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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Homemade Butterfingers

My sisters are not huge chocolate fans.  They like candy, but mostly in the sour varieties or fruit flavored candies.  They just don't love chocolate.  One sister ha even been known to pick chocolate chips out of meringue cookies.  Who removes chocolate chips from their cookies?!?

But one thing that they both really like -- and it contains chocolate! -- are Butterfingers.  Honestly, I don't get it.  Out of all the chocolate containing candies out there, I rank Butterfingers very near the bottom.  But my sisters?  They love them!

So when I came across a recipe for homemade Butterfingers, I knew I had to make them for my sisters!  And better yet, they only call for three ingredients.  Yup, 3!

One of the ingredients is a bit shocking, in my opinion.  Candy corns.  Yup, those tri-colored sugary-sweet Halloween candies.  Well the base of the Butterfingers is even parts peanut butter and candy corns (by weight), melted together, and then cooled.


I actually had a hard time finding candy corns.  I found pumpkin spice flavored candy corns, and s'mores candy corns, but I had to go to three stores before I found regular old candy corns!  This time of year, I found that a little shocking!

There are slight differences between the homemade and store-bought Butterfingers.  First of all, the store-bought version lives up to the "crispety" part of their "crispety, crunchy, peanut buttery" flavor whereas the homemade ones lack that crunch.  However, the homemade ones are definitely more peanut buttery than the store-bought versions.

Homemade Butterfingers
From Recipe Boy


16 ounces (about) peanut butter -- I used 15 ounces, since that's the amount of candy corns I found.  And coincidentally, it was the amount of ounces in the jar of peanut butter.  I guess it was meant to be!
16 ounces (about) candy corn -- I used 15 ounces.  Because after searching high and low for candy corns, I wasn't able to find a big bag of plain ones, just small 5 ounce bags.  But I bought 3.  And then I had 15 ounces of peanut butter AND candy corns, and all was good in the world.
dipping chocolate (like CandyQuik) -- I used the chocolate variety, but they'd probably be good with the vanilla one, too.  And you could dye it orange, which would be cute for Halloween.  But I'll do that another time.


Spray a pan lightly with nonstick spray.
Use 9x13-inch for thinner bars, and 7x11-inch if you want thicker bars.  I didn't have a 7 x 11 inch pan, but I wanted thicker bars, so I used a 9 x 9 inch pan.

Melt the peanut butter and the candy corn in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly and smashing the candy corn as it heats up and begins to soften, until all of the candy corn are melted and the mixture is smooth (5 to 8 minutes).
Turn the heat down if it seems to be too hot.

Scrape the mixture into your prepared pan and smooth out the top.
Let it sit until it cools off and begins to firm-up.
Once it starts to get firm, use a sharp knife to cut it into bars.  I was going for mini bars (you know how I feel about all things mini), so I got 27 bars (9 by 3, so they're about 3 inches by 1 inch each)
Let it sit in the pan until it is completely cooled off and really firm.
Then cut through again and remove the bars from the pan.

Dip the bars in dipping chocolate, and then let them set on waxed paper or a rack to dry.
Add sprinkles if you'd like!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Salted pretzel chocolate chip cookie dough Snickers bars

These Salted Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Snickers Bars are also called Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pretzel Snickers Bars.  Whoa, what a mouthful!  Literally and figuratively.  I think I'm going to have to start referring to these as BBCCCDPS Bars.  It's just such a mouthful to say the whole thing, so I'm going to refer to them using the acronym from here on out.

As soon as I saw these, I knew that I must make them.  Must must must.  They just looked so fantastic and so darn tasty.  Nougat and chocolate and caramel and peanuts and cookie dough and pretzels?!  My head was spinning.  And although they contain the components of a snickers bar (nougat, chocolate, peanuts, and caramel, in case you've been living under a rock for, well, all your life), they have added cookie dough AND pretzels.  Sweet and salty.  Yum!!


Best part?  It's a no bake recipe!  So I made one layer, then watched some TV and ordered in dinner (hey, I worked today and I was making these bars, I deserved a break when it came to cooking dinner).  I made the second layer, ate dinner, and then made the third layer.  Unloaded the dishwasher, made the fourth layer, and then microwaved the fifth layer and then assembled them.  It's that easy! (Ok, ok, it wasn't that easy, there was actually a bit of "cooling" time in between layers, but they were still pretty easy to make!).

