Brown Butter Oatmeal Blondies with White Chocolate and Coconut

Brown Butter Blondies White Choc Coconut

When I’m in a time crunch (which is OFTEN these days with a one year old!) but REALLY want to bake, I think “ok, what can I throw in a pan and just bake all at once?!”  Obviously brownies come to mind immediately but sometimes I want something that doesn’t involve chocolate.  Crazy, I know!  Blondies are great for curing that sweet craving and take no time at all.  These particular blondies are deliciously rich and chewy.  They start with browned butter (YUM) and finish with loads of oats, white chocolate and shredded, sweetened coconut.  Doesn’t that just sound amazing?!  I enjoyed one (ok, two) of these with a steaming cup of coffee!  I highly recommend you do the same. 🙂

Enjoy!

Brown Butter Oatmeal Blondies with White Chocolate and Coconut
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter
  • ½ c. Sugar
  • ½ c. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 c. Sweetened, Shredded Coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and 8x8 baking pan. Brown the butter in a pan over medium heat until it just begins to turn brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Gently stir in oats, chocolate chips and coconut. Pour batter into pan and press until it's even in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Notes
Makes 16.

Brown Butter Blondie White Choc Coconut

 

 

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White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

I have not found a cookie in awhile that it is hard to stop eating.  You know, not so rich that you can only handle a few bites and then you’re done?  But more along the lines of “Wow, those are so good I can’t believe I just ate five!!!”.  Yeah, that.  Let me introduce you to these White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies.  They are soooooo good.  The kind of good you can’t just stop at one with.  The are so soft and slightly crisp around the edges and the tartness of the freeze-dried raspberries sets off the sweetness of the white chocolate perfectly.  And I love the slight chewy texture from the oats.  Yep, can’t make these often or we’ll be spending extra time at the gym!

Oh and the bright pinkish red bits make them a lovely treat for Valentine’s Day, don’tcha think?

Enjoy!

 

White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1½ c. Quick Oats
  • ½ t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ c. Raspberry Jam
  • 2 c. White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 c. Freeze-Dried Raspberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer beat the sugar and butter at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and raspberry jam. Slowly beat in the flour mixture. Beat in the white chocolate chips. Gently fold in the freeze-dried raspberries. Roll into 1½" balls and place on baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks halfway through. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
Notes
Makes 36 cookies.

 

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Dark Chocolate and Candy Cane Cheescake Cupcakes

Hey guys.  Ok, second recipe this week…Dark Chocolate & Candy Cane Cheesecake Cupcakes.  Yes, you read that right.  Cheesecake and cupcakes in one glorious little package.  I loooooove cheesecake cakes.  My first ever was this Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake a few years ago that I made for Jeremy’s birthday when we were first married.  And there have been many since then, including this Chocolate Stout and Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cupcakes and these Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes. But this one is BY FAR my favorite.

I started this cupcake with a layer of crushed Oreo crust, followed by the delicious candy cane cheesecake layer, a dark chocolate cake layer and topped it off with dreamy peppermint frosting and candy cane bark.  OMG, to die for.  My only little issue with this cupcake was the Oreo crust wanted to stick to the wrappers a little but I think that could be avoided with high-quality wrappers.  Mine were pretty cheap.  Also, if you do candy cane bark, be sure to add it the day you plan on serving these.  Otherwise, the moisture from the frosting will cause the little peppermint pieces to bleed onto your cupcake.  Which doesn’t make it taste bad, but I’m not so sure you want your cupcakes to look like they’re bleeding.  But hey, whatever!

I hope you love these as much as I do!  They are definitely going into my regular holiday baking rotation.

Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate and Candy Cane Cheescake Cupcakes
 
Ingredients
Oreo Crust
  • 2 c. Oreo Crumbs
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter
Candy Cane Cheesecake
  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ c. Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • ¼ t. Pure Peppermint Oil
  • ½ c. Crushed Candy Canes
Dark Chocolate Cake
  • 1½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1⅓ c. Sugar
  • ½ c. Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1¼ t. Baking Powder
  • 1¼ t. Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Salt
  • ¼ c., plus 1 T. Vegetable Oil
  • ⅔ c. Whole Milk
  • ½ c., plus 1 T. Strong-Brewed Coffee
  • 2 Large Eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Peppermint Frosting
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
  • ½ c. Shortening
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • ½ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ½ t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 t. Pure Peppermint Oil
Candy Cane Bark
  • ½ lb. White Chocolate Candy Coating
  • ½ c. Crushed Candy Canes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers.
For the Oreo Crust
  1. Mix melted butter and Oreos together in a medium bowl. Press 1 tablespoon of mixture into each cupcake tin.
For the Candy Cane Cheesecake
  1. Beat cream cheese and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in egg and peppermint oil. Stir in crushed candy canes. Fill each cupcake tin with 1 scant tablespoon of cheesecake.
For the Dark Chocolate Cake
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Spoon 2 tablespoon cake batter into each cupcake tin*.
  2. Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes. Cool completely in tins on wire racks. Frost with peppermint frosting and top with candy cane bark.
For the Peppermint Frosting
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening until fluffy. Gradually beat in 2 cups of the powdered sugar and then ¼ cup of the heavy whipping cream. Beat in the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream. Beat in the vanilla and peppermint oil.
For the Candy Cane Bark
  1. Melt white chocolate in microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each. Spread onto a medium baking sheet lined with foil. Cover with crushed candy canes. Put in freezer for 1-2 minutes until bark has hardened completely.
Notes
Makes 24 cheesecake cupcakes. *I had enough chocolate cake batter to make 6 plain chocolate cupcakes. *Some of my cupcakes sunk in the middle, which sometimes happens with cheesecake. They still turned out fine. Just FYI.

 

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Blackberry, Almond and White Chocolate Muffins

Every time I walk into the grocery store lately, all the beautiful berries are calling my name. Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are just begging to be bought right now and I just had to find a recipe that I could use some of them in.  I was struggling to find something that wasn’t a pie or layered cake when all the sudden I remembered a recipe I had made years ago for Strawberry Almond Muffins.  I also remembered it was very good so I thought maybe I’d give it a shot…but with a few changes, of course. 😉

Instead of strawberries I decided to use blackberries and also wanted to add some white chocolate.  The original recipe called for all-purpose and whole wheat flour but I wanted a slightly lighter muffin so I went with cake flour in place of the whole wheat.  What resulted was one of the most delicious, tender and tastiest muffins ever!  Now you could say this muffin was verging on cupcake status but hey, I see nothing wrong with that!  All I know is I loved these and if you need a recipe to use up some berries, I encourage you to try this one!  Feel free to substitute raspberries or sliced strawberries, if you’d prefer.  You really can’t go wrong with whatever you choose.

Enjoy!

Blackberry, Almond and White Chocolate Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 T. Almond Extract
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. Whole Milk, room temperature
  • 2½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Cake Flour
  • 1½ T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Sliced, Toasted Almonds
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Chips
  • 2 c. Blackberries (or more if you'd like)
Instructions
  1. Line 2, 12-cup regular muffin tins with cupcake liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in almond and vanilla extracts.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Beat ⅓ of the flour mixture until the butter/sugar mixture, then beat in half the milk. Beat in another ⅓ of the flour. Beat in the final half of the milk and then the last ⅓ of the flour. Fold in white chocolate chips and almonds. Very gently fold in the blackberries and divide the batter evenly between the muffin tins (some of mine were quite full so you could probably get more like 25-28 muffins out of this recipe).
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack or eat while they are still a bit warm...they are VERY good like that. (I topped mine with a little white chocolate and single blackberry for the photos..up to you if you want to do that but be sure they have cooled completely if you do.)
Notes
Makes 24, regular size muffins.

 

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White Chocolate Easter Bark

Hi guys!  I wanted to share a super easy, last-minute Easter dessert idea with you today—Easter Candy Bark!  I wish I could take credit for this idea but I actually saw it on Pinterest (shocking, I know) and couldn’t wait to make it.  It took only about 20 minutes to do, which in my book=AWESOME.

So, you can do this a couple of ways if you’d like.  The first is to buy several different colors (including white) of Wilton Candy Melts from your local crafts store (such as Hobby Lobby or Michaels).  Whatever you think is Easterish.  The second way is to buy just white Wilton Candy Melts and color them yourself which is what I did.  I really wanted to control the color of the candy so that they were really pastel and would be exactly what I wanted.  I loved the way they turned out.  Now that you have your options, let’s get on to the recipe!

