Cherry White Chocolate Bark

Cherry White Chocolate BarkMy husband and I have never really celebrated Valentine’s Day, not since we were in high school, anyway (…yes, we were high school sweethearts!).  I’m not really into all that mushy stuff, we rarely exchange gifts for holidays at all, actually, and our idea of the perfect night is one spent cuddled up on the couch with dinner and a movie (or Modern Family!).  Most of all, we just don’t need an excuse to have a night dedicated to ‘us’ – we have them all the time!Cherry White Chocolate BarkCherry White Chocolate Bark

Okay, I have to be honest and say that the girl in me thinks little pink hearts are absolutely adorable, melts for cutesy Valentine-themed anything and totally rocks socks covered in hearts.  After all, pink is my favorite color!  And Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to spend some extra time in the kitchen making something adorable!   Not that I really need an excuse…  So maybe I kind of love V-Day for my own reasons.Cherry White Chocolate Bark

This year, I decided to whip up a batch of Cherry White Chocolate Bark!  I am crazy for bark.  I could go on and on about it, but I’ll cut to the chase.  I LOVE how easy it is to make and how easy it is to adapt to any occasion or flavor combination!  I also love how easy it is to EAT…I’m especially skilled at that part!  Even the husband went gaga over this batch of bark and he is very particular when it comes to sweets.  That means one thing and one thing only…this recipe is a winner!Cherry White Chocolate Bark

Cherry White Chocolate Bark

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 30 pieces

1 piece

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz bag of white chocolate chips
  • 1 12 oz bag of red candy melts
  • 1/2 tsp cherry flavoring (oil based)
  • m&ms and sprinkles for decorating

Instructions

  1. Melt red candy melts by method of your choice (I use the microwave). Let cool for a couple minutes and stir in the cherry flavoring. Spread on a sheet of wax paper or foil and let sit until completely hardened.
  2. Melt white chocolate chips by the method of you choice. Spread evenly over the first layer. Sprinkle with m&ms, sprinkles, and anything else you'd like to decorate your bark with. Let it sit until completely hardened.
  3. Break into bite-sized pieces.

Notes

You can substitute cherry chips instead of red candy melt and flavoring (my grocery store doesn't carry them, so I stuck with the flavoring).

http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2014/02/04/cherry-white-chocolate-bark/
Cherry White Chocolate Bark

Milky Way Rice Krispies Treats

Milky Way Rice Krispies TreatsWhere has the summer gone?  I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized all at once that we’re basically into fall territory and it’s been over two months since I last posted!  So what have I been up to?  It’s a good question and I’ll let you stare at these delicious Milky Way Rice Krispies Treats while I explain!Milky Way Rice Krispies Treats

Work work work.  That’s basically been my life…working overtime and spending my little bits of time off with the husband, camping, and having my nieces over when I had the chance.  Oh and (squealing with excitement) working on buying a house.  We will be moving in mid-October!  I am beyond excited and feeling like more of a grown-up every day! :) Oh, and no more overtime, so I am one very happy girl!  I’m very much a to-do list writer/goal-setter and my latest goal is to post weekly!  Come October, with move-in and immediately beginning the update of a new-to-us-but-actually-very-old farmhouse, I really hope I can maintain that goal!  I’ll be posting lots of before and after pics, too!Milky Way Rice Krispies Treats

I can’t wait to have a kitchen of my own to cook and bake in to my heart’s content!  Speaking of cooking and baking, these Milky Way Rice Krispie Treats are my new favorite.  I even like them better than the Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats I made for Valentine’s day…and I so LOVED those.Milky Way Rice Krispies Treats

Everything about these makes my mouth water.  Chocolate Rice Krispies smothered in vanilla caramel marshmallow, with chunks of Milky Way candy bars and a light drizzle of caramel.  Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine is.Milky Way Rice Krispies Treats

I am an absolute candy fiend…I rarely buy any because it disappears so fast.  I love it all, but Milky Ways…ohh, Milky Ways are my kryptonite.  I bought a bag of fun size candy bars to use for this recipe, and don’t you know that half of them were gone before I could blink.  Oops.  It’s a good thing I didn’t need them all!  I blame it on my mad, mad love for caramel.  I can’t just resist it, which is why I had to give the Original Rice Krispies Treats a delicious, caramely, Milky Way twist.Milky Way Rice Krispies Treats

