Thursday, December 23, 2010

Caramel Puff Corn

This super addicting little snack reminds me so much of Christmas at grandma's house. Every year she would have a big bowl of the caramel puff corn and ranch oyster crackers sitting on the hutch in the dining room. Without fail, the bowl of puff corn was always empty by dinnertime!

This was my first attempt at making this, and not quite sure what I did differently, but grandma's tastes better. I remember her's having more of a buttery taste and the caramel coating being a little chewier. The caramel coating on mine is a tad bit hard. Not sure if I baked it too long or what happened. Still tastes good, but just not quite the same.


Caramel Puff Corn

1 bag Old Dutch puff corn
2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pour puff corn into a large roasting pan and set aside. In a two quart sauce pan, bring the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil. Cook for two minutes. Add the baking soda, which will cause the caramel mixture to foam up. Stir well and remove from heat. Pour over puff corn and stir until evenly coated. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and pour onto wax paper. Spread it out into a single layer, breaking apart the pieces.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Polka Dot Bikini

Every time we finish a cake we both just stand there for a few seconds in utter amazement that we actually created such a thing! And then comes the moment of gittyness and excitement! I still can't believe that we have been able to do such work with having never taken any form of class or lessons. Totally self-taught! I am sure there are several tricks and strategies that we don't know about, but heck I think we have done just fine so far! As in the words of Michele, "We do some awesome work!" Okay, okay, I am done tooting our horns! Can you tell I am proud?!?!



We made this cake for a co-worker's friend's thirtieth birthday! She is a water skier and this past summer their ski team did a show in pink and yellow polka dot bikinis.

The body of the cake is made from a 9x13 cake pan and the chest was molded out of rice krispies. We started by carving the cake to form the waist and hips. Ya know, the wonderful hour-glass shape! We covered the entire cake with a golden-brown marshmallow fondant. She has the tan all of us are longing for in the middle of December. Dang her! We finished it off by cutting out the bikini in bright pink fondant and accessorizing with yellow polka dots and tie string!

This cake could take so many directions! Could definitely make it more scandalous for a bachelor party! Or how fun would it be to make it all saggy for an "over the hill" birthday party! Oh the possibilities!

-Jess



Linked to Tidy Mom's I'm Lovin It

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nothing Beats Peanut Butter and Chocolate!

As many of you may already know, I have a tendency of eating peanut butter by the spoonfuls! It actually has become kind of a problem. A daily problem. To the point where I have to mentally tell myself to look pass the peanut butter. I could easily sit down with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon and eat the whole darn thing. In fact, that would be pretty close to heaven for me!

Last night during my nightly routine of surfing the internet I stumbled across a new blog! I love, love, love when that happens! I spent several hours reading and bookmarking recipes from Bake at 350! I am in pure awe at her cookie decorating skills!

While I was browsing her blog I stumbled across the post for Peanut Butter Chip Bars and immediately started salivating! I needed to try these and I needed to try them now! First of all, what is better than peanut butter and chocolate? And second, look at her pictures of the bars! Specifically the middle of the bars!! Their gooeyness sucked me right in!


Peanut Butter Chip Bars

6 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 c chunky peanut butter
1 c sugar
1/4 c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8 x 8" pan

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. Cream the butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Beat in the sugars until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.Stir in the flour mixture. Add the chocolate chips, stirring until combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan (you WILL want to lick the spoon...it's yummy!). Bake for about 30- 32 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!
-Jess

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bachelorette Cupcakes

This post is for mature adults only! If you are a youngster or an immature adult, read no further! Okay, just had to say it!

Michele and I are starting to become experts at making bachelorette themed desserts! Maybe I should list this area of expertise in our blog profile. And I am sure our skills will only be improving! Gotta a few more bachelorette parties to look forward to this year!!!

We were asked to make three dozen mini cupcakes and one "large and special" cupcake for the bachelorette! Of course we already knew we were going to top the large cupcake with a penis, that was a given! And we figured what better than a sea of little sperm to surround the penis cupcake.

I know, aren't you impressed!! Kudos to Michele on the penis!!

And for the first time, I get to actually put up a picture of someone enjoying our creations!


Started with a lick

And ended with a bite!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Classic Sugar Cookies


These classic sugar cookies are perfect for dunking in a glass of ice cold milk. They are perfect choice to leave for Santa on Christmas eve. They can be decorated with sprinkes to match any season. So, grab your kids and have them help out with this one.
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups and 4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and sugar. Add oil. Beat in the eggs. Mix the dry ingredients. Rolls in balls. Press down on the balls with a glass dipped in sugar (perfect for your child to do). Decorate with your favorite colored sprinkles (another good way to get the kids involved). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until brown.
Bake on!
-M

Mini-Mint Brownie Cups

These little guys are just so perfect. You can pop them into your mouth guilt free. Well, maybe not guilt free. But who doesn't love something in mini? My Mom first introduced me to this recipe years ago. We had to stop making it awhile back because we couldn't find the mint-chocolate chips that this recipe calls for. Then, botta bang there they were on the shelf this year. :) These are easy to make and always a crowd pleaser. For those of you who like the edges in the pan of brownies, you will really dig these. They have that little bit of crunchiness on the outside but are soft and chocolaty in the middle.

2 sticks butter or margarine
1 bag (10oz) semi-sweet mint chocolate chips
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup flour

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange 36 (likely more) doubled mini-muffin baking cups (1 1/2inch) on cookie sheets with sides.

2. Melt butter in 3qt saucepan over medium-low heat. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar. Add eggs and stir briskly until blended. Stir in flour until blended.

4. Fill baking cups 3/4 full. Bake 20-25 minutes until tops look cracked and toothpick inserted in center has moist crumbs.

I never double the baking cups and always have success. I'll let you make that call for yourself.

Bake on!
-M

Thanksgiving Pies











Thanksgiving was at my house this year. It was fun to get all the nice dinnerware arranged for a nice family meal. I was in charge of the pies this year. I chose to go with classic pumpkin and apple pies. Oh boy, were they good. They were perfect topped off with a nice dollop of whipped cream.
When I make pumpkin pie, I stick with Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe (it can usually be found on a can of Libby pumpkin).
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 15oz can pumpkin
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch deep dish pie shell
Mix sugar, salt cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 40-45 minutes. Knife inserted near center of the pie should come out clean.
Do not freeze.
1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice may be substituted.
I have never made a pie crust before, let alone a pie with 2 crusts. So, making the apple pie was an adventure. Since I had never made one before I went to my "Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book" to find my way. Between the crust recipe and the pie recipe I would be here half the night typeing, so I recommend visiting www.bhg.com if you are interested in this recipe. They pie looked pretty but I've definitely tasted apple pies that are better. Oh well, there's always next year.
Bake on!
-M

Chocolate Carmel Bars


These have to be one of my favorite bars. These bars take a bit of patience to make since they do have a few steps, but they are so worth the work. They are fantastic!! So, rich and gooey... you won't be able to say no.

2 1/4 cups flour
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups cold butter or margarine
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 jar-12oz caramel topping

In a bowl combine 2 cups flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set 1/2 aside for topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture into a greased 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans. Whisk the caramel topping and remaining flour until smooth. Drizzle over the top. sprinkle with pecans. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2 hours before cutting.

To my coworkers... Yes! These are the bars that were at skills day on Nov 30th and Dec 1st.
Bake on!
-M

Pumpkin Bread


Did you forget that we love pumpkin. Here is just another recipe that is full of pumpkin goodness. I love this recipe because it make 2 large loaves. Perfect for this time of year when you are trying to spread some holiday cheer and want to make things go a long way. This bread comes out perfect every time and is just so moist and delicious.

2 cups pumpkin (16oz can)
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt

Combine the pumpkin, eggs, oil, and water. Shift together the flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and the salt. This this to the wet increased. Stir until everything is just combine. Place batter in 2 greased 9X5 loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Bake on!
M

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chips Galore

Oh, were these cookies ever ooey, gooey, soft, and chewy! At first I was a little worried that they were undercooked, but that wasn't the case since the edges were turning golden brown! They were just that perfect all on their own!

The picture in the magazine showed them to be thick and round cookies, well mine turned out the exact opposite. Thin and Flat. Not exactly sure why this happened, but think it is probably because I omitted the nuts. I'm just not a nuts in cookie person.

And the combination of white chocolate, milk chocolate, and peanut butter chips was so so good! Every bite was loaded with chips! Hence the name :)


Chips Galore Cookies
from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies and Candies of 2010

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups each milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and peanut butter chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extract. Combine the flour and baking soda and gradually sift into wet ingredients. Add the chips and nuts. Cover and refrigerate dough for one hour.

2. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!
-Jess

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Red Velvet Cookies

I've said it once, and I am going to say it again, I LOVE LOVE LOVE red velvet!


About a week ago I signed up to receive emails for the Taste of Home Cookie Countdown. You know me, always looking for new recipes! The second email I got was for these delicious cookies! I immediately ran to the grocery store for red food coloring and whipped these up that night!


