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!