Monday, June 27, 2011

Cupcakes for Dad

Since I was away for Fathers Day, I had made my dad his favorite cupcakes earlier in that week so he could have them.  I only made one batch (his favorite ones only make 18) and I thought I would be safe with that.  I ended up leaving him and my mom 12 of them and taking home 6 since my mom is always saying that they don't need treats and to take some home.  I got a call later that night from my dad telling me that they were delicious and where were the rest of the cupcakes.  I told him I took 6 of them and he asked for them back.   He wasn't kidding - he really wanted them back.  But since my sisters and I had eaten some of them, he agreed to me making him some more.  Which is what I did yesterday. 

ED was down as well, and it was great to have some time with my cousin before he moves across the country.  We were talking about dinner and what to get from the grocery store and Ween started talking about dessert.  I said I would make something and my mom thought that was a great idea.  Instantly I knew I would make my dad the rest of his cupcakes.  And he was so excited for it when I told him what was going on.  Except this time I was smart and doubled the recipe like I always do to make sure we had enough. 

Once my mom and Ween got back from the grocery store with some supplies, I went into baking mode.  I love making these cupcakes - they smell so good when they are baking in the oven. (I've posted about them before).  Once cooled, time for the frosting.  I finally found a frosting that I love - I'm not a fan of frostings that leave a butter aftertaste.  Now that they were all frosted, time to bring them out to everyone to eat. 

I bring out a plate and my dad gets all excited.  Before he starts eating them, he kept asking me how many I made.  I told him there were 36 of them - plenty to go around.  He smiled and said "just enough".  He could eat these things all day long and not have a problem - that's how much he loves them.  And I didn't take any home with me this time - left them all there.  He wouldn't let us take any - he plans on eating them all. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rolo Brownies

I saw this on My Baking Addiction and HAD to make it - we all know of my love affair with Rolo's.  Off to the store I went to get some supplies and ended up getting more than I thought I would (usually happens that way doesn't it?)  But I did end up getting 2 bags of Rolo's since they were on sale, you know, just incase I wanted to make these again. :)  I came home and got to work.  This is the easiest recipe ever!  I'm actually going to make them again today because I want to test out some changes that I want to make.  But back to the task at hand.

Once the batter is ready, take half of it and put it in an 8" square dish and pat down.  Bake off.

Here's where things started to go wrong.  It says to let the brownies cool for about 10 minutes.  So I set a timer for 10 minutes.  When it went off, I got to putting the Rolo's on top of the brownies.  Now - it says that she used about 40 and ate the rest.  Luckily, I didn't eat any - because I ended up using a whole bag - except for 1 little lone Rolo.  So really you need a whole bag. 

Rolo's everywhere
Next you add Peanut Butter Chips for the spaces in between the Rolo's.  I went a different way and used Butterscotch chips.  I poured them over the Rolo's and got them in the spaces as best as I could.

before I spread
the chips out
This is what I suggest from this part out.  Start putting the Rolo's on at 5 minutes out of the oven.  It will help melt them quicker and help melt the chips as well.  And if they aren't melting I suggest putting them in the oven for a minute to help the process along before you put the top layer of brownie on.  I didn't do this and had put the top layer on.........

make sure to cover everything
.......and baked it away.  Turns out that the chips didn't melt :(  Which is fine - they still taste delicious.  But some parts of the brownies have melted chips and some don't. 

soooooo good!
I brought some to a taste tester last night - and he assured me that they were amazing.  That I shouldn't change anything to them.  I told him the changes I wanted to make and he said they were perfect the way they were - that they were the best brownie he's ever had.  So I guess you could go 2 ways with this - if you want the chips to be not melted - wait the 10 minutes and then add everything.  If you want the chips to be melted, do it at 5 minutes and stick it in the oven for a minute if needed.  So go and try this one!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Homemade Bailey's Liquor

I know it's been over a week since I've posted - I'm truly sorry about that.  I actually took a 4 day vacation to DC (my first vacation in over 7 years that didn't involve me going to a wedding or being a bridesmaid in one).  It was an amazing time away and just what I needed - definately came at the right time.  I thought I would start off with something easy this week.  And since I like to use liquor in my baking instead of coffee, I thought I would share this great recipe that I got from one of my friends years ago. 

The best part of this is that all you need is a blender - no ovens or anything special needed.  Just a blender.  It takes all of 5 minutes to make, not even that.  Who doesn't love that?!  And this would make a great gift to someone - or just to sip at night for yourself.  :) 

I got the blender out and started adding things to it.  As a base you use any whiskey you like - inexpensive or top of the line, doesn't matter.  Now, you might get a little weirded out about some of the ingredients, but I assure you it's safe and you won't get sick.  Yes, there are eggs in this and a can of sweetened condensed milk and some cream, and some flavorings as well.  But it's delicious.  It really is.  I'm still working on a version of this that does different flavors like Bailey's does, but my taste tester loved the version I brought him.  Once everything is in the blender, just blend away.  It ends up making a quart of booze.  Put it in a bottle and let it sit in the fridge.


Homemade Bailey's Liquor
makes 1 quart

1 cup whiskey of choice
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whipping cream
3 eggs
2 tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut or almond extract

In a blender combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth.  Store in fridge no more than 2 weeks.  Shake before each use.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Almond Drops

I was flipping through one of my cookbooks, trying to decide what to make, and I came across a recipe for a cookie with Anise in it.  Now I'm not really a fan of anise in my baked goods, so I thought I could fix up the recipe and make it my own with Almond in it.  They turned out really good!  I feel like I'm getting pretty good at taking a recipe and switching things up. 

I must of looked at the recipe 5 times before I got started - just to make sure that it really didn't call for any butter.  It really doesn't!!  I was amazed by this fact!  I don't think I've ever made a cookie that didn't call for butter or shortening in it.  Away I went with my stand mixer mixing like crazy, and I must say that this is the easiest and quickest cookie recipe ever.  Warning: if you don't have a stand mixer and use just a hand-held one, you will be holding it for at least 6 minutes - there is A LOT of mixing in this. 

Once the dough was all ready, into my pastry gun it went (if you don't have a pastry bag, a Ziploc bag will work fantastic! I do it all the time when I bake at my parents.  Just fill the bag and cut the tip of one of the corners).  You don't have to do this part, you could always just scoop it out with a teaspoon and spread it out so they bake evenly.  But they should look like this before they go into the oven......

circles of dough
They bake really quick - so don't go too far.  You just want them to be a light golden brown on the edges and kind of wrinkly looking on the tops. 

yum yum yum
These are a strange combination of a crispy and a chewy cookie. The outside is crispy and inside is nice and chewy.  And it's pretty awesome!  If you bake them a little too long and the edges are brown, its OK, it's just going to be a super crispy cookie (happened on my last batch in).  Feel free to switch out the almond extract part for your favorite flavoring....will work great with any flavoring.  I brought some to one of my taste testers and she said they were a hit and they were gone quickly.  So enjoy everyone! Happy baking!

Almond Drops
makes about 4 dozen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp almond extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  2. Put eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Mix on medium speed until eggs are fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Gradually beat in the sugar until incorporated, about 3 minutes.  Mix in almond extract.  Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture.  Transfer to pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" plain tip.  Pipe 1 3/4" rounds onto baking sheets spacing 1/2" apart.
  3. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until tops crack and cookies are very pale, 8-9 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mint Patty Cakes

I love Peppermint Pattys.  Love, love, love them.  Nothing beats sticking them in the freezer and eating them cold during the hot summer months.  I got this recipe from the Food Network Magazine last year and have been craving it lately.  I wasn't really a fan of the recipe that they had for the cupcake, so you can use your favorite box mix or from scratch recipe, something dark chocolate works best.  Then comes the fun part - making the peppermint topping and then a glaze to put on top - basically you have a Peppermint Patty in the form of a cupcake - chocolate cupcake bottom, peppermint filling, chocolate coating.  Who doesn't want that?! 

I made the cupcakes using my favorite from scratch recipe and let them cool.  Once completely cooled, time to make the peppermint filling.  This part is fun - and really easy.  Easier than you would think it is.  It basically looks like a crumbled mess in the bowl of your mixer until you turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper and form it into a ball.  Place another piece of parchment on top of it and roll it out.  Now, this sounds really easy - but it's a little trickier than you think.  I suggest rolling out half the dough at the beginning.  Parchment slides around a lot - and you want to use parchment because if you don't it's really hard to get it off of the surface you're rolling it off of (even if you use confectioners sugar to flour the surface).  Once rolled to the right thickness, you cut them out with a 2 1/2" cookie cutter and place them on top of each cupcake.

peppermint filling discs
Once that's all done, time to make the glaze.  It's really more of a frosting since it's thick and you spread it.  But this part is super easy and doesn't take much time at all.  Spread it on top of each disc and leave the edges showing so people know what they are about to bite into.

yum yum yum
Once you frost them, put them in the fridge for 20 to firm up and then you are good to go! 

I had lined up a taste tester - and she was so excited for them!  The feedback from her was great - she said they were awesome and everyone ate them up.  If you live near me and would like to be a taste tester, please let me know - I don't want to make people cringe when they see me coming in with more treats for them. Sometimes I wonder if my 3 favorite guy taste testers are getting sick of treats from me - even though I've warned them that they will be getting treats at least once a week from me.  But they know they will get treats until they tell me to stop bringing them treats.  It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it right? :)

Mint Patty Cakes

Make your favorite box mix or from scratch recipe according to directions and allow to completely cool.


