Category Archives: sunday sweets

Sunday Sweets – Slightly Salted Caramel Chip Cookies

I know I’ve been slacking big time on the posts recently, but life has gotten in the way of my blogging.  This week I made some cookies for a midnight snack.  Yes I know eating that late at night isn’t good for you, but when you work 2nd shift it really is just dinner time.  (and that’s as big a hint about what’s going on in my world as I am willing to share at the moment…)  I found a recipe for Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies on Pinterest that sounded interesting, so I figured why not whip them up while I was waiting to serve dinner at Midnight.

It was a pretty straight forward recipe, and thankfully I had some wrapped caramels left in the cabinet.  I gathered the ingredients:

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 16 wrapped caramels, cut into 4 or 5 pieces each
  • sea salt

Caramel Chip Cookie Ingredients

Once I had everything out and ready to go, I preheated the oven to 325 degrees and set about making the cookie dough.  I combined the flour and baking soda in a separate bowl and set it aside.

Combine Flour Add Baking Soda

Next I grabbed a second bowl and creamed together the butter and sugars (brown & white).

room temperature butter  brown sugar  White Sugar  cream the sugar and butter together

Once it looks like a crumb topping, add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla.  Mix it until everything is well combined.

Add the eggs   And the vanilla

Now that all the moist ingredients were mixed together, I added the flour mixture in a bit at a time…

add flour and mix well

Once all the flour was incorporated, I mixed the chocolate chips in by hand.  After that, I stuck the dough in the fridge for about half an hour and set up my cookie sheet and cooling wrack.  While I was waiting for the dough to set up, I also unwrapped and cut up the caramels.

Add the Chocolate Chips   cut up caramels

When everything was good to go, I scooped out a nice spoonful of the cookie dough and added 2 or 3 pieces of the caramel to the top of each cookie.  Then I put them in the oven for 14 minutes.  My oven doesn’t cook like a normal oven, so it might take less time for your cookies to back.  You just want the edges to begin to brown.  The middle should still be soft.  As soon as they come out of the oven sprinkle the batch with some sea salt and let them cool.

Smash the Caramels into the top of each cookie before baking  Sprinkle with Sea Salt

These cookies should definitely be eaten warm.  The caramel gets too hard to chew if you let them get too cool.

 

 

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Sunday Sweets – Carrot Cake

Hoppy Bunny Day!  It’s Easter Sunday in my neck of the woods, and this year I got to make dessert!  I tried out a great recipe for Cream Cheese Icing last week and am using it on an interesting Carrot Cake recipe to serve today!  I found the recipe on Pinterest, of all places, right?

I gathered all of the ingredients: 4 eggs, 3/4 cup of canola oil, 1/2 cup of applesauce, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, 8 ounces crushed pineapple, 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda. 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 3 cups grated carrots.

carrot cake ingredients

That’s a lot of stuff for one cake!  Once I had all of the components, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and lined my cupcake pans.  You can use any shape cake pan, just make sure to line it or grease and flour it before putting in the batter.  Next I combined the eggs, applesauce, oil, both kinds of sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.

start with eggs add applesauce oil add white sugar add brown sugar add vanilla extract

Next I drained the pineapple and added that to the bowl.

Mix in crushed pineapple

Once everything was nicely combined, I added the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

photo 5 (2) add baking soda then baking powder add salt Next Cinnamon grate in some nutmeg

Mix it all together and then add the carrots.  The recipe said to grate the carrots, but my fingers and the grater don’t get along, so I bought shredded carrots from the store.

That's a lot of carrots

I mixed everything together and filled my cupcake pans.  Then I put them in the oven to bake for 45 minutes.

oven ready batter filled cupcake pans Carrot Cupcakes!

When they were done baking, I let them cool on a wire rack and then frosted them with the Cream Cheese Icing I had made earlier.  Let’s just hope they are a hit!

