Cookies and Cream Cake

Cookies and Cream Cake

If you're a fan of cookies and cream ice cream, you have got to try this cookies and cream cake! Rich, dense and full of cookie goodness, this cake is what dreams are cookie lovers' dreams are made of! The cake is made with cream cheese, giving that characteristic vanilla cream taste, cookies baked into the cake and pureed into the frosting, and covered with chocolate ganache. Every bite will send your taste buds into a tizzy!

I love fun and unique cake flavors. You can obviously tell that by looking through all of my cake recipes here! It's just so much fun to serve guests a cake they can't find in the average bakery. What's especially great about this cake recipe is that it's really easy! An easy recipe that will impress guests? That's what I'm all about!

Cake Ingredients: 

2 cups all-purpose flour (I like Bob's Red Mill)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened (I used Tillamook)
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 oz cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups oreos, roughly chopped

Frosting Ingredients: 

2 cups butter, softened
5-6 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup finely crushed oreos (I crushed mine in the food processor)

Ganache Ingredients: 

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease and line three 6" cake pans. Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, and beat until well combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. Add the cream cheese and buttermilk, mixing until all ingredients have come together. The batter may look piecey at this stage, which is ok!

Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed until just combined. Stir in the oreos by hand with a spatula, making sure they're evenly distributed within the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pans, and bake about 38-42 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.

For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, and then add the vanilla extract. Add the finely crushed oreos, starting the mixer on low and increasing the speed to high for about 3 minutes. If the frosting is too wet, add another cup of powdered sugar. If it's too dry, add a tablespoon of heavy cream.

For the ganache: Heat the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl for about a minute, or until the chocolate chips are completely melted. Allow to cool slightly, and then drizzle down the sides of the cake, finishing by covering the top of the cake as well. Let set in the fridge until hardened before adding any frosting decorations on top.

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Kirsten Bell
A Visit To Stoller Family Estate

A Visit To Stoller Family Estate

Last weekend Jordan and I had a chance to visit the ultimate wine region of Oregon - the Willamette Valley! Neither of us had ever taken a trip to this Pinot Noir destination, and it was well worth the trip. The wines were delicious, people were friendly and welcoming, and the area was absolutely beautiful!

Our main reason for making the trip down was to visit Stoller Family Estate. Upon arriving, we were greeted by families picnicking on the front slope, dogs playing, and a feeling that despite their amazing success, Stoller really is a family winery.

The property at Stoller Family Estate is so beautiful. Even if the wine wasn't as delicious as it is (it's really good, I'm getting there!), I'd be happy to just hang out on the 399 acres of grounds! They have three beautiful guest houses, and we were lucky enough to stay in one. We were able to take a sunset walk with views of the vineyard, sipping our wine. When we come back soon, we plan to stay at one of their houses again! We couldn't have asked for a better location or more comfortable space.

The highlight of our visit to Stoller was hands down the Gastronomic tasting & tour. If you're in the area, this is a must! Each wine was so thoughtfully and perfectly paired with the food, and all of the food was chosen based on what was locally in season so the flavors were bright and delicious. They hold this tasting for private parties, so you and your friends can enjoy this special event together! Jordan and I were raving about this tasting all weekend, and kept saying we can't wait to come back and do it again.

The menu for the Gastronomic Tasting & Tour is seasonally dependent, so it's always different! Their chef thinks of new delicious and creative dishes each time, so every experience is unique to you. I think that's so fun, and makes the experience even more special.

On our menu:

Pairing 1: First of the season compressed watermelon, husk cherries, basil and white balsamic. Paired with 2018 Willamette Valley Pinor Noir Rosé.

Pairing 2: English pea farro risotto. Paired with 2016 Reserve Chardonnay.

Pairing 3: Roasted diver scallop, sweet corn succotash, black eyed peas. Paired with 2016 Elsie's Chardonnay. 

Pairing 4: Pan roasted salmon. Summer squash, saffron butter sauce. Paired with 2016 Helen's Pinot Noir.  (This was my personal favorite of the wines! We're going to get a bottle to enjoy for Thanksgiving, and I can't wait!)

Pairing 5: Filet mignon with morel mushrooms, green beans and chimichurri. Paired with 2016 Nancy's Pinot Noir. 

Pairing 6: Lamb chop, rainbow carrots, pinot reduction. Paired with 2014 History Otis Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Thank you to Stoller Family Estate for hosting us, and providing this wonderful experience. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Kirsten Bell
Cherry Orange Hot Cross Buns

Cherry Orange Hot Cross Buns

There are very few things that beat the taste of a warm, traditional hot cross bun, especially on Easter morning! This is a perfect recipe for your Easter brunch, served alongside mimosas and coffee. This recipe includes all the traditional hot cross buns flavors, with a few surprises! Dried cherries replace raisins, orange zest brightens up the spices, and orange icing completes these rolls for a delicious Easter treat.