1 1-pound box confectioners sugar (4 cups)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or cocoa butter, softened
2 tsp peppermint extract

Beat confectioners sugar, corn syrup, shortening and peppermint extract with a mixer until a tight paste forms.  Gather into a ball, place between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4" thick.  (Microwave for 15 seconds to soften if necessary).  Use a 2 1/2" round cutter to cut into disks; reroll the scraps.  Place a peppermint disc on top of each cupcake.


8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or chips
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup water

Put the chocolate, corn syrup, butter and water in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave until chocolate melts, about 2 minutes (check it every 30 seconds).  Whisk to combine, then cool slightly.  Spread the glaze over the peppermint topping, leaving some peppermint exposed.  Refrigerate until set, at least 20 minutes.   

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

My cousin had issued me a challenge of fixing a recipe that she had gotten from the Food Network and had made - she said that it didn't taste right.  Something along the lines of burnt chocolate.  I love fixing recipes.  I have the patience (and let's face it tons of time) and once I make something that was once bad or OK into something amazing, it's the best feeling.  So I was surprised to find out that this recipe came from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) - I haven't made one thing from her that's been bad.  I printed out the recipe and made some adjustments to things before I started making the cupcakes. 

I thought I was good to go - that these would turn out really good.  But one thing in the recipe kept sticking out to me as really odd.  Brown sugar. I've never seen brown sugar in a chocolate cupcake recipe - let alone any regular cupcake recipe.  The only time I see it is for cookies or coffee cakes - something like that.  But I get to making the cupcakes with my changes and constantly taste the batter along the way, adjusting as I go.  My thought is that if the batter tastes really good, then once baked it will taste really good - hasn't let me down so far.  I've also learned along the way that using Kahlua or coffee extract works better than using coffee or instant coffee granules.  It leaves things a little sweeter and really brings out the chocolate flavor more. 

I bake them off and let them cool and then make the frosting - which needed no change at all.  Once all frosted and ready to go, time to eat one.  It was good - but I could tell that something wasn't right and it was the brown sugar.  I should of gone with my first instinct and switched the brown sugar out for regular sugar.  But it was tasty and I think that the improvements I made helped out. 

why hello :)
I handed some out to some taste testers and they all said that they were great - one even said they tasted like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  So they are tasty and people ate them quickly :) 

So here's my version of what I made yesterday.  If you want to make it, I suggest that you change out the brown sugar for regular sugar.  And it really makes 30, not 15 like it said. 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
makes 30 cupcakes

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tbsp), room temp
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, room temp
1/2 cup sour cream, room temp
3 tbsp Kahlua or coffee extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Peanut Butter Frosting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes.  Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well.  In a seperate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream and coffee extract/Kahlua.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix only until blended.  Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it's completely blended.
  3. Divide the batter among the cupcake pans.  Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.
  4. Frost each cupake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Peanut Butter Frosting

1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work.  Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.  Use immediately. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Variety Pack

While I was at my cousins wedding, I was talking with some of my other cousins about my baking and the blog.  I got issued a challenge to fix a recipe (which I'm still working on and will try out today) and to send them a variety pack of my goodies.  After we narrowed it all down, I settled on making 3 items for them.  A must was the Mint-Filled Brownie Cupcakes. 

a peppermint patty
in the middle of a brownie
Not really sure why I don't have a cross section picture of those, but oh well.  I also made some Almond Sweets since they were a huge hit with everyone.  And I decided to make them a little festive this time and added some candy sprinkles on top of the icing.

yum yum yum
Lastly, I put in the Chocolate Cream Filled Doughnut Holes.  I hope that they have made it OK in the mail - this one is my biggest worry.  The heat and humidity around here lately has been awful.

I packed up each goodie in its own bag and then inside the box (which I totally stuffed with tons of plastic bags to cushion the treats on their journey - please don't be alarmed when you open your box). 

1 to Florida and 2 to Virginia
Once I left the Post Office, I happily posted on Facebook that the "Variety Packs" were out.  I soon got a lot of responses from my friends that they hoped they were the recipients of one of them.  Sadly, most of them were not.  But the conversation that formed was highly entertaining - mainly due to one of the lucky recipients' teasing that my treats are "yummy in her tummy" and she "can't talk to you because her mouth is full of CB's treats".  Apparently I need to start up a mailing list of people who would like to be getting variety packs from me.  I didn't think my baking was in such high demand.  And to my favorite birthday boy Nick - yes - I owe you a package....didn't mean to make you sad on your birthday because you were not one of the lucky ones getting a variety pack.

So you lucky 3 will be getting your packages today - and I hope you enjoy them!  Feedback is always appreciated!  You could send me some pics to go up on here if you want them to! (Cookies in the Mail is a post that is viewed a lot).  I hope everything made it in one piece too.