Joyful Steps & Key Lime Pie Cake

key lime pie cake

Of course, grief comes in many different forms cancer being one of them. Losing ones hair, a breast, a voice….a loss is a loss is a loss. It’s terrifying. I remember Bill’s only fear of being sick was the possibility of leaving his children too soon….fatherless. He never could have imagined he would live only to lose his son. It just is not natural for a parent to lose a child.

722226138110But today we celebrate because we can. The goal continues to be to bring joy back into our lives. One joyful step at a time. It’s Bill’s birthday week and what is not to celebrate. I am so very thankful to have the guy still around. If you need the voice of hope when it comes to cancer one can certainly look towards him. Back in 1998 he was given a 25% chance of surviving 5 years. It’s wonderful to beat the odds. IMG_3059

Let’s eat cake, but not just any cake. We are having tart, pucker power, key lime pie cake. It takes a few steps to put this yummy concoction together, but if you like tart this cake will make you happy. I guarantee! Bake this cake and feel the joy.IMG_3053

Key Lime Pie Cake

Step #1: Make the curd the night before

Key Lime Curd

1 ½ cups sugar

1-cup key lime juice

4 eggs

1 stick unsalted butter, sliced into 8 tablespoons

Whisk sugar, key lime juice and eggs in saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add butter and continue whisking until curd thickens and begins just to bubble; cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh to remove any bits of over cooked egg. Cover and chill. Makes 3 cups.

Step #2: Make the cake layers

 Lime Scented Cake

1-cup cake flour

¾ cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

grated zest of two limes

4 eggs, room temperature

2 tablespoons key lime juice

Heat oven 350F. Spray three 9-inch cake pans with no-stick baking spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper circles. Spray parchment with baking spray. In bowl, whisk both flours, baking powder and salt; set aside. In stand mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lime juice; blend well. Fold in flour mixture by hand until fully incorporated. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Turn out the cakes onto a wire rack, peel off the paper and allow to cool completely.cakeStep #3: Make Frosting

Lime Meringue Buttercream

3 egg whites

10 tablespoons sugar

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon key lime juice

pinch salt

Place egg whites and sugar in the metal bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the mixture reaches 140F on an instant read thermometer. Transfer bowl to stand mixer and using the whisk attachment at medium speed whisk mixture to stiff peaks. The bowl should now feel cool. Switch whisk attachment to paddle attachment. Reduce speed a notch lower and start adding butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each tablespoon is well mixed before adding another. It may look curdled, but that is normal. Now beat for 10 to 15 minutes until smooth. Add lime juice and salt; beat well.


Step #4: Assemble Cake

Place 1 cake layer on serving plate. Top with 1/3 of the lime curd. Place second cake layer on top and spread with half of the remaining lime curd. Top with remaining cake layer and remaining curd leaving an edge of about ½-inch. Place about ½ to 1 cup of buttercream into a piping bag with a star tip. Spread remaining buttercream on sides of cake. Pipe buttercream around top edge of cake and at bottom edge. Dust cake rim and sides with finely crushed graham crackers. Serves at least 10 joyful souls.

Grief & Treats From Mother Nature


garden goodness

Good grief and nature go together like basil and tomatoes. There is no escaping it. As much as I thought I could take a break from grief there is so much about Mother Nature that keeps it right on the edge of my mind and in my heart. William was such an outdoorsman. As a kid, he loved everything about playing in the woods. His passions included hunting, fishing or just being with Mother Nature. Fond memories include playing eye-spy searching out critters hiding in the brush. He was happy.

in the Adirondaks: photo courtesy of the Van Sant family

Our new backyard (we have lived here 2 years now) brings William into my heart nearly every day. This week there are dancing blue birds, red tailed hawks, overhead, teaching their babies to fly and just this morning 4 young bucks butting heads—the latter brings an automatic, “Good Morning, William” from my lips. It makes me happy.

my yard: photo by Carol Walsh

my yard: photo by Carol Walsh

As always I am thankful to have these moments with William and to live in such a beautiful place. I am also thankful that the deer have kept their distance from my garden and that Mother Nature has provided us with an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables for me to play with in the kitchen.


