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DIY Fluffy Lamb Cake

Happy (early) Easter to those who celebrate it! I spent my afternoon making this adorable fluffy lamb cake – this one is easy enough for even an adventurous beginner. I can’t take credit for the design (stumbled upon it on Pinterest), but had to make it after my nephew saw it and gave his seal of approval.

You’ll need to purchase or make your own cake/icing (Immaculate Baking Co. cake mixes may be worth trying if you’re short on time – the ingredients are simple and don’t include preservatives).  Lyndsay from Coco Cake Land posted a great tutorial for decorating this cake on Handmade Charlotte.

My Tips:

In the spirit of saving time, I cut up marshmallows for the ears (rather than fondant), and melted chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth.  I used a marshmallow for the nose as well, dabbing a little frosting on it and sprinkling with pink sugar.  If you don’t have piping bags, cutting the corner of a Ziploc bag will work (just make sure to tape the corner to reinforce before you cut).  Freezer bags are thicker and will work a bit better.  I didn’t have the Wilton no. 22 tip, but used a similar star-shaped one and it worked great.

What are you making for Easter?

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Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars - made with baby food!  (Easily made lactose or dairy free). These cake bars are another family favorite from Grandma Marie’s recipe box!  These were the bars we always had at potlucks and holidays – loved by all.  Not your typical carrot cake, these get their flavor from jars of….. baby food!  In fact, we all call them baby food bars, but I renamed them so as not to scare off anyone.  Sounds strange, but don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.  Soooo good, cuts down on prep time and jars of organic baby food are easy to find.  Best of all, they’re easily adapted to be lactose or dairy free  if you choose! A baking note:  Batter will be light in color – it’ll darken a lot by the time it’s finished baking so don’t worry! Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars - made with baby food!  (Easily made lactose or dairy free).

Click on the recipe image below if you want it to enlarge and open in a new tab to print!

Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars… made with baby food! (recipe easily made lactose or dairy free)

Grandma's Carrot Cake Bars - made with baby food!  (Easily made lactose or dairy free).

Merry Christmas, enjoy the holidays!

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Easy Raspberry Turnovers Recipe - this dough is magic!

It’s been a while, AGAIN.  I have so many projects I want to share and so little time.  Today’s baking project turned out so well that I had to make time.  I baked these for a neighborhood get-together and there was so much food that I was left with a bunch of these (I may or may not have eaten three over the course of 10 minutes).  So, I spent my evening trying to convince people to take them – I think I need more sweet-toothed friends!  I almost volunteered some to a stranger walking down the street, but he already had this hands full.

This blitz puff dough is like magic and I am so excited to share it with you!  It’s seriously easy and seriously delicious.  Looks like it took 18 hours to make, but really only claimed about an hour.  Resist all future urges to buy frozen puff pastry dough and make this – you will be so glad you did!  I have an insane amount of raspberries on my bushes this year, so I made fresh filling – but, you could very easily substitute with a fruit jam, apples, a blob of chocolate, or even something savory like spinach and feta.

Easy Raspberry Turnovers Recipe - this dough is magic!

I have made croissants and turnovers from scratch many times before and these taste just as flaky and just as buttery, in only a tiny fraction of the time.  The recipe is from the King Arthur Flour website:  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/raspberry-puff-turnovers-recipe

King Arthur also has a blog posting for this particular recipe – it walks through the whole thing picture-by-picture: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2009/07/02/love-flaky-turnovers-dont-love-fussing-blitz-puff-to-the-rescue/

Simple Raspberry Turnover Recipe - this dough is magic!

Rather than posting the recipe here, I’ll let you read through it at the above link – but, here is a list of tips that may make things even more simple when you make these:

-For the dough, use a food processor if you have one!  Speeds things up a lot.  A hand pastry blender or hand mixer will also work.

-The dough can get soft/sticky.  Once you’ve done the final roll-out and cut it with a pizza cutter – stick it back in the fridge for a couple minutes before adding your filling and brushing on the egg wash edging.  It will make it easier to seal your seams so that they look nice.

-If you are making the raspberry filling from the recipe and use cornstarch rather than ClearJel: keeping adding water, slowly, until the cornstarch dissolves – you might curse when it stirs like cement at first, and then, all of a sudden, when you add just the right amount of water it immediately dissolves!

-Whatever filling you choose:  make sure it is cold (or at least firm) – if it’s soft or runny, it is hard to cleanly seal the dough edges.

-You can freeze these!  Fill and seal them, then straight to the freezer instead of baking.  Just pop them in the oven from frozen and allow a few extra minutes of bake time.

Raspberry Turnover Recipe

Raspberry Turnover Recipe

-I brushed the tops with an egg wash and then sprinkled ‘Sugar in the Raw’ (a coarse sugar you can buy at your local grocery store – very inexpensive).

-I chose to squiggle some chocolate ganache on top of each after baking.  Ganache is very simple to make:  use heavy cream or a soy creamer and a chocolate of your choice.  In a microwave-safe bowl, heat your cream until the edges bubble (you want to ‘scald’ it, in other words, you’ll see a thin layer of’ skin on the surface).  Immediately place a nearly equal amount of chocolate into the hot cream (i.e. 6 oz. cream, 6 oz. chocolate), and let it sit a few minutes.  If you are in a hurry, using less cream will help it to thicken more quickly.  Stir until smooth.  Chill in the refrigerator until it’s thickened enough to pipe or spoon on top of your turnovers (don’t over stir it, or it may become too thick – if this happens, just reheat for a short time).

Easy Raspberry Turnover Recipe - this dough is magic!

Happy Eating!

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gooe raspberry brownie recipe (whole grain!)

I promised my raspberry brownie recipe ages ago but didn’t have photos to go with it until now.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day –  these are gooey, fudgy and decadent – best eaten with a fork (and a scoop of milk chocolate ice cream?)!  The best part (aside from eating them) is that they contain whole wheat flour and are easily made lactose-free.

(By the way, I think I’ve finally gotten this dual blog thing down – so no more random photos popping up to email subscribers!  Yay – and thanks for your patience!)

First, the printable version:  click on the image below to enlarge, then print.  

gooey raspberry brownie recipe (whole grain!)

Brownies: 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar (make sure there are no clumps)
  • 4 oz (8 Tbsp) unsalted melted margarine (as usual, I use Fleischmann’s unsalted because it’s lactose-free)
  • 2 tsp milk (I use oat milk, any type will suffice)
  • 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder (my favorite flavor-wise is Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1/3 C white whole wheat flour (I’ve not tried it, but you could likely use regular whole wheat as well in these)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (if making lactose-free, double check ingredients on these!)

Raspberry Filling:

  • 1 1/2 C raspberries (if frozen, place in colander & run under lukewarm water until thawed a bit)
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 C sugar

Prepare raspberry filling:

  • In medium sized microwave-safe bowl, combine flour & 1 Tbsp water (taken from your 1/4 C water). Stir until smooth.
  • Pour in remaining water (discard an additional 1 Tbsp if you used frozen berries as they’ll have more moisture).
  • Add sugar, stir until combined.
  • Last, add raspberries and stir/mash them up into your mixture.
  • Heat in microwave until boiling (you’ll need to watch – it may take a few minutes depending on your microwave).  Allow to bubble/boil for ~30 seconds.
  • Stir/mash your berries again and then return to microwave and heat them until bubbling/boiling for an additional 15-20 seconds.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • (if you do not want seeds in your filling, allow to cool 20-25 min. before straining mixture through a sieve or cheesecloth.)

simple microwave raspberry sauce

Prepare brownie batter:

  • Preheat oven to 325•F.
  • Lightly spray/grease (bottom ONLY), a pie plate with 8 inch or less diameter across the bottom; then, lightly flour and shake off excess.
  • In large bowl, beat eggs until fluffy.
  • Add both sugars and mix on low or stir by hand until well combined.
  • Add melted margarine, milk, cocoa, flour, salt and vanilla.  Stir by hand until all dry ingredients are combined into mixture.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Pour half of batter into pie plate.
  • Pour/spread raspberry filling on top of batter.
  • Top with remaining brownie batter (it’s okay if the raspberry filling doesn’t stay underneath the batter – see photo below).
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes.  Start checking with toothpick at 50 minutes – remove from oven as soon as a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool about 30 minutes.  At this point, you may choose to serve them warm & gooey (YUM!), but they won’t have fully solidifed yet.
  • If you’ve waited to eat them until cool, cut with a butter/table knife (makes a cleaner line than a sharper knife).
  • Optional: garnish with chocolate syrup and fresh raspberries.

brownie layers

brownies cut

brownies 2

Have a dessert recipe you want see next?  Let’s hear it!

Happy Tuesday :)

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Gluten-free Cider Donut Holes (easily made lactose-free)

I have been craving donuts since fall… but not just any donuts – the apple cider kind you find at farmer’s markets and orchards.  Last night I finally took the plunge and decided on a recipe to try.  I opted for a gluten-free version because I have been piling in the white flour this week and my body sure can feel it.  The only gluten-free donuts I’ve ever tried were some obscenely expensive frozen ones from the grocery store.  Yuck… I figured anything could be better than those.  I also wanted a recipe that could be easily made lactose-free.  Oh man, these are gooood!  I used Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Pear Cider because they didn’t have any of their spiced apple cider available, and it left the donuts with just a warm hint of pear flavor!  I am fairly new to gluten-free baking so can’t take any credit for this recipe (though feel free to read my hints and substitutions below) — visit gluten free on a shoestring for this and other gluten-free donut  recipes.  This has inspired me to work on a naturally sweetened (ie applesauce, molasses or honey) version next – fingers crossed!

My hints/substitutions:

  • I used a Babycakes Cake Pop Maker (I usually don’t bite on these gadgets, but found one on clearance and it really made the whole process super quick and simple!) Don’t worry if you don’t have one, oven-baking instructions are given on the recipe.
  • If you’re using the Babycakes machine, you’ll want to fill the bottom wells almost full (but not quite, or the first ones you fill will start to rise over the edge by the time you fill the last few).  4 minutes was the perfect length of time for baking (they will look fairly light on the top half even when they’re done).
  • If you prefer a heavy coating of cinnamon/sugar, you’ll want to roll them in it IMMEDIATELY after removing from the pan or it won’t stick.
  • Best enjoyed right after baking (they’re still great and tender once cooled, but the texture may seem just a bit more spongy like an airy muffin).
  • For a lactose-free version, simply replace the butter with unsalted Fleischmann’s margarine or Earth Balance buttery sticks (but be aware, the latter has a distinct flavor).
  • Rather than apple cider, I used Pear Cinnamon Cider from Trader Joe’s – worked beautifully.
  • I should but don’t have a kitchen scale, so rather than using the gram measurements for flour/corn starch, I lightly spooned the full amount of flour into the measuring cup and then added 3 Tbsp corn starch (or 1.5 if you cut the recipe in half).

Gluten-free Cider Donut Holes (easily made lactose-free)

What’s your favorite kind of donut?

 

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Dark Chocolate Mint Cake (recipe with lactose-free option)

Holiday baking is in full-gear and almost everybody in my family seems to enjoy mint and chocolate, so I’m making the best of my bottle of peppermint extract this year! (If you’re not a mint lover, simply exchange the mint extract for vanilla in the buttercream filling or just omit it from the mousse filling).  This recipe has two versions – the one shown, and one for super chocolate enthusiasts, that swaps the filling shown for a chocolate mint mousse filling (the latter being a bit more time consuming, as the mousse will need to chill for a bit).  These cakes are simple to make lactose-free if needed.  Both are well-suited to being frozen (and eaten straight from the freezer if desired, though keep in mind that the non-dairy ganache will be more desirable – less hard – when frozen).

The chocolate cake is very slightly modified from the ‘Celebrate with Chocolate’ cookbook and is also used in my Chocolate Raspberry Lemon Cake recipe.  The chocolate mousse recipe is delicious on its own (minus mint) can be found here.  I forgot to include this in the printable recipes – but if desired, use a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate mint candies on top of ganache before refrigerating (shaved dark chocolate mint Dove bites are shown in the photo).

Click photo below for printable image of recipe (buttercream mint filling version).

dark chocolate peppermint buttercream cake.

Click photo below for printable image of recipe (chocolate mint mousse version).

dark chocolate mint mousse cake.

 

 

Feel free to ask questions or let me know what you think if you try it!  Enjoy!

dark chocolate mint cake (lactose-free option)

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Chewy Chocolate Mint Crinkle Cookies

I agreed to donate some baked goods to an annual fundraiser this weekend, but wanted to make something fairly quick and simple.  (Stay tuned for more elaborate holiday baking to emerge in a week or two).  I’ve also been craving something chocolate and mint (yet not overwhelmingly minty).  The answer – chewy chocolate peppermint crinkles!

I slightly modified a cookie recipe I found on Remodelaholic and then topped the cookies with melted chocolate infused with peppermint extract.  The original recipe incorporates peppermint chips.  If you are in a rush and want to avoid melting chocolate or buying peppermint extract, simply add some sort of peppermint candy/chips to your dough before baking or top with something like a mint hershey’s kiss while cookies are still warm.

Click here to view printable recipe.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies:  (modified to to be lactose-free; if this isn’t necessary for you, feel free to use all butter)

  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour (I used 1 C + 2 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour & 1 C unbleached all-purpose)
  • 3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder (I also added 1.5 Tbsp black cocoa*)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup margarine (I used Fleischmann’s unsalted – their unsalted sticks are lactose-free)
  • 3/4 cup shortening (I used Crisco butter flavor because it was what I had on hand; it is also lactose-free)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

*Black cocoa is available through King Arthur flour and is VERY dark.  I wanted to give my cookies a slightly deeper flavor, so I added just a little.  The original source of this recipe used Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder.  Use whatever best suits your taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt (sift or whisk together).  When measuring the flour, gently spoon it into your measuring cup rather than ‘scooping’ into the bag.  Set combined mixture aside.

In large bowl, cream your sugar and margarine/shortening (or butter, if you choose) together using a mixer…until light and fluffy.  You can’t really over-cream these two, so mix for at least a couple minutes.

Beat eggs and vanilla into your creamed mixture, until just combined.

Slowly and gradually add the bowl of dry ingredients you set aside to your wet mixture until everything is well-combined (but don’t over-mix).

Spoon (generous tablespoons or desired size) dough onto ungreased baking sheet (line the sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup).  Bake approximately 10 minutes.  Remove from oven once they have started to crinkle – they will sink and crinkle a bit further after you take them out.  Let cool on sheet for a couple minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

Chocolate Mint Topping:

  • 9 oz. chocolate (I used a combination of bittersweet and semi-sweet – any kind should be fine), broken in smaller pieces
  • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract (this will give a minty flavor, but not overwhelming – adjust to your own taste)

In microwave-safe container, heat chocolate for 20 seconds.  Pour in your peppermint extract, gradually continue to heat the chocolate, checking and stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.

Immediately pipe or spoon melted chocolate onto the center of each cookie.  If desired, add sprinkles.

Allow chocolate to solidify before stacking cookies.

Enjoy!

chocolate mint cookies 2

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