Natasha’s Mulberry & Mott

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My friend Shawna had more than once told me how AWESOME Natasha’s on the Plaza in Kansas City was.  Especially their macarons, apparently the best and I LOVE macarons.  So, when Jeremy and I had a chance to go to a B&B in Excelsior Springs for a couple of days for our fifth anniversary (yay!), I knew that I would absolutely have Natasha’s on my agenda since KC was so close and I wanted to go shopping on the Plaza anyway.  Perfect!

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All I can say is from the time I walked into Natasha’s Mulberry & Mott until the time we left, I was absolutely mesmerized by everything about this little place.  I felt like I was in a little Parisian shop/cafe, surrounded by vintage furniture and picture frames, pristine white walls with pastel accents, gorgeous chandeliers and a little tea bar against one wall.  And the desserts…jars of cookies, bars and marshmallows,  assorted pastries, tarts and little cakes in the pastry case and the most impressive display of macarons I’ve ever seen!

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And the best part…because we were there on Saturday, they had a fresh batch of their massive brioche cinnamon rolls, covered in buttercream.  They apparently only make them on Friday and Saturday which is a shame because if I lived there, I’d buy one every. single. day.  They were TO DIE FOR.  We got one to share and then every flavor of macaron which was 14 different kinds in all.  We thought there was no way we’d be able to eat the whole cinnamon roll but oh my gosh, once we started, we couldn’t stop!  Best one I’ve ever had.  As for the macarons?  Also amazing and probably the best I’ve had.  I liked almost every one (except the maple bacon…I just can’t get into desserts with bacon ick) but Jeremy and I agreed our favorite was the margarita which I wasn’t expecting!

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Our overall rating:  5 out of 5 stars!  This place is a MUST if you are anywhere near the Plaza in Kansas City.  You will be in French pastry heaven!

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S’mores Puppy Chow

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Don’t you hate it when you have a whole blog post written and nearly done and you shut your computer WITHOUT SAVING IT and the next day, BAM!, it’s not there?!  Yeah, me too.  Sooooo, without further adieu, we’re just going to get right to this recipe!  S’mores are everywhere right now because camping is the thing to do (at least in Missouri) and you obviously can’t camp without making s’mores!  But if you’re anything like me and hate to camp but still love s’mores and can’t legally/safely build a bonfire in your backyard, this S’mores Puppy Chow is THE PERFECT thing to make.  It combines the crunchy, addictive goodness of puppy chow with all the decadent components of s’mores.  And it is impossible to keep your hands out of it.  Trust me, I know.  This would be perfect for any July 4th party (yeah, already time to make that menu!)…s’mores without the work and mess but all the flavor!

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Enjoy!

S'mores Puppy Chow
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Smooth Peanut Butter
  • ½ c. Butter
  • 2 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 9 c. Rice Chex
  • 2 c. Brownie Mix
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 4 c. Golden Graham Cereal
  • 4 c. Mini Marshmallows
  • 2 c. each Semi-Sweet and Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Place the Rice Chex, 2 cups of the Golden Grahams and 2 cups of the mini marshmallows in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips at 20-second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each until completely melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Pour the chocolate/peanut butter mixture over the cereal and marshmallow mixture and stir gently until everything is evenly coated.
  4. Place the brownie mix and powdered sugar in a large paper bag. Add the chocolate/peanut butter/cereal/marshmallow mixture to the bag. Shake vigorously to evenly coat everything with the powdered sugar and brownie mix.
  5. Spread the remaining 2 cups of Golden Grahams out in a single layer on two large, foil-lined baking sheets. Melt 1 cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup of the bittersweet chocolate chips in a medium bowl in a microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each until completely melted and smooth. Drizzle over the Golden Grahams and let the chocolate dry completely.
  6. Place the puppy chow in a large bowl and add remaining 2 cups of the Golden Grahams with the chocolate drizzle, remaining 2 cups mini marshmallows and remaining 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips. Stir everything together. Eat!
Notes
Makes ???? servings. A LOT. Enough for at least 25 people.

 

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Ice Cream Shoppe 2nd Birthday Party!

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I almost can’t believe that I’m already posting about my daughter’s SECOND birthday party!  It seems like just yesterday I was posting about her Rainbow Sprinkles & Confetti FIRST Birthday Party! This year I had a much easier time coming up with a theme because her tastes and likes are a little more formed now at the age of 2.  😉  And without a doubt one of her most favorite things in the whole wide world is ICE CREAM!  So it was kind of a no-brainer to do an ice cream shoppe themed birthday party!

