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Forgotten Sweets

27 Feb

I’m sitting at home, sick, well sick-ish. Sick enough that my throat is not allowing me to swallow and I sound like a freak, so definitely too sick to go talk on the radio for two hours today. But not sick enough to sleep all day or just be content watching movies in bed. Also I have no TV in my room.

Getting back on track here. I am well enough to realize that I never did my Christmas post and I’m very behind in dessert writing. Does it matter? No, but I like sharing my desserts, especially during lent when I can’t eat any. So this will be a slew of forgotten sweets. Whoops.

Let’s start with what I referred to as “Fake Christmas.” We celebrated Christmas with my immediate family – all 13 of us – on Michael’s birthday this year because when Christmas is on a Tuesday, things get messy. We were all busy on different days and couldn’t find the right time to exchange gifts, so we had fake Christmas and Michael’s birthday together on the 15th. It worked fine, but hopefully in the future, when Christmas is not on a dumb Tuesday, we will get it together.

I was extremely excited to make this three layer red velvet cake covered in chocolate! I saw it on Pinterest, which is where most of my dessert inspiration comes from these days. It was pretty easy and my nephews were mesmerized by the deep red color, and of course the puddle of chocolate ganache that covered everything. You should absolutely put this on your 2013 holiday baking list.

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Since we were also celebrating my brother’s birthday, I threw together some minty brownies, his favorite flavor combination. I’m not 100% sure but I believe these are my famous Bailey’s brownies with added dark chocolate and mint chips.

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And, to top off the day, I made some Christmas punch. I honestly don’t remember the entire recipe. I think it was raspberry sorbet, orange juice and sprite zero. I left it kid friendly, with the choice to add in some white wine for the rest of us. Madeline and Michael loved it, Michael forgot to put the wine in.

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On to real Christmas! Sugar cookies are a staple for our family. Though my mom debates me on this, I always say that these cookies are the only holiday cookies I remember from my childhood. Whether I’m right or wrong, they are the most important cookie of the season, and the only cookie I can guarantee my mom will help me with, on our scheduled Sugar Cookie Day, of course. At this point, we are pros. We have a huge assortment of cookie cutters and know which ones make the best cookies, though we do attempt to make snowflakes each year despite the high percentage possibility that they will break.

 

 

 

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I slacked off a little this year. I think I only made about 12 different cookies, when I prefer making 18. I know that sounds crazy, but once I cover the handful of cookies that I feel like I have to make each year, I want to experiment with new ones. This December was a little crazy and flew by super fast, so 12 was all I could bake. We all survived.

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I referred to these as pop tart cookies, though the recipe called them french toast cookies. These guys actually really frustrated me because I was trying to do too many things at once and forgot to add cinnamon to the batter, and then we accidentally thought they were sugar cookie dough rolls for a while, but in the end they turned out cute and different, which is always my goal. They were also pretty delicious – and my dad attempted to help me frost them. They were a little big, so I think people were less likely to grab them from the dessert buffet, but I was happy to have them as leftovers. Now I want a pop tart.

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I apologize that I can’t figure out how to flip this mouth-watering coffee cake picture. Good thing you are probably reading this from a lap top or a phone, you can rotate your device. I made this for my mom’s Christmas brunch with her friends, it was also super yummy, pecan cinnamon coffee cake. I do recall this recipe being very strange. I think I ended up mixing more of the dry ingredients in with the wet ones, so be careful with these instructions.

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My FAVORITE christmas dessert is a cranberry bliss bar. These are amazing and were developed to copy a Starbucks dessert. A delicious combination of dried cranberries, white chocolate and cream cheese. I find it so weird that I love these because I’m not a white chocolate fan and I do not like cream cheese. Weird, right? But these are a huge exception to those rules. I love them, so will you, that is all.

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More Bailey’s Brownies. What can I say? They’re really good and everyone needs extra Bailey’s at Christmas.

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Here begins a selection of drop cookies. Traditional Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Raisin, Mint Oreo Chocolate Cookies, (amazing even though I totally messed up the recipe) Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bark, and some sort of layer bar that I think I made from a few bags of leftover stuff. They were also really delicious and while I’m typing this I will try to find the recipes.

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I try to Pin all of the things I make so that I can find them later, success for this one. The bark was not supposed to be giant chunks. This is again what happens to me when I accidentally try to do nine million things at once. But you know what? This was the best tasting thing ever in life, so it’s ok. More odd shaped scraps for me and my dad.

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I adapted this recipe from the leftover things I had on hand: weird tasting chocolate marshmallows, super old coconut and chopped pecans. It was actually really really good. Kind of mushier than I think the crust was supposed to be, but another accidental taste of awesome.

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Dark Chocolate Mint Oreo Cookies. Growing up I never understood why Michael and my friend Stevie liked mint chocolate things so much. I hated them for about 16 years. Finally, I’ve come to my senses and realized the intense satisfaction that comes from mixing them together. Plus this recipe has crushed Oreos in it.

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Oatmeal cinnamon chip (an ingredient you must buy) raisin drop cookies can from the recipe on the cinnamon chip bag. Sometimes that is just the way to go.

