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I'm Paula, a self-taught baker from New Jersey who's madly in love with chocolate. I rather cut off my arm than never eat chocolate again. I grew up dipping chocolate chip cookies in coffee for breakfast. When I was little, my mom told me everything tasted like chocolate so I'd eat something besides actual chocolate. Chocolate is my life.

This is where I test and create delicious dessert recipes (that almost always contain chocolate). Enjoy!

Contact: paula@sugarventions.com

View my baked goods on
flickr.

Follow me on Twitter: @Sugarventions
8 May 12

Chocolate Rugelach

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."

"Rugelach?"

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:

  • 1 four ounce package cream cheese, cold and cubed
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the chocolate filling:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips
  • 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

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.

17 April 12

Confetti Cupcake

Add 2-4 tablespoons of bright rainbow sprinkles to your vanilla cupcake batter along with the same amount of sprinkles to your chocolate or vanilla buttercream frosting resulting in a cupcake worth celebrating. 

11 April 12

Springtime Cupcake Assortment

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.

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon heavy cream

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.)

9 April 12

Almond Joy Cupcake

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

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups 2% milk
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2-1 cup milk chocolate chips (depending on how crazy you’re feeling that day)

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)

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 teaspoons coconut milk
  • 9 ounce bag almonds, crushed
  • 14 ounce bag coconut flakes
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. Mix ingredients together on low speed. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt and heavy cream.
Crush almonds in a food processor into very small pieces and beat into the frosting for several minutes to full incorporate the entire mixture.

The frosting will be thicker than traditional buttercream due to the almonds. You don’t need to pipe the frosting beautifully and precisely onto the cupcakes because you’re going to cover it in coconut flakes! Pour coconut flakes onto a plate and roll the cupcake in the flakes. You can also grab some flakes, push it onto the frosting and shake off the excess flakes. 
29 March 12

Biscotti [Almond & Chocolate Hazelnut]

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

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

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.

20 March 12

Triple Chocolate Cookies

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.)

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Valrhona 100% cacao unsweetened cocoa powder (or any other dark unsweetened cocoa powder that’s higher than 60%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • couple shakes of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

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!)

13 March 12

Blondies: the simpler, the better

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)

  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Drizzle of melted dark chocolate

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.

23 February 12
This is a baking blog, but I eat other delicious food that isn’t coated in sugar and chocolate that I need to post the recipes.
I’ve  cooked dinner every day this week, which is a BIG accomplishment for me (I’m a  baker, not a cook), and this Honey Mustard Chicken Strips recipe is so  easy to make and delicious to eat.
Honey Mustard Chicken Strips (via Budget Bytes)
Package of chicken strips
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Take chicken out of the package and cut off the fat. Set aside.
Combine the mayonnaise, honey, mustard, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl. Divide the mixture in half, saving half for dipping. Place in the refrigerator, covered, until you’re ready to eat.
Dunk the chicken strips into the other half of the mustard mixture, coating generously. Place breadcrumbs in a dish or deep bowl. Once the chicken is coated in the mustard mixture, transfer the chicken to the breadcrumbs and coat. Throw out the mustard sauce that the chicken was marinating in. Place the chicken strips on a baking sheet in the oven for half an hour on 400 degrees. Serve alongside remaining mustard sauce.

This is a baking blog, but I eat other delicious food that isn’t coated in sugar and chocolate that I need to post the recipes.

I’ve cooked dinner every day this week, which is a BIG accomplishment for me (I’m a baker, not a cook), and this Honey Mustard Chicken Strips recipe is so easy to make and delicious to eat.

Honey Mustard Chicken Strips (via Budget Bytes)

  • Package of chicken strips
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Take chicken out of the package and cut off the fat. Set aside.

Combine the mayonnaise, honey, mustard, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl. Divide the mixture in half, saving half for dipping. Place in the refrigerator, covered, until you’re ready to eat.

Dunk the chicken strips into the other half of the mustard mixture, coating generously. Place breadcrumbs in a dish or deep bowl. Once the chicken is coated in the mustard mixture, transfer the chicken to the breadcrumbs and coat. Throw out the mustard sauce that the chicken was marinating in. Place the chicken strips on a baking sheet in the oven for half an hour on 400 degrees. Serve alongside remaining mustard sauce.

21 February 12

Tres Leches Cake

A translation for the unknowing: tres leches means “three milks”. My boyfriend and I celebrated our four-year anniversary a few weeks ago and this is what he wanted me to make for him. I never made it before and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out since you have to pour milk over the cake and wait for the cake to absorb the liquid. It’s a little nerve-wracking if you’re like me and think that the cake will never absorb the milk, but it eventually does. Promise.

Tres Leches Cake (via The Pioneer Woman)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 eggs, divided
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Icing

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are a pale yellow.

Mix in milk and vanilla slowly.

Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture.

Stir gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff, but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter gently until just combined.

Pour into baking pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out into a gigantic piece of Tupperware because that is the biggest serving dish you have. So sad. I really need to get married just for the registry.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream in MORE Tupperware because that’s a lot of milk. Stir as much as you can until it’s combined.

When cake is completely cooled, pierce the surface all over with a fork. Slowly drizzle all but 1 cup of the milk mixture over the cake. That part makes me sort of mad because I don’t like to waste and it makes no sense to me.

LOOK! You (I) didn’t think the cake would absorb the liquid and it did! This will take about a half hour or a little longer.

To ice the cake, whip the pint of heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable, but not dry.

Spread evenly over the cake.

Cut and serve!

Look at all that leftover milk!

This cake was so incredibly sweet, in a wonderful way. To be honest, it tasted like the remaining milk from eating a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Delicious!

23 January 12

Monkey Munch

I first heard of Monkey Munch, also known as Puppy Chow according to a southern source, several years ago while watching Jon and Kate Plus 8 when the kids were cute and Jon and Kate still semi cared about each other. Thank the lord for the Gosselins or  I would’ve lived my life without ever knowing what this magical creation was. Monkey Munch is a great snack to enjoy throughout the week, if you can make it last that long, that is.

Side note: My sudden desire to inhale all things containing sugar more than usual lately left me asking my mother if diabetes runs in our family. (Thanks for freaking me out Ms. Deen.) It doesn’t.

Let’s continue…

Monkey Munch (via food.com)

  • cups Chex cereal (I use Rice Chex. Wheat Chex would obviously be a healthier choice.)
  • cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Place Chex in a large bowl and set aside.

Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a bowl. Stir in 30 second intervals until completely melted. Be sure not to burn the chocolate by leaving the items in the microwave too long without mixing. Stir ingredients until combined.

Add vanilla and stir.

Pour chocolate mixture over the cereal. Mix slightly, without breaking the cereal.

Place cereal into a two-gallon Ziploc bag. Add powdered sugar to the bag, seal and shake until sugar is distributed.

Keep refrigerated in Ziploc bag until Monkey Munch has ceased to exist.

Posted: 11:15AM

Monster Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie

These cookies are HUGE. I was surprised by their size since that isn’t how they looked in the original recipe, so I’m not sure what happened, but I’m not complaining. I just hope they come out this big next time I make them.

Monster Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Ivory Hut)

Makes 12 giant cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 3/4 STICKS butter (not cups)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • couple shakes of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together flour and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

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. This will take a couple of minutes. Note: I burned the butter. I used a dark pan and couldn’t see when the butter was turning brown (use a stainless steel skillet to avoid this), so there were tons of specs of burned butter. Instead of throwing it out and starting over, I placed a paper towel in a strainer and gently used a spoon to push the melted butter through the strainer and into a bowl with the remaining butter. This worked fantastically. Transfer melted butter to another bowl and mix with remaining butter until fully melted.

Add sugars, 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 about 30 seconds, before letting it rest again. Repeat this process 4 times, until you have a thick, glossy and smooth mixture.

Use a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula to gently stir in the flour mixture just until combined. Stir in the chocolate and nuts.

Use an ice cream scooper for giant cookies and place them 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. You must eat one while it’s still warm.

I’ve attempted to make gigantic cookies for as long as I can remember. I’m not exactly sure what contributed to the cookies rising so much. I’ve made cookies in the past using an ice cream scooper to form the dough and those simply tend to flatten into thin, crispy cookies. Perhaps the egg and extra egg yolk or the browning of the butter is what did the trick. I just don’t know at this point, but I’m more than happy with the end result.

14 December 11

Twelve Days of Christmas Desserts: Turtle Graham Bars

I’m pretty sure I’ve never had toffee before, which means I haven’t fully lived life. Until now. I didn’t know toffee was melted brown sugar and butter! If I knew that sooner, I’d probably eat it by the spoonful everyday. After boiling butter, brown sugar and pecans together, the scent of toffee will linger in your house all night. I have to admit, one of the best parts about baking is the scent. You can’t get a more natural air freshener than the smell of baked goods.

Turtle Graham Bars is one of the most delicious desserts I’ve made and what makes it even better is that it’s incredibly easy to make. I mean it. I can’t stand it when people say a recipe is “easy” and there are 12 ingredients plus 16 steps. That’s not easy to a person who doesn’t bake often. “Easy” means less than five ingredients and steps. That’s what Claire Robinson is for. You probably already have all these ingredients in your house. Even if you don’t, you can improvise by using different types of chocolate, nuts or brown sugar.

Turtle Graham Bars (adapted from the Food Network):

  • 7 graham crackers
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I ran out of baking chocolate.)
  • 1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Arrange the graham crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet. It doesn’t have to look pretty since you’re going to break these apart at the end.

Put the butter, brown sugar, pecans and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

"I’m melting, I’m melting! What a world, what a world!"

Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour the butter mixture as evenly as possible over the graham crackers and bake for 15 minutes. The mixture will spread significantly while baking, so don’t worry if you don’t cover every single graham cracker.

Remove and set aside. (Looks a little like barf, but don’t fret just yet.)

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a bowl with milk. Add more milk to thin the chocolate.

Pour the chocolate over the toffee-covered graham crackers and spread evenly. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the chocolate. (Still looks barfy.)

Voila! Now it’s pretty! Chill completely in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Cut into bars.

Let’s look at this together. The bottom layer is a graham cracker, the middle layer is toffee/pecans and the top layer is chocolate. OK, just wanted to get that straight. I’ve been keeping these in my refrigerator since I made them and have probably eaten half of the grahams crackers by myself. No shame. I would kill for these. Literally, kill. So would you.

13 December 11

Twelve Days of Christmas Desserts: Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

I adjusted another recipe from my original list. I have a hard time following the rules, even if they’re my own. I live life ON THE EDGE. The original list was for inspiration and, sometimes, I’m inspired to do other things. Hence my version of Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes.

Cupcakes for Two (adapted from How Sweet It Is):

*Makes two cupcakes, by the way

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 heaping teaspoon of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add egg white and sugar to a bowl. Whisk until combined. Add vanilla and melted butter. Stir until mixed.

Add flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until smooth.

Stir in milk and cocoa powder.

Someone please help me to understand why the red cupcake liner was so small because I can’t figure it out.

Divide batter equally between the 2 cupcake liners.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.

With a sharp knife, make holes in the center of the cupcakes for the filling. Be careful not to go all the way to the bottom of the pan.

Let’s move on to the frosting…

Chocolate Butter cream frosting and filling (adapted from Savory Sweet Life):

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cup cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (a little goes a long way)
  • 1 teaspoon milk

*These measurements are estimates. Since I only made two cupcakes, I guessed at how much of each ingredient I needed. If you want the cupcake less sweet, add more cocoa powder. If you want the cupcake more sweet, add more powdered sugar.

Cream butter with a hand mixer on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift in 3 cups of powdered sugar and cocoa. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar, cocoa and butter are combined. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt and milk and beat for several minutes. For a stiffer consistency, add more sugar. For a thinner consistency, add more milk, a little bit at a time.

Chocolate ganache:

  • Half a bar of bittersweet baking chocolate
  • Couple drops of milk

Melt baking chocolate with milk in the microwave.

Once the cupcakes are cooled completely, fill and frost them in the butter cream and dip into the chocolate ganache. Add festive holiday sprinkles.

Ta-da!

His…

…and hers.

12 December 11

Twelve Days of Christmas Desserts: Triple Chocolate Biscotti

I was scared to make biscotti. It seems like more of a bread than a cookie and cooking bread can be tricky. When I was researching the perfect chocolate biscotti recipe, I learned that it’s really just a twice-baked cookie. Still, baking something new for the first time is always a little overwhelming. Truth be told, the preparation for this dessert was incredibly easy. Everyone bake biscotti! Especially if you’re a good Italian like me. The only problem is that you can’t bake biscotti if you’re impatient (a common Italian trait). I summoned my non-Italian nationalities, and was patient for the first time in my life. Altogether, the process takes about an hour from beginning to end. The reason being that once you bake the dough, you take it out and let it sit, then you cut it into pieces, then you bake one side of the cookie, then you flip the cookie and bake the other side, then you let them cool, then you melt the chocolate, then you dip the cookies… get it? It takes time, but the result is worth it.

I have a confession to make before we move onto the recipe: I went against everything I stand for and didn’t take pictures of my baking process. I know! I can’t stand when people don’t take step-by-step pictures because I love to see the entire baking process. I made these late at night and knowing that stopping to take pictures when I was maybe a little grumpy would make the process a lot less fun, I opted not to do so. I promise, this won’t happen again.

Triple Chocolate Biscotti (adapted from All Recipes):

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Ghirardelli bitter-sweet chocolate chips (Pay a little extra for Ghirardelli chocolate. You won’t regret it.)
  • 1 bar Nestle Toll House semi-sweet baking bar, for dipping (This is what I had on hand, but next time, I’m using a Ghirardelli baking bar.)
  • 1 tablespoon half and half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Well, I did take this one picture.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in cocoa and baking powder. Beat for 2 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Do not over beat eggs. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon. Mix in dark chocolate chips. Cover dough and place in refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

Roll dough into a ball on a floured surface. Separate dough in half and roll each half into 9-inch logs. Place logs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, about 4 inches apart (the dough will spread). Flatten dough slightly with your fingertips.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the top of the logs start to crack, the dough is done baking. Cool logs on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

Once the logs are slightly cooled, cut logs into 1/2 inch-wide drastic diagonal slices. This is the part that always confused me. Taking the logs out of the oven, you think, “Are these going to be teeny tiny biscotti? How could they possibly be normal-sized?” Hence the drastic diagonal slices.

Place biscotti back onto the cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 9 minutes. Turn cookies over and bake for 7 to 9 more minutes. Cool cookies completely.

Melt semi-sweet chocolate baking bar in the microwave with a teaspoon of half and half for 1 minute. (Start out with a teaspoon and work your way up until the chocolate reaches the liquid consistency you’re most comfortable with, which I found to be 1 tablespoon). Every 20 seconds, take the chocolate out of the microwave and stir, as to not burn the chocolate.

Once the chocolate is completely melted, take your cookies and dip one flat side into the chocolate. Spread chocolate evenly on the cookie with a spatula. Pour Christmas (or any kind) of sprinkles on the melted chocolate. Pop in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to harden the chocolate.

This biscotti was crunchy and delicious. I’m already thinking of ways to make it even more chocolately. It goes perfectly with your morning coffee and is definitely a proper breakfast item. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

29 November 11

Twelve Days of Christmas Desserts: Recipes

It’s taken me a few days to come up with twelve holiday recipes, but I finally found twelve I’m excited about. These are all items I’ve never baked. The two items I’d love to bake, but am too afraid to do so, are cannolis and Buche de Noel. I’m pretty sure I’d go crazy though because, one, cannolis involve deep frying and mama don’t deep fry, and two, because there are 1,900 steps to make a Buche de Noel. I’ll leave that up to Mr. Payard.

I’ll probably end up playing with the recipes and adding my own additions/decorations, but I’ll post specifics as I bake the items.

Paula’s Twelve Days of Christmas (in no particular order):

(*Updated and crossed out as recipes are made.)

1. Chocolate cookies decorated with royal icing. Shapes include a candy cane, Christmas tree, snowman, ornament and other typical Christmas cookie cutters.

2. Double Chocolate Biscotti. I would kill for these dipped in hot coffee.

3. Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

4. Brownie Thins

5. Chocolate Crunch Snowball Cookies

6. Cinnamon Sticky Buns

7. Turtle Graham Bars

8. Chocolate Hazelnut Torte topped with chocolate ganache

9. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

10. Hot Cocoa Cookies. I’m REALLY excited about these.

11. Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

12. Milk Chocolate and Salted Caramel Gateau Saint Honore. How fancy does that sound? I’m actually going to ditch the “cake” idea and only make the puff pastry filled with and dipped in chocolate.

Visit Sugarvention throughout the entire holiday season to see how the desserts turn out!

Themed by Hunson. Originally by Josh