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I like making cupcakes, and I am always looking for an excuse. One of the things I’ve been doing consistently for the last few years is sending cupcakes to work with Andy for Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it, even if you’re in a relationship, the holiday can be a bit intense, and what better way to brighten someone’s day than with a cupcake? I gotta make sure my diligent taste-testers are taken care of, right? In the past, I’ve done some more traditional flavors – chocolate, chocolate-covered strawberry, strawberry, white chocolate, etc. – so this year I wanted to do something a little less expected. I liked the idea of going a little darker and more mature with the flavor profile, but I still wanted a little holiday “cheese” so I decided to pair black cherries and Disaronno. So good! Plus the cherries really did bake up almost black, which made things interesting from an aesthetic stand point.
- 1 Box Betty Crocker White Cake Mix
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 veggie oil
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup cherry puree
- 4 tbsp Disaronno
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe here)
- 4 tbsp cherry puree
- 4 tbsp Disaronno
- Pre-heat oven to 350F
- Combine cake mix, egg whites, oil and water and mix thoroughly. Mix in Disaronno.
- Put two cups of mix into a separate bowl and mix in cherry puree.
- Fill cupcake wrapper 1/2 full of regular mix, top off to 2/3 full with cherry mixture. Swirl together with toothpick or skewer to create a marbled effect.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- While cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting.
- Add cherry puree and Disaronno to completed frosting and combine thoroughly.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and enjoy!.
A few months ago, I tackled the Maniac Fire Bread from Sweet & Vicious. It was pretty great, and one of my taste-testers was so in love that she HAD to have the recipe. Unfortunately, after reading the directions, she decided that the whole process was more than she cared to tackle with her limited baking skills. So I had a thought: what if I came up with something that combined the same flavors, but was much less complicated to complete? Say, something utilizing that most amazing of baking cheats, the box mix? Challenge accepted!
- 1 box of Betty Crocker Supreme Triple Chunk Brownies
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1/2 cup veggie oil
- 2 eggs
- 1-1 1/2 tsp minced serrano chile
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray brownie pan with non-stick spray.
- Combine mix, cinnamon, milk, oil and eggs in a bowl and mix thoroughly
- Mince the serrano and then fold into batter and pour into prepared tin.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
- Obviously, this isn’t quite the same thing, you know, being brownies instead of a quick bread, but the flavor is there and you still have the dense texture that is dotted with chocolate chunks. Plus, it’s easier to cut and consume.
- I know a lot of bakers gasp at the idea of using mixes instead of baking from scratch, but let’s be honest – life is busy, and you don’t always have time to make everything from scratch. Besides if most people were given the choice between box mix brownies or no brownies, I’m pretty confident in asserting that they’ll happily take/settle for the box mix bakes. Sometimes it’s just better to work smart instead of hard.
The other day I found myself packing up fresh berries to take to a friend’s house for game night. As I looked at the containers of fruit, I kept thinking “this needs something.” Which queued memories of the many, many, southern church pot lucks I went to growing up. I remembered this delicious, tangy dip that my mom frequently had to remind me to share or to leave some for other people, but I couldn’t remember how to make it. Fortunately, we live in a world of Pinterest, and while I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I did find something close, and with a tweak here and a reconfiguration there, I think I’ve gotten it exactly right. It seemed to be a hit with everyone who tried it, and the cats attacked the almost empty bowl when I gave it and the mixing spoon to Andy to “finish off.” I am thinking it would also be pretty wonderful layered into a tart shell with some of that fresh fruit layered on top…..a recipe for a later day.
- 8oz of cream cheese (I used the 1/3 fat from Philadelphia)
- 3/4 cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp Almond Extract
- In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and vanilla yogurt until uniform in texture.
- Next, beat in powdered sugar and almond extract until completely incorporated.
- Chill covered until ready to serve.
Super simple, but now I know the secret and you guys do too. People seemed to really like this with strawberries, but I think it also works well with tarter fruits like granny smith apples. I’d be interested to try to veganize the recipe, since I’ve had both vegan yogurt and cream cheese and I think the flavors/consistency are close enough to work. With so many friends with different dietary restrictions, it’s nice to have something you can put together quickly and reliably.
I felt like doing a bit of baking the other day, but I wasn’t really feeling cakes, cupcakes, or really any of the things I usually make, so I decided to go back to something I play around with a bit last year, donuts. After a bit of Pinterest research I can up with a simple recipe for Vanilla Glazed Baked Donuts. Which seemed pretty straight up and perfect to me.
For the Donuts
- For the Donuts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup+1 1/2 tablespoon skim milk (full fat milk works too)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste instead since I wanted a stronger punch of vanilla)
For the Glaze:
- 1/2 cup) powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 small pinch salt
- 1 or 2 tablespoons milk
- Optional: food coloring and sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg, milk, butter and vanilla extract.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together until no flour bits remain and all the ingredients are well combined. Try not to over-mix the batter.
Use a large ziplock bag, cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cavity, filling 3 ∕ 4 of the way full.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
While the donuts cool, make the glaze.
In a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
Add 1 tablespoon of milk, and whisk to combine. If the glaze is too thick, add additional milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
Add food coloring if you wish.
Once the donuts are completely cool, dip them into the vanilla glaze. Return to the wire rack and sprinkle with sprinkles. Allow the glaze to set for about 30 minutes before stacking or serving.
- These donuts were just solidly okay, well, I think they are only okay, Andy ate three and declared he’d eat the rest before letting me throw them away. I had the same issue with them as I had with the other donut recipes, they aren’t anywhere as good as what I can buy somewhere else. It’s a little disheartening. Is there some donut magic rule that I am missing?
- As you can see in the “ingredients”, I substituted vanilla paste for the extract called for. I think the paste has a stronger richer flavor, and I think it added a bit more depth to the overall donut. I will probably use it in my glaze as well next time.
- Be very careful not to over mix. I forgot the butter and had to add it in after the mix had come together and just those few extra stirs made for a noticeably more toothsome product.
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.
- 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.