Category Archives: Dessert

National Dessert Day!

October 14th is National Dessert Day!

It’d be wrong if I let the day go by without sharing something with y’all.

Here are some recipes to inspire you to celebrate!


Cinnamon Gingerbread Ice Cream

S’mores Cake

Chocolate Mousse

Blueberry Cake with Lemon Buttercream

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake Icebox Cake (or, Cheesecake Lasagna)


Custard-style Vanilla Ice Cream

The Best Banana Pudding Ever

Ricotta Honey Sesame Ice Cream

Caramel Apple Cake

How are you celebrating?


Baby Shower Tea Party

My dear friend, Beth, had a baby girl in February!

She’s been so loved from the minute we all found out about her existence. Pretty much from the second Beth told me she was pregnant I was planning her baby shower. Another friend of ours from church helped plan it with me & we came up with a theme that we knew Beth would love – Tea Party!

More specifically, Tea for Two at 2:00!


Planning this tea party was so much fun! I even made the invitations myself – inspired by this post from 733 blog.


They were easy to do with Microsoft Publisher & some clip art!


 I made the invitations look like tea bags by cutting the top corners & using a string to tie the little tag.

I also made some decorations.


That’s a standard baby shower banner with some added tea cups to go with the theme.

My favorite decoration was a sign I made for the front porch, inspired by this sign I saw on Pinterest.


I took a sheet of poster board, stenciled on & painted the words, & added some cut out tea cups and tea pot. I taped it to a large frame I had & set it out by the front door on a table.


Beth knew we were throwing her a shower, but didn’t know what the theme was until she drove up to the house!

Tea parties mean finger foods, so the menu was pretty easy! Sherlain took care of the tea sandwiches & I did all the desserts (of course).


I got most of the recipes from Pinterest – links below!


Early Grey cookie recipe from The Kitchn


Marshmallow Nutella Cupcakes with whipped cream inspired by this recipe.


These mini cheesecakes are just JELL-O No Bake Cheesecakes with strawberry & blackberry jam swirled in. I made them the night before.

We also had a small cake & fruit salad. There were lots of leftovers!

The drinks were, of course, tea! We had iced sweet tea & iced mixed berry tea. There was also a selection of hot teas.


For party favors my mother in law & I decorated little tea cups with sharpies. I baked them in the oven, but the sharpie still eventually rubbed off of the ones I kept for myself after continual use. It’s OK, at least everyone had a tea cup to drink from at the party!

As a gift & memento for Beth, I bought a plain white ceramic tea pot & all the ladies signed it.


For games we had ‘guess how many safety pins in a jar’, ‘don’t say baby safety pin game’, ‘baby shower gift bingo’, & ‘guess how big the belly is with toilet paper’. I ran that last game by Beth before we played it – she thought it was a great idea & all in good fun!


I made the baby shower bingo cards myself on the computer. It was really easy! I just came up with a basic list of baby supplies for the spaces & copied them in to each block but in a different spot on each card.


Since the shower was in December, we put all the gifts under the Christmas tree.

The baby shower was so much fun! All 15 of us had a great time & everyone made it to my house safely despite the torrential downpour that was happening – it always rains when I throw a party! That’s why the pictures are so dark 🙂


Beth is one of my closest friends & one of the sweetest people I know. Her beautiful daughter is almost 3 months old now!


Zombie Finger Cookies

Tonight is the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead!

In our family, this is cause for celebration. I have celebrated before with cake & cookies, so in keeping with the dessert theme I was looking for something easy yet creepy to make. I found this great recipe from the Food Network: Witch Finger Cookies courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis. I tweaked the recipe just a little & made them even creepier!

I present to you: zombie fingers!


These were so easy! It’s a yummy sugar cookie recipe with some added freaky flair.


Even before going in the oven my husband looked at these & said, “Ew!”


The cookies will expand a little bit – so make them thinner than a standard finger. I didn’t do this so I ended up with fat fingers, but let’s just say these walkers are bloated.

The ‘knuckles’ were so easy – take a knife & make 1 slit closer to the nail bed & 3 slits towards the middle of the finger.


The nails are my favorite part. I dipped sliced almond into melted lingonberry jam (any red jam will do!) before putting them on the fingers. This gives them that bloody look!

