Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies with a chocolate kiss

Any treat made with the combination of peanut butter and chocolate is usually a huge hit with my husband and son. This recipe is from my mom. It's easy and delicious! A great recipe if you need a quick yummy treat...and it only has 3 ingredients! You probably have all of them in your kitchen right now!!
Here's what ya need:
18 oz of peanut butter (no, not the fat free or low fat kind--- the cookie won't hold together, I've tried it..it's a greasy mess- skippy works best)
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups of suger
Hershey kisses- around 48 (I can't believe that I'm writing this but...take them out of the foil -haha)

Preheat oven to 350
Mix peanut butter, eggs and sugar until ingredients are combined.
Make 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet or stone. (I love my pizza stone, I think my cookies turn out best when I use it!) This recipe makes about 48 cookies (more or less).

Bake for about 12 minutes. Take out of oven and place a hershey kiss on each dough ball and push down. The dough will crack a little.
Then use a spatula to take off of the cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack :)

EASY!!! :)

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Monday, December 10, 2012

My favorite Royal Icing Recipe and Christmas Cookies

It's that time of year again...Time to get my christmas cookie list going. I think I may be a little behind! Slightly exhausted from last weeks house cookie adventure-- which I used  my cousin Jo's sugar cookie recipe and decorated with my favorite Royal Icing. It was a week long process...they turned out to be way more detailed than I had expected..but well worth the effort. I love a challenge!

Yesterday was a nice slow day of rest..and now it's time to get those christmas cookies started...
My mom passed on the tradition of making a million cookies for christmas and sharing them with friends. My sisters and I knew that once the recipes were out on the counter..the baking was about to begin and we had to stay out of the kitchen. We were allowed to help with one cookie..."Cousin Jo's" sugar cookies. That was pretty much all we were allowed to help with (besides the awesome job of polishing the silver, haha). When the plate of cookies- stacked high in rows- was set out on the kitchen table...we knew it was our time to get to work. We could invite friends to decorate trees, stars, reindeer, and gingerbread people (which as we got older were more anatomically correct than my mom had really wanted.--surprise!~.haha).
I remember every year at Christmas time our teachers couldn't wait to get their basket of cookies. My mom didn't send gifts...she sent a ridiculous amount of homemade cookies. We are not just talking about quick easy cookies, either. My mom went all out. Her cookies were and still are pretty darn amazing- chocolate dipped neopolitan cookies, greek cookies, rum balls... the list goes on forever!! My favorites are definitely the sugar cookies and a cookie called finska pinar. It's a crispy buttery finger length cookie dipped in a mixture of sugar, almonds and cinnamon. Then drizzled with melted chocolate. YUM
This year I'll be making those, plus a few others... definitely going with a caramel nut, some biscotti (another one of my favs), the greek cookies (buttery half moon shaped cookie with a walnut in the middle coated in powdered sugar), sugar cookies and few others that I'll post the recipes for.
What cookies are you baking this year???

If you are looking for an easy Royal Frosting Recipe... here's my favorite! (slightly adapted from sweetopia)  :)
1 bag of powdered sugar (2 lb bag)
3 tablespoons of meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/3- 1/2 cup of water.. to start probably a little more

Put everything into your mixer, start off with a 1/3 cup of water and let mix. You might have to add more water. I usually add as needed.
Let it mix for about ten minutes.
It should look light and fluffy.

Go from there with your colors and add water to get the consistency you need for filling your outlines. :)

Time to get my bake on and get those cookie dough's started!! Check back for my favorite christmas cookie recipes soon! :)
Happy Baking!!

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Cookie dough cake filling

I have a weakness for those mini chocolate chips....So when I was looking around for a new cake filling (for a special cake I'm working on) and found this recipe called for those delicious tiny semi-sweet chocolate morsels, I kinda knew it was going to be a hit.
I can't wait for you to try it out!

Here's what ya need:

Cookie Dough Filling (slightly adapted from bakingjunkie.com)

4 Tbsp salted butter, at room
6 Tbsp packed brown sugar (I used 4 light brown and 2 dark)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour
A little under half a can of sweetened condensed milk(recipe calls for 7 oz)
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy
Slowly add the flour and evaporated milk. (I used less milk because the first batch I made was too runny for a filling and I didn't want it to leak out of my cake! Hate that!)
Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips!
YUM!!!!

