Browsing articles in "Desserts"
Mar 1, 2012

Girl Scout Cookie Nirvana

This day couldn’t have come sooner. My colleague came over to my desk and dropped off my order for GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!! Joy immediately sank in. Not only for me, but for Jared as well. He is the one and only cookie monster. My colleague is a troop leader and every year, she passes the form around the department and every year, I order several boxes. Well, when she dropped off the brown paper bag, the top was stapled. Smart. I resisted diving right in during work. I took the bag home, sat it on my counter and slowly unraveled the top to see bright colors peak through.

And there they are…samoas, thin mints and trefoils…get in my belly! I think these cookies are just as excited to be eaten as I am excited to eat them!

A normal person with some self-control would probably open the first box, finish it and then open the next. That’s not how I work. I opened all three and savored each cookie, one at a time. Just me with my cookies in my kitchen. Mmmmm….

Just so you know, the trefoils aka shortbread, pair great with Nutella!!

So, if you didn’t order your boxes, I’m sure you can find some troop in front of Walmart or Kroger. Go out, support your local girl scout troop and get your boxes because this only happens once a year. Enjoy the cookies! I know I have been.

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Feb 14, 2012

Recipe for: Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

From the kitchen of: All-recipes
Total time:
15 min to prep, 20 min to bake    Makes: 20 cupcakes

I am literally obsessed with red velvet cupcakes. Obsessed. If I had to pick a favorite cupcake, it would certainly be the red velvet cupcake. At at our wedding, our “wedding cake” was a tower of cupcakes from Frostings located in Richmond. We had three different types of cupcakes, one of which was the red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Granted this version I’m showcasing today isn’t as good as Frostings, but it’s still delicious. I found the recipe on the very popular All-recipes website where cooks like me share their recipes. This one in particular received rave reviews and so I knew, this one would at least be tasty. If your significant other is obsessed with red velvet cupcakes, this recipe will definitely satisfy their craving. It would also be a nice little treat for Valentine’s Day :)

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 fluid ounce red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cream cheese packages (8-oz)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Sift dry ingredients.
First, preheat the oven to 350º. Over a medium bowl, shift the dry ingredients together to remove the lumps—flour, cocoa powder and salt. This is an important set to prevent a lumpy batter. Set aside.

2. Mix wet ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla. Add the baking soda and vinegar until the batter is well-combined. Afterwards, add the dry ingredients in thirds mixing between installments. Finished batter is smooth, yet a little thick. Slightly thicker than pancake batter.

3. Scoop and bake. Line two 12-cupcake trays. Using a ice cream scooper, scoop the red velvet batter into each cupcake filling it only two thirds to prevent overfilling. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-22 minutes. Stick a toothpick into the cupcake at the 20-minute mark, it should come out clean.

4. Top with cream cheese frosting. With the electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar in thirds mixing between installments. Add vanilla and mix until well-combined. Top each cupcake with the frosting. Enjoy!

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Jan 31, 2012

Recipe for: Cheesecake Heart Pops

From the kitchen of: Isabel Canfield
Total time:
takes 25 min to prep the cheesecake, 40 min to bake and refrigerate overnight to set
Makes:
About 75 hearts (depending on stencil)

Valentine’s day is just around the corner. I know, don’t remind me. Even I have no idea what to get Jared yet. But I do know my guy and he’d be happy with anything sweet and Manchester United related. Haha. Since I can’t afford a $100 jersey this time, I think I’ll satisfy his sweet tooth instead. Jared absolutely loves cheesecake. So, I thought of a creative way to show my love for him through these homemade cheesecake heart pops. Cake pops have been the craze lately, but I sometimes feel they’re too dense and overly sweet for my taste. Using cheesecake instead was different and in my opinion, tastier. In my journey to make cheesecake heart pops for the first time, I’ve learn some valuable lessons that can help you in the process:

1. The cutouts work well with or without a graham cracker crust. I wasn’t sure if the stencil would cut through the crust okay. It did.
2. Don’t try to dip hearts in the melted candy because it will fall apart. Believe me. I almost had a meltdown. See photo:

3. Don’t add too much concentrated paste to the melted candy or else the texture firms up too much.
4. You will end up with a lot of unused cheesecake, just ball them up. They’re good in any shape or form.
5. Last but not least, the freezer is your friend. Pop the cheesecake back in if it gets to soft to cut out the hearts.

With these tips and a damn good cheesecake recipe, I hope you enjoy them as much as Jared did and my pregnant sister who devoured 7 pops in less than 5 seconds. A world record.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (about 20 crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

3 (8oz.) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup vanilla candy melts
Wilton concentrated paste icing color (creamy peach)
75-ish lollipop sticks

Directions:
1. Prepare the graham cracker crust.
In a small bowl, combine graham crackers with sugar and melted butter with a fork. Using a 10×15 rectangular pan, form the crust on one half of the pan. Use your fingers and the palm of your hand to flatten the crust. Bake in a preheated 325° oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

After baking, the crust gets a little toasted.

2. Prepare cheesecake filling. In a large bowl, cream together sugar, flour and cream cheese until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well with each addition on medium speed. Finish the filling by adding the sour cream, vanilla and lemon juice on low speed.

3. Bake cheesecake. Pour the cheesecake filling over the entire pan. Carefully spread the cheesecake evenly using a spatula. Bake in a preheated 300° oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to set.

After it’s been baked, the coloring doesn’t really change. Mine cooked at exactly 40 minutes, but check yours at 35 minutes. Should be fairly firm, but can wiggly slightly. It will continue to cook after you’ve removed it from the oven.

4. Stencil out hearts. Before you use a small heart-shaped stencil to cut out the hearts, place the cheesecake in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up. This will help cut out the hearts easier. After pressing out 2-3 hearts, you’ll need to rinse the stencil under hot water. This will help cut into the cheesecake better. If the cheesecake gets too soft, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes until it firms up again.

5. Microwave candy melts and add sticks to the hearts. In a microwaveable bowl, melt the candy melts according to the directions on the back. I heated mine at 50% power for intervals of 1 minute. Dip the end of the stick into the melted candy. And then gently twist the stick into the heart. You’ll need to be very gentle to prevent the heart from breaking. Twisting the stick instead of just stabbing the stick into the heart will also help.


6. Drizzle pink candy melt. With the remainder of the melted candy, add a dab of concentrated paste using a toothpick. A little of the paste goes a long away. Using a spatula, mix the paste with the melted candy to your desired color. Pour the melted candy into the corner of a zip lock bag and cut a tiny tiny hole in the corner of the bag. Drizzle the pink candy over the top. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve the pops.

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Dec 30, 2011

Reader Submission Recipe: Spicy Pepper Cookies

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Meghan Ely
TOTAL TIME: 15 min to prep, 8-10 min to bake
MAKES:
3-4 dozen cookies

I brought to you earlier this week a Holiday Cookie Box Social designed by Meghan Ely and Ariana Ewing of OFD Consulting. Well today, I have Meghan’s Spicy Pepper Cookies she wanted the readers of Pretty Tasty Things to test out and try. Here’s what she had to say about her cookies:

“This year, I decided to try a Spicy Pepper Cookie, which I found on Nibbledish.com. I spent over three years working in Catering at The Jefferson Hotel, so I’ve always found myself drawn to more creative combinations thanks to my culinary colleagues! This particular recipe called for a great deal of freshly ground pepper and sea salt, as well as cardamom, which I’ve yet to use. It’s was a relatively easy recipe to execute and I was really pleased with the results. In the future, I’d probably try and add more spice to it with perhaps cayenne pepper and then dip it in chocolate to offset the spice. I nearly followed the recipe to a T although after I creamed the sugar and butter, I ditched my beloved Kitchen aid mixer and hand mixed the rest with my equally beloved (and most favorite kitchen tool I might add!) wooden spoon. I always fear I’ll over mix otherwise.”

INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 each whole egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine butter + sugars. First, preheat oven to 350°. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Once the butter and sugars are well-combined, stir in the egg, milk and vanilla.

3. Add dry ingredients. Add all the spices and flour to the wet ingredients and continue to stir until well-mixed. Chill the dough at least 30 minutes before baking.

4. Bake the cookies. Drop cookies onto silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned around the edges for softer cookies, or until quite golden for crispy cookies.

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Dec 21, 2011

Recipe for: Chocolate Sauce for Churros

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 20-25 min
MAKES:
2 cups

Churros aren’t complete without its’ partner in crime, the chocolate sauce. I showed you yesterday how to make churros. You’re welcome :) Today, pair it with a bittersweet chocolate dipping sauce that compliments the sweetness of the churros. This chocolate sauce is a little more bitter than sweet since I used both bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder, but you can use semi-sweet chocolate if you have a very sweet tooth. Churros and chocolate is the ultimate combination to end the night, or if you prefer to eat churros during breakfast, pair it with my easy steps for cafe con leche.

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 sugar
pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS:
1. Start the chocolate sauce. In a small sauce pan, whisk together the milk, sugar, salt and cocoa powder on medium low temperature for about 5 minutes. Whisking occasionally.

2. Add chocolate and simmer. Add the chopped bittersweet chocolate to the mixture while turning the temperature down to low. Stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. The sauce will be very watery at first, but continue to stir occasionally for about 20 minutes until the sauce slowly thickens. You must stir to prevent the chocolate from sticking and burning to the bottom.

3. Serve. Once the sauce has thickened, ladle the sauce into cups or mini bowls. Serve immediately with the hot, fresh churros.

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