Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Brownie Pops and Cupcake Balls

Adorable and delicious!





















I have been so busy with work lately I have been getting behind in my posts. I have managed to get a post up every week, which is my goal, but I have two posts waiting in the wings when I finish this one. Anyhow, I made the above brownie pops with a dear friend of mine a couple weekends ago. She was going attending a dinner party the following evening and wanted to bring something that would impress. We decided to make brownie pops, based off an idea we saw on the Williams-Sonoma and also attempted to make some Cupcake balls like that seen on Cakespy and Bakerella. We were definitely in the kitchen the better part of the afternoon and into the evening, we did make 72 of these things after all, but we had a lot of fun.

For this batch we chose to make white cake with dulce de leche for the Cupcake Balls and Brownies for the ghosts and pumpkins. I am a big fan of cake balls, but let me be the first to say the brownies were even better!

Dulce De Leche Cupcake Balls and Halloween Brownie Pops

1 box white cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
16 oz. jar dulce de leche

1 pan of your favorite brownies, the more fudge-like the better

Assorted candy melts:
1 package white chocolate candy melts
1 package orange candy melts
1/2 package green candy melts
1/2 package chocolate candy melts

Edible Markers
Assorted Sprinkles/Decorations

Bake cake according to package directions. As soon cake is cooked crumble into a large bowl. Mix the bowl of crumbled cake thoroughly with the dulce de leche.

Bake brownies according to your recipe or package directions. As long as the brownies are fudgy you can wait to roll them in to balls.

Roll each mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet lined with wax paper (Should make approximately 75). Chill for several hours (you can speed this up by putting in the freezer).

To make pumpkins:

Melt green and orange chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals stirring in between. When chocolate is completely melted, dip one end of a lolly-pop stick into the green chocolate and then insert it into the brownie or cakeball. Let chocolate harden. Continue to roll balls in orange chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. When the chocolate has hardened you can use edible markers to draw faces on the pumpkins. Unfortunately the markers I bought did not work, but perhaps yours will work.

To make mummies:

Insert lolly-pop stick into brownie or cakeball. Melt white chocolate in microwave in 30 second intervals stirring in between. When chocolate is completely melted roll balls in white chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. When the chocolate has hardened decorate with drizzled chocolate. Place white chocolate in a sandwich bag on a microwave safe dish and microwave in 30 second intervals moving the chocolate around between. Using scissors, cut the very tip off the sandwich bag. The smaller your cut, the smalled the drizzle. Use the sandwich bag to pipe the chocolate back and forth over the hardened chocolate ball. Use round sprinkles or colored chocolate for eyes.

To make cupcake balls or pops I would follow these directions from Bakerella.























We also made monsters with the left over green chocolate. We rolled the pops in green and used sprinkles to give them faces. Below is a picture of my friend Sarah with some of the Monster Pops.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pecan Pie Cupcakes

Oh! Nuts















This past month I was lucky enough to be contacted by a marketing representative from Oh! Nuts, an online retailer of nuts, candies, dried fruits, and a multitude of other offerings. Lucky me, I was shipped Raw Georgia Pecans, Dried Turkish Apricots, and Raw Unsalted Macadamia Nuts. This post is dedicated to the pecans, but you can look forward to future posts with the other goodies.

First I wold like to say that these nuts are truly of the highest quality. I am not really the type to just snack on nuts, but I kept sneaking into the bag. I thought these pecans would be perfect for this pecan pie cupcake recipe as the key ingredient is the pecan. I came across this recipe quite a while ago. In fact, it was so long ago that I do not remember where I found it. I know it is posted on RecipeZaar, but I am sure that is not where I saw it posted. Anyhow, I made them and they really taste just like pecan pie in a cupcake (or some would say muffin) form. My only advice as to the recipe is to make sure you grease and flour the cupcake pan or use a liner. I only used non-stick spray and they stuck terribly!

Pecan Pie Cupcakes
from RecipeZaar

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Grease and flour a miniature muffin tin. Fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven approximately 18 minutes. When cool decorate as desired. (I sprinkled some with powdered sugar and drizzled some with melted chocolate.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Apple Streudel Bread from Spring Mill Bread Co.

Are you sure this is just bread and not a little bit of heaven??























