S’Mores Cupcakes with Homemade Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

I have a slight obsession with my kitchen torch.

So when my 12-year-old friend Caitlin came over to bake with me, I talked all through lunch how fun it was going to be to use the torch on these cupcakes.  She kept rolling her eyes at me and saying “you’re really excited about that, aren’t you?”  I told her just to wait, that she would understand once she got to use it.

And when the frosting was done and it was time to torch, I did the first 2.  Her eyes got kind of big, and she asked “can I try it?”

So I showed her how to use it.  And then I didn’t get it back. 😉

“Told ya it was fun!”

She grinned.  “Ok, you were right.  It’s pretty fun.”

So if you don’t have a little kitchen torch yet, you should get one.  They are wicked fun.  And you can get one for like $20 at Bed Bath and Beyond!  Totally worth it.

One year ago: BBQ chicken and Pineapple Pizza and Peach Blueberry Cobbler
Two years ago: Chai Tea Bread and Baked Jalapeno Poppers

S’mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Fluff Frosting
cupcakes inspired by Annie’s Eats
Chocolate cupcake recipe courtesy of Hershey’s
Marshmallow Fluff recipe courtesy of Marshmallow Madness, as seen on Annie’s Eats

For the graham cracker crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers, ground into crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp butter, melted

for the cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (high altitude, reduce to 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (high altitude, reduce to 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

for the frosting:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites, at room temp
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for the graham cracker crust:
Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Mix thoroughly.  Drop a scant 1 tbsp of graham cracker mixture into each liner and press down to line the bottom (a small bottle works well for this).  Bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven the oven temperature.

for the cupcakes:
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin).  Scoop batter into cupcake liners.  Bake for 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

for the frosting:
Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.  Heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240 degrees on the candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  As the temperature of the sugar mixture begins to approach its endpoint, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Once soft peaks have been reached, lower the mixer speed to low.

When sugar mixture reaches 240 degrees, remove from heat.  Pour the syrup in a very slow, steady stream down the side of the mixing bowl (while mixer on low) until it has all been incorporated (go very slowly so you don’t cook the eggs).

Once the syrup has been incorporated, increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture has been cooled considerably, 6-7 minutes.  Blend in vanilla and beat 2 minutes more.  Scoop into frosting bag and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Enjoy!!

 

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Fudgy Dark Chocolate Brownies

Something funny has happened the past few years as I’ve gotten more and more into cooking and baking.  It seems the more I get involved in the kitchen, the following things happen:

– the rarer I like my steak

– the drier I like my wine

– and the darker I like my chocolate

I’m sure it has something to do with something technical like my palate changing and developing, but it is what it is.  Medium steaks have turned medium rare.  Merlots have turned into Malbecs and Temperanillos.  Rieslings have turned into Savignon Blac. And Hershey’s milk chocolate has turned into Special Dark.  I can’t say when it happened, it just sort of progressed over time. 

So when Ghirardelli offered to send some of us some of their new Intense Dark line (through the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program), I jumped at the chance.  See all this chocolate they sent me?

Well, ok.  There was more.  There was a bag of Sea Salt Soiree in addition to the bar of chocolate.  But we devoured that in like 2 days.  And if you look closely, the bar has been opened too.  It’s almost gone too.  That’s pretty much an empty box/bar of chocolate.  The almonds and the sea salt and the dark chocolate could not go together any more perfectly. 

But wait, Ghirardelli sent us chocolate to make something out of this dark chocolate, not just eating it.  Dangit.  Ok, what to make out of this amazing dark chocolate.  What better way to highlight amazing chocolate than with a brownie.  But calling these fudgy brownies might be a bit of an understatement.  “Brownie-like-fudge” might be more accurate.  These brownies are so rich and fudgy, you might forget you’re actually eating a brownie and not some piece of fudge from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. 

So kind of like the Gooey Butter Cake, you’ll want to cut a small piece.  This is a hard core brownie.  You can always go back for more.  And you probably will.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Fudgy Dark Chocolate Brownies
adapted from Annie’s Eats

7 tbsp unsaletd butter
3 oz dark chocolate (the darker, the better!)
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9×9 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Combine butter and chocolate in a double boiler.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth.  Remove from heat. 

