Thursday, December 29, 2011

Apple Toffee Blondies

This Apple Toffee blondie was part of the “Christmas platter” entourage from a few days ago, but it needed its own post. It’s THAT good. 
So, this is how it went down…I had already planned out what I was making for my cookie gifts. (Keep in mind I kept adding recipes to the list after I’d already gone shopping) I finally cut myself off and made a pact that I wouldn’t add anything else. UNTIL I SAW A PICTURE OF THIS BLONDIE. (Thanks a lot Pinterest) It was love at first sight.

I threw caution to the wind. Ignored the fact that I might be overexerting myself by baking too many things in one day. I just HAD to make it and even more importantly, I HAD to taste it.

I was patting myself on the back when I bit into this “little piece of heaven” (direct quote from my pal Dan). This blondie is positively sinful. The combination of tart green apple and sweet crunchy toffee gives the brownie such a nice taste and texture. And the brown sugar frosting? It needs no explanation. I slightly changed up the original recipe a little bit by adding in Heath Bar toffee bits (covered in chocolate) and using a bit more apple and a tiny splash of apple cider and cinnamon.

Out of all the goodies I sent out to my friends and neighbors, this one got all the rave reviews!  But I have to confess more of these ended up in my tummy than in my Christmas platters. Don’t judge me. :)

Apple Toffee Blondies
(recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups)

2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cup Granny Smith apple (I used 3 small ones)
½ cup Heath Bar toffee bits (I bought mini Heath Bars and chopped them up into bits)
1 tsp of apple cider or juice (don’t use too much, the batter should be thick!)
Pinch of cinnamon

The How To
1. Preheat oven to 305 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.

2. Cream butter and brown sugar in electric mixer until smooth.

3. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth.

4. On low speed, mix in flour, baking powder, salt, apple cider and cinnamon. Mix until combined.

5. Fold in the chopped apples and toffee bits until evenly distributed.

6. Spread into prepped pan and bake for 30 minutes until the center is set.

7. Cool completely before slicing or frosting.

Brown Sugar Frosting
½ cup butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar

Melt butter in medium sized saucepan.  Add brown sugar and milk and bring it to a boil. Once boiled, remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar with a whisk. Let mixture cool so it becomes thick enough for frosting. Stir well before frosting the blondies. Spread over blondie and allow frosting to set for 30 minutes before cutting into them.

Voila! And Enjoy!
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Egg Nog Fudge

I know you all were probably expecting an Apple Toffee Blondie post, but I HAD to do this one first. I'm just THAT excited about.

Not sure how many of you will recall a few months back when I mentioned I had attempted a fudge recipe. Sadly, it never made it to the blog. I gave it my best TWICE to nail the Maple Pumpkin fudge and all I ended up with was a brick of fudge you couldn’t cut into followed by a glop of fudge that didn’t even harden. It was a culinary disaster. I felt defeated. SO defeated that I had put off trying another recipe for fear of massive failure.
Until Christmas Eve.

 I had some leftover eggnog from the cupcakes I did last week that I didn’t want to waste, so when I stumbled on this fudge recipe, I decided to put on my big girl panties and try again.

The result? Redemption!! Sweet Redemption!

Despite all my fears, this eggnog fudge was such a success.  It came out with the perfect texture and consistency. The melt in your mouth kind of creamy. Not to mention, it’s egg nog on CRACK. The stuff is so addictive because it’s full of the eggnog flavor without being overly sweet like fudge often can be.  Like I have said before, I’m not a huge fan of drinking eggnog, but baking with it really does bring out the best it has to offer.

The recipe is super simple and don’t skimp on the rum extract. It really reminds you of that old fashioned flavor eggnog has. I didn’t have a candy thermometer on hand (I broke mine IN the fudge I botched the first time) but I did use a digital screen thermometer to gauge the temp. It worked beautifully.  My dad, who happens to be a very good fudge maker, advised once it starts to boil, wait about 5 minutes, while stirring constantly, and it should be ready. Good advice, Pops.

Eggnog Fudge
(recipe from Brown Eyed Baker)

2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup eggnog
Pinch of salt
10½ ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus a little more for dusting the top of the fudge
One 7-ounce jar marshmallow crème (not fluff, CRÈME!)
1 teaspoon rum extract

The How To:

1. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and let it hang over the side; set aside. (I didn’t have parchment paper on hand, so I sprayed the pan with nonstick spray. It still turned out well!)

