I’ve been fascinated by desserts lately. I’ve never really been a fan of any desserts that didn’t have some kind of relationship with chocolate – filled, covered, pure, stuffed, cake, icing, drizzle, etc. but lately I’ve found myself wanting to experiment with fruity desserts. I had some success with galettes earlier in the season – peaches, strawberries… Then we got the Fresh Box for this week and with the apples (which give spirit and rise to the new autumn season) and the mandarins (the international score that had me thinking back on hot summer days on the beach eating refreshing citrus), I thought I’d shift things a bit and do a dessert for the blog. But I am not a baker, I am a cook. Baking is it’s own unique set of skills incorporating math and science. My strengths are art and creative writing so cooking has always been more suitable – flexible and forgiving. But, I love a challenge so I thought I’d do some research, get inspired, add my own flair and tackle some dessert! While I still have so very much to learn about baking, I was pleased with the outcome of these desserts and look forward to continuing to dabble in the math and science of it going forward! 

Let the Citrus Shine – A Date with Dessert

Prep Time:  20 Minutes

Cook Time:  25-30 Minutes

Yields: 12-24 Servings

Ingredients & Prep Instructions: (bold ingredients found in your Fresh Box or at Jacksonville Fresh Market/Shop this week): 

  • 6 Mandarin Oranges – the International Score in this week’s box! (sliced into thick ½ inch rings and juice the extra pieces)
  • 2 Large Ripe Bananas (cut into circles ¼-½ thick)
  • 6-8 TBSP of Honey (Bee Friends Farm – Orange Blossom (sweet sweet) or Black Mangrove (earthy sweet))
  • 1 CUP (2 sticks) of Butter (softened)
  • 1 CUP of Dark Brown Sugar 
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 TSP of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 TBSP of Mandarin Orange Juice
  • 2 CUPS of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ TSP Baking Powder
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 1 CUP of Milk
  • Avocado or Vegetable Oil Spray (for pans)

The order of things: 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Prep the Mandarin Oranges and Bananas 
  • Spray your cupcake and cake pans, put honey in pans at this point and then place the fruit slices
  • Prepare Wet Ingredients
  • Prepare Dry Ingredients
  • Incorporate Ingredients
  • Scoop batter into prepared pans
  • Bake and Test and Plate and Serve! 
  • Vanilla Ice Cream would make an amazing pairing!

What you’ll need: 

  • Aluminum Foil
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • 1 12 CUP Standard Size Cupcake Pan
  • 1 9×9 Baking Pan – Square
  • 1 Baking Sheet
  • 2 Mixing Bowls
  • Whisk or Hand Mixer (I used a whisk…it’s more work but I prefer it)

Instructions for Preparing Pans:  

  1. After you preheat your oven to 350 degrees, you’ll want to prep your pans. 
  2. Spray pans with avocado or vegetable spray.
  3. For the cupcake pan, put about ½ TSP of Honey into each well. Place a sliced ring of Mandarin Orange on top of the spray and honey mixture. 
  4. For the cake pan, put 4 TBSP of Honey and drizzle it evenly coating the bottom. Place slices of banana covering the bottom of the pan on top of the spray and honey mixture.
  5. Put the pans aside while you work on the batter.

Instructions for Batter:                                                                                                                              


  1. Combine Butter, Dark Brown Sugar (whisk the butter and sugar together to cream it before adding the eggs. 
  2. Add one egg at a time, mixing the batter in between each egg. 
  3. Finish the mix by adding Vanilla Extract and Mandarin Orange juice together in a mixing bowl.


  1. Combine All-Purpose Flour, Baking Powder and Salt together in a mixing bowl.


  1. In the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients, slowly incorporate the wet ingredients, whisking and stirring thoroughly (it will be thick at this point)
  2. Continue to stir while slowly adding the milk into batter – it shouldn’t be too thick or too watery.


  1. I use a ¼ CUP measuring cup to scoop the batter into the cupcake wells first and then I pour the rest of the batter into the cake pan. You can also use a second cupcake pan and fill up as many wells as possible.
  2. Put pans on the middle rack in your oven. Set the timer for 25 minutes.
  3. At 25 minutes, check your cupcakes and cake with a toothpick and make sure that they come out clean. 
  4. Set pans out to cool before removing the cupcakes and cake. Make sure your pans are mostly cooled down so that when you flip out the cupcakes and cake, the fruit is secure and sticks to the top. 

Recipe Notes: 

The cake for this dessert is only mildly sweet. The brown sugar and the honey are more for a rich sweet flavor than just sweetness. 

The cake didn’t really rise like I expected it to – it was dense, but moist and the ratio of cake to topping is pretty spot on so the fact that it didn’t rise only alarmed me in sight, not in taste. 

The banana cake was kind of an afterthought. I might add oats and peanut butter to the topping if I was to do it over again. I ended up having to put the banana cake under the broiler after flipping it out of the pan (about 5-10 minutes on the middle rack) to brulee the honey and banana slices.

Fruity desserts are good, but I plan to explore chocolate in the coming posts as well…because…chocolate.

A Note from Tawny’s Kitchen:

As a self plug and a reminder about my amazing friends at Jacksonville Fresh, please stop in to their shop at 1683 S 8th Street in Fernandina Beach where you can now find my food TO-GO! I will be cooking and packaging prepared foods based on available seasonal ingredients and staples – mixing multiple cuisines and accommodating a variety of dietary differences/requirements. This week you can find my sweet potato salad, golden beets & quinoa salad, roasted veggies & spicy lentils and gluten-free zucchini bread! I would love feedback on the kinds of TO-GO foods you’d like to see in your local market so I hope to hear from you and see your comments below. Thanks so much for all the support! 

I hope everyone has a wonderful week…enjoy everything that autumn/fall brings with it as we enter the new season. Stay focused, dream big, challenge yourself and if nothing else, be actively kind. Looking forward to the ingredients and dishes that autumn will bring!

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” — Henry David Thoreau