Funfetti Cupcakes for Two

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My sister gave up chocolate for lent. I’ll give you a moment to digest that information and react accordingly.

Who gives up chocolate for lent?! Crazy people. Unless you gave up chocolate for lent, I like you.

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If I’m being honest, I already find it tough not to bake with chocolate. I find ways to sneak it into almost everything. Maybe it’s excessive?

All that aside, I did have to put my thinking cap on. Good thing Caroline came to the rescue with these. I saw them today and made them today. And I’m glad I did.

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This recipe only make two cupcakes with just enough frosting. They are soft and fluffy, aromatic and full of sprinkley goodness! These are perfect when there are only two people around to eat them.

Or when your sister is a piggy (;P) and eats them both in less than 5 minutes flat without offering you a single bite. I’m not bitter or anything.

Both, almost all gone!

Funfetti Cupcakes for Two
Yields 2 cupcakes + frosting

FOR THE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon almond milk (or whatever milk you like)
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sprinkles (I used non-pareils)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350Β°F. Line a cupcake pan with two liners (in the middle for even baking).

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, egg white, vanilla extract, and sugar until thoroughly combined.
Add in the flour and baking powder and whisk gently until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Add in the sprinkles and using a rubber spatula, gently fold them in. Don’t over stir!! If you stir too much the dye from the sprinkles will bleed and you’ll have tie dye cupcakes instead of funfetti.

Pour batter into your prepared cupcake pan. Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let them cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

FOR THE FROSTING

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

In a medium bowl and an electric mixer, beat the butter, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract until a frosting forms. If you like a thinner frosting, add a bit more milk until you reach your desired consistency. Frost your cooled cupcakes, toss on some more sprinkles (because they make everything better, duh) and enjoy!

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Cupcakes adapted from Chocolate & Carrots; frosting adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Not-So-Mini Madeleines (Rewind #2) – TWD

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I’m such a slacker.

The first “specialty” pan I bought when I first started baking was a madeleine pan. I have made madeleines a total of two times. TWO.

And I love madeleines. So much so that I named my kitty Madeleine. Not to be confused with MadeLINE.

Cute kitty name aside, madeleines are the perfect dessert for breakfast or to nibble alongside your afternoon tea. When made correctly, they are little melt in your mouth shells that have a delicate flavor and a slight sweetness that can warm anyone’s heart. (Way to sound like a Christmas commerical, Jeannette.)

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These were supposed to be mini madeleines but I don’t have a mini pan (and Tony would give me “the look” if I came home with a mini version of a pan I already have LOL) so I made these in a standard (non-stick) mad pan. I upped the salt a bit and added a bit more honey (I just can’t resist the flavor of honey!) I baked my mads with some help from Dorie (thanks for sharing Di!) and all was well πŸ™‚ I baked at 400 degrees in the bottom half of my oven to hopefully off-set them darkening quickly but 10 mins in the oven browned them pretty quickly either way. Still incredibly tasty and some even got the lovely humps πŸ™‚

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For the recipe, head on over to my good friend Di’s blog Di’s Kitchen Notebook.

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

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Happy Halloween!!

I probably should have posted this recipe much sooner but if you’re a long time reader, you know how I roll. I procrastinate. And I’m sorry.

But who says the fun has to stop just because Halloween is over? You KNOW you’re going to have left over candy!! And I am going to give you a few ideas in the coming week to use up that candy. IF there is any candy left over by then πŸ˜‰

But for now, let’s talk cookies. These are your run of the mill sugar cookies divided into three batches and colored, stacked, sliced and baked. Simple stuff here folks, but BIG reward. If you want to take it a step further (I’m a minimalist; read: lazy), you can dip the tops in melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles.

These cookies are your oyster. Ew. Let’s pretend I didn’t say that…..

It may seem that because there are a fair amount of steps that these are difficult cookies to make: they aren’t!! They involve a bit of chill time and some hands on time but nothing you can’t handle.

If you can handle me using oysters and cookies in the same sentence, you can make these πŸ˜‰

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Candy Corn Sugar Cookies
recipe adapted from Our Best Bites and Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
yellow and orange gel food coloring

Directions:Β 

Note: if you need some process pictures to help you along, head on over to Our Best Bites.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a sifter, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the flour mixture directly onto the butter mixture. Reduce the speed to low and beat until well mixed.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 3 equal portions (I weighed my dough then divided into three, each portion weighed 428 grams).

You’ll leave one of those portions as is (this will be the white part of the candy corn) and then you’ll color one of the remaining portions yellow and one orange.

Tip: When you’re coloring multiple things in a recipe, use one mixing bowl and color starting from lightest to darkest. That way you won’t have to wash your bowl in between.

Grab a loaf pan (it doesn’t matter what size) but if you have an option between a larger and a smaller pan, you might want the smaller one (I used an 8″ x 4.5″). Line your loaf pan with a big piece of plastic wrap leaving an inch overhang on all sides.

The first thing you’ll do is place your uncolored cookie dough in the bottom of the pan and spread it out as flat as you can.

You’re going to have 3 layers of cookie dough and the height of your dough will determine the size of your cookies. In my case, I made a small batch of cookie dough, and if I spread it out all the way in my large loaf pan each layer would be so thin that it would produce teeny tiny cookies so I didn’t spread my dough to the very end. Shoot for about 3/4 inch per layer at least. You can always make larger cookies if desired.

Place 1/3 of cookie dough in your mixing bowl, add a bit of yellow food coloring and mix until you reach your desired color (adding more food coloring as necessary); set aside. Do the same thing with the remaining dough coloring it orange. Place the orange dough on top of the uncolored dough and flatten out. Do the same with the yellow dough. Use the plastic wrap to even out the dough and cover it.

Place the pan in the refrigerator for a few hours, or the freezer for about 30-60 minutes. You’ll want this very chilled, all the way through so it cuts nice and smooth.

When it’s done chilling, unwrap and slice that loaf into about 1/4-inch slices, working a few at at time.

Now just slice your rectangles into triangle pieces.

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 350Β°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your cookie triangles on your baking sheet. Since these are slice and bake cookies, they won’t spread very much at all therefore you don’t need to leave a lot of space between cookies (about 1/2 inch).

Bake until the cookies are lightly golden on the edges, about 8 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Enjoy : )

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Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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Hybrids are awesome.

Ok, let’s back up… BAKING hybrids are awesome. I’m not talking Prius’ here people.

I’m talking about a perfect mix between a warm chocolate chip cookie and delicious cheesecake. Kind of like a cheesecake sandwich if you will. You read right. It is possible. It is delicious.

It could possibly be the best hybrid invention ever. Next to the Chevy Volt. *Swoon* but that’s a whole other discussion for another time.

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These actually come together quickly. There is no refrigerating the cookie dough or making a water bath for the cheesecake. It’s make and bake. Your hands get a little messy pressing in the cookie dough but other than that it’s pretty straight-forward and simple.

I know that a lot of people are averse to vegetable shortening, so feel free to substitute butter for in it’s place. But I am uncertain if it will work out as I have not tested it myself. Please do let me know if you do. Also, don’t be worried about the vinegar… I was a bit put off about it but you will never know it’s there, scouts honor.

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Cheesecake Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Chocolate chip cookie layer:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T cider vinegar (I used white without problem)
1 large egg
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cheesecake layer:

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13″ pan with foil and spray lightly with baking spray. Set Aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, sugars, vanilla and vinegar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the egg until thoroughly mixed in, then add the baking soda and flour. Fold in the chocolate chips. Divide the dough into two equal portions and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl cream the cream cheese with the sugar until thoroughly combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla until fully combined.

Spread 1/2 of the cookie dough mixture evenly across the bottom of your prepared pan. (This is somewhat tricky to do. I find it easier to add dollops of cookie dough throughout the pan and then spread all the dollops together with your fingers.) Spread the cream cheese mixture on the top of the cookie dough. With the remaining cookie dough, flatten chunks of dough between your hands into discs, and then place on top of the cream cheese mixture, placing as close together as possible. Don’t worry if the dough discs don’t touch, they will bake into each other in the oven.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is brown and cooked through. Cool completely (if you can wait that long), top with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Enjoy!

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Independence Day Cake – Red White and Blue Vanilla Cake

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Happy Fourth of July!!

Happy Birthday America!!

How are you celebrating? Fireworks? BBQ? Family fun in the sun? How about with cake?

Not just any cake will do. How about a cake that is a silent stunner? Plain and simple on the outside, but once you cut into it… BAM!! American flag flying high!!

Yes, yes I think this will do nicely. Bold and proud just like America!

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Independence Day Cake

Ingredients:

3 cups sugar
4 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks + 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, soft (18 TBSP)
1 3/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons milk, at room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large eggs

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To Make The Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350Β°F. Lightly grease and flour three 9″ round cake pans. Set Aside.

1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.

2) Add the butter and beat with an electric mixer at low speed, until the mixture looks sandy.

3) In a measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla and add, all at once to the sandy flour mixture. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds until it looks just combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 25 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.

4) In the measuring cup that you used for the milk/vanilla, add all eggs and gently whisk together. With the mixer running at medium speed, slowly add eggs in three batches mixing until almost incorporated. Scrape the bowl once more, then beat at medium-high speed for 20 more seconds.

5) Separate the cake mix into three medium bowls (or 4-cup measuring cups to be as accurate as possible) and color one bowl red, one blue and leave the last white. Mix the dye thoroughly and transfer the batter to the prepared pans and smooth out the tops. c

6) Bake for 30 minutes until a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs attached and the layers begin to pull away from the edges of the pan.

7) Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a rack to cool before removing it from the pan.

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To Prep The Cake:

Using a serrated knife or cake leveler, slice the red and white layers horizontally in half. You’ll end up with a blue layer (2β€³), two red layers (each 1β€³), and two white layers (each 1β€³). Set one white and one red layer aside, those will be the bottom two stripes of the flag.