There are actually several pots needed for this recipe -- although I washed the same pot between layers.  Again, not that easy, but again totally worth it.   For the top layer, I just caved and used the microwave -- shhh, don't tell.

All I can say is, grease the pan very well.  I used Pam and I don't know that it was enough.  Next time I make these -- and I will likely make them again -- I would probably brush the entire pan liberally with melted butter.

**These are delicious -- and super sweet! -- but mine look nothing like the original recipe.  Check out the link below to see the difference.  Either way, they're delicious, but mine are not quite as pretty as the original**

Salted Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Snickers Bars
from Half Baked Harvest


Bottom Layer
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips (or can sub dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Nougat Layer
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup canned coconut milk or regular milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
1 cup salted peanuts chopped, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 14-ounce bag of caramels (I only found 11 oz bags, so I had to buy two in order to get enough)
1/4 cup coconut milk or cream
Brown Butter Cookie Dough Layer
1 1/2 (3/4 cup) sticks butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream or coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 -3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Top chocolate layer
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips (or can sub dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup pretzels (twist or sticks)
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
Thoroughly grease a 9x13 inch-baking pan.
Melt 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips with 1/4-cup peanut butter in a saucepan or microwave, then pour into the baking dish and spread until even.
Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 15 minutes.

While the chocolate hardens make the nougat layer.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add in sugar and milk, stirring until dissolved and bring to a boil.
Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in marshmallow fluff and vanilla, stirring until smooth.
Turn off heat and fold in peanuts, then pour over bottom chocolate layer.
Let cool completely, about 30 minutes or 15 minutes in the fridge.
While nougat layer cools make the caramel layer.
Combine the caramels and cream in a saucepan over low heat.
Let melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth, this took about 10 minutes.
Pour over nougat layer and let cool completely, about 10 minutes.  FYI, I think my caramel was too hot when I poured it onto the nougat layer, as the nougat bubbled a little and the layers may have mixed a little in the center while I was spreading it.
While the caramel layer cools make the cookie dough.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan add the remaining butter, melt butter over medium heat until just browned.
Butter will melt, foam, and froth, then begin to brown along the bottom.   Mine got a little darker, but I don't think it was burnt.  That's what happens when you walk away from the pot and get distracted doing something else.  Again, shhhh, don't tell.
Whisk browned bits off of the bottom of the pan and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl.
Allow to cool 10 minutes.
**If browning butter is not your thing you may skip the step and just use softened room temperature butter.**   Next time, I'd probably go without the browning step.  Made the pot dirty again.  And frankly, I love cookie dough as it is.  But it was good with the browned butter.
Add the brown sugar, cream or coconut milk and vanilla.
Beat until combined, fluffy and light in color.  Mine didn't get light or fluffy.  Oops.
Beat in the flour and salt until combined.  I added more flour to make it a cookie dough consistency (just under 1/4 cup).
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spread the cookie dough over the caramel layer, be carful not to press too hard into the caramel. You don't want to mix the two layers.  This was less of an issue than when I poured the caramel on the nougat.  However, I didn't have enough cookie dough to cover the entire caramel layer -- the edges were a little bare, so when I made the top layer, I made 1.5 times the recipe to ensure that the whole thing was covered.
Melt 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips with 1/4-cup peanut butter (I 1.5 timed the recipe.  But of course as I am typing this, I realized that I 1.5 times'd the chocolate, but TRIPLED the peanut butter.  No wonder I thought it looked more peanut buttery than the  bottom layer.  Crap!  Sometimes I'm such an idiot!!...but in the end, it actually came out OK) in a saucepan, or just microwave them.
Pour over caramel cookie dough and spread until even.
Sprinkle with the pretzels (I didn't measure them, but eyeballed them) and drizzle with the remaining melted chocolate (I did 1/4 cup semisweet and 1/4 cup milk to contrast the chocolate layer -- which now I realized I didn't need to do since my top layer was overly peanutbuttered.  Duh).
Let cool and harden completely.
Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving, then cut as desired.  I may not have waited quite long enough, but when cutting them, the bottom layer stuck to the bottom of the pan.  It might be better if I had frozen them, it might have been better, but my freezer is full of other stuff :-/
These can stay at room temperature, but they do get soft and gooey.
The original recipe says that they personally liked them best kept in the fridge, but left out for 15 minutes or so before eating!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween Rice Krispie treats

