, I never tire of making them – they’re easy to make, and I always get excited about eating them. They are also a lot of fun to dress up, get creative with, and make extra sp…

Cupcakes are a constant for me, not a baking trend. As someone who bakes a lot, I never tire of making them - they’re easy to make, and I always get excited about eating them. They are also a lot of fun to dress up, get creative with, and make extra special. I find that I’m not alone in my love for cupcakes, too— I have elicited my fair share of gasps and smiles walking into a room carrying a colorful box of cupcakes. (Seriously - move over bouquet of flowers—give me a box o’ cupcakes.) And if cupcakes are meant to be baked, gifted, and/or eaten by the dozen, I’m coming in hot with a bunch of recipes to keep you in tiny cakes for all occasions. My newest episode of Bake it Up a Notch dives deep into all things cupcakes—from super simple to over-the-top, I’ve got your cupcake to-bake list covered.

1. Basic Vanilla & Chocolate Cupcakes

These are my go-to cupcakes: an easy base recipe that can be made in vanilla or chocolate. These rise a “just-right” amount, to get a beautiful little cakey dome with a super moist crumb that’s a perfect match for any frosting or other finishes you can dream up! Be sure to check out this article I wrote back in 2015 about cupcakes, too—it has lots of ideas and techniques for making your best, plus creative ideas for making them look super beautiful, too. What’s that? Super in-depth coverage on cupcakes from me over five years ago on this same site? Just a perfect example of the cupcake constant.

Read More >>

6 Macaron Recipes for the Perfect Parisian Treat

Macarons, the incredibly beautiful Parisian cookie, are perhaps equally known for their impossibly smooth surface, delicate raised “foot,” and irresistibly chewy texture. As a baker, I see macarons as a bit of a rite of passage. Learning to execute the…

Macarons, the incredibly beautiful Parisian cookie, are perhaps equally known for their impossibly smooth surface, delicate raised “foot,” and irresistibly chewy texture. As a baker, I see macarons as a bit of a rite of passage. Learning to execute these fluttery friends is a great test of a variety of baking skills: whipping a meringue, piping the perfect round, and getting the bake just right. But I also see them as an incredible opportunity to get creative. At their core, macarons are a simple cookie with a fairly short ingredient list: just almond flour, egg whites, and sugar. And since they are made with almond flour, they are naturally gluten-free. Best of all, the short ingredient list means that the cookie itself is neutral in flavor—meaning you can easily add a variety of different fillings and finishes to take your macarons to the next level.

In my newest episode of Bake it Up A Notch, I try to show off some of the many incredible things this cookie can do. While lots of macaron recipes play with adding different colors and filings, I want to encourage home bakers to also experiment with an array of sizes, presentations, and finishes, too! From the classic mini sandwich cookies to giant macarons decorated with royal icing, to a towering, sliceable layer “cake,” there’s a whole lot of ways to embark on your own macaron adventure. Here are the recipes to get you started.

Read More >>

How to Master Pâte à Choux (For Éclairs, Gougeres & Cute Little Cream Puffs)

This original article was written to detail the process of specifically making crullers, a fried pâte à choux based pastry. For the February episode of Bake it Up a Notch, we took a deep dive into all things pâte à choux, and …

This original article was written to detail the process of specifically making crullers, a fried pâte à choux based pastry. For the February episode of Bake it Up a Notch, we took a deep dive into all things pâte à choux, and I wanted to update the article to discuss the broader scope of this process—one of my favorite pastry building blocks and baking standbys.

Read More >>