Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Cupcakes

Here are a few new holiday flavors. Enjoy!
Cranberry cake drenched in rich caramel sauce topped with pastry cream and sprinkled with coarse sugar. The picture does not do these sweeties justice, you have to taste one. SO GOOD. Stay tuned at the end of this post I'll give you the recipe.

Chocolate Mousse. Okay it's not new but it is one of my favorites, GREAT for the holidays!

Peanut butter kiss. Chocolate cake topped with creamy peanut butter frosting and a Peanut Blossom, one of my favorite Christmas cookies!

Chocolate chip pumpkin with cream cheese frosting. They just aren't the same without the marshmallow pumpkin. I guess I should have stocked up during Halloween. Oh wait, I did! My husband ate them ALL!

Cocoa Caliente, Mexican hot chocolate. Now there's a Christmas aroma! Sweet cinnamon and chocolate, cue the Christmas carol. If you are not a fan of the spicy chocolate drink you can make a regular hot chocolate cupcake. It's really just a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, all decked out to look like hot cocoa. If you do like the Mexican version Nestle makes Abuelita chocolate in syrup form. Just add it to your chocolate buttercream.

Cranberry Cupcakes

These cupcakes were adapted from a cake recipe a friend of mine made for me years ago. You know the kind, you take one bite and HAVE to have the recipe! Well here you go:

4 1.2 T butter
1 1/2 C sugar

Cream together. In separate mixing bowl combine:

3 C flour
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

You will also need 1 1/2 C milk. (I use whole milk)

Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately to the creamed sugar mixture. Starting and ending with the flour mixture. Fold in 3 C raw cranberries. (That's the same as 1 bag)

Pour into 2 loaf pans or a bundt pan (or cupcake wrappers!) Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cake should be golden and toothpick inserted should come out clean. (A few moist crumbs are okay though. Ya'll know how I dislike over baking.) Cupcakes only need to bake for 16-18 minutes.

If you made a cake, slice it while and drizzle with caramel sauce to serve. If you made cupcakes poke holes in the top with a skewer and pour sauce over it, allowing the cake to soak it up. It's best to do this while the cupcakes are still warm.

Caramel Sauce
1 C cream
2 C sugar
1 C butter

Combine ingredients in a pan over medium heat. Heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Serve over cake while sauce is still warm.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Easy Caramel Fudge Cookies

Ooey gooey caramel surrounded by fudgey chocolate. . . Yes please!

This wonderful little find came from a friend of mine who likes to keep her baking simple.

These are SO simple my 5 year old made them. While I was busy snapping photos she had all the cookies rolled up and ready to bake. They aren't just simple either, they are SO.GOOD.

"How?" you ask, can something with a caramel center be so easy?

Yup. . . a Rolo.

Okay so this is what you need:

1 Chocolate cake mix
2 egg

1/3 C oil
4 rolls of Rolos, or 1 bag

(I prefer to find the rolls, then I don't have to unwrap them all)

Place the cake mix in a bowl. Add eggs and oil. Stir until combined.
Pinch off a one inch ball of dough.

Now smash it flat in your hand.

Place a Rolo in the center of your dough

Now roll the dough into a ball around the Rolo.
Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 6-7 minutes. If you over bake them they will be hard and less fudgey. 7 minutes is plenty long.

You can sprinkle them with powdered sugar, or not. Just depends on your level of fancy!
These cookies were used to garnish our chocolate mousse cups. (Which is another super easy super insanely delicious recipe you just have to try.)

This recipe came from my always fabulous sister in law Laura. She ALWAYS has the most amazing ideas. I've made this mousse so many times, it always hits the spot!
Chocolate Mousse
1 large pckg chocolate pudding
(use jello brand, it just works better)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c water

1 C whipping cream, whipped (can use cool whip or pastry pride)

Combine pudding, condensed milk and water in a mixing bowl. Wisk until smooth. Let set in fridge for 5 minutes. Whip cream with an electric mixer. Fold whipped cream into pudding mixture. It's ready!

The possibilities are endless. It can be piped (via ziploc bag) into cups, on top of cupcakes, into a Graham cracker crust (ooh, or Oreo crust). See where I'm going here, it is that good. Let me know how you enjoyed your mousse!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not JUST Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let's face it. I think just about everyone loves a good homemade chocolate chip cookie. There are so many recipes out there. Some chewy, some crisp, some are chunky and nutty, the list goes on and on. My favorite is when they are hot out of the oven all soft and gooey. Mmm. . . perfect!
While they taste amazing just as they are they look a little. . . ordinary.
Even lined up on a pretty platter. . . just ordinary.

Why not fancy them up with a little more chocolate?

It really is simple, and so pretty! Just melt some chocolate chips in your microwave (at 50% power in 30 second intervals). Place melted chocolate into a plastic bag. I like to use Ziploc freezer quart size bags. The stiffer plastic will give you more control. Cut the tip off one of the bottom corners. Now you are ready to become a drizzling master.

I prefer to avoid this look. Just zigzagging back and forth on one cookie doesn't have the same sparkle.

Line all the cookies up on wax paper and drizzle the chocolate back and forth across the entire row, in one continuous motion.

You can even add some white chocolate drizzle.

Let them hang out on the wax paper until the chocolate has set back up. This usually takes a couple of hours.

Now they are ready to impress!

This is my most favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe EVER. The key to great cookies is don't over bake them. (unless you like them hard and crunchy.) I also like to use a cookie scoop for perfectly shaped cookies.
This recipe makes about 6 dozen cookies. Sometimes I cut it in half when I don't need quite so many.
Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 C Butter softened
2 1/2 C Sugar
2 C Brown sugar
Cream together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add:
3 Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla
Continue creaming for a few minutes. Sift together dry ingredients:
6 C Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
At this point the dough may be erupting out of your bowl or mixer. Sometimes I dump the whole thing into a really big bowl and hand mix it. When the dough is well combined add the chocolate:
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips
1 bag white chocolate chips
Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons) place cookie dough on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes for average size cookies. If you are using a large scoop they may need to bake up to 14 minutes. Watch the first batch carefully so you know how long your oven needs to bake them.