I don’t make pastries. There’s something about making dough that is incredibly boring to me, mainly because I’m impatient. All that mixing and then waiting. And doing something else and then waiting. Boo! Let’s just DO IT ALREADY.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy eating pastries. Bread and chocolate are my two favorite foods. Combine them and I’m blown away.
I haven’t baked in a while, but Geo and I were feeling brave this past Sunday (he made fresh pasta), so I asked him what kind of dessert he wanted me to make.
"That chocolate pastry thing you got the recipe for a while ago."
We spend a lot of time together for me to even know what he was talking about.
This recipe could easily be made by substituting homemade dough with Pillsbury’s frozen Crescent Rolls. Seriously, there would be barely any work involved!
Chocolate Rugelach (adapted from Just a Taste)
For the cream cheese dough:
For the chocolate filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To make the dough, combine the cream cheese, butter, flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse the ingredients together until the dough is crumbly but sticks together.
Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for one hour or up to one day.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it into 2 pieces. Place 1 piece back in the refrigerator.
Place the dough ball onto a lightly-floured surface. Beat the dough slightly. Using a rolling pin, shape it into a disc of approximately 1/8-inch thickness. Brush the dough with half of the melted butter and sprinkle it with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Sprinkle half of the chocolate onto the dough, pressing the chocolate into the dough.
Cut the dough into 12 triangles. Roll each triangle up, starting from the thickest end, until you form a crescent shape.
Repeat the process with the other dough ball.
Transfer the uncooked rugelach onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown. You can leave the rugelach out, covered, for one day, but must store after that so the cream cheese pastry won’t sour.
Springtime is my favorite time of year. Sucks for me, because spring weather is rarely present in New Jersey; it’s either hot or cold, almost never in between. I’d kill for that beautiful 70s weather year round. Hot or cold weather, I don’t care! Nothing can stop me from making beautiful flower cupcakes.
I achieved the lime green frosting by using an entire bottle of green gel food coloring. I thought it would produce a darker green color, but I like the lightness of it since it’s not as harsh and fake looking.
The vanilla buttercream frosting is my go-to frosting.
With a whisk attachment, mix butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Sift in powdered sugar, half a cup at a time, and adjust sweetness to your liking. Add in vanilla extract, salt and heavy cream. This will cover 12 cupcakes if you pipe it as a flower, like I did.
(Also pictured, my Almond Joy Cupcake. It’s almost too good to be true.)
I’m not a huge candy fan (weird, coming from someone who loves chocolate), but there’s something about an Almond Joy that I adore. I don’t like coconut alone. I don’t like almonds alone. Wrap those two things up in a milk chocolate shell and I’m SOLD.
Translating the distinct taste (and smell!) of an Almond Joy into a cupcake was much more simple than I imagined. I used a basic vanilla cupcake and chocolate buttercream as my base recipes and added a few ingredients to them. The end result? Obvious perfection.
Vanilla Cupcake (adapted from My Baking Addiction)
Makes 24 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. In a small bowl, coat chocolate chips in a bit of flour so that they won’t sink to the bottom of the batter when you add them in later.
In a measuring cup, whisk in the milk and egg whites.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar, first on low speed (to prevent the sugar from flying everywhere), and then on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and one third of the flour mixture, mixing first on low and then on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk mixture, then half of the remaining flour mixture. Add the remaining milk mixture, until fully incorporated into the batter. Add the last of the flour mixture. Beat the batter for a couple minutes until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using an ice cream scoop, fill the cupcake tins about half-2/3 full.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Almond Joy Frosting (using chocolate buttercream frosting as a base)
There are people in this crazy world who are obsessed with red velvet cake. I don’t exactly understand those people since it’s a cake with only a hint of chocolate, but that’s the point of it. It’s not supposed to be a chocolate cake, even though it’s made with cocoa powder. You know how I feel about chocolate, but I was willing to put my chocolate obsession aside in order to accomplish the perfect red velvet cupcake.
I tried out several recipes. The first one was just OK. I don’t eat red velvet cake, so I had to do some research in order to find out what it should exactly taste like. Georgetown Cupcake’s new location in SOHO just opened, and they say red velvet is their most popular cupcake, so I had to try it. Research is tough, people! All these delicious cupcakes that I have to taste. It’s hard work! Well, my red velvet cupcake didn’t taste too much like theirs, but I couldn’t see a drastic difference either. I needed to try another recipe.
The next recipe did nothing for me. It was just… boring. At this point, I was sick of eating red velvet cupcakes, but I needed to find the perfect recipe.
Why not just try Georgetown Cupcake’s recipe? I mean, why mess with the best? And this was how I found the perfect red velvet recipe. The key to a perfect cupcake is the order in which you mix your ingredients. If you over mix, the cupcakes will become dense and heavy. We don’t want that. We want everything to be light and fluffy.
If the frosting looks grainy, it’s because I added silver sanding sugar. It was too pretty not to.
I urge you to not eat all these cupcakes by yourself. Food coloring can upset your stomach easily, so stick to one cupcake (per day). :) I’ve searched for organic and no-taste red food coloring (which Katherine and Sophie say they use), but haven’t been able to find any. Probably because dyes are not natural. If you don’t like the idea of using something “unnatural”, I’ve seen several recipes using beets instead of red food coloring. That’s not my style, so you won’t see my trying that anytime soon.
Red Velvet Cupcakes (via Georgetown Cupcake)
Makes 12 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, red food coloring and vanilla extract.
I thought this looked really creepy, like blood. I promise it’s not.
Add to the mixture and combine until batter is completely red.
In a measuring cup, stir salt into milk. Alternate adding the flour and milk into the butter mixture in three increments until completely combined.
Combine baking soda and white vinegar in a small bowl. This is the best part! Look at all those bubbles! Tell your kids you’re a magician or something. They’ll probably believe you.
Add to the mixture and mix until just combined. Remember: Don’t over mix!
Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting
*Georgetown Cupcake’s cream cheese frosting was way too sweet for my taste (as most frosting recipes are), so I just played around until it tasted a lot less sweet.
The way I piped frosting, this covered 11 cupcakes
In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix butter and cream cheese for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar a little at a time so it doesn’t fly all over the house.
Biscotti is a part of my heritage. I grew up surrounded by biscotti (in a totally, non-weird way). Biscotti is a twice-baked Italian cookie, by the way. Should’ve mentioned that sooner.
My Italian relatives always send my family biscotti around the holidays, especially Easter. I never understood what this odd-shaped, hard-as-a-rock cookie was. It wasn’t a chocolate chip cookie, so I didn’t care about it. I blew it off. Peace out, biscotti! I don’t need you.
This past December, I decided to give biscotti a try. I wanted to make it. I’m not too sure why. Maybe I wanted to be able to make something for my family that they could eat on days that weren’t holidays. I made Triple Chocolate Biscotti and it wasn’t bad. I don’t really remember what it tasted like, so that must mean it wasn’t excellent, and that’s a problem.
Two days ago, my boyfriend, Geo, mentioned how much he loves almond biscotti. So, me, being the amazing and extraordinary girlfriend that I am, thought it would be another great opportunity to make something so close to my heart and also something that has doesn’t have chocolate in it; a challenge for myself since I don’t enjoy desserts that don’t contain chocolate. I don’t understand why a dessert WOULDN’T contain chocolate. It’s hard for me to fathom this idea.
But I had an idea: Make half the batter into a chocolate hazelnut biscotti. HA. I win. Except, I sort of almost lost it. I needed hazelnuts. You wouldn’t believe how many different kinds of nuts Shop Rite carries… EXCEPT de-shelled hazelnuts. I had to de-shell them myself. It should’ve been an easy process (throw them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and rub them between a towel until the shells come off), but the shells didn’t want to come off. I had to pound the hazelnuts with a rolling pin, which loosened the shell, but didn’t remove them. I was forced to remove each and every tiny shell with my fingers. A lot of annoying work for a couple of cookies, but it was worth it.
Almond Biscotti (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes 23 cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs and vanilla extract. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and mix on low until combined.
Divide dough in half. Mix in almonds to one half of the dough. Set aside almond biscotti half.
With the other half, you’re going to add the ingredients for the chocolate hazelnut biscotti. Mix 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup hazelnuts, whole or chopped, and 1/2 cup Nutella into the dough.
Using floured hands, shape each dough half into 13 1/2-inch-long by 2 1/2-inch-wide logs. Transfer both logs to the baking sheet, several inches apart from each other. (The logs will spread.) Whisk egg white in a small bowl until foamy. Brush egg white over the top and sides of each log.
Bake logs until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 25 minutes. Don’t shut off the oven.
Transfer logs to work surface and discard parchment paper. Using a serrated knife, cut logs on a diagonal into 1-inch-wide slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Turn biscotti over and bake until just beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.
Serve alongside a hot cup of coffee.
THESE COOKIES. These cookies gave me a hard time. I’ve been trying to perfect my s’more-inspired Campfire Cookies for a few months. I knew I wanted to do a cookie sandwich, but I couldn’t figure out the best recipe for flat cookies. I tried a bunch of different ones, but the cookies always became too plump. I also couldn’t get the cookies to taste like graham crackers. The vanilla extract overpowered the graham cracker taste. When I added chocolate chips to the cookie, the chocolate overpowered the graham cracker taste. I couldn’t figure out what I could do to make this cookie taste like you were eating a s’more.
The other day, it finally came to me: CHIPWICH! I die for this ice cream sandwich. That was the perfect inspiration I needed to figure out what I had to do next to make these cookies. I searched and searched and searched for a thin, crispy cookie recipe, something I’ve never made before. This was proving to be more difficult than I initially thought. It seemed like everyone’s version of a thin and crispy cookie was very different.
I got lucky on the (almost) first try. I found my perfect crispy cookie! All I had to do was add the marshmallow filling (perfection) and voila! Campfire Cookie Sandwich! And boy, was this cookie worth the wait. Eaten immediately, you’ll feel like you really are eating a s’more.
Thin and Crispy Cookies (adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place parchment paper or silicone mats to three baking sheets. Set aside.
Combine flour and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.
Add one package of graham crackers to a Ziploc bag and beat with a rolling pin until there are crumbs, but there are still small pieces of crackers. Set aside.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the melted butter, both sugars, corn syrup, milk and salt until combined. Mix in the flour mixture. Mix in the crushed graham crackers.
With a small cookie scooper, scoop dough onto baking sheets, about two inches apart from each other, as they will spread. With your fingers, gently spread the dough into almost flat discs.
They will not flatten completely since there are small pieces of graham crackers in the cookie.
Combine ingredients in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until thick and fluffy, about 6 to 7 minutes. You must do this over heat, as you don’t want to consume raw egg whites. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Cool completely and then add chocolate chips. Stir gently.
When not using the filling, cover with plastic wrap. No need to refrigerate.
To make Campfire Cookie Sandwiches: Scoop one heaping tablespoon of marshmallow filling onto one cookie right before you are about to serve them. The longer the filling is on the cookies, the softer the cookies will be.
This is why I set up a Campfire Cookie Sandwich station. This would be tons of fun for a kid’s birthday party! Just set up your cookies and filling, and this will keep the kids busy for a couple minutes. There’s nothing more fun than getting a little messy. :)
I’ve never been the biggest fan of sugar cookies, mainly because I love chocolate so much. Sometimes I have to actually remind myself that not everyone likes chocolate (weirdos). I’m all about simplicity, so I knew I had to add sugar cookies to my menu. Luckily, I hit the jackpot with this recipe, which surprisingly calls for powdered sugar. It makes the cookies incredibly delicate. When you’re eating a sugar cookie, you don’t want it o be heavy; it needs to be light so that you forget you’re eating something called a sugar cookie. I did have to add my twist, which was a drizzle of chocolate ganache. I just had to.
Oh yeah, as usual with all my cookies lately, these were huge. Like, almost as big as my head.
Giant Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies (adapted from Joy the Baker)
Makes 12 large cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Mix in the vegetable oil. It will not incorporate well, but don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong. Add the sugars, egg and vanilla, beating on medium speed until each ingredient is incorporated.
Add flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl and incorporate into the butter mixture on low speed.
Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour or freeze for 20-25 minutes.
Use an ice cream scooper to set dough on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Press the dough evenly with your fingers to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle sugar on top of the cookie.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to racks to cool completely.
Have you ever tried Valrhona chocolate? It’s French, which could only mean that it’s delicious, which it most obviously is. It’s also very expensive. I received Valrhona’s 100% cacao unsweetened cocoa powder for as a Christmas gift because it would be difficult for me on any normal day to pay more than double the amount I pay for cocoa powder. After using this dark chocolate powder though, I’m pretty addicted. I’m not sure how I’ll be able to use another type of chocolate next time I make these cookies.
To me, it’s important to use high-quality ingredients without breaking the bank. So while I’m in love with this chocolate, I won’t be running out immediately to buy all of Valrhona’s baking products. And that makes me sad. But Guittard is a close second. Guittard is easily replacing Ghirardelli as my favorite chocolate to bake with.
I’ll miss you, Valrhona.
Triple Chocolate Cookies (adapted from my Monster Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies)
Makes 11 giant cookies (Weird number. I should stop eating so much raw dough.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together flour and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
Now we are going to melt to brown the butter, which will give the cookie a very buttery (obviously) and nutty taste. Melt 1 1/4 sticks of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Keep swirling until butter has a dark golden brown color and a nutty aroma, about 4-7 minutes. Transfer melted butter to another bowl and mix with remaining butter until fully melted.
Add sugar, salt and vanilla to the butter and mix well. Add the egg and the extra yolk. Whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture rest for 3 minutes, then whisk again for 30 seconds, before letting it rest again. Repeat this four times until you have a thick, glossy and smooth mixture.
Use a wooden spoon to gently stir in the flour mixture until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Use an ice cream scooper to place dough on a lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake 12-14 minutes. Let cookies cool for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool (almost) completely.
What I love about these cookies is that they didn’t spread while they baked. The way they looked when I scooped them as raw dough is how they looked when I pulled them out of the oven. Since they were so dark, I wasn’t even sure they were cooked, but I’m here to let you know that they were, at about 14 minutes. The inside is an insane consistency which resembles that of a cake, a brownie and a cookie COMBINED while the cookie has a hard outer shell, so they won’t fall apart even though the inside is moist and delicious. Having so many different types of chocolate in the cookie (dark, semisweet and milk) gave the taste of the cookie so many different dimensions. I couldn’t see straight when I was done eating one. I was drunk with this AMAZING CHOCOLATE COOKIE TASTE. I’m sorry. I’ll calm down now. (Go make these!)
It was 5 PM. I was sitting around, semi-patiently waiting for my boyfriend to get home so he could cook dinner, but he hadn’t even left work yet. I was starving. I didn’t eat lunch. I needed to eat something and we don’t have snacks in our house (for some ODD reason). I had to whip up something quick before I fainted (dramatics).
These Blondies are one of the most simplest and delicious recipes I’ve made. It’s easy to remember the ingredients: one of everything.
Blondies (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a small-sized brownie pan with Pam and set aside.
Mix melted butter with brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add salt and flour. Mix. Add chocolate chips. Mix until combined.
Pour into brownie pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. You want them to be a bit gooey or else they’re going to be too dry.
Drizzle melted dark chocolate over the blondies. Let cool. Use a butter knife to remove.
I forgot how good red velvet brownies are! You don’t know what to expect when you bite into these, but you’re immediately hit in the mouth with a huge amount of flavor. The tiniest hint of cocoa is what makes them so decadent.
You’ll want to dip these in melted white chocolate and mini chocolate chips.
Ever since I decided to make Brownie Pops, I can’t get NSYNC’s Dirty Pop out of my head. If this dessert wasn’t so good, I’d never make them again, but luckily, they are very good.
Everywhere you look, people are creating desserts on sticks. I guess no one likes to get their hands dirty anymore. People want portable, clean desserts. I can get down with that. Just to be clear: I’m not talking about Cake Pops. I’m talking about Brownie Pops. I’m also not talking about making a beautiful creation and crumbling it into a million pieces and rolling it back up into a ball. Everyone does that and I’m just not into that.
What you’ll need:
For my Brownie Pops, I start off by baking the Dark Chocolate Brownies. I chose these brownies because you want to use a fudgy brownie as opposed to a brownie that’s more dry since it will crumble easily and not hold onto the lollipop stick.
Next, let the brownies cool for about a half hour to an hour. If you can’t wait that long, I’d still let it sit for a half hour, minimum, and then place them in the freezer for a couple minutes until you know you can cut into the brownie cleanly.
While you’re waiting for the brownies to cool, melt 3-4 cups of dark chocolate chips with the same amount of teaspoons of vegetable oil. Microwave for 1 minute and continue to melt in 30 second intervals while stirring in between. Be sure not to burn the chocolate by overheating it.
When the brownies are completely cooled, spray a butter knife with baking spray so it’s easy to cut through the brownies. Cut off the edges. I wanted the Brownie Pops to be almost bite-sized, so I decided to cut my brownies into 1.5 inch squares, equaling 35 brownies.
Take a lollipop stick and dip the very end of it into the melted chocolate. Stick the lollipop stick into the center of the brownie. You can try either of the following ways to coat the brownies in melted chocolate:
I prefer method 2 because I didn’t want to overpower the brownie with a huge chocolate shell. I didn’t want to lose the brownie in all of this because they are Brownie Pops after all!
Once you’re done with the melted chocolate step, place pops on parchment paper and sprinkle with toppings. Pop them in the freezer for 3-5 minutes and VOILA! Beautiful Brownie Pops! These are going to look great as favors for an engagement party (pics to follow at a later date)!
Now, it’s time for a confession: I used Ghirardelli’s chocolate chips for the melted chocolate. At first, I tried Wilton’s Candy Melts, which MANY people use. I figured it was probably delicious if so many people use it. I dipped a few of my Brownie Pops in the light cocoa candy melts and the taste was so intense that I winced whenever I bit into a pop. It was overly sweet. Way too sweet for me. My boyfriend agreed. I could never use those candy melts. The Ghirardelli’s chocolate chips were PERFECT. It’s the only chocolate I’ll ever use.
Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting is my FAVORITE dessert. Ever. Favorite. Hands down. I’m a huge chocolate fan, but for some reason, the combination of vanilla cake and chocolate buttercream does something for me that an all-chocolate combination doesn’t.
I’ve used this chocolate buttercream frosting for several desserts of mine, so I should really just consider it my go-to frosting because it always comes out perfectly (which means, not too sweet). I can’t stand a frosting recipe with more than two cups of powdered sugar in it.
Oh. Don’t forget to add the rainbow sprinkles at the end. That’s the most important part.
Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Joy the Baker)
Makes 24 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with liners and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt together.
In a small bowl, whisk milk and vanilla extract together.
In a large mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together, first on slow, and then on high, until light and fluffy, about three to five minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour, until completely combined.
Divide batter into the lined cupcake pans with an ice cream scoop, filling liners about halfway full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (adapted from Savory Sweet Life)
Covers 12 cupcakes (You’ll have to double this recipe if you plan to pipe this frosting on 24 cupcakes.)
Cream butter for a few minutes in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer off, sift in the powdered sugar and cocoa. Combine ingredients while your mixer is on the lowest speed. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt and heavy cream. Beat for 3 more minutes.
How beautiful are these? That plate, which was $10, is from Target. I suggest everyone go out and buy it. It looks amazing just sitting on my coffee table.