As I mentioned in my earlier review post, my boyfriend and I attend "Taste of Bethesda" the other week. My first review was not too hot, but tis review could not be any better. The first year we attended "Taste of Bethesda" we bought a couple loaves of bread from Spring Mill Bread Co. and it was one of the main reasons I wanted to go back to the festival this year. The bread pictures above is their famous Apple Streusel Bread, which they bake fresh daily. I can not express how fabulous this bread it. I prefer to eat it sliced as is, but my boyfriend quite enjoyed it with peanut butter. the bread is soft and sweet, with small bits of cinnamon apples baked inside. The entire top of the loaf is coated with a layer of cinnamon sugar streusel. If you live anywhere near their six locations you should definitely stop and and pick up a loaf...or two.

In addition to the Apple Streusel Bread, we bought a loaf of Honey Whole Wheat was was also very tasty. I did not get a photo of it, but it tasted great with cream cheese.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting

Halloween themed Birthday Cupcakes




















This past weekend was one of my dearest friend, Lauren's birthday. I always like to bake something special for my friends when it is there birthday; some might even say I like to spoil them. I thought of the idea for these cupcakes a while back and thought this would be perfect for Lauren. I used a recipe that I found on All Recipes for the cupcake and made up the frosting recipe. I will definitely make these again. The cake was super moist and would work well with pretty much any frosting. For Lauren's birthday we ended up going to a karaoke bar we used to frequent in college, so that is where I brought the cupcakes. I brought more than enough for our group so a few of the people at the table next to us got a chance to enjoy some of my cupcakes. I promised Lauren I would post an action shot of her enjoying the cupcakes, and I kept my promise.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting
cupcake recipe from All Recipes

Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 package chocolate cake mix (I used chocolate fudge cake mix)
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix (I also used chocolate fudge pudding mix)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (dust these in flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).


In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into 24 lined muffin cups.


Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

Frosting:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
30 crushed Oreos

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Gently stir in Oreo crumbs. The more you mix the more gray in color the frosting will appear so do not over-mix. (I over-mixed!) Store in the refrigerator after use.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cookies by Design - A review

My first review:

















This past weekend I went to Taste of Bethesda which is a street festival in Bethesda, Maryland. All the local restaurants and food shops set up tents selling samples of there specialties. This is always a fun event which I always enjoy. We tried several new places at the festival this year and only had one disappointment, the cookies pictures above.

We bought the cookies above from "Cookies by Design" for $1.25 , which is a great price. The shop is known for their decorated sugar cookies, but since my boyfriend and I are not huge sugar cookie people we decided we would get the bag of chocolate chip. We brought them home to eat later since we were stuffed from all the other food we tried. To give an honest review I must say these cookies were very disappointing. They did not even taste like they were baked fresh. They were extremely hard and lacked flavor. I attempted to salvage them by dunking them in milk and even after that they were still hard! If you are looking for a hard cookie that does not taste home baked I would get a Chips Ahoy before I would go back to "Cookies by Design".

So I am sorry my first review was so disappointing, but such is the case. I will be posting another review of some bread I picked up at the festival which gets a much better review!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These muffins are amazing!






















I saw these muffins on Annie's Eats and had to make them! It is beginning to be that time of year where all I want to eat is pumpkin. The week I made these muffins, I also made pumpkin pancakes and a pumpkin smoothie. Though I must say the pumpkin pancakes were quite spectacular, these muffins had them beat. These muffins are definitely better than anything I have had from Starbucks or Au Bon Pain. They received high appraisals from me, my boyfriend, my neighbors, and my coworkers. When that many people like them you know they must be good. If you are looking for a pumpkin muffin recipe do not bother looking any further this is really the best out there.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
adapted from
Annie's Eats


Yield: 24 muffins


Ingredients:


For the muffins:

3 cups flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

4 eggs

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil (I used peanut oil because that is what I had on hand)

2 cups sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree


For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)

1 cup powdered sugar


For the streusel topping:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup and 1 tsp. flour

4 tbsp. butter, cubed

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon


Directions:


To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a log on plastic wrap or foil, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours. (I only let it sit in the freezer while I made the rest of the recipe. The log was soft when I cut it, but it still worked well. Just a little messy)


To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.


To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.


Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two muffin pans with paper liners. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 24 equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.