Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Chocolate Covered Peppermint Oreos

Easy and adorable.


Merry Christmas!

If you are looking for an easy last minute Christmas treat, here it is. I used the Holiday Peppermint Oreos, but you could use regular Oreos. All I did was melt down some white candy melts with some shortening until it was smooth. Then I dipped each Oreo one by one and topped them with some Holiday sprinkles. Just put them in a cellophane bag tied with a ribbon and you have a last minute personalized gift. Hope this helps!

~Risa



Friday, December 24, 2010

Pie Dough Cookies

Did you make my Pecan Pie yet?


Do you ever wonder what to do with the scraps of pie dough that are left over after you make your pie? When I made my Pecan Pie this week I wondered the exact same thing. I thought I would try turning them into little cookies and it worked out perfectly. All I did was roll out the scraps and used a small cookie cutter to cut out shapes. I then brushed them with some egg whites and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 - 10 minutes. I liked them by themselves, but I think they would be delightful with a cup of tea or some coffee.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pecan Pie

It is about time.


It is about time I posted this pie. You see, I have made this pie several times since I have been blogging. In fact I have made several times in the past couple months. The problem is, the pie is usually eaten before I get pictures! My thanks go out to my dear friend Sarah for introducing me to this amazing pecan pie. She made it once when she and her husband had Zack and I over for dinner. I had never been a huge pecan pie person. I had this idea in my head that I did not like nuts. I know insane! Well, Sarah converted me and made me realize I love pecans! I eat them all the time, but this is by far my favorite way to eat them. I am not sure where she got the recipe and I have made a few changes, but either way it is incredible! When you make this I suggest you make two because people will want seconds...and thirds...and fourths!

Instead of posting the crust recipe again, I linked back to a previous post.

Pecan Pie
recipe from my friend Sarah, adapted by Baked Perfection

9 inch pie crust
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups pecans (1 cup chopped and 1 cup whole)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix corn syrup through vanilla in large bowl until blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into prepared crust. Tent crust with aluminum foil. Bake pie for 50 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. The pie is done when you tap the center of the pie lightly, it springs back.



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Candy Cane Blossoms

Too darn cute.


I am the first to admit that I am a sucker for cute packaging and anything "Holiday themed" as evidenced in earlier posts. I saw these candy can kisses hit my local CVS right after Halloween. Normally I would have made some gripe about it being too early to put out Christmas Candy, but since they were so cute, I bought a bag and put it in my pantry to be saved until today. How cute are these cookies? Could they be more festive? I just love them. They are really easy to make and would be perfect to leave out for Santa with a glass of milk. I followed the recipe exactly and it said it should make 48. I got 28. I could have made them a little smaller, but I really don't see how you could get 48 cookies from the dough. Otherwise no complaints.

I made my own colored sugar which is much more affordable than buying it. All you have to do is put white sugar in a sandwich bag with some food coloring. Then shake it around until it is blended. Add more color to reach your desired shade. If you do decide to make your own sugar, I suggest you make it the night before you make these cookies (so go make it tonight), because the sugar will need time to dry. To speed up the drying I spread the sugar on a plate and then stir it every so often (when I am in the kitchen).

UPDATE:  I posted this recipe again with a few additional tips and sprinkle ideas.  Click here:  Candy Cane Blossoms II

Candy Cane Blossoms
recipe from Hershey's

1 bag Hershey;s Kisses brand Candy Cane Kisses
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
Red and Green colored sugar

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove wrappers from candies (approx. 35)

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternatively with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in red and/or green colored sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 - 1o minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookies is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Yields approximately 35 cookies.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Caramel Popcorn

This is still my favorite treats.


If you remember, this past October I made caramel popcorn and I told you that is was my favorite treat. I am pretty sure it still is because I have yet to come across something more deliciously addictive. This holiday season I wanted to give it as gifts because it is that good. I was curious to see if I could use food coloring to dye some of the caramel sauce red and green and you know what...it worked! Now this popcorn is delicious and super festive.

When you make this, make as large a batch as possible because everybody will want some. If all you have is a 9x13 pan, it will fit one bag of popcorn easily, two if you are super careful when you stir. To make the colored popcorn I did three bags of popcorn and divided them into three 9x13 pans. The original recipe is written for 4 bags, so I have adjusted below in case you want to color the popcorn.

Caramel Popcorn
recipe adapted from Sue Harmon

3 bags butters and salted popcorn, popped (remove any kernels) unpopped
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 + 1/8 cup light corn syrup
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
red and green food coloring

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, sitting frequently. Boil over low heat for five minutes. Remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla

Place each bag of popcorn in a 9x13 pan coated with cooking spray. Pour approximately 1/3 the caramel over one pan of popcorn. Toss to coat.

