Bakery Review – Stacey’s Sweets in Ozark

 

This past weekend Jeremy and I went on a cupcake tasting roadtrip to some new bakeries in Ozark and Nixa.  I had been following Stacey’s Sweets on Facebook and every picture she would post looked sooo good and I was so excited to finally get a chance to taste everything!  Her shop is located in the corner of an older building on the square in Ozark and even though it was tiny, it was packed with cuteness.  She even had a couple of small tables and chairs to eat at, which we took full advantage of.

I went ahead and ordered one of each cupcake she had in the case (eight total!) because at $1.75 apiece they were VERY affordable (if not somewhat underpriced!) and also got a brownie because they looked delicious.  I passed on the cake pops, but they were covered in sparkly red, pink and purple sanding sugar and totally adorable…very tempting.  We started tasting with the brownie and wow, it was SO good.  Very fudgy, loaded with chocolate chips and had that nice thin crackle “crust” on the top.  We had a hard time not eating the whole thing.

Cake Pops
Fudge Brownie

Next up, cupcake tasting!  The flavors were Red Velvet, Wedding Cake, Cookie Dough, Pretty Princess Strawberry, Double Chocolate, Peanut Butter Cup, Honeybee and Cherry Bomb (see photo captions for descriptions).  I can honestly say that these cupcakes not only looked pretty but were so yummy!  Her cakes were light and fluffy and the frosting was not overly sweet but somewhat airy and not heavy or greasy, which was nice.  It’s one of the better cupcake tasting experiences I’ve had in a loooong time!  I could definitely see myself making a special trip to Ozark just for these cupcakes (or the brownie!) and would strongly advise you to do the same–you will NOT be disappointed!

Red Velvet--Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting topped with a Heart Gummy Candy
Pretty Princess Strawberry--Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Buttercream
Peanut Butter Cup--Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Mini Peanut Butter Cup
Honeybee--Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting, Honey Drizzle, Chopped Peanuts and Banana Chip
Double Chocolate--Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream and Mini Chocolate Chips
Cookie Dough--Chocolate Chip Cake filled with Cookie Dough, topped with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Mini Chocolate Chips
Cherry Bomb--Cherry Cake with Cherry Filling, Cherry Buttercream, dipped in Ganache and topped with a Cherry
Wedding Cake--White Cake, Vanilla Buttercream, Candy Pearls
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Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies (aka homemade Oreos)

I am not the craftiest.  I have admitted this before but I just thought I’d state it again.  So when I spied these dark chocolate sugar cookies online, I knew I would make them but needed to come up with a way to make them cute that didn’t involve royal icing and piping and such.

So behold, the chocolate sugar cookie sandwich!  Also known as cutely shaped, cut-out homemade Oreos.  Really freakin’ amazingly good, never-buy-store-bought-again, homemade Oreos.  Yes, they are THAT GOOD.  I just cut out about 14, 4-inch cookies and then cut smaller shapes out of the middle of half of them.  If you don’t bake the small shapes like I did, you could reuse the dough and get about 16, 4-inch cookies.  Which is what I’d do next time because the tiny ones didn’t turn out terribly cute. But tasty!  And that’s what really matters, right??

Recipe courtesy of Sprinklesbakes.com

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies (aka homemade Oreos)
 
Ingredients
Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies (aka Homemade Oreos)
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 c. plus 2 T. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 2 c. plus 1 T. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Dark Cocoa Powder
  • ⅛ t. Salt
Buttercream Frosting
  • ⅓ c. (5 T.) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 3 T. Heavy Whipping Cream (or milk)
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ t. Almond Extract (optional)
Instructions
For the Cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage or the cookies may spread while baking. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will clump around the paddle attachment but that's ok, it's normal and a good sign your dough is the right consistency. With your hands, form the dough into a ball.
  4. On a clean counter-top, roll out your dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes from the cookie dough and carefully transfer to your baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through to endure even baking. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Frost with frosting and decorate with sanding sugar, sprinkles, etc.
For the Buttercream Frosting
  1. Beat butter, sugar and milk about 5 minutes. Beat in extracts.
Notes
Makes 16, 4-inch Sandwich Cookies. Tip: These cookies are best eaten within 24 hours or the same day they are made. They are still very good but not be quite as crisp the next day.

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Gluten-Free Brownies

I have to confess something:  I am REALLY loving the weekly addition of healthy dessert recipes to my blog.  It’s so fun rediscovering my passion for healthy baking and there is a lot less guilt when I treat myself.  Like, a LOT.  And believe me, these brownies are a TREAT!  I have never in my life made anything gluten-free but I’m more than aware that it’s such a huge issue with many, many people.  So, I was very excited about this recipe…if not just a teensy bit skeptical.  I mean after all it has ZERO flour and ZERO butter so, umm, how does that work?!  Yes, I was doubtful.  But as the brownies baked in the oven, they began to look and smell like regular, delicious, bad-for-you brownies.  And much to my surprise, they tasted AMAZING.  Very chewy and chocolaty and good.  I was shocked.  And so happy.  I love that these contain lots of protein and very little sugar and are not only healthy but gluten-free.  Try them–promise, you’ll love them!

Recipe adapted from Elanaspantry.com

4.0 from 1 reviews
Gluten-Free Brownies
 
Ingredients
  • 1, 16 oz. (2 cups) Jar Creamy Roasted Almond Butter (I used Maranatha)
  • 1 Egg, plus 2 Egg Whites
  • ¾ c. Honey
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ c. Cocoa Powder
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet), divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend almond butter until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then honey and vanilla. Beat in cocoa, salt and baking soda then fold in ¼ c. of the chocolate chips. Spread batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ c. of chocolate chips over the batter and press lightly into the batter.
  3. Bake for 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Notes
Makes 24 brownies.

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Football Themed Sweets

If you want to add that sporty touch to your Superbowl 2012 dessert offerings, try out one or two of these cute football goodies!  I think my favorite is the double chocolate cupcake with the piped frosting that looks like a football–creative and simple?!  Touchdown!  (sorry, cheesy, I know!!)

Football Brownies

Double Chocolate Football Cupcakes

Football Game Cookies

Football Whoopie Pies

Cocoa Rice Krispie Treats Footballs

Frosted Peanut Butter Football Cookies

Bakerella Football Cupcakes

Sugar Cookie Footballs

 

 

 

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Homemade Coconut Cake

Believe it or not, I have never made a homemade coconut cake and honestly, I have no idea why!  I love coconut in anything so I’m not sure what took me so long to get around to it.  Thankfully, I made some baking resolutions this year and classic recipes was one of my goals for the year.  This cake was the first step to meeting that goal and what a delicious resolution it turned out to be!  I wasn’t sure what recipe to use so I simply googled “coconut cake” and the first thing to pop up was a Paula Deen recipe that had LOTS of good reviews so I thought, why not?  I’ve not made alot of her recipes but I know her Ooey Gooey Butter Cake is one of my favorites so I thought I’d give the coconut cake a shot.

Initially, I had some reservations about this recipe.  First, the cake recipe itself called for self-rising flour which I thought was odd since self-rising flour is typically used for biscuits and such.  Second, the filling was a sour cream and sugar mixture which in my mind wouldn’t be nearly as good as the fluffy, whipped cream like filling that seems to be in all coconut cakes.  And third, the 7-Minute Frosting recipe was new to me and sounded somewhat complicated so I was tempted to just do a typical buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

But I decided NO. I would try my hardest not to make any changes…and that is HARD for me to do.  But I have to say I am SO glad I didn’t change things…this cake was delicious!  Not the coconut cake I had in my mind necessarily but still soooo yummy and good.  The cake itself was tender and soft, although it was a little crumbly but overall I liked it and it was kind of a cross between a white and yellow cake.  I have to admit that I LOVED the filling.  I mean, I could have just eaten it with a spoon.  It seeped down into the cake an made it very moist.  I would only change the amount of coconut in it, maybe increase it to one cup because I would have liked more coconut between the layers.  And finally the frosting turned out to not be complicated to make AT ALL and I loved that it was similar to marshmallow creme but infinitely better!  What I really loved about the frosting was how easily it went on the cake–I was a little scared because it was so gooey and sticky.  But surprisingly not hard to work with at all.

All in all, this was a great first-ever homemade coconut cake.  My in-laws loved it which made me VERY happy and my mother-in-law said it reminded her of her mom’s coconut cake and I thought that was awesome!  Can’t wait for my next classic cake recipe!

Enjoy!

First Homemade Coconut Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 3 c. Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 c. Milk (she suggested coconut milk but I had whole milk so I used that)
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • 2 t. Coconut Extract
Coconut Filling
  • ¾ c. Sugar
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 4 T. Milk
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ c. Flaked, Sweetened Coconut
7-Minute Frosting
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 T. White Corn Syrup
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • ⅓ c. Cold Water
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 3 c. Flaked, Sweetened Coconut
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3, 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (mine took about 27) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 to 10 minutes and then invert cakes onto cooling rack and let cool completely (I actually cooled mine completely in the pans...inside my refrigerator. 🙂 I was in a hurry.).
For the Coconut Filling
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, sour cream, milk and vanilla until sugar is completely dissolved. Add coconut and stir to combine.
To Assemble the Cake
  1. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or large plate. (I like to torte the top of my cakes to get them even but this is not a must if you prefer not to do it) Poke holes in cake approximately 1-inch apart with the end of a wooden spoon or chopsticks (which is what I used) until entire cake has been poked. Spread with ⅓ of the filling mixture. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again. Place in refrigerator while you make the frosting.
For the 7-Minute Frosting
  1. In a stainless steel bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water (fill saucepan about halfway, you don't want the water to touch the bottom of the bowl), place the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, salt and cold water. With a handheld electric mixer beat the mixture for 4 minutes on low speed. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat for another 6-7 minutes or until the icing is shiny and satiny with soft peaks. Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and continue to beat on high speed for another 3-4 minutes or until the frosting is thick.
  2. Frost cake immediately. It is easiest to start by frosting the top of the cake first and then working the frosting down the sides. Press the 3 cups of coconut onto the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Notes
Serves 20.

