Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts


I subscribe to way too many cooking magazines. I love getting them in the mail, reading through them, and admiring the amazing photography. When I received the February issue of Bon Appetit with “The Best-Ever Brownies” on the cover, I knew I had to make them ASAP!

This past weekend my brother-in-law and his friend came to visit. Since they are high school boys (who are always hungry) I knew this was the perfect occasion to make these “best-ever” brownies. I have so many recipes that I have held off making and I’m glad I did not put off making this! These brownies are so easy to make and very delicious!

This was on the cover of the magazine next to this recipe and it’s so true:


Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts


10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)

2 teaspoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt (generous)

2 large eggs, chilled

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup walnut pieces


Position rack in bottom third of oven: preheat to 325 degrees. Line 8x8x2-inch baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray. Set pan aside.

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla, and salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot).

Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into squares.

Source: Bon Appétit, February 2011


PostHeaderIcon Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Baking Illustrated. This cookbook is like the bible for bakers. Small font, no pictures (just drawings), and amazing recipes! I love the fact they test every recipe again and again until it’s perfect. And when I mean perfect, I literally mean perfect. I have never tried a recipe from Baking Illustrated/Cook’s Illustrated that I have not absolutely loved.

These are huge cookies! I am not a fan of thin crispy cookies so if you are like me, you must make these immediately. The hardest part of this recipe was not eating the raw cookie dough (since I’m pregnant). That was tough. Very tough.

These are best enjoyed right out of the oven, but they do store well in an airtight container.


Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 18 large cookies


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 oz) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

1 cup (7 oz) brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 – 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower- middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the ball of dough with your fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookies are light golden brown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are soft and puffy, about 15-18 minutes (mine needed to bake longer), rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a wide metal spatula.

Source: Baking Illustrated



PostHeaderIcon Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

These are my go-to tried and true vanilla cupcakes! I have made these too many times to count and they have always been devoured within minutes.

These cupcakes are very simple to make and it’s great that I always have all of the ingredients on hand. I love to substitute vanilla paste for vanilla extract in most of my recipes. Vanilla paste provides those beautiful vanilla seeds/flecks (and an amazing vanilla flavor) that you would get if you used expensive vanilla beans. You can find vanilla paste all over but I usually get mine from Williams Sonoma.

Last but not least, the frosting! It is AMAZING! I actually came up with this recipe since every other recipe I tried tasted more like butter than delicious buttercream frosting. I think my husband and I both gained a few pounds while testing this frosting again and again. But it was worth it! I’m happy to say this is the only buttercream I will ever make!




Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes


1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla paste!)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool in pan 5 minutes.  Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Prepare frosting.  Decorate cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: cupcakes: adapted from Joy of Baking

My Favorite Vanilla Buttercream Frosting!

Yield: enough frosting for 24 cupcakes


1 stick unsalted butter, softened

5-6 cups confectioners’ sugar (20 oz)

pinch of salt

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream


In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.

Slowly add the rest of the ingredients a little at a time. I usually start by adding a cup of confectioners’ sugar along with the salt and vanilla extract. Then I add 1/4 cup heavy cream, slowly add in more confectioners’ sugar and heavy cream until all 5-6 cups (or so) of confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 cup of heavy cream are added. (Do not add all 5-6 cups of confectioners’ sugar at once or you’ll have a mess)

Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice.

Decorate cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Melissa Bakes Original


PostHeaderIcon S’mores Brownies

I went to visit a friend today and wanted to bake something delicious to bring her. Deciding on what to bake is like deciding on what to major in college – I wish I was being sarcastic. I have SO many recipes on my to-bake list it’s starting to get out of control. For instance, whenever I see a recipe I want to make while browsing on my iPhone I snap a screenshot of the recipe to save it…..I have over 700 recipes saved on my iPhone! Insane? Yes. Will I be adding more? You bet!

