Maple Bourbon Caramels

The only thing that goes better with Bourbon than a smoldering Don Draper is caramel. Well, it might be a tie, but if I can’t have that tall, dark and handsome man with his slick hair, wearing a classic 1960’s suit standing right in front of me holding a glass of bourbon ( no ice) while I am drinking bourbon, I might as well turn it into a candy. I have been really digging the whole making candy thing lately, and I love love love caramel. So this was a fun little project. And I did it all in my nightwear! Hair all bunched up, slippers on, and no, I didn’t spill a drop. This is cooking like a lady!

These caramels came out smooth and silky, with a hint of the beloved bourbon. The maple flavor is not overwhelming at all, it adds the prefect amount of sweetness to this fun little treat! It is a simple, sophisticated candy my friends. The are divine!

So, you will need…

  • 2 C. Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 C. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 C. Milk
  • 1 C. Pure Maple Syrup
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Bourbon

Here was my process…

  1. Line half of a baking sheet with tin foil, and lightly butter. Create edges, so that the caramel will maintain a brick shape once cooled.
  2. In a large saucepan combine brown sugar, heavy whipping cream, milk, maple syrup, butter, salt and 1 Tbsp Bourbon. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  3. Once the mixture comes to a boil cover for 3 minutes. If sugar crystals form on the sides, use a pastry brush dipped in warm water to wipe down the sides.
  4. Remove lid and place a candy thermometer in the mixture. Once the candy reaches 246 degrees F, remove from heat.
  5. Immediately stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp of bourbon.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and let cool for  a few hours until the caramel sets.
  7. Once hard, you can cut and shape your caramels.

Enjoy in your nightwear 😉

Happy Baking!

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Cupcakes S’more!

It is really starting to feel like summer, and what I love to do in the summer is go camping, eat hotdogs on a stick and eat s’mores! I usually stock up on cute bandanas to keep my hair up and Hershey’s chocolate bars (because the old-fashioned way is usually better).  😉 What is a s’more without Hershey’s chocolate?! Who are these people trying to kid with their ganache and fancy chocolate lingo?! I love those things too, but there is a time and a place for these things! Keep it simple and classy!

For these cupcakes I wanted to stay true to the classic s’more. I used Honey Made Graham Crackers, Hershey’s chocolate and marshmallows! The cupcake is actually made with graham crumbs, about 3/4 graham and 1/4 flour, and it is really, really good!

So, you will need…

*makes 24 cupcakes s’more!

  • 1/2 C. Cake Flour
  • 1 1/2 C. Graham Cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3 Eggs, separated
  • 8 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 C. granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 C. Milk, whole milk is the best for this recipe
  • 1 bag Marshmallows
  • 4 Hershey’s Chocolate Bars, regular size

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two muffin pans with parchment liners.
  2. In a medium bowl combine cake flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl beat EGG WHITES until soft peaks form. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  5. Add EGG YOLKS and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until everything is well incorporated.
  6. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients and the milk. Beat until well combined.
  7. BEAT in the egg whites, do not fold them in, this helps keep the cupcakes from drying out and being too dense.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared pans, about 2/3 full.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-17 minutes.
  10. At 12 minutes, pull out cupcakes and stick a piece of Hershey’s chocolate into the center, return to oven and let bake another 3-5 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  12. Once room temperature, take marshmallows and place them on top of the cupcakes. Return to oven and let the marshmallows brown, like they would at a campfire!
  13. Remove from oven, place another piece of chocolate into the top of the marshmallow allowing them to melt like it would on a real S’more.

These are AWESOME!

Happy Baking!

Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs (Choux Pastry)

Who doesn’t love a good Cream Puff?! For years I have wanted to make these but again, I thought it was going to be wicked hard. Turns out it is actually really easy. The Choux Pastry was the part that seemed daunting, but I found a few great recipes, and just made a dough using parts of the recipes I found. Trial and error! The first batch fell, but the second and third turned out beautifully. I found that the key to these beautiful puffs was milk! I prefer the texture and taste of the puffs much better than other recipes that don’t call for milk. They also didn’t brown as quickly. Success!

For the cream filling I made a Vanilla Bean whipped cream. It added the perfect amount of flavor to this light and airy delight.These are fun, and easy and you probably deserve to have them right now. I think these are the new bonbons! I would much rather sit around in my unmentionables eating these cream puffs than a box of bonbons. Bonbons are so 1994, in a bad way. Cream puffs are a lovely marriage of light and air pastry perfection and sexy whipped cream, with a dash of ladylike elegance that only the ground vanilla bean can offer. Cream puffs are the new sexy. 😉

So, you will need…

*Makes 30-35 puffs

  • 1/2 C. Whole Milk
  • 1/2 C. Water
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 C. All-Purpose Flour, always unbleached
  • 4 Eggs, room temperature

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

  • 1 C. Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tbsp Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Vanilla Bean

Here was my process…

  1. In a medium saucepan bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil.
  2. Once butter is completely melted, remove from heat.
  3. Add flour all at once and stir quickly using a beautiful wooden spoon until blended.
  4. Return the pan to heat and stir rapidly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the sauce pan and forms a ball.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool to 140 degrees, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. In a smaller bowl whisk 1 egg, and add it to the cooled dough. (the dough will separate and get shiny after you add each egg, but keep stirring and it turns back into a nice smooth batter). Stir until blended.
  7. Add the remaining eggs, whisking them one at a time, and adding them one at a time. Stirring each until well incorporated.
  8. Let the dough cool for another 10 minutes or so before putting it in your piping (pastry) bag.
  9. Once cooled, fill your piping bag, and for each puff pipe out 1Tbsp of dough (some will call it paste), about 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  10. Bake puffs, one sheet at a time, at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until golden brown in color.
  11. Remove the puffs from the oven and immediately poke the sides with a toothpick to let the steam escape. Don’t worry, they will not collapse on you!
  12. Return the tray to the oven, turn the oven off ( leaving the door open) and allow the puffs to dry out for 10-15 minutes.
  13. Let cool completely before filling!

For the whipped cream simply combine the heavy cream, confectioners sugar, vanilla and ground vanilla bean in a bowl and beat on medium-high with hand mixer, or stand up mixer until medium peaks form.

Once the puffs are cool, fill your pastry bag with the whipped cream, and gently insert the tip of the bag into the puff and pipe it full of cream. You will feel the puffs get full, and when you see the cream start to show, you know the puff is full!

These are super fun to make and they are also great for any occasion. A wedding, baby shower, birthday, dessert party, pajama party… literally anytime is a good time for a cream puff!

Happy Baking!

Shortbread Sandwich Cookies w/ “Fancy” Chocolate Frosting

Shortbread is a very versatile cookie. You start with your basic dough and you can literally add anything edible to it. I’m not so sure how some ingredients would taste, but hey… we live in a world full of possibilities now don’t we?! My friend leaves for 42 days in 4 days so I was trying to make him something from his request list. He wanted shortbread cookies with chocolate “on top”. To me that meant sandwich cookies… haha, I heard what I wanted, leave me alone! 😉

So, I decided to just keep the lovely shortbread simple. Butter is all that I needed to get the flavor I wanted, but a nice chocolate to be sandwiched was in order. I wanted something not too sweet, but sweet enough. I tried a few different combinations of chocolate to powdered sugar to cream, and I found the best one for this cookie. I love sandwich cookies!!!!!!!

