Perfect Party Cupcakes

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

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

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

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

Perfect Party Cupcakes

1 1/2 c. Sugar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter

2 1/4 c. Cake Flour

1 T. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Salt

1 1/4 c. Whole Milk

4 Large Egg Whites

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

Buttercream (recipe below)

Directions

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

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

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

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

Makes 24.

Buttercream Dream Frosting

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter

1 c. Shortening

1/8 t. Salt

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 pounds (7.5 c.) Powdered Sugar, sifted

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

Pink Dye (optional)

Directions

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

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Oreo Brownie

Get some milk.  Like, a gallon.  These are VERY rich but for some reason you won’t be able to stop eating them.  Maybe because it’s a chocolate chip cookie…and an Oreo…and a brownie…all in one, umm, cookie?   Brownie?  Cakelet?  It’s definitely not a muffin.  Kind of looks like one but it is definitely, DEFINITELY NOT a muffin.    And sadly, without that pretty swirl of frosting on top, it can’t pass as a cupcake.  Bummer.

Hmmm, what to call it.  Well, if you can think of anything let me know.  For now, just know that when you layer chocolate chip cookie dough with an Oreo and top it with brownie batter you pretty much have a trifecta of cookie awesomeness that is nearly indescribable.  Make these now!

P.S.  My husband suggested topping them with buttercream.  Where would he get such a crazy idea?!?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oreo Brownie
Dessert
48
 
Ingredients
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. Brown Sugar, packed
  • ¾ c. Shortening
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 2¼ c. AP Flour
  • 1, 12 oz. Package Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Directions
  • In a mixer, cream sugars, butter and shortening until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl and add to wet ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. set aside
  • Brownie Batter
  • 4 (1 oz.) Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Squares
  • ¾ c. (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter
  • ¾ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1¼ c. Brown Sugar, packed
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 c. AP flour
  • 3 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • Directions
  • Microwave chocolate squares and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl until melted and smooth, stirring at 20-second intervals. Whisk in granulated and brown sugars. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Whisk in flour and salt.
  • Oreos
  • Buy them.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a regular size muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Using a 2-inch scoop, drop a level scoop of cookie dough into the muffin tin. Gently press an Oreo into the cookie dough. Spoon a small amount of brownie batter over the Oreo. Bake for 15-18 minutes (15 for barely under-done and slightly gooey). Let cool completely in the muffin tin. Gently slide a butter knife along the sides of the muffin tin and carefully remove.

 

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Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Chips

Today is National Pretzel Day!  Yep, get excited.  I know it’s a little late in the day but there is still time to make these super easy chocolate covered pretzels.  I wanted to give this classic treat a little update so I used pretzel chips and through in some peanut butter.    The pretzels even have their own little “handle”, making dipping a cinch.  You can have them done in about 30 minutes!  How great is that?

And yes, there is a food for every day.  Check out this link that lists each month at the bottom of the page, click on the month and it will take you to a daily list.   Ya know, just in case you were wondering when you should plan on celebrating raisins or escargot or something ummmm…equally delicious…

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzel Chips

-Pretzel Chips
-Peanut Butter
-Dark, Milk or White Chocolate Candy Discs

Directions

In a medium bowl, microwave the chocolate until melted, stirring every 20 seconds.  Spread a generous dollop of peanut butter on one side of the pretzel and dip in the melted chocolate.  Place on foil and let dry completely. Decorate with a drizzle of white chocolate (if dipping in dark, or vice versa).

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Strawberry Lemonade Candy Cups

A couple of days ago I found myself with a few strawberries that desperately needed to be used and found this recipe for Strawberry Lemonade Truffles.   Obviously mine didn’t turn out as truffles because the mixture never stiffened up completely so I just turned them into candy cups.  While not quite as simple as scooping the mixture into balls and dipping them in chocolate, it worked just as well.

The end results were quite tasty.  They reminded me of the Lemon Berry Slush at Sonic…only dipped in white chocolate.  And they definitely are on the sweet side due to all the white chocolate but the tartness of the lemon helps to balance that out.  A nice and different summertime treat!

Strawberry Lemonade Candy Cups

  • 8 oz. Fresh Strawberries, sliced (will yield 1/3 c. strawberry puree)
  • 1 T. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 t. Light Corn Syrup
  • 12 oz. White Chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 t. Citric Acid  (find at local health food store)
  • 1/2 t. Strawberry Extract
  • 1/4 c. Dried Strawberries, finely chopped
  • Zest of One Lemon
  • 1 lb. White Chocolate Candy Coating Wafers
  • Decoration:  Chopped Candied Lemon Zest, Yellow/Pink Sanding Sugar, Processed Freeze-Dried Strawberries

