Category Archives: dessert

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

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And a chocolate drizzle for your added eating and viewing pleasure 🙂

We had some strawberries sitting around lonely in our fridge, and I thought – there has to be something tasty I can make with these.  So I started poking around the internets and came across a really yummy sounding Strawberry Cupcake recipe.  And then my mind went to one of my daughter’s lunches last week, which happened to be a strawberry and cream cheese sandwich (one of her favorite things, and the reason for the lonely strawberries).  So what did I do with all that brain power (or lack thereof depending on the day)?  I made a Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting, of course!   And then as I sat there looking at that pink decadence, I thought, the only thing that could top this would be some chocolate.  So I added that too for good measure 🙂

The cake is super tasty, not overly strawberry-laden, just enough to get that hint.  But then the frosting hits your taste buds and there’s no going back.  Definitely worth a try if you’re a strawberry lover.

strawberry cupcake

The Recipe (adapted from here):

  • 2/3 cup whole fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry puree
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1- 1/4 to 1 -1/2 cups powdered sugar

Chocolate Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (I used a combination of both and it came out stellar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

The Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until pureed. You should have about 1/3 cup of puree, add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra puree for frosting; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
  6. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before icing.
  7. Make the Frosting:
  8. Cream the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and cream cheese in your mixing bowl at medium speed.
  9. Add the strawberry puree and vanilla, and beat for 1 minute, cleaning sides as needed.
  10. Add the milk and a little red food coloring (if you’d like a deeper pink color) and beat until completely blended, about 1 minute more.  If the consistency is still slightly runny, add a little more powdered sugar.  Frost the cupcakes using a knife or pastry bag with star tip.
  11. For that added extra finishing touch, make the chocolate sauce:
  12. Place the chocolate chips, heavy cream and butter in a double boiler.  Stir until melted.  Add in vanilla and stir until glossy and smooth.  Drizzle over frosting.
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Mini Cheesecakes with Home-made Graham Cracker Crust and Fresh Strawberry Sauce

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Mini Cheesecakes with Home-made Graham Cracker Crust and Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Whew, that title was a mouthful! In keeping with my apparent muffin pan theme lately…on to mini cheesecakes!  These were super simple to make.   Not having to mess with a springform pan was a treat! 🙂  The addition of lemon zest adds great fresh flavor, without being overwhelming.

I did double duty with this recipe and made Honey-Cinnamon Graham crackers to use as the base for the crust.  Another new one for me.  Who would have thought one could actually MAKE a graham cracker?!?

mini personal cheesecake with strawberry sauce

The Recipe (makes 12 mini cheesecakes):

Crust:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick butter)

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (8 whole graham crackers) If you want to try homemade, find the recipe here

Cooking spray

Filling:

1 lemon

1 pound (two 8 ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup heavy cream

Strawberry Sauce:

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

The Process:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Move an oven rack to the center of the oven.

2.  Spray the muffin tin with the cooking spray, or grease with butter.

3.  Make the crust.  Put 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Remove from the heat and add the graham cracker crumbs.  Stir until they are completely moistened.

4.  Spoon the crumbs into the muffin cups, dividing equally.

5.  Press the crumbs into the bottom of each cup in an even layer.

6.  Make the filling.  Using a small grater or microplane, zest the lemon.  Make sure you don’t dig too deep and get that bitter white in there!

7.  Put the cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar in the mixer bowl.  Beat on medium speed until creamy and smooth.

8.  Break the eggs into the bowl and beat again until blended.  Pour in the cream, vanilla and add the lemon zest.  Beat again until well blended.

9.  Pour or spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cups (I used my cookie scoop a little “overfilled” and it seemed to work perfectly).

10.  Bake until the centers are firm, about 18-20 minutes.  To test for doneness, gently shake the muffin tin, if the centers shake, bake for another 3-5 minutes.

11.  Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  After they cool, sprinkle the tops with a little additional sugar to prevent the cheesecakes from sticking.

12.  While the cakes are cooling, make the Strawberry Sauce.  Place the frozen strawberries, sugar, and water in a saucepan.  Cook over medium high heat and allow to boil for about 10 minutes.  It should start to thicken slightly.  Remove from heat and using a mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a small bowl.  Allow to cool.

13. Place a large platter over the top of the muffin tin and gently turn both upside down allowing the cheesecakes to drop onto the platter.

14.  Turn the cheesecakes over so the crust is on the bottom, and allow them to chill in the fridge before serving.

15.  Top with Strawberry Sauce if you choose (but why wouldn’t you?!?) 🙂  Serve and impress all your friends with your master baking skills!

Honey Lemon Bars

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Honey Lemon Bars

I’m a huge fan of anything lemon when it comes to baking.  These are amazing, and super simple to put together.  The honey adds just the right amount of sweetness without being overpowering.  A perfectly light, warm-weather dessert 🙂

honey lemon bars

 

The Recipe:

Dough:

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold

Filling:

2 large eggs

1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest (my addition, but a little more lemon flavor never hurts in my opinion!!)

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

The Process:

1.  Heat oven to 350 F (325 F if using glass or dark metal pans)

2.  To make the dough, place the flour and the sugar in a mixing bowl and stir to combine.

3.  Cut the cold butter into small chunks and add to the flour mixture.  Using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture until all the butter disappears and the dough starts to hold together a bit.

4.  Place the dough in an 8″x8″ baking pan and press into the bottom in an even layer.

5.  Place in oven for approximately 10-12 minutes to bake.

6.  While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.  Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and add the honey and lemon juice.  Whisk together until completely blended.  Add the flour and baking powder and whisk again until smooth.

7.  Remove crust from the oven and pour the lemon filling into the pan.

8.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  The filling should not move when you slightly shake the pan.  If it does, place back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

9.  Transfer to a cooling rack and allow 10 minutes for cooling before cutting into squares.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy the lemony goodness!

Apple Almond Tea Cake

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Apple Almond Tea Cake

I couldn’t wait to get cracking in the kitchen after receiving the new book (My First Baking Book).  So here’s the first round…Apple Almond Tea Cake.  Super good.  Nice dense cake with just a touch of sweetness.  Love the flavor (and slight crunch) from the sliced almonds in the cake, and the apples on top pair perfectly of course.  Top it all off with an apricot glaze, and you have the perfect brunch (or breakfast…or dessert…) snack!

apple almond tea cake

The Recipe:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature (plus extra for buttering the pan)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup sliced almonds

2 medium apples

1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Glaze:

3 tablespoons apricot jam

1 tablespoon water

The Process:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F (325 F if using a glass or dark pan).

2.  Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking pan.

3.  Put the flour, baking powder and nutmeg in a bowl and stir to combine.

4.  Place the 1/2 cup of butter and the granulated sugar in the mixing bowl and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy (around 4 minutes).

5.  Break the eggs into the bowl and beat again until blended.

6.  Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed until smooth.

7.  Pour in the milk and mix again.

8.  Stir the sliced almonds into the batter until combined.

9.  Pour the batter into the greased 9×13 baking pan and spread evenly.

10.  Peel and core the apples.  Cut in half and then cut the halves into thin, even slices.

11.  Here’s where I took a detour from the original recipe…I placed the apple slices in a bowl and tossed them with a squeeze of lemon, the brown sugar and cinnamon.  The original recipe has you place the apples on top of the batter and then sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture over.  I wanted a more “even” coating, but you can choose your method 🙂

12.  Place the apple slices in 3 long lines, overlapping, on top of the batter down the length of the pan (makes for easier cutting this way).

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13.  Place in oven and bake until the cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan and a cake tester comes out clean, approximately 50 minutes (Again, with my oven it was close to 35 minutes, so I would check yours frequently after 35).