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There were so many great ideas for an ice cream theme party on Pinterest and I had about 8 or 9 different ice cream themed desserts I was going to do for her dessert table, but in the end I realized my limit (thank God!) and just did two cute little treats along with an ice cream sundae bar and birthday cake.  It was more than enough for everybody!

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Donut hole “melting ice cream cones”!

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White chocolate dipped, sprinkle ice cream cone chocolate cookies.  Yummy!

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We also had an ice cream cone pinata, ice cream cone garland and her very own ice cream shoppe stand!  I tried to keep it as simple as possible and was still really happy with how things turned out.  It was so much fun and she STILL sings happy birthday to herself almost every other day!  Haha!

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The gorgeous cake!

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Blowing out the candles!

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Beautiful birthday girl….happy SECOND birthday Avery Gwen!  We love you SO MUCH!

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Nutella Buttercream Frosting

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I’m currently sitting at home typing this blog post as fast and furious as I can before my kids wake up from their naps.  That’s right I said kids…as in plural, as in I now have more than one!  Our little boy was born at home a little over a week ago on Sunday, May 17th and it’s been non-stop crazy since then.  But in a good way of course. 🙂

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So since I’m pressed for time I’m sharing a super simple, completely decadent buttercream frosting recipe with you today!  I had initially planned on blogging about the whole scrumptious cake you see above but to be honest I was a tad disappointed with how the yellow cake turned out.  Heavy, dense and slightly dry…bummer.  I still think this is the best Yellow Cake recipe I’ve found to date so I’m sticking with that one as my go-to for now.  The Nutella buttercream however was a whole different story.  Not only was it good, it was GOOD.  Forget putting it on the cake, I about made myself sick eating it with a spoon.  But it was so, so worth it.  Try it on homemade Yellow Cake, sandwiched between Chocolate Chip Cookies or even spread over Sugar Cookie Bars.

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Or….just eat it with a spoon.

Enjoy!

Nutella Buttercream Frosting
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • ½ c. Crisco
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 c. Cocoa Powder
  • ¾ c. Nutella
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and Crisco together on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder on low speed until combined. Slowly add the heavy whipping cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. Beat in Nutella until frosting is well combined and smooth. Use on cupcakes, cake, cookies or eat with a spoon.
Notes
Makes enough for a round, 9-inch three-layer cake or 48 cupcakes.

 

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Sinfully Delicious Desserts in Las Vegas

Las Vegas can be a dangerous place for people with sweet tooth’s. Though the city is widely known for its selection of casinos and endless forms of entertainment, perhaps one of the most evil temptations is the food that fulfills every foodie’s fantasy.

The food isn’t deemed as one of the most common reasons for visiting Vegas, and it’s strange to think that some of the best dishes come from casino establishments. It might be peculiar, but there’s an explanation for the need of upscale menus in gambling facilities.

It struck a chord for the gaming industry when the revolutionary online portal InterCasino was introduced in 1996 as it paved a way for regular patrons to gamble without having to leave their homes. Land-based casino operators took it upon themselves to broaden their scope of non-gaming entertainment, inviting international artists to grace their stages with their talent and world-renowned chefs to feed hungry patrons with their latest creations.

For years, Las Vegas casinos have successful reeled in celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Giada De Laurentiis, and Wolfgang Puck, taking casino goers on a culinary adventure with their delectable dishes. But it’s the selection of desserts that truly epitomizes the sin of “Sin City.” By the looks of it, sin seems to follow you from the casino floor to the dessert menu.

Some More S’mores, N9NE Steakhouse at Palms

This dessert isn’t your ordinary marshmallows-graham crackers-chocolate combination. The chefs put an “adult” spin on the s’mores, making their own marshmallows using orange and strawberry Grand Marnier, or hazelnut amaretto, and smearing dark and white chocolate ganache over the graham crackers.

24-Layer Chocolate Cake, Strip House at Caesars

Chocolate cake doesn’t get any better than this Strip House delight. Between the 12 layers of cake is a generous amount of rich chocolate filling, with the outside of the cake covered in a semi-sweet chocolate ganache.

Bamboozled Shakes, Holsteins Las Vegas in The Cosmopolitan

Another dessert for adults are these alcohol infused milkshakes, Holsteins’ signature creations. One of the most popular shakes is the Drunken Monkey, which is a concoction of Reese’s, banana, malt, and Frangelico.

Have you tried any sinfully delicious desserts in Las Vegas lately?

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Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies

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I honestly don’t need to say much about this recipe other than MAKE IT.  IMMEDIATELY.  For your own good and the good of all the people you love around you, make these cookies and share them with the world!  Yes, I love them that much.

