Tag Archives: baking

Halloween Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Top 4 Reasons Why I Love Halloween:

1. Dogs in costumes.

2. Guilt free unlimited candy consumption.

3. It’s my birthday. As a kid this was awesome since trick or treating at the neighbors’ houses resulted in extra treats for the birthday girl. Now, it is an excellent excuse to have a Halloween party.

4. My mom makes me a dessert of my choosing for the big day. This year, I opted for coconut cupcakes (my absolute favorite kind).

My mom makes the BEST cupcakes I’ve ever had. They are fluffy, moist, flavorful and perfectly frosted and covered in sprinkles. This recipe has been one we go back to often since it has never done us wrong. One word of caution with this one: don’t be afraid of the massive quantity of butter used… just close your eyes and pretend it’s healthy.

This year, we decided to make our cupcakes a little Halloweeny by adding some fun sprinkles on top. I got a big case of Halloween sprinkles from Target and went to town. It gave them a fun little touch and ensured that no cupcake looked the same.

Last Halloween thought of the day – in New York, how do kids trick or treat? Apartment door to apartment door? Do they go out to the suburbs? In LA, I used to do a quick trick or treat around my small neighborhood early and then my parents would drive me to Hancock Park to meet up with my friends and do a full 2-hour door-to-door trick or treat marathon.

Halloween Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Makes 18 to 20 large cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
  • Cream Cheese Icing (directions below)
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minues. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.
  4. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. FIll each cup to the top with batter. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely. Frost with cream cheese icing and sprinkle with remaining coconut and sprinkles.

Cream Cheese Icing

For 18 to 20 large cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook 

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Banana Bread Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

It’s a little funny that when I see browning bananas I actually get excited instead of sad because that means more banana bread recipes!! For all banana bread recipes, the browner the bananas the better since they make a moister and tastier cake/bread/muffin/scone.

When I found this recipe I was eager to try it out because it combined two things that I love, but didn’t necessarily think went together: banana bread and scones. The only thing I wish was that it made more than 8 scones since 3 were gone within minutes. The scones tasted even better this morning with a 30-second pop in the microwave topped with warm glaze (which I stuck in the microwave for 30 seconds also). These things are deadly…

The scones are really moist because of the bananas and taste like banana bread and cake combined. I will tell you that the true secret to this recipe is the glaze. It is delicious on its own (yes I took spoonfuls from the bowl) , but on top of the scones, it is perfect. The two flavors pair well and really transform the scones into something special. They are definitely more like a dessert/tea time treat rather than breakfast because of the sweet glaze. (Don’t tell anyone I ate mine for dessert and breakfast).

Halfway through eating this, I thought “whoops aren’t I supposed to be photographing these?,” I must put down my spoon…with extra glaze on it…

These scones were easy and highly recommended. I will be adding them to the “what to make with browned bananas” pile and will definitely be trying them again.

Me pouring my glaze on my scone halfway through eating it…I have no shame…

Banana Bread Scones with Brown Sugar Glaze

Makes 8 scones

Ingredients:

For the scones:

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 very ripe bananas (about 1 cup once mashed)
  • 2-4 tablespoons half and half or whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) 0% or 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter (if you don’t have, use unsalted and add a small pinch of salt)
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) half and half or whole milk
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Directions:

  1. Place your walnuts in a pan and place them in the toaster oven (or oven) for approximately 5 minutes. Be careful when toasting nuts, check on them often as they burn quickly and burnt nuts don’t taste good. Set toasted nuts aside to cool.
  2. Place your bananas in a ricer and mash them into a 2-cup measuring cup. If you don’t have a ricer, mash with a fork. Add enough milk to the measuring cup to make one total cup (if necessary). Stir in the yogurt and set aside.
  3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut the butter into several pieces. Work it into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork until there are no pieces of butter larger than a pea (this takes approximately 1-2 minutes).
  4. Pour the banana-yogurt mixture into the bowl with the flour and with a large spatula stir just enough to incorporate all the flour. Fold in walnuts. If there are stray pieces of dough, quickly use your hands to incorporate them. (Try to limit touching the dough with your hands, the heat from your hands heats the dough up).
  5. Line a dinner plate with a piece of wax paper and turn the dough out on top. Pat it into a disk about 1-inch thick and cover with another piece of wax paper. Place the plate of dough in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  7. Remove the disk of dough from the plate, remove the wax paper and place it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (the flat side of the dough should be flat against the baking sheet). Slice the dough into eight wedges (like cutting a pizza) and pull them apart a little to give them room to expand.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the scones are firm to the touch and are turning golden-brown on the edges. If the scones start to brown before they are firm, put tin foil over the top of them and continue baking until firm. This will prevent them from burning.
  9. Cool completely and cut apart any scones that baked together with a sharp knife.
  10. For the glaze, place the butter and milk into a 2-cup measuring cup and melt in the microwave for 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and vanilla, and stir until the sugar has melted (heat for an additional 30 seconds in the microwave if necessary). Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, starting with 1/4 cup. Add more confectioner’s sugar if desired to make a thicker glaze.
  11. Before serving, drizzle the glaze over the scones with a spoon or whisk (like I did since I was lazy). The glaze will set after a minute or two. Note: only glaze the scones right before serving them. Otherwise keep the scones and the glaze separate as the glaze will make the scones sticky to the touch if they sit for too long.

