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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pumpkin spice latte cupcakes

It's early October in New York City, and despite last week being sunny and in the 70s, this weekend is utterly cold (last night it was below 50 degrees!) and rainy.  Doesn't help that there's a hurricane threatening to dump more rain and wind on us in the next few days.  So I figured a homemade cupcake version of the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte (which aficionados of the drink affectionately refer to as a PSL, I hear) -- which is synonymous to most people with fall -- was the perfect treat to bake today!

I'm not a huge pumpkin spice fan, but I decided to give these a go anyway.  Part of it was that they were perfect for this weather, and part of it is because I was less likely to eat them all.  Plus, I really really really wanted to try this cream cheese whipped cream frosting.  Because how awesome does that sound?!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
From Brown Eyed Baker

Makes 12 cupcakes (I got 18) with extra icing

For the Cupcakes:

1 1/3 cups flour
4 1/5 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola, since that's what I had)
2 eggs
1/4 cup brewed coffee, for brushing

For the Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream

For the Garnish:

Ground cinnamon
Salted caramel sauce
Coffee syrup (optional)


Make the cupcakes.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
Set aide.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, both sugars, and the oil until completely combined.  Make sure to break up any clumps of brown sugar.
Whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time.
Add the flour mixture in 2 additions, folding with a rubber spatula (I continued to use my whisk) until no flour pockets remain.

Divide the batter between the baking cups, filling each about 2/3 full.  I opted to fill mine until they were 2/3 full and ended up with 6 extra cupcakes, although one was a bit small).
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes (mine were done at 18 minutes).
Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes.
Remove cupcakes and leave to cool on a wire rack.
While the cupcakes are still warm, brush the tops with the brewed coffee (next time I might try some coffee syrup instead).
Let each coat soak in before applying the next one.  I only did 2 coats each since I didn't want them to get soggy.
Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting.
On medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in a mixer with the whisk attachment until smooth and completely combined, about 2 minutes.
Slowly add the cream and scrape the side of the bowl.
Increase speed to medium high and whip until stiff peaks form.

Assemble the cupcakes:
Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Drizzle with caramel sauce, coffee syrup, or both, if desired.

Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Salted caramel sauce

I just made the most delicious salted caramel sauce.  Granted it was part of another recipe that I'm working on now, but it's just so tasty, and has so many uses, that I decided it needed it's own post (truth be told, so did the original blogger, so I'm not that far off).

Hell, this would probably go really well on ice cream, maybe even with some of that coffee syrup I made earlier today.  Oh man, I might be onto something!  A caramel macchiato ice cream sundae?  How awesome would that be?!

I didn't have fancy salt at home, so I used regular salt, but cut down on the amount.  It came out perfectly salty and sweet and gooey and awesome!  I keep going back into the kitchen to taste a spoonful, and I'm not a huge caramel fan.  Although B is, and when he gets home from work today, I think he might just love me a little bit more ;-)

I actually cut the recipe in half because I only needed it for a cupcake recipe, but I'm really regretting that now...

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
From Brown Eyed Baker


2 cups granulated sugar
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature (oops....mine was cold)
1 Tbsp fleur de sel (or any other flaky sea salt) -- I didn't have, so I used regular salt, but went down to 2 tsp


Get all of your ingredients ready and set aside -- this who recipe comes together quickly and a few seconds can be the difference between heavenly salted caramel sauce and a burnt mess!!

Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy sauce pan (make sure it can hold at least 2-3 quarts).
Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt.  You'll see that the sugar will begin to form clumps, but that's OK.  Keep whisking, and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down.
Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted.
Swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.

Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color -- this happened WAY quicker than I thought it would.  So watch.  it.  CLOSELY.  It should look almost reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma.  This is the point where it can co from perfect caramel to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye.  If you're using a instant-red thermometer, cook until the sugar reaches 350F (a good tip for beginners).

As soon as the caramel reaches 350F, add the butter all at once.  Be careful as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added.
Whisk in the butter until it is completely melted.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the cream.  Again, be careful because the mixture will once again bubble up ferociously.
Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce.
Add the salt and whisk to incorporate.

Set the sauce aside and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
Pour into your favorite glass jar and let cool to room temperature.
You can refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 weeks.  You'll want to warm the sauce before using.