In a large bowl, whisk cocoa powder, sugar, eggs, and cream cheese until smooth and well-blended.  Add chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until smooth.  Mix in vanilla and salt.  Add flour until just incorporated.  Pour into prepared dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until center is just set.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled before slicing and serving. 

Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

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I’ve always been a pretty big caramel fanatic.  100 Grand candy bars, old school Sugar Daddy candy, or just a regular caramel right out of the wrapper.  My obsession with salted caramel didn’t come along until I had the salted caramel ice cream at Rocky Mountain Cupcake in Breckenridge, CO.  A-MAZING.  It was one of the most perfect foods I’ve ever eaten.  Since then, all things salted caramel got saved or bookmarked.

There was only one thing standing in my way.  Making my own caramel.  The idea of this intimidated me more than any other cooking/baking task.  It was like the fear of yeast, deboning a chicken, roasting a turkey and baking a soufflé all rolled into one.  I had nightmares of permanently stuck on burnt sugar on my pans.  And for a while, I cheated.  I bought jarred caramel sauce for the salted caramel blondies.

But when I saw these cupcakes and finally had an occasion to make them for, I knew it was time.  I mean, we’re taking SALTED CARAMEL BUTTERCREAM here.  This was not a time for shortcuts.

It took me three tries to get it right.  I think I was so nervous about it I kept reading the directions wrong (or not at all).  The first time I skipped the part about not stirring it.  I ended up with very dry, very hard sugar in my pan.  It went in the trash, I washed my pan, and tried again.  This time I think I measured wrong, it just didn’t set up right.  But, as they say, the third time was a charm.  I was left with beautiful, rich, perfect caramel sauce.  A pinch of salt and I was in heaven.  I almost ate it all with a spoon.  But then I feared having to make more and not getting it right.  And with no backup plan, I didn’t want to serve naked chocolate cupcakes to the girls.

So I used all the self control I had and moved forward with the recipe.  The resulting cupcakes were amazing.  Not too sweet, just the right balance of sweetness.  I’m not usually a huge buttercream fan, but this one really was just perfect.

So here’s my advice when it comes to making caramel: READ THE DIRECTIONS.  Carefully.  Don’t be afraid to mess up.  The ingredients are cheap, and you probably have them all on hand.  It will be ok.  🙂

Oh, for the cupcakes themselves, I used the chocolate cake recipe I used for the Car-Bomb cupcakes.  I knew I wanted something not too sweet, and I think this cupcake really is the perfect chocolate cupcake.

One year ago: Nut-less zucchini bread

Salted Caramel Buttercream
courtesy of Gimme Some Oven, as seen on What’s for Dinner?

1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
large pinch of salt
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar

Briefly stir together sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Continue to let it bubble, without stirring, until the mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6-7 minutes (mine took closer to 8-9, I blame the altitude).

Remove from heat and slowly add in the cream (like 1 tbsp at a time, it will sizzle and might splatter up on you), stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Stir in vanilla and pinch of salt.  Set aside to cool to the touch, at least 20 minutes.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Reduce speed to low, and gradually add in powdered sugar, mixing until completely incorporated.  Turn off mixer. Add caramel.  Beat frosting on low to combine, then increase speed to medium high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.  Frost cooled cupcakes.

Valentine’s Day Cream Puffs

Let’s talk Valentine’s Day.  I know it’s over now, but I can’t help sharing the recipes from our at-home Valentine’s Day this year.  Both were SUPER easy and downright delicious.  
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I also joined a baking blogging group (a sub group of a cooking forum I’m on), so every month I’ll taking part in a themed baking challenge.  This month was super easy, as I already had a delicious treat planned for Valentine’s Day – fit right in with this month’s Baked with Love theme.
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I’ve been dying to try making pate a choux – the original plan was to make them in profiterole form, cut in half and stuffed with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.  But after making the amazing filling for the Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes the weekend prior, I just knew I had to fill that delicious pate a choux with cream instead.  But that’s the beauty of this recipe – fill them with whatever you want!  I highly advise the cream though, SO good! I had intentions of sharing the leftovers, but we they were so good we didn’t really want to share!