Observant Walking Dead fans might recognize these plates. (Hint: Start To Finish)

These are creepy and delicious! Enjoy the show tonight!

Zombie Finger Cookies

Makes 24-30 fingers

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg,  room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 24-30 sliced almonds
  • lingonberry jam
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with baking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, & salt.
  3. Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy.
  4. Add the egg & vanilla. Beat until smooth.
  5. Slowly add in the flour mixture until dough forms.
  6. Using about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the dough between your palms to form fingers (Giada says about 5-inch-long fingers about 1/2-inch thick). For the knuckles: using a knife, make 1 slit close to the nail bed & 3 slits towards the middle of the finger.
  7. Melt jam in microwave for 30 seconds. Dip sliced almonds in melted jam & then press into the end of each finger to make fingernails.
  8. Arrange the fingers on the cookie sheet & bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until light brown. Transfer the fingers to a wire rack & cool completely.
  9. Dip the blunt ends of the fingers in the warm jam & serve.

S’mores Cake

I love baking & decorating (& let’s face it – eating) cakes.

A few weeks ago I got the itch to bake a cake – but I needed an occasion to do so. There’s no way I was going to have a whole cake sitting around my house for me to eat all of. Not when I’ve been doing more or less OK at this whole trying to be healthy thing & have actually dropped a few lbs.

Finally I had an occasion. My husband & I threw our first backyard barbecue of 2016 a few weekends ago. While other places were just starting to defrost – or worse, getting even MORE snow! – the Sunshine State lived up to its name in February.

I was trying to think of what kind of cake to make when it hit me: s’mores!


There are times where I am all about making complex  recipes from scratch, and then there are times I take more of a “Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee” type of approach. This is the latter.

I’m all about doctoring up a boxed cake mix to get it to taste more homemade. So this cake recipe was made with a box of chocolate cake mix. I added a splash of milk to the batter as a little something extra – it gives it just a little more personality!

Besides the chocolate cake itself, what really gives this s’mores cake some ‘oomph’ is the Hershey’s chocolate frosting & Biscoff cookie butter.


That’s right, cookie butter! I finally had an excuse to buy some – I loveeeee Biscoff cookies!

I know it’s not the same thing as graham crackers – but trust me on this one. It’s got that yummy cookie flavor & goes oh so well with the chocolate and marshmallow! So this cake has cookie butter in the center & piped around the bottom.


On top there’s crushed graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate pieces, & mini marshmallows.

Full disclosure: I don’t have one of those fancy kitchen torches, so I used a lighter to toast these little marshmallows!


The mini marshmallows alone don’t give this cake enough of a s’mores feel. I recommend serving it with a dollop of marshmallow fluff (not pictured – the cake, once served, went pretty quickly!)


I’m so blessed to have family & friends to share cakes like this with – so I don’t eat the whole thing!

Easter Cake

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday!

Easter came early this year, which happens from time to time since its date is the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring.

Maybe that’s why this year Lent has seemed a little less Jesus-y for me than in years prior. We just celebrated Christmas & here is Easter already.

Nonetheless, just like Christmas, Jesus is the reason for the season.

My coworker is throwing her annual Easter picnic & egg hunt. Last year I made a bunny cake & brought my niece with me to the egg hunt. It was a lot of fun.

This year I am so over all the bunnies.

Easter isn’t about bunnies & egg hunts. It isn’t even about family & good food. It’s about Jesus.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

With that being said, Easter is a celebration! Up from the grave he arose! So it should be bright & fun 🙂


I hope I captured that spirit in this cake.


Funfetti cake with crushed M&Ms in the center, cream cheese frosting & malted eggs for decor.


Easter should be fun, especially for children. But it’s that cross in the center that is the most important piece of this whole weekend.


Happy Easter! He is risen, indeed!

Game Day Cookie Truffles

Tomorrow is Super Bowl 50!

We are going to a party at a friend’s house & of course we can’t show up empty handed!


Last year I made these football cupcakes, so I wanted to do something a little different.

Oreo cookie truffles have been all over my newsfeed recently. These are not oreo truffles – but they’re pretty close & SUPER tasty!


I had a box of chocolate graham crackers, so I decided to use it. The rest is pretty standard for any cookie truffle. Butterfinger is not a main flavor in the finished truffle, but every couple bites you get a nice peanut buttery crunch!

