Month: January 2013

Beer Cheese Football Cupcakes

The Super Bowl is rapidly approaching! Who are you cheering for this year? My beloved Packers didn’t make it into the big game, so I’ll be wearing red and gold to support the 49ers. NFC all the way! (and I can’t stand Ray Lewis, sooooo. . .) What are your Super Bowl traditions? Do you cook anything special or head out to the bars? Tomorrow I’ll have a Super Bowl recipe roundup, so watch out for that. I wish I had the time to throw a party this year, as I’ve done in the past. But law school. . .it’s the killer of all things fun!

These cupcakes are unique. I actually don’t even know if they should be called cupcakes. They’re an equal mixture of savory and sweet. The cake portion is made with beer, cheese, and a lot of brown sugar. My apartment smelled absolutely delicious while I was making them. The frosting is made with cream cheese, powdered sugar, and shredded cheese. The cupcakes are topped with bacon bits. See? I told you there is quite a mix of flavors! Cupcake? Muffin? Savory nugget? Whatever you want to call them, I hope you enjoy and make them on game day.

Beer Cheese Football Cupcakes
Recipe source: [I can’t remember! I ripped the page out of a magazine]
Print Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 cup beer
1/2 cup butter
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups packed dark brown sugar

For the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 cups powdered sugar

For the mini footballs & garnish:
Chocolate covered almonds
Vanilla icing (I used store-bought)
Bacon bits (optional)

1. Line two muffin tins with paper liners. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. In a bowl, combine flour and baking soda. In another bowl, lightly beat eggs; stir in sour cream and vanilla.
3. In a large saucepan heat beer and butter over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Stir in cheddar cheese. Remove from heat; whisk in brown sugar. Stir in egg mixture. Fold in flour mixture (batter will appear lumpy — don’t worry!). Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 full.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in muffin tins for 5 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
5. Make the frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Stir in 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese. Beat in 4 cups powdered sugar until frosting reaches spreading consistency.
6. Decorate: Frost the cupcakes. If desired, top with bacon. Pipe stitch markings onto almonds using vanilla icing to resemble a football. Place a decorated almond on each cupcake.

Makes about 24 cupcakes.

Conversation Heart Marshmallow Cookies

I saw these cookies on We are not Martha last week. I was intrigued for a few reasons – they are adorable, they are Valentine’s-related, they involve marshmallow fluff, and they feature conversation hearts. I am definitely not a conversation heart fan. I’ve always thought that they are more akin to sugar-flavored chalk than to candy. But to each their own. When I was at Target a few weeks ago I spotted ice cream-flavored conversation hearts (made by Brach’s) — a new spin on a classic! The bag includes strawberry, cherry, orange, vanilla, and chocolate-flavored hearts. I thought these hearts would be perfect for this recipe — and that the flavors would blend well with the marshmallow fluff. Even me, the chalky heart hater, thought these cookies were delicious.

Conversation Heart Marshmallow Cookies
Recipe source: Adapted from We are not Martha
Print Recipe

3/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1- 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups crushed conversation hearts

For the marshmallow filling:
1 7-oz jar marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Crush the conversation hearts by using a food processor — or by placing them in a plastic bag and beating them with a hammer or meat mallet. Go with the latter if you’ve got some stress in your life that you’d like to release. It’s very therapeutic.
2. Cream sugar and butter together in a stand mixer (or a bowl with a hand mixer) until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
4. Slowly pour the flour mixture into the wet mixture, mixing on low all the time. Stop mixer when dough is just combined — you don’t want to over-mix.
5. Pour your crushed cookies into the batter and stir to combine.
6. Place balls of dough (about 1 Tablespoon) on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
7. While the cookies are cooling, make the marshmallow filling. Place the marshmallow fluff, shortening, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix together until light and fluffy.
8. Place the filling in a pastry bag or ziploc bag (snip a corner off to create a pastry bag). Pipe a blob (very technical term) of marshmallow filling onto the bottom of one cookie and create a sandwich using another.

Makes about 1 dozen sandwiches.

White Chocolate and Cherry Shortbread Cookies

When I was home for winter break, I ate the most delicious cookies of all time. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But they were delicious. The delicious cookies came from a local restaurant/gift shop in Oshkosh called Caramel Crisp. Cherry shortbread — soft and covered in white chocolate and sprinkles. I may be biased, as I love all things cherry, but the cookies really were phenomenal. I immediately went on a Pinterest and Google hunt for a recipe that could maybe, possibly come close to replicating the cookies from Caramel Crisp.