This recipe is so quick and easy to make! I know I say this with most of my recipes but this one is especially true. It would be an awesome dessert for a cookout in the summer……or just for two chatty friends hanging out. It starts out with a nice graham cracker crust, then a delicious brownie, topped with more chocolate, mini marshmallows, and graham crackers.

I apologize for those of you making diet resolutions for the New Year.

S’mores Brownies

Yields: 36 bars


10 graham crackers, broken in half (20 squares), divided

3/4 cup butter

4 oz unsweetened chocolate

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks


Heat oven to 350°F.

Line 13 x 9 inch pan with foil (I split the recipe in half and used an 8 x 8 pan); spray with cooking spray. Place 15 grahams in pan, enough to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Break remaining grahams into pieces for the topping, set aside.

Microwave butter and chocolate squares in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min.; stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour. Pour over grahams in pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.)

Sprinkle with marshmallows and chocolate chunks. Broil for 3 to 5 min. or until marshmallows begin to puff (or use kitchen torch).

Press reserved graham pieces gently into marshmallows. Cool. Use foil to lift brownies from pan before cutting to serve.

Source: Kraft


PostHeaderIcon Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

As I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE the combination of sweet and salty (and these truffles are no exception).

Peanut butter and crushed pretzels covered in milk chocolate, what’s not to love? These are super easy to make and I think they would make a great addition to your holiday cookie/dessert tray. I’m not the best at dipping truffles in chocolate so just add sprinkles on top and you won’t even notice their disfigurements. I would cover everything and anything in sprinkles if I could!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles




1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup finely chopped salted pretzels

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted

Sprinkles (optional)


Combine peanut butter and pretzels in a small bowl. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

Roll the peanut butter mixture into 10 balls (about 1 teaspoon each). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour.

Roll the frozen balls in melted chocolate. (To melt chocolate, microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted. Or place chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.)

Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.

Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Source: Slightly adapted from Eating Well


PostHeaderIcon Cranberry Crumb Bars

I made these delicious Cranberry Crumb Bars (and these Pumpkin Cupcakes) for Thanksgiving dessert. They were both a hit and people gobbled them up, even though we were stuffed full of delicious turkey.

These bars are tart and crumbly and oh-so delicious! They are very easy to make since the base and the crumbly topping are made from the same mixture. This recipe is very simple to make by hand but if you have a food processor, use it! Your arms will thank you!

I found that these bars went very well topped with vanilla ice cream! The tartness of the bars and sweetness of the ice cream complimented each other perfectly.

Cranberry Crumb Bars


1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond meal*

1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

juice of 1/2 of an orange (I used a couple splashes of orange juice)

4 cups fresh cranberries

2/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cornstarch


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 pan; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, flour, and almond meal. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. The dough will be crumbly. Alternatively, you can pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor with the butter until pebbly, and then mix in the egg until it all comes together. Pat half of the dough into the buttered pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar (2/3 cup), cornstarch, vanilla extract, and orange juice. Mix in the cranberries. Sprinkle the cranberry mixture evenly over the dough in the pan.

Add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the remaining dough, then crumble over the berries. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until top is a light golden brown. Cool completely and chill in the refrigerator before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

* If you don’t have almond meal, just toss some almonds in a food processor until finely ground to make almond meal.

Source: My Baking Addiction


PostHeaderIcon Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars

The combination of anything sweet and salty is one of my major weaknesses! I can easily polish off a bag of chocolate covered peanuts in a few minutes hours. Don’t get me started on chocolate covered pretzels, those are just bad news for me (and my thighs).

I love to try new recipes and these were on the top of my to-bake list for some time. I knew these bars were going to be great but they were truly amazing! These bars were so dang good that I had to give them away the very next day so I wouldn’t eat them all! I will definitely be making these again (and again and again).

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookie Bars


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12-ounce bag bittersweet (or semisweet, if you prefer) chocolate chips
1½ cups mini pretzel twists, coarsely chopped
¼ cup chocolate chips, for drizzling
¼ cup peanut butter, for drizzling
1/4 cup pretzels, crumbled, for topping


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan and press it down evenly with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool completely.

