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Mummies and Spiders and Eyes, Oh My!

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I made some Halloween cupcakes today, for no real reason or purpose, other than it’s almost Halloween and I felt like being creative. I baked up two dozen apple caramel cupcakes, which, although quite tasty, kinda reminded me of that apple cinnamon oatmeal from the pouch I used to eat as a kid. In this case, the cupcakes were to serve more as a canvas anyway, so I wasn’t too concerned, and besides, I liked that oatmeal. I decided to do four different Halloween-ish designs.

Design #1: Pumpkin.

the obvious choice.

the obvious choice.

I had recently made these same cupcakes for a wedding, and I still had some of the candy corn pumpkins left over, and I wanted to put them to some good use. So I did.

Design #2: Mummies.

mummy is so yummy.

mummy is so yummy.

A friend had posted a pic of similar cupcake mummies to my facebook page, and I thought they were just so darn cute, I had to try them myself.

Design #3: Spiders.

is that a spider on your cupcake?

is that a spider on your cupcake?

I had done these a few years ago, but with mini Oreos. All I had were a bunch of regular Oreos in the cabinet, so I opted to try these using those this time, instead. Plus, I had a tub of cookies and cream frosting leftover from that same wedding a couple weeks ago (I made Oreo cupcakes for it as well), so I busted it out,slathered it on, and slapped a giant killer Oreo Spider on top.

Design #4: Eyeballs.

Eat with your eyes...

eat with your eyes…

I was thinking of these the other day when I was telling a friend I made eyeball cupcakes like 6 years ago, using a green lifesaver for the retina. I had no lifesavers, but I did have a ton of light purple icing…so that happened.

All in all, I think they turned out pretty cute, and I think I’ll bring them in to work to share with my coworkers on Halloween. Let’s just hope they all liked that cinnamon oatmeal in the pouch as much as I did growing up….

taste like...oatmeal?

tastes like…oatmeal?

 

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Recipe: Soft and Chewy Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Cookies.

pumpkin cookies3

I love pumpkin. I love the fact that everything has a seasonal “pumpkin” or “pumpkin spice” flavor. I want to buy it all and hoard it for the rest of year. But I fear that if I do, I will be poor and hungry, since I’d grow sick of eating nothing but pumpkin. So for now, I’ll just continue to love it in the fall.

Because it’s such a small window of time, I try and take full advantage, making as many pumpkin desserts as I possibly can. This will be number 2 so far this season. Since the last thing I made was a Pumpkin Almond Spice Cake, I wanted to do cookies for this next round. I thought I’d made pumpkin cookies before, but I found no record of such a thing in my binder, so I started from scratch and began a search for a recipe to use as a foundation. I found this one, and it sounded like a perfect platform from which to jump right in and create.

there's something pumpkin going on.

there’s something pumpkin going on.

I mixed up the recipe, pretty much as it was written, but I didn’t like the glaze idea, so I decided instead to add two cups of one of my absolute favorite baking accoutrements, Cinnamon Chips.

it's beginning to look a lot like pumpkin.

it’s beginning to look a lot like pumpkin.

I used my trusty mini ice cream scoop, which is perfectly cookie-sized, and scooped them out onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheets.

here's the scoop.

here’s the scoop.

I baked them at 350 for about 15 minutes, and they were perfect. Seriously. They were not burned, yet were cooked all the way through, and remained soft and chewy and delicious throughout their entire lifespan.

soft. chewy. cinnamon chip-y.

soft. chewy. cinnamon chip-y.

The recipe made a lot of them, too. I had baked 3 trays of 15 cookies each, and had to stop because someone was nagging me about using the oven. In his defense, it was dinner time. So I wrapped the rest of the dough and put it in the fridge and plan to bake it off this week!

 

 

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Pumpkin Almond Spice Cake.

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The other day, I discovered Pumpkin Pudding. It looks like this:

pudding

Being a lover of all things pumpkin, I was shocked to learn this was not a new item. It has existed for at least a year, possibly more. After recovering from the kick I gave to myself for not discovering this last year, I quickly snatched up 3 boxes, knowing I’d figure out something to do with them when I got home. And figure out something, I did.

I started out with a spice cake. I used this recipe (minus the caramel icing) which made two lovely 8″ layers.

hello, layers.

hello, layers.

While the layers lay cooling, I made the pudding and let that chill. Once the layers were cool and the pudding was chill, I put them together,  like so:

pudding in the middle.

pudding in the middle.

I put that in the fridge for a bit, and started contemplating what sort of icing to use that would enhance the overall eating experience. I had a little bit of the pudding left in the bowl, so I thought I’d try and make something that used up the rest of the pudding (there was no way I was letting THAT go to waste). So, I quickly wrote a Pumpkin Pudding Buttercream recipe. It went like this:

Pumpkin Pudding Buttercream.

What you’ll need:

8 oz butter, softened

3 TBSP pumpkin pudding (already made with milk)

4 cups confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 TBSP milk

What you’ll do:

In a large bowl, mix the butter and the pudding until there are no lumps. Add the confectioners sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk, and mix until smooth.

 

After I made the icing, I iced the cake, but I still felt it needed something. So I got a bag of slivered almonds, and covered the sides of the cake with them, like this:

a side of almonds.

a side of almonds.

After that, we ate it, and said a little thanks to the gods of autumn for making it the season with all the best flavors.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in cake, confections, Indulgences, nuts, recipes

 

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Tres Leches Cake: Three Times the Awesome.

tres leches

Last month, my boyfriend took me to a Mexican restaurant for my birthday. It was absolutely fabulous – possibly the best Mexican restaurant I’ve ever been to, and I have been to many (too many). From the sangria to the dessert, it was to die for. Here’s a glimpse of the gloriousness:

heaven on a plate.

heaven on a plate.

Anyway, for dessert, we split a slice of Tres Leches Cake. Now, I’ve had this cake before, and always loved it, but this was one especially grand. It was so moist, perfectly sweetened, and wonderfully light all at the same time. It was at this moment I decided I needed to make this cake at home.

Having never made this cake before, I needed to find a good base recipe to start with. I began searching my books and the ‘net, and eventually settled on this one.

I knew going in that my first attempt at this mouth-watering food-coma-inducing dessert was not going to be anywhere near the perfection I had at the restaurant. But you know what? It really did turn out pretty darn good. I started by gathering up the three major players: the milks.

the three musketeers.

the three musketeers.

Next, I made the cake, pretty much exactly as the recipe dictated, except I added the dry mixture in larger amounts that two tablespoons at a time – I pretty much divided it into fourths and added 1/4 at a time. It worked just fine, as you can see.

the canvas.

the canvas.

Next, I poked holes in it, allowed it to cool, than doused it with the milks until it couldn’t take it anymore. (Tip- put a sheet pan below the cake to catch all the excess milk mix when you pour it over the top – it was the best idea EVER and there was literally no milky mess to clean up at all.)

drowning in milk.

drowning in milk.

Next, I whipped up some homemade whipped cream to use as the topping.

whip it good.

whip it good.

Once it was whipped to stiff peaks, I applied it to the cake.

top that.

top that.

For me, this just wasn’t enough. It needed something more. So, I mixed up some cinnamon sugar, and dusted the entire thing with it.

a dust of sweetness.

a dust of sweetness.

The result: a Tres Leches cake that won the hearts of many, and could definitely hang with the best of them.

one of the cool kids.

one of the cool kids.

Now that I have the cake down, my goal is work towards that unforgettable piece of awesome from the restaurant. You know what they say – practice makes perfect. So everyone I know may be enjoying practice cakes for a while. I do believe this is not such a bad thing. ;)

 
 

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Super Easy Recipe: Cinnamon Chip Cake.

I just felt like baking the other day, as I do again right now, but I had no reason and no real ideas of what to bake. So I entered into the kitchen with an open mind and with open cabinets. I started rooting around, seeing what sort of fun ingredients I had. I found chocolate chips, walnuts, mini chocolate chips, almonds…and some cinnamon chips (my favorite!). So I started there and decided to base a recipe around the chips. A small cake maybe? Sounded like a good idea, and I could bring it into work as a little something extra. I pulled out my trusty recipe binder, and began seeing what I could do. I started with a very simple cake recipe, and worked from that, tweaking and adding ingredients as I went along, and eventually wound up with a nice little loaf-sized cinnamon chip cake.

quick and easy and delicious.

quick and easy and delicious.

