December 25, 2012

S'mores cupcakes

Santa wasn't getting cookies this year.

Merry Christmas!

This may be my favorite recipe to date...and that's saying a lot.

These s'mores cupcakes are filled with a graham cracker crust bottom, a chocolate cake middle, topped with a chocolate ganache glaze, graham cracker crust dusting, and finally a homemade toasted marshmallow topping. Yes, it's as delicious as it sounds.

I know this is a picture heavy post but they're just so gorgeous I had to keep snapping! I made them in both mini and regular form.

Now that is blow torch beautiful.

S'mores cupcakes
Adapted from bakersroyale
Makes 24 regular cupcakes/48 mini cupcakes

For the graham cracker crust
7 tablespoons of melted butter
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

Mix these ingredients together and pat a little bit into the bottom of each cupcake tin. Press into the bottom of the tin and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes for regular cupcakes, 5-7 minutes for mini ones. 

For the chocolate cake
Here I took a shortcut: chocolate cake mix! You can go harder and use your favorite cake batter recipe but I used it from a box since I was in the midst of so much christmas baking. 

Fill your cupcake tins until it just covers your graham cracker crust. You don't want to over fill your tins as you want a relatively flat cupcake top for optimal glazing and frosting. Bake in a 350 degree oven until your cakes are done (this will depend on whether you're making full or half size cupcakes - bake according to your original recipe)

For the chocolate glaze
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons skim milk
4 tablespoons warm water
4 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a double boiler, melt your dark chocolate chips. Slowly add in your skim milk and water until it becomes a pourable consistency. Finally, whisk in your powdered sugar and incorporate everything over your double boiler. 

Remove from heat and let cool slightly

For the marshmallow topping
5 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar

Over your double boiler whisk together your egg whites and sugar until your mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Thermometer is highly suggested! Remove from heat and then mix with a hand mixer at high speed for 10-15 minutes until your mixture doubles in size and gets shiny, puffy, and forms semi-stiff peaks!

Putting it all together

1. Take your cooled cupcakes and flip them upside down to give them a swim in the chocolate glaze. Quickly plop them onto an assembly surface right side up and sprinkle some graham cracker crumbs on top for a festive look. 
2. Let your glaze set for 10-15 minutes. 
3. Pipe your marshmallow frosting onto your cupcakes with your pipping tip of choice! Have fun with this - squealing encouraged
4. Take a blow torch and toast your marshmallow topping until it's perfectly golden brown and given the most wonderful holiday touch to these adorable cupcakes. 



December 20, 2012

Cranberry hazelnut cookies

Okay okay I promise this is the last cranberry recipe! I promise, I promise.

These cookies have a delicious nutty aroma as they are chocked full of hazelnuts and yes, cranberries! The chocolate drizzle on top makes them look super fancy and adds another layer of sweetness.

They're super festive, super easy to make, and super perfect for a cookie swap or just to gift your taste buds this holiday season. See how chunky? So cute!

But I promise, my next post will be cranberry-less. But gosh, aren't these wonderful?

Cranberry Hazelnut Cookies
Adapted from lifetasteslikefood

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Cream together your butter and sugars together. Slowly add egg and vanilla until well incorporated. Sift in your flour, baking soda and salt. Combine this well and then fold in your dried cranberries and nuts

Roll the dough into little 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet leaving room to spread (about 2 inches apart). Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are just golden brown. I found that 15 was just perfect for me and I let the carry over cooking do the rest leading to still soft cookies!

Optional: if you want the nice chocolate drizzle, melt your two chocolates into two microwave safe bowls in 30 second increments until just melted. Plop into ziploc baggies and cut off tiny corners to make a makeshift piping bag. Drizzle and let set (it may take a few hours) - here's a tip to make it go faster: stir in just a smidgen of crisco (not even a smidgen, just a dot!) and it'll set up much much faster!


Sam & Elyse (she came back to help with the chocolate!)


December 16, 2012

Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

It's so pretty!!! This is a continued take on last weeks holiday bars - I just love the way cranberry and white chocolate taste (and look!) together! There is white chocolate not only drizzled on top of these cuties, but also incorporated into the cheesecake filling. 