Easter Bark
 
Ingredients
  • 24 oz. White Wilton Candy Melts
  • Gel-based Dyes (for coloring the white chocolate—VERY important it is gel-based and NOT water-based as the water will cause the chocolate to seize and ruin)
  • Easter Candy such as M&M’s and Jelly Beans (Nerds, Robin Eggs, Skittles…whatever you like!)
  • 1 Large Bowl
  • 4 Small Bowls
  • Several Spoons
  • 1 Knife
Instructions
  1. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
  2. In the large bowl, melt the white candy melts on 20-second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each. Once completely melted, put two large spoonfuls of white chocolate into each small bowl. Color the white chocolate in the small bowls with your gel-based dyes.
  3. Pour the remaining white chocolate out onto the foil-lined baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Spoon out all the colored white chocolate randomly over the white chocolate layer. Run the knife through the chocolate, in a swirled motion one way and then the other way. Sprinkle the candy over the chocolate and then gently press the candy into the chocolate (this is VERY important, otherwise some of the candy will fall off after the chocolate has hardened). Place in the freezer for about 3-5 minutes until completely hardened. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.
Notes
Makes about 20 pieces.

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Hummingbird Cake

My resolution to bake classic cakes has so far been a success, starting with this Coconut Cake and now the Hummingbird Cake.  If you’ve never heard of the Hummingbird Cake before, it goes all the way back to, well, it’s hard to tell where or when exactly it came on the scene.  The first published recipe for the cake showed up in the February 1978 issue of Southern Living magazine and was submitted by a woman named Mrs. L.H. Wiggins but it’s roots trace from the deep south aaaaaallll the way to Jamaica!  How crazy is that?  You can read more of the history and details here.

I used a recipe from myrecipes.com that was a little of a modernized version of the cake with the addition of white chocolate to the cake and the frosting and a touch of almond extract.  I was tempted at first to leave the white chocolate out of the cake but I’m so glad I didn’t–I LOVED getting little bits of white chocolate in every other bite.  This cake is very, VERY dense, almost like banana bread and the flavors of the almond extract, cinnamon and banana are incredibly delicious.  I can’t believe I waited so long to make this cake!

Hummingbird Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 3 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 t. Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Large Eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 t. Almond Extract
  • 1, 8 oz. Can Crushed Pineapple, undrained
  • 1 c. Chopped, Toasted Pecans, divided
  • 2 c. Chopped Bananas (about 3 medium-large bananas)
  • 4 oz. White Chocolate, finely chopped
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1½ c. White Chocolate Chips, melted and cooled
  • 1½ (8 oz.) Packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 6 T. Butter, softened
  • 4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ c. Chopped Toasted Pecans (for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3, 9-inch round pans and then line with parchment paper (optional).
For the Cake
  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened (do not overbeat). Stir in vanilla and almond extract, pineapple, pecans, bananas and white chocolate.
  2. Divide batter evenly among the three pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.
For the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until creamy. Add melted chocolate and vanilla, beating well. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended. Beat at medium speed until mixture reaches desired spreading consistency (do not overbeat).
To Assemble the Cake
  1. Spread cream cheese frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle ½ cup of chopped pecans on top. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Notes
Serves 16.

 

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Sweets for Superbowl 2012

Sometimes I make the mistake of doing, ahem, research for my blog when I’m hungry.  And it never ends well.  After looking at numerous varieties of desserts for this post, it was all I could do to not go into my kitchen, get a huge bowl of peanut butter, sprinkle it with dark chocolate chips and crushed graham crackers and call it dinner.  But I didn’t!  Instead, I had a sensible meal of garden lasagna (delicious!) and refrained from eating every bit of sugar in my house.  Just a word of caution!

Any of these desserts would be GREAT for a Superbowl party.  I tried to choose things that were fairly simply and not too labor intensive.  After all, you’ve barely recovered from Christmas baking!  I really don’t think you can go wrong with whatever recipe you choose–they’re all delicious.  And next week I’ll have football themed desserts if you’re feeling a little more crafty with your baking…football shaped sweets are just too darn cute!

