Holiday Desserts Galore

Well another year has quickly come to an end and the holidays are just around the corner. Time to break out the new recipes and maybe a few classic ones, but nonetheless treats that will tantalize even the picky of eaters. Now last year I had done a simple set of desserts and a side.

  1. Iced Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies
  2. Pumpkin Molasses Cupcakes
  3. Pumpkin Cheesecake
  4. Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This year I will be bringing back a classic cake that I haven’t made in a while. But most of all the rest of the desserts will be new recipes. So here are the desserts and sides that will be served this year for the holidays.

  1. Dulce de Leche Cake
  2. Upside-Down Caramel Apple Rolls
  3. Pumpkin Pie Bars
  4. Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cookies
  5. Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes
  6. Shortbread Cookies
  7. Mini Pumpkin Bread

(Side Note: Will be adding links to the list after Thanksgiving)

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Quick and Easy Strawberry Shortcake

Well it’s that time of the year again. That’s right summer. When fruits are in abundance and the sweltering heat is overabundance. Strawberries galore is happening at my house right now and I need to use them before they go bad. Since I really wanted to skip out on baking and/or cooking because of the oppressing heat of the summer I figured a cold dessert was needed. Something that didn’t require too much time and there was no need to even go near the stove.

So I went to the grocery in the early morning. Wandering around to see what would inspire me. Walking down the frozen dessert aisle I spotted some frozen cakes. Now when I was in elementary school my mother use to buy the Sara Lee Pound Cake and I would have a slice of it with her on the weekends. That always entertained me for the day, as I would savor that one slice while trying to distract myself with a film on television.

Now that got me thinking. The cake was always partially frozen and it kept me cool in the house. So I figured I could get a small loaf. Now from there I was able to think of combining the cake with the massive amount of strawberries that I had just received earlier that week. There was also a bowl full of freshly whipped cream in the refrigerator. That was my ticket to a quick an easy dessert without the hassle of ovens or stoves.

Now that I think about it these would be perfect for Mother’s Day or even Valentine’s Day.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

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  • 2 slices of Sara Lee Pound Cake, thawed
  • 1/2 cup whole strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1 cup sweetened whipped cream
  • 1-2 tsp. sugar

Step 1: In a small bowl, gently combine the strawberries and sugar until strawberries are lightly coated in the sugar. Set aside.

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Step 2: Take a cookie cutter and cut out rounds from the pound cake slices. (Optional: I used 1-3/4 inch cutter. I also cut the small disc in half)

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Step 3: Slice the strawberries in a fan-like slices. (How to fan strawberries)

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Step 4: Place one cake round on a plate.

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Step 5: Fan out 1-2 strawberries on top of the cake slice.

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Step 6: Top it with whipped cream and repeat with remaining cake rounds.

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Step 7: Garnish with strawberry fanned out.

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If you didn’t want to cut out the rounds here is the non-cut version:

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Creme Egg Filled Brownie Mug Cake Thing

So Easter is just around the corner and there are rows upon rows of Easter themed candies in the markets now. I decided to pick up some mini creme eggs for old times sake. I used to eat these all the time as a child and I have now noticed that there are many different filled versions as well. I bought the fondant filled and caramel filled ones. Eating them straight up was alright, but I figured I could make them into something even better. I give you Easter Creme Egg Filled Brownie Mug Cake. Make sure you have a microwavable 1 cup container.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

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  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp. milk, coffee or water
  • 1-2 mini-sized Easter Creme Eggs (or 1 full-sized Creme Egg)

Step 1: In a heatproof mug or ramekin, stir together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until no lumps remain.

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Step 2: Stir in the oil and milk until you have a thick paste. (If you mixed it all in a bowl, spoon it into a ramekin or mug.)

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Step 3: Unwrap the Easter Creme Egg and press it into the middle, pushing it down so that only about the top third is exposed.

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Step 4: Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, checking it after 30 seconds (microwaves vary) – it will be done when it’s springy on top but still a bit gooey – like the very best brownie.

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Step 5: Eat warm. (I like to add a dollop of fresh whipped cream on top or even a small scoop of ice cream)IMG_5864

Simple Crème Brûlée

While rummaging around the refrigerator I noticed the leftover container of heavy whipping cream and the massive amount of eggs. Figuring I could make something with these simple ingredients with the added sugar and maybe vanilla from the cupboards. So a custard was the first thing that came to mind. But no I just had to up the difficulty by wanting to make crème brûlée. It’s a pretty easy recipe and you can substitute the portable kitchen blow torch with a broiler. So an inexpensive, but such a decadent dessert that seems super expensive. I should have done this for Valentine’s Day. Oh well.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

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  • 1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • (Optional: 1 tsp. lemon or orange zest, 1 tsp. flavored liqueurs, and etc.)
  • 4 Tbsp. superfine sugar (or Turbinado/raw sugar)

Step 1: Preheat the over to 300°F and boil some water.

