The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014 – Chocolate and Peanut Butter Globs

It’s my second year as a participant in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!!  As with last year, it was so fun to receive cookies in the mail from other food bloggers!  It was really hard to decide what to make this year. Last year I made the Brown Sugar Cookies with Chocolate Pecans and Sea Salt which were really good.  After much deliberation I decided to make…

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Globs!

Chocolate Glob Main

Yes, Globs!   Funny thing is that they actually look like, well Globs of chocolate, but they taste really amazing.  Okay, so what exactly does ‘amazing’ mean in terms of globs.  They taste like a rich brownie like cookie, with just the right amount of chewy moistness that I like in a good brownie.  They are filled to the brim with whole walnuts, pecans, peanut butter chips and chocolate chips.

Chocolate Globs 1

There is only a touch of flour holding these cookies together, just a touch!

Chocolate Globs 4

Usually I go for the pretty stuff when it comes to baking. I love to make beautifully decorated cakes and cupcakes, fancy decorated sugar cookies, that’s generally my thing.  But this cookie, this glob changed my mind.  After I tested them for the first time to see if they were worthy to send to my fellow food bloggers, I knew that I had found the right one!  It may not be the prettiest, but it truly tastes beautiful!  I hope that the people I sent them to enjoyed the globs, I know that I really enjoyed eating making them!  My mom even loved these cookies and she’s not even a big chocolate lover (gasp)!

Chocolate Glob Collage 2

If you are a food blogger I hope you will consider participating next year.  Together we helped to raise a lot of money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. This is truly baking for a good cause!  Thanks to Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for organizing this effort!

A great benefit of this is receiving cookies for some talented food bloggers!  Check out the cookies I received cookies from Big Flavors Tiny Kitchen, Healthy Nibbles and Bits and Cheap Recipe Blog.

collage cookies received

 Happy Holidays… Enjoy the Globs! 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Globs*

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips, divided
2 oz. dark chocolate chips (60% + cacao)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole walnuts
1 cup whole pecan halves
⅔ cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

Place the butter, 6 oz. of semi sweet chocolate chips and the 2 oz dark chocolate in a glass bowl. Place the bowl in microwave and heat in 30 second intervals until chocolate begins melting, then stir to continue the melting process.  Once fully melted, allow to cool in for 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, whisk to combine.

In another bowl, add the remaining 6 oz. chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, peanut butter chips and 1 tablespoon of flour mixture.  Stir to coat everything with the flour.

In the mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, vanilla and sugar until the mixture lightens in color and thickens a bit.

Reduce the speed and add the cooled chocolate, mix until combined, then add in the remaining flour mixture, fold until combined.  Finally, add in the nuts, chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Use a cookie scoop or two spoons, and drop rounded mounds of the cookie dough, about 1 inch apart on the parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes depending on the size of your globs.

* Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten

ENJOY!!

Sunshine and Raspberries

It was such a beautiful sun shining day today!  I haven’t posted on my little blog is what feels like forever, so I thought I’d do a quick post and share this lovely cake with you!  This cake makes me think of sunshine with its ombré yellow frosting, zingy lemon throughout and a pop of red with the raspberry topping!  I made this cake earlier in the summer, but never had an opportunity to share it here.  It’s a rich butter cake infused with lemon zest and rich vanilla, filled with a raspberry buttercream and frosted with a lemon buttercream.  Maybe you will head in the kitchen and whip up a cake that makes you think of sunshine too!

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(I love the inside cake shots!)

This cake was soooo good!  If you would like to recreate this cake, I used a couple of my old faithful recipes. The cake recipe can be found here, my Meme’s rich pound cake.  The buttercream filling is an italian meringue buttercream with fresh raspberry purée, this recipe can be found here and the frosting is a whipped buttercream with lemon juice, cream and a litte vanilla, this recipe cane be found here.

Enjoy!

Red Wine, Chocolate and Coconut

When its your birthday, you can have whatever cupcake combinations that you want…

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First up, the Nutty Coconut Cupcake!  Have you tried the ice cream flavor at Baskin Robbins?  Its my favorite, so I thought it would make a great cupcake flavor… and it truly did!!  Its a rich coconut, vanilla bean cupcake, filled with coconut filling, topped with vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream and topped with toasted pecans, almonds and coconut!  image

I know that there are some folks out there that are not fans of coconut and I can completely understand.  I actually don’t care for the taste of raw coconut.  For me, it has to be toasted or added to something (like this wonderful filling!) in order to be ‘acceptable’ coconut for me!  I would dare say that this Nutty Coconut Cupcake might be able to make a believer out of the staunchest non coconut eaters out there!

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Then there is the Chocolate Blackberry Red Wine cupcake!

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A deep chocolate cupcake, filled with a red wine infused chocolate ganache, topped with a blackberry puree Italian Meringue Buttercream, drizzled with a red wine syrup (I used a sweet Shiraz by Jam Jar) and topped with a wine soaked blackberry.  Pure decadence, really… If I do say so myself!

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Let me say a word about the wine syrup… it was SO good!  I’d never made wine syrup before, but thought that these cupcakes needed a little more wine flavor infused to be truly called red wine cupcakes!  This definitely did the trick.  It does take a while to make, so a little patience is required for it to reduce enough, but the end result is well worth the wait.  image

I received good reviews from the birthday girl, she said that everyone enjoyed them!  I also completed a good bit of taste testing on these myself and can attest to the fact that they are were quite good!

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Anyone in the mood for some some red wine, chocolate and coconut?  🙂

 

 

Cake Decorating Love

Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage.    Julia Cameron
…or a blank cake!
Yellow Flower Cake 2a

I love love love decorating… cakes, cupcakes, cookies… whatever!  I bake way more than what I actually share on my blog.  As an aside, I am going to try to do better and post more regularly.  The blogs I love the most are the ones that I can count on for regular content, so I am going to try to follow in their good example.

Now on to this cake…. I have been on a ‘yellow’ kick lately!  This is my second yellow cake and I’ve also used yellow in a couple of my cupcakes.  Maybe I am drawn to this color because I am hoping for spring to really come, or perhaps it reminds me of my mom who loves yellow roses.  Whatever the case, its a beautiful color and I think it made for a very beautiful cake.

yellow flower collage 3

I have been trying to practice my free hand decorating.  I usually make the cake and create the flowers separately and then place them on the cake.  However, I needed to make finish this cake quickly, so I didn’t really have time for the extra step in pre-making the flowers, so I decided to give this a try and freestyle on the flowers… I was pretty proud of how they turned out!  Plus, I got this fancy cake decorating stand from my mom for my birthday, so I believe that it helped.

Yellow Flower Collage

Left to my own devices, I would bake something new… everyday.  Whether I had reason to or not.  I have so many saved recipes, cake decorating ideas and pictures of goodness that I would like to try.  So, I guess that’s the reason why when I get the opportunity to make something for someone, I go all in!  I go through my mental Pinterest, Instagram, cookbook catalog and decide which technique, recipe, look I will use for this precious baking opportunity I have before me. Sometimes its a little overwhelming… but I love it all the same.

Yellow Flower Cake 3a

I decided to add leaves to the flowers this time.  Although I know flowers have leaves for some reason I tend not to include them when I make flower on my cakes.  I’m not sure why, but this time I did and I think that they make all the difference in the look of the cake.  Makes it look more alive and vibrant!

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This is a hummingbird cake, so as with all of my cakes of this type, I like to add the pecans on the top of the cake.  I decided to glaze these nuts in some of the pineapple syrup that was added to the frosting.  So, I guess these are pineapple wet nuts… I need to think about what else I can use this for, they were so good!

Yellow Flower Cake 7a

No recipe to share, this cake is a classic, so I follow the original version from 1978 which can be found here.  No need to mess with perfection!

I’m always looking for great baking sites for more inspiration… I’d appreciate everyone’s feedback on your favorite baking sites!

Pink Little Diva Birthday Cake

Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories. ~ Buddy Valastro
Pink Little Diva Birthday Cake

Every girl should have a pretty pink, ruffly two tiered birthday cake for their 5th birthday, right? Well, my answer is a resounding ‘YES’ and I loved every minute of making this cake! It was an amazingly fun challenge and I think that the birthday girl and her family and friends really enjoyed the cake!

Pink Diva Cake9

First let me say that this was the largest cake I’ve made to date!  It was larger than the wedding cake I made last year.  The bottom tier was a 12 inch cake with a lemon curd and Italian meringue buttercream filling and the 6 inch cake was a strawberry cake with a fresh strawberry Italian meringue buttercream filling.  Both tiers were covered with american buttercream and the flowers were made with Italian meringue buttercream.

pink diva cake collage

The initial picture I received as inspiration was a pink fondant cake with a purse, two high heel shoes and some make up and other girly accessories… it was very cute!  I decided to make as much of the cake as possible edible, so the high heels were made out of cupcakes and the little make up bag was a cake, the make up was made of chocolate and the monogram topper was made of a sugar cookie.  So, actually… the entire cake is edible!

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Pink Diva Cake HEELS2

I think that I came up with something that was a good reflection of their initial vision.  I kind of like to exceed expectations with my cakes, at least that is what I aim to do.  The greatest compliment I received with this cake was when mom said it was better than the picture she had given me… Love it!!

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But this is ALWAYS the best part of making cakes…  getting to share in someone’s special day!  So, a big ‘thank you’ to mom for allowing me to share in this beautiful little girl’s special day!

Diva Pink Cake collage