Tag Archives: dessert

Confetti Cupcake Bites

23 Apr

OK so I haven’t posted in a long time. It’s the end of the semester and I’m swamped. Also, for my last post, I was featured as one of “Today’s Specials” on Foodpress (yay!)…so maybe I was also just trying to quit while I was ahead? Regardless, I’m back into the baking groove now as I procrastinate on finishing final projects and prepare for an Easter celebration tomorrow:)

To make up for lost time, I decided to embark upon a rather time-consuming and intricate dessert, yet one that was well worth the effort! I am talking, of course, about Cupcake Bites. What are cupcake bites, you ask? I didn’t know myself, until just the other day when I stumbled upon these adorable treats on Bakerella’s website. Cupcake Bites are a variation of the increasingly popular Cake Balls. They’re essentially crumbled cake, mixed with frosting, rolled into a ball, covered in chocolate, and topped with sprinkles.Except that rather than being rolled into balls, Cupcake Bites are shaped like cupcakes. Oh and they’re so ridiculously cute that they don’t even look real. How can you go wrong with that?? That’s right, you can’t!

I tried to make my Cupcake bites festive by using Confetti Cake mix by Duncan Hines and Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting. I couldn’t find the candy cup mold suggested by Bakerella, but instead used a Wilton silicone daisy mold, which seemed to do the trick. I used pink candy melts for the “frosting” and topped them with cute Easter sprinkles I found at Target.

A cross-section

What do you think? Cute as a button or what?

Easy Cupcake Bites (recipe by Bakerella— she her website for pictures of the process– my changes are in parentheses)

Ingredients:

  • 1 box cake mix, prepared as directed on box for 13×9 cake (I used Duncan Hines Confetti Cake mix)
  • 16 oz can cream cheese frosting (see recipe for homemade version below)
  • 1 lb package chocolate bark or candy melts for cupcake bottom
  • 1 lb package colored candy melts for cupcake top
  • Decorations (I used Target’s Easter sprinkles)

Special equipment: Candy Cup Mold (I used Wilton’s daisy mold)

Preparation:

  • After the cake is baked and cooled completely, crumble into a large bowl. The texture should be fine and fluffy. If you cannot get the cake fine enough with your hands, use a food processor.
  • Using the back of a large spoon, or with your hands if you want to get messy, mix the cream cheese frosting with the cake crumbles
  • Roll the mixture into about 1 inch balls (Test that the size is accurate by placing them in the mold. The diameter of the balls should be slightly smaller than the mold). Lay the balls on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper.
  • Chill in the freezer about 15 minutes, until the balls are slightly firm, not frozen.
  • Melt the chocolate and and colored melts in the microwave according to the directions on the package.
  • Using a spoon, fill each mold cavity with a small amount of chocolate (for me, it was about halfway full). As soon as you fill each cavity, place one of the balls into it. Carefully push it down until the force causes the chocolate to push up and fill in around the size of the ball. You  may have to experiment with a couple to get the right amount. Stop pushing once the chocolate reaches the top edge.
  • Place the mold tray filled with the cake balls in the freezer for about 6 minutes to let the chocolate set. Remove and then gently pull up on the cake ball to release from the candy mold.
  • Next, one at a time, holding the bottom of the cupcake, dip the top into the colored chocolate.
  • Decorate with sprinkles.
  • Place the decorated cupcake bites in the freezer for another 3 minutes.
  • Enjoy and impress!

Makes about 50 cupcake bites, depending on the size of mold you use.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting (recipe by Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation:

  • Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted and beat until creamy, about 30 seconds.
  • With the mixer on low, slowly add sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowls as necessary.
  • Add vanilla and increase mixer speed to medium. Blend until frosting is fluffy, about 1 minute.

Makes enough frosting for your cupcake bites.

An Easter gift for you!

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Strawberry Shortcake: I Found My Soulmate

3 Apr

Strawberry shortcake is my favorite dessert.  I am from the camp that strawberry shortcake must be composed of strawberries, whipped cream, and a biscuit. That’s right…a biscuit. Not angel food cake, not pound cake, certainly not those heavily processed dessert shells sold in stores…a biscuit. Said biscuit must be served warm, split in half horizontally, and spread with a touch of butter.

Additionally, strawberry shortcake must include sliced strawberries in a sugary strawberry sauce, simply made from combining strawberries and sugar and letting the juices develop in the refrigerator.

And of course, strawberry shortcake must be topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

That’s not too much to ask, is it? You would think not, but it was with great frustration that I have spent years in search of the perfect strawberry shortcake recipe reminiscent of what I remember from my childhood. So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled across a new recipe yesterday that includes the essential elements described above, but that was not quite like what I remember from my childhood. It was better. Simply perfect.

This recipe for strawberry shortcake includes a delicious shortcake that is essentially a giant biscuit pressed into a 9×9 pan. The top and sides of the shortcake become slightly crispy, while the inside is soft. It is easily split in half to make something of a sandwich with strawberries inside. And it’s not really a sweet biscuit; the sweetness comes from the other elements of the dessert.

In fact, a main reason that this strawberry shortcake is out-of-this-world-delicious is the whipped cream.  I usually just use store-bought whipped cream, but this time I made it myself. The hit of lemon zest in the whipped cream transforms the strawberry shortcake into something exciting and unique.

I cannot imagine a better strawberry shortcake. Thus,  my quest for the perfect recipe has ended. Why continue when I am head-over-heals in love with this dessert?