14.  Remove from oven and while cake is cooling prepare the apricot glaze.

15.  Place the jam in a saucepan and add the water, stir over medium heat until the jam melts and begins to bubble.

16.  Using a pastry brush (or spoon), spread the glaze over the top of the cake.  Cut into squares and marvel in the apple-y goodness!

Dreamy Hot Chocolate

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Hot chocolate can’t be beat – no matter what the temperature is outside.  I’ll admit, I’m not one for making it from scratch too often (the convenience of those little packages calls to me…).  This recipe is super simple and the method is pretty smart.  The touch of honey and cinnamon make it extra tasty.  Will definitely be making this often!  Warm and fuzzy thoughts to all! 🙂

hot chocolate cinnamon

The Recipe (makes 4 cups):

6 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

8 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons honey

4 cups milk

The Process:

1.  Measure 1-1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon honey into 4 individual mugs.  Stir with a spoon to make a paste.  Add 1 tablespoon milk into each mug and stir until dissolved.

2.  Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the milk begins to steam and you can see tiny bubbles form at the sides of the pan.  Remove from heat.

3.  Ladle the warm milk into the mugs (about 1 cup each) and stir.  Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Fruit Skewers (Fruit on a Stick) with Yogurt-Coconut Dip

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Fruit Skewers (Fruit on a Stick) with Yogurt-Coconut Dip

Everything is more fun on a stick – it’s true, you know it.  This makes a great after-school snack, or even breakfast.  The dip is killer, who would have thought something as simple as combining yogurt and a little coconut could make fruit even more magical?

Fruit skewer fruit on a stick

The Recipe (I’m listing the original suggestions from the book, use whatever you have on hand to create your skewers!  I ended up using my kid’s favorites – strawberries, watermelon, pineapple and banana):

2 apples

1 banana

10 grapes

10 strawberries

2 tangerines

1 cup flavored yogurt of your choice

1/4 cup shredded coconut

The Process:

1.  Rinse, peel (if necessary), and dry all fruit.

2.  Cut all fruit into medium sized chunks.

3.  Push cut fruit pieces onto wooded skewers.

4.  Pour the yogurt into a small bowl and add coconut.  Stir until incorporated.  Serve alongside fruit skewers or pour a little over each skewer before serving.

(Not quite) Teddy Bear Chocolate Chip Cookies

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(Not quite) Teddy Bear Chocolate Chip Cookies

I take pride in my chocolate chip cookies.  I have a tried and true recipe I’ve been using for years and have “perfected”.  But, I’m allowing this blogging experience to take me out of my culinary box, so I gave this recipe a go.  Plus, I thought my kid would get a kick out of teddy bear shaped cookies, and I figured, how hard could that be?  Man was I wrong… the day will go down in history as the “Amorphous Blob Cookie Disaster of 2013”.  I dried my chocolate stained tears and sheepishly reached for my cookie dough scoop.

The flavor of the cookie is actually really good.  Definitely a more crisp, versus chewy cookie.  Worth a try in my opinion – and maybe you’ll have better luck with attempting a shape (and if you do have success and would like to rub salt into my wound and post it here, I’ll understand…)  Good news is, a chocolate chip cookie is never a bad thing to have around, no matter what it looks like!

chocolate chip cookie

The Recipe:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

The Process:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.  Place the flour and baking soda in a bowl and mix.

3.  Place the butter, shortening, and sugars in a separate mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes until combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and continue to mix for another 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

4.  Break the egg into the bowl and add the vanilla.  Mix at medium speed for about 1 minute.

5.  Add about half the flour mixture and blend at low speed until incorporated.  Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until well blended.

6.  Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and mix at lowest speed until evenly distributed in the batter.

7.  Attempt to make teddy bear shapes… or give up and spoon tablespoons of dough onto a cookie sheet.

8.  Bake at 350 F for about 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden brown.

9.  Remove and let cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.