just what the momma wants

just what the momma wants, desserts by Mili

I love when baby showers cater to exactly what the momma-of-honor wants. It shouldn’t matter if she wants pickle-flavored cupcakes with caramel frosting – I am always happy to be up for a baking challenge!

Lucky for me, my friend knew just what she wanted and it wasn’t outside what I’m used to making. I asked what desserts she likes best and catered a small dessert table with everything I thought she would like to enjoy.

just what the momma wants, desserts by Mili

On the menu were Espresso Chip cupcakes, eclairs, individual creme brulee and cranberry orange scones.

Link to: Mili’s Cranberry-Orange Scone Recipe

This was such a wonderful time, outdoors with a bunch of wonderful women, celebrating a dear woman’s 5th baby shower. She is so blessed and I felt blessed to be there to celebrate her.



authentic-Italian sponge cake

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.com

This recipe takes me back to my childhood. Being raised as a first-generation American in a great big Italian family, meant there were many old-country recipes being cooked and baked around me at all times. If it’s possible to duplicate or enjoy the past, to bring back good memories and authentic flavors, then I’m all in.

I found scratchings of an old Italian recipe and followed it. The chemistry wasn’t there to make it work and it failed. I modified it until this dream of a cake happened. It’s simple and dead-on for flavor and texture.

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.com

Real Italian sponge cake is a lot like biscotti/sweet bread. The crust is full of flavor. The outer edge has a smokier texture but is soft and easy to cut through. It tastes a lot like biscotti. It’s not overly sweet and soaks in any flavor you can pour into it. The texture inside the cake is bouncy and lovely. I love it!

I’m sharing two versions of this cake: Tiramisu-Sponge and a Strawberries & Cream Sponge.

The flavor possibilities are endless with this recipe! It’s all about preparing what to soak-in. I can see making a Paradise Sponge with either passionfruit puree or pineapple sauce. An Orange Dream Sponge would be next on my list. I’d even love this cake soaked with dulce de leche or tres leches.

Let’s start with the base:

Authentic-Italian Sponge Cake recipe by Mili’s Sweets

Here’s what you’ll need:

6 large egg yolks

6 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup canola oil

2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Separate 6 large eggs so that you have 6 yolks and 6 whites. Set the egg whites aside. In the bowl of your standing mixer, place the egg yolks and sugar. Mix with the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy (1 minute). Add the one cup canola oil and pure vanilla extract. Mix until completely incorporated.

Slowly add the remaining dry ingredients, including baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. The result will look a lot like choux pastry dough. Set this cake “dough” aside as you make a meringue with the egg whites.

In a separate bowl, with a whisk attachment, add the egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Whisk on high until stiff peaks are formed.

Add the mound of prepared meringue onto the cake dough mixture. Mix these together with a paddle attachment until completely smooth. It will take two-to-three minutes for the meringue to break down into the dough, to make a perfectly smooth cake batter.

I used one 8″ (Fat Daddio Cake Pan) and prepared it with cooking spray before pouring all of the batter in.

Bake for 50 minutes.

This cake definitely takes longer to bake than most other cake recipes. Don’t open the oven until at least 30 minutes have passed. Once your cake tester (skewer or toothpick) comes out clean, you can remove the cake from the oven.

It will look a lot like rustic bread at the top – harder than a typical cake and very golden. Don’t worry. That’s what’s suppose to happen. Think biscotti on the outside and fluffy cake on the inside. You’ll have to trust me, even though the result might seem like it’s over-done, it’s not the case.

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com

Tiramisu Sponge

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup fresh brewed espresso, plus 1/4 cup amaretto syrup

either one batch freshly made, unset vanilla pudding or custard, with 1/4 cup amaretto syrup added into either recipe

(I use Torani syrup for amaretto flavor. I must have a completely peanut and tree nut-free kitchen, and this rich, delicious flavoring does not contain peanut or tree nut products. Please see the Torani allergen chart for more information.)

plastic wrap

prepared whipped cream

(For my whipped cream recipe, please link to my previous post.)

sweetened cocoa for dusting

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.comHere’s what you’ll do:

Prepare either custard or vanilla pudding and set aside. Add 1/4 cup of amaretto syrup into either recipe.

Cut off the top of the cake, to have one even layer. I don’t allow the cake to completely cool. It’s really not necessary since I pour on hot toppings, and the cake is easily removed from the pan. If you can’t handle the heat, wait until the cake has completely cooled. When you’re ready, place the cake on a serving dish. Use a fork to create additional holes in the cake.