 

 

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Dark Chocolate Nutella Raspberry Cupcakes

Nutella is everywhere right now.  People are putting it in cookies, cakes, brownies, cheesecakes, rice krispie treats, eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon (Who would do that?! Seriously…I don’t even know…).  It’s Nutella madness!  But there’s a reason.  The stuff is GOOD.  I mean really, really good.  So I decided I must bake with it.  Somehow.  What to dooooo???

And then I had an idea…another really, really good thing is raspberry beer.  Specifically, Framboise Lambic raspberry beer.  This stuff is beyond yummy, like drinking the ripest, juiciest, sweetest raspberries.  I’ve wanted to incorporate it into my baking FOREVER.  Hmmm, Nutella AND raspberry??  YES.  Chocolate cupcake with Nutella ganache and raspberry beer buttercream???  DOUBLE YES.

Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but this is one of the best cupcakes I’ve made to date.  I simply love this one-bowl dark chocolate cake recipe from Sweetapolita.  It is super moist and reminiscent of a wacky cake just like my mom used to make and reminds me of birthdays past.  The Nutella ganache is decadent and gooey and the light, airy raspberry buttercream is just the perfect frosting for the whole thing.  Oh and dare I suggest TOTALLY perfect for Valentine’s day with the faint pinkness of the buttercream and the cute dark chocolate heart topper??  (You can find the mold for the chocolate heart here.)

Is this the perfect cupcake? Perhaps.  The best use of Nutella EVER, in all baking history??  Maybe.   A really, really super delicious crazy good cupcake?!?  Definitely!

Dark Chocolate Nutella Raspberry Cupcakes
 
Ingredients
One-Bowl Dark Chocolate Cake
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1⅓ c. Granulated Sugar
  • ½ c. Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1¼ t. Baking Soda
  • 1¼ t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Salt
  • ¼ c., plus 1 T. Vegetable Oil
  • ⅔ c. Buttermilk (I only had whole milk so that is what I used and it seemed to work fine.)
  • ½ c., plus 1 T. Espresso or Strong Hot Brewed Coffee (I used the coffee)
  • 2 Eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
Nutella Ganache
  • ¾ c. Nutella Hazelnut Spread
  • ½ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
Raspberry Buttercream
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ½ c. Shortening
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • ½ c. Raspberry Beer (suggested: Lamboise Frambic)
Instructions
For the Dark Chocolate Cupcake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 20 regular cupcake pans with cupcake wrappers.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift or whisk all of the dry ingredients together. Add all remaining ingedients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and beat or 2 minutes on medium speed. Spoon 3 tablespoons of cake batter into each cupcake tin. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and cool completely.
For the Nutella Ganache
  1. Place the Nutella in a medium size bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil and pour over the Nutella. Whisk or stir until smooth. Let cool completely.
Raspberry Buttercream
  1. Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually beat in 2 cups of the powdered sugar and then ¼ cup of the raspberry beer. Beat in the other 2 cups of powdered sugar and the remaining ¼ cup of the raspberry beer. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
To Assemble Cupcakes
  1. Using a serrated knife or apple corer, cut out a small piece from the middle of each cupcake. Fill with 2 teaspoons of Nutella ganache. Pipe with raspberry buttercream.
Notes
Makes 16 cupcakes.

 

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Java Mocha Protein Balls

I spied these dark chocolatey little bites of protein on Pinterest (where else?) the other day and knew right away I’d like them.  (See original recipe here.)  These are full of good fats and protein from the almonds, wheat germ, flax seed and protein powder and are lightly sweetened with dates and agave.  Oh and how could I forget the ground coffee.  Yes, it gets mixed right in with everything else for one powerhouse of a snack!  Forget the Snickers when you are feeling that afternoon slump…eat a couple of these for some REAL energy and nutrition.

Enjoy!

P.S.  This recipe makes ALOT  and my food processor wasn’t quite big enough so I had to split it into two batches.  Just FYI.