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Once again, Sally of Sally’s Baking Addiction has nailed it with these Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies.  I will admit that at first I was skeptical about putting a Rolo in the middle.  Umm, there’s not much gourmet about a Rolo?  But once you put it in the middle of this super dark double chocolate cookie that is sprinkled with sea salt and it gets all melty and gooey inside…you forget it’s a Rolo and only know you can’t stop eating it!  These cookies are thick and soft and perfect.  Honestly, perfection.  Grab some milk and enjoy!

Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, softenend to room temperature
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs, rom temperature
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1⅓ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • ¼ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3 c. Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (or whatever dark chocolate chip you prefer)
  • 35 Rolos, unwrapped
  • Coarse Sea Salt
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the sugars with the mixer on medium speed and cream together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to the wet ingredients. Slowly mix in the heavy whipping cream then the bittersweet chocolate chips. The dough will be thick and sticky. You can chill it for a few minutes at this point but I used mine immediately and had no issues with it.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  4. Form a 3-inch ball of dough in your hands and then flatten slightly and make an indentation in the middle. Place the Rolo in the indentation and wrap the rest of the cookies around the Rolo making sure to seal well and form into a slightly flattenened ball again. Repeat with the rest of the dough and remaining Rolos. Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt before putting in the oven.
  5. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Cookies will appear undone and very soft. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 3-4 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Notes
Makes about 36 cookies. Store in an airtight container.

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St. Patrick’s Day Dessert 2015

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done a recipe roundup and thought St. Patty’s day would be the perfect time to share some goodies from around the web!  These all look SO good to me and I wish I could make every single one!  Hope they give you some inspiration!

Thin Mint Puppy Chow

 

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Surprise-Inside St. Paddy’s Day Cupcakes

 

Suprise Inside St. Patricks Cupcakes

Mint Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Rice Krispie Treats

 

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Thin Mint Brownie Ice Cream

 

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Leprechaun Hat S’mores

 

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Mint Chocolate Fudge Recipe

 

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Thin Mint Truffles

 

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Mint Chocolate Cookies

 

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Thin Mint Brownies with Bailey’s Buttercream

 

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Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel Sauce

A couple months ago I made some delicious cinnamon raisin bread pudding and homemade eggnog ice cream for our Gourmet Cooking Club and just felt like it needed a *little* something more to send it completely over the top.  I soon figured out that what was missing was Salted Caramel Sauce. Maybe one of the best things ever invented, in my opinion.  I have a pretty tried and true recipe that I’ve always loved but I wanted to try something different and hopefully a bit easier.  I found this recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction and I knew it would probably be awesome because somehow her recipes are always fool-proof and absolutely delicious!  The girl knows what she’s doing.  And this recipe was spot-on delicious and easy to whip up!

My only change I might make was to reduce the salt just a touch, for me it was a bit much.  Contrasted with something very sweet like eggnog ice cream, it didn’t really bother me and was still delicious but I might reduce it to 3/4 t. salt instead of the 1 t. the recipe calls for.  Just my preference!  We also tried this salted caramel sauce over warm raisin oatmeal white chocolate chip cookies with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it was absolutely divine.  I’ll have the cookie recipe soon so be sure and look for that!  In the meantime make a jar of this luscious, creamy, sweet and salty caramel sauce and have it ready and waiting in your refrigerator!

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 6 T. Salted Butter, cut up into 6 pieces
  • ½ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 t. Salt
Instructions
  1. Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  2. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
  3. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
  4. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Very slowly, drizzle in ½ cup of heavy whipping cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
  6. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.
  8. Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks (it has been in my refrigerator for over a month) in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.
Notes
Makes 1 cup.

 

 

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Glazed Orange Scones

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Last week at my Bible study someone brought in scones.  Normally scones don’t tempt me but a friend I was sitting with got a plate and brought it over to share.  There were two kinds, blueberry and orange.  Not expecting much I took a bite aaaannnnndddd….hold me back.  These scones were good.  No, not just good, AMAZING.  I initially thought someone in our study had made them but I soon found out they were from Panera!  I haven’t had much from Panera except their soups and sandwiches and of course when bagels were “healthy” a few years ago and I worked in an office that had them on a regular basis in the break room, I stuffed my face happily with the carb-y goodness.  But I had never given their scones a second glance and I now realize that was a huge mistake!  They are simply delicious.  Out of the two, blueberry and orange, the orange was my absolute favorite.  They were both flaky and buttery and not too sweet but the chunks of orange zest along with the delicious orange glaze on top, sent that one over the top in my opinion.

