nutella braid

Can you guess why I decided I needed to make this recipe? It was love at first sight. It’s sooo pretty and it made my house smell like heaven as it was baking. I won’t lie, this recipe is a little involved. It is really, truly from scratch (well, besides picking your own hazelnuts to make the nutella, but I bet someone has a recipe for that too!). As a reformed perfectionist, undertaking this recipe was both exciting and nerve wrecking. I wanted it to come out just like the picture, and of course that is almost impossible. So if you decide to go for it, embrace the messiness and know that it is bread stuffed with nutella and that it will taste delicious no matter what. And if it goes really wrong, promise me you will post it on pinterestfail.com (and yes, if you haven’t gone on this site, you need to go right now).  Continue reading “nutella braid”

peanut butter perfection

There is something particularly dangerous about a dessert that is quick, easy, and insanely delicious. Rice krispie treats of any flavor are a great last minute dessert that can impress, especially now that the world of pinterest has made it all too easy to thumb through hundreds of different twists on this classic treat. I stumbled upon this recipe and knew I had to make it. My husband’s favorite candy is a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and I *might* have drooled over how pretty they looked. It’s kind of brilliant that these are basically plain rice krispies with peanut butter cup bits stirred in, which turn into melty swirls of peanut butter and chocolate. And the topping makes them look gourmet with minimal effort. The most difficult step in this very short recipe is unwrapping the candies, which you can totally get help with if you promise your volunteer that it’s okay if a few Reese’s go missing in the process. Since making these, I have been asked to make them on several occasions and they are always a hit. I double the recipe for a big gathering (I might have this unnecessarily HUGE brownie pan I fell in love with) which makes a sheet of rice krispies big enough to use as a pillow. Or inspiration for poetry. Or for sharing. Yes, lots of sharing. I actually mis-read the original recipe which calls for cocoa krispies, but I am so glad I did! These are perfect the way they are, with just the right amount of chocolate and peanut butter. Enjoy!

*note: Omit the Reese’s and the drizzle on top and you have the perfect basic Rice Krispie treat recipe. Keep it simple or experiment with other add ins! Continue reading “peanut butter perfection”

better than bakery buttercream

There is something you need to know. It’s a secret way to make almost any butter cream icing better. It’s the magic little trick that you need to bring your sweets to the next level. And once you know, there’s no turning back. Are you ready?? Are you sure?

Cream cheese.

I don’t care if it’s vanilla, chocolate, cookie butter (yes, this IS an icing flavor and go—make it now), as long as it’s a butter cream it will be better with cream cheese. The magic is, it won’t mess up your recipe and it will improve the texture to help make it creamy and thick. Just 4 ounces of cream cheese isn’t noticeable enough to make it “cream cheese icing”, but adds the extra ‘mmm…’ to keep people wondering.

This is a wonderful vanilla butter cream recipe that is perfect for piping that perfect bakery swirl. It isn’t overly sweet and is easy to adjust for different occasions. Add a little peanut butter, nutella, or cookie butter (yeah, I’m bringing that up again!) in at the end for your own special twist. 

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THE white cake

 


photo courtesy of Linda Bainter at lovinthelight.com

Okay, so this is probably my dearest baking recipe. This is my “fancy white cake” recipe, if you will. This is the recipe I use for wedding cakes and special occasions. It is more work than any other cake recipe and it is infinitely more perfect in flavor and texture because of it. Call me shallow, but I DO judge books (and movies) by their covers (and rightfully so, or else there wouldn’t be people out there being paid to try and make them look appealing, thank you very much) and therefore it is super important to me that when I cut into a cake I’ve made, it makes this perfect, flat, clean cut and doesn’t crumble into a hot mess all over the place. So this cake really is perfect (see above). My favorite pairing with this light vanilla-almond white cake isfrom a raspberry jam (with seeds if people don’t mind—yum!).  The original recipe pairs it with a white chocolate buttercream (used in the picture above to create rosettes), which is delicious, light, and sweet and I will post as well. It isn’t my normal crusting buttercream that I use for wedding cakes, but I will post that another day. So if you are feeling ambitious or have a special event coming up, give it a go! Or call me and I will make you something special ; )

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my, oh my, apple apple pie

I got a special request to make these. My Uncle saw it and posted the link on my wall for Thanksgiving, which we wouldn’t be home for. I thought it was cute and forgot about them, but as Christmas got closer my mother informed me that my Uncle had hinted that he sure would love to try one of those apple pie apples….wink wink, nudge nudge. Of course, after looking them up to find the directions, the first thing that pulled up was a link to a “pinterest fail” with a picture of how it looked on pinterest (perfect little apples, browned and round) next to the “my attempt” picture, which looked more like the poor girl put mini bombs inside of each apple because they had literally exploded into a big mushy mess. Needless to say, I was a little worried as I embarked on making these myself. Luckily, they came out beautifully and were delicious (plan to put a scoop of vanilla on top if you have the chance!) although they don’t keep well so cook them accordingly so they can be eaten within a few hours of being out of the oven. Rumor is you need to keep an eye on them and don’t over bake, I believe that’s when the explosions occur, as the apples get too soft and you’ll end up with apple sauce.

