Friday, November 30, 2012

FROSTED: Bake, Bake As Fast As You Can...Try These Treats Inspired By The Gingerbread Man


As the month of the December begins and Christmas creeps closer every day, I think about my sister and all of the crazy holiday memories we have had together. As children we would make our own festive plays and perform them for our family, draw out maps and plans on how we would sneak out in the middle of the night to peek at all of our Christmas gifts under the tree, and get a sugar buzz from making and eating way too many Christmas cookies.

Just like my sister and I, whipping up sweet treats this time of year has become a tradition for many families. You can often see freshly baked fruit cake, sugar cookies, seven layer bars, Buche de Noel, and gingerbread men perfectly arranged on platters waiting to be served to guests. But why not stick with the same delicious taste of the goodies that we know and love and just add a dash of creativity?  This year, skip over your grandmother's boring gingerbread cookie recipe and experiment with some of these new tasty snacks that will surely become your new go-to holiday treat . . .

Individual Gingerbread Cheesecakes
(Courtesy of Pastry Affair)


Ingredients:
(Makes approximately 16 miniature cheesecakes)
  • 2 cups of gingersnap cookies, finely crushed 
  • 4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1 3/4 cups of granulated sugar 
  • 32 ounces (2 pounds) of cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract 
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup of unsulfured molasses 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves 
  • 1 teaspoon of finely grated orange zest 
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) of sour cream 
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with approximately 16 paper baking cups.
In a medium bowl, mix together the gingersnap crumbs and melted butter until evenly coated. Spread the crumb mixture evenly between the baking cups and press down to firm up the crust.

2.  Place in the oven and bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on cooling rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

3.  In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the sugar and the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses, salt, spices, and orange zest. Pour the filling evenly between the baking cups.

4.  Bake until cheesecake is set but still jiggles in the center when shaken, 20 to 30 minutes. Allow cheesecakes to cool completely on a wire rack. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream and powdered sugar. Spread on top of cooled cheesecakes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.



What a delicious dish to serve to guests at a formal Christmas dinner party!

Gingerbread Popcorn
(Via An Edible Mosaic)


Ingredients:
(Yields 12-15 servings)
  • 12 cups of air-popped popcorn (1/2 cup popcorn kernels)
  • 1 cup of toasted sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 Tablespoons of molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon of water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Directions:

1.  Toss together the popcorn and nuts in a large bowl; set aside.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat; set aside. Sift together the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl; set aside.

2.  Cook the butter, sugar, molasses, water, and salt in a medium-sized, thick-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until the temperature reaches 305 degrees F (hard crack stage), stirring occasionally.  Carefully stir in the vanilla and baking soda/spice mix, and pour over the popcorn/nut mixture.
Use two heat-safe rubber spatulas to toss the popcorn around to distribute the toffee throughout.

3.  Spread the popcorn out onto the prepared baking sheet.  Let it cool and then break it apart; store in an airtight container at room temperature.



Nothing could taste sweeter than giving these goodies to teachers, hairdressers, postal workers, or coaches as a special holiday gift to say thank-you for all that they do.

Gingerbread Spice Latte
(Recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie)


Ingredients:
(Makes one single serving cup)
  •  1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoon of molasses (blackstrap or regular)
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons of strong coffee
  • 1 cup of milk of choice (skim, 2 %, almond milk, soymilk, etc.)
  • Sweetener to taste (sugar, stevia, etc.)
  • Whipped Cream (optional)
  • Gingerbread Cookie (optional)
Directions:

1.  Mix everything together in a small pot or in a mug. Then heat until desired temperature is reached. Alternatively, if you want a foamy latte: Mix spices into coffee. In a big measuring cup, microwave the milk until foamy. Then pour milk into coffee mixture. Top with whipped cream and garnish with a gingerbread cookie.



Think of how fantastic this hot creamy beverage would be served to guests at your annual cookie exchange party.


Creamy Gingerbread Fudge
(Courtesy of Luna Cafe)


Ingredients: 
(Makes around 32 pieces)
  • 2 cups of sugar (super-fine if you can find it)
  • 2 cups of packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup of unsulfured molasses
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla (alcohol type)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

 Directions:

1.   Line the bottom and two opposite sides of an 8-inch by 8-inch baking pan with a sheet of heavy foil. Butter the foil. Fill the sink with ½ inch of cold water. Set the following items next to the stove: cup of hot water, pastry brush, 3 cups of ice water, cup of ice, candy thermometer, and instant-read thermometer.

