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Hawaij Honey Cake with Labneh Frosting

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

If you are lucky enough to own a copy of Millennial Kosher, chances are you are one of hundreds who has made my hawaij garlic confit a staple on their Shabbos table. I for one can not get through the weekend without the intoxicating smell of hawaij wafting through my home. And my challah can’t live without dipping into the fragrant oily dip.

I’m proud to have introduced so many people to one of my favorite spice blends – a Yemenite curry that is famous for it’s use in chicken soup. What many don’t know, however, is that there is also a sweet version of hawaij, traditionally used for coffee. Since many honey cakes incorporate coffee into the batter, I figured that spicing up the cake with some hawaij for coffee was the perfect way to introduce the sweet side of the Yemenite spice.

Besides for the fragrant spice blend, I also incorporated one of my favorite Israeli ingredients – silan or date honey. It’s interesting to note that when the Torah speaks of Israel being the “Land that flows with milk and honey”, it is actually referring to date honey. There is nothing quite like dates from the shuk in Israel, and silan has become a much-loved ingredient in my house. It works both in sweet and savory applications (try it over pargiot!) and it’s delicious when paired with tahini.

Now lets talk about the other unique component of this amazing recipe – the frosting! If you’d never tried making labneh before, it’s so much easier than it seems! Labneh is the Israeli cream cheese – light and creamy with a healthy dose of tang. I’m personally not a fan of classic American cream cheese, so it’s all about the labneh for me!

Labneh is extremely versatile – it can be rolled into balls and marinated in olive oil with different spices, drizzled with some olive oil and za’atar for dipping pita, or made into a sweet frosting with some added hawaij to perfectly compliment this breakfast loaf!

I am totally obsessed over how this recipe came together! The cake is crazy moist, nothing like that dry honey cake we all dread. The hawaij adds just enough spice, but nothing over the top, and the creamy frosting adds a nice tang to balance out the sweetness of the cake.

My favorite part about this cake though, was decorating it!! I had a vision for incorporating my favorite seasonal fruit – figs – and I just love how it came out! Feel free to play around with fresh pomegranate, honeycomb, cinnamon sticks and other fun toppings to make the cake your own.

I always say I’m not a baker, but this recipe helped me realize that even though I don’t like the science of baking, there is still so much room for creativity and if I can get around the technicalities, I can create a masterpiece.

Here’s to a New Year of trying new things, delicious eats and sweetness all around!

This post was sponsored by Norman’s. All opinions are my own. 

Related Recipes:

parsnip honey cake with cream cheese frosting
honey cake with caramelized apples
bourbon honey cake balls

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Ice Cream Sandwich Birthday Cake

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated my son’s 4th birthday. He suffers from life threatening food allergies, and most of his life he’s been told what he CAN’T have. At every birthday party, family get-together and holiday, you’ll find him sitting at a separate table, with a small plate of allergy-free food that we’ve managed to salvage for him. And he never complains. He’s such a champ, always so understanding and mature about it.

Ice cream is one of his favorite things and each day on his way home from school, he asks me to take him to the ice cream store. I really wanted to get him an ice cream cake for his birthday, but it’s impossible to find an allergy-free one, so I decided to make it. This cake was super easy to put together, but you’d never know from looking at it. Needless to say, he was so ecstatic, and a few minutes into devouring his slice, he unassumingly leaned over and gave me a hug. It was everything.


Related Recipes:

funfetti birthday cake
funfetti rose cake smash
ice cream sundae cookies
3-layer rainbow cookie cake

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Funfetti Rose Cake Smash!

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

I can’t believe it’s been a year since my baby girl was born, it went by so fast, how do we stop the clock?! It’s baby #5 for us, so it hasn’t been the easiest transition, but I was surprised and excited to still have those “first baby” feelings, even though I’ve been through this stage so many times. Maybe it’s because she came after two boys, but I couldn’t wait to put all the headbands and frilly things on her, and I still relish dressing her up each and every morning.

I’ve been dreaming about her cake smash for months, pinning for inspiration and changing my mind a million times about the style and theme of the shoot. I knew I wanted to do it all on my own, especially the cake – even though I dread making layered cakes ‘cuz I suck at it! Most of the cake smash shoots I found had a clear color scheme and were done indoors, but I wanted something unique and whimsical, so I went outdoors.