Using the food processor I pulsed the crackers and butterfingers until finely crumbled & poured into my mixer bowl. Then I added room temperature softened cream cheese & vanilla frosting. Using the paddle attachment, I stirred the ingredients until it was the consistency of a stiff dough.

My husband & I then shaped the ‘dough’ into little footballs on parchment paper & let them chill in the fridge. I love parchment paper so much, it’s so useful!


I melted the chocolate chips & coated the little footballs. If you’re using a microwave, like I did, don’t melt all the chocolate at once & remember to stir often. I coated all the truffles & then put them in the fridge for a few minutes. Once the chocolate was set, I piped on the laces.



These are very rich & delicious! I can’t wait to share with friends tomorrow.


Go sports!

Game Day Cookie Truffles

Makes about 4 dozen truffles

  • 1 box chocolate graham crackers
  • 1 package cream cheese, softened & at room temperature
  • 2 Butterfinger candies
  • 1/2 cup vanilla frosting, plus more for piping
  • 12oz semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Use a food processor to finely crumble graham crackers & butterfinger candies (may take several batches depending on food processor capacity). Transfer to mixer bowl.
  2. Add room temperature cream cheese & vanilla frosting. Using paddle attachment, mix on low speed until consistency is like that of a stiff dough. Spoon about a tablespoon worth of dough at at time onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper & shape into footballs. Chill in refrigerator at least 10 minutes.
  3. Melt chocolate chips & coat football truffles. Allow to set in refrigerator before piping laces with vanilla frosting.
In The New House Designs

Cinnamon Gingerbread Ice Cream

My husband & I decided to host Christmas dinner. We had a pretty successful Thanksgiving at our house, so we decided to take on Christmas dinner as well.

I actually like the whole hosting thing. We made a roast, some veggies, & dessert. Our family & friends made & brought way more food than we did. We just had to do the clean up, but even then we had some help. It was a lot of fun!

For dessert I made pudding.


Just kidding! I made cinnamon gingerbread ice cream.

My friend Beth had gotten me some gingerbread cookies from Ikea when she was gathering supplies for our Ikea cookie contest baking & that’s what inspired this whole recipe.


I almost called this Pepparkaka ice cream, but I didn’t think the joke would go over too well.

It had been a while since I made a custard-style ice cream, so I knew I wanted to do the whole egg yolk cooking shebang for this one. It also worked out well because I saved the egg whites for my chocolate mousse a few days later. I basically followed the custard-style ice cream recipe – the first recipe I ever posted – only I swapped out vanilla for cinnamon & whole cloves.

The cinnamon & cloves are the base flavors of this ice cream. The gingerbread comes from crumbled up Ikea cookies,  but I’m sure any ginger snap type cookie would be good. I also added cinnamon chips. I saw them at Publix one day & was so curios! I’m glad I found a use for them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I waited until the ice cream was almost done churning before adding the mix-ins, then I transferred the ice cream to a container & put it in the freezer.


Everyone loved my ice cream!

Cinnamon Gingerbread Ice Cream


  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
  • gingerbread cookies, crumbled
  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, whisk together milk, cream, half the sugar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and salt. Bring the mixture just to a boil.
  2. While the milk/cream mixture is heating, combine the yolks & remaining sugar in a mixer bowl. Beat on low until the mixture is pale and thick.
  3. Once the milk/cream mixture has come to a slight boil, beat about 1/3 of the hot mixture into the yolk/sugar mixture. Add another 1/3 of the mixture, stir, then return the combined mixture to the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens slightly & coats the back of the spoon. Do NOT boil the mixture – egg yolks will over cook.
  4. Strain the mixture & bring to room temperature. Chill in fridge for 1-2 hours.
  5. Turn on the ice cream maker, pour in the mixture, & let mix for about 20 minutes. During the last minute, add cookie crumbles & cinnamon chips.
  6. The ice cream will be soft. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container & freeze for 2 hours.

Chocolate Mousse

This post is long over due!


I first mentioned my chocolate mousse in my very first recipe post for homemade ice cream, & recently mentioned it again on my blog-aversary. It’s sort of become a New Year’s tradition, which is great because as delicious as this mousse is, it’s not the healthiest thing out there so I really don’t need to be making it more than once a year. This mousse is great on its own, but it’s also super delicious with fruits like strawberries or grapes.