Cream Cheese Frosted Carrot Cake Cupcakes

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Sunday Sweets – Cream Cheese Butter Cream Icing

This year I’m in charge of dessert for Easter, which is a very welcome change!  I decided to make a carrot cake (bunnies eat carrots, and Easter is all about the bunny, after all…), but I wasn’t happy with the frosting recipe that was included in the recipe.  I know, who’s surprised by that?  Not me…  I headed over to Pinterest to find an alternative, and this was the recipe I chose:

It looked super simple and sounded good.  I gathered the ingredients: 2 sticks of butter, 3 packages of cream cheese, and 6 cups of powdered sugar.

Icing Ingredients

I made sure the butter and cream cheese were softened to room temperature and easy to work with.  Then I put them in the bowl of my stand mixer (with the whisk attachment) and blended them together on medium high.

cream cheese and butter ready to mix

When they were nicely mixed, I lowered the speed on the mixer and started adding the powdered sugar (2 cups at a time).

add powdered sugar

When everything was nicely combined, I set the icing aside and waited for the cupcakes that I made to cool.

Ready to apply

When the cupcakes were cool enough, I grabbed my offset spatula and applied a generous amount to each cupcake.  The frosting was delicious!  My only complaint was that it didn’t set up very well, it was almost too creamy.

icing the cake

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Sunday Sweets – Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

I’m not a huge chocolate fan, but I love brownies!  I am also a big fan of cheesecake, and most things containing cream cheese.  Well except Crab Rangoon or Cheese Wantons.  They just do nothing for me… Agghh, my mind has wandered away with me agian, so where was I?  Oh yes, brownies!  I was looking for a brownie recipe on Pinterest, but not just any regular old box brownie mix brownie recipe, when I stumbled upon a pin for Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies!

This was a bit out of my comfort zone, I’ve never made brownies from scratch before.  Just ask Gwen, I can make box brownies 7 ways til Sunday, but making things from scratch is a relatively new experience for me.  I gathered all of the ingredients: 1 1/2 cups  of sugar, 1 stick melted butter, 1 can Hershey’s Syrup, 5 eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1 (8 ounce) package of softened cream cheese, and1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownie Ingredient

The recipe is made in 2 parts.  First, I mixed the base for the brownie mix by combining 1 cup of sugar, the melted butter, 1 can of Hershey syrup, 4 eggs, and 1 cup of flour.

Sugar  melted butter   Hershey Syrup   4 Eggs  Flour  Mix it al up   Brownie Batter

When the brownie batter was mixed, I set it aside and made the cream cheese portion of the dessert.  I used a mixer to combine the softened cream cheese, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and a 1/2 cup of sugar.

Cream Cheese   1/2 cup sugar  1 Egg   1 teaspoon of vanilla   whip it!

Once both components were ready, it was time to layer the batter into the lined muffin tin.  I started with the brownie batter, filling each muffin cup about halfway.  Then I added in a nice spoonful of the cream cheese mixture.  Finally, I topped each one off with another small spoonful of the brownie batter.  When the cups were full, I used a giant toothpick (a wooden skewer) to swirl each individual muffin.  After each one was mixed I put the pan in the oven to bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Start with brownie batter   add cream cheese mixture  Top with More Brownie Batter  Use a toothpick to swirl the parts together   bake for 30 minutes on 350

My oven is wonky, so it took a bit longer than the recipe suggested for the muffins to cook, but I checked them every so often by stabbing a center muffin with a toothpick and checking to see if it came out clean.  The Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies were a huge hit, and I’ll definitely have to make them again!

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

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Sunday Sweets – Peanut Brittle (EPIC Fail)

Seriously?  What is it these days?  I can’t seem to get a dessert recipe to work this month!  First it was the Rock Candy debacle, and now I can’t even handle a 3 step recipe for Peanut Brittle…  I am so looking forward to Baseball season starting, not that Spring Training isn’t fantastic, but I want to embrace the wonder of an all American summer tradition.  I think part of why I’m so hyped for this year’s baseball season is that it was my dad’s favorite time of year, and I miss him terribly, so enjoying something that brought him so much pleasure will make me feel closer to him.  Eh, but enough of the sappy self reflection, and on to my most recent kitchen disaster…  I was craving Cracker Jacks, the nuts are my favorite part, but I couldn’t find any around here.  So, in my mind I went from sugary caramel coated popcorn with a few candied peanuts mixed in to sugary candied peanuts, and that brought me to peanut brittle.  I found, what I thought was, an easy recipe on Pinterest.

