dessert

All posts tagged dessert

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Published June 20, 2016 by jenmatteson

When I first started cooking, I watched Food Network A LOT. I stuck to fairly simple recipes, which generally came from only a handful of shows. Semi-Homemade was one of them. The concept of this show was to make a dish using some premade ingredients, but jazzing it up by adding fresh ingredients as well. An example would be making a compound butter by adding a seasoning packet to butter (this would be instead of adding your own seasonings). These cupcakes remind me a lot of Aunt Sandy (you’d get it if you ever watched the show) and Semi-Homemade.

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Salted Caramel Cupcakes

The recipe came from my sister-in-law, who is a fantastic baker and dessert maker – hey that rhymed – not to mention a bad ass wife and mother of two pretty wonderful kids! I fell in love with them from first bite, and the rest of my family raved about them. There aren’t words to describe how beautifully moist (yes, I know, some people hate that word, but guess what, it fits here!) these cupcakes are. I usually don’t like overly sweet, so the bit of saltiness in the frosting is perfect. The cupcake as a whole, a little piece of heaven.

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I’ve made these for my co-workers twice now, and they continue to let me know when their birthdays are so I bring them again. Little do they know (until now 😉 ) that these are semi-homemade! Also, the pictures are so bad because I had to take them at my desk because I forgot to take some at home. Ugh.

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Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Source: Adapted from Crazy Little Projects
Servings: 24

Ingredients:

For the cupcake:
1 box Devil’s food cake mix
1 5.9 oz box of instant chocolate pudding
1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt (sour cream will work, too)
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp. unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup heavy cream (at room temperature)

For the Caramel Frosting:
3 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup caramel sauce

Directions:

  1. Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cake and pudding mixes, Greek yogurt, vegetable oil, water, eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined; batter will be very thick.
  2. Scoop batter into paper lined cupcake tins, about 1/2 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until they are cooked through. Set aside and let cool completely.
  3. Caramel Sauce: Familiarize yourself with the instructions for the caramel sauce before beginning – the process moves quickly. Pour sugar into a saucepan and cook over medium heat. As the sugar melts into small rocks, begin to whisk. Continue to whisk as the sugar turns to liquid, until the sugar becomes a deep amber color (or 350 degrees if you have a candy thermometer). Stir in butter. Once this is completely incorporated, add heavy cream and continue to whisk until combined and smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes or so to set up.
  4. Caramel Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, combine all frosting ingredients. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If it appears to thin, add more sugar. This tends to be more of a feel and taste type of recipe!
  5. Transfer frosting to a piping bag and frost cupcakes. Drizzle cupcakes with additional caramel sauce and sprinkle with kosher salt.
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Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Published April 11, 2016 by jenmatteson

Over the weekend, we went to my parent’s house to visit our new puppy, Milou. Isn’t she precious?

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She’ll be coming to her new home in mid-May, so in the mean time, we’ll keep visiting when we can. The benefit of visiting her is that we get to spend time with my parents. This generally means playing cards and having a few cocktails. Always a great time!

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Since we went over for dinner, I wanted to bring a dessert to share. Thankfully, my freezer holds many treasures, two of them being strawberries and rhubarb. We can never seem to go through one of the big tubs from Costco, but the price is basically the same for the larger container as it is at the regular grocery store, so why wouldn’t I buy it from Costco?Because it’s wasteful? Nope. I just freeze the extras so I can use them for times like these.

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You can also easily make this in on 8″x 8″ pan if you don’t want to use individual ramekins. My mom absolutely loved these. She had two in one night! While it seems like a large rhubarb to strawberry ratio, the strawberries and sugar make the dessert a perfect balance of sweet and tart.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Source: Adapted from Food Network
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

3/4 slivered almonds, toasted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter, cold and cubed

6 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup roughly chopped strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

heavy whipping cream
confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.  Add flour, sugar and salt.  Pulse until incorporated.  Add butter and pulse until butter is dispersed in walnut-sized pieces throughout.  Set aside.

