Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hot chocolate on a stick!

Here's a cute idea I ran across this year when making my homemade gifts. This whole website is fun and creative!

Take chocolate (milk, semisweet, and bittersweet all work), cocoa, and powdered sugar. Melt together and pour into ice cube trays and insert craft sticks. Cool to room temp. Tie up in little bags with labels. The receiver just adds milk! I used these as Christmas gifts, but who wouldn't love a hostess gift like this anytime this winter?

Hot Chocolate on a Stick
makes 10 cubes of chocolate
8 oz. chocolate (any kind), chopped
1/4 c. cocoa
1/2 c. powdered sugar
pinch of salt
a few ounces of a contrasting chocolate, for dipping
festive sprinkles

In a double boiler (or a glass bowl set over gently simmering water), melt chocolate. When it is about 2/3 melted, remove from heat and continue stirring until completely melted (this just keeps it from overheating).

Add cocoa, powdered sugar, and salt and stir until well combined. Don't stop until it's all incorporated! It'll start to look better/smoother after a few minutes of stirring.

Either pipe the chocolate mixture into a clean ice cube tray (a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off works well) or use a small cookie scoop, being careful not to make a big mess of the ice cube tray so that the resulting pops will look clean and professional. Tap the ice cube tray mold on the counter to ensure that there are no air bubbles.

Add a stir stick (I found some at A.C. Moore) to each cube. It should stand up straight without any issues.

Cool to room temperature (or in the fridge if in a hurry).

Once hardened, to remove from the mold, twist the ice cube tray the same way you would to remove ice cubes. They should come right out.

To make the pops a bit more festive, I melted a small amount of white chocolate and dipped each pop in at an angle then topped with some Christmas sprinkles. Be sure to have some tall glasses or vases ready so you can prop up the dipped pops so they can dry.

They can be stored at room temp, but I recommend making them nearly the same day as you give them—my milk chocolate pops started getting speckled at room temp because I think I waited too long to cover them with plastic wrap.

If these are gifts, be sure to provide instructions for the receiver. Each ounce of chocolate should be melted into a cup of milk or cream, but since these ice cube tray pops are 3/4 ounce, they should be stirred into 3/4 cup of milk or cream when making the hot chocolate.

Bailey's/Kahlua/Schnapps/Godiva/Creme de Menthe/fluffy Williams-Sonoma marshmallows optional. ;)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spritz (aka Swedish Pressed Butter Cookies)

I'm going to admit this up front. Many countries proudly claim these cookies. Many of those countries are Scandinavian ones. I'm going to put a little blue and yellow flag on them and claim them for Sweden, m'kay?

I know that the holidays are now over. But you likely know by now that I'm too preoccupied with other things to get a recipe up in time for someone to actually use it during the correct season. :) However, the holidays just aren't complete for me without these cookies. Fortunately, my husband is used to having them as part of his holiday repertoire as well. Spritz cookies are buttery, delicate, and pushed through a cookie press. (Miss A, I ended up with this one. My grandmother's looks just like this!)

I will also be the first to admit that they can be a real pain to make! They will not stick to a greased or nonstick cookie sheet or Silpat. The dough does not fall off the cookie press. The dough, being mostly butter, warms up VERY quickly. Tricks abound including putting the cookie sheet in the freezer, putting the cookie press barrel in the fridge, the general consensus that a metal barrel keeps the dough colder than a plastic one. But I don't want this post to turn into cookie press 101. If you have one already, you KNOW these cookies. If not, here's the recipe that came included with my new press. ;)

makes about 4 dozen cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 c. flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, combine butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg, vanilla, and salt. Mix in the flour, in batches, until just combined.

Pack dough into the cookie press and fit with desired disk shape. Press dough out onto ungreased cookie sheet, spacing cookies 1 inch apart. Decorate with sprinkles.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light golden. Cool on wire racks.

Merry Belated Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Easiest chocolate cupcakes with glossy chocolate glaze

First, I am alive and well. I just have a gazillion pumpkin recipes that will be ready to post next fall that I never got around to posting before Thanksgiving (i.e., the last day I want to see or eat pumpkin until September 1, 2010).