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I used the “Mrs. Field’s” Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I found for Septemberfest for these guys. I think they were better as a giant bar, but still pretty good.

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I made these because I really like Pretzel M&Ms. I didn’t like them as much as my drop cookie recipe, but you live, you eat and you learn.

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Fudge. This is actually another recipe my mom made every year for christmas and I make at least 5… ok 10 times a year. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had it and you love it too.

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Is it a holiday without Oatberries? These were leftover from my unsuccessful attempt to be on the new CBS baking show. That was frustrating because the “taster” ate about 1/16 of one of these. At least I went to round two, that is my goal with most things in life.

 

 

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I was planning on adding my February desserts to this list but I’m too hungry now, plus it’s lent and I don’t know if I have the willpower to look at brownies any more. I still have 32 days left!

Hopefully you did not give up dessert for lent and since there is more snow on the ground than I’ve seen in two years, you can pretend it’s Christmas. Play some deck the halls and make one of these recipes – let me know how it goes!

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2013 Cupcakes

29 Jan

I totally forgot to tell you about my recipes for my New Year’s brunch. 

I wanted to make sure that the cupcakes I made were very moist since they were going to be served unfrosted. Even though some of my cupcake eaters are under five and would eat almost anything covered in frosting and toppings, I still wanted these to be delicious.

Since I was so concerned with the awesomeness of these cupcakes, I went to the cupcake queen for my big event. Martha Stewart.

There was some leftover buttermilk in the fridge from christmas cookie baking and luckily Martha had two perfect recipes for buttermilk cupcakes, one chocolate and one vanilla.. Thanks to google I found them in a few clicks and they were as perfect as I wanted. I even had guests take them home unfrosted. Cupcake success. Please bake these anytime you feel the urge for a baby cake!

It also turns out I completely forgot to write about Christmas cookies. Embarrassing, I’m adding that to my to-do list.

 

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Cinna-Chocolate-Pretzel Brownies

5 Aug

Sometimes you (I) really want chocolate. Those are times when it’s nice to have a box of brownie mix available for some deliciousness. Now, if you’re like me, you love a regular brownie, but it’s just not as fun as putting your own spin on it. Enter: Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Pretzel Brownies.

Enter: Amazingness.

I began my baking with the idea that I wanted to use buttermilk in my brownies. I did some googling and cake upon this recipe – BAM! successfully allowing me to use my ingredients!

I changed it up a bit, using 4 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup oil, Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix, a BUNCH of semi-sweet chocolate chips, a handful of butterscotch chips and my two perfect add-ins: cinnamon extract and as many crushed pretzel twist as I could fit in.

The batter was so amazing it almost didn’t get baked.

I baked my invention at 350 degrees for 35 minutes and my taste buds went to heaven for a while with each bite.

Imagine a crunchy, salty pretzel half, dipped in decadent dark chocolate chewiness with a hint of surprisingly delicious cinnamon. Sweet, salty, slightly spicy. I’m salivating writing this.

 

I chopped them up into mini brownies and brought them to my nephew’s 2nd birthday party. They didn’t last long but this is a recipe that will very soon be repeated.

 

 

 

Cupcake Wars

22 Jul

After the adorable cupcakes I made for Elizabeth’s shower, my dad put his request in for his birthday. “Can I have cupcakes?” Sure dad, as long as I can be creative.

What’s the best way to be creative with cupcakes? Multiple flavors and frosting.

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My dad’s first request was a classic birthday cupcake – yellow cake and chocolate frosting. I’m still searching for a great classic yellow cake recipe, but this one is definitely a contender. I found this Glorious Treats recipe after searching the phrase “perfect vanilla cupcakes.” Verdict – delicious, I love anything with buttermilk in the recipe, but I think there may be something more perfect out there. Also, the batter was runny, they baked fine, but it was hard to portion out evenly.

For the frosting, I thought I’d venture from the recipe I always make and search “best chocolate buttercream for cupcakes” I know I was real creative with my search phrases this week. Verdict: it wasn’t anything special, but I mean, who doesn’t love chocolate buttercream.

I topped these little birthday cakes with assorted sprinkles, because that’s what a classic birthday calls for!

Next up  – chocolate cupcakes.

I’m not a huge chocolate cake fan, I mean I LOVE chocolate frostings and fillings, but sometimes chocolate cake ia just too dry. My dad asked for a chocolate cuppie to be included and I decided this is where I’d get most adventurous with Better Homes & Gardens’ Salted Caramel-Chocolate-Bourbon Cupcakes. Sounds intense, and they were – and SO delicious!

One negative on these guys, they didn’t stay circular after I took them out of the pan, they started un-peeling from the liners, but I got creative and just double liner-ed them. The cake part of these were amazing. Absolutely the best tasting chocolate cupcake out there. I used Crown Royal as the liquor, but I really couldn’t taste it. The cake didn’t even need frosting, that’s how yummy is it! I didn’t make the exact frosting that the recipe called for here, first of all I forgot to buy sour cream, second of all I was running out of powdered sugar, and most importantly, I had a bunch of the previous chocolate frosting leftover and hate wasting it, so I mixed the leftover first frosting with extra melted dark chocolate, about 3 1/2 ounces of honey flavored Chobani Greek yogurt and additional powdered sugar. Would I write that down to repeat? No, but it was still chocolate frosting. No complaints. I made the salted caramel as the directions said to, subbing half and half for the whipping cream, which may have made it lighter in color. I’ve made salted caramel before without the easy use of wrapped caramels. It tasted fine and was quick so that’s good, but it wasn’t authentic.

