Friday, December 30, 2011

A Yummy Year in Review

Well folks, can you believe it? Another year has come and gone...

Seems like just yesterday we were ringing in 2011, celebrating in Crested Butte with friends, not knowing that just 2 days into the new year we were about to embark on an extremely exciting and jam packed year.

Let's have a little recap on year 2011 shall we?

We got engaged...

 We got some good traveling in...

We moved back to Virginia, closer to my family...

And oh yeah, we got married!

But you all don't want to see pictures of me and Mountain Man... how bout all those yummy sweets we saw this year?

If 2011 was this good, I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for us!

I hope you all had a lovely holiday with your friends and family and that you have an absolutely fantastic New Years celebration!!

See you in 2012! 
Happy Baking!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie & Christmas Cookies

Has this Christmas snuck up on anyone else?

Seems like just yesterday I was walking down the aisle and now, all of a sudden, it's Christmas time!

Can I let you in on a little secret? I just finished my Christmas shopping this as in Monday afternoon..thank goodness for the internet.

And you can imagine if it took me that long to get my stuff together to buy gifts, that my cookie/holiday baking also took a hit.

In addition to the busy-ness that was my whole month of Decemeber, my cake business has been booming recently (yay!) and with two cakes to bake and decorate every weekend I really haven't had the chance to spend any other time in the kitchen.

By this time last year I was smooth sailing till Christmas- I had all my cookies baked...

and Jeweled Lace Cookies (only 35 calories a cookie!)
Not this year though... I just started baking cookies this past weekend! Would you all still want to see what I've made even after the holiday is over??

So while I'm not sharing any new cookies with you this year (yet)...If you're anything like me, and you've been slacking this year for one reason or another, I have the perfect dessert to make it up to you. This is sure to be a crowd pleaser at any Christmas dinner- a little twist on a holiday classic, this pecan pie infused with bourbon and chocolate chips will put a smile on anyone's face.
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Adapted from
Bake: 425/350 Total time: 1 hour

3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup light corn syrup
4 TBS butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 TBS bourbon
2 TBS AP flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package prepared pie crust

Preheat oven to 425. Press pie crust into 9-inch pie dish as directed on package and press/crimp edges.
In a large bowl, mix eggs, corn syrup, butter, brown sugar, bourbon, flour and vanilla until well combined.
Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.

Pour mixture into prepared pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce temperature to 350 and continue to bake for 45 minutes.
Transfer to cooling rack and allow to completely cool before serving.

Happy Holidays
Happy Baking!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homemade Holiday Truffles

Whether they're a co-worker, your child's favorite teacher, a neighbor across the street or your go-to dry cleaner, everyone deserves a little a holiday cheer and what says cheer better than homemade truffles??

Sunday afternoon I spent the day with my mother making chocolates for Christmas gifts. 

We talked about friends and family and gossiped over the latest Real Housewives, all the while filling candy molds with melting chocolates and whipping up different varieties of fillings.

It's afternoons like this that I'm extremely thankful to be so close to home, especially around the holidays. 

Not only are these truffles extremely easy to make, they're absolutely delicious and make for a perfect gift.

All you need are some flavor boosters including liquors, wine, peanut butter and different flavored chips...

melting chocolates, whole bunch of chocolate chips, heavy cream, a paint brush, some candy melt bottles and candy molds (all bought at your local Michaels).

I wish I would have taken some pictures of the process, but I left my camera on the counter as I rushed out of our house on my way to my moms so all the photos are from my iphone. It's pretty easy though and hopefully this tutorial will do the trick!

First thing you have to do is make your fillings... I started with a basic ganache and then added the flavor boosters. Make sure you add your flavors at the end of the process or your ganache will separate and it will not be pretty or tasty for that matter.

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 TBS butter

Flavor boosters
1/4 cup liquor 
1/2 cup sweet red wine
2 heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter

In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of water till boiling- you'll be using this for a double boiler.
Place chocolate chips in a large, heatproof bowl.
In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium heat until just simmering. *You don't want your cream to boil so make sure you keep stirring and really watch it.
Pour heavy cream over chocolate chips and mix gently so cream starts to melt the chocolate.
Move bowl on top of boiling water and stir until chips are completely melted and mixture is smooth.
Stir in butter and mix until mixture is smooth and butter is completely melted.
Slowly add in flavor booster- stirring until combined. (If you just wanted chocolate truffles, you don't have to add a flavor booster)
Place bowl in fridge and allow to set for at least 15 minutes before using.

Meanwhile, start to prepare candy molds.
In a small bowl, melt half bag of dark chocolate candy melts in microwave as directed on back of bag.
Using the paintbrush, coat the inside of the mold with layer of melted candy melts. *Make sure there are no holes and that when you look at the filled molds from the bottom you can't see through the chocolate.
Place coated molds in the freezer to set. Repeat with remaining molds.
Candy melts cool very fast so you have to act quickly- if your melts start to re-harden just pop them back in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Transfer cooled ganache to candy melt bottle.
Add remaining candy melts to other bottle and heat in microwave just as you did the first batch.
Knead bottle once completely heated to ensure smoothness.
Remove mold from freezer and squeeze ganache into each mold, leaving enough space at the top to cover with a layer of melted candy melts. Knock on counter a few times to eliminate air bubbles.
Using other bottle, squeeze layer of candy melts over ganache, covering completely- knock on counter a few times to smooth layer.
Once all molds are filled and covered, pop back in the freezer to set for about 10 minutes.
Carefully flip candies out onto a kitchen towel.

Repeat process as many times as necessary.

My mom and I made 4 different kinds of chocolates- Irish Cream, peanut butter-chocolate, red wine and mint (we used Andes flavored chocolate chips in place of the semi-sweet). It took us all afternoon, but it was well worth it!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Mint Truffles

Red Wine Chocolate Truffles

What are you making for gifts this year??

Happy Baking!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

Everything is better with a little frosting, wouldn't you agree?

During lacrosse season in high school we used to bring a box of Wheat Thins and a tub of funfetti frosting to lunch...Healthy? Not so much. Amazingly tasty? Absolutely.

So, how can you jazz up a plain old cookie? With frosting of course!

Now that we've relocated and I've started working in a new place, I have to start all over introducing my colleagues to my sweets. When a meeting showed up on the calender and I found out that a co-workers birthday had yet been celebrated I knew what had to be done.

These cookies are just the beginning.

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies
Oven: 350 Bake time: 12 minutes
Yields 12 large sandwich cookies

1 bag Betty Crocker oatmeal cookie mix (yes, I cheated a little)
1 egg
1 stick butter, softened
2-3 TBS milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup shredded carrots
scant 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream butter and egg until combined.
Add cookie mix, carrots, cinnamon, vanilla and milk, mixing until well combined.
Stir in raisins and walnuts, mixing until evenly distributed.
Use a large ice cream scoop for batter to ensure same size cookies- place 1 inch apart.
Transfer to oven and bake for about 12 minutes or until sides are lightly browned.

While cookies are cooling make Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz cream cheese (half of the block), softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBS milk
2 cups powdered sugar

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until combined and smooth.
Add vanilla, milk and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
*Feel free to add more milk or more powdered sugar to reach desired consistency.

Once cookies are completely cooled, match cookies by size.
Place large dollop on flat side of one cookie and sandwich with the other.
Continue until all cookies have been filled and matched.

 All packed up and ready to go to the meeting!

Happy Baking!

Proving my point, that everything is a little better with frosting.