2. In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, eggnog and salt over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 8 to 10 minutes, until a candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees F, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove from heat. (I didn’t boil 8 to 10 minutes. I let it boil for about 5-6 minutes while I was stirring and then checked the temp with a digital thermometer. It was done in about 6 minutes or so. This could vary depending on your stove top.)

3. Using a wooden spoon, work quickly to stir in chopped white chocolate and nutmeg until chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in marshmallow crème and rum extract. Beat until well blended and then pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle a little ground nutmeg on top. Let stand at room temperature until cooled, then refrigerate overnight until firm.

4. When completely cool, cut into squares. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Makes about 64 pieces, depending on how generous you are with cutting. J

I am SO proud of this fudge! Wooo!

I can officially say I will no longer be afraid to make fudge. This opens up a huge door of possibilities. Anyone have some great fudge recipes they’d like to share?
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Friday, December 23, 2011

A Tempting Trio: Chocolate Chip M&M Cookies, Egg Nog Cookies and Peanut Butter Blossoms

A plate of extreme yumminess.
I cannot believe it will be Christmas in FOUR DAYS. The holidays have totally crept up on me and I’m definitely NOT prepared. I will be that girl on Christmas Eve, scrambling to get the rest of her shopping done. Why I torture myself yearly with this ritual is beyond me.

I may be behind on my shopping, but I never get behind on my baking. I was especially excited for Christmas this year because I knew I wanted to do something special. I remember when I was little our neighbors would always bring over baskets filled with homemade goodies. I looked forward to this every year. (I told you, I’ve been a sugar addict ALL my life.)  Popcorn, cakes, cookies and fudge. You name it, it was on the plate. In honor of that fond memory I wanted to start my own tradition by doing it for my neighbors and loved ones.

Only one slight problem. My brain was overwhelmed with ideas and recipes I thought I’d never be able to narrow it down. I’d pick up all the stuff for one recipe and be in the grocery store the next day picking up more crap.  Before I knew it, I had 10 things I wanted to bust out in one baking day. Insane, I know.

I was however, able to cut myself off to a reasonable number and ended up with a baking roster anyone would be proud of.

Here was my line up…

·        Mint Chocolate Chip cookies  (click here for recipe, I have made these before!)

·        Peanut Butter Blossoms

·        Egg Nog cookies

·        Chocolate Chip M&M cookies

·        White Chocolate Pretzel Treats

·        Apple Toffee Blondies (you will have to wait for my next post for this recipe!)

I'm a baking MACHINE.

My goal for this mission was to create easy, yummy treats that would remind people of the holidays. Nothing too fancy, just some lovin’ from my oven. I spent about 9 hours total in the kitchen this past Saturday and I had an absolute ball! I was a hot mess by the time it was over. Covered in flour, chocolate and food coloring! But the end result was so worth it. I came out with a wonderful plate of love that I was so eager to deliver to my friends. And I’m sure I can safely say they were happy when I showed up on their doorsteps J

Today I’m sharing the recipes for 3 of the cookies I made. Super simple and delicious! My two favorite things about a cookie recipe!

Stacy's yummy pretzel treats.

You will be able to find the pretzel recipe on Stacy's blog, Delightful Dish. She has been making these for years and I owe her a million times over for letting me borrow the idea. The mint cookie is feature on a previous post, and the Apple Toffee Blondie? Well, you will just have to wait for that one. And trust me, it’s worth it. These things are little bars of HEAVEN.

Click on "more" to get my recipes! :)
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Monday, December 19, 2011

EggNog Cupcakes

 i wish i had one of these RIGHT now.

Did anyone ever mention that a baking addiction makes you gain weight? ! I’m shocked to report it does (Note sarcasm here.)

In an attempt to make my new fitness goals successful (drop 10 pounds of “sugar” weight), I made a vow at the beginning of this month to lay off baking until Christmas Eve. I failed miserably and lasted 12 days. Hey, it’s better than nothing. In my defense, the ingredient I used for this recipe just couldn’t be resisted, especially since it’s only in the grocery stores once a year. Carpe Diem ladies and gentlemen!

Eggnog! Love it or hate it, it’s a Christmas staple. My dad has a deep and personal relationship with the stuff. I’m not partial to it, but it IS super fun to bake with!
I recently scored my first mini muffin pan and decided to make these cupcakes in the miniature version. Holy Cupcake, Batman! These little guys were so quick to make. I was able to bust out like 50 mini cupcakes in 15 minutes! I will definitely be using the mini tin more often! (I also did a few in the larger size with some batter I had leftover.)

how cute are these little bubs?! :)

There isn’t much to say about these holiday treats, except they are so tasty and full of eggnog flavor. They were also demolished in hours. The cake is light and airy with hints of spice. The eggnog frosting was just as sumptuous. I topped them off with a little ground nutmeg for aesthetics, but a cinnamon stick would look quite fancy too!