Java Mocha Protein Balls
 
Ingredients
  • ⅓ c. Ground Coffee
  • 4-5 T. Cocoa Powder
  • 2 c. Raw Almonds
  • ¼ c. Ground Flax Seed
  • ¼ c. Wheat Germ
  • 3 Scoops Plant-Based Chocolate Protein Powder (I prefer Garden of Life Chocolate Protein and Greens)
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 c. Dates, finely chopped
  • ¼ c. Agave
  • ½-3/4 c. Warm Water
  • Chopped Bittersweet Chocolate (Prefer Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chunks), Cocoa Powder or Coffee Beans (for rolling/decor)
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients excluding the agave and water into your food processor. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add the agave and then slowly add the water, pulsing as the consistency thickens like dough. Form dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in an air-tight container and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Remove from fridge, form into 1-inch balls and roll in chopped bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder or garnish with a coffee bean.
Notes
Makes 50.

 

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Sweets for Superbowl 2012

Sometimes I make the mistake of doing, ahem, research for my blog when I’m hungry.  And it never ends well.  After looking at numerous varieties of desserts for this post, it was all I could do to not go into my kitchen, get a huge bowl of peanut butter, sprinkle it with dark chocolate chips and crushed graham crackers and call it dinner.  But I didn’t!  Instead, I had a sensible meal of garden lasagna (delicious!) and refrained from eating every bit of sugar in my house.  Just a word of caution!

Any of these desserts would be GREAT for a Superbowl party.  I tried to choose things that were fairly simply and not too labor intensive.  After all, you’ve barely recovered from Christmas baking!  I really don’t think you can go wrong with whatever recipe you choose–they’re all delicious.  And next week I’ll have football themed desserts if you’re feeling a little more crafty with your baking…football shaped sweets are just too darn cute!

Brownies

The Baked Brownie

 

King Arthur Flour Brownie

 

S’mores Brownie

 

Caramel Coconut Pecan Brownies

 

Blondies

Peanut Butter Blondies

 

Fondue

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue, Salted Caramel Pecan Fondue and Apple Cinnamon Fondue

Chocolate Orange Fondue

Mocha Fondue

 

White Chocolate Fondue

Dessert Pizza

Apple Pie Pizza

Sugar Cookie & Fruit Pizza

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

Rocky Road Cookie Pizza

Cookies

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Oatmeal Cookies

 

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Peanut Butter Potato Chip Cookies

Monster Cookies

Turtle Cookies

Mudslide Cookies

 

Snack Mixes

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Mix

Gluten-Free Popcorn, Cereal & White Chocolate Mix

Sweet & Spicy Mix

Maple Cinnamon Cereal Mix

Pumpkin Spiced Mix

 

Puppy Chow

 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn

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Barbie and Cupcakes

I saw this display the other night in the window of one of my favorite art galleries, Good Girl Art, when Jeremy and I were downtown at Artwalk a couple of weeks ago.  I just thought it was too cute not to get a few pictures of it, despite having to use a camera phone in the dead of night.  So not the best quality, but really, how cute is this??  Barbie, candy and cupcakes.  I love it.

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Strawberry Cakies

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake…in cookie form.  That’s what this little pink nugget of cookie goodness is.  And it’s delicious.  I typically am against cake mixes but it is a must in this cookie (until I can figure out how to make it from scratch, of course!).  It’s soft and chewy all at the same time and bursting with strawberry flavor from the cake mix and tiny little pieces of dried strawberries.  And they’re perfect for that holiday coming up…ya know, the one with hearts and cupid and all that.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Cakies
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1, 8 oz. Package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 t. Vanilla
  • 1 Box Strawberry Cake Mix
  • ½-3/4 c. Finely Chopped Dried Strawberries
  • 1 c. Powdered Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla thoroughly. Beat in the cake mix and then the dried strawberries. The mixture will be very sticky, but that's ok, it's nothing a little powdered sugar can't handle. Put powdered sugar in a bowl. Coat your hands in powdered sugar and pinch off some of the cookie dough, roll into a ball about 1" in diameter and dredge in the powdered sugar then place on the baking sheet. Keep using the powdered sugar to coat your hands in order to work with the dough. Place the balls about 2" apart on the baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, rotating and switching racks halfway through to ensure even baking. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes and move to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
Notes
Makes 30 cookies.

 

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Whole Grain Strawberry Newtons

Ok, I am so so so excited about this recipe for (healthy) homemade strawberry newtons!  I had done a little research to see if there was anything that would make a good substitute for butter in cookies and let me tell you, the results were grim.  So I went ahead and made this recipe that I had found online that was already altered to be healthy but still included butter.  However, instead of using the butter I substituted a half cup pumpkin and 2 T. safflower oil.  These cookies didn’t turn out horrible and were actually pretty good, but in all honestly they were more like a whole wheat pie crust with strawberry filling and nothing like a thick, cakey fig newton.  Bummer.

