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Monday, December 12, 2011

Sprinkles Cupcakes NYC

Just a few short years ago, in Los Angeles, CA, I visited the very first cupcake bakery, Sprinkles Cupcakes, founded by the one and only, Candace Nelson. Located on the west coast, and, me, living on the east coast, I could not wait until Sprinkles came to an area near me. Finally, in early 2011, Sprinkles opened a new location in New York City! I was super duper excited and couldn't wait to go back so I could enjoy that delicious cupcake that I haven't stopped dreaming about. After all those years of waiting for that cupcake, I returned to Sprinkles the other day! For their Holiday special, Sprinkles was offering a unique flavor for the month: Eggnog Spice Cupcake. The moist spice cake was complimented by a creamy eggnog frosting that simply melted in your mouth. While I enjoyed my eggnog cupcake, my parents were delighted by the most wonderful chocolate cupcake topped with only the best chocolate frosting. For a cupcake queen, like me, this wasn't just a visit to some cupcake bakery, but the highlight of my week!

For those cupcake lovers, like me, I highly suggest you visit the nearest Sprinkles. As a matter of fact, it is totally worth hopping on a plane if you are not within driving distance. I would never lie about cupcakes, so it is safe to say that these are the world's best little treats!






Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies

Christmas time is my favorite time of year... mostly because of the Christmas cookies! Every year I usually buy the Nestle Toll House Gingerbread Cookie Dough in the huge tub from the store, but this year, I decided to make my own gingerbread cookies from scratch. I was extremely excited to try my hand at it, because I absolutely love gingerbread cookies! The recipe I tried was so delicious and the cookies came out soft and fat! They definitely did not disappoint, and a major plus was that the dough did not have any eggs in it, which made me believe it was perfectly safe to taste. So, if you are a gingerbread lover, like me, be sure to try out this recipe! Merry Baking!



Gingerbread Men
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in molasses, water and vanilla, then gradually add in flour mixture until a smooth dough forms. Place dough in container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm.
Preheat oven to 375F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/4 inch thickness. Use cookie cutters of your choice (2-3″ gingerbread men are perfect!) to cut dough. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 9-12 minutes, depending on size of cookie cutter. Cookies should be slightly firm to the touch at the edges. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutrition Information 1 cookie:
Calories 66   
Fat 2
Carbohydrates 9  


Friday, November 25, 2011

French Chocolate Macaroons

After spending some time in Paris, France this past April, I've been dying to make french macaroons. They are so light and delicious and I love a new challenge! I always have to work some chocolate into my baking one way or another, so my best bet was chocolate macaroons. For a first timer, I must say that I think I did pretty well in my macaroon making. It took a bit of time, considering I wasn't a pro at it, but overall, I will definitely make these again.


FRENCH CHOCOLATE MACAROONS
Macaroons:
1/2 cup blanched whole almonds
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Filling:1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
 Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
To make the macaroons: Pulse the almonds with 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add the cocoa powder and the remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar and pulse until well blended.
Beat the egg whites with the salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large bowl just until the whites form soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Add the granulated sugar and beat just until the whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the almond mixture.
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe out 1-inch-diameter mounds about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the tops are cracked and appear dry but the macaroons are still slightly soft to the touch.
Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment paper, to barely dampened kitchen towels and let cool for 5 minutes. Carefully peel the paper off the macaroons and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
To make the filling: Bring the cream just to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Add the chocolate and butter and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm enough to hold its shape when spread.
If desired, transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe the filling, or spread it with a knife, generously on the flat side of half of the macaroons. Top with the remaining macaroons, flat-side down, pressing together gently to form sandwiches.

Chocolate Pumkpin Pie.

Happy Black Friday everyone! I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving as much as I did! Of course, the best part was the dessert, which is why I wanted to post the recipe for my delicious Chocolate Pumpkin Pie. I must admit, I am not a huge fan of pumpkin pie, but I thought a chocolate pumpkin pie just might do the trick. I found this great recipe which added semi sweet chocolate bits to the spiced pie filling. Made with a fillo dough crust, this pie is a healthier version of your typical pumpkin pie. Yet still so tastey, you won't feel as guilty going for that second slice. I also topped the pie with light whipped cream for extra flavor and decoration.


Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Butter flavored cooking spray
6 sheets fillo dough
½ cup light cream
½ cup fat free cream
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate bits
15- ounce can pumpkin puree
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
3 egg whites



Unroll fillo dough, then cover with plastic wrap while you work. Lay one sheet of fillo dough on the counter. Lightly mist the fillo with cooking spray. Set a second sheet of fillo over the first, rotating it slightly. Mist the second sheet of fillo, then repeating this process with the remaining fillo sheets, rotating each time a sheet is added. Mist the final sheet of fillo. Use a knife to carefully trim the stack of fillo into a 12- inch circle. Discard the scraps. Carefully lift the stack and set into the prepared pie pan, gently pressing the fillo against the bottom and sides of the pan.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan over medium-high, heat the cream until just bubbling. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate bits. Stir until completely melted and smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and the chocolate cream mixture. Add the egg whites, whisking until everything is thoroughly combined.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the center is set and no longer jiggles.

Nutritional Info:
Calories- 290
Fat- 14
Carbohydrates- 40

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve Baking.

Carrot cupcakes have been on my list of new things to bake for quite some time now. Never making a carrot cake before, I searched and searched for the perfect recipe and finally constructed something that was moist and delicious and, not to mention, extremely light on the calories and fat! Thanksgiving seemed to be the appropriate time to try out these little beauties, and I must say, they were a success! Usually carrot cake is paired with cream cheese frosting, which I find to be amazing, but I thought it would be interesting to put a little spin on the typical cream cheese frosting and spice it up with some cinnamon. After sampling my precious treats, I've decided that carrot cupcakes were going to be on the menu for years to come. Enjoy!



CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES FOR THANKSGIVING
2 1/2 cup or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup natural applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups finely shredded carrots

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
Sift together the first 5 ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutritional Info:
Calories- 160
Fat- 5
Carbohydrates- 25
 


Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
3 (8 oz.) Pkgs. Cream Cheese; softened.
¾ cup butter; softened.
3 cups confectioners’ sugar.
2 tsp. vanilla.
1/4 cup cinnamon.*
In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in vanilla. Gradually stir in sugar and cinnamon.

* Yes, this seems like alot of cinnamon, but because the recipes makes quite a bit of frosting, I wanted the cinnamon flavor to be strong.

I also divided up some frosting and added green and orange food coloring to it to pipe on the carrot decorations.

Happy Thanksgiving Bakers!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies

On my recent visit to London, England, I discovered a new breakfast cereal called Muesli. Very similar to oatmeal, Muesli, is packed with a blend of fruit and nuts, along with oats. At first, I thought Muesli was only sold in the U.K., but when I returned home to the states, I found some in my local grocery store. I became a fan immediately, and knew that I had to try to incorporate Muesli into some kind of cookie. So, once again, I started creating a cookie like no other. I decided to use my basic, yet delicious, oatmeal cookie recipe, and replace the oatmeal for Muesli. The result was out of this world! The cookies were soft and chewy, so this recipe is definitely a keeper! I added some chocolate chips for a bit more flavor which was an absolute plus! Enjoy!


Chocolate Chip Muesli Cookies:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup Muesli
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and stir until combined. Add Muesli and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by tablespoonfuls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 1 dozen.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Toffee Almond Meringue Cookies

For years I have been seeing recipes for meringue cookies and always wanted to give them a try. This year I came across the perfect recipe and decided that it was time to make these delicious little treats. Filled with two of my favorite things in the world: toffee bits and almonds, I knew this was going to be the perfect recipe. The cookies didn't just taste wonderful, but also looked wonderful. The toffee bits gave the cookies a chewy texture which balanced perfectly with the crunch of the almonds. If you like meringue cookies, be sure to give these a try.


Toffee Almond Meringue Cookies:

  • 4 egg whites

  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup milk chocolate English toffee bits

  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds


  • In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablesponn at a time, beating on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved, about 6-8 minutes. Fold in toffee bits and almonds.
    Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 250 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until set and dry. Turn oven off; leave cookies in oven for 1 hour.
    Cool completely on pans on wire racks. Store in an airtight container.
    

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Healthy Pumpkin Muffins.

