Lemon Summer Muffins

Hello bakers! Well, my world has been a little upside down, so I needed to take a minute and get used to things. Unfortunately, I am not a stress baker! I choose to read and cry and drink a little wine. I just can’t help it. But I am back with a brand new computer and some fun baking inspiration. I am loving muffins that can be cupcakes, and vice versa. I wanted a little bit of sweet in my muffin, but I also wanted a little less sweet in my cupcake. So, Cupins! I don’t really like that name and the other option was Muffcakes, and…. that just wasn’t working for me either… for obvious reasons!

As much as I love chocolate, it is just too hot for such a heavy treat. But fresh lemon is the very essence of summer. It is crisp, fresh, refreshing and genuinely tasty. Everything about a lemon makes me smile. The fact that you can put it in your water, or in your cookies or in your pasta sauce just makes me love it that much more. I made a simple lemon glaze to delicately drizzle over my muffins/ cupcakes, but they are great without.

So, what you will need…

  • 1 3/4 C. All-Purpose Flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Grated Lemon Zest
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 C. Nonfat Milk
  • 3/4 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1/2 C. Fresh Lemon juice
  • 1/2 C. Confectioners Sugar

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. and line a muffin pan with muffin liners. This recipe makes 12 regular size muffins.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and add lemon zest. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl whisk eggs until blended.
  4. Add sugar, butter, and 1/4 C. Lemon juice to the egg mixture.
  5. Slowly add the milk and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir until just combined.
  7. Spoon the batter equally into prepared muffin tins.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 12 minutes. Let cool completely before glazing.
  9. To make the glaze take the remaining lemon juice and the confectioners sugar and combine in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over each muffin. Let set, and enjoy!

This is a super delicious, and refreshing little treat. You can have it for breakfast with a cup of tea and some blueberry yogurt, or for dessert with a scoop of frozen yogurt. These also stand well on their own. Plus you don’t have to worry about feeling gross and full, just happy and satisfied.

Happy Baking!

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Brown Butter Cookies

I can’t resist the taste or smell of browned butter. I am feeling a little “snacky” these days, thank you nature, and all I can think about is guacamole and browned butter. So, I turned it into a cookie! Not the guac, haha, I have to let perfection lie on that one.

This cookie has a crisp delicate body that literally melts away in your mouth. The lack of egg gives it so much character, and it almost acts as a less dense shortbread. It is a very different cookie, and it is delicious and versatile.

These are a lot of recipes for this cookie out there, mine is a little different because I use a little Maple Sugar in mine. I like to pay homage to my home state in my baking. It actually really makes a difference. The taste is so smooth and savory. I like the idea of a savory cookie. Maybe next time I will toss some Taleggio Cheese in there.

After spending the last few days working with chocolates, blogs are on their way, I wanted something less sweet, more satisfying . The smell wafting from the oven is worth it alone. It makes my home smell like heaven. And yes, my version of heaven is filled with butter!

So, you will need…

  • 2 Sticks Sweet Cream, Unsalted Butter
  • 2/3 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Maple Sugar, a little maple goes a long way
  • 2 1/3 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp. Coarse Sea Salt, plus extra to sprinkle on top.

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 325 Degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter on low heat until browned. About 7-9 minutes.
  3. Once butter is browned remove from heat and add granulated sugar and Maple Sugar. Stir in until well combined. Don’t wait for the sugar to dissolve because it isn’t going to. 😉 Let cool for about 5 minutes until cooled.
  4. Combine the flour and baking powder and slowly mix into the butter mixture until a smooth delicious dough forms.
  5. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets.  Give each ball a little room to expand.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 18-20 minutes or until edges start to look golden blonde.

You can pair this cookie with a creamy soft cheese and some fruit, or toss it on top of a nice bowl of frozen custard. There is no wrong way to eat these. Plus the smell is intoxicating, so even if you don’t like cookies, bake them! Plus it gives your guy a little something to look forward to. Which makes him super sweet and compliant 😉

Happy Baking!

Peanut Butter and Honey Hearts

Yummy Yummy people! I am loving the whole candy making thing, and since it is so hot outside, I figured why not give my oven a break. This is a super easy way to make delicious, fairly guilt free Peanut Butter Cup type treats at home.

I can honestly say that i don’t get the PB&J thing… AT ALL! It is a bizarre combination of food that just doesn’t work for me. Lots of treats involving peanut butter call for salt, but I think peanut butter is salty enough. Some say it adds to the flavor, but so does the chocolate, the honey, etc. No salt needed here. These are the perfect addition to a summer ice cream sundae!

So, you will need…

  • 2 C. Peanut Butter, use the All- Natural kind, it just tastes better!
  • 2 3/4 C. Confectioners Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey, local honey of course
  • 1/4 C. Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C. Chocolate or Chocolate Candy Coating finely chopped, tempered for dipping

Here was my process…

  1. Combine peanut butter, butter, confectioners sugar and honey in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until a thick mixture forms.
  2. Take your candy mold and fill each mold, pressing down to make sure all air bubbles have escaped.
  3. Scrape excess off top of each mold, and place in freezer for up to an hour until stiff.
  4. Pop hearts out of mold onto a piece of parchment on a baking sheet.
  5. Temper chocolate or candy coating, I used a double boiler for my candy coating but you can use the microwave too.
  6. Dip hearts into candy coating and let set.
  7. Enjoy!

These are so easy to make, and so much fun to eat. It is always nice to eat homemade candies, and they are going to make a great gift as well!

Happy Baking… or Candy Making!

Orange Honey Ice Cream Sandwiches

Yay!!! Summer is upon us and there is no end in sight. The endless possibilities of summer treats make me feel like I could bake forever! I have three pages of things I want to create and share with my loved ones. The fresh squeezed lemonade, strawberries and cream, fresh green salads… and watermelon! The flavors go on and on. For today I settled on Oranges and Honey. Yummy yummy!

I wanted a cookie that would be able to make a sort of “Dreamsicle” type Ice Cream Sandwich. SO, I made Orange Honey cookies and used some 1/2 fat vanilla bean ice cream for the filling. The ice cream complimented the cookies so well, you would think that the ice cream company had invented this cookie. Alas, it was I… just a simple baker.

 

So, you will need…

  • 2 C. All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 C. + 2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1/4 C. Honey
  • 1 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, yes, freshly squeezed!
  • 1 Egg

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine canola oil, honey, sugar, orange juice and egg. Beat with mixer of your choice until all ingredients are well combined.
  4. Pour dry mixture into wet mixture and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. DO NOT over beat.
  5. Spoon dough onto prepared baking sheets allowing room to spread.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 9-11 minutes, until sides are a lovely honey brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool completely before creating a Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich!

These cookies are surprisingly delicious and work very well in this situation! They are also good on their own, or with milk. Milk and honey after all, are very good friends.

Happy Baking!

 

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies

I love coconut, but I am not a fan of chunks of it in my cookies! I love the tropical flavor and the how much fun it is to break one open. I also love Chocolate Chip cookies but you can only blog about the simple, yet delightful cookie so many times.

I was wandering through a little co-op type place in Randolph, Vermont when I found the solution to my cookie problem. Coconut Sugar?! As skeptical as I was, I bought it. I let it sit around for a week or so before I said, “What is the worst that can happen?” Fully knowing the answer I proceeded anyway. I mean, how terrible could it really be?

The cookies were amazing! The Coconut Sugar has the same effect as a brown sugar, and my cookies were buttery, crispy and chewy in the right places and an overall fantastic surprise.

So, you will need…

  • 1 1/4 C. All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 C. Butter, softened
  • 1/2 C. Coconut Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg White
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 C. White Chocolate Chips, for the best flavor look for the white Chips that contain Cocoa Butter 😉
  • 1/2 C. Dark Chocolate Chips

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine butter, coconut sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Feel free to use your mixer.
  4. Add the egg white and vanilla. Beat until well combined.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients in increments of your choosing until everything is well mixed.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Drop spoonfuls of dough on to prepared baking sheets allowing 2 or so inches between each cookie for expansion.
  8. Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, at 350 degrees F for 10-13 minutes. Tops should be a rich golden brown, and somewhat firm to the touch.
  9. Let stand for around 5 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.
  10. Enjoy!

This is just a slight variation in ingredients, but a rather large variation in taste. served warm with a little  Talenti ‘Sea Salt Caramel’ Gelato or maybe a nice glass of Cupcake ‘Angel Food’ wine, or a classic glass of cold milk… no matter what, you will not be disappointed.

Happy Baking!

Framboise Dream Meringues

First of all I want to say Sorry for my absence. Sometimes a gal must roam!

Who doesn’t love a delicious Prosecco? Framboise Beer is a fantastic  Raspberry Belgian Craft Beer, and lets face it ladies, if we are going to drink beer, it might as well be fancy beer. This is the Prosecco of Beer.

So, for my comeback recipe, I made a delicious Meringue cookie with Framboise and white chocolate. It is truly divine! It is light and airy, yet chewy as all meringue should be. They are sweet and delicate, just like me.

So, you will need…

  • 1/2 C. Confectioners Sugar, sifted
  • 3 Large Egg Whites, at room Temperature
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/3 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Framboise Beer
  • 1/2 C. White Chocolate Chips

Here was my process…

  1. Preheat oven to 250 Degrees F and line two baking sheet with Parchment Paper
  2. Sift the confectioners sugar onto a plate and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine egg whites, cream of tartar and Framboise. Beat on medium until soft peaks form.
  4. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat on medium high until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the confectioners sugar, then fold in the white chips.
  6. Drop the dough on the prepared baking sheets, you can sprinkle the baking sheets with powdered sugar to make them stick less, spacing them about 1 inch apart.
  7. Bake at 250 degrees F for 55 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and let cool.

These are so much fun to eat, and you really do feel a twinge of sexy sophistication while eating them. Plus you won’t need more than one or two of this ladylike treat, which is good for the midsection. Put on your best night wear, throw on an old classic, pour a glass of Prosecco, and have yourself a treat.

After all, Life is but a Meringue…

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!

 

 

 

 

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!

Honey Sea Salt Caramels

Fun Fun Fun!!! The last time I was in San Francisco I was staying with my darling friend Megan, and across from her little studio apartment there was a coffee shop that sold the most amazing chocolate covered Sea Salt Caramels. I went there nearly everyday to get one. So, I was having a little flash back and I thought to myself, “How hard could it be?”

Turns out it is pretty darn easy if you have the inspiration and the motivation! This caramel is soft, smooth and buttery with a salty finish. The Chocolate adds an entirely new layer of flavor and the whole thing is a delicious combo. Any woman who has ever craved the sweet and salty combo will adore this recipe! There is something to be said for making this combination work, there is a delicate balance, and after a few tries I found the balance I was looking for. I think that the honey really makes this recipe work, but you can decide for yourself!

So, you will need…

  • 1 1/3 C. Heavy Cream
  • 2 C. Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 C. Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/3 C. Honey
  • 6 Tbs. Butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 3 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 C. Dark Chocolate (Ghirardelli is the best!)

Here was my process…

  1. Prepare a baking sheet, a deep one, by lining it with tin foil and spraying it with non stick cooking spray. You want your caramel to sit about and inch high, maybe a little less.
  2. Next bring cream to a boil over medium high heat.
  3. Stir in sugar, corn syrup and honey until it begins to boil. Make sure to use a pastry brush dipped in water to wipe down the sides of the pot so that sugar crystals don’t form.
  4. Stirring the caramel occasionally, cook until the caramel reaches 257 degrees F.
  5. Immediately remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla and Sea Salt.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and let sit at room temperature until it sets. You want the caramel to be hard enough to cut into pieces.

To given them a nice chocolate coat, melt chocolate (using your preferred method, I used the double boiler method), and dip each piece in the chocolate fully covering it. Allow the drips to drip off, and then place on a piece of parchment paper to set. While still wet, sprinkle with Sea Salt.Wait a dew minutes before sprinkling with Sea Salt to avoid the salt just melting into the chocolate.

These are some delicious caramels. They are soft and don’t stick to your teeth, which is a very huge plus! I am a proud lady! These are a great little gift, and just in time for Easter.

It seems like a scary task, but it is a fun process, and there is lots of room to get creative, which is, in itself, truly inspiring!

Happy Baking!