So, you will need…

*Makes 30 cookies

  • 1 C. Salted Butter, softened (Adds to the flavor)
  • 2 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Frosting

  • 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • add milk if you need a thinner icing/frosting

 

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 2 baking sheets, can line with Parchment Paper, but it isn’t necessary
  2. In a small bowl whisk together flour and salt, set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, cream butter using mixer of your choice, and mix until light and fluffy. About 1 minute.
  4. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, beat until smooth. About 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture until everything is well combined.
  6. Take dough and flatten it into a disk on a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap it up.
  7. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  8. Unwrap the dough and roll it out onto a slightly floured surface. Rolling the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick.
  9. Using a circular floured cookie cutter, (you can get crazy and use whatever cutter you fancy!!!!), cut out as many cookies as you can.
  10. Place cookies on the cookie sheet then put into icebox (fridge) for 10 minutes. This allows the cookies to maintain their shape during baking.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.
  12. Let cool completely before frosting and making the glorious sandwiches!

While the cookies are cooling you can prepare your frosting. Take the powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla and cream and mix it all together at the same time until you have a smooth consistency. If you need to make the frosting thinner, or it isn’t wet enough add a tsp of milk at a time until you are happy with it!

These cookies might sound boring to you, but they appeal to my 1950’s inner housewife in an undeniable way! Make a batch, wear an apron, drink a martini in the middle of the day, enjoy a shortbread cookie sandwich. 😉

Happy Baking!

 

 

 

 

Sweet and Spicy Cornbread

It is just starting to get a little bit warm around here, and so I have been cooking with fresh ingredients and loving every minute of it. I wanted to make some spicy spring chili with cornbread, but it just felt to boring! I love Cornbread and all, but geeze… it is really just a dull, dull bread. That can get very dry and tasteless if done wrong! Of course I am just not one of those people 😉

For Easter, the Easter Bunny (aka my mom!!!, yes, still…) brought me a guacamole basket filled with avocados, limes, tomatillos, Habanero peppers, chili peppers and jalapenos! We could only put so much in the guac, and then I made chicken tacos with some of them… they are damn spicy! So, I figured, why not Pump Up the Volume ( yes, I just went there) and pull a Christian Slater on this cornbread!

Sweet with honey (and love) and spicy with chilis! That would definitely be something to write about.

So, you will need…

  • 1 1/4 C. All-Purpose flour
  • 3/4 C.  Corn Meal
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 C. Milk
  • 1/4 C. Canola Oil
  • 2 Egg Whites, beaten (NOT WHOLE EGGS)
  • 2 fresh jalapenos diced
  • honey to drizzle over uncooked cornbread before baking, hence the sweet and spicy… just saying!

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and grease preferred method of baking pan, dish, skillet, etc.
  2. In a  large bowl combine flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix lightly, just until everything is combined.
  3. Add Milk, Canola Oil and beaten egg whites. Mix well.
  4. Add jalapeno, diced, chopped however you like them!
  5. Spoon batter into prepared baking pan.
  6. Drizzle honey over each piece. The honey will sink into the cornbread and create a delicious crust.
  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes!

 

These are best served fresh, and don’t be afraid to add a bit more spice!

Happy Baking!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

So, I was asked to make cupcakes for a birthday party, and I was very excited to have my first professional assignment.  I wanted to make something that everyone could enjoy, and vanilla seems like the one thing most people can all agree on. There are certainly some out there who don’t like vanilla, but they don’t have to eat my cupcakes now do they! 😉

This is a delicate cupcake that is perfect for any occasion. Paired with a simple icing made of confectioners sugar, milk and cream cheese… it is really just a delightfully simple cupcake.

So, you will need…

*Makes 16 cupcakes

  • 1 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Vanilla Bean, ground
  • 1 3/4 C. Cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 C. Butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 C. Sour Cream
  • 1/4 C. Canola Oil
  • 2/3 C. Milk
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla, clear

Frosting

  • 2 C. powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 C.  Milk, more if needed
  • 1/4 C. Cream Cheese

Mix all together using a hand blender. Add more milk if needed.

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare cupcake pans.
  2. In a  small bowl combine the vanilla bean and sugar, let sit for a while to allow the flavor of the vanilla bean to infuse the sugar.
  3. In a medium bowl mix cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the vanilla bean sugar to the flour mixture until well combined. You should be able to smell the delicious vanilla!
  5. Add butter and mix until crumbles form.
  6. In a small bowl whisk eggs. Then add sour cream, canola oil and vanilla, mix until smooth.
  7. Add egg mixture to flour mixture until combined.
  8. Slowly add milk until well mixed.
  9. Fill prepared cupcake pans so that each cavity is half full. Believe me they will rise!
  10. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 -17 minutes. Tops will not turn golden brown, so don’t over bake my little bakers!
  11. Cool completely before icing.

So that is all, these are very tasty and great for any occasion.Remember, the tops should be a lovely white gold color, not any darker!

Happy Baking!

 

Chili Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I was in possession of a beautiful bar of dark chili chocolate, and I wanted to make some cookies… so…. I combined the two! Instead of using chocolate chips I simply cut the chocolate bar into chunks and tossed it in my dough when the time was right. I tasted the chocolate and fell in love with the way the chili crept up on me. It is subtle and smooth, the perfect amount of chili! Lindt really mastered this one!

I wasn’t too sure if these cookies would be any good so I made a small batch to test out. These cookies definitely go better with a nice red wine than with the traditional milk, but throw a little ice cream between a few cookies and you are in for a treat!

If you just have chocolate chips you can use a 1/4 tsp of chili powder instead!

So, you will need…

  • 1 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 C. Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 C. Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 C. Chopped Chili Chocolate

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, SIFT together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and beat with your trusty wooden spoon until smooth.
  4. Add beaten egg and vanilla, beat until well combined.
  5. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients until everything is mixed entirely.
  6. Fold in chili chocolate chunks.
  7. Drop 1 inch balls of dough, 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt at when they are fresh out of the oven.

If you are up for something different I say give these a try. They aren’t the everyday cookie which makes them that much more fun!

Happy Baking!

Cinnamon Sugar Bagels

I wanted something kind of different and easy for Easter breakfast, so I thought a play on cinnamon sugar toast would be nice. Maybe classing it up a bit by making bagels…. and they were great. I used my same recipe from before, just added cinnamon and sugar instead of blueberries or herbs. They were so delicious served warm with a little bit of butter on them. They almost tasted like a cinnamon roll with cream cheese! I decided to not do the classic Cinnamon Raisin bagels because I don’t like them, and I feel like they take away from the elegance of the cinnamon sugar bagel. The Cinnamon Sugar bagel is a classy bagel, with poise. It would wear Prada if allowed!

So, you will need…

  • 2 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1 1/4 C.  warm water (add more water if needed)
  • 3 1/2 C.  bread flour (will need extra for kneading)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs Cinnamon
  • 1/4 C. Granulated Sugar

Here was my process…

  1. First I took 1/2 a  cup of the warm water and poured it into a small mixing bowl. Then I added  in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. I let it sit for 5 minutes,  then I stirred the yeast and sugar mixture until it all dissolved.
  2. In a large bowl, I  mixed the flour and salt. I made a well in the middle of the flour and poured in the yeast and sugar mixture. Then I added half of the remaining warm water into the well. I stirred the ingredients together adding the remaining water as I needed to, and more if necessary. You want the dough to be moist and firm after you have mixed it.
  3. Add Cinnamon and sugar and mix well.
  4. On a floured countertop, I kneaded the dough for exactly 10 minutes until it was smooth and elastic. (Try to work as much flour in as possible while kneading to form a firm and stiff dough).
  5. I  lightly brush a large bowl with olive oil and turned the dough into the bowl making sure to coat the dough with the oil. Then I Covered the bowl with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, The dough should in size. I punched down the dough, and let it rest for another10 minutes.
  6. I divided the dough into 8 pieces, relatively the same size. I rolled them into nice, neat balls of dough. Then I put flour on my very clean finger and poked the ball of dough! I made a hole in the center of each adorable ball , hence the bagels shape. I carefully stretched the hole I had made out to about 1/2 and inch or so, again,it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to taste good.
  7. After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, I covered them with a damp kitchen towel and allowed them to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I preheated my oven to 425 degrees.
  8. For the next step I brought a large pot of water to a boil and immediately reduced the heat. I used a skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. I put 4 in at a time and turned after 2 minutes and boiled for another 2 minutes. This makes for a chewy delicious bagel. If you prefer a less chewy bagel, boil for 1 minute on each side. Then remove from water and place on slightly oiled baking paper on baking sheet.
  9. I baked them for 20-22 minutes, until golden brown.

These are great tasting, and it proves that you can use one recipe a hundred ways. You can have any flavor bagel your little heart desires!

Happy Baking!

 

Perfect White Chip Brownies

Once you taste these you will understand why I have the nerve to title a recipe “perfect”. Please don’t think me rude! I love brownies and I like to play around with recipes until I find a recipe that makes me happy. This one was super easy actually, and I only made two batches before finding what I longed for… a beautifully moist brownie with a perfectly chewy crust… I mean, that is what brownies are supposed to be!!!! I love white chocolate, so I mixed in white chocolate chips to add a more complex flavor. It works! These brownies are so good, I am not allowed to have any more or I will definitely lose my waist to these scrumptious brownies!

So, you will need…

  • 1 C. Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 3 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 4 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/4 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 3/4 – 1 C. White Chocolate Chips
  • Lots of Love

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease brownie pan with butter
  2. Combine sugar, melted butter and vanilla, mix well with wooden spoon.
  3. In a separate bowl beat the eggs with a hand whisk until fluffy. Add to sugar mixture and combine well.
  4. Sift together flour, cocoa, salt,  and baking soda and mix into sugar mixture until smooth.
  5. Add white chocolate chips and mix until everything is combined.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes.

I enjoyed mine fresh out of the oven with a little bit of frozen yogurt… it was amazing. I forbid myself from having more than one… but i don’t think I have the willpower. These are so delicious, you owe yourself a bite!

Happy Baking!

Apple Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I love to eat, and as I have previously mentioned in this blog, I am also a “Juicer”, which means one or two of my meals each day are juiced! I am like every other woman in the world who just isn’t satisfied with her weight! Anyway, today I am experimenting with a new way to make Oatmeal cookies.  Most of the recipes I have come across in my time call for lots of sugar and lots of butter and that seems like it would cancel the “healthy” right out of them. On the other hand it kills me to look for an alternative to butter because butter is glorious and possibly the best ingredient since Kobe beef, I mean… am I right or am I right?!

I tried to used yogurt and banana instead of butter… and they weren’t “bad” but the cookies seemed more like a muffin than a cookie. I decided that cutting out butter, at least for me and my baking style, isn’t going to give me the results I require for excellent baking! So, I figured that cutting back on the butter and the sugar was good enough for this recipe!

Luckily these are one of my favorite cookies, and they aren’t that bad for you to begin with. So… let us see!

 

So, you will need…

*makes 40 smaller cookies or 18 large cookies

  • 2 1/2 C. Oats
  • 1 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs Butter, softened and unsalted
  • 2 Tbs Canola Oil
  • 1 C. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1/3 C. Apple Butter, homemade of course
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 3/4 C. Raisins and Chocolate Chips (Combined)

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. In a larger bowl mix butter and canola oil until combines and creamy. Then add brown sugar, mix until everything is well mixed and looking fluffy (using a beautiful wooden spoon of course!)
  4. Add egg white, apple butter, vanilla and raisin+chocolate chips. Mix well.
  5. Combine the dry mixture with the wet mixture, mix until all ingredients are well mixed in.
  6. Use your hands to for cookies. Slightly moisten them with water so that the dough doesn’t stick. Form little 1/4 inch balls for a smaller cookie, or a 1 1/2 inch ball for larger ones. Then flatten each cookie with your damp fingers to get a more elegant look to your fabulous cookies.
  7. Space cookies about 1 to 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15- 18 minutes.

And I will say, these are pretty good! You barley notice the lack of white sugar and excess of butter. Give it a try my little bakers and let me know what you think!

Happy Baking!