Place half of remaining carmel in medium bowl and add red food coloring until you reach the desired shade of red. Immediately pour over second pan of popcorn. Toss to coat.

Add green food coloring to the remaining caramel until you reach desired shade of green. Immediately pour over third pan of popcorn. Toss to coat.

Bake for 45 minutes, rotating pans and stirring each pan with a spatula coated with cooking spray every 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Monday, December 20, 2010

White Chocolate Christmas Pretzels

White Chocolate Christmas Pretzels


I have said before that I love World Market and that love continues. They really have the neatest things there and incredible specialty food items. I was browsing there the other day to see if I could find any Christmas presents. One thing I did find were these fantastic Christmas Pretzels. Of course they were not covered in white chocolate and sprinkles, as that was my doing, but they are in adorable shapes. The pretzels are packaged in a large barrel and are shaped as stars, bells, and trees. I did notice there were fewer stars than the other two shapes, but other than that no complaints. I knew they would be perfect for Christmas Pretzels. Here is the link to my last post on how to make these: White Chocolate Covered Pretzels.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Banana Split Bark

Something different.



For those of you that know me well, or have been following this blog for a while, you know that I do not like bananas. Things have not changed...I still do not like bananas. I can though appreciate that other people like bananas. I saw this recipe over Thanksgiving when we were staying at my in-laws. My mother-in-law has so many cookbooks and I love that about her. Every time I visit I pile them up and slowly make my way through them. This recipe was one that I found while flipping through her cookbooks. For some reason this recipe really jumped out at me. I can't tell you why since I had no desire to eat the bark, but I thought it would be a fun recipe to add to my holiday baking list. Let me be the first to tell you that people really loved this bark. Based on the feedback from the people that tried this bark, it has a great balance of sweet and tart and the banana chips and toasted pecans added a nice crunch. It literally took me less than 10 minutes to make.

Banana Split Bark
recipe adapted from Pillsbury

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried sweetened banana chips, broken into large pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Line large cookie sheet with waxed paper. In the microwave, melt chocolate chips at full power stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.

In medium bowl mix banana chips, toasted pecans and cherries; reserve 1/2 cup. Add remaining fruit mixture to melted chocolate chips; toss to coat. Cool 5 minutes at room temperature. Gently fold in white chocolate chips. Spread mixture evenly into 12x9-inch rectangle on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet; sprinkle with reserved fruit mixture. Cool until set, about 30 minutes.

Break into 1 1/2x1 1/2-inch pieces. Store in airtight container.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Mint Chocolate Delight Cookies

Taste like a Thin Mint


Typically I am not a mint chocolate person. Don't get me wrong, I love an occasional Andes Mint, but I almost always would choose something else over the mint chocolate combination. Something about these cookies spoke to me and I had to make them. I happened to purchase a bag of Nestle Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels last year and never used them. I just assumed they would still be good, until I got them out of my pantry and realized they expired quite some time ago and there were odd looking white spots on the mint chips. Apparently I really wanted to make these cookies, because the next time I was at Target I bought a new bag of chips and went home and whipped up the dough. I made the dough a week in advance of when I wanted to bake them. So I rolled the dough into balls and stuck it in the freezer. Then, this past Saturday I let the dough thaw and baked them off. They turned out great! They are crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy in the center. They are not overly minty which is perfect. My cookies came out much more pillow-like then the cookies pictured in the original recipe, which I think I prefer. Perhaps it had to do with me freezing the dough. Enjoy!

Mint Chocolate Delight Cookies
recipe adapted from Nestle

2
cups all-purpose flour
2/3
cup baking cocoa
1 1.4 oz package of instant chocolate pudding Mix
1
teaspoon baking soda
1/2
teaspoon salt
1
cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3
cup granulated sugar
2/3
cup packed brown sugar
1
teaspoon vanilla extract
2
large eggs
1 2/3
cups (10-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Combine flour, cocoa, pudding mix, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels. Drop by well-rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookies and Cream Fudge

Must love White Chocolate.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I really wanted to test my skills at fudge this December. This was the second batch I attempted and it turned out great...if you like white chocolate. Neither Zack or I are really white chocolate people so it is not our favorite, but others have given it rave reviews. I used the red Holiday Oreos to get it an extra special touch. Since the fudge turned pink it would really be great for Valentine's Day if you can keep Oreos in your house for that long! This is definitely something different that will look great in Christmas tins.

