Apple Snickers Trifle

Apples are SO good right now.  Am I right or am I right?  I can’t get enough.  And this past weekend I wanted to make a special dessert for a family get-together and of course, wanted to include apples.  But I didn’t necessarily want to bake something.  Enter the Apple Snickers Trifle.  You might have seen a version of this recipe on Pinterest called an Apple & Snickers Salad, made with a pudding/Cool Whip mixture.  But first, the name had to go.  Salad?  It just felt wrong.  I mean salads have vegetables and croutons and definitely don’t involve Snickers in any way.  Apples maybe but Snickers…no.

Second, I put it in a trifle dish and layered the ingredients instead of just throwing it in a bowl.  I think it definitely looks prettier, don’t you?  Much better for presentation!

I will warn you: this stuff is good.  It seemed a little odd to me at first to mix apples with Snickers but it totally makes sense: it’s like a caramel apple with some chocolate thrown in.  Yum!  It is VERY rich and decadent and a nice change of pace from apple cake or apple cookies (not that those are bad…they rock as well).

Enjoy!

Apple Snickers Trifle
 
Ingredients
  • 2, 8 oz. Pkgs. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1, 16 oz. Container Cool Whip
  • 6 c. Chopped, Granny Smith Apples (about 6-7 apples, plus a few for garnish)
  • 10 Regular-Size Snickers, chopped (I froze mine unwrapped in a large plastic Ziploc bag and took the flat side of a meat mallot to them...worked like a charm)
  • Caramel Sauce
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. On low speed, gradually beat in the powdered sugar and then the vanilla. Fold in the Cool Whip.
  2. Stir in the chopped apples, reserving a few for garnish. Stir in 1½ c. of the crushed Snickers. Spoon ⅓ of the mixture into a trifle dish. Sprinkle half of the remaining Snickers onto the mixture. You can also drizzle with caramel sauce, which is what I did, but I thought it was a little too sweet and not necessary and wouldn't do it again. Spoon another ⅓ of the mixture into the trifle dish and the remaining half of the Snickers (save a ½ c. or so for garnish). Spoon the remaining mixture into the trifle dish and garnish with chopped apples, Snickers and caramel sauce. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve (it will probably get a bit runny the next day so I highly recommend making and serving it the same day).
Notes
Serves 25.

 

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Caramel Apple Sandwich Cookies

I love fall.  Hands down, my favorite season.  Leaves turning colors, cooler temps and oh yeah, APPLES.  Gorgeous apples from local orchards around town have been showing up at our farmer’s market lately.  I absolutely love, love, love apple recipes. As kids, my sister and I knew that fall meant apple picking (can I just say there is nothing like a golden delicious apple right off the tree) and then of course BAKING with those apples.  My mom would always make her German Apple Cake (which is still one of my favorite desserts) and an apple crisp!  There was nothing like warm apple crisp right out of the oven with a big scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  Yum.

So I wanted to do something just a little different and thought these Caramel Apple Sandwich Cookies totally fit the bill.  I will say that these cookies are divine by themselves but sandwich them with caramel cream cheese frosting and wow, takes it to a whole other level!  You could also sub the apples with raisins, craisins, white chocolate chips, nuts…this is just a very solid oatmeal cookie!  Promise, you’ll love it!

Enjoy!

Original recipe by Taste of Home.

Caramel Apple Sandwich Cookies
 
Ingredients
Chewy Apple Oatmeal Cookies
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 c. Packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. White Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ⅛ t. Ground Cloves
  • ⅛ t. Nutmeg
  • ⅛ t. Allspice
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 3 c. Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 1 c. Chopped, Dried Apples
  • 1 c. Chopped Granny Smith Apple (one large apple should be enough)
Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
  • ¼ Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1¾ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 3 T. Caramel Sauce (I used Smuckers brand)
Instructions
For the Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time and then vanilla. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, salt and oats. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chopped apples.
  3. Drop by rounded spoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Let cool for two minutes before moving to wire racks and let cool completely.
For the Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and then the caramel sauce.
To Assemble the Cookies
  1. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the frosting on the flat side of a cookie and place another cookie on top.
Notes
Makes 16 cookie sandwiches or 32 cookies.

 

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Hoosier Mama Pie Company

Ok, I’ve already covered stop #1 at The Chocolatier, Inc. on our Illinois getaway trip.  Now we come to our next sweet destination…Hoosier Mama Pie Company in Chicago.  I was SO excited about this bakery because it was the first pie place I have ever had the opportunity to go to–yay!  Usually it’s chocolate or cupcakes, but not this time!

Since my recent obsession with pies developed, I knew that when planning this trip, I HAD to find a pie place in Chicago for us to go to.  And believe it or not there were several that seemed good but this one really stood out and had awesome reviews.

