Healthy (yes, healthy!) Fall Inspired Desserts

Believe it or not, there are some people on diets this time of year.  Yes, DIETS, preparing/starving themselves for the two month long eat-o-rama that begins around mid-November and doesn’t stop until somewhere around the new year.  I myself believe in moderation and balance and try to get plenty of exercise and eat an overall healthy diet (I definitely do NOT believe in starvation and “diet” trends).  And I am most certainly planning on indulging during the holidays but in moderation.

So, for those more health-conscious readers out there like myself, I thought I would provide you with some healthy dessert options for you to bring to those family get-togethers.  Some are most definitely more healthy than others; there are low-fat, low-calorie, high-protein, low-sugar, etc.  Options!  That’s what I’m all about. 🙂  I’ll definitely be testing a couple (the Date Bars and Honey-Almond Cake are calling my name!) to see if they are worthy of the upcoming family festivities. I’ll post my results!

Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Accordion Bread

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Orange Glaze

Pumpkin Rice Pudding (Scroll a just over half-way down the page to see the recipe.)

Chocolate Cupcakes

Sunny Oat-Date Bars

Apple Dumpling Cinnamon Rolls

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies

Flourless Honey Almond Cake

Pumpkin Sesame Cookies

Chocolate Torte

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My First Crafty Baking Adventure … Owl Cupcakes!

I finally did it.  I got over my fear and lack of patience for cutesy, crafty baked treats and made these adorable owl cupcakes!  Once I saw how utterly cute and simple they were, I figured there was no way I could possibly screw this up.  The craft is recommended for kids after all!   I am so pleased with how they came out and I think I might possibly be ready to embark on another crafty baking adventure…maybe…someday.

But for now, I’m just going to enjoy these!

Owl Cupcakes
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (18.25 oz.) Devil's Food Cake Mix
  • 1 (16 oz.) Chocolate Fudge Frosting
  • 1 (16.6 oz.) Package Regular Oreos
  • 1 (5.5 oz.) Bag Reese's Pieces
  • Brown or White Paper Cupcake Liners
Instructions
  1. Bake cupcakes according to directions on the box. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  2. While the cupcakes are baking and cooling, begin separating the Oreos. I warmed my Oreos on a plate in the microwave for 5-6 seconds and gently slid one cookie off (don't pull it off or it will bring some of the white with it). Test one cookie first to see how much time works for you...it probably won't be more than 5 seconds.
  3. Next, with a toothpick, dab a bit of frosting on a brown Reese's Pieces and place slightly off-centered on the white of the Oreo. These are the eyes.
  4. Now frost the cupcake with a knife and again, using a toothpick, make "ears" for the owl. Place two of the Oreo eyes on the cupcake and push an orange Reese's Pieces sideways into the frosting for the beak.
Notes
Serves 24

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Banana Splits

Today is National Banana Split Day!  Woo hoo, get excited!  Personally, I’ve never really been a big fan of banana splits…I mean, if I’m going to have ice cream, I don’t want anything even remotely healthy going on or in it.  Give me the sugary, fatty bad stuff all the way.  But then I came upon these banana split inspired recipes and OMG I am drooling all over my keyboard.  Talk about decadent, over-the-top, gloriously evil, sweet temptation!

Enjoy!  And try to keep the drooling to a minimum.

Banana Split Cake

Banana Split Truffles

Banana Split Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Banana Split Ice Cream Cake

Banana Split Cupcakes

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Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

For the past year or two I’ve had a minor obsession with what I call “cheesecake cakes” and it all started when I made Jeremy this Red Velvet Cheesecake for his birthday.  He first had Red Velvet Cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory and absolutely loved it.  I have to admit, it was awesome.  When his birthday came around I did my best to imitate their version and think I got pretty darn close.

