Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bake it Forward

Bridget from Bake at 350 posted helpful baking/decorating tips for the upcoming holiday and thought I would share them with you.  Her post definitely puts my mind at ease and know that if I start early enough, I'll have plenty of baked and decorated goods for everyone.  :)  I'm so excited and I just can't wait to get started on my holiday baking.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Caramel Pecan Pie Shortbread

I like to salvage as many ingredients as I can when I'm faced with a baking disaster.  As I've mentioned twice before, I failed at making pecan pie cookies for a bake sale.  I came up with the idea of using the pecan pie filling to make mini pecan pie cookies, which was another FAIL, but was able to use the remaining filling for caramel pecan pie shortbread.  The third time really  was a charm.  (Actually, I felt sick to my stomach just thinking about trashing $10 worth of pecans and good, quality chocolate). 

I can still remember how good the shortbread was in the lemon bar recipe I posted during my early blogging days, and wanted to whip up something quick the morning of Thanksgiving.   Less than 45 minutes later, I had these decadent bad boys packed and ready to go for our holiday lunch at my mom's house:

The shortbread was perfectly baked and the filling was to die for.  It was surprisingly chewy and had the slightest hint of cinnamon.  Not too sweet and not to bitter (I used extra dark cacao baking chips and used the remainder of my semi-sweet chips) Mmm....another recipe that is up for the dessert menu for Christmas.  :)  
Caramel Pecan Pie Shortbread
adapted from Baker's Royale and Tita Terry's Lemon Bar Recipe

Caramel Pecan Pie Filling from Baker's Royale: 
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
4 ¼ oz  chocolate, 65% cacao, melted
1 tablespoon of corn syrup
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon cardamom (I used cinnamon)
not called for in original recipe, but I did use about two tablespoons of caramel sauce
not called for in original recipe, but I added 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
Shortbread recipe:
1/2 c butter
1 1/3 c unsifted flour
1/4 c sugar

Mix crust ingredients low speed til blended.  Pat into greased 8" square pan.  Bake at 350 near center open rack for 15-20 min. 

Pour caramel pecan filling over crust, return to oven 18-20 min or til set. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Giving Thanks

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  My apologies for not uploading any new posts last week.  I had a major case of the baking blues after my disaster with those pecan pie cookies, but redeemed myself by winning first place in our cookie exchange last Saturday.  :)  

 The winning cookie :) 

There was an endless amount of delicious cookies, one of which I made for Thanksgiving.  The pumpkin pie cookies were "puffy, pillows of goodness" according to my co-worker, Tony.  Pictures and recipe to follow shortly.  

Along with the pumpkin cookies, I also made caramel pecan pie shortbread with the leftover filling from my previous post. I used my Tita Terry's recipe for the shortbread.  So delicious.  I loved the hint of cinnamon in the filling and the salted caramel.  

I was baking up quite a storm the morning of Thanksgiving, but the baking did not stop there.  I planned a birthday dinner for the bf at Shabu House in Burlingame on Saturday and wanted to make toffee crunch cupcakes.  Every time we go to the grocery store and are  making our way down the baking aisle, he always mentions (drops hints) of craving toffee cookies.  Cookies just don't scream "birthday" to me so I decided to make him toffee crunch cupcakes instead. Lots of work involved but soooo worth it.  Happy Birthday, my love.

Toffee Crunch Cupcakes with a Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Yield: about 30 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dutch process cocoa powder)
1 tbsp. espresso powder (I used Starbucks via instant coffee)
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt (I used fleur de sel)
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup toffee bits
For the ganache and toffee layer:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½-2 cups toffee bits
For the frosting:
5 large egg whites
1½ cups sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ tsp. coarse salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel sauce 

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and butter and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the coffee, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix each addition just until incorporated.  Fold in the toffee bits with a spatula.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners.  Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Add the cream to a saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate; let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk together until a smooth ganache forms.  Whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated.  Transfer the bowl to the fridge or freezer to chill the ganache to a pipeable consistency, whisking every 5-10 minutes to ensure even cooling.  When slightly thickened, transfer to a pastry bag fitted with your tip of choice.  Pipe a ring of ganache around the top of each cupcake, leaving a hole in the center.  (I just poured the ganache into a deep mixing bowl and dipped the cupcakes.  Saved me time on piping).  Add the toffee bits to a bowl and dip the ganache portion of each cupcake into the toffee bits, pressing very gently to adhere.  Let the ganache set.
To make the frosting, combine the egg whites and the sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer - don’t worry, it will come together!)  Blend in the salt, vanilla, and caramel until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip with the frosting and pipe a frilly pile of frosting on top of each cupcake, filling the hole in the center of the ganache.  Top with additional toffee pieces, if desired.