Switching gears to Christmas, the season of chocolate, I have so many recipes I look forward to sharing and only a few days to do it. Whoops. But let me start with this one.

Husband forget to tell you about his office holiday party where he signed up to bring cupcakes?* Need a quick recipe to wow your family that is descending on you for the holidays? Feeling unstable and need a supremely fudgy treat?

With the exception of the Baker's unsweetened chocolate, you are likely to have all of these ingredients in your pantry! (And, if you're an avid baker, you will have it all.) When does that ever happen?! You don't even need more than a whisk, a bowl, and a saucepan.

This recipe is from one of my favorite blogs. She even provides a link so you can print it all pretty!

*Purely hypothetical :) He was good this year. ;)

Easiest chocolate cupcakes with glossy chocolate glaze
1 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
3/4 c. hot water
1/2 c. canola (or vegetable) oil
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with liners.

2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in hot water, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the egg, whisking until well blended.

3. Pour into prepared muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack. Frost when completely cooled.

1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
1 1-oz. square unsweetened Baker's chocolate, grated or chopped very finely
dash of salt
1/2 c. boiling water
1 1/2 T. butter
1/2 t. vanilla extract

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, grated/chopped chocolate, and salt. Add boiling water and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, whisking so it will be smooth.

2. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

3. While frosting is still hot, dip the cooled cupcake tops into the glaze one at a time. Top with sprinkles and set on a cooling rack. Devour, with milk. You'll need it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream

Confession: I've had the freezer bowl of my ice cream maker attachment in the freezer since, oh, July. I waited all summer for the perfect recipe, but then life got busy.

I needed to use up the rest of my apples and had recently made my favorite apple cake recipe when it occurred to me that apple ice cream with apple cake might just be the perfect combo.

I found this recipe on allrecipes but made it my own. Hope you like it. It's gooood.

Caramel Apple Pie Ice Cream
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 T butter
3 T sugar
1 t. cinnamon

3 c. whipping cream – I used 3 c. half and half
1 1/2 c. half and half – I used 1 1/2 c. 2% milk
1 c. sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 t. vanilla extract
2 t. cinnamon

4–6 oatmeal cookies – I used soft store-bought ones and gently tore them into small pieces
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. caramel ice cream topping

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the chopped apples, sugar, and cinnamon. Cook until the apples have lightly browned and the sugar has begun to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely.

Combine cream (or half and half, if substituting), half and half (or 2% milk, if substituting), sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl; mix to blend well. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

When the ice cream has finished, stir in the cookie pieces, caramelized apples, and walnuts. Add the caramel by the spoonful while stirring to evenly distribute.

Serve on this cake. :)

Apple Cake 2

If you aren't a reader of Smitten Kitchen (really, who isn't?), you should take a gander at all her amazing recipes over there. This time of year, anything with apple or pumpkin has my vote!

Although I still think that this is my very favorite apple cake recipe, SK shares a sentimental one with a slightly different technique than mine. The apples are layered, the cinnamon is mixed into the apples rather than the batter, and she uses a tube pan (but I still used a Bundt—all I have!). Hers has the presentation though that my favorite does not. Look at those huge apple chunks on hers!

Since mine was in a Bundt pan, which you flip out of the pan (so the bottom becomes the top), I knew I'd have an issue with the apples being visible. Put them in first and you might not get the cake out of the pan at all. Put them in last, and you won't see them at all like you do in SK's because they'd be on the bottom. So, I attempted to layer them the best I could. Use a tube pan if you have one. :)

Apple Cake 2
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
6 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped – I used a combo of Braeburn and Golden Delicious
1 T cinnamon
5 T sugar

2 3/4 c. flour
1 T baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. vegetable oil – I used canola
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. orange juice – I bet apple juice would be great, but I didn't have any ;)
2 1/2 t. vanilla
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan (preferred) or Bundt pan. In a small bowl, combine apple chunks, cinnamon, and sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, orange juice, and vanilla. Gradually mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients then add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Tube pan instructions:
Pour half the batter into the greased pan. Spread half the apples over the batter. Pour remaining batter over the apples. Arrange remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1.5 hours or until a tester comes out clean.