Directions

  1. Place the chopped white chocolate in a medium size bowl and microwave until melted stirring every 20 seconds.
  2. Place the sliced strawberries in a medium saucepan and heat them over medium heat until they release their juices and become a chunky strawberry sauce.  Blend them in a food processor or blender and then strain them to remove any seeds (I didn’t bother with straining them).  Set aside 1/3 cup of the strawberry puree.
  3. Combine the 1/3 cup strawberry puree, heavy whipping cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour over into melted white chocolate and stir to combine.  Add the citric acid, lemon zest, strawberry extract and chopped dried strawberries and stir until thoroughly incorporated.  Let chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
  4. Place the white chocolate wafers in a small bowl and melt in the microwave stirring every 20 seconds.  Fill each cavity of a candy cup mold with one teaspoon of white chocolate.  Gently tip and rotate the mold to cover it’s sides and bottom with the chocolate and place in the freezer for one minute to completely harden.  Fill hardened candy cup mold with 1/2 teaspoon of the strawberry lemonade mixture and then carefully cover with more white chocolate and decoration of your choice.  Place in freezer for one minute to harden.  Carefully flip mold upside down onto foil and press gently on bottom of each candy cup until they pop out.

Makes 48.

 

 

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Mini Robin Eggs

Holidays.  Food, food and more food. What it’s all about.  Oh, and candy.  Lots and lots of candy.  In fact, so much candy that it can be quite confusing walking down the holiday candy aisle in a store.  How do you choose?  Solid chocolate bunnies, hollow chocolate bunnies, hollow white chocolate peanut butter swirl bunnies, peanut butter eggs, pastel everything, speckled gum, bunny gummies, oh and of course…Peeps.  I can barely type that.  How does something so completely inedible sell like hotcakes every year?  I don’t get it.

Anyway, the point is there are a LOT of choices.  But I’m going to help you make the right one.  Next to Junior Mints, Butterfingers and every variety of sour gummy candy out there, malted mini Robin Eggs are the only (Easter) candy worth your money and daily allotment of saturated fat and sugar.  In my humble opinion.  So sweet.  So perfectly crunchy.  So…malty.  I could eat a whole bag (or two) in the time it takes to watch one episode of American Idol.  This candy is good.  And dangerous.

So hopefully this will help you cut down on the 30 minutes or so you’ll spend in the candy aisle, picking up bags and putting them back, agonizing over what to get.  Before you know it you’ll through the express check out line, in your car and have half the bag eaten before you even leave the parking lot.

P.S. If you are a mini Robin Egg lover such as myself, check out these fun recipe ideas!

Chocolate Pudding Cookies

Robin Eggs Chocolate Dipped Caramel Apples

Easter Malt Cupcakes

Robin’s Egg Nest Treats

 

 

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Ooey Gooey Fudge Brownies

After my little strawberry doughnut mishap this past weekend, I just HAD to get back in the kitchen and reassure myself that I could still bake.  I needed something awesome, something that was a sure thing.  And two things that I know are both:  brownies and ooey gooey butter cake.

I had a recipe idea for awhile that I’d been wanting to try.  My grand scheme was to top brownies with the filling from Ooey Gooey Butter Cake (I’m sure someone, somewhere has already done this but I  like to think it’s my own original brilliance).  I found this recipe a couple of weeks ago for brownies and they seemed too easy to be getting the rave reveiws they were raking in, but I thought why not?  Maybe I will finally find my “go-to” brownie recipe.

As for the results?  The brownies were awesome, fudgy and delicious!  And SO easy.  They were a tad undercooked since I was tinkering with the recipe and not sure about the time.  They probably could have used five more minutes.  And next time I might adjust them to have a little more of the ooey gooeyness–maybe increase that mixture by 1.5.  But, I think I have indeed found my go-to brownie recipe!  Enjoy!

Ooey Gooey Fudge Brownies

Brownies

6 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Squares, finely chopped

2 Sticks+2 T. Unsalted Butter

1 1/2 c. Firmly Packed Brown Sugar

1 c.+2 T. Granulated Sugar

5 Eggs

1 1/2 c. AP Flour

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 t. Salt

Ooey Gooey Filling

1, 8 oz. Package Cream Cheese, softened

2 Eggs

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1, 16 oz. (3 3/4 c.) Box of Powdered Sugar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease bottom and sides of 9×13″ pan.

Microwave chopped chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 25 seconds until completely smooth and melted.  Whisk in granulated and brown sugars.  Add eggs, one at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition.  Whisk in flour, vanilla and salt.

Pour brownie mixture into pan.

Next, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs and vanilla.  Dump in powdered sugar and beat well.  Reduce speed of mixer and slowly pour in butter.  Mix well.  Spread evenly on brownie mixture.

Bake for 60 minutes. (I would do 65 next time since they were a tad underdone.)  Cool completely on wire rack and cut into squares.

Makes 24 brownies.

 

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Strawberry Doughnuts & Milk Punch

I had really grand plans for breakfast today.  I mean, it was going to be a breakfast of epic proportions, unmatched anywhere, in any kitchen in Springfield, MO. Nothing would go wrong and everything would be AWESOME.  Right?  Right????

Yeah, not so much.

I’ll cut to the chase.  First, the doughnuts.  I wanted an old-fashioned, strawberry cake doughnut.  The batter came together easily but was quite sticky which required an absurd amount of flour on my counters, rolling pin and hands.  And they fried up nicely but I won’t lie…they weren’t the soft, moist cake doughnut I had in my mind.  The texture was dense and almost the teensiest bit chewy.  It could have been my tinkering with the recipe that doomed them so I will most likely try another recipe and omit MY changes next time.

And finally, the milk punch, apparently popular in New Orleans and really how can you go wrong with heavy cream, sugar and vanilla?  It turned out good.  Really, really good.  Of course this was after I let it thaw from solid milk hockey puck to nice slushy drink.  Whatever you do don’t leave this stuff in the freezer overnight.  No matter what any recipe/blogger tells you, it’s a bad idea.  Stick to 3-4 hours and you should be safe.  The recipe calls for alcohol of some sort (think eggnog alternative) but for those of you who don’t care for booze, feel free to just leave it out.

So at least try the milk punch, it’s totally delicious.  And as for the doughnuts…by all means, suggest a recipe if you have a good one!

Milk Punch

1 c. Powedered Sugar

3 c. Heavy Whipping Cream

2 c. Whole Milk

1/4 c. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 c. Bourbon (or Whiskey, Brandy, whatever you like), optional

In a large bowl or pitcher, whisk together milk, heavy cream, bourbon, vanilla, and sugar.  Freeze until slushy, 3-4 hours.  Stir before serving in chilled glases.

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Alexandria’s Cupcake Cottage

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to drop into a new bakery in town, Alexandria’s Cupcake Cottage at 1332 E. Republic Road.  It’s a quaint little space full of antique and 50’s/60ss retro furniture, signage and decor.  It’s a little overwhelming when you walk in because the tiny space is crowded with so much…small and large tables, lots of non-food retail items such as aprons, dessert themed soaps and lotions and a few other fun items.

Eventually, I made my way to the bakery case to see what magical sugary delights awaited me.  There were a few chocolate truffles in the case, a couple of different cookies, cannolis,  birthday cakes and of course cupcakes.  I chose classics–a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and a red velvet cake with cream cheese buttercream.   At $2 a piece they were decently priced and sized.

So how were they?  Overall, ok.  The vanilla cake was very moist and the frosting was good but a little too sickeningly sweet.  As for the red velvet, Jeremy and I both agreed it was very disappointing.  The cake was moist but had a strange bitter taste from the cocoa and the cream cheese frosting was way too cream cheesey and tangy for my liking.  What I did like about these was the amount of frosting on the cupcakes–it was piled on!  Just wish it had tasted better.

I probably will go back because I’ve heard their cannolis are very good and I’d also like to try the chocolate truffles.  But for now I think I’ll stick to making my cupcakes at home.  Try them and let me know what you think!

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White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Every now and then I come across a recipe that is good.  Like, really good.  And people inevitably ask me for the recipe to which I reply “Yes!  Of course I’ll give it to you!”  And then I, ummm…conveniently “forget”.  I guess it’s not very nice.  It’s just that when something is so good and people are so impressed, you hate to let them in on the fact that your famous cookie/cake/brownie/whatever you make is really not that difficult and complicated.  They might not see you as the culinary genius they think you are anymore!

But lately I’ve been rethinking my selfish ways and decided that I should start sharing some of my more coveted recipes with others.  There’s no better place to start than with this cheesecake recipe that has been my go-to for whatever–birthdays, weddings, bridal/baby showers, etc.  It is seriously fail-proof and so delicious.  Oh, and did I mention simple?  It is, I swear!

I initially got this recipe out of a Better Homes and Gardens special baking edition and it was originally Maple Pecan, I believe.  But since then, I’ve morphed it into many things…chai cheesecake, chocolate chip cheesecake, Oreo, etc.  It is that versatile.  So this time I did a white chocolate raspberry version and it turned out quite fabulous.  Super creamy with a little extra sweetness from the white chocolate and tart from the raspberries.  So go ahead, make it…and enjoy all the many compliments you will get!

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

2 c. Graham Cracker, processed in food processor

9 T. Unsalted Butter, melted

3, 8 oz. Packages Cream Cheese, softened

1 c. Granulated Sugar

2 T. AP Flour

3 Eggs

1/2 c. Half-and-Half

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 c. Raspberry Preserves, slightly warmed in a bowl

1 c. White Chocolate Chips, melted and slightly cooled

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a 9×13″ pan.  Line with foil, letting foil hang over ends for “handles”.  Grease foil

Mix together the processed graham crackers and butter in a bowl.  With your hands, pat down firmly into the bottom of the pan.

In mixer, combine cream cheese, granulated sugar and the 2 T. flour.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined.  Add eggs all at once.  Beat on low speed just until combined.  Stir in half-and-half, vanilla and melted white chocolate chips.  Pour half of the filling into the crust-lined pan, spreading evenly.   Spoon half of the raspberry preserves over the filling and gently swirl with a knife, being careful not to cut into the crust.  Pour the other half of the filling into the pan and spoon remaining preserves onto the filling.  Swirl gently with knife.

Bake for 40 minutes or just until center is set.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 hour.  Cover and chill for at least 4-24 hours.  Use foil to carefully lift cheesecake from pan. (If the foil “handle” happens to rip, lift up one side as much as you can without bending the cheesecake too much, slide your hand underneath the cheesecake and lift out.)  Cut into 1-inch squares or however big you’d like them to be.

Makes about 65, 1-inch pieces.

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Pecan Sandies

Lately I’ve been trying to challenge myself when it comes to baking by doing non-chocolate desserts.  I really can’t believe how many things I bake have chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, chocolate glaze, chocolate frosting, are dipped in chocolate, etc, etc, etc.  You get the point.  I suppose chocolate is just easy and guaranteed to be yummy, but there really is a wonderful world of baking outside of it.

And part of that wonderful world is a simple but delicious little cookie known by many as a Pecan Sandie.  If you never had those delicious Keebler Pecan Sandies growing up, you were deprived!  And even though I didn’t have the originals on hand to do a side by side comparison, I’d say this homemade version is pretty darn close…crisp on the edges, buttery, with a shortbread texture and wonderful pecan flavor.

I adapted this recipe from the one here on allrecipes.com.  Just made a few minor changes to my liking.  Hope you enjoy them!

Pecan Sandies

1/2 c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

1/2 c. Vegetable Oil

1/4 c. Granulated Sugar

1/4 c. Packed Brown Sugar

1/2 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted

1 Egg

1 1/2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 c. AP Flour

1/2 t. Baking Soda

1/2 t. Cream of Tartar

1 t. Salt

1 c. Toasted Pecans, chopped

32 Pecan Halves, for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two pans with parchment paper.

In a mixer, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar until smooth.  Beat in the egg and then the vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt in a separate bowl.  Add to the butter/sugar mixture and combine.  Gently fold in pecans, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 10 minutes.  Scoop dough onto pans with a 2-inch cookie scoop and slightly flatten with the palm of your hand but leave them thick, because they will spread a little.  Press a pecan half into each cookie and bake for 10 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through.  Let cool on pan for 2 minutes and then cool completely on a cookie rack.

Makes 32 cookies.

 

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Cookie Dough Truffles-5 Ways

I’ve got a super, duper easy recipe to share with you.  That okay?  Good.  Because you’ll thank me the next time you have to come up with something sweet and delicious (not to mention cute) for a bridal shower or baby shower or last-minute company or work party or…well, you get the picture.

All I did was take the basic (egg-free) chocolate chip cookie dough truffle recipe below and made it five different ways by changing only a couple of ingredients and dipping the truffles in white or dark chocolate.  Of course, you can just stick with the basic recipe but I wanted to give you some ideas to get your creative juices flowing!  It’s a very versatile recipe so really you could make it into whichever cookie recipe happens to be your favorite.  Have fun!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles-Basic Recipe

1/2 c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

3/4 c. Packed Brown Sugar

2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1/8 t. Salt

2 1/4 c. AP Flour

14. oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 c. Semi-Sweet Mini Chocolate Chips

2 c. Dark Chocolate Candy Melts (such as Wilton or the brand I highly recommend, Chocoley)

In a mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until creamy.  Add vanilla and salt.  Gradually beat in flour and add milk.  (Mixture will seem sticky but it stiffens up nicely, don’t worry.)  Add chocolate chips.  Chill dough in fridge for a few minutes.

While dough is chilling, melt chocolate wafers in microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring each time.  When chocolate is completely melted, get dough out of fridge, shape into 1-inch balls and dip in chocolate.  Having something like this, helps alot. Place on foil to harden.  Drizzle with chocolate or decorate with sprinkles, sugar, etc.

Makes 50 Truffles.

Variations

1. Cherry Pecan Cookie–Replace chocolate chips with 1/2 c. chopped dried cherries and 1/2 c. toasted pecans

2. Oatmeal Raisin Cookie–Replace chocolate chips with 1/2 c. raisins and 1/2 c. oats

3.  Sugar Cookie–Replace the brown sugar with white sugar and omit chocolate chips

4. White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie–Replace brown sugar with white sugar and replace chocolate chips with 1/2 c. chopped macadamia nuts and 1/2 c. white chocolate chips

 

 

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Peanut Butter Potato Chip Cookies

Salty and sweet.  Seriously, could there be a better combination?  I think not.  And when that combination consists of peanut butter, butterscotch chips, chocolate and crushed potato chips, you pretty much have a recipe for amazingness.  Yes, that’s a word.  At least in my vocabulary.

