Cinco de Mayo Cupcakes

Hey guys!  In case you didn’t know, Cinco de Mayo is this Saturday!  I know the day is typically celebrated with LOTS of alcohol and good food but may I suggest a cupcake?  I’ve got a few drool-worthy options and yes, even a couple with a bit of alcohol thrown in!  The Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcake is my top pick to make…anything with cayenne and chocolate is a MUST make for me.  It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations!

How do YOU celebrate Cinco de Mayo??

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Photo by cheekykitchen.com

Margarita Cupcakes

Photo by browneyedbaker.com

Tres Leches Cupcakes

Photo by bakersroyale.com

Strawberry Margarita Cupcakes

Photo by kokocooks.blogspot.com

Churro Cupcakes

Photo by dishingthedivine.com
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No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Ok, that title is a little misleading…it is kind of a baked pie, at least the crust is baked.  But it stays in the oven for such a short amount of time it hardly counts, hence I christen this pie, no-bake!

I dreamed up this concoction when brainstorming what to make my fabulous sister-in-law Rachel (of foodierachel.com!) for her birthday.  I wanted it to be something that she would LOVE not just something that sounded good to me or a new dessert recipe I wanted to try.  So I thought of peanut butter first…and then banana, caramel and chocolate.  Yes, pretty sure all these ingredients met the “will Rachel love it?”  criteria!

I have to say this pie was AMAZING…just the right amount of peanut butter, chocolate, banana and caramel.  It is, however, very rich so one slice is more than enough!  I made a homemade salted caramel sauce from scratch which I think sent it over the top, but for the sake of simplicity I’d just buy a good-quality caramel sauce if I were you–unless you are feeling very ambitious!

It was a big hit at our family dinner and I’m already looking for an excuse to make this one again!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 c. High-Quality Caramel Sauce
  • 1½ Ripe Bananas, sliced into ½" pieces
  • 1, 8 oz. package Cream Cheese
  • 1½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1¼ c. Smooth Peanut Butter
  • ½ c. Milk
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 16 oz. Whipped Cream Topping
  • 6 T. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, melted
  • 2 T. Dry-Roasted Peanut Halves
Instructions
For the Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Combine melted butter and graham cracker crumbs and press into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool completely on a wire rack (I did pop mine in the freezer for a few minutes to speed things up).
For the Filling
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until completely smooth. Add peanut butter, milk and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in ¾ of the container of the whipped cream, until there are no white streaks left.
To Assemble
  1. Pour the caramel into the graham cracker crust and spread evenly. Place the banana slices in an even layer over the caramel. Spread the peanut butter filling evenly into the pan. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and sprinkle with the dry-roasted peanuts. Place in the freezer for a couple of minutes to allow the chocolate to harden. Cover with foil and freeze for 4-5 hours until mixture is stiff. Slice and serve immediately.
Notes
Serves 12.

 

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Brown Sugar Cashew Blondies

There’s really not much that needs to be said about these bars except that they have lots of butter, lots of brown sugar, lots of cashews and oh yeah, they will melt in your mouth.  I really don’t think you could have a more perfect combination of more glorious things.  If cashews aren’t your nut of choice, I’d imagine you could swap them out with toasted pecans or macadamia nuts.

You can literally have these whipped up in no-time…although the cooking time is an entirely different matter.  The original recipe said 35-40 minutes but mine didn’t get done until the 50 minute mark.  So I’d say just start testing them around 40 minutes and keep an eye on ’em.

Perfect treat for a lazy Sunday evening…

Adapted from bakeorbreak.com

Brown Sugar Cashew Blondies
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 c. Packed, Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 8 oz. Salted Cashew Halves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, mixing until combined. Stir in 1 cup of the cashews.
  5. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining cashews, pressing down lightly with your hands. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Notes
Makes about 12 bars.

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The Next Big Thing…Pudding?

