Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dessert for a Dinner Party

The other day my Dad had a few of his colleagues over for dinner, so I decided to try out something new for dessert! I settled on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for dulce de leche cheesecake squares since we had a bunch of neufchatel in our fridge! I changed it up a tiny bit, though since I was using a rectangular tart pan, and I also added my own embellishment to it to snaz it up a bit!

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares

yield: around 20 large squares

for the crust:
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp,. sugar
6 tbsp. butter, melted

for the dulce de leche filling:
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/4 c. skim milk
8 oz. neufchatel (or cream cheese), softened
2 large eggs
a dash of salt
dulce de leche*

for the chocolate glaze:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
4 tsp. Lyle's golden syrup
  1. First, make the crust: preheat the oven to 325F. In a food processor, process graham crumbs and sugar until finely ground, then pour in melted butter. Pour out into a rectangular tart pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes, then let pan cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Next, make the filling: pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over, and let stand for 2 minutes. In a mixer, beat together cream cheese, eggs, salt, and gelatin mixture until well-combined. Then, gently stir in the dulce de leche. Pour filling into crust and spread it out evenly. Bake it in a hot water bath in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until cheesecake is set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 6 hrs. (preferably overnight).
  3. 2 hours before serving, make the glaze: heat all glaze ingredients in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Pour over cheesecake, spread it out evenly, then refrigerate, uncovered for about 30 minutes.
  4. While chilling, make the brittle (recipe below).
* To make dulce de leche, pour a 14 oz. can of fat-free, sweetened condensed milk into a double boiler and cook, stirring every so often, for about an hour, or until light caramel-colored and thick.

Orange Hazelnut Brittle

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. orange extract
1/2 c. roasted chopped hazelnuts
  1. Sprinkle roasted chopped hazelnuts onto a silpat, and spread out evenly.
  2. In a saucepan, combine first 3 ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a light caramel color, and comes to a rolling boil (it will also thicken considerably).
  3. Pour sugar mixture over hazelnuts, and spread around to cover all of them.
  4. Let cool for about 15 minutes.
  5. When ready to serve cheesecake, cut into small pieces and put on top of each cheesecake square.
These were soooooo good and sooooo rich, and everyone seemed to love them (including me)! The brittle definitely was a nice accompaniment, and I loved how the graham, dulce de leche, and chocolate flavors combined so smoothly! Definitely an indulgence, but so worth it!


Monday, July 13, 2009

Super easy, spur-of-the-moment cookies!

I've managed to bake a bunch of things since my last post, but have been such a lazy bum recently and haven't gotten around to posting them yet! However, I did make these cookies today that I thought turned out really well, and were a quick way to satisfy my need for freshly-baked cookies!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

yield: around 15 small cookies

1 c. smooth peanut butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
dash of vanilla (probably around 1/2 tsp.)
1/3 c. quick-cooking oats
1 tbsp. honey
1/3 c. m&ms (or chocolate chunks/chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together all ingredients (except for m&ms) until well-mixed. Fold in m&ms.
  3. Drop in tablespoon-sized balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten them out to about 1/2" thick.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
These cookies were really tasty, and perfect for an easy, yummy, after-work snack!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fresh Jam

The other day my family lucked out: our neighbors had gone peach-picking and brought over some of the literal fruits of their labor (I pun) for us! Since we had already bought some peaches the day before, I decided to use some of the grocery store peaches and a couple tahitian mangoes we had to make some fresh jam!

Fresh Peach-Mango Jam

yield: about 32oz. of jam

2 c. chopped peaches (about 4 small peaches)
1 c. diced tahitian mangoes (about 2 mangoes)
1/2 c. granulated suagr
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/8 c. water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Bring mixture to a boil, and mash with a potato masher until it is the desired consistency.
  3. Cook for another 5 or so minutes, or until the mixture reaches a rolling boil for about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a heat-proof mason jar, screw on lid, and let sit for about 24 hours for jam to settle.
  5. After jam has settled, store it in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
I was too lazy to preserve the jam by boiling the jar (so it can be stored outside of the fridge), but it's a small enough amount of jam that I think we'll be able to eat it in 3 weeks. I also didn't have any pectin, which many jam recipes called for, hence my addition of extra light brown sugar. It definitely is not a very thick jam (it's fairly runny), but I think the consistency is pretty good...and it tastes pretty great too!

The only problem was that I woke up the morning after putting it into the fridge craving the jam on honey whole wheat bread...which we didn't have. So, being the frantic baker I am, I decided to bake some! I used the "lighter version" of this quick bread recipe from the NYT website...but changed slightly.

Honey Whole Wheat Quick Bread

1 2/3 c. skim milk
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
scant 1/2 c. honey
  1. Heat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan.
  2. Mix together the flours, salt, and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. In a glass measuring cup, stir together the milk, egg, and honey. Pour this into the dry mixture and stir until well-mixed.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pan, smooth out, and bake for roughly 50 minutes.
  5. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
This bread was soooooo good, and went perfectly with the jam!

Side-note: the jam was also really good as a topping for Haagen Dazs' low fat tart frozen yogurt!


Monday, July 6, 2009

Using Up Summer Berries

Yesterday I noticed that we had soooooo many fresh berries that were on the verge of going bad, so I decided to make a simple berry crisp to use some up! It was a perfect easy summer dessert that involves almost no prep work!

Fresh Summer Berry Crisp

2 c. fresh summer berries (strawberries, blueberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.)
1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/3 c. instant oats
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 tbsp. butter, cut into about 9 pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Prep berries by rinsing them, and halving cherries/blackberries and quartering strawberries. For my crisp I used a combo of strawberries, blueberries, and cherries.
  3. Pour berries into an 8x8" glass baking dish or an 8" round (oven-safe) souffle dish (what I used).
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, sugar, oats, and salt until ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
  5. Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over berries, and top with pieces of butter .
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the crisp topping is golden-brown.
It may not be beautiful, but it is so tasty and especially good eaten warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! The perfect summer treat - warm/cold, gooey/crispy, and tart/sweet! Yummy!

Buon Appetito Tutti!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Red White and Blue Treats

After spending this morning watching the men's Wimbledon final and seeing Roger Federer win his 15th Grand Slam and regain his #1 spot in the rankings, I figured I would post the desserts I made for yesterday's 4th of July BBQ my family went to! I wanted to try something new and, of course, make it red/white/ I decided to make red velvet sandwich cookies/whoopie pies with white and blue cream cheese frosting! I found a recipe for red velvet sandwich cookies that looked kind of cakey, so I decided to try them out! I filled the cookies from that recipe with a simple cream cheese frosting, and I think they worked out pretty well!

Patriotic Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

yield: around 18 sandwich cookies

for the cookies:
1 1/3 c. flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp. skim milk
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 egg whites
red food coloring (the amount depends on how red you want them to be)

for the cream cheese filling:
1/4 c. butter
4 oz. neufchatel
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. confectioner's sugar (may need more)
food coloring (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with a silpat (or parchment paper).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar, then beat in the egg whites. Once combined, fold in the applesauce, milk, vanilla, and food coloring.
  4. Using teaspoons, drop the batter onto the lined baking sheet making sure that the cookies are about 2 inches away from one another. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool for a couple minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, cream the butter and cheese in a mixer, add vanilla and food coloring (if you want it), then slowly add the confectioner's sugar until it gets to the desired consistency. When I made these cookies, I divided the frosting into 2 batches and dyed half of it blue!
  7. Once the frosting is done and the cookies are cool, sandwich every 2 cookies together with cream cheese frosting.
I liked these cookies a lot, but expected them to be a bit more cakey...they still tasted great though and looked very festive! I also put them in a red/blue basket (thanks Aunt Mary!), which I lined with red and blue napkins...overkill? I think not...

I was also kind of worried that they would not appeal as much to the chocolate-lovers in the crowd (and the little kids), so I made a batch of my lower-cholesterol chocolate chip cookies as well. I upped their patriotic factor by omitting the chocolate chips and instead using red and blue M&M's! The only hard part about this was sorting through 2 enormous bags of M&M's to pick out all the red and blue we now have a huge jar in my house full of orange, yellow, green, and brown M&M's!

These were also served in a red/blue/star-covered basket (thanks again Aunt Mary!)...and yes, I realize I get way too into holidays...but I love 'em!

Happy belated 4th and congrats to Federer on his 6th Wimbledon victory!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Low Fat Fudgy Brownie Turtle thingies!

Earlier this week I decided to try out a recipe for fat free blueberry coffee cake to use up some blueberries in my fridge and was very disappointed! I'm going to experiment a bit with the recipe and hopefully figure out a better version! Yesterday, though, I made Hungry Girl's low fat fudge, and thought it turned out pretty well! I changed up the recipe a bit (as usual) here it is:

Low Fat Turtle Fudge-Brownies

1 box ghiradelli's double chocolate brownie mix
2 c. canned pure pumpkin puree
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. ghiradelli mocha hot chocolate mix
caramel sundae topping
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray an 8x8" baking dish with cooking spray (or grease it).
  2. Mix together brownie mix, pumpkin puree, cocoa powder, and hot chocolate mix. Stir until well combined and pour into baking dish. Cook for 35 minutes.
  3. Take out of the oven and cool for about 30 minutes, then cover with aluminum foil and let chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
  4. Once it is cool, cover with a thin layer of caramel sundae topping, and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
These are kind of a cross between fudge and brownies, but I really like how they turned out! Later today I'm going to start preparing fourth of july desserts for tomorrow...I can't wait to see how they turn out!

I'm also really excited for the Williams sisters to play each other tomorrow in the Wimbledon women's final tomorrow and for Federer to play Roddick in the men's final on Sunday...I'll definitely be rooting for Venus and Roger!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Healthy Homemade Freezer Pancakes

So I didn't really have time to bake anything today, since I was working then came home and completely crashed in front of the TV to watch the end of the Andy Murray vs. Stanislas Wawrinka match (which Murray won 2-6 6-3 6-3 5-7 6-3)*! However, I made a batch of whole wheat banana pancakes a little while ago on a whim (and because I was hungry for banana pancakes one weekend morning), and decided to freeze most of them to heat up on rushed early mornings! They're quite healthy and hearty to start the day off, and re-heat really well - just microwave them wrapped in a paper towel for about 2 minutes, or until they're completely defrosted, and top with honey or maple syrup and fresh banana!

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

yield: about 6 large pancakes

1 c. 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 tbsp. applesauce
1 c. skim milk
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)
1 banana, mashed
2 tbsp. honey
1/4 c. pecans, chopped
1 banana, sliced
  1. Mix all ingredients except for sliced banana in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Heat a nonstick frying pan at medium heat (or a regular frying pan coated in oil or cooking spray).
  3. Ladle on the batter, and while the first side is cooking, press some slices of banana into the pancake, then flip it over when ready.
  4. Top with fresh banana slices, and drizzle with honey or maple syrup.
I'm not a morning person at all...but these are a great and tasty way to wake up and get energized for a long day!

* Also, for anyone who cares...Roger Federer (my FAVORITE tennis player) won his match today against Robin Soderling (whom he also played/beat in the French Open final a little while ago) 6-4 7-6 7-6!!! My mom was nice enough to text this to me while I was at work since I had to leave just after the first set ended!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Whoopie Pies Take 2

The other day I tried my hardest and could not find canned pure pumpkin anywhere! Today, however, I finally found it and decided to celebrate by making pumpkin whoopie pies! I found a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip whoopie pies, and decided to make a few changes and swap out the chocolate chips for butterscotch chips. I paired the cookie part of that recipe with a maple pecan filling using some of the extra maple glaze (about 1/3 cup) I had in the fridge from the carrot cake I made a while ago mixed with some marshmallow fluff and pecans (among other things).

Pumpkin Maple Whoopie Pies

yield: around 18 cookies (or 9 pies)

for the cookies:
1/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. canned pumpkin puree
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. butterscotch chips

for the maple pecan filling:
1/3 c. maple glaze (about 1/5 of the recipe)*
1/2 jar marshmallow fluff
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/3 c. chopped pecans
dash of cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, and line a baking sheet with a silpat (or parchment paper).
  2. Cream butter and sugars in a mixer. Beat in the egg, then add the vanilla and pumpkin puree and mix until well-combined.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Slowly add this to the butter mixture and combine until just combined. Fold in butterscotch chips.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the top of the cookie springs back when pressed lightly. Transfer to a wire rack immediately to cool.
  5. To make the filling, combine all the ingredients, and mix until smooth.
  6. After the cookies are completely cooled, sandwich two together with the filling.
* since making 1/5 of the recipe of the maple glaze is ridiculous, you can just mix 2/3 of a jar of marshmallow fluff with 3-4 tbsp. maple syrup, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/3 c. chopped pecans, and about 2 (or 2 1/2) c. confectioner's sugar for the filling (2 tbsp. of low fat cream cheese might taste good in it too)

These may be more appropriate for the fall, but are really good any time of year! I've been told that they are also quite good on their own just as pumpkin-butterscotch cookies, or you could even use them to make ice cream sandwiches with vanilla, dulce de leche, butter pecan, or any other ice cream!


Update: I just ate one...these might just be my new favorite food...they're seriously good! The combination of pumpkin, pecan, maple, and butterscotch was so I'm really glad I decided to use those butterscotch chips - they made all the difference!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Elvis-y Oatmeal Cookies

The other day while I was at the grocery I thought to pick up a bag of reese's peanut butter chips! So I was trying to think of a recipe to use them for, and came across this recipe for banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookies which I thought would be really good with peanut butter chips and also a great way to use a banana I had that was turning speckled! Well, here is the slightly altered recipe, with the addition of peanut butter and different sugar composition since I ran out of granulated sugar!

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

yield: around 22 large cookies

1 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of ground nutmeg
5 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. peanut butter
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. oats (I used quick, but I think rolled would be better)
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chunks
1/2 c. peanut butter chips
2 bananas, roughly mashed
  1. In a small bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon together and set aside.
  2. In your mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugars until completely blended.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended.
  4. On low speed add the flour mixture until it is just incorporated.
  5. Mix in the oatmeal, chocolate chunks, and peanut butter chips until evenly distributed.
  6. Add the mashed banana and mix until evenly distributed.
  7. Wrap the cookie dough in clingfilm, and refrigerate for 12-36 hours.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F, and cook for 15 minutes on a silpat or greased baking sheet!

These cookies are quite rich, but so tasty and chewy! But then again...I love anything with a combination of peanut butter, chocolate, and banana (best sandwich ever: whole wheat bread, peanut butter, banana slices, and mini chocolate's even better when it's grilled)!

Happy Eating!

Update: these cookies got really soft and smooshy really fast in my cookie jar, so I made a peanut butter-chocolate marshmallow filling (using fluff, confectioner's sugar, skim milk, cocoa powder, and some peanut butter), and turned them into whoopie pies! They were soooo good and refrigerated really well!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dark Chocolate Goodness

So, I admit...I've been a bit lazy about posting/baking recently because I have been completely wrapped up in watching Wimbledon! We also have a plethora of baked goods in the house right now that are getting finished, so I don't think we have room for any more at the moment! However, I do have a batch of cookie dough I just made chilling in the fridge right now to cook tomorrow and am so excited for it! For now, though, an older recipe which I found a while ago that is soooo good and satisfies even the most intense chocolate cravings:

Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies

yield: about 16 cookies

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 c. butter
1/2 tbsp. ghiradelli mocha hot chocolate mix (or instant coffee)
1 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder
just under 3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
1/4 c. dried cherries, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Melt unsweetened chocolate, butter, mocha, and 2 tbsp. semisweet chocolate in the microwave for 40 secs, stir, then for 15 secs more.
  3. Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl - stop when mixture is thick, creamy, and lemon-colored.
  4. Add chocolate mixture to the egg mixture.
  5. Sift flour and baking soda over liquid mixture. Add vanilla and cocoa powder, and mix until well-combined.
  6. Fold in semisweet chocolate chunks and dried cherries.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until tops are puffed and cracked.
These cookies are reeeeeeally rich and great for any dark chocolate lover! They are even better after the dough is refrigerated for 12-36 hours, as it yields a denser, fudgier cookie!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wimbledon Tart!

Today, in honor of my FAVORITE tennis tournament of the year, I made a green and purple tart! I realize I should've done some kind of take on strawberries and cream...but that will have to come later. I used a recipe for lime squares with pistachio graham crust that I found online but baked it in a tart part, and to add a purple element, I covered it in a fresh blackberry glaze (I found the recipe as part of a cheesecake recipe). Anyway, here it is in all its grand slam glory!

