Month: January 2015

Buckeye Brownies

DSC_3885x900One of the universe’s greatest flavor combinations is chocolate + peanut butter. If you are not a fan, GTFO of my life. That is how strongly I feel about chocolate + peanut butter. So naturally, I’m a big fan of buckeyes (which I featured on my blog a few years ago). I spotted this recipe for buckeye brownies and tried them over my winter break — when I would be near my mom, who is the ultimate brownie fan and taste-tester. We all enjoyed them!

A word to the wise though — these brownies are RICH, so cut them up into small squares.

Buckeye Brownies
Recipe source: Brown Eyed Baker
Print Recipe

For the brownies:
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons instant espresso (optional; I left this out because I didn’t have it)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons (2 oz.) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt

For the peanut butter filling:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate-peanut butter glaze:
1-1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Make the brownies:
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving about a one-inch overhang on all sides. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk cocoa, espresso powder, and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (Mixture may look curdled, don’t worry)
3. Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated. Add flour and salt and mix with rubber spatula until combined.
4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and cool 1-1/2 hours.

Make the peanut butter filling:
1. Beat together the peanut butter, butter and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and alternate adding the powdered sugar and the milk, mixing to combine after each addition.
2. Add the vanilla extract, beat to combine, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until completely smooth and creamy. If it seems a little bit too dry to spread, add another splash or two of milk to get it the right consistency.
3. Using an offset spatula, spread the peanut butter mixture in an even layer over the top of the brownies.

Make the chocolate-peanut butter glaze:
1. Melt together the chocolate chips and peanut butter in the microwave on 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely smooth and melted.
2. Pour the mixture over the peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer with a spatula. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until set.
3. Using foil overhang, carefully lift brownies from pan. Cut into squares and serve. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

How-To: Swirled Frosting

Have you ever wondered how to make swirled frosting? You know, when the frosting on top of a cupcake is two or more colors swirled together — like chocolate and vanilla. Side note: we all know that swirled soft-serve is the bessssst; and all of us who are Orange is the New Black fans just thought of “chocolate and vanilla swirl, swi-irrrrl!”

Anyway. The swirled look is so pretty but sometimes the instructions on how to do it are… confusing. So I’m providing you with pictures! The general process is as follows:
1. Make two (or more) different kinds/colors of icing. Buttercream works well.
2. Fit a disposable pastry bag with a large tip (round, star, etc.).
3. Fill half the bag with one kind of icing, and half the bag with the other. See the photos below. If you are using three different colors, fill a third of the bag with each kind. I would say that four colors would be as far as you could take this — and still have the swirling turn out OK.
4. Pipe the icing onto your cupcakes as you normally would. The colors will swirl together!

DSC_2761x900An empty pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

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As you can see, the vanilla icing is on one half, the chocolate on the other. Just spoon it in there — don’t worry about it being perfect! The icing will swirl together beautifully. Something to note though: the colors won’t swirl together immediately. You will probably end up with one or two cupcakes that are mostly white icing (or chocolate) until the swirling starts to happen. That’s it! Easy, huh? Here are some examples of what I’ve made using this technique.

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I used three colors for these: pink, yellow, and blue. It looks like orange and green are also used, but it’s just an illusion.

Lollipop Cupcakes

DSC_2420x900This is kind of a weird post because there’s no real or interesting recipe to present. It’s just a decorating idea. I found these rainbow lollipops waaaaaay in the back of my cupboard. I don’t even remember buying them (a true sign that I have too many baking goodies, right?). But HELLO, they are rainbow so I love them and wanted to use them for something.

These cupcakes would work for a birthday party — or just for fun! As is often the case, I was short on time and went the semi-homemade route, using a box cake mix but homemade buttercream. Enjoy!