2. Mix rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Evenly divide among 4 4-inch ramekins.  Sprinkle about 2 tbsp. of almond crumble over each and place in oven.  Bake until filling bubbles and the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine heaving whipping cream and confectioners sugar and whisk until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Top each ramekin with a dollop of cream and serve.

Soft and Thick Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

Published January 30, 2014 by jenmatteson

I’m 100% positive I found my very favorite peanut butter cookie recipe!  I often find they get too crisp, or flatten out to chewy crackers or potato chips.  This is the second time I’ve used this peanut butter cookie recipe, and it was no fluke that I loved them the first time.  I honestly think the second time was better.  That could also be because it’s January, and we’re all watching what we eat now, right? 😉

Soft and Thick Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

Let me go back to the first time I used this recipe.  It was for our drink tasting party, and I had a hankering for peanut butter blossoms.  I honestly thought my grandma made the best, but I was wrong.  I made half the batch with peanut butter cups – I didn’t have kisses and wanted to use up what I already had in my baking cabinet.  The other half I got kind of creative with.  I have almost a case of Nestle Crunch bars (thanks, Dad!), so I figured I’d try chopping a few up and putting them in.  Yeah, it was the bomb.

Soft and Thick Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

I made a double batch for my husband and his boys, who left me for the weekend to go on his annual ice fishing trip.  Too bad for him it’s -20 degrees, probably colder where he is going.  But maybe the cookies will help keep him warm, or the booze.  You decide.  Anyway, these cookies stay nice and thick, but remain soft and chewy – and not just for the day you baked them.  They stay soft for days, which is awesome!

Soft and Thick Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies
Soft and Thick Peanut Butter Cookies

Source: Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Servings: Makes 24 cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar at medium speed.  One at a time, mix in peanut butter, egg, then vanilla, scraping down sides as needed.  Slowly mix in baking soda and flour until just combined, careful not to over-mix.  **This is where I added two chopped up Crunch bars.  Use your own add-ins (chocolate or white chocolate chips, raisins, M&Ms, Kisses, caramel, or anything else you like) or just keep them deliciously plain.  Wrap dough tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare baking sheet with foil, parchment paper or cooking spray.  Roll dough into approximately 1-inch balls, about 2 tbsps., and place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine took exactly 10 to be perfectly soft, but this will vary based on ovens and size of cookies).  Remove from oven, and if desired, press fork crosswise into each cookie softly.  Let cool slightly on baking sheet, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

Published January 13, 2014 by jenmatteson

The final piece to the cooking-dinner party I led a few weeks ago – dessert!   You know I’m a chocolate girl, so this was absolutely a fantastic ending to a wonderful dinner.  To recap, we started with zucchini fritters, had an arugula and apple salad with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese, had a wonderful time making homemade pasta and swiss chard ravioli in a smoked onion tomato sauce, and ended with this fabulous lava cake.  Here are a few quick pics from their party.

Getting dessert ready

Jessica and Janell working on dessert.

Melting chocolate for dessert

Liz melting the chocolate for dessert.

Rolling out and filling pasta

Amanda paved the road for rolling out the pasta and moved on to filling raviolis.

Ladies Night

All the ladies, sitting down to their well deserved meal!

But back to what you probably came here for, dessert.  Mmmmmmm 😛

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

The cake would be wonderful with ice cream or even confectioners’ sugar, but I thought the berries were perfect.  The cake itself isn’t very sweet, so the berries add not only a fresh, bright flavor, but a light sweetness.  You can really use any mix of berries, and frozen would be great and inexpensive, too!  The cake batter itself is the easy part, baking it to a point where it’s runny in the middle and cake on the outside is the art.  My husby is so precious – he didn’t realize the ‘lava’ part of the cake was just undercooked batter, and thought I injected the cake with something to make it runny.  Isn’t that cute?

Brandy Macerated Berries

You just have to keep your eye on the cakes while they cook – every oven is different, and times will vary based on the shape and depth of your ramekins.  The best time to take them out is when the sides are completely cooked, and the middle of the top (which will become the bottom) still looks uncooked, but is in fact somewhat firm to the light touch.  Not that it doesn’t taste good if you cook it all the way, but what’s a lava cake without the lava?

