Category Archives: Dessert

Strawberry Shortcake Bites

It’s a new school year and every month we have teacher potlucks. The theme for this month’s potluck is “salads,” but I saw there was a space for desserts, so I scratched out the potato salad I had planned to bring and decided on a sweet treat considering Mom was reminding me I needed to use up the strawberries that I had forgotten were in my fridge. I found this recipe on pinterest.com (of course). I’ve tried it the way that I saw it made on there–on big skewers with lots of strawberries and angel food cake. It was delish. But for a potluck, I thought I’d try it in a smaller size. Here’s what I came up with:

Ingredients:

1 cup milk chocolate meltables

2 cups strawberries, halved

1 six pack package angel food cake minis, but in 8ths

1 box bamboo party forks

Directions:

Cut the cake and strawberries

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Easter Cakes

It’s been a little while since I’ve tried cooking something new. No time for that with finishing up my graduate program and being on the job hunt. Life is crazy busy. I have been very involved at church lately though, and we’re having an Easter carnival this weekend. I signed up to bake cakes for the cake walk.

I have a confession. I have a thing for cute, kid cakes. You know the ones I’m talking about–the ones that you can’t help but giggle at the sheer cuteness and creativity involved, the kind that kids ooh and aah over when they see it. I enjoy these cakes the best. I want to make people smile. So, with that thought in mind, I set about making a couple awesome creations. Due to my time shortage, I used a boxed cake mix. I poured half of the mix into an 8″ wide circle pan and the rest into a dozen muffin cups.  They came out beautifully. I stuck the circle cake in the freezer for an hour to make it easier to work with, and left the cupcakes out to cool.

The circle cake was taken out of the freezer and cut as follows:

The pieces were stuck together with frosting and extra frosting was put on each side of the bunny to make it look fatter. I doused the whole thing in shredded coconut, stuck in a few jelly beans for the nose and eyes, sprinkled green food colored, shredded coconut around it and got the cutest, fuzziest looking bunny you’ve ever seen.

The next job was the cupcakes.

First, I toasted a panful of shredded coconut for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to keep from burning.

I turned the cupcakes upside down.

I spread a light coating of yellow frosting around the edges and piled some extra high on the top (which was really the bottom).

Then I scooped toasted coconut around the edges and top to stick to the frosting.

To finish them off, I put hot tamale candies for feet and the little cockscomb on top of their heads. I put sixlets in a squirt of frosting for the eyes, and used a toasted almond for the beak. Cute as can be!

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Better than Julian Apple Pie

Thanksgiving.

The very word emulates savory aromas of turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and the devious scent of homemade pies. I don’t know how your family does Thanksgiving, but mine is mostly from scratch and we always have a gazillion homemade pies. I had a few jobs this year–many of them being combined efforts.  The ones I stake my claim on however are the rolls, which I have made previously and are incredibly simple (You can let the dough rise in the fridge the night before, then stick them in the muffin pans in the sun until you’re ready to throw them in the oven. Packaged rolls don’t even come close to the warm, softly browned rolls fresh out of the oven. A brilliant idea to make them on behalf of my mom!) and I also claim the apple pie with a little help from mom whose job was the dough for all the pies.
I’ve made this pie before, but this one turned out absolutely incredible. It was my favorite by far out of the pumpkin, bumbleberry, and pecan pies that were out that evening. Even my mom who usually doesn’t care for apple claimed it to be better than Julian’s apple pies, with hearty agreement from my dad. Baking pies from scratch is a lot of work, but it is a million times better than the boxed kind. You will never enjoy a boxed pie or store-made pie as much as you will a homemade one. Just sayin’.

 

Oil Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 cup  cooking oil
  • 5 T  cold water

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Pour oil and water into a measuring cup (do not stir); add all at once to flour mixture. Stir lightly with a fork. Form into 2 balls; flatten slightly with your hands.

2. Cut waxed paper into four 12-inch squares. Place each ball of dough between 2 squares of paper. Roll each ball of dough into a circle to edges of paper. (Dampen work surface with a little water to prevent paper from slipping.)

3. Peel off top papers and fit 1 piece of dough, paper side up, into a 9-inch pie plate. Reserve one portion for use as a top crust. Remove paper.

Apple Filling Ingredients

  • 6 cups  thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon  lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • Dash  ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon  butter or margarine

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl toss apples with lemon juice. Combine granulated sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add to apples and toss until apples are coated. Set apple mixture aside.

2. Prepare Pastry for Double-Crust Pie. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 ball of dough into a 12-inch circle. Ease pastry into a 9-inch pie plate.

3. Transfer apple mixture to pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter or margarine. Trim pastry even with pie plate. For top crust, roll out remaining dough. Cut design in top crust for ventilation. Place top crust on the filling. Seal and flute the edge.

4. Line cookie sheet with foil and place pie on it for overspill. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and apples are tender. Serve warm. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Apple Walnut Cinnamon Muffins

I donned by lovely apron this morning in celebration of a whole week off of school and baked up a delicious treat! I made cinnamon rolls from scratch, and let me tell you, they are absolutely sinful. They’re so delicious, I am going to be forced to freeze the majority of them so I don’t eat them all in one sitting. I will warn you that this is a very involved baking project, but you can buy pre-made dough and just add in the apple filling and I’m sure it will still be quite delicious!

Cinnamon Roll Ingredients
2 cups milk
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 eggs
¼ cup butter, softened

Filling Ingredients
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup loosely chopped walnuts, toasted
2 cups finely chopped tart apples

Apple Cider Glaze Ingredients
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon apple cider

Heat the milk in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for about one minute.

Add the yeast followed by the sugar, and stir to dissolve.

Now add two cups of flour and the salt and beat for a full two minutes.

Add the softened butter and eggs and beat until the mixture is well combined.

Add the rest of the flour, half a cup at a time, and beat thoroughly after each addition.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Knead the dough for five minutes, until it has become soft and elastic.

Put the dough in a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm area for 40 minutes. It will double in size.

Now turn the dough onto the counter and roll it out 1/4” thick into a rectangular shape. Use a pastry brush to spread half of the butter over the surface.

Now make the filling: Combine the sugars, cinnamon, walnuts, and apples in a large bowl.

Spread this mixture over the dough, leaving a 1” border all around.

Carefully tuck the dough over the filling and roll into a long log, starting on one of the long ends.

Cut the log into 24 pieces and place each inside one of the cups of a muffin tin lined with paper liners.

Cover the cupcakes with a towel and let them rise in a warm place for an additional 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Brush the remaining butter evenly on the tops of the cupcakes and bake for 20 minutes. The tops will be a light golden brown.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir to dissolve the powdered sugar in the apple cider. Drizzle this glaze over the cupcakes. Yum yum yum!

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Graduation Cake

I found an adorable cake idea for a graduation that had a couple books stacked with a graduation cap on top. It turned out beautifully though it was difficult. I made the books and base of the graduation cap out of chocolate cake from scratch, the top of the cap with candy meltables, and the tassel from homemade fondant. It was a big ordeal, so gear up for the ride. Hopefully you won’t stay up until 1:30am finishing this one up like I did! (Note to self, finish cake before going to church and staying afterwards to watch Hook.)

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Blackberry-Cornmeal Cupcakes

I graduated college this weekend, and my brother and his fiance got me a couple fabulous books for a grad gift. One of them was Martha Stewart’s cupcake book. The recipes all sound so amazing! I just want to have a cupcake party and make a million different kinds. My first try was these blackberry cornmeal cupcakes. We had some blackberries in the fridge and cornmeal made it sound a little more healthier….so like a muffin, right? What is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake anyway? But these cupcakes were delicious. Just the perfect amount of sweetness. Not overdone like most frosting coated cakes.

Ingredients:
3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. buttermilk (or 1/4 c. milk w/ 1/4 T. white vinegar or lemon juice, let stand 5 min.)
1 eggs
3-1/2 T. butter, melted and cooled
16 blackberries

Directions:
Preheat oven 375 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 c. plus 1 T. sugar. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Pour over flour mixture. Whisk to combine. Don’t over mix. Fill each lined cup with 1/4 c. batter. Top batter with 2 blackberries in each cup. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 T. sugar. Bake, rotating tins halfway through for 20-25 minutes or until browned on top. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are baked but will keep up to 2 days at room temp in an airtight container.
Makes 8 cupcakes

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The Adventures of Gum Paste

First news first: my best friend is engaged! Whoohoo!! So excited for both of them. Very excited that I no longer have to lie and keep secrets too. That was rather stressful. ‘

At the beginning of this week plans for an engagement party were put into action and I was enlisted to bake the cake! I did some research to find the perfect one. Google searches of “proposal cakes,” “engagement cakes,” and “congratulations cakes” flooded my search engine to no avail. I couldn’t even find a wedding cake topper of a guy down on one knee with a ring. Really? This wasn’t supposed to be that hard! The only one I could find was something along these lines:

I had never used fondant before and I needed to feed 20ish people, so this idea was way out. I managed to find a regular birthday cake that looked like a present (something I’ve done before), but instead of candy, it used gum paste for the ribbon and polka dots.

Having been a faithful viewer of cake decorating shows the past year or so, I decided it was time to move up in my baking abilities and attempt the gum paste. I watched some how to videos, read some instructions from professionals, double checked the container’s directions and gave it my best shot.

Overall, I was very impressed with myself. My arms got very tired from kneading the gum paste for so long and working in the yellow food color. But it did turn out rather well. Pat on the back for me, and encouragement for you–if a non professional like me can make it work, I bet you can too!

Yellow cake – Nicole’s favorite!

Chocolate frosting, with piping bag bottom edge

Gum paste shapes set out to dry overnight

1st step in bow assembly

2nd step, add the loops

3rd step, add the knot to the center

Piping bag with writing tip

The finished product!

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