Source: adapted from Bakers Royale, originally from Alice Medrich

Friday, November 18, 2011

Free Recipe Card for our Cookie Exchange

I found this cute free recipe card and thought I'd share it with you.  I just printed them out for our cookie exchange for tomorrow.  I'm so excited!  However, I still haven't decided on what kind of cookies to make.  SIGH.  I'm torn between a new and updated cookies and cream cookie recipe that I came up with and a chewy ginger chocolate cookie.  I guess we'll see what kind of mood I'm in tonite.  Here is the link for the free recipe card.


Have a great weekend everyone!  :)  

P.S.  Stay dry.  I hear its gonna be raining all weekend.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Next Best Thing: Cupcake Push Pops

Growing up, I loved eating ice cream push ups.  I remember buying them at our school snack shop, The Buc Stop (we were the Buccanneers) during lunch recess.  It was such a simple, easy way to eat and enjoy ice cream.  For those of you who don't remember what those push ups are, here is a pic:

Most if not all of my baking trials are adapted from my fellow  baking bloggers.  They provide inspiration to my novice baking skills.  So when I came across the idea of cupcake push pops, I knew it was something that would make my baking and decorating life much simpler.  

Cake pops for example are pretty to look at, but the amount of time and effort it takes to create one is more than I would like to.  Its a very long process, especially for creating specific characters such as Hello Kitty.   There are plenty of other things I would like to do other than bake such as SLEEP

These are much easier to create.  All you have to do is make the batter, bake, cool, and pop one in the container and frost.  Its very convenient for those who only want to enjoy one mini cupcake at a time and save the other for later.  I made these for Kylie's BFF, Savannah's 6th birthday this past Saturday.  They were a big hit!  The only issue I saw when the kids were consuming these bad boys was they put too much pressure pushing the cupcakes out of the tube.  There were a few casualties of course, but luckily there were plenty of cupcake push pops to go around.  Happy 6th Birthday, Savannah! 

 I'm starting to finally make use of our SLR camera.  So long to blurry Blackberry pics!  ;) 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Holidaze

There are 45 days 'til Christmas which means I'm in a scramble to find yummy recipes.  :P For the past few years, I've baked goodies and packaged them as gifts.  I read an article in Family Circle today (while waiting for my prenatal appointment) that people actually prefer homemade gifts; its more meaningful and what better way to a loved ones heart than their stomach? I found a bunch of recipes, but now the hardest task is narrowing that long list down.  Here are a few ideas of what I have in mind:  

Pecan Pie Cookies  Edited on 11/18/11:  I tried making these cookies this past Wednesday nite and can I just forewarn you all that this recipe is much harder than it looks.  I still have leftover pecan pie filling, so I'll be making mini pecan pie cookies instead.  They'll look like this: 
Recipe adapted from Karly

 Caramel Apple Cookies
Cinnamon French Toast Cookies

 S'mores cookies

Lemon meltaways

I've also been asked to donate some cookies for my girl's bake sale at work. All proceeds will benefit The Share Our Strength:  No Kid Hungry organization.   I'm pretty sure I'm going to make the pecan pie cookies.  It's perfect for getting folks in the Thanksgiving mood, which happens to be just around the corner.  Aiyiyi. I've started stocking up on flour, sugar, and butter but the ingredients slowly but surely have begun to dwindle as I've been baking almost every day.  I've been in a baking mood A LOT lately.  Maybe that's just my way of nesting before the baby comes?  ;) 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday, Mikaeli!

The bf's neice is turning 4 this weekend and I'm baking these adorable frog shaped royal icing cookies (Princess and the Frog themed birthday):

Luckily Sugar and Spice in Daly City carries frog cookie cutters.  I plan on using fondant for the eyes and piping all the other details using royal icing.  I'll post pics this weekend.  

