Dark Chocolate Cheesecake for Christmas

I am more excited about this Christmas season than ever before!  And it’s mostly because I will be baking my way through the next 25 plus days and documenting every gloriously sweet moment on this blog!  Since there are so many awesome recipes I want to try right now, I’ll be posting a new one every Monday and Wednesday of the week from now until Christmas.  Most likely one will be something baked (cookie, cake, etc) and one will be unbaked (candy, party mix, etc).

I’ve decided to kick off all the festive baking with this amazing  Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cappuccino Ganache.  This thing is decadent and rich and worth every single calorie you will have to burn on the treadmill the next day.  You really can’t go wrong bringing chocolate to a holiday gathering because seriously, who doesn’t love it??

The only problem (well, ok there were two) I encountered with this cheesecake is that the butter in the cookie crust started seeping out of my springform pan for some reason (I have NEVER had that happen before–weird!) so I had to put a cookie sheet beneath it to catch it all. And problem number two was that I didn’t realize how much volume adding two cups of melted chocolate chips would add to this recipe so my 9-inch springform pan got very full…TOO full!  I’d advise you to use at least a 10-inch round springform pan.  And don’t freak if the top gets kind of funky and cracked; your just going to cover it with ganache anyway.  I torted mine to give it a nice even surface before spreading the ganache over it and in the end it turned out perfect!

What are you most looking forward to baking this Christmas season??  I’d love to know!

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cappuccino Ganache
 
Ingredients
Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
  • 2½ c. Oreos, crushed (I did mine in a food processor)
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4, 8 oz. Packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ c. Whole Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla
  • ¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 c. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
Cappuccino Ganache
  • 9 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 T. Instant Coffee (or 1 T. Espresso Powder)
  • ¼ t. Cinnamon
Instructions
For the Cheesecake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10-inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the crushed Oreos and melted butter and press evenly into the bottom of the springform pan, pressing the crust up onto the sides of the pan just a little.
  3. In a small bowl, melt the semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool slightly.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in the milk and then mix in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream, vanilla, flour and cocoa until smooth. Beat in the melted chocolate and spread evenly into the springform pan.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door closed for at least 1 hour (I left mine in for 3 but if I'm pressed for time, I take it out at about 1 hour...it's supposed to help prevent cracking, if you care about that). Let cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator overnight.
For the Ganache
  1. Place the chopped chocolate and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. In a separate bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 3 tablespoons of the boiling heavy whipping cream and then add back to the rest of the heavy whipping cream in the saucepan. Pour the heavy whipping cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly to barely warm and almost room temperature. Pour over cheesecake by starting at the center of the cake and with a spoon, slowly smooth it out toward the edges and slightly over. Let cool completely and store in the refrigerator. Decorate with shaved white chocolate, if desired.
Notes
Serves 12-15.

 

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Leftover Thanksgiving Pie

If you were one of the crazies up at 3 a.m. (or you didn’t even got to bed!  CRAZY!) to get in line for Black Friday, and had all your shopping done by 7, you’re probably getting a little hungry and thinking about breakfast.  Lucky for you I managed to find a few recipes that put all those leftover pumpkin, pecan and apple pies to good use in some of our most beloved breakfast foods.  Pumpkin pie french toast?!  Umm, sign me up!  I know for some, however, it might be a bit early for Thanksgiving food round two, so I also have some yummy dessert recipes that incorporate leftover pie.

Hope you are having a great holiday weekend!

Pie Stuffed Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Pie Crepes

Pumpkin Pie Stuffed French Toast

Pumpkin Pie Brulee

Pumpkin Pie Shake

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pecan Pie Trifle

Ok, I’ve got one more last, LAST minute Thanksgiving day dessert!  It’s a Pecan Pie Trifle–layers of chunked pecan pie, whipping cream/cream cheese mixture, fudge, caramel and toasted pecans.  Doesn’t that sound like pure evil?!  Well, it is!  Very rich, delicious evil.

You can make the cream cheese mixture or go really simple and do just homemade (or even store bought…I suppose) whipped cream, which I think I might do next time to cut back on the richness of it.  And I also did a ganache and homemade salted caramel sauce which I highly suggest doing but when your short on time a store bought, high-quality hot fudge sauce and caramel sauce will work just fine!

Enjoy!

Pecan Pie Trifle
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla
  • 2, 8 oz. Packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 1 T. Vanilla
  • 1, 2-lb. Frozen Pecan Pie, thawed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ½ c. Chocolate Fudge Sauce (or ganache)
  • ½ c. Caramel Sauce
  • ½ c. Chopped Pecans, toasted
Instructions
For the Whipped Cream:
  1. In a very cold mixing bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream at high speed until it becomes thick and stiff. Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Set aside.
For the Cream Cheese Mixture
  1. Beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the vanilla. Fold in ¾ of the homemade whipped cream.
To Assemble:
  1. Place ⅓ of the pie cubes in the bottom of a large trifle dish or clear, tall glass bowl. Spread half the cream cheese mixture over the pie cubes, drizzle with ⅓ of both sauces and sprinkle with pecans. Repeat two more times, leaving a couple of tablespoons of both sauces and pecans to use for decoration. Spread the remaining whipped cream evenly over the top and drizzle with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle the remaining pecans on top.

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Edible Acorn Treats

If you’re still searching for something sweet and kid-friendly to bring to the family gathering tomorrow, look no further!  These little acorns have been popping up all over Pinterest lately and it’s not hard to see why–they are one of the easiest things to make!  All you need are a 3-4 ingredients:  regular semi-sweet chocolate chips, Hershey Kisses and miniature Nutter Butters.  Melt a few chocolate chips until smooth and use that to adhere the Hershey Kiss and regular chocolate chip to the cookie.  Or you could even use chocolate frosting as “glue”.  It’s been done a few ways so whatever you think will work for you is fine!  Have fun!

Photo courtesy of designsbymcm.blogspot.com
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Pecan Pralines

Mmmm, pralines.  There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the correct pronunciation of these yummy drops of sugar and nuts…praw-lines, pray-lines…how do you say it??  I suppose it depends on where you’re from but I’m sure we can all agree these things are delicious!  I will admit I had never even made them before until my baking buddy Betsy suggested we get together and try a couple different kinds.  She has the best ideas.

I’m not sure how many or exactly what kinds we did that night, but I know we used one recipe that was her grandmother’s and these are the real deal.  Honestly, they are hard to describe other than just yummy pecans and sugar…they almost have a maple taste to them.  Which I love.  They do use a candy thermometer but don’t be afraid!  The candy thermometer is your friend!  All you have to do is watch that little red line get to 236 degrees and bam!  You’re golden and on your way to praline heaven.

Enjoy!

Pecan Pralines
 
Ingredients
  • ½ Stick Unsalted Butter
  • ½ c. Light Corn Syrup
  • ½ c. Evaporated Milk
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 3 c. Pecan Halves
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring butter, corn syrup, evaporated milk and sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring occasionally so the mixture doesn't scorch, until a candy thermometer reaches 236 degrees (it will take 8-10 minutes). Once it reaches 236 degrees, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and pecans. Continue to stir until very thick and dark in color, about 4-5 minutes (it will become somewhat difficult to stir...my arm was tired!) and immediately and quickly begin spooning onto wax paper or foil. Let sit until cool and completely firm.
Notes
Makes about 20.

 

 

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Sunny Oat-Date Bars

Last week I posted some healthy dessert recipes and I had my eye on a couple to try myself.  I decided to start with the Sunny Oat-Date Bars.  I just happened to have a HUGE bag of dates sitting on my counter that I had been meaning to make into a dessert but had never taken the time to find a recipe.  These bars were the perfect thing to use them in!

I made some minor adjustments to the recipe and overall the results were delicious.  They turned out a teensy bit crumbly so I’d recommend eating them with a fork.  And after I simmered the dates and orange juice, I had no liquid left over to add to the dry ingredients, it just turned into a very thick mixture.  So even though I didn’t have any of the orange/date liquid to add to the oats, it still worked fine. I absolutely LOVED this recipe and found I could hardly stay out of the bars.  The flavors of orange, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and dates was ah-mazing.  Pretty sure a healthy recipe becomes not so healthy when you eat 2-3 times more than you should!  Oh well.

Enjoy!

Sunny Oat-Date Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Very Finely Chopped and Pitted Dates
  • 1 c. Fresh Orange Juice (I used fresh-squeezed)
  • 2 t. Grated Orange Rind
  • 2 c. Thick Rolled Oats
  • ½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • ¼ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 t. Cinnamon
  • ⅛ t. Nutmeg
  • ¼ t. Cloves
  • ⅓ c., plus 1 T. Safflower Oil
  • ⅓ c. Honey
  • 3 T. Pure Grade A Maple Syrup
  • 1½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Pecans, coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x9 pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the dates, orange juice and orange rind. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occassionally, until dates are very soft and the mixture has turned very thick (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, mash until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, honey, maple syrup and vanilla. Add oil mixture to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Press ⅔ of the oat mixture into the pan and spread the date mixture over the crust. Stir pecans into remaining oat mixture and drop by spoonfulls onto the date mixture and spread evenly.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Notes
Makes 18 bars.

 

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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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Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

If you’ve never tried the combination of pumpkin and chocolate, you are seriously missing out.  The first time I ever tried the unusual, but oh-so-delicious pairing was several years ago when I made these Chocolate Pumpkin Truffles.  I was in heaven.  You wouldn’t think that the two flavors would go together but they compliment each other wonderfully.  Throw in some cinnamon and it’s a party in your mouth!   Now, add a cheesecake factor and you have mind blowing AWESOMENESS.  And that is just what you get with these Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirled Brownies.

These are simple and delicious.  The brownie batter is super thick and doesn’t seem like alot when you pour it in the pan, but after it bakes up, it’s the perfect proportion of brownie to cheesecake.  The only problem I had was swirling the brownie batter into the cheesecake because it was so thick.  It was more just kind of gently mixing it all together with a knife.  But it worked!   And they turned out perfect.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirled Brownies
 
Ingredients
Brownie Batter
  • ¾ c. (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • ½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • ½ t. Cinnamon
Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Large Egg
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 T. Flour
  • ¾ c. Pumpkin Puree
  • ¼ t. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ t. Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Each Ground Ginger and Ground Cloves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 baking pan.
For the Brownie Batter:
  1. Beat together the melted butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl and then gradually fold into the butter mixture by hand.
For the Pumpkin Cheesecake Batter:
  1. In another bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in remainder of ingredients until smooth.
  2. Spread about ⅔ of the brownie batter into prepared pan. Spread the pumpkin cheesecake batter over top, distributing evenly. Drop the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake batter and swirl together with a butter knife.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and chill before cutting and serving. (They are MUCH better chilled in the refrigerator overnight.)
Notes
Serves 12

 

 

 

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Leftover Halloween Candy Recipes

So the initial sugar-high has worn off and your  kids STILL have enough candy left to get them bouncing off the walls for several days.  You need to get rid of that candy FAST.  Try some of these delicious, Halloween candy-packed desserts!

SweetTarts Milkshake

Deep Fried Candy Bars

Leftover Halloween Candy Pie

Reese’s Pieces Brownies

Snickers Cheesecake

Butterfinger Pie

Candy Corn Fudge

Chocolate and Malt Pudding

More Halloween Candy Ideas!

 

 

 

 

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German Apple Cake

I’ve been blessed lately with an overabundance of apples, as I’m sure many of you have.  One of my favorite things to do with lots of apples, specifically Golden Delicious apples, is make my mom’s German Apple Cake.

She has been making this cake every since I can remember.   As a kid, when the air got cool and the leaves started changing color, we knew that apple cake and apple crisp were in the very near future.  Of course mine and my sister’s favorite part was each getting a beater to lick after my mom had whipped up the cream cheese frosting.  I’m sure I tried more than once to either steal or somehow trick my sister into giving me her beater…I was obnoxious like that.

I love making this cake as an adult because not only of the memories, but I can appreciate the simple goodness of it even more now.  The flavor of cinnamon and chunks of soft apples along with the smooth cream cheese frosting are downright yummy.  And I love that it forms kind a kind of sugary “crust” along the edges.  So, so, SO good.  If you have apples coming out your ears, try this cake.  You’ll love it.

German Apple Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 t. Cinnamon
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4 c. Peeled, Sliced/Chunked Apples (About 4-5 apples. I prefer golden delicious.)
  • ½-3/4 c. Black Walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold
  • 5 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (which is what I did) or grease and flour.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in oil, eggs and vanilla. Add the apples and walnuts, mix in thoroughly and let set for 5 minutes or so, allowing the juices to soak into the batter. Spread into your baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes (mine took 40) until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and then frost with cream cheese frosting.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese on high until smooth. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and mix thoroughly on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until smooth. Add vanilla and salt and thoroughly incorporate.
Notes
Serves 18

 

 

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Maple-Walnut Fudge

So, you want to make fudge but are terrified of candy thermometers and have no idea what the heck soft-ball stage means?! Not to worry, I have a fabulous, EASY recipe for Maple-Walnut Fudge from the Brown Eyed Baker. In mere minutes, you will have creamy, delicious fudge without standing over a stove for hours or having to think about the atomic structure of sugar crystals. I have to admit, there are times when I’m making homemade candy that it feels like I’m doing some weird science experiment in a lab rather than just cooking in my kitchen. Thankfully, this was NOT one of those times.

This recipe was in fact super easy and, I believe, fail-proof. The texture was very smooth and the maple flavor was perfect. The only thing I did different was use two teaspoons of Pure Grade A Maple Syrup instead of the extract because that was all I had. If you’ve never made homemade fudge before, don’t be afraid…start with this recipe…you will be a fudge-making fool before you know it!

Enjoy!

Maple-Walnut Fudge
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 5 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon maple flavoring
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Butter an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch square pan. Line with parchment paper or foil, and butter that; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, evaporated milk and butter. Bring to a full boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat slightly (no lower than medium-low) and boil for an additional 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and maple flavoring. Transfer the mixture to a standing mixer (or use a hand mixer) and beat the fudge on medium speed until thick and glossy – about 3 minutes. Fold in the walnuts and pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  4. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. Slice the fudge into 1-inch squares and serve. (Fudge can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.)
Notes
Makes 50 pieces.

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Apple Cider Doughnuts

A few weeks ago on a nice, bright Saturday morning I took a little road trip with my friend Sharla to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets.  We had a great time and scored some awesome bargains.  However, my favorite find of the whole trip was this doughnut pan from Norpro.  I have been wanting one for some time and was really excited to finally find one that was a great brand at a decent price.

The store where I bought the pan also had this apple cider doughnut mix conveniently placed next to it.  I’ve been seriously longing for an apple cider doughnut from Edwards Apple Orchard from when we lived up in Rockford.  This place is amazing…the coolest general store with all kinds of yummy stuff, finger lickin’ bbq, some of the best apple pie I’ve EVER had (and yes, we DID try a slice with cheddar cheese and it was good!!)  and their beyond drool-worthy apple cider doughnuts!  Jeremy and I have seriously discussed taking a weekend trip to Rockford just for the doughnuts at the orchard (of course I’d probably have to sneak in some Chicago shopping hehe).  They also have a petting zoo, live music and apple picking galore!  Oh how I miss it!  Apparently, they don’t have a website but here are some pics I found.

Ok so back to my doughnut mix!  I made them this past weekend with the new pan and I have to say that I loved both!  The pan worked wonderfully however, the side of the doughnuts that were in the pan got a bit darker and a tad more done than the other side.  Not an issue really, just looks kind of funny.  And the mix was great!  Not quite the caliber of the orchard doughnuts but really, really good.  We liked them hot out of the pan, brushed with butter and dipped in cinnamon and sugar but they were even better after they had cooled off and set for a while.  You could really taste the apple cider and the texture was very moist and cake-like.  Loved them!  Of course I’ll be trying from scratch doughnuts next but if I ever need any in a pinch, I’ll definitely go with this brand!

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Molasses Cookies

These are some of my most favorite cookies ever.  I’m sure I say that about a LOT of cookies but I really mean it with these!  This is another recipe from my friend Judy (I’ve never had a cake/cookie/etc of hers that ISN’T awesome) and it is one of the most wonderfully soft, slightly chewy, perfectly spiced cookies I’ve ever had.  They are not too sweet and so yum…one of those you could eat 4 or 5 or 10 of without thinking twice.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Totally addictive and perfect for this time of year.

Enjoy!

Molasses Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 t. Ground Ginger
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ¾ t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Ground Cloves
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • ¾ c. Shortening
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • ¼ c. Molasses
  • ½ c. Coarse or Granulated Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the shortening until softened. Gradually add the 1 cup of granulated sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses; beat well. Add half of flour mixture; beat until combined. Stir remaining flour in with a wooden spoon.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the coarse or granulated sugar. Bake for 8 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Cool for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
Notes
Makes 25 cookies.

 

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Spiced Pumpkin Cake

My original intent for this post was that it would be a recipe for pumpkin BROWNIES (or blondies..whatever) but about a quarter of the way through whipping these up I realized that I was not going to end up with the dense, chewy, pumpkin-y brownies I was dreaming of but most likely, a cake.  And I was right.  I was definitely a little disappointed at first but got over it pretty quickly after my first bite.

It was probably one of the most moist pumpkin cakes I’ve ever had and so wonderfully spiced.  It’s good enough to stand on it’s own without frosting but would most certainly be even more awesome with a layer of cream cheese frosting or a dollop of homemade whipped cream.  I took it to a family function and didn’t bring any home, so that’s a good sign!  So, I suppose it worked out but I’m still on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin brownie recipe!

Enjoy!

Adapted from allrecipes.com

Spiced Pumpkin Cake
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1, 15 oz. Can Solid Pack Pumpkin
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 T. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat oil and sugar. Add eggs and beat until incorporated. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and beat into wet ingredients just until combined.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Notes
Serves 18. *I also put an 11 oz. bag of butterscotch chips in these but since they weren't thick like brownies, they all sunk to the bottom half of the cake. So, it's up to you if you want to add them or not.

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes by Recipe Girl

It’s October!  I am so excited about October for many reasons…craft fairs, pumpkin everything, Halloween candy galore, hot drinks, scary movies, bon fires…the list goes on and on.  I think we should kick off October AND Monday morning the right way–with Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes!  How delish do these look?!  You might recall when I posted about the original Cinnamon Roll Pancake recipe on a previous post awhile back, but I think the pumpkin takes it to a whole other level!  You better believe these are on the menu for breakfast next weekend!

Photo by Recipe Girl

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
 
Ingredients
Cinnamon Filling
  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pancakes
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup pure unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (see Tips below)
  • ½/ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Prepare the cinnamon filling: In a small, microwave-safe bowl- heat butter, brown sugar and cinnamon for 40 to 60 seconds, just until butter is melted. Whisk the filling ingredients together and then pour it into a sandwich-sized zip baggie. Zip up the baggie and lay it on the counter while you prepare the pancake batter.
  2. Prepare the Icing: In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat butter and cream cheese 30 to 60 seconds, just until butter has melted and cream cheese has softened. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla and combine until smooth. Set the icing aside.
  3. Prepare the pancake batter: In a large bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vinegar. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, salt and brown sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until all is moistened.
  4. Check on your cinnamon filling: Open up the baggie again and give it a good stir to re-incorporate any butter that may have separated. You want the mixture to thicken a bit- it's best when it's similar to the squeezing texture of toothpaste (which will eventually happen if you leave it on the counter long enough, but refrigerate for a few minutes if you need to). Don't try to use the filling for the pancake swirl unless it has thickened as it will be too runny! Snip off a small piece of the corner of the baggie.
  5. Cook the pancakes: Preheat a large skillet or griddle to medium. Use an ice cream scoop (or ladle) to add the batter to the pan. Use the bottom of the scoop or ladle to spread out the batter into a nice, even circle. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Pick up your cinnamon filling baggie and squeeze the filling into the corner. Starting at the center of the pancake squeeze the cinnamon filling on top of the pancake batter in a swirl (just as you see in a cinnamon roll). Cook the pancakes 3 to 4 minutes, or until bubbles begin popping on top of the pancake and it is golden brown on the bottom. Slide a thin spatula underneath the pancake and gently but quickly flip it over. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is golden as well. When you flip the pancake onto a plate, you will see that the cinnamon filling has created a crater-swirl of cinnamon. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, and repeat with the remaining pancake batter and cinnamon filling. Serve pancakes topped with a drizzle of cream cheese icing.
Notes
If you do not have pumpkin pie spice, use this combo of spices instead: 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes by Recipe Girl

 

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Apple Recipe Roundup

It’s Monday!  Who’s excited?!  Yeah, me neither.  Thought I’d cheer you up with some delicious APPLE recipes from all over the blogosphere.  It’s that time of year….apple cake, apple cider, apple donuts, apple pie….the possibilities are endless!  And so, so delicious.

Enjoy!

Apple Rings by How To: Simplify

 

Hot Spiced Cider by Better Homes and Gardens

Apple Pie Cupcakes by Annie’s Eats

Smooth and Sweet Caramel Apple Dip by Zesty Cook

Caramel Apple Granola Cookies by Healthy Food for Living

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Popcorn

I’m not a huge popcorn fan but every now and then I do love to munch on some caramel or cheese popcorn and it’s usually around Christmas when some member of my family sees fit to lug a HUGE tin of the stuff to our family holiday dinner.  Ya know, cause there’s not enough food at those family dinners.

So the other day I remembered how my mom used to make caramel corn in the microwave.  I mean, really, really good caramel corn.  From the microwave!  She sent me the recipe and I made it for the first time ever and I have to say it’s even better than I remember as a kid.  Maybe I can appreciate it more now?  Who knows.  But for whatever reason I love the stuff and it’s very addictive.

I added my own little touch with some sea salt and then through in some homemade dark chocolate and peanut popcorn.  The recipes for both are below and they are super simple but if you only choose to do one, make the caramel corn!

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Popcorn
 
Ingredients
Salted Caramel Popcorn
  • 8 c. Popped Plain Popcorn (NO salt or butter)
  • 1 c. Packed Brown Sugar
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, cut into chunks
  • ¼ c. Light Corn Syrup
  • ½ t. Regular Salt
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½-1 t. Fine Sea Salt (depending on how salty you want it to be)
Dark Chocolate Peanut Popcorn
  • 4 c. Popped Popcorn (NO butter or salt)
  • 1½ c. High Quality Dark Chocolate Candy Coating (NOT chocolate bark)
  • ½ c. Dry-Roasted Peanuts
Instructions
For the Salted Caramel Corn:
  1. Line a large cookie sheet pan with foil. Place Popped corn in a large brown paper bag. Set aside.
  2. Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and regular salt in a large bowl. Microwave on high setting 3-4 minutes, stirring after each minute, until mixture comes to a boil (it only took 3 minutes for mine to boil). Microwave 2 minutes longer (without stirring) and then stir in baking soda. Pour syrup mixture over popped corn in bag. Close bag and shake well. Microwave for 1½ more minutes. Shake bag well. Microwave 1-1½ minutes more (I stopped at 1 minute because it smelled slightly burned and 3 or 4 pieces did burn--no biggie, just watch it). Add the sea salt and shake bag well. Pour onto the large cookie pan. Cool and stir to separate.
For the Chocolate Peanut Popcorn
  1. Line a large cookie pan with foil. Place popped popcorn and peanuts in large brown paper bag. Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl at 20 second intervals, stirring between each, until completely melted and smooth. Pour chocolate into the bag over the popcorn and peanuts and shake well. Pour onto the cookie pan. Cool and stir to separate.
Notes
Serves...well, it depends on how well you share. :)

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Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies

I’ve not made a whole lot of pecan cookies in my life other than these Pecan Sandies, so when I found out tomorrow is National Pecan Cookie Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try another yummy cookie recipe.  I found this one from King Arthur for Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies.  The cookie is loaded with pecans, butterscotch chips and rolled in a sugar and salt mixture.

I of course just HAD to mess with the recipe.  I omitted the espresso and butterscotch chips and subbed in dark chocolate chips and dried cherries and then sandwiched them with marshmallow buttercream.  I really, really liked my finished product but I can’t wait to try the original version below.  Overall, this recipe makes one seriously delicious cookie.

Enjoy!

