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
- 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)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cool completely and cut apart any scones that baked together with a sharp knife.
- 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.
- 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
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
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
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
- 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.
- Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together in a small bowl; set aside.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Illustrated. Don’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!