 As you can see, the frogs are missing the hearts on their cheeks.  I had such a difficult time piping for some reason and was only able to successfully decorate 12 out of 3 dozen+ cookies.  I was tired, had a headache, and the baby kept kicking me throughout the cookie making process.  It was a baking disaster!  Needless to say, I was exhausted and had a huge headache the day of the party.  :(  

Below you will find the sugar cookie and royal icing recipes.  I may do a batch of chocolate and regular sugar cookies since the chocolate ones were a big hit for Halloween.  

These are a few pics of Yo Gabba Gabba cookies I made last year for Mika's birthday:

Look at how small my old oven was compared to the cookies.  Crazy how much baking I did in such a small space.  This was my first attempt at royal icing but I promise I'm much better now...I think. ;)

Sugar Cookie Recipe
taken from Cookie Craft

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla* or 1 teaspoon vanilla plus zest of 1 lemon
food coloring (if cookie design calls for it)

*Instead of vanilla, you can use other extracts such as almond or peppermint.

1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Using your mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla (and lemon zest, if you're using it) or your extract of choice and mix until well blended.

3. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until the two are thoroughly blended.

4. If your cookie design calls for adding food coloring, do so now, and continue blending until desired color is reached and is evenly incorporated.

5. Turn out dough onto work surface and divide into two or three equal portions, form each one into a rough disk.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

7. After you have rolled and cut the dough and the cookie shapes are on parchment-lined cookie sheets, bake them in the middle rack of the oven for 12-16 minutes or until the cookies start to turn slightly golden around the edges.

8. Cool cookies completely on a rack before icing or decorating.

2 1/2-inch cookies--about 30
3 1/2-inch cookies--about 16
4 1/2-inch cookies--about 12

Royal Icing taken from Bridget 

4 TBSP meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp light corn syrup
few drops clear extract (optional)

1.  Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy. 

2.  Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!) 

3.  Add in the corn syrup and extract if desired. ( I think the corn syrup helps keep the icing shiny.)  Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. 

4.  (You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat.

5.  Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.  (I use both Wilton and AmeriColor food colors). 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Post Halloween Candy Making

Now that the Halloween festivities are over, I've got more than half a bag of candy corn sitting on my kitchen counter.  There is nothing more annoying than having a big, bright orange bag just laying around...right next to Ruby, my Kitchen Aid standing mixer.  (Don't you just love her name?) I need to get rid of this bag STAT and found this homemade butterfinger recipe on Karly's blog.   
I'm going to make these into truffles using a tiny cookie cutter and possibly add fleur de sel on top as the chocolate sets.   I will post pics as soon as I make them tonite.  :)  But for all you visualists, here's the finished product:  

Photo courtesy of Karly

Pic from my blackberry

  • 3 cups candy corn
  • 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • milk chocolate chips or candy melts, for dipping **I used dark chocolate candy melts of course
  1. Place the candy corn in a large bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir and return to microwave. Continue heating for 30 seconds and then stirring until it is completely melted.
  2. Stir in the peanut butter. The heat from the candy corn should melt the peanut butter, but if not return to the microwave for 15 seconds. Stir to combine.
  3. Spread the mixture into an 8x8 baking dish lined with parchment paper. Smooth it out evenly in the pan. Let cool for one hour and then use a pizza cutter to slice into bars. **I let the candy mixture chill for about 10 minutes before using a larger piping tip as a cookie cutter.  I wanted to make sure the mixture was stiff enough to maintain its shape but soft enough to remove the tip.  Let me know if this makes sense. 
  4. Melt the chocolate chips or candy melts in the microwave. ** I used my handy dandy Wilton melting pot. 
  5. Carefully dip the candy bars into the melted chocolate and turn to coat.
  6. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and wait for the chocolate to set. ** I added a bit of fleur de sel for more flavor. 
  7. Store at room temperature for a chewy texture or in the fridge for a more crisp texture.
**End result:  The homemade butterfinger candies/truffles had a different texture than what I had expected.  The taste was there but the consistency was similar to that of nougat, kinda chewy and not as crunchy. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Just in case you're looking for a sweet treat to bring to a halloween party this weekend, I made this last year: 

 Halloween candy bark

It looks like a hot mess but it's unbelievably good.  Salty and sweet and great for kids.  :)  Here's the link to Annie's Eats to get a better idea. 

1 lb. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun size bars), roughly chopped
3 toffee candy bars (or 6 fun size bars), roughly chopped
8 Reese cups, cut into wedges
¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
3 oz. yellow and orange peanut M&Ms, coarsely chopped
3 oz. good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Pour the chocolate over the foil and smooth into a thin layer with a spatula.  Evenly sprinkle the chopped candy bars, Reese cups, honey roasted peanuts, and peanut M&Ms over the melted chocolate.  Press gently to adhere the candy to the melted chocolate.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.
Melt the white chocolate, again using the double boiler method, until smooth.  Drizzle over the chilled candy bark.  Return to the refrigerator and let chill again until the white chocolate is set, 3o minutes more.
Peel the sheet of chocolate away from the foil and break into irregular pieces.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Not a big fan of all the candy?  That's ok.  Here's another recipe I plan on baking for Kylie's class and my co-workers:

 photo courtesy of Bridget

 Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies
{adapted from Everyday Food}

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c dutch-process cocoa (or regular unsweetened cocoa)
  • About 36 candy corns
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Beat/stir the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in the egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Add flour & cocoa, and mix until a dough forms.

Scoop out level teaspoons (a measuring teaspoon, not a cereal teaspoon) of dough, and place balls on baking sheets, 2 inches apart. (It looks like too little dough for each cookie, but it works.) Roll into balls.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes.

{While these are baking, start going through the bag of candy corn to find 36 good ones. You'll want to work quickly when they come out of the oven and it is very frustrating to keep grabbing broken candy corns. Trust me on this.}

Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). The candy corns will stick once the cookies heat them up..they seem like they will fall off at first, don't worry.

Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Make 32-36 cookies.

**Just a note:  The cookies are a bit thick and not as chewy as I would have liked.  I may alter the cookie recipe a bit and add more butter the next time around.  If any of you have any cookie recipes, let me know. 

And just another cookie recipe I plan on making (I'm a bit ambitious when it comes to - Cookie Spiderwebs.  I figured I might as well make 'em...I have a bunch of royal icing and colors laying around that I haven't touched in months.

photo courtesy of Bridget

I made mine using a chocolate sugar cookie recipe which I found on Bridget's blog also.  Such a yummy recipe.  I used the Via ready brew from Starbucks and fleur de sel.  Adds much more flavor.  Here's a pic from my phone:  

Kylie helped me marble the colors.  :)

Sweet words from my co-workers:  
"Damn, that was good." - Head boss of the Research Institute 
"Those were the tastiest cookies EVER!  Thank you!!!"

Cupcake Push Pops

I'm excited to share the new and upcoming baking trend:  Cupcake Push Pops!  Just like our childhood favorite ice cream treat but waaaay better.  ;)  Here's what these bad boys look like:

With an almost 6 year old and a new baby on the way, these will make my baking life much simpler.  Kylie's classmate from pre-school has a birthday party coming up and her mom asked if I could make cake pops/cupcakes.  I suggested the idea of the cupcake push pops and she loved it!  A few minutes later and I had ordered a case of 100 (for future orders and Kylie's 6th birthday in December).  I'll keep you posted on how they come out.  I'm soooo excited.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nutella Scones

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I've been craving anything and everything sweet.  I was perusing through my fellow blogger recipes and saw this.  OMG.  How could I not post this recipe up?  I am a huge nutella fan and love anything with nutella in it.  This is on my to do list this week and I can't wait to devour these bad boys (says the girl with gestational diabetes).  Happy Baking!  
photo courtesy of Bridget at Bake at 350

Nutella Scones
taken from Bridget at Bake at 350 who slightly modified it from the magnificent Baked Explorations

about 1 cup hazelnuts
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder (such as Hershey's Special Dark)
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup Nutella, divided

Preheat oven to 350.  Place the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until the papery skins begin to crack and loosen. Rub the hazelnuts with a dish towel to remove most of the skin.  Let cool.  Coarsely chop and set aside.

Increase the oven temp. to 375 and place the rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add the butter. Use a pastry cutter (or your fingers) to cut the butter into the mixture until the butter is pea size and the mixture is coarse.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough just comes together. Gently and briefly knead the dough with your hands. Add the 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts and knead gently to incorporate.

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough into a rectangle approximately 6 by 12" (it does not need to be precise) and spread 1/4 cup of the Nutella on top. Roll the dough up and make a cylinder about 6 inches long, turn it on its end, and gently flatten it into a disk about 1 and 3/4 inches high. Do not overwork the dough.

Use a bench scraper to cut the dough into 8 wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake the scones for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean.

Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely. Place the baking sheet with the parchment still underneath the rack.

For the topping:
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup Nutella (or add a little more) in a microwave until pourable, about 10-20 seconds on high. Transfer the Nutella to a pastry bag, cut off the tip and drip the warm Nutella in a zigzag pattern over the tops of the scones. The scones are best eaten the day they are made.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Just in case you were wondering what recipe I use, here it is.  Enjoy!

Taken from Recipe Girl 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
5 ounces semisweet chocolate bar, finely chopped
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8x8-inch pan. Line with parchment paper and let it hang over two sides. Butter the parchment.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.
3. In a large saucepan, combine butter and espresso powder. Heat on low and stir until butter has melted. Add chocolate, and stir constantly until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in both sugars until combined. Let cool slightly.
4. Whisk eggs and vanilla and keep moving the batter around until combined and no longer grainy-looking. Add flour mixture to batter and stir just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top with a greased spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a just a few moist crumbs attached (28 to 30 minutes). Don't over bake! Let cool completely. Cut into pieces and serve or store.

S'mores Brownies

The bf and I recently came back from our babymoon/anniversary/my birthday celebration from Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  Seven whole days was not enough!  The food was unbelievably good, the scenery breathtaking.  We even talked about taking the kiddies back to PDC in a few years; its a must go to destination for an unforgettable family vacation. 

Now that we're back and settled in, I've been trying to figure out what to bake next.  I've been really craving chocolate (anything sweet really) and thankfully I came across this recipe for s'mores brownies.  We have a few halloween parties quickly approaching and with nut allergies to worry about, I thought this would be a sweet treat to bring.  :)  

Baking party to ensue at my kitchen this weekend!  Any volunteers/taste testers?

S'mores Browines
taken from Brown Eyed Baker

 Photo courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker
S’mores Brownies

Yield: 32 brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes | Bake Time: About 45 minutes total 

For the Graham Cracker Crust:
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted 

For the Brownies:
You're favorite chewy brownie recipe (of course mine is a dark chocolate version ;) )
1 bag mini marshmallows
Additional graham crackers, broken into pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan. Line the pan with foil, leaving some overhang, and then butter the foil; set aside.
2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt, mixing well. Add the melted butter and, using a fork, toss until the entire mixture is moist. Dump the graham cracker mixture into the prepared baking pan, pressing it into an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
3. Meanwhile, prepare your brownie recipe. Pour the brownie batter over the cooked graham cracker crust, spreading it into an even layer. Bake the brownies according to the directions. **Next time I will bake the brownies less than what the recipe calls for.  The brownies weren't overcooked but weren't as chewy like they normally are. 
4. As soon as the brownies come out of the oven, switch the oven to broil. Pour the bag of mini marshmallows onto the brownies (I used a few handfuls just enough to cover the surface) covering it in an even layer. Pop the pan back in the oven for a few minutes. Keep a close eye on them – you want them to start to char so you get that s’mores flavor, but don’t want to completely burn them.
5. As soon as the pan comes out of the oven, top the marshmallow layer with the pieces of graham cracker, pressing down slightly so that the pieces of graham cracker get nestled into the marshmallow (I also sprinkled some of the chocolate chips)
6. Cool completely and then cut into squares. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happy 10th Birthday, Razel!

My girl, Risa wanted hawaiian themed cake pops for her daughter's 10th birthday sleepover. I recently saw a post on Lora Joy's blog and loved her hibiscus flowers, so I decided to go with a hibiscus theme.  I added a sugar pearl in the middle (a pain to do) and did the flowers in three different colors.  It took awhile but here they are:

 Lora Joy does intricate work piping her designs onto her cake pops and does them freehand.  I thought she used a stencil but she actually just piped the flowers using a ziplock bag.  I'm still getting the hang of piping designs freehand so I'll keep practicing.  Practice makes perfect.  :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Muchas Leches Cupcakes

I'm sorry for the delay in posting up this recipe, but I've been busy with other things.   

This is what I'm currently baking in my oven.  He'll be perfectly baked and sprinkled with lots of love by the time February comes around.  :) 

I had complications during the first trimester so now that I'm further along and know for sure baby DLT is healthy, I wanted to share the happy news with all of you.  

