A Sweet July 4th!

I can’t believe I’m already writing a Fourth of July blog post!  This last couple of  months have flown with my daughter turning two and having a baby…suffice it to say I’ve baked nothin’ in the last few weeks and don’t have any super-fabulous, totally-original July 4th recipe to share with you BUT I do have some past inspiration from my blog and others that are patriotic AND delicious!  So here are 10 gorgeous red, white and blue desserts that you can feel proud serving this Fourth of July holiday!  Enjoy!

 

Red Velvet and Blueberry Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

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Red Velvet Funnel Cake

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Cherry Star Turnovers

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Easy Flag Fruit Dessert

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Red, White and Blue Pinwheel Icebox Cookies

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Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

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Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

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Firecracker Popcorn

Firecracker Popcorn

 

Easy and Healthy Fresh Fruit Dessert Pizza

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Mini Fruit Tart Cheesecakes

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Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars with Pink Hearts

Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bar with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Doesn’t the title of these things just SOUND delicious?!  As well it should because these bars are good.  Very, very good.  They definitely remind me of one of my favorite recipes of all time, Sugar Cookie Bars, but with a touch of cocoa in the bars (YUM) and decadent white chocolate cream cheese frosting.  They are perfect for Valentine’s Day with the red in the batter and cute, sparkly pink sugar hearts on top.  I used a cookie cutter to make the heart shape and directed the pink sugar with a funnel into the heart.  Easy!  These make great treats for kids and adults alike!

Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Ingredients
Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars
  • 3⅓ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ c. Unsweetened Cocoa
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1½ c. Sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 T. (one, 1 oz. bottle) Red Food Coloring
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1, 8 oz. Pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Chips, melted
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar, sifted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick spray.
For the Bars
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Add the flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Press evenly into the bottom of the 9x13 baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool bars completely on a wire rack before frosting.
For the Frosting
  1. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla and the melted white chocolate. With the mixer on low, gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Spread evenly over sugar cookie bars.
Notes
Makes 18-20 bars.

Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bar

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Red Velvet Funnel Cake

My niece is a genius.  Yes, she is one of the sharpest, brightest, most creative and beautiful little girls I know.  But I’ve now confirmed she is a CULINARY genius as well.  My sister-in-law, Rachel, had mentioned a loooong time ago that Joslyn misunderstood something she said once and mistakenly thought that she and Rachel were going to make red velvet funnel cakes, instead of cupcakes.   Ummm, can you say brilliant?!?  I immediately tucked the idea away in the back of my mind knowing one day I’d get around to it and I am so happy to finally announce that day has come!

Now I’ve only made funnel cakes once in my life when I was a kid and I seemed to remember it being fairly easy and so, so fun and most of all extremely YUMMY.  The same can pretty much be said this time around but I must have forgotten how MESSY it was.  Umm, yes, this was messy.  I’m just going to be honest–get a funnel cake pitcher.  There’s a reason they make these, people.  Do not attempt to use a pastry bag fitted with a large tip (like I did) or a ziploc bag with a corner cut off.  I basically had to hold my finger over the hole of the tip while Jeremy poured the batter into the pastry bag (it turned out to be a VERY loose batter) and then release it into the oil  Don’t get me wrong…it worked.  Oh it totally worked.  But messy?  Yes.  And I HATE messy.  As a matter of fact, you could probably even use an empty, clean ketchup bottle which I know a lot of people do for pancake batter, which has a very similar consistency and would be much more controllable.  If only I had thought of that before…

Besides the messy factor, this red velvet funnel cake was super easy to mix up, required an absurd amount of red food dye (eek!) and was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS with a generous amount of powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream, homemade whipped cream and fresh blueberries.  And if you want just a plain funnel cake but still want to be patriotic, just dye the basic recipe red or blue and voila!  I think it is such a fun dessert for the 4th of July!

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Funnel Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Salt
  • ⅓ c. Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1¾ c. Buttermilk
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Red Food Dye (lots)
  • 1 Bottle Vegetable Oil (I used 7 cups)
  • Powdered Sugar, Ice Cream, Blueberries, etc for topping
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. And the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir together until smooth. Add the red food dye until you have the red color you desire (I used about half of a 1 oz. bottle).
  2. Pour the oil into a large skillet. Heat oil until a thermometer reaches at least 290 degrees (even though the original recipe called for 360 degrees, mine only ever got to 290 so I went with it and it worked). Release the batter into the oil while making a circular motion. Mine were pretty large, about 7-8 inches in diameter. Fry for about two minutes until it no longer looks raw. Using large tongs, grab the funnel cake in the middle (NOT the edges..they are crisp and could break) and gently turn over. Fry for one more minute and then place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up additional grease. Dust with a generous amount of powdered sugar and top with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and blueberries.
Notes
Makes 5 large funnel cakes. Note: This is NOT a sweet funnel cake, which is why I recommend topping it with a generous amount of the powdered sugar, whipped cream, ice cream, etc...it pairs perfectly with those things.

 

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Red Velvet and Blueberry Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Can I be honest?  If I had the option, I’d make a different kind of ooey gooey butter cake every week.  I am totally not joking.  EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.  Who knows, if things got really crazy I might even make TWO different kinds in one week!  I just love it so much.  But that would bore you, wouldn’t it?  I mean, you’d think “Wow, Sarah, seriously?  What about cookies and pie and brownies??”  Right?  Oeey gooey butter cake 24/7??  Boring!  And I definitely don’t want to bore you so I will refrain from indulging my ooey gooey butter cake obsession.  For now.

I actually realized it’s been about a year since I have posted this recipe for Chocolate Ooey Gooey Butter Cake so I thought it was high time I make one.  And man, it is such a struggle to make desserts for the 4th of July that are red, white and blue.  Let’s face it, unless you go the totally unnatural red and blue dye route, what are you left with??  Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.  That’s it!  So I thought this cake might be a little different but still incorporate the patriotic tones of July 4th.

And bonus: this cake is AH-MAZING.  It was all I could do to keep from eating the whole thing.  Poor Jeremy is really cutting out sugar right now and proclaimed that he would be relinquishing his duties as my official taste-tester (I know, I know…how dare he?!!?), but he could not resist having a bite of this cake.  It is so good.  Whatever get-together you have coming up, take this and it will be gone in no time!

Enjoy!

Red Velvet and Blueberry Ooey Gooey Butter Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1, 18.25 oz. Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Stick Butter, melted
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 5 Drops Red Food Coloring (the cake mix was a bit dark and I wanted a bit brighter red)
Ooey Gooey Filling
  • 1, 8 oz. Pkg Cream Cheese
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3¾ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Stick Butter, melted
  • 1 c. (11.5 oz.) Blueberry Spreadable Fruit (or jam/preserves)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combined the cake mix, egg, butter, vanilla and red food coloring and mix well. Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat well. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly add in butter. Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Stir the blueberry spreadable fruit to get it loosened up and then drop by spoonfuls on top of the filling. Gently swirl the blueberry spreadable fruit with a knife into the filling.
  4. Bake for 42-45 minutes until filling looks set and no longer wet or jiggly. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Notes
Serves 18.

 

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Bakery Review – Sara Sara Cupcakes in Oklahoma City

Jeremy and I took a whirlwind trip to Oklahoma City this weekend.  The original purpose of the trip was to visit a little candy shop I have been eyeing online for what seems like forever called Pinkitzel.  From what I had seen of their website, this place seemed like a candy lovers dream and their decor was right up my alley–pink, white, black and Rococo everywhere!!  I was absolutely in love.  I had to go.  NOW.  So we decided to do it and after realizing it would take nearly 5 hours to make the drive, we booked a hotel.  Well, at least I thought we had booked a hotel. Jeremy surprised me by booking a B&B just outside of the Tulsa area.  It was so sweet…I think I’ll keep him. 😉

So knowing that we didn’t have to rush back and could just do whatever on Saturday, I immediately looked up other places around OKC we could get our sugar fix at.  I found a few cupcake places and narrowed it down to one and then also discovered another candy shop and a chocolate shop.  Fun!

We set out early (5:30!) Saturday morning and made it just in time for our first destination to open up.  Sara Sara Cupcakes is located in an old, historic party of Oklahoma City…and it is SO ADORABLE.  The house is quite aged, probably built in the early 1900’s which of course only adds to the charm.  They’ve painted the doors pink and the inside is totally white and clean/modern looking.  I loved it.

 As for the cupcakes, they were HUGE which made sense since they were $3.59 each.  I kind of freaked out about the price (however would I be able to try  my regular half dozen?!), but then I was informed that on that day they were 3 for $9…not bad!

So it was decision time…I hate this part!  I am HORRIBLE at making decisions, especially when it comes to dessert and I was struggling.  I can’t tell you how many times the employees at these places stare at me like I’m crazy while I stand in front of their bakery cases looking constipated and Jeremy is flitting around taking pictures.  Yeah…we probably look insane.  But oh well, all in the name of research!  So I managed to decide, with some input from Jeremy, and we came up with the following delightful cupcakes:  Coconut Cream, Crimson & Cream and Judge Joe Cannon.  I will say up front that these cupcakes are delicious and straightforward.  They were all homey and just good.  Nothing fancy or over the top.  Cake and frosting.  That being said, here’s the breakdown of each one.

Our least favorite was the Crimson & Cream.  And not because it was bad!  It definitely was not bad, it was just not our favorite.  The red velvet cake was the perfect buttermilk, red velvet cake…so moist and the cocoa was just barely noticeable.  Like red velvet should be.  Topped with a delicious, not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting and chocolate shavings.  We liked it a lot.

Our next favorite was the Judge Joe Cannon, a banana cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting and chunks of Snickers.  I personally LOVED this banana cupcake because it was actually a super thick and dense banana bread.  Oh, it was soooo good.  However, the frosting was totally a let down…it was not a buttercream but more like a whipped topping that was greasy and slightly grainy.  I was really bummed about it because I loved the cake part so much.

And our absolute favorite was the Coconut Cream.   A delicious and moist chocolate cake topped with a milk chocolate frosting and yummy toasted coconut.  Loved it.

 

 Such a great start to the weekend!  If you are in the area, definitely pick up some cupcakes from them!

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Bakery Review – My Daddy’s Cheesecake in Cape Girardeau

As I mentioned last week in my B&B Weekend post, we stopped in at a bakery called My Daddy’s Cheesecake while were out and about exploring Cape Girardeau and hitting up antique shops.  I did NOT expect the town to have a bakery, let alone one that offered all that this one did!  The building was very straightforward, nothing kitschy or frilly about it and kind of reminded me a of a Panera Bread or McCallister’s restaurant.  They did, in fact, have quite a menu of food other than dessert but that was NOT what I was there for–I had come to get a sugar high!

First of all, let’s just start with the selection.  They had not one, not two, not three, but FOUR bakery cases jam-packed with so many different, mouth-watering treats that I was immediately overwhelmed and thought “Holy crap, how am I going to decide!”.  We’re talking one whole case with only cheesecake (of course!), another with cupcakes, gooey butter cake slices, chocolate covered strawberries, cannoli, etc, another with muffins, cinnamon rolls, Italian pastries and yet another case pretty much devoted entirely to cookies…you name it, I’m pretty sure they had it!

So after a little (ok, a LOT of) deliberation, we made our choices!  So, here they are, in no particular order.  Ok, that’s a lie.  They are definitely in order, from least favorite to most favorite.  These are my selections, although Jeremy and I agreed on our top three.  Yay!   Ok, here we go!  (First, a picture of the spread!  I’m sure people thought we were absolute pigs!!)

First up in sixth place the Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookie.  I chose this cookie because not only were there only two left (from a massive tray of them) the girl that was helping raved on and on about them.  I was excited.  And then I was sad.  These cookies were, in a word, horrible.  It was dry, crunchy and tasteless and I wanted so badly to spit it out but didn’t have a napkin.  I knew I should have gone with my gut and got the white chocolate macadamia nut cookie and I was *this close* to going back up to the counter and asking for a trade-in or something.  But I didn’t.  So here is the red velvet cookie, dead last.  Sigh.

Fifth, the baklava.  I love baklava.  LOVE.  But this just didn’t hit the spot for me.  It was ok, but a little dry and lacking some serious honey/gooey factor that is a necessary component of great baklava.  Not bad, just not outstanding.

Fourth, the Chocolate Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake.  It was decent but to be honest both the cheesecakes to me were more thick (solid?) and like a very firm ganache consistency than they were creamy.  The texture was just a bit off for me.

Third, the Amaretto Cheesecake.  Again, texture weird, but the Amaretto flavor redeemed it slightly for me–that was YUMMY.

Second, the Chocolate Ganache Cupcake.  I have to say this was a very good cupcake.  The cake was tender and fluffy, the chocolate frosting was delicious and the chocolate shavings on top were so yummy.  Only complaint was the massive tunnel of chocolate ganache inside the cupcake that had completely hardened.  A little awkward trying to cut into the cupcake but we managed!

And, drum roll please, first place goes to…the Cannoli!  Woo hoo!  This thing was deeeeeelicious.  I couldn’t stop eating it.  And I didn’t.  And I did not care.

So the desserts were a little less than stellar and seemed to be more style than substance but I’d really like to go back and try some other things, since they have such a variety!   And I heard people raving about the cinnamon rolls which were so huge and nearly sold out…I KNEW I should have tried one!  Oh well, next time.

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Kid-Friendly Valentine’s Day Treats

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

Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats Hearts

Valentine Jelly Pops

Valentine’s Day Marshmallow Pops

Chocolate-Raspberry Hearts

Valentine’s Day Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Sweethearts Bark

Valentine’s Day Candy Cane Hearts

Easy Valentine’s Day Brownies

Oreo Cakester Hearts

Valentine’s Heart Cookie Pops

Valentine S’mores

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Bakery Review – Stacey’s Sweets in Ozark

 

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

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

Cake Pops
Fudge Brownie

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

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

Yes, you read that right.  Walgreens now sells cupcakes under the name Good & Delish.  Jeremy and I were in this past weekend when we saw them and our curiosity was piqued.  I mean, isn’t buying a cupcake from Walgreens the equivalent of buying one at a gas station?  I mean, you just don’t do that!  It’s cupcake SIN.  But, we had to try these.  I was curious about the claim that they were “all natural” and was certain they would be just downright horrible.  So, I picked out three at $1.99 each and off we went to try them at home.

First up, Strawberry.  It was indeed all natural, deriving the strawberry flavor and pink color from beet juice.  My first impression of this cupcake was that it was HUGE.  Way bigger than a normal size cupcake.  My second thought was…”hmm, this isn’t bad”.  I mean, it was actually…gulp…good.  Yes, I know!  It’s cupcake sacrilege but the vanilla cake was actually VERY dense and moist and honestly good!!  The “strawberry” flavored frosting tasted more like cranberry or some other slightly indescribable berry, which wasn’t horrible, just not strawberry. And don’t be fooled by the little dollop of frosting on top; there is a tunnel of frosting down the middle.

On to the second one, Red Velvet.  Ummm, it was good too.  Not out of this world amazing, but in a pinch, it would curb that craving you have for something sweet and is far superior than something you’d pick up from Wal-mart.  Although this one was labeled “All Natural Flavors” due to the red dye in it.  Ah, details.

And last, Tuxedo.  Ok, get ready for this people…I really, REALLY liked this one.  Jeremy and I both agreed it was our favorite. It was a dark chocolate cake that was honestly soooo good.  Very rich and super moist (how do they do that?!?) and the cream cheese frosting was yummy as well.

Oh, and this is a Black Cherry drink under the same label, that Jeremy just had to try.  Again, very good.  Awesome cherry flavor and it was lightly carbonated.

Needless to say, we were impressed.  Seriously, I can’t believe I’m saying that!!  I totally expected these to be the WORST cupcakes ever but that was not the case at all.

So, if the urge ever hits you around 2 a.m. for a cupcake, now you know where to go!

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New Year’s Eve Party Mini Desserts

I have been in love with mini desserts for years.  They are just so darn cute and the fact that you don’t have to pick just ONE dessert but can in fact try several, due to their tiny size, is just awesome to me.  I love them so much that I actually used to cater desserts and only did miniature sizes.  It was so much fun and sometimes I really miss planning dessert tables for weddings or parties with loads of colorful, bite-size desserts!  Thank goodness for the holidays when I can unleash my creative baking skills (obsession?) on all my family and friends!

So, I thought what would be better for a New Year’s Eve party than mini sweets?!  Finger foods are VERY popular for New Year’s Eve parties and these desserts stay right with that theme.  Some of these are super easy (2-3 ingredients), which is great since you have no doubt been in the kitchen waaaayyyy too much between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Also, another way to make easy miniatures is to bake up a normal 9×13 pan of brownies, blondies, cake, etc. and cut them small with a knife or fun-shaped, small cookie cutters or take any regular ‘ole cookie recipe and just make smaller than normal cookies (be sure to cook them for less time!).  Ok, let’s check out some other awesome tiny goodies from around the blogosphere:

First up, Mini S’mores Cakes.  How cute are these?!  Get a lot more mini ideas from Delish here.

I LOVE baklava.  Love it.  It was the one thing I was looking most forward to indulging in over the Christmas holiday. I’ve actually made Baklava Cups before and they are super good and MUCH less labor intensive than the traditional way.  See more ideas from Women’s Day here.

Mini Oreos.  Yum.

Mini Ice Cream Cookie Pops. How fun!  However, if you’re afraid of the ice cream melting before people can scarf them down, try it with buttercream frosting.

I love these Mini Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats.  Rice Krispie treats are sooo classic and just plain good.

Banana Split Bites.  Delicious and gorgeous.

Vanilla Bean Baby Doughnuts.  Perfect after a night of imbibing.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.  One of my favorites.

Poptarts on a stick.  Totally awesome.  AND easy.

These Chocolate Salted-Caramel Mini Cupcakes look soooo rich and decadent.  Pure bliss.

Cut these yummy Red Velvet Brownies super small for bite-size treats.

These Lindt Mini Chocolate Trifles are adorable.  Use some larger shot glasses for the cups and think about switching up ingredients…caramel sauce for the fudge, brownies for the cookies, etc.

I have been making Brownie Tassies forever.  The only thing I do differently is top them with coffee buttercream and toasted, slivered almonds.  People will go nuts over these.

Ummm, excuse me but this Chocolate Covered Bacon Caramel Popcorn is dangerous.  Dangerous I tell you!!  And I am SO going to make it.

These Mini Cherry Pies are just down right pretty.  And begging to be eaten.

I love the playfulness of this Gumdrop Fudge.  Very festive and party appropriate.  Not to mention easy.  We like easy!

Well, hopefully this gives you some inspiration for whatever crazy New Year’s party you may be hosting or attending.  Tomorrow I’ll have my own recipe for Mini Doughnut Muffins!

 

 

 

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GiGi’s Cupcakes

Last Friday night Jeremy and I visited one of the two new cupcakes places (yes TWO) that opened up this week in Springfield, MO.  GiGi’s is a franchise based out of Nashville, TN and I had heard good things about them so I was pretty excited to visit.  The place is cute, simple and clean inside.  No frills.  And quite frankly they don’t need frills because the cupcakes are gorgeous!  At three dollars apiece, they are good-sized and well worth the money.  And the frosting…OMG don’t even get me started on the frosting on top of these cupcakes.  The minute we stepped inside the doors and my eyes fell upon the mountain of frosting piped on top of the cupcakes, I was mesmerized and drooling.  I’m a frosting girl all the way!

Since it was their opening night and they had been giving away free cupcakes all day to all their fans on Facebook, they were down to some basic flavors but still a good variety.   I would have LOVED to have tried the Tiramisu or Red Velvet but they were out of those so we went with Wedding Cake (my choice), Midnight Magic (Jeremy’s choice) and Chocolate Salted Caramel.

The Chocolate Salted Caramel consisted of a yummy super dark chocolate cake with caramel buttercream topped with chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of sea salt.  It was very good and I loved the salt and chocolate combination but the caramel buttercream was just a tad too sweet for both of us.  Somehow we still managed to eat most of it though…how did that happen?!

My choice, the Wedding Cake, was vanilla cake topped with vanilla buttercream.   The cake was on the denser side and not so light and fluffy and the buttercream was very thick, creamy and smooth, not greasy at all and had a wonderful vanilla flavor.  I really enjoyed it, especially the frosting.

Jeremy’s choice, the Midnight Magic, was our favorite.  It was a rich chocolate cake topped with an absolutely delicious cream cheese frosting and mini chocolate chips.  We ate the whole thing and loved every bite.

I’m really looking forward to going back and trying more cupcakes.  And I will go back!  I can’t stop thinking about the frosting…and the Tiramisu cupcake…and the Miss Princess (strawberry) cupcake…and the Red Velvet cupcake..and the frosting..and the Kentucky Bourbon Pie cupcake…and the…

P.S. Check out all GiGi’s offerings here!

P.S.S.  After linking to her page, I read her story of how she started and it is totally inspiring!  Check it out!

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Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

For the past year or two I’ve had a minor obsession with what I call “cheesecake cakes” and it all started when I made Jeremy this Red Velvet Cheesecake for his birthday.  He first had Red Velvet Cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory and absolutely loved it.  I have to admit, it was awesome.  When his birthday came around I did my best to imitate their version and think I got pretty darn close.

After that, my brain couldn’t help but imagine all the possibilities of cheesecake cakes…I did a vanilla cheesecake and strawberry cake combo, a neapolitan with chocolate cake, vanilla cheesecake and strawberry cake…you get the picture.   While they are delicious to make, they can be somewhat labor intensive and difficult to transport.  So I finally had the bright idea to make it into a cheesecake CUPCAKE.  Brilliant, right?  So much simpler!  And that idea led to the glorious recipe offering I give you today…Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes.

I don’t think I need to say too much about these other than they are good ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.  The chocolate cake is a recipe I borrowed from My Baking Addiction and the cheesecake is a recipe from a friend.  I was a little skeptical about the cake since it used a cake mix, but it was actually quite good.  It had a more spongy texture than I was used to but was still very moist and had a rich chocolate flavor.  And the Oreos…I mean, how can you NOT put Oreos in these?  They just send them over the top and transport you directly into chocolate/cheesecake/Oreo heaven.

Make these and share them with the people you love.  They will love you back.  Promise.

Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes
Author: 
Category: Dessert
36
 
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1 (5.9 ounce) package Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 4 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ c. Warm Water
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Cheesecake
  • 1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 (18 ounce) package Regular Oreos
Buttercream Dream Frosting
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 c. Shortening
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 lbs. (7.5 cups) Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 4 T. Very Cold Heavy Whipping Cream (or milk)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular size muffin pan with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. For the Chocolate Cake: In an electric mixer, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, water and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Set aside.
  3. For the Vanilla Cheesecake: In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla, beating well. Beat in the egg and set aside.
  4. For the Buttercream Dream Frosting: In an electric mixer, cream the butter and shortening until fluffy, about three minutes. Add the salt and vanilla and combine well. Begin adding the sugar, one cup at a time and mix thoroughly after each addition. After all the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the very cold heavy whipping cream one tablespoon at a time, combining well after each addition. Beat on medium-high speed for three minutes to reach desired consistency.
  5. To assemble: Use a scant tablespoon full of chocolate cake mix and smooth into the bottom of the muffin tin (I actually used my (very clean) finger to do this). Spoon in just enough cheesecake to cover the chocolate cake. Press an Oreo into the cheesecake and cover the Oreo with cheesecake mixture–just enough to cover the cookie. Top with another tablespoon of chocolate cake and gently spread until even in the tin. (Be careful to do no more than a tablespoon each time otherwise your muffin tin will be too full and the cupcake batter will rise above the muffin tin and “mushroom”) Repeat with remaining muffin tins. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch. Place on wire rack and cool completely. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

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Bring On The Weekend: Saturday Morning Breakfast

Needing some inspiration for breakfast tomorrow morning?  Me too!  As I was researching some seriously sweet breakfast recipes, I came across so many I couldn’t decide which ones I wanted to share, they all looked so good!  So I thought, why not share them all?  For me, there is nothing better than actually having time to cook or bake on a Saturday morning and filling your whole house with delicious smells of a homemade breakfast.  And since Saturday is usually our “cheat” day around our house, it’s a great time to try one of these not-so-healthy, but oh-so-delicious recipes.  Yay!

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

Banana Bread by Whipped

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes by Recipe Girl

Homemade Pop-Tarts by Smitten Kitchen

Apple Cinnamon Buns by What Katie Ate

Monkey Bread by Gimme Some Oven

Chocolate Chip Waffles by Tasty Kitchen

Overnight French Toast Casserole by The Girl Who Ate Everything

Red Velvet Donuts by Taste and Tell

 

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Cupcakes by the Beach

While in Florida, I made it a goal to get around to a couple different bakeries and try some of the desserts at the restaurants we went to.  So, the next few days I’ll be giving you the down low on some of the yummiest sweet treats in and around Destin.  Today, I’m going to start with Cupcakes by the Beach, a little cupcake shop along Highway 98 in Ft. Walton.

The shop is super adorable and very beachy feeling.  When you come in, you immediately see the cupcakes that are displayed on various cakestands behind glass to your left.  To the right are displays of dessert related items such as cupcake pedestals, cupcake candles, fun, patterened straws and a rack of the cutest aprons.

When it came time to order (which was hard because they had a great selection), I chose two basic cupcakes, Red Velvet and Vanilla Bean and two that just sounded yummy to me, Mocha and the El Diablo.  The Mocha was a mild chocolate cake with a cream cheese espresso frosting and the El Diablo was a dark chocolate cake with a super fudgy dark chocolate frosting that had cayenne pepper blended in.  I will say that I loved the frosting on both of these, the cream cheese espresso was divine and the Diablo frosting was rich with that slight heat that you get with cayenne.  The cake part however was dry which was really disappointing.

It was pretty much the same with the Red Velvet and Vanilla Bean.  The cream cheese frosting on the Red Velvet was good, as was the vanilla buttercream on the Vanilla Bean, but the cake part of both were really dry and just didn’t taste good.  It was kind of a bummer because the place was so cute and the cupcakes looked so good.  And at $2.75 apiece they are definitely affordable.  But if I lived in the area I wouldn’t go back, unfortunately.

So, that’s the first review.  What a downer, huh?  Well not to worry, things only get better from here on out!  Can’t wait to share all the other yummy dessert finds with you!