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

Source: Adapted from St. Francis/Chef David Bush
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
5 ounces (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon brandy
oil or butter for coating ramekins
1 pint mixed berries (such as raspberries and blackberries)

Directions:

1.  Pour about ¾-inch water in the bottom of a double boiler, making certain top pan will not touch water.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Chop bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate into small pieces and place in the top of double boiler with butter and place over boiling water.  Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

2. Sift cornstarch and sugar into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 tbsp brandy, then whisk egg mixture into the cornstarch-sugar mixture all at once.  Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture. Cover and chill batter at least 2 hours, or overnight, before using.

3. In a small bowl, combine berries with ¼ cup brandy and sprinkle with sugar.  Gently mash the berries with the back of a fork and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil (or butter and flour) six 6-ounce ramekins or small soufflé dishes. Place ½ cup batter in each ramekin until barely risen and cracked on top, 10 to 14 minutes. Cool about 8 minutes before serving. Unmold onto plates and spoon berries on top of each.  You could also serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with, or instead of berries.

Chocolate Dipped Brazilian Truffles

Published November 30, 2013 by jenmatteson

The Oreo truffles have pretty much jumped the shark by now, although still delicious and I don’t know a soul that doesn’t love them.  If you haven’t had one or known someone who makes them, you must be living under a rock 😉  I have made them several times myself, but wanted to try something new and exciting.  Plus, the one thing that I don’t really like about the Oreo truffles is that they should be kept refrigerated because of the cream cheese, and that doesn’t lend itself well to grazing during the holiday season.

Chocolate Dipped Brazilian Truffles

In search of something new, I came across these Brazilian truffles in Food and Wine.  I whipped up a batch and was pretty satisfied, though I expected them to be slightly more chocolaty.  Instead, it was more like a decadent caramel.  Nate loved them and asked for another as he was still picking the first one out of his teeth!  I thought they’d make a lovely filling for a truffle, so why not just cover them in a hard chocolate shell?  Brilliant!

Chocolate Dipped Brazilian TrufflesChocolate Dipped Brazilian Truffles

I am in heaven.  Good thing I planned to bring them all to Thanksgiving dinner so we didn’t have a bunch lying around our house.  Also good thing it’s winter coat season 😉  The outside has a firm chocolaty shell, while the inside is rich, creamy, chewy and caramely.  Even better, top them with whatever you want.  I used bittersweet chocolate shavings, coconut and walnuts.  Use whatever you like, I’m sure your family will hardly notice while scarfing them down this holiday season.

Chocolate Dipped Brazilian Truffles

Chocolate Dipped Brazilian Truffles

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: Makes 12-15 truffles

Ingredients:

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1-oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp salted butter
24 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. In a medium non-stick pan, combine sweetened condensed milk, bittersweet chocolate and butter.  Cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until shiny and very thick, about 15-18 minutes.  Pour and spread mixture into a shallow dish and let cool, about 20 minutes.

2. Rub a small amount of oil or butter between your hands.  Begin to scoop out teaspoons of chocolate mixture and roll between hands into balls.  Set on wax paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

3. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler.  If you don’t have one, place a heat-proof bowl over a simmering pot of water, being sure the bowl does not touch the water.  Pour chips into bowl and stir continuously until melted.

4. Roll refrigerated balls in melted chocolate until well coated.  Top with desired toppings (sprinkles, chocolate shavings, coconut, nuts, etc.).  Refrigerate until outer chocolate hardens.  Serve slightly cool or room temperature.  Store in airtight container.

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars, aka Ham Pie

Published October 20, 2013 by jenmatteson

I know, it sounds gross.  But let me explain.  Over the weekend, the hubs and I went to our friends’ Slumber Party Massacre.  It’s basically a great annual excuse to get together, play beer pong, flip cup, and watch scary movies (my favorite!).  Unfortunately for us, the beer pong tournament lasted until almost 3 AM, so there was no flip cup afterwards 😦  Nate and I are pretty horrid at beer pong, but surprisingly, we did win two games, but lost two.  So I suppose we are just okay, not horrid.  Overall, it was a super fun night and we’re already looking forward to next year.

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars

So what’s with the ham pie, you ask?  Well, for the party, I brought lemon-cranberry pie bars to share.  I didn’t get the swirl just right, which just made for a mostly pink top.  After a while, the confectioners’ sugar seeps into the topping, and the result apparently looks like ham.  One of my friends truly thought it was an appetizer with ham on the top, coining the term “ham pie”.  I’m not sure that name really sold many people on trying them, sadly.  Nate and I both love them, so I suppose it’s everyone else’s loss.

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars

The bars are more or less a variation on lemon bars, with the addition of cranberry.  The acid from the lemon and the tartness from the cranberries paired with the sweet crust makes for an excellent treat!

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars

Lemon-Cranberry Pie Bars

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: Makes one 9×13-inch pan

Ingredients:

For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar

For the filling:
1 cup cranberries
2 3/4 cups sugar
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 cup water
4 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together butter and both sugars for two minutes on medium speed.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add flour-salt mixture.

2.  Transfer dough to parchment paper lined 9×13-inch baking pan.  Press dough over the bottom and about 1-inch up the sides all around (you can cover the dough with plastic wrap and press it in with the bottom of a measuring cup).  Refrigerate until firm.

3. Bake crust for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.  Halfway through baking, remove from oven and use the back of a spoon to even and smooth the sides and corners of crust.  Transfer pan to wire rack and let crust cool before filling.

4. Make the filling: In a saucepan, simmer cranberries, with 1/4 cup of the sugar, cloves and water over moderately low heat, until berries pop and liquid thickens, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Transfer mixture to food processor and puree until smooth.  Strain and press the puree through a fine sieve set over a bowl and let cool completely.

5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour.

6. Mix 1/2 cup lemon filling with cranberry puree.  Pour the rest of the lemon filling into cooled crust, and swirl in cranberry mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until set.  Transfer pan to wire rack to cool.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies – Gluten Free!

Published October 13, 2013 by jenmatteson

This weekend we helped one of our good friend’s parents rebuild their deck.  Well, Nate helped.  I helped the ladies supervise and delegate (and drink wine) 😉  Knowing that it was going to be an all day event, I wanted to bring something to share.  We were told food and beer would be provided, but I couldn’t bring myself to show up empty-handed, so I brought these insanely indulgent GF brownies, as well as Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps (substituting Tamari – a GF product – for soy sauce).

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

My girlfriend has recently been eating gluten-free, which has made me much more conscious of what I make for her.  It’s really surprising how many substitutes and alternatives there are out there for products that contain gluten, and you don’t even need to spend a fortune or visit your closest Whole Foods!

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

My Food and Wine magazine arrived just In time!  There was a small section dedicated to Tu-Lu’s Bakery, which specializes on gluten-free and vegan products.  This recipe was tried over and over again to get them exactly perfect, densely chocolaty but not too fudgy.  I must say that I agree.  These brownies were amazing, and I especially love the peanut butter chips!  While this is gluten-free recipe, it is by no means healthy.  No wonder they are so delicious!  A quick tip – use the biggest mixing bowl you have to mix the batter – mine was filled to the rim and I could barely mix all the ingredients without spilling on the counter.  More batter for me, I guess 😛

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Brownies

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: Makes 24 brownies

Ingredients:

3 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 lb dark chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp white rice flour
3/4 tapioca flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 large eggs
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

2. Place butter in top of double boiler filled with water, simmer over medium-low heat.  Melt butter, stirring occasionally.  Add dark chocolate and stir until melted.  Remove from heat.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the rice flour, tapioca flour and salt.  In a large bowl (your very largest mixing bowl – trust me), whisk the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until blended.  Fold in the dry ingredients until incorporated, then fold in the peanut butter and semisweet chocolate chips.  Fold in the melted chocolate until all ingredients are well combined.  Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.

4. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the brownies are slightly puffed and a tester comes out clean.

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