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Step 2: In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring the cream and vanilla to scalding point. (small bubbles will be forming around the edges) (you can also add the optional ingredient)

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Step 3: Remove the pan from the heat.

Step 4: In a heat-proof bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale.

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Step 5: Gradually pour in the hot cream into the egg mixture, while whisking constantly.

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Step 6: Strain mixture into a large measuring cup or small pitcher.

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Step 7: Evenly pour the mixture into 4 ramekins.

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Step 8: Place the ramekins into a baking dish

Step 9: Place the baking pan in the oven and carefully pour the boiled water into the baking pan without getting any water in the ramekins. (Fill to halfway up the ramekins)

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Step 10: Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the custards are set. (There will be a slight wobble when gently moved) (The timing will depend on the amount of custard in the ramekins, how hot the water is, and how thick the ramekins are.)

Step 11: Immediately remove the ramekins onto a cooling rack and allow them to come to room temperature. (1 hour)

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Step 12: Refrigerate uncovered for 4 hours, or until cold and firm. (You can store them for 3 days covered)

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Step 13: To serve, remove custard from the refrigerator, sprinkle 1 Tbsp of superfine sugar evenly over the top of the custard.

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Step 14: Place under a very hot preheated broiler. (Or you could use a portable kitchen torch, just keep it 2-inches, at an angle, over the custard and keep moving the torch around until the sugar melts and caramelizes.)

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Step 15: Caramelize the sugar until golden brown and bubbly. (May need to turn ramekin around to evenly brown.)

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Step 16: Allow custard to sit a few minutes for the sugar to harden, or place into the refrigerator for a couple of seconds.

Step 17: Once sugar has harden serve imminently. (I think I’ll have to allow the custard to bake longer next time it doesn’t look like it set to much and give the broiler a little long to heat up)

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Side Not: After placing in the refrigerator for a few minutes it set right back. So with that in mind I do believe it became all liquidy inside because of the heat from the boiler which caused the ramekin to be way to warm for the delicate custard.

Christmas Gifts Galore

What to do, what to do? Being on a tight budget and having a short amount of time to buy things. So many people to gift and so many choices. Every year I generally just get gift cards and such. But last year I made cookies. Although they were pretty plain-looking they were a hit. This year I will be more adventurous and make a multitude of cookies and treats.

While scouring the internet I found many recipes and photos of cookies and baked goods that would do well as gifts. I figured I could make some of my cookies in a smaller form and give that out.

So this year I have figured out that I will be making 3 different treats, never-mind I meant 4 different treats and place them in a party bag to give out as a gift.

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  • Chocolate Dipped Rice Krispy Treats

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  • Orange Cream Drop Cookies’

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This should only take the day to make all the treats. I generally like to bake in the morning so that I can allow the baked goods to cool off completely by the time I finish cleaning. Now this year I have a dog to take care of so the baking process took a bit longer to finish off than I had anticipated. But in the end they turned out really easy and budget friendly to make for the Christmas holidays.

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Cookie Issues

As I repeatedly make cookies there were many mishaps over the years and it took some time to figure out a way to solve the problems. I found simple guide of the perfect cookie just a few weeks ago.

Here are a few helpful ways to make the perfect cookie.

Cookie-baking blunders making you feel crumby? Learn about 11 common conundrums, their likely causes and how to achieve the perfect batch of cookies every time.

Problem: My Cookies Are Too Tough

Why?

  • Overworked the dough (especially likely with cutouts).
  • Added too much flour.
  • Used flour with too high of a protein content (e.g. bread flour).
  • Didn’t use enough fat or sugar in the dough.
Fix It

  • Use a light touch; work with dough as little as possible once flour is added to avoid having the dough stiffen up as it is worked.
  • Spoon flour into a measuring cup, rather than scooping the cup directly into the flour canister. Scooping compacts the flour, which means you end up with too much.
  • Try substituting pastry flour for the all-purpose flour. Pastry flour has less protein, so it develops less gluten when worked.
  • Start by adding ¼ cup extra sugar or butter to the dough. Sugar and fat are the ingredients that make a cookie tender.

Problem: My Cookies Are Hard and Dry

Why?

