Happy Engagement Cookies

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It was one of my best friends’ engagement parties and I decided I wanted to make some of my sugar cookies with royal icing. I have already made these delightful treats last Valentine’s Day and wrote you a how to decorate with royal icing with step by step directions and tips. You can find that here: https://healthypassions.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/valentines-day-sugar-cookies/

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I have to admit, these cookies take a day or two to make, but they taste great and look impressive!  I decided to incorporate her wedding colors and wedding date on one set of cookies and another I saw the idea on Pinterest and had to try it! The stick figures were pretty simple but so cute and fun! I used the yellow colored icing that I had for the numbers in the dated cookies and made the ring “shine” to give it a little more color.

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My favorite part about making these cookies is the decorating. It’s so fun to be creative and let your ideas shine! The baking part is very easy and the lemon zest and added juice give the cookies a lovely fresh lemon taste. It takes the boring plain sugar cookie to a whole new level.

This time I added a little more lemon zest and added juice of half a lemon to the icing. I think that it’s fun to mix things up, next time i will try to add chopped cranberries or maybe some orange zest! Don’t ever be afraid to try something new especially with baking! Use your imagination and creativity, you will be surprised!

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Snicker’s cupcakes

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Baking is beginning to take over my heart. I never was a baker, I always thought I wasn’t good at it. Then one day I decided I would give it a go and baked a three layer cake, I mean why not right?? Surprisingly it turned out pretty good for my first time, and my first successful homemade baking venture! I don’t know whether it gave me some confidence, but ever since, I have had mostly successful and tasty baking experiences! I have yet to make up my own recipe however, I still need to learn ratios, but that is my ultimate goal! One day I would love to feel comfortable enough to be able to make up my own tasty treats, and I can’t wait for that day.

This recipe was derived from a post I saw on Pinterest, Snicker’s Cake. She is such a talented blogger and makes mine look puny.. so don’t judge!! I thought this cake was brilliant, beautiful, and looked so sinful! I love cupcakes and my husband is gone so I wouldn’t have anyone to share a giant cake with, so I decided to turn this cake into 24 cupcakes and share them with my coworkers!  I used the same ingredients as she, but the baking time is different and the nougat filling was placed inside the cupcakes, unlike the layers in the cake.

Get ready to be taken by surprise, and to indulge in a snickers bar that has miraculously turned into a cupcake. This blogger couldn’t have made it any better and I’m so glad I decided to try it in cupcake form!

To get started, preheat your oven to 350°. Line 24 cupcake pans with cupcake liners. In a large mixing bowl, sift together your dry ingredients: flour, baking and soda powder, sugar, salt, and cocoa powder. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together all of your wet ingredients: eggs, oil, coffee, buttermilk, and vanilla. Slowly pour in your wet ingredients to your dry in increments and mix on medium speed until incorporated about 2 minutes, stop and scrape the sides and very bottom to gather the flour, etc that have accumulated on the sides. Mix for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute. The batter will seem pretty thin, but it will bake beautifully and it will still be slightly moist inside! Grab an ice cream scoop and place your batter in the liners evenly. I filled mine a little over halfway full. Place in the oven on the same rack and bake for 10 minutes, turn the pans around and bake for another 5-6 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted in the middle and comes out clean. After about 10 or so minutes, take them out to cool on a cooling rack.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make your nougat filling (my favorite part). Take a saucepan and melt your butter on medium high heat. Add the sugar and milk, stir until the sugar has dissolved completely, bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the burner and add the peanut butter, marshmallow fluff,  and vanilla. Stir until evenly mixed. Gently fold in the peanuts and let sit to reach room temperature.

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While everything is cooling, go ahead and make your salted caramel sauce, you can also make this ahead of time, it can sit at room temp for 2 days or can be chilled in the fridge. You can find this recipe on browneyed baker’s blog as well. This is the very first successful caramel sauce attempt I’ve had! I’ve tried so far about 5 times and number six I guess was the right number! Every time I’ve tried, I’ve burnt the caramel or not cooked it long enough. The key is the right timing. You need to take the caramel off the heat right when it reaches 350°. If you miss the timing, you will ruin the caramel! I do think I could’ve made a better batch, but I’m just glad it was edible!

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Lastly, make your chocolate ganache. This sauce is absolutely amazing! Tastes just like the chocolate that’s covering the snicker’s bars! I literally licked the whisk clean when I was done, and was not ashamed at all. This one also requires a little bit of timing. Coarsly chop your chocolate, you should use a chocolate bar, but I couldn’t find one at the store other than semi-sweet, so I decided to try milk chocolate chips (Ghirardelli my favorite!) place in a medium sized bowl. In a small saucepan heat up your cream until it just begins to boil, this is the right timing part, and transfer to the chocolate bowl. Let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk starting in the center and going outward until it’s just incorporated and smooth.

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Set aside to cool. Stir occasionally to keep it thick. If you make this ahead of time you can also sit this in room temp overnight or up to 2 days, just be sure to tightly wrap it in cling wrap and set a bowl inverted over top of the ganache bowl.

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Your cupcakes and nougat filling should be cooled by now. Place your nougat filling in a piping bag, using Wilton’s Bismarck Round Decorating Tip 230, fill the cupcakes center releasing pressure once you get to the top of the cupcake, then take it out. Repeat for all cupcakes. If you don’t have this or don’t want to purchase it, take a paring knife and cut out a deep circle in the center of the cupcakes. Be careful not to go through the cupcakes bottom. Take a small spoon and fill the hole with the nougat filling, replace the top with the small top layer.

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Lastly, make your icing. Take your mixer and beat your butter and cream cheese on medium high speed for about 5 minutes, if you have it use your whisk attachment. Pour in the salted caramel, and whisk until incorporated. Turn down the speed to medium low and slowly pour in the powdered sugar, in increments until it’s all mixed well. Take a spatula and scrape the outsides into the middle. Increase the speed to medium high and beat for another 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. If you make this ahead of time, you can also cover with cling wrap and set in the fridge.

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To assemble your cupcakes, ice with your butter cream frosting. Take your salted caramel sauce and pour in a baggy with a small whole snipped in the corner, or use a clear squeeze bottle (I use these and they are a lot easier!). Do the same with the chocolate ganache. Squeeze both sauces over top of the icing. Sprinkle the top with chopped peanuts.

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What you’ll need:

For the CupCakes:
2½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup + 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1½ cups strong black coffee, hot
¾ cup vegetable oil
4½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Nougat Filling:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup evaporated milk
1½ cups marshmallow fluff
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups salted peanuts, roughly chopped

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup salted caramel sauce (see browneyed baker’s recipe)
2 cups powdered sugar

For the Milk Chocolate Ganache:
8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces (½ cup) heavy cream

For the Assembly & Garnish:
Additional salted caramel sauce & chocolate ganache
Chopped peanuts

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Strawberry Lemon Bars

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Some time ago I had my first blog post, it was my Raspberry bars . I had a small cheap camera and had absolutely no clue what I was doing! Now that I’m more practiced I can post this with a bit more confidence! This recipe is the same as my raspberry bars except I added strawberries and more lemon.

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In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and lemon zest with a whisk. Cut the butter into small pieces. Place in the flour mixture and the egg. Use a pastry blender (or your hands if you don’t have one) and push down throughout the flour mixture until there is little loose flour.

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Preheat your oven to 375°. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with PAM. Spread about half of the flour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish and press down until flat all over.

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In a medium sized bowl take your strawberries (washed stemmed and cut) and mix them together with your cornstarch, lemon juice, and preserves. Mix until preserves and cornstarch is dissolved. Make sure to taste test this mixture and add more lemon juice if needed. You can also add sugar, but I thought it was sweet enough without it. If you feel it needs to be thicker, you can add a little more cornstarch.

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Once you’ve found the right taste and texture, add the mixture on top of the bottom crust. Spread evenly throughout. Take the rest of your flour crumbles and sprinkle on top throughout the entire dish evenly. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes, halfway through turn the dish around. It’s ready when the top is browned and the strawberry mixture is bubbling.

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Set out to cool. Once cooled, cut into squares.

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What you’ll need:

1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
Zest of 1½ lemons
16 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
2-3 6oz containers of strawberries

For the strawberry mixture:
About half of a small jar of Strawberry Preserves
4 tsp cornstarch
Juice of 2 lemons

 

Cranberry Eggnog Cupcakes

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It’s Christmas time!! My favorite time of year for many reasons, one of them is baking. Cookies, cupcakes, breads, cakes, you name it and I will probably be baking it! This post is a new baking item I tried out, and it turned out wonderfully! I found this recipe on pinterest and it did not disappoint! Super easy to make and can be festive too!! I bought these cute little santa cupcake liners at Target and I decided to add some sprinkled cranberry bits on top to give the icing some color and tartness. I highly recommend you do the same!

1. Preheat your oven to 350°.

2. Sift your cake mix and nutmeg into a medium sized bowl set aside.

3. Combine all of your wet ingredients (eggs, oil, eggnog, vanilla extract, sour cream) and mix until eggs are beaten and ingredients are combined.

4. Take your dry ingredients and slowly add to the mixer in batches. Mix until just combined.

5. Fold in the cranberries, do not mix them until just combined, then fill the cupcake liners with 3/4 of cupcake mix and bake for 17-22 minutes or until a toothpick or knife in the center comes out clean.

6. Frosting: beat butter for 2 minutes. Add cider mix, nutmeg, and eggnog. Slowly add powdered sugar in batches until you reach desired consistency of your frosting. You may add more cider or nutmeg if needed.

7. Once the cupcakes are cooled, pipe your frosting onto the cupcakes. Sprinkle with the cranberry bits and some pearl sprinkles, or anything you may want to use to decorate with!

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Cake:

1 box white cake mix
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 eggs
1/3 C. oil
1 C. eggnog
1/2 C. plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp, vanilla extract
2 C. fresh cranberries, chopped
1 C. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. spiced apple cider mix, optional
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 Tbsp. eggnog
3-4 C. powdered sugar
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Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Remember when i said I would  be posting a lot of fall and pumpkin recipes?? I wasn’t lying! Seriously have a problem with pumpkin, I love it all! Pumpkin food, pumpkin candles, pumpkin decorations… it’s sad really. So please feel free to revel in my pumpkin madness these next few months.

I basically took a regular snickerdoodle recipe and added some pumpkin ingredients to it. These cookies are really easy to make and the end result is amazing. My favorite part is how light and fluffy they are in the center, and the sugar and cinnamon coating on the top just melts in your mouth.

You’re going to need to save room because just one cookie won’t cut it! They’ll keep you coming back for more.

In a medium bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg). Set aside. Take an electric mixer and beat together sugars and butter on medium high speed until light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Add your pumpkin puree, blend. Next add your egg and vanilla until just combined. Turn on low speed and slowly add your dry ingredients with small batches at a time. Mix until just incorporated. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for an hour.

Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 350°. Take a small bowl and mix together your sugar and spices. Take a baking sheet with parchment paper and start rolling your dough into balls as equal in size as you can make them. Once rolled into a ball, roll around in the sugars to coat. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat this until all of the dough is rolled and coated. Take the palm of your hand (washed of course, let’s keep this germ free people!) and gently press down on the center of each ball of dough. You don’t want to flatten the dough completely, just a little bit. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for 5 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool (or devour while nice and warm!!! My favorite time to eat cookies!).

Serve with an ice cold glass of milk, you won’t be disappointed!

For the cookies:

3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ ground cloves

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the coating:

½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ ground cloves


Nutella Ice Cream

Ahh Nutella, my favorite breakfast treat on toast with some peanut butter and banana. I could eat it plain it’s so good! So of course I had to make this in ice cream form! Of course, you will need an ice cream maker for this recipe, we got ours as a wedding gift and I have definitely made good use of it!

This ice cream is very rich and chocolaty, so if you’re not a fan of chocolate, then you may want to omit the chocolate bars and try vanilla! Also, I added Almond extract instead of Vanilla, it gave it a cherry hint and reminded me of Cherry Garcia ice cream! Summer time is almost over, so be sure to make this yummy treat before  the cool weather comes!

If you’ve never had nutella, it’s like the peanut butter version of chocolate! Made with hazelnuts, cocoa, and skim milk! You have to make this ice cream, ASAP!

Take a small pot of simmering water and place another bowl on top and start melting your chocolate. You don’t want to over boil the water or you will burn the chocolate, and there’s no turning back from that! Gradually pour in the cocoa, and whisk, it will start to turn clumpy but that’s ok. Then add the milk, slowly, whisk until smooth. Take off the heat to let cool.

Whisk your eggs in a separate large bowl, until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes, then slowly add the sugar until all is whisked. Whisk another minute.

Next add the cream mixture and almond extract (or vanilla if you prefer). Add the chocolate mixture and cover tight, refrigerate a few hours or overnight (preferable)

 This is the ice cream maker, one of the most amazing inventions ever!

Before transferring to an ice cream maker, remove 1 cup of the mixture into a separate bowl and whisk in the Nutella until smooth, “ahhh-mazing”. Add this back into the main mixture and stir. Process in an ice cream maker and churn until desired consistency.

You’ll want to wait until the ice cream is stiff, but not too stiff because the freezer will help with that. You’ll want to freeze for a few hours to stiffen up the ice cream. Lastly, “sigh” and enjoy the amazing-ness!

Next time I am going to make my ice cream cones homemade!! Although these tasted pretty stellar!

What you’ll need:
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I like Ghiradelli)
1/3 cup dutch-process cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 & 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella

Hummingbird Cake

Sweet summertime! Everyone loves the sunny days, laying out by the pool, drinking an ice cold lemonade (maybe an adult beverage if you will). But when I think of summer, I think of all the amazing salads, seafood, BBQ, and fresh fruit! I usually don’t crave desserts, unless it’s frozen yogurt or ice cream, but this hummingbird cake is amazing and the perfect treat this summer! This coffee cake is filled with fresh pineapple, bananas, and coconut and topped with a sweet icing sprinkled with nuts.

Perfect for a lovely breakfast paired with a cup of coffee or a nice and light dinner dessert. The crispy outside meets the soft moist inside, and let me tell you, you’ll be in heaven! Not to mention, it’s super easy to make!! So let’s get started.

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease your bunt pan with butter, then pour flour over the greased parts. Tip the pan over and pat to remove excess flour. Take a small bowl and combine the flours, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt with a whisk. Set aside.

In an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on med-high until soft and fluffy about 2 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Blend in vanilla and coconut extract (if available). Beat in the yogurt. Take a rubber spatula and evenly mix together from the sides of the bowl.

On low speed, take your dry ingredients and place half in the mixer. Then take your mashed bananas and the other half of dry ingredients and mix well until just incorporated.  Take your rubber spatula and add your coconut and pineapple, do not mix, but fold gently.

Pour your mixture into the bunt pan and evenly spread. Place in the oven for 50-55 minutes, turning the pan halfway through baking. Once it’s ready take a toothpick and stick in the center of the pan, if it comes out clean then it’s ready!

Let cool 20-30 minutes, then turn over on a wire rack and gently take a knife and slide out onto the wire rack. Allow to cool completely before pouring the glaze on the cake.

To make the glaze, whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. If it’s too thin, add more confectioners sugar, if too thick add another tsp of milk. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake with a large spoon. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts and coconut.

Slice, serve, impress.

What you’ll need:
For the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract (if available)
1 cup low-fat plain greek yogurt
2 mashed bananas
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1 cup finely chopped pineapple

For the glaze icing:
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar ( maybe more if needed see recipe)

For the topping:
shredded coconut
chopped walnuts & pecans
enough to cover the amount you would like!! I used about 1/3 cup each

I derived this recipe from none other than my fav. food blog annies-eats.com

Tiramisu Cupcakes

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always crave sweets. But I will always have room in my belly for some Tiramisu!

If you have never heard of Tiramisu before it’s a dessert originating in Italy. The cake version is made out of lady fingers soaked in coffee and liquor with a mascarpone and egg yolk frosting. This recipe is a twist on the original recipe and i absolutely love it! It is the perfect amount, plus I just love to make cupcakes 🙂

If you aren’t a coffee person, you should still give this a try! The flavor combination of these cupcakes really goes well together and I promise you wont be disappointed!