After that, my brain couldn’t help but imagine all the possibilities of cheesecake cakes…I did a vanilla cheesecake and strawberry cake combo, a neapolitan with chocolate cake, vanilla cheesecake and strawberry cake…you get the picture.   While they are delicious to make, they can be somewhat labor intensive and difficult to transport.  So I finally had the bright idea to make it into a cheesecake CUPCAKE.  Brilliant, right?  So much simpler!  And that idea led to the glorious recipe offering I give you today…Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes.

I don’t think I need to say too much about these other than they are good ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.  The chocolate cake is a recipe I borrowed from My Baking Addiction and the cheesecake is a recipe from a friend.  I was a little skeptical about the cake since it used a cake mix, but it was actually quite good.  It had a more spongy texture than I was used to but was still very moist and had a rich chocolate flavor.  And the Oreos…I mean, how can you NOT put Oreos in these?  They just send them over the top and transport you directly into chocolate/cheesecake/Oreo heaven.

Make these and share them with the people you love.  They will love you back.  Promise.

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes
Dessert
36
 
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1 (5.9 ounce) package Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 4 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ c. Warm Water
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Cheesecake
  • 1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 (18 ounce) package Regular Oreos
Buttercream Dream Frosting
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 c. Shortening
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 lbs. (7.5 cups) Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 4 T. Very Cold Heavy Whipping Cream (or milk)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular size muffin pan with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For the Chocolate Cake: In an electric mixer, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, water and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Set aside.
  3. For the Vanilla Cheesecake: In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla, beating well. Beat in the egg and set aside.
  4. For the Buttercream Dream Frosting: In an electric mixer, cream the butter and shortening until fluffy, about three minutes. Add the salt and vanilla and combine well. Begin adding the sugar, one cup at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition. After all the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the very cold heavy whipping cream one tablespoon at a time, combining well after each addition. Beat on medium-high speed for three minutes to reach desired consistency.
  5. To assemble: Use a scant tablespoon full of chocolate cake mix and smooth into the bottom of the muffin tin (I actually used my (very clean) finger to do this). Spoon in just enough cheesecake to cover the chocolate cake. Press an Oreo into the cheesecake and cover the Oreo with cheesecake mixture–just enough to cover the cookie. Top with another tablespoon of chocolate cake and gently spread until even in the tin. (Be careful to do no more than a tablespoon each time otherwise your muffin tin will be too full and the cupcake batter will rise above the muffin tin and “mushroom”) Repeat with remaining muffin tins. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch. Place on wire rack and cool completely. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

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Shopping for Sweets

Every now and then I like to wander over to Etsy and see what kind of deliciously evil treats people are coming up with in the Edibles section.  I love the creativity that goes into some of the sweet confections and it’s inspiring to see how many of these people make a living doing what they love.

These were some dark and decadent desserts that were calling my name and I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share them with you all.  Take a couple of minutes and check out these fun shops and most importantly, buy something!

Have a lovely day!

Rocky Road Cookies by cookietown

XXX Rated Dark Chocolate Bliss Brownies by cupcakesinjars

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes by thetinykitchen

Artisan Candy Bars by BeesandBeans

Mayan Dark Chocolat Caramel Bars by haveitconfections

 

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Pie Is The New Cupcake?

The word on the street is that 2011 is the year that pie makes its big comeback and replaces the seemingly untouchable cupcake at the top of the dessert hierarchy.  Now I hate to be the one to point this out but we’re more than half-way through the year and I still see cupcakes EVERYWHERE.  Pie…not so much.  It does seem however, that pie sells are up quite a bit according to this L.A. Times article, so perhaps the trend is just beginning.  Either way, I have always loved pie and will be glad to indulge in the craze once it hits full force.

Some of my favorite pies are fruit pies…mostly the ones that my grandma would make when we were young with the fruit from her backyard.  My grandparents grew everything from gooseberries to strawberries to onions and green beans.  They also had pear and cherry trees.  So we’d regularly have Sunday lunch at their house and always had a pie.  Gooseberry and cherry were my favorites.  I also love chocolate cream pie, coconut cream pie, banana cream pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie…the list goes on.  I guess I really don’t discriminate when it comes to dessert–it’s all good!