Now, I know the instructions look long, but it’s so simple, trust me.  If I had realized cream puffs were this easy, I would have made them long before now!

One year ago: Mini-chocolate lava cakes

Cream puffs with Chocolate Sauce
pate a choux and chocolate sauce courtesy of Tyler Florence
cream filling courtesy of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures

for the cream puffs:
1 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs

for the cream filling:

3 oz box French vanilla instant pudding
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar

for the chocolate sauce:
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, cut into chunks
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

for the cream puffs:
Preheat oven to 400.  In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a gentle boil over medium high heat, stirring to melt the butter completely.  Add all the flour and baking powder at once and continue to stir until incorporated and dough becomes a mass that pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from the heat and scrape into a mixing bowl.  Beat the dough with a hand-held or stand mixer over medium speed to cool off the dough. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides fo the bowl periodically.  When all eggs have been incorporated, dough should be a thick, smooth, glossy paste. 

Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (or a zip-top bag with a medium hole cut in the tip).  Form golf-ball sized mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  Keep the mounds as high and round as possible.  Should make 24-28 puffs. 

Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for 25 minutes.  Do not open the door or remove pans from the oven until puffs start to get golden brown.  Should be firm to the touch. Allow to cool completely before filling.

for the filling:
Combine vanilla pudding mix and half and half in a medium bowl.  In a stand mixer using the whip attachment, combine cream, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Whip at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gently fold into pudding mixture until incorporated and smooth.  Transfer to a pastry bag filled with a round tip (or another zip-top bag with a small hole cut off the tip). 

Poke tip into a side of the puff and squeeze filling into puff.  Repeat until all cream puffs are filled.

for the chocolate sauce:
Combine the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat the mixture until bubbles appear around the sides of the pan, but do not boil.  Pour over chocolate, stir until the chocolate melts and the sauce is smooth.  Let cool slightly. 

Drizzle over tops of cream puffs or dip cream puff tops all the way into the chocolate.  Leftover chocolate sauce can be stored in the refrigerator. 

Enjoy!

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

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My husband’s favorite dessert is Boston Cream Pie.  His mom has been making it for his birthday for as long as he can remember.  The first year we were together, I went crazy trying to make an authentic Boston Cream Pie for his birthday.  He though it was weird.  Apparently his mom just makes a yellow cake, fills it with vanilla pudding and covers it all in chocolate icing.  That’s his version of Boston Cream Pie.  Well shoot, why didn’t you just say so!  That’s not so bad. 

Oh wait.  Except for the fact that I hate making layer cakes.  Or should I say that layer cakes hate me.  Somehow we always end up in a fight during the icing process, I end up covered in icing and usually crying on the floor.  My last attempt at a layer cake (over two years ago) resulted in the whole back third of the cake breaking off.  Notice that there are NO layer cakes here on PLFF.  The layer cake and I aren’t really on speaking terms.  This is a fear I plan to tackle in the next few weeks (stay tuned for the results!), but until then, not so much.

So when I spied these cupcakes about 9 months ago, I knew it was the perfect way to give my honey what he wanted for his birthday and not end up throwing an entire cake in the trash.  The original recipe calls for a boxed yellow cake mix, but I’ve been dying to try this yellow cake recipe from Annie’s Eats.  I kept the filling the same.  And since my honey’s favorite Boston Cream Pie doesn’t have the traditional ganache topping, I used the chocolate icing recipe that Annie posted with the yellow cake recipe.  It was a perfect cupcake version of the cake he grew up with.  He took a handful of them to work, but we didn’t have a problem polishing off the rest the batch all by ourselves.  For the quicker version, check out Joelen’s blog.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
concept courtesy of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures
yellow cake recipe and chocolate icing recipe seen on Annie’s Eats

For the cake:
2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (see here for how to make your own cake flour)
1 tbsp baking powder (high altitude folks, decrease to 1 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

For the filling:
3 oz box French vanilla instant pudding
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar

For the icing:
1 lb semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
6 tbsp boiling water
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt

For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350.  Fill muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk.  Beat each addition until just incorporated.

