Welcome, I'm Monique! Ambitious Kitchen is a blog devoted to clean eating, healthier baked treats, plus my passion for fitness and nutrition. Bottom line, I love to inspire others in and out of the kitchen! Read more.
It’s getting chilly here in Chicago. Surprisingly the leaves haven’t started changing to a yellow-orange hue, but I expect them to soon enough.
Fortunately, I haven’t been forced to turn the heat on quite yet but have definitely been tempted. Especially since my entire apartment is made up of hardwood floors that turn ice cold during the evenings. The only solution? Cranking up the oven to 350 degrees F and filling the apartment with the aroma of all things sweet and spice (and everything nice?).
Sometimes all you need in life is a little cake. Am I right?
If I could bake layered cakes all the time, I would. It tends to be pretty time consuming so I like to save it for special occasions, such as birthdays or holidays. Even though this cake took me a few hours to bake up and frost, it was completely worth it.
I baked this with Easter in mind. Sometimes it’s fun to go outside the tradition of carrot cake and bake something to surprise everyone. Just imagine pulling this out and setting it on the table. Minds will be blown. Like did you just make a triple layered cake? Wait it tastes like a fluffy banana bread. Oh and there’s chocolate in there? Wait and a frosting that tastes like the inside of a peanut butter cup?
All of it makes me crave cake, which is actually quite disappointing considering I put myself on a baking restriction. I mean the whole point of it was to learn how to control myself around things that smell like heaven. Whattttttttt.
But come on! You and I both knew that sort of thing wouldn’t last long. I mean did I really expect myself to NOT throw flour around my kitchen for an entire week? I don’t think that’s even possible.
The other day I baked my incredible black bean avocado brownies for my Godson, then pretty much devoured half the pan. Who could blame me? Those things are ridiculously fudgy and packed with healthy things. WIN!
I’d rather have pie loaded with whip cream; it’s much more nostalgic. However, I recently discovered the downside of pie: it’s not acceptable to eat for breakfast. I mean could you imagine walking into a Starbucks and ordering a slice of French Silk? Here comes the judgy looks.
But coffee cake? Totally cool. Load up my plate at 8am with buttery bliss and give me a shot of espresso.
I think I can totally get down with cake for breakfast thing.
There’s something special about enjoying a slice of coffee cake with your favorite person. In fact, sometimes that is exactly what you need. Trust me on this. I’ve become an expert in wooing people with desserts.
So here’s what I did: I made you a coffee cake that tastes like a moist, fluffy blueberry muffin. The crunchy streusel topping is wonderful and I think you’ll find it perfect served warm with a cup of joe. Plus, it gives you an excuse to brown butter!
Why is it that I feel like pumpkin recipes are only okay to post from October-December? It’s as though January is a big reset button, where we all go on juice cleanses seen on Dr. Oz.
Whatever! I’m a huge fan of pumpkin year round. So yes it’s January, but baking this pumpkin coffee cake won’t disappoint.
This cake! Oh did it fill my home with a wonderful aroma that I’ve never experienced before. I wanted the inviting warmth of it to linger until someone special showed up and wondered what cozy concoction was in the oven. To which of course I would reply, “A melt-in-your-mouth brown butter pumpkin coffee cake… with a pecan gingersnap cookie streusel!”
Hi! I’m so excited to FINALLY publish this recipe!
This past week has been completely crazy! I flew to New York to meet and cook with Bobby Flay at his restaurant! Whattt?! I know! My dessert was selected by Fage Total Greek Yogurt to be served at their event. They transformed Bobby’s restaurant Mesa Grill into a beautiful Pop-up Plain Kitchen restaurant.
I’m so happy that I was able to be apart of it! I can’t express how blessed I feel. I met some fabulous food editors, Fage’s PR team (Mullen!), and of course, Bobby. He was incredibly sweet and complimented me on how delicious this cheesecake was. We also made a spice-crusted lamb, which was by far my favorite entree of the evening!