Halloween is coming up and I haven't really made any Halloween-inspired treats yet, except for these white chocolate ghost lollipops.  Part of it is because I have no Halloween parties to go to this year (which I'm quite OK with), and part of it is because I'm not completely sure what a "Halloween treat" entails....usually they're orange, or pumpkin-and-other-Halloween-paraphernalia-shaped treats, or pumpkin flavored, or include Halloween candy.  But I didn't feel the need to artificially color things orange, or make pumpkin flavored things (it's one of my least favorite flavors), or sit there and painfully decorate Halloween-shaped cookies to only have them go to waste -- but I wouldn't put it past me to do that in a few days, after I catch up on some much needed sleep from my crazy week at work, and after I get more into the Halloween spirit.

But I digress.  I wanted to make something for the blog that was at least a bit "Halloween-y."  I found a few recipes for Halloween treats - a recipe for homemade candy bars (which I plan on making for my sisters soon), one for some Rice Krispie treats with a bunch of things in them including candy corns (gross, if you ask me), and a bunch of pumpkin desserts.  I had also saved a recipe a year or two ago for candy cups made with extra leftover Halloween candy, but of course I can't find it now.  (As an aside, is there such a think as "leftover" or "extra" Halloween candy?)  

So I came up with a "recipe" of my own, a Halloween Rice Krispie treat with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Reese's Pieces.  I thought about adding some peanuts, some peanut butter, or some Halloween-colored sprinkles, but decided that I'd stick with the Reese's only.  I froze the large peanut butter cups and Reese's pieces, since I didn't want the chocolate to melt too much when I mixed them into the Rice Krispie-Marshmallow mixture.

** Just a thought, but I think these would be good with ANY chocolate Halloween candies...especially Whoppers, Butterfingers, and Twix, to name a few **

Halloween Rice Krispie Treats
(aka Reese's Peanut Butter-y Rice Krispie Treats)


3 Tbsp butter or margarine
40 Large marshmallows (I used 4 cups of mini marshmallows)
6 cups of Rice Krispies
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, frozen (I used the large ones, and I ended up using 6)
Reese's Pieces, frozen (I could only find a small package, so that's what I used....I always believe that more is better when it comes to Reese's Pieces.)


Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan - I used a 9 x 9 inch pan because I wanted really thick Rice Krispie treats.  Sometimes I'm a glutton....what can I say?  My preference is Pam, but you could also brush it with some melted butter.

Measure out the cereal.  
Chop the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups roughly; I cut each one into 9 pieces.

Microwave the butter in a microwavable bowl on high until melted (about 45 seconds).
Add marshmallows and toss to coat.
Microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds or until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 45 seconds.  I recommend using a nonstick spatula or a spatula sprayed with Pam.

Add the cereal immediately, and start mixing well.
After a few seconds, add the frozen candies.  Continue mixing well, until all incorporated.  Don't worry if the chocolate melts a little, because it will.  OK, maybe it'll melt a lot, but that's still OK.
Press into the greased pan.
Allow to cool completely.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Robicelli's: A Love Story with Cupcakes cookbook

I have to admit that before last week, I didn't know what a Robicelli's cupcake was.  Boy, was I missing out!  As I started reading a bit more about the Robicellis (and saw a picture of the couple), I realized that I had seen Allison on a dessert-themed episode of Chopped on the Food Network back when B was more-than-mildly-obsessed with the show.

It started with a pin on Pinterest for "Dom DeLuise Cupcakes."  I pinned it immediately and then clicked on the link.  It was a cannoli-inspired cupcake with a pistachio cupcake and a ricotta buttercream, topped with mini chocolate chips and chopped pistachios.  I made them either that night or the next day (my memory is a bit hazy about that -- the past week has been insane).  They were awesome -- and I was hooked.  Then I found a few of their other recipes online, and a few days later I made the chocolate peanut butter pretzel cupcakes.

I debated ordering the cookbook immediately, but then decided I was being silly -- since I know I'd be buying it eventually -- and ordered it on the last day of pre-order.