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The Catering Divas Divalicious Bake Shoppe

I had heard about a new bakery in Hollister, MO, The Catering Divas Divalicious Bake Shoppe (what a name!) and got my chance to stop in and visit a couple weekends ago after a trip to White Water in Branson with my sister and her husband.  I felt a little bad dragging them along for my “research” but they didn’t seem to mind.  After a short little drive right down into the heart of downtown Hollister, we arrived at our destination.  I was a little shocked to learn the bakery was just a tiny room off of a bar, so that was a little off-putting at first but the space was cute inside.  On the small countertop were a few pieces of pineapple upside down cake, cookies, brownies, a couple of pastries, a few cake pops, zucchini bread, some quick breads and rolls and a few chocolate cupcakes in the refrigerator.  I thought they’d have more to choose from because they supposedly stay open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday so they might have had a rush that day, but we still managed to choose quite the selection between the four of us.

The things we chose were cupcakes (chocolate with peanut butter buttercream and chocolate with vanilla buttercream), red velvet cake pops, a brownie and a slice of pineapple upside down cake.  The pineapple upside down cake was good but I probably wouldn’t get it again (only because everything else we got was way better).  The brownie was really yummy, more cake-like with a chocolate glaze, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with pecans.  The red velvet cake pops were also really, really good and not sickeningly sweet like a lot of cake pops I’ve tried.  Possibly the best cake pops I’ve had yet!

And finally, the cupcakes were delicious.  They only had a few chocolate varieties left (I typically like to try white cake with vanilla buttercream).  The chocolate cake part was very moist and had a mild chocolate taste and both the peanut butter and vanilla buttercreams were amazingly smooth and not too sweet…I think the frosting might have actually been an Italian or Swiss buttercream because it definitely did not taste like a typical powder sugar buttercream.

As for the prices, they were very good, if not even a little low on some things.  Jeremy and I got four items and only spent $7.  Overall, we liked the treats very much–you can definitely tell that the owner knows her cake!  I’m already thinking about stopping by for a cupcake the next time I’m in Branson.  Let me know if you’ve been there or plan to stop by sometime soon–I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Alexandria’s Cupcake Cottage

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

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

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

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

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Red Velvet Cheesecake

Red Velvet Cheesecake

A few weeks ago I learned a very important lesson all over again: be careful what you ask for. In my newly wedded blissful ignorance I asked my husband of four months what he’d like me to make for his birthday dinner on December 11. Everything from scratch, of course. He laid out the menu in no time and then to top it all off requested the Red Velvet Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory (which we had tried for the first time a couple months beforehand). Umm, ok, no problem.

The next day I formed a plan of attack. First step: find picture of the cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. From there I determined the order of layers, what went between them and the cosmetic enhancements needed. Second step: the recipes. I recalled seeing a recent episode of “Throw Down with Bobby Flay” on the Food Network Channel in which he competed in a red velvet cake contest and although I can’t remember if he won, I knew his recipe had to be good. So, I had my Red Velvet recipe. I didn’t change a thing except I used a whole bottle (1 oz.) of red food coloring for that really deep, brilliant red color and I baked it in two, 9-in. pans greased and lined with parchment paper.

For the cheesecake I went to allrecipes.com and found one that had great reviews. It turned out amazing! I honestly can’t wait to make it again the next time I want a good cherry cheesecake. Third step: assembly. This made me fairly nervous because I really haven’t made a ton of cakes and I don’t ever remember making a layered cake, so I was a bit concerned. But I gave myself a little pep talk, whipped up a simple cream cheese frosting and began construction. To my utter amazement everything sliced up and transferred fairly easily.

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Each layer got a slather of frosting and when all stacked, received a crumb coat and then into the freezer it went to firm up. Final step: cream cheese frosting and a layer of shaved white chocolate applied to the sides of the cake to beautify it. End result–a very pretty cake/cheesecake that tasted even better than it looked! Oh, and in Jeremy’s words it was “better than the one from the cheesecake factory”. I think he was under the influence of a very rich birthday dinner and a large amount of sugar at this point. Hah. But it was darn good.

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