Friday, December 30, 2011

Mini Confetti Cupcakes

Who doesn't love sprinkles? They add color and pizazz to any boring vanilla cake. I was asked to bake mini cupcakes for a benefit and was told the flavors were up to me. I love vanilla cupcakes, but I wanted to make them a little less boring, so I added some sprinkles. They were a hit with both kids and adults! 

Mini Confetti Cupcakes
Source: adapted from Melissa Bakes

1 stick butter (room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup colored sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a mini cupcake tin with 24 cupcake liners. (You may have some batter leftover.)
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.
With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and milk in three additions, ending with flour.
Stir in sprinkles.
Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 10 - 12 minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack.

Vanilla Buttercream
1 stick butter (room temperature)
2 - 3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 2 tablespoons water

Cream the butter. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and vanilla and water until desired consistency is reached and beat well.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stained Glass Cookies

I've wanted to make these cookies for a few years now, but I was always intimidated. This year when my cousins and I were deciding which cookies to bake at our 2011 Baking Extravaganza, one suggested something special. And what's more special than stained glass cookies? They are so pretty. My other cousin was determined that these would not turn out, since she made them once before and they were a disaster. I was so happy to prove her wrong. They were as tasty and they were pretty. I can actually say these weren't too bad to make. Mix up the dough, pop it in the fridge for a bit, roll, and cut. Fill the centers with your favorite crushed hard candy. I used Jolly Ranchers, but I think I'll branch out and use more Christmas inspired colors and flavors next year, as well as a Christmas cookie cutter. 

Stained Glass Cookies
Source: Woman's Day, December 2011

2 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 and 1/2 sticks butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice (I used water.)
1 egg
About 16 hard candies, crushed finely and separated by color (I used Jolly Ranchers.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Beat together butter, sugar, and lime juice on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well.

With the mixer on low, add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Divide dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Once dough has been chilled, remove from fridge and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4-inch thickness, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes and use a smaller cookie cutter to cut out middles.

Transfer the cutouts to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spoon crushed candy into the centers of each cookie.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges are brown and candy has melted.

Cool on cookie sheets.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sparkling Butter Toffee Cookies

I tried these on a whim this year and they turned out to be a hit! We loved them so much, we made three batches. The cookies are soft and chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. My husband declared them his new favorite and the perfect coffee-dunking cookie!

Sparkling Butter Toffee Cookies
Source: Recipe Girl

1 cup sugar plus additional sugar for rolling
3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup toffee bits (or more)

Optional: Sub sparkling white sugar for the rolling sugar.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla and beat at medium speed until creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture in batches, and mix until just combined.

Stir in toffee bits by hand.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and flatten each with the bottom of a glass. If glass sticks, dip in sugar.

Bake 9 - 11 minutes until edges are just lightly browned. Optional: Sprinkle with additional sugar while warm.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pumpkin Pie

Every year, I must make pumpkin cream pie (also known as "The Pie That Won't Die") for Thanksgiving dessert. I've made pumpkin cream pie for the past 10 years or so every single Thanksgiving, not because I wanted to, but because I was told I had to. My family goes crazy for that pie. This year, I finally retired the pie. Once I told my family that I was making  mini apple cheesecakes, they forgot all about "The Pie That Won't Die." I was thrilled—that was until my uncle pouted that he wanted pumpkin pie. I was a little bummed since I wanted to break free from that pie, until he said he wanted PLAIN pumpkin pie. I happily obliged and made him a plain pumpkin pie. This pie recipe was your standard pumpkin pie. It had a custard-like consistency and a hint of spices. It was yummy, especially topped with fresh whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie
Source: Libby's

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I omitted.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I omitted.)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 pie crust (unbaked)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves.
Stir in eggs and pumpkin. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted one inch from center comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack for 2 hours.
Store in refrigerator.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. This year, I decided to turn them into a pie for our Thanksgiving dinner. No one missed the side dish, but they all raved over this sweet and sticky concoction. Be warned, while delicious, the marshmallow topping was very sticky, but worth the extra napkins. A quick note, don't leave your pie in the broiler too long or you'll over-brown the marshmallows like I did. 

Toasted Marshmallow Sweet Potato Pie
Source: Everyday with Rachel Ray, November 2011

1 pie crust (I used pre-made refrigerated crust, don't judge!)
2 sweet potatoes (peeled, boiled, mashed, and cooled)
1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Unroll pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan.
Crimp edges and prick bottom of pie crust with a fork.
Cover crust with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Discard beans and foil and set pie crust aside to cool slightly.
Mix together mashed sweet potatoes, buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, and salt with a mixer on medium speed until blended.
Pour mixture into pie crust and bake for 50 minutes until the middle is set and puffed.
(TIP: Cover pie crust edges with strips of foil or pie crust saver about half-way through baking.)
After pie is baked, top with marshmallows and place under broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, until marshmallows are browned. You can always omit this step and leave the pie naked:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

I saw this recipe and immediately had to make it. I love snickerdoodles and I love pumpkin, so this cookie recipe seemed like a match made in heaven. I really wanted to love these cookies, but sadly I did not. I didn't not like them, I just didn't love them. They were pumpkiny, spicy, and delicious, but they weren't mind-blowing like I thought they would be. Also they didn't spread as much as I would have liked.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
As seen on: Made in Melissa's Kitchen

2 sticks butter (room temperature)
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

For the rolling mixture:
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
With the mixer on low, add flour mixture a little at a time and mix just until incorporated.

Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill at least an hour.

Mix ingredients for rolling mixture in a small bowl.

Roll dough into 1 and 1/2 inch balls and roll into rolling mixture until coated evenly

Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Use a glass or the palm of your hand to flatten the cookies.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 - 14 minutes, until slightly firm.

Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.