Chunky Cherry, Oreo & Brownie Bark

Hey friends!  I have good news.  I had so many recipes that I wanted to share with you before Christmas that I absolutely couldn’t decide which ones to do and made the decision to do them all!  Yes, ALL.  Woo hoo!  So, one recipe every day this week.  I’m going to start with a super easy one today for this crazy good Chunk Cherry, Oreo & Brownie Bark.  This is inspired by a certain frozen custard creation that my husband likes to get at out local custard joint, Andy’s.  The combination of cherry, oreo and brownie in cool, creamy custard has become one of my favorites and I wanted to find a way to put it into candy form–hence, this bark!  I was pleased with how it turned out although I think I’d do a few more cherries next time, but that’s just my preference.  It would be great for any holiday party if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen and it’s definitely perfect for gift giving.  Just put it in a festive cellophane bag and voila!  Perfect foodie gift.

Enjoy!

Chunky Cherry Oreo & Brownie Bark
 
Ingredients
  • 2.5 lbs. Dark Chocolate Candy Coating (such as Ghirardelli or Wilton)
  • ¾ lb. White Chocolate Candy Coating (such as Ghirardelli or Wilton)
  • 1, 9x9 pan of Brownies (I used Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix and added a teaspoon of vanilla), cut into 1" sqaures
  • 5 c. Oreos (20 cookies), roughly crushed
  • 1 c. Dried Cherries
Instructions
  1. Melt both the dark and white chocolate candy coating (in separate bowls) in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each. Line your kitchen counter with a large piece of foil. In a large bowl, place the brownie chunks and gently stir in the melted dark chocolate candy coating. Be very careful to not break up the chunks of brownie as you stir. Quickly spread the brownies and chocolate onto the foil and immediately top with the crushed brownies and gently press them into the brownie/chocolate layer. Immediately drizzle with the melted white chocolate candy coating and sprinkle with the dried cherries. Let cool completely until chocolate is hard. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife and store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes about 3 lbs of candy.

 

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Cherry Star Turnovers

July 4th is on a Wednesday this year.  Middle of the week.  No vacation days before.  No vacation days after.  I’m not liking it.  Not one bit.  Especially considering everyone in my office is taking off leaving me alone to man the phones and do what else?  Hmmm, not sure.  I’m predicting a lot of Words with Friends.

Since it’s going to be SO WEIRD to have July 4th in the middle of the workweek, I thought we could use something to get us into the patriotic spirit first thing that day!  And that something are these fun star pastry pie turnovers.  Made of puff pastry and cherry pie filling (store-bought or homemade) they are the perfect breakfast treat!  I would actually liken them more to a turnover than a pie…flaky layers of buttery dough and ooey gooey cherry filling.  My only frustration with these things was the amount of cherry pie filling I could fit into each star.  I carefully placed four cherries in the middle of each and was able to just barely fit another star over the top and seal it shut.  So it’s a little more puff pastry than filling but they are still quite delish.

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Cherry Star Turnovers
 
Ingredients
  • 1, 21 oz. Can Cherry Pie Filling (you'll only need about ½ a cup..or double the recipe and use more!)
  • 1, 17.3 oz. Box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets total)
  • 1 Egg White + 1 T. Water, whisked together (for egg wash)
  • 1 T. Coarse Sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)
  • Flour (for dusting)
Instructions
  1. Thaw puff pastry on kitchen counter for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, unfold one sheet of puff pastry. (I did not roll it out any thinner, just unfolded and cut with my cookie cutter, but feel free to do so if you'd like...you might get a couple more turnovers that way.) Using a 5-inch star shaped cookie cutter (yes, you need a VERY large one), cut out four stars from the puff pastry sheet and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush egg wash onto edges of each star. Put one tablespoon of cherry pie filling (I literally picked out four cherries and placed in the middle of the stars..didn't want all that goo oozing out as it baked) in the middle of each star. Unfold the other puff pastry sheet and cut out four more stars. Place on top of the stars on the baking sheet. Crimp edges of the star with a fork to seal (I dipped the tines of the fork into the egg wash periodically). Brush egg wash onto the top of each star and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Using a sharp knife, cut a couple of small slits into the top of each star.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes, until tops and bottoms are golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely or eat warm.
Notes
Makes 4 star turnover. *There is alot of leftover puff pastry scraps with this recipe. I used a small star cookie cutter and just did smaller star puff pastry bites. They need less time to cook, about 15 minutes.

