Reese’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

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I made some plain chocolate chip cookies this weekend for the first time in….forever! Sometimes I get so excited about new flavors, I forget to enjoy the classics. I decided to get back to basics with this peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough fudge. It combines all of the most wonderful things in this world: chocolate chips, peanut butter, cookie dough, and fudge.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • ¾ c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • ½ c. chocolate chips
Fudge
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk, divided in half
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup butter
INSTRUCTIONS:
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Make the cookie dough first. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugar; add vanilla and mix to incorporate. Add flour and salt and mix thoroughly (dough will be crumbly). Stir in 2 Tbsp. milk and chocolate chips.

Fudge

Pour 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk into a small saucepan and heat slightly over low heat. Add 1 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and a tablespoon of  butter, and stir over low heat until melted and smooth.
Pour into 8×8 inch pan that has been lined with foil and sprayed lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Refrigerate until firm. Once firm, spread the cookie dough on top of fudge layer and press down completely. Repeat fudge steps with remaining fudge ingredients. Pour melted mixture over cookie dough layer. Sprinkle with chopped Reese’s Pieces. Refrigerate until firm.

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Gluten-Free Rainbow Cupcakes

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I got my first order for a gluten-free cake this weekend, so it was time for me to start experimenting with gluten-free baking!! I wasn’t trying to be a die-hard GF baker and buy xanthan gum and three different kinds of alternative flours, so I tested out the gluten-free all purpose flour from Whole Foods. I found that it can be substituted for wheat flour, but that you have to increase the amount of flour used by 20% more than the recipe calls for. I was really pleased with the way these turned out. They tasted very similar to favorite, wheat-filled vanilla cupcakes 🙂

Serving: 15 cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour

Bake Time: 13-14 minutes

Vanilla Cupcake Base

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs, room temperature

Rainbow buttercream

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • gel good coloring of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius), and line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Whisk together the dry ingredient in one bowl, and mix together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing between additions. Stir until fully combined. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 13-14 minutes, until the tops are just beginning to brown, and tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from pans, and let them cool fully on a wire rack.

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As the cupcakes cool, prepare the rainbow buttercream. Beat the butter until fluffy, then slowly mix in the powdered sugar. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Add cream as needed, until desired consistency is reached. Divide the frosting between four small bowls. Add gel food coloring of choice to each bowl, and mix until color is fully incorporated I used blue, green, red, and yellow. Lay out a piece of saran wrap on the counter, and make lines of each frosting in the center, as seen below. Carefully roll up the wrap, and twist the ends tightly. Feed this into a piping bag fitted with a large closed star tip, and pull the end through the frosting tip. Cut off the excess plastic, and pipe cupcakes. Tah-dah!! See, not half as complicated as you thought!

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I also decided to fill the cupcakes with lemon curd, and topped them with sprinkles. I’m pretty sure I could taste the rainbow in each bite 🙂

Unit Conversions: Tackling the Metric System

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While I do like to think that baking is all fun and games, things can get a little tricky when I try to convert certain recipes from the metric system. This is actually an issue I frequently run into, as most of my favorite baking blogs are from other countries. I have become more familiar with metric units, but I still struggle with certain conversions off the top of my head. I’d love to just guesstimate and hope for the best, but as many of us have discovered (the hard way), baking requires precise measurement.

Below is a basic breakdown of what I’ve learned, and some terminology differences I’ve encountered. Hopefully this will help others who have come across similar conversion difficulties 😀 If you have a specific conversion that isn’t listed below, there are some amazing conversion tools out there that you can use as well!

Disclaimer: This list is great for a quick reference, but I still believe the best approach to conversions is using a kitchen scale that can switch between grams, ounces, milliliters and fluid ounces.

Abbreviations:

Teaspoon = tsp
Tablespoon = tbsp
Grams = g
Kilograms = kg
Milliliters = ml

Terminology:

Plain flour = all purpose flour
Wholemeal flour = whole wheat flour
White sugar = granulated sugar
Caster sugar = superfine sugar
Icing sugar = powdered sugar

GENERAL MEASUREMENTS: Cups, tablespoons and teaspoons.

1/2 tbsp = 1 1/2 tsp
1 tbsp = 3 tsp
1/4 cup = 4 tbsp
1/3 cup = 5 tbsp + 1 tsp
1/2 cup = 8 tbsp
2/3 cup = 10 tbsp + 2 tsp
3/4 cup = 12 tbsp
1 cup = 16 tbsp

WEIGHT CONVERSIONS: Grams and ounces

1 ounce = 28 grams
1 pound = 16 ounces = 453 grams
20 g = 3/4 oz
60 g = 2 oz
100 g = 3.5 oz
125 g = 4.5 oz
180 g = 6.5 oz
500 g = 18 oz
1 kg = 2 pounds = 32 oz

VOLUME CONVERSIONS: Milliliters, fluid ounces and cups

2 tbsp = 29.57 ml = 1 fl oz
1/4 cup = 60 ml  = 2 fl oz
1/3 cup = 80 ml = 2 2/3 fl oz
1/2 cup = 125 ml = 4 fl oz
2/3 cup = 160 ml = 5 1/3 fl oz
3/4 cup = 180 ml = 6 fl oz
1 cup = 250 ml = 8 1/3 fl oz
2 cups = 500 ml = 16 fl oz (1 American pint)
2 1/2 cups = 625 ml = 20 fl oz (1 Imperial pint)
4 cups = 1000 ml = 1 litre = 32 fl oz

OVEN TEMPERATURES
Fahrenheit.and Celsius

100 Celsius (C) = 212 Fahrenheit (F)
120 C = 250 F
140 C = 275 F
150 C = 300 F
160 C = 320 F
170 C = 325 F
180 C = 350 F
190 C = 375 F
200 C = 400 F
210 C = 410 F
220 C = 425 F
250 C = 480 F

SPECIFIC INGREDIENTS

Butter:
1 tablespoon = 14 grams =  1/2 ounce
100 grams = 7 tablespoons = 3 1/2 ounces
1/2 cup = 113 grams = 1 US stick = 4 ounces
1 cup = 227 grams = 2 US sticks = 8 ounces
250g = 1 AUS stick

Plain flour:
1 AUS cup = 150 grams = 5 ounces
1 US cup = 125 grams = 4 1/2 ounces

Brown sugar (loosely packed):
1 cup = 175 grams = 6.25 ounces

Brown sugar (tightly packed):
1 cup = 220 grams = 8 ounces

White sugar:
1 cup = 220 grams = 8 ounces

Caster sugar:
1 cup = 220 grams = 8 ounces

Powdered sugar:
1 cup = 120 grams = 4 1/4 ounces

Chocolate chips:
1 cup = 190 grams = 6 3/4 ounces

Honey and other syrups:
1 tbsp = 21 grams = 3/4 ounce
1/4 cup = 85 grams = 3 ounces
1 cup = 340 grams = 12 ounces

Happy Baking!!

How To: Sunflower Cupcakes

I had some leftover cake batter from making this Double Banana Birthday Cake, so I decided to make my team some banana nut cupcakes! I had never used my leaf frosting tip before, and decided it was time to change that. After a little research regarding technique, I took a shot at making some frosting sunflowers!  I used mini Oreos for the center of the sunflowers, and used about 5/6 of my left over cake frosting to make the yellow frosting for the petals. I colored the remaining bit of frosting green to make leaves. I prefer gel food coloring (because it doesn’t throw off the consistency of the frosting), but if you are in a pinch you can use liquid food coloring and just add in a bit more powdered sugar to your frosting to thicken it. It is actually a lot easier than you’d think. It’s amazing what you can learn on YouTube 😀

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Nutella Chocolate Cake

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Chelsweets received it’s first cake order!! A chocolate cake was requested, so I decided to use my favorite chocolate cake base, and add in some Nutella.  I filled the cake with a Nutella nougat and toasted hazelnuts, frosted it with a chocolate buttercream, and topped the cake with Nutella buttercream roses.

Cake Layer:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tablespoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4  cup strong black coffee, hot
  • 1 1/4  cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Nutella Nougat Filling:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups toasted, chopped hazelnuts

Nutella Buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Dark Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup cream

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Bake Time: 48 minutes

Cool Time: 1 Hour

Assembly Time: 1 hour (30 minutes of cooling for crumb coat)

Servings: 12

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease four 9-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.

Begin by making the chocolate cake batter. In a very large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).

Divide the batter evenly among prepared pans (I chose to make four layers, but the number of layers is easily altered). Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs). Cool the cakes (in the pans) on wire racks for 20 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

While the cakes cool, make the nougat. Beat the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy. Mix in the marshmallow fluff, salt,and Nutella. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Add cream as necessary, until a sturdy, fluffy consistency is reached. Fold in the hazelnuts.

Once the nougat is made, prepare the buttercreams. Beat the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Add the salt and vanilla. For the Nutella buttercream, add in the nutella. For the dark chocolate buttercream, mix in the cocoa. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for an additional two to three minutes, until light and fluffy. Add cream, as needed.

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For the cake assembly, place one cake layer on a serving plate. Cover with Nutella nougat, and repeat until all layers are covered. Apply a thin crumb coat of dark chocolate frosting, and let the cake set in the fridge for 30 minutes. Add an additional layer of chocolate frosting, and decorate the top of cake with Nutella buttercream roses, using a large star tip.

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I would have like to have covered the whole cake with roses, but the cake box would have ruined the side roses. Nonetheless, it turned out great! Let’s hope Crista’s team liked 😀

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Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake

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This morning the sun was shining, and it was so wonderfully warm! For some reason, pink lemonade popped into my mind. And that’s when it hit me…PINK LEMONADE CUPCAKES. Or more specifically, strawberry lemonade cupcakes! I decided to use a lemon cupcake base, fill it with a lemon curd, and top it with a fresh strawberry buttercream. The lemon curd has a great tartness, which is balanced by the bright flavor of the strawberry buttercream. These cupcakes taste like summer. And happiness 😀

Serving: 14 cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour

Bake Time: 12-14 minutes

Lemon Cupcake Base:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs, room temperature

Lemon Curd:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 lemons, zest and juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), room temperature

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup strawberry puree

Cupcake Toppings:

  • fresh strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, quickly beat together the 2 eggs on medium speed. Add sugar, and continue to beat on medium speed (about 30 seconds). Add vanilla, lemon zest, and oil, and beat on medium speed. Reduce mixer speed to low, and slowly add about half of the flour mixture. Add half of the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour mix, followed by the rest of the milk. Beat until just combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl. The batter should be thin. Pour batter into a lined muffin pan filling the cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 12 -14 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then place on a wire rack to finish cooling.
 
As the cupcakes bake, prepare the lemon curd. With a hand mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in each egg one at a time, allowing them to mix completely before beating in another egg. Beat in the lemon juice and zest, until incorporated. Over medium heat, in a double boiler, stir the mixture. Stir mixture frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken (about 15 minutes). Pour into bowl and let cool in fridge. If you have any left overs, place them in an air tight container, and use within a week.
 
For the frosting, beat the butter until it is fluffy, then slowly incorporate the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Add in the strawberry puree, vanilla, and salt, and continue to mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. I frosted the cupcakes with a large star tip, and used a strawberry garnish.

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Banana Pudding Birthday Cake

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I received one of my most interesting birthday cake requests this week, and could not have been more excited about it! After discovering Magnolia Bakery (and it’s PHENOMENAL banana pudding) last year, this dessert has earned a special place in my heart. I decided to combine three things I’ve made in the past to create this colossal cake: my Monkey Cake Base, my Magnolia Bakery Copy-cat Banana Pudding, and my banana chips. I decided to make this cake a day in advance, so the Nilla wafers could absorb the pudding filling, just like traditional banana pudding recipes call for. I also reduced the amount of water used to make the pudding, to thicken it and help stabilize the cake.

Banana Cake Base:

  • 2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Banana Pudding Filling:

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 1  cup ice cold water
  • 1 3.4 ounce box Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 12 ounce box vanilla wafers (broken up slightly)
  • 4 cups sliced ripe bananas (about 3 large bananas)
  • 3 cup cool whip

Frosting:

  • 2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 8 cups confectioners sugar

Begin with the banana cake base. Preheat oven to 275°. Butter, flour, and place parchment paper circles in four nine-inch, circular cake pans (I made three layers, but wished I had done four! The tops get too rounded if you try to fit all the batter in three pans). In a small bowl, mix the mashed banana with the lemon juice, and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt, then add eggs, one at a time. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, then beat banana mixture into the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Pour the batter into the  prepared pans, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

While the cake bakes, begin to make the pudding filling. In a medium bowl whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, and ice cold water, until blended.  Add pudding mix continue to whisk into fully incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set, about 2 hours. Once pudding has set, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, then fold into the pudding, until completely mixed. Refrigerate until cake assembly.

While the pudding sets and the cakes cool, prepare the vanilla buttercream frosting. Beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Mix in the salt, then add the powdered sugar in three installments. Mix in the vanilla, then add cream as necessary, until desired consistency is reached.

 

Once all the components of the cake are cooled/set, assemble the cake. Layer each cake round with a spread of frosting, nilla wafers, bananas, and 1/3 of the pudding. Repeat with remaining layers, then apply a thin crumb coat the exterior of the cake. Let this chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, to allow the filling to stabilize, and to let the crumb coat harden. Apply a thick layer of frosting to the exterior of the cake, and top with buttercream swirls, and a garnish of crushed vanilla wafers, and banana chips.

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This is one of the largest, heaviest cakes I’ve made thus far. It is a very moist, dense cake, but not overly rich. The monkey cake is a perfect base for the banana pudding filling, and the concept is so playful. I LOVED THIS CAKE! Let’s hope Josh and Oliver felt the same way about it. Happy Birthday guys!!
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