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Entries in Holiday (16)

Saturday
Dec212013

Chocolate Fudge S'mores Thumbprints

Smores thumbprints

Since I never really want to make the same cookie twice, it takes me a whole year to come up with my Christmas cookie list. It usually begins at Christmas, when I try the different cookies that my friends and family make. As the year goes on, I find other recipes that I want to try, and they get added to a list. When it comes time to start making cookies for Christmas again, I have a list about a mile long that has to be pared down. It’s a vicious cycle. This year, the list consisted of 4 cookies, Christmas Crack, and cookie butter popcorn (recipe to come). Now that I type it, it makes me realize how pathetic it is that it took me an entire year to come up with 6 things to make for Christmas. Oh well, these cookies made that year-long search completely worth it. They are like a bite of summer during the cold winter months. I highly suggest putting these on your Christmas cookie list for next year. They are so good that maybe they will end up on mine again, too!

1/2 cup Butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Egg Yolk
3/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup Mini Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1/4 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugars until fluffy, scraping the bowl when needed, for about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, beating for another 2 minutes, until combined. With the mixer on low speed, stir in the flour mixture, gradually increasing the speed for the dough to come together. Fold in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon or spatula. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and set them on a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper) 2 inches apart. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and gently press your thumb into the center of each cookie, creating a dent. Place the cookies back in the oven and bake for 5-6 additional minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Once cool, spread about 1 teaspoon of the marshmallow fluff in the dent of each cookie. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with graham cracker crumbs. Store in an air tight container. Makes about 18-20 cookies. 

SOURCE: Barely adapted from How Sweet It Is

Sunday
Dec152013

Christmas Crack

Christmas crack

Making Christmas cookies was always a family affair in my house growing up. We had a small kitchen, but every year, without fail, my parents would set up the round card table so that there was barely enough room to move, and that served as our work station. My brother and I would help make traditional cut-outs, chocolate chip, peanut butter blossoms, peanut butter chip, oatmeal, m&m cookies, and the list went on and on. There were a few other treats that we made that weren’t quite cookies, too, like 7 layer bars, peanut butter and jelly bars, and a Club cracker toffee. I vividly remember helping to make all of those treats and really enjoyed it. Perhaps that is where my love for baking began. Anyway, over the years, my mom has cut her baking list down considerably and the Club cracker toffee faded away. Until now, sort of. I ran across a recipe that was very similar, except replacing the buttery Club crackers with saltines. The saltiness from the crackers pairs so well with the sweetness from the toffee and chocolate. This super fast and easy treat is deliciously addictive, which is probably how it got its name! 

Approximately 50 Saltine Crackers (1.5 sleeves)
2 Sticks of Butter
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 cups Chocolate Chips
1 cup M&M's

Line a 9x13 jelly roll pan with foil, then spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with the crackers and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and sugar over medium-low heat, stirring until the butter has melted. Once melted, bring the mixture to a boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Working quickly, pour the hot mixture over the crackers and spread with a spatula as best as you can. Place the pan into a 325 degree oven for about 8 minutes. The mixture will spread a bit as it bakes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. When the chocolate chips start to melt, spread them over the toffee with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with M&M’s and place the pan in the fridge for about 30 minutes to harden. Once the chocolate has hardened, peel the crackers off the foil and break into pieces. Store in a container for up to 2 weeks.

SOURCE: I Heart Nap Time

Wednesday
Dec112013

Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Eggnog chocolate chip cookies

The holiday season is in full swing, and of course a major part of it is cookies! I participated in  the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, an event hosted by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. Everyday, when arriving home from work, I’d head straight to the mailbox to check if any special packages had arrived. When they finally did, I could’t have been happier. I received chocolate peppermint stars from Sandra at Meadows Cooks, butter cookies from Sara at Confectionary Tales of a Bakeaholic, and coconut pecan cookies from Mollie at Mollie’s Sprinkles of Life. They were all wonderful, and not only inspired me to get in the kitchen and try new cookie recipes, they filled us up, too!

My assignments this year were Mackenzie from Susie Freaking Homemaker, Lindsay from Life Love and Sugar, and Julie from The Little Kitchen, who happens to co-host the cookie swap. 

When I was choosing a cookie recipe for this swap, I thought about the 3 variations of chocolate chip cookies I received for last year’s swap. They were all delicious and arrived in one piece, so since they were so durable in the mail, I figured it would be best to try a different spin on a classic, simple recipe this year. I decided that Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chip would be the perfect holiday cookie to send. I hope you enjoyed the cookies, ladies! If you are interested in joining in on the fun next year, sign up here.

1 cup + 2 tablespoons Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
6 tablespoons Butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup Eggnog
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Dark Chocolate Chips

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggnog, egg told, and vanilla extract and continue to beat on medium speed until completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of dough and place them about 2 inches apart from one another on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are set and the centers spring back when touched lightly. Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 12-15 cookies (using a medium cookie scoop). 

SOURCE: Brown Eyed Baker

Wednesday
Nov272013

Salted Caramel Cashew Bark 

Salted caramel cashew bark

We are big fans of dark chocolate. There is almost always some kind of dark chocolate bar in our pantry, just waiting to be shared as an after dinner treat. Sometimes it’s plain, sometimes it’s flavored with chili pepper, nuts, or sea salt, but no matter what, it is savored and enjoyed. Sure, we’ve had some bad flavor combinations in the past, and sometimes the flavors that the store has don’t sound appealing, but it has never crossed my mind to make my own until I saw this post! Life changing, I tell you! How can you go wrong with sea salt, caramel, cashews, and dark chocolate? The answer is, you can’t! This bark took no time at all to put together…and no time to disappear! I can’t wait to play around with this recipe and see how many other flavor combinations I can come up with!

12 ounces Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used dark chocolate chips)
1/2 cup Cashews
1/4 cup Caramel Sauce, at room temperature (I used caramel ice cream sauce)
1-2 teaspoons Flaky Salt 

Line an 8” or 9" pan or a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop over a pan of simmering water. (I microwaved the chocolate for 30 seconds at a time, stirring until the chocolate was smooth and melted). Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant. When the chocolate is melted, pour it onto the prepared pan, using a rubber spatula to smooth it out. Drop spoonfuls of the caramel onto the chocolate and swirl with a skewer. Sprinkle the cashews over the chocolate and then top with the salt. Refrigerate until set, then cut or break the bark into pieces and serve. 

SOURCE: Cook Like a Champion, via A Southern Fairytale

Sunday
Mar172013

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

Irish coffee cupcakes

When Joel and I went on our honeymoon to San Francisco, we made sure to stop at The Buena Vista every day for an Irish Coffee, despite the fact that it was July. There was something therapeutic about watching the bartenders making their specialty drink; line up a bunch of mugs, drop a few sugar cubes in each one, dump a shot of Jameson over the sugar, pour a fresh pot of coffee over the top going down the line of glasses like dominoes, and top with freshly made whipped cream. Yum! In honor of St. Patrick's Day, and because I had a bottle of Jameson in the liquor cabinet, I decided to make these adorable little cupcakes. I made them in a mini-bundt cake (or fancy donut) pan and filled the center with the frosting. There was plenty of frosting left over to add to the top as we were eating them. They were a delicious St. Patrick's Day cocktail and dessert, all wrapped up in one treat!

For the Cupcakes:
2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Boiling Water
2 tablespoons Instant Espresso Powder (I used 1 packet of instant coffee, which was much less than 2 tablespoons, but still worked out fine)
1/4 cup Whole Milk, at room temperature (I used Half and Half)
1 stick Butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed Brown Sugar
2 Eggs, at room temperature

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a measuring cup, add the espresso powder to the boiling water and whisk until combined. Cool to room temperature, then whisk in the milk. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by 1/2 of the espresso mixture, followed by 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by the remaining 1/2 of the espresso mixture, and end with the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Divide the batter between lined wells of a cupcake pan (the batter will make between 12-15 cupcakes, each filled about 2/3 full). Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to wire rack sand let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes before removing them to the racks to cool completely.

For the Frosting:
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream (I used 1 container, which only had about 1 cup)
4 1/2 teaspoons Confectioners' Sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons Whiskey

Add the heavy cream and the confectioners' sugar to a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer until medium peaks form. Add the whiskey and continue beating until the mixture just barely holds stiff peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe the frosting onto each of the cooled cupcakes. Dust with additional espresso powder for garnish, if desired.  

SOURCE: Tracey's Culinary Adventures