Tag Archives: cake

Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache

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I made this cake for my roommate’s bakery last summer and it was TO DIE FOR! There is no better indulgence in my mind than a chocolate-y peanut butter treat–whether’s it’s a Reese’s peanut butter cup, chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, or this heavenly pound cake. Of course none of these things are on my Primal diet so when my friend Boomer requested a peanut butter chocolate birthday goody, I jumped at the chance of making this cake again. (I also made Blueberry Lemon bars for the other of this Birthday extravaganza, Stacy). He was having a pool party so for the sake of convenience I made mini bundt cakes, but I have to say I STRONGLY urge you to make this cake in a 10″ tube pan as the batter is just not meant for small spaces. They were adorable and quite tasty, but definitely did not live up to the first result of this recipe. Pound cake is just meant to be consumed in the form of a beautifully tall slice of cake lightly smothered in a thin layer of frosting. Trust me!

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Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting (Adapted from the Penzey’s Catalog) (Difficulty-Medium; Serves 12-14)

For the Cake:

  • 1 c. butter softened
  • 1 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 5 cage-free organic eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. milk

For the Ganache:

  • 12 oz. premium semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream

Make the Cake: Do not preheat oven.  The Penzey’s test kitchen suggests placing the cake in a cold oven.  Lightly grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and peanut butter.  Add the sugar and beat until light in color.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  The mixture should be light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla.

In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix the batter until smooth and creamy.  Pour into cake pan.  Place in the cold oven.  Set the oven temperature to 325°F and bake until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean; about 1 hour and 25 minutes.  Please note that all ovens are different, so check the cake’s progress after 1 hour 10 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes before turning out on a rack to cool completely before icing.

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Make the Ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a small mixing bowl.  Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan until boiling.  Pour over the chocolate and stir until creamy and smooth.  Let cool for 2-3 minutes.  Brush any loose crumbs from the cake.  Place the cooling rack on a clean baking sheet to catch the drips.  Pour the icing evenly over the cake, allowing it to cascade and cover the cake.  Move the cake rack to another clean baking sheet.  Scrape the drips from the first baking sheet, reheat and pour over the cake.

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Chocolate & Olive Oil Fig Cakes

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I have been holding onto this recipe since last summer and I am so glad I finally got around to making it! The fig season is so short that by the time I went to make it last year, I couldn’t find fresh figs anywhere. So do yourself a favor and try this while you still can. Fresh figs are like a completely different food than their dried counterpart that we usually find in salads. Don’t get me wrong I love dried figs too, but fresh figs are a summer delicacy to savour! Their sweet juicy flesh pairs perfectly with the rich chocolate and olive oil in the cake. And the sea salt and fresh ground pepper in the chocolate topping perfectly finish off this decadent treat. I know what you’re thinking…ground black pepper on chocolate cake?!? Believe me! It heightens the lemon zest and pairs with the sea salt to balance the chocolate, olive oil, and figs. Chocolate Perfection! A great Italian dessert to follow up my Salmon Florentine.

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Chocolate & Olive Oil Fig Cakes (Adapted from Food Network Magazine) (Difficulty-Intermediate; Makes 6-7 mini cakes)

For the cakes:

  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • 1 c. almond meal, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. raw honey
  • 1 large cage-free organic egg plus 1 yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 3-6 fresh figs, halved

For the glaze:

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Large pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for topping

Make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Make the cakes: Brush a 6-cup muffin pan (I used a mini bundt pan) with olive oil and dust with almond meal. Whisk the cocoa powder and 1/4 cup hot water in a small bowl; let cool slightly. Combine the almond meal, salt and baking soda in another bowl.

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Combine the honey, egg and egg yolk, vanilla and lemon zest in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high speed until pale and slightly thick, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, drizzle in the olive oil. Add the cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the almond meal mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake 8 minutes, then top each cake with a fig half and continue baking until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, 8 to 10 more minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack, 20 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

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Make the glaze: Place a small saucepan of water on the stove to boil, then turn off the heat. Put the chocolate, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper in a metal bowl and place over boiling water, stirring, until smooth.

Top the cakes with the glaze and more fresh ground pepper. You can add additional fig slices to the top of the glaze if desired.

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Hazelnut Brown Butter Layer Cake with Fresh Whipped Cream and Strawberries

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One of my dearest friends, Aja, recently had a Birthday and it was the first time I got to celebrate with her in many many years, so of course I had to bake her a Birthday cake! She had come to visit me when I first moved to LA and we went to this divine restaurant in Topanga Canyon, called Inn of the Seventh Ray. They have an outdoor patio full of beautiful floral arrangements and twinkly lights that is just stunning! And better yet, they focus on all natural organic meals and cater to specialty diets like vegan and vegetarian. Definitely try it if you’re in the area.

We were there with her dad and his wife who had been married there a few years back. When we told the waitress, she brought out a piece of the very same cake they had at their wedding–how sweet is that?! And the cake was amazing. Coming from someone who typically doesn’t get too excited about cake, that’s saying a whole lot! Aja and I were going ON and ON about this cake so the waitress gave us a few tips that it was made with hazelnut flour and the cake was then soaked in a custard, giving it a perfectly moist texture. This was no ordinary cake. The frosting was a simple whipped cream and the layers of the cake were filled with fresh summer berries–wow I could really go for another piece of that cake! Anyway…I wanted to try to re-create this magnificent dessert for her big day. I searched and searched for the recipe online but those smart cookies at the restaurant are keeping that gem under wraps. So I was looking for something similar. Obviously I wanted a hazelnut based batter, but I couldn’t seem to find any cakes soaked in custard, but rather filled with custard. So I opted for this hazelnut brown butter dacquoise (or meringue-based cake) from the trusty Smitten Kitchen. I doubled the recipe and used a smaller (8″) pan for two taller layers, and swapped out the chocolate ganache for light fresh whipped cream and seasonal strawberries. We had one happy birthday girl!

Oh! For my primal and gluten-free readers, I tested a primal version of this cake a few days before that was lovely, but I still need to perfect the texture for layering. I will share when I get around to that someday, but I only had a narrow window of time to make the birthday cake and I wanted to ensure that it was going to be perfect, so alas, I used some flour, and a whole lotta confectioner’s sugar.

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Hazelnut Brown Butter Layer Cake with Whipped Cream and Strawberries (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen) (Difficulty-Advanced; Serves 12-16)

**As any baker knows, working with egg-white based batters can really be a pain! Get more specifics on this particular recipe from professional chef, Shuna Lydon here!

For the Cake:

  • 10 oz. (about 2 heaping cups) hazelnuts, blanched to remove dark skins*
  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter (plus 1 Tbsp. melted to grease pans)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 large organic cage free egg whites, at room temperature**(this is very important)
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

To Fill and Frost:

  •  1 pint organic heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 Tbsp. raw honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 quart organic strawberries, sliced

Bake the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 °F.

*To remove the hazelnut skins, briefly boil the nuts in 8 cups of water with 4-6 tablespoons of baking soda, and rinse with cold water. The skins fall off most of them, and you can easily slip them off the rest. Be forewarned, however — use a large pot. The baking soda/hazelnut/boiling water combo makes a pretty pink but lofty foam that threatens to spill all over your stovetop.

Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and toast 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown and smell nutty. Let them cool.

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Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans. Brush the pan with a little melted butter and line the bottom with the paper.

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Place the rest of the butter in a medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center, and using a paring knife to scrape the seeds and pulp onto the butter. To make sure not to lose any of the seeds, run your vanilla-coated knife through the butter. Add the vanilla pod to the pan, and cook the butter until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Set aside to cool. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.

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Grind the hazelnuts with the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until they’re finely ground. Add the flour and pulse to combine. Transfer to a large bowl.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture forms very stiff peaks. When you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks should hold. Once the whites have formed stiff peaks, add the granulated sugar and mix to combine. Transfer the whites to a large mixing bowl.

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Alternate folding the dry ingredients and the brown butter into the egg whites, a third at a time. Remember to scrape the bottom of the brown butter pan with a rubber spatula to get all the little brown bits and vanilla bean pods.

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Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, distributing evenly, and bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating the cakes half way through. Cool on a rack 30 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, and invert the cake onto a plate. Peel off the paper, and turn the cake back over onto a serving platter.

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Assemble the Cake: Place a metal or copper mixing bowl in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 30 minutes prior to making the frosting (this speeds up the whipping process). Pour the cream into the bowl and beat with a stand or handheld mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. The same test for the egg whites works here too–the peaks should hold when you turn the beater attachment upside down. Add the honey and vanilla and mix well to incorporate.

Add a thick layer of whipped cream to the first cake layer and cover with sliced strawberries. Add another layer of whipped cream to the strawberries so their juice does not seep out into the cake. Place the second cake onto the first and continue frosting with whipped cream. Top with remaining strawberry slices.

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Snowy Coconut Roulade Cake

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I rarely have trouble with a recipe but the original frosting for this cake was a nightmare! Usually I can hold my own with egg whites, but they just posed as one barrier after another in this recipe. I also usually can salvage a not-so-perfect mixture, but there was no saving this curdled sloppy mess so I opted to use my own cream cheese frosting recipe and it paired wonderfully with the spongy coconut cake. If you aren’t a fan of cream cheese frosting, you can also use a sweetened whipped cream or buttercream frosting. I just strongly reccomend staying away from the original.

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Coconut Roulade (adapted from Food Network)

(Difficulty: Medium; Serves 8-10)

For the Cake:

  • Unsalted butter, for the pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated, plus 2 egg whites, all at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon rum

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet or jelly roll pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.    

Whisk 1 cup each flour and granulated sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the 4 egg yolks, vegetable oil, coconut milk and coconut extract. Add in the flour mixture in 2 batches.

Beat the 6 egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium high; gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and beat until stiff, shiny peaks form. Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture with a rubber spatula, then gently fold in the rest. The egg whites in this cake make the batter very airy, resulting in a light spongy cake when baked.

Spread the batter evenly on the prepared baking sheet and bake until the cake is golden and springs back when pressed, 15 to 20 minutes. Loosen the edges of the cake with a knife; transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let the cake cool slightly. Dust a clean kitchen towel with confectioners’ sugar. Place the towel on top of the cake and invert the cake onto the t0wel. It will make rolling the cake much smoother. Brush the cake with the the Tbsp. of rum. The original recipe called for white rum but I only had spiced in the house and it works just the same.

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For the Frosting:

 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 Tbsp. rum

2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Whip cream cheese and butter using a stand or handheld mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Slowly add sugar, while mixing on low. Add vanilla and rum and continue to whip on medium-high speed until fluffy.

Spread the frosting evenly on the sponge cake, sprinkle on 1 cup of coconut, and using the kitchen towel gently roll the cake around itself into a log. Sprinkle with remaining shredded coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Dad’s Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells with Turkey Meatballs and Vanilla Cream Cheese Cakelets with Raspberry Filling and Homemade Limoncello Ice Cream

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**Sorry for the delay on this–wanted to make sure it was just right since this is such a special family recipe. Enjoy! 😀

In our house we’ve always done two Thanksgivings- an Italian meal made by my dad because his family always celebrated with Italian food, and the traditional American Turkey dinner. I know, I’m pretty spoiled! This year Dad and I decided to make one of our favorites, stuffed shells with Spinach and four cheeses, and his staple turkey meatballs (how fitting for Turkey Day!). And everything was covered in his famous Pomodoro sauce of course.

We generally don’t eat dessert with our Italian Thanksgiving since there is so much delicious food, but since this was the first year I was home to spend Thanksgiving with my family in so many years I wanted to make them a special Italian treat- Limoncello Mascarpone ice cream with vanilla cakelets filled with raspberry cream. It was the perfect end to our Italian feast!

Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells  (Difficulty-Intermediate; Serves: 6-8)

1 lb. large organic imported pasta shells

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 lb. organic baby spinach

2 large organic eggs, room temperature and gently scrambled

8 oz. Polly-O ricotta cheese (according to Dad, it MUST be Polly-O!)

4 oz. Polly-O fresh mozarella cheese

3/4 cup, plus more for topping, pecorino romano and parmesan cheese blend from Trader Joes

1 tsp. organic lemon zest

seasoned pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Don’s Pomodoro sauce (recipe below)

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach one pound at a time until cooked. Be sure to salt and pepper the spinach as you go. Pour cooked spinach into a colander and drain ALL liquid. This is one of the most important steps so that there is no excess liquid in the stuffing mixture. Once the spinach is drained add to a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta and eggs to the spinach and mix well. Grate half of the mozarella cheese into the bowl and add the 3/4 cup of romano parmesan blend. Season with seasoned pepper, coarsely ground sea salt, and ground black pepper to taste.

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Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook shells for about 5 minutes. They will still be very firm, but they will finish cooking in the oven. Make sure not to overcook the pasta or they will fall apart when served. Drain shells and run under cold water to stop the cooking process. We even added a handful of ice cubes to the colander. Spread a few paper towels out on the counter and place each shell upside down to drain all of the liquid that has collected inside the shells.

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When the shells are dry, use a teaspoon to stuff the spinach and cheese mixture into each shell. We placed the stuffed shells in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the stuffing flavors marinate and set inside the pasta.

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When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Ladle a layer of Pomodoro sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Place the shells in the dish and cover the tops of the shells in pomodoro sauce, the remaining grated mozzarella cheese and a handful of the parmesan romano cheese blend. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Don’s Pomodoro Sauce

4 cans official San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy (Dad won’t use anything else!)

1 Maui or sweet onion, finely diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. coarse sea salt

1/2 cup fresh organic basil leaves

crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste

Prep Work: The most important step in this sauce is preparing the tomatoes. It is important to drain as many of the tomato seeds as possible so as not to add any bitterness to the sauce. The San Marzano tomatoes are deliciously sweet, but the seeds will take away from their amazing flavor. Set a large colander in the sink and use a pairing knife to slice off the tip of the each tomato and drain its seeds. Add the seedless tomatoes to a food processor with the tomato sauce from each can and pulse a few times to combine. You want the sauce to be well-incorporated but still have a nice texture from the tomatoes. Next, add the diced onion and garlic to a small bowl and pour 2 Tbsp. olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Let this marinate for up to 3-4 hours before making the sauce for the flavors to incorporate and develop.

To make the sauce, add 1/4 cup olive oil, onion and garlic mixture, and a teaspoon of coarse ground salt to a large sauce pan. Heat on medium until onions and garlic are translucent, about 6 minutes. The salt will help to release the sugar from the onions, adding to the sweetness of the tomato sauce. Add your desired amount of crushed red pepper to this- I like my tomato sauce to be a bit spicy. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the basil for a nice fresh flavor.

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Don’s Turkey Meatballs (Difficulty-Easy; Makes 12 Meatballs)

  • 2 lb. organic ground turkey
  • 1 large Maui or Spanish onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup organic fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup organic ketchup
  • 2 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated parmeggiano reggiano cheese
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a muffin pan with olive-oil based cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and form 12 large meatballs to fit into the muffin the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The meatballs should be fairly firm but should still have some give under the pressure of your finger. Serve with generous amounts of pomodoro sauce and parmeggiano reggiano cheese.

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Limoncello Mascarpone Ice Cream (slightly adapted from Curly Girl Kitchen)

(Difficulty- Intermediate; Makes about 1 quart)

  • 8 ounces Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup Limoncello Licquer
  • juice and zest of 2 small lemons
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, or using a hand-held mixer, whip the Mascarpone cheese with 1/2 cup of the milk until smooth.  Add the remaining milk and the rest of the ingredients and whip until very well blended.  Taste and adjust sugar and lemon zest as desired.

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Pour into a container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, until well chilled.  After mixture has chilled, whisk it until smooth, then pour through a mesh strainer to strain out the lemon zest.  Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions of your ice cream maker.  Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 4-6 hours.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Cakelets with Raspberry Cream Filling (adapted from Curly Girl Kitchen)

(Difficulty- Easy; Makes 8 or 9 cupcakes)

  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Penzey’s Raspberry Enlightenment
  • 1 small carton fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a cupcake pan with non-stick baking spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand-held mixer, beat the 6 oz. cream cheese, butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl down a few times, until very light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly.  Add the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined.  Batter will be very thick. Add batter to cupcake pan.  Bake for 18 minutes, until golden brown, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

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Meanwhile, make the raspberry filling by mixing remaining 2 oz. cream cheese, raspberry enlightenment and confectioner’s sugar on high with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add to a piping bag. When cupcakes are cool use a serrated knife to cut the tops off and pipe the filling onto the surface. Replace the top half of the cake and drizzle with more raspberry enlightenement sauce. Serve with limoncello mascarpone ice cream and fresh raspberries.

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