So I decided the best place to start was with an unhealthy, regular ‘ole homemade newton recipe and I’d modify however I saw fit.  I found this one from Serious Eats and went with it, although I was a little skeptical of a couple of things, such as putting the cookies hot out of the oven into an air-tight container in order to “age”.  But I was proved wrong–these are phenomenal!  I did leave half the butter in but replaced the other half with pumpkin…and I can’t believe it worked!  These are low on sugar and full of whole grains, great for both adults and kids!

Enjoy!

Whole Grain Strawberry Newtons
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • ¼ t. Fine Sea Salt
  • ½ Stick Unsalted, All-Natural Butter, softened
  • ¼ c. Pumpkin
  • ¼ c. Sugar in the Raw
  • 2 T. Honey
  • ¼ t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ⅛ t. Cinnamon
  • 1 Large Egg plus 2 Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 T. Orange Juice
  • 1 c. All Fruit, No Added Sugar Strawberry Jam
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar, honey, baking soda, vanilla and cinnamon on medium speed until thoroughly mixed, about 5-7 minutes (it will still look runny and not fluffy, but that's ok!). Scrape down the sides with a spatula and continue mixing. With the mixer still running add the egg and mix thoroughly; add the egg white, one at each time, mixing throughly after each addition. Beat on high for two minutes. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour. Drizzle in the orange juice and continue mixing until thoroughly combined and dough is homogenous.
  3. Prepare a large sheet of plastic wrap and use a rubber spatula to transfer the dough from the bowl to the center of the plastic. Wrap the dough with the plastic, place in an air-tight container and let firm up in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight (I left mine in for about 9 hours).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Dust your counter generously with flour and gently (press LIGHTLY) start to roll dough out into a large rectangle, about 12x16. Halfway through rolling, dust the surface of your dough generously with flour, flip and continue rolling. With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 4 strips, about 3½ inches wide. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the strawberry jam down the middle of the dough, fold the edges over the filling and pinch to seal (make sure you seal them completely). Brush off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Place the dough strips on a the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
  5. As soon as the cookies are removed from the oven, use a sharp knife to trim each bar into several 1"long cookies. While the cookies are still warm, transfer them to an air-tight plastic container. If you need to stack the cookies, use parchment paper or foil between the layers. Seal the container tightly. This is done to slightly steam the cookies and give them the cake like texture..and it WORKS. Don't skip this step.
Notes
-Makes 25 cookies. -TIP: If you are worried about condensation after sealing the warm cookies (like I was), every 10 minutes or so wipe off the lid and inside edge of the container to prevent moisture.

 

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2012 Baking Resolutions

Photo courtesy of We Take the Cake.

I decided it would be a good idea to come up with some baking resolutions for 2012.  Just like with any other resolutions, I wanted to write them down and make specific goals.  Here’s what I came up with.

1.  More International Desserts.  Since my blog is titled Desserted Planet, I decided it would be fun to incorporate more desserts from around the globe.  My goal is to do one per month and I can’t wait to start with one that I’ve been meaning to make for a couple of years now, Brazo de Mercedes.  It’s a Pilipino treat that was introduced to me by my brother-in-law and his family (who are from the Philippines).  It’s a type of rolled cake (sometimes referred to as jelly roll) made from a sheet of soft meringue with custard filling, sometimes flavored with lemon.  It was love at first bite for me.  I can’t wait to try my hand at it.

2. More Classic Desserts.  I often get asked if I have great recipes for classic desserts such as Coconut Cake (see pic above), Pumpkin Pie, Carrot Cake, etc and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve not made a good deal of classic, tried and true dessert recipes.  That’s going to change!  I’ll be incorporating one per month from here on out.

3. More Challenging Desserts.  In other words, I can’t just throw it in a pan, shove it in the oven and BAM!  It’s done.  Now I do love those kind of recipes (and there are many good ones), but I want to stretch myself just a bit and try things that require a little more patience and methodology.  I’m thinking more French pastries, baklava, soufflé, etc.  Again, one each month.

4. More Healthy Desserts/Baked Items.  I LOVE healthy baking.  I know, shocker.  But I used to do a lot of healthy baking and love the challenge of finding suitable, all-natural substitutes for uber sugar-laden and fat-heavy sweets.   I’ve already got one under my belt, my Healthy Banana Bread, and plan to do lots more, think desserts, breads, muffins, etc…one recipe each week!  I’m very excited about this.

Did you have any New Year’s resolutions??  Baking or otherwise?  I’d love to hear them!