We have two small dogs, and one small toddler in our house, so raisins (which are very toxic to dogs), are off the the table as it were. And the cherries in these rolls turned out to be my very favorite part! Cherries are a little lighter and brighter than raisins, which I love. Soaked overnight in brandy, they are bursting with delicious flavor! Please note: all the alcohol is completely cooked out of these rolls.

Buns Ingredients: 

1/4 cup brand, rum or apple juice
1 cup dried cherries (double check that there are no pits)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 package yeast
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 orange, zested

Icing Ingredients: 

1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Combine the dried cherries and brandy in a small bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the cherries to soak 12 hours, or preferably overnight.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, brown sugar through flour, and set aside. In your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast into the warm milk. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 3-5 minutes or until it starts to foam. Add the eggs (reserving the one extra yolk), butter and extract, mixing until combined. Add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing until just combined each time. Stir in the cherries and orange zest.

The dough should be soft and a little sticky, but not so sticky that it's sticking to the sides of the stand mixer bowl. Add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time if this is the case. If the dough can be formed into a ball and doesn't stick to your hands, it's done.

Knead the dough lightly, either with your hands on a floured surface, or in your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook on medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Grease a large mixing bowl liberally with melted butter. Set the ball of dough into the bowl, turning once so the top is also greased. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. I always turn my oven on to the lowest temperature (for my oven that's 170 F), and once it's preheated I turn it off. Then I let the dough sit in the warmed (but off!) oven.

When the dough has risen, punch it down to release any air bubbles that have formed. Grease two baking dishes. Divide the dough into 14-16 balls, pinching the bottoms so they stay moist while baking. Cover, and let rise again for 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Now for baking! Preheat the oven to 350 F. Combine the extra egg yolk with a teaspoon of water. With a pastry brush, brush the rolls with the egg wash. Then bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.

While the rolls cool, prepare the icing. Combine the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and orange juice in a small bowl, whisking with a fork until smooth. If it's too thick, add more orange juice a teaspoon at a time. Transfer to a pastry bag (no need for a tip), and pipe the icing in a cross over each cooled roll. Serve immediately!

Cover leftover rolls tightly, and store on the counter for 1-2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Yeasty breads always have lots of steps, but that doesn't mean they're more difficult. These rolls are actually incredibly easy to make! While the bread is rising, you can do other things around the house, run errands - whatever! And when you come home the house will smell like delicious homemade bread. Believe me - soooooo yummy!!

My favorite little taste tester approves!

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Kirsten Bell
S'mores Cookies

S'mores Cookies

I have such fond memories of s'mores. As a kid my parents took us camping every summer, and s'mores were my favorite part! The gooier and messier the better. I can't wait to introduce Charlotte to s'mores this summer, but these s'mores cookies might be just as good! Melty chocolate, delicious marshmallows, and of course - graham crackers. No fire required!

If you love s'mores, be sure to also check out these:

S'mores Cupcakes with Smoked Chocolate Ganache

These cookies are so easy, which is good because they'll be gobbled up in a second! The dough needs to be refrigerated overnight, which means I can whip up a batch in 10 minutes one day, and bake the next! As a busy work-from-home mom, I find that pretty amazing!

Makes 18-22 medium cookies


1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup chopped chocolate bar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup chopped mini marshmallows


Whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through salt in a medium mixing bowl. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugars. dd the vanilla and egg to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in the chocolate, graham cracker crumbs and mini marshmallows. You may need to use your hands to form all the graham cracker into the dough.

Transfer the dough into a medium bowl, and cover well. I press plastic wrap directly onto the dough, and then I cover the bowl again with plastic wrap. Allow to chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and form 12 heaping tablespoon size balls of dough per sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the edges are just beginning to brown.

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Kirsten Bell
Traditional Carrot Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

Traditional Carrot Cake with Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

Easter is just a week away, and I can't wait! All the egg hunts, Easter baskets, and yummy food await! This is the first year we're doing a real Easter egg hunt with Charlotte, and I'm so excited! When I think of traditional Easter desserts, the first thing I think of is carrot cake! This is a moist cake, with lots of spices, topped with delicious ginger cream cheese frosting.

It's amazing how much moisture there is in carrots and apples! Make sure you use fresh carrots, not pre-grated ones. If you buy them already grated, they'll be too dry. Believe me, I tried it! Plus it's really easy to grate carrots, so it's not worth paying a premium! 

The ginger in the cream cheese frosting is so good. Fresh ginger is beyond delicious, and really sets this carrot cake apart. You can of course omit it, but I promise you won't want to!

Cake Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup melted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
3 cups freshly grated carrot
1 apple, skinned and grated
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients: 

1 cup butter
16 oz cream cheese
5 cups powdered sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
8 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated


Grease and line the bottoms of three 6" cake pans. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, flour through nutmeg. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time.

Add the dry ingredients, mixing on low speed until just combined. Gently fold in the carrots, apple and pecans.

Distribute the batter between the three cake pans, and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, followed by the vanilla and ginger. Beat until light and fluffy.

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Kirsten Bell