SWEET TREATS

mini margarita key lime pies

For a little summer treat at work tomorrow I found a recipe for Individual Frozen Key Lime Pies and tweaked it a bit by adding tequila because why not?

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They didn’t turn out as pretty as expected but as with all other things I publish in my blog I don’t have time to redo recipes. The taste makes up for anything appearance lacks!

Here’s what ya need:

  • 16oz Cool Whip
  • 8oz neufchatel cheese (the store-brand, low-fat cream cheese)
  • a can of low-fat sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup key lime juice (takes a whole lb to squeeze this much so you may want some extra for garnish)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 20 Vanilla Wafers
  • 1/4 cup tequila

crust

So in my head I was envisioning using the wafers as the crust as a whole without taking into consideration that these get flipped upside down in the end. I improvised to take a few handfuls, crush them up and combine them with 1/2 stick of melted butter for the crust.

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Start mixing the cream cheese and add sweetened condensed milk until combined. Add lime juice and tequila. Finally add in thawed Cool Whip.

Fill silicon cups almost full and sprinkle with the crust crumbs. Place on a tray and let sit in freezer for several hours until set. Gently peel silicon wrappers off, garnish with Cool Whip, limes or sprinkles. Store in freezer.

Enjoy!

coconut-pecan cupcakes with dark chocolate & coconut frosting

It’s only June 7th and I attended my 3rd BBQ of the season this weekend. This summer is starting off right! Some friends and family got together and I was asked to bring the dessert. My brother’s girlfriend picked these out. The cake recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book and the frosting I threw together.

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Coconut-Pecan Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 TBSP coconut extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk (9 ounces)

In a Ziploc bag, crush pecans. Ideally they would be processed but I am currently lacking a food processor so a Ziploc bag and a meat tenderizer got the job done. Add 1 cup coconut and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in coconut and pecan mixture.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add extract and then eggs one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Alternate adding flour mixture with milk until just combined. Fill cupcake pans with liners and fill each 3/4 way full of batter. Bake at 350º for about 22 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Frosting

  •  5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/4 cup almond milk

Begin creaming butter and add 1 cup powdered sugar at a time. Add cocoa powder, coconut extract and milk.

Pipe on to cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with remaining coconut flakes.

Enjoy!!

almost-skinny mini cheesecakes with Chambord-soaked berries

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Had to be a little festive in celebrating Memorial Day at our cookout this weekend. Thought some mini cheesecakes with berries would be fun and to make it my own I soaked the berries in Chambord, went as “skinny” as my boyfriend would allow with substitutions all on a yummy chocolate crust.

Chocolate Crust

  • 2 cups crushed chocolate wafers
  • 7 TBSP melted butter
  • 3 TBSP sugar

Mix sugar and chocolate crumbs, (I crushed the wafers with a meat tenderizer in a plastic bag to get the right consistency) stir in melted butter and press in the bottom of cupcake liners. Bake for 5 minutes at 350º. Let cool.

Cheesecake

  • 4 – 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened – 2 regular, 2 low-fat
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 TBSP flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 – 6oz plain Chobani container looks perfect
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine sugar and flour and mix in with cream cheese. Add eggs one at a time. Finally add the vanilla, yogurt and heavy cream. Scrape sides of bowl after each addition. Fill each cupcake liner almost full. Bake for ~20 minutes at 350º or until mostly set (just a little jiggly) and not yet cracked.Original recipe calledf for 24 but we got 24 regular size mini cheesecakes and had enough to make 6 jumbo cupcake tin size ones. One chocolate wafer fit perfectly in each bottom of this pan and no extra crust was needed!

Topping

  • 1/2 cup blueberries, washed
  • 1 cup strawberries, washed cored and quartered
  • Chambord – raspberry liqueur

Place berries separately in plastic Ziploc bags, pour enough Chambord to cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Drain and arrange as desired on cheesecakes.

Keep refrigerated and enjoy!

Recipe modified from cookingclassy.com.

Shout-out to my handsome man for being such a great assistant and to his dad’s girlfriend for the chocolate crust and Chambord-soaked berry suggestion!

s’mores cupcakes

It’s been so long since I baked cupcakes! It’s my boyfriend’s sister’s birthday tomorrow and while we were trying to decide what to make for her, he remembered that she loves s’mores cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory so that was our flavor inspiration. I was so happy to have an excuse to bake something delicious, and I always love having my favorite baking assistant by my side.

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Chocolate Cake

Start of with my go-to chocolate cake recipe. Make ganache while cupcakes are in the oven. When cupcakes cool, cut out the center, going about half-way deep. The centers taste divine with the left over ganache mixed in the bowl…

Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Place chocolate chips in a glass bowl. Warm heavy cream on a double boiler, until almost boiling. I don’t have a double boiler and a stainless steal bowl placed over a stainless steal saucepan works just fine! Pour warmed cream over chocolate and whisk until combined and smooth. Refrigerate until set, but still soft. Place a generous tablespoonful into the center of each cupcake and then make the frosting!

 Fluffy Marshmallow Frosting

  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 7 oz jar of marshmallow fluff

Mix softened butter and sugar until combined, add vanilla and fluff, scraping the bowl with each addition. I used a large round tip to pipe the frosting.

Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top of each cupcake and finish them off with a single piece of Hershey’s chocolate. We used milk and dark to mix it up.

These turned out better than I hoped and got me so excited for the weather getting warmer and for summer nights roasting marshmallows over a campfire, or a grill like my friends and I have used in a pinch, to make s’mores. Enjoy!

snowball cupcakes

I decided to turn my pap’s favorite cake into cupcakes this weekend in honor of my grandma’s birthday on March 1st.  She passed away 5 or 6 years ago so I thought I’d make something special for when we visit him this week. He’s so lonely there now, I love every chance I get to see him and to make him smile. Our trips to Clear Spring, MD pretty much solely consist of us going out to eat or watching westerns for hours on end in his living room but I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I love my pap and can’t wait to see him tomorrow!

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So the basics of the snowball cake are an angel food cake, jello, Dream Whip, and pineapple all mixed together and smothered in cool whip. After moving this summer for the first time since I was born, my mother couldn’t locate the recipe anywhere so we searched for some online that seemed similar to what we can remember. The addition of lemon was a pleasant surprise, but I decided to get a little creative. We’re making an angel food cupcake, filling it with a lemony-pineapple, Dream Whip-jello and topping them with fresh whipped cream and lemon zest.

Note: you’re going to need several hours to allow the center filling of these cupcakes to set before assembly…I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t read through a recipe before making plans to bake at the last second and end up scrambling or nixing the idea all together because I needed way more time than I had! You’ll need at least 4 hours.

Angel Food Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 and line cupcake pan with liners. Makes 16 cupcakes.

Mix cake flour, half of the sugar and the salt together, whisking to get rid of any lumps.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg white until they become slightly frothy (they look like sea foam.) Add cream of tarter and mix until the egg whites actually start to turn white. Add the remaining sugar. You want to beat this mixture until it’s shiny and you get soft peaks when the whisk is lifted up. Add almond extract and mix just until combined.

You want to slowly in the fold the mixture of flour, sugar and salt. Pour just enough to cover the egg whites but not enough to let it sink through them and then fold with a spatula. I had to repeat this step about 5 times.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops of the cakes are slightly browned. I always poke the tops of my cupcakes instead of using toothpicks, if the cake bounces back, they’re done. If not, put them back in for a few more minutes.

After these babies cool, use a serrated knife to cut a small circle in the middle and remove it from the cake. My handy little tool didn’t work so well this time around because of how spongy and soft angel food cake is.

Pineapple-Dream Whip Filling

  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin (dissolved in 1 TBSP cold water)
  • 1 package Dream Whip
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 8oz crushed canned pineapple
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice

Combine dissolved gelatin, boiling water and crushed pineapple. Add lemon and sugar mix and place in fridge until partially gelled (about an hour.) Meanwhile make dream whip. I used 1 tsp of lemon extract instead of 2 tsp vanilla and soy milk because it’s what I had in the fridge, I’m on a soy milk kick these days (the unsweetened kind of course!) After that hour is up, fold the Dream Whip in with the gelatin, combining well. Cover and refrigerate for 3-5 more hours, or until set.

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • lemon zest for garnish

Whip whipping cream on high with mixer until it becomes the desired texture of whipped cream. Add in powdered sugar, mixing on medium speed until combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get all that lingering powdered sugar combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembly time! Grab your Pineapple-Dream Whip filling and place a generous tablespoon full into the centers of the cupcakes. Plop another generous tablespoon full of the whipped cream frosting on top, smooth out and sprinkle with lemon zest. And we’re done! Refrigerate for up to a week.

Let me know in the comments how the angel food cake cupcakes turn out for you, this was my first endeavor with them.

 *Recipe adapted form cooks.com and Mom’s Big Book of Baking.

Reese’s cup-cakes

This weekend was full of celebration. My stepbrother turned 14 and of course we all know yesterday was Valentine’s Day. He got his favorite candy turned into a cupcake and I got my chocolate fix. Win-win! While I didn’t celebrate the day with my prince charming (I seriously cannot wait to share more about this soon) I got to hang out with my “galentine” in Arlington and Georgetown and we had a blast catching up, eating delicious food and ogling all the things in the stores that our early-20-something selves can’t yet afford to buy.

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Reese’s Cup-Cake

Started off with my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. I cut the recipe in half to make 12. When the batter was prepared I opened 12 regular size Reese’s cups and placed them in the bottom of each liner, filled them 2/3 full with the batter and baked for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. I had no clue how the chocolate would do at the bottom and they pretty much hardened and stuck to the paper liners and didn’t serve the purpose of a delicious surprise hidden in each cake. So next time, I’m going to fill the liner 1/3 of the way full, gently lay the chocolates on top and then add more batter until they’re filled just a little more than 2/3 of the way. Let me know in the comments below if you try it this way and how they turn out!

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In mixer, beat cream cheese, adding 1 cup sugar at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl after each addition. Add vanilla and peanut butter, mix until combined and you’re done!

I piped the frosting, added some chocolate sprinkles and topped each of these little guys off with a mini Reese’s cup. They’re very rich but super tasty and a perfect Valentine’s Day, birthday or anyday treat for chocolate and peanut butter lovers!

mango, Malibu & coconut cupcakes

 

I received a special request for “fruity cupcakes” for a friend’s birthday this weekend. I was racking my brain and scrolling through Pinterest for a while before I discovered that we had a perfectly ripened mango in the fridge along with coconut flakes, cream of coconut and Malibu in the cabinet so I just went for it, and a white cupcake filled with Malibu-soaked mango, frosted with a double-coconut frosting was born.

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Basic White Cake

I used a basic white cake recipe (makes 12.) Once the cupcakes cooled I used this awesome baking tool which I have no name for to remove a circle from the center (about an inch and a half in diameter and 3/4 an inch deep) of the cupcake. Caution, if you eat just one of these perfectly bite sized centers while you’re assembling, they may all disappear… especially when you dip them in the coconut frosting and top them with rum soaked mango, which brings me to the most important part of these cupcakes!

Drunken Mango Filling

  • 1 mango
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut
  • 3/4- 1 cup Malibu rum

Before I left for work I peeled and finely chopped one very ripe mango, put it in a bowl and poured enough Malibu rum to cover the mango and let that sit in the fridge all day. When it was time to assemble the cupcakes I drained the mango and then added about 1/4 cup cream of coconut to the VERY drunken mango to cut the super strong rum taste a little. A generous spoonful of the filling went inside each cupcake. Oh and save that rum for a few fruity cocktails, we don’t want to be wasteful after all!

Coconut Frosting

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • 1/2+ cup coconut flakes

Beat butter and sugar until well combined, add cream of coconut, milk, vanilla and finally coconut flakes. Pipe frosting as desired (the coconut flakes clogged up my tip a few times so you may want to go for one with a wide opening) and you’re done! I refrigerated these guys because of the cream of coconut and the fresh mango. Little tropical toothpick umbrellas, that I couldn’t find anywhere, would be a perfect finishing touch for these cupcakes!

Just in case you hadn’t caught on yet, I love all things reminiscent of summer and if you put plenty of layers of clothing on and you close your eyes while you’re eating these cupcakes and drinking some rum, it’s basically like you’re on a tropical island. Enjoy!

dark chocolate peppermint cupcakes

The Christmas craziness has finally settled down and I have a moment to post about the holiday cupcakes I made last week. These were inspired by the delicious Ghirardelli peppermint bark dark chocolate squares and a candy-cane filled with holiday flavored airplane bottles I was given for Christmas.

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Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

My go-to chocolate cake recipe. Instead of 2 tsp of vanilla, I used 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tsp of Godiva chocolate liqueur. The other substitution is dark chocolate cocoa, but if you prefer milk chocolate, the regular cocoa is fine! I used red cupcake liners to make the peppermint bark garnish pop. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

Peppermint Schnapps Buttercream Frosting 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp peppermint schnapps
  • Beat butter for a few minutes. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time on a low speed. Beat to incorporate, scraping down bowl as needed. Add peppermint schnapps. I know this seems like a ton of frosting but I used almost all of it!