Coffee syrup

I missed National Coffee Day.  I'm not proud to admit it, but I feel the need to come clean.  In an attempt to make up for it, I made some espresso brownies two days later.  I had intended to make them for national coffee day, but time got away from me.  I also planned to make this coffee syrup.  Seems simple enough -- coffee syrup.  I thought it would be good on ice cream (which I've never made, but would love to try)...or anything for that matter!

The recipe is easy: two ingredients, in equal parts.  So you can modify it as you want.  The original calls for 4 cups, but I went down to 3.  Easy peasy!  And the best part?  It's super tasty!  Plus, it stays for days, in case you're wondering "what on earth am I going to do with four cups of coffee syrup?!" (Don't worry, it does cook down.) The possibilities really are endless!

Coffee Syrup
Found on the KitchenAid Blog


4 cups brewed coffee
4 cups sugar

(Just remember, it's a 1:1 ratio, so you can adjust easily.  I went with 3 cups coffee to 3 cups sugar, since I had under 4 cups of coffee when I brewed it.  It yielded about 2 3/4 cups of syrup.)


Combine the coffee and sugar in a sauce pan.
Bring to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and moderately boil for about 1 hour, or until your preferred thickness.  (Syrup will thicken as it cools.  You can test the final thickness of the syrup while it is still hot by placing some on a metal spoon and chilling in the freezer for a minute or two, until the underside of the spoon is no longer warm.  Test the consistency and if needed continue boiling and testing every 5-10 minutes.)

When the syrup is at your desired consistency, allow the syrup to cool completely and then store in the fridge.
The colder the syrup, the thicker the consistency, so if you want to use it the same day, chill it for as long as possible.

Espresso brownies

Tuesday was National Coffee Day.  I don't know who comes up with these national food holidays, but I would like to thank the person who came up with this one.  I am obsessed with coffee!  I used to spend many of my waking non-work moments studying in Starbucks when I was a grad student (both times, all three of you count that second bachelors...), and I still frequent the chain, but lately I've been seriously crushing on the iced americanos from this little coffee shop in my neighborhood, Laughing Man (and in case you don't live in my neighborhood -- if you do, stop by and say hi! -- and want to sample it, I just read the coffee is available for Keurig!!).

But I digress.  Enough about my favorite coffee (I could go on and on).  Back to what I had been saying: It was national coffee day, and I didn't have a coffee treat for you guys.  I could've let it go by unnoticed. I could've made the coffee syrup that I saw online that day (that'll be coming soon), but with nothing to put it on it would've been sad.  So I decided to wait and make something good.  Like these espresso brownies.  Which are really just a modification of these yummy brownies I made for Yom Kippur break fast (and on Valentine's Day last year).  Because they're so freaking good, and because when pumped up with espresso flavor, they can take the place of a brownie and a cup of coffee -- a two-for-one deal.

Wait!  Am I rambling?  I think I may be rambling.  I don't know why I'm so hopped up.  Oh, right, maybe it's because I licked the batter?  The batter with 3 tablespoons of espresso powder? Yeah, maybe that's it.  Why am I still rambling??

OK, meltdown aside, these brownies are awesome.  The espresso goes so nicely with the chocolate in the brownie, you might even be able to call them mocha, but I like the ring of espresso brownies better.  And they'll give you a little buzz, but in a good mellow I-just-had-a-shot-of-espresso way. Lip smacking good!  

P.S. I don't think anyone would fault you if you enjoyed one of these with a cup of coffee!

Espresso Brownies 
Adapted from these heavenly Fudge Brownies from Yammie's Noshery


2 sticks of butter
2 1/4 cups of sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups of cocoa powder (I used Dutch press)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups of flour
2 cups chocolate chips
3 Tbsp espresso powder


Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the butter and sugar in a microwave safe bowl.
Heat in the microwave, stirring about every 30 seconds, until the mixture is bubbly and smooth (mine was smooth, but not so bubbly).  You can also do this on the stove.

Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Add the espresso powder and mix well to incorporate.
Mix together the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and flour.  I just sifted it into the butter mixture, in about 3 additions.
Add to the butter mixture, mixing until smooth.
Stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 28 minutes.  I baked mine for 25 minutes.  They were delicious, but very gooey when they came out of the oven.  They did set up nicely when the cooled.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Salted browned butter Rice Krispie treat white chocolate cones

Remember when I made those poppable Rice Krispie Treats?  Well as soon as I made them, I had two simultaneous ideas.  One was that I should make them with browned butter, because it just makes everything better, and then other idea was "why not put them on mini ice cream cones?" because I thought they'd make super cute treats!

I'd say I was right, no?  I made these fall themed because it's pretty darn coool out today, and also because I had picked up these adorable mini leave sprinkles that I just had to use.  I chose white chocolate because I thought it would contrast with the fall colors of the leaves, but dark or milk chocolate would work just as well.

Rice Krispie Treat Ice Cream Cones
Loosely adapted from the poppable Rice Krispie Treat recipe from Cookies & Cups


1/3 cup nonpareil sprinkles, in your choice of color or combination
1/3 cup sprinkles of your choosing (I chose mini leaves for fall)
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
Pinch of salt
2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
1-1.5 cups chocolate or white chocolate chips
18-24 mini ice cream cones, depending on the size of your Rice Krispie Treat balls

Decorations for the top could include:
Melted dark or white chocolate
More sprinkles
Red M&Ms (to look like cherries!)


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Set aside.

Place nonpareil sprinkles in a bowl.
Place other sprinkles on a small shallow plate
Set both aside.

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over low heat.
Allow butter to brown, watching closely so it does not burn.
Add the mini marshmallows into the melted butter.
Stir frequently until the marshmallows are melted and smooth.
Immediately remove from the heat.

Stir in the cereal.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Lightly grease your hands and form the Krispie Treat mixture into 1 Tablespoon-sized balls.

If using nonpareils, immediately roll each ball into the sprinkles, coating evenly (I skipped this part this time).
Place each ball onto the lined baking sheet.
Repeat the process with the remainder of the Rice Krispie Treat mixture.
Allow balls to set before proceeding.

Set up a rack so that mini ice cream cones can stand upright.  I find the best way to do this is to cut little "x"s in the ice cream cone box.
Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl until smooth, mixing every 30 seconds to make sure it doesn't burn.
Fill the cone with melted chocolate (you can skip this step if you'd like).
Dip the top 1/4 to 1/2" of the ice cream cone in the chocolate (it's OK if some of the chocolate from the cone drips out) and then immediately into the sprinkles and then immediately stick the cooled Rice Krispie Treat ball on top (it should stick because the chocolate is still wet....if not, just dip the bottom of the Rice Krispie Treat Ball in the chocolate and then affix it to the cone).
Leave upright and allow chocolate to harden.

Decorate with melted chocolate and more sprinkles and/or an M&M "cherry."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Poppable Rice Krispie treats

I've had 2 disjointed thoughts about these treats that I feel the need to share with you:

1. Sometimes I see a recipe online, and I think to myself "that's brilliant!"  And after a second of berating myself with thoughts of "why didn't I think of that?!," I realize that I'd really like to give the creator of said recipe a giant hug or pat on the back.  Even though I don't know them and they'd probably be freaked out by me doing so, but still.  Latest on the list?  Most recently was Shelly from Cookies & Cups, and her Toasted Marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats (here's the link to mine).  And she did it again with these Krispie Treat Party Bites.

2. I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin anything.  I've decided it's two-fold: I don't like pumpkin pie spices and I don't like pumpkin itself that much, either.  But it's the first few days of cooler weather in New York City, and that screams FALL!! to me.  And to most people, fall means pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pie and all those festive pumpkin-y fall treats.  And I wanted to make a fall dessert for the cooler weather, but I wanted to avoid pumpkin.  So I needed to come up with something...


And now back to my regularly scheduled post:

Truth be told, I love Rice Krispie Treats.  Not the prepackaged, wrapped in blue foil ones you buy in the store but the tried-and-true homemade variety.  Sometimes, I think it's a waste to take the time to press them into a pan and set, since I think the best part is licking off the spatula!  And while these are a little more time intensive than bars that are pressed into a pan, they're utterly adorable and worth the slight increase in effort!

Because they're POPPABLE!  Mini Rice Krispie Treat balls rolled into nonpareil sprinkles, and made into a 1 or 2 bite snack!

See?  2 little bites....

And the best part?  You can make them to match any theme!  I made mine in yellow-orange-brown nonpareils because it's fall, but you could use any colored nonpareils to match the season or holiday or a party color theme.  Can you tell I'm a planner?!  Already thinking about making some of these for Halloween...

Poppable Rice Krispie Treats
From Cookies & Cups


1/3 cup nonpareil sprinkles, in your choice of color or combination
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
Pinch of salt (I left this out)
2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal (I used Trader Joe's brand)


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Set aside.

Place sprinkles in a bowl.
Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over low heat.
Add the mini marshmallows into the melted butter.
Stir frequently until the marshmallows are melted and smooth.
Immediately remove from the heat.

Stir in the cereal.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Lightly grease your hands and form the Krispie Treat mixture into 1 Tablespoon-sized balls.

Immediately roll each ball into the sprinkles, coating evenly.
Place each ball onto the lined baking sheet.
Repeat the process with the remainder of the Rice Krispie Treat mixture.

Try not to eat them all at once!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Coffee cake cookies

My family has all the holidays divvied up quite nicely and evenly.  Since as far back as I can remember, since my grandmother vacated her role of preparer of break fast (the meal after the fast of Yom Kippur, when I eat almost 300 times more calories in one meal than I typically eat in a day), my aunt has held the title.  And although the meal is chock full of delicious food (appetizing and bagels and cream cheese, oh my!) we feel the need for dessert.  Even though a typical breakfast doesn't have dessert, our break fast always does.

My grandmother still usually makes the coffee cake -- handed down to her from her mother, my great grandmother, and possibly (and likely) from generations before her -- but since she did some sort of acrobatics last month and ended up with a fractured shoulder (she's healing quite nicely and is quite the champ!), I graciously usurped the cake-baking responsibilities for her.  Here's the problem.  This recipe I talk of?  This heavenly coffee cake?  Well it's a family secret.  It's always referred to as "Nanny Rose's Coffee Cake," and even if you promised to call it "Julie's Great Grandmother Rose's Coffee Cake," I don't think my family would ever forgive me for sharing it with you.  I did bake it and talk about it on the blog almost 3 years ago (see here for that post and a fabulous picture of four generations of women on my mom's side -- me, my mother, my grandmother, and my two great grandmothers), but I figured it wasn't fair to have another post about the cake and leave you drooling with no recipe, so I decided it was only fair to also make some coffee cake cookies.  Because that recipe I can share with you!

My Great Grandmother's Coffee Cake

I saw this recipe for coffee cake cookies over 6 months ago and I emailed it to myself.  "I must make these," I thought to myself, but then I never did.  See, just about anything that is advertised as coffee cake gets my attention.  And if you say coffee crumb cake, well then I'm 1000% sold!  So imagine a coffee cake cookie topped with loads of crumb topping, in a portable snackable delicious cookie that's been dusted in a faint snowfall of powdered sugar?!  I can't believe it's taken me this long to make them!

Coffee Cake Cookies
From Cookies & Cups


For the crumb topping:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup flour

For the cookie:

10 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 1/3 cup flour


powdered sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon liner.
Set aside.

Make the crumb topping.
Mix all the crumb ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Cut together with a pastry cutter or a fork until evenly mixed.
Refrigerate while making the dough.

Make the cookies.
Mix together the butter, shortening, and both sugars for 1-2 minutes on medium speed, until combined and smooth.
Add in cinnamon, eggs, and vanilla.
Continue mixing until evenly combined.
Turn mixer to low and mix in baking powder, salt, and flour.
Mix until dough comes together evenly.
Scoop cookies out using a cookie scoop or spoon (about 3 Tbsp) and place on lined cookie sheets.  If using a spoon, roll dough into balls.
Make an indentation in the center of the cookie dough.
Scoop at least 1 Tbsp of the crumb topping into the center of the dough, pressing lightly to stick.  Don't be afraid to cram it in!
Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes, or until edges start to get golden.
Remove from ven and allow to cool for 3 minutes on cookie sheet.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar, if you'd like.