    It's that time of year again. Time to break out the pumpkin recipes! This year I decided to make pumpkin muffins, however, I wouldn't exactly call them muffins, they're more like muffin tops. I thought they would rise like a typical muffin but these little babies stayed the way they looked when I put them into the oven. They're short and bite-size, but let's be honest, everyone's favorite part of the muffin is the top anyway so I don't think this was a problem. At about 80 calories a piece, 1 gram of fat and 14 grams of carbs, these are not only healthy, but extremely delicious! Enjoy!!!

    Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Glaze:

    3 cups oatmeal.
    2 tbsp. baking powder.
    1 tsp. baking soda.
    1/4 tsp. salt.
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon.
    1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice.
    2 cups pumpkin.
    1/4 cup brown sugar.
    1/2 cup apple sauce.
    2 eggs.
    1 tsp. vanilla.

    Grind oatmeal in food processor to fine crumbs. Combine all dry ingredients except for sugar. In a seperate bowl combine all liquid ingredients and sugar. Combine liquid with dry ingredients. Spoon into paper lined muffin pans.
    Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Drizzle with glaze.

    Glaze:
    1/4 cup powdered sugar.
    1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.
    2 tbsp. water.

    Stir to combine; add water to drizzle consistency.


    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies.

    As usual, I was thinking of some kind of new cookie recipe to whip up. This time, I took a slightly different approach and combined sweet and salty flavors into one DELICIOUS cookie! The idea came to me one day when I saw the new chocolate chips that my mom had purchased at the store. Nestle Toll House is now selling dark chocolate chips and I thought that dark chocolate would pair perfectly with peanut butter. But that just wasn't enough for me, so I decided to add some pretzels. The result was an absolutely delicious and perfect cookie that I have to share.



    Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies:

    1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 stick butter, softened
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 cup chunky peanut butter*
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2/3 cup dark chocolate chips**
    1 cup crushed pretzels

    Preheat the oven to 350.
    In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt, and set aside.
    In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and both sugars until well mixed. Stir in the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla, and blend together. Add the flour mixture and stir together all the ingredients. Fold in your chocolate chips and pretzels.
    Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Pop the cookies in the oven and bake for about 8 – 10 minutes, depending on your cookie size and oven. As soon as the edges turn slightly brown I take the cookies out and allow them to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet.
    *It is extremely important to use chunky peanut butter to add that extra crunch!
    ** It is also extremely important to use dark chocolate chips. This is what brings out the deliciousness in this sweet and salty combination.

    

    Friday, October 7, 2011

    Red Velvet Cookies

    One of the best flavors in the world is red velvet. I think it's safe to say that most of you agree. Most of the time, I make either red velvet cake or cupcakes, but this time, I took a different route and made some red velvet cookies. This recipe sticks to the usual format of pairing red velvet with cream cheese frosting, however, these cookies are not frosted, but instead, swirled with cream cheese that is baked right inside! WOW! I had to try this! The cookies came out great, but a bit on the dry side. Overall, the recipe is a keeper, but I will work on making them a bit more moist. Anyway... enjoy!

    Red Velvet Cookies

    1/2 cup unsalted butter
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon red food coloring
    1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup cocoa powder
    5 tablespoons reduced fat cream cheese, softened

    Preheat oven to 375ºF.
    Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy.
    Beat in egg and vanilla, then beat in food coloring.
    Add flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder and mix until just combined.
    Add cream cheese to dough and mix briefly until just swirled.
    Scoop out by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Whole-Grain Chocolate Chip Muffins.


    A perfect and healthy snack for any time of day, these muffins are heart healthy, yet still delicious! I ended up making only five muffins instead of six, because the batter made a little less then I expected, but the size of the muffins were perfect. This was the first of many times making these terrific little treats!

    Whole-Grain Chocolate Chip Muffins.

    1 c. old-fashioned oats.
    1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour.
    2 tsp. baking powder.
    1/2 tsp. baking soda.
    1/2 tsp. salt.
    1/4 c. brown sugar.
    1 c. low-fat buttermilk.
    1/4 c. orange juice.
    2 tbsp. unsweetened apple sauce.
    1 lg. egg
    1 tsp. vanilla.
    1 1/2 c. chocolate chips.

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 6-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
    2. In bowl, whisk oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. In small bowl, whisk buttermilk, juice, apple sauce, egg, and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
    3. Spoon batter into pan; bake 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

    Each muffin: About 170 calories, 5 g protein, 28 g carbs, 5 g total fat, 3 g fiber.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Pistachio Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

    Tomorrow is the big day! I am entering my very first baking competition and, as of right now, I am very confident! The cupcakes are moist and extremely flavorful, the frosting is creamy, and the chocolate chip cookies are soft, chewy, and oh so chocolatey! Even if the judges don't agree, I feel like a winner! So, after hours of baking and perfecting, the goodies were ready for their close up!

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    Healthy Zucchini Bread.



    Once again, my family is growing delicious fruits and vegetables in our garden. This year, however, we have more then we can handle! Our zucchini grew so big that one can lasts us a week! So, I thought, what can I use this zucchini for so I don't waste it? Zucchini bread! Yet again I got to searching those zucchini bread recipes and finally came up with one that is both healthy and oh so delicious!

    Zucchini Bread

    3/4 cup low-fat milk
    2 large eggs
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/3 cup canola oil
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups shredded zucchini
    2 cups white whole-wheat flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
    Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in zucchini. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl; stir in the wet ingredients until just combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
    Bake until golden brown; about 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm.

    Each slice contains about: 197 calories; 7 g fat ( 1 g sat , 4 g mono ); 32 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 13 g added sugars; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber; 209 mg sodium; 108 mg potassium.

    Now that's what I call delicious! Enjoy!

     

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Thanksgiving in July.

    I've recently become a huge fan of pumpkin. Last Thanksgiving my mom showed me a recipe for Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake and I knew it was going to be a real crowd pleaser! At first I thought the pumpkin might be a bit over powering, but it paired perfectly with the maple syrup. Not only was the cheesecake absolutely delicious, but it was so beautiful that we all felt guilty cutting into it!



    
    (This was the cheesecake before the Maple Walnut Glaze.)

    
    (After pouring on the glaze!)
     
    Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake

    1 1/4 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs.
    1/4 cup sugar.
    1/4 cup butter, melted.
    3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened.
    1 (14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk.
    1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin.
    3 eggs.
    3/4 cup pure maple syrup.
    1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.
    1 tsp. nutmeg.
      Maple Walnut Glaze
           (recipe follows)

    1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine crumbs, sugar, and butter; press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

    2. With mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy; gradually beat in sweetened condesed milk until smooth. Add pumpkin, eggs, 1/4 cup maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg; mix well. pour into prepared pan.

    3. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until edge springs back when lightly touched. Cool and chill.

    MAPLE WALNUT GLAZE:Combine 2 tablespoons water and 4 teaspoons cornstarch. In small sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup and corstarch mixture; cook and stir until slightly thickened. Add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Cool slightly. Spoon over cheesecake.

    Rum Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream.




    A friend of mine had been begging me to make him rum cupcakes for the longest time (maybe even about a year now) and today was the day I finally got down to it! I was a little skeptical at first since I have never made a rum cake before and I was not sure how a rum cake recipe would work in cupcake pans, but overall, it turned out to be one of the best baking experiences ever! The frosting was so creamy and delicious, but I would advise you to double the recipe because I ran out towards the end and I like to use ALOT of frosting. I also had alot of batter left over and decided to make mini cupcakes which are perfect for a little snack in case you don't want to over indulge on the larger ones.

    So, Chris, these cupcakes are for you! I know it took a little longer then it should have, but I really think you're going to like them! Enjoy!!!

    Rum CupCakes:

    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 cups sugar
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1/2 cup butter
    4 eggs
    1 3.4-ounce package (dry) instant vanilla pudding
    1 1/2 cups milk
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    1/2 cup dark rum

    Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix at medium speed for two minutes. Be sure not to overbeat! Pour into muffin cups. Place in a 350-degree oven. Bake for 20-22 mins or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely.
    *For mini cupcakes: Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 mins.
     
     
     

    Classic Vanilla Buttercream
     1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    3 cups confectioners sugar, SIFTED!
    1/4 teaspoon table salt
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons milk
     
    Beat butter for 2 minutes with a mixer on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn mixer on the lowest speed. Mix until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk and beat for 3 minutes.  

    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    U2 Concert and a Delicious Cookie!