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cups pecan halves
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1⅓ cups butterscotch chips
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 to 1¼ teaspoons salt, for topping*
  • If you're making smaller (teaspoon cookie scoop-sized) cookies, increase the coating to ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar mixed with 1¾ to 2 teaspoons salt.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  2. Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast till they've darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, vanilla, flavor, and vinegar, beating until smooth and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg, again beating till smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  5. Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.
  6. If you're going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 3½ to 4 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.
  7. Mix the ⅓ cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1½" balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between them on all sides; they'll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1¼" balls of dough.
  8. Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes — 11 minutes for smaller cookies, 12 for larger ones. Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. (For dough that's been refrigerated, add 30 seconds to 1 minute to those baking times.) Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan till they've set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Notes
Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies. There are a few of options once you have the dough made. If you bake the cookies right away, you'll have a flatter, lighter-colored cookie. Refrigerate it for 4 to 5 hours, the cookies will be flat, but not "puddle-y." Chill overnight, and the dough dries out, with some of the starch in the flour turning to sugar. The cookies will be darker, more "caramel-y," and won't spread nearly as much. These cookies are a good candidate for the "tablespoon vs. teaspoon" scoop choice. A tablespoon cookie scoop (actually 4 level measuring teaspoons) will yield big, 3" cookies; a teaspoon scoop (1¾ level measuring teaspoons) will make smaller (2¼") cookies. Also, the sugar-salt coating can be made more or less assertive, your choice. Use the lesser amount of salt for a less adventuresome audience; the greater amount for those who love the salty/sweet experience. It's easy to make some of both; just divide the dough in half, and make the coating both ways, rolling half the cookies in the saltier coating, half in the milder.

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The Baked Brownie

Once again, I’ve missed the baking boat.  A little while ago I went searching for the ultimate brownie recipe and noticed a lot of bloggers raving about “the famous Baked brownie”.  Say what?  Please tell me I’m not the only one that doesn’t know about this brownie from a little NYC bakeshop called, well, what else…Baked!  From what I can gather, these guys made some brownies that Oprah raved about on her show which pretty much resulted to them being shot into baking stardom overnight.  Ok, so I was intrigued and got busy making the brownies.

The verdict?  Umm, the BEST BROWNIES I HAVE EVER HAD.  No joke.  They are dense, fudgy, rich and have that wonderful shiny crackle “crust” on top.  Hello, beautiful!  I was officially sold on this recipe and promptly went online to order their book and see what other awesome recipes I was missing out on.

If you love brownies, you absolutely MUST try this recipe.   Prepare for brownie heaven!  Oh yes, MILK.  Must have that, very important.  Now go bake!

The Baked Brownie
Author: 
Category: Dessert
24
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ c. AP Flour
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 2 T. Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet)
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 t. Instant Espresso Powder (I only had instant coffee granules and used 2 teaspoons)
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • ½ c. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 5 Large Eggs, room tempoerature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9x13 glass or light-colored baking pan. Line with foil, letting extra hang over the sides to use as "handles". Grease the foil.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.
  3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder (or instant coffee granules) into a large bowl and melt in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each time until completely melted and smooth. Add sugars and whisk until completely combined. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
  5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the foil "handles". Cut into squares and serve.

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Maple Walnut Scones

I saw this recipe for Maple Sugar Scones over on Good Life Eats and immediately printed it off.  Ever since I learned that scones weren’t that difficult (these Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Chip Scones, for instance) to make and were, in fact, quite delicious, I’ve been looking for another opportunity to make them and this recipe was perfect for the start of fall baking.

I didn’t have the maple sugar that the recipe calls for so instead I used Pure Grade A Maple Syrup (do NOT use the maple syrup sold in the cereal aisle of your store…it’s not real maple syrup) and adjusted the amount of dry ingredients.   They turned out so delicious!  The dough itself was more biscuit like with a hint of maple and toasted walnuts, but the syrup and sugar on top gave it a nice bit of added sweetness.  Perfect warm out of the oven with a cup of coffee on a nice, chilly day.

Enjoy!

Maple Walnut Scones
 
Ingredients
  • 4 c. AP Flour
  • 1½ t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Chopped, Toasted Walnuts
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, very cold and cubed
  • ⅔ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ⅔ c., plus 2 T. Pure Grade A Maple Syrup, plus a little extra for glazing
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Raw Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and walnuts. Using your hands or fork, work the very cold butter into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a separate bowl (I used a large measuring cup) whisk together the heavy cream, maple syrup, egg and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to butter/flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. With your hands, form dough into a large disc, roughly 7" round. Place on a lightly floured surface and cut into 8 wedges (the wedges were a little large so I think I'll cut it into 10 next time). Place on cookie sheet and brush with maple syrup. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
  4. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one scone comes out clean.
Notes
Serves 8-10

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