Adapted from TheKitchn

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Ultimate Chip Lovers Cookie

Yesterday I was craving a sweet  (what’s new right?)- I really just wanted a simple, easy cookie and I wanted it fast (I was NOT waiting to refrigerate my dough). My favorite go-to quick cookie recipe is from the back of the Nestle Tollhouse bag of chocolate chips. It has never done me wrong.

This time around I wanted to make the cookies a little differently – instead of just putting in the 2 cups of chocolate chips, I put in 1/2 cup butterscotch chips, 1/2 white chocolate chips and 1 cup chocolate chips. The tastes came together perfectly – I especially loved the butterscotch edition, although 1/2 cup was just enough, otherwise they would have overpowered the cookies.

These cookies are so simple to make and great for keeping in the freezer. I have a bunch of my college girlfriends coming into town next weekend and I already know I will be bringing these out for them! PS I wish you all could have heard the 20 minute conversation I had with my mom over what to name these cookies- some suggestions were : Chip-alicous, Chip Loaded, Lots of Chips… it sort of stressed me out, so hopefully my title does the trick 🙂

Ultimate Chip Lovers Cookie

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (leave it on the counter for 30 minutes before you want to bake)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Set aside.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until creamy (about 2 -3 minutes). (*Always over-beat instead of under-beat in this stage of baking.)
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined. By hand, stir in your chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and white chocolate chips.
  6. Drop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon balls onto baking sheets.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Adapted from the recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip bag. 

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

I recently got an email from my girlfriend Hilly with the title “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever.” I had to try them, I mean with that headline how could I not. I brought the recipe to my mom to get her input (it’s nice to live with a professional), she said that this recipe is one of her favorites as well.

The original recipe is by Jacque Torres, also known as “Mr. Chocolate,” a world renowned pastry chef in NYC…kind of a big deal. His recipe was one of the first which has you refrigerate your cookie dough before baking it out. By cooling your dough (in this case 72 hours), your ingredients all meld together and your butter sets. The cookies spread evenly, cook up perfectly and come out tasting a little like caramel because of  this fridge time. It also ensures you get a moist cookie in the center and a crisp outside crunch.

These cookies were OUT OF THIS WORLD, I’m not sure if it was the salt, the refrigerated dough, the quality of chocolate we used or everything combined, but these truly are the best chocolate chip cookies. I would make these over and over again and am so happy to be sharing them with you. For a great step by step description of why these cookies rock so much, you can visit For Me, For You who has a wonderful explanation. I can’t encourage you to try these out enough, they are truly amazing.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Makes 18- 24 cookies

*It’s really useful to use a scale to weigh out your ingredients for this recipe. Not only does it make it easier (because 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons is confusing), but it ensures that your dough will be perfectly proportioned.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 ½ ounces) cake flour (like this)
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 ½ ounces) bread flour (like this)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt, such as kosher
  • 2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups or 10 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate discs, preferably about 60% cacao content, we used Callebaut bittersweet chocolate discs)
  • Sea salt for garnishing

Directions:

  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then add dry ingredients and mix on low for 30 seconds. Turn off mixer and fold the rest of the dough together with a spatula (this prevents over-mixing). Turn mixer back on low, add the chocolate discs and mix for 30 seconds. Turn mixer off and finish mixing in discs by hand.
  3. Take mixing bowl off your mixer. Press a large piece of plastic wrap against the dough (make sure it touches the dough and seals it (this ensures no air gets through). Then take another large piece of plastic wrap and seal off the top of the mixing bowl. Refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours. The best cookies will be made with the 72 hour dough.
  4. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly (about 10 minutes). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  5. Scoop 6 mounds of dough each weighing 3 1/2 ounces (they look like golf balls) onto each baking sheet. Make sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are sticking out (this will create a better looking cookie). Sprinkle each cookie lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.

Adapted from Jacques Torres recipe and different renditions in the New York Times and For Me, For You.

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Cream Cheese Brownies

I had big plans for today: work out, errands, some cooking and baking. I woke up and I went to pilates for the first time in weeks. I was planning on going for a run afterwards, but my legs were shaking, seriously. So I headed home to plan out the rest of my day. Well the rest of my day ended up being a nap and catching up on my blogs and my shows (Dateline, Toddlers and Tiaras and Friday Night Lights… yes I have very random taste). And baking these insane brownies. I love cheesecake. I love brownies. These brownies are basically heaven.

