Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Halloween Wedding

Long, long ago, on a college campus far, far away, in Indianapolis, two freshmen at the University of Indianapolis decided to attend a "Christian" event (I can't remember the name of it, nor could I find it via google.) that allowed them to move on campus several days early. Woo!
Well not long into this event these two freshmen realized that both sarcasm and wit seemed to be wasted on the vast majority of people at this event. Thus, a bond occurred. The two freshmen were friends through all of the angst ridden drama that comes during the first year of college and some of it that comes from living in an all girls residence hall. Alas! At the end of their freshmen year, one of these two returned to Wisconsin while the other remained in Indiana.

And...roughly five years later, I finally made it to Wisconsin to see Nicki...for her wedding! on Halloween!

Meet the bride and groom: Nicki and Andy. They had a fabulous Halloween themed wedding, how could you do anything else for a wedding on Oct. 31. The seven hour drive was well worth it for me to finally meet Andy and to be there for their wedding. They had fabulous hand carved pumpkins lining the way into the reception. Each table had a Halloween centerpiece and the table numbers were small pumpkins with the number carved into them. The seat assignments were amazing toe tags hand made by Nicki. Not to mention all of the extra Halloween touches and the mini caskets filled with candy at each seat.

All of it was fabulous, but man you should have seen the cake they picked out, three layers, with each layer a different cake/filling combination. Yummmmmm...I was on my way out the door to head back to Indiana right while they were cutting the cake when Nicki's grandma brought me a piece of the delicious cake. She even psychically knew not to give me the cheesecake layer! I held off until about Chicago when I finally broke down and ate every delicious bite:-) Would you like to see the cake?

Isn't it pretty!? Just like them!

Thanks for inviting me Nicki, I was so happy to be there for your special day and to see how happy Andy makes you. The wedding was perfect. Right down to the sounds of trick-or-treating outside the church during the ceremony. Love you!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to Katie!

While Katie and Jason traveled to Ohio for a DEVO Concert/Obama Fundraiser I traveled to their house to let their dog out and to make some stealthy birthday baked goods. Yes, I baked in their kitchen while neither of them were home. I'm creepy like that.

First up I tried my hand at making my first ever apple pie. I cannot reveal the recipe as it is a shhhh! family secret of some sort that is not mine to reveal, but it is pretty freaking tasty, I can tell you that much. And, hey...not bad for my first attempt at from scratch pie.

Next up is one of the best things I have ever baked and one of the worst photos. When I was at Katie's I forgot to take a picture of the cake, so a week later we took this one, the cake had sank some while in the fridge and a week had not done much to improve its looks or probably its taste either.

The original recipe comes from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes, but I found it via Life in a Peanut Shell. The original recipe included a sour cream triple layer chocolate cake, peanut butter cream cheese frosting (don't judge until you have tried it..Yum.), and a chocolate-peanut butter glaze that I opted out of.

Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. Then freeze for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the frosting.

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

The surprise didn't work out very well, but we did have a tasty if slow dinner with Katie, Rich, Rob, Susan, Jason, Tracy, Jillian and Allen and then cake and pie at Katie's. Mmm...pie.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Honey Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everywhere you look on baking blogs, websites, food shows and even in the New York Times, people are discussing and fighting over the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. I won't even begin to claim that I have found that. Opinions vary so much that it is an impossible statement. If Jillian shared her grandmother's chocolate chip cookie recipe, I'd be tempted to call it the best, but she hasn't and she won't, so I'm stuck with this one. Which, actually, I'm pretty okay with as it is freaking tasty and awesome. The honey really ads something to the flavor, even though I just used regular honey flavored honey as opposed to the floral stuff that everyone seems to favor. (Bleck!) I'm in love with honey just the way it is.

This recipe came from Baking Bites, another lovely blog with tons of recipes that you should definitely check out.

Honeyed Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in honey and both eggs, individually.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. On a low speed, gradually incorporate flour mixture into honey mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Use a small-ish scoop to create 1-inch balls and place onto prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie to allow for the dough to spread. (And, these do spread quite a bit, so err on the side of too much space.)
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 4-dozen cookies

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Not So Outrageous Brownies

This was another one of those baked goods for the Longaberger ladies.
This trip was a whole lot of pain, not to mention the getting up at 4 a.m. post adventures in late night baking.
The recipe came from the Cookie Madness, a virtual treasure trove of cookie and brownie recipes. Most of the stuff I find there turn out pretty well. These, not so much. I don't know what is wrong with me, the texture turned out great, but I just didn't like the added flavor from the instant espresso powder. Of course, I hate coffee in general, so probably you shouldn't judge these based on me.
The Oreos tended towards disintegration, which I didn't appreciate, but the artificially based filling stood up to the test in the oven and was easily discernible in the brownies. I would probably make these again, forgoing the additional coffee flavor for an extra bit of vanilla.


8 ounces unsalted butter
8 ounces plus 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (12 oz total)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
8 Oreo cookies, broken up

Preheat the oven to 350º. Line a 13×9 inch metal pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray.

Melt the butter, 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.

Stir (do not beat) eggs, vanilla, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir 1/2 cup of flour, the baking powder, salt and espresso powder together in another bowl then add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the Oreo chunks and 4 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with remaining 2 tablespoon of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into pan

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 10 minutes more, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool, then chill brownies. Lift from pan and cut into squares.

Makes about 32 (Or so the recipe said, I ended up with maybe 20, but apparently I make my brownies overly's how I like things.

Doughnut Muffins! = Delicious

Yum. Yum. Yummy. This are much easier than they sound, especially if you come up with a better way to dip them than by burning the tips of your fingers like I did. Robin took several young hoodlums to Longaberger Mecca, Dresden, Ohio, for a Saturday and I was urged to provide some baked sustenance for the arduous journey. I thought these sounded pretty good for a breakfasty type baked good. I chose to make mine into mini-muffins instead of full-sized, which ended up turning out really well, they tasted just like cinnamon sugar doughnut holes and they stayed really moist over the next few days.

Doughnut Muffins
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon cinammon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk

Topping (I pretty much doubled this)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray and flour a mini-muffin pan. Don't use paper liners.
Cream oil 1/2 cup sugar and egg in a medium bowl.
In a seperate small bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon together. Alternate adding the flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk to the cremed mixture. Flour-Milk-Flour-Milk-Flour. Spoon the batter into greased mini muffin tins about 1/2 full and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Melt the butter for the dipping mixture in a small bowl. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. When the muffins are done remove them from the tin, and immediately dip them into the melted butter and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Let rest on a cooling rack or some paper towels.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Coca-Cola Cake!

MMMMM......Cola Cake! If you have ever wondered before, this is my most favoritest cake. Or, if you are into grammar conventions, my absolute favorite. I don't remember a time when this hasn't been the cake I judge all other cakes against.
My grandmother used to make it almost every year for my birthday, but that was a long time ago. She passed away last year, but she had stopped baking or doing much of anything long before that. Several years ago, my friend Katie went to the effort of baking a coca cola cake for my birthday. It wasn't the prettiest (she didn't realize that they never are very attractive.) but it was delicious. The fact that she made the attempt is one of the many reasons that I love her dearly. Earlier this year, Mom #2 made one for me at work. It was fabulous, but it also made me realize this point, shouldn't I be able to make my own freaking coca cola cake? I had been baking all of this stuff, and it never once occured to me that I should attempt it too.

I should forewarn you that this is the most horrible, bad for you cake around. If you aren't looking for that, don't read any further.

This particular recipe came from the Coke website.

The link connects to a list of coca cole related recipes. My favorite and the one pictured is the Coke Cake. Beware the listing for chocolate cola cake. It is a dirty liar and not nearly as tasty as this one.

Cola Cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoon cocoa
6 tablespoons Coca-Cola
16 ounces = 1 box confectioner's sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together flour and sugar into large bowl. (I'm not sure how important the sifting bit is, I've always done it the way they recommend. I never want to chance messing up my cake.) Add marshamllows.

In a saucepan, mix butter, oil, cocoa and coca-cola. Bring to a boil. (I make sure to melt the butter a bit by itself first, things seem to go more smoothly that way.)

Pour the mixture over top the sugar/flour/marshmallows and blend well.

Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk just before adding it to the batter along with the eggs and vanilla extract.

Pour into a greased 9x13 jellyroll pan. Bake for 30-45 minutes.

While the cake is baking go ahead and prepare the frosting.

Combine buter, cocoa powder and coca cola in a saucepan. (Again I recomment melting the butter a bit first.) Bring to a boil and pour over confectioners' sugar and blend well. Add vanilla extract and crushed pecans.

ICE CAKE WHILE HOT! DIRECTLY OUT OF THE OVEN! (I am using capital letters, not because my caps lock key got stuck, but because this part is important!

ENJOY! (Obviously, this part is also vital.)

**I will also recommend using the 9x13 jelly roll sized pan listed in the recipe. The cake comes out thinner and better and that is, after all, the point. Also if you are a dirty rotten scoundrel like me, you might want to double the frosting recipe. You want to shoot for a roughly 50-50 ratio between cake and icing.**

Butterfinger Bars

It seems like a lifetime ago that I made these. So long ago, I don't even remember where the recipe came from or where it is just now. I remember that it was different from most "butterfinger" recipes in that it actually involved the use of butterfingers, not an attempt at replicating the taste itself. I'll go ahead and post the photos and then add the recipe once I find it.

If you care to take notice, these were baked in my fabulous "new" a.k.a. new to me pans. They are vintage and I didn't even have to go looking for them, just had to ask my grandma! I love the metal pans with the matching slide on lids. Grandma gave me two! :-)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mom's Cherry Cordials

I too, am alive. I graduated a month ago, and let's just say I needed a short hiatus from just about everything. I did start baking again, but I just need to catch up on the blogs!