 

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Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls

This was my first time making anything sweet with quinoa and can I just say, I am forever changed!  Knowing that I can incorporate something into my desserts that is so nutritious and protein packed, is revolutionary.  Not kidding.  I was definitely skeptical how this would work, but once you mix all these ingredients together, you don’t even know the quinoa is there…all you know is that these balls are DELICIOUS.

I found this recipe on the eat, live, run blog.  I used her original recipe but once I had everything mixed up, it was VERY loose and absolutely not sticking together.  I might have done something wrong…who knows?  But I still thought the mixture tasted AMAZING and decided to just add some more stuff and hope it would come together.  The recipe was originally gluten-free but to get it to stick together I had to throw in some white whole wheat flour (which is the only one I had on hand).  You could use another type of gluten-free flour though if you have issues with gluten.

In the end, the balls stuck together nicely and tasted sooooo yummy.  They seriously remind me of an oatmeal cookie and are definitely my new favorite healthy sweet treat…well, after my No-Bake Almond Butter Rice Krisp Treats.  Those things can’t be beat.

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Trail Mix Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Thick Rolled Oats, dry
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa
  • 1 c. White Whole Wheat Flour (or whole wheat pastry, almond flour, etc)
  • ½ c. Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut
  • ⅓ c., plus 2 T. Raw Sunflower Seeds
  • ⅔ c. Dried, Unsweetened Dark Tart Cherries
  • ⅔ c., plus 2 T. Agave
  • ¼ c. Organic, All-Natural Peanut Butter (no added salt, oil)
  • 1 t. Sea Salt (I use pink himalayan)
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the oats and next five ingredients. In a small pot on the stove, bring the agave to a simmer over medium/low. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, salt and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture and mix well until combined. Let cool. Add mini chocolate chips into mixture. Form into 1" balls with your hands. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Notes
Makes 50, 1" balls.

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Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Hi friends!  I decided to take a time-out this weekend for a rare Sunday evening blog post.  I was making homemade cherry pie filling for a Cherry Dump Cake earlier this week and thought it would be a good time to share the recipe.  I’ve actually posted it before as part of my Cherry Sweet Rolls and Black Forest Cake, but hopefully posting it alone will make it a little easier to find the recipe!

I’ve always loved cherry pie filling but the one my grandma made for her cherry pies was always my absolute favorite.  Hers was made with fresh sour cherries from their cherry tree and it makes a filling SOOOO much better than the store-bought canned variety.  So once I discovered I could buy canned sour cherries from the store and make my own like my grandma’s, I was hooked.  This recipe is super simple and will be your new favorite from the first time you make it!  Use it in pies, as a topping for cheesecake, filling for layer cakes or just eat it with a spoon…which is what I find myself doing way too often.  Eek!

Enjoy what’s left of the weekend!  Our weather is absolutely gorgeous so I’m headed outside–later!

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling
 
Ingredients
  • 2, 14.5 oz. Cans Pitted Sour Cherries (in water NOT syrup), drained with ½ c. juice reserved
  • 1 c. Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ c. Cornstarch
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract (or Almond Extract)
Instructions
  1. Combine the cherries, ½ c. juice, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Cook over low-medium heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Be patient...it will take awhile but the mixture will magically thicken around the 25 minute mark. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla or almond and let cool completely. Store in refrigerator.
Notes
Makes about 2½ cups.

 

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Tart Cherry Frosting

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recipe adapted from healthyindulgences.net

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

 

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Bakery Review – Stacey’s Sweets in Ozark

 

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

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

Cake Pops
Fudge Brownie

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from BHG

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

 

 

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New Year’s Eve Cupcakes

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

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

 

White Chocolate Champagne Cupcakes

Stout Cupcakes

Cherry Amaretto Cupcakes

 

Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes

Mudslide Cupcakes

 

Jack and Coke Cupcakes

 

Margarita Cupcakes

Red Wine Cupcakes

 

Chambord Cupcakes

Cupcake “Shots”

 

 

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The Butterfinger Bites Disaster

Homemade Butterfingers by Plain Chicken

My friend Joelle had been raving on her blog about how amazing these things were called Butterfinger Bites.  My favorite candy bar of all time is Butterfinger, so naturally I just HAD to make these.  The only ingredients are candy corn, peanut butter and chocolate.  And not only that, you make them in the microwave.  Awesome!

Supposedly these little chocolatey gems taste EXACTLY like a Butterfinger.  But I, for one, will never know.  Because I totally and completely screwed up this recipe.  How you ask?  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  I followed the recipe and warmed the candy corn in the microwave for one minute.  They melted a little.  So I continued at 15 second intervals, stirring between each.  The candy kind of was kind of melting but it was also EXTREMELY hot and kind of starting to clump.  Uh oh.  I eventually got it into some sort of semi-melted blob and thought, ok, I’ll just throw in the peanut butter and see if it comes together.

No, it did not come together.  I could barely stir the mixture for all the clumps of candy corn in the peanut butter.  So I stuck it in the microwaved for a few seconds…and that kind of helped.  The clumps were turning into itty bitty candy corn bits.  So then I had the thought that I would throw it in my mixer and beat the crap out of it!  That didn’t help.  The tiny little candy corn pieces basically got distributed more evenly.  So I poured it into a pan and just stared at it for awhile.  There was no way this was solidifying or even tasting good.  So I threw it away.  Sigh.  So depressing.

I felt like a total failure, like I couldn’t bake at all!!  I mean, candy from a microwave?!  C’mon!  I went to the blog where the original recipe was posted to see if anyone else had issues with it…no, not one person.  Just me. So, I had to console myself by going back and looking at pictures of things I’ve made but never blogged about.  Yes, I was that depressed.  It actually cheered me up a little and reminded me that I’m not a total screw up.  Here’s my trip down memory lane…

Tons of homemade candy for the holidays…that was fun.  And I didn’t screw anything up!

14-Layer Cake with my baking buddy, Betsy.  We were pretty proud of that one.

A 1st birthday cake for a special little nephew.

Neapolitan Cheesecake Cake for a friend’s husband’s birthday.  Yum.

Maple Pecan and Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons, again with Betsy.  We got those right on the first try!  Woo hoo! Lots of high-fiving going on in the kitchen that day!

Buttered Pecan Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting for my sister-in-law Rachel’s birthday.  I think I need to make this one again…

Oreo and Cherry Birthday Cake for my friend Sarah Carter.  That was a fun one.

Ahh, I feel better.  Time to get back in the saddle!  Err, kitchen. Oh and YES, I most definitely will try to make the homemade Butterfingers again!

 

 

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Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies

I’ve not made a whole lot of pecan cookies in my life other than these Pecan Sandies, so when I found out tomorrow is National Pecan Cookie Day, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try another yummy cookie recipe.  I found this one from King Arthur for Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies.  The cookie is loaded with pecans, butterscotch chips and rolled in a sugar and salt mixture.

I of course just HAD to mess with the recipe.  I omitted the espresso and butterscotch chips and subbed in dark chocolate chips and dried cherries and then sandwiched them with marshmallow buttercream.  I really, really liked my finished product but I can’t wait to try the original version below.  Overall, this recipe makes one seriously delicious cookie.

Enjoy!

