Where oh where did January go

Here we are at the end of the month already and I have yet to post anything. Rather pathetic on my part. I such high hopes and good plans for January. I even got a fabulous new camera for Christmas. Then after taking lots of pictures on the wrong format I found I cannot download them. So they are locked inside my camera until I get a program that can take them out. I made an awesome Lemon rasberry cake for new years but for now the only picture I can show is the sad one from my cell phone when we sliced it.

So I will be posting some recipes and pictures soon, I promise. I have a cupcake order this weekend and I have made a few dinners worth sharing as well.

Good things to come.

The countdown begins…

Chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel peanut filling and caramel frosting.


With the Holidays speeding towards us like a freight train, getting all the baked goods done in time to give out is a challenge. I tried my hardest to stay organized and spread out the work over a week but I still ran out of time to do everything I intended. I am happy with what I did get done and if time permits I may try to squeeze in another treat or two. I put together pictures of some of the items I have made, please excuse the terrible pictures, it was late and I was happy to just remember to take them.

Four days left to get all my wrapping done, the massive pile in the spare bedroom looks like Everest. Tonight we have to visit the local Santa at the mall and the mere thought makes me want to crawl under my desk and lay in the fetal position. My child is going through quite a phase of tantrums right now and I am sure like everything else, tonight should be a blast. I actually offered to sell her at the daycare this morning for $10 after she refused to get out of the car. Sigh…it’s never good when you wish you had a drink at 7am. Its days like this when I am actually happy I have to go to work! Drop her off, apologize to the teacher, whish her luck and get the hell out of there.

But it’s the Holidays and we always have sugar and booze to get through it.


salted peanut caramel filling


Undecorated cake pops


boxed up and ready

Golden Caramels


Right now everyone is making caramels and there are more recipes on the web than ever before. The majorities are for salted caramels, they are the current trend but for me these caramels are the bomb, nothing compares. I will warn you, they are not for the faint of heart; it’s a two hour long commitment requiring your full undistracted attention. Kids need to be asleep or away; you will need a chair and a book and don’t even think about making them if you don’t have a candy thermometer that you can trust and that clips onto your pot. You will be stirring for a minimum of an hour, so doing a double batch is not recommended, unless you would like the challenge of stirring two pots at a time for over an hour (been there done that). I would not use anything less than an 7.5-8 quart pot because when you add the butter and cream it will froth up a lot. I recommend having everything ready before starting, pan prepared, butter and cream on the stove, and vanilla measured out and set aside. *(Note: I did end up adding salt to the caramels while wrapping them, the taste was fabulous, so yes I am a sell out but why the heck not!)

Ok, now that I have scared you off, let me just say these are VERY worth the work, these are the first caramels I ever made, they are not difficult (not that I didn’t have some so-so batches but that was more due to not paying attention or a bad thermometer), as long as you follow the directions you will have success. I have been making them for years and everyone loves them and fights over who gets a box.

You also could make your own variation by adding salt on top or chocolate or anything that sounds good.

Golden Caramels
Makes about 150
• 4 cups heavy cream
• 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 4 cups light corn syrup
• 4 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt ( I use sea salt)
• 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ( I use vanilla bean paste)
• Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1. Spray an 11 3/4-by-16 1/2-inch baking pan (this is a half-sheet pan) with vegetable-oil spray. Set aside in a spot where it will not be moved (yes it will have to sit there for 24 hours, don’t forget to put pot holders under it). In a 2-quart saucepan, combine cream and sweetened condensed milk; set aside.
2. In a heavy 6 to 8-quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, 1 cup water, sugar, and salt. Clip on candy thermometer. Over high heat, cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring with a wooden spoon, 8 to 12 minutes. Brush down sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals (I never do that).
3. Stop stirring, reduce heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250 degrees (hard-ball stage), 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, cook cream mixture over low heat until it is just warm. Do not boil. When sugar reaches 250 degrees. Slowly stir in butter and warmed cream mixture, keeping mixture boiling at all times.( so one piece of butter at a time and add the cream very slowly) Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thermometer reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage), 55 to 75 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Immediately pour into prepared pan without scraping pot. Let stand uncovered at room temperature for 24 hours without moving.
4. To cut, spray a large cutting board generously with vegetable-oil spray. Unmold caramel from pan onto sprayed surface. Cut into 1-by-1 1/4-inch pieces, or other shapes. Wrap each in cellophane or waxed paper (I use parchment paper.) The cutting and wrapping process is tedious, so if you can solicit help do so.
Recipe from:

Marthastewart.com: Golden Caramels - Martha Stewart Recipes

Note: I will add the finished product photo once I have them cut and wrapped.

7.5 Quart dutch oven

Who gets to lick the pot?

Whew, now that Thanksgiving is over…


make yourself a batch of these. I don’t know too many people who don’t find comfort and joy in a chocolate chip cookie. I realized for whatever reason this weekend that I have never made chocolate chip cookies with my daughter. She has helped me with lots of other things but never cookies. I can remember so many fun days of baking cookies with my mom, I knew I just had to share this with her. She was more than eager to go to work, helping me with all the measuring and operation of the mixer. She even refrained from licking her fingers, which is a big step for her. At 2 1/2, kids are very in the moment, sticky yum on your fingers, you lick it off. But I promised her the beater when we where all done is she could hold off on licking everything. I was pretty proud of her. She is going to be quite a baker in time, she loves all things baked and is even willing to do the dishes! ha ha.

As far as this recipe goes, it’s just one of a billion out there. Nothing particularly special about it, although it suggest resting the dough in the fridge for 24-36 hours, ha. That isn’t going to fly in my house. I cooked a sheet that day and another the next day, I will say the ‘ripened’ batch did have a more caremely flavor and browned a bit more when cooked as noted by other bloggers. So if you can wait I would say its worth it  but either way these are good. Although they were too cakey for my husband, he likes thinner chewy cookies,  these were right up my alley. So take five and enjoy these with a glass of milk.

I am just including the link, since I didn’t change anything about the cookie.


Chocolate cupcakes with Salted peanut caramel.

I came upon a recipe for some peanut butter cookies topped with a salted peanut caramel and I could not get it out of my head. But as usual, I had to find a way to put this in a cupcake, since I had to bring some to a housewarming party. Not too difficult of a task but the caramel did prove a bit fussy, although when the instructions say to pay attention at a certain stage, one should not be off helping their two year old pick a movie to watch. I also read to pull the caramel off the heat a bit lighter than the amber color it suggested and that worked very well. The sauce calls for peanuts which I did use for the cupcake filling but I didn’t want peanuts in my frosting so I put aside a cup of the caramel before adding the peanuts.

I made my simple doctored up box chocolate cupcakes because I had very little time but any chocolate recipe would work here. I filled the cupcakes with the caramel using the cone method. I then topped them with a caramel cream cheese frosting and a tiny drizzle of caramel for effect. These are good, very good. Next time I would double the batch of caramel, and I have reflected that in the directions. Keep in mind, you need to use a big enough pot to make the caramel (even Dutch oven size), especially if you are going to double as I suggest. When you add the warm cream it will froth up and if you do not have a large enough pot it could be a scary disaster, so error on the side of bigger.

Chocolate cupcakes with salted peanut caramel.
24 chocolate cupcakes

Salted peanut caramel
Adapted from: Dave Lebovitz

(Recipe is doubled)

1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 TBSP light corn syrup
¼ TSP coarse salt (I used sea salt)
2 cups heavy cream
1 TBSP vanilla extract
¾ cup finely chopped roasted salted peanuts (if you want peanuts in your frosting double that amount)

First put your cream in a microwave safe dish or saucepan and warm it up, then set aside. Put the water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a large sauce pan on med-high heat. Stir the mixture until all the sugar dissolves, at that point stop stirring and allow to boil. (At this point don’t abandon your sugar, keep a close eye on it, although it does take around 7-10 minutes). Swirl the pan every so often to ensure it heats evenly, especially once you start to see some color. Now once you start to see color, it happens fast so be ready with your warm cream. Once the color turns a LIGHT brown (I found it was easiest to see the true color with the pan tilted slightly), pull it off the heat and slowly add the cream while whisking the caramel. It will froth and foam up but it will receded quickly, keep stirring until it settles down, then add the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool.

Once the caramel has cooled enough to pour safely, measure out a cup (this will be for the frosting) and set aside, I suggest putting this in the fridge for a while because you want it to be cold when you add it to your frosting). Then add the peanuts to the remaining caramel in the pan. Let it sit until it has thickened (30 min) or put it in the fridge to speed it up. Once it has thickened and cooled put a tablespoon or more into each cupcake. And try not to eat it all while you are doing it! If this process make you nervous or you just want more pictures and information, check out the links provided below. If you want to drizzle some caramel over the cupcakes set aside another 2 tbsp or so, put it in a plastic zip lock and snip off the courner to drizzle over the finished cupcake. If you want the peanuts on top simply use a spoon to drizzle and be sure to set aside the caramel with the peanuts already mixed in.

Salted Caramel frosting:
Adapted from: Chockylit

2 sticks of butter at room temperature
8 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
5-6 cups of powdered sugar
1 cup salted caramel

Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until creamy. Sift in 3 cups of the powder sugar and beat till combined. Add the cup of salted caramel sauce and beat till combined. Sift in the rest of the powder sugar 1 cup at a time until it is the consistency you like. I used 6 cups total and then cooled it in the fridge for 10 minutes before piping it on the cupcakes. This makes enough frosting to generously frost 24 cupcakes.



Halloween cookies (better late than never)

I made these for a pumpkin carving party a few weekends ago (ya I know more than a few). Please excuse the bad photos, I was late getting out the door and my two year old was not helping. So they basically got thrown on the counter and I took a few shots with my phone. One day I will get a real camera.

I actually had a lot of fun with the cookies this time. I learned a lot from my attempt last time and with some more research the process went very smoothly. Now, no matter how organized you are its just a very time consuming project. I do believe it took me longer to make and get the frosting ready and assembled than to actually decorate the cookies!

I used a new technique for rolling out the dough that I read about, it made the process go beautifully. I rolled it out right out of the mixing bowl between two sheets of wax paper (it suggested parchment but I was out and that stuff can get pricey) then popped the flat disks into the freezer. It made for some wonderful sharp edged cookies! I always have a problem getting them to the cookie sheet looking good and this made it simple. When I got enough scraps to make a new ball I just rolled it out again and popped it in the freezer while I cut out or baked the rest. It went incredibly fast, which made me happy because it’s my least favorite part of making these cookies.

The decorating goes very fast if you have it all prepped. Flood colors where in squeeze bottles and the piping colors in their bags with tips on. My piping ability has greatly improved over the last few months and it really helped them look cleaner. My daughter just loved the witches (she has a thing for the bad witch) but my favorite were the pumpkins, they are classic.

Witches outlined.

Lemon and Vanilla Bean White Sugar Cookies
Adapted from: Anne’s Eats
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or I use Vanilla bean paste about 1 TBS)
Zest of half a lemon
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean or paste, and lemon zest until blended. Mix in the flour and salt on low speed just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball and press between two sheets of parchment or wax paper, roll to desired thickness and pop into the freezer for 30 minutes. (You could make this ahead and totally freeze the dough, just let it defrost until pliable, I actually used the dough when it was quite frozen and it worked wonderfully.
After rolling, preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpads. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until fully cooked but not at all browned. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Royal Icing
Adapted from Anne’s Eats
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).
To find everything you could ever need to know about cookie decorating check out this website and link:

Peanut Butter Madness Cupcakes

That has to be about the only way you could describe this cupcake. As usual a group of us were talking about cupcake flavors in the locker room at the gym and peanut butter and chocolate was the overwhelming favorite. With a little help from Trader Joe’s, this masterpiece was created. I must say, this bad boy is a party pleaser; people were talking about this cupcake for weeks.

I used Barefoot Contessa’s peanut butter icing to top it because well, there is no other like it; it’s simply the best peanut butter frosting ever. I did use a doctored up cake mix (yes I know but let me explain) because it holds up very well and makes tall consistent cakes. This cupcake is less about the cake and a lot more about the extras. The bottom is a Nutterbutter crust then a hidden gem (large peanut butter cup) inside, topped with a mound of peanut butter icing and sprinkles with mini peanut butter cups. I drizzled a few with melted semi sweet chocolate but really didn’t end up liking how they looked. I prefer the cleaner look of just the mini cups.

Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the Nutterbutter crust:
1½ cups Nutterbutter crumbs
¼ cup sugar
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Blitz the cookies with the sugar in a cuisenart, add in melted butter. Add a tablespoon to the bottom of each cupcake cup, press down with the bottom of a glass. I found pressing down then rolling the glass around a bit works well

For the cupcakes: (adapted from: Hello Cupcake)
I box chocolate cake mix (preferably one without the pudding in the mix)
Amount of oil it calls for on the box
1 cup o f buttermilk
4 eggs

24 mini peanut butter cups (goes inside after being baked)
(Box of trader Joes mini peanut butter cups or use reeces and just cut them up (for the topping)

Add all the cake ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer with paddle attachment mix on low for a minute. Once combined turn mixed up to medium and beat for 2 minutes. It should be fluffy, fill cupcake holders 2/3-3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until the centers spring back when touched.
For the frosting: (Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
I doubled this.

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
Add the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. You can either pipe it on or spread, it works well for both. Or just eat it out of the bowl. 
Cupcake Assembly:
Preheat your over, make the cookie crust, and press bout a tablespoon into each cupcake liner. Mix your cake and fill cupcake liners ¾ full with batter. Place in over, check them at about 18 minutes. Pull out cupcakes when you push on the middle and it springs back. Let them cool a while in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack. Once they have completely cooled, cut out a cone shaped hole in the top, you will have to trim the cone part for they won’t fit back on without. Place one large peanut butter cup (if you are not getting Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups, the Reeces minis will work fine) then put the trimmed tops back on. Make your frosting and top the cupcakes however you would like. Garnish with mini (trader Joe’s) peanut butter cups. If using reeces, just cut them up. If you want…drizzle some melted semi sweet chocolate over the top.

With the chocolate drizzle.


You can see the hidden suprise, and why you must trim the cone to put it back on.

Mickey Mouse Cupcakes

Today’s post is just a bit of show and tell. I made these cupcakes for a friend’s son’s second birthday. He just loves Mickey Mouse, so I tried my best to make them cute. I think they turned out ok, had I found a good chocolate mold in time I would have used that instead. These I made free hand, or rather with a cutout made of cardboard. I traced them onto parchment, flipped the parchment over and poured the chocolate, for the red parts I used red candy melts.

The cupcakes are a simple yellow cake with a homemade strawberry filling, the frosting is vanilla swiss meringue buttercream.

Lemon Mascarpone Cream Cake

Time flies when you are having fun and boy have I already gotten behind here! So to catch you up; I now am taking a cake decorating class at a local cake supply store. I am a little disappointed with the format, its seems to be more about making a certain cake each week than learning any real skills. The instructor is right in saying; you just have to practice on your own because doing it is the only way to get better. So with that advice, I decided to make a cake this weekend to take over to my aunts for a small party to meet my cousin’s new baby.

It’s a lemon mascarpone cake found on my favorite blog. It was a bit challenging not only for the cake being a “high ratio cake” but the frosting was a whip cream type rather than butter cream. I had some challenges just getting the frosting to look right but in the end I think I was pretty enough and boy this cake tasted good. It calls for you to make your own lemon curd, heck six months ago I didn’t even know what lemon curd was, but now that I have made my own, oh my gosh its heaven, I will never buy it again. This cake is a bit dense but still feels soft and silky in your mouth; the lemon curd and mascarpone frosting really lighten this up and make it a delicious cake with tremendous flavor.

I am just posing the link for the cake because I changed nothing at all and the other reason being the blog I got it from gives fabulous step by step instructions.


Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes


This is one of my husband’s favorite drinks, if you have ever seen it done its quite entertaining. You take a pint glass fill it half full of Guinness (note: Draft not Stout), take a shot glass add a shot of whiskey (preferably Jamison’s) and top it with Baileys. You then take the shot glass and drop it into the pint glass and gulp it down all at once. First one done has the bragging rights.  Now I have no interest in drinking this drink but the cupcakes, they were good. Not only was the cake, which had Guinness baked in it, but the frosting, holy cow. I could have pulled up a chair and made it a meal. I researched this recipe all over the place and many people use different amounts of Bailey’s for the frosting but this recipe definitely got it right, it did not disappoint.


 I had so much ganache left over after filling the cupcakes I went ahead and added some on top, it made for a pretty presentation. I made these for a world cup party hence the soccer balls.

 Since I didn’t change the recipe in any way and this one give such fabulous directions I will just post the link.


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