Brownies

The Baked Brownie

 

King Arthur Flour Brownie

 

S’mores Brownie

 

Caramel Coconut Pecan Brownies

 

Blondies

Peanut Butter Blondies

 

Fondue

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue, Salted Caramel Pecan Fondue and Apple Cinnamon Fondue

Chocolate Orange Fondue

Mocha Fondue

 

White Chocolate Fondue

Dessert Pizza

Apple Pie Pizza

Sugar Cookie & Fruit Pizza

Banana Split Brownie Pizza

Rocky Road Cookie Pizza

Cookies

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Oatmeal Cookies

 

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Peanut Butter Potato Chip Cookies

Monster Cookies

Turtle Cookies

Mudslide Cookies

 

Snack Mixes

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Mix

Gluten-Free Popcorn, Cereal & White Chocolate Mix

Sweet & Spicy Mix

Maple Cinnamon Cereal Mix

Pumpkin Spiced Mix

 

Puppy Chow

 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn

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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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A Candy Cane Christmas

Nothing is more symbolic of Christmas than a candy cane and peppermint has been one of my favorite flavors for as long as I can remember.  I’ll never forget taking trips to see my Grandma who lived in Kansas City around the holidays and there was a little ice cream shoppe that had the most amazing hand-dipped candy cane ice cream.  I could hardly stand the three-hour drive from Springfield to KC in anticipation of that peppermint, creamy, frozen goodness!  Such a good memory.

So, I went searching for some awesome peppermint recipes and found so many, I almost didn’t know when to stop!  But I did manage to stop and I have quite the selection to share with you!  Not only are these desserts GORGEOUS but they are chocked full of peppermint goodness.  Make one of these for your holiday gathering this weekend!

 Layered Peppermint Cheesecake Cake

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

Peppermint Crunch Truffles

Peppermint Meringues

Peppermint Brownies

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Peppermint Whoopie Pies

 

Candy Cane Cake Pops

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

Chocolate Peppermint Roll with Chocolate Ganache

Peppermint Ice Cream

Peppermint Mocha Kahlua Truffles

Vanilla Peppermint Cupcakes

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Homemade Christmas Candy

This past weekend I made homemade candy, which is probably my favorite thing to make in the kitchen.  I tried a couple of old recipes and a couple of new ones.  One of the new ones was out of a candy book that I have and unfortunately it was a total disaster.  It was supposed to be similar to a 3 Musketeers but was more like chocolate taffy.  The taste was great because I used my super delicious Mexican cocoa powder but the texture was way off.  I was soooo disappointed in the recipe but I’m not going to give up!  I think that is what I like about candy making, it can be a challenge and it’s fun to figure out why recipes went wrong and what to do right or change the next time.

Here is a small collection of candy recipes that I’d love to try this Christmas, from simple to a little bit more complicated.  The homemade Snickers bar and Coffee Toffee are totally calling my name…actually they ALL look good!  Which one would you like to try??

Chubby Hubby Truffles

Gumdrops

Coffee Toffee

Honey Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

Cherry Cordials

Pumpkin Spice Truffles

Peanut Brittle

Eggnog Fudge with White Chocolate and Walnuts

Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles

Chocolate Dipped Caramels

Oreo Truffles

Divinity

Homemade Snickers

Peanut Butter Cups

Candy Cane Marshmallows

Salt Water Taffy

Chocolate Covered Coffee Crackle Crunch

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Christmas Food Gifts

Happy Friday!  In case you’ve been thinking about what you’re going to give to that hard-to-buy for friend or family member for Christmas, why not give them food??  Everyone loves food.  Seriously, everyone.  What I like about these food gifts is that they are not your typical fudge or baked good that will probably get a little stale before you can recover from all the holiday eating.  These can be stored away for a cold winter night (or day) and made or used whenever the urge strikes.

Enjoy!

Minty Hot Cocoa Mix

Personalized Coffee Blend

Vanilla Sea Salt

White Chocolate Cinnamon Pretzels

Peppermint Marshmallow Sauce

Vanilla Coffee Syrup

Cookie Bar Mix

Hot Fudge Sauce

Flavored Popcorn Kit

Homemade Nutella

Holiday Drink Mixers

 

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Dark Chocolate Cheesecake for Christmas

I am more excited about this Christmas season than ever before!  And it’s mostly because I will be baking my way through the next 25 plus days and documenting every gloriously sweet moment on this blog!  Since there are so many awesome recipes I want to try right now, I’ll be posting a new one every Monday and Wednesday of the week from now until Christmas.  Most likely one will be something baked (cookie, cake, etc) and one will be unbaked (candy, party mix, etc).

I’ve decided to kick off all the festive baking with this amazing  Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cappuccino Ganache.  This thing is decadent and rich and worth every single calorie you will have to burn on the treadmill the next day.  You really can’t go wrong bringing chocolate to a holiday gathering because seriously, who doesn’t love it??

The only problem (well, ok there were two) I encountered with this cheesecake is that the butter in the cookie crust started seeping out of my springform pan for some reason (I have NEVER had that happen before–weird!) so I had to put a cookie sheet beneath it to catch it all. And problem number two was that I didn’t realize how much volume adding two cups of melted chocolate chips would add to this recipe so my 9-inch springform pan got very full…TOO full!  I’d advise you to use at least a 10-inch round springform pan.  And don’t freak if the top gets kind of funky and cracked; your just going to cover it with ganache anyway.  I torted mine to give it a nice even surface before spreading the ganache over it and in the end it turned out perfect!

What are you most looking forward to baking this Christmas season??  I’d love to know!

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Cappuccino Ganache
 
Ingredients
Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
  • 2½ c. Oreos, crushed (I did mine in a food processor)
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4, 8 oz. Packages Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ c. Whole Milk
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla
  • ¼ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 c. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
Cappuccino Ganache
  • 9 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 T. Instant Coffee (or 1 T. Espresso Powder)
  • ¼ t. Cinnamon
Instructions
For the Cheesecake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10-inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the crushed Oreos and melted butter and press evenly into the bottom of the springform pan, pressing the crust up onto the sides of the pan just a little.
  3. In a small bowl, melt the semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave at 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let cool slightly.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in the milk and then mix in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream, vanilla, flour and cocoa until smooth. Beat in the melted chocolate and spread evenly into the springform pan.
  5. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake cool in the oven with the door closed for at least 1 hour (I left mine in for 3 but if I'm pressed for time, I take it out at about 1 hour...it's supposed to help prevent cracking, if you care about that). Let cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator overnight.
For the Ganache
  1. Place the chopped chocolate and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy whipping cream over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. In a separate bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 3 tablespoons of the boiling heavy whipping cream and then add back to the rest of the heavy whipping cream in the saucepan. Pour the heavy whipping cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly to barely warm and almost room temperature. Pour over cheesecake by starting at the center of the cake and with a spoon, slowly smooth it out toward the edges and slightly over. Let cool completely and store in the refrigerator. Decorate with shaved white chocolate, if desired.
Notes
Serves 12-15.

 

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Drinks to Warm You

The nights are getting cooler which means it’s time to break out the hot cocoa and apple cider.  I thought it would be fun to share some recipes for hot drinks, both classic and new.  Oh and for those who prefer a bit of booze in your holiday drink, I’ve got a couple of those too.

Enjoy!

Hot Wassail

Crockpot Chai Tea

Peppermint Patty

Delicious Hot Chocolate

Roasted-Pineapple Hot Buttered Rum

Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

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Birthday Cake Disaster

The other day I had a request for a birthday cake.  No problem, I thought, I can totally rock this…I’ll just do a cute little three-layer, 6-inch round cake like I’ve made before.  Done and done.  Or so I thought.

As I started to assemble the cake, the layers began slipping and sliding everywhere.  I freaked.  Why is this happening??!  Crap!  And then I started noticing how hot is was in my house…INSANELY HOT.  I looked at the thermostat–80 freakin’ degrees!!  I promptly turned the thermostat down to 75 but it was too little, too late…there was no recovering this cake.  What to do???  A trifle was my only option and thankfully the person who requested the cake was more than happy to go that route.  Whew!  So I made a decent recovery and still ended up with something that tasted amazing and looked pretty.  Gotta love baking in the heat of summer.  Lesson learned!

