Posts Tagged ‘Sweets’

Halloween Brownie Bites

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

These tasty mini-treats are perfect for bringing along to a halloween party, especially if you’re looking for a healthy option. They’re still brownies, but they’re actually very low-fat and have a decent amount of fiber due to the added pumpkin. (Don’t worry, they don’t taste anything like pumpkin!)

I’m not always a big fan of these low-fat baking tricks, but this one worked out very well. Perhaps because I started with a good quality brownie mix (mmm…Ghirardhelli!)

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Halloween Brownie Bites
Makes 48 mini-muffin sized brownies

  • 1 standard brownie mix
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 egg whites
  • sprinkles or walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat your oven according to the package directions on your brownie mix. Lightly spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray, or line with mini-cupcake wrappers. Set aside.

2. Using a the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, beat together the pumpkin puree and egg whites until well combined. Add the brownie mix  and continue to beat on medium until the dry mix is fully incorporated. Important: Do not add anything else to the mix, no matter what the back of the box says. No oil. No whole eggs. No water. The batter will be very thick, but that’s okay.

3. Scoop into mini-muffin pans. I had enough batter to fill my 24-cup pan twice, and just baked two batches. If you have two mini-muffin tins, you could probably do both at the same time. If you plan to use any nuts or sprinkles, now is the time to add them. I used orange sprinkles  on one pan, and I pressed a walnut half into the top of each mini brownie in the other pan.

4. Bake according to package directions, adjusting the cook time if your package doesn’t call for mini-muffins. The mix I used wanted to be cooked for 40 minutes in a 9×13 pan, but the mini-muffins only took 20 minutes. Just keep a close eye on them. Allow to rest in the pan for 5 minutes or so, then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Note: The nutritional information based on the mix that I used and the directions above is 55 calories, 1 gram of fat, and .5 grams of fiber per brownie bite.


Follow Up: The Ultimate Autumn Cookie?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
So, last week, Cara and I tried to bake an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie she’d had once–but all she knew was that the recipe had pumpkin in it. So I researched recipes, but then the store didn’t have pumpkin. You can see how that turned out here. Cara decided to try again, and has been kind enough to share the results here. I tried these “cookies” last night, and they were quite tasty, but at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the crispy cookies. These were soft, and fluffy–more like a muffin than a cookie.
Anyway, Cara’s here to tell you the story of her muffin-top cookies:

Ok, so that title is a little vague because I didn’t want anyone who doesn’t like pumpkin to not click. I generally don’t even like pumpkin myself! Or so I thought. But that was until I had these magnificent Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, introduced to me by an ex-boyfriend.

These puppies are meant to be soft and chewy, bordering on almost cake-like (but not quite) – in other words, the perfect cookie, IMO. Since the ex and I didn’t really stay ~friends~ (hahaha… wait, that’s not funny, is it?), I did some Googling to try to find a similar cookie recipe… and found several different ones. I ultimately ended up Frankensteining a few – perfect for Halloween, am I right?! – to create this delicious fall treat. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)  (Note: most recipes list 1 cup; I accidentally used the whole can, but they taste great!)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon (I used 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon & 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice – whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. milk
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • cream cheese icing (optional)

Yield: about 3 dozen

Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg in large bow. Mix well.
(Oil will separate; just re-stir before you need to add more ingredients later in the recipe.)

In another, smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Dissolve baking soda with milk, then stir into flour mixture. Next stir in oats.

Mix together flour mixture with pumpkin, slowly adding more flour mix and stirring each time. Mixture will thicken. You should be able to stick your spoon in the middle and have it stand up on its own.

Add vanilla and chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 on a greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes until tops of cookies are dry and spring back when touched lightly (I find 12 mins. on the nose is perfect). Remove from baking sheet and cool on racks.

If you like, while cookies are still slightly warm, ice them with the cream cheese icing (I used the Pillsbury whipped variety). The warm cookie and the melty icing is perfection. Seriously. I’ve never iced them all and then eaten the pre-iced cookies later, so I’m not sure how that would taste, but I have nuked a cook or two in the microwave for a little bit and then iced them to re-create that fresh-out-of-the-oven goodness. Works pretty well actually.

These “cookies” were so moist and crumbly they tasted like the top of a really delicious muffin. Definitely muffintop-ish.

Your turn! Hope you enjoy – let me know if you do!

pumpkin cookie
Thanks for stopping by, Cara. And extra thanks for bringing leftover cookies last night. Yum!

Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Though I am generally a pretty good cook, sometimes things just don’t work out as planned. This is one of those times. Luckily, the results were tasty, just not quite what we had in mind. My friend Cara came over to bake something last weekend. She wasn’t too particular, but had an idea of a cookie she’d had once before, and I did my best to cooperate. Except first, I think my recipe wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, and then the grocery store was out of a key ingredient, so I had to make substitutions. The cookies we ended up with were so far from what we initially planned that it doesn’t make sense to talk about what we tried to make. Instead, here’s what we ended up with: buttery, crunchy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

When it comes to oatmeal cookies, I’m more of a raisin girl. I’m also a chewy fan. That doesn’t mean that these weren’t good cookies. Once we got over the initial disappointment, I realized that they were actually delicious. Awesome dunked in milk–kind of like a Chips Ahoy, but with oatmeal.

cookies

Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats, uncooked
1 teaspoon baking Soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup applesauce
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease baking sheets. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside. Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, mix. Alternate additions of dry ingredients and applesauce, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup of dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, until browned and crisp at the edges. Let rest on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes or so before removing to a metal cooling rack.

Butterfinger Blondies

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

These Butterfinger Brownies were the other treat I brought along to Paw-Paw’s party. As I mentioned last week, we had a party to honor my grandfather a few weeks ago. He’s been gone for a few years now, and we all came together to celebrate his life with memories and games and the foods he loved.

To be truthful, I never knew him to eat much in the way of sweets–he was diabetic for my whole life, and kept himself to a strict diet. But when I tried to think of things foods that reminded me of him, I remembered one of the few times I had him to myself. After all, I have a whole slew of cousins (and that’s okay!) and we all grew up right here near my grandparents (no complaints there either!). It does mean that most of the time I spent with Granny and Paw-Paw when I was young involved the other kids. But when I thought about it, I remembered being on vacation in Buffalo, New York, and he and I going on a walk, just the two of us, to the nearby drugstore. We’d gone to buy Yahtzee score cards, of all things. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember feeling pretty special as we talked the whole way there and the whole way back. And I don’t remember much about the trip, but I do remember him buying me a Butterfinger candy bar to snack on.

So like with the Oyster Crackers last week, rather than show up at the party with Butterfinger candy bars, I tried to come up with a recipe using Butterfingers. And so I came across this recipe at www.recipegirl.com. The original recipe called for full-size bars, but I adapted it to fun-size candy bars–and just in time for Halloween. This would really work with any leftover candy bars you have. The vanilla blondie flavor is the perfect backdrop for any candy bar flavor. Heath bars, Snickers, or Reese’s cups would be delicious.

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Butterfinger Blondies

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 2¼ cups brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 fun-size Butterfinger Candy bars, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with greased parchment paper

2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, combine butter and brown sugar.

4. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth.

5. Stir in flour mixture and 1 cup of crushed butterfingers.

6. Spread in prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining crushed butterfinger bars over top of batter, reserving a couple of tablespoons of crushed candy.

7. Bake 30 – 35 minutes, or until the bars are a bit firm to the touch. Remove from the oven. While the bars are still warm, sprinkle with the remaining candy. Remove to a wire cooking rack and let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Servings: 12

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

This weekend, David and I attended a wedding in Iowa. On our way out of town, we stopped at a small-town restaurant for “Brunch” which turned out to be just plain lunch. The food was good, if homey, and reminded me of every church pot-luck I’ve ever attended. Green Bean Casserole. Four kinds of Pasta Salad. Brownie bars. Fried Chicken.

I mentioned to my friend Sarah that this was “church-lady food” and she agreed whole-heartedly. This refrigerator pie from The Pioneer Woman is another example of “church-lady food,” which isn’t a complaint! My grandmothers are church ladies, and they make awesome food for pot-luck dinners.

But back to the pie. It was super-easy to throw together, and surprisingly rich. One friend (Hi Cara!) said it tastes exactly like Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs Cereal, and she might be right. Again, not a complaint (Yum!). I do have to warn you that it’s rich, however. A small slice is enough!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Pie
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 25 Oreo Cookies
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounce tub of Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 cup of peanut butter (chunky or smooth–whichever you prefer)
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. In a food processor, crush the Oreo cookies until the mixture is all one color and all the white has been incorporated into the crumbs. Place in a medium mixing bowl and drizzle with the melted butter. Stir to combine. Press into a pie plate and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until crust is set. Cool completely.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the peanut butter and cream cheese. Beat with the paddle attachment until smooth. Carefully add the powdered sugar (start your mixer on low to avoid the sugar cloud!) and beat again until smooth. Add the Cool Whip and, once again, beat until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.

Pour filling into crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula. Chill in the freezer for at least an hour before serving. Let rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before cutting into the pie. Or…well..lets just say your pie won’t be very pretty if you don’t. Right mom? Liz?

Another batch of Wedding Cake Pops

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

It’s been a while since I posted, I know. And I’ve got some great recipes coming, up, I swear. But you’re going to have to wait another day or two for those.  Today, we’re headed to Iowa for the wedding of a couple of college friends, Roxy and Jordan. I’m very excited for them, and can’t wait to celebrate with them tonight, but I’m also tired. Because Leah and I were up late making these:

Totally worth it! 😀

I know you’re probably much too busy to be reading this today, but if you happen to see this, Congratulations, Roxy & Jordan!!

Carrot Zucchini Spice Mini-Muffins

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

There are two different kinds of healthy recipes. Ones that you eat when you’re trying to eat healthy, and some that are so tasty that you’d eat them anytime.

A good example of this is Diet Coke Chicken, which we discovered when my mom was doing Weight Watchers years ago. Even though it was a Weight Watchers recipe, and the initial draw was the zero-Points sauce for the tender chicken, the dish was so tasty that it became part of our regular rotation in no time.

These muffins are another example of this kind of recipe. They’re made with whole wheat flour, and sweetened with applesauce and honey. Very low fat, high in fiber, and super-moist. They taste like zucchini bread, but the last time I looked at the recipe for a zucchini bread (my grandmother makes an awesome one!) it called for a TON of oil as well as sugar. Like the Diet Coke chicken, I found this recipe looking for a healthy treat, but I think I’d make it anyway. They were that good. (Especially with a dab of cream cheese frosting).

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muffin

Carrot Zucchini Spice Mini-Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchini, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup applesauce (I used an all-natural, no sugar added)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a mini muffin pan by lining each cup with mini-cupcake wrappers or spraying with non-stick spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl (or in a large stand mixer) combine all ingredients and stir well. Transfer to the prepared muffin tins, filling each  cup about 2/3 full.

3. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Makes 72 muffins. One serving is 3 muffins.

Fresh Berry Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Yum.

That’s about all I have to say. This pound cake was delicious. Moist, and tender, and sweet, but not too sweet. The recipe below makes two loaves, but I loaded one up with fresh blueberries and raspberries from the farmer’s market (about half a pint of each).

Pound cake

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
Adapted from Bakerella
.com

  • 3.5 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium mixing bowl and set aside. (It’s best if you have a sister or a cousin around to sift the flour for you. It’s much easier that way. Thanks guys!)

3. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar for several minutes, until light and smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each additional egg. (It’s best if you have a mom around to help you count all 6 eggs. Otherwise you might lose track. Thanks mom!) Add vanilla and milk until combined.

4. Add flour mixture in small batches until completely combined.

5. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. (Here’s where I added the berries). Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. (Mine actually took about 75 minutes–the cake with the berries took longer than the plain cake).

Sunday Cake Pop Marathon

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

Leah and I made a whole mess of cake pops today. A double batch! A ton!

pops 2

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These were chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting on the inside (yum!) and pretty baby blue and chocolate brown on the outside, for one of Leah’s co-workers. She’s getting married in about a week, and has fallen in love with some of the past cake pops I’ve made, so she begged Leah to score some for her.

I’m a big softy, I guess, so when Leah offered to pay for the supplies, I said I’d go ahead and make the pops–as long as Leah promised to help.

These turned out beautifully. Only now I’m a little sad–I would’ve loved to have cake pops at my own wedding, if only I’d known about them!

Lemon Bar Tart

Monday, July 20th, 2009

One more Fourth of July recipe, this time a twist on another recipe.

When I made the Strawberry Tart, I made a double batch of crust. I did this for two reasons. One, I wasn’t confident in my ability to roll it out and get it into the tart pan on my first try. Two, I wasn’t 100% sure what size my pan was or what size my tart crust recipe really was. Of course, as it turns out, the recipe made exactly twice as much tart crust as I needed, and I was able to put together my tart with no troubles at all, so there was no need for the backup crust after all.

Which is how I found myself with an extra ball of tart crust dough in the fridge, and how I decided to make another tart for the 4th of July. When I started thinking tarts, I honestly was thinking strawberries and blueberries and cream, in some variation of the red, white, and blue dessert that shows up at every 4th of July barbecue.

When I thought about what I had–a flaky, rich, buttery crust with just a touch of sweetness–I tried to come up with things that would go well inside, and after a while, I realized what the crust reminded me of: the bottom of a lemon bar. Yum! So I decided to make a lemon bar filling to bake inside my tart crust. I read through several recipes before coming up with the method below.

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Lemon Bar Tart

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 10 tablespoons frozen or cold unsalted better, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cup plain sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Make the tart.

1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse once or twice. Add the butter and process for about 10 seconds. Add in the egg yolk and process for a few more seconds.

2. Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl. Add 3 tbsp. ice water and mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball. You can add a little more water if necessary or a little more flour if it’s too wet. Wrap tightly in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

3. Spray your tart pan with a non-stick cooking spray made for baking, or grease and flour your tart pan. Roll the dough into a round about a half an inch thick, then transfer into your tart pan. Using your fingertips, press the dough into the pan evenly, spreading it out all the way to the edges and up into the fluted sections of the pan. Refrigerate for about an hour.

4. After the crust is properly chilled you need to prebake it. Heat oven to 425 (F). Sufficiently prick the entire bottom of the crust with a fork. Take a large piece of foil and butter one side, press the buttered side into the crust and up along the sides. Weigh the foil down with a pie weights (or if you don’t have pie weights, a few cups of raw rice or dried beans will do the trick) Bake for 12 minutes.

5. Now remove the tart from the oven and reduce the temp to 350 (F). Take off the weights and the foil and put the crust back in and bake until it’s a nicely browned, 10-15 minutes. Take out and cool completely on a rack.

Make the Filling.

1. While crust is baking, prepare the lemony filling. In a larger bowl, add sugar, flour, and baking powder.

2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly with the lemon juice, and poor into the flour mixture. Mix well, and pour on top of warm baked crust.

3. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the tart pan, on a cooling rack. When cooled, dust with sifted confectioner’s sugar and refrigerate.

4. Serve chilled.

Note: This was very good, but I have a few  improvements for next time. First, I need to be more careful with the tart crust, because mine ended up with a hole in it, and that lead to lemon filling leaking all over the place. I made this work, but it would’ve been easier if my tart crust had been liquid proof. Second, I didn’t have fresh lemons on hand to juice, so I used bottled lemon juice. I think it would’ve been better with fresh. Finally, I didn’t have enough time for the bars to truly chill, and I think they got eaten so quickly that even the “leftovers” didn’t get chill time. Oops. :)