Lollipop Cupcakes
Print Recipe

1 box white or yellow cake mix, plus required oil + eggs
1 batch of buttercream icing (I like the White Buttercream recipe found here)
A disposable pastry bag + a large star pastry tip
Rainbow sprinkles, rainbow lollipops for decoration

1. Make the cupcakes according to box directions and allow them to cool completely.
2. Make the buttercream icing and pipe onto each cupcake. I used a large star pastry tip on my cupcakes, but other tips will work!
3. Decorate with sprinkles + lollipops.

See what a silly post this is? There’s nothing to say! But I hope the decorating gave you some ideas :)

Ron Swanson Cupcakes

DSC_2450x900I am *so* sad that Parks and Rec has begun its LAST season. It’s one of my favorite TV shows. I love every single character (which is rare to experience with a TV show, amiright?!), but I really love Ron Swanson. My ideal man would be a combination of Ron and Ben. Like, 75% Ron, 25% Ben. I can dream, right?

ANYWAY. I decided to make cupcakes, involving bacon, “eggs”, and maple flavoring, in Ron’s honor. Here’s to Pawnee, Leslie’s optimism, Andy’s goofiness, April’s sarcasm, Ben’s nerdiness, Tom’s ridiculousness, Jerry’s awkwardness, Donna’s sass, and Ron’s total badassery.

Ron Swanson Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from: Tattooed Martha
Print Recipe

For the cupcakes:
1 box yellow cake mix, plus required oil + eggs

For the frosting:
1 tub of maple flavored frosting (I found mine at Target)

For the decorations:
6 strips of thick-cut bacon
White candy melts (you’ll find these at your local craft store)
Yellow M&Ms
Cartoon Ron Swansons on a toothpick (see instructions below)

1. Make the cupcakes according to the box directions. Once they are completely cooled, frost with the maple icing.
2. Cook the bacon! Preheat your oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the bacon on the baking sheet and sprinkle with about a Tablespoon of brown sugar (if you don’t have brown sugar on hand, don’t worry, it’s not necessary). Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and flip the bacon, bake another 15 minutes. Allow the bacon to cool completely, then cut the bacon into small pieces to place on top of the cupcakes.
3. Make the “eggs”! Leave the oven heated to 325F from the bacon step. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and place a couple dozen white candy melts onto the parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes — you just want the candy melts to soften enough so you can press a yellow M&M into them. Watch them! Mine took just a couple minutes, but your oven may differ. The candy melts will develop a shiny appearance when they start to melt — that’s when you want to remove them from the oven. Once they’re out of the oven, press a yellow M&M into each candy melt. Allow them to cool completely.
4. Make the Ron Swansons! The cartoon can be found here. Resize the image to 182 x 238 pixels. Print 12 or 24 of these (depending on how many cupcakes you are making) on white cardstock. Cut them out and tape each one onto a toothpick.
5. Assemble the cupcakes! Place a few bacon pieces and an “egg” onto each cupcake. Finish each cupcake off with a Ron Swanson cartoon.

Enjoy!

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Bakery Review: The Crispery

DSC_3505x900Today I’m reviewing The Crispery! I had been hearing good things about the Crispery for months. I sent a gift box of these treats to a friend of mine when she had surgery — and she loved them. So I decided to send myself a gift box this time around!

  • THEY WERE SO GOOD. For real. Super, super marshmallow-y and rich.
  • I tried six different kinds: Caramel & Cream, Cocoa Concoction, Cookies & Cream, Fruity Ringlets, Mini Marshmallow, and a seasonal Hanukkah crispycake. My favorites were the Caramel & Cream and the Cocoa Concoction.
  • They will arrive at your doorstep in a box with blue tissue paper – and each crispycake will be individually wrapped. The presentation impressed me.
  • I ordered mine in the winter, but would be wary of doing so in the summertime. Would they melt? Would they become extra gooey? Who knows.
  • They sell gift boxes! A great idea that makes birthday or holiday shopping easy.
  • My one and only criticism (and it’s a tiny criticism) is that the crispycakes are SO BIG. Definitely something you can share — or pick at over the course of a few days :)

Note: I’m not being paid to promote this business. I just like to try new treats!

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