Bundt pan instructions:
Pour about a third of the batter into the greased pan. Spread half of the apples over the batter, pushing down slightly so that the apples can just slightly peek out the bottom (which will be the top) of the cake. Pour another third or so of the batter on top of the apples. Pour in remaining apples then remaining batter. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. (I did it this way so that you'd be able to see the apples when you flip it out of the pan but still be able to get it out of the pan without the apples sticking to the bottom—hopefully!)

Hers looks a heck of a lot yummier than mine, so use that tube pan if you have it. ;)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Coming Soon...

Meet my friends (l to r) Red Delicious (I only picked two—not the best for baking), Golden Delicious (perfect for baking), Braeburn (slightly tart due to his Granny Smith momma), and York (lopsided but so delicious).

Coming soon:

Apple cake (a different version)
Apple cinnamon ice cream (with oatmeal cookie chunks, caramel, and nuts—you won't want to miss this one!)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall: Pumpkin Bars

In high school AP German class, after the exam, we had to translate a recipe for cobbler (a krümeltorte, technically), make the recipe, then bring it in to class for a massive cobbler gorge-fest. (Unless you translated it incorrectly, in which case, no I don't want to eat your nasty concoction, thanks.) I remember my friend Jen gave up on translating/making the topping ingredients (methinks senioritis hit her junior year) and topped hers with yellow cake mix and melted butter. I thought this was the strangest thing, but she assured me that this was how her mother makes a shortcut cobbler.

Yeah, that crumbled yellow cake mix tasted better than my homemade topping (Butter, Zucker, Mehl, Backpulver, Ei, Vanille-Extrakt, und Salz, for those curious).

So when I acquired a recipe that included probably my favorite non-chocolate sweet (pumpkin) with that surprisingly tasty yellow cake mix topping, I knew we had a winner.

The good: You don't need special equipment. The bad: It takes an hour (or more) to cook. The worse: Despite my alterations, this ain't health food. But boy is it good!

Pumpkin Bars
30 oz. can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
14 oz. can evaporated milk (fat free works perfectly well)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 c. sugar
splash of vanilla
1/4 t. cinnamon
2 T. pumpkin pie spice (or your favorite combination of nutmeg, cloves, etc.)
one box yellow cake mix (you could totally use only a half box and save the rest for next time)
1.5 sticks butter, melted (it calls for 2 sticks (!), but I'd start with 1 and add more if needed)
1 c. chopped pecans (I just eyeballed it)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and the spices with a whisk or spatula in a bowl. Spread into 13 x 9-inch pan.

Sprinkle cake mix on top. Pour melted butter over cake mix. Top with chopped nuts.

Bake at 350 for 1 to 1.5 hours. (70 minutes worked for me)

I took this picture at a Navy football tailgate. Perfect recipe for traveling!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Magic Coconut Pie

Well, it's mom's birthday again. This is her one time per year that she can beg for coconut—and coconut-hating dad can't do anything about it. :)

I was slightly skeptical about this one. It sounded so 50s. Seriously, Bisquik and coconut and no pie crust? It reminded me of this awful Bisquik Mexican dish I had to eat as a kid. Um, enjoy your "pie" mom! But I immediately changed my tune when I started breathing in the warm coconut, which reminded me so much of our honeymoon to Barbados and this coconut pie we would order at this bar on the beach. It was coconut and eggs and sugar and probably nothing else and it was just so amazing. This pie... this is my new pie. Custard on the inside, crunchy on top. We just loved it. Well, not dad, but the rest of us. ;)

Recipe from Baker's coconut bag.

Magic Coconut Pie
2 c. milk
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. Bisquik
4 eggs
1/4 c. butter, softened (at room temp)
1 t. vanilla
1 1/3 c. Baker's (preferred by my mom) angel flake coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix milk, sugar, Bisquik, eggs, butter, and vanilla in a blender on low speed for approximately 3 minutes. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie plate. Carefully sprinkle with coconut, making sure it doesn't overflow!

Carefully slide pie into oven and bake for 40–45 minutes or until center of pie is set (no longer jiggles when you attempt to take it out of the oven) and top is golden brown. Serve either warm or cool.

Store leftovers (ha!) in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I think I might belong in chocolate blog prison, but I bought a store cake for our second anniversary. The horror! Take me away, baking police. (In my defense, we had only been stateside for some 24 hours and jet lag had taken its toll.)

But, I doubt you've had the Wegmans chocolate cake. If so, you might understand. Soooo fudgy. The frosting is so good, and I generally HATE frosting. They make mini cakes that could totally pass for the top tier of a wedding cake, except this is anniversary #2 and the small wedding cake tier was SO last year. And the bigger cake costs less per pound... like my rationalizing? :)

Happy 2nd anniversary, sweetie!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not Chocolate: Beachy Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

It's now a tradition that I make something sweet for our annual beach trip with my husband's family. Last year's cookies were a little too labor-intensive (especially since they were eaten in about two seconds) but this year, I have the perfect recipe.

While perusing the new Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book, I found both a snickerdoodle cupcake recipe and a creative way to frost cupcakes so that they look like the beach. Since cinnamon sugar looks like sand to me, I decided to combine the two recipes into the perfect beach cupcake. All you need to embellish them are graham crackers and cocktail umbrellas (or palm trees), which I found on clearance at Party City. Since I decided to assemble these at the beach rather than have them in the hot car, I made my own version of seven-minute frosting, rather than Martha's, since hers involves 230-degree syrup and a candy thermometer. (Which, for those just tuning in, I have not used since December 2007. OUCH.)

Beachy Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. cake flour (not self-rising)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c. sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. milk
2 graham cracker rectangles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, stir together both flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

Marshmallow (or Seven-Minute) Frosting
2 large egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
2 T. water
1 t. vanilla extract

Combine frosting ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. When cupcakes are cool, frost.

Meanwhile, using a small food processor or a ziploc bag and a rolling pin, crush graham crackers until fine and the consistency of sand. Rather than dipping each frosted cupcake upside-down into the crushed graham crackers, which I found to flatten the frosting, sprinkle the crushed grahams onto the top of the frosting (with a bowl underneath to catch the excess) until thoroughly covered. Top with a drink umbrella.

(No time to crush graham crackers? Just give each frosted cupcake a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar instead.)

Best enjoyed on the deck of your beach house. :)

Happy last weekend of summer!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

inkpad eats Maine

If you aren't planning a trip to New Hampshire/Maine, the following might be boring. Similarly, if you don't like other people's silly travel pictures, move right along. Otherwise, here's what we indulged in while on a recent vacation! (eleventy billion lobster rolls are excluded; we're talking SWEETS!)

First stop was my aunt and uncle's house in New Hampshire. The main goal was relaxing (which we totally needed, by the way) but on one occasion, we wandered into nearby Plymouth for an afternoon out. Surely a small college town (the other PSU) had ice cream...

Introducing Sweet Kathy's, Plymouth, NH, a few shops down from Anderson's Swedish Bakery (of note: hubz and I both have Swede in us)

M had the monster "Iditarod" sundae, thankyouverymuch. I had the much more modest scoop of Coffee Kahlua Brownie. I was very tempted by the blueberry ice cream, considering where we were, but I decided that could wait until Maine.

Another outing was to nearby Lake Winnipesaukee. Certain areas have definite tourist traps, and Kellerhaus, near campy Weirs Beach, is certainly no exception, but it is a MUST STOP. An ice cream Smörgåsbord?!

We had dough boy, peanut butter chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, butterscotch, hot fudge, chocolate jimmies (I call them sprinkles, but when in Rome, er, New England...), M&Ms, spanish peanuts, walnuts, whipped cream, an American flag (random)...

Then we bought some cashew and peanut turtles to go...

Next stop: Maine! I solely determined our coastal route based on this place: The Harbor Candy Shop in Ogunquit, ME. I couldn't decide what to get on my first visit and bought an impulse Dark Caramallow.

And the Bread & Roses Bakery next door was fabulous. (We liked these Magic Bars enough to get them on the way back to the airport too!) Coconut, buttery crust, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, oats, nuts. Sounds like magic to me.

We looooved the sweets at locally owned 3 Dogs Cafe (the website will send you into a sugar coma) in Rockport, but devoured them too quickly to take a picture. Let's just say a HUGE rum ball coated in Oreo crumbs, a peanut butter cup that was really like a flattened buckeye ball, and an elephant ear for M. Yummmm. And we sort of like Labs. I think they do too. A lot. Seriously.

Since you can't do Maine without blueberries, let me recommend the wild blueberry pie at Cappy's in Camden, ME. Small and very sweet berries. Delicious with ice cream. My horrible picture does it no justice!

And, I guess the last sweet of note was wedding cake. ;) (congrats, you know who!)

We highly, highly recommend NH and ME! For sort of more than food.

(I promise to never again put so many links in a post. Oh wait. My London review is coming soon...)


Ever wonder what a chocoholic would eat on a day all about her? (July 18, so I'm a little behind...)

This (Michel's Chocolate Bar, basically a large Kit-Kat bar with hazelnutty goodness).

This (they forgot my birthday candle and brought out another scoop of homemade ice cream, with a candle this time, with our check).

And this (both the Chocolate Truffle Cake from my coworkers and mom's Inside-Out Chocolate Bundt Cake, yes, with ice cream).


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Six Ingredient No-Bake Cherry Cheese Pie

I don't always have time for an elaborate recipe, especially in summer when I don't want the oven on and the frozen pina coladas are beckoning. ;) This would be perfect for the upcoming Labor Day... though I made this for July 4 and am just now blogging while at the beach. :)

This is a simple, no-fail recipe for a delicious pie. Sure, you can make it a little bit more homemade by making a graham cracker crust or a regular crust, but why bother if you don't have to bake the rest? This recipe is just from a simple online search. The cheese part isn't quite like cheesecake, but a slightly tangy cream cheese. Enjoy!

Six Ingredient No-Bake Cherry Cheese Pie
Store-bought graham cracker crust (reduced-fat or regular)
8 oz. cream cheese (I use reduced-fat Neufchatel)
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (I use fat-free)
1/3 c. lemon juice (sure, fresh would be great, but RealLemon is my friend)
1 t. vanilla extract
21 oz. store-bought cherry pie filling (or blueberry, or...)

Using a hand-held or stand mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy then add sweetened condensed milk until well combined. Mix in lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into graham cracker crust. Chill for at least 3 hours, or until set, in the fridge.

After the 3 hours, take out of the fridge and top with the cherry pie filling. I like to leave a little edge of white so you can see the different colors, especially at July 4th! I also don't use all the cherry syrup, but rather, focus on getting all the cherries and whatever syrup comes with them so that the pie doesn't get too runny. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Not Chocolate: Patriotic Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Browsing through one of my favorite blogs, bakerella recently featured a recipe from the June 2009 Martha Stewart Living magazine. Oh my. I had to make these pancakes.

Full of sweet blueberries (purchased at a stand on the way home from Harper's Ferry), crunchy cornmeal, and tangy buttermilk, these were such a hit!

And, it was fun to make them extra patriotic... by making a star shape out of the blueberries as you drop them onto each pancake, when you flip them, the star is cooked in on the back side. :) Adorable! That was a nice surprise.

Patriotic Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes
from Martha Stewart Living, June 2009

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. sugar, plus 2 t. for blueberries
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. milk
3 T. butter, melted and cooled
1 egg lightly beaten
2 c. blueberries
Extra butter for coating griddle
Maple syrup

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together buttermilk, milk, melted butter, and egg in medium bowl.

Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and whisk together just until combined. (Lumps are ok!)

Toss blueberries in a bowl with 2 t. sugar.

Heat a griddle over medium heat. Melt butter over surface of griddle. (Repeat as necessary throughout the process.) Drop batter on griddle using a 1/4 c. measure each time. Add sugared blueberries to each pancake, in a star shape if you like! Cook for about 3–4 minutes then carefully flip and cook for another 2–3 minutes.

To keep pancakes warm, I put a piece of foil in a 225 degree oven and pile the cooked pancakes on the foil as I make the next batch on the griddle.

Now that's a pancake.

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