Month: September 2012

Door County Cherry Cookies


Have any of you ever been to Door County Wisconsin? Anyone? Well if you think of the state of Wisconsin as looking like a hand, Door County is the “thumb.” It’s a wonderful vacation spot – relaxing, slow-paced, full of cherries and all-things Scandinavia. My family has been visiting Door County for the past 30+ years and it’s one of my favorite places in the world.

As is the case with most tourist destinations, Door County has a “theme.” Cherries are e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Cherry pie. Cherry pancakes. Cherry margaritas. Cherry cookies. Cherry danish. Chocolate-covered cherries. Gummy cherries. You get the point.

I wanted to make a batch of Door County-inspired cookies. I LOVED these cookies though next time I’d love to try them with real dried cherries instead of cherry chips.

Door County Cherry Cookies
Recipe source: Taste of Home
Print Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-2/3 cups white chocolate chunks/chips
1-1/2 cups dried Door County cherries [I used cherry chips because I didn’t have any dried cherries, sadly!]
1 cup cashews or macadamia nuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven 350F.
2. Combine butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla; beat thoroughly. Add flour and baking soda gradually to butter mixture.
3. Stir in chocolate, cherries, and nuts.
4. Drop onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake until golden – about 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

I Want Candy: Butterfinger Cupcakes

Can anyone look at a Butterfinger bar and NOT think of Bart Simpson?! More on that in a minute. I LOVE Butterfingers – even though the crunchy filling gets stuck in my teeth. The crunchy filling is a little mysterious. What is it, really? It’s not quite peanut brittle. It’s not quite caramel. Huh. Also, something to note, the bar is not coated in chocolate. It’s coated in something called compound chocolate, which is a less-expensive alternative to real chocolate. Despite the nebulous filling and the fake chocolate, I still love to snack on a Butterfinger bar once in a while!

  • Butterfingers are produced by Nestle but were invented by the Curtiss Candy Company in 1923.
  • The Curtiss Candy Company held a public contest to choose the name of the candy bar. Butterfinger won.
  • Bart Simpson (and other characters from the Simpsons) appeared in advertisements for Butterfinger from 1990-2001. I can still remember Bart yelling, “Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger!”
  • Butterfinger terminated their advertising contract with the Simpsons in 2001. The producers of the Simpsons expressed their disappointment by making fun of the candy bar in an episode called “Sweets and Sour Marge.” [all trivia taken from Wikipedia]

Butterfinger Cupcakes
Recipe source: Food Network Magazine Jan/Feb 2010
Print Recipe

For the cupcakes:
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3-1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the brittle:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butterscotch chips

For the frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
2 10 oz. bags peanut butter chips

1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F and line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Put the butter, cocoa powder, and 3/4 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave until the butter melts (about 2 minutes). Whisk to combine, then whisk in the brown sugar.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the warm cocoa mixture. In another bowl, beat the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla; stir into the batter until just combined but don’t overmix.
3. Divide the batter among the prepared cups, filling each 3/4 of the way. Bake until the cupcakes are slightly domed and spring back when lightly pressed – about 25-30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Make the brittle: line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and cook, swirling the pan but not stirring, until it turns amber. Remove from the heat; stir in the peanut butter and butterscotch chips until smooth. Immediately pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, smooth into a thin layer, and let cool. Break the brittle into pieces, place in a resealable bag, and crush with a rolling pin.
5. Make the frosting: bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the peanut butter chips and let stand about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Place the pan over a bowl of ice, stirring occasionally, until the frosting is spreadable (about 10 minutes). Spread on the cupcakes or transfer to a pastry bag with a large round tip and pipe on top; sprinkle with the peanut brittle.

Makes about 24 cupcakes.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

You guys. This cookie cake was to…die….for. It was reminiscent of a cookie cake from the Great American Cookie Company – but without the preservative aftertaste! Whenever I see a cookie cake I always think of the episode of Sex and the City where Miranda’s near-perfect [but not perfect for her] boyfriend gives her a gigantic chocolate chip cookie that says “I Love You.” She couldn’t say the words back to him and ate the entire cookie just to make the problem disappear.

I didn’t know what I write on this cookie cake or how to decorate it, so I resorted to a line from my favorite TV show, Parks and Recreation. Treat yo self! The show is back for its 5th season starting tonight, so be sure to watch. I can’t wait for Ron Swanson to return to my life.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
Recipe source: dineanddish.net
Print Recipe

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour, plus 4 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Beat butter and sugars together.
2. Add eggs and vanilla.
3. Mix flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
4. Add dry ingredients to the batter and mix until well blended.
5. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Spread dough into a 15 1/2 inch round pan.
7. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

*I decorated the cake with store-bought frosting. You could always make homemade buttercream if you’d rather use that.

I Want Candy: Almond Joy Cupcakes

I don’t like coconut [as I have mentioned 3,409 times on this blog so far – ha!]. So let’s jump right into learning a bit about the Almond Joy!

  • Almond Joy is produced by Hershey and its sister product is the Mounds bar (dark chocolate, no almond).
  • The Almond Joy bar was introduced by Peter Paul in 1946.
  • The “Sometimes you feel like a nut / sometimes you don’t / Almond Joy’s got nuts / Mounds don’t” jingle has been around since 1970.
  • Although Peter Paul as a company no longer exists, the name is still featured on the Almond Joy wrapper.
  • Almond Joy bars have been referenced in TV and movies. On Weeds, the Almond Joy was the favorite candy bar of Nancy’s late husband, Judah. Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson inquires of there are any other candies available at Ann’s party besides Almond Joy, as he is allergic to almonds. Lisa Simpson bought an Almond Joy bar at the Kwik-e-Mart before a playdate.
  • In the 2000s, Hershey began introducing new and limited-editions of the bar: pina colada, double chocolate, white chocolate key lime, milk chocolate passion fruit, and toasted coconut have all been featured Almond Joy flavors. [all trivia taken from Wikipedia]

Almond Joy Cupcakes
Recipe source: Food Network Magazine Jan/Feb 2010
Print Recipe

For the cupcakes:
2 large eggs plus 4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup cream of coconut (I found this in the Mexican food aisle at the grocery store)
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature

For the topping:
2 cups whole milk
1 14-oz bag of shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

For the glaze & garnish:
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
48 roasted almonds, for garnish (I used sliced almonds instead)

1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 325F and line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk the whole eggs and egg whites in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream of coconut and the coconut and vanilla extracts until smooth.
2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Beat in the butter, one piece at a time, with a mixer on low speed until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (about 3-4 minutes). Add half of the egg mixture, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the remaining egg mixture until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.
3. Divide the batter among the prepared cups, filling each about halfway. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean — about 18-22 minutes. Let cool in the pans 10 minutes; transfer to racks and cool completely.
4. Make the topping: Combine the milk, coconut, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the milk is absorbed and the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. (this took longer than 15 minutes for me — and I had to add extra powdered sugar to get the mixture to thicken)
5. Make the glaze: Put the chocolate, corn syrup, butter, and 3 Tablespoons hot water in a microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on 50% powder until the chocolate melts (about 2 minutes). Whisk to combine. Keep warm.
6. Top each cupcake with a heaping Tablespoonful of the coconut mixture, pressing gently until compact. Spoon 1 teaspoon glaze on top and garnish with almonds. Refrigerate until the glaze sets, about 20 minutes.

Makes about 24 cupcakes.

I Want Candy: Reese’s Peanut Butter Mini Cupcakes

I think that the Reese’s peanut butter cup may be my favorite candy of all time. Cause let’s be real, not much is better than the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. A step up is the dark chocolate Reese’s. Yet another step up? The Easter egg peanut butter cup. The eggs somehow taste even better — how is that possible? A changed chocolate-to-peanut butter ratio? In any case, these cupcakes are a tasty replica of the classic Reese’s flavor.

  • ┬áThe Reese’s peanut butter cup was created in 1923 by H. B. Reese, a former dairy farmer and shipping foreman for Milton Hershey.
  • After being inspired by Hershey’s success, H. B. Reese started his own candy company in the basement of his Hershey, PA home — and used Hershey chocolate to make his candies.
  • The H. B. Reese Candy Company was sold to Hershey in 1963.
  • Countless variations of the classic peanut butter cup are produced: miniatures, dark chocolate, white chocolate, big cups, unwrapped miniatures, caramel, marshmallow, peanut butter eggs, peanut butter hearts, peanut butter pumpkins.. the list goes on.
  • Hershey licenses the Reese’s name to other companies for the production of other products: General Mills’ Reese’s Puffs and ice creams by Breyer’s, Baskin Robbins, and Dairy Queen. [all trivia from Wikipedia]

Reese’s Peanut Butter Mini Cupcakes
Recipe source: Food Network Magazine Jan/Feb 2010
Print Recipe

For the cupcakes:
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1-1/3 cups packed dark brown sugar
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 10 oz. bag peanut butter chips
(you may also need a bit of powdered sugar, more on that in the instructions below)

For the glaze:
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
6 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped

1. Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F and line a 24-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners. Combine the butter, cocoa powder, and 1/4 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and microwave until the butter melts (about 2 minutes). Whisk to combine, then whisk in the brown sugar.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the warm cocoa mixture. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla; stir into the batter until just combined but don’t overmix.
3. Divide the batter among the prepared cups, filling each 3/4 of the way. Bake until the cupcakes spring back when touched (about 15-20 minutes). Let cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
4. Make the topping: bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan, then pour over the peanut butter chips in a bowl and let stand until the chips melt (about 5 minutes). Whisk until smooth. If the mixture is too thin, add some powdered sugar to thicken. Refrigerate until the topping is set, about 10 minutes, then beat with a mixer until fluffy. Transfer to a pastry bag with a 1-inch round tip and pipe topping onto each cupcake. Place in the freezer while you make the glaze [I skipped this step and they worked out fine].
5. Make the glaze: put the butter, chocolate, and 3 Tablespoons hot water in a small, deep microwave-safe bowl, cover and microwave on 50% power until the chocolate melts, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Dip the peaks of each cupcake into the glaze, letting the excess drip off. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.

Makes about 24 mini cupcakes.