Scoop batter into muffin pans.  Bake approximately 15 minutes (high altitude 20-25 minutes), or until tester comes out clean.  Let cool completely.

For the filling:
Combine vanilla pudding mix and half and half in a medium bowl.  In a stand mixer using the whip attachment, combine cream, vanilla and powdered sugar.  Whip at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gently fold into pudding mixture until incorporated and smooth.

Using a 1-inch cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large piping tip like the 1M), cut out the center of each cupcake, making sure not to cut all the way to the bottom (aim for 1/2-2/3 of the way through).  Place filling in a piping bag and pipe filling into each cupcake, being careful not to overfill.

For the icing:
Place chocolate in a double boiler and heat until melted.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 25-30 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine cocoa powder and water in a small bowl.  Stir until cocoa is dissolved.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, powdered sugar, and salt on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add melted chocolate, beat on low speed until combined, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in cocoa powder until well blended. 

Place into a pastry bag and pipe onto filled cupcakes.

Enjoy!  And Happy birthday honey! 🙂

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

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I mentioned earlier this week that my Girl’s Night menu was full of Scott’s least favorite foods – artichokes, shellfish, and asparagus.  Dessert we veer a little from that path.   He rarely dislikes anything sweet.  But I have to admit I’m a much bigger fan of the chocolate/peanut butter combo than he is.  And for the most part, he can take or leave cheesecake, when to me, it’s one of the most perfect foods on the planet!  After seeing these brownies on Annie’s Eats, I knew they would be perfect for the menu.  I mean, what goes better with a Girl’s Night than chocolate, peanut butter, and cheesecake?  The only thing missing is ice cream, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that!

These brownies were absolutely ridiculous.  Annie warned that they were much more fudgy than cake-y, and boy was she right.  A little piece goes a long way, they are so decadent and rich.  But so amazing.  I was glad I halved the recipe (to a 9×9), because extras of these did NOT need to be lying around the house! My swirl-age didn’t come out as good as Annie’s, but I imagine they still tasted as good!

One year ago: Black Bottom Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
adapted from Annie’s Eats

for the brownies:
7 tbsp unsalted butter
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour

for the peanut butter cheesecake swirl:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tbsp sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a 9×9 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray.  To make brownie batter, combine butter and chocolate in a double boiler.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  In a large bowl, whisk cocoa powder, sugar, eggs and cream cheese until smooth and well blended.  Add chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Mix in vanilla and salt.  Add flour and whisk until just incorporated.  Pour into prepared dish.

To make peanut butter cheesecake, combine cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium high speed until completely smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in egg yolk and vanilla. 

Drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake mixture intermittently over the brownie batter.  Use a knife to swirl together the peanut butter mixture and the brownie batter.  Bake 25-30 minutes, or until center is just set.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate until well chilled before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

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I have a confession to make.  I’m not a huge sweets person. I have no problems making a big batch of sweet treats, eating one, and sending the rest to work with my husband or taking them over to friends’ houses.  I’ve never been one to fight over licking the beaters of cookie dough, or licking the brownie batter spoon.  I’m missing that gene, apparently.  Then this recipe came along.  Not only did I take a couple licks of cake batter off the beater, but I could eat this icing with a spoon.  Yep, just sit down with the big mixing bowl of icing and eat until I make myself sick. That’s how good it is. AAA-mazing.  I’ve now taken these cupcakes to two events and they have been met with several eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head “oh my gosh” type reactions. 

The original recipe called for amore of a buttercream type recipe. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge buttercream fan, much more of a cream cheese icing fan.  So I changed the icing but kept everything else as-is.  And it was pretty amazing.  The second time I made these, I was in a bit of a hurry and skipped the ganache filling.  Also pretty delicious.  So if you’re short on time or intimidated by the filling steps, skip it.  If you have the time (or the whiskey in the cabinet), go for the filling, you won’t be disappointed.  Just don’t skip these cupcakes all together.

Even the chocolate cupcakes by themselves are amazing.  I’m pretty sure I won’t use any other chocolate cake recipe ever again.  Bye-bye Hershey recipe, this is my new favorite chocolate cake recipe.  

Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes 
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the Guinness chocolate cupcakes:
1 cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (high altitude folks, decrease to 1/2 tsp)
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache filling:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp Irish Whiskey (such as Jameson)

Bailey’s frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 stick cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp Bailey’s Irish Cream liquor
4 cups powdered sugar

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or apple corer (I used the backside of a large piping tip, like the 1M), and a piping bag 

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350.  Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.  Melt butter in a medium pan over medium heat.  Add stout and bring to a simmer.  Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth.  Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl to blend.  Set aside.  Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl.  Add stout-butter mi
xture and beat briefly to combine.  Add flour mixture gradually while beating on low speed.  Use a rubber spatula to finish combining, if necessary.  Divide batter among liners, filling ¾ full.  Bake for about 15-17 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Cool completely.

To make filling: 
Chop chocolate and transfer to a heatproof bowl.  Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering.  Pour over chocolate and let sit for a minute and a half.  Stir until smooth.  If not completely melted, place over a double boiler and finish melting.  Add butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

To fill cupcakes:
Let the ganache cool until thick, but still soft enough to be piped. Meanwhile, use your cookie cutter (or piping tip) to cut out the center of the cooled cupcakes.  Aim for cutting about 2/3 of the way through.  Don’t go so far that you go through the bottom.  Put ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top. 

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To make the frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter on medium high speed with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.  Add Bailey’s and beat to combine.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until thoroughly combined and thick.  Spread or pip icing onto cupcakes (I piped with the 1M Wilton tip).    Try to make sure some of the icing gets onto the cupcakes.  Don’t eat it all with a spoon J

Ridiculously dangerous cookies

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These cookies need to come with a warning.  I’m not sure what kind of warning, maybe just WARNING: do not make these unless you have people to help you eat them!  or WARNING: do not leave yourself alone in the room with these cookies! 

Bottom line, they are dangerous, evil cookies.  Sure, they look all innocent, but then you bite in and taste all the yummy chocolate and salty topping and it’s all over from there – you’re hooked!  I’m not a huge sweets fan but these cookies were the death of me.  I’ve never had a cookie so addictive before.  It’s the sea salt sprinkled on top – to die for.  After two days in the house I had to split up the rest to be taken to work and sent the rest with Scott to work.  Blame Amy from Sing for your Supper.  It’s all her fault.  I need an extra three days at the gym for all of the cookies I consumed. 

But don’t let that scare you away from the cookies.  They are wonderfully delicious.  almost too delicious….

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Chocolate Ganache Stuffed Cookies
courtesy of Sing for Your Supper

1 batch chocolate chip cookie dough, without the chips (I used a double batch of the Nestle Tollhouse recipe)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips
pinch of sugar
coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare cookie dough per recipe, chill for 1-2 hours.  Heat heavy cream and sugar in a small pan over medium heat until boiling.  Pour over chocolate chips, let sit for 30 seconds.  Stir to combine.  Chill for at least one hour.

To assemble, scoop out 1/2 tbsp cookie dough.  Flatten with the palm of your hand.  Place a small spoonful of ganache in the center.  Cover with another scoop of flattened dough (you’ll have a small disk-shaped cookie).  Roll into a ball.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Place on cookie sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until they start to brown.  Let cool 3-4 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to cooling racks to cool completely. 

Enjoy! And you will enjoy these, over and over and over again….

And remember, only a few days left to help boost the donation of school supplies to needy kids – $.01 for every blog hit and $.50 for every comment!  We only have like $60 so far, I know we can do better!!

Peanut Butter Cup Surprise Cookies

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When I was searching for a dessert to make for my sister’s Hog Roast party, I wanted something that was nice and individually bite-sized and would be ok to sit out in the heat for a few hours.  Not to mention fantastic and delicious.  When I stumbled up these cookie-concoctions from Annie’s Eats, I knew they’d be perfect. 

When my sister and I were shopping for ingredients, we went to two different stores in search of the mini M&Ms, with no luck.  I had to resign to the regular M&Ms, with intentions of chopping them in smaller pieces to achieve a similar look.  We get home, I’ve admitted defeat against the mini M&Ms, and I’m helping to put groceries away in my sister’s pantry.  I’m sticking the honey bear on the shelf on the door, and what does my little eye spy?!  But a whole little zipper bag full of mini M&Ms.  A grab the bag and turn to my sister, giving her the most ridiculous look only a sister could give, and say “Seriously?!”  My sister could do nothing but laugh, shrug her shoulders, and say “oops, I forgot those were in there…”  Some things never change…

Anyway, back to the cookies.  I’m pretty sure they were actually the first thing gone from the giant buffet tables, and I heard many “holy cow, who made these?!” comments.  After mentioning them last week in the Hog Roast post, I’ve had several comments about “when are you going to going to post those peanut butter cookie thingys?”

Well, without further adieu….

Don’t be intimidated by these cookies and the amount of steps.  They were super simple, just a little time consuming.  To assist with that, I made the cookies the night before, then the morning of the Hog Roast I topped them with the ganache and M&Ms.  Still had plenty of time for them too cool before the party.  Annie only got 24 out of the recipe, but I easily got almost 40.  I think it depends on how big your mini-muffin pan is…

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies
Adapted from Annie’s Eats

2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
24-48 mini Reeses peanut butter cups (1 small bag)
mini marshmallows
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp water
mini M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line mini muffin pan with paper cups or spray the heck out of them with cooking spray (I sprayed, next time I’m just using liners)

Combine peanut butter, sugar and eggs in a large bowl, beat until combined.  

Scoop dough into mini-muffin pan, press to form along sides of the muffin cups.  Makes sure there is an indentation big enough for the peanut butter cup.

Bake 13-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and press a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie.  Top with 3-4 mini marshmallows.  Return to the oven, bake another 2-3 minutes or until marshmallows have puffed up.  

Let cookies cool COMPLETELY before trying to remove them.  Trust me, you won’t be able to get them out unless they are completely cooled.

Once cooled, remove from pan transfer to a wire rack over parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Place chocolate in a small bowl.  Bring the cream and water to a boil, let sit for 30 seconds.  Then pour over chocolate and stir until mixture is smooth.  Drizzle over tops of cookies.  Top with M&Ms and let cookies rest until glaze hardens.  

Enjoy!

Saving the best for last!

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Apparently many families make coconut cake or carrot cake for dessert on Easter.  I’m not sure how it became our family tradition, but my family makes Chocolate Éclair cake almost every year.  Yes, you read that right.  Chocolate.  Éclair.  Cake.  It’s like everything good about éclairs in an easy to make layer cake.  And now that my family is separated by 850 miles, chocolate éclair cake is being made in two states this Easter Sunday.  

And believe it or not, this recipe is originally from Cooking Light.  Cooking Light?!  And Chocolate éclairs?  Huh?  True story!  With most ingredients low-fat or fat free, this dessert is about as guilt free as it can get!  Who knew!?  And while I would normally think something like low-fat graham crackers would be kinda weird, you don’t even notice any low-fat-ness in this entire recipe!  

I’ve started halving the recipe and making it in a 9×9 dish, because as guilt free as it may be, it’s probably still not a good idea for me to eat an entire 9×13 of this stuff in a week.  I can’t stay out of it!

Chocolate Éclair Icebox Dessert
Courtesy of Cooking Light

14 ox box low-fat honey graham crackers
3 cups skim milk
2 – 3.4 oz fat free vanilla instant pudding
8oz fat free cream cheese, softened
8 oz reduced calorie whipped topping

Icing
1/3 cup fat free milk
2 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp honey
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 oz unsweetened chocolate

Arrange graham crackers on bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish

Combine 3 cups milk, pudding mix, and softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl.  Beat at low speed for 1 minute or until thick.  Fold in whipped topping.  Spread half of mixture over graham crackers.

Top with another layer of graham crackers.  Repeat with remaining half of pudding mixture and another layer of graham crackers.  

Combine milk, margarine and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth and melted.  Add honey and powdered sugar and stir until combined.  Spread icing over dessert.  Cover with foil and chill for 4 hours. 

Enjoy!