Holiday Cookie Platters

First posting that isn’t required by my Web Jrn Class and I have to say it feels almost liberating to know that I can write without getting graded! With that said, again I’m not writing about cupcakes, instead I’m continuing with the cookie theme since Christmas is right around the corner, i.e. three days…YIKES!

So far all I have for gifts are a few odds and ends. Oh and mounds of cookies. A few posts ago I mentioned that as a broke college student I fully endorse giving away baked goods, that is if you can bake. Personally I believe it’s just cruel to wrap up a hardened fruitcake and pass it off as a gift. Instead, my mom and I start baking the week after Thanksgiving and don’t stop until the night we start to put together the cookie platters, which is about four days before Christmas Eve.

Usually my mom brings a few tins to her job as a trucking safety manager, my dad would bring one to his office (not so much anymore), I would bring them to my friend’s house and then we would take a group to my Nana’s house for dessert following our Christmas dinner. All in all it’s a lot of cookies. I wish I had thought to count the amount that we actually made, but I’d lose count and my younger brother would throw me off since he’s the cookie thief of our house. Luckily my mom and I were able to put together the plates while my brother wasn’t home so in the end we finished with a huge variety of some of the most treasured cookie recipes.

Buck Eyes!


What We Made:

  • Red & Green M&M Cookies
  • Anginettes (only because I begged my mom since they’re my favorite)
  • White Chocolate Blueberry
  • White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Island Cookies
  • Heath Bar Cookies
  • Chocolate Chunk with Walnuts
  • Nut Balls
  • Hershey Kiss Cookies
  • Hershey Kiss with Cookies & Creme Kisses
  • Nutella and Hazelnut Cookies
  • Pilsbury Tree and Reindeer Cookies
  • Buck eyes
  • Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter/Nutella Ritz Sandwiches
  • Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
  • Walnut Brownies
  • Cheesecake Brownies
  • Werther’s Toffee Bars

What we do, is once we have all the cookies made we put all the plates on our kitchen tables and counters and then work like an assembly line. Each tin gets two of each cookies until we run out of trays and/or cookies. I tend to over bake, so we usually run out of plates first. When that happens we usually just double back and add cookies until they’re all gone. 

The finishing touch is a few pieces of candy on top or some chocolate covered pretzels, whatever you decide!

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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Desserts


White Chocolate Cupcakes

Now that December is officially underway my life is completely hectic. It seems like every weekend I have at least one hockey game to write about or sell tickets at, which leaves little time for rest. In fact next weekend I happen to have a possible four games in a matter of three days as well as my brother’s 18th birthday celebration (which I’m not baking for thank goodness!) and a CCSU women’s basketball. I’ve learned to thrive off of a hectic schedule, but it does but a strain on the time that I can spend baking and blogging.

However, despite the fact that my life happens to be consumed by hockey, I was still able to find time to bake some flavorful cupcakes when I got back from the last Sunday night’s CT Whale game.

Christmas time is filled with so many different flavors, but one of my favorites is white chocolate. I’m not a big chocolate eater, but white chocolate happens to be my favorite. Over the holidays I tend to pair it with anything and everything, from white chocolate macadamia nut cookies to white chocolate blueberry cookies. This week was no exception as I took my love for the chocolate and incorporated into cupcakes!

Sunday morning my mom and I got up and went shopping like every other weekend, but this week she happened to pick up a bag of Toll House white chocolate chips, which inspired my White Chocolate Cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese frosting!


I was able to adapt the recipe from the Curvy Carrot.

White Chocolate Cupcakes

1 and 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

4 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped and melted- I used Toll House chips melted down and used about 1/3 of the bag

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk (I used whole because I had it on hand…use whatever you have)


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

3. In another bowl and with a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

5. Add the melted white chocolate and vanilla, mixing well. Don’t melt the chocolate until right before you are going to add it to the mix to avoid it from going hard.

6. Alternately add the dry ingredients with the milk in 2-3 portions, mixing well after each addition.

7. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cupcake pan.

8. Bake the cupcakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes or so.  Let cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 ounces white chocolate, melted- Again I estimated with the leftover chips that I had

2 teaspoons vanilla

6 teaspoons milk

3 cups confectioners’ sugar


1. In a bowl cream the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

11. Add the melted white chocolate, vanilla, and milk.

12. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the confectioners’ sugar, until you reach your desired consistency. *The more cups you add the thicker it will be. I stopped at 3 cups due to my preference.

13. Pipe as desired on completely cooled cupcakes.

Every week I bring the cupcakes I make into the Recorder newspaper office so I can get feedback from my fellow writers. Well, this cupcake definitely garnered some of the best reactions. The batter was much like the Funfetti batter I experimented with earlier in the semester, but the melted white chocolate gave it a sweetened touch. The cake itself was nice a compact, not too airy, which is a problem I notice with boxed cakes.

I’ve learned through this blog that I prefer cream cheese frostings, Buttercream is too sweet for me, but like the batter, the white chocolate gave just enough added sweetness to compliment the cake.

White chocolate is a fun flavor to enhance any plain vanilla cake and for an added festive twist try some flaked coconut to look like snow or red and white sprinkles like I did!



Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Cupcakes


Christmas Cookie Poll!

Each year my mom and I go on a baking frenzy! Beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving we start to bake every and any kind of cookie in preparation for the Christmas holiday. Cookies are a great gift if money is tight (like mine is as a broke college student) or they make for a great treat to bring into the office to spread some holiday cheer.

This week I’m curious, what is your favorite holiday cookie? I’m always looking for new recipes to try so sound off! I’m sure all my friends and family would appreciate it.


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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Desserts


Holiday Baking Bonanza

Holiday Cookies: Andes Candies and Island Cookies

I love baking cookies. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it 1,000 more times. Once Christmas time comes around my mom and I usually bake two cookies a weekend, which we then freeze in order to make cookie gift platters. The start of our cookie baking extravaganzas usually marks the beginning of the Christmas season! 

This weekend, just days following Thanksgiving, was the first weekend of cookie baking! I realize this is a cupcake blog, but I couldn’t resist also documenting these scrumptious cookies! Besides, who doesn’t love Christmas cookies?

The first cookie we made was Island Cookies, which my mom and I found on the back of the Nestle Toll House milk chocolate morsels package. Not many people look at the back of the packages, but some of the best desserts can be found there!

An island cookie is comprised of chocolate chips, coconut and chopped walnuts. This recipe, is a good twist to the traditional chocolate chip cookie that is normally left for Santa with a glass of milk. I’ve found that beating the cookie dough rather than hand stirring it yields better results. 

Island Cookies

The second cookie my mom and I made was Andes Creme de Menthe Chunk Cookies. We make these cookies every year, and they’re always a huge crowd pleaser! In fact, my Auntie Maureen from England loved them so much that she has my nanny send her the candy bag each year so she can make them! 

Much like the peppermint cupcakes from the post before, these cookies resemble a york peppermint patti that won’t melt in your hand. However, as good as these cookies may be you have to have time set aside to devote to them, only because the dough must chill for one hour before going in the oven.

As a broke college student with moderate baking talent I’ve learned that baked goods are the best gift to give on a budget, so grab the ingredients and start baking because it’s never too early for cookies! 

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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Desserts


Tis The Season…For Cupcakes!

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes with Chocolate Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting

Thanksgiving has come and gone and once midnight struck on the bountiful holiday that meant that it became fully acceptable to start preparing for Christmas! For me growing up, the Friday after Thanksgiving wasn’t known as Black Friday, it was the day that I helped my nanny decorate her entire house.

Each year my family and I would eat Thanksgiving dinner at my Nanny and Grandad’s and I would spend the night in order to help them bright and early the next morning. The artificial Christmas tree (needles are too messy for my nanny) was put up, lights were strung, the mini-Christmas village was put up on the mantle and the fake snowflakes were sprinkled on top. 

It’s memories like these that make Christmas time my favorite time of year (minus the start of hockey season of course). No matter how overplayed Christmas movies and songs get, nothing can deter my love for the season. This is why making Christmas-inspired cupcakes were perfectly acceptable to make while my Thanksgiving leftovers still sit in their containers in the fridge.

I was planning on making triple chocolate “Black Friday” cupcakes from Bitchin Kitchen, but when I went shopping this morning with my mom I found Andes peppermint candies in the holiday aisle. Andes candies are a family favorite every year (we usually make mint cookies) so I couldn’t pass up the chance to try them in a cupcake, which was perfect because a cupcake recipe using the morsels happened to be on the back of the package…it was like fate!

In making these cupcakes I broke my own vow and followed the recipe by using a boxed devils food cake mixture. I know I said I would avoid using anything out of a box from now on, but bridesmaid duties kept me tied up for the day and the taste of the cakes wasn’t hindered.

The main difference in using a boxed mixture is the density of the cake. The boxed cupcakes are much lighter and fluffier than a cake made from scratch. However, the peppermint candies in the cupcake and in the frosting added a cooling touch to the sweet chocolate, which reminds me of a york peppermint patti. 

The recipe on the back of the bag not only called for a boxed cake mix, but also a canned frosting, which I couldn’t bring myself to do. Instead I married my original idea with my new inspiration and the result was a fabulous addition to any holiday platter!


Chocolate Cupcakes

1 Box Devils Food Cake mix (holidays are hectic so a boxed mix wouldn’t be such a bad time saver, but any devils food cake recipe would suffice.)

1 C Andes peppermint candy (about half the bag)


1. Follow directions on the boxed mix to make the cake batter

2. Fold in the Andes candies and put them in the oven for 18-22 minutes

3. Put the cupcakes aside and let them cool

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from the Cupcake Project


8 oz (1 pkg) of cream cheese frosting- room temperature

1/4 C unsalted butter- room temperature

3 1/2 C confectionery sugar

1/2 C cocoa powder

Peppermint candies- any desired amount (make sure to save some to sprinkle on top)


1. Combine the cream cheese and butter until creamy

2. Mix in the confectionery sugar one cup at a time

3. Once the sugar is mixed in add in the cocoa powder

4. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle the rest of the candies on top.


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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Cream Cheese, Cupcakes, Desserts


A Novice Baker Finds the Magic in Cupcakes from Brittany Burke on Vimeo.

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Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Cupcakes


Holiday Traditions: Mince Pies

I’m proud of my heritage, I’m part Italian and French from my mom and completely English and Irish from my dad, who was born in Liverpool. Being that my Nanny and Grandad grew up in Enlgland, my brother and I were raised with typical English traditions. 

I eat carrot and turnip with mushy peas and malt vinegar on my french fries. I drink tea religiously, love Newcastle Ale, say “mind” instead of move, wait all summer for it to turn cool so I could eat scouse and shepard’s pie and search for the first sighting of Quality Street candy, which only comes out around Christmas. These are all just minor ways that I’ve been influenced by my English heritage, mostly ways in which my diet has been affected actually, and while I love most food that comes from England, I was never a fan of Mince Pies. 


Mince Pies

Each year as my nanny made these small little tarts I refused to try one, only because I didn’t like the idea of meat being in my dessert…I was young and didn’t know any better, until a few years ago. I got courageous, tried one and have been in love ever since.

Mince meat isn’t actually made of meat, it’s a jam-like filling with spices, raisins and different fruits. Searching for mince meat is like searching for Quality Street, jars are only sold around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, which means that’s the only time we can make them. 

Mince Meat

With a little sugar on top, these desserts are really simple to make, especially if you cheat and use pre-made dough like I do for the pastry crust! They’re a sweet addition to any holiday meal, whether fresh out of the oven or cold from a tin in the fridge.


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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Cupcakes

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