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cups pecan halves
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1⅓ cups butterscotch chips
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 to 1¼ teaspoons salt, for topping*
  • If you're making smaller (teaspoon cookie scoop-sized) cookies, increase the coating to ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar mixed with 1¾ to 2 teaspoons salt.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  2. Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast till they've darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, vanilla, flavor, and vinegar, beating until smooth and creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg, again beating till smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  5. Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.
  6. If you're going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 3½ to 4 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.
  7. Mix the ⅓ cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1½" balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between them on all sides; they'll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1¼" balls of dough.
  8. Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes — 11 minutes for smaller cookies, 12 for larger ones. Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. (For dough that's been refrigerated, add 30 seconds to 1 minute to those baking times.) Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan till they've set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Notes
Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies. There are a few of options once you have the dough made. If you bake the cookies right away, you'll have a flatter, lighter-colored cookie. Refrigerate it for 4 to 5 hours, the cookies will be flat, but not "puddle-y." Chill overnight, and the dough dries out, with some of the starch in the flour turning to sugar. The cookies will be darker, more "caramel-y," and won't spread nearly as much. These cookies are a good candidate for the "tablespoon vs. teaspoon" scoop choice. A tablespoon cookie scoop (actually 4 level measuring teaspoons) will yield big, 3" cookies; a teaspoon scoop (1¾ level measuring teaspoons) will make smaller (2¼") cookies. Also, the sugar-salt coating can be made more or less assertive, your choice. Use the lesser amount of salt for a less adventuresome audience; the greater amount for those who love the salty/sweet experience. It's easy to make some of both; just divide the dough in half, and make the coating both ways, rolling half the cookies in the saltier coating, half in the milder.

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Sweet Treat Aprons

I’m loving aprons right now and I think I might buy each and every one of these if I could afford to!  If you have anyone in your life that loves to bake, think about getting them one of these for Christmas or their birthday.  Such a perfect gift for a baker!  Check out the other aprons on these sites too–so pretty!

Original Frosted Cupcake-Flirty Aprons

Sweet Treat-Cupcake Provocateur

The Sophia Vintage Inspired Birthday Cake Half Apron-Boojiboo

Mother & Daughter Cherry Cupcake Aprons-Jessie Steele

Pink Sweet Treats Cupcakes-Aprons by Vittoria

 

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Pie Is The New Cupcake?

The word on the street is that 2011 is the year that pie makes its big comeback and replaces the seemingly untouchable cupcake at the top of the dessert hierarchy.  Now I hate to be the one to point this out but we’re more than half-way through the year and I still see cupcakes EVERYWHERE.  Pie…not so much.  It does seem however, that pie sells are up quite a bit according to this L.A. Times article, so perhaps the trend is just beginning.  Either way, I have always loved pie and will be glad to indulge in the craze once it hits full force.

Some of my favorite pies are fruit pies…mostly the ones that my grandma would make when we were young with the fruit from her backyard.  My grandparents grew everything from gooseberries to strawberries to onions and green beans.  They also had pear and cherry trees.  So we’d regularly have Sunday lunch at their house and always had a pie.  Gooseberry and cherry were my favorites.  I also love chocolate cream pie, coconut cream pie, banana cream pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie…the list goes on.  I guess I really don’t discriminate when it comes to dessert–it’s all good!

Check out these pie recipes from some of my favorite bloggers.  These are some drool-worthy pictures people…I’m pretty sure I gained five pounds just looking at them!

Have a lovely evening!

Brownie Pecan Pie from Bakerella

Sour Cherry Pie with Almond Crumble from Smitten Kitchen

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie from Pioneer Woman

Pie Pops from Luxirare

 

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Summer Drinks

I heard earlier today that we are in an “excessive heat” warning for the next few days, all the way through July 4th and beyond.  Ugh.  While I love the July 4th weekend, I am dreading the thought of being outside for hours while my makeup runs off my face, my hair falls flat and pit stains form under the arms of my non-black shirt (Because who wears black in the middle of summer?! Unless it’s a bikini??).  Lovely.  So I thought I could perhaps cheer myself up by finding some delicious, cold drinks to share on here.  It’s worth a try!

(I want one of these…whatever it is.)

First, I have a recipe for a Thai Tea that is out of this world!  If you’ve never had Thai Tea before, now is your chance.  This recipe is so delicious…sweet, spicy (as in cinnamon/clove spicy) and creamy.  Unfortunately, I don’t have photo but I’m sure it’s not too hard to imagine a glass of tea with half-and-half poured in.  Delicious.

I also linked to a few more yummy summer drinks below, in case you need more beverage inspiration.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be making that Sour Cherry Fizz concoction this weekend…sounds ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

Enjoy!

Thai Tea

6 c. Water

1 c. Thai Tea Leaves (found at Asian market)

4 Cardamom Pods, crushed

1 Whole Clove, crushed

1/4 t. Cinnamon

1 c. Granulated Sugar

1 c. Half-and-Half

Bring water to a boil in a large pan.  Stir in tea leaves and next 3 ingredients and cover.  Remove from heat and steep 5 minutes.

Pour tea through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a pitcher, discarding tea leaves.  Add sugar, stirring until dissolved.  Cover and chill.

Pour into a glass 3/4 tea and 1/4 half-and half.

More Summer Drinks

Summer Mocktails

Frozen Blueberry Lemonade

Sour Cherry Fizz

Raspberry Lemonade

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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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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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White Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake

Pound cake isn’t something I crave regularly if ever, but I had a recipe a co-worker gave me that I knew was absolutely fabulous and I had a LOT of sour cream that needed to be used ASAP so I decided to give it a try. The original recipe my co-worker had made was chock full of lemon juice, lemon peel, lemon extract…basically, it had a TON of lemon flavor. Even a lemon glaze! And while I adore lemon, I wasn’t too sure the crowd I’d be baking for would share my sentiments for citrus so I decided to alter the recipe just a tad. Plus, I had a ton of maraschino cherries I needed to put to good use!

In Oven

I won’t lie, I licked the batter off the spoon. And the mixing bowl. And the beater. It was good…very good. At this point, I became EXTREMELY excited for the finished product.

My excitement died down a bit however when the cake still wasn’t done after the alloted time called for in the recipe, 45 minutes. In fact it took a whole hour and 10 minutes and my toothpick never came out completely clean!  But I couldn’t wait any longer so I decided it was time to cool.

Cooling resized

Despite the edges being dry and just slightly overdone, the cake turned out great. I didn’t have time to do the glaze but the top of the cake formed a nice, sugary crust that I loved. I think I could have just eaten the tops off both cakes! The cake itself was very moist and had great almond and cherry flavor, although it wasn’t as dense and thick as I thought it would be. But that didn’t seem to be a problem for anyone–it got gobbled up!

Sliced

Mmmmmmm, wish I had a nice, thick hunk right now to dunk into some ice cold milk. If you try it, definitely have milk or ice cream on hand to go with. It just makes it that much yummier.

This is the original recipe with my changes noted at the end.

Lemon Lover’s Pound Cake

Cake Ingredients

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
5 T. lemon juice
1 T. grated lemon peel
1 t. lemon extract
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/4 c. sour cream

Glaze Ingredients

1/4 c. sour cream
2 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 T. lemon juice
2 t. grated lemon peel

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Stir in lemon juice, peel and extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Beat just until combined (very important to NOT overbeat otherwise you will incorporate too much air into the batter and cake will have a lighter, airier texture).

2. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

3. For glaze, in a small mixing bowl, beat the sour cream and butter until blended. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar. Beat in lemon juice and peel. Drizzle over the cake. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes

-I added 1 t. vanilla, 3-4 t. almond extract and one cup of melted white chocolate to the batter immediately after the eggs. I folded in 2 cups of halved maraschino cherries (drained and patted dry) and 1 cup of white chocolate chips right before pouring the batter into the pans.

-I baked the cake in 2, 8×4 in. loaf pans for 1 hour, 10 minutes and cooled completely on a wire rack.

-For the glaze, substitute maraschino cherry juice for the lemon juice and add vanilla and/or almond extract.

DP Bite-Pound cake was a British creation in the early 1700’s. The aptly named cake contained one pound each of eggs, butter, sugar and flour. No leaveners were used other than the air whipped into the batter. Fascinating, right?!? Well, I think so. 🙂

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