2.  In a 3-quart or slightly larger heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, brown sugar, cream, molasses, and butter and set over very low heat to melt. Stir occasionally and do not let the syrup come anywhere close to a boil. Your objective here is to clear (dissolve) the sugar before bringing the syrup to a boil. This should take from 10-15 minutes. But some syrups may take much longer. The longer you take on this step, the silkier and smoother your fudge. Do not proceed to the next step until the syrup is completely smooth and free of sugar crystals.

3.   After the sugar clears, wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped into hot water. If you neglect this step, you may end up with crystallized syrup.

4.  Bring the syrup to a brisk, but not out of control, boil. Make sure that the syrup stays well beneath the upper edge of the pan.

5.  Continue washing the sides of the pan with hot water periodically. Any crystals than form on the sides of the pan jeopardize the creaminess of the syrup. Now begin testing the temperature of the syrup by inserting a candy or instant-read thermometer into the center of the boiling syrup, without letting the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan. You should begin testing for the soft ball stage at about 234° (see step 6). In my tests, it took 12-15 minutes of controlled boiling to reach this temperature.

6.  To accurately determine if your syrup is at the soft-ball stage, spoon 1 teaspoon or so of the hot syrup into 1 cup of ice water. (Use fresh ice water for each test.) If syrup dissipates immediately or forms a flat mass at the bottom of the cup, it isn’t ready.  However, if the end of the pour remains elevated or protrudes above the water, you need to move fast. Quickly roll the syrup into a ball between your fingers. The syrup ball should not flatten after you remove it from the ice water, unless you squeeze it between your fingers. It should be chewy, not dissolve immediately, in your mouth. When the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, remove it immediately from the heat and set the pan in the sink surrounded by ½-inch cold water.

7.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. Let the fudge cool in the sink to 110° F.

8.  Remove the pan from the sink when the fudge tests 110°. Begin stirring slowly in a figure eight motion, stopping periodically to allow the fudge to react. The fudge is nearing the finish line when you begin to hear a “snap” as you stir it. The fudge has candied when it become thick, loses its high gloss, becomes streaked with lighter shades, and/or suddenly stiffens.Quickly stir in the nuts if you are using them.

9.  After the fudge is completely cool, remove it from the pan, pull off the wax paper, and score the top to create 32, 1-inch by 2-inch pieces. Cut the pieces. To store, either line a clean pan with plastic wrap, arrange the pieces in the pan, and wrap the entire pan with a couple layers of plastic wrap to store for a couple of days at room temperature, add an additional wrapping of foil to store longer in the frig, or wrap each piece of fudge in wax paper sheets and then put in a metal cookie tin.


Delight visitors with your crystal candy dish (that you got as a wedding present) filled with these treats for them to nibble on.


Gingerbread-Maple Moon Pies
(Courtesy of Tracey's Culinary Adventures)


Gingerbread Graham Cracker Ingredients:
(Makes approximately 16-18 moon pies)
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup of packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Molasses Maple Marshmallow Filling Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of packed dark brown sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons of water, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons of light corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon of molasses
  • 2 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin (a little less than 1 envelope)
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of maple extract
Dark Chocolate Glaze:
  • 12 oz of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil

Graham Cracker Directions:

1.  Add the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat briefly to combine.  With the mixer on medium-low, add the butter one piece at a time.  Once you've added it all, increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and beat until the texture of the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  In a measuring cup whisk together the honey, molasses, milk and vanilla then add it to the mixer, and beat just until the dough comes together (mine was sort of crumbly, but it turned out fine).

2.  Turn the dough onto your work surface and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch.  Using a 2 3/4-inch round cookie cutter, cut rounds from the dough and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart.  Reroll the scraps and repeat.  Use a fork to dock the graham crackers (poke holes in them).

4.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown and firm.  Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks, and let the crackers cool for about 2 minutes before removing them to the rack to cool completely.  (At this point you can store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days.)

Marshmallow Filling Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine both sugars, 3 tablespoons of the water, the corn syrup, and molasses.  Set over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Continue cooking, without stirring, until the mixture registers 238 F on a candy thermometer, about 7-10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water to a small bowl.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the top and set aside to allow the gelatin to soften.  Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  (Try to time it so the sugar  and meringue are ready at the same time - if the meringue is ready first, set the mixer on the lowest speed and continue beating until the sugar gets up to temperature.)

3.  When the sugar hits 238 F, turn off the heat under the pan and immediately add the softened gelatin.  Stir to combine.  With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the sugar down the side of the bowl into the mixer in a steady stream.  Add the vanilla and maple extracts then increase the mixer to high, and beat until the marshmallow is thick and the outside of the mixer bowl is cool to the touch.

Glaze Directions:

1.  Make glaze after the graham cracker sandwiches are done being assembled and set (see assembly instructions below). Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl.  Microwave in 20-second increments, stirring in between each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Stir in the vegetable oil.  

Assembly Directions:

1.  Match the graham crackers in pairs by size.  Pipe 1-2 tablespoons of the marshmallow filling onto the bottom of one cracker in each pair.  Top with the other cracker, and gently press to sandwich, until the marshmallow filling is spread to the edges.  Repeat with all pairs.  Set aside for about 2 hours to allow the marshmallow to set.

2.  Set the moon pies on a wire rack with a piece of wax paper underneath.  One at a time, add a moon pie to the chocolate and turn to coat completely.  Use a fork, lift the moon pie out of the chocolate, allowing the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.  Set the glazed moon pie back on the wire rack.  Let the glaze set for about 1 hour. Store the moon pies in an airtight container between sheets of parchment or waxed paper for up to 1 week.     


Put a smile on your children's faces as they open their lunch box at school or daycare and find this yummy winter snack.

Gingerbread White Chocolate Blondies
(Recipe by Handle The Heat)


Ingredients:
(Makes about 24 blondies)
  • 2 3/4 cups, plus 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups of packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup of unsulfured molasses
  • 1 3/4 cups of coarsely chopped white chocolate (10 ounces)
Directions:


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until creamy and pale, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and yolk, one at a time, until incorporated. Scrap down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla and molasses, beating until combined. Add flour mixture on low speed. Stir in white chocolate.

3.  Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake until golden on edges, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into 2-inch squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.




Add a little flare to your next work holiday potluck with these spicy squares.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Eggnog Buttercream
(Recipe by Oishii Treats)


Cupcake Ingredients:
(Yields 12 Cupcakes)
  •  1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 1 1/3 cup of flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
Eggnog Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of eggnog
  • 5 Tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of butter at room temp
  • 1 1/4 cup of sugar (not powdered sugar)
Cupcake Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and fill a cupcake tin with paper liners. In a electric mixer cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and then the water and molasses

2.  In a separate bowl combine your dry ingredients flour, baking soda, powder and spices. Add your dry mixture to the electric mixer with your wet mixture and beat on medium until combined about 2 minutes.

3.  Fill cupcakes liners 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack completely.

Buttercream Directions:

1.  In a medium saucepan, whisk 1 cup of eggnog with 5 tablespoons flour. Heat over medium until the mixture starts to bubble, whisk constantly. Continue to stir until the mixture starts to thicken, it will soon thicken to the consistency of cake batter. After about 7 minutes of whisking remove the mixture from the heat and add your extract.  Transfer the mixture to a heat proof bowl and let the mixture cool completely to room temperature.

2.  In your electric mixer cream together the butter and sugar on medium high for 3 minutes the mixture should be light and fluffy and white in color. You want the sugar to be completely incorporated.

3.  Make sure that your milk/flour mixture is completely cooled and add it to the butter and sugar. (you don't want the milk/flour mix to be warm or it could melt the butter).  Beat all ingredients together for 1 minute on high speed, scrapping down the side of the bowl halfway, until smooth and blended. The frosting should be light and fluffy like whipped cream.


Be a hit this year at your child's school Christmas party with this stunning confection.  Sweet and Spice...and also looks nice!! So leave those old lifeless Gingerbread men in the past and add a zing to your holiday routine with these new gingerbread inspired goodies. Have a wonderful weekend!


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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday: Winter Tree Cake Toppers . . .


Take a step into your own personal Winter Wonderland with this fun & fantastic little craft courtesy of Icing Designs.  These sparkly beauties would look darling on top of cupcakes, yummy holiday cakes & pies, or even dressing up either side of your gingerbread house!

Even better, they are so darn simple to put together!  Just see for yourself . . .

