Month: December 2013

Brown Butter Baked Donuts

Looking for something fast, easy, and delicious to make on Christmas morning? Try these brown butter baked donuts! They’re not fried (I still have an irrational fear of making real donuts — hot, bubbling oil makes me nervous), but they are still delicious. If you have kids, they can help you decorate the donuts with sprinkles!

This will be my last post until after the holidays. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and are enjoying this magical time of the year.

Brown Butter Baked Donuts
Recipe source: Joy the Baker
Print Recipe

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter (but we’ll only use 2 tablespoons of browned butter for the recipe)
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 to 4 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a donut pan and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and sugar. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Butter will begin to crackle and pop as it melts. Once the water has evaporated the butter will quiet down and begin to brown. Keep an eye on it, it browns quickly. The butter will begin to smell nutty. Remove from heat and immediately transfer browned butter (brown bits and all) to a small bowl.
4. In a small bowl whisk together egg, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Measure out 2 tablespoons of browned butter and whisk into the wet ingredients.
5. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir together until no flour bits remain and all of the ingredients are well combined. Try not to overmix the batter.
6. Use a small spoon to dollop batter into the prepared pan. Smooth out and fill each doughnut in the pan three-quarters full with batter.
7. Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them and try not to over-bake them. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
8. While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze. In a medium bowl whisk together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
9. Add the vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons milk. Whisk to combine. Add more milk as necessary to create a thick but still just pourable glaze.
10. Once the doughnuts are completely cool, dip top-side-down into the chocolate glaze. Return to the wire rack and sprinkle with toppings. Allow to set for about 30 minutes before stacking or serving.

Makes six donuts.


My Favorite Cookbooks!

Christmas is just about a week away! Are you still looking for a gift for the cooking or baking lover in your life? If so, I hope this post can help. I have a TON of books relating to food, baking, cooking, and party-throwing. A ton. I have one of those oh-so-popular IKEA bookshelves (the Expedit – with all the cubes!) that is nearly full of just books. I’ve picked some of my favorites to feature in today’s post. I’m not being paid to promote these books – they are just my favorites and what I would recommend to people. So make a list and head to your local bookstore!

DSC_7681x9001. Martha’s American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation’s Most Treasured Dishes, from Coast to Coast. I love America. I love traveling. I love food. And I’m a big fan of Martha’s brand because of its consistent quality.
2. Apple Betty and Sloppy Joe: Stirring Up the Past with Family Recipes and Stories. This is a book written by four sisters from Oshkosh, WI — my hometown! The recipe collection in this book makes me miss my grandmother’s no-nonsense way of cooking — and how the simple dishes are always the best.
3. United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State. I love the concept of this book. Travel the United States through cake. What’s not to like?


1. Hello, Cupcake!
2. What’s New, Cupcake?
3. Cupcakes, Cookies & Pie, oh my!
For those of you who love to decorate cupcakes, these books are phenomenal. The best part? The ideas are not overly complicated and they’re do-able! I know what it’s like to look at a picture of an intricately decorated cookie or cupcake and say, “Ha! Yeah, right. Not gonna happen.” But that’s not true with these books. The authors walk you through each design step by step. And all of the ingredients and embellishments are things you can buy at your grocery store or Target.


1. The Homesick Texan Cookbook. After reading this book, it is now one of my dreams to visit Texas and eat my way through the entire state. Mmmm.
2. Williams-Sonoma: Comfort Food. Umm, duh. Who doesn’t love comfort food?
3. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Smitten Kitchen was one of the very first food blogs I started to read. I remember bookmarking and printing out so many of Deb’s recipes. I love her writing style and she writes consistently great recipes.


1. Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. I’ve always said that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love chewy, gooey cookies and those who love crispy crunchy cookies. This book is perfect for everyone.
2. The Art of the Cookie. Oh, this book is beautiful. The photos are stunning and I was so inspired to try each and every idea presented. Sometimes I wish I could take the entire month of December off from work or school or any other responsibility and just make Christmas cookies.
3. Decorating Cookies: 60+ Designs for Holidays, Celebrations, and Everyday. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Bridget’s Bake at 350 blog. That woman is a cookie decorating pro. Her designs and execution are just amazing. This book is great because she walks you through each and every step of decorating cookies with royal icing — and she does it in a way that is not at all intimidating or pretentious. Love love love.


1. The Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook. This book is just plain fun. I wish I could time travel back to the sixties — and put on my best Joan-from-Mad-Men outfit and throw a killer holiday party. But who needs time travel? This book tells you how to throw a killer sixties party – in 2013!
2. Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It. The profession I sometimes like to fantasize about is being a party planner. For real, I would love it. Give me a theme and a generous budget, and magic could happen. If you are planning a party, this is a must-have book full of ideas and beautiful photographs.
3. Classic Snacks Made from Scratch. Want to make goldfish crackers from scratch? How about Twinkies? Then this it the book for you. I love the idea behind this book – taking all of the treats that we loved as kids and giving us a way to make them from scratch.


1. Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.
2. Martha Stewart’s Cookies.
3. Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts.
4. Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.
5. Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food: Real Food Fast.
Alright, this is a Martha Stewart love-fest. Her books and recipes are consistently great – that’s all there is to it. I’ve never had a Martha Stewart recipe fail me (and I can’t say the same about some other cookbook authors!). Her photography team is also amazing – they produce such simple and beautiful images of each recipe.
PS: There’s also a Martha Stewart’s Cakes book out – but I forgot to include it in this photo.

Christmas Ideas 2013

Still need a few ideas for your holiday cookie exchange or Christmas festivities? Here’s my list for 2013!

1. Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
2. Italian Rainbow Cake
3. Sugar Cookie Squares
4. Mint Chocolate Kiss Cookies
5. Stained Glass Sugar Cookies
6. Pretzel Rolo Turtles
7. Star Cookie Christmas Tree
8. Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
9. Gingerbread Men
10. Sparkling Peppermint Cookies
11. Grasshopper Cookies
12. Hot Chocolate Bundt Cake
13. Pistachio Cherry Bundt Cake
14. Homemade Peppermint Oreos
15. Snoopy Christmas Cookies
16. Reindeer Cupcakes
17. Shirley Temple Cupcakes
18. Santa Hat Cupcakes
19. Ho-Ho Cake
20. Candy Cane Blossoms

12 Days of Christmas: Snoopy Christmas Cookies

These cookies just make my heart happy. Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang? Rather than a step-by-step tutorial, here are some bullet points explaining how I made these:

  • These cookies were inspired by Pink Apron Baker
  • The gigantic (these cookies are about 6″ tall) cookie cutter was purchased on Amazon
  • My cookies turned out lumpy, as you can see. Yikes. I’m still trying to figure out how to make perfectly smooth cut-out cookies. Any suggestions for me?? Help!
  • The “lights” are jumbo rainbow nonpareils from Wilton; it was the most tedious part of making these — as I put each little sprinkle on with a tweezers!
  • I used my grandmother’s cookie recipe for these
  • If you are new to decorating with royal icing, please see this post at Annie’s Eats
  • I outlined the dog house in black first, then I outlined Snoopy in white. After those outlines dried, I flooded each cookie with red icing — and flooded Snoopy with white icing. When the flooded icing dried, I drew the details with black icing — the lines on the house and strings of lights — as well as Snoopy’s ears, nose, eyes, etc.

Let me know if you have any questions — and I hope you’ve enjoyed the 12 days of updates on my blog!

12 Days of Christmas: Shirley Temple Cupcakes

My love of all things cherry continues! Shirley Temples are THE drink to make little kids feel like grown ups. Nothing like a little 7up, ginger ale, and grenadine to make you feel like the coolest kid on earth. I used to ask for extra cherries in mine. And by “extra”, I mean ten.

My apologies that this post isn’t wordier (though I’m a less-is-more type when it comes to writing). I’m in the middle of final exams and… well… yeah. So onward with the recipe!

Shirley Temple Cupcakes
Recipe source: The Curvy Carrot
Print Recipe

1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup Cherry 7-Up, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
Red food coloring

For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch salt
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon maraschino cherry juice

For garnish:
12 maraschino cherries with stems

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a cupcake pan with your desired paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 and 1/2 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar together and beat, on medium-high speed, until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and alternate adding half of the flour mixture and half of the Cherry 7-Up, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Repeat until the flour and Cherry 7-Up are completely added to the batter.
6. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, mixing well.
7. Place about 3/4 cup of the cupcake batter in a separate small bowl and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour, maraschino cherry juice, and red food coloring (to your desired tint).
8. Evenly distribute the red cupcake batter among your prepared liners, about 1-2 teaspoons per cupcake, gently smoothing out the batter to make sure it is flat.
9. Once the red batter is in place, evenly distribute the remaining cupcake batter among the cupcake liners, making sure not to mix the two batters.
10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
1. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pinch of salt, powdered (confectioners’) sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, lemon juice, and maraschino cherry juice, adding more powdered sugar as necessary for your desired piping consistency.
3. Pipe as desired onto your cooled cupcakes and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Makes 12 cupcakes.