I’ve never put a lot of extra effort into the presentation of my baked goods, and I figured now that I’m blogging I better start! So instead of the usual Ziploc bag with a hole cut in the corner, I decided to take some extra time and use a tip (I got a new set recently for my birthday) and piping bag. Took a lot longer to frost, but I’m so pleased with the result I will definitely not be going back to the old way. I unwrapped a handful of the Ghirardelli chocolates to make some chocolate curls and sprinkled those on top of the properly frosted cupcakes. I always store my cupcakes in the fridge and they keep fresh for about a week!

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! And if your New Year’s resolution includes cutting back on sweets, you still have 3 days to indulge!

drunken eggnog cupcakes

It’s the holiday season… and nothing says holiday more than eggnog (and a little bourbon!)

Drunken Eggnog Cupcake

Use a basic white cupcake recipe. This recipe made about 14.

  Keeping with the name, I added 1 tsp of vanilla but for the other tsp I subbed bourbon.

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Milk Chocolate Bourbon Ganache

Next came the milk chocolate bourbon ganache. I thought it would be cool to use eggnog instead of heavy cream, except I found out that eggnog doesn’t get firm like heavy cream so I ended up with more of a chocolate eggnog sauce to drizzle on top of the iced cupcakes.

  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, I used ghirardelli milk chocolate
  • 1/2 TBSP bourbon

Warm the eggnog over a double boiler until almost boiling. Pour warmed eggnog over chocolate chips and whisk until completely melted. Stir in bourbon. Let cool at room temperature or in the fridge/freezer to make the process faster.

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If you would prefer to go with my original idea which was to hollow out a portion of the cupcake, fill with a thickened ganache and then frost, use:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 TBSP bourbon

Repeat process above and when cupcakes are cooled, hollow a small circle out of the center, fill with ganache and frost. Garnish with some shaved chocolate or a sprinkle of nutmeg to go with the…

Bourbon Eggnog Frosting

  • 4 1/2 – 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp whiskey
  • 4 – 5 TBSP eggnog

Beat sugar and butter until well combined. Add vanilla and whiskey, and finally eggnog, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add more sugar if too liquidy and eggnog if too thick.

To frost, put a sandwich size ziploc bag (perfect piping bag in a pinch) inside a glass, folding sides over the edge of the glass. This allows you to add the frosting without making too much of a mess. Close up the bag and cut off a small amount of one bottom corner. Pipe frosting in a swirling motion. Drizzle “ganache” over frosting (or for the original idea, sprinkle the chocolate shavings/nutmeg.)

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I snapped the picture immediately after drizzling the chocolate “ganache” but it was pretty runny and spread out quickly. I would recommend freezing the ganache for an hour or longer to thicken and then refrigerate cupcakes to store. Bottom line they are delicious. I’ll master presentation and figure out consistencies another day.

happy turkey day

This year my aunt and I are in charge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my dad’s side of the family. After deciding on an apple pie, pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert, I realized chocolate was missing. Since this day is centered around turkey (and being thankful), I thought why not make chocolate turkey cupcakes? And that is how these little beauties were born.

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Cupcakes:

A basic chocolate cupcake recipe. Dark cocoa instead of natural unsweetened cocoa will give a darker color and I prefer the taste.

Frosting:

For frosting, I used the recipe straight off the back of the Hershey’s cocoa container. Feeling a little adventurous, I added about 2 TBSP of peanut butter and used almond milk to go with the Reese’s flavors. The consistency of this frosting is perfect for piping! Since I didn’t have to worry about the presentation of the frosting as much, I just put it in a Ziploc bag, sealed the bag and snipped a piece of the corner off to quickly pipe a swirl of frosting on each cupcake.

Decoration:

Gold sprinkles are the next step.

I had wanted candy corn for the tail feathers because that was what I had seen online, however a few days before Thanksgiving apparently is not the best time to search for candy corn. My creativity thankfully kicked in while I was wandering the aisles of Walmart – Reese’s Pieces would make a perfect substitute! I placed five along the back of the frosting for each turkey.

These crunchy pieces of peanut buttery chocolatey goodness also worked for the beak. I used a knife to cut several of the orange pieces into fours. Use a large chef’s knife and they break apart just like you want them to!

Next I unwrapped the Reese’s cups and used a knife to make a slit on the center of the backs to stick a quarter of the orange Reese’s piece inside.

  A dab of black gel icing make simple turkey eyes.

The last step is setting the Reese’s cup on the frosting to put the head in place.

And wallah you have an adorable, delicious chocolate turkey!

My family was all over this baking project and named the turkeys. They also jumped for joy when I gave the o.k. for them to taste the frosting. I’m definitely feeling thankful for my family and the love and happiness they bring into my life.

And of course I’m thankful for chocolate.

Happy Thanksgiving!