Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ultimate Brownies

Today is Sunday. It's gloomy, rainy, and cold. A PERFECT time to bake!

A few posts back, I told you the story of the 10,000 Chips Ahoy cookies I have in my possession. Thankfully, I'm down to about 4,000 cookies now, but for a cookie addict like myself, that's still 4,000 too many! Since they're individual wrapped, they won't go stale anytime soon, but I would like to use them up before I lose all self control.

Today, I was hankering for a good brownie. A brownie that has all the bells and whistles - moist, chewy, chocolaty, sweet, salty and peanutty. I started sifting through my cookbooks as well as the internet, but I didn't find one that said, "I'm it Baby. Make me yours!"

So I took matters into my own hands and created what I think are Ultimate Brownies.

Oh yes ladies and gentleman, these are ultimate. It has everything Mama is craving today. Throw on some Barry White, dim the lights, and close the blinds.

It's brownie time.


½ cup butter, melted
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
¾ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup dulce de leche sauce
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup mini white chocolate chips
12 chocolate chip cookies – I used Chips Ahoy

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with foil cupcake wrappers. Place a chocolate chip cookie in the bottom of each; set aside.

Combine flour, salt, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and coffee granules into a bowl and mix well. Add eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix well. Add peanut butter and dulce de leche into flour mixture and mix well. Add white chocolate chips. 

Divide mix into 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not over bake.

Yield: 12 brownie cups.

Happy Baking!

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rainbow Cupcakes

Believe it or not, some of my favorite quotes come from buxom country gal, Dolly Parton. She once said, "If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain".

To take her quote literally, I'm done with the rain. And the cold. Give me the rainbow for crying out loud. What's going on with you Mother Nature? It's the middle of May! We should be basking in the sun, getting out patio furniture out from its long slumber in the shed, the flowers should be showing off their blossoms, and I should be able to crank the windows open, listening to the birds. Instead, I'm wearing wooly socks, long sleeves and drinking ridiculous amounts of tea, trying to ward off the chill - not to mention getting serious cabin fever.

Since she couldn't be found for a comment, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own damn rainbows.

Rainbow cupcakes that is. These are very cute, super colorful, and a nice way to take my mind off the weather for a bit. Consider these little lovelies your sunshine, rainbow, and pot of gold all in one.

If you're waiting for Ms. Nature to send any of those gifts to you, you could be waiting a long time. 

I also think she may have stolen my garden gnome. 


You can certainly use a box cake mix for these as well. If you do, be sure to use a white cake mix. If you cannot find a white cake mix, no worries, you can still use golden or yellow cake mix, just be sure to use ONLY the whites of the eggs. The yolks will make it yellow and it will be difficult to get true colors.

½ cup butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
3 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cup flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup buttermilk (You can substitute sour cream here as well)

Preheat oven 350ºF.

In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add egg whites, beating well. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Using mixer, add flour mixture and milk, alternating between the two - beginning and ending with the flour.

Using a ladel, spoon exact amounts of batter into 6 cups.

Once that step is done, use food coloring to make desired shades. The bolder and deeper the color, the better.

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with foil cupcake liners. (Mine are paper lined foil wrappers). Starting with purple (or blue if you choose to omit purple) carefully layer colors on top of each other, finishing with red. If you're a bit heavy handed, you can transfer colored batter into squeeze bottles. It will yield almost perfect layers.  

Bake cupcakes for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and it comes out clean. Don't worry if the colors bubble to the top. You can cover up any imperfections with frosting.

Allow to completely cool and frost cupcakes with desired frosting. I used a chocolate buttercream frosting.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING  - This recipe makes quite a lot of frosting, but you can freeze what you don't use.

½ cup shortening
½ cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
¾ cups cocoa, sifted
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons light corn syrup

Cream shortening, butter, and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar and cocoa on medium speed, scraping down bowl often. Add milk and corn syrup until light and fluffy.
Yield: 12 cupcakes.

Happy Baking!

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Flower Cake Pops

Sunday is Mother's Day.

In honor of a few special Mama's I know, I made cake pops. If you've never heard of them before, you will now. These ingenious little treats are the brainchild of Bakerella. The flower idea I got from Bridget over at Bake at 350.

I've seen these cake pops making their way around the internet for a few years now; I've also noticed them recently popping up in a popular coffee house chain. Heck, I've even picked up Bakerella's how-to book a few times when I visited the book store, but they kept missing my 'need-to-make-these-like-yesterday' radar until I was looking for fun treat my daughter and I could make together. 

Well slap me silly for waiting so long and call me Crazy. I am in love. These pops have two of the three most important factors to earn the BB's stamp of approval: easy and delicious. I guess you could also classify them as authentic. The third most important factor. 

Be sure to treat your Mama real good this Mother's Day. Buy her something that she has had her eye on for awhile or something she wouldn't buy for herself and take her out for a delicious meal. Be sure to wear clean underwear, tuck in your shirt, and comb your hair.

She'll be so proud you've listened.

Happy Mother's Day to all you Yummy Mummies out there. You are beautiful. You are one of a kind. You are loved.

Recipe adapted from Bakerella

1 box of cake mix
1 tub frosting (or you can use your own) in the SAME flavor as cake mix
Assorted colors of candy melting wafers. We used orange, purple, and pink.
Lollipop sticks

Bake cake according to box. Once cooled, score cake into a few pieces.

Pulverize it until it looks like small pebbles.

Add about ¾ of the frosting from the tub and mix well. I made my own frosting and used ¾ cup.

Mix well and form balls.

Freeze balls for 15 minutes ONLY! This is important that they are not cold when dipping into the candy coating! If they are too cold, they WILL crack upon cooling!

Getting ahead of myself, but once they dried, this was the result from cold cake balls and warm candy coating.

Melt wafers in a heat-safe container deep enough to coat entire ball in one shot.

* I apologize, but my camera went a bit wonky at this point for some reason, so the many of the photos came out VERY blurry. However, the show must go on....

Dip lollipop stick into candy about an inch before inserting into the cake ball. This will help secure the stick and ball a bit more. Dip in candy and pull straight, allowing excess coating to drip off. Do not swirl around in coating or you will loosen the ball from the stick! Add sprinkles at this time if desired.

Place coated balls into a piece of styrofoam and allow to cool. Once cooled, you can wrap individually in cellophane or leave as is. They do not need to be refrigerated after they have been dipped.

Yield: About 40-50 cake pops

Happy Baking!

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Bliss

I have been anticipating the Royal Wedding for weeks. In fact, I've been so excited for this day to arrive, one would think it was my wedding!

I remember watching the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles, but only vaguely. I remember my Mom being excited and commenting on Diana’s gown. My sister and I couldn’t understand the intrigue and why my Mom was crying. I do now. Those moments are so special, so naturally, I was excited to share the tradition with my little girl.

I was up at 3am. By 3.15am, I was cuddled on the couch with my blanket, pillow, and cup of tea, prepared for an emotional morning.

My husband joined me on the couch at 4am. A few other guests came around at 4.30am for the viewing party. Our daughter sleepily walked down the stairs at 6am. My little prince was sound asleep in his crib and woke just in time for some bacon butties at 8am. It was fabulous. We enjoyed Prince William's Grooms Cake (see below), Royal Wedding cupcakes, tarts, shortbread, and scones with clotted cream and jam. It was like having high tea, but on a Friday...really early in the morning.

It was a beautiful wedding and a beautiful day. I am so proud to be an honorary Brit as well as one of two billion people watching history being made.

I also ate way too much sugar by 6am and feeling the eff...ects n...ow…zzzzzzzzzzzz

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

The Easter Bunny has gone back into hibernation for another year.

While I love to to fill my kids baskets with sweet treats, I tend to go overboard. Finding sugary surprises I know they will love to tear into come Easter morning is fun, but once the dust settles and the craziness passes, I'm left with chocolate oozing out every cupboard, drawer and closet. Of course, with bathing suit season lurking around the corner, it's imperative to get it out of the house as soon as possible. This is when I dig out recipes I keep for such occasions; recipes that don't mind if chocolate isn't in standard chip form and uses up a good chunk of the loot.

Despite the fact I have been baking these particular cookies what seems like forever, I only seem to make them around Christmas and Easter when said chocolate likes to crawl out of its hole and shout, "Here I am!".

Although I would prefer dark or milk chocolate, white chocolate adds the necessary sweetness to give amazing flavour to these cookies. I'm sure you'll agree. 


2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped pecans, optional

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. 

In a separate mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir into butter mixture.

Add in white chocolate and cranberries with a wooden spoon. This is a great time to use up some of that leftover chocolate. Just chop into chunks and throw into batter. (The chunkier, the better!) Add in pecans, if using. 

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. 

Drop by heaping spoonfuls or use a small scoop with a retractable mechanism onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 9-10 minutes. Do NOT over bake. Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Yields: About three dozen. Cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Tres Leches Cake

Once in a while, a dessert that is just too amazing for words will present itself to you.

Tres Leches cake is one of those desserts. I am so not kidding.

My friend, Daniela, who hails from Mexico, introduced me to this gorgeous cake about 4 years ago. She thoughtfully brought me a piece that was leftover from a party she had with her family. True story, I licked the dish clean.

I was so very fortunate to be reunited with this mouthwatering masterpiece a few months later at her daughter's birthday party, but this time, the cake was made by a close friend of hers who happens to be pastry chef...and Mexican, so we are talking authenticity at it's finest. 

I moaned through every single bite. In front of complete strangers. In a building that echoes. Loudly.

Dignity - Nil. Stomach - 1.


½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups all purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk OR coconut milk

1 ½ cups whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; mix in eggs and vanilla.

Combine flour and baking powder; add gradually to butter mixture, stirring to blend.

Pour batter into prepared baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Pierce cake with a fork all over....and I mean all over! I used a skewer and realized I would be there all day!

Combine the 3 milks, and pour on top of cake; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Mix whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in a chilled bowl and whip.

Spread over cake and chill. Sprinkle with cinnamon just before serving. 

Happy Baking!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Southwestern Egg Rolls

I told myself that if I ever started a blog, I would only stick to making sweets and desserts since there are so many baked goods I would love to share and would love to try.
However, there is one savory recipe that cannot go by without speaking of. One of my most favorite restaurants is Chili's. Top 2 for sure.

Unfortunately, where we live, the chain doesn't exist. Actually, I lie. There is ONE Chili's about an hour from us in the city, but if I decide to drive that far, I might as well go over the border and do some shopping Stateside where everything is cheaper.

When we do have the opportunity to go to Chili's, I am so predictable when it comes to ordering what I want there. My favorite dish is actually an appetizer.

The Southwestern Egg Rolls are just ridonkulous! It's like a meal packed neatly into a tortilla. They're AWESOME! If you've been and enjoyed them, can I get an Amen? If you haven't, give me one anyway. You will once you have them - I'm just saving you some time.

When I was pregnant with my son, I was craving these ALL the time. Sucks when there isn't one on the corner. Since the need to have them was nagging me incessantly, I had to find a recipe that was thisclose to the real deal that I could be satisfied with. I couldn't bring myself to have my husband make the hour trek over the border every time I needed them.

3 times and a hefty speeding ticket was enough.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons minced green onion
2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
½ cup frozen corn kernels
½ cup black beans, rinsed and drained
4 tablespoons frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
4 tablespoons diced jalapeno peppers
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
1¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 package flour tortillas or egg roll wrappers
1 quart oil for deep frying, if deep frying

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook chicken approximately 5 minutes per side, until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in green onion, jalapeno peppers, and red pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until tender.

Dice chicken and mix into the pan with onion and red pepper. Mix in corn, black beans, spinach, parsley, cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes, until well blended and tender. Remove from heat and stir in Monterey Jack cheese so that it melts.

Spoon even amounts of the mixture into each tortilla. I used egg roll wrappers. Fold ends of tortillas/egg roll wrappers, then roll tightly around mixture.

Arrange on a baking pan and brush generously with oil over the top using a pastry brush.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve with ranch dressing.

If you wish, you can also deep fry them. To do so:

Spoon and fold as stated above. Secure with toothpicks. Arrange in a medium dish, cover with plastic, and place in the freezer. Freeze at least 4 hours.

In a large, deep skillet, heat oil for deep frying to 375ºF. Deep fry frozen, stuffed tortillas/egg roll wrappers for 6 minutes each, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.

Happy Baking!

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