My Mom really loves cherry cordials. I buy some for her on almost every holiday that is appropriate. I decided that I would try making them myself this year. I personally like the look of the hand dipped candies versus the molded ones, so that's what I decided to make.

I always wondered how cherry cordials got their gooey center, and now I know! The center is actually a fondant that is wrapped around the cherry. After you coat it in chocolate and let it sit at room temperature for a few days, it liquefies.

Unfortunately, I was too afraid that the chocolate would melt, so I kept these in the fridge. The centers didn't liquefy, but they were still tasty!

I used the recipe found here. I made about 30 cherries (however many were in one jar), and I only used about half of the fondant. I also drizzled on some white and dark chocolate after I dipped them in the milk chocolate. It was hard to drizzle around the stem, but I still think they turned out nicely!

I gave a nice box to Mom and had some extras to share with the family. Everyone loved them! Even some people who haven't liked cherry cordials in the past enjoyed these! Mom especially loved them! She said they were "nummy" and "melted in her mouth." The only problem is that now she might be expecting them a lot more often!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm Alive

I have done some baking since my last post, but my oven hasn't even been turned on in over a week. The weight loss from the lack of baked goods at work is astounding.
No excuses for a lack of oven adventures, but I've had a very insane week and a half. Dad had emergency open heart surgery to remove an anuerism on his aorta, repair an aortic disection and a double bypass and I spent most of my time driving back and forth from work to Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Ky. He is back at his home again and I just finished a large-ish/tedious special section at work so I should have some time again.

Angela has been in from her Peace Corps adventures so that has been great. Hopefully I'll get some time to do some baking for her before she leaves us again until December.

In other news:

Kristen Bell and Michael Ausiello Have My Vote for the

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day: Dorie's Peanut Butter Torte

This was the second of the two Mother's Day desserts. Personally, I preferred the strawberry cake, but both of them ended up getting consumed, so I'll call it a wash.

Dorie Greenspan's Peanut Butter Torte
from "Baking, From My Home to Yours"

1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.
Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.
When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; I had no problems removing the pan, but you can also wrap a hot damp kitchen towel around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve. *I actually refrigerated mine in the springform pan because I was worried about something getting knocked into it while in the fridge. I didn't encounter any problems from that.


Mother's Day: Strawberry Cake From Scratch

For Mother's Day this year my family came over and we had a fabulous home cooked meal and enjoyed each other's company. EHHH! Wrong. My family came over and we all went to the local New China Buffet Restaurant. My family stuffed themselves and shamed me and then returned back to the apartment for the desserts I made the night before.

Awhile ago Katie was looking for a "from scratch" strawberry cake recipe for her brother's birthday. I don't remember what recipe she ended up using, I just remember she wasn't hugely pleased with it for the amount of work and pureeing that was required.

I did some searching and came up with this one to try from All Recipes. I've since made this cake three or four times and it has consistently turned out well. The icing is a little more iffy, but the cake has always been delicious and pretty.

From Scratch Strawberry Cake

2 cups white sugar
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs (room temperature)
2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry puree, I used fresh, but the recipe originally called for frozen

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter, flour and line with parchment three 9 inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a small knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, before tapping out to cool completely. These might benefit from a trip to the freezer as they tend to stick in the pan.

These tend to make three moist, dense layers. I've used both strawberry cream cheese and strawberry butter cream icing. The cream cheese just refused to hold up very well and ended up making a horrible layer cake. The buttercream is a touch sweet, but it works well and is easy to use. I just use a regular buttercream recipe adding in about a 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of extra strawberry puree.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Mexican Chocolate Crunch Brownies

Unless you are Jill, Richard, Heather, Hannah, Mark or my mother you probably don't know about my complete and total adoration for Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Cereal is hands down one of my favorite foods. I love all kinds from regular flakes to child pleasing Captain Crunch and more health focused raisin brain or frosted mini-wheats. Cereal. The delightful combination of milk with tasty bite sized morsels. I tend to go through phases with my cereal loves. The longest and most enduring infatuation has been above all, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. My love is what led me to jump on making these brownies from the Pillsbury 43rd Annual Bake Off. Mom was nice enough to get the little recipe booklet with all of the finalists in it for me. And this was one of the first I marked to try.

1 box (12.8 oz) Cinnamon Toast Crunch® cereal (about 8 cups)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tbs corn syrup
1 box Fudge Brownie Mix
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 tbs cinnamon-sugar

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch pan with baking spray. Crush cereal until finely crushed in food processor. You should have about 4 cups.
In large bowl, stir butter and corn syrup until well blended. Add crushed cereal; mix thoroughly. Press evenly in pan.
In large bowl, make brownie mix as directed on box, using oil, water and eggs as listed and adding cinnamon. Stir in 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips. Pour brownie batter over cereal mixture. Sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup chocolate chips evenly over batter.
Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar evenly over brownies.
Bake 14 to 18 minutes longer or until brownies are set when lightly touched in center. Cool 10 minutes; loosen edges but do not cut. Cool completely, about 2 hours before cutting.

