Two weeks ago, when I posted the very last recipe for Sweet Melissa Sundays, I promised a recap post highlighting some of my favorite recipes from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. That recap post was supposed to be up last week, but then Hurricane Irene came through and we lost power for a few days, which resulted in a delay. I figure better late than never, though, as I still wanted to get these recipes together in one post for reference (for me and you!). It would have been too hard to try to rank the recipes from 1-10, so instead they’re listed in random order. If you really twisted my arm, I’d probably admit that the first and last on the list are my top two, but beyond that, it’s a toss up
This is easily one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes; it bakes up fluffy and moist with a rich color and deep chocolate flavor. It’s made with oil rather than butter, which always makes me happy since it means no need to bring butter to room temperature. Though I made the recipe into cupcakes, it makes a beautiful layer cake if you prefer!
I’ve been surprised by the popularity of this post in the past year and a half. You guys LOVE mini pies :) To be completely honest, the recipe in the book wasn’t entirely successful, but I love the idea for an apple pie that also includes a caramel sauce. I’m confident that this fall I can find a favorite apple pie recipe and combine it with my go-to caramel sauce for an even more delicious result. I was very pleased with the way these mini pies turned out, regardless, and I’m so glad I took so many pictures and shared them on the blog, so the results would be easy to replicate next time!
One of the best things this book taught me is that making preserves doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. I love the master recipe in the book and, using it, I could create any one of a number of endless flavor combinations. Since we made so many variations on this recipe (they’re all linked in the post above), I had hoped to figure out canning, but unfortunately I never found the time to make it happen. It’s still on my to-do list, and with any luck I’ll get to it before Christmas so I can share jars of homemade preserves with family and friends!
I made two lemon icebox cakes in the past few years, and they were both fantastic (here’s the other). Lemon desserts are among my favorites anyway, but when you add a buttery crust to the mix and freeze it, I’m powerless to resist. The recipe easily converts to make minis too, so you don’t have to worry about finding space for a full size treat in your freezer.
My baking groups have really helped me to develop into a better pie maker, for which I’m very thankful, because there’s not much better than a slice of pie with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I’m still not 100% confident in my ability to make a gorgeous, flaky crust every time, but compared to where I was a few years ago, it’s like night and day. This was probably one of the first recipes that introduced me to the delicious combination of sweet, juicy peaches and slightly tart, vibrant raspberries. They are a match made in heaven! Add a buttery crust to the mix and it’s easy to see why this one was a hit. I used frozen peaches for this pie and it worked perfectly, so I’ll continue to make this one even in the middle of winter!
I think coconut tends to be fairly controversial in the baking world. Either you love it or you hate it – there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room in between. Up until a few years ago, I fell in the “hate it” camp. I kept trying to like it, though, and one day I suddenly discovered my taste buds had changed and coconut was delicious! If you’re not a coconut fan, no worries, the cake itself is coconut free and is without a doubt one of my favorite white cake recipes. It’s tender and moist but really sturdy too, so it’s easy to frost. The coconut comes into play in the cream cheese frosting, and while I didn’t love this variation, I’m enamored with the idea of a coconut cream cheese frosting and plan to play around with my go-to cream cheese frosting recipe to make it work.
This recipe snuck in to the Top 10 mainly because Shane loved it. Chocolate pudding and mousse don’t excite me, but they’re among his favorites and this one was a rousing success in our house. It’s one of the easiest recipes in the book too, which is always a bonus. Served with fresh berries and whipped cream, it’s worthy of serving to company!
Stick these two recipes squarely in the “I would never have made these on my own because they call for nuts, and we all know how much I dislike nuts” category. Thanks to the encouragement of the other bakers, I found two new cake recipes to love. In each case, nuts are finely ground and added to the cake batter. The result is that the final cakes benefit from the flavor of the nuts and have just a tiny bit of additional texture thanks to their presence. Both cakes had a great moist texture as well. The fillings and frostings weren’t huge hits in either case, but I’ll make these cakes time and again!
I’ve made a TON of ice cream since I started blogging, but this remains a favorite among all of the recipes I’ve tried. The best thing about it, in my opinion, is the smooth, creamy texture. Thanks to the brown sugar, it’s also slightly more intense than your typical vanilla ice cream as well. Among the members of Sweet Melissa Sundays, I think this is one of the most universally loved recipes in the book. I just churned a batch of vanilla bean ice cream this morning, but once it’s gone, I think I’m long overdue for another batch of this recipe.
So, there you have it – my favorite recipes from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. I’ve been part of the group since day 1, and though I sat out a few weeks, I think I’ve probably made 85% of the recipes in the book. One of my biggest lessons after having participated in baking groups for years, is that you never really know if you’ll enjoy a recipe until you try it. Several of the recipes with the ingredient lists I felt most “iffy” about wound up making this list. A huge thanks to my fellow SMS bakers for making this such a fun experience! Some of them shared their favorite recipes from the book as well, you can find their posts here.