Year in pictures?

Yeah, I’m a bit behind here. And rather than try and write detailed posts for everything I’ve done since January, I’m just dumping a bunch of pics and one liners about each item and if anyone wants a recipe let me know and I’ll provide the link, this way I can start fresh going forward into holiday baking season!

Is anyone listening to me (if peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis). And I just lost my last reader to that somewhat obscure reference.

Here goes (and not even necessarily in chronological order because lord knows how my computer decided what order to load these)…

1. Spritz Redux: We remade the spritz that got jacked in the prior post for New Year’s Eve. Made in yellow with gold sprinkles. The 4 year old (at the time) was super excited about a cookie gun. Sigh.

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2. Chocolate cream pie – this was for New Year’s Eve too. It was awesome.

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3. I don’t even remember what I made these for but I think they were cake batter cookies. They were good.

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4. Superbowl Sunday football cupcakes. Nothing special, just chocolate cupcakes but frosted in football shapes.

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5. Valentine’s Day sugar cookies with my makeshift royal icing (I never have meringue powder on hand and am too squeamish for raw eggs so I usually just mix milk and powdered sugar). We used these for teacher gifts for preschool.

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6. Valentine’s Brownie Pops. Red velvet brownies cut into heart shapes, frosted with buttercream then shoved onto sticks. Except they were too heavy/dense to keep on the sticks and would roll over as soon as you picked them up. Tasted good though!

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7. St. Patrick’s Day thumbprint cookies. Just your typical chocolate cookies with hershey’s kisses, we just made them holiday appropriate with green sprinkles. I actually found them pretty blah.

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8. Chocolate chip cookie dough pie. The crust is a giant cookie. YES.

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9. Chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream. OMG this frosting. I can’t share these recipes because they were from a dear friend who owns a bakery in California and is sweet enough to share recipes with me to use for the birthday of our twins we lost to prematurity. But this cake and frosting especially was AMAZING.

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10. Passover macaroons. Nothing special/fancy about these but we liked them. They’re not burnt, the bottoms are dipped in chocolate.

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11. Matzo crack. Like Christmas crack but made with matzo. I used sliced almonds for the topping.

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12. Easter cookies to follow Passover. Yeah, we’re confused. Just regular sugar cookies with royal icing but I got meringue powder and made real royal icing this time. It was a pain in the ass.

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13. Easter nest carrot cake cupcakes. These were all about presentation but also yummy! We brought them for Easter brunch at our best friends’ house.

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14. Purple cake. This was just a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, purple because it was the day of our annual March of Dimes March for Babies (and their trademark color is purple).

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15. Pumpkin whoopie pies. These are from just a week ago. I intended to just make soft pumpkin cookies and ice them but they were so cake like they reminded me of whoopie pies so I found a cream cheese frosting recipe and sandwiched them. BIG hit.

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16. Halloween cupcakes. Recipes from my bakery owner friend, both vanilla/almond cake (I tend to swap vanilla extract for almond) and the orange had vanilla buttercream, purple had almond buttercream. Monster and bats.

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17. Tart cherry cobbler. We stupidly signed up for a fruit/veggie CSA this summer (stupidly because we don’t have time to cook all the obscure things they sent and the kids wouldn’t touch most of it). But we did get nice fruit for baking. I had helpers.

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18. Chocolate cake with salted buttercream frosting again. Remade this for Gammy’s (my mom’s) birthday.

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19. Peach cobbler muffins. Another made with CSA haul, we got SO many peaches.

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20. Memorial day berry trifle. Not really “baked”, especially since we used store bought angel food cake for the cake part, but it looks pretty and is a prepared dessert?

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21. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. These were more of a regular cookie (vs cake) consistency than the other pumpkin cookies we used for the whoopie pies. Delicious.

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Ok. Hopefully I’ll remember to post after each treat going forward so I can include more info. Thanks if anyone is still checking here ever!!!

Spritztastrophe

I won’t share the full details since I’ve made and blogged this before, but just in case anyone thought I no longer had the more than minor mishaps, may I present Ex-spritz-it A:

 

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I think it was a combination of being on too low a rack in the oven and that for some reason the recipe I’d printed last year said 12-15 mins baking when it really should have been 8-10 (as I found when I googled and found another blog with the same recipe). Not sure why last year they were fine but whatever.

God Bless America

It’s time for Apple pie! Personally, I think only pumpkin oriented desserts are Thanksgiving appropriate, but my husband loves apple pie so I decided to make one for him. It is, after all, the American dessert and Thanksgiving is our quintessential America holiday (except doesn’t Canada have one too?).

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I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen – it’s a doozy and a lot of work. As usual, because I’m a lawyer and wary of copyright infringement accusations, I’ll mostly just summarize the process and let you link back to the source for real instructions.

Dough Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached flour
salt
sugar
shortening (not a fan – but every crust recipe I found used it so I just did it
unsalted butter, chilled,
ice water

In a food processor combine dry ingredients (I only have a tiny food processor so I used a pastry blender instead) – then add shortening and continue processing (or blending, in my case). Add butter, cut in to crumb consistency. In medium bowl, sprinkle w/ cold water, fold in until sticks together as a dough. Divide into two pieces, flatten, cool before rolling out.

Roll dough to 12-inch disk. Transfer to pie plate and press in. Refrigerate.

At this point, the source didn’t include the specific lattice top instructions, and I got irritated with most of the web tutorials so I pretty much played it by ear. It’s not rocket science. I cut it into many strips, laid one across the top, another perpendicular, then alternated adding strips in each direction and weaving under/over the previously placed strips as necessary.

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Only thing I’d do differently is more strips and closer together.

Filling –

3 Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
4 McIntosh apples (I couldn’t find these so I used honeycrisp)
1 lemon (for juice/zest)
sugar
flour
salt
cinnamon (don’t even think of puttin’ that stuff in…actually, do – I’m quoting song lyrics…just to be clear)
nutmeg (sweet, sweet NUTMEG)
allspice (you know it leaves me cold as ice)
1 egg white

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 500°F.

Peel, core and cut apples into quarters then slices,  toss with lemon juice and zest. Mix part of sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss with apples. Put into pie shell. Put on the lattice top per my prior note. Lower oven to 425, put pie on heated baking sheet and bake about 25 mins, rotate and reduce to 375, bake another 30-35 minutes (until bubbling and crust is golden brown).

Cool on wire rack at least 4 hours. Place next to your passable pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!

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YUM (aka chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow filling and malted chocolate frosting)

This was my “Happy Birthday to Me” cake – as it was for the source blogger, Brown Eyed Baker. Recipe in its entirety at source here: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2013/03/25/six-layer-chocolate-cake-with-toasted-marshmallow-filling-malted-chocolate-frosting/?crlt.pid=camp.jQkyeDqUDJD8

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It was labor intensive, and decadent, AND I ended up having to make it twice because something went awry the first time.

Ingredients: (specifics at source)

Cake:
flour
sugar
Dutch-process cocoa powder (I just used Hershey’s)
baking soda
baking powder
salt
eggs
buttermilk
strong black coffee
vegetable oil
vanilla extract

For the Toasted Marshmallow Filling:
marshmallows
powdered sugar
unsalted butter
vanilla extract
Marshmallow Fluff

For the Malted Chocolate Frosting:
unsalted butter
powdered sugar
Ovaltine Classic (I actually got malt powder – I wanted more malted flavor than from ovaltine)
vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
semisweet or dark chocolate chocolate, melted and cooled
heavy cream

So, I’ve spent enough of my life on this cake that I’m not spending as much blogging it. LOL. So, to summarize -Mix dry stuff for cake and wet stuff separately, slowly add wet to dry and mix 2 minutes. Pour equally into three round cake pans (I think recipe called for 8″, we used 9″. Bake approximately 32 mins. at 350 (rotate at 20 minutes).

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Toasted marshmallow filling – oy. You’re supposed to broil the marshmallows until brown then flip them. Um, no. Mine spread and flattened and were too sticky to flip. They then congealed into a sticky/crispy/solid-ish mess that was impossible to mix into the powdered sugar/butter/fluff mixture.

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Then, the frosting. Typical buttercream with powdered sugar and butter, plus melted chocolate chips and malt powder, and heavy cream.

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After all that, to assemble, you have the slice each cake in half to make six layers, then put the marshmallow filling between them, then frost with the frosting.

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(Does that look like three layers, not six? Congrats, you just passed preschool math. More on this later.)

Final product, first try.

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So – looks good right? Except the husband and I return from birthday date night, cut in, and he finds a little chunk of glass that he bites down on. EEK. Not sure where it came from but we were both too freaked out to eat any more after that, so we tossed it. I was sad. So two three days later when home from work with the kids I remade it but only did 3 layers to make it easier.

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It was really good – but I think the combination of wasting all the time making it twice plus the sheer richness ended up in me not adoring it. The cake part was amazing. And the frosting was amazing. But together, I think it kind of overwhelmed me. Not so much that I didn’t take sveral bites every time I opened the fridge until it was gone, though.

 

Pumpkin Truffles

These were good – we broke in the fall season with these as our first pumpkin based treats. Easy to make and yummy!

 

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Recipe via Pinterest/Blog “Simply Designing”. Not much to even repeat (and specific amounts, instructions, at source site, ingredients as follows:

  • white chocolate chips (or white Candiquik which we used and worked just fine).
  • canned pumpkin puree
  • cream cheese, softened
  • gingersnap cookie crumbs (I beat the crap out of them in a ziploc).
  • graham cracker crumbs (see note above re: crap, beating out of)
  • powdered sugar
  • orange zest (I skipped this – not worth the effort)
  • ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Pretty much melt a bit of the white chocolate mix that melted portion with everything else other than a small amount of graham cracker crumbs set aside, put in fridge to set, roll into balls, dip in remaining melted white chocolate and sprinkle remaining crumbs atop.

YUM!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

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Oh my dear lord. These are one of my FAVORITE things I have made. Recipe from Annie’s Eats: http://www.annies-eats.com/2013/04/12/peanut-butter-pretzel-truffles/ There are others on the web but this was the one I’d pinned and it was amazing.

Pretty easy to make , too, although mine never look as nice as the source.

Ingredients:
creamy peanut butter
confectioners’ sugar
unsalted butter, at room temperature
crushed pretzels
bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (i used Ghirardelli chips actually)
milk

Specific amounts at Annie’s link. Pretty easy to make – mix PB, sugar, butter and pretzels together. I had to use my hands though to kind of massage it, just mixing didn’t work that well. Then roll into balls and freeze for a bit. You can see here where 90% of the butter is embedded in that one ball up front/right.

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Meanwhile, melt the chocolate.

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Dip the balls in the chocolate (I don’t think it’s possible for me to post about making truffles without saying – “I wanna dip my balls in it“). Yes, I’m (a) old, for remembering the State, and (b) immature).

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Then make the drizzle from PB, sugar and milk, and drizzle atop it. Eat. Repeat (the last step, that is). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You get the picture.

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YUM. I could not stop eating them.

Lucky Charms Cupcakes

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These were delicious. And as you can see, my little friend liked both making and eating them.

 

Unfortunately, I cannot for the life of me now figure out where I got the recipe. I know I’d pinned it, but the one still on my Pinterest is NOT green, so I must have found another. Regardless, I think if you use pretty much any white cupcake recipe and add green food coloring, you’d be set. For frosting I used the marshmallow fluff frosting (below), then topped the green cupcakes with the frosting, plus a few Lucky Charms and green sprinkles, and….voila! (and yes – it’s “voila”….not “wala”….omg that irritates the shit out of me. Almost as bad as people writing “back peddling”…but I digress).

 

Marshmallow Frosting Recipe:

1 cup room temp butter
1 7 oz. jar Marshmallow Fluff
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

 

Mix it all up. Top a cupcake with it.

Key Lime Cake!

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I was a big fan of this one. Made it for our friends’ birthday dinner. I searched a lot online for a recipe that sounded right to me and finally settled on this one from “Alaska from Scratch“.

Ingredients (see source for specifics):

  • cake flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • salt
  • butter, lightly softened
  • sugar
  • eggs
  • fresh key lime juice (easier said than done without a juicer/squeezer. I may have squeezed the shit out of a few limes manually).
  • key lime zest
  • green food coloring gel (I used Wilton Leaf Green)
  • buttermilk

I’ll skip the instructions which can be found from the source, but it was relatively straightforward. I used a generic cream cheese frosting recipe online vs. the one at the source blog, and frosted only the top with the sides visible. Then I cut a few lime slices and twisted them as decoration. It was DELICIOUS and pretty. Win/Win.

Doodle Birthday Cake – 5 years

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I am so behind on blogging and about to dump a lot of recipes/baked goods here to catch up before fall/holidays (i.e. my big baking months approach). First, my biggest/most important baking event of the year: the birthday cake for our twins that passed away. This year, I got a recipe for a from scratch vanilla cake from a sweet friend that owns an amazing bakery in California, Beverly’s Best Bakery. Therefore I won’t share the actual recipe but will tell you that based on the AMAZING cake we ended up with, combined with some delicious cookies she shared when we met recently in Austin, Texas, anyone close enough to try her bakery should RUN there. 🙂

So, vanilla cake from scratch, double layered, together with green buttercream (green was always “their color” that we’d painted their room for a boy/girl room). I wanted a little more interest to the buttercream so used lemon extract in place of vanilla with a traditional buttercream recipe.

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The initials (for their names, Noah and Talia) and butterflies were melted white chocolate piped onto wax paper through a pastry tip.

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Thanks to the assist from my pro friend and the baking skills I’ve been honing over the last few years, this was by FAR my best effort yet for their cake. It was delicious, DH said it tasted like wedding cake. I was so proud to be able to honor them with such a beautiful cake!

S’mores Bars

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Had a hankering for s’mores lately and was trying to decide between bars and brownies. The husband chose the bars, and they were SUPER easy, and AMAZINGLY delicious. Amazing. LOVED. I always like what I bake because I like food and sweets, but usually it doesn’t go past a bite or two and then I’m done. I could have eaten 30 of these.

Recipe from sugar cooking and link back for specific instructions so I don’t inadvertently take her traffic.

Ingredients = super easy.  Pretty much stuff you have around anyways plus s’mores makings. (Hershey bars, marshmallow fluff and graham cracker).

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PS – If you compare my recipe pic above to the actual listing in the recipe you may note I inadvertently forgot the white sugar and used only brown. WHOOPS! Funny thing is, they still came out ok!

Process was also super easy. Prepare batter as instructed in original recipe linkback.

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I had no issues notwithstanding my failure to include the sugar. Put half the batter in the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan, lay Hershey’s bars on it, spread with marshmallow fluff, lay remaining batter atop that layer (they recommend creating “shingles” and laying side by side) and bake 30-35 minutes at 350.

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Then cool, and cut into bars.

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HEAVEN.

They’re not as pretty as the originals but I don’t even care.

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You can reheat in microwave after they’ve cooled to re-goo. Enjoy!