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White Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Well now that Christmas and New Year’s is behind us it’s on to the next holiday–Valentine’s Day!  There are so many cute things to make and bake for Valentine’s Day it’s really hard to know how to choose or where to start. But, I had seen these cookies on Pinterest and the ingredients alone made me want to make them immediately.  I have a thing for cherry-almond anything.  And cute, pink baked goods.

Speaking of pink, you can’t make much for a holiday that is trademarked in pink and red without using UNGODLY amounts of  dye.  And these cookies are no exception to that but you could always omit the dye and bring in the color with the sprinkles and sugar…at least it cuts back on the unnatural ingredients a little.

These were supposed to be a shortbread cookie but the dough was so incredibly dry I just couldn’t resist adding more liquid, plus I wasn’t happy with the flavor and wanted to amp up the cherry and almond in it.  They might not have quite the crumbly shortbread texture and actually more closely resemble a soft sugar cookie, but these cookies are AMAZING.  Jeremy and I could have eaten them all and according to him they are the best cookie I’ve ever made and I never need to make him a birthday cake ever again, just these cookies.  Done.

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from BHG

White Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Cold, Unsalted Butter
  • ½ c. Maraschino Cherries, drained, squeezed (somewhat) dry with paper towels and finely chopped
  • 11 oz. White Chocolate Chips
  • 3 t. Almond Extract
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla
  • 6 T. Cherry Juice, reserved from the maraschino cherries
  • Pink or Red Dye
  • Sprinkles, sanding sugar, etc for decor
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender or two forks (I actually prefer to use my fingers), cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained and chopped cherries and ⅔ cup of the white chocolate chips. Stir in the cherry juice, almond extract, vanilla and food dye. Knead the mixture a bit to get it into a more cohesive mass. Pinch off a chunk of dough and form a ¾-inch ball. Place on the cookie sheet and press down slightly with a drinking glass that has been dipped in granulated sugar.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine took 12 minutes exactly) or until the centers are set. Do not overbake. Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  4. In a small bowl, melt the rest of the white chocolate in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each. Dip half the cookies in the melted white chocolate and decorate with sprinkles, sugar, etc. Place on foil and let dry completely.
Notes
For a thinner white chocolate coating, use use white chocolate candy melts. That's what I will use the next time.

 

 

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Cupcakes on Etsy

I know I post ALOT about cupcakes but they are everywhere these days and trust me, if there was something even half as cute, I’d gladly blog about that but I have yet to find something as dainty and adorable.  So that being said…I LOVE these cupcake items from this seller on Etsy.  Almost everything is cupcake.  Just wanted to share the cuteness!

Hope everyone has had a great weekend!

Cupcake Wine Stopper.  I need these.

Cupcake Ring. Fashionable and delicious.

Cupcake Drawer Knobs.  I am so very tempted to replace all the knobs on my kitchen cabinets with these.  Don’t think Jeremy will go for it though…

Cupcake Kitchen Timer.  Soooo cute.

 

 

 

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Cupcakes…from Walgreens?

Yes, you read that right.  Walgreens now sells cupcakes under the name Good & Delish.  Jeremy and I were in this past weekend when we saw them and our curiosity was piqued.  I mean, isn’t buying a cupcake from Walgreens the equivalent of buying one at a gas station?  I mean, you just don’t do that!  It’s cupcake SIN.  But, we had to try these.  I was curious about the claim that they were “all natural” and was certain they would be just downright horrible.  So, I picked out three at $1.99 each and off we went to try them at home.

First up, Strawberry.  It was indeed all natural, deriving the strawberry flavor and pink color from beet juice.  My first impression of this cupcake was that it was HUGE.  Way bigger than a normal size cupcake.  My second thought was…”hmm, this isn’t bad”.  I mean, it was actually…gulp…good.  Yes, I know!  It’s cupcake sacrilege but the vanilla cake was actually VERY dense and moist and honestly good!!  The “strawberry” flavored frosting tasted more like cranberry or some other slightly indescribable berry, which wasn’t horrible, just not strawberry. And don’t be fooled by the little dollop of frosting on top; there is a tunnel of frosting down the middle.

On to the second one, Red Velvet.  Ummm, it was good too.  Not out of this world amazing, but in a pinch, it would curb that craving you have for something sweet and is far superior than something you’d pick up from Wal-mart.  Although this one was labeled “All Natural Flavors” due to the red dye in it.  Ah, details.

And last, Tuxedo.  Ok, get ready for this people…I really, REALLY liked this one.  Jeremy and I both agreed it was our favorite. It was a dark chocolate cake that was honestly soooo good.  Very rich and super moist (how do they do that?!?) and the cream cheese frosting was yummy as well.

Oh, and this is a Black Cherry drink under the same label, that Jeremy just had to try.  Again, very good.  Awesome cherry flavor and it was lightly carbonated.