The final cupcakes for my wars were snickerdoodle flavored. I think I got this recipe from Pinterest. The actual recipe  is for a 3 layer cake, but I just halved it and cupcaked it. This cake is very dense, but it was pretty yummy. A great third cupcake and just as delicious for breakfast this morning.

Now for the buttercream frosting. The flavor was great, I added a few drops of cinnamon extract to heighten the flavor – plus I have cinnamon extract and never use it so I thought this was a good place to sneak it in. My problem was my frosting was grainy. Is it possible that I wasn’t very careful on my seventh recipe of the night? Absolutely. But the other culprit is my mixer. Even though I have a KitchenAid, I have the lowest version of it and sometimes it takes a few extra scrapes of the bowl to cream the sugars. Since this recipe had brown sugar in, I’m thinking I didn’t get all of it mixed in well before I continued to add ingredients. I will probably try this recipe again so I’ll be sure to check that next time.

After 4 hours of cupcaking, cleaning and decorating, I ended up with my trio of baby birthday cakes for my dad, exactly what he asked for, and perfect for party favors to take home. Happy Birthday, Dad!

“You Made Me Dirt Cake??”

18 Jul

Yes, yes I did, Michael.

My brother got his MBA recently and his fiance decided to reciprocate the surprise party he threw her in early June. Of course, I volunteered to make desserts for the party.

Even though I love making cakes, Michael doesn’t love eating them, but he’s asked me on more than one occasion recently for dirt cake, so that’s what I made!

I decided to put my own spin on dirt cake by adding a brownie base. Gooey chocolate always adds deliciousness to anything.

After the brownie layer I combined crushed Oreos, 4 cups of chocolate fudge pudding, 1 16 ounce of whipped topping,

and topped that with a monstrous amount of crushed Oreos and the most important element, gummy worms!

I found some adorable CONGRATS candles that matched the worms perfectly.

Since dirt cake is a dessert you have to serve, I wanted to make something else for dessert snacking, and went to one of my go-to cookies, Pretzel M&M and Sea Salt.

I mistakenly assumed I had the ingredients in the cabinet for the original recipe, but I ended up doing some great swapping and making a lighter, fluffier cookie.

The original recipe called for 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.

Oops, I had to lessen the flour to 1 1/2 cups, and substituted the final cup with cake flour and a handful of oats. I swapped the brown sugar with granulated sugar which resulted in the lighter colored cookie – still super yummy. I also used mini chocolate chips instead of regular, making the cookies look more choc-ful.

Successful party on Erin’s part, and desserts on mine. Congratulations, Michael!

Brownie Cookie

14 Jul

There was an accidental inside out Oreo purchase at my house last week, so I needed to figure out something to do with them. I remembered I’d read about pouring batter on cookies and I decided that’s how I would spend last Sunday afternoon.

Step 1: Take whatever cookies you have and lay them in a 9×13 pan lined with foil.

Step 2: Make brownie or cake batter. This part was slightly experimental too because I didn’t have enough oil for the brownies. I subbed a little extra water and room temperature Crisco.

Step 3: Notice how strange it is that there is a STOP sign on the Oreo package.

Step 4: Pour your batter evenly over the cookies.

Step 5: Bake as you would normal brownies (or cake if that’s what you choose to use), and let cool.

Step 6: Cut into pieces and admire your awesome dessert. Then bring them to work.

Birthday Bakes

24 May

My nieces share the birthday month of May and so my sister decided to throw them a joint birthday party last weekend and as always I got to attempt to make Madeline’s cake dreams come true!

This year Madeline wanted a Rapunzel cake, which makes me think of blonde hair swirling across a frosted castle. Of course, real or even fake hair would be pretty gross across the cake, so I opted to use some yellow frosting. Also, my castle dreams turned into one ice cream cone tower.

For the actual cake I made a from-scratch funfetti cake. I had a feeling that surprise sprinkles in the batter would be fun for a 5-year-old. I baked up one giant 12×12 cake layer and  two 6 inch rounds, one for Madeline’s tower base and one for the cutest little smash cake for Ava. Adorable.

After I baked the cakes I realized I wanted another layer for my base and turned to my mainstay – boxed brownies. You just can’t beat them. And voila! My cake was ready to be frosted.

The tower was really easy! I used two cake cones with opposite sides touching and glued them together with frosting. I added a sugar cone on top to make the tower. So simple, but I wish I hadn’t run out of purple frosting, I would’ve liked to frost the cones.

I used my favorite Food Network vanilla buttercream, added melted dark chocolate chips for Ava’s cake and for the filling of Madeline’s and a LOT of food coloring for the castle tower.

Make a wish!

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