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Love making fun cakes! Especially with a little help from my kids. My daughter and I made this a little while ago... it was delicious! And super easy to make.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July.




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Monday, May 7, 2012

Swiss Meringue Buttercream


I've always wanted to try out swiss meringue buttercream...but have ALWAYS been scared. The thought of egg whites in frosting made me nervous for some reason...until I made a batch for some special first communion cupcakes this weekend (which ultimately ended up being many batches!!!! Vanilla & Strawberry!). All I can say is that I'm not scared anymore!!! Get your arm muscles ready because there is a ton of whisking involved in this recipe. Hope you're focused..because careful attention is taken during the entire process of making this delicate buttercream. It's well worth it. The texture is different from regular buttercream as well as the taste. My husband thinks it tastes vanilla ice cream!
I had a little swiss meringue left over and decided to try out some ruffles that I have been thinking about for a while! Glad I did! (I ended up making more swiss meringue in the process...well worth it!)
You are going to need alot of eggs for this one!! I'm to blame for the egg shortage in this house... my kids have been reminding me all weekend. ha! ha! (Sorry guys!) I think I went through over 36 eggs!!! CRAZY!
I looked through a bunch of recipes and combined them. This is what worked for me.
Here's what ya need:
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 3/4 sticks of unsalted butter (room temp)

Here's how to make it:
First warm up your arms with a nice arm stretch... get ready.
Place a double boiler on the stove (or a heat resistent bowl over a pot of simmering water, in my case because we are not fancy here)
Add the eggs whites, sugar and vanilla to your heat resistant bowl.
Heat the egg mixture, while whisking until it reaches 140 degrees and the sugar is completely combined.
Next carefully transfer to your mixer.
Mix on medium speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. (mine took about 6 minutes)
Lastly, add the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time. (I cut the butter into chunks ahead of time)
Mix until the butter is blended in completely. (You might want to scrape down the sides a few times in between)
It should look nice and fluffy once it is done!

Have fun!

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Scones

It's Thursday, and Thursday's can get rather hectic in the morning at my house. Usually, everyone's stress level is pretty high. But not today. Today, we started our morning out pretty calm & hopeful for the new day ahead. I woke up hoping to make the scones that I saw on the Annie's Eats website yesterday...however when I went to grab the cranberries out of the freezer, I was surprised to find that they were not there! "Oh bother" as Pooh would say. I was so looking forward to the zingy taste of a cranberry scone!  I decided to switch the recipe up a bit and surprise the kiddos with chocolate chip scones, instead. "Do what you can with what you have.." What's better than chocolate in the morning, right?

I'm still very much looking forward to making those cranberry scones, but here's how I made the chocolate chip "cookie" scones.. They were pretty easy & quick- thank goodness for that on the morning of a work day! (Also if you read Annie's Link she says you can freeze the scones before cooking if you want to make them ahead of time...and just pop in the oven on the day you want them! Awesome!)

Here's what ya need:
(adapted slightly from Annie's Eats)
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp of salt
6 tbsp. of unsalted butter cut into little cube pieces
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk (just the yolk)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of semi-sweet mini chips
Additional sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In mixer combine, butter, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine until the mixture looks like course meal and the butter is blended in pretty well. (I had to scrape & mix the bottom of my mixing bowl to make sure the butter wasn't stuck to the bottom)

In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and chocolate chips and then mix in with your dry ingredients.

In another bowl mix the egg, egg yolk, heavy cream and vanilla. Make sure the egg is completely mixed in.

Next add the egg mixture to your dry ingredients and stir together using a wooden spoon. Once the dough starts coming together finish by gently kneading until it is evenly mixed. 

I love how Annie suggests using a biscuit cutter to make the scones. What a genius idea! Put your 3 inch biscuit cutter onto your parchment paper and fill with a scoop of dough..pat down to form a 1-inch thick scone. It works like a charm. Do this for the rest of your dough and place the scones a few inches apart, they do puff up a bit while baking. I did find that my dough did stick a little to the edge of the biscuit cutter. I just helped it out a little by pushing on the edges. It worked out perfectly. When all was said and done, this dough produced about 10 scones.
Once you have them on your baking sheet, sprinkle the scones with a little bit of sugar and then they are ready to bake!

Bake for about 15-20 minutes. I put my oven on convection and it took about 18 minutes for them to cook. The edges were a light brown color.

Enjoy!
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Friday, April 6, 2012

Couple of cakes

Here are a couple of my most recent cakes.
Both cakes were for my daughters dance school friends.

(Riley's Cake)
This was a vanilla cake filled with chocolate frosting. Decorated with fondant.

(Taylor's cake)
This cake is a vanilla cake with rainbow sprinkles added to it, to make it have that funfetti look (my daughters idea) filled with vanilla buttercream and decorated with fondant.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Shamrock cuppy's step by step

It's that time of year again... St. Patrick's Day! Usually my family & family friends all get together to celebrate my dad's birthday with a huge party at my parent's. Every year (but this one...) my mother throws my dad a huge birthday party- kind of ironic because he's 100% italian and born on an irish holiday...good thing he married an amazing irish women! She makes his favorites, soda bread, guiness stew... all the steamed veggies (kind of gagging as I write this at the thought of the smell of the cabbage).. corn beef, cabbage.. yeah you know what I'm talking about. .. :)  Usually I bring shamrock cookies to the party. Since the party won't be taking place this year...eh hemm... AND there was a recent request for a "how to" I tried out last year for shamrock cuppy's (it took me all year to get to it..ugh)- I decided to go for it and make these for our own little special dessert. Which we will somehow fit into the crazy day (ok 2 days) that will be spent driving my daughter around so she can irish dance, march in a parade, have fun with her dance friends, and make alot of people who are celebrating St. Patrick's day happy!!  It's alot of fun! Yeah!

Here's what ya need:
One vanilla cake tinted green (cooked and cooled)
Chocolate or vanilla cake batter (for cupcakes)
Frosting & decorations of your choice
Cupcake pan and liners
A mini shamrock cookie cutter


 (Sorry about the lighting in the these pictures!!! Couldn't wait to get this post up... also the melted frosting.. don't forget to let your cuppy's cool... again trying to get the post up!)


First, line your cupcake trays with cupcake liners and preheat your oven! Then, take your vanilla cake (that is tinted green and completely cooled) and cut out your shamrocks with your shamrock cookie cutter.









Now, take your cake batter (I used chocolate) and coat the bottom of the cupcake liner.

Next, place your shamrocks into the batter- you might have to gently push it down just so the it stands up.
dont' they look so cute?? 
Ok now you are going to need to cover those cutey pies with the cake batter...sounds a little tricky but don't worry it's not that bad. You might have to prop up the shamrock in the middle so that it doesn't tip over..help it out a little.
Make sure they are standing up straight...and that they don't start floating around..(it happend once to me... I have no idea why..but it did) Coat it. When it cooks the batter will bake around it.
Do that to all of your cuppy's, ok?
Then get those babies in the oven... and let the magic happen!!!

Bake, Cook, then frost & decorate!
Not too bad right?? A little time consuming & few more steps than regular cupcakes..but easy!! Now just think of what else you could put in the middle of your cupcakes?? Hearts for valentines.. (or just to say I love you?? aw, sweet.) Maybe flowers, butterflies, stars... The wheels are turning.. I'm already thinking about stars & red, white and blue... how about you???
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Sunday, February 5, 2012

cheetah/zebra cake

When my daughter showed me what she wanted her birthday cake to look like... I hoped that I could live up to the task. I had never made large fondant flowers before. OF COURSE, the cake she liked had a huge flower on top. I've always wanted to know how-so this was the perfect opportunity!(in true fashion-my kids are always somehow or another teaching me new things!) I tried a few different types out- Here are some pictures of the peony roses:

This was my first "practice" one!
This is the one that was suppose to go on top of her cake...
BUT, the morning of her party...she looked at the cake and wanted the blue flower! SO, I added a little turquoise ribbon around the each tier-- (she's got a good eye for color...I think she gets that from me? jk)


Marble cake with chocolate buttercream filling, chocolate ganache and decorated with fondant.
YUM!!
Happy birthday sweety. <3

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Reese's Cake



I was searching for a new, fun, delicious peanut butter/chocolate cake recipe to make for my husband's birthday. He LOVES Reese's... so when I stumbled upon a picture of a Reese's cake on Pinterest...I just knew that I had to try it out!
Yeah, it was kind of risky trying out a new recipe for his birthday...especially when we were having family over-luckily it was delicious.
I was a little worried while I was making the cake because the batter was extremely thick. But the texture of the cake is brownie like and dense..and matches perfectly with my homemade peanut butter  buttercream frosting. Sometimes I use a creamcheese/peanut butter frosting..either way will work.
The recipe is from the Annie's Eats website, but was posted to pinterest. If you haven't checked out Annie's Eats.. you should stop by.. there are some Pretty AMAZING recipes there. Oh, and if you haven't been on pinterest...holy cow, check it out (click here to see my boards and follow)- I promise you are going to LOVE love love it!!!

Ok, back to the cake...here's what ya need:

2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
2 stick of unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups of regular sugar
2 large eggs (room temp)
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 cup of buttermilk (all I had was regular and it worked out fine)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional) (oh and I used 3 oz of semi-sweet because it was all that I had)
1 1/2 - 2 batches of your FAVORITE peanut butter frosting
miniature reese's cups, halved and some chopped

Here's what ya need to do for the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, butter or spray two 9x2 pans, dust the inside with flour...tap out the excess. (Annie's says to line the bottoms with round parchment paper, go for it if you usually do- I didn't and it worked out just fine)

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, and salt. ( I actually sifted mine because sometimes my cocoa powder gets a little clumpy)
Set aside.

In your mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until thoroughly blended into the butter. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately w/ the buttermilk/milk; add the ingredients in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 (beginning and ending w/ the dry ingredients) Make sense?
Mix each addition until it is blended into the batter. Scrape down the bowl and add the melted chocolate- fold in with a spatula. Divide batter between the prepared pans. THE BATTER IS really thick.

Bake for about 26-30 minutes. (mine took closer to 30)
Or until springy to touch and cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pans. Transfer to cooling rack to cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them (if you used parchment peel off the liners) Invert and cool to room temp right side up.

To put the cake together:
Place on cake on your cake board. Frost first layer with the peanut butter frosting. Sprinkle some Reese's if desired. Place second layer on cake and frost the top and outside of the cake with the remaining pb frosting. Decorate the cake with the chopped and halved Reese's!! The more the better!! :)

YUMMY!!!
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

90th birthday party cake

When my Uncle asked me to make the cake for a surprise party that was going to be given for my grandparents...of course I was very excited. They are two of the kindest, most real, honest-loving...live life to the fullest people I know. They have travelled around the world...been everywhere you could ever imagine wanting to go- had 7 children, started a huge family which consists of more aunts, uncles, and cousins than any one person could dream of having. They created simple family traditions (such as Friday night homemade pizza, family dinners, zeppoli on Christmas eve, initial cookies at Easter, Vermont..just to name a few) that we will all carry with us and share with our children. They have strong beliefs in their faith as well as  education. They have given all of us opportunities such as a college education and many many memories of huge family gatherings & good times at the lake---
They are perfect examples of living the American dream.
They both are Italian Americans. My grandfather came over to America as a young boy and my grandmother was born here.  They both spoke Italian first and are both brilliant, loving, good people.
Most time spent with my grandparents involve some type of food!! Whether it be a weekly visit, a holiday or shared dinner or even a quick trip to Friendly's for an ice cream sunday- time spent with each of them is always a gift.

This year they are both turning 90! An amazing number.
Here's to many more years of good health, (possibly from juicing..or maybe good genes) and MUCH happiness!
I love you both.
HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY MEMA and POPPOP!! xo

(vanilla cake top layer has chocolate ganache filling, bottom has chocolate buttercream)

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