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So naturally I went home and was obsessed with finding a recipe to duplicate my own Panera orange scone!  I finally came across this one from Love Grows Wild.  Overall this was a great recipe and everyone who tried the scones loved them.  While I thought they were good, they didn’t quite meet my Panera scone standards.  Haha.  The scones I made were more cake-like and a tad on the bland side in my opinion.  I think I was hoping for a lot more citrus flavor and a more crumbly biscuit texture.  However, if you like your scones dense and cakey and not overwhelming sweet, these are the scones for you!  They do go well with a nice hot cup of coffee!

Glazed Orange Scones
 
Ingredients
Scones
  • 3¾ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 6 T. Sugar, divided
  • 1½ T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
  • 3 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1¼ c. Heavy Whipping Cream, divided
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 4-5 t. Orange Peel, finely shredded (I used two whole oranges)
Glaze
  • 1½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ⅓ c. Fresh Orange Juice
  • Zest of One Orange
Instructions
For the Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, 4 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter (I grated mine first with a cheese grater) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream, vanilla and orange peel. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until just moistened and the mixture comes together in a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing for 10-12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Divide dough in half. Pat or lightly roll each dough half into 8-10" circles. Cut each circle into 10 wedges. Place dough wedges two inches apart on baking sheets. Brush scones with remaining two tablespoons whipping cream and sprinkle with remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden. Remove from baking sheet onto a rack.
For the Glaze
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, orange juice and orange zest. Spoon and spread over warm scones (I had enough to do this twice after the glaze dried the first time). Serve warm.
Notes
Makes 20 scones.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Creme Crumb Bars with Toasted Coconut and White Chocolate

Lemon Creme Crumb Bars

One more easy and delicious recipe for Superbowl!  I always tend to lean toward chocolate recipes for the big game but this time decided to go in the complete opposite direction and go with lots and lots of LEMON!  I absolutely love citrus desserts like Key Lime Pie, Lemon Cheesecake, Lemon Bars and Fresh Orange Italian Cream Cake, just to name a few.  And these Lemon Creme Crumb Bars can now be added to my list of favorite citrus sweets!

I was craving something similar to the lemon sandwich cookie from the Girl Scouts but these bars blow those sandwich cookies out of the water and beyond satisfied my craving!  The crunchy oat and coconut crust and topping is so buttery and slightly salty with just the right amount of sweetness.  Then there’s the gooey, creamy lemon filling.  Oh.  My.  Word.  It’s similar to the texture of key lime pie filling but not quite as firm.  And just the right amount of real, tart lemon juice.

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This is the kind of dessert that isn’t too rich and I could eat 2 or 3 (or 6!) pieces of.  I promise these will be a hit for Superbowl or any party you bring them to!

Enjoy!

Lemon Creme Crumb Bars with Coconut and White Chocolate
 
Ingredients
Crumb Crust
  • 2½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2½ c. Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1¼ t. Salt
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. Brown Sugar, packed
  • 3 Sticks Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1½ c. Sweetened Flaked Coconut, toasted
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Chips
Lemon Creme Filling
  • 2, 14 oz. Cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 T. Finely Grated Lemon Zest
  • ⅔ c. Fresh Lemon Juice (5-6 Large Lemons)
  • 4 Large Egg Yolks
  • 1 t. Lemon Extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9x13 baking pan.
For the Crumb Crust
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, rolled oats, salt and baking soda. Stir in the granulated sugar and brown sugar until no clumps of sugar remain. Stir in vanilla and melted butter until evenly moistened. Stir in toasted coconut. Spoon half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and gently press into an even layer. Stir white chocolate chips into remaining crumb crust mixture and set aside.
For the Lemon Creme Filling
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolks and lemon extract until well blended. Pour mixture over crumb crust in baking pan and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining crumb mixture. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, then remove and cut into squares. Store in and airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.
Notes
Makes 18 bars.

 

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar

The title of this recipe does not lie.  These truly are THE BEST chocolate chip cookie bars I have ever had!  My friend made these for a New Year’s Eve party and I became obsessed with them and had to make them!  They are the thickest, softest, chewiest, most delicious cookie bar!  And easy peasy, like 30 minutes start to finish.  Love that!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I almost like them as much as my super yummy Sugar Cookie Bars..almost.  I’m still a sucker for frosting on a cookie.  Which just gave me the idea that putting buttercream on these bad boys might make them the most insanely delicious thing I’ve ever tasted.  Hmmm I’m gonna go try that out right now…

Enjoy!

Recipe Source: So Festive!

