Category: Cakes

Brownie Toppings & Ideas


I cannot actually believe that the summer has come and gone, I’m back in the city and school has begun! Is it just me, or does summer seem to go by faster when you get older?  It just flew right past me and here I am, at my computer, back to work.

I think I’m mostly shocked because all those projects I told myself I would tackle this summer did not happen, and as productive as I’d hoped to be, I kind of just let go! I was supposed to organize all my photos, go through my emails, file paperwork, start running again, drink more water… but I suppose that what New Years Resolutions are for, and we start early here!

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is just a few short weeks away, which means we are approaching a pretty busy holiday season. The Jewish New Year is followed by Yom Kippur, and then shortly after by Succot, which is a foodfest of epic proportions! There are lots of festive holiday meals, and meal planning is essential to make it through.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m not a big planner when it comes to holiday prep, but the High Holidays are an exception. I usually make a double batch of my honey challah, a few loaves of honey cake, mini pumpkin pies for a crowd and Levana’s chocolate mousse to stock the freezer. It’s really the only way because there are simply so many meals and no time to cook them all!

So I’m here with a great dessert hack that will take you little time but wow your guests nonetheless. It involves a cheat in the form of Duncan Hines brownie mix, and even though I’m not usually one to use a prepared cake mix, I have to admit that their brownies really take the cake – pun intended! Even my mom admitted to me recently that she is never making her own brownies again because they’ve really nailed the perfect brownie.

Of course adding your own toppings changes everything and makes it your own. My favorite combo are the tahini swirled brownies (above), which I serve topped with vanilla ice cream, raw tahini, silan and a sprinkle of shredded halva. My guests can never get enough of it!

My kids are partial to my smores brownies, so I usually make make two pans, but when I saw this brownie pan with dividers,on Amazon, I realized I could do a bunch of toppings at once! It was just a fun project and my kids loved trying all the different flavors.

Of course, since we have a peanut allergy at home, I kept all these toppings nut free, but feel free to experiment however you’d like. Peanut butter swirled brownies would be epic too!

Lets bring on the holiday prep!

Related Recipes:

Mexican hot chocolate brownies
black bean brownies

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Funfetti Cream Tart Number Cake

I’ve always held on to this self-limiting belief that I’m “not a baker”. I backed it up by telling myself that baking is a science and I’m more of a creative.
I hate following the rules and I always think outside the box.

For 8 long years – yes 8! – I’ve been blogging here on BUSY IN BROOKLYN and sharing my love of food, family and tradition (+ some crafts!). I’ve always pushed myself to try new techniques, explore unique ingredients and cook up cultural dishes that I’d never tried before. But one thing always got the better of me – DOUGH. Because “I’m not a baker.”

I always fell back on frozen pizza dough, puff pastry, and store-bought Artisan bread because I was afraid of anything that involved yeast. There was a short stint with sourdough, but I gave that up when more of my loaves flopped than succeeded.

In the school of Hassidic thought, the number 8 resembles that which is above nature, and to celebrate Busy In Brooklyn’s 8th Blogoversary, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and bake up something that’s been both intriguing me and intimating me at the same time – the beautiful layered cream tart!

To stick with my blog anniversary theme of FUNFETTI, I designed this tiered sprinkle cookie cake in the number 8, and decorated it with colors inspired by my cookbook, Millennial Kosher! After 8 years of honing my skills in the kitchen, I am officially done with labels. I can be anything I want to be!

With close to a decade in the food industry, I have learned a lot of things.

How to develop and write a recipe.
How to compose, style and photograph food.
How to teach people about food in a fun way.
How to cook with color!
How to compose a dish.
How to plan a menu.
How to multiply a recipe for a large crowd.
How to network with people.
How to write a cookbook!!
and the list goes on…..

I’ve learned a lot of things, and I’ve acquired a lot of skills, but above all, I’ve come to realize that nothing stands in the way of good, old fashioned HARD WORK. Looking back at 8 years here on BUSY IN BROOKLYN, I can’t believe that what I thought would be just a passing hobby, has turned into the most fulfilling career. That the young mom who was cooking traditional Ashkenazi food became a recipe developer with a broad palate. And that the clueless lady with a camera, became a food photographer with a pretty impressive portfolio and a cookbook to show for it. HOW DID THIS ALL HAPPEN??!!

OK I’m a officially drenching my keyboard at this point, feeling so overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. I don’t know where I would be if all of YOU AMAZING PEOPLE weren’t actually reading this and cooking up my recipes, and buying my book, and supporting me, and showing me so much love and appreciation and respect. How can I ever thank you?!

I always say that cooking is about so much more than satiating ourselves and others – it’s about expressing yourself and showing love to the people who mean the most to you. I don’t know how to thank you – so I will continue to do what I do best – cook – AND BAKE – for you all, because I am so grateful for this platform and it means so much to me.

Thank you for joining me for these 8 wonderful years of cooking, crafting and coping here in Brooklyn. Looking forward to many more to come!

Related Posts:

7th Blogoversary} Funfetti Rice Krispie Bites
6th Blogoversary} Funfetti Raspberry Palmiers
5th Blogoversary} Funfetti Pecan Turtles
4th Blogoversary} Funfetti Cake
2nd Blogoversary} BBQ Brisket
1st Blogoversary} Mulled Wine

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Hawaij Honey Cake with Labneh Frosting

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

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!

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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