First, I have to say that this place literally is a hole in the wall.  We drove by it the first time and I swore up and down that I didn’t see it…I mean, I was looking.  So, we did another circle, this time going as slow as possible with traffic all around and sure enough, there it was!  Luckily, there was a spot open almost right in front of it.

So we got in and immediately found ourselves in the teeny, tiniest space…like hard to move and not bump into people.  There were a total of three tables and one just happened to be opening up so we grabbed it.  And it was chaos from that moment on.  People did not stop coming in the door and it was a little overwhelming trying to choose the pies I wanted with a line forming.  But I managed to narrow it down to five (at $4 a slice it was not cheap!).  Here’s a little pic of the ones we got.  And yes, people DID look at our table like we were crazy.

Least favorite, I won’t lie, was the Chocolate Chess Pie.  I had been dying to try a chess pie because it was such an old-fashioned thing and I’d never had one.  But it was just..odd.  Kind of cake/brownie-like and you could definitely tell there was vinegar in it so I wasn’t really a fan.  Kind of non-descript to me.

Next least favorite was the Coconut Cream Pie.  I just tasted like vanilla bean to me (and I’m not a huge fan of vanilla bean–tragic, I know) with coconut mixed in.  So nothing special in my book.

However, things got a LOT better with the fruit pies.  The Apple Pie was scrumptious.  It was like apple cider in pie form.  We liked it alot.

Next the Peach & Cherry Pie was also delicious.  It had a pecan streusel topping that was sooooo good.  I loved it.

Finally, the Chocolate Cream Pie.  It was divine.  You could tell it was made with high-quality chocolate and was silky smooth.  Jeremy and I both thought it was the best of all of them.

We loved this little pie place and highly recommend it if you are ever in the Chicago area!

 

 

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Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Ina Garten does not disappoint.  I honestly cannot think of one recipe (dessert recipe, of course) that I have ever made of hers that hasn’t turned out absolutely fabulous.  I mean the woman just knows her sweets.

And I’m happy to say that the same can be said for these Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars.  Think of the most amazing peanut butter cookie you have ever had, layered in bar form with sweet, gooey jam in the middle and you get these bars.  They are rich and thick and completely indulgent.  And they definitely require a HUGE glass of milk.  I mean HUGE.  They come together in a snap and bake up fast but it’s important to let them cool completely, otherwise they will not hold their shape when cut.  Just a helpful tip from the first time I ever made them.

I’m thinking these are the perfect school lunch treat for kids!  Or husbands even.  Or…is that the same thing?? 😉

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 c. Creamy Peanut Butter (I like Peter Pan)
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 1½ t. Salt
  • 2 c. Strawberry Jam (or other kind)
  • ½ c. Salted Peanuts
  • 1 c. Peanut Butter Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed add the eggs, one at a time, thoroughly incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
  4. Spread ⅔ of the dough into the pan. Spread the jam evenly over the dough but not all the way to the edges as the jam will burn slightly if it's touching the pan. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if it doesn't quite cover all the jam; the dough will spread as it bakes. Spinkle with peanuts and peanut butter chips and press down gently into the dough.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Notes
Makes 18 bars.

 

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Bake a Cake Inside an Orange

Did you know you could bake a cake inside an orange?!  Over a campfire, no less?!?!  I wouldn’t have believed it myself but according to this little tidbit on lifehacker.com it’s a REAL THING.  All you need is cake batter, an orange, some foil and an open flame and voila!  Cake!  I happen to love chocolate and orange combos so I will totally be trying this in the near future!  See the full instructions here.

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The Chocolatier, Inc.

A couple of weeks ago Jeremy and I went on a little getaway to Illinois.  Illinois?  Yes, Illinois.  A friend of ours who lives in Rockford, IL was getting married the same week of our anniversary so we thought we’d make a it little anniversary celebration trip too.  We actually stayed in Bloomington, IL the first couple of days of our trip at a little B&B called the Vrooman Mansion (see pic above).  Except there is nothing little about this place…it has 18 rooms, a massive outdoor patio, several parlors and is just gorgeous!  I highly recommend this place if you are travelling through Illinois.  Oh, and the breakfast is divine!

We did lots of antiquating and some other mansion tours (one being the David Davis Mansion–who knew there were so many in Illinois?) and even hit up a winery that had live music one night.  Oh, and found a couple of totally fabulous restaurants.  We LOVED every minute in Bloomington.

Of course part of our trek through Illinois included some carefully researched sweet stops.  The first being this very unassuming chocolate shop in Bloomington, The Chocolatier, Inc.  It’s located in their downtown area and when we drove up I kind of thought it didn’t look too legit.  The outside was meh and inside there were ZERO frills…we’re talking bakery cases for the chocolates and then jars of bulk candy.  No gimmicks, no aesthetic niceties…nothing.

But guess what?  I was WRONG.  This place was more then legit.  It was crazy good.  I didn’t get any of the bulk candy, because I wanted to focus on the chocolate that was made there.  I can honestly say the chocolates at this place were perhaps the best I have ever had.  I’m talking melt in your mouth, nothing artificial, amazing, deliciousness.

Here’s what we got.  It was so hard to choose but I narrowed it down to six.  A Coffee Buttercream, Chocolate Covered Marshmallow, Marzipan Truffle, Amaretto Truffle, a Peanut Butter Cup and a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle.

First of all, none of these were bad.  They were all delicious.  But of course we had to rank our favorites.  The Coffee Buttercream came in last only because I thought it could have used a tad more coffee flavor.  Next, was the Chocolate Covered Marshmallow which was actually really, really good and I have never found a homemade marshmallow I like better than mine (sorry, it’s true!).   After that the Marzipan came in fourth, only because the top three were soooo good.  So third was the Amaretto Truffle…amazing amaretto flavored ganache covered with a milk chocolate shell.  Yum.

Second was the Peanut Butter Cup.  Oh my gosh…I’ve always loved my homemade peanut butter balls but I thought this thing was way better.  So good.

And lastly the star of the show was the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffle.  Holy cow.  Amazing dark chocolate ganache middle infused with raspberry puree and covered in a dark chocolate shell.  It. Was. Divine.  Not to mention gorgeous.

So yeah.  This place is the real deal when it comes to chocolate.  Definitely go if you are ever there.  Our next stop was in Chicago at a teeny, tiny pie place…can’t wait to share with you next week!

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Chocolate S’mores Muffins

 

I am so, so, SO excited to introduce the very first fall recipe for 2012 on Desserted Planet–Chocolate S’mores Muffins!!  Yes, I know it’s still August but here in Missouri the temperatures have drastically plunged and we’ve been seeing highs in the 70’s and low 80’s and people are more than ready to break out their scarves and throw some chili on the stove.  Bring on fall!  If only winter didn’t come after it…oh well.

Anyways, back to these amazing muffins.  A couple of weeks ago Jeremy and I went camping with some other couples and all their cute kiddos.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a fan of camping.  I didn’t grow  up camping so I think that is part of the problem.  I just don’t see how people enjoy being dirty and sweaty and sleeping on the ground and doing their business behind a tree…I honestly just don’t get it!  However, this camping trip was a little different so I wasn’t quite a reluctant to go…but reluctant nonetheless.  Everyone had a camper, including Jeremy’s brother and his wife so we had somewhere to sleep that was not that ground and it was even air-conditioned!  It also meant we had a bathroom.  Ok, I could do that.

So after agreeing to go, I began to think about what we should bring to eat.  Since we’d only be there overnight and the next morning, I wanted something sweet and appropriate for breakfast.  Of course!  S’mores!  In muffins!  Brilliant.  And yes, the recipes were already out there.  Like this one from Elle’s New England Kitchen.  It was pretty much a perfect recipe as is, but not very sweet so I added a bit of extra sugar and doubled the recipe, as the original stated that it only made twelve.  They were a BIG hit and pretty much like eating a chocolatey, marshmallow studded cupcake for breakfast.  Yes, cupcake.  But we didn’t call them that…they are MUFFINS.  And that makes them totally appropriate for breakfast.  But if you want to eat one for dessert, that’d be ok too…

Enjoy!

Chocolate S'mores Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2 c. Whole Milk
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Dark Chocolate Chips, divided
  • 3-4 c. Mini Marshmallows
  • 12 Whole Graham Cracker Sheets, broken into chunks but not too small (for a total of 3 cups graham cracker pieces, with one cup reserved for topping muffins)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 32 muffin cups in a muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt and both sugars. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir the wet mixture into the dry and gently fold until everything is incorporated. Fold in 1 cup chocolate chips, 2 cups mini marshmallows and 2 cups graham cracker pieces.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cups. Top each muffin with the remaining chocolate chips, marshmallows and graham crackers. Bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  4. After baking, cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes and then run a knife around the edges, remove the muffins from the pan and continue cooling completely on the rack. Or eat warm!
Notes
VERY IMPORTANT: You MUST remove the muffins from the pan after 5 minutes or they will NOT come out. Also, muffin liners will NOT work with these muffins--they will stick to the liners and be a mess.

 

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Quinoa Coconut Macaroons

I made macaroons for the first time not once, but TWICE a couple of weeks ago.   And that’s macaroons, not macarons (which I love dearly).  There is sometimes confusion as to which is which, so this article might help clear things up for you if you are not sure on the differences.  Not saying you don’t know because I am certain my blog readers are dessert aficianados and semi-experts on all things sweet, but just in case…

Ok.  Back to the macaroons.  With two o’s.

