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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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Bear down with Brownies! And cupcakes and cookies!

13 Dec

December means a whole lot of fun for most people, celebrating holidays, enjoying peppermint mochas at Starbucks and of course devouring desserts. But if you know my brother, it also means the annual BEARS TAILGATE.

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This year was the Ninth Annual Bears Tailgate and it didn’t disappoint, well the Bears disappointed us, because they lost. But the event was still {almost} flawless. I will leave the disastrous defense, misplaced Michelle items, and the unforgettable yet difficult to remember details, out of this post, and instead tell you about the desserts I brought along. Since that is how I get my $10 discount.

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I decided to bring three different items since we were a bus of about 25 people, plus I’m always worried people won’t like things, so I bring multiples.

First up, my new favorite recipe – Bailey’s Brownies. These are pretty simple and ridiculously amazing. All you do is buy your favorite brownie mix and swap the water for Bailey’s. Don’t worry, kids can enjoy them, there’s only a shot or two in the entire box and the alcohol cooks out, but the flavor stays in and is such a complement to the chewy chocolate bites! I also added in chocolate chips to max out on the fun.

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Next, oatberries. Amanda Lee requested my signature cookie that she’d never tasted. She loved them – success.

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Finally I made some graham cracker cupcakes with green vanilla buttercream frosting topped with chocolate marshmallows that were supposed to look like footballs. These weren’t the best things I ever made because some of the bottoms burnt. Embarrassing I know, though I can probably say it was because I used foil cups – whoops, forgot I don’t like to use those.

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Also, the marshmallows were gross and no one knew they were footballs. And you know, there isn’t a 60, 70, 80 or 90 yard line on the football field. Fortunately I realized that one myself the night before the game, so at least I could laugh about my dumbness instead of having someone point it out to me!

As aforementioned, things were lost both physically and mentally, so I don’t know how many cupcakes were actually eaten, though I do know that a certain Termini dropped giardiniera on one of those 40 yardline-rs, so I made him eat that one, and the brownies were gone before kick-off!

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Carrots

8 Jul

I’ve always meant to try making cupcakes in ice cream cones. I can’t say that any longer, and I also can’t say it was successful. But from my pictures you’d never be able to tell. Photography is the best!

My mom is an avid quilter and decided to hold a quilt show in her garden last week. Technically it’s the second year for her garden showcase, but the only guest last year was Sonny, so I’m gonna go ahead and call this her inaugural Quilt Show in the Garden.

She can tell you the highs and lows of the show, and I can tell you the highs and lows of the dessert. No surprise here, I found these cupcakes on Pinterest and made note to make them for her show. They looked like the perfect addition to an outdoor garden party.

As I mentioned above, I was interested in making ice cream cone cakes, but had only really seen them in cake cones, I think we should all stick with that, making cupcakes in sugar cones was a huge mess and almost a disaster. I’m pretty sure 98% of the cones fell over in the oven and lost some insides. Thankfully I mad a boxed mix carrot cake for these, so it wasn’t a whole lot of time, money or good ingredients wasted, but we were still not happy.

We recovered the cones mid way and kind of let them bake sideways. Good thing frosting makes most things much, much better. My fave buttercream did the honors of topping (or filling up) the sugar cones and then I popped them in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile it was time to melt orange candy melts. Melting the chocolate was fine, but finding a container to use so that the cone would be covered was trial and error, and error and a little more error, then finally just sucked it up and used a spoon.

Thankfully the sprinkle part was easy and fun, I think that if you covered everything in life with sprinkles (or glitter) you’d never notice the flaws. Life lesson.

Anyway, despite the earlier issues, the carrots actually looked like they were supposed to, and tasted fine. It was like a game to find a cupcake with more cake that frosting inside! We set the carrots atop crushed cookies that were attached to the plate with peanut butter, so the carrots were sitting in ground and dirt.

Would I do this again? Probably not, but then again they were so cute!

Touchdown!

9 Feb

Maybe a little fumble, but it was recovered.

I love ANY occasion to throw a party, and honestly not just because I can make a dessert… or 2 or 3… but because I like people getting together for fun. Sounds corny, but it’s true and I bet most of you who read this agree.

We didn’t throw a Super Bowl party, but I baked some football party sweets anyway. You can’t pass up the decorating possibilities of sporting events. Plus, we are having a dessert swap with our landlords (and their 7 kids) lately, so they got a set of these guys to cheer on the players.

From my years as the best Secret Charrelle ever, I always think brownies when I think football desserts. There’s just that timeless football field green frosting on a super choco-filled brownies that screams “Go Team!” and that’s exactly what I did last weekend. Green buttercream frosting atop adorable square brownies, decorated with extra white frosting and toothpicked with a paper football. The perfect addition to a party, even if you go to a bar for the game.

That was the touchdown, the fumble came with my greek yogurt inspired dip. You see, I’m trying 2 things here, 1) to break out of my comfort zone (new year’s reso!) and 2) to find some suitable non-dessert snacks for lent (less than 2 weeks away).

I thought maybe the super yummy new Chobani flavor, Apple Cinnamon, could be an ingredient. I later realized that it’s kind of already a dip, and that Greek yogurt is thick, and when you mix it with dry pudding mix, it just gets thicker.