So now its back to the REAL baking business (lol).  These cupcakes are kind of high maintenance and required particular ingredients I had never shopped for.  Luckily for me, the bf is a buyer for Whole Foods so he's able to tell me what they carry in their stores (yet another reason why I love him!  <3)  

I was originally going to make tres leches cupcakes but I stumbled upon this recipe on Annie's Eats.   I can always count on her to post up a yummy recipe so I knew this was a winner.  I must warn you however, that as the cupcakes bake, they do shrink a bit so I'll try baking them in a bigger muffin pan next time.  Enjoy!  

Muchas Leches Cupcakes 

For the cupcakes:
2 cups (8 oz.) blanched almonds
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
7 large eggs, separated
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
For the soaking liquid:
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. dulce de leche
¼ cup cream of coconut
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup evaporated milk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the sugared almonds:
2 large egg whites
2 cups slivered almonds
½ cup sugar

For the frosting:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
Splash of vanilla extract

Fresh berries, for garnish (optional)
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line the cupcake pan with cupcake liners.  Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor with ¼ cup of sugar and the cinnamon.  Process until finely ground.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Transfer the beaten egg whites to a different bowl and set aside.  Wipe out the mixer bowl.  In the now-empty mixer bowl, combine the egg yolks and the remaining ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Fold in the flour and the baking powder with a spatula.  Fold in the ground almond mixture.  Mix in a third of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.  Fold in the remainder of the egg whites until evenly incorporated and no streaks remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth with a spatula.  Bake approximately 13-15, or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
To make the soaking liquid, combine the whipping cream, dulce de leche, cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla in a bowl or liquid measuring cup.  Whisk together until smooth.

To make the sugared almonds, place the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and whip on high speed until frothy.  Stir in the almonds and sugar until evenly incorporated.  Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat.  Bake at 325˚ F until golden brown and crisp, approximately 20 minutes (let cool a minute or two before touching).  Allow to cool and then break apart into small chunks.
To make the frosting, place the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Mix in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Blend in the vanilla.

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, frost with the whipping cream and top off with sugared almonds and berries (optional).

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm Back

I'm finally back after a month long hiatus.  I have a few orders this weekend so I'll be posting up my recipe for Muchas Leches Cupcakes with Sugared Almonds soon.  The cupcakes are for my good friend, Raaachem, who recently kicked cancer's ass and for my daughter's bff's mom, Aura who celebrates her birthday this weekend.  Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Neapolitan Cake for the BFF

I made a neapolitan cake for my bff's bday bbq this past Sunday.  It was a gorgeous day out in Tomales Bay and a perfect way to spend quality time with her, our friends, and her immediate family.  I was brainstorming what kind of cake I should make for her birthday and decided on a neapolitan cake.  I didn't realize what I had committed myself to when I started making three different kinds of cakes and two different frostings/fillings.  LOL.  It was well worth it tho.  The cake was a huge hit despite the melted frosting.  The cakes were moist and not too sweet.  Neither flavors overpowered the other and the fresh strawberry filling complimented the cakes perfectly.  Next time, I might just use a simple whipped cream frosting instead of the vanilla buttercream.  

Neapolitan Cake
adapted from Annies Eats and Baking Bites 

For the chocolate cake:
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg
½ cup black coffee ( I made a quick trip to Starbucks and used their drip coffee of the day)
½ cup buttermilk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the white cake:

1 cup milk, room temperature
6 egg whites ( I used 12 tbsp of pure eggwhites in a carton)
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter (6 oz), softened ( I only used 4 oz)

For the strawberry cake:

1¼ cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1½ oz. strawberry gelatin
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup sweetened strawberry puree*

Strawberry Filling:

1½ cups fresh strawberries (8 oz.), rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped*
4 large egg whites
1¼ cups sugar
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature

*To make the strawberry puree, process partially thawed frozen strawberries with a bit of sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth.  If using sweetened frozen strawberries, no additional sugar is necessary.

Vanilla Buttercream

20 tbsp. (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream 

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.  Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds.  Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds.  Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. 

