Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mini Fruit Pizza

After the decadent post from last week, I decided to make something a little lighter on the palate. It had fruit on it so perhaps we should even consider calling it healthy....okay, maybe just healthier is the way to word it.



For those who are unsure about the fruit "pizza" concept, I will explain it to you. It is pieces of fruit over a cream cheese and sugar based "sauce" on top of a sugar cookie crust. Mmmm...delicious! This particular recipe also called for apple jelly to be spooned over the fruit for another layer of flavor.

I admit it, I cheated a little and used pre-made sugar cookie dough for the crust, just because of time constraints, but next time I will definitely be trying it with my own sugar cookie recipe!



This recipe comes together very quickly, especially if using the premade dough. The original recipe called for making one large pizza, but as you know, I prefer things more bite-sized so I made them each the size of a cookie. It was very convenient to make them this size because there was no need to cut it into slices afterwards; the pizzas were ready to grab and eat! 



I imagine you could also use whatever fruit you'd like on them too. I used peaches, blueberries and strawberries, but obviously if these are not your favorite choice of fruits, feel free to use whatever you'd like!



Enjoy!

mini fruit pizza
{recipe slightly adaped from Pillsbury.com}

Ingredients

  • 1 roll sugar cookie dough (I used Pillsbury)
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh or canned peach slices, drained and  chopped
  • 1 cup quartered fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup apple jelly

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper/baking mat. Follow the package directions and cut the roll of dough and bake as described. Cool on wire rack.
  2. In a small bowl beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Spread mixture over cooled cookie crusts. Arrange fruit as desired on top of cream cheese.
  3. Stir jelly until smooth and then spoon or brush over fruit. Refrigerate pizzas until chilled, at least 1 hour. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Reese's Overload Cake

I have to admit that I didn't even happen upon this next dessert myself. One of my coworkers found it and I knew I HAD to make it. It is sinful just to look at!



To be honest I should have thinned the frosting out a bit more to make it more smooth, but it tasted just as amazingly peanut buttery as you could ever want anyway. Plus the sides are generously covered in dark chocolate and peanut butter chips to hide any flaws :). Genius.

So basically what you have here is two peanut butter cake layers with a chocolate cheesecake layer in the middle. There is a chocolate frosting in between each layer and the entire cake is covered in peanut butter frosting. Like I said, the sides are covered in dark chocolate and peanut butter chips and there are chopped Reese's on top. As if this wasn't enough, I decided to add a little chocolate sauce I had left over from my Toffee Crunch Cupcakes.

So? Are you salivating yet? I mean just look at all that peanut butter chocolatey goodness!




I mean REALLY look at it!





This next picture doesn't really do the cake justice, but it was the only one I could get of the inside before it was completely devoured at work!


Okay, okay. Enough with the torture. Here's the recipe:


Reese's overload cake
{recipe slightly adapted from Hugs & Cookies XOXO}

for the peanut butter cake layers:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch pans and line with parchment. Butter the parchment.
  2. Melt butter and peanut butter together in microwave. Put in bowl of electric mixer and add sugar. Beat to combine. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Add flour and baking powder. Beat until just incorporated.
  3. Divide batter into the two prepared pans. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean from center. Cool completely. It may be easier to freeze the cooled layers before frosting.
for the crustless chocolate cheesecake:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  •  2- 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 ounce package Cook and Serve vanilla pudding
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 Hershey's bars, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease one 9-inch springform pan with shortening. Line the pan with parchment paper and then grease the parchment.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Gradually add cream cheese until smooth. Scrape bowl down the sides and beat again on medium speed, adding eggs one at a time. Add baking powder and vanilla pudding powder and mix until just incorporated. 
  3. In a separate heatproof bowl over simmering water combine the 2 Hershey's bars and 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir until smooth. Add melted chocolate to rest of cheesecake batter and mix until smooth.
  4. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth batter with offset spatula and bake for 50-55 minutes or until set. Let cheesecake cool, but do not remove from pan. Cover it and put directly into the freezer and leave until frozen solid.
for the peanut butter frosting:

Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk
Directions

Beat peanut butter, butter, vanilla and 2 cups of powdered  sugar until smooth. Slowly add the rest of the powdered sugar, mixing well after each addition. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Beat on high until fluffy.

for the chocolate frosting:

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions

Heat cream in the microwave until very hot but not boiling. Pour into mixer with cocoa powder and 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Mix well. Add butter, vanilla and the other 1 cup of powdered sugar. Beat on high until smooth.

for the chocolate  sauce:

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons water, warm
Directions

Place chocolate and heavy cream in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Let chocolate and cream sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir until smooth. Add powdered sugar and stir to combine. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until pouring consistency is reached. Set aside and let cool to warm.

assembly:

Ingredients for decoration
  • 2-3 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 2-3 cups peanut butter chips
  • 8 peanut butter cups, chopped
Layer the cake like so: peanut butter cake layer covered in chocolate frosting, followed by chocolate cheesecake layer covered in chocolate frosting, and then put the final peanut butter cake layer on top. Frost entire outside of cake in peanut butter frosting. Push peanut butter and dark chocolate chips into the sides of cake. Place a circle of chocolate sauce in the middle of the top of the cake. Place the chopped peanut butter cups on top of the chocolate circle. Drizzle more chocolate sauce on top of cake. Keep chilled.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Toffee Crunch Cupcakes


When I first saw these cupcakes on the blog Bakers Royale, I knew I had to try them! I am so glad I did; they are divine!


The cake part is chocolate and coffee flavored with bits of toffee mixed in. It has caramel frosting that's covered in a chocolate sauce and rimmed with toffee bits. Sounds amazing right? Well, yes, yes it is.


I couldn't resist and had to make mini ones too!




Aren't they so cute? I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!




toffee crunch cupcakes
{Makes 12 cupcakes}
{recipe adapted from Bakers Royale}

for the cupcakes:

Ingredients
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted  butter, melted and warm
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon instant espresso granules
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits, plus extra for decorating
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake pan with liners.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. Using a mixer, beat together butter, eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 1 minute. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture and beat until just incorporated. Add instant espresso granules, coffee and toffee bits and beat until batter is smooth. The batter will be thin (pouring consistency). Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean from the center. Set pan on wire rack to cool.

for the caramel frosting:

Ingredients
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 sticks salted butter, softened and diced
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup caramel sauce
Directions
  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and place over simmering water. Bring temperature of mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.
  2. Transfer bowl to electric mixer stand fitted with whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until mixture has cooled and doubled in volume.
  3. Add butter, one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy, or even curdled, at times, but keep mixing and it will become smooth again. Add vanilla and caramel sauce and beat to combine.
for the chocolate dipping sauce:

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 4-8 tablespoons water, warm
Directions

Place chocolate and heavy cream in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Let chocolate and cream sit for 2-3 minutes and then stir until smooth. Add powdered sugar and stir to combine. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until pouring consistency is reached. Set aside and let cool to warm.

assembly:

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe frosting onto each cooled cupcake starting from the outside and working towards the center to make a smooth even layer. Freeze cupcakes for about 20 minutes so that the frosting won't melt in the warm chocolate sauce. Remove from freezer and dip each cupcake into chocolate sauce and then rim with toffee bits. Return to freezer for chocolate to set. Remove from freezer and pipe one last swirl on the top of each cupcake.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Banana Split Cupcakes

For a while I've been toying with the idea of making ice cream-looking cupcakes and putting them in a pizzelle "waffle" cup. It just so happened that today was the perfect summery day to try it!


If the pizzelles were a little bit larger, I think it would have been easier to get the effect I truly wanted, but what I got was satisfying enough for me! The cups definitely got better as I got more practice and the best part was, I got to eat the defects. ;)


The method I settled on in the end was using a ramekin and setting the pizzelle centered on it. Then I gently and slowly pushed a cupcake into the center to form the shape. If you go too fast, you run the risk of breaking the pizzelle, but at the same time, if you go too slow the pizzelle will start to harden and it will break as well. So basically, you have to move swiftly and gently. I tried putting a pizzelle on the cup of an upside down cupcake pan and then a ramekin over it, but the results didn't conform to the cupcake as much as the other way. If the pizzelles were slightly larger, I think either way would have been just fine.