To get started, preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line your cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. After sifting, whisk to mix evenly; set aside.

Add milk to a small saucepan. You want to take your vanilla bean and cut it lengthwise to open the inside. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod into the pan using your knife, and add the scraped pod to the pan as well.  Heat over medium-high heat just until bubbles appear around the edge of the pan.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard, or rinse and save it for some other recipe!

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar.  Whisk to blend.  Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water (Like you would a double boiler for melting chocolate!), whisking occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. This took me about 5-6 minutes. Return the bowl to the electric mixer. Whisk on high speed until the mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, you should see it thicken as well, and when you lift a spoon with the mixture it should not drip, but fall like a ribbon or string. This took me a couple of tries before I got it just right!

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture in three separate additions. When you fold something, you want to be careful not to mix, but gently take a section and do exactly what it sounds, and fold it over the other side. This will take a few minutes to mix well but it keeps the batter fluffy! Stir ¾ cup of the egg batter into the milk and vanilla mixture to thicken it up, then gently fold the milk and vanilla mixture into the batter until it’s just until evenly incorporated. Take an ice cream scoop and fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cakes are set and have a light golden color. This will take about 20 minutes. Once done, transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool.

While the cupcakes are cooling, start to make the soaking syrup! Combine the hot coffee, Kahlua, and sugar, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. I didn’t have espresso, so I just brewed some strong coffee! Place the warm cupcakes on a wire rack and place a baking sheet underneath to catch any dripping liquid.  Use a pastry brush or basting brush to brush the coffee mixture onto the tops of the cupcakes, do this until all of the syrup is gone. I  made the mistake of not using all of the syrup and I regret that because my cupcakes could’ve used a little more on them. Don’t be afraid they will get too soggy (that’s where I went wrong). It helps to poke each cupcake a few times with a toothpick to help the syrup soak in.  Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attached. I do not have one so I used my electric hand mixer with a whisk attached and it turned out just fine! You will need a whisk for this part.  Whip on medium-high speed until the mixture looks like cool whip and you will see little peaks forming in the bowl.  In a stand up mixer, combine the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar and mix on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Preferably you should use a paddle attachment if you have one, I did not so I think that’s why my frosting looked a little less smooth than it should’ve been.  Fold about a third of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture with a spatula to lighten.  Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until evenly incorporated.

Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag. I used a plain round tip, larger size. I really like Wilton brand. I use disposable bags and plastic white holders for the tips. They are washable and easy to use! After piping the frosting, dust the cupcakes with unsweetened cocoa powder. Serve and impress!!

Yield: about 24 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1¾ cups plus 2 tbsp. cake flour, sifted
1¼ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. coarse salt
6 tbsp. milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
5 large whole eggs plus 4 large egg yolks
1½ cup sugar

For the soaking syrup:
½ cup freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
3 tbsp. Kahlua
6 tbsp. sugar

For the frosting:
1½ cups heavy cream
12 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

 Originated from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes recipe book.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprints

There are some days when you know exactly what you’re doing… and there are some days when you have no clue. Today was one of those clueless days. I always saw caramel and thought it looked pretty simple to make, you just boil sugar, water, corn syrup and voila!

Little did I know that caramel is pretty complex to make if you’ve never made it before. So my first time was pretty unsuccessful… and so was the second. After that I decided to call it quits for the day and try it again some other time. I was so close to getting it right the second time, it looked and tasted like caramel but it was still very thin and didn’t turn sticky like it should have. I realized that I took it off of the heat a little too soon!

You’re probably wondering why I am even talking about caramel, and that’s because this recipe actually calls for caramel inside the thumbprints. Because the caramel didn’t work out for me (and I was way to frustrated to keep trying) I decided to add my own personal touch and substitute raspberry preserves instead. Tastes like peanut butter and jelly cookies!! And they are deeelish!

This recipe is super simple to make (esp. when the caramel is out of the picture!) and can satisfy any palette!

To get started, pre heat your oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer (if unavailable mix by hand) beat together the brown and granulated sugar and butter until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla extract. If you are using an electric mixer, take a spoon and scrape down the sides to evenly mix the dough. Add the peanut butter. Mix until well blended and smooth.

Next in a separate mixing bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, and salt. In small batches, add the flour mixture to the batter. You don’t want to add it all at one time. After all of the flour is mixed in, make sure you mix the dough well and that there are no patchy flour spots remaining.

Scoop about a tablespoon sized amount of dough and roll them into balls with your hands, like you would meatballs. You will want to knead the dough with your hand a few times, I did this by simply taking the dough in my hand and squeezing it and turning it and squeezing it again, then rolling it into a ball shape. This will prevent the dough from cracking easily and make it much easier to form. You should place them about 1- 1 1/2 inches apart from each other on the baking sheets.

Use your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon and make an indentation into the middle of the cookie balls. If the dough cracks, simply mold it back together as best as you can. Place in the oven for 13-16 minutes, turning the baking sheet around to bake evenly. When they are done they should be a golden brown color. Once out of the oven, lightly push down in the middle again to reinforce the indentations. Let cool for about 5 minutes and set on a wire rack.

Once the cookies are cooled completely take a spoon and place just enough raspberry preserves to fill in the thumbprints. It’s important that you wait until the cookie is all the way cooled, to prevent the preserves from melting and spilling off of the cookies.

Next, you can either use semi-sweet chocolate or milk chocolate (I used milk chocolate, and Ghirardelli of course!) And melt the chocolates in the microwave or by using a double boiler. Place a few spoon fulls of chocolate into a plastic baggy and snip a very small whole in the corner of the bag. Gently pipe the chocolate making lines horizontally and vertically. Or whichever crazy way your hart desires!

 What you’ll need:
8 tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (200g) creamy salted peanut butter (see Note)
1 3/4 cups (250g) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt


Raspberry Preserves

Milk Chocolate Chips (Or semi-sweet) 

Peanut Butter Thumbprints Adapted from David Lebovitz.

Be My Valentine Cupcakes

I know you are thinking… wow, she’s making more desserts?! Yes, I sure am!! And RJ is one happy man! He will be on some serious sugar high’s this week! But because it’s Valentine’s Day, I had to bake some more treats! I saw a recipe for Red Velvet Cupcakes and thought I would give it a whirl! I’ve never made Red Velvet anything before, so I was a bit timid about making these, especially when I saw the end result of the cupcake mix! It was so red! But they ended up turning out marvelously!

I did however have a hard time tasting the cocoa powder, so next time I make these, I will definitely add more cocoa powder and see how it turns out. I also decided to add a tsp of almond extract to the cream cheese frosting to give it a little more flavor and it turned out very tasty!

Lets begin by lining your muffin/cupcake tins with paper liners. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Next take a medium sized bowl and whisking your dry ingredients together. This will be your cake flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In an electric stand mixer, combine your eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until blended well, then turn it down to low speed and pour your dry ingredients in small portions. I usually divide into 4 sections. This will take about 2 minutes, or until it is well blended.

Next divide your batter into the cupcake tin as evenly as you can. I use an ice cream scooper to help me keep the same amount. Bake in the oven for 18 minutes, being sure to rotate the pans halfway through. When the timer is up, take a toothpick and insert into the middle of the cupcakes to make sure they are done. You will know this because the toothpick will come out clean. Wait 5 minutes then transfer the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, go ahead and make your cream cheese frosting. I have used this recipe before when I made the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, one of my favorites! In a stand mixer, cream together your cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes. Make sure your cream cheese is chilled and your butter is at room temp.

Next sift in your powdered sugar. Then add your imitation vanilla extract (this keeps the frosting white!) and almond extract. Mix on low speed for another 2-3  minutes or until well blended and creamy. And for another few minutes beat on high speed.

Now you can decorate your cupcakes!! Make sure they are completely cool before you do so. I used a star shaped tip for my frosting.  I also found those cute sugar letters at Michael’s! I hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day and treat yourself (and your special someone) to these lovely treats!! Enjoy 🙂

What you’ll need:

For the cupcakes:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

For the frosting:
10 oz. cream cheese, chilled
6½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 tsp. clear vanilla extract