To make the chocolate cake, butter and flour the edges of a 9-inch round pan, shaking out the excess flour.  Line the bottom with a round of parchment.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, vegetable oil and egg.  Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, blend in half of the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.  Blend in the coffee, buttermilk and vanilla just until smooth.  Beat in the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges, then turn the cake out onto the rack and let cool completely.

Grease a 9 inch cake pan with vegetable shortening, line the bottom with parchment paper, grease the parchment paper and flour the pan.
To make the white cake, combine milk, eggs whites and extracts in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer and mix at slow speed with a paddle attachment. Add butter. Continue beating at slow speed until mixture looks like wet sand (If you’re doing this by hand, sift the dry ingredients together and rub in butter). Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat for an additional 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Do not overmix.

To make the strawberry cake, butter and flour the edges of a 9-inch round pan, shaking out the excess flour.  Line the bottom with a round of parchment.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.  Combine the sugar, strawberry gelatin and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat the eggs into the sugar mixture one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until incorporated.  Blend in the milk and vanilla extract.  Add in the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Blend in the strawberry puree.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges, then turn the cake out onto the rack and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Puree until completely smooth.  Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer** fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer – don’t worry, it will come together!)  Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To assemble the cake, torte each of the cake layers horizontally into two thin halves.  Place one of the chocolate layers on a cake board or cake platter.  Top with a very thin layer of the vanilla buttercream or strawberry jam.  Place a layer of the strawberry cake on top.  Again, cover with a thin layer of vanilla buttercream or strawberry jam.  Top with a layer of the white cake.  Cover with a thin layer of the vanilla buttercream or strawberry jam.  Repeat the process with the remaining layers of chocolate and strawberry cake.  (For a taller cake, you can use the remaining layer of white cake.  Otherwise, you can wrap tightly and save for later use or discard.)  Frost the top and sides of the cake with the vanilla buttercream.  Transfer remaining buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip for detailing as desired.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Candy Making

My bff recently blogged about a dark chocolate nutella twix bar recipe she came across recently.  I have yet to make it but I actually found this recipe that I'd like to share with you.  Its quite similar but instead of nutella, its a twix brownie bar! 
My cousin, Nicole posted this blog on her FB this morning, and as I was scrolling through the blogger's recipes, I found this Twix alternative.  Sometimes I just want to stay home on a busy work week like these and just bake, Bake, BAKE!  lol.  

This week has been absolutely insane at my work (I do research in liver transplant in SF) and I'm really looking forward to this weekend.  I'm doing a test batch of white cake with strawberries and whipped cream for an order that's coming up in a few weeks and I think I'll make this for the couple and their kids who are coming over on Sunday.  It's also not a bad gift idea for Father's Day.  Wrap it in a cute box with a ribbon and you have a wonderful homemade gift your father/man in your life will enjoy.  I hope you enjoy this recipe and please share your candy making experience with me and I promise I'll do the same.  Happy candy making!  


2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks salted butter, cut into pieces
14 oz bag of caramels
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
Box of your favorite brownie mix + ingredients to make (I used Ghiradellhi Ultimate Fudge--whatever brand you use, you want fudgy, not cakey brownies) 
Chocolate candy melts or almond bark

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar and butter. Process until it comes together to form a dough (you can also use your hands if you don't have a food processor).

Pat the dough in the bottom of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 25 minutes or so.

Place the pan in the refrigerator to cool for about 30 minutes and prepare your brownie batter according to instructions. Remove shortbread from refrigerator and spread brownie batter over it evenly. Bake until brownies are set, but still fudgy.

Place pan in the refrigerator to cool again. Once brownies are firm, place unwrapped caramels and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high, stirring every 15 seconds until completely melted and smooth. Pour melted caramel over brownies and spread evenly. Refrigerate again until firm.

Grab the ends of the foil and remove from pan. Peel the foil off the sides and bottom and place the brownies on a cutting board and cut into thin bars. Melt candy melts/almond bark according to package directions and dip bars, placing on a wax paper lined baking sheet until chocolate is fully set.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I received a request on my FB page for macarons.  I've always wanted to make them but they seem to be a bit out of my league.  The order isn't until August, but I'm trying to get a head start.  Holly requested three flavors: hazelnut, vanilla, and strawberry.  I'm assuming she's going for a neopolitan theme?  Any bloggers out there have any recipes they would like to share?  

I got this link from my coworker yesterday:

Plenty of tips for macarons!  Looks like I'll be making some soon.  :)