I layered my 9×13 pan with buttered wax paper because I knew I wanted to remove them from the pan, cut them up and dip them in chocolate.  A good buttering will suffice if you plan on serving them straight out of the pan.  I wanted chunks of Milky Way in my bars, so I chilled the pieces too keep them from melting when I mixed them into the warm rice krispies-marshmallow mix.  You could keep them room temperature and let them melt into the mixture if you so choose.  I used this easy microwave caramel sauce recipe, but you could use salted caramel or storebought caramel sauce.Milky Way Rice Krispies Treats

Milky Way Rice Krispies Treats

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 8 oz package of vanilla caramel marshmallows
  • 6 cups chocolate Rice Krispies cereal
  • 3/4 cups chopped Milky Way candy bars (9 fun size bars)
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce
  • Optional: Candy melts or chocolate for dipping

Instructions

  1. Melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.
  2. Remove from heat and add cereal. Mix until evenly coated.
  3. Fold in chopped candy bars. Drizzle mixture with half of the caramel sauce and gently mix.
  4. Press into a buttered 9x13 pan using wax paper or buttered hands. Drizzle with remaining caramel.
  5. Let cool to room temperature before slicing and removing from pan.
  6. Melt candy melts or chocolate by the method of your choice. Dip the bottom each piece in chocolate and then drizzle some over the top. Let chocolate harden before serving.

Notes

Keep the candy bars chilled; it makes for easier chopping and keeps them from melting when you mix them into the rice krispies.

http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/09/12/milky-way-rice-krispies-treats/

French Vanilla Rice Krispies Treat Pops

French Vanilla Rice Krispies Treat PopsIt’s almost July 4th!  I won’t be able to do much celebrating this year because I’ll be working all night, but that didn’t stop me from whipping up some French Vanilla Cake Batter Rice Krispies Pops!  Everything is better in ‘pop’ form, and that includes these festive rice krispies treats!  French Vanilla Rice Krispies Pops

I never used to get very excited about the Fourth of July.  My dad was always big into fireworks, so watching them was nothing too out of the ordinary and I think I was always to young to understand the feeling of patriotism and togetherness that I now love about it.  I sure wish I was able to be a part of it all this year, but oh well, there’s always next year!French Vanilla Rice Krispies Pops

I don’t know what it is about rice krispies treats, but I love  them so much!  I usually steer away from desserts that are so sweet…okay maybe I don’t steer away from them, but I’d choose something a little more ‘homemade’.  Not rice krispies treats though, I can eat them by the pan.  Seriously, the genius that came up with Rice Krispies Treats is just that, a genius!  I love how adaptable the recipe is.  You can mix in candy, flavoring, or use fun flavored marshmallows.  I always add sprinkles.  Always.  French Vanilla Rice Krispies Pops

I used my Cake Batter Rice Krispies Treats as inspiration, but used french vanilla cake mix because it was what I had on hand.  If you use yellow cake mix instead, you will get a much more distinct cake batter flavor.  I added lollipop sticks, drizzled them with  red, white, and blue candy melts and voilà!  A perfect Fourth of July treat!French Vanilla Rice Krispies Pops

French Vanilla Rice Krispies Treats

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 10-12 pops

1 pop

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup french vanilla cake mix
  • 4 1/2 cups crisped rice cereal
  • 3 Tbsp sprinkles
  • lollipop sticks
  • candy melts or melted chocolate for decorating

Instructions

  1. Line a 9x13 in baking dish with waxed paper.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir continuously until melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add cake mix and stir until no clumps remain.
  4. Add the cereal and stir to evenly coat. Add sprinkles and keep stirring until distributed throughout.
  5. Use buttered hands or a piece of waxed paper to press the mixture into prepared 9x13 inch pan. It's okay if the mixture doesn't spread all the way to the ends of the pan, just try to get a level surface. Let them cool.
  6. Use a buttered cookie cutter to cut shapes out. You can smush the scraps together and use them to cut more shapes.
  7. Melt candy melts according to package directions. Dip lollipop stick into candy melts and insert into rice krispies treat and let it harden.
  8. Drizzle with or dip them in melted candy melts to decorate.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/07/03/french-vanilla-rice-krispies-treat/