Look at how thick, fluffy, and cakey these cookies are!! Yum Yum!! And the addition of chocolate chips really brings out the cocoa in the cookies.

Cream cheese frosting is the usual frosting paired with red velvet. I was a little surprised when this recipe had a powdered sugar frosting for the cookie. I wasn't ready to be adventurous and try something new so I resorted to the left over cream cheese frosting I had in the refrigerator. So glad I did! Cream cheese frosting with red velvet will never disappoint!

Red Velvet Cookies
from Taste of Home

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons red food coloring
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups (12 ounces) NestlĂ©® Tollhouse® Semi-Sweet Morsels

FROSTING:
1-1/2 cups butter, softened
3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 tablespoons 2% milk

In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and food coloring. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.


In another bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.


Enjoy the Sweet Escape!
-Jess

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pistachio Cranberry Bark

This is probably the easiest thing I have made this holiday season! The hardest part was shelling the pistachios. And boy was that hard :) Although I do highly recommend trying to find a bag of pistachios without shells. Then it would become the easiest and fastest holiday treat!


And it is just so festive looking with the red cranberries and green pistachios! This is the perfect sweet and salty treat! Satisfies all of the cravings in one!


Pistachio Cranberry Bark

2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
5 ounces white candy coating, chopped (I used about three ounces and it was more than enough)
1 cup chopped pistachios, divided
3/4 cup dried cranberries, divided

In a microwave safe bowl, melt semisweet chocolate chips; stir until smooth. In a separate bowl, repeat with the white candy coating.

Stir 3/4 cup pistachios and half of the cranberries into semisweet chocolate. Thinly spread the mixture onto a waxed paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle the white candy coating over the top.

Sprinkle the remaining pistachios and cranberries over the top. Lightly press them into the chocolate. Chill until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!
-Jess

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Melting Moment Cookies

Every Christmas my mom bakes about fifteen different kinds of cookies and at the start of the baking shenanigans she always asks us kids which kinds we want her to make. And every year these are at the top of my request list! They are by far my ultimate favorite cookie! They have become one of the things I look forward to most during the holiday season!

They are just so tiny! And when you pop them in your mouth, you won't be able to stop at just one! Before you know it you will have had two, three, four, and maybe even more! No need to feel guilty though since they are about the size of a quarter!


The butter and powdered sugar glaze is the perfect compliment to the almond flavored cookie!



And they literally do melt in your mouth within moments!


Melting Moment Cookies

1 cup butter
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Mix all of the ingredient together until smooth. Chill the dough for about 30-60 minutes. Roll into small balls the size of marbles. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons whipping cream
Powdered sugar

Brown butter lightly in pan. Add whipping cream. Mix in powdered sugar until desired spreading consistency is reached. It works well to leave the kettle in a pan of warm water while frosting the cookies to keep the frosting soft and prevent a hard layer from forming on the top.


Enjoy the Sweet Escape!
-Jess

Banana Crumb Muffins


Well in my house it is only my hubby and myself. So, there are times when the bananas go bad. I hate that. I think that my husband secretly refrains from eating them when he wants me to bake. But that's a whole other story. I'm sure that you've had the same issue. Banana boughten and bananas rotten. I was getting sick of making banana bread everytime so I went on the search for some additional recipes a while back. I found this one and wasn't disppointed. You might think that the brown sugary crumb topping would distract from the banana flavor, but it doesn't. They work together really well. What I like most about this recipe is that it really only makes one pan. I usually get an even 12 muffins out of the recipe. 12 muffins can still be too much for a family of 2 but that's why my coworkers love me...always bringing in the treats. So mix together, one quick pan later and you're done. Great for when you are in the mood to bake but just don't have the time.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

Topping:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease your muffin pan or line with paper cups.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Add this to the flour mixture, stirring just unitl moistened. Spoon batter into prepared cups.
3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cutt in the butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle over the muffins.
4. Bake in preheated over for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

I tried to put the crumb topping on before baking the first time and I didn't really like the way that it turned out. It was soft instead of crunchy/crumbly like I wanted. So, I wait until the last 5 minutes. I add the crumble mixture to the top of the muffins and finish baking.

Bake on!
M

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins





Aren't you surprised?!? Another baked good with pumpkin!! And it probably won't be the last considering I stocked up on pumpkin and have about fifteen cans in the cupboard :) Probably a little extreme, but I wanted to be prepared just in case there is another pumpkin shortage. Don't want to be scrambling and going from store to store in search of pumpkin like I was a few months ago.