It’s funny how the cake really brought the whimsy I was looking for – because it kinda happened by mistake. I mean, I basically screwed up the whole first layer of marzipan, and I needed to cover it up with something, so I decided to make a skirt. I had originally wanted to do a smooth layer of marzipan and spread the roses around the cake, but I’m so in love with this accidental design because it’s everything I never knew I even wanted!

I knew I wanted funfetti inside, ‘cuz baby cake just needs sprinkles, so I went with my easy no-fail, no-mixture recipe, ‘cuz that how I do cake. Or should I say, how I don’t do cake? Layered cakes literally give me nightmares – and for good reason. I won’t even try to explain the mess of me trimming the layers down, but let me just say – THANK GOD FOR MARZIPAN. And thank you Molly Yeh for teaching me that you can use the most delicious paste instead of bland fondant to decorate cake. It’s basically like working with playdough, and it can do miracles to destroyed crumbly layers. Especially when those crumbly layers are doomed to be smashed by little hands.

Let me just say that I know these photos make it look easy, but here’s the thing – photographers can’t photograph their own kids. It’s just too stressful. Thank G-d I brought my 11 year old with me to the shoot  – her help was indispensible, especially when she jumped up and down, making funny faces so my daughter would stop crying and actually smile. There were a lot more tears than smiles at that shoot (and I’m not talking about the baby…just kidding…I didn’t actually CRY!).


I don’t know who invented cake smashes, or how long they’ve been around, but I don’t remember it being a thing with my older kids. I love that I have these beautiful momentos of my daughter’s first birthday, and that I had an excuse to play around with marzipan. I’d never go back to boring fondant again, and I look forward to getting over my fear of layered cakes and making some more intentional designs!


If you’ve got a baby birthday coming up, I hope my cake smash inspired you to think outside the box and create your own!


Cake Smash Deets:

Wreath: Amazon
Outfit: Etsy
Shoes: Century21
Carpet: Homegoods
Stool: Homegoods
Balloons: Family Dollar
Lanterns: Michael’s
Cake Banner: Homemade (craft paper, bakery twine and skewers)
Location: Liberty Municipal Park

3 layer rainbow cookie cake

blogoversary funfetti cake
it’s a girl!

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Salami Babka

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

I…I…I…don’t even know what to say…. but BREAKING THE INTERNET comes to mind!! Move over Kim Kardashian because I’ve got Salami Babka in the house!!

I don’t know how I’ve held it in for this long – this gorgeous savory babka has been eating away at me (or have I been eating away at it?) ever since I conceived of it months ago… I wanted to shout it from the rooftops the second this baby came out of the oven, but it was not to be, because, as you know, I save all my SALAMI revelations for Purim! Yes, Purim. The holiday of booze, dress-up, and here at Busy In Brooklyn, SALAMI.

My salami hacks have been making their mark each year for the holiday, and I think I might have finally outdone my drunken hasselback salami, because, lets face it – ain’t nothin better than bread – and when you fill that bread with the sweet and savory fillings of apricot jam, mustard, brown sugar and salami – well…. you basically BREAK. THE. INTERNET.

Babka has been all the rage this year, from the famous Bread’s bakery babka (who’s recipe was recently made public in the Baking Breads cookbook) to the spreads in The New York Times, Bon Appetit Magazine, and all that other stuff. I have to admit that I have never made true, authentic babka (with buttery brioche dough), although I often fill my leftover challah with gooey chocolate spread, twist it up and call it a day.

I’ve had savory babka on my mind for a while now, and I was kind of surprised that I haven’t seen too many savory variations on the net. Especially since turning traditional sweets into savory adaptations is kind of a thing right now. My biggest obstacle with a salami babka was the brioche dough. The good stuff is loaded with butter and I just couldn’t stand the thought of using all that margarine (the rules of kosher forbid me from eating milk with meat, so no butter and salami together). And yes I realize that’s ironic since this thing is loaded with salami (insert facepalm emoji here!)