This is perfect cupcake for the eggnog lover in your life. Here’s how to make them…
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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brie and Pear Tart

I have to confess I spent over 7 hours in the kitchen during the Thanksgiving holiday, whipping up sweets I hoped would impress my family.  I ended up with 3 delightful delicacies I was quite proud of. You’ve already seen the first two from my previous posts, so with the last recipe I wanted to make something more savory. I opted for a Brie and Pear Tart that was quite the showstopper. Not only was the tart yummy, dancing on the lines of being sweet AND savory, it was so beautiful to look at. I don’t think I’ve ever made something so pretty that I didn’t want to cut into it!

 I am a huge believer that anything tastes better with cheese. And Brie just happens to be one of my all-time favorite cheeses. This pairing of pear and brie was harmonious. The brie was bright and creamy and had a slight nutty flavor; I could have eaten it in chunks. What makes this recipe so great is it’s quite simple. With a small amount of effort, you end up with this luxurious looking pastry that will assure to turn heads. This would be a beautiful first course or appetizer to share at your Christmas table!

nom. nom. nom.

Read on to see what you will need...

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

White Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes

I wanted to share another treat I made Thanksgiving weekend. This cupcake would also make a great holiday gift for friends, co-workers and neighbors. I especially love this combination of white chocolate and cranberry. Having some tart from the cran mixed with the sweetness of the white chocolate hit a home run for me. My brother doesn't even LIKE cranberry and he ate them. Trust me, this speaks volumes about the yumminess of this cupcake.

I used fresh cranberries for the recipe which really gave it amazing flavor. Throwing in some orange juice and zest gave it a little more zing. I topped the cake with a white chocolate orange frosting that was so heavenly I could have skipped the cake altogether. (Not really, but it was delicious!)

I don't know how often Cranberry Sauce makes it to the Christmas table in your household, but this would be a great replacement! I couldn't be happier with how these turned out and the flavor I was able to achieve.

see those cranberries peeping out of the cake? they are amazeballs!

White Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes

6 (1 ounce each) squares white baking chocolate  (I used Ghiradelli)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries (if you can't find fresh, don't be afraid to use dried)

The How To:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake tins with liners.

2. Chop 6 of the chocolate squares and set aside.

3. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.

4. Add eggs, orange zest and 3 tablespoons of the orange juice; mix well.

5. Add flour and baking powder; beat until well blended.

6. Fold in chopped chocolate and the cranberries. (you don't need to chop up the cranberries)

7. Bake approximately 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes to wire rack. Cool completely.

White Chocolate Orange Frosting

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 (1 ounce each) squares white baking chocolate, melted
3 tablespoons orange juice
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Mix in white chocolate. Mix in orange juice and powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Pipe or smear onto cupcakes.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

The holidays are just around the corner! Don’t you just love this time of year? Grumpy people seem to be happier. The weather is crisp and cool. Cheery decorations are everywhere you look. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my favorite seasons. So in the spirit of Christmas I wanted to share an addicting cookie recipe that makes a great holiday treat that you could easily gift as well!

I was so eager to make these Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies when I stumbled upon the recipe on Pinterest (most amazing website ever, it’s a baker’s dream!) that I couldn’t wait until Christmas, so I made them for Thanksgiving.  Mr. Sugarcoated teased me a little for this because he said the color of the cookies reminded him of Christmas and NOT Turkey Day.  I ignored him and my family was very appreciative that I did. They LOVED these cookies.  The fusion of mint and chocolate into a tasty sugar cookie is a masterpiece. Plus they are GREEN!(I’m a sucker for colored baked goods)  The recipe is super easy to follow and it makes a ton of them so you could easily bag them up in some cute holiday wrap and send them over to your neighbors! Genius, right?  You should hop on this gravy train, people.

Here’s how to make them...

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

(recipe from Betty Crocker)

1 pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix (you can do a cookie from scratch, but they are so easy this way)

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

½ teaspoon mint extract

6 to 8 drops of green food coloring

1 egg

1 cup Andes mints

1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks

The How To:

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, mint extract, food coloring and egg until soft dough forms.

2. Stir in Andes mints and chocolate chunks.

3. Using a small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 3 minutes and remove from cookie sheet. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

yeah, they're in a christmas bowl. i got excited.

See? Pretty darn easy right? Since the cookie isn’t from scratch, this semi-homemade recipe is super easy for all the novice bakers out there. You can’t mess this one up and your family and friends will just die over these goodies. Happy Holidays! J
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mocha Kahlua Cupcakes with Irish Creme Frosting

Have I mentioned that I love my new job? Out of the cubicle and into my own office.  It’s been said if you like what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. I think the same thing goes with liking the people working around you, and I totally do.  One of the perks to this gig is the monthly happy hours the office partakes in. THEMED happy hours! (So far I’ve been to an Oktoberfest and a Hoe Down!) The theme always changes but there’s always one constant.  Duck. Fart. Shots.  (Yes, I typed that correctly.) It sounds disgusting but they’re tasty and addicting. Layer a shot glass with Kahlua,  Bailey’s and a splash of Crown Royal and a Duck Fart has been born. Our work happy hours are packed with these sugary shots and the gang loves them so much I decided to make a cupcake in their honor.

It’s been mentioned to me that mocha/coffee flavor is really hard to get into a cupcake. They often end up tasting like chocolate and not much of anything else. I decided to punch up the coffee taste by using a mixture of instant coffee, a dark roast brew and plenty of Kahlua. I was on a roll so after the cakes baked, I pierced small holes in the tops of each one and brushed more Kahlua liqueur over them so the coffee goodness would seep into the cake. This worked out superbly. I was able to achieve the coffee taste I was looking for while still having subtle hints of chocolate. I topped the cake with an Irish Crème frosting which barely made it into my piping bag. This stuff was so darn good.
My husband and I loved these cupcakes so much the first batch turned into crumbs in a matter of days. So I made them again for neighbors and the co-workers. They were gone in hours. GREAT SUCCESS!

 Mocha Kahlua Cupcakes
(recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1/3  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
½ cup strong brewed coffee  at room temp(I used a Kona Blend)
1½ teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons Kahlua liqueur + 2 tablespoons for glazing
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature

 1. Mix the instant coffee granules into the brewed coffee until dissolved. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with liners.

3. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.

4. Beat the butter and both sugars together on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, 2 tbsps of Kahlua, brewed coffee mixture, and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the dry mix.

5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and pierce several  holes in top of each cake with a fork. Use the remaining 2 tbsps of Kahlua by brushing the top of each cake several times so a small glaze forms. Cool cakes completely before frosting.

Irish Creme Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream (you can use any Irish Crème Liqueur)
1 tablespoon milk

1.       Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and beat until creamy.
2.       Gradually add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes after each), until the icing is thick enough to be of good consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.
3.       After all sugar has been added, add Bailey’s and milk and blend until just combined.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Beer Me! Hefeweizen Cupcakes.

Yum, Yum.

You're probably reading the title of this post and saying to yourself: Seriously, Tori? Beer in cupcakes?  Trust me, you aren't the first one. But are you REALLY surprised? Any excuse to get booze in a cupcake and I'm there. You know this.

I think it's a pretty wonderful idea to have beer in a cupcake. Not just ANY beer, but one of my favorites. Good ol' Shocktop. This "Belgian white" beer (which is more of a hefeweizen beer to me) is quite similar to the consistency of Blue Moon but has more of that orange citrus flavor I so crave. I have seen quite a few Blue Moon cupcake recipes on the web so I knew my idea of trying Shocktop wouldn't be such a bad idea. These cupcakes turned out wickedly awesome!

The cake was moist, light and fruity, with hints of citrus and wheat. The frosting was nice and frothy (just like beer foam!!) Heck, they looked like mini Shocktops! And tasted like it!

a match made in heaven.

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Wine and Cheese Cupcakes

Every year myself and a tightly knit group of women venture out into the mountains for a girls' wine weekend. Yes, it's just as fun as it sounds. We make the trip up to Delaplane,Virginia to pay a visit to some of the best wineries located in our great state. I seriously count down the days until this trip appears on my calendar again. We travel from NOVA, Pittsburgh and Virginia Beach and meet each other for a jam packed weekend of wine. A Tahoe is stuffed with tons of wine tasting grub and we mosey on over to 6 or 7 fantastic wineries. Smashing good time, ladies. I strongly suggest you planning something like this yourself for you and your gal pals!

Me and my lady friends! Martha, Sally, Shawna, Me and Stacy!
This year, instead of bringing Oreos and candy bars (yes, I ALWAYS bring the sugar. Are you surprised?) I wanted to bake a special cupcake for the occasion. So, a boozey cupcake was the obvious choice.  I mean, it's a WINE weekend for cryin' out loud! I decided to go with a cake that had wine baked into the cake. Toss in some creamy Camembert cheese and some walnuts and you have one bad ass cupcake. The frosting on top was a red wine chocolate ganache. I was really proud of these cupcakes because they felt sophisticated. They were rich, delectable, and the walnuts gave it a nice crunch that really enhanced the flavor. The gals liked them. So much, that we have some pretty hilarious pictures as a result.

Finger lickin' good, right Martha? :)

Wine and Cheese Cupcakes:
(recipe adapted from the Cupcake Project)

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz Camembert cheese (you could also use Brie if you like!)
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup dry red wine (I used Shiraz)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  2. In another medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated.
  4. Mix in the vanilla.
  5. Alternately mix the dry ingredients and the red wine into the butter mixture until just combined.
  6. Fold in the walnuts.
  7. Mix in chocolate morsels.
  8. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. (you want the batter to rise to the tops are somewhat high to frost)
  9. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when lightly touched.
  10. Frost cupcakes with chocolate ganache.

Red Wine Chocolate Ganache
  • 2 oz dark chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 oz red wine (I used  Shiraz)
  1. Place the chocolate and the butter in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave for 10 seconds and then remove and stir.
  3. Repeat step 2 until the chocolate is all melted.
  4. Slowly pour in the wine and mix thoroughly.
  5. Place in the refrigerator until it hardens enough to easily spread (about 10 minutes).
  6. Spread on cupcakes.

Stacy took a bite. Anything for a good shot ;)

If you want a grown up chocolate cupcake for your next wine party or wine TRIP (plan one!) these are the way to go. Enjoy!

**The fabulous pics for this post were taken by my best gal and newly engaged woman Stacy from Delightful Dish! Check out what's cooking on her blog!**

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Creme Brulee Cupcakes

My hubs and I are complete foodies. I would dine out seven days a week at posh restaurants if my wallet would allow me. For anyone that knows me, I ALWAYS order dessert. (Life is short people, get your sugar on!) My tried and true treat is Creme Brulee. If it's on the menu and nothing else tickles my fancy this is usually what you can find in front of me.

I have wanted to do a Creme Brulee cupcake for quite awhile now, but most of the recipes I found required a stand mixer to be handy which I didn't have at the time. I was finally able to tackle this recipe since my mother so kindly donated her Kitchen Aid to me.

I found the recipe on Beantown Baker and was just floored by how cute the pictures looked. Mini creme brulees chillin' on top of a cupcake. How wicked awesome!

The brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream turned out amazing. I could have bathed in this stuff. I brought these to work and people were coming back for seconds before lunchtime even hit. The cake is a little more on the dense side because you have to cone out the middle in order to "stuff" your cake with the buttercream, but nonetheless tasted delicious.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Mudslide Cupcakes

Everyone seems to be on a pumpkin craze lately. I can understand why. It's Fall. Leaves.. pumpkins... I get it.  I however, thought I was done with the pumpkin revolution after the cookie I recently made, until I saw THESE. Pumpkin mudslide cupcakes. Ummm, you had me at mudslide.  It's no secret I like to booze up my cupcakes. I swear if I ever own a cupcake shop children will never be able to eat there.

 I stumbled upon this cupcake while surfing over Paula Deen's website. (I love her YA'LL!) Much to my delight, I saw the recipe was actually from my abs fave cupcake blogger, Cupcake Project. This chick is a rock star and she became even more rad when I found out she makes cupcake recipes for Mrs. Deen herself. Swoon.

The cake is soft, moist and loaded with Irish Cream, Kahlua, coffee and pumpkin. And the frosting is absolutely addicting. (I scraped the bowl clean!)  Drizzle some chocolate sauce over these puppies and you are instantly reminded of the yummy frozen drink, except with a little pumpkin which I might add is a fantastic addition to the party.

My pals were ranting about how delectable these treats were and I would have to say this recipe is in my top five cupcakes so far. Make them and you won't be sorry. Here's how.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookie Sandwiches

Two weeks have passed since my last post. Holy moly, sugar lovers. That's just plain shameful. It's not that I haven't been baking, it's just been a busy few weeks around here.

I wanted to tandem on my last post and share the other goodie I made on my last day at my old job (which I can confidently say I don't miss much.) Peanut butter cookie sandwiches! I mean, don't you just wish you had one in front of you right now? The answer is YES.

I wish I could tell you I made these totally from scratch but Mr. Sugarcoated snuck a bag of peanut butter cookie mix into the grocery cart and was itching for me to make them. So, if you're looking for a homemade peanut butter cookie recipe, you'll have to keep surfing. Back in the day I would have been ALL over a cookie-in-a-bag recipe, but that's just not the case any longer. However, I thought some of my "semi-homemade" baking goddesses would appreciate this quick but delicious concoction. This is about as low maintenance as baking gets, folks.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Something to Slobber Over: Chocolate Caramel Brownies

Since I started this baking journey, I have gotten requests to post about all sorts of things. Savory cupcakes, doughnuts, lemon bars, pickle cupcakes (oh hubby, where do you come up with this stuff?) and most recently, all things chocolately. Since the office pals were tickled silly by my Oreo Balls,  I decided a choco treat was just the thing to do.

I have to mention my days as a cubicle chick are now over. I got a new job opportunity, moved over to another office, one floor below my old one (no cube required!) beginning just this week. While somewhat bittersweet, I'm ready to start a new chapter in my life and work towards the goals I have for my future. (and by this I mean Jedi Master baker)

I have dazzled my office peeps with my baked goodies for over a year now, so I wanted to go out with a bang on my last day. Go BIG or go home people. I whipped up a peanut butter cookie sandwich (next post!) and THIS brownie.

Woahh Momma.

This brownie will change your life. And if you have too many, maybe the way your jeans fit too. It's rich, chocolately delicious, delightfully gooey and oozing with caramel. Sound like something you may want to indulge in? In the words of one of my office buddies, "You'll have your hand on the second one before you even finish the first."  Beware!

Chocolate Caramel Brownie: (recipe inspired from Toll House)

2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Note: Make your brownie batter first by melting the butter and then mixing all ingredients together in the order mentioned above. Now on to the fun ingredients :)

1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
10 oz package of caramels (wrapped or unwrapped, but unwrapped is way easier!)
2 cups (12 oz. package of semi sweet chocolate morsels)

The How To:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix 2/3 cup of the evaporated milk and butter into the brownie batter. Spread half of the batter into an ungreased 13 x 9 baking pan.
3. Bake this portion of batter in oven for 15 minutes.
4. Heat caramels and remaining evaporated milk (1/3 cup) in small saucepan over low heat, stirring it constantly, until caramels are melted. Sprinkle chocolate morsels over the baked brownie mixture, then drizzle melted caramel mixture over it.
5. Drop remaining batter by heaping teaspoons over the caramel mixture.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set.
7. Cool in pan on wire rack.

I have officially had my blog for a little over a month now. When I first started it, I thought the site would get lost in cyberspace somewhere generating no interest whatsoever. I want to take the time to say THANK YOU to my family, friends, subscribers and followers who have made the site more popular than I thought possible. I'll keep posting if you keep reading! (And please comment if you stop by, it means so much!)

Til we meet again ladies and gents! :)
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Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Frosting

Fall has finally arrived! It happens to be my favorite season, not only because of the cool crisp weather, but the wonderful flavors that remind me of it.

Like pumpkin!

Earlier this week I attempted to make a maple pumpkin fudge but that post will NOT be making it to the blog. I botched that recipe completely. Not once, but TWICE people. First batch was maple pumpkin gloop, second batch was a maple pumpkin brick. Both inedible. It was quite pathetic. I will sum it up to say I'm not a candy maker.

I moved on from the fudge and made a cookie using the same flavors since I still had most of the stuff on hand.  I found this recipe on Glorious Treats, one of my favorite baking blogs. I made these for a dinner party I had with some of my girlfriends and they got such rave reviews, I made two more batches a few days later.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Elmo Cupcakes!

I just wanted to share these charming little cupcakes because they were so fun to make! One of my dear friends Aireka held an adorable barnyard birthday party for her son Joey. Folks, you KNOW you're getting old when you start attending birthday parties for your friends' children instead of theirs. Hah.

 I will be totally honest. I had no idea what to buy a 2 year old for his birthday. Aireka told me one of Joey's favorite characters is Elmo, so I decided to put my decorating skills to the test and attempt a cupcake that would look just like the furry little guy.

I used the chocolate cupcakes and cream cheese frosting recipe from an earlier post to do this so I will save time not typing the recipe here, just head there to find it.  

I dyed the frosting red to match Elmo's fur. I will warn you that AT LEAST two bottles of red food coloring will be needed to dye the icing red. (I used three small ones!) I used halved marshmallows for the eyes and gumballs for his nose. Finished off the mouth with a halved Oreo. I have to say, they were the spitting image of the Sesame Street star.

Here's what I used:

1 bag of jumbo marshmallows
1 bag of orange gumballs
1 tube of black decorating icing
Oreo cookies
Red food coloring (at least two, i would suggest 3)

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Strawberry Heaven Cake

I seem to be on a fruit binge lately. But the recipe I am about to drop on you is much more forgiving on your waistline.  Caught your attention yet?

If angel food cake, ice cream and strawberries had a love child, this cake would be it. It's absolutely heavenly. Hence the name.

I wish I could say I dreamed this dish up all on my own, but that honor must go elsewhere. This recipe was inspired by a treat I had at my pal Shawna's bridal shower. Her maid of honor made it. I could have taken the giant serving spoon and polished it off myself if there hadn't been 20 other women ohh'ing and ahh'ing over it too. I slightly adjusted a few things by adding some sugar free options, fresh strawberries and some homemade vanilla whipped cream to top it off.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Apple Bavarian Torte

Before the days when baking was my obsessive hobby, every now and then I would try to bake something sweet for a special occasion. I tried this recipe out last Christmas and just about died over it. This torte is the bomb diggity, ya'll!

I revisited the recipe a few days ago because I was craving something fruity and it was just as awesome as I remember it. Maybe a little better since I'm just a tad better in the kitchen now. So I wanted to share it with you.

The torte is made in a springform pan. Sweet vanilla cream cheese filling, toasted almonds and cinnamon-kissed baked apples make this dessert of my favorite autumn recipes. The name may sound fancy pants, but it is one of the easiest things to make! Try it if you don't believe me. You can thank me later.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Two weeks later and I STILL don't have my car. Let's just sum it up to say that like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.. when you BUY your auto insurance, not so much when you FILE a claim.

Despite all the crappiness surrounding me, there have been some silver linings along the way. While I may have lost my car for a few days, I have gained a Kitchen Aid stand mixer! Heckkk yeahhhh! My mother was kind enough to "donate" hers to me until I get one for myself. You have no idea how long I have been wanting one of these and it has already made such a difference in the quality of my baking. If you don't have a stand mixer and you can afford to drop a few on one, I would highly suggest it. It will change your baking life.

I wanted to thank my mom for doing such an awesome thing for me so I made a cupcake especially for her. Her favorite: Red Velvet.  Keep in mind I have never made these before so I learned a few things while making them...

#1. Did you know food coloring is what makes them red? I did not know this. I thought there was some magical ingredient involved. I am EXTREMELY embarrassed.

#2. They are actually chocolate cupcakes. Yep. Didn't know this either.

After picking myself up off the floor in shame for my lack of knowledge, I used my new mixer to whip these cupcakes up. And they turned out straight sexy and delicious. I brought them to mother's house the next day and she smiled with joy when I showed up with cupcakes in hand.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

They're Spiked!: Pina Colada Cupcakes

If you like Pina Coladas.... getting caught in the rain... If you're not into health food.. if you have half a brain...

I'm cuckoo for coconuts. I know for some it is an acquired taste, whether it be because of the texture or the taste (some have mentioned to me it reminds them of eating sun tan lotion, SAY WHAT?!) My husband happens to be one of these people. He normally won't go near the stuff.

But, if you are a lover of the coco like myself, me thinks you will like these. And might I mention that it WAS raining when I made them. (Please see corny yet awesome lyrics from Rupert Holmes song above if you are confused.)

Okay, starting to ramble. Moving on...

No ingredient was spared to make these. They contain all things that remind you of the tropical cocktail. That's right, booze included. I had a lovely bottle of homemade coconut rum my pal Tracy bought me from St. Martin that was begging to be used.  I was a little worried since the liquor was blue, but they turned out just fantastic. The cupcake is moist and even a little wet from the bits of pineapple, its juice, and the coco rum. Toss in a little coconut milk, frost with a coconut cream cheese frosting and you have quite the saucy pastry that will have you craving for seconds. And thirds.

How cute is this bottle, right??

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Break from the "Cake": Oreo Balls

You were expecting a cupcake post maybe? I siked you out! :)


My mother in law Barbara is one of the greatest cooks I have ever met.  Watching her take even the simplest of ingredients and turn it into something to drool over always amazes me. My husband and I don't get to visit as often as we'd like, but I can promise you, whenever we do make it out to Oklahoma, I gain about 10 pounds in one week. I just can't stop eating her food.

The very first time I was able to meet her, she made these Oreo balls. Ryan kept telling me before we even got there, that I would go nuts over them. He was right on the money. These round little balls of joy are chocolatey, creamy, and ABSOLUTELY addicting. Once you pop, you can't stop (yep, just like Pringles). She sent me home with a box of these for the plane ride. I think about half of them made it to our condo.

And the best thing about them? They're SO easy to make.

Let me show you how...

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Tiramisu Cupcakes

I don't go one single morning without a cup of coffee. There is a huge difference in the no coffee Tori in comparison to the caffeinated Tori. (Ask my co-workers). So if you love coffee (and cheese!)  like I do, you will love these treats. They trot a little off the beaten path for standard cupcakes. Most Tiramisu cupcakes I have seen usually involve some type of vanilla/yellow cupcake and very little of the ingredients that remind me of the actual tiramisu dessert. And Tiramisu (along with Creme Brulee) is my ABS favorite dessert. So I wanted a cupcake that tasted exactly like it. I found this recipe on my absolute favorite cupcake blog, Cupcake Project. If you haven't seen her site, she has THE most creative cupcakes I have ever seen and this was the first recipe of many I will be attempting.

I loved this recipe because it's more like a mini Tiramisu than an actual cupcake. Forget the cupcake recipe and give me more mascarpone anyday! I will note these are a little on the labor intensive side, as I made the ladyfingers from scratch, as well as the whipped topping and the mascarpone filling, but it was WELL worth it. These are positively sinful.

So, you wanna know how to make em' now? ;)

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Orange Dreamsicle Cupcakes

My car was stolen on Thursday night. How helpless of a feeling it is to wake up in the morning and see a clunker in  the parking space your car is SUPPOSED to be in. I spent three entire days worried to death about Charles (yes, I gave my car a very masculine name)) wondering if he would be in pieces by the time they found him. He turned up on Sunday evening in not the best of shape, actually, in terrible shape if we're being honest. Needless to say it was a very rough weekend for me. I needed some major cheer in my life.

Like it has always been said, when life hands you lemons, make some lemonade. So I did. Except I used oranges and made cupcakes :)

I have seen several different recipes all over the web for an Orange Dreamsicle cupcake. Some of them required tools I didn't have or techniques I haven't quite mastered yet. So I winged it and made my own recipe. I did a orange/vanilla cupcake and topped it off with an orange cream cheese frosting. I added some candy orange slices to make them a little more cheery. These cuties really turned my frown upside down.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Smore's Cupcakes!

Boy, do I love camping. One of the very first things Ryan (the hubs) and I did when we first met was hit Cape Hatteras for some beach camping. And what goes along perfectly with camping? Making S'mores!
 Along with my strong love for Nutella, I would say my affection for marshmallows is pretty high up there as well. Nothing is more fun than roasting a marshmallow (or charring it like I usually do) over a campfire and assembling that little graham sandwich of goodness. So in honor of that I decided to make these cute little guys. I started with a chocolate cupcake and did a marshmallow frosting and topped with some Hershey and graham cracker. Take one bite of this cupcake and it screams S'mores. And what's better than that?

(Click read more for recipe)

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

PB & J Cupcakes!

Yummm. Right?

My hubs loves peanut butter and jelly like woah. Ever seen the pre-made PB & J "Crustables" in the freezer section? Grab them, defrost them, and you're good to go. He lives off of those things. So when I saw these cupcakes, I knew he would geek out to see them sitting on the kitchen table. I did surf the web to check out other recipes, but I really like the way the ones in my book looked. And trust me, they taste even better than they look. I don't think these puppies lasted more than an hour in my house. Hubs gave them two thumbs up. I was also able to share them with my mother and stepfather, which was a nice treat, because it's rare that anyone other than my better half and office pals get to indulge in what I make. This needs to CHANGE! :)

The book called for a basic vanilla cupcake. I decided to go for a buttery yellow cupcake instead. I opted for raspberry preserves in the center of the cupcake and finished with a delightful peanut butter frosting. This recipe was simple which is how I think it should be. I mean, when are PB & J sandwiches ever complicated?

(Click Read more For Recipe)
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