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Recipe Review: Tagalong Cupcakes

15 May
I have been wanting to make these cupcakes for months.  This recipe comes from one of my favorite blogs, InsideBruCrew Life.  She has the most awesome recipes!  I saved back a box of Tagalongs with this recipe in mind.  Boy, I am so glad I did!  These were so so very good and my family has eaten them up.  I love the fact that they are made with a box cake mix…saved me some time.  If you have a box of Tagalongs stashed away somewhere, you must give these a try!
Enjoy!
Tagalong Cupcakes

1 vanilla cake mix 

Tagalong Cookies (from your favorite Girl Scout)

Preheat oven to 350* Place liners in cupcake pan. Make up the cake mix according to the directions. Put 2 tablespoons of batter in each liner. Set a cookie on top of the batter in each liner and then finish filling the liner with batter. Fill it at least 3/4 of the way full. Bake 22-24 minutes. Let cool. Frost with Honey Peanut Butter Cream. Add sprinkles and eat!

Honey Peanut Butter Cream
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp water
2-4 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
4 cup powdered sugar

Cream butter and peanut butter. Add the water, salt and vanilla and cream again. Slowly add the powdered sugar. After all the sugar is added, beat in another 1-2 tbsp water. Then beat in the honey until creamy. 

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Recipe: Streusel Topped Cranberry Pear Butter Bread

22 Apr
I have never been a big fan of pears….it’s kinda like the whole banana thing for me….it’s the texture of the fruit.  But I do love pear butter and baked goods with pears….it changes the whole texture.  This pear bread is so good!  It has a crunchy top and super moist inside that is jeweled with sweet cranberries…a perfect combination.  I used the pear butter that my mother canned last summer, but you could use a store bought version.  You could even substitute with apple butter.
Enjoy!
Streusel Topped Cranberry Pear Butter Bread
Bread
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup pear butter (apple butter may be substituted)
2 tbsp milk
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
Streusel Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x5x3 loaf pan.  Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and dried cranberries; set aside.  Combine eggs, butter, pear butter and milk; beat well.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until just combined and dry mixture is moistened, do not over mix.  Add pecans, if using.  Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Prepare topping by mixing flour and brown sugar until all lumps are gone.  Cut butter into flour mixture until pea size lumps form.  Spoon topping onto batter and lightly press down.  Bake for 60 to 65 minutes.  Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack.
I have also made this as muffins as well. 
I am linked to these blog parties!

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Recipe Review: Go Bananas Whoopie Pies

4 Mar
Whoopie Pies….doesn’t that sound like yummy goodness?  I think so and decided to make a batch after seeing whoopie pies featured in the current issue of Taste of Home.  I scored an awesome deal of 10 pounds of ripe bananas for a whole dollar and wanted to use them up quick.  This was my first attempt at making whoopie pies.  The method is simple but they do require a bit of time. 
The cookie is soft and very moist.  I found that refrigerating the dough about 30 minutes before baking made it easier to scoop it out evenly.  You want to bake the cookies and watch them carefully.  After making the first few batches, I realized that my edges were a bit more brown that I like (as you can see in the photo).  When I make these again, I will pull them out just as they are starting to brown on the edges. 

The filling is very soft and I realized as I was putting the filling onto the cookies that it would have been better to let it set up in the refrigerator as well.  The next time that I make this, I think I will pipe the filling onto the cookies. 
My family enjoyed these very much and they were gone quickly.  This is a great recipe that I will be making again.
Go Bananas Whoopie Pie
(recipe from Taste of Home)
Ingredients 

COOKIE:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda


FILLING:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Additional confectioners’ sugar


Directions


In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine banana and buttermilk. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with banana mixture.  Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until set. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.  For filling, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and butter until fluffy. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread filling on the bottoms of half of the cookies, about 1 tablespoon on each; top with remaining cookies. Dust with additional confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 2 dozen.

Linked To:
 * My Sweet and Savory:  Let’s Do Brunch
 * EKat’s Kitchen:  Friday Potluck
 * Designs by Gollum:  Foodie Friday
 * Paisley Passions:  Fun With Food Friday
 * Sweet As Sugar Cookies:  Sweets for Saturday
 * Lamb Around:  Not Baad Sundays
 * Fudge Ripple:  Tuesday Night Supper Club
 * Don’t Waste your Homemaking:  Unwasted Homemaking Party

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Gifts From My Kitchen: Peppermint Fudge Cupcake Jars

19 Jan
Right before the holidays, I was reading through one my absolute favorite blogs, Our Best Bites, looking for teacher’s gifts to make and came across this…cupcakes in a jar!  I know right?  Can you believe it?  How stinkin’ cute are they and so different?  And really very easy.  They were a hit.  Not only did they taste good but they were so pretty.  While these were made for Christmas, why not for Valentine’s?  I could not find the wide mouth jars anywhere in my town, so I used what I had on hand, the regular size jars.  I didn’t have any problems with the size difference.  I was able to find Andes candy in red and white bits that was perfect as a topping.
I made the decorating simple.  I covered the top of the jar with the lid and put a cupcake liner upside down and flattened the bottom of the liner and then screwed the ring over the liner.  Instant and easy! 
You really REALLY need to give these a try.  Perhaps for your Valentine!
Enjoy!
Peppermint Fudge Cupcake Jars
(recipe from Our Best Bites)

Makes approximately 8 jars or 12 Cupcakes

Cupcakes (cake base for this dessert adapted from Shelly Kaldunski)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz chocolate, chopped. (or abt 1/2 C chips) Use bittersweet, dark, or semi-sweet.
1/2 C + 3 tbsp real butter, cut into pieces
3/4 C plus 2 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

8 8oz wide mouth mason jars (or regular if you can’t find wide mouth)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Set mixture aside and let cool 10-15 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Using a wooden spoon (don’t use an electric mixer) stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined. Stir in the eggs one and a time, beating with your spoon until combined after each addition, and then beat in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour mixture just until no traces of flour remain; do not over mix.

Place the mason jars on a cookie sheet. Divide the mixture evenly among the 8 jars (no need for greasing the jars) or 12 cupcake liners if you’re going that route. The jars should be about half full or a little less. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the jar comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached 22-25 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully (with a pot-holder!) transfer jars to a cooling rack. Let jars cool till at least close to room temperature before topping with ganache.

Peppermint Ganache
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips are fine)
1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Place chocolate chips in a bowl. Heat cream in microwave until bubbles form around the outside. Pour in bowl over chocolate chips and immediately cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let sit for 5 minutes, add peppermint extract and then whisk until smooth. Let cool uncovered until thickened slightly, almost like a thin pudding.

To assemble, pour 1 1/2-2 Tbs ganache over the top of each cupcake jar. If desired, use a paring knife to first hollow out a well in the middle of the cake. Tilt jars to distribute ganache evenly over the top of the cake and then let cool for the ganache to set. If storing overnight, place lids and rings on jars and leave at room temperature.

Frosting
3 tbsp flour

1/2 cup milk (whole milk is best)
1/2 cup real butter
1/2 cup sugar (that’s granulated sugar, not powdered sugar)
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until you can start to see the bottom of the pan. It should still be liquid-ish.  It’s okay if you have lumps, because we’re gonna strain those out right now. Place the mixture in a mesh strainer and stir with a rubber spatula to push it through. You should end up with a nice, smooth mixture. It’s almost like pudding before it’s set.

Put this mixture in the fridge and let it cool completely, it’s fine if it stays in there long enough to get chilly, you just don’t want it warm at all. When it is chilled, you can move on to the following step.

In an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You’ll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened
milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat to combine and then scrape down the sides. Don’t be scared. It’s going to look like a goopy mess and kind of lumpy and separated.  Beat on med-high for 7-8 minutes. After 7-8 minutes it will have transformed from that sloppy mess into something gorgeous, fluffy, and incredibly light and silky.

(See instructions on the Our Best Bites blog for creating a red and white striped look.) Pipe frosting on each jar, being careful to leave room for the lid. If desired, sprinkle on some crushed candy canes or candies and then screw on jar lids.