I found this recipe on one of my favorite baking sites, Brown Eyed Baker, and then found the original recipe she was using from Baking Illustrated, a really wonderful cookbook which I happen to own. This was my first time ever creating a marbled effect (using a knife tip to blend the cream cheese and the brownie) and it actually came out better than I had anticipated. The brownies are moist and just rich enough in flavor. They melt in your mouth.

Cream Cheese Brownies

Makes 16

Ingredients:

For the Brownies:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (½ cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs

For the Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk

Directions:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with Pam or butter. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 8 inches wide. Fit 1 sheet in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan (the overhang will help in removal of the baked brownies). Fit the second sheet in the pan the same way, perpendicular to the first. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Microwave in 30-second increments at 50% power, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract; allow the mixture to cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until just incorporated ( *I used a spatula  to fold the dry ingredients in instead of a whisk).
  4. Make the cream cheese filling by beating the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk together in a small bowl until evenly blended. (*I used a hand mixer. It took about a minute).
  5. Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared pan, spreading it in an even layer. drop half the cream cheese mixture, by spoonfuls, over the batter. Repeat, layering the remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the brownie batter and cream cheese filling, creating a marbled effect.
  6. Bake until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly, the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out with several moist, fudgy crumbs adhering to it, 50 to 60 minutes.
  7. Cool the brownies in a pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil handles. Place the brownies on a wire rack; allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. If you are in a rush, you can chill them in the freezer for 90 minutes. Cut into squares and serve. Wait until serving to cut the brownies otherwise they will become a little dry.

Recipe adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker and Baking IllustratedDon’t be intimidated by the ingredients or long list of directions, these really were a cinch to put together. The most frustrating part was waiting 90 minutes before I could bite into them!

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Frosted Sugar Cookies

You know what I love? Those sugar cookies with the colored frosting that you find at Ralphs. You know the ones that are soft and chewy and impossible to eat just one of? The ones in the bakery section with the multi colored sprinkles? I love those cookies. The day that I got my driver’s license I drove to Ralph’s to get them (not joking). So when I saw this recipe on Annie’s Eats to replicate them, I was hooked. And now I’m in trouble, 2 dozen cookies are now down to 19…

These are better than those Ralph’s cookies. Not only because they are handmade, but because you get to lick the frosting from the bowl and halfway through eating your cookie you can add more sprinkles to the top. They truly melt in your mouth.

This recipe makes 24 BIG cookies. And it makes much more frosting than I actually used, so I ended up freezing the leftover frosting for future usage (frosting freezes well). Also, keep in mind that once you make your cookie dough it needs to sit in the fridge for an hour before baking, so don’t do these last minute.

Frosted Sugar Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients: 

For the cookies:

  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 7-8 tbsp. milk (plus more, as needed)
  • Food coloring (optional *I used 4 drops of red food coloring)
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk together to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed.  Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball (yes, these are BIG cookies). Flatten the ball slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart (I only put 6 on each baking sheet).  Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until set.  (Do not overbake!  The edges should be no more than very lightly browned if at all.)  Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To frost the cookies, place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl.  Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.  Tint with food coloring if desired.  Use an offset spatula or spoon to frost the cooled cookies.  (If the frosting begins to thicken as you decorate, just continue to whisk in small amounts of milk to keep it workable.)  Top with sprinkles if desired.  Store in an airtight container.

Recipe from Annie’s EatsI think these cookies came out perfectly. They don’t travel well (i.e. the frosting gets a little messy if you stack them), so make them for a BBQ or baby shower and lay them out flat. Enjoy! (I’m off to have another one.)

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Baking!

When I went up to Fairbanks for Thanksgiving I had lots of time to teach myself to bake! A few of the treats below:

Blueberry Muffins (delicious Chow Recipe linked)

Blueberry Muffins!

Close Up!

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookie jar peanut butter cookies

2 1/2 cups flour

1tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup. (1 stick) unsalted butter. ROOM TEMP

1/2 cup crisco. ROOM TEMP

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup peanut butter ROOM TEMP

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Sift together flour,baking  powder, baking soda, salt.  Set aside

Cream butter, shortening and both sugars in a large bowl with electric mixer, at med speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in peanut butter.

Add the reserved flour mixture by the cupful, beating on low speed to mix well.

Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Press each cookie twice in each direction with the back of a fork to make a crosshatch design and to flatten to cookie to about 1/4 inch thick.

Bake in the center of the oven until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer to a rack to cool. Store in airtight container for up to one week.

Yum!

Pumpkin Crunch Cake (this one came out a little burnt) Woops…

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