As in the words of Zach's aunt, "these are damn good!" I must say I agree with that statement! I was a little disappointed when I took my first bite, but I had to remind myself that these were muffins and not cupcakes. I have gotten so used to taste testing cupcakes that I was expecting a little more sweetness when I bit in. But for a muffin, the streusel topping added just the right amount of sweetness to the pumpkin and spice. I sure am a sucker for anything with a streusel topping. And the little bit of cream cheese in the middle is the perfect surprise! Like my sister-in-law said, "it's like the frosting is in the middle!"

I found this recipe on Annie's Eats, one of the many food blogs that I read daily! She has so many mouth watering recipes and pictures. I have a hard time picking which one to make first!


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins


Ingredients:
For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Directions:
To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Marshmallow Crunch Brownies




These bars are oh so, so delicious. A guy at Zach's work deemed them "his favorite Jess treat!" They are the perfect combination of brownie, s'more, and rice krispie treats! Three of my favorite things! And the brownie was nice and fudgey! Yum-o!

Even though they were very tasty, I would make one change the next time I make them. I would highly recommend cutting the brownie portion of the recipe in half. This part of the bar was a little thick. Actually the bars were very thick overall. They came to the top of a cake pan, which is unusual for a cake, let alone bars. Cutting the brownie portion in half would help even out the portions of brownie, marshmallow, and rice krispie topping!

This recipe was found on The Brown Eyed Baker blog. This is the original recipe. The brownie portion has not been cut in half.

Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars

For the Brownie Base:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Toppings:
1 bag (10½ ounces) miniature marshmallows
1½ cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup smooth peanut butter (don’t use natural peanut butter)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan.

2. For the brownies: In a medium saucepan, melt the unsweetened chocolate, butter and ¾ cup of the semisweet chocolate chips over medium heat. Stir occasionally while melting. Set aside and cool for 5 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl , whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Stir the melted ingredients into the egg mixture, mixing well. Stir in the dry sifted ingredients and mix well. Fold in the remaining ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the corner of of the pan comes out with moist crumbs.

5. Remove the brownies from the oven and immediately sprinkle the marshmallows over them. Return the pan to the oven for 3 more minutes.

6. Meanwhile, place the milk chocolate chips, peanut butter, and tablespoon of butter in a medium saucepan. Melt over low heat, stirring constantly, until completely melted. Remove from heat, add the Rice Krispies and mix well. Allow to cool for 3 minutes.

7. Spread the mixture evenly over the marshmallow layer. Refrigerate until chilled before cutting.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Curtis Stone's Biggest Loser Vanilla Cupcakes



I am an avid fan of the show, "The Biggest Loser". So, when Curtis Stone featured a low calorie cupcake earlier this season, I had to give it a try. Don't they look so pretty. Almost too cute to eat. The following was take right from "The Biggest Loser" website.

Makes about 14 cupcakes

Ingredients
5 organic egg whites
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

For the frosting
1 cup nonfat cream cheese
1/2 ripe banana

For raspberry frosting as seen on the show:
1 cup nonfat cream cheese, at room temp
1 cup fresh raspberries
Fresh raspberries to garnish

Method

•Preheat the oven to 325F.
•Place the egg whites in a large bowl and using a handheld mixer whip the whites on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes or until the whites begin to lighten up and hold their shape.
•Increase speed to high and whip in the salt and honey until the whites hold a soft peak, then add the vanilla extract.
•Fold in the yogurt.
•In a separate medium mixing bowl combine the flour and baking powder and mix well.
•Sift the dry ingredients into the egg whites a little at a time, gently folding them in with a rubber spatula.
•Once fully incorporated, scoop the batter into cupcake tins lined with cupcake papers.
•Bake the cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes or until they have colored and gently spring back when pushed with a finger.
•Remove from the oven and cool the cupcakes at room temp.
•Mix the cream cheese and the banana in a medium mixing bowl until well incorporated, leaving small chunks of banana throughout the frosting.
•Once cool, spread a little of the banana frosting over the cupcakes and (top each with a raspberry?) serve.
For raspberry frosting:
•While the cupcakes are baking, puree the raspberries in a blender until smooth.
•Pass through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepot and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until the puree reduces slightly.
•Cool completely.
•Place the cream cheese into a medium mixing bowl and fold the puree into the cream cheese until fully mixed.
•Once cupcakes are cool, spread a little of the berry frosting over the cupcakes, garnish each with one raspberry and serve.
Nutrition Facts:
Calories 60
Total Fat 0g
Sat Fat g 0g
Cholesterol 5mg
Sodium 190mg
Total Carb 10g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugar 4g
Protein 5g

I clearly chose to make the raspberry frosting over the banana frosing. There were a few challenges when make these beauties. Some of my cupcakes did stick to the liners which was unfortunate and made them a little more difficult to consume. The non-fat cream cheese made the frosting lumpy. I ended up using a whisk and beat it to death to get the lumps out. The cupcake itself had a good flavor. I could definitely tell that it was made with the whole wheat flour which I enjoyed. It didn't have much of a vanilla flavor though. The frosting was a bit sour on my first attempt. My husband wouldn't even eat it after his first bite. Between the sour-ish raspberries and the no-fat cream cheese, it just wasn't right. I added about a tablespoon of Truvia to maintain that healthy quality. So, so, so much better. They are definitly not going to get rid of your cravings if you are dying for a sweet treat, but they are certainly a nice, healthy option that can leave you feeling guilt free.

Bake on!
M

This cookie may change your life...



This is perhaps the best recipe I have every come across for chocolate chip cookies. I have easily exchanged the chocolate chips for m&ms and chocolate chunks with equal success. I couldn't even tell you which is my favorite so I just pick whatever I'm in the mood for.
I have my sister to thank for sharing this recipe with me. She made it for her oldest son's first birthday. So, to me, they are simply known as "Rhett's Birthday Cookies". What makes these so delicious...the secret is in the pudding. Give them a try. I know that you won't be disappointed.

1 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3.5oz instant vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 bag chocolate chips

Mix butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in vanilla pudding mix. Add baking soda and flour. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy your sweet escape!

Bake on!
M

I've said it before and I'll say it again...


I love Snickerdoodles. I made these little gems recently. They are always a huge hit. I highly recommend visitings Martha's website and trying these on for yourself.

Bake on!
M

Divine Chocolate Cake




This divine chocolate cake is perfect for dark chocolate lovers. It is a one layered, rich, fudge cake. This is not your typical spongy cake. It is dense and unexpected. While it isn't one of my favorites, I can certainly see a bunch of little old ladies enjoying this with a cup of decaf in the afternoon. Don't get me wrong... it has a really good flavor. I just was hoping for a spongy cake based on the picture I saw and instead got a dense, fudge cake. I snagged this recipe from mixingbowl.com.





18oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces


3/4 cup unsalted butter


1 tablespoon vanilla


5 eggs


1 cup sugar


6 tablespoons whipping cream


6 tablespoons corn syrup


1 cup sliced almonds, toasted





1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pain. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper or waxed paper. Grease and lightly flour paper.





2. In a medium saucepan, combine 10 ounces of the chocolate and the butter. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until melted. Whisk in the vanilla. Cool.





3. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until tripled in volume, about 6 minutes. Gradually add chocolate mixture to egg mixture, stirring gently with a spatula until combined. Pour into the prepared pan.





4. Bake for 45 minutes. Place cake in pan on a wire rack. Using a small sharp knife, loosen cake from side of pan. Press top of cake down to make an even thickness; cool.





5. Remove sides of pan. If necessary, trim edges of cake. Invert cake onto a cake plate; set aside.





6. For glaze, in a medium saucepan, combine whipping cream and corn syrup. Heat over medium heat until mixture begins to simmer; reduce heat to low. Gradually add the remaining 8 ounces chocolate, whisking after each addition until smooth. Cool for 10 minutes. Pour glaze over cake; spread with spatula to completely cover cake. Press almonds onto sides of cake. Shill for at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 12-14 servings.





So, enjoy this one with the little old lady in your life...


P.S. I add the dollops of whipping cream and raspberries for overall appeal.



Bake on!


M






Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oreo Truffles

I could quite possibly sit down with this little bowl of oreo truffles and pop one after another into my mouth until I'm left holding just the empty bowl. Clearly I've already gotten a start by eating half of one! Mentally told myself that I had to eat one just to show all of you the inside

The best part about these is that it only takes three ingredients! One package of oreos, eight ounces cream cheese, and Baker's white chocolate candy coating (probably will need two boxes). Definitely won't break the pocketbook.

Crush the oreos using a food processor or a blender. Way easier than using a rolling pin or hammer. Mix in the cream cheese until well blended. Form into one inch balls and place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer for about an hour or until firm.

Now the tricky part, dipping them in the candy coating and trying to get the nice smooth finish! After trying several different kitchen utensils and gadgets, I found a fork to be the best tool. Drop the oreo ball into the white chocolate and cover completely. Fish out the oreo ball with the fork and tap off any excess chocolate. Very carefully slide the truffle off of the fork onto a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes to harden.