Banana Pudding Photo by Bakerella

So, the word on the street is that pudding (yes, pudding) is going to replace cupcakes as the next big dessert trend.  Now in the past, predictor types have also foreseen pie, whoopie pies and macaroons dethroning the almighty cupcake but so far…hasn’t happened.  This article mentions a couple of new pudding restaurants that have popped up in New York where alot of trends start.

Don’t get me wrong I do love pudding, ESPECIALLY totally-from-scratch butterscotch pudding, but I really can’t imagine saying to my girlfriend during girl’s night out, “Hey!  Let’s go get some pudding!”  I mean, it’s going to either be ice cream (if we want something cold) or a cupcake.   And I really don’t see mom ordering a big ‘ole bowl of chocolate pudding for little Mary Sue’s birthday party anytime soon.

Chocolate Pudding Photo by Smitten Kitchen

But hey, what do I know?  Do you think it could be the next big thing?  Should cupcake shops start diversifying now and slap pudding on their menus??  Something to think about…

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DC Bakery Review #4: Alexandria Cupcake

Ok, here it is, Alexandria Cupcake,  the last place we stopped at on our whirlwind DC cupcake tour!  And thank God it was the last one…I don’t think I could have taken much more.

But things ended on a high note because this place was AWESOME.  Located in Old Town Alexandria, it was in a super tiny little space that was very basic and no frills (as you can see from the pics) with only one tiny table and two tiny chairs, but it was by far our FAVORITE place we tried out of the four.  These people totally know how to do cupcakes…the cake was super moist and perfect texture and the buttercream was exactly that…BUTTERcream.  It was so silky smooth and delicious…holy cow, I could have just eaten the frosting.  And nothing artificial was used to flavor these cupcakes, which I could really appreciate!

Our box of cupcakes...should have gotten four. It just looks wrong with only three...

We chose 3 different kinds and somehow managed to eat every last bite of them.  You know a cupcake is good when after eating a dozen plus cupcakes, you somehow manage to find room for three more–thank God we were sharing!!

Stout Cupcake with Bailey's Cream Cheese Buttercream.
Vanilla Bean Cupcake with Raspberry Buttercream.
Almond Cupcake with Almond Buttercream (my personal favorite).

Well, that’s a wrap of my DC cupcake binge.  HAH.  Hope you all enjoyed reading and found some new cupcake places to visit next time your in the DC area.  And if you know of any I didn’t get to, I’d love to hear about them!

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Homemade Chocolate Truffles

Hey friends!   Hope everyone has had a great Easter Sunday…ours was filled with a wonderful church service, lunch with family and…well, that’s about it!  Yay for lazy Sundays!

I wanted to share a recipe for homemade chocolate truffles with you guys tonight.  You know, the kind you pay major bucks for at Godiva or another fancy chocolate shop??  Yeah, that’s the kind I’m talking about! It’s soooo easy to make gourmet truffles on your own at home.  They are probably one of the first candies I ever made.  I moved on to other things like homemade marshmallows, chocolate covered cherries, turtles, caramels and toffee, but honestly, there is just something so decadent and indulgent about chocolate truffles.  Especially when they are made with quality ingredients.

When I first started making truffles, I really enjoyed experimenting with them.  I remember how many bottles of liquor I had in my house…and NOT for drinking!  Hah!  No, no it was all used for candy making!  It is super simple to add a little citrus zest, extract or liquor to your chocolate and get a variety of gourmet chocolates.  Some of my favorites were Starbucks coffee liquors and berry liquors.  Can you say YUM??  So use this recipe as a starting point and see what flavors you can add for your own homemade box of chocolates!  I think once you see how easy it is, you’ll never visit a pricey chocolate shop again!