Needless to say, we were impressed.  Seriously, I can’t believe I’m saying that!!  I totally expected these to be the WORST cupcakes ever but that was not the case at all.

So, if the urge ever hits you around 2 a.m. for a cupcake, now you know where to go!

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Dessert Trends of 2011

Looking back on the world of pastry in 2011, it was a pretty good year.  But there was some not-so-good mixed in according to a few food critics.  What made the list of good and bad??  Find out now!

Up first…cake pops!  While cupcakes are the number one sugary obsession with just about every living, breathing human being, cake pops came in a close second during the past year.  People call these things crack on a stick and eat them like they truly are!!  Personally, I prefer my cake and frosting separate and in layers.  But that’s just me.  Read more about the “worst” food trends (including cake pops) here.

Hello Kitty Cake Pops by Bakerella

Also noted in the aforementioned article, savory sweets.  Cheese and bacon cupcakes??  Salami flavored marshmallows?!  Umm, no thanks!  While there is a place for a touch of savory at times (think bacon maple cupcakes or beer infused baked goods), there’s a fine line between good and gross.

Jalapeno Bacon Cupcakes by mybakingheart.com

Speaking of beer, it became very trendy to use it in baking as noted by Serious Eats.  From beer brittle to these beer and pretzel caramels, it looks like it will be making more appearances in baked goods in the future.  And I have nothing against that.

Beer Pretzel Caramel. Image Courtesy of Serious Eats.

Serious Eats also noted the macaron trend, perhaps my most favorite of all cookie sandwiches.  This is a trend that I hope continues to grow.

French Macarons. Image courtesy Serious Eats.

Finally, a trend in Miami that some there wish would disappear…mini cupcakes.  They don’t like them.  Not one bit.

Mini Cupcakes from thecupcakeblog.com

So what do you think about these trends??  Do you agree with the critics?  I think overall 2011 was a pretty good year for desserts and I definitely can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store!

 

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Easiest, Yummiest (Healthy!) Banana Bread

 

Happy New Year!!  I hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  I’m sure that you celebrated to the max and are now on to thinking about all those New Year’s resolutions, one of which is most likely to lose weight.  Now, that’s all good and everything and I believe in you, I really do, but don’t go thinking dessert can’t fit into a healthy diet…in moderation, of course!  I mean, you have to have a little treat every now and then or else you’re bound to get so deprived that one day you snap and go to the nearest gas station, raid the candy bar aisle and have a total diet meltdown inside the confines of your car in a very dark parking lot somewhere and find yourself buried in a heap of wrappers and half-eaten Snickers…

Ummmm, ok.  Ahem.  Where was I??  Oh yes!  New Year’s resolutions.  I am not going to go totally health conscious on this blog but do want to support all of you out there in your healthy eating endeavors and in order to do so, I am making my very first post of the new year an uber-healthy one!  This banana bread is seriously delicious and seriously healthy.  I don’t mean low-fat, low-calorie healthy (although it is that also), I’m talking about chalked full of NUTRITION healthy.  There is ZERO oil in this bread and a healthy dose of Greek yogurt which is packed with tons of protein.  I also used wheat bran, thick cut oats and white whole wheat flour to give it some extra fiber and nutrients.  The edges got just a little well done, as you can see, but the bread turned out fabulous and I’ll definitely make this a staple in our household.

Enjoy!

Easiest, Yummiest, (Healthy!) Banana Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. White Whole Wheat Flour
  • ½ c. Thick Cut Oats
  • ½ c. Wheat Bran
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Salt
  • ½ t. Cinnamon
  • 1 Large Egg, plus 1 Egg White
  • ½ c. Fat-Free Greek Yogurt
  • 1⅓ c. Mashed, Fully Ripe Bananas (3 bananas)
  • ¾ c. Honey
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, wheat bran, oats, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. In a large bowl, stir together egg and egg white, honey, vanilla, Greek yogurt and bananas. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and stir until just moistened. Pour into loaf pan and sprinkle with oats.
  3. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely.
Notes
Serves 16.

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Gingerbread Cheesecake

Please excuse me for a moment while I declare this THE. BEST. CHEESECAKE. RECIPE. EEEEEEVVVVVERRRRR.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way…I made this cheesecake the other night with my friend Nicole.  She wanted to make it for her family for Christmas and I am SO glad she did.  It’s truly amazing, super creamy, has THE BEST gingerbread flavor and  is heavy on the molasses which I love!  And I have a newfound faith in water baths..we actually used one, after my ranting and raving that I didn’t think they actually made a difference.  Well, they DO.  There was not even a hint of a crack on the top of the cheesecake and I really believe it contributed to the creaminess of it.  Just divine.  Perfect if, say, you have a party this weekend…there might be a couple happening.  Just maybe.

