Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eye Candy

Classic White Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Cookies & Cream Cupcake

Classic White Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

Mint Chocolate Cupcake

Pumpkin Cupcake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Over the years, I have searched high and low for the perfect bakery style chocolate chip muffin recipe. I have tried countless times to perfect it and ultimately failed. Sure, they were edible, and even a few were good, but they just weren't quite what I was looking for. I am not a fan of oil, and it seemed as though every recipe called for oil, which left the muffin dense and greasy. Who wants to eat a muffin and feel like you just replaced your mouthwash with oil??? Lo and behold, I think we are finally there. I married a couple different recipes that I liked and came up with this one. It's a beauty - every bite laden with chocolate, along with a moist cake-like muffin. Bring it on Fresh Market - I think you have met your match! :)

Chocolate Chip Muffins
Wildly adapted from this, that and the other
Makes 24 muffins

The best part of this recipe is that there is no mixer needed. Which, for some that are mixer happy, it will leave you with a ligher muffin that is not so tough. Be certain not to overmix as this is what causes a highly dense, heavy muffin. It's also a bonus when you are making these late at night and want to keep the littles from hearing it - however, their sniffers will let them know what Mama is up to in the kitchen.

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners.

3 1/2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar (light or dark works fine - whatever your preference)
10 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. milk, room temperature
1 c. sour cream, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
12 oz. chocolate chips (dark, semi, or milk - again a matter of personal preference!)
Mini chocolate chips for sprinkling.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the sugars, butter, milk, sour cream, eggs and vanilla until combined. Pour into flour mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until moistened. Do not overmix! Batter will appear lumpy.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill liners. This will give you nice, rounded tops. Sprinkle each muffin with mini chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden and the muffin springs back when pressed. Cool and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fudge Brownie Cheesecake

I have always wanted to make a cheesecake. But I was scared, very scared. I can bake with the best of them, I can make tiramisu, cannoli, towering cupcakes, phenominal layer cakes, pies and souffles... However, the idea of a springform pan and this delecate, wobbly piece of delicious-ness coming out in one piece frightened the heck out of me. I finally mustered up enough courage to make one. Last month, we had a dinner party, and I of course, was to bring dessert. I wanted something fabulous that everyone would be wowed by. I was tired of cakes and cupcakes and pies. I needed something that would be elegant. This cheesecake was just it. I ventured out and purchased my first springform pan, and the poor pan is thinking, "leave me alone already." I have only made this cheesecake no less than 3 times in the last month. Unfortunately, my waistline is thinking the same thing as the pan! Let me just tell you however - I tried this cheesecake the day before the party, and I brought the first one I made. What in the world was I so afraid of?? And how could one go wrong? A chocolate crust, fudge brownies in every bite, and a lovely ganache glaze finish.  Good luck making this one last. There wasn't a morsel left after our dinner party!

Fudge Brownie Cheesecake
adapted in parts from Smitten Kitchen

First off, you must make a pan of brownies. If you are like me, a box will not do. My favorite fudge brownies are some that my mom has made for years. But of course, a box mix or your own favorite fudge brownie recipe will work just as well. Once the brownies are made and cooled, cut into 1 inch squares - you will need 2 cups worth for the cheesecake.

Chocolate Crust:

1 box of finely ground chocolate teddy grahams. (No, I am not delerious from spending the day with my 2 year old, they are seriously the best)
10 T. melted, unsalted butter
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt

Stir together everything in a medium bowl. Press into a 9 or 10 inch, buttered springform pan. (I would HIGHLY recommend the Calphalon Classic from BB&B if you need one!) Press on the bottom as well as an inch up the sides. Fill immediately.


3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. sugar
2 c. brownie cubes

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cream cheese until light and fluffy. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time, and proceed to add vanilla and sugar. Fold in the brownie cubes and pour into prepared pan. Place springform pan on a shallow baking sheet. Bake for 50-55 minutes until cheesecake is set 3 inches from the edge, but the center is still slightly wobbly. Your oven time may vary. Cool completely then top with ganache.


3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. butter
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. powdered sugar

Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Scald the butter and the cream in the microwave in a pyrex dish. Pour over chocolate and let sit for a few minutes. Whisk together until smooth. Add vanilla and sugar and whisk again until smooth. Pour over cheesecake and refridgerate until ready to serve.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Street Party - Sesame Street Birthday Party

As promised my dear friends - photos and fun from the "Street Party" we hosted last weekend for the little guy's 2nd birthday. Where oh where did the time go?!?!? Fun was to be had by all...with all sorts of goodies to satisfy the sweet tooths of all ages - toddlers to grandmas!

I spent days preparing all the sweet treats for the party - and had a blast doing it. There were Cookie Monster Cupcakes Minis - which was dark chocolate cake topped with Sweet Cream Vanilla Buttercream; as well as Elmo and Big Bird Cake Pops - which were a Classic White Vanila Cake mixed with a Sweet Cream Vanilla Buttercream. The joy in the littles faces to see their favorite Sesame Street characters made all the labor worth it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Mini Cinnamon Rolls

So, my lack of posting has not been without good reason. (As you will see in a future post!) I have been crazy busy planning, preparing and partying for my little guy's 2nd birthday party, which took place last weekend. But I will share all the "Street Party" details later in the week.

My little guys have been asking for some delicious breakfast treats the last few days, and I had yet to comply. Until tomorrow that is.... They will be in for a pleasant surprise when they awaken from dreamland. I was just telling my mom how much I missed waking up to those mini cinnamon rolls that she used to make so frequently as we were kids. However, given that it was already 9 pm - there was no chance that I would be spending hours, upon hours letting my dough rise for the perfect roll. Then my mom let me in on a little secret - her cinnamon rolls had yeast, however, they didn't need to rise, and they were easy. Easy?? Easy?? Tell me more mama. One word - Bisquick. (GASP!) So, I am a homemade kind of gal - I cook homemade, I bake homemade - I don't use cake mixes or muffin mixes (but I do use bisquick for pancakes, so luckily I had some! :) ) ... everything (except for those pancakes..) is straight from scratch. Needless to say, I was skeptical, but I thought I would give it a try. Could they really be as good as they were when I was a little?? Yes. Yes they are...

Mini Cinnamon Rolls ("Jumer" Rolls for us Central Illinois-ers)

1/4 c. hot water
1 packet active dry yeast
3 c. Bisquick
1/2 c. cool water
1/2 c. melted butter
2 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 13X9 pan. Dissolve yeast in hot water and let sit for 10 minutes. Mix cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Mix Bisquick with yeast mixture and cool water until moist, but not sticky. Knead a few times and form into a ball. Divide into four parts and roll out each part individually. Brush with melted butter and generously shake on cinnamon/sugar. Roll up into a log shape and pull to stretch. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices and place spiral side up in the prepared pan. Repeat until all the dough has been used. Brush remaining butter on top of the rolls, and sprinkle remaining sugar. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. These are great on their own, but I sometimes like to add a powdered sugar glaze.

See....I told you how easy they are. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Classic White Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

As if the Summer Strawberry Cake wasn't enough strawberries for the week... I decided to make my personal favorite - classic white cake topped with strawberry buttercream. It doesn't help that I *just* made a strawberry dessert, but who's counting, right? We all love strawberries. In my defense, these lovelies were made for a dear teacher at our school, so of course, we didn't eat all of them! I really do try to share my creations....promise.

So, here is goes. This is a classic white cake, in which I topped with a strawberry buttercream. No shortcuts here, folks. Just a few natural ingredients and some strawberry puree and viola, you have yourself a cupcake, or a cake, or some minis.... whatever your heart desires. Of course, if strawberry is not your forte, any frosting will do. Now, I will warn you - these are VERY addicting....Below is the recipe for the cake. I do not follow a recipe for the buttercream - I never have, it's how I was taught. So, I will leave you with the ingredients, and a general how-to on making buttercream. Enjoy. I know you will.

Classic White Cake

2 3/4 c. cake flour

1 2/3 c. sugar

1 T. baking powder

3/4 t. salt

12 T. butter, at room temperature

4 large egg whites

1 large egg

1 c. whole milk, room temperature

2 t. vanilla extract

1 1/4 t. almond extract

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a mixer on slow speed. Add the butter and mix well. Add eggs, and blend after each egg addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. In another bowl, mix milk with the almond and vanilla extracts. Add the liquid mixture to the butter/egg mixture a little at a time. Beat 2 minutes after each addition. Pour into lined full sized or mini cupcake pans. Makes 24 full sized cupcakes or 48 minis.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool. Once, cooled, let the frosting begin!

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting:

Powdered Sugar
2 sticks softened butter
vanilla extract
strawberry puree

To make the strawberry puree, cut strawberries and place in a food processor. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of the berries and let stand for 20 minutes. After that, process berries into a puree.

In a large bowl, cream butter. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Begin adding the strawberry puree until desired consistency. Add more powdered sugar if needed. Place in a pastry bag and pipe onto the cupcakes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Strawberry Cake

Another lovely.....courtesy of Deb at Smitten Kitchen. I decided that we needed something yummy to make the house smell amazing tonight, and this strawberry cake does just that. A delicious, easy, one bowl dessert. Perfect for whipping up after the kiddos are in bed, for a surprise dessert for tomorrow night's dinner.... That is, if it lasts that long!

Summer Strawberry Cake
just barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup minus 1 T. Sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar for topping
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack. Serve with whipped cream or cool whip.