HALLOWEEN CUPCAKES

I’ll admit it…I love holiday themed cupcakes.  So yes, I’ve been making an obscene amount of halloween cupcakes for halloweek 😛 Here are a few of the buttercream decorations I’ve done, on top of my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. There are candy corns, mummys, frankensteins, pumpkins, eyeballs, and brains 😛

candycorn cupcake

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Banana Emoji Cupcakes

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As my good friends know, I love using emojis. I frequently feel like emojis allow me to communicate my thoughts and feelings better than words. To honor these wonderful little smileys, I made banana cupcakes decorated with my favorite (and most commonly used) emojis.

Serving: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 1 hour

Bake Time: 14-18 minutes

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

Honey Roasted Peanut Butter Buttercream:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup honey roasted peanut butter
  • 4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 container yellow sprinkles
Begin with the banana cake base. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. 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 a lined cupcake tin, and fill 3/4 full. Bake for 14-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
For the peanut butter buttercream, beat the butter and peanut butter until fluffy, then slowly incorporate the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Add in the vanilla and salt, and splashes of cream. Continue to mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Reserve a few tablespoons of frosting and color them black (for the facial expressions), and color the remaining frosting with the red gel food coloring (I also made pink frosting for the tongues). I frosted the top of the cupcakes with a large, round tip, then dunked the cupcakes in yellow sugar sprinkles. I then drew my favorite emoji faces onto the cupcakes using a small round tip 😀
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Tip: Chocolate chips and sprinkles make great eyeballs and eye brows,  and red sugar sprinkles make great blushing cheeks 😛

 

Chocolate Oreo Cinnamon Rolls

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In the world of brunch, cinnamon rolls are like a blank canvas. They beg to be flavored, filled, and transformed into something more. I’ve wanted to make chocolate sweet rolls for quite a while, and today was the day this idea finally materialized. These chocolate Oreo cinnamon rolls are the perfect brunch for all the chocolate lovers out there 😀

Sweet Dough

  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature

Chocolate Oreo Filling

  • 12 oreos, crushed
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. cream
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons lukewarm water with a teaspoon of sugar and the yeast. Let this proof for about five minutes to make sure your yeast is still good. In a large mixer bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, yeast mixture, remaining sugar, and salt. Heat milk at a low power until it is lukewarm. Add the warm milk, 1/4 cup butter, and egg to the flour mixture and mix with hands until ingredients are combined. Continue to add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Rinse out mixing bowl and spray with cooking spray and place dough back into the bowl, turning once to bring greased side of dough up. Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about an hour).
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Roll dough into a large rectangle, until it is about 1/2 of a cm thick.  Melt the butter and spread over the entire dough rectangle. Stir together the cocoa, brown sugar, cinnamon, and crushed oreos. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the melted butter, leaving one inch of dough at the top of the rectangle uncovered. Roll up the dough horizontally from the far side. Roll dough into a tight roll. Cut dough log into 8 equal pieces (you can cut it into more pieces if you want smaller cinnamon rolls), and place in a greased pan, leaving about half an inch between each roll. Cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rise again (about 30 mins). Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown and the centers seem firm. While the rolls are cooking, prepare the frosting.

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To make the frosting, whip cream cheese and butter together. Alternate installments of cream and powdered sugar, and stir in the salt and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Spoon over the warm cinnamon rolls, and sprinkle any left over oreo crumbs over the top of each roll. Serve warm

The Pepperoni Pizza Cake

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Last week I saw a pizza cake for the first time on Instagram, and was quite intrigued by the idea. I knew I had to make one. I discussed my pizza cake strategy in depth with Stephen, and we decided that the best approach would be to precook the pizza layers, then stack and wrap the layers with an exterior crust. I used a standard Food Network pizza dough recipe, and kept the toppings pretty simple with pepperoni and mozzarella 😛

Pizza Dough:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Toppings:

  • 1 can pizza sauce
  • 1 large bag shredded mozzarella
  • 1 package pepperoni

Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.

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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large bowl with a splash of olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size (about 1 hour). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll the dough out to a 1/2 cm thickness. Using a six inch bowl, trace and cut out four circles. Place on a non-stick baking mat, and cover completely with pizza sauce. Spread 1/2 cup of cheese and several pieces of pepperoni on top of each pizza layer. Back for about 10 minutes, until the edges of each pizza begin to brown. Remove from oven and let the cool for 10 minutes.

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While the layers cool, roll out the dough scraps, and cut a rectangle 6 inches by 19 inches. Stack the four, cooled pizza layers on top of each other, and wrap the rectangle of dough around the pizza stack. Roll the extra dough at the top of the pizza into a crust, and top with an additional handful of cheese. Bake the pizza cake on a silicon baking mat for 15 minutes, until the exterior crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm with additional pizza sauce. This recipe comfortably serves about six people.

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Pumpkin Pie Cinnamon Rolls

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Fall. It’s a wonderful time. The leaves change color, the air gets that delightful crisp, and I get to bake all things pumpkin related. I decided to make some pumpkin pie cinnamon rolls for brunch this morning. To my delight, I had a full apartment of taste testers 😀

Sweet Dough

  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. cream
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons lukewarm water with a teaspoon of sugar and the yeast. Let this proof for about five minutes to make sure your yeast is still good. In a large mixer bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, yeast mixture, remaining sugar, and salt. Heat milk at a low power until it is lukewarm. Add the warm milk, 1/4 cup butter, and egg to the flour mixture and mix with hands until ingredients are combined. Continue to add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Rinse out mixing bowl and spray with cooking spray and place dough back into the bowl, turning once to bring greased side of dough up. Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about an hour).
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Roll dough into a large rectangle, until it is about 1/2 of a cm thick.  Melt the butter and spread over the entire dough rectangle. In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Spread the pumpkin pie filling evenly across the dough (I also tried out an oreo flavor, as see in in the picture above…recipe to come!), leaving one inch of dough at the top of the rectangle uncovered. Roll up the dough horizontally from the far side. Roll dough into a tight roll. Cut dough log into 8 equal pieces (you can cut it into more pieces if you want smaller cinnamon rolls), and place in a greased pan, leaving about half an inch between each roll. Cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rise again (about 30 mins). Bake at 350 for 30-35minutes, or until rolls are golden brown and the centers seem firm. While the rolls are cooking, prepare the frosting.
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To make the frosting, whip cream cheese and butter together. Alternate installments of cream and powdered sugar, and stir in the salt and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Spoon over the warm cinnamon rolls, and sprinkle cinnamon over the top of each roll. Serve warm 😀
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Salted, Nutella-Stuffed, Browned Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Happy Thursday! What better way to celebrate a long week, than with nutella-stuffed, brown butter, chocolate chip cookies! I know, the name is a mouthful…but there are so many wonderful aspects of this cookie, and each one deserves a spot in the name. The nutty flavor of the brown butter compliments the nutella perfectly, and a finishing sprinkle of sea salt makes this a well-balance, salty/sweet treat.

Cookie Dough Ingredients (Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Servings: 20 Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Chill Time: At least 2 hours

Bake time: 9-10 minutes

Begin by browning the butter. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, until it begins to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning, and let it cool.

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With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt,  and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips.

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Chill your dough overnight, or AT LEAST 2 hours. This allows the dough to absorb the flavor of the brown butter, and results in a chewier, thicker cookie. Trust me, don’t skip this step!!!

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The following morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Form cookie dough balls with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough, and flatten the dough in the palm of your hand. Place 1 Tablespoon of chilled Nutella in the middle, and fold the dough back around it, gently into a ball.

Place the cookie dough balls onto a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart, and gently flatten the dough with your hand. Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. Let the cookies cool on a wire wrack, and sprinkle with a flourish of sea salt after a couple minutes. And BAM! NUTELLA COOKIES FOR ALL 😀

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