I ended up using three yogurts and still didn’t get anything creamy and actually dippable. I did still eat all of the pita chips and the yogurt throughout the weekend, but I ate the “dip” with a spoon. Therefore, I would try it again with thinner yogurt, or just dip the chips in the yumminess that Chobani already perfected. Oh, well it was a good try. Go Team!

 

The rests

25 Jan

I made three desserts that didn’t fit in my cookie categories of the fudgesthe dropsroll outsthe bars and the minty Oreo balls, and I call these the “rests.” Simply the “rest” wouldn’t be good enough.

I mean, if I had to put these almond biscotti in a category, they would be “the shapes” or “the cuts,” or they could fall into my oops at least they still tasted good category.

My grandpa is a cookie lover. He loves all things sweet, especially if they involve pecans or almonds. I love that he is honest about the sweets I make though. He won’t eat it if it’s gross, which is rare for sugar-lovers. Because he’s such a cookie trooper, I make sure to shape some biscotti for him every year. This one was my last of the bunch. Recipe #18. I think I save it for last because I know I’ll make them for him even if I’m burnt out. I mix and matched some flavors, which orange zest and anise seed and it was a success. I’d only put it in my oops-cookies because I tend to under bake biscotti the first time around and so when I slice them to bake again, they get a little crumbly and end up in my mouth instead of back in the oven. Taste testing is important.

Next we have Almond Cranberry-Chocolate Bark. I got this one from a recipe card in a fitness magazine, and it called for dried cherries, not cranberries, but dried cherries are sparse and pricey and Craisins were already in my cabinet. The christmas red fruit still cheered up the recipe, which is basically melted chocolate poured over toasted almonds and the Craisins. Equally as delicious as it is easy. Quite possibly foolproof.

Finally, for my mom and her hope for a light dessert, Chocolate Chip Meringues. These are pretty fun to whip up (literally whip). They are pretty easy as long as you whip to the right peaks, but most recipes for meringues are clear as to when you need soft or hard peaks. Also, it’s fun to add in your favorite chunks – mini chocolate chips on these. Cute, different, yum.

I’m definitely on a sugar-rush right now as I spent the last three hours diving head first into the office candy collection, hence the run-on sentences. Well, hence more than usual.

That’s the end of my Christmas collection. Sad face. Guess that means I better get to work on Super Bowl sweets and Valentine’s Treats!

So yummy, so pretty, so forgot to bring to the party

27 Jul

July has been a sweet month, full of fun and festive desserts for me, it all started with these fantastical, yes, fantastical, brownies.

As you know, I make brownies from a box, and these were no different – except I had a super fun idea to make them patriotic. It worked well and I will definitely repeat this tactic in the future. When the brownies had 10 minutes left, I spread large marshmallows, that I had cut in half (the hamburger-fold way) around the baking dish. I then sprinkled about half of my sprinkles on the marshmallows.

I let them cook the rest of the time and when I took the brownies out of the oven, I put the rest of my sprinkles on, since the marshmallows had spread, there were some empty spots at this point. Then I let them cool and cut them – amazingly moist and gooey. Probably the best brownie addition I’ve ever made. I packed them up to bring to the 4th of July party I was on my way to… and I left them on my kitchen table.

Well, my dad enjoyed them, so that’s good.

this is what happens when I don’t follow the rules…

31 May

It started with an adorable sketch of a three layer, fun-filled and decorated birthday cake for my niece, Madeline.

It ended as a six layer, fun-filled and decorated birthday cake for my niece, Madeline.

The middle wasn’t pretty.

I broke one of the GOLDEN rules of baking a cake – I didn’t use parchment paper. No, I didn’t run out, no I didn’t even forget. I literally held the box in my hand and thought to myself, just the Pam will work fine on these pans. Nope, it didn’t. I baked an enormous (14-inch, I think) orange-dyed yellow cake as well as a chubby 6-inch version of the same and 75% of it went in the garbage. 15% went in my stomach and 10% made it into a very thin 14-inch cake layer that I ended up incorporating into the final product.

I baked my favorite, Paula Deen recipe, and the cake baked perfectly, seriously just my incorrect prepping that a failed me, and also led to this video.

After the giant whoops, I baked two separate boxes of brownies in an 8 and 9 inch circle pan and froze them along with the salvaged tiny layer. I almost called it a day on the cake and was going to serve the flat, mini thing. Then I remembered I’m trying to be the best aunt ever so I started over and re-baked those garbage cakes (plus one more 6-inch layer).

Suddenly I had the biggest cake ever for 20 people, but at least everyone got leftovers.

I used my favorite buttercream recipe for the outside and dyed the batches purple and teal, then I filled the layers will chocolate pudding and crushed Oreos per the birthday girl’s request. And then, because I really am trying to regain my “Best Aunt” status, I bought a set of Barrel of Monkey’s and stuck those little plastic green critters all around the Dora/Diego masterpiece. And I created a delicious, fun-filled and decorated birthday cake for my niece, Madeline.

Happy 4th Birthday!!!

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