Category Archives: Sweet

Cranberry Maple Muffins

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen these days. To be completely honest, I don’t usually put a whole lot of effort when it come to dinner during the week. A lot of open this bag and reheat this frozen entree type of thing. However, a couple friends of ours have recently become parents, and we’ve been taking meals to them a few times a week. Where I am unwilling to make the effort just for us, it’s a completely different story when it comes to someone else. Mostly I make dinner items that are easily microwaveable, but I’ve also been trying to throw in hand-sized baked goods that are easily consumed in between feedings and diaper changing. This weekend I decided to whip up some Cranberry Maple Muffins.

Notes:

  • After making the Apple Cider Muffins last month, I knew I’d have to overfill the cups to get the generously sized muffins (I think) most of us prefer. With that in mind, this recipe yielded 8 muffins instead of 12.
  • I used real maple syrup (from Canada, no less), and if “maple” wasn’t in the title, no one would be able to tell it was an ingredient. It brought the needed sweetness, but if you want straight up awesome maple flavor? This is not the recipe for you.
  • This is a personal preference, but without the maple flavor being noticeable, I thought these muffins needed something extra to round out the flavor. My vote would be for some sort of citrus.

Death by Chocolate Cheesecake

I love watching recipe videos; I can spend hours on sites like Tasty or Delish. I think about how I could rediscover my passion for cooking, become the next Martha Steward and make all the things. This ambition inevitably gets derailed somewhere between watching the video and getting up to go to the grocery store. Christmas day my brother in law and his girlfriend came down to stay with Andy and I for a few days, and we agreed that we’d all enjoy a bit of holiday baking. When the idea of cheesecake came up, I hit Pinterest and quickly located the Death by Chocolate recipe I had pinned and Facebooked a couple of weeks ago. After watching the video, they agreed to give it a shot, and spoiler, we kind of killed it 🙂

Ingredients

Cookie Crust
  • 24 whole Oreo cookies
  • 6 tbsp. melted butter
  • Pinch kosher salt
Chocolate Cheesecake
  • 4 (8-oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Chocolate Ganache
  • 1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position an oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Make crust: In a large Ziploc bag or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, crush or blend Oreos until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a bowl and pour in melted butter. Add salt and stir until crumbs are completely coated and moist.
  3. Make cheesecake: In a large bowl using a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment), beat cream cheese, sugars, cocoa powder and salt until smooth. Add eggs one a time, beating well between each addition. Fold in melted chocolate.
  4. Coat a 9″ springform pan with cooking spray and press Oreo mixture into pan and 1/3 of the way up the sides, packing tightly. Pour cheesecake filling over crust.
  5. Bake until cheesecake is only slightly jiggly in the center, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. (If you want to use a water bath to ensure cheesecake top does not crack, wrap the outside of the pan in aluminum foil and place in a baking dish. Place on oven rack and pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the pan. Follow baking instructions.) If using a water bath, remove pan from water and unwrap foil. Refrigerate cheesecake until totally chilled, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  6. Make ganache: Place chocolate chips in a medium, heatproof bowl and set aside. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When bubbles begin to break the surface around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Pour the hot cream over chocolate chips, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth.
  7. Pour ganache on top of the cheesecake. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Return to the refrigerate for about 10 more minutes to let the ganache set.

Notes:

  • I neglected to really read the actual recipe until after we’d already started baking, but I was a little annoyed with the “refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight” part. The video implies immediate cheesecake gratification, and we had to wait: so lame. Other than that, this is a really great recipe and I can’t think of a single thing I’d do differently. 9 out of 10 to be sure.

Cinnamon-Streusel Cider Muffins

I seem to always find myself at a loss when it comes to cooking breakfast for Christmas morning. I mean, I want it to be something special, but then again I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen while everyone else is hanging out and getting their Christmas on. First world problems, right? Since I have yet to come up with a brilliant solution to the dilemma this year, I have been browsing through my cookbooks and looking for something that looks good. After flipping through The Muffin Book, I noticed a recipe that was not only seasonally inspired, but that I already had the ingredients for. Win win, right?

Notes:

  • Be super careful not to over mix your batter; I got a bit carried away, and my muffins were a little more toothsome than I would have liked. You know, sometimes the holiday music moves you and you’re not paying attention the way you should be.
  • I did not have enough batter to complete my dozen muffins, I had to go back and make an additional half batch to fill my muffin tins to the desired level. So either take that dozen down to 8 or increase your batter recipe accordingly.
  • All in all, these were decent muffins. They puffed up and turned a lovely golden brown. For my personal taste, the next time I make these the batter will include cinnamon and maybe a splash of vanilla, just for funsies.

I haven’t decided whether this will be on the Christmas morning menu yet, but considering how easy it was to whip up I’d say with a few tweaks we definitely have a contender.


Monkey Bread: Modified Recipe

Monkey bread is one of my favorite things to make for holiday guests. I have yet to find someone who isn’t drawn in by the gloriously rich sugary morsels.  This year I decided to modify version of this recipe I posted a few years ago. Here’s how things turned out.

a1 a2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • Bundt Cake Pan
  • 4 Tablespoons of Cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cans of Southern Style or Buttermilk Biscuits (the non-flaky ones)
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1 medium granny smith apple diced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove biscuits from their tubes, and cut each biscuit into four pieces. (I baked off the rest of the unused tube and gave them to the husband to munch on while I was baking)
  3. Combine the cinnamon and white sugar in a large ziplock bag, and shake to combine.
  4. Next drop the biscuit pieces 5 or 6 at a time, into the bag, seal and shake.
  5. Spray bundt pan with nonstick spray.
  6. Place all of the coated biscuit pieces into your bundt pan, sprinkling in pecans and apples as you go.
  7. In a medium sauce pan melt butter over medium heat, stir in brown sugar. Keep stirring until the two are completely combined.
  8. Pour the liquid over the biscuit pieces and place in the preheated oven.
  9. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until it looks like this.  Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes then turn out onto a plate. A few taps might be required to get everything to shake loose.

Notes:

  • I added the apples to this recipe because I like the bits of tart fruitiness that they impart to what can sometimes be a cloyingly sweet dish.
  • If you have a deep bundt pan you can attempt to use three full cans of biscuits, just be wary of overfilling because you do not want that stuff to overflow into the bottom of your oven. I’d even recommend placing a cookie sheet on the rack underneath, just in case.
  • Keep an eye on your bottom biscuits through out the baking time, if your oven is a little temperamental, as mine is, the exposed biscuits at the bottom may start to get excessively brown before the ones in the center are baked. If this happens, loosely wrap tin foil across the pan and shift the bundt pan to a lower rack in the oven.

Don’t forget to enter the holiday giveaway!!!!


Orange Spice Cookies

Not to brag, but I have been pretty pleased with the status of my 30 before 31 list lately. Never before have I had some many items crossed off at this point in the year; usually it’s a mad scramble to get things done come about January. I still have a long way to go, but it feels good to be checking things off regularly. My current push is to cross off #8 – Make 12 recipes from cookbooks I already own, before the end of the year. So far all the recipes have been good, and with the slightest tinge of Fall in the air, I felt it was a good time to try out the recipe for Orange Spice Cookies.

cookies5 cookies2 cookies1 Since I lacked not only the fluted pastry wheel, but any pastry wheel at all, I decided to cut these out the way I do most of the cookies I make. With one of the glasses from my cabinet 🙂cookies3 cookies6 cookies4

Notes:

  • I had the worst time with this recipe. I couldn’t get the dough to hold together; it was too soft to roll out even after throwing it in the freezer for five minutes to help it set up. There was some very unladylike cursing and general railing about the folks at Southern Living and whether or not they even bother to try their own recipes before endorsing them. I finally ended up adding extra flour, and everything was peachy, though I sill planned a scathing review… then I realized that I made a teeny tiny error when putting these cookies together. And by teeny tiny, I mean I accidentally doubled the amount of butter called for. So yeah, it was all on me, and I am really glad I didn’t write anything unkind before I figured out my mistake.
  • The only real criticism I have for the final product is that it is really sweet. The cookies are pretty sweet on their own, and adding the icing just takes it a little too far for me. After rolling it around in my mind a bit, I think I’ll probably trade the the icing for a dark chocolate drizzle or dipping the cookies in dark chocolate next time I make them.