Wimbledon Tart

for the crust:
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
2/3 c. shelled pistachios
5 tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 c. sugar
zest of 3 limes

for the lime filling:
1 14 oz. can fat-free condensed milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 c. fresh lime juice
zest of 1 lime

for the blackberry glaze:
1/2 lb. fresh blackberries
1/2 c. water
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/3 c. sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch tart pan (with removable bottom).
  2. In a food processor, grind graham crackers into 1 c. graham cracker crumbs. Add pistachios, sugar, and zest to graham crackers and process until fine. Remove the food processor bowl and add melted butter, stirring until well-combined and roughly the consistency of damp sand.
  3. Spread crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan, pressing it down to form a dense layer. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until it turns golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  4. While the crust is cooling, make the filling. Beat the egg yolks into the condensed milk until mixed through. Then add the lime juice and zest, and fold it in until the lime juice is thoroughly mixed into the condensed milk and egg yolk mixture.
  5. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 15 minutes, or until the filling is set. Let it cool for 30 minutes out of the oven, then transfer to the fridge (don't cover it...clingfilm will just stick to the filling).
  6. When it has cooled in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, make the blackberry glaze. In a medium saucepan, mash the blackberries into the water. Heat this mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes, then put it through a strainer.
  7. Mix together the cornstarch and sugar in a bowl.
  8. Put the strained blackberries back into the medium saucepan (still on medium heat), and add the sugar-cornstarch mixture, and stir constantly until the mixture has thickened up.
  9. Allow the glaze to cool a bit, then pour in over the top of the lime filling in the tart and spread it out into an even layer over the top.
  10. Top it with fresh blackberries if you want (I halved mine and arranged them in the shape of the lines on a tennis ball) and serve (I'll hold off on any tennis puns)!
A slice on an appropriately british plate:

I was also thinking that it would taste good with a white chocolate ganache (maybe mixed with blackberry puree) drizzled over it, but some members of my family are not too keen on white chocolate, so I opted out. It was really good, though, and a really refreshing summer dessert!

Bon Appetit and Happy Wimbledon Spectating!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Tasty Surprise Dessert!

So I was incredibly psyched today was the first day of Wimbledon and Roger Federer won! Needless to say, I do not intend to leave my house for the next 2 weeks. Tomorrow I plan on making a green and purple-colored dessert in honor of my favorite Grand Slam! In other news...I decided to bake some more of the cookies from the chocolate chip cookie dough that I made the other day. While they were in the oven, I came up with a brilliant beyond brilliant idea...individual ice cream cakes with cookie dough base! So, I quickly took out the mini springform pans from my cabinet, took the cookie dough back out of the fridge, and got to work making the cookie dough base. The recipe is pretty simple, but here it is:

Personal Ice Cream Cakes

Enough cookie dough to cover the bottom of two 3" springform pans
1 1/2 c. haagen dazs low fat vanilla frozen yogurt (or vanilla ice cream)
2 reese's peanut butter cups
1/3 c. chocolate syrup
2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter
  1. Preheat oven to 300F and cover the bottom of 2 3" springform pans about 1/3" high with cookie dough. Bake for around 20-25 minutes, of until the sides of the dough begin to turn golden and pull away from the sides of the pans.
  2. Let the pans cool for around 5 minutes on a wire rack, then transfer to the freezer to cool for around 10 minutes, or until very cold.
  3. Next, take the pans out of the freezer one at a time, and spread 1/2 c. of frozen yogurt over the cookie base. Insert a peanut butter cup into the middle of the frozen yogurt and lightly press in. Cover the pan with a piece of tin foil, and return it to the freezer. Repeat this with the other pan.
  4. Allow the pans to set in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Then, cover the last layer of frozen yogurt/peanut butter cup with 1/4 c. of the frozen yogurt for both pans. Re-cover with foil, return to the freezer, and allow to set for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Mix together the peanut butter and chocolate syrup. Take the pans out of the freezer, and cover the frozen yogurt with half of the chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Re-cover and return to the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Serve!

These turned out soooooo well! The crust was a bit tricky to cut through, which might be remedied by cooking it a few minutes less...but yummy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wishing a Happy Father's Day with Mocha Cupcakes!

This father's day was relatively quiet for my family since my Dad was out of town on business, and my Mom and brother were off touring colleges in Ohio! So in honor of my Dad who couldn't be home for father's day, here is a chocolate- and coffee-centered recipe for mocha cupcakes that I made a little while ago that he really liked! I got the vegan chocolate cake recipe from Mollie Katzen's kids cookbook "Honest Pretzels" ( it's called "'Made-in-the-Pan' Chocolate Cake"), but instead of oil I used applesauce to make it fat-free, and I turned it into cupcakes instead of a cake. I then stumbled upon the mocha frosting recipe online, and was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was considering that it is pretty low in fat! Well, here's the recipe:

Mocha Cupcakes

yield: about 11 cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
1 1/4 c. flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 c. water
1/3 c. applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cider vinegar

for the frosting:
1/4 c. (4 tbsp.) butter, softened
2 tbsp. cocoa
3 tsp. ghiradelli mocha hot chocolate mix (or 3 tsp. instant coffee)
dash of salt
3 c. confectioners sugar
3 tbsp. skim milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 325F, and line a muffin tin with cupcake cups.
  2. Mix dry ingredients (by hand is fine) in a large bowl, then add wet ingredients.
  3. Stir until well-combined and lumps are gone.
  4. Pour batter into cupcake cups (about 3/4 full) and cook about 25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are moist and spongy.
  5. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.
  6. Cream the butter, cocoa, mocha, and salt in a mixer. Slowly mix in 1 c. confectioners sugar and beat until combined. Then add remaining 2 c. sugar, milk, and vanilla, and beat until smooth.
  7. After letting the cupcakes cool for around 30 minutes, frost them.
I really loved these cupcakes because the cake itself is really light, but still very chocolate-y, and the frosting complements them perfectly and is super addictive! If you're feeling fancy, you can also top each of the cupcakes with a chocolate-covered espresso bean to up the caffeine factor and make them look really cute!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Day of Boredom and Baking

A couple days ago my family finished the banana-cherry bread I made the other day, so I decided that I needed to make a new one. This time, though, I used a cup of diced mango instead of the cherries, lime juice instead of lemon juice, and 1/4 c. light brown sugar and 1/4 c. granulated sugar instead of the 1/2 c. granulated sugar. I think it turned out even better than the last attempt!

Later today, though, I decided that what I really wanted for dessert was chocolate chip I made some! I used the recipe for Cholesterol-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Mrs. Field's cookie book, which only uses egg whites and 1 stick of butter, as opposed to the usual eggs and 2 sticks of butter in most recipes! It also uses some honey, which I think made the texture really nice! The recipe called for 2 c. of semisweet chocolate chips, but instead I put in about 1 c. milk chocolate chips, 1/2 c. semisweet chunks, and 1/2 c. butterscotch chips, and they were sooooo tasty!

Sorry that there is no recipe, but with the modifications I mentioned, you should be able to transform any chocolate chip cookie recipe into a slightly lower cholesterol version!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Carrot Cake with Maple Glaze

This is one of those recipes that I saw a long time ago and keep thinking "I should try that" then forget! So I finally got around to making it and am glad that I did! It is based on the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen's "Famous Carrot Cake Cupcakes" recipe with the maple icing, but changed a bit to un-vegan-ize it...

Carrot Cake with Maple Glaze

for the cake:
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 large peeled carrot, shredded
1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp. butter, softened
1 generous tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/3 c. raisins
1/4 c. sweetened shredded coconut

for the glaze:
4 c. confectioners’ sugar
4 tbsp. maple
2 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. low fat cream cheese
1/4 c. skim milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9" cake pan.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, soda, sugar, salt & cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  3. In a mixer bowl, mix applesauce, butter, vanilla, and carrot. Add dry mix to wet mix 1/2 cup at a time.
  4. Once blended, fold in walnuts, raisins, and coconut.
  5. Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the middle springs back if you lightly press it.
  6. Once it is out of the oven, transfer it to a wire rack to cool.
  7. While it is cooling, make the frosting.
  8. In a mixer bowl, beat the butter, maple syrup, cream cheese, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla until well-blended.
  9. Next, slowly mix in the confectioner's sugar until the glaze reaches the desired consistency (a little less sugar will make it more of a glaze, a little more will make it more of a frosting).
  10. Once the cake is cool to the touch, top with the glaze and serve!
I decorated my cake with some marzipan maple leaves, which I made by dying some marzipan orange, rolling it out between 2 sheets of wax paper, then using a mini maple leaf-shaped cookie cutter to cut out 3 maple leaves.

Bon Appetit!

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

When I was at school and thinking of things I wanted to bake when I got home, I started brainstorming what kind of cookies I wanted to try out and came up with this recipe. It was the first recipe I made when I got home, and I really liked how they turned out!

Cranberry, Almond, White Chocolate, Oatmeal Cookies

yield: around 20 cookies

1/2 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. dried cranberries
1/3 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  1. Cream butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir into butter mixture.
  3. Stir in oats, cranberries, almonds, and chopped white chocolate.
  4. Mold dough into a log, wrap in clingfilm, and refrigerate dough 12-36 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F
  6. Bake for roughly 10 minutes. Cool cookies on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
Notes: I experimented with chilling the dough for only 12 hrs., then chilling the rest for 36 hrs. and found that the cookies that were left to chill for 36 hrs. were denser and had a much better texture to them. Chilling the dough for longer also softened up the oats a bit, which I think yielded a better cookie!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Homemade Yorks

One of my all-time favorite candies is the york peppermint patty! My friends can all attest to the fact that I probably eat way too many, but they are completely irresistible with the perfect amount of chocolate coating and their gooey, melty peppermint insides! Anyway, I figured I'd try making my own version and see how they turned out...and I took a few creative liberties. For starters, I dyed half the peppermint filling pink and left half white so that I could layer the colors in the patties.

These turned out really cute, especially since I cut them into hearts and coated them in red-colored vanilla melts (from Guittard's)!

However, I could only cut so many hearts out of the layered dough before there were only scraps of dough left. So in the end I mixed it all together to make a sort of marbled pink color for the rest of the patties. I cut the marbled ones into various shapes (stars, diamonds, circles, etc.) and coated them in semisweet ghiradelli's chocolate! They weren't as cute as the heart-shaped ones, but I liked the chocolate-peppermint combo a bit better! is the (very easy) recipe for the peppermint filling which you can dye/coat/cut however you want!

Peppermint Patty Filling

2 c. confectioner's sugar (about 1/2 a box)
1 tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
  1. Mix ingredients together until they form a dry, firm dough. If you want to dye the dough, add the food coloring to the water before you mix it into the sugar; that way it should mix in a bit better.
  2. Dust a surface with powdered sugar, and roll out the dough to about 1/2" thick.
  3. Cut into whatever shapes you like!
  4. If you are coating them in chocolate, let the cut-out pieces of filling dry for about 10 minutes before coating them!
They don't taste exactly like the real york peppermint patties, but they are pretty close for a homemade alternative and they're pretty tasty! Plus, you can cut them into any shape you want and can coat them in any kind/color of chocolate or candy coating!


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Banana Bread with a twist

This morning I woke up craving something with bananas in it, and knew exactly what I wanted to make! The other day I saw a recipe for blueberry-banana bread on the blog Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and thought that sounded really good! Since I didn't have any blueberries on hand, but I did have a bunch of cherries, I decided to change the recipe a bit so I could use fresh cherries in it!'s my slightly altered version:

Cherry Almond Banana Bread

3 large over-ripe bananas
2 tbsp. lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon)
1/3 c. apple sauce
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. honey
2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. cherries, pitted and quartered
1/3 c. slivered almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with oil.In a large bowl, mash the bananas and add the lemon juice, applesauce, sugar, and honey. Stir well to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture, and stir just until the mixture is well-combined. Fold in the cherries and almonds.
  4. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Notes: The bread turned out really well, but next time I think I would use either white whole wheat flour, or 1c. whole wheat flour and 1 c. all-purpose flour. I also think it might taste good to use 1/4 c. granulated sugar and 1/4 c. light brown sugar instead of 1/2 c. granulated sugar.

All in all this bread turned out well, and is a great healthy breakfast bread utilizing fresh summer cherries!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Biscotti for Breakfast

This is a recipe for some biscotti I made a little while ago that I really liked! They're super easy to make, and the recipe makes enough cookies to last for quite a few breakfasts, even in a house of 5!

Fig, Pistachio, Orange Biscotti

yield: around 20 biscotti

1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. orange zest (zest of about 1/2 an orange)
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shelled, salted pistachios, coarsely-chopped
2/3 c. dried figs, diced

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until smooth (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add eggs, vanilla, and zest to butter mixture and beat for 2-3 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt, then add to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.
  5. Remove bowl from mixer, and fold pistachios and figs into the batter.
  6. Transfer dough to a baking sheet covered in either parchment paper or a silpat, form the dough into a wide log (about 1" high and 6" wide), and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven to cool for about 10 minutes, and lower oven temperature to 275F.
  8. Once the dough is cool, use a bread knife to cut the log into 1/2" thick slices.
  9. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet, cut side up, and bake until golden on the top, then flip the biscotti over and bake until the other side is golden (about 20 minutes on each side).
I also used this recipe to make apple, raisin, pecan biscotti by substituting 2/3 c. diced dried apples and raisins for the figs and pecans for the pistachios. I also added 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg in place of the orange zest. The only problem with the apple/raisin/pecan biscotti was that the apple pieces I cut were a bit too big, which made the log difficult to slice, leaving me with a lot of broken biscotti! However, they were really tasty!


Friday, June 12, 2009

Praline Cupcakes

While looking through the food blogs I like to browse this morning, I found a recipe for Praline cupcakes that I just had to try! I made a few changes (including frosting them with Cooking Light's caramel frosting), and think they turned out really well! Warning: they are very rich!

Caramel Praline Cupcakes

yield: 14 cupcakes

for the cupcakes:
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 tbsp. applesauce
2 c. cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. chopped pecans

for the frosting:
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. skim milk
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Cream softened butter and applesauce in a mixer.
  3. Sift in flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add about half of the milk and the egg; mix until flour is thoroughly moistened. Beat for 2 minutes. Add remaining milk and the vanilla; beat 1 minute longer.
  5. Stir in chopped pecans. Place paper baking cups in muffin cups and fill about 3/4 full with the batter.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched with finger.
  7. While the cupcakes are cooling, start making the frosting.
  8. Combine brown sugars, milk, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
  9. Reduce heat, and simmer until slightly thick (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  10. Remove from heat. Add the powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth and slightly warm.
  11. Cool 5 minutes (icing will thicken as it cools), then frost cupcakes.
  12. If you want, top with half a pecan!


Thursday, June 11, 2009


So, this summer has been pretty lazy and unproductive so far...except in the kitchen. Since I got back from college I have pretty much been baking or cooking something new every day and I figured I should share some of the more successful recipes with friends! I've already made a ton of things, but I'll start with my favorite recipe I've made so far: Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies! I got the basic recipe from the blog Dinner with Julie, then I tweaked it a bit so I could add some peanut butter to it! So, without further first posted recipe:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

yield: around 12 pies or 24 cookies

for the cookies:
3 tbsp. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. skim milk
1/2 c. milk chocolate chips (I used ghiradelli)

for the fluffernutter filling:
1 jar marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Jiff's)
2 c. confectioner's sugar (approximately)
2 tbsp. skim milk

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well mixed, then add the egg and vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the flours, cocoa, and salt.
  4. In yet another bowl, stir the baking soda into 1/2 cup of very hot water.
  5. Add 1/3 of the dry mix, 1/2 of the milk, and 1/2 of the baking soda mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Once it is combined, add another third of the dry mix, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the baking soda mixture. Once that is combined, add the rest of the dry mixture.
  6. Take the mixer bowl out of the mixer, and fold in the chocolate chips.
  7. Drop large round spoonfulls 2" apart onto a greased cookie sheet (I used a silpat) and bake for 12 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed up and spring back when lightly pressed.
  8. Let the cookies cool for a couple minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.
  9. While the cookie are cooling, make the fluffernutter filling. First, mix together the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and milk. Then, slowly add the confectioner's sugar until the mixture reaches a frosting-like consistency (basically, so it holds its shape but is not too dry). You can add more peanut butter if you so desire!
  10. Once the cookies are cool, sandwich every two cookies together with the fluffernutter filling.

These pies were a HUGE hit with my family! They are really rich, but sooooo tasty! Another idea is to make a coconut marshmallow filling, in which you omit the peanut butter, and replace it with about 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes.

Bon Appetit!