I considered going with a challah dough, but I finally decided I would make this super easy for everyone and just use pizza dough. Of course you can use any dough you choose, and even go crazy with the deli you stuff it with. Don’t worry about all of the mess – the little bits of salami that poke out of the bread and get all crispy and caramelized are my favorite part of this recipe!

Now if you’ve missed my whole salami situation – the reason for my yearly Purim salami postings are due to a little nugget of information that I read a couple of years back. I don’t know if it was true, or it was all a Purim joke – but it made mention of the fact that some people have a tradition to eat salami on Purim since it is hung, like Haman. I thought it was the coolest food custom I had ever read, so I adopted it. The part that you don’t know though, is that that was a huge deal for me! Why? read on.

So growing up, my mom would make salami sandwiches every Friday afternoon for lunch for my siblings and I. She’d send us outside to the courtyard of our building to eat them, so we wouldn’t make a mess inside the house before Shabbat. Little did she know, we all hated those little hard white pieces inside the salami (I’m pretty sure they were solid fat!), so one by one, we all chucked our salami sandwiches down the incinerator chute – every. single. week. My poor mom thought we were eating lunch and little did she know!

From thereon out, I never looked at salami again. For years. Until I got married and the only thing my husband knew how to cook from his Yeshiva days was salami and eggs. I always swore I’d never try it, until one day, he convinced me, and the rest is history! I learned that cooking out the salami fat leaves you with a super crispy, tasty bits of heaven that are so perfect for trashing up in fun ways!

Just. Like. This. Lets get hangin’!


This post is sponsored by Abeles & Heymann. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter

Related Recipes:

drunken hasselback salami
salami quiche
beer battered salami chips with beer mustard
salami chips with dipping sauce

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Paleo Chocolate Muffins

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

I keep waiting for life to get a bit less hectic. When baby #5 came five weeks early this summer, life turned upside down. We thought we had everything all worked out. We were spending July in upstate New York and planned to return for the second month of the summer, so I’d be near the hospital for my late-August due date. Instead, we drove for two+ hours in the wee of night while I labored in the front seat hoping that my water wouldn’t break! Alas, we made it to the hospital with more than enough time, because my labor lasted 24 hours. You just never know.

My husband packed up all our stuff from the country (we all know how that went), and I started looking for an extra hand to help with the kids while I nursed my preemie around the clock. Slowly but surely, things began to fall into place. The kids transitioned to their new summer arrangements, I found an awesome girl to help out, and I rested up at my Mom’s house. But then camp ended. And school was two weeks away. And we had all the holidays coming, so I needed to buy holiday clothes, uniforms, school supplies and all that New Year stuff that is just. so. hectic. Once that all died down, I started to plan for my son’s Upshernish, a ritual hair-cutting ceremony observed when a Jewish boy turns three, and thus formally begins his Torah education. I spent weeks prepping and planning, made my very first fondant cake and other desserts which I froze in advance. I lined up a caterer, entertainment, got us all in coordinating outfits and booked the photographer. Alas, the big day arrived (which we celebrated this week), and thankfully it all worked out beautifully. We chopped off my son’s beautiful blond curls, sharing and celebrating with friends and family.

Now that the upshernish is behind us, I woke up this morning thinking, OK, now let me just take a breather. But then I opened my calendar and saw all the trillions of things I had lined up (many of which I had pushed off because I was too busy planning the party) …and I realized…life is not going to get any less hectic. This is it. I’ve got five kids. I’ve got recipes to test. Demos to work on. Articles to write. Shopping and homework and Dr.’s appointments and PTA and laundry and diapers to change and babies to feed…..and…….and……yes. I’ve got so much. I’ve got so much.

So instead of fighting my hectic schedule, I’ve decided to embrace it. And instead of wishing for a break, I’m going to find little tidbits of calm amid the chaos. Small moments to savor a hot cup of coffee, and to realize that breastfeeding is not a chore, but a time to bond with my adorable baby and dinner with friends is not just another thing to do on my calendar, but a time to take a break and actually enjoy the moment!

Today is hectic. And tomorrow will be too. But I am forever thankful for it. Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve been trying to clean up my diet the past couple of weeks (so I could fit into my dress for the upshernish!) and whenever I’m looking to debloat, I try and go Paleo (or Whole30!). The natural, unprocessed food really helps me get back to a healthy way of life and just makes me feel better. These amazing grain-free chocolate muffins have literally saved me on mornings when I am desperate for a little something to eat with my date-sweetened, coconut-milk coffee. They’re so rich and fudgy that my kids actually think of them as a special treat, instead of a healthy one!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Paleo diet or reading about my 30-Day Meal Plan, visit this page!

hazelnut chocolate chip almond butter cookies
chocolate ganache tart with macaroon tart

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Our Table Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

I’ve been following Renee Muller for years, and when word got out that she was coming out with a cookbook, I knew it would be something special. You see, Renee doesn’t see food like the rest of us. To her, a table is a canvas, and each dish is another way to paint a beautiful picture. Renee is a food stylist par excellence and her magazines spreads are jaw dropping. I knew the photography would be out of this world, but I was in for even more. In Our Table, Renee invites us to experience the joy of eating memorable meals together, something she cherishes from her upbringing in Lugano, Switzerland. Her recipes are homey, family friendly and diverse. She’s got a little something for everyone – part healthy, part indulgent, some easy and some more complicated. The Chapters span the basics from appetizers and soups/salads to fish/dairy, meat/chicken, snack/sides, breads/cakes/cookies and desserts.

Beautiful photography and a range of mouthwatering recipes wasn’t enough for Renee. So she created a guide with never-before-seen video tutorials of some of her most popular recipes. From “how to stuff cabbage” to “how to cut caramels”, “how to make gnocchi” to “how to braid challah”, these videos are not just visually stunning, they are informative too. (You can watch them here!) You’ll also find a Pesach guide in the book to help you easily adjust many of the recipes and make them holiday approved.

I’ve already tried Renee’s seared tuna cubes over the holidays to rave reviews, but I’m looking forward to trying the broccoli winter salad below, the gnocchi di casa, sugo della nonna (her grandmother’s Italian marinara sauce), Belgian birthday waffles, lattice minute roast, meat manicotti, honey walnut brittle, irresistible toffee, buttery chocolate scones, deconstructed lemon meringue pie (what an awesome idea!) and more!

Of course I can’t do a cookbook review without giving one lucky winner a chance to own this beauty, so…

To enter to a win a copy of Our Table by Renee Muller,

  1. Comment on this post and share your most memorable meal or dish.
  2. For an extra entry, follow Busy In Brooklyn via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Just be sure to leave a note in the comment letting me know where you follow.

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents (for international entries, prize can only be shipped in the U.S.). Winner will be chosen at random at 10:00 AM EST on Monday, November 14th, 2016.

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Chocolate Meltaway Cake

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

You know those insane 3-tier cakes that you see at fancy birthday parties or weddings (like these)? Well Melissa of Lil’ Miss Cakes is one of the bakers that makes those beautiful creations and I’m super stoked to have her guest post on my blog today! This whole guest blogging thing is so exciting for me because I get to introduce you to some of my all time favorite blogger friends and Melissa is one of them. I love how she posts accessible recipes for us non-professionals (like these stained glass cookies or these pumpkin chai hamantaschen). She’s really bringing it today with her twist on a yeasted babka or kokosh cake. I love me some babka, but the only time I ever make it is when I have leftover challah dough (and I don’t bake challah very often). Enter Melissa’s babka hack and you can be making a no-yeast chocolate meltaway anytime. I can’t wait to try it!

Welcome Melissa!

one of Melissa’s beautiful cakes

Hey hey! I’m Melissa of Lil’ Miss Cakes. Over on my site I kind of do it all. I share my creative cakes, share delicious and dairy-free dessert recipes, and I also design and sell custom cookie cutters. I love Chanie and her blog, she is super talented. Her food photography is stunning and her recipes are spot on, I can always find the perfect family friendly recipe to whip up for dinner. I’m so happy that the blogging world has brought us together and I’m so excited to share a recipe here with you! Thank you so much, Chanie for allowing me to guest post and congrats on your daughter, she is gorgeous! Sit back, relax, and enjoy her!

Since we all don’t always have lots of time to bake, I like to come up with impressive desserts that don’t take all day in the kitchen. I had been craving a chocolate babka/kokosh cake for a long time, but making a yeast dough is too time consuming, and doesn’t always turn out well. I needed a cake that I can mix up and bake quickly, as soon as the mood strikes. It had to be fudgy and super chocolatey, with easy to find ingredients. This cake does it all! It looks really impressive, but whips up in no time. There are a few dishes to wash, but you won’t be waiting for dough to rise all day long. There is no rolling out dough, twisting, shaping, second rising. None of that. Just mix, add to the pan, and bake. The cake is moist and tender, the chocolate is oozes everywhere, and the crumbs give the perfect amount of crunch. The best part of it all, this recipe is pareve, but I bet you won’t be able to tell!

Related Recipes:

Melissa’s cinnamon roll cake

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Egg-Free Banana Muffins

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

This one goes out to all the mom’s out there battling food allergies. I am with you. Boy am I with you. You see, my son suffers from an extensive list of food allergies, some severe (epipen-severe) and some, mild. The thing about food allergies is that just when you think your kid might be outgrowing an allergy, you find out you are wrong. So, so wrong.

Under the guidance of my son’s doctor, we’ve been slowly trying to reintroduce beef into his diet (yes, my kid is allergic to BEEF!) and all was going well until it wasn’t. A mere bite of cross-contaminated chicken (that was grilled together with meat) resulted in an allergy so severe, I had to call the paramedics. THIS is the kind of stuff mom’s of allergic kids have to deal with, and that’s why I’ve made us all cupcakes. Egg-free ones. (And if you’re kid is allergic to dairy, go ahead and skip the frosting, or use vegan cream cheese. Unless your kid is allergic to soy. And gluten. Then just sit down with a giant chocolate bar and have a good cry).

Lucky for us, we’re good on the dairy front and my son LOVES cream cheese, so I love to spoil him with these. The banana muffins are so incredibly moist, you’d never imagine their missing a key component of fluffy baking. No aquafaba required.

I hope you’re all having a fun and relaxing summer. Stay safe out there!

Related Recipes:

healthy thumbprint hamantaschen (egg-free)

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Jelly Ring Donuts

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

No need to rub your eyes, you’ve read that right. I’ve made JELLY. RING. DONUTS. I know they look like jelly rings. But these right here ^^^ are raspberry jelly infused baked chocolate donuts that taste EXACTLY like the candy. It’s a Chanukah miracle!

It all started with my husband’s birthday. He was turning 36 and his office put together a little surprise party. Apparently, they heard that I’m a “Chef”, so they asked me to bake something. Little did they know, I don’t do birthday cakes, but I decided to come up with something fun anyway.

JELLY RINGS are my husband’s all time favorite treat, so I decided to create jelly ring cupcakes. I baked up my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and I filled them with raspberry donut jelly and topped them with chocolate frosting stuffed with a jelly ring. I even piped them and everything!

But I’m not a baker. So even though I carefully packed up those babies in foil pans and stuffed them in the corner of my trunk with a prayer, lets just say they did not make it in one piece. The frosting, which I had piled on high, did a little birthday jiggle with each turn of my car, and by the time I excitedly opened my birthday surprise, I was not looking very cheffy (understatement).

Everyone was nice enough to eat them anyway, and the consensus was: they might look like a poop emoji, but they taste like JELLY RINGS! Luckily, I had a few cupcakes set aside at home for my kids, so I was able to show my husband what his birthday cupcakes were supposed to look like. I posted a pic on Instagram and apparently my husband is not the only guy to love jelly rings. Lots of people asked for the recipe, so I decided I’d post it.

Fast forward a couple of days and I got an email from my blogger friends who wanted to do a Virtual Chanukah Party like last year. They had decided on a donut theme and I was in! When I thought about what donuts to make, I realized that I could turn my jelly ring cupcakes into donuts and have them not only taste like jelly rings, but look like them too. GENIUS right?!