I let it cool, and whipped up a cinnamon sugar glaze, and doused the thing with it, until it was completely covered.

glazey.

glazed over.

I then cut a piece off, and called my boyfriend into the kitchen for an official taste-tasting.

passed the test.

passed the test.

Success! I boxed the rest up and brought it to work the next day. And I believe that quite possibly the world became a better place because of this cake. It’s a winner, small and simply.

Give it a try! :)

Cinnamon Chip Cake. 

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup cinnamon chips

What you’ll do:

Preheat the over to 350 degrees, Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix well. Add the flour, and mix until smooth. Fold in the cinnamon chips. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan, and pour the batter in (it should be somewhat thick). Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cinnamon Sugar Glaze.

What you’ll need:

Cinnamon

Confectioner’s Sugar

Milk

What you’ll do:

So…for the glaze…I just kinda winged it. I didn’t measure any amounts of the ingredients other than the milk, of which I used 1/4 cup. I sprinkled in some cinnamon, and then just added confectioners sugar until I liked the texture – not too thick that it couldn’t be poured, but not so thin that it dripped all over the place.

 

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in cake, cinnamon, Indulgences, recipes

 

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Home Grown Irish Potatoes.

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Ok, so these “potatoes” are actually not grown. They’re not even actually potatoes. They just kinda look like them. Mini potato lookalikes, that taste nothing like their larger counterpart. Nope, there is really nothing potato-like about Irish Potatoes other than an odd bumpy oval-ish shape and a brown coloring (which on the Irish Potato, is cinnamon, not skin).

cinnamon skin.

cinnamon skin.

Irish Potatoes are actually very similar in ingredients and method of production to buttercream icing. Both involve creaming together butter and confectioner’s sugar, but Irish Potatoes also include a bit of cream cheese and some coconut. Two of my favorite things.

potato mixing.

potato or buttercream?

They are also a stiffer consistency then the buttercream icing you’d want to use on your cake. They need to be, so they can be rolled into the classic potato shape they’re named for.

rolled and ready.

rolled and ready.

As I mentioned before, once they’re shaped, they are rolled in a bowl of cinnamon, and completely coated.

cinnamon rolled.

cinnamon rolled.

Finally, they are put in the fridge to set (about an hour or so should do the trick).

potato chillin'.

potato chillin’.

As far as actual recipe goes, I used a traditional Irish Potato recipe that I’ve had floating around for a few years and have used in the past with much success. It went a little something like this:

Irish Potato Candy.

What you’ll need:

1/4 cup butter (softened)

4 oz cream cheese (about half a package)

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 1/2 cups coconut

cinnamon for coating

What you’ll do:

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar, and beat until fluffy and icing-like. Add the coconut, and beat until well-blended. Roll into walnut-sized potato-shaped ovals. Roll each in a small bowl of cinnamon, until completely covered. Chill for about an hour. Eat and enjoy!

 

 
 

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Pumpkin Rosemary Pie, 2.0

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Last year, I wanted to try something a little different for Thanksgiving, so I crafted a recipe for Pumpkin Rosemary Pie. It turned out quite good, so I thought I’d made it a tradition, and bake it again this year. However, this time, I made two small changes:

1. I used 2% milk

2. I made an entirely different kind of crust.

The first one was basically because I thought a milk with more fat would just give the pie a little boost, texturally speaking, which it did. As for the second, well about mid-year, I found a recipe for a cornbread crust in this book that I just loved and have been using as much as I possibly can ever since. I thought this pie would be the perfect opportunity.

pie crust perfection.

pie crust perfection.

I topped it with a homemade cinnamon whipped cream (which was enthusiastically taste-tested by my boyfriend, who’s always willing to help out in these situations). Once we were sure it passed the test (it took multiple tastes – we just HAD to be sure it was good), I piped it on the pie, packed the whole thing up, and brought it to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house, where it was devoured by all.

just before the carnage.

just before the carnage.

Stayed tuned ’til next year, for the release of version 3.0!

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in holidays, Indulgences, pies, recipes

 

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Recipe: Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

pumpkin cookies

I hate when things go to waste. I had this partial can of pumpkin leftover from the pumpkin fudge I just made, and I really wanted to put it to good use. But I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to use it for. I wanted to make cookies, so I started looking up pumpkin cookie recipes, but nothing really tickled my fancy. So, I decided to make up my own pumpkin cookie recipe. I started with my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I added oatmeal and pumpkin.

orange you glad i added pumpkin to the batter?

orange you glad i added pumpkin to the batter?

I also used mini chocolate chips instead of the regular sized ones. I’d like to say this was a conscious decision, but in reality, the mini chips were all I had in the house, and I didn’t feel like running out last minute and picking up a bag of the bigger ones. Thankfully, it seemed to all turn out ok.

mini chips to the rescue.

mini chips to the rescue.

They turned out soft, chewy, and not at all flat. So, the experiment was a success, and the leftover pumpkin definitely did not go to waste. All is right in the kitchen. :)

happiness is a pumpkin cookie.

happiness is a pumpkin cookie.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

What you’ll need:

5 oz.   shortening

8 oz.   sugar

.25 oz.  salt

3 oz. (about 2)  eggs

.25 oz.  vanilla

12 oz.  flour

.25 oz.  baking soda

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup cinnamon flavored oatmeal (about 2 of the pouches)

6 oz. mini chocolate chips

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, sugar, and salt. Add the eggs and the vanilla, and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda, and slowly add it to the wet ingredients. Add the pumpkin and the oatmeal, and mix well. Fold in the mini chips. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and scoop dough into rounded tablespoon sized balls, at least an inch apart onto the sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

 

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Symphony in Cinnamon Maple.

My friend’s birthday was the other day, and I wanted to make a cinnamon maple cake with maple buttercream, since he was a big fan of the last one I made. That one included banana and was in cupcake form, and this time I wanted to try it minus the banana, and as a small cake — 6″, to be exact. I also got to thinking that I really hadn’t done much in the realm of cake decorating over the past few months, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to bring something fancy to the table. I always wanted to try my hand at a rosette cake, so I went for it.

a white icing waltz.

a white icing waltz.

Not only did this cake wind up looking rather pretty, but it tasted pretty darn good, based on the feedback I received from those who dared to sample it, in all it’s rich, billowy, sweetness.

a maple concerto.

a maple concerto.

Something about this cake reminded me of music – classical music, to be exact. Possibly the way each rosette just flowed seamlessly into the next, like a melody or a symphony by Strauss. Maybe it was the way the cake and icing complimented each other so well, like an operatic soloist who sings with the music, yet creates a unique and beautiful melody in her/his own right. So yeah, this cake was kinda like that. :)

 

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Celebrate with Eggless Coffee Cake.

coffee cake4

So, around my office, I’m kinda known as the dessert queen – and I’m ok with that. I’m always testing out new creations on my very-willing-to-be-taste-testing coworkers, and they always give me honest feedback, so it’s a win-win. I’m also always making the goodies when someone’s birthday rolls around. Well last week, someone in my office conveniently “forgot” to tell anyone that it was his birthday, until we found out accidentally later that afternoon (when the HR rep delivered his birthday card in front of all of us – ha ha). But no one gets off that easy. I decided that I would whip up a quick better-late-than-never birthday cake that night, and surprise him the next morning.

I flipped through my recipe binder, and decided a small coffee cake would be perfect. I had all the ingredients (so I thought) and I even had some leftover cinnamon chips that would be an excellent addition to the batter. I started going to work. Three ingredients in and I suddenly realized – I was all out of eggs. Yikes. I really didn’t feel like running out and getting them – I already started the whole cake making process!

running on empty.

running on empty.

But then, I had an idea. I’ve made vegan cakes in the past, and they sometimes use white vinegar in place of eggs. I did have white vinegar, so I figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a tray. I guesstimated that two tablespoons of vinegar per egg would be sufficient. I definitely didn’t want to go too heavy on the vinegar and wind up with an overpoweringly gross vinegar cake.

vinegar

my hero.

Well, once again, those two years of pastry school paid off – the cake was delicious – I dare say even better with the vinegar!

eggless and proud of it.

eggless and proud of it.

I guess it’s true what they say – never settle for the same old cake.  (Ok so no one really ever said that. But it does seem to be true.) Change really can be a good thing, my friends. Even good ol’ eggs can be replaced by something better, if you look around a bit. :)

 

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