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 c. Brown Sugar
  • ¾ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ t. Salt
  • ¾ t. Baking Soda
  • 1 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1 c. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, plus more for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter, sugars and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated, about 3 minutes. Add in eggs at low speed.
  3. Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Add gradually to butter mixture at low speed until fully incorporated. Add in chocolate chips at low speed.
  4. Spread evenly in pan and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine took about 25) until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Notes
Makes about 18 bars.

 

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Bakery Review – The Sweet Tooth in Blue Springs, MO

The Sweet Tooth

The Sweet Tooth Inside

The Sweet Tooth Bakery Case

Recently the hubby and I went to a B&B in Excelsior Springs for our fifth anniversary and came across this little cupcake shop in Blue Springs, MO called The Sweet Tooth.  When we were there they happened to be remodeling so the place was in a bit of disarray but their cupcakes still looked fabulous and that’s all that matters, right?!  I had read online that their cheesecake was good and cupcakes were REALLY good so I was excited to try both!

Silly Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Cupcakse

I chose a plain, mini New York style cheesecake and four different kinds of cupcakes:  Lemon cake with lemon filling and frosting, white cake with white chocolate filling and raspberry buttercream, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and white cake with chocolate frosting.  I will be totally honest and say….that I loved them all!  I don’t know what it was about their cupcakes but they were just soooooooo good.  I can usually take one or two bites of a cupcake and be done but I wanted to eat all of each and every  one of these!

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

The cakes were super moist and the frosting wasn’t overly sweet and the fillings were perfect.  I will say they were some of the best cupcakes I’ve had which I definitely was not expecting!  The cheesecake was also very good.  Highly, highly recommend this little shop!  A must if you are wanting some really delicious cupcakes.

Chocolate Mint Cupcake

 

Black and White Cupcakes

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Guinness Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Guinness Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

I almost forgot to post about this super simple and delicious ice cream I made about a month ago.  Thankfully (or not) it’s still in the 90’s around here so not to late to make this cool and refreshing treat!

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My favorite ice cream recipe has always been my parents homemade vanilla ice cream.  It’s the no-cook kind made with loads of sugar, cream cheese and lots of other bad-for-you-but-oh-so-delicious ingredients.  However, I just recently discovered ice cream recipes made with tempered eggs and how seriously easy they are.  I love, love, love this Homemade Thin Mint Brownie Ice Cream.  It was the first one I ever made with egg yolks and honestly it was so smooth and creamy, more than a no-cook version.  The same could definitely be said for this Guinness Dark Chocolate Ice Cream.  It’s totally rich with a deep chocolate flavor and hint of guinness beer.  In a bowl or cone or even in a Guinness float, it’s divine.

Enjoy!

Guinness Dark Chocolate Ice Cream
 
Ingredients
  • 7 oz Bittersweet Chocolate
  • 7 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 2 c. Whole Milk
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 8 Egg Yolks
  • 2 c. Heavy Cream
  • 1½ c. Guinness Stout
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Put the chocolate in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
  2. Warm the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture in to the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer over the chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is smooth whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
  4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (AT LEAST 8 hour or overnight...very important, I tried mixing mine in my ice cream maker after 5 hours and it DID NOT work. Must chill at least 8 hours.), then churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions and place in freezer to firm up.

Guinness Dark Chocolate Ice Cream 3

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Avery’s Play Kitchen

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I knew once I saw this kitchen on Lay Baby Lay I wanted one EXACTLY like it.  Thankfully my hubby is super talented and handy and with the help of his dad, he managed to get this kitchen done in just a couple of days and right in time for Avery’s first birthday party!

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Avery helps me in the kitchen a lot (which really means that she wants me to hold her all the time so I am usually cooking with her in my arms!) so I thought she’d love her own kitchen and it would be one that she can play with for a few years.  I’m hoping she likes to cook and bake like her mama! (Check her out in her ruffle butt and baby apron that her grandma made!  Too cuuuuuuute!)

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Just in case you missed her smash cake and first birthday party photos, you can check them out here and here!  We had the best time celebrating our little stinker butt!  (She’ll hate that nickname someday I’m sure but for now it fits haha.)

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Rainbow Sprinkles & Confetti FIRST Birthday Party!

