New Spring Recipe:

Black Bottom Coconut Bars

Wow is it really almost May already? 2011 is flying by for me! I thought it would be fun to share the recipe I used for my families Easter BBQ this past weekend. It is not my own original recipe, it is by the amazing Martha, who never fails to deliver an incredibly scrumptious creation. Many of the women in my family are big coconut fans and were delighted by these. More spring recipes to come!

chocolate base-
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour leveled

coconut topping-

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package sweetened shredded coconut (7oz), 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling

For chocolate base: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang; butter bottom and sides of foil (not overhang).

Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl; melt in microwave. Add sugar and salt; whisk to combine. Whisk in egg, then cocoa and flour until smooth. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake just until sides begin to pull away from edges of pan, 10 to 15 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool slightly while preparing coconut topping. Keep oven on for topping.

For coconut topping: In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with sugar and vanilla. Gently mix in flour and coconut (except 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling).Drop mounds of mixture over chocolate base; spread and pat in gently and evenly with moistened fingers. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup coconut.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Lift cake from pan, peel off foil, and cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container 3 to 4 days.

Recipe of the Week: Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies

Can you believe that of all the years I have been baking I have NEVER made a snickerdoodle? Isn't that craziness?! It is such a traditional cookie, but I've just never been inspired to make them. That all changed this week when I stumbled upon this special recipe saved on my computer that I had completely forgotten about. It is a wonderfully soft snickerdoodle, no crunchy flat hockey puck cookies here! And the secret is all in the chilling process, so whatever you do don't even think about skipping that step!! You really must try them, they make your house smell so delicious, cinnamon almost makes me have a warm feeling.

2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place in refrigerator to chill. Mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer (with the paddle attachment) cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add one egg at a time, combining well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gradually stir in flour mixture at a low speed until completely blended. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes (do not skip this step, it helps the cookies keep their beautiful shape). While the dough is chilling in a small bowl combine the 3 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon. Scoop about 1-inch balls of dough and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Make sure to chill baking sheets and dough between batches.

Recipe of the Week: Lemon Heaven Mini Cheesecakes

Lemon Heavens are the perfect mix of sinfully delicious melt in your mouth cheesecake, with a hint of smooth white chocolate, and just enough citrus to tickle the tongue! Topped with white chocolate curls and arranged on a elegant cake stand, makes this presentation a winner for any party. And their mini size allows for easy handling so guests are free to grab one or two, while still being able to socialize. But don’t let there size foul you, from the first bite to the last these lemon sensations will tantalize your taste buds, leaving you more then satisfied.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar

2 (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3 squares premium white baking chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup lemon curd mixed into batter
1/3 cup lemon curd warmed to spread on top

Preheat oven to 325°F. Mix Crust ingredients, press evenly into bottoms of 12 (2-1/2-inch) paper-lined muffin cups. Bake 7 min.Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Mix in Batter Flavorings. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Stir in Mix-Ins. Spoon batter evenly into prepared cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake 25 min or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Warm lemon curd to spread on top. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate Banana Bread

Ripe bananas always equal banana bread in my book! I wanted to make something a little different then just plain jane bread, so threw some coco powder, sour cream and chocolate chips into the mix! Hope you enjoy the new recipe, next week will be cheesecake style so get ready for some rich deliciousness.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
6 medium super ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsweetened coco powder
1 cup sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease 2 9x5 loaf pans or 2 muffin pans. Cream together butter, sugar and eggs (one at a time) in a large mixing bowl. Stir in mashed bananas and vanilla. In a seperate bowl combine flour, baking soda,cinnamon, salt and coco until well combined. Slowly incooperate a little of the flour mixture at a time into banana batter. Blend in sour cream until well combined, then add chocolate chips & mix well.

Recipe of the Week: White Chocolate Blondies

If you can believe it, all the years I have been baking and trying countless recipes, I've never made blondies! Now chocolate brownies are some what of a traditional treat in my family, most of them are chocoholics and sometimes find it hard to venture away from that rich coco taste. But this week I decided to change it up a little, after all they say blondes have more fun right? The blondie recipe I've developed is not the generic version that many would consider, just not my style to be boring! Instead I incorporated some smooth white chocolate and for some more texture a few semi-sweet chips. But whats really wonderful about this batter is that you can change it to fit your desire so easily, instead of adding a few chips, why not try some M&M's, nuts or even swirls of peanut butter or nutella mmmm. Although these are pieces of buttery heaven, I myself prefer a rich chocolate brownie, but they are definitely worth a try!

White Chocolate Blondies w/ Semi-Sweet Chips
8oz white chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9x9 baking pan, set aside. Melt white chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler, over simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth and set aside. Using an electric mixer beat eggs until foamy. With the mixer still running gradually add the sugar and vanilla. Drizzle the melted white chocolate mixture slowly into batter. Combine the flour and salt and fold into the white chocolate batter. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool before cutting into bars.

Recipe of the Week: Churro Con Chocolate Cupcakes

Mmmm the spanish doughnut, also known as churro. I have many fond childhood memories of these cinnamon sugary delights. The aroma especially is what always attracted me to them as a child. And there is something so simple and fun about them, who doesn't like to dip things in chocolate, right? I've seen other recipes for such cupcakes but I wanted to develop it a little further. I made 2 different versions of these scrumptious cupcakes and used Dollhouse Bake Shoppe's churro recipe as my base.

I first did a cinnamon graham cupcake with a chocolate ganache filling and a cinnamon graham cream cheese frosting.

The 2nd type was the same base cinnamon graham cupcake but instead of filling the cupcakes I simply used the ganache as the frosting and dusted them with cinnamon + graham cracker crumbs.

So far the verdict in the family is they enjoy the simplicity of the 2nd version but are in love with the frosting in the first so it is hard for them to decide. If you make these, come back and let me know the version you went with and what you thought, I'd love to hear others opinions :) Happy Baking!

Churro Cupcakes
(Cinnamon graham cupcakes w/ chocolate ganache filling and cinnamon graham cream cheese frosting)
3 1/4 cup cake flour, shifted
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 large eggs (separated into 5 yolks, reserving only 3 egg whites)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cup whole milk, room temp

8oz chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 8oz packaged cream cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups confectioners sugar

Cake-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, set aside. Combine graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar in a small bowl and pour in the melted butter. Stir until combined, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat about 3 minutes more, or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla extract and cinnamon. On low speed, mix in 1/3 flour mixture and 1/2 the milk, repeat alternating between the flour and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until the flour is incorporated. Do not over beat once the flour mixture is added.

With an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form and fold into the batter. Fold in the graham cracker-brown sugar mixture. Scoop the batter into the lined cupcake pan. Bake 22 minutes for mini cupcakes or 27 minutes for regular-size cupcakes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.

Ganche-Place cream in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 2-3 minutes (watch cream, when it begins to boil take it out). Put chocolate in a medium sized bowl and pour hot cream over the top. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir or whisk until well combined and completely smooth. Chill the ganache to a thick spreading consistency. Best to leave in the fridge over night, but if your inpatient like me placing in the freezer for a bit works awesome too ;) Using a knife, in the center of the cupcake cut out a cone, slice off the "pointy" end of the cone, leaving just the circular base. Fill cake with the ganache and place the circular piece onto as a plug to seal the filling in.

Frosting-Combine the graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar in a small bowl and pour in the melted butter. Stir until combined and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Reduce the speed to low, and add the confectioners' sugar until well blended. Increase the speed to high and beat about 3 minutes more, or until light and creamy. Fold in the graham cracker-brown sugar mixture. Place the icing in pastry bag fitted with a pastry tip. Pipe the icing on the cooled cupcakes. Garnish the cupcakes with graham cracker crumbs, a piece of cinnamon sugar graham cracker, and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Recipe of the Week: Chocolate + Peanut Butter= Best Combo Ever!

Don't even try to argue with me, chocolate and peanut butter married together is pure bliss! This recipe came about because #1 currently can't leave the house due to recovery from a recent surgery, which meant no going to the grocery store, had to use what I had. And #2 brownies sounded like fun, but I'm completely and utterly addicted to making what was left to do?...combine the 2!! Brownie mix + extra chocolate + peanut butter frosting, really does it get any better then this?! These rich cupcakes are so delicious and make the house smell INCREDIBLE. Just try not to give yourself a tummy ache with all the bowl licking you'll be doing while making the scrumptious frosting.

Double Chocolate Brownie-Cupcakes w. Peanut Butter Frosting
Chocolate fudge brownie mix
3 eggs
2 oz good quality dark chocolate
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp milk

Peanut butter frosting
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 12 cup muffin pan (or line with cupcake liners if preferred). Set a small heatproof bowl over a saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until chocolate is melted. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.) Set aside to cool until just warm. Whisk eggs in a medium-large bowl to combine; add milk, water and vegetable oil until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Gradually add in brownie mix. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 28-35 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and cool to room temperature before icing.

PB Frosting: Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go. Add the heavy cream,beat on high until light & smooth.