It could fun to dress them up a little with a drizzle of chocolate over the top or a sprinkle of crushed oreos. Might have to try this next time!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Santas and Snowmen

Once again, I know, a little early. Just couldn't wait until after Thanksgiving. Today was the second day of Christmas cookie baking with Sarah. We ended up with some super cute cookies, scrumptious truffles, and yummy bark. And best of all, some much needed girl time!

The santa and snowman cookies turned out absolutely adorable! At least I think so! I can't help but to giggle a little when I see them.



Now don't you have to agree that they are cute?!?

The cookie part for both of them is a soft and chewy sugar cookie. So we might have cheated a little. We may have used pre-made sugar cookie dough. But don't judge. We were just more into the decorating part for these and didn't want to waste precious time stirring up some dough.

For the Santas: Frost the top third of the cookie with red frosting. Use a miniature marshmallow for the white pompom. Use a piping bag to pipe on the brim of the hat. Pipe on two small dots for the eyes and one small dot for the nose. Use two chocolate chips for the eyes and one cinnamon red hot for the nose. Frost the bottom third of the cookie with white frosting and stick on coconut for the fluffy beard!

For the Snowmen: These are super easy! They would be a fun project for the kiddos! Frost the cookie and use two chocolate chips for eyes, one candy corn for the carrot nose, and five or six cinnamon red hots for the mouth!

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!
-Jess

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rich Butterscotch Bars

This is one of my grandma's many wonderful recipes! You know it has to be good when it comes from grandma's recipe box, right? I would die to have a day to just go through her ten recipe boxes and copy all of her mouth watering, super delicious recipes! I definitely have inherited the recipe collecting trait from her!

These were the bars that introduced me to my love of butterscotch! I actually don't know if I had ever really had anything with butterscotch in it before these bars. It was one of those things that I just thought I wouldn't like. I still remember when grandma brought these bars to the kitchen table and told me they were butterscotch. I didn't really want to try one, but knew I had to because I didn't want to hurt her feelings. I was thankful she had cut them into rather small, bite-size pieces. But after I took my first bite I was sure wishing she had cut them a little bit bigger. I had a second and then a third. And was wishing I could have a fourth and a fifth. I probably could have eaten the whole container. Of course my next question was "can I have the recipe please?"

These bars are a little on the rich and sweet side, if there is such a thing. But that didn't stop my co-workers from eating the whole pan in about eight hours!


Rich Butterscotch Bars
10 ounce bag of butterscotch chips
1/2 cup butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup chopped pecans

In a large microwave safe bowl, heat the butterscotch chips and butter until melted, stirring every thirty seconds until smooth. Add the graham cracker crumbs. Set aside 2/3 of a cup for the topping. Press the remaining crumb mixture into greased 13x9 pan.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and egg. Stir in the chopped pecans. Pour over the crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.

Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let cool and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!
-Jess

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pumpkin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Trying to squeeze in every last possible chance to make anything and everything with pumpkin! I am going to be a little sad when Thanksgiving has passed and the "fall baking season" has ended. Definitely love the fall flavors of apple and pumpkin more than the winter flavors of peppermint and gingerbread.

I have been dying to make these cookies but was waiting for the perfect opportunity! And that opportunity finally presented itself today! This recipe makes a fairly large number of cookies and so I needed several places to be able to take them! We all know I have no self control when it comes to sweets so I needed to get them out of the house fast!

Zach's coworkers gave these cookies rave reviews!! He said they were still talking about them three hours later!! Glad to hear they loved them just as much as I do!


I especially love their "cakey" consistency! They are soft, chewy, light, and fluffy! Definitely better than a flat, crisp cookie :)

White chocolate chips are the perfect addition to the usual pumpkin and cream cheese combo. Adding just the right amount of sweetness!


Pumpkin Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
15 ounce can of pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 bag of white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix in white chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until edges are firm.

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 tablespoons butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese until well blended. Gradually add powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached. If needed, add small amount of cream or milk to thin frosting.


Enjoying the Sweet Escape!
-Jess

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Turtle Pumpkin Pie

I have said it before and I will say it again, I love pumpkin. So, I like to try recipes that have pumpkin. I have made this desert once before. Both times, it has gone over well with my audience. I have learned a few tricks to it along the way. I will share them throughout this post. Don't be confused by the name of this desert. It doesn't taste like your traditional pumpkin pie with the added traditional "turtle" flavors. It is light and creamy and oh so delicious.