The first version of macaroon I made was the healthified Quinoa Coconut Macaroon.  Totally yummy.  Could eat all of them in one sitting.  They are decidedly not like a regular macaroon but they are delicious nonetheless.  Jeremy even liked them and he despises coconut (so sad).  I like that they have protein from the quinoa.  Isn’t it amazing what you can put quinoa in?!  Of course, I had to add a bit of pure vanilla and almond extract.  Makes all the difference, in my opinion.

Later this week I’ll have a little blog post about my sister’s baby shower and the fun, themed dessert table I got to do which included the typical macaroons, along with the recipe!

Enjoy!

Quinoa Coconut Macaroons
 
Ingredients
  • 6 T. Egg Whites (I used 3 large eggs for this)
  • ¼ c. Light Agave (or honey)
  • 1½ c. Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa (I used quinoa cooked in light, organic coconut milk for even more coconut flavor)
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ t. Pure Almond Extract
  • Pinch of Salt
Instructions
  1. Combine the egg whites and agave in a small saucepan. Over very low heat, whisk the eggs and agave until creamy and warm. Heating the eggs will temper them which will create a nice, crispy cookie exterior. Test with your finger--if they are warm to the touch, they are tempered.
  2. Put the quinoa, coconut and salt in a large bowl and mix in the egg and agave mixture. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Using a small ice cream scoop or melon baller, scoop the mixture onto the baking sheet. I actually used a 2 Tablespoon measuring spoon and pressed the mixture VERY firmly against the side of the bowl as I scooped it out and then knocked it against the pan quickly and firmly to get the mixture out. If it starts to fall apart a bit, press it together with your fingers otherwise it will not stick together while baking.
  5. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes until the cookies are nice and golden brown. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes or until completely cool. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 16 cookies.

 

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Key Lime Buttercream Filled Doughnuts

Doesn’t the title of this post make your blood sugar skyrocket just reading it?  It does mine!  As it should because these doughnuts are loaded with LOTS of sugary goodness.  After I made Key Lime Pie, I still had some key lime juice I wanted to use up so it wouldn’t go bad.  I really wanted something easy and I remembered the buttercream recipe that was part of my key lime roundup so I thought that would be delicious to try out!  Although…I wasn’t feeling cake or cupcakes.  Hmm, sandwiched between cookies?  Nah, not it.  Then it hit me…DOUGHNUTS.  I literally felt like I was a mad scientist and brilliance had just struck me!  A loooong time ago I had made these super easy doughnuts (notice this was when I was a beginner blogger and wanted to achieve that Bakerella look…and uhh, DIDN’T haha) and they were so dangerously good that we ended up eating an obscene amount within minutes and I had not even dared to make them since.

But the time had come.

So I fried.  And powdered.  And filled.  And powdered again.  And behold, deliciousness was born.  The key lime buttercream was outstanding.  It would definitely be wonderful on cupcakes or cookies.  And the doughnuts, well, they were fried to perfection and so wonderfully doughy and warm…ahhhh.  My poor husband split a half of one with me and was then tortured the rest of the night with the knowledge that they were just sitting in the kitchen, mocking him.  But he resisted and I was very proud of him for that!  We strongly believe that desserts should be treats and not something to eat in massive quantities (unless doing bakery research..ahem) but these doughnuts made doing so extremely difficult.  Extremely.

Enjoy!

Key Lime Buttercream Filled Doughnuts
 
Ingredients
For the Doughnuts
  • 8-16 Jumbo Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits*
  • 1, 1.5 Qt. Bottle Vegetable Oil
  • Powdered Sugar (for dusting)
For the Key Lime Buttercream
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1½ t. Key Lime Zest
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 3 c. Powdered Sugar
  • ⅓ c. Key Lime Juice
  • 2 Drops Green Food Coloring (optional)
Instructions
To Make Doughnuts
  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil to at least 290 degrees. Carefully drop four of the biscuits into the oil and cook on each side for about 1.5-2 minutes until lightly browned on each side. Place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and let cool off. Put a couple of cups of powdered sugar into a large plastic Ziploc bag. Place the doughnuts, one at a time in the bag and shake until they are covered with powdered sugar. Set aside on a large cooling rack.
To Make the Buttercream
  1. Beat the first four ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with key lime juice, beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition. Beat in green food coloring (if using).
  2. With a pastry tip inserted into a pastry bag or large Ziploc bag, fill with buttercream and insert into the side of the doughnut. Squeeze and fill with buttercream. The doughnut will get noticeably "puffier" and expand a bit from the buttercream. (One of mine even burst a little on one side because I got slightly carried away, but that was ok..it still tasted good.) After they have all been filled, dredge one last time in powdered sugar. Eat immediately or store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 8-16 doughnuts. *How many doughnuts you want will depend on how full you fill them. I only made 8 and I had some frosting leftover but if I had done 12 or even 16, I would have just filled with a little less buttercream in each one and it would have filled all of them.

 

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An Apology and A Sneak Peak

That’s right, an apology.  Apparently those of you who use Internet Explorer have been seeing a WAY jacked up version of my blog for, well, who knows how long!  I’m mortified.  And embarrassed.  And very much impressed if you continued to come back, knowing how wonky it was…so thank you for sticking with me!  I’m happy to report that my husband has been hard at work fixing the problem and my blog should now appear relatively normal to those of you who use Internet Explorer.  And if it doesn’t, by all means, say something!  I want you to get the best of Desserted Planet at all times!  And it’s definitely a work in progress…

Now, on to the sneak peak.  I had the extreme pleasure of throwing my little sister and her hubby a baby shower this past Saturday.  Everything went so smoothly and it was so fun blessing them with yummy food, friends and of course, gifts!  Before I had even thought through the decor and guest list, I knew what I was going to be making for the dessert table.  I’ll have a full post on the festivities a little later in the week but for now I’ll just leave you with a couple of fun pictures.

 

 

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Crazy About Key Lime

After making my Key Lime Pie last week, I was inspired to search out some more key lime recipes.  I just love the tart and sweet combination so much!  Any of these would make a great summertime treat…enjoy!

Key Lime Bars

Key Lime Bars by myrecipes.com

Key Lime Buttercream Frosting

Key Lime Buttercream Frosting by myrecipes.com

Key Lime Cheesecake

Key Lime Cheesecake by Mangio de Sola

Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes

Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes by The Repressed Pastry Chef

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream by Desserted Planet

Key Lime Shortbread Cookies

Key Lime Shortbread Cookies by Land O' Lakes

Key Lime Tarts

Key Lime Tarts by The Repressed Pastry Chef

 

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Strawberry Lemonade Ooey Gooey Bars

Yes, I know.  Another, ooey gooey bar recipe, Sarah??  For real?!  Yes, FOR. REAL.  I can’t help it!  Trust me, this recipe started off as far away from ooey gooey and baked as you can get but somehow evolved to what you now see!  I don’t know what happened, honestly.  I intended to make a super fruity, summery, refreshing drink for all of you and somehow ended up with my oven on and my KitchenAid mixer going full throttle.  Ugh!  I seriously racked my brain for a looooong time trying to think of a unique, colorful and delicious drink and all I repeatedly kept going back to strawberry lemonade, specifically a Sonic Lemonberry Slush.  Obviously I love the cherry limeades from Sonic but the Lemonberry Slush is a pretty close second.  And all I wanted to do was turn it into…cake.  Ooey gooey butter cake.

Yes, I have a problem (as documented here, here and here).  Sigh.

So, I resigned myself to baking and did I have any regrets?  Heck no!  These ooey gooey bars turned out awesome!  What I really like about these is you could do the lemon cake base and then get creative with the gooey top part.  It calls for strawberry pie filling but you really could do cherry, blackberry or even blueberry–they’d all be delicious!  Drinks can wait people.  Trust me.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Lemonade Ooey Gooey Bars
 
Ingredients
Base
  • 1, 18.25 oz. Lemon Cake Mix
  • 1 Large Lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
Filling
  • 1, 8 oz. Pkg Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1, 21 oz. Can Strawberry Pie Filling
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix well. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and set aside.
  3. Still using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat well. With mixer on low, slowly pour in butter. Beat in strawberry pie filling. Pour onto the cake mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 55 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Notes
Makes 15-18 bars.

 

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Key Lime Pie

I cannot, CANNOT let summer go by without making a key lime pie.   It is the quintessential summer dessert, in my opinion.  Tart, sweet and creamy with a crumbly graham cracker crust…just divine.  The best slice I’ve ever had is at a place called the Donut Hole in Destin, FL (who also happen to have AMAZING doughnuts…duh) where we’d vacation every summer when I was a kid.  The anticipation of the one slice of pie was unbelievable and I would savor every last bite knowing I wouldn’t get it again for another 364 days.  But now that I’m all grown up I can make my own, wherever and whenever I want!  Ah, perks of being an adult.

Now I know many people are big advocates of juicing a bunch of those cute little key limes to get the perfect key lime flavor for their pie, but I happen to really like Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice.  I love the flavor it gives my pies and yes, I’ve done it both ways and honestly can’t tell a difference.  Maybe I’m just not enough of a snob but hey, it works and this pie gets rave reviews every time I make it.  Oh and did I mention it’s a breeze to whip up?  Because it totally is!  Enjoy!

4.5 from 4 reviews
Key Lime Pie
 
Ingredients
Key Lime Pie
  • 2 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4 Egg Yolks, beaten
  • 2, 14 oz. Cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1 c. Key Lime Juice
  • Juice and Zest of one Large Lime
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
Whipped Cream
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ¼ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
For the Key Lime Pie
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together melted butter and graham cracker crumbs. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, lime juice and zest, and vanilla. Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack and then in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Garnish with homemade whipped cream.
For the Whipped Cream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy whipping cream until thick and stiff. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Pipe onto key lime pie.
Notes
Serves 8-10.

 

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Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies

Not so long ago I made my first batch of gluten-free brownies.  While good, they relied heavily (as in it’s the main ingredient) on an absurd amount of almond butter.  Not that I’m complaining..I love almond butter and could (and do!) eat it by the spoonful and as an ingredient in many baked goods.  However, it made for one calorie-laden gluten-free brownie.  So since I had also been experimenting with chickpeas in my baking lately (like these awesome Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips Cookies) and wondered if I could use them for some of the almond butter in this recipe.

The results?  Fabulous.  The chickpeas produced a slightly softer, cake-like brownie with the same richness as the original recipe.  And I love that it cut back on the fat and calories while injecting a good amount of fiber.  I took these to a dinner and people preferred these over the totally NOT healthy frosted sugar cookies I brought and were asking for the recipe!  Yep, a keeper.

Enjoy!

Lightened Up Gluten-Free Brownies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Organic Almond Butter (no salt, oil, sugar etc added)
  • 1 c. (15 oz. can) Chickpeas processed in a food processor until smooth with ¼ c. unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ c. Honey
  • 1½ T. Vanilla
  • 1 T. Instant Coffee Granules dissolved in 2 T. Hot Water
  • ½ c. Cocoa Powder
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (or whatever you have)
  • 3 T. Dark Chocolate Chips or English Walnuts, etc (try to find chocolate chips that are not made with refined sugar, etc)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the almond butter and chickpea/almond milk mixture on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then honey, vanilla and coffee. Beat in cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Spread batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, nuts, etc.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Notes
Makes 24 brownies.

 

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Dark Cherry Fruit Leather Roll-Ups

As stated in previous posts, I am loving all the fruit this summer.  I can’t say it enough.  I don’t know if I just forgot how good berries and cherries and melons were or if it’s the fact that we are consciously trying to eat more fresh fruit, but everything is just sooooo good this year.  And as usual when the cherries show up in the store, I find myself standing in front of them, debating wether or not to spend the money and get some.  Like, every. time.  I will seriously stand, debate, put some in my cart, put them back, stand there some more, see if I can cut something else from my grocery list then resign myself to the fact that they are a little too pricey and slowly walk away.  How sad is that?!?  So when I found some gorgeous cherries at Braum’s (of all places!) on sale for a ridiculous price, I snatched them up.

Of course I initially wanted to eat all of them right away.  But then I saw this recipe for fruit leather from Baked by Rachel and that was it–I KNEW what I was doing with those cherries.  I was nervous since I’ve wanted to make fruit leather, gummies, etc before but have always been scared of leaving my oven on for 15 hours and not having it turn out and some people said it worked, some said it didn’t so I just never tried but this time I was going for it!  Of course, I STILL put the leather in my oven a little too late in the evening for the five hours baking required and ended up waiting until 12:30 at night to pull it out of the oven.  Yes, I’m 31 and that’s late for me.  Anyway…

I pulled it out and knew immediately it wasn’t coming off the parchment paper.  Ok, not to panic.  Haha, yeah right, I totally panicked.  And then I went to bed.  That’s right, I went to bed and FORGOT about the fruit leather sitting on top of my stove.  And you know what?  It worked!  Apparently setting the pans out in the open air overnight for about eight hours was the right thing to do because the next day I was able to slice and VERY GENTLY peel them off the parchment paper!  Sweet!  And wow, are these things amazing!!!  Jeremy loves them, I love them and my niece and nephew love them (and the kid test is the true test if you ask me).  I totally plan on making them again but trying a different fruit and subbing sucanat for the sugar so they are a little more healthy.

Have fun!