You only want a square of blue in each slice, not an entire layer. Stack the blue layer, white layer, and red layer on top of each other. Using a serrated knife, cut a large circle through all three layers. I used a bowl as a guide. Now you have a ring of blue (2β€³), a ring of white (1β€³), a ring of red (1β€³), and three inner circles in each color (the blue is 2β€³ and the other two are both 1β€³). Set aside the inner circle of blue and eat the outer rings of red and white. πŸ˜‰

To Assemble The Cake: (see below for the frosting recipe I used)

Frost the bottom two layers together – set the uncut white layer on a plate and spread with frosting. Top with the uncut red layer. Spread the uncut red layer with frosting, then set the blue ring on top. Use a spatula to spread a very, very thin layer of frosting around the inside edge of the blue ring. This will help keep the blue layer and the two top stripes together.

Frost the white inner circle and place the red inner circle on top of it. Place both frosted inner layers inside the ring of blue. Frost the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting; don’t worry about perfecting it as this is just the crumb coat. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes to let the crumb coat set and harden. Remove cake from refrigerator and add final coat of frosting to entire cake.

In a small bowl, crumble the blue inner circle of cake you set aside earlier and sprinkle it on top of the cake. Slice and serve and watch the oohs and aahs roll in.

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Vanilla Buttercream:

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb confectioners sugar
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:
In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk. Beat at high speed until fluffy, adding an additional 1 tablespoon milk if necessary.

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

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There are bad days…

And then there are BAD days.

Sometimes bad days leave you punching holes in your walls, buying more shoes (you know you don’t need any more dang shoes) or watching the series finale of Six Feet Under while clutching your favorite hot pink blanket and pretending that you’re not crying your eyes out. I have no idea who would do this…

But for days like this, sometimes all you need is something warm and steamy in a bowl to make your soul smile.

Let me introduce you to the bad day band-aid… rice pudding.

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Forget what you know about rice pudding. Push aside all your bad memories of semi-solid rice pudding cups from the grocery store. This rice pudding doesn’t hold a candle to what you are about to whip up and pour into your bowl.

It’s warm, silky rice infused with vanilla beans and lemon zest. You can add golden raisins or dried cranberries or brown sugar… go wild.

So grab a bowl and have a nice sit down with your favorite hot pink blankie. But don’t forget to grab the tissues before you sit down… just in case you shed a tear or two.

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The Best Rice Pudding
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook via Joy the Baker

serves 4 to 6 (or 1-2 if you’re having a REALLY bad day)

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1cup long grain rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split open
1 cup golden raisins (optional, I skipped but I’ll toss in dried cranberries next time)

Directions:
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in lemon zest, salt and long grain rice and return to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer the rice, covered, until all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Once rice is cooked, place it in a bowl and rise out pan. Add 4 cups of milk, sugar and vanilla bean to the pan. Bring to a low boil, stirring often so the milk doesn’t burn. Add the cooked rice, butter and raisins to the hot milk. Stir often, until the milk cooks down and the rice is creamy, about 20 minutes. Place in a large bowl or serving dishes to cool. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Or just grab the whole pot and park your bum on the couch with a big spoon and eat it warm. I’m not here to judge.

Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream

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As I sit here and watch TV, it amazes me the things you’ll see.

A woman coming clean about having slept with her sister’s boyfriend and fathered his child and hid it not only from her sister, her fiance but her sister’s fiance as well. SURPRIIIISE.

A tribute to hollywood couples, some of which make me misty-eyed (and make my top list too!)

Ozzy and Bieber in a commercial together. There was also something about 6G?!

And Anne Hathaway being tackled by James Franco.

None of this has anything to do with this ice cream, but eating a bowl while you watch trashy tv couldn’t get any more perfect. Unless you drizzled it with hot fudge or caramel sauce. Just sayin’

This ice cream is so creamy dreamy delicious. It gets its deeper flavor from the vanilla beans and brown sugar. A match made in heaven.

The only odd ball ingredient is the dry milk powder, which is usually sold in bigger than necessary boxes. But have no fear, you’ll be making this ice cream again and again!

Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream
From the Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dry skim milk powder
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split & scraped, reserving the seeds & pod

Directions:
1. Fill a large pot with about 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Set a large bowl over the top, and check that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water (this is a double broiler or bain-marie setup). (Remove the bowl and use it to combine the ingredients for the ice cream.)

2. In the large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, brown sugar, salt, skim milk powder, egg yolks, vanilla bean and seeds, and vanilla until completely combined.

3. Place the bowl on top of the simmering pot. Be sure the water is simmering, not boiling. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened to nappante (thick enough to coat the back of the spoon), 5 to 10 minutes or approximately 180 to 185Β°F on a candy thermometer.

4. Cool the custard in an ice bath. Strain the mixture into a resealable container. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

5. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. *

6. Transfer to a resealable container and freeze 4 hours or overnight before serving.

* If you don’t have an ice cream maker but you have a food processor or blender just strain the mixture into your processor bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours. Once it is cooled, stick it in the freezer for half an hour. Pull it out of the freezer and stick it onto the base and pulse it until it looks smooth again. Repeat this process for 2-3 hours. Once it is frozen and creamy, put it in a resealable container and store in your freezer.

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