I really liked these a lot. The one suggestion I would make is to bake the crust by itself for maybe 5-10 minutes before adding the brownie mix. The cereal crust ended up really chewy and although it tasted alright it's texture was unpleasant.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Margarita Cupcakes

What do I hate? TEQUILA! So what am I gonna do? Bake with it!!!

Sounds logical to me. Baking makes all flavors better right? And it is less likely that I 'll go swimming fully clothed in Canaan after eating a cupcake.

Actually, Robin needed something to take with her to the end of the season bowling shindig. And what better to take to a bunch of booze loving ladies than a liquor soaked baked good?

Margarita Cupcakes:
9 oz Margarita mix
3 oz tequila
3/4 oz Grand Marnier (I used Triple Sec)
White Cake Mix - GASP! (No-pudding mix works best)
3 egg whites
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs lime zest

Lime Buttercream:
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbs lime juice
Food Color

Mix together the margarita mix, tequila, and Grand Marnier (Triple Sec) in a large glass or spouted bowl. You actually only need 1 1/4 cup of this for the cupcake mix. Put the remainder in the fridge to chill and then use how you see fit.

In a stand mixer, add the cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, lime zest, and 1 1/4 cup of the margarita mixture. Mix on low for about 30 seconds and then increase to medium speed for two minutes (the batter will still be a bit lumpy).

Spoon the batter into a prepared muffin pan (fill the cups somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 full) and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and cool 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Add the butter, powdered sugar, salt, food coloring, and lime juice to the stand mixer and mix on low using the paddle attachment until combined. Turn the speed to med-high until the icing is fluffy. Add the icing to a pastry bag or use a spatula/knife to frost the cupcakes.

You will have to track down some who actually ate one of these get a review. I tried one and didn't really like the texture and I was a bit disappointed with the lack of margarita flavor in the cupcakes, it seemed to all be in the frosting.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chocolate Pepper Cookies

Wow. I'm not sure who the target audience is for these cookies, but it certainly wasn't me or anyone else I could sucker in to trying one. Oh wait! My grandmother, the one, who can't drink coffee after 4 p.m. liked the pepper cookies.

Chocolate Pepper Cookies
The recipe here from Cookie Madness.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (Dutch Process) (1 oz)
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 scant teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tbs golden syrup/white corn syrup
1/3 scant cup vegetable oil
½ tsp vanilla
3 1/2 tbs water
1/4 cup chopped up dark chocolate

350 degrees F

Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, black pepper, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, syrup, oil, vanilla and water.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until almost mixed, then add chocolate and stir until flour mixture is fully absorbed and chocolate is distributed.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.

This recipe yields between 12-18 cookies and trust me, that will be plenty.

I used less than half of the pepper called for and these were still tooo peppery for me. Seriously spicier than I have ever known that simple black pepper could be.
Give them a shot if you would like. I'm sure they are someone's cup of tea. The texture and actual composition of the cookie was god, so if you can get on board with the flavor, they would be tasty I'm sure.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Out of all of my friends' parents, I've probably spent the most time with Jeff's. Scott and Sarah put up with me during most of high school when I really didn't even want to put up with myself. I didn't see them as much during college and now with Jeff gone, I haven't seen either Scott or Sarah except for brief sightings at the store.
So I wanted to make them cupcakes. I decided that this recipe would be a place to start. The recipe is from Sweet Treats Baking Blog. It sounded like a good idea, peanut butter cupcakes with a chocolate frosting...a delicious Reese's cup in cupcake form.

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

1/4 heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside

In a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add egg. Mix. Add vanilla. Mix for an additional minute or until smooth.

Add the flour mixture in 3 portions and the milk in 2 portions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.

Fill each liner with a generous 1/4 cup of batter, to about 1/3 inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and are lightly browned about 25 minutes. There will be cracks on the top. Cool.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter over low heat until the cream is hot and the butter is melted. The mixture should form tiny bubbles and be about 175 degrees F on a thermometer. Do not boil.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the milk chocolate and let it sit in the hot cream for 30 secs to soften. Add the vanilla and whisk the glaze until it is smooth and all the chocolate has melted. (Return the glaze to low heat if necessary to melt the chocolate completely, whisking constantly.) The glaze should be thick enough to hold its shape when spread over the cupcakes. If it is too liquid to spread, let it sit at room temp for 5-10 minutes. Glaze cooled cupcakes.

Now, if you can tell from the heinous picture, I did not use the chocolate glaze recipe. I used the chocolate buttercream recipe from the Earth Day Cupcakes

Chocolate Buttercream
Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup butter @ room temp.
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3-5 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla

These cupcakes did end up tasting alright. But, they just weren't something I was willing to take to someone else. The cupcakes were dense and the liners kept peeling off the cupcakes making it look like someone had molested them. For taste they get a 7/10; but for appearance and ease to work with they rock out around a 3/10.

Sooo, I'm still looking for something to bake Scott and Sarah. Maybe I can just make something cutesy and give it to her for mother's day.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy ANZAC Day!

Today is ANZAC Day. Otherwise known as Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day. It honors members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. Anzac Day is also celebrated in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga.

It is a fabulous random holiday I decided to celebrate instead of Arbor Day, which I actually adore thanks to a former arborist and girl scout leader who I adore too!

The ANZAC biscuit or cookie was reportedly created because any food sent to the soldiers was carried via the Merchant Navy to the soldiers, the transportation of said food would take upwards of two months. The basis of the recipe was rolled oats, then utilizing other ingredients that did not spoil easily. One notable omission from any ANZAC biscuit recipe is that of eggs. This was due mostly to the scarcity of eggs.

This particular recipe comes from A Cookie for Every Country.

1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
4 oz butter
2 tbs golden syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix oats, flour, sugar and coconut together. Melt syrup and butter together. Mix baking soda with boiling water and add to melted butter and syrup. Add to the dry ingredients while it is still foaming.

Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Place spoonfuls of the dough (approx. 1 tbs each) on baking sheet approximately 2" apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and remove from baking sheet to racks to cool.

I baked mine for about 15 minutes and they didn't turn into little coconut rock piles as I got the impression that they would. Instead they were golden and crunchy on the outside and just a bit chewy inside. I'm not sure how they are holding up 24 hours later as far as consistency goes. In case you don't know this about me, I wouldn't touch anything with coconut in it with a 100 foot poll. The only coconut ridden item that I have ever consumed is a Samoa and I tend to think that is because the coconut is shredded smaller and is smothered in chocolate to obscure the taste, not to mention it is toasted first.

Wheezy wants to play fetch...

This is what P.D. Wheezy does while I bake.

He either harasses me wanting to play fetch with his stuffed bear or creepy mice toys or he and Princess Potato commence a rousing competition of "lay around and do nothing but get in the way."
He usually wins.
He is better at flopping on the floor and being fat and sassy than Princess Potato is.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Orange Pecan Sugar Cookies

Orange makes another appearance...and this time, it is kinda, well bland.
These were a little too on the cakey side for my personal preference. Overall, not a bad flavor, just not something I would really go out of my way to make again, not when there are so many other fabulous things you can do with orange. I ended up adding some mini chocolate chips to the batter for about half the recipe and that improved them a bit.

This recipe came from Technicolor Kitchen who acquired the recipe from Baking Bites.

1 medium orange
1/2 cup butter @ room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
optional: 3/4 cup dried cranberries or milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
Zest orange and add zest (about 1 tbsp) to butter mixture, along with 3-4 tbsp fresh orange juice (squeeze from remaining orange).
Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, blending it in at a low speed until no streaks of flour remain.
Stir in pecan pieces and optional cranberries, etc., if using.
Drop dough onto prepared baking sheet in rounded teaspoonfuls (1-inch balls), leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until edges of the cookies are lightly browned.
Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
I ended up with about 4 dozen cookies. 2 dozen without anything and 2 dozen with chips.

If anyone tries these, I'd be interested to know if they turned out as cakey as mine did. I think I'd prefer these with a little less flour and a little more butter. The flavor of the pecan is almost lost in the orange/sugar cookie.

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

Oh. Wow. These are like tiny flavor explosions. Almost painfully so.

I had some issues with this recipe. I think I used too many strawberries and that maybe I didn't let them cook long enough on the stovetop. Interestingly this was my first attempt at making a pastry crust from scratch and that worked out pretty well. Almost better than the actual tart-ish filling.

The recipe I found from Something Sweet who acquired it from Nook & Pantry, who adapted it from a Cook's Illustrated recipe.

7/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
a pinch of salt
6 tbsps unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 in cubes

Lemon Filling
2 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsps flour
1/4 cup lemon juice, from 2 lemons
2 tsp lemon zest, from 2 lemons (I only used one and had PLENTY.)
2 tbsp milk
A pinch of salt

Strawberry Puree
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 to 2 tbsp granulated sugar (I used 1 1/2 tbsp)

Mix the chopped strawberries with sugar and set aside to macerate for about 30 minutes.

Add the flour, confectioner’s sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor. Blend the ingredients together for a few seconds to mix evenly. Then add the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and looks like coarse cornmeal. If you don’t have a food processor you can use a fork, a pastry blender, or even your hands to cut the butter into the flour. Cook’s Illustrated recommended freezing the butter then grating it into the flour and using your hands to rub the pieces between your fingers.

Line a 8 x 8 in baking pan with a sheet of parchment. Press the crust mixture into an even 1/4 in layer in the pan bottom and about 1/2 in up the sides. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When you finish making the crust the fruit should almost be done. Blend the strawberries in a food processor (for a few seconds) or mash with a fork until there are no large chunks. Cook over medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until thick. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350º F and after the crust finishes chilling, bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

You can prepare the filling while you bake the crust. Whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and salt in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Then whisk in the lemon juice, zest, and milk.

Reduce the oven temp to 325ºF, pour the filling into the crust. Drop spoonfuls of the strawberry mixture on the surface. Use spoon or knife swirl/swish the strawberry puree into the filling.

Bake for about 20 - 22 minutes, until the filling feels firm when touched lightly. (I had to bake mine for 40 before it even appeared to be set. I checked my oven temp and it was correct so I have NO idea what the difference was.)

Cool to room temp, dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

Holy heck, I'm glad these finally set up. I was soo worried all those dirty dishes were going to be for nothing. I'd probably try this one again and cut back on the amount of strawberries I used and on the amount of lemon zest too. They tasted pretty good, but it was like they were fighting for attention and it was a bloody fist fight that your mouth might possibly end up being the casualty of. But a willing casualty because it really loved strawberries and lemon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Harold Cookies

No. I don't have a friend named Harold. No. I don't know anyone named Harold. No. These aren't inspired by some random actor named Harold. Nor are they a tribute to either Harold & Maude or Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. To be perfectly honest, these are named Harold because Chocolate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal and Pecan Cookies it too dadgum long for me to type repeatedly or to say efficiently. So, Harold it is.

These were just alright. Nothing spectacular. To be candid, they tasted exactly like a baked version of no bake cookies, if you added pecans. There really didn't seem to be a middle ground while baking, they were either too done or not done enough. Also, I know it was just me, but I felt like I could taste the slight molasses flavor from the dark brown sugar. Again, I know that was just my psycho little brain telling me that, because dark brown sugar isn't molasses and absolutely no one else mentioned anything other than chocolate and pecan in reference to their flavor.

The recipe came from Coconut & Lime.

4 tbs butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tsps vanilla
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup semi-sweet choc chips
1/2 cup crushed pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. (Thanks again Katie!) In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla and sugar. Add the egg, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and oatmeal. Mix until well combined. Fold in chips and pecans. Place heaping tablespoons of dough on the lined cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart and bake for 12-14 minutes or until they look "set". Carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

I ended up with about 20 cookies from this recipe.

The original recipe didn't include pecans, but the people around here tend to be nut fiends, so I added those just for sh ... just for giggles.

Over all Harold was just kinda...average...which is kinda what you expect from something named Harold.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Cupcakes!

Happy Earth Day!
Nobody loves the Earth more than a bunch of worms digging around in it, plus I didn't have the time or inclination to make tiny world cupcakes:-)

These were tasty. Exceptionally tasty in my opinion. I don't usually go for Chocolate Overload desserts, but man, these were delicious. And I don't often think that. The chocolate cake was fairly moist and the icing turned out with a really deep chocolate flavor closer to dark chocolate than anything else. Woo. Dark chocolate.

Dirt cupcakes (with worms!)
Martha's One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe
via The Bumbling Baker
2 1/2 cups ap flour
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
1 1/4 tsps salt
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 1/4 tsps vanilla
1 1/4 cups warm water

Preheat the oven to 350.
Sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add all the egg (including the extra yolk), milk, oil, vanilla and water, and beat with an electric mixer on low until smooth and combined. (2-3 minutes)
Line and fill muffin tin. Cups should be about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes.
The estimated yield is 24 cupcakes. I ended up with 2/4 cupcakes and a 9" round cake.

Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup butter @ room temp.
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3-5 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla

Blend butter and cocoa on low until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar, 3 tbs milk and the vanilla. Blend on low until incorporated and then switch to medium until fluffy. Add additional milk a tbs at a time if too stiff.
(This recipe would be perfect for a dozen, but double it if you are making the full 2 dozen as I did.)

Crush 15-20 oreos. I used a mix of regular and golden for a little more color in my dirt. I also crushed mine with the food processor, but it is easily done with a ziploc bag and any some hand crushing action.

Ice the cooled cupcakes. (It doesn't need to be pretty, you are covering it up anyway.) Then roll icing in the oreo mix making sure to coat everything so you don't have any mud showing.

Now you could just put the worms on top, but I used a wooden spoon to shove the worms inside the cupcake like they were going in or coming out of the ground. I"ve seen people cut the worms in half and shove them into the icing to get a similar affect as well.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nutella Cupcakes/Muffins

Oh wow. Do I love Nutella. Yes. Yes. I do. A chocolatey hazelnut butter spread? What could every possibly be wrong with that?

These from Baking Bites.

I read fairly decent reviews of them online. I heard fairly decent reviews of them from the break room at work. I just didn't think they were all that. And, honestly, if you are using nutella, shouldn't they be? I mean the stuff is freaking amazing on a spoon. Shouldn't a cupcake version be just as fabulous if not more so?

