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).