Linked To:
  * Blessed with Grace:  Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
  * It’s A Blog Party:  Delicious Dishes
  * A Beautiful Mess:  Wordless Wednesday
  * All the Small Stuff:  Tuesdays at the Table
  * Not So Homemade:  What’s Cooking Wednesday
  * From my tiny kitchen:  Gold Star Wednesday
  * We are THAT Family:  Works for me Wednesday
  * Simply Sweet Home:  Friday Favorites
  * Prairie Story:  Recipe Swap Thursday
  * Mommy’s Kitchen:  Potluck Sunday
  * Sister Sister Sunday
  * Miz Helen’s Country Cottage:  Full Plate Thursday
  * It’s A Hodgepodge Life:  Hodgepodge Friday
  * Alli-n-son:  Sweet Tooth Friday

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Recipe: Grandma Lewis’ Chocolate Pie

6 Jan
This pie recipe comes from my grandmother, Nadine Lewis.  How awesome is that name…Nadine?  When I started having babies, I wanted to use her name for one of my girls.  But, because my sister is named after her, I thought I would let her have a chance to use it.  Well guess what?  She had all boys and I am done having babies.  What a shame!  I was robbed of that beautiful name and I blame it all on my sister.  I am still in therapy about it…lol!  
Grandma was my dad’s mom and she was one of the best bakers.  I remember at Christmas she would bake like mad and we would have the most fabulous yummy goodness there was.  She made very traditional goodies like divinity, date nut loaves, rum balls and persimmon cakes.  This list goes on and on.  However, this pie was her most requested dessert.  My dad would request it from her whenever he could.  This is not a typical chocolate pie.  It has the taste of hot chocolate and is so delightful.  I have not made this pie in years because I lost my recipe but just recently found it.  Believe me, that will not happen again.  It is going in my recipe book never to be lost again.  I have made two of these pies since Thanksgiving.  Not all of my family likes meringue, so for Christmas I left it off and it was just as good. 
I hope you enjoy this pie as much as our family does!
Grandma Lewis’ Chocolate Pie
1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, separated
3 tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 baked pie shell
Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Add sugar and mix well.  Stir in vanilla and egg yolks.  Add cocoa and flour; stirring well until combined.  Add milk whisking until there are no lumps.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick (pudding consistency).  Pour into baked pie shell.  Refrigerate overnight.  Top with meringue if desired.
Meringue
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar
In a very clean mixing bowl, add egg whites and cream of tartar.  Turn on mixer and sprinkle in sugar while beating.  Beat until eggs whites are stiff and can hold a peak.
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Linked To:

  * Something Swanky: Sweet Treats Thursday

Countdown to 2011: Desserts

2 Jan

Okay, so I am a day late in this post but I wanted to share some of the desserts I made over the past year.  I am joining Finding Joy in My Kitchen’s countdown. 

Here is some of the delightful goodness we enjoyed!

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Recipe: Peanut Butter Fudge

12 Dec

We are in the home stretch now!  I can’t believe it is two weeks until Christmas.  I don’t have everything done yet and my sister’s family will be here next weekend.  Yikes!  I am in a time crunch so I will keep this simple. 

Peanut Butter + Fudge = Yummy Goodness!

I dressed up the fudge just a bit with a chocolate and peanut topping.  I mean, after all, it is the holidays so why not?

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups sugar
1 5-ounce (2/3 cup) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups mini-marshmellows
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Line a 9″ baking pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan.  Butter the foil and set aside.  Butter the sides of a heavy saucepan.  In the saucepan, combine sugar, milk and butter.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils.  Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil at a moderate, steady rate for 12 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove saucepan from heat.  Add peanut butter, marshmellows and vanilla; stirring until mixture is combined.  Pour and spread evenly into the prepared pan.  Let stand until fudge is firm, about 2 hours.  Use foil to lift fudge out of pan.  Place chocolate chips in microwave for 1 minute and stir.  Microwave about 1 minute more or until melted; stirring after every 15 seconds.  Sprinkle fudge with chopped peanuts and drizzle chocolate over peanuts and fudge. 

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Linked To:
 * Simply Sweet Home:  Holly Bloggy Christmas Recipe Party
 * Fresh from the Farm:  Holly Jolly Christmas Recipe Swap

Week 11 Twelve Weeks of Christmas: