Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Heart Cookies

I'm guessing that some of you were wondering why Jess didn't include the recipe for these cookies in her post First Attempt at Royal Icing. Well, it's because I have the recipe. So, if you were looking for the recipe for the cut-outs with royal icing that we used as cupcake toppers, here you go...

Honey Christmas Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup strained honey
1 cup shortening
2 tsp hot water
1/4 cup chopped almonds (we didn't include almonds)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
~3 1/2 cups flour +additional for rolling out dough

Cream sugar and shortening together. Mix baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla together. Add honey and hot water to sugar and shortening mix. Mix both mixtures together, adding in enough flour to make a very stiff dough, about 3 1/2 cups. Cool mixture (I let the dough chill in the fridge for about an hour) and roll very thin, cut with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Don't let the name deceive you. This cookie isn't limited to the Christmas season. It is perfect anytime. In my experience cut-out cookies are dull, boring, and have an undesirable texture. I will admit that in the past I only made them so that I could decorate them with lively colors and sprinkles to jive up my cookie trays. Well, these cookies look good and taste better. Enjoy!

Bake on!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Clone of a Cinnabon

I love recipe searching on allrecipes.com due to the tons of user comments and reviews and their many "top 20" lists. Out of their thousands and thousands of recipes, the recipe for these cinnamon rolls fell in the number six slot of their overall top 20 list. And still had five stars after over 4,000 user reviews! I was nearly heartbroken when I discovered that the dough had to be made in a breadmaker (which I do not own, yet.) So instead I sat and drooled over the recipe for weeks until I finally got my hands on my mom's breadmaker! Little does she know that she probably will never have this back in her kitchen! It has become mine now!

Of course I had to work night shift this weekend and was super bummed that I wouldn't have time to make these for Zach and I's Sunday morning breakfast tradition. Luckily he caught on to my hint and earned himself husband of the year award by already having the dough in the breadmaker when I woke up Sunday afternoon. Made my day, week, and possibly even month!

These cinnamon rolls taste exactly like Cinnabon! They are spot on!

For some reason I always assumed the middle layer was white sugar and cinnamon. Boy was I fooled. Brown sugar and cinnamon is definitely where it is at! And of course it is necessary to have an extra, extra thick layer!

And then there is the cream cheese frosting! This recipe makes a fairly large amount and so the rolls were very, very well covered! Just the way I like it! No such think as too much frosting!

I wasn't kidding when I said they were covered in frosting!

Are you surprised? And yes I did scrape off and eat of all of that extra cinnamon-y goodness.

You can find this insanely delicious recipe at allrecipes.com. You need to make these now! I already can't wait to make 'em again!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Crunch Brownies

Some of you may remember a few months ago when I posted about the Marshmallow Crunch Brownies. Well these babies are a spin-off from that delicious treat with the ooey-gooey marshmallow layer being replaced by an almighty peanut butter layer. I loved the marshmallow version, but of course I am a little partial to the peanut butter ones! Anything with peanut butter will always win!

Be prepared. You will become addicted to these. Seriously. I've been overtaken. Lost all control. Can't say I didn't warn you. They are one of the few treats that I haven't kicked out of the house immediately after making and boy am I am paying the price.

I can't even decide which layer is my favorite. The brownie layer is uber duber soft, chewy, and fudgey. Which might possibly be the result of me accidentally, maybe on purpose, cooking them a few minutes short. And then there's the chopped peanut and reese's peanut butter cup layer. Pretty sure by now you all know my love for peanut butter and it isn't necessary to say anything more. And the top layer of melted chocolate, peanut butter, and rice krispies. Oh. My. Lord. Could eat this by the spoonful! And quite possible that I did just that!

Chewy Brownie Layer
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Peanut Butter Layer
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
8-10 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chopped

Rice Krispie Layer
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl whisk cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and stir until melted. Whisk in melted butter and vegetable oil. Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla. Whisk in sugar until incorporated. Add flour and stir until well combined. Fold in chopped bittersweet chocolate. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 28 minutes.

Remove from the oven and top with chopped peanuts and peanut butter cups. Return to the oven and bake and additional 3-5 minutes.

While they finish baking, in a microwave safe bowl combine chocolate chips and peanut butter. Microwave in 30-45 second intervals until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Add rice krispies and stir until evenly coated. Remove the brownies from the oven and evenly spread the rice krispie mixture over the top. Refrigerate for at least two hours before cutting and serving.

Source: Brown Eyed Baker

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Attempt at Royal Icing

Michele and I have been saying for many, many months that we have wanted to try decorating cookies with royal icing. And after our recent struggles with fondant we decided it was time to take a little break from fondant and try something new. We had a cupcake order for a bridal shower this weekend and rather than making fondant decorations we decided to top the cupcakes with a simple heart cut-out cookie with royal icing.

First of all, the taste of these little cookies is out of this world. They remind me of the store bought animal crackers with pink icing. And best of all, they are soft and fluffy! Like little cookie pillows.

We were both absolutely amazed at how fast and easy the whole royal icing process was. And we actually had fun doing it! Not a single moment of frustration (which is not the case when we work with fondant!) Cookies with royal icing are our new craze! Bye bye fondant and hello royal icing!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lemon Curd

A couple of months ago I started a "cooking and baking bucket list." And the list just keeps growing and growing. So many things I want to try making. And at the very top of that list was to make homemade lemon curd. Feels so good to finally cross off my first item on the bucket list!

For some unknown reason I have always thought that making lemon curd was an extensive and grueling process. So not true. Especially when it can be made in the microwave. Couldn't get any easier.

The lemon curd took these already amazingly delicious lemon cupcakes to a whole new level! I'm now obsessed with putting fillings in cupcakes! Such a fun little surprise when one takes their first bite!

Microwave Lemon Curd

1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
zest of three lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the lemon juice, zest, and butter.

Cook in the microwave on full power in one minute intervals. Stir after each minute. Cook for 3-5 minutes. The lemon curd is done when it coats the back of the spoon.

Refrigerate in airtight jar. Can be stored for up to two weeks.

Source: My Baking Addiction

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal

I know this isn't like our typical posts of cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and bars, but it sure smelt and tasted like a peanut butter oatmeal cookie! And it was just too darn good to not share with all of you!

Casserole sized Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie!!

Sure seems like there is a lot of hype about baked oatmeal and steel cut oats lately. And I jumped right on that bandwagon. Seemed fitting being that I consider myself an oatmeal addict. Willing to bet that I eat oatmeal at least five, if not six, days a week. Not always for breakfast either. Numerous times when I have eaten it for lunch or supper. Making a packet of instant oatmeal is about as easy as it gets. But after having this baked oatmeal it is sure is going to be hard to go back to the instant oatmeal. Ya know the stuff that always smells better than it actually tastes.

And look how ooey gooey the middle was!

I highly recommend having a tall glass of milk handy when eat this! The website where I found the recipe even suggested pouring milk right over the top of it. Either way, you will need some milk!

Baked Peanut Butter Oatmeal

1 1/2 cups quick oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease either an 8x8 inch pan or 1 quart casserole. Mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Spread into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown. May top with sliced bananas, chocolate chips, yogurt, or maple syrup.

Source: Tidy Mom

Key Lime Bars

Lately every recipe that catches my eye is fallish- pumpkin, apple, carrot, and spice. It is taking all my strength to fight this urge. But I'm not about to go back in time. We are too close to spring now! Hence my decision to back these key lime bars!

Oh the taste of sunshine! Makes me want a margarita!

You can't see the flecks of lime zest in this picture, but trust me, it is there! With the lime zest and fresh squeezed lime juice, they have quit the limey flavor! But oh so creamy and delicious!

Key Lime Bars

for the crust:
1 1/4 cups animal cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

for the filling:
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon lime zest
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 13 key limes or 6 regular limes)

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted until golden and crisp

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 8x8 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine animal crumbs and brown sugar. Drizzle butter over crumbs and mix until evenly moistened with butter. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling. Do not turn off the oven.

While crust cools, in medium bowl, stir cream cheese and lime zest until softened creamy, and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain. Whisk in the egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated.

Pour filling onto crust. Spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, about 15-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until chilled, at least two hours.

Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if using, and serve. You could also serve with a dallop of whipped cream.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Ever since I checked the book, Bake Explorations, out from the library, I have been dying to make this recipe. Chocolate+Peanut Butter+Cream Cheese+Graham Crackers=YUM! I knew with a list of ingredients like this it had to be a winning recipe. Apparently these treats are best known in Ohio where this candy resembles the horse chestnut from the Buckeye State. Living in Minnesota I have never heard of them, but sure do love em! They literally taste like you are eating peanut butter cookie dough wrapped in chocolate. The insides are light and soft just like cookie dough. One of my coworkers said it best when she said, "these are better than sex balls" as she kept popping them in her mouth. Too funny. I know there was more than one person who was having a hard time having just one. Warning: these may cause you to overindulge.

1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 cups confectioners' sugar
10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 oz good-quality dark chocolate

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat on medium speed for 10 seconds. Add the confectioners' sugar and butter. Beat at low speed for 20 seconds to prevent the sugar from spilling over; then gradually increase the speed until the mixture is completely combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again. The mixture will feel slightly dry. Set the peanut butter filling aside while you melt the chocolate.