In sum, this strawberry shortcake is my soulmate. But I’ll be nice enough to share it with you 🙂


Strawberry Shortcake (adapted from recipe by Mary Nolan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and sliced
  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Unsalted butter, to taste
  • Whipped Cream with Lemon Zest, recipe follows

Preparation:

  • Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and refrigerate while juices develop, at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined. Place mixture in prepared baking pan and bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. Cut into 6 pieces, split each piece in half horizontally, and spread with butter, to taste.
  • Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with the shortcake top, and a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Whipped Cream with Lemon Zest (recipe by Mary Nolan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Preparation:

  • Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

Where do you stand on the strawberry shortcake debate? Are you a biscuit-lover like me, or do you prefer some other vessel for your strawberries?

Nutella Cheesecake Layer Bars

19 Mar

As a rule, I love cheesecake…in small doses. It’s delicious, but so dense and rich that I have trouble getting through a whole slice by myself. Also, it’s usually very labor intensive. One time I made an “Almost Famous Pumpkin Cheesecake” from a copycat recipe of this delectable dessert at The Cheesecake Factory. It came out great! Just like the real thing! BUT not until after the long, complicated process involving almost three hours of baking time and EIGHT hours of cooling time! That is much too long to wait to taste the fruits of my labor.

Then along came Nutella Cheesecake Layer Bars. They solve both of my usual problems with cheesecake: 1) they are cut into small, perfect squares with just the right balance of cheesecake, chocolate graham crackers, and nutella, and 2) they are incredibly easy to make, with baking time only around 45 minutes and cooling time 3 hours.  OK, so it’s still hard to wait three hours, but they are totally worth it!

The layers: nutella cheesecake, vanilla cheesecake, and chocolate graham cracker crust

You may have seen this recipe by the Moonlight Baker featured on Foodpress recently. I saw it and immediately wanted to give it a try. My husband says he doesn’t like nutella, but it seemed like the perfect opportunity to change his mind. Indeed, the nutella flavor is actually quite subtle. I waited until after he took a bite and said “Oh my GOD…these are good” to tell him that they were made of nutella. Hehe, that was sneaky. But I love changing minds about ingredients through good cooking and baking!

Spread very carefeully to get close-to-perfect layers...if you care about that sort of thing, that is

Nutella Cheesecake  Layer Bars (slightly adapted from recipe by The Moonlight Baker)

Ingredients:

  • 8 Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • ½ Stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 16 oz. Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup + 1 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ cup Nutella

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Butter an 9 x 9 baking pan and line with parchment paper, making sure that the parchment is well pressed in the corners.  Set aside.
  • In a food processor, pulse chocolate graham crackers until they become crumbs (like bread crumbs).  Add in melted butter and 1 tbsp sugar, and pulse until moistened.  Press graham cracker mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Bake crust in the center of the oven until set, about 12 minutes.  Set aside and cool.
  • Clean out the food processor.  Add cream cheese, eggs, ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup heavy cream, and vanilla extract.  Pulse until smooth.  Put 2/3 of the cream cheese mixture in a bowl and set aside.  Add Nutella and 1 Tbsp. of heavy cream to remaining 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture in the processor.  Pulse until smooth.
  • To assemble, spread the vanilla cheesecake mixture over the cooled graham cracker base, being careful not to disturb the crust.  Pour Nutella cheesecake layer on top of vanilla layer and spread evenly.  Bake on the center rack of the oven for about 35 minutes, or until the center jiggles slightly.  Remove from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  • When ready to serve, lift bars out of the pan by lifting up the parchment paper (it should release easily).  Slice into 16 squares and serve.

Makes 16 bars.

Gotta love hand-held cheesecake!

Strawberry and Rosemary Scones with Lemon Glaze

13 Feb

What do you get a guy for Valentine’s Day? I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve  fruitlessly googled, “Valentine’s Day presents for guys,” desperate for some inspiration but finding none. I’ve since come to the conclusion that the old saying is true: “The best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” So for Valentine’s Day this year, I’m focusing on spoiling my husband with delicious sweet treats (along with one other true present– which I cannot divulge here in case he reads this post). I hope the recipe below gives you some inspiration for Valentine’s Day, or really any other day of the year 🙂

One of my absolute favorite dessert recipes is Strawberry and Rosemary Scones with Lemon Glaze. I suppose when I hear the word ‘scone,’ I think of a breakfast food– but this is really more like a cookie to me, except with the texture of a biscuit (of course you can eat it for breakfast too, if you want!). You wouldn’t typically think of putting herbs in cookies, but combined with the sweet strawberry jam and lemon glaze, the combination is heavenly and unique.

Strawberry and Rosemary Scones with Lemon Glaze adapted from recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients:

For the Scones-

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam

For the Glaze-

  • Juice from half of one large lemon (about two tbsp)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons water
  • Special equipment: a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter

Preparation:

  • For the scones: Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, salt, and butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Gradually stir in the cream until the mixture forms a dough.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 1/2-inch thick, 10-inch circle. Using a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out heart-shaped pieces of dough and put on the prepared baking sheet. Gently knead together any leftover pieces of dough and roll out to 1/2-inch thick. Cut the dough into more heart shapes and add to the baking sheet.
  • Using an index finger or a small, round measuring spoon, gently make an indentation in the center of each pastry heart. Spoon a heaped 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each indentation.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Transfer the cooked scones onto a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes.
  • For the glaze: In a medium bowl, mix together the lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Gradually add the water until the mixture is thin enough to spread. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the scones. Let the glaze set for about 30 minutes. Serve or store in an airtight plastic container for 2 days.

Trying to be artistic with the rosemary sprig- did it work?? 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day! What are you doing for your sweetheart?