I can't wait to make some more of them....I'm eying one particular cupcake for a party I'm going to in early December, and I'm looking for an event to make "The Duckwalk" for -- it's a vanilla cupcake with blueberry port mascarpone buttercream, and topped with port blueberries, which just sounds heavenly to me.  Plus, I have a bottle of the namesake Duck Walk Blueberry Port in my wine rack :)

If you want to drool over the cookbook like I did, pick it up here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cookie dough brownies

My sister called me on Monday with a possible baking job.  One of her coworkers was hosting a book club in two days, and wanted a "not too sweet" dessert.  My sister wasn't exactly sure what she wanted, or how many that she needed, just that she wanted something individual -- ie. not a cake.

I offered up cupcakes and brownies, but suggested brownies over cupcakes, since I personally find most icings super sweet.  After a bit of back and forth, I narrowed it down to two options -- chocolate chunk and toffee chip brownies, and these cookie dough brownies.  I opted for the latter for two reasons: (1) I thought the toffee ones would be too sweet, and (2) when I finally got to the grocery store after work at 9:30 p.m., they didn't have toffee chips, and I didn't feel like running around the Upper West Side of Manhattan looking for toffee chips.

The only thought I had -- after I started the brownies -- is "what if these are 'too sweet'?"  She specifically asked for something not too sweet.  Well, (shockingly,) despite the amount of sugar in the brownies, they were not too sweet.  The icing was a bit sweet, but when paired up with the not-too-sweet brownie, I think overall they're "not too sweet" (but hell, they are dessert, there's gotta be some sweetness to them!).

Cookie Dough Brownies
From The Hub of our Home



1 Cup Butter, melted (I used one stick of unsalted and one stick of salted.  So I omitted the salt later on)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
4 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 Cup Cocoa (I used a mixture of Dutch press cocoa and Special Dark cocoa powders, since I ran out of Dutch press, and didn't want to open a new package....lazy, I know)
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Grease a 9" x 13" pan.  I lined mine with foil and then sprayed with Pam for Baking (I was out of regular Pam)
In your mixer add the butter and sugars. 
Mix until completely combined. 
Add the eggs and vanilla. 
Mix well.
Add the dry ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. 
Cool completely before frosting.

Cookie Dough Frosting:


1/2 Cup Butter, softened
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
5 Tablespoons Milk
1 Cup Chocolate Chips (mini or regular)


Cream together the butter and sugar. 
Add the vanilla and mix well. 
Add the flour and salt stir until combined. 
Stir in the milk and beat until the frosting is fluffy. 
Gently stir in the chocolate chips. 
Spread on cooled brownies and frost.

Cut into pieces.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Chocolate peanut butter pretzel cupcakes

Yeah, in case you were wondering, you read that title correctly.  Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cupcakes.  Chocolate + peanut butter + pretzels.  In a cupcake. Pretty awesome sounding, right?

A few days ago, I made these awesome cannoli-inspired cupcakes (affectionately named the Dom DeLuise cupcake) for JulieBakes' 2nd birthday.  I found them online on a blog that I subscribe to, mere days before the cookbook they're featured in was launched.  These chocolate peanut butter pretzel cupcakes are by the same bakers/bakery, Robicelli's.  These two cupcakes sounded so awesome (as did another one posted on that same blog, but I'm saving those for another day), that I ended up baking them both in the span of a few days -- and ordering their newly launched cookbook!  Look out for a post about all the awesome recipes featured in it soon (once I receive it, read it, and drool over it).

When I made the Dom DeLuise cupcakes, the recipe said it made 12, but I ended up with 22 regular sized cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes.  These chocolate peanut butter pretzel cupcakes said that they made 24 regular sized cupcakes, but I ended up with 21 full-sized cupcakes.  I didn't even overfill any of them.  Interesting that the recipes are by the same people but the number of cupcakes would be off on both of them.  Regardless, super awesome cupcakes, so it doesn't really matter to me....and it shouldn't to you, unless you need a specific number of cupcakes.  I needed 12-14 cupcakes, so I ended up with more than enough cupcakes for my need.

A few notes about these cupcakes:

- I used Dutch press cocoa because I wanted to cupcakes to come out dark and super chocolatey looking.
- The recipe said that the cocoa-coffee mixture was going to be a thick paste.  Mine was actually pretty runny.
- The batter itself is pretty runny.  Don't fret.  It'll bake up nice and pretty anyway.
- Usually when I use coffee in my chocolate cake recipes, you don't taste the coffee at all, it just enhances the chocolate.  I used Starbuck's dark roast coffee, and it was pretty strong, so the cake tasted a little coffee-y.  It got better as the cake cooled.  So if you're a "taste it when it's fresh out of the oven" baker, as I tend to be more often than not, again, don't fret!
- Don't worry if the icing isn't perfectly piped - it'll be covered with crushed peanuts and pretzels, and then drizzled with chocolate ganache, and you won't be able to tell if the swirls aren't perfect.
- For the perfect drizzle - or close to it - I used a squeeze bottle and a back and forth motion.  If you don't have a squeeze bottle, using a fork dipped into the ganache would work well, too.

I feel like it's one of those math problems from elementary school: chocolate + peanut butter + pretzels + peanuts + ganache - concern for calories = one awesome cupcake.  That makes sense, even to the least math savvy person out there.  So does the following statement: Make these cupcakes.  Now.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cupcakes
From Robicelli's: A Love Story, with Cupcakes, found on Food52



3/4 cups cocoa powder (I used Dutch press cocoa for super dark, chocolatey cupcakes)
2/3 cups scalding hot coffee
2/3 cups buttermilk
2/3 cups canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350.
Line cupcake pans with 24 liners.
Place cocoa powder in mixer bowl and pour scalding hot coffee over.
Mix on low speed until a thick paste forms and mixture stops steaming- about one minute. Like I said before, mine was not thick nor was it a paste, it was actually quite runny.  The cupcakes turned out perfectly deliciously well.
Turn mixer speed to medium.
In a measuring cup, combine buttermilk, egg, yolk, vanilla, salt and oil, and mix lightly with a fork, ensuring yolks are broken.
Slowly pour into mixer.
Stop mixer and scrape bottom well to loosen any caked on cocoa.
Reattach and turn mixer to medium, letting run one minute.
Stop mixer again.
Sift together dry ingredients and pour into wet mixture.
Mix on low speed until just combined.
Remove bowl and use scrape down the sides of the bowl, ensuring everything is mixed.
Scoop cake batter into prepared pans, filling cups 2/3 of the way.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through (I don't rotate them....shhh, don't tell).
Cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when you touch them.
Remove cupcakes from oven.
Let cool completely. 
Peanut Butter Buttercream:
3 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream

Cream together the butter, peanut butter, and kosher salt with a mixer set to "high" until light and fluffy.

Add powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time, beating well between each addition.
Add heavy cream.
Once combined, taste for flavor.  I added more peanut butter -- probably about 1/4+ cups.

Continue to beat on high for an additional minute to incorporate air.

Classic Chocolate Ganache:


1/4 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cream
pinch of sea salt


Place chocolate in a bowl, and shake back and forth until it flattens out on top.
Heat cream and sea salt in a medium saucepan until it comes to a boil.
Immediately pour hot cream mixture over chocolate, and allow to sit for two minutes to allow chocolate to melt.
Using a heatproof spatula, stir the cream and chocolate together until completely smooth.
Allow to cool slightly before drizzling on cupcakes.
Ganache should not be hot to the touch, but still be liquid.
If it cools completely and becomes solid, microwave on 50% power in 20 second increments, stirring between each, until desired consistency is reached.
3/4 cups roasted peanuts
1 1/2 cup pretzels
Directions: Pulse pretzels and peanuts in a food processor until they're coarse crumbs.  (Alternately, place in a strong ziptop bag and repeatedly smack with a rolling pin, a heavy skillet, or anything else your find enjoyable. Place crumbs in a pie dish or baking pan.)

Fill pastry bag fitted with regular tip with peanut buttercream, and pipe onto each chocolate cupcake.
Put cupcakes into the refrigerator so buttercream hardens- about 20 minutes.  Don't skip this step - my icing was pretty soft otherwise and I'm sure they wouldn't have been nicely domed afterwards.