I really think that the type of cupcake needed to support the nutella being stirred into it leaned this recipe to a lack of deliciousness. The cupcakes were dense and dry and not at all tasty. And just swirling the nutella on top left you with the bottom half of the cupcake dry and absorbing all the moisture out of your body. The top photo is the recipe exactly as written on Baking Bites. The bottom photo is after mixing the nutella into the batter and then swirling additional into the top as well. The latter were definitely preferable over for original recipe.

I think if I ever want nutella cupcakes again I'll just go with a tasty vanilla cupcake recipe topped with a nutella based buttercream.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Banana Bread

I'm really surprised that this is the first time I've baked banana bread since we started this blog. Besides chocolate chip cookies, it's probably the thing I bake the most. I don't even have the recipe anymore because I bake it so much it's almost committed to memory. I do have the list of ingredients just in case, but I could seriously make it in my sleep. And I'm sure my mom has the recipe somewhere should I ever forget.

Those lucky people who have ever gotten the chance to live with me know that I say I'm going to bake banana bread a lot. I really don't like the taste of bananas once they go brown. After that, they only thing they are good for is banana bread. But sometimes (ok, a lot of the time), I get lazy or busy and forget to make the banana bread. Then we have super ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl. So I say, "Don't worry, I'm still going to make banana bread." Then finally, when I still haven't baked any bread, the roommate gets fed up with the smelly bananas and throws them away (or eats them, if said roommate is Steve). This is a common cycle in any household that I am a part of.

Nothing has changed. We had ripe bananas sitting around and I kept saying I was going to bake banana bread. Then one day, I finally did. I also stole some ripe bananas from Rob so I would have enough to bake two loaves. I gave a loaf to Steve for his birthday (Happy birthday, Steve, btw!) and half a loaf to Rob, and we kept half a loaf for ourselves. Breakfast is looking pretty good the next few days :-)

High Five Cupcakes Part 2 -- Lime Coconut

The second batch of cupcakes I made for NH5D were Lime Coconut. Dan was looking over my shoulder while I was browsing Coconut & Lime and saw a recipe for Lime Coconut cupcakes and forced me to make them. Seeing that he had just bought a bag of key limes that needed to get used, he didn't have to try too hard :-)

These cupcakes were nothing short of amazing. I seriously could not stop eating them. The cakes were nice and fluffy with a light lime flavor, but the icing really packed a punch of lime flavor. And the coconut... oh, the coconut! I'm tired of people talking smack about coconut, I love the stuff! Especially on cupcakes, yum! Originally I was just going to put some coconut on the edges of the cakes, but I decided instead to just dip them in it completely. I'm glad I did because the coconut really made these awesome! So boo on you non-coconut people! (ahem, Xian)

High Five Cupcakes Part 1 -- Lemon Strawberry

This past Thursday was National High Five Day, so naturally I felt the need to bake something to celebrate. I decided cupcakes would be a lot of fun! Although the flags were not my original idea of how to "high five" up my cupcakes, I really like the way they turned out.

The first cupcakes I made were Lemon Strawberry. Last summer I had made lemon cupcakes with whole blackberries in the middle, so I thought I would do something similar. I came across this recipe from the blog Coconut & Lime that used whole strawberries instead of blackberries and thought I should try it.

The cupcakes before baking -- so pretty!

The cake was very lemony and not super sweet like lemon cake mixes generally are. I liked the flavor the strawberries gave, but I don't think they held up in the oven as well as the blackberries I've used in the past. I used the cream cheese/lemon zest icing as Rachel suggested, and it was so tasty Holly said she wanted to just eat it with a spoon!

Triple Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Once again, a recipe from Bake or Break. We are nearing the end of my list of stuff I really want to make from that site, I promise. At least for now.

I used a combination of Ghirardelli baking bars for the recipe. I used what they was available at Kroger, which happened to be their white chocolate, semi-sweet and 60% cocoa bars. There is not much of a selection around here as far as chocolate goes. I also didn't like the idea of using whole pecans to top the cookies. Personally, I just don't like biting into a whole pecan on top of anything. Personal preferance I suppose. So I rolled the cookies in crushed toasted pecans with a little bit of sugar.

Here is the recipe:

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, not quite softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 oz. white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups of toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 375°.

Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter until creamy, about 1 1/2 to 2 mins.
Add dark brown sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes.
Add granulated sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
Add vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds.
Gradually add dry ingredients.
Stir in chocolates.
Roll dough into balls then roll in crushed pecans. Place on baking sheets (ungreased or with Silpats) about 2-3 inches apart. They will spread.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until tops are just set and the edges are lightly browned.

To be perfectly honest, I was less than impressed with these. For all that chocolate they just weren't all that tasty. I'm sure they are fabulous, but I hate. loathe. detest. abhor. despise. white chocolate. And I'm not a huge fan of semi-sweet/milk either. The darker the better is my motto. I like my chocolate like my own personality...dark and bitter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Black and White Cupcakes

What to say about these? I've seen the recipe popping up lately on all kinds of baking blogs so decided I wanted to jump on that bandwagon too.

The recipe is from Bake or Break. In case you can't tell I've been looking at that blog a lot lately. She claims her version came from the cookbook Buttercup Bakes at Home by Jennifer Appel. This may very well be true, but I have also seen a variety of unattributed and differently attributed recipes out there that are identical to this one.

* 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
* 1 large egg, at room temperature
* 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
* 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
* 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup warm water
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Beat cream cheese, egg, and 1/3 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
Make a well in the center, and add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
Mix just until blended.

Fill each muffin cup one-third full with the chocolate batter.
Top with a spoonful of cream cheese mixture, until cups are about two-thirds full. Bake 22 to 28 minutes, until the tops spring back lightly when touched.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 24 cupcakes.

I did end up with 24 of these, just as the recipe predicted. I would recommend using a small scoop or melon baller or something of the same ilk to place the cream cheese in/on the chocolate mix. I think you could manage a much prettier cake with a little judicious shaping and care when placing the cream cheese mixture. I also baked mine exactly 22 minutes at 350 (according to my oven therm.) and they were well and truly done by then.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chocolate Chunk Peanut

Another foray into the world of peanut butter and chocolate for our dear friend Jack at work. These were pretty tasty, but I'm just beyond tired of the whole peanut butter and chocolate thing right now. One note about this recipe is the addition of a bit of cinnamon. It makes a world of difference in the flavor of the dough, but don't overdo it or you will end up with cinnamon flavored chocolate chunk peanut cookies.
This recipe came from Southern Living via Bake or Break

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
1 (11.5-ounce) bag chocolate chunks

Beat butter and shortening at medium speed until creamy; add chunky peanut butter and sugars, beating well. Add eggs, beating until blended.
Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Add to butter mixture, beating well.
Stir in peanuts and chocolate chunks.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Flatten slightly, and place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pan 1 to 2 minutes.

The original recipe claims that it yielded 28 slightly larger cookies, I made mine a more average size than they indicated and ended up with 4-5 dozen cookies. I also used half a cup of extra chunky and have a cup creamy peanut butter... Why? you may ask. Because that is what I had and I wasn't about to bring even more peanut butter into my life.

On a note entirely unrelated to the actual recipe. I baked these on my new-to-me Silpat baking sheets.
Those obviously aren't mine, but a stock photo I theieved from, whom I know nothing about. Anyway, mine actually came from my dear friend Katie who loved me enough to not want me to have to scrape pans incessantly and thus donated these dears to me. Thanks Katie! I heart you and thanks for letting me visit last weekend and have adventures in baking with you!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fruit 'Pizza'

My babysitter Cindy used to make the most amazing fruit pizza. It had (from what I recall, at least) a sugar cookie crust, with a cream cheese icing, and then fresh fruit on top. I think the kiwi was always my favorite part. Dan and I decided to have a pizza party Saturday night, and I thought this would be a great dessert! Oddly enough, I ran into Amy and Tyson at Target, where Amy asked if she could bring a fruit pizza! Great minds really do think alike! Since I already had the ingredients for the crust and the icing, we split the duties and Amy brought some fruit to put on the pizza.

It didn't really end up looking like a pizza -- I don't really have a pizza pan, just a pizza stone, so I put it on a cookie sheet. We ended up having a large semi-rectangular cookie with cream cheese icing and everyone put their own fruit on their slice. We had kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, and mangoes. There was quite a bit of cookie left over, so Dan and I have been eating it plain. But I bought more fruit tonight so I could keep on making it the real way!

Oh yeah, and happy 100th post! Woot!

Bacon Chocolate -- Professional Style

Dan told me last week that Blu Boy, our favorite Bloomington chocolate shop, is now selling a goat cheese truffle, which definitely sounded interesting. However, that was not as interesting as their other new item -- BACON CHOCOLATE!

I still had the Mo's Bacon Bar from Vosges that I had bought at Sahara Mart awhile ago, so we decided to have a bacon chocolate tasting!

Here's a synopsis of the two bars: Blu Boy's was a dark chocolate bar with some bacon crumbled on top (or on bottom, depending on how you look at it), whereas Vosges' was a "deep" milk chocolate with bits of bacon throughout.

I definitely liked Blu Boy's better, probably because I am partial to dark chocolate. I liked the crispness of the bacon, but Amy got a chewy piece and didn't like that so much. I think it would be better if the bits were smaller and only the crispiest parts were used.

Amy and Dan liked the Vosges' bar better. The chocolate was so smooth and melty but a bit too sweet for me. And it was twice as expensive as Blu Boy's. I guess I know where to satisfy my cravings for bacolate ;-)

So I was thinking about this -- how many people do you think have tried 3 types of bacon chocolate? Not many, I suppose. The way I see it, I'm almost a bacon chocolate expert. Now I just need to fiddle around with some other recipes to cement my place in the bacon chocolate world. Next up, candied bacon ice cream!