Berry Butter Cake

This post is a little late for Memorial Day, but this is one recipe you’ll be able to break out for any family or friend type gathering you may have in the coming summer months.  It’s basically a pound cake but it is a darn good one…I mean, it’s from Paula Deen after all!  That woman knows her stuff, especially when it comes to absurd amounts of butter and sugar.  I added in two types of berries for a more summery cake and threw in a bit more vanilla.  Also, if you have quite a few eggs you need to use up (like me) this cake is perfect–it uses six! Many of the reviews I read added lemon flavor or zest to give it a little more zing, which would also be a wonderful addition along with the berries.

I really wanted something quick too, as I didn’t have a lot of time last night to make something. However, the time stated on the recipe was a little off.  Instead of the hour and fifteen minutes it said to bake it, it actually took me one hour and 50 minutes to get it perfectly done.  That will definitely teach me to not start a cake around 9 in the evening! Besides that little snaffu, the cake was awesome!  It forms a sugary crust on the bottom (my favorite part) and stays absolutely moist and dense on the inside.  I HIGHLY recommend serving with vanilla ice cream.  Absolutely delish!

Enjoy!

Berry Butter Cake

Adapted from Southwest Georgia Pound Cake

1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

3 c. Granulated Sugar

6 Large Eggs

3 c. AP Flour

1/2 t. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Salt

1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 c. Each Frozen Blueberries and Raspberries, tossed in flour (Do this once you have mixed everything together. You want the berries to be frozen when you mix them into the batter so that they don’t bleed into it.)

Directions

Generously grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.  Do NOT preheat the oven.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Alternately add flour mixture and heavy whipping cream to the butter-sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour.  Stir in the vanilla and gently, but quickly, fold the berries into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Put into a cold oven and set the temperature to 325 degrees.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes without opening the oven door and then bake for an additional 30–35 minutes, checking with a butter knife toward the end of the time to test for doneness.

Cool the cake on a baking rack  for 15 minutes and then invert the cake onto a cake plate or cake stand.  Slice warm or at room temperature and serve with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

Makes 16-20 servings.

 

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Elvis Sundae

Ok, I am VERY excited about this post for a couple of reasons. First, I have not one, but TWO recipes to share.  Two!  And one of those recipes could be potentially healthy.  Yes, healthy.  Of course, I would never allow that to happen, this being a full-on sugary delicious dessert blog and all.  But I’m giving you options here.  Nice, right?

Second reason for my excitement…I bought some uber cute mini dessert glasses for these special Elvis Sundaes!  I LOVE them.  I only needed two but they came in sets of 12.  I agonized over whether or not I should get them, but the cuteness won out in the end and I just resolved to have more people over  for dinner more often and get good use out of them.  At least that was part of my justification.

Ok!  On to the sundaes…my inspiration for these came from a fabulous frozen coffee drink called The Elvis.  It combines coffee, chocolate, banana and peanut butter.  Delish.  And it just so happens my sister-in-law Rachel, of Foodierachel.com, has this recipe for banana ice cream I’d been dying to try forever.  All it takes to make it is….bananas!  That’s it!  Super easy.  I topped it with a divine Mocha Hot Fudge Sauce from Joythebaker.com and chopped, dry-roasted peanuts.  And voila! Elvis Sundae.

Enjoy!

Banana Ice Cream

4 Medium-Large Ripe Bananas, sliced

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract (This was my addition.  And I like vanilla, so feel free to use less if you’d like.)

Directions

Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the banana slices on the baking sheet and let them chill in the fridge for an hour.  After they’re nice and frozen, throw them in a food processor for five minutes, turning it off every minute or so to scrape down the sides and kind of push everything around.  It will seem like it’s not going to blend, but it will happen, be patient.  When it’s completely smooth, whirl in the vanilla and then pour it into an air-tight container and freeze for several hours or overnight.

And here’s the part where you make this delicious, healthy banana ice cream not so healthy….

Mocha Hot Fudge Sauce

1/4 c. Cocoa Powder

1/3 c. Packed Dark Brown Sugar

1/2 c. Light Corn Syrup

2/3 c. Heavy Whipping Cream

1/4 t. Salt

6 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped

2 T. Unsalted Butter, cut into 1/2 Tablespoons

2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 t. Instant Espresso Powder

1 1/2 t. Hot Water

Directions

Stir together cocoa powder, brown sugar, corn syrup, cream, salt and half of the chopped chocolate in a 2-quart heavy saucepan and cook over low-medium heat, stirring until chocolate is melted.  Cook mixture at a low boil, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, dissolve the espresso powder into the 1 1/2 teaspoons hot water.

Remove sauce from heat, add remaining chocolate, butter, espresso misture and vanilla.  Stir until smooth.  Cool slightly.  (I would recommend cooling it and refrigerating it overnight.  The espresso flavor seemed to be more noticeable after doing that and then reheating it over low heat the next day.)  Scoop ice cream into small bowls, spoon sauce over the ice cream and chop with dry-roasted peanuts.

Makes 2 cups sauce.

Note:  For the banana ice cream, Rachel suggests adding things such as peanut butter, honey, etc. to make different variations of the ice cream.  So feel free to be creative and experiment!  I’m definitely going to try a mango ice cream next week–can’t wait!

 

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1st Birthday Cake

This past weekend I helped my friend make a 1st birthday cake for her sweet little boy, Jeremiah.  We wanted to do a jungle/monkey theme but since neither of us are professional cake bakers/decorators, we had to improvise a little.  Fondant was out because not only have I never worked with it before, I really don’t care for the way it tastes.  So, after searching the internet we found some ideas we liked, went shopping and prayed it would turn out!

First, let’s start with the cake.  It’s a homemade yellow cake covered with a delicious chocolate cream cheese frosting.  Both are very simple and very good.  For the decorations we used palm trees found at a local craft store.  The animals are just chocolate molds that were painted and filled with milk, dark and white chocolate.  For the #1, I had my husband outline it on a piece of paper.  Then I taped a piece of wax paper on top of the paper with the #1 on it, filled a squirt bottle (like this one) with white chocolate and simply traced the #1, filled it in and popped it in the freezer for a couple minutes.  Easy!  Once we had it on the cake, we placed banana runts around it.  Oh, and the “bamboo” around the cake are Pirouette cookies from Wal-Mart, cut with a serrated knife into different size pieces.

The really was one of the simplest cakes.  I think painting the chocolate animals and #1 took the longest, about 1 1/2 hours.  So, I hope this gives you inspiration and confidence for your own cake baking adventures!  You can do it!  Have fun!

Yellow Cake

(adapted from Allrecipes.com)

1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 1/2 c. White Sugar

8 Egg Yolks

3/4 c. Whole Milk

1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 c. Cake Flour

2 t. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 pan and flour.  Line pan with a piece of parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then add the vanilla.  Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Beat on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.  Pour batter into pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Turn out onto the rack and carefully peel the parchment paper from the cake.  Gently turn the cake over and use a serrated knife or cake leveler to level the top of the cake.  Turn upside down (so that the bottom of the cake is facing up) onto your cake plate.  Frost and decorate.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

4 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Squares, chopped, melted (melt at 20 second intervals, stirring between each) and cooled

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

8 oz. Cream Cheese, cold

1/4 c. Solid Vegetable Shortening

1/4 t. Salt

2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

6 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted

Directions

Cream butter, shortening and cream cheese until smooth.  Add salt and vanilla.  Beat in melted chocolate.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar until nice and creamy.

Frost cake with a crumb coat and let harden in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.  Remove, apply the final coat of frosting and decorate immediately.

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Iced Lemon Shortbread Bars

 

I’ve decided I’m going to try and invoke summer by baking with nothing but summer-y type things…lemons, strawberries, blueberries, etc.  It might not work but I figure it’s worth a shot, I mean, enough with the cold weather already!  And the rain, oh the rain…sigh.

Anyway, in the spirit of all things light and summerish I whipped up these Iced Lemon Shortbread Bars.  Believe it or not, you make this whole recipe in your food processor!  How easy is that?!  And the result is a super flaky, buttery shortbread bar flecked with lemon zest and tart lemon flavor.  Forget chocolate, this is the kind of stuff that isn’t too rich and so delicious that I could eat the whole pan!  But I didn’t…I shared.

Enjoy!

Iced Lemon Shortbread Bars

1 1/2 c. AP Flour

1/3 c. Cornstarch

1/2 c. Powdered Sugar

2 1/2 T. Granulated Sugar

2 T. Finely Grated Lemon Zest (you will need about 3 large lemons total for this recipe)

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1/4 t. Salt

2 t. Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 t. Lemon Extract

Icing (recipe below)

Directions

Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.  Line the pan with foil, letting the foil overhang to create “handles”.  Grease the bottom and sides of the foil.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour and cornstarch; set aside.  In a food processor, process the powdered sugar, sugar and lemon zest until the sugar in yellow and the zest is finely pulverized, about 3 minutes, stopping and scraping down the bowl sides several times.  Add the butter, salt, lemon juice, and lemon extract and process until well blended and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the butter mixture and process in on/off pulses until well blended and smooth, stopping and scraping down the bowl sides several times.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, form into a disc, wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or until the dough is cool and slightly firmer.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Press the dough evenly into the pan.  Lay a sheet of wax paper on the dough, then press it out to the edges until the top is flat and smooth.  Peel off and discard the paper.  Bake for 37-45 (40 minutes was perfect for me) minutes, or until pale golden all over and just slightly darker at the edges.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let stand until completely cooled.  Using the foil “handles”, gently lift the bars from the pan.

Icing

2 T. Granulated Sugar

1 t. Finely Grated Lemon Zest

2 T. Fresh Lemon Juice

1 t. Light Corn Syrup

1 c. Powdered Sugar

Directions

In a food processor, combine the sugar and lemon zest and process until the sugar is lightly colored and the zest is finely pulverized, about 1 minute, stopping and scraping down the bowl sides once or twice.  Add the lemon juice and corn syrup and process until the sugar dissolves. Add the powdered sugar and process until evenly incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl, if necessary.

Immediately spread the icing evenly over the shortbread.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Cut the shortbread into 2-inch squares.

Makes 24.

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Triple Chocolate Muffins

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day and to celebrate I came up with these super easy Triple Chocolate Muffins.  If you need something in a hurry, these are perfect and quite frankly they could pass as cake.  I’m really not sure who eats this kind of stuff for breakfast, but I will admit they would go perfect with a cup of coffee.

I adapted this recipe (as you can see I use Allrecipes.com quite a bit) and didn’t have the full cup of sour cream so I did part Miracle Whip which I’ve used in baking before with great results.  I made a few other changes and ended up with an awesome super soft, super chocolatey muffin.  Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Muffins

2 2/3 c. AP Flour

1 1/2 t. Baking Soda

1/2 t. Salt

1/2 c. Cocoa

3/4 c. White Sugar

3/4 c. Light Brown Sugar

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

3 Large Eggs

1 T. Vanilla

3/4 c. Sour Cream

1/4 c. Miracle Whip

1 c. Whole Milk

3/4 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

3/4 c. White Chocolate Chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line or grease 24 regular size muffin cups.

Beat together butter and white and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa.  Add eggs, one at a time to the butter/sugar mixture and beat in vanilla.  Beat in the sour cream and Miracle Whip.  Add one-third of the flour mixture and mix thoroughly.  Add half the milk and beat until thoroughly incorporated.  Add half the remaining flour, beating until incorporated.  Add the rest of the milk and beat thoroughly and the rest of the flour.  Stir in both kinds of chocolate chips.

Fill cupcake tins 2/3 with the batter and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

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Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice Cookies

Last night I really wanted to make some cookies but had no desire to 1. make ANOTHER trip to Wal-mart and 2. spend money.  So I thought ok, what do I have in my kitchen?  Raisins and oats…Raisin Oatmeal Cookies!  Probably not that exciting for many people, but I happen to love them.  So I hopped online and found this highly-rated recipe from Allrecipes.com for Beth’s Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  I quickly got to work figuring out how I wanted to change the recipe.  I guess I can’t leave good enough alone; it’s seriously an issue.