Gently roll the sides of the buttercream in peanut/pretzel mixture.
Pour a handful over the top and lightly pack on with hand. Do NOT dip them top down into the bowl and press.  The icing isn't THAT hard.  You will flatten out the icing on the top of the cupcakes.  I learned that lesson after cupcake #1, and the rest of them looked perfect (if I do say so myself).
Shake off excess and set aside.
Drizzle ganache across each cupcake

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wine tour treats: Candied cinnamon-sugar nuts

My friends and I are going on a wine tour out on Long Island this coming weekend.  I organized the trip in August, and I'm so excited that it's finally almost here!  I found this company that looks great - they pick you up, give you a champagne toast on the way out to the vineyards, provide a full bar in the limo, lunch and snacks, and then after stopping at 2-3 vineyards, we stop at a farm.  But of course, that's not enough for me.  I have to bring some snacks and treats, too :)

Earlier in the week I ran to Target to pick up some snacks, but also some ingredients that I needed to make a few treats of my own!  Some of the things I bought were super easy, like chips, salsa, and Halloween candy (I love anything miniature, and Halloween candy is no exception, but I cannot keep it in my apartment....which is why I decided to bring some on the wine tour, since Halloween is less than 2 weeks away).  And I was going to buy some nuts.  But then I thought - why buy nuts when I can make delicious candied nuts for the trip.  I had some other thoughts of things to bake, of course, but those will be addressed in later blog posts :)

Now I've made two kinds of candied nuts on the blog before.  There were candied espresso walnuts, and then there were spicy-sweet mixed nuts (which I actually made twice, since I left an ingredient out the first time....oops!).  Honestly, although very different, they were both FANTASTIC, and I have made each of them more than once. 

So why, you may ask, am I making a third kind of candied nut now?  Firstly, I am afraid that the coffee and spicy spices may ruin the wine tasting experience (I'm no wine connoisseur, but I know that some flavors do interact with the wine, and I'm guessing these two might).  And secondly, I feel like this little blog of mine has been a little neglected as of late (I know, I know....I only have myself to blame!).  So a new candied nut recipe needed to be made.

Turns out, there are only a few ingredients in this recipe, and I happened to have them all at home.  I mean, honestly, it would be some sort of crime if I didn't have sugar, cinnamon, and egg whites at home!  I even had the nuts leftover from some other baking endeavors.

Candied Cinnamon-Sugar Nuts
From Sally's Baking Addiction


5 cups whole pecans, unsalted
1 cup whole almonds, unsalted (If you read the actual blog post, she says that you NEED the pecans, but can add almost any other nut.  I happened to have had pecans, but I also had mixed nuts with pecans, so I changed the proportions and did 3 cups each of pecans and mixed nuts.)
2 egg whites
2 Tablespoons water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt


Preheat oven to 300F degrees.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray; or a silicone baking mat.
Set aside.

Mix pecans and almonds in a large bowl.
Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and water on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt, stirring until well combined.

Pour sugar mixture over nuts and stir to coat completely.
Spread nuts over the baking sheets and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15.
Allow to cool completely and enjoy.

Store nuts at room temperature, covered.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Happy 2nd Birthday, JulieBakes!

It's amazing how quickly time flies!  I was at work on Monday talking about "smash cakes" -- of all things -- with a coworker, and I pulled up a picture on the blog of some mini cakes I had made a while ago.  While I was scrolling through the posts, I came across JulieBakes' 1st birthday post, and realized that that momentous anniversary was right around the corner (October 16th)!  I had two days to come up with a recipe and bake it, in order to get it done in time for the blog's actual second birthday (I imagine that 2 year old blogs are similar to 2 year old children, and celebrating their birthday a day or two late is beyond unacceptable).  No easy feat given the way work has been going (I was actually supposed to be off on Wednesday, but that changed, and I ended up having to work 6 days straight).  But I couldn't not celebrate.

So the first issue was what to make for the blog's second birthday.  I had some other baking I wanted to do, but didn't want to substitute one of those recipes for the birthday recipe.  Then I came across a recipe on Pinterest for what they called "Robicelli's Dom DeLuise Cupcakes."  I have to admit, I was intrigued by the name.  But when I saw that they were a cannoli-inspired cupcake, I was hooked.  I.  LOVE.  CANNOLIS!  And since this blog is an extension of me, JulieBakes.  LOVES.  CANNOLIS!

I have to say, I was a bit hesitant to make a cupcake that is another dessert altogether, but the tiramisu cupcakes that I've made on the blog were fantastic....and those Samoa cupcakes?  Well B still talks about them.  OK, so maybe it wasn't a bad idea after all. 

I have to say, these did not disappoint!  While I wouldn't say they taste exactly like a cannoli, the flavor is there, and it's delicious.

There's only one thing.  The original recipe said that it made 12 cupcakes.  I debated halving the recipe, since I'm really the only one celebrating, but decided to keep it at the full recipe, since I figured I could bring the leftovers with me on the wine tour this weekend.  But I didn't get 12 cupcakes.  Not even close.  I got 22 full-sized cupcakes AND 24 mini cupcakes.  Yes, you read that correctly!  But the most impressive thing?  The icing recipe made enough icing for all 46 cupcakes (although when I was typing the directions below, I saw that the icing recipe was for 24 cupcakes...but still, there was enough for them all!).  I just needed a little extra in terms of the decorations at the end, but I was incredibly impressed that there was enough icing for ALL the extra cupcakes!

Dom DeLuise (Cannoli-inspired) Cupcakes
From Robicelli's: A Love Story, With Cupcakes, found via Food52
(and by the way, I MUST get my hands on that cookbook!!)



2 cups sugar
3/4 cup shelled raw pistachios
10 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 cup of milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/3 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder


Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line a cupcake pan with 12 baking cups (or in my case, several cupcake pans with 46 baking cups).
Place the sugar and pistachios in a food processor and process until the pistachios are finely ground.
Set aside.
Melt the butter in a microwave.
Keep the butter warm; do not allow it to sit and cool off.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and egg whites on medium-low speed for 2 minutes until lightly foamy.
Increase the mixer speed to medium-high.
Pour the warm butter into the eggs slowly, so that the mixture tempers and the eggs do not scramble.
Once the butter is added, reduce the speed to medium-low.
With the mixer running, add the milk, vanilla, and salt.
Mix for 1 minute until well combined.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir into the pistachio mixture.
Add to the batter.
Mix on medium until just combined, about 30 seconds.
Remove the bowl and paddle from the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, ensuring that everything is well mixed.
Scoop the batter into the prepared baking cups, filling them two thirds of the way.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes (mine took 22-23 minutes for the full-sized cupcakes, and about 12 for the mini cupcakes), rotating the pan halfway through.
The cupcakes are done when the centers spring back when you touch them.
Remove the cupcakes from the oven. Let cool completely.
Ricotta Cannoli Icing
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup ricotta cheese, strained and pressed (which I did, but then I thought it was ricotta-y enough, and I added a little more ricotta without straining and pressing it)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4cup heavy cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Cream together the butter, ricotta cheese, and vanilla with a mixer set to "high" until light and fluffy.
Add powdered sugar a 1/4 cup at a time, beating well between each addition.
Add heavy cream.                
Continue to beat on high for an additional minute to incorporate air.
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, roasted and chopped finely

1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
1/4 cup candied citron or orange zest, finely diced (optional) -- I opted not to use it, because I don't particularly like the flavor, and well, it's my blog ;-)
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain or fluted tip with cannoli buttercream and pipe onto each pistachio cupcake.
Mix the chocolate chips, roasted pistachios, and candied citrus, if using, in a bowl and sprinkle on top of the cupcakes.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ghost lollipops

I have to admit, I'm torn about Halloween.  OK, maybe not torn.  I really do like Halloween, I just don't like dressing up for Halloween.  I'm much happier hosting a little party, or staying home on my couch and giving out candy to the trick or treaters.  I just don't want to put a costume on.  And when forced to do so, I get super "creative" and dress up as a doctor (see, for years I threatened to dress up as a doctor since I was a nurse practitioner....this year may be a little more difficult, since technically I am a doctor now (just one of nursing, not an MD)).

But what I love about Halloween is the treats I can make.  There are so many fun ways of making treats festive for Halloween.  Years ago I made chocolate covered pretzels look like witches fingers, and cookies in tons of fun Halloween shapes.  So when I had gone and picked up the pink chocolate for the baby girl lollipops, I saw this little ghost chocolate lollipop mold.  It was simple, but super cute, so I stuck it in my basket, too.  It was definitely hard to delay gratification and wait till a time that was acceptable to make Halloween-themed treats!

(Though I didn't do it this time, I think it would be adorable to make these on shorter lollipop sticks and then have them as 3D decorations for cupcakes.  Maybe I'll do that soon....)