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I have been looking forward to my daughter’s first birthday party since the day she was born.  And let me tell you…I spent WAY too much money and time on it!  Hah!  But I can also say it was totally worth it. 🙂  I LOVE planning dessert tables so Avery’s party was my excuse to go ALL.  OUT.  But first…a theme.  Omg the freaking theme.  I cannot tell you how many Pinterest boards and Google pages I searched for the PERFECT theme.  Ya know, the one that someone hadn’t already done 50,000 times.  Yeah…not finding it.  Barbie, Paris, owls, hearts, rainbows, ladybugs, cupcakes…done, done and SO done.  I was really wanting something unique but in the end I settled on Sprinkles and Confetti!  Rainbow Sprinkles and Confetti.  I figured it would be cute and fairly simple.

Ok, would have been simple if I hadn’t made it super complicated.  I’m talented like that.  In the end we had somewhere around 100 confetti filled balloons, seven different sprinkle coated desserts and one very happy birthday girl!

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We had so much stuff dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles…Oreos, strawberry wafers, pretzel rods, strawberries, donut hole “cake” pops.  And of course we had gumballs, homemade marshmallows and a gorgeous cake with a balloon on the top!  It was fun seeing everyone enjoy all the treats but especially fun to see Avery eat her first homemade marshmallow!  She loved it. 🙂

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She also loved her second smash cake.  Think she might have preferred the bad-for-you version a little bit more than my healthy one.  Hah!

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It was the best birthday party and even though I went totally overboard and she won’t remember one single thing, I’ll treasure it forever and obviously show her all the pictures from her fabulous party!  😉

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First Birthday Cake Smash!

Cake

Ok, I am FINALLY getting around to doing a series of blog posts I’ve been meaning to do since my daughter’s first birthday in April!  I wanted to share photos and details from her cake smash, birthday party and the AMAZING kitchen my hubby built her for her big gift and decided to just make three separate blog posts out of each.  I’m starting with her cake smash!  I wanted to do these photos because I just wasn’t sure she would get into the cake at her birthday party with all the excitement and all the people around and was afraid I wouldn’t get any good pictures.  So one Saturday morning I threw together this cake (literally threw it together in about 10 minutes and had it in the oven!) and we set up a little photo area in our dining room to do the pics.

Eating Cake 1

I wasn’t sure how she would do even during these photos because she’s never had cake and really nothing sweet except fruit!  She did pretty good though.  Wasn’t going crazy with the cake like I hoped she would and I basically had to prompt her and break off pieces to try.  She can be VERY resistant to new food!  But she did ok and we got some fun pics.  She honestly was more into picking the sprinkles off the cake one by one and then of course got distracted very easily by the balloons!  I was pleased overall though with the photos and glad we did it before her actual party!

Eating Cake 2

Eating Cake 3

Now as for the cake…I agonized for a long time whether I even wanted her to have cake for her birthday.  I like to keep things pretty healthy around here, especially when it comes to what she eats but eventually decided I would do at least do a healthy cake for her cake smash photos.  And I have to say I thought this cake was delicious!  It was a little on the dense side but so moist and yummy.  All I had on hand was sucanat so I used that and it gave the cake a richer flavor which was very good but I’d like to try it again with xylitol.  I layered it with 100% fruit strawberry jam and attempted to frost it with this recipe for whipped coconut frosting.  UGH.  This method of frosting did NOT work for me.  It was barely solid and more like whipped cream.  Apparently it works for a lot of people but not me!  So I really can’t recommend it for this cake.  Overall though I was pleased with the results and felt like this was a great, healthier alternative for a cake!  Hope you enjoy the pics!  We had a lot of fun. 🙂

Healthy Kid Smash Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ c. Almond Milk
  • 1½ T. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1½ T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. plus 1 T. Safflower Oil
  • 2 Eggs, room temperature
  • 2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ⅔ c. plus ¼ c. Sucanat (I would do xylitol for a more neutral flavor. Sucanat is richer and more like brown sugar.)
  • 100% Fruit Strawberry Jam
  • Frosting (Your choice, healthy or not. I can't recommend the coconut frosting, unfortunately.)
  • Sprinkles, etc.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3, 5-inch cake pans with coconut oil and whole wheat pastry flour. Line with parchment paper. In a small bowl combine first five ingredients and whisk well. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients (except jam and frosting, obviously). Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just evenly combined. Divide evenly among the three pans. Bake for 22-25 minutes (mine took 25) until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely and then remove from pans. Place first layer on a cake plate/stand, spread with jam, layer with second cake layer, more jam and third and final cake layer on top. Cover with frosting and decor of choice.

 

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Chilled Peach Soup

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It’s HOT already where I live so baking a lot of desserts in my oven and heating my house up even more is really not too appealing to me these days.  Which is why I love this chilled peach soup!  It’s the perfect summertime dessert and, oh yeah, it’s AMAZING.  The first spoonful of this immediately had me thinking of a peach cobbler like grandma makes except, well, with alcohol and obviously no crust!  It’s creamy, cold and just really, really good.  Top it with some homemade whipped cream and a couple sprigs of fresh mint and dessert is served!