    Last night me and my mom went to see U2! Ahhh it was such a great night! But, besides being serenaded by the one and only Bono for 2 and a half hours, I had to sample one of the Mrs. Field's Cookies that the vendors were selling all around the new Meadowlands Stadium! Soft, gooey, and so delicious! I think I might just have to clone these wonderful works of art! But for right now, I'll just share the picture I had to take of the cookie before I work on the recipe!

    
    (Not to mention, the chocolate chips had melted a bit since it was about 100 degrees!)
    
    
    (Yes, we were a bit high up there, but it was still an amazing night!)
    
     
    
    (Bono has put on another great show yet again!)
    

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Chocolate Chip Scones.

    Any chance I get, I try to incorporate chocolate chips into my creations. So, once again, I've tossed some chocolate chips into this scone recipe, which usually calls for raisins. I also recommend serving these scones with clotted cream and jam. For those of you who don't like jam, like myself, it's worth a try! The cream and jam pair perfectly to give these scones a moist, and very delicious flavor!


    Chocolate Chip Scones

    1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup white sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
    1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
    3 tablespoons orange juice

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Mix in the orange juice to form a dough. Turn out the dough on a floured surface. Roll into about a 9 inch circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut dough into equal sized wedges. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Move to wire racks to cool. Serve with clotted cream and jam!

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011

    London, England Bakeries!

    On my recent trip to London, England, I had to visit a few of London's finest bakeries. London, being the most beautiful city in the entire world!, also has some of the most beautiful bakeries and baked goods. During my frequent bakery searches, I came across some bakeries that really stood out. The first one was called Primrose Bakery. Primrose Bakery had to be the smallest place I've ever seen, but they could make one heck of a cupcake! I had the pleasure of tasting their Oreo Cupcake, which, honestly, couldn't have been more delicious!

     (I wish I took a picture of my cupcake, but it was gone in no time!)

    Anyway... the next bakery I came across was called Candy Cakes. This place is a real eye-catcher! Bright blue, bright pink, bright yellow and green! You just couldn't pass it up, and I'm so glad I didn't! The cupcake menu was endless! Being a banana and toffee lover, I had the pleasure of sampling one of London's finest flavors, Banoffee (banana toffee).







    Ahhh.... and now let me tell you about what I like to call "A Dream Come True"- Harrod's Department Store. Unlike most department stores, Harrod's is one of a kind. What's better then shopping and eating all at the same time? Um....nothing comes to my mind! Harrod's has its very own floor dedicated to food! This floor is also known as the "Food Hall". Meats, sandwiches, meals-to-go, desserts, desserts, desserts, and also some more desserts! Being the baker that I am, I tend to notice the sweets more then anything else. So, my camera and I took a little tour of the Food Hall and captured some of these great pictures!






    And last, but not least, Camden Market and Covent Garden. Camden Market is a very unique market, held on the weekends, that is filled with the most random, yet exquisite things. For example, the huge Donut Cart!



    Covent Garden was another market filled with shops and entertainment. Covent Garden was the location of Candy Cakes and a few other bakeries and sweet shops.

    

    Well that about does it! The best vacation of my life! Not to mention, I was there for the Royal Wedding! Such an exciting week and also a very delicious week! London is by far one of the best cities for those of us with a sweet tooth!

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    50th Birthday Cake

    This past Halloween my mom turned 50. Every year I tell my mom to pick out any kind of cake she wants and I will be more then happy to make it for her. This birthday, however, we had a huge party with the whole family. The pressure was on this time! I had to make a huge sheet cake for more then 20 people! So, my mom got to thinking and the cake she came up with was: Vanilla cake, Nutella filling, and the most delicious Fudge Frosting you can ever imagine! I took this into consideration and created one of the best cakes I've ever made in my life! For the first time, I experimented with making roses out of frosting, which I must say, came out pretty great! It was such a relief when everyone liked the cake! And of course, I had to take pictures! Check it out!!!

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    Seriously One of the BEST Cookies I've Ever Had!

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1/4 cup unsweetened hazelnut paste* or peanut butter
    2 large eggs
    1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pulp scraped out, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract.
    2 1/3 cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces or larger
    *1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional).

    1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars. Add the hazelnut paste or peanut butter, beating until smooth. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla bean pulp or extract, scraping down the bowl as needed.

    2. In another bowl, sift together the flour, the baking soda and the salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and combine at low speed until the dough comes together. Mix in the chocolate pieces and, if desired, the nuts. Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets, flattening them slightly by hand.

    3. Bake until lightly browned, 9 to 12 minutes. Cool the cookie sheets on a wire rack before removing the cookies.

    *Hazelnut paste is a paste made from roasted and ground hazelnuts. To make: Roast nuts slightly in oven; let cool; ground in food processor.

    *Personally, I don't like to use nuts when baking, especially when a recipe calls for hazelnut paste or peanut  butter. When using peanut butter, it gives the cookies a natural nut flavor, which will over power the cookie if you add more nuts. But, of course, feel free to add more if you would like!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Go Bananas!

    For those of you who love bananas, this recipe is for you! Banana's Foster Bars are so delicious and literally melt in your mouth! Yes, they take some time, but so so so worth it in the end. Below I've posted the recipe, so leave your comments and enjoy!!!

    Banana's Foster Bars

    Preheat oven to 325F (racks set to the middle and near top)
    Line 9x13 pan with parchment paper

    Shortbread
    1 cup + 5 tbsp. butter, melted
    3/4 cup sugar
    3/4 tsp salt
    2 egg yolks
    3 cups + 3 tbsp flour

    Melt butter, set aside until cool. Mix butter and sugar together. Whisk in egg yolks. Stir salt into flour. Mix into butter mixture until combined. Transfer 2 cups of dough to the prepared pan & press evenly. Prick dough with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 min.
    For the topping, mix 1/4 cup sugar with the remaining dough & crumble together. (This is to make a nice crumbly crust after pouring the banana filling on the cookie... but we'll get to that later!)

    Banana Filling
    3 bananas
    1/4 cup butter
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    1/4 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 cup dark rum
    Over low heat, melt butter, sugar and cinnamon stirring until almost dissolved. Add sliced bananas and saute. Turn slices over once. Add rum and heat through - boil or flambe until the sugar is fully dissolved. Mash or cut bananas into small pieces. Take out 1/4 cup of the rum sauce and mix into banana mixture. Heat the remaining rum sauce, bring to a boil and reduce down slightly and add the rest of the rum mixture with the mashed bananas. Take pan out of the refrigerator and bake in the middle of the oven for 18 mins. until slightly brown on the edges. Increase temp. to 350F. Spread banana mixture over hot crust. Scatter remaining dough on top. Bake on the near top rack 25+ min. until top is browned. Cool 1 hour. Cut into bars.
    I've made this recipe multiple times and loved it every time! I try to incorporate bananas into all of my baked goods so this was the perfect cookie for me!

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Cake Batter Truffles

    Cake batter? GOOD! Truffles? EVEN BETTER! I came across this recipe on my daily "dessert search" and had to give them a try. They were so simple to make and even better to eat! The truffles are no bake so we don't have to worry about turning on the oven in this hot weather. I prefer to use Baker's Semi Sweet chocolate bars for coating, but of course, you can use anything you want! The recipe calls for yellow cake mix, but, once again, you can use any cake mix. If you do use another kind of cake mix flavor, please let me know how they turn out!

    Cake Batter Truffles:
    1 ½ cups flour
    1 cup yellow cake mix
    ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
    ½ cup white sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    3-4 Tablespoons milk

    Truffle Coating:
    16 ounces (8 squares) Baker's Semi Sweet Chocolate
    4 Tablespoons yellow cake mix

    Beat together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined. Add cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add 3 Tablespoons of milk or more if needed to make a dough consistency. Roll dough into one inch balls and place on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet. Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up.
    
    While dough balls are chilling, melt Baker's Semi Sweet Chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Stir between intervals. Once melted, quickly stir in cake mix until incorporated completely. Using a fork, dip truffles into melted chocolate. Place truffle back on the cookie sheet repeat with remaining balls until finished.

    Chill cake batter truffles in the refrigerator until serving. Makes around 24-30 truffles.

    One Girl, One Blog, and a Ton of Sweets!

    So for years I have occupied my time reading blogs and searching the web for recipes. I have quite the collection of my own recipes that are just too yummy not to share with the world! Yes, I am fairly new to blogging but I figured why not give it a go! So here it is ladies and gentlemen! A blog not only about dessert but the life of a baker!