In the top of a double boiler set over hot water, melt the chocolate, stirring frequently until it is completely smooth. pour the chocolate into a small, deep bowl. Let it cool to tepid (about 100 degree) while you shape the peanut butter centers.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out slightly more than 1 tablespoon's worth of filling and use your hands to form it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared sheet pan and repeat the process until all the filling has been shaped. The balls can sit fairly close to each other on the sheet, just make sure they are not touching.

One by one, use a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate. Roll the ball around from side to side to cover almost the entire peanut butter center, leaving a small part uncovered. Manipulate the buckeye so that the dripping chocolate covers the holes made by the fork. Let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and return each chocolate-covered buckeye to the pan. Refrigerate the entire sheet pan for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate before serving.
Bake on!

Toffee Fingers

I love toffee and couldn't resist making this recipe. The light buttery crust pairs up perfectly with the toffee and chocolate. Yum. It's such an easy recipe to make with such satisfying results.

1 1/4 cups all -purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/2 cup toffee pieces
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 tsp shortening
1/4 cup toffee pieces

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8x8 inch square baking pan with foil, leaving about 1 inch of foil extending over the ends of the pan; set aside.

2. In a small bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar and brown sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in the 1/2 cup toffee pieces. Press mixture evenly into bottom of the prepared pan.

3. Bake in the preheated oven about 20 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack.

4. If using foil, remove warm bars from pan, using the overlapping foil to lift bars; place on cutting board. Cut into eight 1-inch strips. Cut each strip crosswise into three pieces, making 24 bars. Transfer bars to wire rack placed over waxed paper; cool completely.

5. In a small heavy saucepan heat and stir chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Drizzle bars with melted chocolate. Immediately sprinkle bars with 1/4 cup toffee pieces. Let bars stand until chocolate is set.

Bake on!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Caramel Filled Rice Krispie Bars

I nearly died the first time Zach's mom made these bars! I can't even find words to express my love for them!!

Kind of surprising, but this is actually my first time making these bars! Up to this point I haven't had to because Zach's mom always pulls through. And everything always tastes better when someone else makes it for you, right?

Usually I go for the bars on the inside of the pan. Ya know, the ones that are soft and gooey. Well with these, go for the ones around the outside edge. And this is why....

They are loaded with caramel!! Especially the ones in the four corners! As you push down the top layer of rice krispies, the caramel gets pushed to the outer edges and corners.

As you won't even believe how easy these are to make. Only five ingredients!

Caramel Filled Rice Krispie Bars

12 cups rice krispies
8 cups miniature marshmallows
6 tablespoons butter
1 bag of Kraft caramels
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Measure out rice krispies into a very, very large mixing bowl and set aside

Unwrap caramels and place in a medium microwave safe bowl. Pour in sweetened condensed milk. Start by microwaving for two minutes. Stir afterwards. Likely will have to return the mixture to the microwave, but this time only microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth. Stir between each interval.

In another microwave safe bowl, measure out the marshmallows and butter. Microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth. Pour mixture into the large mixing bowl with rice krispies. Mix until rice krispies are well coated. Pour half of the mixture into a well greased 9x13 pan and evenly press into pan using buttered fingers or wax paper.

Pour caramel mixture over the top of the rice krispies that have been pressed into the pan. Evenly spread over the top. Press remainder of rice krispies over the top of the caramel mixture. Let cool for a few hours before serving.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Maple Cake

First of all, do not judge this cake based on the pictures. It tastes far, far better than the pictures depict. The lighting was poor and long story short, I need a DSLR camera! Hopefully I will be getting one soon. But soon can't come soon enough!

By the time I got around to taking this picture my co-workers had already gone to town and eaten all but this tiny little sliver. If I had waited another ten minutes the cake would have been gone. And this picture wouldn't exist (which wouldn't be a huge loss given its poor quality.)

When I took the cover off of this cake it smelt like a stack of pancakes drenched in maple syrup! So if dessert actually smells like something you would eat for breakfast, does that warrant being able to eat cake for breakfast? Proud to say it wouldn't be the first time for me! Whenever my mom made red velvet cake, my siblings and I would eat a piece for breakfast, lunch, and supper. We always had to make sure we had more than the other two!

The taste, texture, and moistness of this cake was spot on! Wouldn't change a thing! I love finding recipes that don't need any altering. Especially since baking is kind of a science and I'm still not very confident in adding and subtracting ingredients. Would much rather just follow a recipe to a "T."

The next time, yes there will be a next time, I make this cake I plan on making a batch and a half of the frosting. As you can see from the picture, the amount of frosting between the cake layers was scant. Not enough for my liking at least.

Maple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

for the cake:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1 cup buttermilk

for the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple flavoring

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Generously grease and flour three nine inch round cake pans.

To prepare the cake, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add maple flavoring. Divide batter equally between pans.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert onto racks and let cool completely.

To prepare the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium speed. Add powdered sugar. Mix in maple flavoring. Beat until smooth.