Enjoy!

Chilled Peach Soup
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Sparkling White Wine (I used a Spumante)
  • 1 c. Peach Schnapps
  • ½ c. Sugar
  • 1 t. Fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
  • ½ t. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ t. Ground Nutmeg
  • 2 c. Half and Half
  • 10 Large, Fresh Peaches, sliced
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients except peaches in a large bowl and whisk until well blended and sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a high powered blender (I used a Vitamix) and add peaches (you might have to do this in two batches). Blend on high until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate until chilled.
Notes
Serves 10.

 

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Coconut Rum Dark Devil’s Food Layer Cake

Cake Slice

 

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A couple of months ago our Gourmet Cooking Club was Caribbean themed and I made these AMAZING Jerk Salmon Tostadas with Grilled Pineapple Peach Coconut Salsa along with a little layer cake.  Ok, it wasn’t a little cake…it was freaking huge!  Kind of on accident.  I wanted to make a four-layer cake so I just thought, oh I’ll double this cake recipe and have four layers!  Well, this is a GREAT idea if you want a cake the size of Mt. Vesuvius.  Seriously, I had two layers of this cake stacked and  was getting worried.  It was big.  Too big.  I then remembered that in the past when I wanted a four layer cake, I just made two cakes and SPLIT THEM IN HALF.  Oh, right.  Needless to say I pressed on and managed to get all four layers stacked, filled and frosted without any major mishaps.  But enough about that, you just want to know how it tasted right?  Of course you do!

Cake Close

I wanted to incorporate Caribbean flavors into the cake so coconut and rum seemed like a no brainer but I wanted to have a little twist so I thought chocolate cake would be perfect.  This devil’s food cake is probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever had.  The original recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiciton.  I just swapped in some dark cocoa for the light and upped the amount of vanilla a little.  The coconut filling reminded me of a Mounds bar and the coconut frosting was perfect.  My only complaint is that my rum simple syrup really got lost and didn’t come through like I wanted it to.  I thought I had really put enough rum in the syrup (and by enough I mean A LOT more than the recipe called for) and I brushed it pretty generously over each layer, but I couldn’t taste it that well which was a total bummer!  However, I still LOVED this cake and would definitely make it again, especially the devil’s food cake part.  Divine.

Cake Cherries

Enjoy!

Coconut Rum Dark Devil's Food Layer Cake
 
Ingredients
For the Cake*
  • 3½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 3½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ¾ c. Special Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 4 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Salt
  • 2 c. Buttermilk
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 4 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Freshly Brewed Strong Hot Coffee
  • *Note: The ingredient amounts listed are because I doubled the original recipe to get 4, 9-inch cakes. It made a HUGE layered cake. It may be more manageable to halve the recipe for 2, 9-inch cakes and then split those in half horizontally in order to make four layers.
For the Rum Simple Syrup
  • ¼ c., plus 2 T. Sugar
  • ¼ c., plus 2 T. Water
  • ½ c., plus 2 T. Spiced Rum
For the Coconut Filling
  • 21 oz. Sweetened, Shredded Coconut (1½, 14 oz. Bags)
  • 21 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk (1½, 14 oz. Cans)
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
For the Coconut Buttercream
  • 4½ Sticks Unsalted Butter, slightly softened
  • ⅓ c., plus 3 T. Cream of Coconut (in the can by the drink mixers in the liquor section)
  • ½ c., plus 1 T. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 7½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 T. Coconut Extract
Other
  • 2 c. Toasted Coconut (for garnish, if desired)
Instructions
For the Dark Devil's Food Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and line with parchment paper four, 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powders, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with the mixer on low. Add the coffee. The batter will be VERY thin. This is ok.
  4. Pour the batter in to prepared baking pans and bake for 23-27 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. My cakes took about 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before assembling cake. Or if you are making the cake in stages, allow the layers to cool for about 10 minutes, flip out of pans and remove parchment paper and wrap in foil. Store in freezer until ready to thaw and use. This will yield a SUPER moist cake.
For the Rum Simple Syrup
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, just until the sugar is completely dissolved. This will only take a couple of minutes. Let cool completely, then stir in the rum.
For the Coconut Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Coconut Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, salt, cream of coconut and heavy whipping cream on medium-high speed. Turn to low and gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla and coconut extracts.
To Assembly Cake
  1. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Brush with ⅓ of the rum simple syrup. Spoon on ⅓ of the coconut filling and spread evenly. Repeat with second and third layers. Place fourth cake layer on top and spread a thin layer of crumb coat icing over entire cake. Place in the refrigerator until firm. Remove and finish frosting entire cake with the buttercream. Garnish with toasted coconut. Optional: I dipped maraschino cherries in white chocolate and toasted coconut and used them to decorate the top of the cake.
Notes
Serves 12-16.