P.S. The trifle consists of white cake, homemade raspberry filling and white chocolate almond cream cheese frosting.  YUM.

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Key Lime Cookie Truffles

It’s the start of a new month which means a new “flavor of the month” for most of the cupcake and cake pop places around here (uh, yeah, we have a few).  Apparently the flavor star of August is…drumroll please….Key Lime!  Can’t say I’m upset about this at all as I heart me some key lime pie.  As a matter of fact, I had planned to do some sort of key lime recipe for the last couple of weeks and never could decide if I wanted to do a traditional key lime pie recipe that I have and LOVE or stray from the typical and do something crazy different.  Well, I decided on the latter and ended up making some Key Lime Cookie Truffles.  These are based off of that famous Oreo truffle recipe…the one people go nuts over that is basically Oreos and cream cheese.  Yeah, that one.

Anyway, I used the vanilla Oreos and key lime juice, not fresh squeezed (oh the horror, I know) but Nellie and Joe’s Key West Lime Juice, which in my opinion is just as good.  I also threw in some raspberry jam, hoping to get the perfect mixture of sweet raspberry and tart lime but the jam kind of got lost in the mix and the flavor wasn’t too distinct, which was a bummer.  I also think I’ll throw in some lime zest next time for even more of a tart factor.  These were pretty delish but I think with a couple of tweaks, they’d be out of this world.

P.S. This recipe makes a TON of truffles, like, 80!  I’d suggest halfing the recipe.

Key Lime Cookie Truffles
Author: 
Category: Dessert
80
 
Ingredients
  • 1, 8 oz. Pkg Cream Cheese, softened
  • 4 c. (1 lb, 2 oz pkg) Golden Oreos, crushed (I used my food processor)
  • 3 c. Graham Cracker Crumbs (I used my food processor)
  • ¾ c. AP Flour
  • ¾ c. Key Lime Juice
  • ½ c. Raspberry Jam (optional)
  • 2 lbs. White Chocolate Candy Discs, melted
Instructions
  1. In an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the Oreo and graham cracker crumbs, lime juice and flour. Beat in the raspberry jam (if using). Let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Roll dough into balls with the palm of your hands and place on the cookie sheet. Put in the freezer for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Dip into white chocolate and decorate with green sugar, white chocolate, graham cracker crumbs, etc.

 

 

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Modica Market

One of my families stops in Florida is a little place called Seaside.  This is a richy-rich little community that we like to visit and pretend we actually live in but know good and well that we can’t afford the 500 square foot, ocean view house that is somewhere around $1.2 million.  But one can dream.  And we also like to visit all the quaint shops in the area.  Lots of restaurants, clothes boutiques and art galleries.

There’s also a fun little store called Modica Market that sells some of the prettiest and unique food you’ll ever see.  The shelves are loaded with imported oils and canned goods.  The deli and bakery cases hold the most mouth-watering sandwiches, seafood, cold salads, cakes and baked goods you’ll ever lay eyes on.  Pretty much, you want one of each. Of everything.

I, of course, chose two slices of cake, one called Sunshine Orange Cake and the other was Caramel Cake.  The caramel cake was three layers of a super dense golden vanilla cake with the most yummy caramel layered in between and all around it.  The Sunshine Orange Cake consisted of three layers of made-from-scratch orange cake, layered with orange buttercream and topped with white chocolate ganache, orange whipped cream and mini white chocolate chips.

These cakes did not disappoint and we savored every bite!  Good thing that place is nowhere near where I live or I’d be in trouble.  Next up…Tommy Bahamas!

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4th of July Dessert

You’ll have to excuse me if this blog post isn’t quite as coherent as it should be but I just got done taste-testing tonight’s recipes and I think I’m in a bit of a sugar coma.  Not necessarily a bad thing but if I stop making sense about halfway through this post, I warned you!

Ok, let’s get down to it–4th of July themed dessert recipes are a pain in the butt!  Why?  Because if you limit your use of artificial color (like I do), you’re pretty much left with blueberries and strawberries to work with (and who are we kidding–they’re purple and pink!).  That’s it!  And don’t even mention the word TRIFLE.  Seriously.  I racked my brain for hours and googled until I could google no more but honestly couldn’t bring myself to make the same whipped cream/berry/pound cake trifle that everyone else was making.  Then it hit me–BREAD PUDDING.  I’ve only recently discovered the nirvana that is bread pudding and I love it with all of my heart.  I know, I know. You’re thinking “a HOT dessert?  ugh!”.  But throw in some vanilla ice cream and it’s all good.  Promise.

So here’s the recipe–Berry Bread Pudding with Lemon Drizzle.  First, let’s start with the sugary, slightly crunchy top crust.  Next, imagine sweet cream soaked chunks of soft French bread, studded with blueberries and raspberries.  Finally, spoon on some tart lemon drizzle and top with cold, vanilla ice cream.  Are you drooling?  Out. Of. This. World.

What’s that?  You want a second recipe?  Done.  You can do this one in less than five minutes–Berry Bark.  White chocolate with dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries.  Yay for options!

Hope you enjoy these recipes and try them yourself!  And most of all, have a safe and fun July 4th weekend!

Berry Bread Pudding with Lemon Drizzle

1 lb. Day Old French Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

8 Eggs, lightly beaten

3 c. Half-and-Half

3 c. Heavy Whipping Cream

2 c. White Sugar

4 T. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 t. Lemon Zest

3 c. Blueberries

3 c. Raspberries

Directions

Spray a 9×13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy whipping cream, half-n-half, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Gently stir in the bread.

Place half of each of the berries in the bottom of the 9×13 dish.  Spoon half of the bread mixture over the berries.  Sprinkle the remaining berries over the bread and top with the rest of the bread and pour any liquid that is left, evenly over the dish.  Gently press the bread down with the back of the spoon and make sure no berries are peaking through the top.  Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour, so the bread can absorb the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle the top of the bread pudding with sugar and place in the oven on top of a baking sheet (sometimes the liquid part will bubble and overflow..no fun cleaning that off the bottom of your oven!).  Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the middle is firm.  While the pudding is baking, make the Lemon Drizzle.

Lemon Drizzle

1/2 c. Unsalted Butter

1 c. White Sugar

1/4 c. Water

1/3 c. Lemon Juice

1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Large Egg, lightly beaten

Directions

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine butter, sugar, water, lemon juice, vanilla and beaten egg.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Serve over warm bread pudding and top with ice cream.

Berry Bark

4 c. (2 lbs) Good Quality White Chocolate, chopped (or White Chocolate Chips)

1 c. Dried Mixed Berries (Blueberries, Cranberries and Cherries)

Directions

Melt chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until completely smooth.  Stir in 3/4 c. of the mixed berries and then spread onto a foil-lined cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with remaining berries.  Pop in the freezer for about 30 seconds to harden up.  Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

When I was a kid we didn’t eat out alot and if we did, we usually went to Subway or Taco Bell, which met our criteria of both fast and inexpensive.  I actually liked Subway alot and we’d always get their cookies that were three for a dollar.  You wouldn’t think that the cookies at a fast food place would be that great but the ones at Subway were really, really good (at least to my young, inexperienced tastebuds they were).  They always seemed fresh and were so soft.  My absolute favorite was the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie, so when I first decided to make them at home, I wanted one that was as close to Subway’s as possible.

Now I haven’t had one from Subway in a loooooonnnng time but this one is just as good, if not better, than the ones I remember from my childhood.  They are a little underdone when you take them out but I think that’s what makes them so good.  Oh, and they’re a snap to throw together too which is always nice.  Jeremy and I both love these so they are somewhat dangerous to have in our house but hey, every now and then you’ve got to have a little treat!

Enjoy!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie

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

3/4 c. Granulated Sugar

1 Large Egg

2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/4 c. AP Flour

1/2 t. Baking Soda

1/2 t. Salt

3/4 c. White Chocolate Chips

3/4 c. Salted Macadamia Nuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and add to the mixer.  Beat until thoroughly incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Chill dough for 30 minutes to an hour.

Roll dough into a 1 1/2 inch ball with the palm of your hands and place on baking sheets.  Bake for 8 minutes, rotating pans and switching halfway through.  Let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes and then move to a cooling rack.  Store in an airtight container.

Makes 25 small cookies.

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