So I set out to test the perfect baked chocolate donut. Something chocolaty and moist, but without that pudding-texture of the Hershey’s recipe. It took three tries but I finally hit the nail on the head. I used my handy dandy syringe to infuse the donuts with raspberry donut jelly, and I dipped it in melted chocolate. The results were beyond my expectations! The donuts look practically identical to jelly rings, and THEY TASTE EXACTLY LIKE THEM too! Seriously people. Jelly rings in donut form. So much YESSSSS!

Now I’m not the only one who blew it out of the water with my donut creation. Check out these awesome recipes from our VIRTUAL CHANUKAH DONUT PARTY!

Savory Hatch Chili and Cheddar Donuts from LittleFerraroKitchen
Savory Sufganiyot Hanukkah Doughnuts with Chopped Liver Mousse & Manischewitz Glaze from WhatJewWannaEat
Cake Donut Bread Pudding with Vanilla Glaze from KitchenTested
Deep Fried Brownie Fritters from OvertimeCook

We’ve also got a special Chanukah giveaway package that’s happening exclusively on Instagram, so head on over to enter!


This post is sponsored by California Gourmet Chocolate Chips. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.   View the list of over 300 stores that carry the brand here).

Related Recipes:

pecan pie lace cookies with raspberry jam and chocolate drizzle
cheese latkes with raspberry sauce
candy mosaic Chanukah tray

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3-Layer Rainbow Cookie Cake

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

I came to the realization today that I’ve been posting quite a number of cakes for someone who calls themselves a non-baker. Am I right? As much as I don’t like to bake, it seems YOU all like when I do. Remember when my funfetti bundt cake went viral? And judging by the amount of  parsnip honey cake pictures that flooded my inbox, I’d say it was a huge hit!

With Parshas Noach this week, I thought it was just the right time to finally post THIS cake. I made it last November for my husband’s birthday, and I never quite found the right time to post it. I was thinking about what kind of rainbow recipe I could do in honor of the Torah portion in which a rainbow appeared as a symbol of G-d’s promise never to destroy the world again with a flood. I started looking through some old photos and I remembered this amazing 3-layer marzipan birthday cake, and it was just the thing!

3-layer rainbow cookies are my husband’s all time favorite, so I set out to make a birthday cake version for his surprise party. I’m not one for layered cakes, and each time I make them, I’m reminded just why I hate making them so much. But the end result is always worth it! Especially in this case.

If you’ve ever tried 3-layer rainbow cookies, you know what they taste like – marzipan. They’re cakey and chocolatey with a bit of jam in between the layers. But one thing they are not is FRESH. Once you make this stuff from scratch you can really taste the difference. Preservative-free cake is the way to go, and making it in a stacked layer cake is just SO. MUCH. FUN.


My husband is the founder and CEO the boutique marketing firm AjaxUnion.  I call him Yossi, but in the workforce, he’s just “Joe”. In fact, is his GrowTime YouTube series, he teaches entrepreneurs “How to go from average Joe, to CEO”! Can you tell I’m just a wee bit proud of my hubby?

So back to the cake, I thought it would be fun to put a little Joe banner up in the same rainbow colors as the cake, and I just love how cutesy and Etsy-esque it is! What do y’all think?

My husband was gaga over the cake, but so were my kids. They’re big fans of 3-layer rainbow cookies, so it was a no-brainer. They keep asking me to make it again, so I’m thinking of going the old fashioned route and doing it sheet-style. It should be easier. Or maybe harder. Uh oh. I hate caking. I mean baking.

There’s only one reason for my venturing into cake territory and it’s all Molly Yeh’s fault. She just inspires me so much with her whimsical creations and I want to be her. Her rainbow mini cakes were the inspiration for this rainbow cookie birthday cake, and her funfetti cake was what got me to make this viral recipe. She also loves tahini everything, I even sent her halva from the shuk for her wedding present! So Yeh (pun intended), thanks Molly for making me fat.

Next up on my baking list? I’m thinking a pecan pie for Thanksgiving featuring one of my favorite spice blends. Stay tuned. It’s gonna be epic!

Happy Rainbowing!

Other Rainbow Recipes:

rainbow slaw with poppyseed dressing
rainbow cobb salad
rainbow pommes anna
rainbow cupcakes

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