Chocolate Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Frosting

I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck are cupcakes doing on the “healthy recipe day”, right??  Believe it or not I have found a recipe for healthy cupcakes!  Well, they are at least INFINITELY better for you than the regular ones.  After adding up some of the nutrition facts on these, I don’t even want to think about the amounts of sugar, fat and calories in regular cupcakes.  Gulp!  Not good, not good at all.  Which is why they are a TREAT and should be eaten in moderation.

But I digress….let’s back to these fabulous, nutrition-packed little cakes, shall we?

What if I told you that the flour in these was replaced with a black beans??  Say whaaaaat??  Yep, black beans…you know the things that go in your burritos, soup and make a mean chip dip?  Yes, those!  Now I’ve seen many recipes lately for brownies made with black beans, all with mixed reviews, so I was very intrigued by this cake and I have to admit that the pictures of it looked so good, I just had to try it.  As I mixed up the batter and was filling my muffin cups, my curiosity got the best of me and I tried a little taste…umm, it was good!!  Tasted just like regular cake batter.  Ok, I was hopeful at this point.  Things started looking even better as they baked..they smelled amazing and were actually rising, even though they never quite formed a “dome” like regular cupcakes.

Once I had them cooled off, I couldn’t resist trying one, despite what the original poster of the recipe said about letting them set overnight to lose any “black bean” taste.  To my delight the cake was super moist and had no bean taste at all!!  I loved them.  And I was totally shocked!  This is seriously revolutionary for me people..I see many experiments in the future!

As for the frosting, I really wasn’t sure how to make a “healthy” frosting, especially since I didn’t want to use powdered sugar.  I did some research online and found some recipes that used cream cheese with honey or butter and vegan shortening, but I really wanted something as healthy as possible.  I finally decided on Neufchatel cheese (which I’ve recently discovered and LOVE..way better than cream cheese and less fat!)  with some honey.  I threw in a little almond milk which I think I’d omit because it made the frosting less sturdy and more like a super thick yogurt.  For natural pink color and super delicious flavor, I threw some freeze-dried cherries in my food processor until they were a fine powder.  The cherries were actually quite expensive so feel free to buy a less costly berry…or you can omit the powder all-together but I’m not sure how the consistency will be if you do.  I was pleased with the end result (as in, I was eating it with a spoon…oooops), but will probably keep working on frostings and experimenting to get a thick, creamy more “normal” frosting.

Anywho, that’s the story of my first healthy cupcake.  In my mind it was a total success and I couldn’t be happier.  Guess I gotta stock up on black beans now!

Recipe adapted from healthyindulgences.net

Chocolate Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Frosting
 
Ingredients
Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1, 15 oz. Can Unseasoned Black Beans, drained and rinsed (shake off ALL excess water)
  • 3 Large Eggs, 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ t. Sea Salt
  • 4 T. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 T. Unsweetened Applesauce (or pumpkin...I was out, otherwise I would have used it)
  • ½ c. Honey
  • 6 T. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
Tart Cherry Frosting
  • 12 oz. Organic, Neufchatel Cheese
  • ½ c. Honey
  • 2 T. Almond Milk (optional--don't recommend)
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ c. Ground, Freeze-Dried Tart Cherries
  • Dried, Naturally Sweet Tart Cherries (for topping)
Instructions
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two, regular-size muffin tins with cupcake liners (only need 16).
  2. Place beans, the 3 eggs, salt and vanilla in a blender and blend on high until beans are completely liquified. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, applesauce (or pumpkin) and honey on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (I beat for about 10 minutes..never really got "fluffy" but wasn't total liquid either). Add the egg whites one at a time. Pour in the bean mixture and mix thoroughly. Gradually add the cocoa powder mixture and beat on high for one minute, until smooth. Place three tablespoons of batter into each lined muffin tin. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes at clean. Cool completely.
For the Tart Cherry Frosting
  1. Cream the Neufchatel in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the honey. Beat in vanilla, almond milk (if using) and ground, freeze-dried cherries. Let sit in refrigerator for a couple of hours to stiffen up.
  2. Top each cupcake with a heaping spoonful of frosting and smooth with an off-set spatula. Top with a dried cherry.
  3. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until a few minutes before serving.
Notes
Makes 16 cupcakes.

 

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Romantic Valentine’s Day Dessert

Despite the title of this post, I’m not really sure desserts can be classified as sexy, romantic, etc.  I mean, what defines that exactly??  Is chocolate inherently sexy??  Is it the shape of the dessert?!?  Is it the way the candlelight bounces off the glistening, sugary crust of your crème brûlée into the deep and yearning eyes of your one and only true love??!?!

These are the important questions people!!

Ah well, regardless of what you think of the umm, sex appeal (?) of sugar, these desserts are touted as perfect for a romantic evening and sure to get you…uhh….in the mood…for…dessert??  Yeah, let’s go with that!

Cupid Cakes (plus many more from Woman’s Day)

Chocolate Souffle

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding with Raspberries

Individual Brownie Sundaes

Crème Brûlée

Almond Praline Cakes (see more desserts for two from Taste of Home)

Lemon and White Chocolate Mousse Parfaits with Strawberries

Cherry-Ricotta Doughnut Holes with Chocolate Sauce

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Red Velvet Crepes

Chocolate Fondue

Strawberry Zabaglione

Mocha Pots de Crème

 

 

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Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

As you know I can’t let a holiday pass without showing all the best that the internet has to offer in themed cupcakes. And Valentine’s Day is no exception!  Check out these absolutely adorable cupcake ideas!

Box of Chocolates Cupcakes

 

Heart in the Middle Cupcake

 

Cupcakes for Two in Under 10 Minutes

 

Fondant Rose Cupcakes  (These pretty fondant roses have been a favorite of mine for a looong time!)

 

Swirled Two-Toned Frosting Cupcakes

 

Buttercream Frosting Rose Cupcakes

 

Sugared Heart Cupcake

 

Double Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

 

X and O Cereal Cupcakes

 

Conversation Heart Cupcakes

 

Red Velvet Heart Cupcakes

 

X and O Candy Cupcakes

 

Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes

 

Flying Hearts Cupcakes (L.O.V.E. these!)

 

Candy Kiss Cupcakes  (Could these be any cuter?!  Seriously.)

Sweetheart Cupcakes

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Strawberry Fruit Dip

Sometimes “mistakes” in the kitchen really work out.  For instance, Strawberry Fruit Dip.  It started with me wanting to do some kind of simple, homemade strawberry candy or truffle for Valentine’s Day.  But as I mixed up this pretty pink concoction, I slowly realized the consistency was, ummm, not quite…firm.  This is normally when I go into panic mode.  But I decided to shove it in the fridge overnight and see what would happen.  I literally laid in bed trying to think what I could do with the mixture.  It tasted WAY too good to throw out.  What to do?!!?

So, the next morning I was again racking my brain with what to do as I ran a few miles on the treadmill (how wrong is that??).  And then it hit me–fruit dip!  Perfect.  I wouldn’t have to throw it out!  Phew.  And what a yummy fruit dip it is…packed with strawberry flavor and so creamy and delicious.  I served it at a party with graham crackers, fudge brownies, pretzel chips, strawberries, bananas and apples.  My favorite thing to dip in it was the pretzel chips.  It reminded me a really amazing white chocolate dipped pretzel but with strawberry flavor thrown in.  And the best thing was I didn’t have to spend hours in my kitchen rolling little balls of strawberry truffles and dipping them in chocolate.

Yay for “mistakes”!

Strawberry Fruit Dip
 
Ingredients
  • 1, 8 oz. Package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Morsels, melted and cooled
  • 1 c. Vanilla Wafer Crumbs
  • ½ c. Strawberry Preserves
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla
  • ¼ t. Strawberry Oil (optional)
  • 1 c. Powder Sugar
  • Pink Dye (for color--optional)
Instructions
  1. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until cream. Beat in melted chocolate until smooth. Stir in vanilla wafer crumbs, strawberry preserves, vanilla and strawberry oil. Beat in powdered sugar. Serve with fruit, cookies, marshmallows, pretzels, etc.

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Strawberry Almond Butter Soup

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Fridays have become the designated “healthy recipe” day.  And today I have a recipe for a sweet dessert soup to share with you!  I’ll never forget the first time I had a fruit “soup” was on the one and only cruise I took to the Bahamas after I graduated high school.  They served it with dinner one night and I fell in LOVE.  It was sweet and creamy and so refreshing!  Just like this delicious recipe!  Jeremy seemed really confused by the name and I asked a couple of times why it was called soup…but I honestly don’t know!  It’s blended in a blender but it doesn’t have ice so it’s not really a smoothie..so what else would you call it?!  Other than amazingly delicious!  We enjoyed this for dessert a couple of nights in a row and it is sooo much healthier for you than your typical after dinner fare.  It’s got fruit, protein and calcium..almost a meal in itself!

Enjoy!

Strawberry Almond Butter Soup
 
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs Strawberries (4 cups sliced)
  • ¼ c. Plain, Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 2 T. Natural Almond Butter
  • ½ t. Almond Extract
  • 2 T. Agave, or to taste depending on the sweetness of your strawberries
  • Chopped strawberries and almonds, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Remove green stems off strawberries, rinse well, pat dry and slice.
  2. In a blender, add the almond milk, strawberries, almond extract and almond butter. Starting on lowest speed, blend until it comes together. Turn up the speed gradually and blend until completely smooth.
  3. Taste test and add your desired sweetener. Blend again to combine. If your blender does not puree the seeds, you can pour the soup through a fine strainer. (or just leave the seeds, which is what I did--I don't mind them)
  4. With blender cover on, place blender in the fridge and chill until very cold, a few hours or overnight. Alternatively, you could chill in a container in the freezer to speed things up. Keeps for a few days in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes about 3 cups.

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Kid-Friendly Valentine’s Day Treats

Most people think of romance when they think of Valentine’s Day but it’s also a great day to express your love to your kiddos!  And let them do the same to others!  I thought I’d share some easy, kid-friendly treats I found around the web.  Even as an adult with zero kids, I’m tempted to make some of these–they are just that cute!

Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats Hearts

Valentine Jelly Pops

Valentine’s Day Marshmallow Pops

Chocolate-Raspberry Hearts

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Sweethearts Bark

Valentine’s Day Candy Cane Hearts

Easy Valentine’s Day Brownies

Oreo Cakester Hearts

Valentine’s Heart Cookie Pops

Valentine S’mores

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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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