BUT THE CHEESECAKE?! Can we just talk about it? It’s a dense, smooth, chocolate-wasted cheesecake that I want to live in for the rest of my life. I’m SERIOUS. Oh and not to mention that it has a creamy, rich chocolate hazelnut butter (Nutella) ganache, toasted hazelnuts, and sea salt.
1. Follow your heart. It’s the best thing you can do in life. You live once, so enjoy your life as it unfolds.
2. Embrace change. When we change, we grow and adapt. We become better. Don’t do something just because it’s comfortable. Instead, challenge yourself and learn from your failures.
3. Take chances. I moved across the country for a job and realized it wasn’t for me. I looked at what I wanted, and what I didn’t, then made a decision to pursue a different career. Without moving, I wouldn’t have figured that out. Taking chances means succeeding or learning something you didn’t before. And sometimes, it’s okay to fail.
4. Work hard. Damn hard. Success never comes easy. Dreams rarely turn into realities overnight. It’s an uphill climb full of doubts, but with enough determination, I believe anything is possible.
5. Baking cake is essential. No wait, THIS cake is essential. It has bananas, peanut butter and has a caramel topping to die for. It’s the stuff dreams are made of… or something like that anyway.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes a love a little reflection. Today we’ll reflect over this cake together. Join me?
Today, I slept in for the first time in what seems like forever. For brunch, I made vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookie pancakes that I found on Pinterest. I’m so thankful I did because I had a smile on my face for the next 7 hours. What? Pancakes make me happy.
There’s one thing I’m more excited for this week: the 4th of July! It’s probably one of my favorite holidays. Laying under the sun all day and watching fireworks at night is simply the best.
And of course instead of giving you a standard with red, white, and blue dessert for the 4th of July, I thought that maybe you’d like to indulge in this cake instead.
While rummaging through recipes, I found a recipe for a Caramel-Walnut Upside Down Banana Cake in my Bon Appetit Desserts! book (a great dessert cookbook). I adapted it by adding peanut butter instead of more butter, and reducing the sugar (ripe bananas provide natural sweetness). Don’t let that fool you though, his cake is still ridiculously indulgent.
The caramel sauce is completely delicious, gooey, and warm when the cake comes out of the oven; I recommend serving the cake as soon as you are able to flip and cut into it. I thought about pairing it with a salted caramel ice cream, but they were out at the store so if you try it, let me know.
Please note that the caramel sauce tends to harden a bit once the cake it cooled, so don’t be afraid to warm up a slice in the microwave! You can even make the cake with out the caramel-walnut topping if your heart desires.
This is a cake that changes non-cake lovers into die hard fans. It can also be the cake you bring to your boyfriend’s mom. You could even bring this cake to every family gathering you ever have, they won’t mind.
It will deliver every single time.
My advice? Don’t think about the calories. Indulging every once in a while actually keeps you on track. And your taste buds will thank me later. I promise.
1/4 cup unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), room temperature
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup very ripe mashed bananas (about 2-3 large bananas)
1/2 cup all-natural creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup skim milk
For topping: Spray 9-inch round cake pan (or larger cake pan) with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan; add dark corn syrup and brown sugar; bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately stir in walnuts. Spread topping in cake pan.
For cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until creamy. Next, add eggs 1 at a time; beating again until mixture is smooth and creamy. Add mashed bananas, peanut butter, yogurt (or sour cream), milk and vanilla; mixing again until well combined. Add in dry ingredients slowly until just combined. Add batter to cake pan.
Bake cake until knife into center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Cool at least 15 minutes. To remove cake, gently cut around cake with a knife to loosen. Place plate or platter over pan. Holding pan and platter together, turn over, and remove pan. Scrape any extra caramel and walnuts on top of cake. Cool at least 15 minutes for topping to set. Serve warm with your favorite ice cream.
Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Desserts! Cookbook
Your baking time may be slightly longer. The original recipe called for 55 minutes of baking time, yet I found I only needed about 45
Make sure to place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of your oven; the caramel sauce may boil over the edges of your cake pan
This cake serves 6-8 people and is best served warm
I know you just got super excited, right? Surprise, surprise, snack cakes make me jump up and down too. But shhhh, this snack cake is full of secrets. Healthy secrets that will make yo’ abs pop. (Because after eating brownies and cookies and pies for months, I figure that it’s time to lighten it up). This snack cake actually won’t get you a six-pack nor do I suggest you invent a new ‘bundt cake diet’; this recipe just uses minimal butter because I secretly despise Paula Deen.
I’m joking! I’ve got nothing against that woman. I just enjoy giving you healthier alternatives that make it possible to enjoy something a bit indulgent while still being able to button your skinny jeans.
I bring you a snack that you most certainly can eat if you’re having a-stressed-out-of-my-mind-and-I-NEED-CARBS-OR-SOMETHING-SWEET-NOW kind of day. At only about 200 calories per serving, I’d say this might even be a breakfast cake. Or you could turn it into muffins.
I know you’d high-five me if you could right now.
I hate to admit this, but I really lovelovelovelove making bundt cakes. They’re SO pretty and perfect for sharing. Wait… when did I turn 70? Must have been last year when I started drinking tea and obsessively grocery shopping.
Maybe when I’m actually 70, I’ll act like I’m 23. That would be interesting… yet incredibly scary at the same time.
Anyway I’ll give you my full attention and provide you the deets on this lemon and blackberry cake shenanigan that I dreamt up. It began after I stopped by the grocery store (shocker!) after the gym. I’d been wanting to bake something for over a week. I realized that I haven’t made a simple cake in quite sometime and remembered how beautiful my last bundt cake was. (Bragging rights because it won a contest.) I snatched up blackberries; well because they’re like the best berry ever, and picked out a couple of lemons. Once I got home I realized that I had a ton of greek yogurt that needed to be used; this was perfect because putting yogurt in cakes makes them SUPER moist and delightful. I used a combination of whole wheat and regular flour to make the texture dense and divine.
I’ll be honest. It tastes like a muffin cake that I want to live in.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about this cake! It’s pretty, snackable, and definitely worth baking up for Mother’s Day.
I can’t wait to surprise my Mom with this!
Lemon Blackberry Yogurt Bundt Cake
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup skim milk (or almond milk)
3/4 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt
1 pint of blackberries
zest of 1 lemon
Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk both flours with baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time, beating well. Set aside.
In separate bowl mix together milk and lemon juice; add in yogurt and stir to combine. Next, combine all wet ingredients together. Turn mixer on low-speed and slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients; mixing until just combined.
In a bowl, gently smash blackberries into smaller pieces and mix with the teaspoon of flour. Add your lemon zest and stir again. Coat a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/4 of batter in prepared pan. Layer with blackberries. Spread another 1/4 of batter on top of blackberries. Continue to do this until all of the blackberries are gone.
Bake cake on bottom rack of oven until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 40-50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Invert onto a rack; cool completely, top side up.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired. Or make the lemon cream cheese glaze. To make glaze combine lemon zest, cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk, and powdered sugar in medium bowl. Drizzle over cake.
Makes 12 servings
I calculated this cake to be about 200 calories per serving with the frosting. Feel free to use your own calculations.
I do not recommend using ONLY whole wheat flour to make the cake.
Feel free to make these into muffins. They would be delicious!
I made a Chocolate-Coconut Pumpkin Marble Bundt Cake. It was luxurious. Moist, rich, and pretty too! It won Nordic Ware’s Bundts across America contest.
However, it didn’t win the Grand Prize.
That’s okay, It’s still amazzzzing! Definitely for cake lovers. Are you a cake lover?
Yes? Get baking then. Cancel all plans. Make this cake now!
While you make it, get to know me a bit and what inspires me. Because we all have things we love to do; dreams and goals. Little things that make us who we are. I’m sharing some of my little things with you.