  • Added too much flour.
  • Stored cookies improperly.
  • Overbaked the cookies.
  • Needed more fat or sugar.
Fix It

  • Spoon flour into a measuring cup, rather than scooping the cup directly into the flour canister. Scooping compacts the flour, which means you end up with too much.
  • Store cookies in an airtight container; freeze them for long-term storage.
  • Check oven temperature accuracy or bake a few minutes less.
  • Start by adding ¼ cup extra sugar or butter to the dough. Sugar and fat are the ingredients that make a cookie tender.

Problem: My Cookies Are Too Pale

Why?

  • Used an insulated cookie sheet.
  • Baked at low oven temperature.
  • Underbaked the cookies.
  • Needed more sugar.
Fix it

  • Use a heavy dull-aluminum cookie sheet. It allows heat to melt the sugar and brown the cookie.
  • Increase temperature by 25 degrees. Extra heat helps cookies brown.
  • Bake a couple of minutes longer.
  • Start by adding ¼ cup extra sugar to the dough. Sugar is a key ingredient for browning cookies.

Problem: My Cookies Are Too Crusty

Why?

  • Added too much sugar.
  • Overbaked the cookies.
  • Used a dark cookie sheet.
Fix it

  • Cut back sugar by ¼ cup or use brown sugar (which has more moisture) as a substitute.
  • Check oven temperature accuracy, bake a few minutes less, or reduce temperature by 25 degrees.
  • Use a heavy dull-aluminum pan.

Problem: My Cookies/Bars Are Too Gummy

Why?

  • Added too much liquid/moisture.
  • Underbaked the cookies/bars.
  • Used too small a pan.
Fix it

  • Decrease egg amount (use yolk instead of whole egg or use 1 less egg) or add some flour.
  • Bake a couple of minutes longer. Cookies are done when the edges are firm. Bar cookies typically are done when a toothpick inserted in to the center of the pan comes out clean.
  • Make sure you’re using the pan size called for in the recipe. A smaller pan will make the batter too thick for the designated baking time.

Problem: My Cookies Are Too Dark

Why?

  • Used a dark pan.
  • Added too much sugar.
  • Overbaked the cookies
Fix it

  • Use a heavy dull-aluminum pan.
  • Cut back by about ¼ cup sugar to prevent overbrowning.
  • Check oven temperature accuracy, bake a few minutes less, or reduce temperature by 25 degrees.

Problem: My Cookies/Bars Are Too Crumbly

Why?

  • Added too much flour.
  • Dough needs more fat.
  • Didn’t let cookies cool long enough.
Fix it

  • Cut back by ¼ cup flour to start.
  • Spoon flour into a measuring cup, rather than scooping the cup directly into the flour canister. Scooping compacts the flour, which means you end up with too much.
  • Add 2 to 4 tablespoons more fat to the dough. Fat makes cookies tender.
  • Be patient and let bars cool completely before cutting, or cool cookies a couple of minutes longer.

Problem: My Cookies Are Too Flat

Why?

  • Added too much fat or sugar.
  • Used all butter.
  • Baked at a low oven temperature.
  • Used room temperature/soft dough
  • Used a warm pan.
Fix it

  • Use half butter and half shortening, or reduce sugar amount. Butter and sugar make cookies spread.
  • Check oven temperature accuracy, bake a few minutes more, or increase temperature by 25 degrees.
  • Chill dough before using.
  • Place dough on cooled, clean pans to prevent early spread of cookies.

Problem: My Cookies Brown Unevenly

Why?

  • Made cookies with
    random, inconsistent
    sizes or thicknesses.
  • Baked cookies in an oven with inaccurate oven temperatures.
Fix it

  • Use a cookie scoop to help make sure all cookies are the same size. Make sure cut-out cookies are the same thickness.
  • Check oven temperature accuracy with an oven thermometer.

Problem: My Cookies Always Burn

Why?

  • Overbaked the cookies.
  • Used a dark pan.
  • Added too much sugar.
Fix it

  • Check oven temperature accuracy, bake a few minutes less, or reduce temperature by 25 degrees.
  • Use a heavy dull-aluminum pan.
  • Reduce sugar amount to prevent overbrowning.

Problem: My Cookies Are Stuck to the Pan

Why?

  • Forgot to grease/line
    the cookie sheet or pan.
  • The cookies are delicate and contain a lot of sugar.
Fix It

  • Lightly grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
  • Line pans for bars with lightly greased or non-stick aluminum foil.

Problem: My Cookies Are Too Stiff

Why?

  • Added too much flour.
  • Baked dough immediately after it had removed from the refrigerator/freezer.
Fix It

  • Cut back by ¼ cup flour to start.
  • Spoon flour into a measuring cup, rather than scooping the cup directly into the flour canister. Scooping compacts the flour, which means you end up with too much.
  • Bring the dough to room temperature before baking.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Making my chewy chocolate chip cookies is pretty easy, but it’s a bit messy. With all the baking pans and extra spoons being used. It is annoying to have to clean it all up all the time. So I figured I could make it all into 1 baking pan.

I will be using the same ingredients as my chewy chocolate chip cookies recipe for the most part in this recipe.

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  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Step 1: Line and grease a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan, or a large baking sheet.

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Step 2: Follow steps 3-8 from my Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 375°F.

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Step 4: Spread cookie dough into the prepared evenly.

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Step 5: Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Step 6: Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

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Step 7: Cut into bars when cooled.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

Every year I always seem to have pumpkin pie and that was until last year. Last year I had made a double layered pumpkin cheesecake and it was pretty simple to make without to much of a hassle in the kitchen. I was even able to make it into a triple layered, by adding dulce de leche to the bottom. This year I feel the need to up the difficulty since I will be making less desserts. So a classic pumpkin cheesecake will be made and this one will require more time on it.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

Crust

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup ginger cookie crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 2: Butter a 9-inch spring-form pan.

Step 3: In a medium bowl, combine all the crust ingredients until moistened.

Step 4: Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan evenly.

Step 5: Bake crust for 8-10 minutes and cool on wire rack while making the filling.

Filling

Step 1: In a medium bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients (the dry ingredients); set aside.

Step 2: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Step 3: Gradually add the dry mixture and beat until creamy and smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

Step 4: Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Step 5: On the last egg add the vanilla, pumpkin, and sour cream.

Step 6: Pour the filling over the crust and place pan onto a baking sheet.

Step 7: Set cake on the middle rack.

Step 8: Place a pan on the bottom shelf filled halfway with hot water.

Step 9: Bake for 30 minutes.

Step 10: Reduce the temperature to 325°F and bake for 10-20 minutes, or until the edges are puffed and the center is still wet and wobbles when gently shaken.

Step 11: Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Step 12: Run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan.

Step 13: Place foil on the top of the pan to cool slowly.

Step 14: When fully cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Step 15: Gently run a knife around the edge and carefully release the pan from the cake.

Step 15: (Optional) Garnish with piped whipped cream. (I did this to cover the cracks, you can decorate it in any way you prefer.)

Pumpkin Molasses Cupcakes

As I scoured the internet for inspiration on a new recipe to showcase during Thanksgiving. I found something intriguing and I looked around the kitchen to see what ingredients I had and what needed to be bought. The recipe seemed simple enough to make.

I will be making these cupcakes the day before, most likely in the morning which will give me plenty of time to allow the cakes to cool off and find space in the kitchen to store them.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Glaze

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Step 2: In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy.

Step 3: Gradually add the brown sugar until fully incorporated.

Step 4: Add the egg and mix well.

Step 5: Add the pumpkin puree and molasses, beating well.

Step 6: In a medium bowl, combine the baking soda, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, salt, and flour.

Step 7: Gradually all the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until blended.

Step 8: Evenly scoop batter into lined muffin pans, filling 3/4 full.

Step 9: Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes.

Step 10: Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Step 11: Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Glaze

Step 1: In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the brown sugar, butter, and milk to a boil, whisking constantly for 1 minute.

Step 2: Remove from the heat.

Step 3: Gradually whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.

Step 4: Whisk gently for 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly.

Step 5: Place foil or parchment paper under the wire racks that are covered with the cooled cupcakes.

Step 6: Spoon the glaze over the cupcakes evenly and quickly.

Notes: You can garnish the cupcakes by sprinkling some ground cinnamon on top of the glaze

Iced Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

I wanted to use the leftover pumpkin puree into something easy and cookies were the answer to my problem. These soft, almost cake-like in texture, moist, and sweet are simple to make and will do well without being stored in an air-tight container. Instead store them on the counter with some plastic wrap on them and they will be fine because of the high moisture content in them.

Here are the ingredients needed for this recipe:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup milk (more or less)
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt; set aside.

Step 3: In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy.

Step 4: Add the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla extract; beat until creamy.

Step 5: Beat in the dry ingredients until just blended. (Don’t over beat)

Step 6: Fold in the chocolate chips.

Step 7: Spoon out tablespoon sized dough balls spaced 1-inch apart.

Step 8: Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Step 9: Place baking sheet onto a wire rack and cool for 3 minutes.

Step 10: Remove cookies off of the baking sheet an on to a wire rack to cool completely. (Save the parchment sheet)

Step 11: Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the glaze, while adding 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until it’s the right consistency.

Step 12: Place the parchment sheet beneath the wire racks.

Step 13: Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cookies.

Step 14: Store on the counter.

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