Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Orange Almond Chocolate Cookies

I made these on Sunday afternoon when I didn't have much going on, so my husband and I were the only ones who got to taste these. I wish I was bringing them somewhere because - chocolate and orange? Pretty yummy if you ask me. If you're looking for something different to make, I highly suggest these cookies. I omitted the 1/2 cup of ground almonds, just because I didn't have them on hand. The cookies were still very good but I imagine there would be a stronger almond taste with the ground almonds in addition to the extract (I added a little more extract to try and make up for this).

INGREDIENTS (yields about 24 cookies)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh orange zest

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg yolk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate


Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats. In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest until well mixed but not fluffy. Add the egg yolk, almond extract and orange juice and stir until well combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, almonds and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until most of the flour is absorbed. Add the chocolate and mix until well distributed. You may need to mix the final bit by hand with a spatula.

Scoop the cookies out by rounded tablespoons on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 12 to 16 minutes, until the edges are just golden brown. Cool on the pan for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

This just may be the best peanut butter icing. Ever. The chocolate cupcake... eh, I've had (and made) better. I think the Guinness cupcake I made from the Irish Car Bomb cupcake recipe would be excellent with this icing. I might have to try that out sometime...

Adapted from:


CUPCAKE (12 cupcakes)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup (1.5 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ cup (3.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
¾ cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. (If you are using a non-stick muffin pan, heat the oven to 325 degrees F.) Line standard-size muffin pan with baking cup liners.
Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.
Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogeneous and thick.
Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Cream Cheese Blondies

Adapted from:

I found myself searching blogs for something different to make (don't I always?). Once I saw this combination of pumpkin and blondie, I had to try it. WOW. I've made snickerdoodle blondies before, but this recipe is much better than the other one. Also from now on, whenever I make something that is cinnamon/sugary, I'm going to sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the bottom of the pan, as called for in this recipe. It gave the bottom of the bars a crisp sweetness that just perfected the dessert.


8 ounces (two sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
3 ounces Mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 eggs1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
¾ tsp. cream of tarter
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Sugar for coating (about 1/3 cup)

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup solid packed pumpkin
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
2 TBSP flour
½ cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch pan. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar and move pan around to make sure that the bottom and sides are coated. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cream of tartar. Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat for three minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
Add the Mascarpone cheese and beat until fully incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds. On low speed add the sifted flour mixture. Mix until fully incorporated.
Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan. This will be hard as it is a thick batter. It may easiest to just wet your hands a little and press the batter into the pan. Then even it out afterwards with a spatula.
Using a clean bowl, cream together on medium high speed cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the pumpkin and beat another minute until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and egg, and beat until incorporated. Add pumpkin pie spice and flour and beat until incorporated.
Pour on top of snickerdoodle batter. The best you can swirl it around, they are very different consistencies and so this will be hard to do. Don’t worry, you aren’t trying to show the swirl, just get it in there. You might have to move some snickerdoodle batter back into place. Just press down with a spatula.
Sprinkle more cinnamon sugar on top of the batter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, check your oven starting at around 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie

Ok, I'm going to start tagging certain posts as "Laura's Favorites" because lately I've come across some pretty awesome recipes, this being one of them. A perfect fall dessert! Everyone raved about this one. It had a perfect layer of cinnamon apples topped with a cheesecake layer and then finally a whipped topping. (I omitted the pecans as usual since I'm not a fan.) I made this for a family get together at my house for no reason other than my husband made his infamous "puerco pibil", a Mexican pork dish. I had to show off my baking skills as well ! I also made Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Cream Cheese Blondies, another one I'm adding to my Favorites. :)



1½ cups graham cracker crumbs

3 tbsp. sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon

5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

½-¾ cup caramel

1 cup chopped pecans


5 tbsp. unsalted butter

½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced


8 oz. cream cheese

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice


¾ cup heavy cream

3-4 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar

¼-½ cup caramel

Chopped pecans


To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.
To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling. Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and pour into the prepared pie shell. Set aside.
Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F. To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overbeat.) Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer. Top with dollops of caramel sauce and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans if desired. Slice with a long, thin knife to serve.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Adapted from

I saw this recipe and swore I heard angels singing.... For those of you that don't know, I am a huge fan of both chocolate and red wine. Most of the time when you're cooking with alcohol you can't really taste it in the final product. This cake TASTED like wine! It was a very dense cake that was very easy to make, a one bowl recipe (that's always nice!). I will definitely be making this again, next time picking up mascarpone so that I can make the topping!


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup red wine, any kind you like
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

TOPPING (I did not make, but it sounds awesome!)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup chilled heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and either butter and lightly flour the parchment and exposed sides of the pan, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula. Spread batter in prepared pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth, like a puddle of chocolate. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge. It looks pretty dusted with powdered sugar.
Make the topping: Whip mascarpone, cream, sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form — don’t overwhip. Dollop generously on each slice of cake. It can also be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 hours.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pear Bread

Wow, I've really been seriously slacking on updating this blog! I have a considerable amount of recipes to post from the past few months. Hopefully I'll get a few done today. Here is a pear bread - courtesy of our "Free Fruit Tuesdays" at work. For some reason, there was a lot of fruit leftover at the end of the day (after I took my normal share!). I never grab a pear, but remembered wanting to try this recipe. So I grabbed a couple and got to baking over the weekend! Perfect for the start of fall. :)

Adapted from: www.

(I used half of the ingredients listed below and made one loaf, below yields 2 loaves)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans (original recipe uses walnuts)
3/4 cup butter, softened (may substitute 3/4 cup vegetable oil)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups peeled and finely grated ripe, firm pears
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9″x 5″loaf pans.
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of this mixture and combine it with nuts to coat. Stir back into the flour mixture.
In a separate bowl, combine butter, eggs, sugar, pears, and vanilla. Add the pear mixture to the flour mixture, stirring just until flour disappears and batter is evenly moistened.
Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until bread is browned and firm on top. A pick inserted into the center should come out clean.
Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, remove from pan and place top side up on a plate or wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Chip Blueberry Peanut Butter Cookies

If that isn't enough flavors for you, I don't know what is! I saw this unique recipe and just had to try it. And yes, I know they look kind of gross but in fact they were actually quite good. Definitely interesting, but pretty good. So, if you're looking to bring something that I'm sure no one has tried before, I'd go with these!

Adapted from:

INGREDIENTS (Yields 3 dozen cookies)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ cups salted creamy natural peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ¼ cup blueberries

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda, set aside.
Using a mixer, in a large bowl beat peanut butter and sugars on high until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined.
Reduce speed to low and stir in flour mixture just until combined.
Stir in blueberries and chocolate chunks.
Use a cookie dough scoop or tablespoon to place cookie dough balls (about 2 TB each) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Note: the dough will be greasy, that is OK)
Bake for 11-13 minutes until cookies are brown around the edges.