Cookies and Cream Fudge
recipe adapted from Nestle

3
cups granulated sugar
3/4
cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2/3
cup (5 fl.-oz. can) Evaporated Milk
2
cups (12-oz. pkg.) White Chocolate Chips
1
jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème
1/2
cup finely crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
1
teaspoon vanilla extract
1
cup crumbled cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies

Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with foil.

Combine sugar, butter and evaporated milk in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in white chocolate chips, marshmallow crème, finely crushed cookies and vanilla extract. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle crumbled cookies on top. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sugar Cookie Bars

Simple and delicious.


I have been wanting to make these cookies bars for quite some time. They were floating around the blog world a while ago so I put them on my "to bake list". In fact, I emailed the link for the recipe as seen on My Baking Addiction to myself to make sure I would not forget. As I have mentioned before, that list keeps on growing. Today I hosted my third annual cookie/dessert exchange and thought these cookies would be perfect to break out. I also made mint chocolate cookies which I will post later this week. The party was a ton of fun, I am thankful to have such wonderful women in my life. Anyway, back to these sugar cookie bars. This recipe makes a TON of cookies. I did not count, but I think there were over 60. They taste just like traditional cut out cookies, but are soft and you don't have to deal with the fuss of cutting them. I used my own frosting recipe, but I loved the way Jamie piped the cookies on My Baking Addiction so I piped them in a very similar fashion. Don't feel like you have to pipe the frosting, go ahead and slather it on!

Sugar Cookie Bars
recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to wet mixture and mix until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan).

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool completely and frost.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
recipe from Baked Perfection

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
5 cups powdered sugar
3-5 tablespoons milk

Beat butter and vanilla until creamy. Add salt. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Peanut Butter Fudge

Oh Fudge!


One of my favorite candies is fudge. My husband and close friends can definitely vouch for this. Last Christmas I could not contain myself at my in-laws. Every time I walked by the kitchen I would grab a piece of peanut butter fudge. I even found myself making extra trips. After Christmas I had made a clean break from the tasty stuff until I went to Long Beach Island (LBI for those familiar) with two of my girl friends this summer. We were there just one night staying with my friend Lauren's parents. Lauren told me the fudge was some of the best so we stopped to get some. I completely intended to take some home for Zack...and then the three of us ate it all! It was worth it. I never told Zack this story so now I will know if he really reads my blog :)

Anyway, I decided this year I was going to make fudge. I actually found it to be a pretty quick and easy process. I did use a candy thermometer so perhaps that helped. I also made chocolate fudge and cookies and cream fudge which I will also post this month.

Peanut Butter Fudge
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil and boil until your thermometer reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 4 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth; pour into an 8x8 inch dish. Chill until firm and cut into squares.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Noel Thumbprint Cookies

It is cookie season!



As you can imagine I have been full swing in baking mode. It seems there are too many recipes to try and not enough time in the day to try them all. These thumbprint cookies were the first Christmas cookie I tried this season and they did not disappoint. They were buttery, nutty, and fruity. I used raspberry and grape jam, because that is what I had on had. The original recipe suggest using strawberry jam, which I have posted below. I am going to keep trying to make as many recipes as a I can and I promise to post all of them. This weekend I was busy making fudge. Expect to see it later this week.

In other news I did not do any Christmas shopping this weekend and really should have.

Noel Thumbprint Cookies
recipe adapted from Taste of Home

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup seedless strawberry jam

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, beating well after each addition. Shape into 1-1/4-in. balls; roll in nuts.

Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make a 3/8- to 1/2-in.-deep indentation in the center of each ball. Fill with jam.

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Yield: 3 dozen.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Seasons Greetings!


December is here and so is my holiday spirt. I look forward to December for many reasons and as you can expect one of those reasons is because it gives me endless reasons to make delicious treats. Any excuse to bake is a good one for me. I love giving desserts for gifts. It adds a personal touch and makes the gift a little more special. Typically I stick to cookies and candies, but this year I am trying new things. The other night I decided to make Cinnamon Sugar Pecans and they are sooooo easy. For all of you out there who say you can't bake, this recipe is for you. When I made these I did not add enough cinnamon, so I have adapted the recipe below.

Stay tuned for several more delicious recipes. I will be posting frequently this month!

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans
recipe from Baked Perfection

2 egg whites
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon water
1 pound pecan halves
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a gallon sized freezer bag mix together the egg whites, vanilla extract, and water. In a separate gallon sized freezer bag mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add pecans to the bag with the egg white mixture. Seal the bag and shake around the pecans until they are evenly coated. Transfer the coated pecans to the bag with the sugar mixture. Seal the bag and shake around until the pecans are evenly coated with the sugar mixture. Spread the pecans on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pumpkin Pie - It is never too late!

A holiday favorite.

I know that Thanksgiving has come and gone, but that does that does not mean it is too late to eat Pumpkin Pie. Zack and I LOVE pumpkin pie. It is so creamy and delicious. When I was a kid it was the only pie I would eat. Ask my mom if you don't believe me. Last year Zack even made me a pumpkin pie for my birthday. I use canned pumpkin in this recipe, it is just easier and reliable. So if you are also using canned pumpkin, you can make this any time of year. If you are stickler and only have pumpkin pie in November you can bookmark this recipe for next year.

P.S. Thanks dad for the awesome pie cutters!

Pumpkin Pie
recipe adapted from Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, cloves, and mace in a small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell. Bake in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.


Vodka Pie Crust
recipe from Cook's Illustrated


2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)

1 teaspoon table salt

2 tablespoons sugar

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 4 pieces

1/4 cup vodka , cold

1/4 cup cold water


Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.


Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.


Bakers Note: I have prepared this recipe in the food processor and by hand using a pastry cutter. It is definitely easier with the food processor, but tastes just as great doing it by hand. This is by far the best pie crust I have ever tasted!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cranberry Apple Pie

You really should make this pie this December.


This post is dedicated to my dad and my father-in-law. I am dedicating this post to my dad because he gave me the adorable pie cutters that allowed me to make the fancy leaf border in the picture above. If you are like me and have difficulty crimping the edges of the dough, then you should definitely get some of these. They make your pie look impressive with very little effort. If you are wondering why I am also dedicating this post to my father-in-law it is because of how much he loved this pie. I took three pies to my in-laws for Thanksgiving, this pie, a pumpkin pie, and a pecan pie. This was the first pie my father-in-law tried of the three and after this pie he did not bother with any of the others. Now everybody who tasted this pie thought it was delicious, but he really loved it. His actual words regarding this pie were "I think I will take the rest to bed with me." You can imagine we all got a good laugh out of that. I know Thanksgiving is over and it would have been nice if I got this post up for you before turkey day, but like many of you I was busy cooking, baking, and traveling. If you are looking for a special dessert for an upcoming Holiday Party or even a Christmas Dinner, this definitely fits the bill!

Thanks Bridget of Bake at 350 for sharing the recipe!

Cranberry Apple Pie
recipe adapted from Bake at 350 who modified the recipe from an old Williams-Sonoma Pies and Tarts Cookbook

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large Granny Smith Apples
2 cups fresh cranberries
zest of one orange
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg white
Double Pie Crust (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Lined the bottom of a glass pie pan with pie crust.

In a large bowl stir together the sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. Peel, core, and slice the apples approximately 1/4 inch thick. Add the apple slices, cranberries, and orange zest to the sugar mixture and toss well. Pile into the prepared pie pan. Top with bits of butter. Cover the pie with the top crust and vent as desired. Brush with beaten egg white.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce hear to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake 40-50 minutes more, until the fruit is tender when pierced with a knife. Check the crust periodically and tent with boil if it browns before cooking through.


Vodka Pie Crust
recipe from Cook's Illustrated


2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)

1 teaspoon table salt

2 tablespoons sugar

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 4 pieces

1/4 cup vodka , cold

1/4 cup cold water


Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.


Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.


Bakers Note: I have prepared this recipe in the food processor and by hand using a pastry cutter. It is definitely easier with the food processor, but tastes just as great doing it by hand. This is by far the best pie crust I have ever tasted!



P.S. Happy Birthday Jimmy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

I am in a velvet kind of mood.

I had a tough time deciding what to post tonight because I have been baking up a storm. I have a backlog of cupcake recipes that need to get posted, but I didn't want to overwhelm you with cupcakes. If you were wondering why I said "I am in a velvet kind of mood" it is because what I baked this weekend. First on Friday night I made Blue Velvet Cupcakes (if you follow Baked Perfection on facebook you saw a picture of them yesterday) and then last night I made the Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies pictures above.

Yesterday I was watching Food Network, which is often on at our house, and on the TV was an episode of "Cooking for Real". Sunny was making Red Velvet Swirl brownies. I once watched her make them on "The Today Show" and even though I had stuff I needed to get finished around the house and I had seen her make these brownies before I sat and watched the entire episode just for these brownies. I had no intention of making them yesterday, but I knew I would make them eventually. Fast forward to last night and there I was in the kitchen making these brownies at 10:30! I had all the ingredients and they would not get out of my head. These brownies did not let me down one bit, they were fantastic! These are definitely a special brownie and I think they would be perfect for any special occasion.

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies


Red Velvet Layer:
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan, and set aside.