Ingredients
1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp caramel topping, divided
1 Graham pie crust -6oz. Tip #1 buy the next size up. It is too much for the 6oz.
1/2 and 2 Tbsp pecan pieces, divided
1 cup milk
2 pkgs (4-serving size) Jello vanilla instant pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 8oz tub Cool Whip, thawed

Pour 1/4 cup caramel topping into crust. (Tip#2-try whisking in a bit of flour to the caramel to thicken it up. It does like to run otherwise). Sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans.

Beat milk, pudding mixes, pumpkin and spices with whisk until blended. Stir in 1 1/2 cups whipped topping. Spread into crust. Top with remaining Cool Whip.

Refrigerate 1 hr. Top with 2 Tbsp caramel and 2 Tbsp pecan. (Tip #3-actually wait until you are about to serve the desert to top with the remaining caramel and pecan. You will avoid the risk of the caramel running everywhere)

Bake on!
M

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cookie Dough Truffles

I was introduced to these marvelous little treats last year at the first annual cookie exchange! They literally stopped me in my tracks when I took my first bite of them. A year later I still remember my mom's facial expression when I gave her one of them to try. Her eyes got super big and with her mouth still full of truffle she mumbled "We NEED to make these next year for Christmas."

Well this past Saturday when we got our first snowfall and I was trapped inside, what better thing was there to do than spend the day in the kitchen baking! The first thing on the list to make were the ubberly delicious cookie dough truffles!




Cookie Dough Truffles

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups flour
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I used about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate candy coating (I think Baker's Chocolate works the best)

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour, milk, and vanilla and mix until well combined. Stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Shape into one inch balls and place on wax-paper lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for one to two hours or until firm.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate candy coating until smooth. Dip balls in coating and place on wax-paper lined baking sheets. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until firm.

Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 5 1/2 dozen delicious truffles!


Now to just wait and see how many of these are actually left by the time Christmas rolls around! I am storing them in the downstairs refrigerator in hopes that I will forget they are down there, obviously I haven't forgotten yet! :)

Enjoy the Sweet Escape!
-Jess

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thee Best Cake Ever!

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze!!

Oh my god! This cake is by far the best cake we have ever made! It leaves me at a loss of words! Absolutely speechless! Can't even find words to describe to all of you how amazing it is!




I am seriously convinced that sour cream is the ultimate secret ingredient for baking! Every thing that I have made that includes sour cream has turned out absolutely wonderful! They always seem to turn out super moist, light, and fluffy! And this cake lived up to this theory as well!

Michele said it best when she said "it is the perfect marriage of flavors!" Neither the chocolate nor the peanut butter overpower the other. Rather the two compliment one another very well!

The recipe is from Sky High Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes. This is the first recipe that we have tried from this book, but being that this one turned out so well, I am super anxious to try some of the other ones!

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms oand sides of two 8-inch cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the oil and sour cream. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Divide batter among the two cake pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks and carefully peel off the paper liners.

Peanut Butter Frosting
10 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 cup smooth peanut butter

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar one cup at a a time. Mix thoroughly after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three to four minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand. Spread about a cup of frosting evenly on the top. Place the other layer on the top and frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining frosting.

I had a difficult time getting the frosting to have a nice smooth finish due to it being slightly sticky. But it worked well to dip the spatula into a bowl of hot water and smooth the frosting.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

In the top of a double broiler, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half.

To decorate the cake, simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least thirty minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely


Well I think we have finally found our ultimate go-to chocolate cake recipe!! What a good feeling that is!!

This has by far been the best sweet escape ever!
-Jess

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Honey and Banana Cupcakes


I found this recipe in a book called "200 Cupcakes". It made about 12 cupcakes which, to me, is perfect when you are trying out a new recipe. I really, really liked this banana cupcake. It actually tasted like a banana cupcake and not a banana muffin. It was soft and cakey like a cupcake. It didn't get that sort of crusty muffin top that muffins get. The frosting I could have done without. I love honey, but it just wasn't the frosting for me. It was more of a honey drizzle or a glaze than it was an actual frosting. Next time I might consider chocolate ganache, PB buttercream or cream cheese frosting as alternatives.

Here's the recipe for the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 6 Tbsp lightly salted butter, melted
  • heaping 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 small, very ripe bananas, mashed

1. Line a muffin pan with 12 liners. Sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a bowl.

2. Mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and mashed bananas in a separate bowl. Tip in the dry ingredients and mix together gently until evenly combined. Divide the cake mixture between the 12 liners.