It’s a Martha Stewart recipe, and I’ve had great success with those in the past, but that was not the case with this one…  First I gathered my ingredients: 1 1/2 cup of peanuts, butter, vegetable oil, 2 cups of sugar, and 1/2 cup of water.

Peanut Brittle Ingredients

Then I generously greased a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides) with the butter and coated an offset spatula with vegetable oil.

grease the pan   oil the spatula

Then I set them aside, while I made the sugar base for the candy.  I measured out my 2 cups of sugar and put it in a medium saucepan.  Then I added the half cup of water and a pinch of salt.  I stirred it once to combine (I think that’s part of where I messed up.)  Next I cooked it on high for 3 minutes.  It was supposed to have turned brown, but that didn’t actually happen to mine.  I think I should have left the sugar to brown and not mixed it at all before turning on the burner.

2 cups of sugar   half cup of water   a pinch of salt  initial 3 minute cooking time

Once the 3 minutes had passed, I stirred the pot occasionally and let it “simmer” for an additional 10 minutes.  Mine actually looked more like it was boiling, and it still didn’t turn anything like the amber color the recipe described.

looks like boiling to me

After 10 minutes, I added the peanuts.  I stirred the mixture to coat the nuts thoroughly, and dumped the concoction onto the greased cookie sheet.  I turned around to put the pot down and pick up the spatula, and the entire thing had turned into an immovable lump of hardening sugar and peanuts.  It looked like a sugary pile of … well, I won’t go there, but you can see for yourself.

sugary pile of...

Needless to say, it didn’t move.  There was absolutely no spreading it out.  I even tried heating the cookie sheet to get the lump to warm up and spread out.  No such luck!  Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?

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Sunday Sweets – Rock Candy

I have always liked Rock Candy!  It was a fun “science” project as a child, with a yummy treat as a reward.  I’ve also seen the candy used as a fancy sugar substitute for coffee and dessert at swanky restaurants.  As you might imagine, I was very excited when I found some at the Main Street Confectionery at Walt Disney World.  As I was planning my Easter dinner for this year, I stumbled across a recipe on Pinterest for Rock Candy that I just had to try…

Thankfully I tried it out well in advance of the holiday, because it was an epic failure!  I got together the materials I needed, Sugar, water, a clean wooden chopstick, a clothespin, and a narrow glass.

rock candy supplies

The directions have you set up the clothespin and chopstick first, but as I learned if you do that, you’ll only have to take it apart later.

clothespin and chopstick set up

Next I tried to supersaturate the water with sugar.  It’s a time consuming and inexact process.  (This is also where I think I messed up.)  You heat the water on the stove and slowly add sugar 1/4 cup at a time stirring until it dissolves totally before adding more.  I think I added too much sugar to the pot of boiling water.

boiling water  sugar floats when saturated

Once you have the sugar solution mixed, add it to the narrow glass jar.  Dip the end of the chopstick in the solution and then into the unused sugar to give the crystals purchase to adhere to.

put the sugar solution in the jar seed the stick for better crystal adhesion

Once you’ve added that extra boost of sugar, put the chopstick back in the jar and set it all aside for 3-7 days.

set it aside to crystalize

The crystals in my rock candy matured too much.  They solidified completely in the bottom of the jar.  My experiment was an epic failure.  I’m so going to have to do this over again.