Homemade Chocolate Truffles
 
Ingredients
  • 20 oz. Good Quality, Bittersweet Chocolate Bars, finely chopped, NOT unsweetened chocolate or 2¼ c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I prefer Ghirardelli 70% Bars or I have even used their 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, but I recommend using the bars, as they melt easier than chips)
  • ¾ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • Citrus Zest, Flavored Liquor, Extracts, etc for flavoring (optional)
  • Chopped chocolate, cocoa, chopped nuts, melted chocolate, flaked coconut, etc (for coating truffles)
Instructions
  1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream over medium heat just until it boils and pour it immediately over the chocolate. Let it set for 1 minutes and then stir with a spoon or spatula or whisk until completely smooth. If adding flavor, do so now. Let cool completely and then place in fridge for a couple of hours until the mixture is firm but not stiff or refrigerate overnight (if you refrigerate overnight, let it set out for about 30 minutes to it has softened just a bit and you can scoop it more easily). Using a melon baller, scoop 1" size truffles onto a large baking sheet lined with foil. If the mixture is not too soft, roll into balls with your hands. If it is too soft, place in the freezer for a few minutes to allow to firm up a bit. Once you've shaped the truffles into balls, you can roll them in chopped nuts, finely chopped chocolate, etc or dip in melted chocolate.
Notes
Makes 30 truffles, 1" truffles

 

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DC Bakery Review #3: Baked & Wired

Hi friends!  Yes, I have yet ANOTHER bakery review from DC…after this post, it’s three down, one to go! Don’t know if you remember, but in my Sprinkles post I mentioned that a lady there gave us the heads up about a place called Baked & Wired and I am SO glad she did–this place rocked!  My first impression of the place when we got inside was that it reminded me of my favorite coffee shop here in Springfield, MO, the Mudhouse.  The same kind of dim, cool atmosphere, hardwood floors, hodge podge furniture…pretty much knew it was going to be awesome right away.

As for the desserts…holy cow, I don’t even know where to begin.  Honestly, I don’t!  They had a HUGE selection that was pretty much impossible for me to capture the vastness of with my little bitty iPhone camera.  But I tried!  Right when you walk in you are greeted with several jars of massive cookies, some made into cookie-wiches with a layer of frosting in between.  Then you move on and it’s just a sea of homemade brownies, bars, biscotti and possibly the biggest cupcakes I’ve ever seen.  I’m not joking.  They were seriously the size of a small potting plant container…which come to think of it might be what they baked them in!

Everything was very reasonably priced, in my opinion.  The cupcakes were $4 each (worth it for how huge they were) and totally delicious.  The cake was super dense and moist, very reminiscent of a pound cake, and the frosting was thick, creamy and just plain good.  We LOVED them.  We also tried a couple of bars, a brownie and a cookie–all amazing!  I want to go back!  Too bad they’re in DC.  Or maybe it’s for the best.

Here are pictures of the goods with drool-worthy descriptions.  The only thing I didn’t get a picture of was the Mocha (chocolate cupcake with mocha buttercream) and The Flapjack (maple brown butter cupcake with caramel buttercream and candied bacon on top).  But you can use your imagination (which is probably higher quality than these camera pics–ugh).

Lemon Ginger Cookie: Two chewy ginger cookies with chunks of real ginger, sandwiched with lemon buttercream.
Phig Newton: Whole dates that have been cooked down with sugar, lemon juice, and spices to make yummy goo that is sandwiched in layers of homemade cookie crust.
Plain Jane Brownie: A straight up chocolaty brownie with the right amount of fudginess.
O.M.G. Bar: A graham cracker crust is layered with homemade caramel, marshmallow, and a bittersweet chocolate glaze.
Coconut: Vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream topped with lots of coconut.
Chocolate Cupcake with Raspberry Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting
The Tessita: Vanilla Cake with dulce de leche filling and chocolate- hazelnut satin icing.
Elvis Impersonator AKA The Elvis: Banana cupcake topped with peanut butter frosting, drizzled with chocolate and topped with candy bacon..

So to wrap it up–this place ROCKS.  Delicious, sugary goodness…I highly encourage you to visit if you are in the DC area.  Oh, and I happened to find some pics that do the place justice.  You can see them here.

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Easter Desserts

Need some Easter inspiration?  I’ve got it!  Get your crafty on with these pretty pastel treats–delicious and cute!

Bird’s Nest Cookies

Photo by creationsbykara.com

Crispy Easter Eggs

Photo by delish.com

Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs

Photo by whatmegansmaking.com

Little Lamb Cupcakes

Photo by foodnetwork.com

Easter Bunny Cupcakes

Photo by delish.com

Easter Candy Basket Cupcakes

Photo by bakerella.com

Easter Brownies

Photo by bettycrocker.com

Rice Krispie Treat Bird’s Nests

Photo by kidscooking.about.com

Floral Cake

Photo by delish.com

 

 

 

 

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White Chocolate Easter Bark

Hi guys!  I wanted to share a super easy, last-minute Easter dessert idea with you today—Easter Candy Bark!  I wish I could take credit for this idea but I actually saw it on Pinterest (shocking, I know) and couldn’t wait to make it.  It took only about 20 minutes to do, which in my book=AWESOME.

So, you can do this a couple of ways if you’d like.  The first is to buy several different colors (including white) of Wilton Candy Melts from your local crafts store (such as Hobby Lobby or Michaels).  Whatever you think is Easterish.  The second way is to buy just white Wilton Candy Melts and color them yourself which is what I did.  I really wanted to control the color of the candy so that they were really pastel and would be exactly what I wanted.  I loved the way they turned out.  Now that you have your options, let’s get on to the recipe!

Easter Bark
 
Ingredients
  • 24 oz. White Wilton Candy Melts
  • Gel-based Dyes (for coloring the white chocolate—VERY important it is gel-based and NOT water-based as the water will cause the chocolate to seize and ruin)
  • Easter Candy such as M&M’s and Jelly Beans (Nerds, Robin Eggs, Skittles…whatever you like!)
  • 1 Large Bowl
  • 4 Small Bowls
  • Several Spoons
  • 1 Knife
Instructions
  1. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. In the large bowl, melt the white candy melts on 20-second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each. Once completely melted, put two large spoonfuls of white chocolate into each small bowl. Color the white chocolate in the small bowls with your gel-based dyes.
  3. Pour the remaining white chocolate out onto the foil-lined baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Spoon out all the colored white chocolate randomly over the white chocolate layer. Run the knife through the chocolate, in a swirled motion one way and then the other way. Sprinkle the candy over the chocolate and then gently press the candy into the chocolate (this is VERY important, otherwise some of the candy will fall off after the chocolate has hardened). Place in the freezer for about 3-5 minutes until completely hardened. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.
Notes
Makes about 20 pieces.

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Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Hi friends!  I decided to take a time-out this weekend for a rare Sunday evening blog post.  I was making homemade cherry pie filling for a Cherry Dump Cake earlier this week and thought it would be a good time to share the recipe.  I’ve actually posted it before as part of my Cherry Sweet Rolls and Black Forest Cake, but hopefully posting it alone will make it a little easier to find the recipe!

I’ve always loved cherry pie filling but the one my grandma made for her cherry pies was always my absolute favorite.  Hers was made with fresh sour cherries from their cherry tree and it makes a filling SOOOO much better than the store-bought canned variety.  So once I discovered I could buy canned sour cherries from the store and make my own like my grandma’s, I was hooked.  This recipe is super simple and will be your new favorite from the first time you make it!  Use it in pies, as a topping for cheesecake, filling for layer cakes or just eat it with a spoon…which is what I find myself doing way too often.  Eek!

Enjoy what’s left of the weekend!  Our weather is absolutely gorgeous so I’m headed outside–later!

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling
 
Ingredients
  • 2, 14.5 oz. Cans Pitted Sour Cherries (in water NOT syrup), drained with ½ c. juice reserved
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ c. Cornstarch
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract (or Almond Extract)
Instructions
  1. Combine the cherries, ½ c. juice, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Cook over low-medium heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Be patient...it will take awhile but the mixture will magically thicken around the 25 minute mark. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla or almond and let cool completely. Store in refrigerator.
Notes
Makes about 2½ cups.