 

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Chocolate Chip and Coconut Almond Meal Cookies

Chocolate Chip and Coconut Almond Meal Cookies

I have been making almond milk for my one year old for the past couple of months.  We are dairy free in our household  for many reasons (ok, except for the occasional Andy’s treat), one being that almond milk has a TON more calcium than cow milk.  I love the fact that you can not only make your own homemade almond milk which is FAR better than even the healthiest store bought kind, but you can also use the pulp that is left to make your own almond flour (or you might see it labeled as almond meal in the store).  And it’s all so easy!  But the downside is that if you have an almost toddler  who drinks as much milk as mine (I say almost because she is ALMOST walking on her own and to me that is when she will no longer be a baby *tear*), you are making it ALL. THE. TIME.  And it leaves you with almond flour coming out your ears!!!  Thankfully, there are so many awesome recipes these days using almond flour.  Many vegan and gluten-free recipes use almond flour so hopefully it won’t be any problem using all this stuff up!

I’ve baked with almond flour before and had amazing results.  These Blueberry Almond Meal Muffins are still one of my favorite muffin recipes.  When I came across this recipe for almond meal cookies with chocolate chips and coconut, I had to try them and they turned out so good.  When I say so good I mean the kind of good that I can probably never make them again because my husband and I ate them in like, two days.  All of them.  Eeek.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Almond Meal Cookies

They reminded me of a cross between a super soft, thick graham cracker cookie and an almond joy.  I mean…kind of delicious.  The ingredients are nutritious and if you can limit yourself to just one or two then you’ve got a perfectly suitable (and in my opinion better) substitution for a run of the mill chocolate chip cookie.  So if you’ve never used almond flour before, I definitely recommend starting with this recipe!

Enjoy!

Original recipe here.

P.S. Mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as theirs!

Chocolate Chip and Coconut Almond Meal Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ c. Almond Meal
  • ½ t. Baking Powder
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • ½ c. Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
  • ⅓ c. Sucanat or Coconut Sugar (I used Sucanat and processed mine in my Vitamix dry attachment until it was finely ground)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 3 T. Coconut Oil, melted
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Bittersweet/Dark Chocolate Chips (I would chop them next time for finer pieces..the big chips made it a bit difficult for the cookies to hold together)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and coconut. In a small bowl whisk together egg, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Shape dough into 1½-inch balls, place on baking sheets and press down slightly with the palm of your hand.
  3. Bake until edges begin to brown, 7-10 minutes (mine took 8), rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Let cool completely on wire racks and store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes about 18 cookies.

 

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Dark Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Skillet Cookie Sundae

I have always wanted to make a cookie in a cast-iron skillet and this past Mother’s Day I finally had my chance.  I’ve seen a lot of recipes for them and they always looks so absolutely thick and chewy and decadent and warm and gooey and…   Well, you get the idea, I could go on and on with the descriptive words here.  But I won’t.  They practically beg to be eaten straight from the pan with a huge scoop of homemade ice cream on top.  We were a bit more civilized when I made it for my husband’s family and managed to eat it properly, in our own individual bowls.  😉

Skillet Cookie

I have to say that I LOVED this cookie.  To me, it was everything a chocolate chip cookie should be–slightly chewy but still soft with a tiny but of crisp to the very outer edge.  It was a little richer than your typical chocolate chip cookie due to the brown sugar and bittersweet chocolate chips.  We topped ours with homemade vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, toasted coconut, sprinkles and a cherry, of course!  It was the perfect treat after dinner and would actually make a GREAT Father’s Day dessert.  I don’t know a dad who wouldn’t love this cookie.  Or anyone for that matter!

Enjoy!

Original Recipe Source:  Tasty Kitchen

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
  • ½ c. Sugar
  • ½ c. Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (or semi-sweet, etc)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat. Let rest until pan is warm, but no longer very hot, about 5 minutes.
  2. Crack an egg onto the butter and sugar mixture and use a fork to whisk it into the mixture. Place flour baking soda and salt on top and carefully stir into the mixture until smooth and well-mixed. Stir in chocolate chips. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes (mine took 25) or until starting to turn golden on the top and around the edges, but still soft in the center. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

 

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