Anyway, as I gathered my ingredients I also found nearly empty bags of chocolate chips and coconut.  And then it hit me that I had walnuts in my freezer!  Yep, it was all going in the cookie!  And then things really got crazy…I decided to use CAKE flour!  See, I did some research and found that cake flour has a very low percentage of protein which lends to the tender quality it gives cakes.  So I figured by subbing some for the AP flour, I might get a little bit softer cookie.  Did it work?  I think so but I honestly would need to do a side by side comparison to be 100% sure how much of a difference it made.  They puffed up nice and big right out of the oven but definitely deflated a bit when cooled.

Regardless, the cookies were delicious, very buttery, slightly chewy around the edges and soft inside.  The flavor reminded me of Chai, which I happen to love!  The only change I might make is reducing the cloves to 1/4 t.  It was just a teensy bit too pronounced for my taste.  And I do believe soaking the raisins makes all the difference!  I will definitely do that from now on.  Feel free to play with the ingredients like I did–you never know what wonderful creation you’ll come up with!

Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice Cookies

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

3/4 c. Shortening

1 c. Packed Light Brown Sugar

1/2 c. White Sugar

2 Eggs

2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 c. AP Flour (or 1 1/2 c. if using all AP Flour)

1/2 c. + 1 T. Cake Flour

1 t. Baking soda

1 1/2 t. Ground Cinnamon

1/2 t. Ground Cloves

1/2 t. Salt

2 c. Quick Oats

1 c. Raisins, soaked in 1 c. spiced rum for 2+ hours (or warm water) and drained

3/4 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

3/4 c. Sweetened Flaked Coconut, toasted

1/2 c. Walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions

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

In a mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, brown sugar and white sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time and then vanilla.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour(s), baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Add to the butter/sugar mixture and thoroughly combine.  Stir in the oats, raisins, chocolate chips, toasted coconut and walnuts.  Drop onto the baking sheets with a 2-inch scoop.

Bake 9 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks half-way through.  Let cool on pans for 2 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes 45 cookies.

TIP:  For just about anything “toasted” (such as coconut and nuts) all you need to do is spread it in a single, even layer on a baking pan and pop into a 350 degree oven for 6-7 minutes.  Easy!

 

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Cherry Sweet Rolls with Almond Cream Cheese Glaze

Let’s start with the obvious: today is Mother’s Day.  I love my mom, she’s the best.  Recently, she had been mentioning how much she loves those Hostess Cherry Sweet Rolls (sorry, this is the only pic I could find) from the grocery store and how they’re so good and she hadn’t had them in soooo long, etc, etc, etc.  So that got me thinking, why don’t I make those cherry sweet rolls? After all, she deserved a LOT more than flowers from Wal-mart.  I got to researching and quickly realized I’d be making this recipe up.  Thankfully, I already had a great cherry filling recipe so I just needed the dough and glaze.

I didn’t have a ton of time so I settled on a quick dough recipe from Allrecipes.com for Ninety Minute Cinnamon Rolls.  The only change I made was to throw in some vanilla.  As for the glaze, I found two different recipes for cream cheese glaze that I combined because I couldn’t make up my mind on either one.

I made the cherry filling a little ahead of time which I recommend doing, maybe the day before, that way it has time to cool completely.    I was still extremely short on time though, so the rolls only rose for about 20 minutes on the second rise.  I was really nervous how these would turn out, but to my surprise the dough recipe worked perfectly and the fluffed up nice and big in the oven.  The end result was a delicious, soft cherry-filled sweet roll, definitely better than the ones from the store!  And my mom approved which was of course the most important part!

Enjoy!

Cherry Sweet Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Cherry Filling

2, 14.5 oz. Cans Pitted Sour Cherries, drained with 1/2 c.  juice reserved

1 c. Granulated Sugar

1/4 c. Cornstarch

1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions

Combine 1/2 c. reserved juice, cherries, sugar ad cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently.  (Be patient, it will take awhile but they will magically thicken around the 25 minute mark)  Stir in vanilla and cool completely.  Set aside.

Sweet Dough

3/4 c. Whole Milk

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

3 1/4 c. AP Flour

1 (.25 oz) Package Instant Yeast

1/4 c. Granulated Sugar

1/2 t. Salt

1/2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Large Egg

1/4 c. Water

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until it bubbles, then remove it from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.  Let cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, in a mixer, combine 2 1/4 c. flour, yeast, sugar and salt and whisk well.  Add water, egg, vanilla and the milk mixture.  Beat well.  Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.  When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.  Grease a 9×13 pan.

Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface, into a 24×18 rectangle.  (It will be very elasticy and will not seem to want to roll out at first but be persistent and it will eventually roll out)  Spread the dough with the cherry filling, to about an inch from the edges.  At the edge nearest you, begin to roll the dough, using your fingers to tuck in the cherries as you go.  Pinch the seam to seal and cut the dough into 12 equal size rolls and place into the pan, evenly spaced.

Bake for 20 minutes and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Spread with glaze while still warm.

Almond Cream Cheese Glaze

4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 c. Powder Sugar, sifted

4 T. Heavy Whipping Cream (or Whole Milk)

1/2 t. Vanilla

1 t. Almond Extract

Directions

Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Gradually add sugar, beating well after each addition.  Add milk, vanilla extract and almond extract.  Spread over warm rolls.

Makes 12 rolls

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Snickerdoodle Bars

I’ve made an amazing discovery this week…SIMPLE can be good.  Really, really, really good.  Thanks to being extremely short on time and ingredients, I happened to find a recipe that I now want to make over and over again.  These Snickerdoodle Bars are snickerdoodle perfection, totally chewy and buttery and cinnamony and sugary.  Ya know, all those yummy adjectives that end in “y”.

Take an hour or so this weekend and whip these up.  You won’t be sorry, I promise.

Snickerdoodle Bars

2 1/3 c. AP Flour

1 1/4 t. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Salt

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened

1 1/4 c. Granulated Sugar

1/2 c. Packed Brown Sugar

3 Eggs

2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

Cinnamon Filling

2 T. Granulated Sugar

2 T. Cinnamon

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In a mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on high speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla.  On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients until combined.

Spoon two-thirds of the batter into the baking pan and spread evenly.  Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the batter.  Dollop tablespoon size amounts of the remaining batter evenly over the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

Glaze

1 c. Powdered Sugar

2 T. Heavy Whipping Cream

1 T. Milk

1/4 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 t. Almond Extract

Directions

Whisk together all the ingredients at once until smooth and drizzle over the cooled bars.

Makes 24 bars

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Sugar Leaf Bakery

There is a cute little bakery in Branson, MO that I have been DYING to try for a few years, called Sugar Leaf Bakery.   This past weekend I was finally able to stop in!  I had heard from both family and friends that they had great baked goods and fabulous wedding cakes.  The day that Jeremy and I went they had German Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie, Coconut Cake, Carrot Cake, Turtle Cheesecake and an assortment of delicious looking cookies.  So hard to choose!

For me, it was a toss up between the Key Lime Pie and the Coconut Cake but because I had heard they had amazing Coconut Cake, I went with that.  And oh my, was it good.  The cake was moist and dense and the coconut filling was super gooey.  It was all covered in a light whipped cream frosting and toasted coconut.  It had a great balance of flavors and wasn’t sickening sweet so that was nice.  I also got a jumbo snickerdoodle cookie that was chewy, cinnamony and delicious.

As for Jeremy, he apparently was filling the whole caramel/chocolate thing because he got a massive slice of Turtle Cheesecake and a Turtle cookie.  And I have to admit, he chose well.  The cheesecake was a dream.  Seriously.  First, you had a thick layer of chocolate cookie crust which was filled with the creamiest, smoothest vanilla cheesecake filling I think I have ever had.  The cheesecake filling had shavings of dark chocolate all through it and finally the whole thing was topped with a layer of caramel and drizzled with chocolate.  After the first bite I wanted to yank the plate away from him and scarf the whole thing down.  But I refrained.  I have to say, it was probably the best cheesecake I’ve ever had.   And I always thought I made fairly good cheesecake but this one definitely inspired me to improve on my own recipe.  The Turtle cookie was great also…a nice thick chewy chocolate cookie with a pool of caramel in the middle, sprinkled with chopped pecans.  Mmmmmmm!

They also had great looking salads, soup, paninis and other sandwiches.  We are already planning to go back and try lunch sometime and I fully intend to have a slice of that Key Lime Pie!  Do NOT miss this place if you’re in the Branson area–you are definitely in for a treat!

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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
Author: 
Category: 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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