(Recipe from Cooking Pleasures Magazine)

Gingerbread Cheesecake
 
Ingredients
Crust
  • 2 c. Finely Ground Gingersnaps
  • 6 T. Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 T. Granulated Sugar
Filling
  • 4, 8 oz. packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ c. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • ½ c. Sour Cream
  • ½ c. Molasses
  • 2 t. Ground Ginger
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Ground Cloves
Topping
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla
  • 1 T. Rum (optional...but recommended)
Instructions
For the Cheesecake:
  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and wrap outside of pan with a couple pieces of heavy-duty foil.
  2. Combine all crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Press into bottom and halfway up sides of springform pan. Refrigerate while you make the rest of the cheesecake.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and both sugars until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add all remaining filling ingredients and mix until combined. Pour into crust.
  4. Place pan in a large baking or broiler pan. Add enough water to baking pan to come a couple inches (no more than halfway) up the sides of the springform pan. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until edges are puffed and top is dry to the touch. Center should move slightly when pan is tapped but should not ripple as if liquid.
  5. Remove cake from water bath; Remove foil. Cool on wire rack 1 hour. Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight.
For the Whipped Cream Topping:
  1. Beat heavy whipping cream in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Beat in powdered sugar, vanilla and rum. Spread over top of cooled cake.
Notes
Serves 20

Nicole mentioned, and I agree, that even though we cooked it for an hour and a half (five minutes longer than the recipe called for), it could have probably used another 5-10 minutes.  So, use your judgement.

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New Year’s Eve Cupcakes

Yes, cupcakes. Again.  People love them, there’s absolutely no denying that.  When I first started researching for this post, I wanted to do cupcakes that were themed and decorated for New Year’s Eve but man, the selection and variety was abysmal!  So instead of coming up with (and making) something cute and clever myself, I opted for Plan B:  Boozy Cupcakes.

Are cupcakes and liquor a match made in heaven? Most certainly.  I love any chance I get to throw alcohol into my desserts and these cupcakes are an absolutely legitimate excuse to do just that.  So, for the guests at your New Year’s Eve party that love cupcakes and would rather eat their alcohol than drink it (or do both), whip up one or two of the cupcakes below…maybe create a cupcake “bar”??  I think that’s one bar-tending job I could handle!

 

White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes

Stout Cupcakes

Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

 

Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes

Mudslide Cupcakes

 

Jack and Coke Cupcakes

 

Margarita Cupcakes

Red Wine Cupcakes

 

Chambord Cupcakes

Cupcake “Shots”

 

 

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Mini Doughnut Muffins

Another recipe to add to your mini dessert collection!  Well, I suppose these are actually classified as breakfast but seriously, let’s be honest…this is DESSERT.  A really, really, delicious, cinnamony, sugary, cakey, yummy dessert!  These taste just like a cake doughnut, minus the frying part so I suppose you can feel not *quite* as guilty eating one or two or four.  They are mini after all.

I chose to do half with cinnamon sugar and half with strawberry jam and powdered sugar and they were both delicious.  The batter was VERY thick which worried me a bit as I was spooning it into the mini muffin tins but much to my pleasant surprise these turned out super tender and like I said before, just like a cake doughnut!  I’m thinking this recipe would be perfect for my doughnut pan.

Add this recipe to your New Year’s Eve desserts menu!  Think about serving them with small mugs or shot glasses of milk at the end of the night.  Perfect end to a night of partying.

(Recipe adapted from Blue Ribbon Cookbook)

Mini Doughnut Muffins
 
Ingredients
Doughnut Muffins
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2½ t. Baking Powder
  • ¼ t. Baking Soda
  • ¾ t. Salt
  • ½ t. Ground Nutmeg
  • 10 T. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ¾ c. plus 2 T. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ¾ c. Whole Milk, at room temperature
  • 2 T. Buttermilk, at room temperature
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
  • 8 T. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 T. Ground Cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2, 24-cup mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the milk and buttermilk.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time until just combined. Beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in ⅓ of the flour mixture until combined and then half of the milk mixture. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the flour mixture. Beat on low speed just until incorporated. Do not over mix.
  5. Fill the prepared muffin cups just to the rim with batter, about a spoonful. Bake, one pan at a time, until lightly golden and firm to touch, 15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
  6. While the muffins cool, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large, resealable plastic bag. Brush each muffin generously with melted butter. Place a few muffins in the bag with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Shake well to coat the muffins. Repeat with remaining muffins.
Notes
-For Jelly Doughnut Muffins, I omitted the nutmeg and filled middle of the doughnut muffin with strawberry jam before baking and shook in a bag with powdered sugar after they had cooled. You could also fill them with jam after baking, with a pastry bag and small tip. -Makes about 40 doughnut muffins.

 

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