 

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DC Bakery Review #2: Georgetown Cupcake

Line outside Georgetown Cupcake. Thank goodness it wasn't too cold!

Disclaimer (again):  Pics taken with phone, at night.  In two different places.

After our adventure at Sprinkles, Joelle and I headed to Georgetown Cupcakes…to wait in a really long line.  If you’re not familiar, these gals have a show on TLC and therefore have lines out their door that wrap around the block!  It actually wasn’t too bad when we arrived and I believe we ended up waiting about 45 minutes before we got inside.

Tried to get a good shot of the action...it was a madhouse.
Says it all.

The inside of the store was very cramped and definitely not made for crowds of people/fans.  There were only a couple of tables so we knew right away we’d wouldn’t be able to stay.  We picked out four different kinds of cupcakes and headed to the next bakery to eat them, hoping there would be adequate tables at the next place.

We didn’t have high hopes for this place.  Joelle had tried them once before and had not been too impressed and I had heard from other people that had been there that they weren’t great.  So we started trying them and the moment of truth–they weren’t bad!  I was honestly surprised!  The cakes were all moist and the frosting was pretty good, not the best I’ve ever had but definitely yummy.

Georgetown cupcake boxes...doesn't quite show how cute the pink boxes were.

Here are the flavors we tried and the description of each from Georgetown’s website:

Vanilla Birthday: Classic madagascar bourbon vanilla cupcake topped with a traditional sweet vanilla buttercream frosting and rainbow sprinkles.

Chocolate Mint Crunch: Valrhona chocolate cupcake baked with mint cookie pieces, topped with mint-infused whipped Callebaut chocolate frosting and mint cookie crumble.

Lemon Blossom: Light lemon cupcake with a lemon cream cheese frosting topped with a candied lemon.

Chocolate PB Chip: Valrhona chocolate cupcake baked with peanut butter chips topped with a peanut butter frosting and a chocolate ganache drizzle.

Lemon and PB Chocolate Chip...the peanut butter frosting had a little frosting "landslide" issue on the way to our next stop.

Oh I should mention these cupcakes were UNDER $3 each which was nice!  And a total surprise.

Ok, so who has been to Georgetown Cupcake??  I want to hear your review!

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Springtime Sweets Roundup

Spring is here!  Or is it summer??  It’s already 80 degrees in Springfield, MO and I’ve seen people running around in shorts for weeks (aaaaand it’s STILL March) and kids playing in backyard swimming pools!  What is going on?!  I’m going to assume that winter decided not to show up this year and we are officially in warmer weather which means seasonal springtime desserts!  Yay!

Do any of you guys love the fresh and fruity flavors of spring as much as I do?  It’s nice to get away from the “heavier” desserts of winter and indulge in some that aren’t quite as rich and decadent…well, ok, they’re still decadent but the fruit aspect lightens things up nicely!  And you don’t feel *quite* as guilty.  At least I don’t!

 

Lemon Tea Bread

Photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

Strawberry-Rhubarb Frangipane Galette

Photo courtesy of the-dogs-breakfast.com

Black and White Angel Food Cake

Photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

Lemon-Blackberry Mini Tarts

Photo courtesy of ohhowposh.com

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Photo courtesy of delish.com

Lemon-Blueberry Pretzel Cheesecake Squares

Photo courtesy of pillsbury.com

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

Photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lemon Coconut Cream Scones

Have I mentioned that all I did in DC was eat and shop?  Well, it was.  And part of that eating included these AMAZING scones that Joelle made while I was staying with her.  I had one bite and knew I was doomed.  They are light, soft, flaky…just…amazing.  They are seriously the best scones I have had yet.

Now she made hers a maple flavor which I loved and will most likely do the next time I make these, but I wanted to do something a little “springy-er” so I chose a yummy lemon and coconut combination.  I figured with Easter coming up, these would make the perfect sweet addition to a brunch or even a delicious Easter dinner dessert.

These scones are also unique because of what’s in the recipe..or should I say what’s NOT in the recipe.  They are totally void of eggs and butter!  I had to double check with Joelle to make sure I was reading the recipe right.  Interesting!  And one important thing about these scones–you do NOT want to overbake them (I learned the hard way ugh).  In fact, you want to UNDERBAKE them.  If they start to get brown around the edges, then they’ve baked too long.  The perfect time is somewhere around 16-17 minutes so start checking them around 15 minutes.  They’ll probably still look just slightly not cooked on top in the middle but that’s ok..they’re done, trust me!

Oh and did I mention these take about 10 minutes to throw together?  Gotta love that!

Lemon Coconut Cream Scones
 
Ingredients
Scones
  • 3 c. Bread Flour
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ½ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1½ c. Cream of Coconut (NOT coconut milk. Look for it in the alcohol section at your store; it should be in with the drink mixers.)
  • ½ t. Coconut Extract
  • Zest of one Large Lemon
Glaze
  • ¼ c. Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice (2 large lemons)
  • 1 c. Powdered Sugar
  • ½ c. Toasted Coconut (toast sweetened coconut on a baking sheet in oven at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes)
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x9 pan with foil, letting the ends hang over like "handles".
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and then pour in the heavy cream, cream of coconut, coconut extract and lemon zest. Mix the batter together, by hand, with a wooden spoon until just moist. (I used my hands at the end to get all the flour mixed in.) Pour the batter into the foil lined pan and press into an even layer. Cover the dough with another layer of foil and smooth the top.
  3. Freeze overnight. In the morning, let it set out for about 20 minutes. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Place on a cutting board and carefully peel away the foil linings. You can slice them however you like; I cut diagonal and then straight across and then cut some of the slightly larger pieces in half for triangles.
  4. Bake for 15-17 minutes, checking often to make sure they don't brown around the edges. Let them cool on the pans for a couple of minutes and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely. Top with glaze (see below).
Lemon Glaze
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and coconut. Top each cooled scones with a small spoonful of lemon glaze, sprinkle with toasted coconut and let sit out until glaze has dried and hardened slightly.
Notes
Makes 25 scones.

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Whole Grain, Low-Fat Carrot Cake

I can confidently say that after making this healthy version of carrot cake, I will never, ever make the regular, sugary, fat-laden version EVER again.  I can’t even believe I’m saying that!  I just couldn’t believe how good this cake was not to mention it’s full of fruits, veggies and whole grains.  I made it for a dinner party and it was a huge hit!

The only thing I was a little unsure of was how the cream cheese frosting would turn out.  I wanted something pretty close to the real thing so I read up on ways to make my own powdered sugar out of Sugar in the Raw and much to my surprise it worked!  All you need is a coffee grinder, food processor or blender, throw the sugar in and give it a good whirl and voila!  Homemade powdered sugar!  Ok, so it’s not quite as fine as the real stuff but close enough!

This cake was totally delicious, moist and guilt-free!  I promise you will L.O.V.E. this cake and never want the “real thing” again!

Whole Grain, Low-Fat Carrot Cake
 
Ingredients
Carrot Cake
  • 2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Fine sea Salt
  • 3 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • 2 Large Eggs, 3 Egg Whites
  • ½ c. Safflower Oil
  • ¾ c. Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1½ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • 4 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 c. Grated Carrots, squeezed dry
  • 8 oz. Crushed Pineapple, drained
  • ½ c. Chopped Black Walnuts (or toasted pecans)
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 12 oz. Organic Neufchatel Cheese
  • 1 c. Sugar in Raw, processed to powdered sugar consistency in coffee grinder (or food processor/blender)
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ⅓ c. Black Walnuts (or toasted pecans)
Instructions
For the Carrot Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a medium bowl beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until fully incorporated. Stir in carrots and pineapple. Fold in black walnuts.
  3. Pour batter into a prepared pan and bake in oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Beat Neufchatel in an electric mixer until smooth. Add processed sugar and beat until granules have fully dissolved (there should only be a few). Beat in vanilla.
To Assemble Cake
  1. Trim edges off of cake and cut in half. Spread half of frosting on cake and place other cake half on top. Spread with remaining frosting and sprinkle with black walnuts.
Notes
Serves 16.

 

 

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DC Bakery Review #1: Sprinkles Cupcakes

Yay! I'm at Sprinkles!

Disclaimer:  These pictures were taken with my phone.  At night.  Sorry.

I recently took a whirlwind trip to DC to visit one of my best friends, Joelle.  I had already visited once a few years ago and got the full tourist experience–we hit up all the landmarks and historic places.  It was awesome!  So this time we did something a little different than most people do who visit DC:  we had one HUGE girls weekend with shopping and eating 24/7.  It. Was. Awesome.

One of my stated goals while I was in DC was to hit up a few cupcake shops that we didn’t have in little ‘ole Springfield, MO; namely Sprinkles and Georgetown.  These two are probably a couple of the best known bakeries in the country thanks to TV and I had to see what all the hype is about.  We also got around to Alexandria Cupcake and a bonus bakery that a random lady at Sprinkles told us about called Baked and Wired, but for now I’ll start with our least favorite of the four:  Sprinkles.

Picture of Candace with the other judges, host and builders from Cupcake Wars on the wall at Sprinkles.
Bakery case at Sprinkles.

Yes, I know.  How could I?!  Everyone loves Candace Nelson on Cupcake Wars.  She’s the pretty judge, the cupcake queen, the “founder of the world’s first cupcake bakery”, etc, etc.  But I have to be honest…I simply was not impressed with her cupcakes like I thought I would be.  They weren’t horrible, just not exciting and amazing.  The flavors were very reserved and honestly kind of boring (much like the small, two-table storefront!).  We chose Vanilla, Chocolate Marshmallow, Chai Latte and Cinnamon Sugar.

Sprinkles box with some of our goodies.

Cinnamon Sugar was the least favorite…I guess we didn’t get the memo it was sans frosting and more close in likeness to a buttermilk cinnamon sugar muffin.

Cinnamon Sugar

Next, Chocolate Marshmallow…the cake was a good, mild chocolate cake but it just barely had a dollop of marshmallow creme in the middle and a thick layer of chocolate over the whole cupcake.  It was just ok also.

Chocolate Marshmallow

Next the Vanilla, which was pretty good.  It had a nice vanilla flavor and the frosting was not too sweet, but all the sprinkles covering the top of it kind of ruined it for me.  I mean, there were ALOT of sprinkles covering that thing.

Vanilla

Joelle and I agreed the Chai Latte was definitely the best one with a yummy chai flavor throughout the cupcake and frosting. Oh, and those little dot things on top?  Definitely NOT edible.

So Sprinkles was indeed a bit disappointing but things only got better from there.  I’ll have three more reviews of the other bakeries coming over the next three weeks so stay tuned!  But before you go I have to ask–have you ever been to Sprinkles and if so, what was your impression??  Did you like it?  The best you’ve ever had or have you had better??  I’m curious!

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Pineapple Upside Down Pound Cake

I wanted to make something extra special for my father-in-laws birthday because he definitely deserved it.  He is one of the most selfless, giving people I know and his birthday lunch needed a fabulous cake!  Jeremy told me he had mentioned pineapple and yellow cake so I thought hmmm, Pineapple Upside Down Cake??  Sounded good to me!  Now I had never made one before but I had had plenty in younger days…Pineapple Upside Down Cake seemed to show up at every church potluck and family gathering we had.  You know the kind, made with boxed yellow cake mix and canned pineapple slices..and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that version but I wanted to try my hand at a totally from scratch Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

I found this recipe on simplyrecipes.com and only made a couple of changes, nothing major at all.  As for the cake, I really liked the way it turned out, more like a pound cake.  I thought the addition of almond flour was somewhat odd but it added a nice texture to the cake.  It was definitely better the second day after the pineapple juices and butter/brown sugar mixture had time to seep into the cake a bit more.  I served it at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and everyone loved it.  I’d say it was a successful birthday!

