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Behind-the-Scenes with Mini Melanie

Chocolate Cookies with Blackberry Jam and Cardamom
yield: about 3 dozen

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 pint fresh blackberries

Step 1: Make the jam. In a 2 quart pot, add in the blackberries, 1 cup granulated sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Turn the heat to medium low and stir for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbling and thick and jam-like in consistency. Take off the heat and set aside.
Step 2: Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bain marie. Set aside and let cool. Sift together the cocoa, flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt.
Step 3: With an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla, and then the melted chocolate. Add in the flour mixture, alternating with the milk. Wrap the dough in the fridge for two hours.
Step 4: Preheat oven to 350F. Scoop the cookie dough with a tablespoon and roll into balls. Roll into granulated sugar then into confectioners sugar. Place onto a parchment-lined baking tray.
Step 5: Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and make a divet on the top of the cookie - spoon in jam. Return to the oven and bake 5 to 7 minutes more, until crackled and puffed up.

Apple Maple Cake
yield: one 8 inch round cake

Ingredients for the cake:
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups diced apple
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the frosting:
(1) 14 ounce can full fat coconut cream (put in freezer for two hours or refrigerate overnight)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple syrup

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray your baking pan with baking spray.
2. In a large bowl, crack the eggs and whisk until broken up. Add in coconut oil, applesauce, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. 
3. Stir together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Fold in the apples and pour into the prepared pan.
6. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. The cake will be puffed up and may crack a bit on top and will pull away from the sides of the pan.
7. Let cake cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
1. Place the chilled coconut cream into an electric mixer with the whisk attachment or use a handheld mixer. Whisk well until it resembled whipped cream. 2. Add in the vanilla and maple syrup on low speed until just combined.
3. Frost the cake with the coconut cream and serve.

Mini Berry Pies

To make these mini pies, we use our amazing (though secret) pie dough. It's made with almond flour and is very crisp and delicious. We have many tarts on our catering menu. Purchase a sleeve of Pillsbury pie dough to make these tasty, adorable pies at home. They're fun busy work for kids - to shape the dough into the mini muffin tins, and to do the lattice work.

Ingredients for the strawberry filling (or use any berry filling you like):
16 ounces fresh strawberries, small diced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
2. Cut 2 inch circles out of rolled out pie dough, rolled 1/4 inch thick.
3. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and place the circles of dough into the mini muffin pan, adhering to the sides of the pan.
4. Bake the mini pie shells in the oven for 4 minutes until light brown.
5. Toss the berries in sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and lemon juice.
6. Fill the shells, once removed from the oven, with the berry mixture, until just filled under the top.
7. Using a Wilton lattice cutter, cut lattice and arrange on the cooled pie shells.
8. Brush lightly with egg whites and sprinkle with sugar.
9. Bake at 350F for 8 to 10 minutes until the berries are bubbling a bit and the crust is baked and golden brown.
Banana Pudding

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1 1/2 cups milk / coconut milk / almond milk
1/4 cup sugar, divided into two bowls
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. In a 2 quart pot, heat up the milk with 1/8 cup sugar and the vanilla extract until warm to the touch.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, salt, and flour. Add some of the milk into the egg mixture, whisking well.
3. Add the egg mixture into the pot with the milk.
4. Bring to a simmer, whisking well until the mixture is bubbling and thick and looks like pudding.
5. Add in butter off of the heat and stir until it's melted in.
6. Refrigerate the pastry cream until it's cooled down.

To assemble your banana puddings, layer the cooled pudding with chopped up graham crackers or vanilla wafer cookies, whatever you prefer. With layers of cookie, pudding, then banana - repeated in any glass or container of your choice. Serve chilled.

Sugar-Free Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (or substitute cashew butter / almond butter)
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil (1 tablespoon reserved for dipping mixture)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups rice krispies (or brown rice krispies)
1 cup chocolate chips
optional: sea salt for sprinkling on chocolate

1. Prepare an 8 inch springform pan with pam spray and a parchment circle at the bottom.
2. Place the peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla into a saute pan that's about 9 inches wide by 3 inches tall.
3. Melt on low heat until smooth.
4. Off of the heat, pour in rice krispies and stir until fully coated and combined.
5. Pour the rice krispies into the prepared pan and freeze for 30 minutes or until chilled and firm enough to slice.
6. Pop the rice krispy out of the pan and slice into desired shapes. 
7. Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil together in the microwave until smooth. Dip the rice krispies into the melted chocolate mixture, top with sea salt if desired, and serve. The chocolate will set on the krispy within minutes.
8. Store in an air tight container at room temperature in the freezer or fridge.

Banana Strawberry Loaf
yield: 1 cake

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 bananas (ripened)
2 cups whole wheat flour (or all-purpose is fine)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup strawberry, diced
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/8 cup pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Slice the bananas, roughly, and place in a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash the bananas until you just see a couple small chunks.
3. Add the sugars into the bananas, and whisk. Next, add the eggs, milk, and vanilla, and whisk until combined.
4. Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour all of the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and mix until just combined. Add in the melted butter and mix until combined.
5. Add in the strawberries, oats, and pecans - or whatever you'd like to add in!
6. Spray a loaf pan and place a rectangle of parchment inside the tin.
7. Pour in the batter and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until a cake tester or a knife comes out clean. Cool before slicing.
Vegan Sweet Potato Muffins
2 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. In a medium bowl, mix coconut milk and vanilla extract into sweet potato, stirring until combined.
3. In a small bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together with a whisk.
4. Pour the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture.
5. Place muffin liners in a muffin pan, or spray well with cooking spray. 
6. With a spoon, place the muffin batter evenly into the muffin tins.
7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a fork comes out clean.