2 days in  6 days in remove the remaining sugar water my failed rock candy

 

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Sunday Sweets – Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

I think I love St. Patrick’s Day!  What other holiday can you celebrate your ancestral heritage by getting drunk out of your mind and marching in a parade.  Oh, wait that works for pretty much every holiday – Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Mardi Gras.  I still really enjoyed this year’s celebration!  I made decorations for our new house, hosted a celebration with great friends, mixed fun and exciting drinks, and even made dessert from scratch.  I found an awesome (if somewhat daunting) recipe that was perfect for this weekend’s gathering on Pinterest.  Anyone that’s ever spent any time in a bar on or around St. Patrick’s Day knows what an Irish Car Bomb is, right?  Well for those of you that might not be familiar with the specialty drink, it is half a pint of Guinness with a half shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream topped with half a shot of Jameson dropped into the beer.  It is an interesting flavor combination, and really fun to make, serve and drink!  THe recipe I found was a translation of that drink into a portable dessert!

 

 

The recipe is for cupcakes made from scratch and it is a multi-step process (the cake batter, ganache filling, and the icing).  I started out making the batter, because I couldn’t imagine the level of mess in my kitchen if I tried to make everything at once.  I gathered everything I needed to make the batter: 1 cup Guinness stout, 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, ¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1½ teaspoons baking soda, ¾ teaspoons salt, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup sour cream.

Cupcake Batter Ingredients

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and lined the cupcake tins with cute St. Patrick’s Day themed wrappers.

Getting Set Up

Once those were all set, I heated the Guinness and melted the butter into it.  When it was combined, I added the cocoa powder and stirred it until all of the powdery lumps were dissolved.

melt the butter  add the beer  whisk in the cocoa powder

Once you have a smooth chocolaty pot of goodness, set it aside to cool and combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  I dumped in the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Then I put it aside and set up my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  I secured the mixing attachment, put on the metal bowl and locked the mixer in place.  I cracked the eggs into the mixer bowl, added the sour cream and beat them all together.  When it was totally combined, I added in the chocolate beer mixture and continued to run the mixer.

flour   sugar   baking soda   salt  combine sour cream and eggs   mix it all up   beat in the chocolate beer butter combo

The batter was thick, rich and creamy.  I scooped it into the cupcake pans and stuck them in the oven to bake.  The recipe said 17 minutes, mine took an additional 9 minutes to cook through enough that the toothpick I used to check them came out clean.

Completed Batter   Ready to Bake   Cooling Cupcakes

While the cupcakes were cooling, I set about making the filling.  It was actually a fairly simple process.  Once I had gathered the ingredients: 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 2/3 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons room temperature butter, 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey.  I chopped up the dark chocolate and put it in a Pyrex bowl.  Then I heated the cream and added it to the chocolate, stirring to melt and combine everything.  When it was smooth and fluid, I added the butter and whiskey.

Ganache Ingredients   Chopped Chocolate  Use the cream to melt the chocolate  add butter and whiskey   Chocolate Ganache Filling

Now that the filling was made, I used a 1 inch cookie cutter to punch holes in the center of each of the cupcakes.  Then I used a piping bag with a wide mouth tip to fill the center of each cupcake.

punch holes   all ready to be filled   Filled and ready to be iced

The cupcakes are now ready to be iced, I just had to make the icing.  The icing was really delicious.  I gathered the ingredients: 2 cups room temperature unsalted butter, 5 cups powdered sugar, and 6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream.  I added the butter to the stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment and ran it for 5 minutes until the butter was thoroughly creamy.  Then I added the powdered sugar to the mixer and continued to whip the butter.  Once all the sugar was mixed in, I added the 6 tablespoons of Baileys to the bowl and let it run until everything was smoothly combined.  I never knew how easy it was to make butter cream frosting!

Icing Ingredients   Creaming Butter  add sugar 1 cup at a time   mix thoroughly   Spike the icing   Keep Mixing Until it is Smooth

Once the icing was finished, it was time to top the cupcakes!  I used an offset spatula, because my piping tip wasn’t wide enough for the size of my cupcakes.  I think I might have to invest in a larger selection of tips if I’m going to keep making cake…

Icing the Cupcakes   Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

They were a big hit!  I wonder what other drinks I can turn into desserts… any suggestions?

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