Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chips and More Cookies

Something about this one was calling to me.  I scanned the recipe really quick and it sounded good.  Plus the fact that it makes close to 70 cookies makes it a winner in my book.  I love when cookie recipes have a high yield.  I've never been able to find a truly versatile cookie that could handle anything and everything you put into it - until now.  This cookie is amazing. Use the base of the cookie and then add whatever you want, the more the better.  It will go well with anything.  I'm going to use this one again and again, that I'm sure of.  If I wasn't sure, the way that my sisters and I have been snacking on them is my answer.  For my mix-ins I used Rice Krispies, caramel squares cut into pieces and chocolate chips. 

The Rice Krispies give the cookie a great texture, a little something extra so the cookie isn't all one mushy bite.  Go crazy with what you want to add, I don't think you could go wrong by using any of your cookie favorites. 

Chips and More Cookies
makes about 70 cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Rice Krispies Cereal
1 cup caramel squares cut into pieces
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  In a large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds.  Add brown sugar, granulated sugar and oil.  Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Beat in egg, baking soda, cream of tartar, vanilla and salt until combined.  Beat in flour.  Stir in your choice of mix ins and stir until well combined.
  2. Drop dough be rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned (it took 9 minutes in my oven).  Let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Twix Cake

I love Twix - one of my all time favorite candy bars.  Anything with caramel in it really, but Twix has always been at the top of my list.  When I saw this recipe for Twix Cake, I knew I had to make it.  The time had finally come, I had let the recipe sit out on my kitchen table for a couple weeks and I couldn't take it anymore.  It was taunting me, asking me to make it.  I was a little worried that if I made it, it would go in the list of "Must Make Again" treats - and that's what happened. 

This is really easy to make - the hardest part is making the caramel.  It is a lot of set up/cooling time, but other than that, this is easy.  I made 4 small cakes instead of 2 medium sized cakes.  It is a nice rich dessert and would make a large cake beautifully.   I highly suggest this one, I can't stress this enough.  If you love the candy bar version, you will love this cake.  This is by far the best Twix version of anything I've made.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've had my eye on this recipe for a while now.  It calls to me every time I open the cookbook.  Today was the day I finally broke down and made them.  I couldn't put it off any longer.  I mean a Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie?  It had my name written all over it.  The recipe originally called for nuts, but I don't like nuts in my desserts, so I rummaged around to see what else I had on hand - coconut.  Perfect.  It sounded like this would be one of my new favorite cookies, but I have to admit that any cookie with caramel in it will always take the lead in my book.

Away I went to work on making these - and a cookie that starts off with a pound of melted chocolate, you know it's going to be good.  I'm a self proclaimed chocolate lover - the darker the better.  I will always choose a chocolate dessert when I'm out - it's very rare that I choose something that's not of the chocolate variety.  I guess you could of figured this out already by the amount of chocolate things I have posted on here over the last year. 
cookies of deliciousness
You will want to make these - they will be calling your name.  I can't go on enough about how amazing these are. 

Chocolate Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 40 cookies

1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut

  1. Add the chocolate and butter to a large heatproof bowl.  Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth.  Remove the bowl from the heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla on high speed until the mixture forms a well-defined ribbon when the beater is lifted, about 5 minutes.  With the mixer running on low speed, mix in the melted chocolate-butter mixture until thoroughly incorporated, then stir in the flour mixture followed by the chocolate chips and coconut.  Cover and refrigerate the dough until it's firm enough to handle, at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.  Scoop out rounded teaspoons of dough and space about an inch apart on prepared baking trays. 
  5. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until the cookies feel just slightly firm at the edges, about 9 minutes. 
  6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to handle, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Almond Joy Cupcakes

I had made this as a cake for someone and didn't get to try it out.  The smell of it baking was torture, knowing that I couldn't have any of it.  I knew I had to make it for my taste testers.  One of my taste testers goes down to Florida for the winter, and she's finally back - and I have a full Treat Tuesday back and couldn't be happier about it.  I had to make something special to welcome her back in to the mix of things and this was it.  I couldn't wait for that enticing smell to come out of my oven, but this time it was going to be alright because I could actually eat one. 


Here's a huge tip - once you make the cupcakes and take them out of the oven to cool, make the coconut mixture.  It needs hours to cool before you can use it.  You could even make the coconut mixture first if you want, either way works.  Once cooled, take a heaping tablespoonful of it and place it on top and squish it down and then top with chocolate glaze and roasted almonds for garnish.  Delicious.  You will not be let down by this recipe. 

Almond Joy Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 large eggs plus 4 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup cream of coconut
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

For the Topping:
2 cups whole milk
1 14oz bag shredded coconut
1 tbsp confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the glaze and garnish
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp hot water
48 roasted almonds (roasting nuts is easy - 350 degree oven for 8-10 min when you smell nuts they're done)

  1. Make the cupcakes.  Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the whole eggs and egg whites in a large bowl.  Whisk in the cream of coconut, coconut extract and vanilla extract until smooth.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Beat the butter in one piece at a time, with a mixer on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add half of the egg mixture, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.  Beat in the remaining egg mixture until combined, scraping down bowl as needed.
  3. Divide the batter among the prepared cups, filling each about halfway.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean, 18-22 minutes.  Let cool in pans 10 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Make the topping: Combine the milk, coconut, confectioners sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the milk is absorbed and the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.  Cool completely.
  5. Make the glaze: Put the chocolate, corn syrup, butter and water in a microwave safe bowl.  Melt at 30 second intervals until chocolate is melted.  Stir until smooth. 
  6. Top each cupcake with a heaping tablespoon of the coconut mixture, pressing gently until compact.  Spoon 1 teaspoon of glaze on top and then top off with 2 roasted almonds.  Refrigerate until the glaze sets, about 20 minutes.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Italian Easter Cheese Bread

I get emails from King Arthur Flour daily.  I love them, even if they do crowd my inbox.  In one of those emails, they included a recipe for Italian Easter Cheese Bread. I printed it out and called my parents saying that I had found a bread I knew my dad would love with Easter dinner since it paired perfectly with ham. I don't consider myself a bread maker.  It's one of the things I haven't yet mastered yet.  I was really nervous about making this, especially since it was the only bread offering we were having with dinner. 

straight out of the oven

 It takes a lot of time - like 4 hours of waiting for it to rise and then braid it and then let it rise again, so I suggest making this bread when you have lots of time on your hands.  But it's so worth it.  Amazing - tasty and my dad is excited to try it out on a sandwich, I told him that the suggestion from KAF said that it was amazing toasted and in a sandwich - he got very excited.  Overall, this is an excellent bread, I will be making this again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fudge Ripple Ice Cream

I love the whole process of making ice cream.  From making the custard base to churning it, I find the whole process soothing and enjoyable. It hasn't been the best weather here this week, making me miss the amazing weather we had last week.  But I had egg yolks sitting in my fridge asking to be used and  ice cream was the only thing that would use them all.  I'm still on the search for a good cake batter recipe, so I settled for this.  Fudge ripple is a favorite of mine.  And it's extremely easy.  David Lebovitz is a genius - if you love to make your own ice cream you should really get his book.  I know I say this every time I post about ice cream, but you really don't know what you're missing. 

I have now gotten the hang of making the custards just right and don't have to question myself anymore or keep referring to the book for his tips.  Once the base is in the fridge, make the fudge sauce, it needs to be chilled as well.  It's easier to have them both waiting for you, ready to use, instead of waiting for the fudge sauce (which needs to be chilled so you can use it).  Once I was ready to go, I churned my ice cream base.  Listening to Izzy is always something I love to hear - even if he is loud, he's making something delicious.  Once the ice cream is ready, time to use the fudge sauce.  Now I wasn't quite sure how this would look, but it's not about looks with this - and you don't want to mix as you do this.  Globs of fudge here and globs of ice cream there.  The messier the better.  When you go to scoop it, it looks amazing.

I couldn't wait to taste this! I had a bite after it was in the freezer for a couple hours and it wasn't fully set yet, but let me tell you - amazing.  This I am keeping for myself, not sharing with any taste testers - its that good. 

Fudge Ripple Ice Cream
makes about 1 quart

For the vanilla ice cream

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream and salt in a medium saucepan.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well.  Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream.  Put the vanilla bean into the custard, add the vanilla extract and stir until cool over an ice bath. 

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.  When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

For the Fudge Ripple:

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, water and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges.

Continue to whisk until it just comes to a low boil.  Cook for 1 minute, whisking frequently.  Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool.  Chill in the refrigerator before using. 

Mixing it in once ice cream is ready:

The fudge ripple should be thoroughly chilled, as it's easiest to use when very cold.  Just before you remove the ice cream from the machine, spoon some of the fudge ripple onto the bottom of the storage container.  As you remove the ice cream from the machine, layer generous spoonfuls of the sauce between layers of the ice cream.  Avoid stirring the Fudge Ripple, as it will make the ice cream muddy looking. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cadberry Creme Egg Cupcakes

I love when I see things on other blogs and my first thought is "I have to make that" and of course put my own spin on it.  When I saw that Jamie at My Baking Addiction posted about these cupcakes, I knew I had to make them.  I was on the hunt for Mini Creme Eggs - a large bag of them to be exact.  I couldn't find one anywhere.  All I could find was a small tin of 12 - and they were $5 a piece. I wasn't going to shell out $20 for them....thats too much. Knowing that my amazing friend at Lettuce Eat Together had made a homemade version of Creme Eggs recently, I texted her to ask how easy they were to make.  When her reply was the hardest part is the freeze time, I knew I had to make it all from scratch. 

I have to admit before we go on any further, that the Creme Eggs freak me out.  I've never been a fan of them.  I attribute this to when I was 6 and had one waiting for me in my Easter Basket.  I unwrapped it and bit into it, and then it happened.  The creme filling dripped out all over the place and I was not a fan of it at all.  Ever since then I shudder when I see people eating them - and my Mom is a huge fan of them.  The only amusement I get out of them is the commercial they air every year of the different animals trying to be the bunny.  I've stayed far, far away from them.....until now.  I have to admit, making them is extremely easy and I had a ton of fun doing it.  I did, however, make my eggs too large for the cupcakes and they sank to the bottom.  But I was assured that they were still delicious and no one would care.  (This is when my perfectionist thing really kicks in). 

if you do make your own eggs, make them way smaller
than I did :)
But these were so fun to make.  I know I say that a lot, but I guess the fact that these were going to my friend for her family Easter dinner really had me get into it.  If you still need an Easter dessert, this wont disappoint.

Peep Cake

I was flipping through my Food Network Magazine and I came across it - a giant Peep Duck cake.  I freaked out! I showed it to my sisters and they loved it.  I said I had to make it for Easter dessert.  When I showed it to my mom she thought it was adorable....and then when I said I wanted to make it for Easter, she said she loves what we always have.  So how could I say no to that?  I do love the Icebox Cake - Easter is the only time we have it (although this year I'm hoping that I don't have what happened last Easters Cookie Cake happen this year).  Who would take this cake from me?!  I spent weeks thinking about it and then during one of my chats with a taste tester, she mentioned that she would happily take it for her family's Easter Dinner.  I was so excited!! Someone was going to take it! Now the real question was, could I actually make it look like a duck?

All of my friends wished me luck.  I started baking the cakes and was so nervous when it was time to shape it.  Could I really make it look as good as the picture? I was going with no since the bowls I had were slightly smaller than the ones they used, but I have to say, he came out really close once I had him assembled.

naked duck
Time to frost.  This is what it was really going to come down to.  My ability to make something pretty, which lets face it, has never been one of my strong points when it comes to cakes.  I make the frosting and get down to work.  He ended up looking like a short, chubby duck, but kind of precious none the less. 

My issue came to be my finishing work.  I couldn't get all of the sugar to stick in all the places.  But thankfully it didn't look so bad.  (In person he is adorable).  I couldn't wait to get him to my friend's house.  I was teetering on the line of will she like it?  Or will she be horrified by it?  She loved it.  We named him Stanley, mainly because he's short and chubby and kind of looks like an old man. I was so happy she liked both desserts I brought for her and her family.  Best Easter Desserts Ever :)

Peep Cake

For the Cake:
butter and flour for the pans
2 18.25 oz boxes of yellow cake mix, plus required ingredients

For the frosting and decorations:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp yellow food coloring
yellow sanding sugar, for coating
2 small chocolate disks (such as melting wafers)

  1. Butter and flour a 9x13 inch cake pan and a 1 quart and 2 1/2 quart ovenproof bowls.  Make both cake mixes; divide the batter among the pan and bowls.  Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes for the pan and small bowl, and 50 minutes for the large bowl.
  2. Let the cakes cool 15 minutes in the pan and bowls, then unmold onto racks to cool completely.  Trim the flat sides of the bowl cakes with a serrated knife to make level.  Using a chef's knife, cut the 4 corners off the rectangular cake; set aside 3 of the cake triangles for the tail and beak.
  3. Put the flat cake on a cake board or platter; use toothpicks to attach 2 cake triangles to a short end for the tail.  Position the large bowl cake on the flat cake at opposite end of tail, then place small bowl on top; insert a skewer through the cakes to secure.  Trim another cake triangle to make a beak; attach to the small bowl cake with a toothpick.
  4. Make the frosting: Heat the sugar with the cream of tartar, salt and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan, stirring, until dissolved.  Beat the egg whites with a mixer until frothy.  Slowly beat in the hot sugar mixture, then increase the mixer speed and beat until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts and the food coloring.
  5. Cover the cake with a thick layer of the yellow frosting, using the frosting to sculpt a rounded chick shape.  With the edge of an offset spatula, use some frosting to extend the beak and tail. 
  6. Coat the cake with yellow sanding sugar.  Refrigerate, uncovered, 15 minutes.  Press the chocolate disks into the frosting for eyes.  Remove the skewer and toothpicks as you cut the cake.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mini Rice Krispie Treat Cupcakes with Bunny Marshmallows

When holidays roll around, I always check out the holiday candy aisle in my gorcery stores.  Sometimes I find cute things to use and a lot of times I don't, but I always check it out.  I was in my local grocery store a couple of weeks ago looking in the holiday candy aisle.  I was standing there, looking everything over and then I found it - a bag of Bunny Marshmallows.  All shaped like bunnies in different colors.  And the best part was it was only $1.  I stood there with the bag in my hand for a couple of minutes debating with myself if I would actually use it or not.  I ended up putting it in my bag and was talking myself up the whole way home that I would find a way to use them.  Fast forward a couple weeks and I still had no idea what to do with them.  I didn't want to do the obvious which would be making cupcakes and sticking them on top of the frosting.  I put it out to my friends for suggestions and got some really good ones.  I ended up combining a couple of them and decided to go with mini rice krispie treat cupcakes and dipping the bottoms of each bunny in chocolate and placing it in the center of each one.  I mean really, who doesn't like rice krispie treats? 

how stinking cute are these?!
Make the rice krispie treats the way you normally make yours and instead of pouring it out into a large pan, they just go into the mini cupcake liners.  I tried a bunch of things to fill them with - the best was to spray my hands with Pam and fill them and then squish the filling down with my hands.  It tends to stick to spoons or spatulas even if you spray it with Pam.  Let them set and once ready, melt some chocolate and dip the bunnies, then place on top of each cupcake.  Once that sets, you are ready to go! Super fun activity to do if you have small children.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gluten-Free Brownies

Ween has been gluten-free for a while now, which has taken a lot of things she can eat off of the table.  And lets face it, sometimes being gluten-free isn't fun.  Things just aren't as tasty.  I was feeling really bad that she couldn't have anything I had been making lately, when something great arrived in my email.  It was a monthly newsletter from David Lebovitz, and in it was a recipe for Gluten-Free Brownies.  I was immediately excited.  I printed it out and couldn't wait to make them for Ween. 

Brownies are extremely easy to make from scratch.  For years I made them from a box, until I really got into baking.  My first time making them from scratch they turned out amazing, and I vowed to never go back to a box mix again.  These are easy to make as well, the hardest thing you have to do is melt some butter and chocolate together and whisk everything together for a minute.  Not hard at all.  Batter was ready and into the oven they went.  I love the smell of brownies baking in the oven.  It's so intoxicating.  30 minutes went by quickly and before you know it, they were out of the oven cooling.  We waited maybe an hour after they were out to try one....I highly suggest you wait until they are fully cooled - they fall apart because they are still warm.  But wow were they amazing.  Even if you're not gluten-free you should try these.  Amazingly fudgy and delicious. 

I am absolutely making these again and again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Snickers Cupcakes

I've already made a Snickers Cake, and from what everyone has told me about it the two times I've made it is that it's amazing.  I had a different recipe for cupcakes that were completely different - and I have a taste tester who is slightly picky and who loves peanut butter.  I love a challenge so I was all over making these.  The cake has chopped peanuts in it, then a peanut butter/marshmallow nougat topping and then topped off with a chocolate frosting and then some peanuts on top for garnish.  Sound good to you? 

tastes just like the candy bar
Now I will never eat this, or any dessert with nuts in it.  Which is funny because I love peanuts on their own, but if you add chocolate to the mix, it just doesn't taste right to me.  I have tried Snickers, Peanut M&M's, Dilly Bars from DQ, countless of other things and I've never been a fan of them.  So I have to trust the taste of others when I make things like this.  This is why I have taste testers - well that and so my family and I don't eat it all because let's face it, the amount that I bake is lethal. 

Snickers Cupcakes
makes 24
For the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
10 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
2 cups chopped salted roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish

For the Nougat Frosting:
(2) 13 oz jars of marshmallow creme (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
pinch of salt

For the chocolate frosting:
6 oz.   milk chocolate chips
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

  1. Make the cupcakes: preheat oven to 350 degrees and line standard muffin tin with paper liners.  Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. In another bowl, beat the eggs and both sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Gradually beat in the melted butter and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture, the milk and then the remaining flour.  Fold in the peanuts but don't overmix.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cups, filling each about halfway.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-22 minutes.  Let cool in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Make the nougat frosting: beat the marshmallow creme, peanut butter and salt with a mixer until smooth; set aside.  Make the chocolate frosting: put both chocolates in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave 1 minute.  Stir, then microwave at 30 second intervals until melted. Add confectioners sugar, milk, butter, vanilla and salt and beat with mixer until smooth and creamy.
  5. Spread nougat frosting over each cupcake, then top with chocolate frosting, leaving some of the nougat exposed. Garnish with peanuts.