My job had an end of the year pot-luck, so I doubled the below recipe & brought mousse in individual little cups.


This mousse is very rich & chocolaty. My mom originally got this recipe from an old cookbook of hers. She taught me her ways & I have tweaked the recipe a little. I’ve actually cut the sugar down – which I think lets the semi sweet chocolate ships stand out a little more.

This recipe is pretty simple & has 2 main steps: 1) melt chocolate & butter together using hot water bath, aka double boiler (or baño de Maria in Spanish), 2) make meringue using an electric mixer.


Hot water baths are this easy!

For Christmas I made cinnamon gingerbread ice cream (recipe here!), which called for 5 egg yolks. Since I knew I wanted to make mousse for the pot luck, I saved the whites so I wouldn’t have to crack a dozen eggs. It was a win-win!

While the chocolate & butter are melting, the egg whites were getting nice & fluffy & stiff using the kitchenaid. I just turned the mixer speed almost all the way up & let the eggs go for a while until really stiff.


REALLY stiff!

Then I added the vanilla & slowly added the sugar. Tada, meringue! You can use that recipe by itself to make meringue cookies – just bake them low & slow in the oven. They are so yummy!

By this point the chocolate & butter were all melted & just needed a good stir. Then it was time to fold the chocolaty mixture into the meringue.




Keep going.





Look at that smooth, chocolaty goodness!

At this point I portioned it out since I was taking it to a potluck, but you you could also set the whole bowl in the fridge to set overnight.

Guys, there’s nothing else like it. This mousse is quite rich. Chocolate lovers will definitely appreciate this dessert.

Since I didn’t get to enjoy this mousse the same night, I saved a little bit of the meringue & made myself a little treat.


This is one of the best parts of having a gas stove!


The next day though, I definitely tore into that mousse!

Chocolate Mousse

  • 6 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips (one bag)
  • 1/2 lb butter (one stick)
  1. Melt chocolate chips & butter in a hot water bath.
  2. Beat egg whites using electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla & slowly add sugar.
  3. In a large bowl, gently fold melted chocolate mixture into meringue until smooth & uniform in color. Let it set in the fridge overnight.
  4. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit.
In The New House Designs

Caramel Apple Cake

 I was trying to think of something fancier to call this cake, but alas, I came up empty.
This cake is so good, y’all!

I made this cake for Thanksgiving, but it’s not exclusively a holiday dessert. It’s a wonderfully delicious any time you’re craving cake cake!

I looked up several apple cake recipes before landing on one from EatInEatOut. I tweaked it a bit & made it my own. The original recipe has nuts & is frosted with maple buttercream & pecans – it looks really amazing! I wanted to go the caramel route, so I decided on caramel buttercream & sauce with toffee chip garnish.

The caramel sauce & caramel buttercream recipes are amazing enough to merit their own post, but since I put it all together I wanted to give you guys the full picture.




Seriously, SO GOOD!

The cake itself is really yummy even without frosting. With a few tweaks it would make a great apple muffin recipe. Hmm…

It also wasn’t terribly difficult! I used honeycrisp apples & the hardest part is probably dicing them, but I took a few shortcuts. I peeled them, used an apple slicer to slice & core them, then used a slap-chop to get little crunchy pieces of yum.

The batter before adding the apples is really thick! Reminded me of gingerbread cookie dough. But the apples are very moist & so once I stirred those in the batter was more cake-y than cookie-y.


The caramel sauce is amazing. I got it from The Pioneer Woman. Truly it’s more of a brown sugar sauce than caramel, but the taste & consistency are caramel-y enough for me! It reminds me a lot of sugary glaze part of the monkey bread muffins I’ve made previously – but much richer. At first I was worried it was too runny, but that was only because it was piping hot. So if you make this recipe & think the caramel sauce is too runny, it’s probably fine – just melted!


Of course, this cake also needed some buttercream. So I looked up the Wilton caramel buttercream recipe & just changed the proportions to suite my needs. The below recipe made just enough buttercream for this cake.


This cake is definitely worth all the work. It really wasn’t so bad. I put on some Christmas music, poured a glass of wine, & got to work while my husband kept me company in the kitchen.

Later on I frosted the cakes with the buttercream & put toffee chips all around the bottom. Then, I poured the caramel sauce all over it. This was one of the easiest cake decorating jobs ever. This cake is just as delicious as it is pretty!

Everyone loved it! The cake has a great apple flavor & the caramel sauce is slightly salty which offsets all the sweetness. The buttercream is creamy (well yeah, it should be, right?) & delicious.

All 3 of these recipes are winners. Put them together & they are unbelievable!

Apple Cake

Recipe adapted from EatInEatOut.
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 apples, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 8in. cake pans with baking spray.
  2. In a bowl mix flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt & baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat eggs, sugar, vanilla & oil for 2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to mixer bowl until combined. The batter will be really thick.
  5. Stir in apples by hand; batter will become less thick. Pour batter into cake pans. Bake until done in the center; 40-45 minutes.
  6. Cool completely before frosting.

Caramel Sauce

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman (heavy cream version)

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick salted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil & whisk gently for 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Caramel will be runny when hot, but thicken as it cools. Caramel will harden in the fridge; to bring to pourable consistency microwave for a few seconds at a time. For cake decorating, caramel should be cool but pourable.

Caramel Buttercream

Recipe adapted from Wilton
  • 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup caramel sauce
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tbsp heavy cream
  1. With an electric mixer, cream shortening and butter. Add caramel sauce and vanilla.
  2. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating on medium speed until fully incorporated.
  3. When all sugar has been mixed in, add heavy cream a little at a time until light and fluffy.
In The New House Designs

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

A few weekends ago I had the type of Saturday that only comes around once every couple of months. It was a glorious Saturday with absolutely no plans. It was a no-need-for-pants kind of day.

This is not to be confused with the type of Saturday where you are bored & wishing for plans. This was a much needed break from busy lives. My husband & I did things around the house. We watched college football. We had the whole day to ourselves to do whatever we wanted. After a delicious steak dinner, I realized we did not have any dessert. My husband said, “we haven’t left the house all day – do you want to go out for some frozen yogurt?”

I said no.

We hadn’t left the house all day! I was not about to put pants on, especially not after dinner.

So instead, I decided to make some brownies. Then I remembered I had a meeting at church the next day & decided to make a big batch to share.

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies - Mrs. Dessert Monster

I had actually never made brownies from scratch before. I looked up several recipes & tips before arriving at Epicurious’ Best Cocoa Brownies. According to this recipe, these brownies have a soft center & a nice top crust because of butter & granulated sugar. I looked up the differences between cakey & fudgy brownies. This post from Fine Cooking has great explanations. I had no idea there was such a wide variety of brownie techniques, but I think I found my niche with this recipe. I prefer the fudgy kind.

The original Epicurious recipe calls for some fancy & very specific steps.

“Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.”

Umm, what?

I did no such thing.

I know baking is a science, & I mean no disrespect, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

My brownies still turned out amazing.

I didn’t just throw everything in the bowl, I just kind of used previous baking experience with a little common sense to come up with my own steps. Plus my handy dandy KitchenAid mixer. Also, the Epicurious recipe is for an 8 x 8 pan; I doubled it & used a 13 x 9.

The one instruction I did follow properly was lining the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper, leaving ‘handles’ on two opposite sides. THAT is great advice.

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies - Mrs. Dessert Monster

The whole thing came out very easily. This is a great idea so you don’t end up cutting the brownies in the pan. I have ruined a few pans by cutting baked goods in them.

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Don’t be like the old me.

These brownies were so amazingly rich & fudgy. Perfect with a glass of milk.

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies - Mrs. Dessert Monster

Walnuts for me, none for my hubby. Compromising can be delicious & fun!

I must make these again.

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

Adapted from Epicurious Best Cocoa Brownies

  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
  2. Melt butter. Add melted butter, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, & salt to a bowl & use lowest setting on electric mixer to combine. Add eggs one at a time.
  3. Add flour. Once fully incorporated, mix on medium-high for 30 seconds. Stir in walnuts if desired.
  4. Spread batter evenly in the lined pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Brownies should be set in the center, but still moist.
  5. Lift brownies out of pan using parchment paper. Once completely cool, cut into squares.
In The New House Designs