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Category Archives: Desserts

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!

Anginettes!!

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

 

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!

Recipe:

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)

Steps:

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

Recipe

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)

Steps:

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

 

Pumpkin Nutella Cupcakes


Self-Frosting Cupcakes!

This week I was inspired by a tweet I received about Nutella frosting. I was introduced to the wonder that is Nutella my sophomore year at CCSU by my old roommate who used to eat it directly out of the jar on pretzels. Needless to say one taste of the rich, chocolate, hazelnut spread and I fell in love. So the idea to incorporate that flavor into a cupcake is genius.

Even though I wanted to bake with Nutella, I didn’t want to shy away from the fall flavors, especially with Thanksgiving right around the corner. So I did my usual Google search to try to find a recipe that I could work with, and one of the first ones that came up was “Self-Frosting Pumpkin Nutella Cupcakes” from the blog, 52 Kitchen Adventures. Now to be completely honest I didn’t search for any more recipes after finding this one, I was sold by the words “self-frosting” right in the blog’s title.

Not only did this recipe allow me to conduct a science experiment, but it also saved me from the frosting step, which has started to become my least favorite task. What is fun about these cupcakes is you make the pumpkin cake batter and rather than frosting them after, you put a spoonful of Nutella (or any hazelnut spread) on top of the batter in the cups and swirl it in with a toothpick. As the cupcakes bake in the oven the Nutella warms and spreads, virtually frosting the top of the cupcake.

Pumpkin and chocolate aren’t two flavors that are combined often, but I loved this cake. The cupcake itself is dense due to the weight of the pumpkin puree, but the Nutella serves as a nice compliment to the strong nutmeg and cinnamon flavors and the hardened Nutella could be broken off and eaten like a piece of chocolate!!

RECIPE

Self-Frosting Pumpkin Nutella Cupcakes

Adapted from 52 Kitchen Adventures

Ingredients:

  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Nutella for topping
Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a muffin pan with foil or paper liners.

2. Place the pumpkin, oil, eggs, vanilla, sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl. Beat to combine.

3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Add to wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

4. Fill muffin cups around 3/4 full. Place a couple of teaspoons of Nutella on top of each cupcake. Use a toothpick to swirl the Nutella around the top of the batter.

Ready to go in the oven!

5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

If you love Nutella as much as I do try some of these other inspired recipes, and don’t forget World Nutella Day is Feb. 5, 2012!

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2011 in Cupcakes, Desserts, Fall Flavors

 

Cupcake Camp New Haven

While I was at Mr. D’s on Friday I learned about the Cupcake Camp and I thought it was too important a subject to clump into my the last post. 

The Cupcake Camps are a national phenom which can be started in any city, and were begun for the love of cupcakes. This is a day when cupcake bakers and cupcake lovers come together to celebrate the trendiest dessert by sampling what the best have to offer!

My blog was basically created for doing just what the Cupcake Camps do, which is promote cupcakes, so I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of it before! Luckily Anne DeFusco at Mr. D’s told me about it, since she will be participating in the Cupcake Camp in Conn., along with other cupcake bakers from all around the state.

On Oct. 22, 2011 from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. BAR in New Haven will be hosting the second annual Cupcake Camp New Haven. While this is a 21 and older event I will be there in order to blog about what the best bakeries in Conn. have to offer so in case you can’t make it be sure to check back to the blog.

However, if you are 21 or older and love cupcakes, the event is free, although a donation to the “Closer to Free Fund” is suggested. All you have to do is register for tickets, whether as a taster or baker. In less than 15 minutes you can be registered for a tasty day of nothing but cupcakes and who wouldn’t love that?

 

 

Mr. D’s, Good Ol’ Fashioned Fun

Walking through the white door of Mr. D’s (in the heart of downtown Wallingford) I didn’t know where to look first. Do you admire the old-fashioned carousel horse in the center of the shop or do you stop and look at the dozens of penny candy bins lined up along the walls to the left and right? Do you even stop there?

Should you continue to walk on the brightly checkered floor deeper into the whimsical shop and browse the old-fashioned toys in back? Personally, the sweet aroma led me straight to the counter, past the nostalgic candy and right in front of the glass cases filled with colorful cupcakes, bars, cookies and more!

Mr. D’s was opened in the historic section of downtown Wallingford, Conn., by Anne and Bill DeFusco on July 7, of last year. The quaint shop’s kid-like personality strikes a chord with children and adults, which has helped it gain popularity among residents. The combination of cupcakes, penny candy, Praline’s ice cream and toys appeals to people of all ages.

Mr. D’s has 25 available cupcake flavors on the menu, and the bakers are always experimenting with different flavors! However, if there you don’t see the flavor you were looking for in the case don’t be afraid to ask because the Mr. D’s workers will make it for you because the cupcakes are made fresh right in the back of the store.

“Our basics are chocolate peanut butter, black and white, white and black, red velvet, carrot, hummingbird which is banana, pineapple and coconut…we have pumpkin all year not just seasonal. Seasonally we have apple walnut, apple crumb cupcakes, death by chocolate, which is filled with chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate ganache and iced with this very, very chocolately buttercream,” said Mr. D’s owner, Anne DeFusco.

“Chocolate peanut butter is our most popular and then the salted caramel and the red velvet,” said DeFusco. “The chocolate caramel was written up in Redbook magazine.”

The chocolate salted caramel is definitely one of the top cupcakes in the shop. One bite of the chocolate cake and it just melts in your mouth. The sweetness of the homemade caramel adds to the smooth texture of the cake and is offset by the salty bite of the sea salt.

While I fell in love with the sweet salted caramel my first favorite will always be the hummingbird cupcakes. A southern delight with cream cheese frosting, bananas, pineapple and coconut. It’s so good that I try to savor it as long as I can, which is possible because Defusco prides herself on infusing her cakes with enough moisture to ensure they last well after the first bite (only if you have enough will power not to eat it all in one sitting of course). 🙂

Aside from the cupcakes Mr. D’s also serves up Praline’s ice cream to go with the candy and other sweet treats. Mr. D’s is every dessert lover’s dream! The shop has all the items any one with a sweet tooth would crave and then some, and to top it off they will bring the cupcakes to you! This is because Mr. D’s also takes orders for events such as weddings, parties and corporate events. 

Open 7 days a week Mr. D’s is definitely the place to go for a midweek treat or after dinner snack.

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Check back during the week for my full profile on just what to expect when you visit Mr. D’s!

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2011 in Bakeries, Connecticut, Cupcakes, Desserts

 
 
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