I found one recipe that just didn’t work. The cookies were ugly, un-even, and had no taste. Baking fails are frustrating – all that time, effort, and ingredients that end up in the garbage. Then I found a much better recipe. This one is perfect. Not quite the same as the magical (in my mind) cookies from Caramel Crisp, but they come pretty damn close. One thing to note — be sure you decorate the cookies in some way. Dip them in white chocolate, use sprinkles, do whatever floats your boat — otherwise they will look like slices of salami. Which isn’t really what we’re going for.

White Chocolate and Cherry Shortbread Cookies
Recipe source: Love and Olive Oil
Print Recipe

2/3 cup maraschino cherries, drained
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
12 ounces good quality white chocolate, finely chopped and divided
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 drops red food coloring (optional)
2 teaspoons shortening
Sprinkles for decorating (optional)

1. Pulse cherries briefly in a food processor until finely chopped (if you don’t have a food processor, use a knife – no big deal). You should have 1/2 cup of chopped cherries; spread on a double layer of paper towels to remove any excess liquid. (This step is important — try to remove as much moisture as you can from the cherries.)
2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and sugar. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add drained cherries and 4 ounces of the chopped chocolate. Pulse briefly to combine. Finally, add almond extract and, if desired, food coloring. Knead mixture until it comes together in a smooth ball.
3. Divide dough in half, and roll each half into a cylinder approximately 1 1/2-inches in diameter by 10-inches long. Roll up in parchment paper or plastic wrap, twisting ends to seal. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until firm.
4. Preheat oven to 325F. Using a sharp knife, slice chilled dough into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Arrange on a non-stick or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set and bottoms are lightly golden. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. In a small saucepan or a microwave safe bowl, combine remaining 8 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat or microwave on low power, stirring often, until melted. Dip the cookies into the white chocolate to coat half, then dip into sprinkles of your choosing. Place cookies on waxed paper until set.

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Easy Cheese Coffee Cake

One of my all-time favorite foods comes from a bakery in Appleton, Wisconsin called Vande Walle’s. They make the most perfect and out-of-this-world delicious cheese coffee cake. I usually only eat it at holidays — and I eat it without abandon. My brain cannot say “stop eating! calorie overload!” when it comes to a Vande Walle’s cheese coffee cake. One day while browsing Pinterest, I found a recipe for a cheese coffee cake. The recipe promised to be easy and full of cheese filling. Sold! The end result wasn’t a replica of the Vande Walle’s version, but the flavors were similar and it’s a great substitute for me to make when I’m in Milwaukee and far away from Appleton. Or when I’m aiming to consume 4,397 calories in one sitting.

Easy Cheese Coffee Cake
Recipe source: The Adventures of Kitchen Girl
Print Recipe

2 cans ready to use refrigerated crescent rolls
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg white

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees and grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. Lay a pack of crescent rolls in the pan and pinch the openings together.
3. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg together until smooth. Spread the mixture over the crescent rolls evenly and then lay the second pack of crescent rolls on top of the cheese mixture and brush with egg white.
4. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Top with glaze after cooling for 20 minutes.

The amount of filling that the recipe will produce is enormous. If you prefer a less-heavily filled coffee cake, cut the filling ingredients in half and cut the baking time down to 30-35 minutes. Also, I used far more powdered sugar for the glaze than the recipe called for — simply because I preferred a thicker icing that I could pipe. Do what you like!

Five Chip Cookies

I love simple cookies. There is nothing better than a good chocolate chip cookie, especially if it’s warm and right out of the oven. I saw this recipe and noticed that it called for five different kinds of chips, peanut butter, AND oats. I thought it might be too much — especially the oats part, as I’ve never been a huge fan of oatmeal cookies. But these cookies were amazing. Such a rich combination of flavors — with a touch of salt. The oats added more texture than taste and the peanut butter wasn’t overpowering. A lot of fancy talk about cookies, right? But trust me. Make these. They are SO SIMPLE and have been added to my all-time favorites list.

Five Chip Cookies
Recipe source: Taste of Home
Print Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup each milk chocolate chips, semisweet chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
3. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in chips.
4. Drop by rounded Tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool a few minutes, then remove to wire racks.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.