The recipe is per apple, which gives you the flexibility of picking the number of apples you want to do. We did 8, 4 granny smiths and 4 fuji apples. The best types of apples for pies are granny smiths, braeburn, fuji, and pink lady apples. Some less easily available but delicious choices if you can find them are jonathan, jonagold, pippin, and gravenstein apples. Some to avoid are red delicious and golden delicious, gala, and cortland, since they tend to become mealy in pie fillings.

I baked these right after flying in to my mom’s house the night before Christmas Eve, so I opted for a premade pie dough in the refrigerated section and it made this recipe even easier and was delicious. If you have the time, try out making your own dough which I will post below as well.

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the perfect summer sweet

THIS is the perfect summer cupcake. PERFECT. My favorite by-the-pool drink is a pina colada, and this captures the mood and flavor perfectly. It’s a delicate balance of creamy coconut icing and a moist pineapple cake. These are a must at any picnic, by the pool, at the beach, in a dark closet by yourself….whatever the occasion. They are on the top of my list for favorite cupcake recipes by far. Give them a try, and don’t forget to top them with true pina colada flair!

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carrot top

I was raised on ‘I Love Lucy’. I remember rummaging through row upon row of VHS tapes, reading the backs to see which one held the 3 episodes I desperately needed to watch right away. Lucy getting into mischief, Ricky finding out and furiously shouting at Lucy, Lucy doing her classic diagonally slanted moan as she realizes she’s in trouble…..and the classic kiss-and-makeup ending.  At the hub at this Lucy frenzy is my mother, who’s recent 50th birthday party prompted the purchasing of the entire I Love Lucy series on DVD, which takes up the space of a cereal box. That box of VHS tapes is still in my mom’s garage in case nostalgia kicks in and we have to watch it the good old fashioned way, the same way this cake was a nostalgic nod to so many years spent cuddled up on the couch, talking and laughing with Lucy. And what other way to celebrate my mom’s love for Lucy, the famous carrot top, than with a classic carrot cake. I searched for a cake that would cut clean and not crumble, something with a bright flavor (thank you orange juice and golden raisins) and some depth to it (ginger steps up to the plate!). And I’ve had this icing recipe on the shelf just waiting for a reason to try it out—-it pairs great with the cake and has a light, creamy texture that is less sugary and heavy than traditional cream cheese icing. So next time you crave a classic carrot cake, give this recipe a go. It’s a classic amped up a notch, both in presentation and flavor.

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gluten smuten

 

I’ve never been one for health food crazes. I’ve never ‘been on a diet’, I just try to avoid drive-thrus and eat my broccoli. A coworker of mine mentioned his family was trying to go gluten-free. I didn’t know what that meant, and while the all-knowing  google has shed light on what gluten is, I still am not totally clear on why people avoid gluten unless they allergic to it—besides the fact that avoiding gluten means avoiding lots of carbs but let’s call a spade an Atkin’s diet spade. So of course that very same day I am perusing pinterest when I see these cookies and am stunned by their shiny, scrackly, chocolate goodness. I went to repin it for myself and realized underneath the picture and see it says “gluten free” and I thought “who wants their cookies to be—” ohhhhh. So I made these. For my coworker and his health kick. For myself and my sweet tooth. For the gluten sensitive. And for all those people out there who broke up with gluten because “it’s not you, it’s me”.

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i scream for ice cream

This is less of a recipe and more of an idea. It’s simple and quick and—thanks to these wonderful store bought cookies—delicious. These are the cookies Oma uses in her famous holiday log and I bought them to use as a crust to a cappuccino cheesecake I never got around to making (YET!).  They are the perfect size for these little treats. These will be the cutest, easiest ice cream sandwiches you will ever eat. And since you assemble them yourself, they are homemade, right??

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a coconut cream dream

 

I live two lives, one at work and one at home. I love to bake so I squeeze in new recipes, pictures, and posts anywhere I can–often to the detriment of my sleep. And so I guess you could say that my coworkers um…eat well. Birthdays in particular have taken a somewhat spoiled turn, as it’s an excuse for me to delve into the wonderful world of cake. The coworker this cake was made for, when asked what her favorite flavor of cake might be for no particular reason <cough cough> responded quickly “coconut”. I was expecting chocolate or vanilla….or any of those general categories of sweets that leads me in a general direction pretty easily. But I had never had a coconut cake before. I have had vanilla cake with vanilla icing and a layer of coconut on top. I’ve made banana cupcakes with brown butter icing and toasted coconut. So I was surprised by her response and excited for a fun and exciting new challenge. I used parts of two different recipes, one for the cake and one for it’s icing and filling recipe. I searched high and low for a cake that would cut perfectly—literally one of my favorite moments is cutting that first slice and finding out if its a dense, fine crumbed cake where the slice has smooth, flat sides or if it’s going to be a crumbly, hot mess. I’ve found that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I found a cake recipe with a picture of the most beautiful slice and went with it. The final result was perfect—a slightly coconut flavored, delicate white cake with a thick, gooey coconut filling and creamy icing to tie it all together. And as strange as this may sound, I recommend it be served cold. It was so good that way—refreshing and wonderful.  It might be because the filling has almost a pudding-type feel. Anyway you want it, try it out. It had a great balance so that those who love coconut are satisfied while others, who may not be the first in line to crack open a coconut and call it dinner, will love it too.

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