I started with a recipe I found online for the “World’s Best Peanut Butter Cookie”, made some tweaks, dipped it in chocolate and finished with crushed potato chips.  The cookie itself is soft and slightly chewy and the end product reminds me of a Butterfinger in a weird (but extremely delicious) way.

I think you’ll love these.  Oh, and be sure and have a glass of milk nearby.

Peanut Butter Potato Chip Cookies

2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, softened

1 c. Brown Sugar

1 c. Granulated Sugar

2 c. Peanut Butter (I prefer Peter Pan)

2 Large Eggs

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 c. AP Flour

1 t. Baking Soda

1/2 t. Salt

12 oz. (2 c.)  Butterscotch Chips

12 oz. (2 c.)  Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli)

2 1/2 c. Crushed Wavy Potato Chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix butter, sugars and peanut butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time and then vanilla.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to butter mixture and thoroughly incorporate.  Mix in butterscotch chips.

Using a 1-inch scoop, place cookie dough on baking sheets two inches apart and bake for 10 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through.  Allow to cool on pans for two minutes and then transfer to wire rack.  Cool completely.

When cookies are cooled, place semi-sweet chocolate chips in bowl and microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each time, until chips are melted.  Dip bottom of a cookie into chocolate and scrape off excess with the back of a spoon.  Press the cookie, chocolate side down, into the crushed potato chips and place on foil to cool and harden.

Makes 50 cookies.

 

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Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Chip Scones

Earlier this evening I whipped up some “test” scones for a baby shower tomorrow.  The reason they were “test” scones is because it was the second time I had EVER made scones.  I knew that I LOVED the recipe I had made just a few weeks earlier, but it was for a savory Jalapeno Pepper Jack Scone so I determined to adapt it and make it work.  And it did!  Much to my relief.

In my opinion, these are the best scones and so easy!  They are soft, buttery and flaky with a perfectly crisp outside and the combination of raspberry and dark chocolate is divine.  I always thought scones were hard to make but they definitely are not.  I think it just comes down to having a good recipe.  Enjoy!

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Chip Scones

2 c. AP Flour

1 T. Baking Powder

1 t. Salt

1/4 c. Granulated Sugar

1 Stick Unsalted Butter, cold

2 Large Eggs

3/4 c. Heavy Whipping Cream (plus more for brushing tops of scones)

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 c. Frozen Raspberries

1 c. Dark Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Bittersweet)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.  Dice butter into small cubes and work into the flour mixture with your hands until it resembles a coarse meal.  The flour should be nice and crumbly.

Whisk together the eggs, heavy cream and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and fold together with a fork until almost fully incorporated.  Gently fold in chocolate chips and then lightly flour the surface of the counter where you will turn out the dough.

Divide dough into two portions.  Working quickly, toss 1/2 cup of the frozen raspberries in flour and then gently, but quickly, incorporate them into the dough.  It will be quite sticky.  Flour your hands and turn the dough onto the floured counter, and quickly but gently form the dough into a rectangle about 14 inches long and 2 inches thick.  Press against sides with a large knife to get straighter edges.  Cut dough in half and then cut the halves diagonally.  Repeat with remaining half of dough.  Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with heavy cream.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pans once, until scones are golden brown.  Let cool completely and drizzle with vanilla glaze (optional).

Makes 8 scones.

Vanilla Glaze

1/2 c. Powdered Sugar, plus 2 T.

5 t. Milk

2 t. Pure vanilla extract

Directions

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth.

 

 

 

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Blueberry Cookie Bars and Spicy Chickpea Salad

What is this!?  Fruits and vegetables on a dessert blog?!?  That’s right!  As long as it tastes good, I don’t discriminate.  These blueberry cookie bars are the result of needing something fairly quick and non-chocolate.   And despite having some technical difficulties (umm, spilling multiple ingredients EVERYWHERE) these turned out absolutely fabulous and addictive.   So deliciously chewy but still a little soft, with a deep, brown sugar buttery taste and pockets of juicy blueberry. (Just fyi, these were amazing the first day and had a definite cookie texture.  However, after sitting overnight the blueberries turned the whole thing into a wonderfully moist cake.  I’m not complaining either way.)

As for the chickpea salad, I made it tonight for dinner and just had to share.  Believe it or not, I LOVE healthy food and if you’re a fan of jalapeno, avocado, roasted almonds or spinach, you will love this recipe from Joy the Baker.

Ok, now for the cookie recipe…

Blueberry Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 c. Brown Sugar, firmly packed

1/2 c. Granulated Sugar

2 Large Eggs

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 c. AP Flour

1 t. Salt

1 t. Baking Soda

1/4 t. Ground Cinnamon

2 c. Fresh or Frozen Blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease a 9×13 pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on high until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda and set aside.

Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter/sugar mixture until each is incorporated.  Add the vanilla.

Add half the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.  Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Using a spatula, carefully fold in the blueberries.

Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan once during cooking time, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool completely.  Frost.

Note:  I think next time I will 1.5x the recipe just to get a thicker bar and up the cook time for 5 minutes or so.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

1/4 c. Crisco

8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold

5 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted

1/2 t. Salt

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

Cream butter, shortening and cream cheese on high until smooth.  Gradually add in powdered sugar and mix thoroughly for about 3 minutes, until smooth.  Add vanilla and salt and thoroughly incorporate.

 

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Shamrock Sugar Cookies

I racked my brain trying to think of something green to bake for St. Patrick’s day. All I could come up with was something with mint (original, I know) or pistachio and neither of those options appealed to me so I settled on sugar cookies.

And what could be more St. Patrick’s Day-ish than Lucky Charms? How about Lucky Charm marshmallows all over your shamrock sugar cookie?!? You can actually buy containers of these sweet little dehydrated sugar shapes at the Amish store in Branson. And you don’t need many…one, 1/3 lb. container for a mere $1.75 will be more than enough for your cookies. As I found out after buying THREE. Anyone need some extra sugar in their Lucky Charms cereal??? Let me know.

Thick Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

3 Egg Yolks

2 Eggs

1 c. Unsalted Butter, Softened

1 c. plus 1 T. Granulated Sugar

3 1/2 c. AP Flour

1 T. Baking Powder

1/4 t. Salt

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions

In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each. Mix in the vanilla.  Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Cover dough and chill for at least one hour (or speed chill in freezer for 30 minutes…which is what I did).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. On a floured surface roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut into desired shapes using cookie cutter. (I used a 4-inch cookie cutter and got 30 cookies.) Place 2-inches apart on the baking sheets.

Bake for 8 minutes in the oven, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with buttercream and decorate(recipe below).

Buttercream Frosting

2/3 c. (10 T.) Unsalted Butter, softened

4 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted

6 T. Milk (I use heavy whipping cream)

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 t. Pure Almond Extract (optional)

Beat butter, sugar and milk about 5 minutes. Beat in extracts. Decorate with sprinkles, marshmallows etc. (Allow cookies to set out for a while and the frosting will eventually stiffen up.)

P.S. These cookies work very well on a stick. Just insert lollipop stick into the dough once they are on the cookie sheet and voila! Cookies on a stick!

P.S.S. The marshmallows will get soft once they have set on the cookies a day or so. Just fyi.

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Whole Orange Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

I love the combination of orange and chocolate so when I saw this recipe on a blog, I knew immediately I had to try it.  It turned out quite yummy although the chocolate was a little overwhelming on the cake.  The cake by itself was delicious so I think next go around I’d just put an orange glaze on it.  Try it if you love orange and chocolate–you won’t be disappointed.

Whole Orange Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Ingredients
2 Whole Oranges (preferably seedless navel), scrubbed and washed well
3 Sticks of Unsalted Butter (3/4 pound), softened
2 c. Granulated White Sugar
3 Large Eggs, room temperature
1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
3 c. AP Flour
3 t. Baking Powder
1 t. salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a Bundt pan and set aside.

Quarter the oranges, remove any seeds if not using navel, and put in food processor to puree. Set aside.

While the oranges are pureeing, cream the butter and sugar together in the base of an electric mixer for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is fully combined.  Add the orange puree and vanilla extract and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix into the wet ingredients gently, just until fully combined.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan, spreading so that it is evenly distributed. Bake at 350 for about 60 minutes (mine took 70) or until a tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, pour on the chocolate ganache glaze (below) and let set for at least 1 hour before serving. Will keep for 3-5 days under a cake dome or plastic wrap.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Ingredients
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)

Heat the heavy cream over medium heat just until small bubbles begin to form. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and whisk gently until fully melted and combined. Let cool for 10 minutes before glazing cake. May be prepared in advance and gently reheated in a moderate microwave.

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White Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies

Well, it’s been a little while since I’ve done this whole blog thing (umm, like a YEAR) but I think I’m ready to give it another go. Life finally settled down and I managed to make some yummy cookies. But not just cookies…cookie-wiches. Oh yeah.

I’ve been a little obsessed with putting frosting between cookies lately. I mean if you’re going to have a little sugar, why not have a LOT of sugar, right? Add in a little caffeine and you pretty much have the makings of a totally legal, mood-enhancing drug. Mmmmm, legal drugs.

White Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 c. Granulated Sugar

1 c. Brown Sugar

3/4 c. Shortening

1/2 Stick Unsalted Butter

2 Eggs

2 t. Pure Vanilla

1 1/2 t. Soda

1/2 t. Salt

2 1/4 c. AP Flour

3 T. Instant Coffee

11 oz. White Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream sugars, butter and shortening.  Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla.  Whisk dry ingredients in seperate bowl and then add to the wet ingredients.  Mix in chips.

Drop dough onto parchment lined baking pans and bake for 8-10 minutes (shorter if you have dark pans, longer if you have light pans).  Half way through, rotate pans and switch racks to ensure even baking.  Let stand for 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

Makes 25 cookie-wiches or 50 cookies.

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

I used Bakerella’s recipe found here.


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Sweet Endings

This post is a little late but I wanted to be able to devote enough time to writing and adequately expound upon a near life changing dessert encounter I had recently.  I know, I know it seems slightly dramatic but I am not exaggerating one bit (well, ok, maybe a teeny tiny bit).  Let me explain…

The weekend before we moved to Missouri, we headed into Chicago one last time for some sightseeing and of course, food.  Initially I wanted to do a Chicago bakery mini marathon, but after coming to my senses I realized this would not only cost me waaaayyyy too much in dollars but most likely in pounds too so I decided to narrow it down from six to two.  I had done my research and was ready; I had high hopes for one and not-so-high for the other but the place sounded fun and kitschy so I had to try it.

We started the day with a little French pastry shop called Vanille Patisserie, owned by husband and wife team Dimitri and Kell Payard. Dimitri is originally from France where he received his culinary traning and Kell is Chicagoland native who attended the Culinary Institute of America.  Between the two of them they’ve won numerous awards and after indulging in their beautiful creations, I can see why!  Their French macarons are absolutely delicious.  When you bite into one of these colorful, delicate cookies it is crisp on the outside but airy and chewy on the inside.  The ganache and fruit fillings are spread thin but bursting with flavor.  The girl at the counter let me try a Coffee macaron.  So good!  Jeremy decided on a Red Velvet and Vanilla and I got Pistachio and Raspberry–we loved them all!  We also chose Chocolate, Nutella and Coconut Papaya macarons to-go.

Macarons All

Macarons Close

After much deliberating–mainly by me–we also chose an entremet, or mousse cake, to share.  I honestly couldn’t decide.  Everything looked so delicious so we went with what the girl behind the counter suggested, the Entremet Vanille, and it was definitely the perfect recommendation.  It consisted of a layered mousse cake with a sable (think thin shortbread type cookie) on the bottom, covered in a mango glaze.  The mousse was light and creamy, not at all heavy and the flavors of vanilla, mango and coconut were balanced perfectly.   It was small but to be honest, it was so flavorful that it was really the right amount to share.  Not that I wouldn’t have eaten another one.  Because I really, really wanted to.

1Display Case Close2

2Decisions

3 Rasp and Bars

4Rasp Entremets

5Van Choc Close

6Vanille Closeup

7Our Entremet

8Eating

We also took home some chocolate, raspberry and vanilla marshmallows.  They were a tad too chewy for me which is not something I’m used to since the ones I make are always soft.  They were ok but definitely not something I’d buy again.

Mallows VP Bag

So the day started off wonderful!  We drove around a bit, ate a late lunch/early dinner at a place called Gino’s East (apparently famous for their deep dish–we got thin crust, hah!) and then headed off to find the next and final stop, Angel Food Bakery.  The place really intrigued me because it was retro themed and the desserts seemed fun and different.  With offerings like homemade Twinkies, S’mores, Boston Cream cupcakes and Whoopie Pies, how could you go wrong, seriously?!  But oh my, you can go wrong.  Very, very wrong.

Here’s a pic of the inside. So deceptively cute and inviting.  The walls are lined with every make and model of Easy-Bake Oven.

Angel Food

I chose the Coconut Cupcake.  It was huge and looked soooo good but was extremely disappointing.  The only thing “coconut” about this cupcake were the flakes that had been sprinkled on top.  The cupcake and frosting were both vanilla and the cake actually tasted like they had gotten a little crazy with butter flavored oil.  Very weird.  And the worst part of all–it was dry.  As in desert.  Ick.

Jeremy got somewhat lucky with his pick, a Boston Cream Cupcake.  Again, huge and screamed “eat me!” but it wasn’t anything to write home about.  The chocolate goo on top and the custard filling helped mask another otherwise dry and tasteless vanilla cupcake. (I think the red fondant hearts on top were the best part.  Yikes.)

Faux Coconut Boston Creme

We also split a made from scratch, chocolate dipped S’more.  Horrible.  Didn’t even deserve a picture. We both left feeling a little sugary sick to our stomachs.   Such a sad way to end the day when it started so well with this:

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All in all it really was a great day and a bittersweet farewell to Chicago.  I was finally introduced to some real French pastry and I can now understand why they might be a tad snobbish about those sweet little creations they craft.  The focus on taste, flavor, texture and color is so unlike the heavy, sugary desserts that Americans are so accustomed to. The French know how to make something so small taste so delicious that you are satisfied with just a few bites and don’t feel the need for gigantic portions or seconds.  Or thirds.  Or fourths.

It really is amazing.  To me, at least!

But I still love me some Red Velvet cake and cream cheese frosting.  🙂

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Black Forest Cake

A couple of weeks ago the sun was shining, birds were singing and people were cruising around with their windows down and hair blowing in the wind.  Naturally, this kind of weather called for grilling!  So we headed over to my in-laws house to chow down on some grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  Our contribution to the meal was a cake and not just any cake but a Black Forest Cake!  My aunt Tammy used to make this cake years ago and someone mentioned it the other day which sparked the memory of cakes past and got my mouth watering.  So since I had never made one I decided it was time.  Here are a few pics of it all coming together.

Cherries

Chopped chocolate

Cherries and chocolate…these are a few of my most favorite things.

Cakes coming out of oven

All the yummy layers.

2 Layers

More 2 layers

4 layers

Attempting to frost with the whipped cream–quite the challenge.

Frosting

More frosting

And the finished product!

Finished close up

Finished

So, a few things I learned.

1. This cake requires a great deal of patience.  While not difficult, it is time consuming to make all of the components and put it all  together.

2.  Whipped cream doesn’t make the best frosting.  Don’t get me wrong it looks pretty and tastes amazing but what a pain in the butt to put on!  I will probably frost the sides with a dark chocolate frosting next time and leave the whipped cream for the layers and the top of the cake.

3.  Never throw an almost completed cake in the trash no matter how badly you want to!  I had just a few issues with the cake (little lopsided, some “juicing” out the bottom, difficulty frosting, etc) and I really thought it was just no good but thankfully my husband talked me off the ledge and boy am I glad he did!  The cake was soooo good!

I haven’t made a lot of cakes in my time (this was probably the third?) but it’s always a learning experience and the finished product is definitely worth the effort!

Black Forest Cake

Ingredients

2 1/8 c All-Purpose Flour
2 c White Sugar
3/4 c Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 t Baking Powder
3/4 t Baking Soda
3/4 t Salt
3 Eggs
1 c Milk
1/2 c Vegetable Oil
1 T Pure Vanilla Extract
3, 14.5 oz Cans Pitted Sour Cherries, drained with juice reserved
1 c White Sugar
1/4 c. Cornstarch
1/4-1/2 c Kirsch

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two, 9 in. round cake pans and line with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 2 cups sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat until well blended.  Divide batter evenly into two pans and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.  Loosen edges and remove to racks to cool completely.

Combine 1/2 c. reserved juice, cherries, 1 c sugar and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan.  Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently.  (Be patient, it will take awhile)  Stir in vanilla and cool.  Move to fridge to speed up cooling.  Stir in kirsch.

(While cake and cherries are cooling, make simple syrup, ganache and whipped cream.  See recipes below.)

Split each cake layer horizontally.  Place one cake layer on cake plate/stand.  Brush on simple syrup with a pastry brush.  Spread on thin layer of ganache.  Cover with layer of whipped cream and then cherries.  Repeat with next three layers, but instead of spreading cherries on top layer, first frost the whole cake with the whipped cream and let firm up in freezer.  Apply final frosting of whipped cream and then spread the cherries into center of the top of cake and pipe whipped cream around the edges.  Decorate sides with chopped chocolate.  Or frost sides with chocolate buttercream instead of whipped cream.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Simple Syrup

1/2 c Juice (from drained cherries)
1/2 c White Sugar
1/4 c. Kirsch

Simmer juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.  Add kirsch after syrup has cooled.

Ganache

12 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c Heavy Whipping Cream

Place chocolate in a medium bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil.  Pour over the chopped chocolate.  Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth.  Let cool completely.

Whipped Cream

5 c Heavy Whipping Cream
1 c Powder Sugar
3 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

Chill mixing bowl and whisk in freezer for 30 minutes.  Remove and place heavy whipping cream in mixing bowl.  Whip on high speed until cream thickens.  Add powder sugar and vanilla extract.

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ChoccyWoccyDooDah

cakeThis is the wedding cake I should have had.  I am in love with it.  Not that I could have afforded it, but one can dream.

This masterpiece was done by a little chocolate shop called ChoccyWoccyDooDah that describe themselves as an “art and design focused chocolaterie” and wow, is that the truth!  Their cakes are unique and fun and maybe even a tad bit odd, but beautiful nonetheless!  It looks like they focus a lot on cakes but also offer truffles, popcorn and marshmallow “lollies” and in fact have a “bar du chocolate” where one can indulge in almost every form of chocolate known to man, all served by a chocolista, of course!

Unfortunately, I won’t be dropping by anytime soon to give an unofficial review of the place since they’re located in the UK but I can drool from afar.

Check out all their amazing creations here!

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