In separate sandwich size baggies, melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Cut off a small corner on each bag and drizzle the chocolate and peanut butter over the top of the bars. Sprinkle the extra crushed pretzels on top. Let set and then cut into squares.

Source: Two Peas and Their Pod


PostHeaderIcon Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Who could resist a whoopie pie?

I don’t understand why cupcakes are the craze right now when whoopie pies exist. Two soft pieces of cake with a delicious frosting sandwiched between them! Wow, that just sounds incredible.

I used a pastry bag with a small circle tip to pipe the cake batter and the cream cheese frosting. You could also scoop the batter on your baking sheet/parchment as well. However, I found that using the pastry bag and tip was very easy and fun! I also love the little swirls the circle tip made.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies


For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 oz. red food coloring

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated.  Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  Blend in the red food coloring.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip.  Pipe the batter onto the baking sheet/parchment paper.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack.  Repeat with any remaining batter.  Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.

To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip.  Pair the cookies up by shape and size. Flip one cookie of each pair over so that the flat side is facing up. Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear.  Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges.  To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.

Source: Annie’s Eats


PostHeaderIcon Southern Comfort Apple Pie

I love pies but rarely make them since my husband and I can easily polish off an entire pie in just a couple of days (I wish I was kidding)! But since my parents came to visit a few weeks ago I decided to make a pie for their arrival. I searched through all of my cookbooks to find the perfect pie, and trust me, it took a lot of time since I have way too many cookbooks.

While I was going through The Pastry Queen cookbook, my eyes lit up when I saw this recipe for Southern Comfort Apple Pie. I immediately called my mom to tell her the good news! Since both of my parents are HUGE fans of anything sweet (and big Southern Comfort fans) I knew they would appreciate this amazing recipe!

I did everything the recipe called for except I used this Williams Sonoma pie dough recipe. This Williams Sonoma recipe is my go-to dough recipe whenever I make a pie.

I topped the pie with homemade cinnamon ice cream, which was the perfect compliment to the pie. My parents enjoyed it so much they had it for dessert Friday night and breakfast Saturday morning!

Chef Mark’s Southern Comfort Apple Pie

1 unbaked Basic Pie Crust


1/2 cup pecans

1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter

Apple Filling:

5 to 6 medium-size tart apples (Braeburn, Cortland, or Winesap)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup Southern Comfort liqueur

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream


To make the topping: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Coarsely chop the nuts.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process both sugars, the cinnamon, salt, and flour for about 1 minute. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the sugar-flour mixture. Pulse about 10-15 times, until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the pecans. Refrigerate the topping, covered, in a medium bowl until ready to use.

Line a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate with the pie dough. Press it into place and crimp the outside edges with your fingers or a fork.

To make the filling: Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add the apples and saute for 5 to 8 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle it on the apples and stir to combine. Simmer the apples over medium-low heat about 1 minute longer. Remove the apples from the skillet with a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the butter-sugar mixture in the skillet as possible. Transfer the apples to a baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. (If heaped in a pile, the hot apples will steam-cook and become soggy.)

Pour the Southern Comfort into the butter-sugar mixture in the skillet. Simmer the mixture over medium heat at least 5 minutes, until the alcohol burns off (carefully sniff the mixture at close range; if it burns the insides of your nostrils, the vapors are still burning off). Add the cream and continue cooking about 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is as thick as pourable caramel. Return the apples to the skillet.

Pour the apple filling into the unbaked pie crust and sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping is brown. Serve the pie warm or at room temperature.

Source: The Pastry Queen


PostHeaderIcon Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This year is flying by! It’s hard to believe it’s already November 5th…….which means only 49 more days til Christmas (but who’s counting?)!

These pumpkin cupcakes are a delicious treat for any Halloween or Thanksgiving party! I never thought I liked pumpkin until I ate these, now I can’t get enough of them. These are a must-try!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: about 24-30 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full.  Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats