Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Spiral Cookies

For ages, I have been wanting to make these cookies from Sprinkle Bakes. Something about the bright, colorful spiral just makes me happy! I decided it was time to get to it, and since it's October, I made them candy corn colors. I love how they turned out! 

Pop on over to her website for the recipe, they are just as tasty as they are beautiful. They aren't super sweet; they are more of a buttery cookie. They kind of reminded me of the Danish butter cookies you get in a tin around Christmas time. They are also super easy to make in a food processor. My only tip is to make sure they are very cold when you cut them. If you let them sit out at all, you'll end up with a squished spiral, which just isn't as fun. I also used a serrated knife to help prevent that. On one side, you can see the back and forth motion of cutting, so just make sure to put that side down, and you're fine! 

If you end up making these, let me know. I'd love to see a picture of how yours turn out! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Halloween Cupcakes

Chocolate Graveyard Cupcakes!
These are super yummy. I used the Hershey's Chocolate Cupcake recipe (on the back of their cocoa powder box). The recipe is at the bottom, if you want it. Just a word of warning, when it says the batter is runny, they mean it! It is really, really runny. But don't worry, it's supposed to be, and they turn out delicious!

After making the chocolate cupcakes, I made a simple ganache (1.5 parts chocolate to 1 part heavy whipping cream) and used an injector to pipe it into the middle. Then I took a tub of cool whip, died it green and added just a little bit of peppermint extract. I frosted the cupcakes with that, and put some crushed up mint cookies on top.

Finally, I added a little gravestone for each cupcake. For those, I took some grasshopper cookies and cut them into the shape of tombstones (the extra parts I cut off worked out great for sprinkling on top), and wrote RIP on them. I happened to have orange frosting on hand, so that's what they got.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes
2 C sugar
1 3/4 C flour
3/4 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 C milk
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C boiling water
1. Heat over to 3500F. Line 2 1/2 in. muffin cups with paper bake cups.
2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on med. speed 2 min. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour into pans.
3. Bake 22-25 min. or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Apple Slices

One of my personal favorite ways to eat an apple is in the form of caramel apples. Something about the sweet, sticky caramel combined with the juicy tartness of the apple makes for a perfect combination.

To make the apples easier to eat, I dipped individual slices rather than dipping the entire apple at once. If you frequent Pinterest at all, I am sure you’ve seen something similar to this. Some people, myself included, have had difficulty making these, because the caramel does not stick too well to the pre-cut apples. To overcome this I dipped the apple slices in chocolate first (which sticks without any problems), then drizzled caramel over the top. I made two different versions, but don’t feel limited by what I made.

The first, and my personal favorite, is similar to a turtle. For these, I dipped each apple slice in melted chocolate, allowed the chocolate to set, then drizzled some caramel over the top and sprinkled with chopped pecans.

The second kind is a chocolate peanut butter combination. To make these, I melted some chocolate candy melts, stirred in a spoonful of peanut butter, and dipped. The proportions are really up to you; start with a single spoonful of peanut butter, and add from there if you want a more distinct peanut butter taste. For decoration I also drizzled some melted peanut butter over the top. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of these, so you’ll just have to believe me when I say they were beautiful and delicious.

The possibilities of flavor combinations really are endless, limited only by your own imagination.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

I recently took a vacation to visit all my family back home in AZ. It was a wonderful trip, and I loved seeing everyone, but sometimes my family can be a little stressful. And normally when I'm stressed, I bake. But I couldn't, because I was staying with family; I didn't really feel like I could just commandeer my in-laws' kitchen. So once I got back to my own home, one of the first things I did was whip up these bad boys. They are the perfect combination of fudgy brownie and salty peanut butter.

They are also super easy to make. Simply bake your favorite brownies in a mini muffin tin. I used Duncan Hines box mix. Follow the instructions on the back of the box, and bake for 16 minutes. For half of the brownie bites, I placed half of a Hershey's dark chocolate candy on top immediately after removing the brownies from the oven. This allowed the heat of the brownies to melt the chocolate a bit. For the other half, I stirred in peanut butter chocolate chips. I don't know if you've seen them in the store, but they are a fun swirl chip, half peanut butter, half chocolate. You could also just leave the brownies plain, if that's your preference. I thought both versions I tried turned out super tasty.

While your brownies are cooling, whip up the peanut butter frosting. Beat together 1/2 cup softened butter with 2/3 cup peanut butter. Then, slowly add in 1 cup powdered sugar. Simply pipe that onto your brownies, top with a mini peanut butter cup, and you are good to go! Find a friend to share these with, or gorge yourself on them. Believe me, once you eat one, it's hard to stop.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mini Peach Cobbler

Like most people, I have many favorite desserts. Topping the list are cheesecake, crème brulée, and magic cookie bars. However, since autumn is approaching, my mind is on pies, cinnamon, and fruit, so I made peach cobbler!

I wanted to make it mini, but couldn’t find any winning recipes out there for a mini cobbler. This version is adapted from my normal peach cobbler, with just a few adjustments to make it cupcake-sized.

There were many options for making peach cobbler in mini form. The easiest is probably to simply put some peaches in a cupcake pan and cover with normal cobbler batter. That would work, but I wanted to be able to pick mine up to eat it. To achieve that, I decided to make a sort of crust out of the cobbler first, pre-bake it so it wouldn’t get soggy, and then add peaches and a bit more cobbler on top for looks. It turned out perfect!

Do you want to know what I did? Of course you do!

First, mix white cake mix with butter until you reach the consistency shown below. Spoon that mixture into a lined cupcake pan, pressing down with a cup to get an even layer. Save a bit of the mixture for the topping.

Pop the crusts in the oven and bake for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how you prefer your cobbler. The longer you leave it in, the easier they will be to hold while eating; I like mine fairly soft, so 5 minutes was perfect.

Next, add peaches. Use fresh if you have them; if there aren’t any on sale, you can use canned (which is what I had to do). Add some cinnamon to get that autumn flavor.

Add a few drops of the cake and butter mixture on top of the peaches, then bake at 350 for an additional 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool (if you can resist the delicious smell coming your way) for 5 minutes.

You should go make these now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

Chocolate. Peanut Butter. Popcorn.

Only three ingredients to make one of the most addicting snacks you will ever eat. How can you beat that?

Want to know how to make it? It couldn't be simpler.

First, melt 1 ½ cups of milk chocolate. I used chocolate almond bark because it is what I had on hand, but regular chocolate chips would work just as well. You could also use semi-sweet or a blend of milk and semi-sweet chips depending on how sweet you want it.

Next, stir in a big spoonful of peanut butter, roughly ½ cup. Stir until it is all incorporated into the chocolate.

Pour the chocolate mixture over 1 bag of popped popcorn*. It can be a little hard to stir; to make it easier, use a bowl that is bigger than the amount of popcorn you have. This way you don’t have to worry about popcorn spilling out when you stir.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Once the chocolate mixture is evenly distributed, spread the popcorn out onto the cookie sheet and allow the chocolate to set up so it is no longer melted, about an hour. If you need to set it up faster, you can put it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Once it is all set up, break it up into chunks and enjoy.

For a fun way to serve this, you can put it into cupcake liners (shown above), or package it up into bags and give it away. It would make a great Christmas or Holiday gift that is delicious, simple, and inexpensive; perfect for this stressful time of the year.

*For the popcorn, you can either pop your own if you have a popcorn popper, or if you are like me, you can just buy Newman’s Own Organic Popcorn. I bought it at Walmart, so it’s easy to find, and there is no butter or salt added, so it is great for things like this.