Example of placing the ramekin (it was a 7 oz one) over the bottom of the cupcake pan...I forgot to take a picture of gently pushing the warm pizzelle with a cupcake into the ramekin, but you get the idea right?



Regardless of whether the pizzelle cup is included, these cupcakes are delicious! They have a banana custard filling and a classic vanilla buttercream frosting. I have never made a buttercream frosting with eggs in it before this and I have to say...it may be my favorite! Yes, I guess it is a little more labor intensive (not a whole lot more) than just letting the mixer beat all your ingredients, but it was definitely worth it!


Banana Split Cupcakes
{recipe from Bakers Royale}
Makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup banana puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sprinkles and maraschino cherries (garnish)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, add both flours; whisk to combine. Set aside. In another bowl cream butter on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; set aside. In another bowl, add milk, banana puree and vanilla. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk mixture. With each addition beat until just incorporated, but do not over mix. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pans for about 15 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire rack prior to frosting.
For the custard filling:

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 bananas
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Directions
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process to combine. Pour mixture into saucepan over medium heat and cook until mixture starts to bubble, making sure to constantly whisk. Continue to cook the mixture until thickened, about 5-7 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. If refrigerated, place plastic wrap against custard to prevent a skin from forming.
For the classic buttercream frosting:

Ingredients
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.
  2. Transfer mixture to stand mixer, fitted with whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume.
  3. Add butter one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine. The frosting may appear to look separated, but keep mixing- it will come together.
For the chocolate dipping sauce:

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
  • 5-8 tablespoons water, warm
Directions
  1. Place chocolate and heavy cream in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Let chocolate and cream sit for 2-3 minutes to melt without stirring. Then slowly stir mixture to combine. Add water one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition, until pouring consistency is reached. Set aside and let sauce cool to warm.
For the pizzelle bowls:
{recipe slightly adapted from allrecipes.com}

Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon anise extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
Directions
  1. Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in melted butter and anise extract. In a separate bowl combine flour and baking powder. Gradually stir flour mixture into egg mixture. Dough will be sticky.
  2. Preheat your pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer's directions. Drop batter by rounded spoonfuls onto the iron. Close and cook for about 90 seconds, or until steam stops coming out of the iron (mine had a light that came on when they were done). Carefully (and quickly!) remove from iron and then use one of the following two ways too form your bowls (the second way worked best for me):
    • Place pizzelle centered on one of the cups of an upside down cupcake pan and place a ramekin (mine was 7 oz) upside down over it. Be sure to be gentle when pushing the ramekin down...the pizzelles will break if you press too hard.
    • Place pizzelle centered over the opening on a ramekin (7 oz) and use one of the cupcakes to gently press down on the pizzelle.
After a minute or two the pizzelles will have cooled slightly and hardened into a bowl shape. They can be removed from the ramekin or cupcake pan and you can continue to make more pizzelles. The bowls can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature until needed.

Assembly:

Cut a hole in the center of the cupcakes using a knife or a cupcake corer. Fill each cupcake with the custard. Pipe the frosting on the cupcakes in an even thick layer, starting from the outside edge of the cupcake to the center. Place cupcakes in freezer for about 20 minutes so the frosting doesn't melt when they are dipped in the warm sauce. Remove cupcakes from freezer and either dip cupcakes into chocolate sauce or spoon and spread the sauce onto the cupcakes (I spooned mine on) and then rim with sprinkles. Place back in freeze for 5 minutes for the chocolate to set. Remove from freezer and finish piping the frosting on top. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. Place finished cupcakes into pizzelle bowls prior to serving (the bowls will soften if kept in the refrigerator with the cupcakes).