3. Bake in a preheated over, 325 degrees, for 25 minutes, or until risen and just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

4. Frost as desired.

Enjoy! What frosting will you come up with?
Bake on!
M

More of Michele's Halloween Treats!

Jess and I made plenty of Halloween cupcakes this year. She has already posted some of them that we created together. I made more the next day for my nephews' Halloween party. Here are some featured creations that are a bit different that those that she has already posted.


This walrus cupcake was created on top of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache. I dyed some cream cheese frosting blue to create his face. I pipped on some black eyes. His mouth is made out of a halved peach ring and his teeth are candy coated licorice bites.


This spider and web was created on top of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache. I piped cream cheese frosting to create the web. The spider's body is made out of a milk dud, chocolate licorice and an m&m.


This little blue monster was created on top of a chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache. I dyed some cream cheese frosting blue to create his face. Mini marshmallows were used to create his eyes and teeth. I quartered the marshmallows for his teeth. I created lips using chocolate licorice.


These cupcakes were inspired by a picture I saw in the MixingBowl.com Fall/Winter 2010 magazine. I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache. Then I piped on the mummy's wrappings using peanut butter cream cheese frosting. M&ms were used for the eyes.

Justin called this one my "Elmo" cupcake. It is a pumpkin cupcake that is layered with a mini pumpkin cupcake. I used pink dyed cream cheese frosting and gave this little guy a furry look. The orange nose is made out of a gum drop. The eyes are 2 large marshmallows with blue m&ms.


These cupcakes were loved by everyone at the party. I have a picture of 2 of my nephews standing on a chair next to the kitchen counter just staring at all of them. Priceless. I think my brother-in-law ate 3 of them that day. His favorite were the chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache that had cream cheese skeletons piped on them. Of course the kids at the party went crazy for all the monsters that were loaded with lots of delicious frosting. Another attendant of the party said that these were cuter and tasted better than a cupcake shop in the Twin Cities that charges $3-4 per cupcake. Kudos to us.

Bake on!
M

Michele's Halloween Treats

Peanut Butter Eyeballs
If you love PB... you will love these. Once you start eating them, you can't stop. I snagged this recipe from MixingBowl.com magazine Fall/Winter 2010. They were a perfect treat for my nephews' Halloween Party.
2 cups crisp rice cereal
2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 cups white baking pieces (15oz)
Red food coloring
Black decorating icing
1. Line a 15x10x1-in baking pan with foil; set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cereal, milk powder, powdered sugar, peanut butter, and butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. using wet hands, shape cereal mixture into 1-inch balls. Place balls in prepared pan. Freeze for 1 hour or until firm.
3. Place white baking pieces in a double boiler over hot but not boiling water. Heat and stir until melted. Dip the balls into the melted baking pieces. Let stand until set. Using a small paintbrush and red food coloring, paint veins on coated balls. Using the black decorating frosting, pipe small dots on each ball. Makes about 50 eyeballs.
Bake on!
M

Race Car Birthday Cake




This is the cake we made for a co-workers son's sixth birthday! He enjoys playing with his hot wheels cars and told his mom he wanted a car themed cake! His main criteria was "no girly colors!" I think we were successful on meeting that criteria!

It is a ten inch yellow cake with our super yummy oreo filling!! For the cake we used the Bakerella recipe for Moist Yellow Cake but made just a few minor changes. The previous times that we baked this cake it was a little dry and didn't have the buttery flavor we were imagining it would. So this time we cut out a half cup of flour and doubled the amount of butter flavoring extract. Definitely glad we made both of these changes!! The end result was so much better!!

Underneath the fondant decorations is a layer of the oh-so-good cream cheese frosting. Thought it would be a good compliment to the oreo filling being that is also cream cheese based.

I absolutely love the checkered border around the bottom of the cake!! It definitely takes the race car theme to a whole new level! We wanted to do a couple checkered flags but figured that would be way to tedious with the itty bitty little squares. So we did it on a bigger scale!! And I think I like it better this way anyways!! The black and white really makes the green, orange, and blue colors pop!

And now for the decorations!! Here is a close up picture of just the fun accessories!

Once again, all of the decorations are made out of marshmallow fondant! Love, love the steering wheel happy birthday sign! A fun little way to tie in the race care theme once again! The race cars were based off of a tutorial we found on Cake Journal. They ended up being super easy to make! And the stripes, lightening bolts, and sixes made them even cuter! Funny how minor little additions can add so much!

Now just to wait and hear what little Brayden's reaction was to the cake!!

Another Sweet Escape!
-Jess