These cookies will change your life. I’m telling you, chocolate chip cookies will never be the same. The recipe is from Ambitious Kitchen, I upped the vanilla and used vanilla flavored greek yogurt, otherwise everything else is the same! Continue reading
It’s no secret that I love caramel. I stumbled across this recipe on pinterest and knew I would be adding these caramels to my list of things to make for Christmas. I followed the outline exactly. If you have any hesitation about making caramel (I know I did before my first batch of salted caramel sauce), fret not; they have a video tutorial on the page as well as an extensive tutorial on homemade caramels, again complete with video. I doubled the recipe and let it set in a 9×9 baking pan – you can never have too much caramel. I let my sugar/water reach 320 F, but mine had already turned a darker amber color (as opposed to the lighter color on the video); they still tasted great! Below I have added their recipe (but doubled the ingredients) and added my notes. It’s easier than it looks and less far tedious than the very long instruction list would suggest!
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 2 cups sugar
- chocolate for dipping, I did both semi-sweet and dark
- optional: sea salt for sprinkling
- Lightly oil a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan then measure and cut a piece of parchment paper that will fit inside the pan and come up the sides by at least 1 inch. Next, lightly oil the parchment paper and place into the pan. Set the pan aside.
- Cut each stick of butter into 8 pieces then combine with heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 minutes until hot and butter has melted. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan combine the water and corn syrup. Then, add the sugar, but try your best not to splatter the sugar up the sides of the pan. Now, use a spoon to gently stir the sugar into the water and corn syrup, just moistening the sugar.
- Heat over medium heat until the sugar has come to a boil. Then, cover with a lid for 1 minute. This adds steam/moisture to the pan, so any sugar that may have stuck to the sides of the pan melts and falls back into the boiling sugar.
- Remove lid then attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Then, cook sugar for 5 to 10 minutes [closer to 20 for me – maybe I didn’t have the heat high enough], until the sugar reaches a temperature of 320 degrees F (160 degrees C). At this temperature, the sugar will take on a light amber color around the edges of the pan. [Mine was a amber throughout]
- The moment the sugar reaches 320 degrees F (160 degrees C), carefully pour about a sixth of the butter and cream mixture then stir [since I doubled it, I added closer to one tenth at a time], using the base of the candy thermometer to incorporate it. Repeat with the remaining cream and butter. The sugar will bubble violently as you add the butter and cream – so do this carefully and slowly to prevent the mixture from bubbling over the sides of the saucepan.
- Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes [again, it took me a little longer], until the caramel reaches a temperature of 240 degrees F. This will create a soft caramel, if you want slightly harder caramels, bring the temperature closer to 245 degrees F. [I let mine go until 245, I like a chewy caramel]
- The moment the caramel reaches your desired temperature, pour into the prepared loaf pan. Then, let the caramel cool 3 1/2 hours.
- Unmold the caramel. If the caramel is too soft to work with, place into the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes to firm up. Then, use a large sharp knife to cut into your desired shape. We like to cut into 1-inch by 1-inch squares.
- Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
- Use a large knife to chop chocolate into small pieces. Separate about 1/3 cup of the chocolate and set aside then add the remaining chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl. Add the butter then microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, stir then repeat until melted (stirring after every 30 to 45-seconds). Once the chocolate has melted, add the 1/3 cup of chocolate and stir until smooth and shiny.
- Use two forks to dip each caramel into the melted chocolate then place onto waxed paper. Place a little salt on top of each caramel then allow chocolate to cool and set.
- Wrap caramels in plastic wrap or waxed paper and enjoy immediately, or you can refrigerate or freeze for enjoying later.
Nothing says Christmas like homemade toffee. Okay, maybe there are a few things that say Christmas better than toffee BUT it’s still delicious! We’ll let that logic be – gimme a break, it’s the day after Christmas I have been baking and cooking up a storm this past week and am pretty exhausted!
I have to be honest: I screwed this recipe up when I was making it. I hesitated before cranking the heat up to medium-high, but I did it anyway and overcooked my butter-sugar mixture. I kept on trucking. It separated into two layers, so I just poured off the liquid ‘butter’ layer and added the vanilla to the bottom. It foamed, I poured off the liquid again, mixed up the caramel like layer and spread it out and did everything else as listed. And hey, it turned out great! Tasted like toffee, looked like toffee, crunched like toffee – I’d say it’s still toffee.
What you should do is listed below:
English Toffee (from in-la-la-land.com)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup butter
- Dash salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup finely chopped nuts
- Cover a baking dish with foil.
- Melt butter and sugar over low heat a couple (4-5) drops of water. When combined, turn heat up to medium (/medium-high), stirring constantly. It will foam rapidly while the water boils out. Continue to stir as the mixture collapses and thickens – don’t stop until you reach a dark caramel color.
- Remove from heat and add vanilla; the mixture will foam again then collapse.
- Pour over foil and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
- When the chocolate chips have melted enough, spread them evenly across the toffee and sprinkle with nuts.
I was a little hesitant about making homemade marshmallows, but it was actually very easy – a little time consuming, but easy! It got a little messy because I used a hand mixer as opposed to a stand mixer, but my mixer came clean with some warm water and soap. Definitely something I will do again!
Peppermint Marshmallows (from Betty Crocker)
- Butter for greasing
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 1/2 Tbsp unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup corn syrup
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp pure peppermint extract
- 8 to 10 drops red food color
- Generously grease bottom and sides of 11×7-inch (2-quart) glass baking ish with butter; dust with 1 tablespoon of the powdered sugar. In bowl of stand mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water to soften; set aside.
- In 2-quart saucepan, heat granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Heat to boiling [it was taking a long time for it to get to boiling, so I turned the heat up to medium, stirring constantly – when it started boiling, I turned it back down]; cook without stirring about 30 minutes to 240°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into cup of very cold water forms a ball that holds its shape but is pliable; remove from heat. [It took longer than 30 minutes on low, and I stopped mine at 235°F or so and it worked fine. I was concerned because mine had taken on a slightly yellow color, but once I started beating it, it was completely white.]
- Slowly pour syrup into softened gelatin while beating on low speed. Increase speed to high; beat 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is white and has almost tripled in volume. Add peppermint extract; beat on high speed 1 minute. Pour into baking dish, patting lightly with wet hands. Drop food color randomly onto top of marshmallow mixture. Pull table knife through food color to create swirl pattern over top. Let stand uncovered at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Dust cutting board with about 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Place remaining powdered sugar in small bowl. To remove marshmallow mixture, loosen sides from dish and gently lift in one piece onto cutting board. Using sharp knife greased with butter, cut into squares of desired size (1 inch by 1 inch works well). Dust bottom and sides of each marshmallow by dipping into bowl of powdered sugar. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 weeks.
Shaped Candy Canes dipped in Chocolate
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Cover a baking pan with parchment paper. Lay out candy canes on parchment paper leaving 1/2 – 1 inch between each. It is easier to work with a couple at a time.
- Heat for 5-10 minutes and remove pan from oven. Keep an eye on them; if you overheat, they will melt and flatten!
- Pick up a candy cane and gently pull to shape it with your hands. If you don’t pick it up, it may stick to the parchment paper and stretch the swirls/stripes on the back side. If it becomes to hard to shape, just place it back in the oven for a couple minutes. I found it helpful to heat for a smaller amount of time, shape a little, heat again and continue to shape.
- Allow to cool completely before handling.
- Dip in melted chocolate if you’d like to.
For my niece’s birthday last weekend, I made cake pops (and carrot cake – that post should be up soon). I was very short on time, so I have to admit to using a box mix and store-bought frosting. The good thing is that with cake pops, they’re still delicious! Continue reading
Chocolate Kahlua cupcakes with Bailey’s buttercream, doesn’t get much better than that! The cupcakes were not as moist as I would have liked for them to be, but they were still very delicious; next time I’ll up the liquid ingredients to make up for it. The buttercream was just as amazing as it sounds, I was licking the bowl.
- 1 box Duncan Hines devil’s food cake mix
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup oil
- 3/4 cup Kahlua
- 1/4 cup Bailey’s
- Mix cake mix and all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth (beat on low until incorporated then about two minutes on medium).
- Spoon batter into greased or lined cupcake tin.
- Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 Tbsp Bailey’s
- Cream butter.
- Add powdered sugar, gradually, beating between additions.
- Add vanilla and Bailey’s and continue to mix.
- Adjust texture/consistency by adding powdered sugar or milk by the teaspoon if necessary.
I have a friend whose favorite candy bars are Butterfingers, so when her birthday came, I had to incorporate butterfingers into her birthday treat! I was short on time the day I baked the cupcakes, so I just doctored up a box mix (I do this a lot). The cupcakes were very rich and had a great texture! The ganache was pretty standard as far as ganaches go, but I got a lot of compliments on this buttercream!! It had a sort of subtle Butterfinger taste, wasn’t too sweet, and had a good texture even with the candy bars in it. Delicious!
- 1 box Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake
- 1 package of vanilla pudding
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup butter, melted (melts down to just under a cup)
- 1 cup water, lukewarm
- Grease a muffin tin or line with paper liners.
- In a large bowl, mix the cake mix and vanilla pudding with a whisk to mix thoroughly and break up the large clumps.
- Add the melted butter and mix on medium.
- Add the water and continue to mix.
- Add the eggs, one at a time; mix inbetween so each is incorporated. Mix on high for a minute after the last egg is added.
- Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.
- 1 12 oz bag of semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 tsp instant coffee granules (I used Starbucks Via Iced Coffee mix)
- In a double boiler, mix chocolate chips, half and half, and coffee granules over simmering water. [Note: I don’t have a double boiler, so I just placed a heatproof bowl (I used a microwaveable plastic bowl), in a saucepan with water]
- When there are no more chocolate chunks, you can remove the top (the bowl for me, but use a hot pad or towel).
- Let it cool for a couple minutes, then dip the top of your cooled cupcakes in the ganache.
- Let the dipped cupcakes sit for at least 15 minutes so the ganache can harden.
- 4 oz cream cheese (half a package)
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 8 fun size butterfingers, crushed
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp milk or cream
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no two things go together better than peanut butter and chocolate. This recipe is so easy and took less than half-hour to put together. It was light and fluffy, and the flavors worked wonderfully with each other. My coworkers loved it; I even got a “This is the best thing I have ever had.” Woo! I started with a recipe from Taste of Home, but by the time I was finished, I had changed it quite a bit.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Layered Dessert (adapted from Taste of Home)
- 25 Oreos, divided 20 + 5
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 12 oz cream cheese (1 1/2 package), softened
- 1 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
- 2 8 oz containers frozen whipped topping, thawed
- 20 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped
- 1 cup cold milk
- 1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
- Crush 20 cookies and toss with butter. Press into an ungreased 13×9; set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, vanilla and 2 cup confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
- Fold in mini chocolate chips. Spread over crust.
- Sprinkle with peanut butter cups.
- In another large bowl, beat the milk, pudding mix and remaining confectioners’ sugar on low speed for 2 minutes. Let stand for a couple minutes until soft-set.
- Fold in 1 container of whipped topping.
- Spread over peanut butter cups.
- Spread remaining container of whipped topping over the top.
- Crush remaining cookies; sprinkle over the top.
- Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.
These delicious cupcakes were a hit with everyone. The cake had a great flavor and texture and the buttercream was delicious, with just a hint of caramel.
Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Your Cup of Cake):
- 1 Box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used 3/4 tbs vinegar + milk)
- 1/2 cup oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp kahlua
- 1 cup sour cream
- Combine cake mix and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix with a whisk.
- In a larger bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, kahlua and sour cream. Do not over mix.
- Combine the dry and wet ingredients and stir until well mixed.
- Fill liners 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Vanilla Caramel Buttercream:
- butter (1 + 1/2 stick), softened
- 4 oz cream cheese (1/2 container), softened
- 2 Tbs Coffeemate Vanilla Caramel Creamer
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
- Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Gradually mix in 3 cups of powdered sugar until well combined (1/2 – 1 cup at a time).
- Add creamer and vanilla and mix.
- Add the remaining powdered sugar to reach desired consistency and taste.
- Pipe onto cupcakes.