Also, I don't know about you guys, but I love when things are in miniature form. So this is the perfect dessert to serve buffet style, cocktail style, or just any way because you make it as a large sheet of cheesecake and cut it into little squares for sharing!

Although these may be harder to ship and share, they certainly will be welcome at any holiday event. To make things even cuter, I stuck them in some santa mini cupcake liners. Pretty cute right?

Beautiful, delicious, and most importantly of all - holiday baked goods!

Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites
Adapted from cravingchronicles

Cranberry Jelly
1 lb whole cranberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup apple cider
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Is it thanksgiving yet? Combine these ingredients in a saucepan over medium high heat until cranberries start to pop and break down. Pour through a mesh sieve to filter out the little cranberry skins and leave you with cranberry jelly! Pour your jelly into a container and put it into the fridge until your cheesecake is ready.

Cheesecake crust: I doubled the original recipe because I love crust. You can always half the recipe back to less crust.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs

Prepare your cheesecake pan! Double line a 9x13 baking pan (or 8X8 if you want more cheesecake:crust ratio) with 2 layers of foil, taking care to leave extra foil hanging from the edges so that you can simply lift the entire cheesecake out later.

Over low heat, melt together the chocolate chips, unsalted butter, and cocoa powder. Once combined, remove from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs and flatten this mixture onto the bottom of your prepared pan. Stick it into the freezer while you prep your cream cheese filling.

16 ounces cream cheese softened to room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips, melted (melt in 30 second intervals in the microwave)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Whip up your cream cheese until it's nice and fluffy without lumps. Incorporate your eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Slowly add in your melted white chocolate chips.

Once it looks delicious, plop your cheesecake filling on top of the chocolate graham cracker crust and bake for 40-45 minutes and let cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Putting it all together

Once your gorgeous cheesecake on top of chocolately crust has cooled, take about half of your cranberry jelly and melt in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir your jelly until clump free and if you're feeling super meticulous, you can re-seive it. Spread this on top of your cream cheese filling and if you want, you can melt just a little more white chocolate and use the ziploc bag technique to swirl some white chocolate on top of the red jelly.

These guys are best stored in the fridge if they make it to the leftover stage (otherwise, prompt eating will do as well)



December 9, 2012

Holiday Cranberry Bars

Hey there gorgeous. 

I know, it's been too long but trust me, there is a whole lot more where this came from. Holiday baking! It really may be my favorite thing of all time. This concoction encompasses everything that I love about this time of year.  Festive colors with a fruit of the season (cranberries!) and a white cream cheese frosting resembling the snow on the ground...all on a bed of blondie bar goodness.

Wait, but what's on top? (aside from a little fuzzy smear on my camera lens)

That would be white chocolate drizzle. It's a holiday favorite of mine and I can't wait to start baking up a storm. 

Oh hello blondie cross section photography. Who needs santa when you've got views like this?

Holiday Cranberry Bars
Blondies adapted from simplyrecipes

For the blondies:
1 cup of butter, melted
2 cups of tightly packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the butter and brown sugar and then add in your eggs and vanilla. Sift in your baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. Mix until well combined and bake in a 9x13 inch pan for about 30-35 minutes until the whole pan is a gorgeous sheet of caramel baked goodness. You can always adjust the size of the pan and the baking time to make thicker or thinner blondies too. Let cool till room temperature and in the meantime...prepare your frosting!

For the cream cheese frosting:
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat together your butter and cream cheese. Add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until all incorporated. Throw in some vanilla and then spread evenly all over the blondies. Spatulas smoothing out frosting over a pan of blondies? Now that's the stuff the holidays are made out of!

For the white chocolate drizzle and holiday topping!
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup (or thereabouts) of dried cranberries

In a microwave safe bowl, melt your white chocolate chips in increments of 30 seconds in the microwave until completely melted (about 1 minute, 30 seconds). Don't over microwave as these chips are a tendency to glob together and become a mess so I'd err on the side of caution over zapping these cuties like crazy. Plop your melted mixture into the corner of a ziploc baggy and cut off the corner for a makeshift frosting bag!

Toss your cranberries on top of your cream cheese as you so desire (it looks so pretty!) and then get ready to drizzle your chocolate in any pattern your please right over your berries.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! Let the holiday baking begin!

P.S. I recommend storing them in the fridge to allow for best cream cheese frosting consistency.