Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

Growing up, my mom always made turtles around Christmas. I've never been the biggest fan of pecans, so my mom would make my some turtles without pecans. Just caramel dipped in chocolate, but so delicious. She's the best like that. : ) 

Anyway, my sister is having some surgery, so I decided to send her a package. Since one of our best friends also happens to live in the same city as my sister, I made them a care package. Hope they love it! I packed it full of baked goodies. My sister typically tries to avoid sugar and flour (basically two of my main food groups), so I also made her some gluten free, sugar free almond joy bars. 

For Lian, the food connoisseur, I made these turtle thumbprint cookies. Fun fact: she has a Pinterest board specifically for pinning foods she wants me to make for her. Actually, I have 3 friends who have boards specifically for foods they want me to make for them. I guess that's what happens when you're the "Baker Friend."  

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

Yields: 30 small cookies


1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, separated yolk and white
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 tsp finely chopped pecans AND/OR shredded coconut 

Caramel Filling

15 soft caramel candies (I used Werther's Original)
1-2 tbsp cream

Chocolate Drizzle

1/4 cup chocolate chips 
1/2 tsp vegetable oil

1. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add in the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients. 

2. Put the dough, covered, in the fridge for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. 

3. Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until slightly frothy. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the cookie dough. Roll it into a ball and dip into the egg white, then roll in the pecans (or coconut). 

4. Place them 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Press the center slightly down with a teaspoon. Bake for 8-12 minutes. 

5. Let the cookies cool. Melt the caramel and cream together for about 45 seconds. Stir and put into a sandwich bag. Cut off a small bit of the corner and squeeze a little bit on each cookie.

6. Melt the chocolate and oil together. Put it into a sandwich bag and cut off a small bit of the corner and drizzle on the cookies. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Eggnog Pound Cake

Eggnog Pound Cake

Yields: 1 loaf

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup eggnog
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp (or more for desired consistency) eggnog

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together for 3-4 minutes with a mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time.

3. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.

4. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the eggnog to the creamed butter/sugar combo. Add vanilla, then mix until just combined.

5. Bake for 40-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove. Let it cool completely before adding the glaze.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

The frosting is naturally colored!

Mmmm... chocolate ganache. So smooth. So delightful.

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

Yields: 12 cupcakes

3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup chocolate chips, any flavor (dark, milk, semisweet...)
1-2 tbsp whipping cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners.

2. Microwave butter until mostly melted. Pour into the bottom of a mixer and add hot water, cocoa powder, and sugar. Beat it for about 15 seconds, then let it cool down for 5 minutes.

3. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. In another bowl, mix the egg and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture in the mixer and beat until incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients.

4. Divide batter evenly among 12 cupcake liners. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

5. Microwave chocolate chips and whipping cream for 20-30 seconds, then give it a good stir. It should melt. Once the cupcakes are cooled, dip the tops in the ganache. Let set before frosting.

Raspberry Buttercream

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat together butter and raspberry jam for 2 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla. Pipe onto cupcakes with a closed star tip. Top with sprinkles.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fluffy Homemade Marshmallows

This season has been really strange. It has only snowed once so far, and it melted in the blink of an eye. It feels like a Texas winter. It's been raining much more than it's been snowing. Usually the snowy season begins before Halloween!

Despite the strange weather, I still crave hot chocolate quite often. One thing that's kind of weird about is me is that I don't like regular marshmallows. I like the tiny marshmallows that come in the packet of hot chocolate (I know, I know). I also like homemade marshmallows.

There was a magic grocery store called Central Market near my house growing up. I used to love to sample the homemade marshmallows. I've always wanted to try to make them.

Last night, as I was avoiding anything resembling studying for finals, I decided to make some homemade marshmallows. I'm seriously impressed with how easy these are! Next time, I'd love to experiment with adding peppermint flavoring instead of the vanilla or adding some melted chocolate chips during the whipping. Yum!

Fluffy Homemade Marshmallows

Yields: about 100 marshmallows

3 (.25 oz) packets of unflavored gelatin (usually a box comes with 4)
1 cup cold water, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract (or peppermint extract, or any flavor!)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch

Preparing the marshmallows
1. Put 1/2 cup of the water into the bottom of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the packets of gelatin and give it a quick stir.

2. Combine remaining water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt into a small sauce pan over medium-high  heat. Cover and cook for 4 minutes.

3. Uncover the pan and clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Keep cooking until it reaches 240 degrees fahrenheit. It took me about 8-10 minutes. Once it reaches 240 degrees, immediately remove the pan from heat.

Whipping the marshmallows
4. With the mixer on a low speed, slowly poor the sugar mixture into the gelatin mixture in the mixer. Once it's all in the mixer, turn the mixer on high speed for 15 minutes, or until the mixture looks like marshmallow creme: white, fluffy, and lukewarm. Add vanilla during the last minute of mixing.

Setting the marshmallows
5. Mix the powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl. Lightly spray with cooking spray a 9x13 pan (after you spray, it would be good to use a paper towel to remove the excess spray from the pan. You just want a very light layer or it will color the marshmallows yellow!) then dust the pan with the sugar/cornstarch.

6. Spread the marshmallow in the pan to be as even as you can. Then, dust the top with powdered sugar/cornstarch. After you do this, you can pat it more evenly with your hands.

Cutting the marshmallows
7. Leave it, uncovered, for at least 4 hours. I left mine overnight. Afterward, cut the marshmallows into cubes. Toss them with powdered sugar/cornstarch to prevent them from getting too sticky.

Store them in an airtight container for up to 1 month!

Monday, November 24, 2014

1 Hour Dinner Rolls

I've made these rolls a few times now, and I love them more every time! They're super quick (1 hour!) and they're fluffy. They remind me of the delicious rolls the lunch ladies made for lunch back in elementary school. (Confession: I used to trade my chicken rings for those rolls. Yes. I've always been a carb addict)

These rolls are a great way to fancy up a simple weeknight meal, and they'd also make a great addition to your Thanksgiving dinner! 

1 Hour Dinner Rolls

Yield: 12 rolls

3/4 cup milk
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup hot water
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp yeast 

1. Microwave milk and butter in a pyrex measuring cup or other microwave safe bowl for 2 minutes. Pour it into the bottom of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. 

2. Add the hot water, sugar, and salt. Add 2 cups of flour and mix with the dough hook for about 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the mixer with a spatula to get the excess flour incorporated. 

3. Add the yeast and mix for 1 minute. Add the remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, just until the dough pulls away from the sides, leaving the bowl almost clean. (You may need less or more than called for based off your altitude, etc.) Once there's enough flour, mix on medium-low for 5 minutes. 

4. Cover the mixer with plastic wrap or the like and let it sit for 5 minutes. While it's sitting, preheat your oven to 170 degrees fahrenheit. 

5. After the dough has sat for 5 minutes, plop it onto the counter. Divide (using a dough cutter or a large knife) it into 12 equal pieces (I divided it in half (2), then those in half again (4), then each of those into 3 pieces (12).) I shape them by stretching them and then pinching the bottom together really well. 

6. Butter the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and put the rolls in the pan. Put them in the warm oven, uncovered, and let them rise for about 20-30 minutes. Leaving them in the oven, turn the oven up to 350 degrees fahrenheit. It took my rolls about 15-18 minutes to bake.*

*Obviously, it depends on your oven. I also chose to turn the pan about halfway through because my oven bakes a little unevenly. 

7. Brush with butter right when they come out of the oven. Bon appétit! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

Everyone needs a chocolate cupcake recipe, right?

These cupcakes are moist, rich, and chocolatey.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

Yields: 12-14 cupcakes, depending on how much you fill them

2 tbsp veggie oil
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

3/4 cup + 3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk, room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup greek yogurt or sour cream (I used regular yogurt)
1/2 cup hot water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line a cupcake pan with liners.  

2. Put veggie oil, chocolate chips, and butter into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring every 30 seconds, until just melted.

3. Combine flour, baking soda and powder, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk until combined. 

4. In a large bowl, combine sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Add the melted chocolate mixture, then whisk until combined. 

5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the yogurt to the sugar mixture. Mix until just combined (I didn't even use my stand mixer. I just used a whisk). Add in the hot water last, and mix until it's combined. 

6. Use a cookie scoop to divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners. I filled mine about 3/4 of the way full, but I would fill a little bit less next time. (High altitude messes everything up!!!)

7. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Ultimate Chocolate Frosting

Yields: enough for 1 dozen cupcakes

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, slightly softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
milk for thinning

Beat the butter on high with a mixer for about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, slowly. Add the vanilla. Add milk as needed for desired consistency. Beat for about 3 minutes to make it fluffier. 

Pipe the frosting onto cupcakes using a closed star tip. Top with chocolate sprinkles.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

One Bowl Chocolate Banana Muffins

I've always loved anything banana flavored (even banana flavored Laffy Taffy... I know. It's everyone else's least favorite flavor). My husband is a huge chocolate fan, so I thought we'd find a recipe that includes both of our favorite flavors.

The best part of these muffins is they're made in one bowl. I whipped them up in less than 10 minutes before baking. One bowl recipes are the best because usually when I bake, I make a huge mess in the kitchen. This way, I only have to clean one bowl.

I modified this recipe from Fork Knife Swoon.

One Bowl Chocolate Banana Muffins

Yields 12 muffins

1 cup overly ripe bananas (about 2 medium-large bananas)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup veggie or canola oil
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (I didn't have mini, so I used regular)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin liners.

2. In a large bowl, mash bananas (I used a potato masher). Add vanilla and egg. Stir well. Add oil and milk and stir well.

2. Add sugars and mix well, then add cocoa powder and stir well. The cocoa powder doesn't incorporate as easily, so you may have to do some extra stirring.

3. Add salt and baking soda. Mix well. Add flour and stir until just incorporated.

4. Add about half of the chocolate chips to the batter and reserve the rest. Scoop the muffin batter with a cookie scoop into the liners, about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips on top of the muffin batter.

5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

They're great warm or at room temperature!

Other recipes you may love:

Happy baking!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Soft Pretzels

I've made soft pretzels before. I've been wanting to bake something pumpkin-y that wasn't pumpkin bread, muffins, or cookies. I often feel like my most creative recipes are born at night right before I go to bed. See, this is when I have the most creative cravings-- right when I'm about to go to sleep and can't make them. Does this happen to anyone else?

Anyway, I usually ask Austin to write my recipes down in his phone so I won't forget about them. I thought of this one about two weeks ago. I had to do some recipe research, because I wanted to make sure these were good. Cinnamon can prevent yeast from rising, so I had to figure out exactly how much I could add so it would still rise, but have enough cinnamon flavor. Also, I don't like when soft pretzels are bagel-like. I don't want my soft pretzels to have rubbery texture!

These are dang good, y'all.

You can make the dough in a bread maker, using a stand mixer, or kneading by hand.

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Soft Pretzels

Yields: 12 pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 cups hot water
2 tsp baking soda

3 tbsp butter, melted
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Cream Cheese Dipping Sauce
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla


Bread machine: Put all ingredients in the bread machine in the order prescribed by your instruction manual. Let it knead the dough and rise ONCE until doubled in size, then remove to shape.

Mixer or hand: Combine water, yeast, and brown sugar. Let the yeast active for about 5-10 minutes. Add the remaining dough ingredients and knead with a dough hook for 4 minutes or by hand for 6 minutes, or until it springs back when you gently press your thumb into the dough.

To shape: Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into a 18"-20" snake. Shape it as a pretzel. Watch this video for more information.

To soak: Combine the water and baking soda. Quickly dip each pretzel into the hot water and baking soda mixture for about 3 seconds, then place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat.

To bake: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Let your pretzels rise on top of the oven as it heats up, about 20 minutes. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, or until the tops begin to turn golden.

To top: Brush the melted butter on the hot pretzels, then sprinkle with combined sugar/pumpkin pie spice mixture.

To make the dipping sauce: Beat all the ingredients together.

After the soak, before rising

After baking, before butter/cinnamon sugar

Happy October!

Here are some other recipes you may like: