These Are A Few Of My Favorite Sweet Things

December 22nd, 2009 by Gretchen Homan

My motto is that no event or occasion is complete without a special homemade dessert. And, while the creative test kitchen person in me is always on the lookout for something new to bake, the realist often surfaces … I don’t have time! That’s when I remember there are so many recipes that I really like and I find so easy to make in my personal recipe box (these days an electronic version) that have the added advantage of “wow” factor when presented to guests. Here are a few to try:
Raspberry Fudge Cheesecake
I’ve loved cheesecake–any kind of cheesecake–forever. When you combine it with my favorite fruit–raspberries–and chocolate, as it is in this Raspberry Fudge Cheesecake … heaven!!!

While many people feel intimidated about making cheesecake, most recipes are really easy to make. Start by carefully measuring out the ingredients with appropriate measuring cups (liquid measuring cups for liquids, dry measuring cups for crumbs, sugar, etc.). Then make the chocolate wafer crumb crust in a 9-inch springform pan. Spread the crust with ganache (fancy word for chocolate melted in heavy cream), sprinkle with the berries and add the cream cheese filling. Bake according to the directions given in the recipe. The moisture added to the oven by adding a pan of water to a bottom oven rack, along with the slow cooling, helps reduce the chance of cracking. Best of all, even if the cheesecake cracks (and mine always seems to when I’m baking for a special occasion), the ganache topping covers it up! Just before serving, remove the springform sides, add more raspberries for garnish and you’re done!

When I’m in a time crunch and need an impressive dessert fast, I turn to Wilton Dimensions® pans. The detail and definition on cakes baked in these pans is awesome. One of my favorites is the Cascade Pan, and my favorite recipe to make in it is White Chocolate Pound Cake – a white cake mix made richer with melted white chocolate and other add-ins! The best part is the versatility of how you serve this cake. Here it’s shown with blueberries, strawberries and multi-colored grapes, but it’s delicious with any fruit! Want a scoop of ice cream with it? Yum! A drizzle of chocolate ganache, raspberry syrup or a favorite liqueur? Enjoy!

When nothing but a layer cake will fit the bill, I enjoy adding an element of surprise. That’s when I pull out the Fanci-Fill™ Cake Pan Set and make Mocha Raspberry Decadence Cake (did I mention I love raspberries!) This too is made with a cake mix (let’s be honest, while I love baking from scratch, I rarely have the time or all the ingredients in the house). The twist is in the creamy light raspberry filling which fills the tunnel baked into the cake. It’s all topped off with coffee flavored Vanilla Whipped Icing. You can also make this cake as a traditional layer cake using 8 x 2 or 9 x 2 in. round baking pans.

For more great cake recipes, check out our recipes section!

Gretchen Homan Gretchen Homan, Test Kitchen Director at Wilton, has been with the company almost 7 years. She is a home economist who has worked in test kitchens and for PR firms representing food clients since graduating from college, but her baking roots run much deeper. Her earliest recollections are regular Schneckenudel (cinnamon bun), cookie and kuchen baking sessions with her Oma (grandmother) who lived with the family while she was growing up. Now that her two youngest sons are off to college, the fruits of her baking sessions need to be mail-able!

6 Replies

  1. I love your cake decorations and designs. I don’t mind if you can send me a copy of your wilton 2010 year book. I shall be very grateful if I’m given a favourable response.


    Looking forward for your response as soon as possible.

  2. Gretchen says:

    Zainab, thanks for your kind word. You can purchase the 2010 Wilton Yearbook on the online store or at your local craft and hobby store.

  3. Eva May says:

    How do know how much cake mix to put in a deep cake pans .. like wedding cake pans .. like if the pan is 3ins deep 14ins round .. plus, how do get your cakes baked so nice .. meaning .. even and done without burning the bottom / sides ..

    Thanks, Eva

  4. Gretchen says:

    Hi, Eva!
    2 in. baking pans should be filled 1/2 to 2/3 full; 3 in. baking pans no more than 1/2 full. We have 2 handy charts on the website at

    To make sure your cakes bake up perfectly, make sure you follow recipe instructions exactly. In the test kitchen we set timers to assure that we don’t overbeat cakes, which can cause air holes in the baked cake, bumps in the center of the baked layer or craters around the edge of the baked layer.

    Also, make sure your oven temperature is correct. As ovens age, they may say they are a certain temperature, but they may not be. Invest in a good oven thermometer, preheat the oven and place the thermometer in the center of the oven. Allow it it remain in the oven for no less than 10 minutes, then check the temperature.

    When baking cakes, place the baking pans on racks placed mid-oven to the top third of the oven. Also make sure there’s at least 2 inches between pans and between the pans and the oven sides. If they are too close, you will get burning.

    Finally, any baking pan over 12 inches should use a Heating Core in the center for more even baking.

    Hope that helps. Happy Baking!

  5. Pat says:

    I would like a recipe for a clear glaze that you could put on a fruit tart

  6. Gretchen says:

    Here is one I used years ago that you might find useful

    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    2 tablespoons cornstarch
    1 cup fruit juice
    2 tablespoons light corn syrup

    1. Bring the sugar and 1/2 cup juice to a boil.
    2. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining juice. Add to the boiling juice and cook till thick.
    3. Stir in the corn syrup. Bring back to a boil and remove from heat.
    4. Cool and drizzle over cake.

    Lately I’ve been using apricot or peach preserves, or orange marmalade. I melt it, then strain all the solids out. While they are colored preserves, they add very little color to your dessert.

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