Turtle Ice Cream Cake

Turtle Ice Cream Cake

I love ice cream!  Who doesn’t?!  I love ice cream cake, but again, who doesn’t?!  Do you want to know what I don’t love?  The price of a pre-made ice cream cake.  It’s just a little ridiculous and completely prevents me from actually buying them.  There’s a totally obvious and very easy solution though: make your own!Turtle Ice Cream CakeTurtle Ice Cream Cake

This Turtle Ice Cream Cake was so delicious!  Fudge and caramel oozed out of every bite and the hard chocolate on top was quite literally the icing on the cake!  I intented to use actual Turtles (the candies…just in case), but could not find them at my grocery store.  I opted for Dove caramel filled dark chocolates plus chopped pecans instead.  I had no complaints!Turtle Ice Cream CakeTurtle Ice Cream Cake

I so loved the thick chocolate layer on top, but it made it a little difficult to cut into.  I used a very tricky technique where I took a chef knife and hacked at the cake until it sort of cracked on its own, then followed the natural break lines with my knife for a nice clean cut.  To avoid having to use said technique, simply drizzle the chocolate over the top instead of spreading a nice thick layer.  You could also use magic shell chocolate or make your own magic shell and it will be a little thinner.Turtle Ice Cream CakeTurtle Ice Cream Cake

Okay, so this was my first time making ice cream cake, right?  Trial and error.  It actually went very well, but next time, I must remember not to use slow churned ice cream.  It might seem obvious because it’s softer and melts much faster, but it didn’t even occur to me when I was at the store.  I was thinking, “what is the best tasting ice cream I can buy to make this cake super delicious…ooh yes! slow churned!”  Oh well!  It tasted amazing and that’s all that matters, right?  Right!Turtle Ice Cream Cake

Turtle Ice Cream Cake

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 qt vanilla ice cream
  • 1.5 qt chocolate ice cream
  • 1 10-15 oz. jar of fudge ice cream topping
  • 1/2 cup caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 12 Dove caramel filled dark chocolate candies, roughly chopped
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Let vanilla ice cream soften.
  2. Line your dish with plastic wrap for easy removal. I used a 2 1/2 quart round casserole dish.
  3. Spoon vanilla ice cream into dish and level with a spatula. Cover and let it freeze until firm.
  4. Spoon half of the fudge topping onto the vanilla ice cream layer and spread evenly. Top with chopped pecans and Dove candies and drizzle caramel over the top, reserving a couple tablespoons of both the caramel and pecans to garnish the final product. Spoon remaining fudge topping on top and spread evenly. Cover and place back in freezer until firm. Meanwhile, let chocolate ice cream soften.
  5. Spoon the chocolate ice cream over the fudge layer and level with a spatula. Return to freezer for a couple hours to let the whole thing freeze completely.
  6. Melt butter and chocolate chips together by the method of your choice and let cool until it is just about room temperature.
  7. Remove ice cream cake from the freezer and invert onto cake plate. Gently pull the plastic wrap away from the cake.
  8. Drizzle the cake with melted chocolate, or cover it entirely (or both) and caramel. Sprinkle the remaining chopped pecans over the top. Serve immediately, or place back in the freezer until ready to serve.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/06/28/turtle-ice-cream-cake/

Rustic Strawberry Pistachio Cake

Rustic Strawberry Pistachio Cake This strawberry pistachio cake is simply phenomenal.  I absolutely love the simple, rustic look, with just a dusting of powdered sugar.  It doesn’t just look great though, this cake tastes divine!  The delicate pistachio flavor combined with fresh strawberries and crunchy pistachios will make anyone’s mouth water.  Rustic Strawberry Pistachio Cake

I had a package of pistachio pudding in the pantry begging to be used.  I was planning on making these salted pistachio pudding cookies, but when I saw that strawberries were buy one get one, it was decided for me.  I can’t resist a good sale and I didn’t want to risk the strawberries going bad.  That would have been a shame, so the cookies will have to wait until next time!  I started with the recipe for my delicious pistachio loaf, added strawberries and baked it in two 9-inch rounds. Rustic Strawberry Pistachio Cake

Now, my pistachio loaf is really good…we’re talking REALLY good.  It is always a crowd-pleaser and I often am asked for the recipe.  Everyone loves it, but the fresh strawberries really brought it to the next level.  I was drooling just smelling this cake bake and then I took the first bite, full of tender and moist strawberries.  I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing like it was the fourth of July.Rustic Strawberry Pistachio Cake

The cake rose a bit more than I had expected, so my strawberries got a little enveloped by the cake.  If you plan to make this lovely cake, I recommend only gently placing the strawberries on top.  You could also try baking it for ten minutes or so, quickly adding the strawberries, and continuing to bake.  You could even leave the halved strawberries out completely and just sprinkle the cake with more chopped pistachios.Rustic Strawberry Pistachio CakeRustic Strawberry Pistachio Cake

Rustic Strawberry Pistachio Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 3.4 oz. box instant pistachio pudding
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 7 strawberries, sliced in half

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Whisk together cake and pudding mixes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well-blended.
  3. Fold in nuts and chopped strawberries.
  4. Pour batter into cake pans. It will be thick and you may need to spread it with a spatula. Gently place halved strawberries on top. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/06/13/strawberry-pistachio-cake/

 

Microwave Caramel Sauce

Microwave Caramel SauceYes, you read that right, you can make caramel sauce in the microwave!  Oh, you already knew that??  Well, it was news to me…and good news, at that.  I guess I knew it was possible, but I had never really considered it.  Surprising, seeing as how my obsession with caramel (especially homemade), finds me constantly standing over the stove watching the sugar mixture boil.  It’s kind of a pain.  Naturally, I was beyond thrilled when I found this microwave caramel sauce recipe.  So. Much. Easier.  All you do is let it cook in the micro, then mix in your cream, butter, and vanilla.  Easy peasy. Microwave Caramel Sauce

I used all white sugar the first time I made this, which was perfectly delicious.  The next time, I used half brown sugar to achieve a little bit richer of a taste and fell in love.  You sort of have to use your judgement as to when to stop microwaving, because you can’t see the color change.  If you used all white sugar, you would stop microwaving as soon as it begins to turn an amber color.  The process seems to be pretty forgiving.  I microwaved mine for 6 minutes, and it turned out very well.  If the caramel sauce isn’t as thick as you’d like, just pour it into a saucepan and simmer it for several minutes.  Keep in mind that it does thicken considerably when completely cooled, so it’s most likely not necessary.Heavy Cream Substitut

I did not have heavy cream when I decided to start making this, so I used a mixture of melted butter and milk.  Just use a ratio of 2:1 milk to butter.  I used 1/3 cup warmed milk plus ~2 1/2 Tbsp melted butter.  This simple substitution can be used in baking and when making soups or sauces, but is not intended for whipping.  You’re basically just increasing the fat content of the milk to get the reaction you need, but unfortunately, it will not whip like heavy whipping cream does.Microwave Caramel Sauce

Microwave Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (or heavy cream substitute), warm
  • 1 Tbsp softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Whisk sugars, corn syrup, water and lemon together in a glass bowl. Microwave on high for 5-8 minutes.
  2. Gently remove from microwave; careful - it will be hot and let rest for 3-5 minutes. Stir in 1 tbsp cream and whisk well. The mixture will foam up then settle back. Add remaining cream, slowly (in batches) and whisk.
  3. Add butter and vanilla and whisk well.
  4. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Store in resealable container (mason jar is perfect!) in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Notes

You can use all white sugar. Follow directions normally, but stop heating as soon as the mixture begins to turn an amber color.

http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/06/05/microwave-caramel-sauce/

Mini Grasshopper Cheesecakes

Mini Grasshopper CheesecakesI’ve had mini grasshopper cheesecakes on my mind since I made Oreo cupcakes with an Oreo baked into the center.  I knew I wanted to do something similar with Thin Mints/ Grasshopper cookies but wasn’t sure exactly what.  Then I remembered how much I love cheesecake…the rest was history. Mini Grasshopper CheesecakesAs soon as I started thinking about cheesecake, I remembered a recipe I used years, and I mean YEARS ago, from my parents’ magic bullet manual.  It was surprisingly amazing and I wanted to try it again.  I found the very simple cheesecake recipe on the bullet website, and even though I actually have a magic bullet, I used a mixer and bowl to prepare it.  I added mini chocolate chips, mint extract, and green food coloring to the cheesecake batter.  I finished these beauties off with a generous dollop of chocolate ganache and Andes candies for garnish.  It was absolutely perfect!Mini Grasshopper CheesecakesMint and chocolate go so well together!  It is definitely one of my favorite flavor combination, right up there with salt and caramel.  I absolutely love mint chocolate chip ice cream, Thin Mints, peppermint bark, and I order nothing but peppermint white mochas as soon as they’re available at Starbucks in fall!Mini Grasshopper CheesecakesThese cheesecakes had a great mint flavor and soft texture.  After I took them out of the oven, the center seemed a little darker in color and I was nervous they hadn’t baked completely.  As they cooled, they looked better and once the ganache was on, I tried one and they tasted heavenly!  Yes, I was successful in waiting until the end to dig in for once!  I used paper cupcake liners that are just a tad bit smaller than normal, and the cookie was the perfect size for a crust!Mini Grasshopper Cheesecakes

Mini Grasshopper Cheesecakes

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 30 mini cheesecakes

1 mini cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • green food coloring
  • 30 grasshopper cookies
  • Andes candies for garnish
  • Chocolate Ganache
  • 1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cream/milk/half and half

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and place a grasshopper cookie at the bottom of each.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each. Add peppermint extract and food coloring and mix until evenly distributed. Fold in mini chocolate chips.
  3. Fill paper liners 3/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheesecake is set in the center. The edges may brown slightly. Let them cool to room temperature.
  4. For the Chocolate Ganache
  5. Microwave cream and chocolate chips in microwave safe container at 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave in intervals of 15-30 until almost completely melted, then continue to stir until smooth. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, until it is just about room temperature.
  6. Pour ganache over cooled cheesecakes and let set. Garnish with Andes candies just before the ganache is almost sett. If the ganache is not firm enough, the candies may fall over or move.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/05/01/mini-grasshopper-cheesecakes/


Cake Pops to Celebrate Nature

Celebrate Nature with Cake PopsEveryone loves cake pops!  I think that is a large part of the reason why they’re one of my favorite desserts to make.  I just love when the treats I make are eagerly gobbled up by their happy recipients who barely manage to let out an “ooh, they’re so good” between mouthfuls!  It absolutely makes my day.  If you’ve had one, you can understand how cake pops quickly became popular and so well-loved!  They’re insanely rich and moist, super cute, and are the perfect size for portion control…or at least they can be if you have any sense of self-control and can keep yourself from eating three at a time like I do.  I’d be lying if I said I did not have a cake pop for breakfast today.  I can’t help it, I love them so much!

Earth Day Cake PopsBlue Bird Cake Pops

I’ll use anything as an excuse to whip up an adorable treat, and Earth day was just as good a reason as any to come up with something delicious!  I made little Earth Cake Pops and I couldn’t resist celebrating the long awaited arrival of spring with little blue bird pops!  While on the subject of Earth Day, I  must tell you how much I really love these Earth Day Cupcakes by Bird On A Cake!  They are way too cute!

Celebrate Nature with Cake Pops

Cake pops are so easy to make; all you need is a 9×13 inch cake, some frosting, and candy melts or chocolate chips to coat it.  I usually use a cake mix for convenience and a jar of store-bought frosting because it is so much easier and honestly, you’ll never know the difference!  I’ve done it both ways and they taste amazing either way!  You can even use the bits of leftover cake you slice off when making a layer cake and leftover frosting to make just a few as a treat for yourself!

Earth Day Cake PopsBlue Bird Cake Pops

 

Earth Day Cake Pops

Yield: 48 cake pops

Ingredients

  • 1 9×13 inch cake
  • 3/4 container of frosting
  • 1 package of blue Wilton candy Melts
  • green sugar sprinkles
  • orange sprinkles
  • mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Crumble the cake in a large bowl until no large pieces remain.
  2. Add the frosting and mix with the back of a wooden spoon (or your hands) until combined throughout. The consistency should be such that you can form balls that hold their shape without cracking or crumbling.
  3. For Earth Cake Pops:
  4. Form balls from the mixture with your hands, or use cake pop molds. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to let them firm up.
  5. Melt candy melts according to package directions.
  6. Dip a stick into the candy melts and insert about halfway into cake pop. Let that harden for a minute.
  7. Dip the pop into the candy coating to cover it entirely and let the coating harden.
  8. Use a toothpick dipped in the melted candy coating to draw on the continents, then dip it in (or sprinkle with) the green sprinkles before it dries.
  9. For Blue Bird Cake Pops
  10. Form the shape of the bird bodies from the mixture with your hands and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  11. Insert stick and dip pops in the same way as you for the Earth Cake Pops.
  12. Before the coating has completely hardened, insert the mini chocolate chips as eyes and the orange sprinkle as a beak.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/04/23/earth-day-cake-pops/

 

 

Strawberries and Cream Blondies

Strawberries and Cream BlondiesYesterday was not my day.  The first line of this post would have read something cheesy like, “Welcome spring into your home with a pan of delicious strawberries and cream blondies!”  But wouldn’t you know that as I was wrapping the top of my pan in plastic wrap, it slipped from my fingers and I managed to catch it against the cabinet doors with my knees.  It probably would have looked better if I had let it hit the floor.  The gorgeous cheesecake and strawberry swirl was all mushed against the plastic wrap, and as you can imagine, that doesn’t lend to taking beautiful photographs.  I made the best of it by scraping  the smushed mess off the plastic wrap with a butter knife and licking it clean.  It was delicious!  I used some fresh whipped cream to disguise the messiness and who knows, maybe it was my day, afterall!  Anyway…

Strawberries and Cream BlondiesStrawberries and Cream Blondies

Welcome spring into your home with a pan of delicious strawberries and cream blondies!  Seriously, you had better hurry because spring is almost here!  I can tell by the puddles I’ve been jumping over as I walk to my car in the morning.  This morning, the water was actually deeper than the toe of my rain boot.  Spring is all about fun colors, dresses, and fresh fruity flavors.  Last week I even changed all of the scented candles and plugins from my warm winter vanilla scent to a lively citrus – Folks, I am ready!Strawberries and Cream Blondies

This dessert begins as a pan pf strawberry blondies made from a cake mix – simple and delicious.  Throw in in a light cream cheese layer…now we’re talking.  Add a fresh strawberry jam swirl and violà – we have reached perfection!  To be honest, I did not know how it was going to turn out.  I kind of made it up as I went along, adding some of this and that to adjust the batter to be the consistency I thought it should be.  My swirls weren’t the prettiest thing before I put it in the oven, and I was nervous that it would do something weird as it cooked and end up just looking really gross.  It looked great, you know, prior to the aforementioned dropping incident.  I actually think they still look pretty darn tasty with a dollop of whipped cream and a fresh strawberry on top.  They taste even better than they look!

Strawberries and Cream Blondies

The blondie layer is rich and has the texture of a dense cake or a cakey brownie.  The addition of 1/4 cup of homemade strawberry jam to the batter really transformed it to a more natural strawberry taste, as opposed to the strawberry flavoring taste that the cake mix has naturally; it added some lovely color as well.  There isn’t much I can say about the cheesecake layer; it was divine, as all cheesecake is.  The fresh strawberry jam swirled with the cheesecake layer was absolutely heavenly!  All in all, perfect strawberries and cream blondies!  Why yes, I will have a second piece.Strawberries and Cream Blondies

Strawberries and Cream Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 9x9 pan

Ingredients

    Strawberry Jam:
  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2-4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
  • Cheesecake Layer:
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Strawberry Blondies:
  • 1 package strawberry cake mix
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup of prepared strawberry jam
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream or milk

Instructions

    Prepare the Strawberry Jam:
  1. Puree half of the strawberries using a blender or food processor. Add pureed strawberries and remaining sliced strawberries to a large frying pan. Add 2 Tbsp sugar and lemon juice. If you choose not to puree the strawberries, you should add a couple Tbsp water.
  2. Heat on medium heat, and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until it reaches your desired thickness. You can add the remaining sugar if desired, some berries are sweeter than others, so adjust according to your taste.
  3. Let cool completely.
  4. Prepare the Cheesecake Layer:
  5. Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until combined. Set aside.
  6. Prepare Strawberry Blondies:
  7. Combine cake mix, eggs, and oil in a medium bowl and mix until just combined. Add 1/4 cup of strawberry jam and continue to mix. Add up to 3 tbsp of heavy cream/milk if needed to make the mixture less thick (so it will be spreadable).
  8. Spread batter into a greased 9x9-inch pan.
  9. Spread the cream cheese mixture over top of batter, and spoon the the strawberry jam on top of it. Run a knife through the cream cheese and jam to create a swirl pattern. Try to avoid getting the knife in the blondie batter.
  10. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center come out clean.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/04/15/strawberries-and-cream-blondies/


Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

Peanut Butter Bird Nest CookiesThese Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies are a dream come true.  I often lie awake at night, tossing and turning for what feels like hours (and sometimes is!) before I am finally able to drift off to sleep.  I have struggled with falling asleep since I was young.  I’m usually thinking about all the things I need to do/want to do/didn’t do or my imagination is running wild thinking of flavor combinations and dessert ideas.  I actually started keeping a notepad on my dresser so I can jot things down so I don’t forget them the next morning.

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

These  Bird Nest Cookies were one of those late night ideas that came to me last week.  I was thinking about all the cute little bird nest cookies and desserts I’ve seen lately (like these Bird Nest Cupcakes from Jessiker Bakes), but how I don’t like those crunchy noodles, and how I wanted them to have great texture and my favorite flavors.  It doesn’t get much more delicious than chocolate and peanut butter, does it?  Didn’t think so.  Now throw in some toasted coconut and we’ve got a winner!

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

I’ve been wanting to try pudding cookies for some time and these bird nest cookies provided me with the perfect opportunity!  I looked around the internet and came up with a recipe (mostly adapted from these peanut butter cookies).  My first batch didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to; they weren’t as moist or chewy as I wanted so I upped the butter and brown sugar and made another batch.  It was perfect!  You could use your go-to peanut butter cookie recipe or even a store-bought mix.

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

I dipped my cookies in semi-sweet chocolate, but I’m sure dark (or milk) chocolate would be heavenly too! I used Reese’s Eggs to add to the peanut butter and chocolate combination, for most of them anyway.  I ran out because I used the same bag for my Loaded White Chocolate Easter Bark, so I used Robin’s Eggs for the rest.  Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

The result was heavenly!  The cookies were soft and flavorful.  They weren’t super peanut buttery, so you could up that if you want, but if you up it substantially, cut back on the butter a little.  Once they were decorated, they were almost too cute to eat!  Almost being the key word there…I ate a lot of them.Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookieskizmos

Oh and have you heard of Kizmos?  They’re the cutest kitchen utensils I have ever seen, and I was lucky enough to win a set of them from a giveaway by Crazy for Crust a couple months ago!  I never win anything, so this was very exciting!  It was even better because I desperately needed new rubber spatulas – these were amazing!  The tops of the Kizmos spatulas don’t fall off when you’re using them to mix up something really thick; that is awesome!  And aren’t they so adorable?!?  Want to see more of Kizmos?  Like their Facebook page or Follow Kizmos on Pinterest!  Need some for your own kitchen?  I know you do; head over to Pfaltzgraff or Amazon and order whatever utensils you want need!

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

Peanut Butter Bird Nest Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 package vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 package of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 bag shredded sweetened coconut (~2 cups)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and mix.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture, and continue to mix until incorporated throughout.
  5. Scoop dough by the heaping tablespoon, form into a ball, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Use a glass to gently flatten each ball. Optional: Use a tablespoon to make a well in each cookie, you could also do this after they have baked.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Toast the coconut:
  8. Spread the coconut flakes on a baking sheet in a single layer.
  9. Bake at 325 for 5-10 minutes. Keep in mind that sweetened coconut flakes will take less time.
  10. To decorate:
  11. Melt chocolate chips and vegetable oil by the method of your choice.
  12. Dip each cooled cookie into the chocolate.
  13. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and place Reese's eggs in the center.
http://paintchipsandfrosting.com/2013/04/01/bird-nest-cookies/