Brownie layer: Add melted butter to a large bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mix. Fold in the flour until lightly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream cheese layer: Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer. Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Halloween!


I hope everybody had a great Halloween weekend. I know it is too late for you to make these cupcakes for Halloween, but I think they are great for any fall event. They would be great at a Thanksgiving potluck or even with Thanksgiving dinner. If you ask Zack....they are even good for afternoon snack :)

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from Baked Perfection

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg. In separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, pumpkin puree, both sugars, and eggs. Add the flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Makes 15 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from Baked Perfection

3/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter, cream cheese, and vanilla with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar 1 cup at a time; mix until smooth.

These cupcakes are all packaged up for a party.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

Cute and delicious.

I have wanted to make these cheesecake cupcakes for a LONG time. I don't know why it took me this long to make them, but I am glad I did. They delicious and loved by everybody who tasted them and super easy to make. You really could use any cookie instead of Oreos. My mind is racing with the possibilities. I used the Halloween themed Oreos just since it is October; I think they would be adorable with the red filled Oreos that come out in December. I may even try making them again with Chips Ahoy cookies. I halved the recipe when I made them and got 18 cheesecake cupcakes. I have posted the original recipe below.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes Recipe
recipe from: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone’s Favorite Treat

Makes 30

Ingredients:
42 cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 30 left whole, and 12 coarsely chopped
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Halloween Cake Pops

Scary good.

This past weekend we went to our friends' John and Leslie's. We don't get to see them as frequently as we would like so it was a real treat. I was lucky enough to spend part of the afternoon taking photos of their adorable six month old daughter in her Halloween costume. The other part of the afternoon Leslie and I attempted to make cake pops. I say attempted because it was not as easy as it looked. I brought over a prepared cake and some leftover maple buttercream. We put the cake in the food processor with some frosting to ensure it would combine nicely. I guess I was not paying attention to how much frosting I added because we ended up with a sloppy wet mess! We ended up having to bake another cake to compensate for all the frosting. The lesson here: pay attention when adding your frosting to your cake when making cake pops .

I am not going to post a recipe or directions in this post since I have made all sorts of cakeballs and pops and of course there is the master, Bakerella. We decided to go with monster eyes and pumpkins. I found the eye sprinkle at target in case you are looking. To create the texture on the monster eye pop, we dipped it as normal and then added the sprinkle. When it was dry I used my finger and "painted" on some more melted green chocolate. To make the faces on the pumpkins we melted some black colored candy melts, put them in a ziplock bag, cut the corner off the bag, and then drew the face.

Stay tuned this week for an Oreo Cheesecake recipe!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Caramel Popcorn (a.k.a my new favorite treat)

Beware...people will fight you for this!


Earlier this year our friend John turned 30 (which I mentioned in earlier posts). To celebrate this momentous occasion, his wife hosted a great party and his mom, Sue, made this AMAZING caramel popcorn. I already thought his mom was pretty great, but the fact that she created the tastiest popcorn I ever ate just put her over the top. Lucky for me (and you) she shared the recipe.

This popcorn is not only delicious, it is easy to make, and super affordable. I bagged the popcorn in cute little cellophane bags that had skeletons printed on them and tied it off with an orange Halloween ribbon. I think this would be perfect to give out as a favor for a party or even in a big cauldron to share.

Caramel Popcorn

4 bags buttered and salted popcorn, popped (remove any unpopped kernels)
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil over low heat 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla.

Place the popcorn into a turkey roaster pan coated with cooking spray. Pour caramel over popcorn. Bake at 250º for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes with a spatula coated with cooking spray. Let cool before serving.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Candy Corn themed Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Easy, Cute, and Delicious!

I love Halloween. I always have and I am sure I always will. I actually hate being scared and refuse to watch scary movies or go to haunted houses, but I love the decorations, the dressing up, the pumpkin patch and all the other things that go with Halloween. To get into the holiday spirit Zack and I went to the pumpkin patch this weekend (which is always fun) and I started making Halloween Treats. Chocolate covered pretzels are pretty much universally loved by all my friends and family. Candy Corn on the other hand is not. I enjoy the cute Halloween Candy, Zack won't touch it. So what did I do...I decided to make candy corn colored chocolate covered pretzels and it was a success. I am not going to post the how to here since I have posted it here: White Chocolate Covered Pretzels. Instead I will just post a few extra pictures. Stay tuned for more Halloween Treats!

Here they are all bagged up and ready to be gifted. Now you can see these treats featured on Rosie Snow on the Road.



This was an idea I had with pretzel rods. I dipped the rod in each color, starting with the white chocolate and letting it cool between each color. They did not come out quite as cute as I was hoping, but they still tasted good.