Mix together 1 cup fresh-brewed espresso and 1/4 cup amaretto syrup. Pour this mixture onto the cake layer.

Next, pour the prepared (and unset) pudding or custard onto the soaking cake to completely cover the top. (For this example, I used vanilla pudding with the extra amaretto syrup.) Place plastic wrap over the entire cake and allow to set in the refrigerator until you are ready to cover/frost with whipped cream.

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.com

** For my tips on how to frost a cake with whipped cream, please see my tutorial photos below. **

I top the Tiramisu Sponge with a dusting of cocoa powder before serving.

authentic-Italian sponge cake, tiramisu cake - recipe via milissweets.com

Strawberries & Cream Sponge

Here’s what you’ll need:

freshly-prepared Strawberry Sauce (please see my recipe below)

one batch freshly made, either unset vanilla pudding or custard

plastic wrap

prepared whipped cream

(For my whipped cream recipe, please link to my previous post.)

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - strawberries & cream version Here’s what you’ll do:

First, you’ll need to prepare fresh Strawberry Sauce.

Mili’s Sweets Strawberry Sauce Recipe 

2 cups fresh-cut strawberries, smashed by-hand

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Take fresh strawberries, thoroughly wash them and remove the tops. Smash them with your fingers to cut them up, break them down and to release their natural juices. Keep smashing until you have two full cups. Place the smashed strawberries and sugar in a saucepan. Cook at medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir from time to time, once the mixture comes to a boil.

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - strawberries & cream version

When you are ready to assemble the Strawberries & Cream Sponge, remove the top of the cake with a serrated knife, to have an even layer. Use a fork to create additional holes in the cake. Pour the hot Strawberry Sauce onto the cake layer. Use the fork to push the fruit down, into the holes.

Next, pour the prepared (and unset) pudding or custard onto the soaking cake to completely cover the top. (For this example, I used custard.) Cover the entire cake with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to set.

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - strawberries & cream version

** How to Frost a Cake With Whipped Cream **

Once the custard or pudding has set in the refrigerator, you can frost the cake with whipped cream.

Here’s how I covered the Strawberries & Cream Sponge:

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - whipped cream topping tutorial

First, make the fresh whipped cream. I double the recipe so that I have a nice, thick layer and I don’t run out as I’m trying to frost.

I take a circle-tip (Wilton 1A) and fill a 16″ or 18″ pastry bag. I start at the bottom base of the cake and apply pressure to the pastry bag to evenly pipe from the bottom-up. Using a turntable/revolving cake decorating stand will be your best friend when applying any frosting to cakes. Once you reach the top edge, pipe the top portion, with a mostly-even, circular motion.

With an offset spatula, I use the cake plate as a guide and smooth the sides. I then smooth the top. I take the spatula and cover the sides one more time, pushing the excess up to the top. Next, use a pastry scraper to push (with a slight amount of pressure) and smooth the edges toward the center of the cake.

Top the cake with a garnish of fresh strawberries, or if you have extra Strawberry Sauce, you can blend it until smooth and cook at medium heat for an additional 15 minutes, stirring constantly, for a lovely, thicker sauce to drizzle and decorate the cake.

authentic-Italian sponge cake - recipe via milissweets.com - strawberries & cream version

Frosting the Tiramisu Sponge was even easier. I used a large, open star-tip and made small, circular piping motions, (like piping mini cupcakes, one at at time) covering the cake from the base and moving upward, until the last one was made at the top-center.

The inside of Sponge Cakes should be soft, delicious and flavorful. Nothing about the cake will be overly-sweet, and the whipped cream is the perfect, delicate topping for any flavor you decide to soak into the sponge.

authentic-Italian sponge cake, recipes via milissweets.comI hope you enjoy this post! Please let me know if you attempt this recipe, or any of my other recipes.

Thanks for being here.

Take care, Mili

Vegan-Vanilla, rainbow cupcakes

Vegan rainbow cupcakes - recipe via milissweets.com

I don’t typically share my cupcake recipes, since they are my little gifts and my bread-and-butter. Today I’m breaking my own rule. I debuted the Vegan Rainbow cupcake at MiaBella, just a few weeks ago and it was a hit! It’s simple and a very fun way to make a very colorful and tasty cake, without the use of eggs or dairy.

My inspiration was my sweet little girl. She was turning 11 and she wanted a rainbow cake. She also wanted one of her best friends to enjoy the cake and she is allergic to eggs, so I figured I’d give it a try to color my favorite Vegan-vanilla cake recipe. It worked!

Vegan rainbow cupcakes - recipe via milissweets.com

It’s fluffy and beautiful. Another fun idea – it works great for stacked cakes too! Here was my sweetheart’s 11th birthday cake, made with the same recipe.

Vegan rainbow cake - recipe via milissweets.com

For the purists to enjoy a truly Vegan cake, you need to use a “butter” substitute that is truly Vegan. I do not like shortening and will never use it to top cupcakes. This brand, is the very best Vegan alternative that I’ve found and you can use it exactly like butter. There is also a soy-free version. I must confess that since I’m not Vegan, I’d switch to salted butter in a heartbeat.

Vegan rainbow cupcakes - recipe via milissweets.com

Back to the cake! Let’s make it happen! Here’s the recipe and How-To:

Mili’s Sweets Vegan-Vanilla Rainbow Cake/Cupcake Recipe 

Here’s what you’ll need (per color):

1 and 1/2 cups coconut milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 cups all purpose flour (Please don’t try to substitute for gluten-free flour. Believe me, I tried and it was an epic fail!)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup canola oil

Vegan rainbow cupcakes - recipe via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

In a measuring cup, place 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Next, pour the coconut milk to the one and one half cup line of the measuring cup.  (Please note that this recipe also works very well with soy milk.) Allow to stand for 5 minutes. This will allow the milk to thicken and curdle.

Next add the canola oil and pure vanilla extract, to the measuring cup with the milk and vinegar mixture.

In a mixing bowl, add all of the dry ingredients, including the all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and mix until there are no more lumps. I use a scraping attachment of my standing mixer to achieve a smooth batter.

If you are just making Vegan Vanilla cake or cupcakes, you can stop here. If you want to make a rainbow, we have to add a few steps.

Vegan rainbow cupcakes - recipe via milissweets.com

The easiest and best way to make a rainbow is to measure all of the wet ingredients into separate batches, using separate measuring cups. To make a rainbow, I lined up 6 mason jars. If you are making a small batch, I recommend only making 3 recipes so that you can split each batter up and color them. This should yield about 18 cupcakes. If you need to make a larger number of desserts, I recommend making six total batches and coloring them separately.

Vegan rainbow cupcakes - recipe via milissweets.com

Once the batter is smooth, add the food coloring. To make a rainbow, you need red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. My kids supervised the whole project, to be sure I was accurate. I use gels and squirt them in. I’m guessing it’s about a 1/2 teaspoon per batch. You can add more, depending on how vibrant you want to colors of the cake to be. I place each colored batch into gallon-sized ziplock bags.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Vegan rainbow cupcakes - recipe via milissweets.comWhen your cupcake tins are lined with paper cups, it’s time to get to work. Cut a very small hole at one corner of the first bag of batter and pipe in a small amount to cover the bottom. Go up from there until you have purple. It’s important that you hit the edge of the paper with the batter, for the best result. The most beautiful part of the cupcake is the rainbow line that can be seen on the wrapper. You will want as little batter of each color as possible per cupcake. You’ll end up with very full cups, no matter how hard you try for them to be the typical 2/3 up. It’s OK and it will all work out in the end.

Place in the oven for 16-18 minutes, or until the center of the front cupcakes test dry. Allow to cool before frosting. I used gold, edible luster dust as the finishing touch to this cupcake. My kids can’t wait for me to make them again!

Vegan rainbow cupcakes - recipe via milissweets.com

xox, Mili

spring-ahead with floral

spring floral, via milissweets.comI am truly inspired by gorgeous floral arrangements. I get so excited about them! They are the highlight of most any beautiful party or dessert table. Honestly, the very best thing, and only decoration you really need for a party or dessert table should be fresh floral arrangements, done well, by a gifted professional.

My dear friend Karen Crawford put these stunning arrangements together for me and I just couldn’t take my eyes off of them! I wanted something over the top incredible for a little girl’s princess party dessert table that I had set and catered, as part of a charity auction fulfillment.

spring floral via milissweets.com

They were incredible and I still gush over them!

spring floral via milissweets.com

The hosts held the birthday party in their own back yard, for their sweet princess, who was turning seven. They chose the backdrop and placement for the dessert table and I had the pleasure of providing the other details.

spring floral, cupcakes and candy, via milissweets.com

They wanted to achieve the main colors of the Disney Princesses, so we went with shades of pink, purple, green and red for the candy.

spring floral, candy and cupcakes, via milissweets.com

I set out their choice of Double Dutch and Strawberry cupcakes for all of the little girls to enjoy.

spring floral and cupcakes, via milisswets.com

The best part of this job, was being trusted by the family, to make it very special for their special little girl. I was so happy that they were so happy – especially since the money they spent on the auction, went to the school that my children attend. It was a win-win!


Andi - May 5, 2016 - 8:45 pm

We were at that party and it was such a beautiful set up- and delicious too!

sweetsbymili@gmail.com - May 24, 2016 - 10:31 pm

Thank you so much Andi!!!! God bless, Mili

beyond brittle

beyond brittle - recipes via milissweets.com

I’m taking this old-school candy to a whole new level! You are going to love how simple this is to make – with an end result that is both delicious and beautiful.

I’m sharing how to make the best, basic brittle recipe, to transform this candy into any flavor you wish. I’m also including three awesome, nut-free recipes to enjoy: Sesame Brittle, Granola Bar Brittle and Toasted Coconut Brittle.

Mili’s Sweets Basic Brittle Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 cup sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Tools: sauce pan, candy thermometer, wooden spoon, offset spatula, cookie sheet, silpat mat. If cutting into squares, you’ll also need parchment paper and a large knife.

beyond brittle - recipes via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Put all ingredients, except for vanilla (you’ll save this for the end) into your saucepan. Place on the stove at medium heat.

Melt all of the ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon. Once melted, place the candy thermometer into the saucepan.

From this point on, you’ll constantly stir the mixture. It’s going to take 20 minutes to get to 300 degrees, or the “hard crack” stage.

Once you reach 300 degrees, take the saucepan off of the heat and remove the candy thermometer.

Add the vanilla and stir it in. The candy is complete.

This is the moment that you’ll stir in the components to make it a specific flavor.

Here’s what it looks like while it’s cooking:

beyond brittle - recipes via milissweets.com

Now, let’s take it beyond brittle. I’m sharing how to transform this candy into something really special and creative.

Here’s what I prepped for three different brittle recipes. All you need to do is add one cup of ingredients for each separate batch/flavor. This will be added once your mixture has come to 300 degrees.

beyond brittle - recipes via milissweets.com

Mili’s Sweets Sesame Brittle Recipe

Follow the recipe for Basic Brittle (above) and add:

1 cup toasted sesame seeds

Use a wooden spoon to stir the seeds into the hot candy mixture, after the vanilla has been stirred in.

Pour onto a baking sheet, covered with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Spread smooth, to about 1/4″, with an offset spatula.

Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

beyond brittle - recipes via milissweets.comIf you are a symmetrical-junkie like me and like your desserts to be presented in a neat and clean way, then this would be the time to cut the brittle.

Invert the brittle onto parchment paper or a cutting board and use a large knife to cut into squares. The longer you allow the brittle to cool, the harder it will be to cut. If you like a broken-brittle, then allow it to cool for an additional 10 minutes and simply break the candy apart with your hands.

Mili’s Sweets Granola Bar Brittle Recipe 

Follow the recipe for Basic Brittle (above) and add:

1/2 cup organic rolled oats

1/3 cup dried cherries

3 tablespoons salted sunflower seeds

sprinkling of semi sweet chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand, mini chips.)

beyond brittle - recipes via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Stir all of the ingredients (except for the chocolate chips) into the brittle mixture, after it has reached 300 degrees, and you have already added the vanilla.

Pour onto a baking sheet, covered with a silpat mat or parchment paper.

Use an offset spatula to spread the mixture. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips.

Allow to cool completely or cut into portions before it has completely cooled.

Mili’s Sweets Toasted Coconut Brittle Recipe 

Follow the recipe for Basic Brittle (above) and add:

1 cup toasted coconut

Here’s how to toast coconut:

Heat your oven to 325 degrees. Spread one cup of sweetened, shredded coconut onto a baking sheet that is covered with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes.

beyond brittle - recipes via milissweets.com

Add the toasted coconut to the hot brittle mixture, after the vanilla has been added. Reserve some of the toasted coconut to sprinkle over the top of the brittle, once it has been spread.

IF YOU CAN HAVE NUTS: I’m a nut-free momma so you won’t see peanuts or cashews in my recipes. However, if you and your family can enjoy peanuts and tree nuts, simply add one cup of your chosen ingredient into the basic brittle recipe mixture and you’re set.

This is a really great treat to serve at a party, for a special movie-night at home, or if you happen to sell goodies at your local farmer’s market.



beyond brittle - recipes via milissweets.com


Glenny - February 23, 2014 - 2:23 pm

My candy thermometer arrived…guess what I’m making? 🙂

sweetsbymili@gmail.com - February 23, 2014 - 2:28 pm

Hi Glenny! This is so easy and delicious. You and your family will love it! Big hugs! Thanks for commenting. xox