Dark Cherry Fruit Leather Roll-Ups
 
Ingredients
  • 5 c. Dark Bing Cherries, pitted
  • ¼ c. plus 1 T. Water
  • ⅓ c. plus 2 T. Sugar in the Raw (or granulated sugar which is what the original recipe calls for)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine cherries and water and bring to a boil over high heat, cooking and stirring until all the cherries are soft and have broken down a bit. It will take about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a blender and blend until completely smooth (mine had the tiniest pieces of cherry left in it and I actually loved it). Return to saucepan, add sugar and cook over medium-low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Divide mixture evenly between the two baking sheets. Use an offset spatula or the back of a large wooden spoon to spread the mixture as evenly and thin as possible without the white of the parchment paper coming though. Spots that are not thin enough, may not cook/dry completely (I had one small spot like that but it wasn't a big deal).
  5. Bake in the oven, rotating pans every hour for 5 hours or until just slightly tacky. Remove from oven and let air dry on the baking sheets for at least 8 hours.
  6. With the parchment paper, lift and move the fruit leather sheets onto a cutting board. Using a pizza slicer (or extremely sharp knife), cut the sheets into 6 strips each (for a total of 12 strips). Starting at the edge of one sheet, gently peel the leather away from the parchment and roll up. Wrap a piece of parchment around each roll-up and secure with string or tape. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 12 fruit leather roll-ups.

 

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Chocolate, Cupcakes and….Dehydrators?

My birthday weekend has come and gone.  I ate some good food, opened gifts and had quality family time.  Oh!  I even managed to see a movie–The Amazing Spiderman.  It was…ok.  Lots of action, some suspense and no girly, mushy, lovey, dovey romance junk, so that’s good.  I even got to indulge in my favorite concrete creation of vanilla custard, Oreo, brownies and cherry juice (courtesy of my hubby’s genius) at Andy’s.

As for the gifts, here’s a quick little roundup of some fun things I got…

A dehydrator!!!!  We’re getting into a raw food diet in our household and upon further research, I’ve discovered dehydrators are used in a LOT of recipes.  Unfortunately, this one gets a little too hot to be considered “raw” so I’m getting another new one!  (and yes, I do see the irony in posting about our new raw diet on my dessert blog).  Oh and a new cookie spatula!  Very exciting since mine went missing a couple months ago.  Yes, these are the things I get excited about.

Fun little mug and some Russell Stover raspberry cheesecake filled chocolates…yum.

Ice cream books!!  I am so excited about these.  I’ve had a huge urge to make my own ice cream the past couple of months and cannot WAIT to try out some of these recipes.

Technically not food but how could I not share these with a name like Pink Sugar?  This is my favorite perfume/body wash/lotion ever.  I get compliments on it every time.

And thanks to my in-laws and parents, I’ll be purchasing a bigger, badder food processor in the near future so no picture of that yet, but soon, very soon.

It was truly a great weekend and I wish I could do it all over again….every weekend!  Haha.  I’m blessed to have such great family and friends to celebrate with and thankful for all the love they showed me!

 

 

 

 

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Blackberry-Peach Cobbler with Streusel Topping

I can’t seem to get enough of the amazing fresh fruit from our farmer’s market this summer.  I find myself buying more than I can possibly eat before it goes bad, but I try!  Peaches, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, watermelon…there’s just so much summertime goodness right now.  And I couldn’t let the whole summer go by without making a cobbler!  This recipe was super easy to throw together.  I had it in the oven in 30 minutes and it only took another 30 to bake up.

I did make a couple of changes.  I wanted some oats in my streusel so I cut back on the amount of pecans and also used less blackberries because the ones that I got were so amazingly sweet, I couldn’t bare to use them all in the cobbler.  They were way to good just eaten fresh.  But I still liked having a few scattered throughout the cobbler.  It was perfect, in my opinion and totally hit the spot, warm and gooey out of the oven with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!

Blackberry-Peach Cobbler with Streusel Topping
 
Ingredients
Streusel
  • ¾ c. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, melted
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ c. Pecans, toasted
  • ½ c. Thick-Rolled Oats
Filling
  • 5 c. Fresh Peaches, sliced (about 5 large peaches)
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 3 T. All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • 1 c. Fresh Blackberries
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease a 9x9 pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
For the Streusel
  1. Stir together the brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour, pecans and oats until blended. Set aside.
For Filling
  1. In a large saucepan, stir together peaches, flour, sugar and nutmeg over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, leave over medium heat until juices have thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in blackberries. spoon mixture into pan. Crumble streusel mixture over hot peach mixture.
  2. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.
Notes
Serves 12

 

 

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Baking with Zucchini

Hi friends!  To follow up my majorly delicious (and healthy!) zucchini bread recipe, I thought I’d share even MORE recipes for baking with zucchini!  Just in case your garden overfloweth like so many people I know.  If you see more than you can bake at the moment, not a problem!  Just freeze your grated zucchini and thaw it out at a later time.  And I’ve included a mix of healthy and not-so-healthy recipes so there are options for everyone!

Chocolate-Cinnamon Swirled Zucchini Bread

Chocolate-Cinnamon Swirled Zucchini Bread by Bittersweet Blog

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache by the Repressed Pastry Chef

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Zucchini Muffins

Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Zucchini Muffins by Florida Coastal Cooking

Spiced Zucchini Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Zucchini Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting by My Baking Addiction

Zucchini Cookie Sandwiches

Zucchini Cookie Sandwiches by The Hall Family Blog

Zucchini Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange Sour Cream Frosting

Zucchini Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange Sour Cream Frosting by Brown Eyed Baker

Whole Wheat Zucchini Nut Muffins

Whole Wheat Zucchini Nut Muffins by Eating Clean Recipes

Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries

Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Dried Cranberries by Two Peas and Their Pod

 

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Vegan, Whole-Grain, Pumpkin Zucchini Chia Bread

Whose garden is already being overrun with TONS of zucchini??  I would raise my hand but guess whose zucchini plants didn’t take this year–yeah, mine.  But I must be the only one because I am being blessed by everyone else’s overabundance from their gardens and have already started grating and freezing loads of zucchini.  I did want to use some of it right away though so decided on, what else, zucchini bread.  I love zucchini bread, always have.  I know that people get tired of it but I could eat it all day (uhh, which is NOT good, just fyi).  My favorite is a variation with lots of spices and pieces of black walnuts throughout, just like my grandma always made it.

Coincidentally, my friend Joelle had just posted this recipe and I decided to use it as a base for a healthy version.  If I’m going to use something as nutritious as zucchini in my baking, I have real issues with adding in refined sugar, unhealthy oils and unecessary fats (exception:  this recipe).  Seems kind of pointless, to be honest.  So I went for the extreme opposite and made this as healthy as I possibly could.  And what resulted was the best pumpkin zucchini bread I have ever had.  I really am not joking.  It was so moist and dense and had the perfect flavor.  I really had to pace myself with this stuff because let me tell you I could have eaten it all in a couple of days.

I had read that chia seeds could be used as a substitute for butter in baking which was interesting to me so I went ahead and used them along with some canned organic pumpkin (a million times better than the stuff at Wal-mart) and I really think that it worked even better than oil or butter in the recipe.  Very exciting!  Definitely look forward to experimenting more in the future.

Enjoy!

1.5 from 2 reviews
Vegan, Whole Grain Pumpkin Zucchini Chia Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 2.5 c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Aluminum-Free Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Sea Salt (I prefer pink himalayan)
  • 1 T. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Allspice
  • ¼ t. Nutmeg
  • ¼ t. Ground Ginger
  • ¼ c. Almond Milk
  • 1 c. Honey (or Agave)
  • 1 c. Pumpkin Puree
  • 6 T. Chia Seeds, soaked in ½ c. Water
  • 3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Shredded Zucchini, wrung with paper towels to rid excess liquid
  • ⅓ c. Black Walnuts, chopped
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger.
  3. In a medium bowl combine almond milk, honey, pumpkin puree, chia seeds that have been soaked in water and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add to dry ingredients and gently fold in until everything is just combined. Add zucchini and walnuts and mix until evenly distributed throughout batter. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes checking periodically to see if a tester comes out clean. Cool completely.
Notes
Serves 12

 

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Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Photo by Food Network

I really, really wanted to make this Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwich Cake this past weekend but it just did not happen!  I was too busy working on brownies and sugar cookies and all kinds of other tasty things.  I’ve been dying to share it with all of you ever since it showed up in my inbox last week.  So I finally decided I am just going to post the recipe on my blog, even though I haven’t personally made it.  I figure it has to be good, I mean how can you go wrong with ice cream sandwiches, strawberry and mint ice cream and chocolate?!  The answer is you CAN’T.  Just not possible.

Someone make this and let me know how wonderful it is!

Neapolitan Ice Cream Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 10, 3.5-ounce Rectangular Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • 1 Pint Strawberry Ice Cream, slightly softened
  • 1 Pint Mint Chip or Pistachio Ice Cream, slightly softened
  • ½ c. Oreos or Chocolate Wafer Cookies, finely crushed (about 12 cookies)
  • Chocolate Shell Topping, for spreading
Instructions
  1. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Arrange 5 ice cream sandwiches snugly in the bottom of the pan. Spread the strawberry ice cream on top in an even layer. Press the remaining 5 ice cream sandwiches on top, then spread the mint chip ice cream evenly over the sandwiches. Top with an even layer of crushed cookies, pressing gently.
  2. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and freeze until set, about 4 hours. Uncover, then lift the foil to remove the cake from the pan. Invert onto a platter, remove the foil and spread with the chocolate shell topping. Serve immediately or cover and freeze for up to 2 days.
Notes
Serves 8

 

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