Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms


Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas holiday. I got to celebrate this wonderful holiday season with family and friends, and some pretty snow to top it all off :) True that we my husband had to shovel snow multiple times in one day and driving was insane, but it was still very pretty. 
For the Christmas gathering at my mother-in-law's house, I brought these little gems for everyone to enjoy. I wanted to make some sort of cookie and my husband said his mom liked peppermint things, so when I came across these cookies, I knew I had found our winner! Now even if you are not a big fan of peppermint things, I think you'll still like these cookies, as the peppermint flavoring is subtle and not at all overpowering. Soft, melt in your mouth cookies, with lots of chocolate flavor! These cookies are very simple to make and you should go make these soon!
Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms
Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1.5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa1.5 tsp baking powder1/4 tsp salt1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly softened (but still cool)1-1/4 cup sugar3 eggs1/2 tsp vanilla1 tsp peppermint extractabout 1/2 cup powdered sugar for rollingHershey's Kisses (about 3-4 dozen)

Directions:1. In a small bowl, sift and whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
2. With an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the extracts, beating until combined and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Change speed to slow, then gradually add the flour mixture, beating on low just until combined.  The mixture will be very sticky.
3. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
4. While cookies are chilling, line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the powdered sugar on a plate.
5. Using a teaspoon cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop generous teaspoons of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Gently roll each ball of dough through the powdered sugar until coated, then place them back on the cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 12 minutes, until puffed and crinkly.  (Meanwhile, unwrap the Kisses.)
7. Remove from the oven and immediately press a Hershey's Kiss on top of each hot cookie.  Press firmly, so that it doesn't pop off.  Let the cookies sit on the sheet for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. 

Recipe adapted from Bake at 350

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate Coca Cola Cake


Have you ever had one of those days that you just feel blah? One of those draggy days? That seemed to be the case for me last week. All day at work I just had a really achy lower back, and felt like it was hard to just keep chugging along. Don't know what my deal was... but!!! I did REALLY crave something sweet. That was the one thing I was very sure of, all day long. So when I got home, and saw that my parents had brought us some dinner (thanks parents!), I was free to make what I really wanted - a cake! And to use up the left-over Coca Cola we've had since Thanksgiving (we don't really drink pop at home), I made this cake. I've made it once (or twice) before and every time it was gobbled up super fast. It is super moist and yummy! And make sure you get a slice right when you finish it (well, maybe wait about 5 minutes so it cools just enough!)
Two little notes: for the glaze, you can use some pecans or walnuts. I have used both, and I think I prefer pecans over walnuts. But they are both pretty yummy, and either nut adds a nice texture to the cake, so I would recommend it!
Second note: this most recent batch I didn't have any buttermilk, so I just used whole milk instead (what I had on hand). It turned out fine, but I do think the buttermilk adds a nice flavor to the cake, so if you are able to use it, I would do that.
Look who couldn't resist getting a piece of my "photoshoot" haha!

Chocolate Coca Cola Cake
~Makes a 9x13 in cake pan

Dry Ingredients:
-2 cups white sugar
-2 cups AP flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients:
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 cup Coca Cola
-1/2 cup buttermilk
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract

Glaze:
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/2 cup Coca Cola
-4 cups confectioner's sugar
-1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions: 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 in baking pan; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, sift and whisk together all the dry ingredients; set aside.
3. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stir unsalted butter, cocoa powder, Coca Cola, and buttermilk from wet ingredients' list until it boils. Take off heat and add it to bowl of dry ingredients. Mix until well incorporated. Add eggs and vanilla, and whisk well. 
4. Put batter in greased baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
5. When cake is almost done (about 5 more minutes or so), get ready to make glaze. Add butter, cocoa powder and Cola into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and add confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, stirring well until nice and smooth. Add chopped pecans and give it one final stir. When cake is out of the oven, pour glaze right over hot cake.
6. Let cake cool a little, and enjoy!

Original recipe from May Flaum

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sweet Potato Casserole


This is a recipe I tweaked for my own liking, after searching through MANY sweet potato casserole recipes... My goal was to make a casserole that was not too sweet nor runny (I wanted this to be a side to our meal rather than a dessert!). I used the original recipe as a guide, and then made changes based on the end result I wanted. Everyone who had it liked it, so I think it's a keeper!!

Sweet Potato Casserole
Makes one 9x13 casserole dish

Ingredients:
3 lb sweet potatoes
2 eggs
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 light brown sugar
4 Tbsp butter (half stick), softened
1/2 cup heavy cream (or milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp all spice (or cinnamon)
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Topping:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup AP flour
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Mini marshmallows (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven at 400 degrees F. Scrub and wash sweet potatoes; poke holes all over each potato with a fork. Place them on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil (for easy cleaning afterwards). Bake potatoes for about 1 hour, or until a knife goes through the potato very easily (what's called "fork tender"). 
2. While you wait for the potatoes bake, gather all other ingredients: take out the butter (for both the potatoes and topping) and eggs from refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. Go ahead and make the topping too: in a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in the butter (with a pastry cutter if you have one) until mixture is coarse. Stir in pecans; set aside.
3. Once potatoes are done, scoop out the meat of each potato and place in a large bowl of a stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Reduce temperature of oven to 325 degrees F. Add all other ingredients with the sweet potato in the bowl and mix on medium speed until well incorporated. Transfer mixture into an oven-safe baking dish. Place topping onto potatoes. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until topping is lightly brown.

*Note: For a prettier finish, I alternated the pecan topping with marshmallows to look like stripes. This recipe makes enough pecan topping to cover the whole casserole with just pecans, so marshmallows are not a must!

Recipe adapted from All Recipes.com