Check out these pie recipes from some of my favorite bloggers.  These are some drool-worthy pictures people…I’m pretty sure I gained five pounds just looking at them!

Have a lovely evening!

Brownie Pecan Pie from Bakerella

Sour Cherry Pie with Almond Crumble from Smitten Kitchen

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie from Pioneer Woman

Pie Pops from Luxirare

 

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Purple and Pink Flower Cupcakes

A few days ago I got a request from a friend for cupcakes for her daughter’s 4th birthday party.  I won’t lie, I’ve had some bad experiences with cupcakes (read here) but I really wanted to help out.  So this morning I got up bright and early and made two dozen of the Perfect Party Cupcakes and a batch of Buttercream Dream Frosting I blogged about awhile back.  If you need a tried and true vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream recipe, try these two, they won’t ever let you down.  Promise.

These particular cupcakes are topped with purple sanding sugar and handmade, pink white chocolate daisies, thanks to my husband Jeremy.  He is the artistic one of the two of us (and definitely the more patient one).  My only worry was the car ride over…summertime heat makes me nervous when transporting baked goods and chocolate.  But they made it safely and were a hit!

Happy birthday Audrey!

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Vogue Girl-Cake for Princess

I haven’t done a lot of non-dessert recipe posts on my blog–as a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever done any!  But, I saw these pictures from Vogue Girl that someone had shared on Facebook and I knew that I just HAD to put them on my blog.  I love everything about these pictures from the chandeliers to the tables to the way the models are posed…and of course the desserts!  Just beautiful.  I plan to be doing more posts like these in the future…not necessarily a recipe, but always dessert-related.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I did.  Have a lovely evening!

 

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Perfect Party Cupcakes

I’ve not had very good luck with cupcakes in the past.  I mean, really, cupcakes?!?  Five-year-olds can make them!  I’ve filled the pans too full and had the batter overflow as they baked.  I’ve tried rotating the pans and ended up dumping half-baked cupcakes all over my oven door.  I’ve baked them perfectly (or so I thought) only to find out they were as hard as rocks when I removed them from the pan.  I mean, I’ve cried over cupcakes.  It’s bad.

So this past weekend I had a request for cupcakes.   “This is it”, I thought,  “time to get over my fear.  Time to conquer the cupcake!”  A little melodramatic, I suppose but I literally felt like I was going into a baking battle and I was determined to win.  I got to researching and found what I hoped to be the best white cake ever.

So, guess what?  I didn’t ruin them!  Yay!  And just like the name says, this truly is a perfect white cake.  Super moist, tender and a fine crumb.  All the good qualities you would want in a cake.  Dorie Greenspan knows her stuff and this cake recipe (with my tiny modifications) proves it.

Oh and please forgive my decorating skills.  I’m used to doing things that taste awesome and don’t have to look pretty so I was poorly equipped to make these resemble anything close to a Sprinkles cupcake.  But hey, I tried.

Perfect Party Cupcakes

1 1/2 c. Sugar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter

2 1/4 c. Cake Flour

1 T. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Salt

1 1/4 c. Whole Milk

4 Large Egg Whites

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

Buttercream (recipe below)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a regular muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together the milk and egg whites.  In a mixer, beat sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat the vanilla into the sugar and butter mixture.

Add one-third of the flour mixture to the sugar and butter, still beating on medium speed.  Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.  Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until fully incorporated then add the last of the dry ingredients.

Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.  Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the batter into the lined muffin tins or until they are 2/3 full.  Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Makes 24.

Buttercream Dream Frosting

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter

1 c. Shortening

1/8 t. Salt

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 pounds (7.5 c.) Powdered Sugar, sifted

4 T. Very Cold Heavy Whipping Cream (or milk)

Pink Dye (optional)

Directions

Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add the salt and vanilla extract and combine well.  Begin adding in the sugar, one cup at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition.  After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the the very cold heavy whipping cream one tablespoon at a time, combining well after each addition.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes to reach desired consistency.  Color with dye, if using, and frost cupcakes.

 

 

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Pink and Red

Since Valentine’s Day is only four short days away, I thought I’d throw out a few more ideas just in case you’re still stumped on what to make, bake or buy for that special someone.  And even if you loathe Valentine’s Day with a passion, these can still be inspiration for another celebration!  So, to start things off right, I’d like to begin with more from Amy Atlas.  She’s just put up an awesome v-day spread on her blog and I urge you to go check it out IMMEDIATELY.  Part I and Part II.  It will make you happy.

You might even start liking Valentine’s Day.  She’s that good.

Valentines Day Table 1

Next, I absolutely LOVE these cards by MadeByGirl.  You’ll find a lot of unique, fun stuff that is relatively inexpensive and earth friendly. She also has prints and posters that are definitely worth checking out.

Deeply Madly LOVE Roses iheartu

Finally, I came across this adorable Sweetheart Cupcake on allrecipes.com and had to share the recipe!  It’s so simple and fun!  And feel free to go a bit more gourmet if you’d like and make a cake from scratch.

Sweetheart Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • 8 drops red food coloring

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a standard muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.
  2. Beat the cake mix, water, vegetable oil, and egg whites together until smooth. Fill cupcake liners 1/3 full with white batter; set aside.
  3. Stir 4 drops of red food coloring into the remaining bowl of batter to make the batter pink. Pour 1/3 of pink batter into a resealable plastic bag and set aside.
  4. Mix more food coloring into the remaining bowl of pink batter until it is an orange/red color and pour the batter into a resealable plastic bag. Cut a corner off the bag, stick the open tip into the center of each cup of white batter and squeeze in about two tablespoons of red batter.
  5. Cut the corner off the bag with the pink batter, stick the open tip into the center of the red batter and squeeze about 1 tablespoon pink batter into each cup.
  6. Bake the layered cupcakes in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.]
Ok, now you have no excuses!  Ditch the red roses and  box of chocolates and go for something a little more creative this Sunday!
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New Year’s Eve Dessert Bar

This past Thursday night I had the opportunity to donate my baking skills to a New Year’s Eve benefit for a very good cause (more on that in a bit). Since I had about two and a half days to pull everything together, I basically went into super-adrenaline mode and baked like a mad woman from sun-up till waayyyy after sundown ignoring any and all distractions including my computer, my phone (hopefully I still have friends) and my very, very sick husband. Poor husband. Lucky for me he didn’t mind passing out on the sofa every night while I was up to my elbows in sugar and flour. By the time Thursday rolled around, I thought I might not get everything done and was literally frosting things up to the minute I had to go set-up. But I triumphed! And I must say, I think it turned out quite lovely and tasty. I even managed to color coordinate with the event–black and white!

Dessert BarCupcakes

The menu was vast and varied and included these delicious selections (Oh, and did I mention everything made was “mini”? That adds time exponentially!): Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, Soft Sugar Cookies, White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies, Fudge Brownies, Chocolate Chip and White Chocolate Chai Cheesecakes, Chocolate Dipped Homemade Vanilla Marshmallow Pops, White Chocolate Dipped Pretzels, White Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream, Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate and Oreo Buttercream, Raspberry Fudge Tassies with Almond Buttercream, Homemade Vanilla Marshmallow “Stars”, Chocolate Covered Cherries and Cappuccino Truffles. Whew!

Sugar Cookies

Overall, the dessert buffet and the benefit was a success! All proceeds from the night when to a great organization, Pearl Alliance, dedicated to freeing young women and children that are enslaved in the human trafficking industry. It’s hard to believe that a horrible injustice such as this one even exists in the world we live in today–it not only exists, but is thriving. Check out their website for more information and see what you can do to help!

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