Take the zucchini (please take some) for instance. I only planted 2 seeds and I have more than I know what to do with. It’s been grilled, roasted, stuffed and pancaked, but my favorite new recipe are these little cakes. Enjoy!

Yucatan Squash Cakes

  • Servings: 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes
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3 cups white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur brand)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch cayenne pepper, optional

1/2 cup cocoa powder

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 ½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup canola oil

¾ cup applesauce

¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

3 cups shredded zucchini, lightly tamp it down into the cup

Preheat oven 350F. Lightly grease or line 2 ½ dozen muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cocoa powder into a large bowl, then whisk until blended and set aside. 

 In mixing bowl, beat eggs on high speed with an electric mixer for 2−3 minutes gradually adding the sugar. Beat until mixture is pale yellow, thick and creamy. Add oil, applesauce and melted butter; beat until well mixed. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold gently by hand until dry ingredients are completely moistened and mixed. Stir in zucchini. Using a standard ice cream scoop, fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. 
Bake 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cupcake comes out clean. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar or add a chocolate glaze or frosting, if desired, but really not needed.

When Worlds Collide Make Dulche de Leche Coconut Cake

dulce de leche coconut cake

dulce de leche coconut cake

Never under estimate the power of being a good friend. When one is grieving having a sympathetic friend whether near or far is priceless. Having a friend that reaches out from time to time reminds those in mourning that they are never alone. An occasional call or visit to a friend who is grieving gives strength and hope for a better tomorrow.

I am fortunate to be surrounded by some great friends. Not only my friends, but William’s friends. Whit, for example, is one of William’s very best friends in the whole wide world. Whit and Will met in high school and were captains of the Taft lacrosse team. They had fun and they had plans. I can’t imagine how Whit felt when he got the news of Will’s accident. How it is to lose a best friend?

Whit & Will: Taft Formal

Whit & Will: Taft Formal

Lynn is one of my best friends and William’s godmother. We’ve known each other for nearly 35 years. My kids grew up in the same house Lynn grew up in (’cause we bought the house after her parents retired and moved). When one day I was digging in the garden I discovered an old silver US Navy ring-we’re talking WWll. Turns out that Lynn’s dad was in the Navy. She gifted that buried treasure to William. In fact, William always felt like he hit the jackpot with Lynn for a godmother because she always gave him the coolest gifts. How does it feel to lose a much loved godchild?



Whit’s and Lynn’s worlds collided at Will’s funeral. I don’t get to see either one of them very often, but I think of them every day and hold them in my heart along with so many other friends. Too caught up in my own grief I probably have never told them how sorry I am that they lost someone so near and dear to THEIR hearts. A best friend. A godchild. I am so sorry. So sorry to everyone who ever loved him, too.

Whit and Lynn often send me stuff–good stuff! The kind of stuff that inspires me to cook and bake… So when Whit sent me some dulche de leche from his travels and Lynn sent me some Wadmalaw Island Firefly Distillery Southern Accents Coconut Cake Liqueur their two worlds collided again and out came something as sweet as they are: “A Little Dulche de Leche Coconut Cake”.


A Little Dulce de Leche Coconut Cake

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

1-tablespoon cornstarch

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

4 eggs

¼ cup Southern Accents Coconut Cake Liqueur

1-teaspoon coconut extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup buttermilk


2 tablespoons dulche de leche

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons Southern Accents Coconut Cake Liqueur

toasted coconut (as much or as little as you like)

Heat oven 325F. Spray a coffee cake pan or (6 cup) loaf pan with no-stick baking spray. In bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda; set aside. In a large measuring cup, whisk eggs, liqueur and extracts until blended; set aside. In large mixer bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add both sugars and beat on high until light and fluffy—a good 2 minutes. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour egg mixture in and continue beating until incorporated—mixture will look curdled. Add flour mixture, 1/3rd at a time, alternating with buttermilk just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a rack. Meanwhile, in small saucepan over medium heat, stir dulche de leche, heavy cream and coconut liqueur; bring to a low boil. Simmer mixture until it reduces down to ¼ cup. While cake is still warm spread glaze over top and sprinkle with toasted coconut.