Champagne Jello Shots

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The end of the year is upon us. It’s a time for sparkles, glitter, and champagne…jello shots 😛 This recipe is incredibly easy (only about 15 minutes of active time), and will definitely be a crowd-pleaser. Just look at those bubbles!

With only six ingredients (it’s really five, water doesn’t count, right??), they’re ready in a flash!! And don’t worry – unflavored gelatin can be found at almost every grocery store, in the baking aisle.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons (3 envelopes) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cold champagne
  • 1 1/2 cups cold ginger ale
  • 1  1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries

Active Time: 15 minutes

Inactive time: 3 hours

In a saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cold water, and allow the gelatin to absorb the water for 2 minutes. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, and stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Transfer the gelatin mixture to a bowl, add the sugar, and stir until dissolved. Stir in the champagne and ginger ale. Refrigerate until thickened (about a 1.5 hours). Fold in the strawberries gently, and spoon into 7 to 10 individual molds or cups. I used clear disposable plastic cups. Refrigerate until firm (1.5 additional hours). Unmold the shots by dipping the cups in warm water for about 15 seconds, then use an offset spatula or knife to ease the jello out of the cup. I served them upside-down on a platter with the extra strawberries I had.

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Five Layer Nutella Red Velvet Cake

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Some people are so great, they deserve a red velvet AND Nutella cake. Stan is one of those people, and the inspiration for this Five Layer Nutella Red Velvet Cake. The recipe can be found below:

RED VELVET CAKE:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 3/4  cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon instant coffee, dissolved in 1 Tbsp boiling water

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
  • 1 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup ( 2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • dash salt
  • splash of heavy cream (if needed)

Nutella Buttercream:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • dash salt
  • splash of heavy cream (if needed)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and lay a strip of parchment paper in five seven-inch round cake pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring. Stir in the coffee, and white vinegar. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at time, mixing after each addition, until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between five large bowls. Each bowl should have about 2 cups of batter.

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Bake in the middle rack for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Keep a close eye on the cakes, you don’t want them to over bake! It will continue to cook as it cools.  Let the layers cool in the pan for about five minutes, then remove them from the pans onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Slide a knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan.

While the cakes cool, make the both types of frosting. For the cream cheese frosting, mix the softened butter and cream cheese on medium speed using a hand held mixed or kitchen aid for 1 minute. Then mix in the vanilla and salt. Add the powdered  sugar in a few installments, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition. Whip until the frosting is fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of heavy cream. If it’s too runny, add a touch more powdered sugar.

Set the cream cheese frosting aside, and then make the Nutella Buttercream. Beat the softened butter and Nutella on medium speed using a hand held mixed or kitchen aid for 1 minute. Then mix in the vanilla and salt. Add the powdered  sugar in a few installments, mixing until fully incorporated after each addition. Whip until the frosting is fluffy. If the frosting is too thick, add a splash of heavy cream. If it’s too runny, add a touch more powdered sugar.

Frost the cake with cream cheese frosting when the cakes have cooled completely. Make sure to alternate the layers top up, top down, to help the cake remain level.

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Lightly frost each layer, alternating cream cheese frosting and Nutella buttercream. For the exterior of the cake, frost the top half of the cake with Nutella buttercream and the bottom half with the cream cheese frosting. Using an offset spatula, smooth the frosting and blend together the two frosting types in the center of the cake, to create an ombre effect.

I also melted straight Nutella, and covered the top of the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides, and piped some cream cheese swirls around the top edge of the cake.

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Swirled Brownie Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I really struggled with the name of this post. They’re basically a brookie, since they’re part brownie, part cookie. But when I hear brookie, I think of cookie cups or bars…and these beautiful swirled cookies deserved a different name! This recipe combines the two cookie batters, a decadent brownie cookie batter, and a browned butter chocolate chip cookie batter. Two balls of each dough are rolled together to create these wonderful swirled cookies. The recipe I used listed below.

Brownie Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Yield: 36 cookies

First, make the browned butter cookie dough. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process (or else little bits on the bottom of the pan will burn!). 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. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips. Allow dough to chill dough for 2 hours.

Next, make the brownie cookie dough. Cream the butter and sugars together with a hand or stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom as needed. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined, scraping down the sides as needed. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly mix it into the wet ingredrients. The dough will be quite thick. With a rubber spatula, mix in the milk and then fold in the chocolate chips. Allow this dough to chill for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line cookie sheet with silicone baking mat or parchment paper (I prefer a silicone baking mat!). Measure 2 Tablespoons of browned butter cookie dough, and roll into a ball. Take 2 Tablespoons of brownie cookie dough, and roll into a ball. Swirl the two balls together,rolling them into 1 large ball. Repeat for each cookie. The chocolate cookie dough will stick to your hands, so wash/wipe them as needed throughout the process. It is important the chocolate cookie dough is chilled, or else it will be even harder to handle.

Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes. The cookies will be soft and barely set, but they will continue to set and bake as they cool on the baking sheet. I like to press a few more chocolate chips into the top of the cookies when they are still warm, to make them prettier.

I got tired of swirling together cookie balls towards the end of the process, and make one giant swirl cookie for fun. I use two tennis ball sized portions of dough, and baked for about 20 minutes.

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These cookies last up to 10 days in an airtight container.

Giant Christmas Cookies

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Happy Holidays! Now that it’s finally December, I figured it’s time to make some giant Christmas Cookies. For the cookie base, I used my favorite browned butter, chocolate chip cookie recipe. I mixed in some Christmas chocolate chips (had no ideas these existed until a week ago!), a couple handfuls of Christmas M&Ms, and snowflake and gingerbread man sprinkles, and the cookies were transformed into festive Christmas cookies!! I’m positive Santa would approve 😛

Cookie Dough Ingredients:

  • 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 Christmas chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Christmas M&Ms
  • Holiday sprinkles (I used snowflake and gingerbread man sprinkles)
  • 6 chopped up peppermint Oreos
  • Peppermint kisses (for decoration)

Servings: 8 Giant Cookies (or 20 regular sized 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 holiday mix-ins using a spatula. I used some Christmas colored chocolate chips, Christmas M&Ms, holiday sprinkles, chopped peppermint Oreos, and peppermint kisses 🙂 Make sure you don’t add in more than two cups of mix-ins, or else the dough will be overloaded!

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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!!!

The following morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For giant cookies, form cookie dough balls with about 3 tablespoons of cookie dough. Place the cookie dough balls onto a greased cookie sheet about 4 inches apart, and gently flatten the dough with your hand. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.

If you want to make regular sized cookies, use 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough, and place cookie dough balls 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-10 minutes.

I made a few giant cookies, and a dozen normal sized cookies.

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Let the cookies cool on a wire wrack. After they’ve been out of the oven for about 10 minutes, press a few additional chocolate chips and peppermint kisses onto the tops of the cookies. Once the cookies are fully cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

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