Monday, December 8, 2014

Baking Monday – Mint Chip Sugar Cookies

It's December ... time for all things minty! These mint sugar cookies are super yummy. I had in my mind that pink cookies would be more festive than green, but didn't go quite pink enough, so they ended up a weird salmon-y tint instead (of course, they'd be perfectly fine without the dye, but I think it's good to give some kind of visual indication that they're not plain chocolate chip cookies. Expecting one and getting the other could be an unpleasant surprise!) They'd probably be good rolled in sanding sugar, too. Happy December!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Baking Monday – Double Chocolate Cookie Bars

Today's dessert was experimental. I mixed up these favorite drop cookies but was running a wee tight on time for baking. I wondered if they would be just as good in bar shape?

Verdict: They were still good, but not great, and I think it was because of the texture. They looked very brownie like, but maintained their cookie texture. Which works for a chocolate chip cookie cake, because the taster knows what to expect. But when you're thinking "brownie," but it tastes and feels "cookie," maybe that takes away from the desserting experience? Hmm. Anyhow, they were still good, but I'll take the extra time to mini scoop them from now on! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Baking Monday – Candy Bar Blondies

This isn't my first time recycling Halloween candy into baked goodies, but it is a new recipe. These bars had a mix of Baby Ruth and Butterfinger bars.

Easy to make, disappeared quickly!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

(Not So) Spooky Halloween Pudding Cups

Elementary school in the fall means ... it's party time! The parent who planned this year's fall party sent out a suggestion to make these cute desserts for the second grade. 

I make little paper faces as a template. After dropping one into a cup, I stacked another cup inside to keep it straight, then traced with a Sharpie. This worked really well, especially when making them for a crowd!

While the dessert gets lots of oohs and aahs, guess what? Kids don't really like vanilla pudding (and I agree!) I tried to make it as yummy as possible by adding a top layer of chocolate pudding under the crushed Oreo cookies. But I'd say that 75% of the kids scooped off the top layer and the rest went in the trash. Which is kind of what I expected, so no worries.

Dora came up with suggestions for making faces on a chocolate version, like using stickers or googley eyes. My grade on these treats would be C for taste (unless vanilla pudding is totally your thing) but A for cuteness!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Baking Monday – (Not) Red Velvet Cupcakes

I had avoided red velvet cake for years, because of the crazy amount of food dye, something that I try not to use too much of. Then last year, I had an order for red velvet cupcakes and realized: Hey! These are pretty tasty! and wondered how they'd turn out without the dye.

A bit of history ... the "red" in red velvet occurs as a reaction between the cocoa powder and acidic vinegar and buttermilk, that would naturally turn the batter a reddish hue. "Brown Velvet Chocolate Cake" was apparently popular back in the 1940's (I'll have to look up that recipe sometime!) It's unclear who eventually decided to pump up the color with lots of food dye.

Of course, they are just as tasty without any extra coloring. The cake is not as spectacular as traditional red velvet, and not the deep brown of chocolate, but nice looking just the same! A nice in-between cupcake ... not super chocolatey, but not plain vanilla!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Baking Monday – Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

My birthday fell on a very busy weekday this year. Our evening was filled with homework, cub scouts, and curriculum night at school. Mr. Hotcakes and I wrapped up the evening with takeout from Chipotle on the couch, watching shows. Friends wanted to know who bakes my birthday dessert … this year, I did! Even though the evening was busy, my day was very peaceful and relaxing, and part of that day was spent baking. 

I'm always up for a new chocolate/peanut butter dessert combo, and these cookies were great … a perfect birthday treat!  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Baking Monday – Candy Corn Cupcakes

We went to two pumpkin carving parties this weekend, so fall treats were in order! I used the Rainbow Cake recipe to make some candy corn themed cupcakes.

I hadn't used this recipe for cupcakes before, so I wasn't sure how full to make the cups. These pictures are of batch #2 … the first cups were filled too full, and they exploded out of the top of the pan. (Happily, they ended up getting mixed with vanilla pudding and turned into candy corn trifle!)

Lesson learned: fill the cups only halfway! I used two mini scoops of batter for the orange bottoms then two more for the yellow. The recipe makes about twenty very yummy vanilla cupcakes.

Each was frosted with vanilla buttercream (one stick butter, four cups confectioner's sugar, one-half teaspoon of vanilla and gradually add milk to piping consistency) and decorated with a candy corn. Theo is very happy because he's been requesting that our decorative fall dish be filled with candy corn for two weeks now. I'm happy because cupcakes! 

Both parties were so much fun. We are very lucky to have found such a great group of friends in our town. Neither of the boys were super into carving pumpkins … because it was a beautiful day, they were much more interested in running around outside with friends. So, Dora and I did the carving work this year, and opted to go traditional – a cat and a ghost. Looking forward to one more week of fall fun leading up to Halloween!