Pineapple Upside Down Pound Cake
 
Ingredients
Topping
  • 1 c. Firmly Packed Regular or Dark Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 5 Slices Fresh, Cored Pineapple (or 1, 20 oz. Can Pineapple Slices)
  • Maraschino Cherries
Cake
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 6 T. Cake Flour
  • 6 T. Almond Flour/Meal
  • ¾ t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1¾ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ c. Sour Cream
Instructions
For the Topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10-inch, round cake pan. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly into pan. Pour butter evenly over brown sugar. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer on top of the butter/sugar mixture and fill the center of each pineapple with maraschino cherries (I used 5 cherries in each center).
  2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, almond flour/meal, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with dry ingredients, beating well after each addition. Pour cake batter into pan.
  3. Bake in oven for 1 hour and 25 minutes or until a tested inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely or turn out onto a platter after 10 minutes and serve warm.
Notes
Serves 16.

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No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

The healthy recipes just keep getting better and better!  This week I’ve got a fabulous, super-quick recipe for no-bake energy bites…that taste like a cross between peanut butter cookie dough and no-bake cookies.  Can you say YUM??  They are full of good stuff that won’t send you on a sugar-high but instead provide a source of natural, tasty energy.  All you need is one bowl and handful of ingredients–get busy!

Recipe adapted from fooddoodles.com

No-Bake Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. All-Natural, Smooth Peanut Butter (or any nut butter you prefer)
  • ⅓ c. Honey
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ¾ t. Fine Sea Salt
  • 1 c. Rolled Oats
  • ½ c. Wheat Germ
  • ½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • Oats, Peanut Halves, etc for topping
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl stir together peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add oats, wheat germ and white whole wheat flour and stir until thoroughly mixed together. Form into 1" balls and roll in oats or top with peanut half. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 2 dozen.

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes

Thought I’d share some St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes with you all!  I do believe the the rainbow with the pot o’ gold Rolos is my favorite–so cute. Which one do you love??

Shamrocks and Leprechaun Hats by Hoosier Homemade

Green Velvet by Love from the Oven

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream by Susi’s Kochen and Backen Adventures

Pot of Gold Cupcakes by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes by Fab Foods

Airhead Rainbows and Rolo Pot of Gold Cupcakes by The Fickle Pickle

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Bakery Review – TwentyOne Cakes in Nixa, MO

Cupcake places are popping up everywhere!  It’s madness I tell you!  Delicious, sweet (slightly sickening) madness!  Believe it or not, after Jeremy and I stopped at Stacey’s Sweets in Ozark, we hightailed it to Nixa to try ANOTHER new cupcake joint.  I have to be honest…this place was good but after trying several different kinds of cupcakes and a brownie at Stacey’s Sweets, I probably was a little sugared out at this point.  TwentyOne Cakes is in a house turned bakery right on Highway 14.  It’s a very straightforward, unassuming place.  I was surprised to walk in and see the cupcakes were actually mini cupcakes which I was VERY thankful for after gorging ourselves on EIGHT regular size ones not even an hour earlier.  There were also a couple of different kinds of cake pops, a HUGE peanut butter chocolate chip cookie and I believe there was a cake also that you could get by the slice.

My only criticism of this bakery was the lack of just a basic cupcake.  Most of the flavors were somewhat unique and different if not what some might consider “odd” and I really like to try at least a couple basic cupcakes when I go somewhere new.  Then again I might have just come on the wrong day.  I did however think her cakes were nice and moist (which is impressive for minis!) and the buttercreams were quite delicious.  And I wasn’t a fan of the cookie; it wasn’t quite as soft and chewy as I prefer.  But hey, that’s just me.  Overall, a delicious experience!  Here’s what we ended up choosing:

Maple Bacon

German Chocolate

Strawberry

Red Hot

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie

If you are in Nixa, check this place out for a sweet fix!  And if you’ve been there, let me know what you think!

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