WINTER TREE CAKE TOPPERS

Supplies You Will Need: 

1. Glitter paper in color of your choice
{I recommend NOT using cardstock for this project, as I found thinner, more flexible paper works better. I used this glitter gift wrap from Paper Source}
2. Striped paper straws
3. Large wavy circle paper punch (optional)
4. Scissors
5. Glue gun/glue

Directions:

~ Cut the straws a little more than half. You can cut the straws several different lengths to make taller or shorter trees.

~ Punch out 5 circles of glitter paper either by hand or with a wavy circle punch. Cut three of the circles in half- you will have one extra half circle. (If you do not have a wavy hole punch, just cut a 2/12 inch circle, waving the edges with your scissors as you go.)

   
     
      1. Wrap the top of one circle at the top of your straw and glue in place, making sure to position it on an angle so that the bottom sticks out and is not glued too close to the straw.
   
      2. Overlap your other full circle and glue in place, again making sure the bottom sticks out to the side.

      3. Glue one of the half circles on an angle on top of the full circle.
   
      4. Do the same with another half circle on the other side.

      5. Glue the edges of your last half circle together, making a cone shape.

      6.  Glue on top of your straw.
   
     Just add a glittery star or other tree topper of your choice to complete your tree!




Aren't those simply fabulous?  
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Marvelously Moroccan: A One-of-a-Kind Baby Shower . . .


I just love when a typical event turns into something purely magical, don't you?  What could have been the standard, cookie-cutter pastel baby shower becomes something truly special in this one of a kind Moroccan Masterpiece via On to Baby.  

And the warm, rich colors work perfectly for a colder weather shindig too, which makes it just downright wonderful for that saucy mama who is expecting her little bundle of joy come early spring!  Just take a look . . .


How about those homemade cinnamon rolls with 'Bun in the Oven' tags and those stunning henna-inspired cupcakes?


Add in a henna artist & an olive bar serving four kinds of olives on tiny gold plates, some gorgeous Moroccan pillows, hand-colored mason jars, and homemade baklava and you are all set!




Fabulous Vendors:
Design: Jessie Jane of Lilyshop
Specialty Paper: Paper Source
Flowers: Cathy from Hollywood Vines
Henna: Elizabeth from Los Angeles Henna

Just downright gorgeous and so unexpected too!  Hope your week is going beautifully so far!! Photobucket

Saturday, November 24, 2012

FROSTED: It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...In Everything You Bake


Now that the big Turkey dinner is over and our fridges are full of leftover stuffing, gravy, and pies-we begin to prepare for the next big holiday. Stores are filled with shoppers picking up those Black Friday deals, houses in our communities are slowly being wrapped in those elaborate twinkling lights, and every television station is airing 'It's A Wonderful Life' and 'A Christmas Story'.  So why not join in the pre-Christmas spirit and fill your kitchen with that beautiful holiday red color that reminds us of the red holly berry, Santa's infamous suit, and the glowing nose of that famous flying reindeer?

Satisfy your sweet tooth with some of these amazing red velvet dessert recipes that will not only compliment any upcoming holiday gathering, but will also put you and your family in the mood to put up the Christmas tree, wrap all of those gifts, and donate to all of those families in need. So turn on your favorite Christmas Carols and warm up your kitchen with a few of these ruby red confections . . .

Red Velvet Cheese Ball
(Recipe Via Taste and Tell)


Ingredients:
(Makes approximately 16 servings)
  •  8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups of red velvet cake mix, dry
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips
  • Assorted cookies and/or graham crackers

 Directions:

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the red velvet cake mix, the brown sugar, and the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and combined.

2.  Turn the mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap up into a ball and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

3.  Put the chocolate chips on a plate or in a shallow dish. Remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator and unwrap. Roll in the chocolate chips.  Place on a serving plate and serve with cookies or graham crackers.


   
Red Velvet Marshmallow
(Courtesy of  Tracey's Culinary Adventures)


Coating Ingredients:
  •  1 1/2 cups pf confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup of cornstarch
Marshmallow Ingredients:
(Yields 2 Dozen Marshmallows)
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons of unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of light corn syrup, divided
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of red velvet cake mix
  • 2 tablespoons of rainbow sprinkles (optional)
Coating Directions:

1.  To make the coating, sift the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch into a large bowl. This recipe makes more than you'll need for 1 batch of marshmallows - you can either scale back (you only need about 1/2 cup total for this recipe) or make a full batch and store the leftovers in an airtight container for the next time you make marshmallows.

 Marshmallow Directions:

1.  Spray an 8x8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the gelatin and cold water. Set aside to soften for at least 5 minutes.

2.  In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup, the water and salt. Set the pan over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches 240 F on an instant-read thermometer. Meanwhile, add the remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Microwave the softened gelatin for about 30 seconds, or until it is completely melted, then add to the mixer bowl with the corn syrup. Turn the mixer on low and let it run until the sugar syrup comes to temperature.

3.  When the syrup reaches 240 F, slowly pour it down the side of the mixer bowl (the mixer should still be on low). Increase the mixer to medium speed and continue beating for 5 minutes, then increase again - this time to medium-high - and beat for about 5 more minutes. Add the vanilla and beat on high for 1 more minute. You'll know the marshmallow is ready when it's opaque and fluffy. Do not overbeat the marshmallow or it will be nearly impossible to fold in the cake mix.

4.  You want to work quickly on these next few steps, or the marshmallow will start to set before you can incorporate the cake mix and get it in the pan. Sift half of the cake mix over the marshmallow and gently fold to incorporate with a rubber spatula. Repeat with the second half of the cake mix. Fold in the sprinkles. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer the best you can.

5.  Sift the coating evenly over the top and set the marshmallows aside in a cool, dry place for at least 6 hours so they can set.

6.  Turn the marshmallows out onto a work surface that's been dusted with some of the coating mixture. Cut the marshmallows into pieces using a knife or cookie cutter. Dip the sticky edges in the coating mixture.  

 

Red Velvet Trifle
(Recipe from Fat Girl Trapped In A Skinny Body)


Red Velvet Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 2 oz. red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 1 cups of dark chocolate, chopped
Mascarpone Whipped Frosting Ingredients:
(Can Substitute 12 ounces of Cream Cheese if you do not like Mascarpone)
  • 8 ounces of Mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream


 Red Velvet Cake Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or three 8-inch round cake pans.

2.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

4.  In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Divide batter evenly between the cake pans and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5.  Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Finish cooling on a wire rack. All the cakes to cool completely before assembling the trifle.

Ganache Directions:

1.  Warm the half and half in a saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to almost boil, but don’t let it boil. As soon as is it really hot, remove it form the heat and stir in the chocolate. Stir until melted and allow it to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Once it has cooled (at room temperature), it is ready to be used in the trifle. 

Mascarpone Whipped Frosting Directions: 

1.  In a large bowl with a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat cream cheese, Mascarpone and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and slowly pour in whipping cream. Continue whipping until mixture resembles soft whipped cream. This took about 10 minutes.

Trifle Assemble Directions:

1.  Arrange a single layer of red velvet cake chunks on the bottom of the trifle dish. Spoon about 1/3 of the ganache on top of the cake cubes, then spoon about 1/3 of the Mascarpone frosting onto the ganache. Sprinkle the frosting with mini chocolate chips. Repeat layers until you run out of room in your dish (which took around 3 layers). I garnished with some crumbled red velvet cake and a little sprinkling of mini chocolate chips


Red Velvet Pull Apart Bread
(Via Willow Bird Baking)


Bread Starter Ingredients:
  • 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup of lukewarm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour, plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
Red Velvet Yeast Bread Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups of bread flour
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce) of red food coloring plus 1 Tablespoon of water
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup minus 3 Tablespoons of lukewarm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of table salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Vegetable oil for lightly oiling bowl
 Filling Ingredients:
  • 3/8 – 1/2 cup of granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you like things)
  • 2 Tablespoons of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons of bittersweet chocolate chip
  • 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
 Cream Cheese Glaze Ingredients:
  • 2 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons of mil
  • Mini chocolate chips for sprinkling

Bread Starter Directions:

1.  Dissolve the yeast in the 100-110 degree water for about 10 minutes. Completely mix in the flour. Cover the bowl loosely and leave it at room temperature to proof for around 6 hours.

Red Velvet Yeast Bread Directions:

1.  Mix the cocoa powder, red food coloring, and 1 tablespoon water into a paste in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together the paste, flour, 1/3 cup sugar, yeast, water, and 1/4 cup of your bread starter (save the rest to use for other recipes). Let this mixture rest for 15 minutes. 

2.  Knead in the salt and butter and then knead for about 10 minutes by hand or about 4 minutes on a mixer fitted with a dough hook, or until smooth and elastic. Scoop dough out into a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a dish cloth. Let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Leave the dough in the bowl at this point but fold it in thirds like you’d fold a letter. Recover it and let it rest for 30 more minutes. 

3.  Prepare two 7″x 3″ x 2″ loaf pans by greasing them with butter and flour. Flour a large work surface. Use a dough scraper or sharp knife to help you cut your dough into halves. Turn out half of the dough onto your floured surface, keeping the other half covered.
 




4.  Roll your dough out to a 15 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it’s not sticking. If it seems to be snapping back, cover it with your damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing.

5.  Spread the melted butter over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush and then sprinkle the sugar and chocolate chips over the top, patting them down to ensure they mostly stick. Some will inevitably fall out as you do the following steps — just stuff ‘em back in and don’t worry too much about perfection.

6.  With the long edge of the rectangle toward you, cut it into 6 strips (do this by cutting the rectangle in half, then cutting each half into equal thirds. I used a pizza cutter). Stack these strips on top of one another and cut the resulting stack into 6 even portions (again, cut it in half, and then cut the halves into equal thirds). Place these portions one at a time into your greased loaf pan, pressing them up against each other to fit them all in. Cover the pan with your damp cloth and place it in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour to double in size. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the second half of dough.

7.  While the dough rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 if you have a glass loaf dish instead of a metal pan). When it’s risen, place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until dark on top (if you take it out at light brown, it’s liable to be raw in the middle, so let it get good and dark). Cool until just warm on a cooling rack in the loaf pan while you make the glaze. 

Cream Cheese Glaze:

1. Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, and then add sugar and vanilla. Add the milk to thin it to drizzling consistency. Drizzle some of the glaze over the slightly warm bread (save the rest for drizzling over individual slices) and sprinkle it with mini chocolate chips. Serve immediately. 

 

 Red Velvet Oreos
(Courtesy of Krissy's Creations)



Cookie Ingredients:
(Makes about 15 cookies)
  • 1 cup of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoon of Cocoa Powder
  •  3/4 cup of Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
  •  1/2 cup of Unsalted Butter, at Room Temperature
  • 3 Tablespoons of Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon of Red Food Coloring
  •  1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda
  •  2-inch Round Cookie Cutter
Cream Filling Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup of Shortening
  • 1/2 cup of Butter
  •  2 cups of Confectioners Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract
Directions:

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and milk and beat until incorporated. Mix in the red food coloring. Combine the vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl, and then mix into the batter.

2.  Transfer the batter to the prepared sheet pan. Using an offset spatula spread the batter until it reaches the edges of the pan and has evened out. Bake the large cookie until it has set, about 7-10 minutes. Allow the cookie to cool completely in the pan.

3.  While the cookie is cooling, make the cream filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the shortening and butter. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Transfer the filling to a piping bag filled with a large round tip.

4.  Carefully transfer the large cookie to a clean surface. Using the 2-inch round cookie cutter cut out the cookies leaving as little scraps as possible. Place the cookies in pairs, side-by-side. Pipe small rounds of cream filling on one cookie of each pair, top with the other cookie. These cookies last up to 5 days in a sealed container.



Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls
(Recipe by No. 2 Pencil)


Cinnamon Roll Ingredients:
(Makes 24 Cinnamon Rolls)
  • 1 box of  Red Velvet Cake Mix 
  • 2 envelopes of Active Dry Yeast  
  • 2 1/2 cups of warm water   
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt  
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract  
  • 5 cups of all-purpose flour 
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 stick of softened butter - you can add another stick of butter if you want them really gooey 
  • 1 cup of packed dark brown sugar  
  • 1 cup of granulated white sugar  
  • Cinnamon  
Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 2 sticks of softened butter 
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract 
  • Pinch of kosher salt 
  • 2 packages of softened cream cheese (8 ounces


Directions:

1.  Combine two packages of active dry yeast with warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir until dissolved. Add cake mix, flour, vanilla and salt. Use dough hook attachment to knead dough together, just for a minute or two. Move to larger bowl, cover, and let rise for about an hour. Punch dough down after an hour, and let rise again for another hour. 

2.  Use plenty of flour on a clean surface and turn dough out.  Shape into a ball, then roll into a rectangle shape, mine measured about 28x17. 
Spread softened butter over dough. Sprinkle with brown sugar, white granulated sugar and cinnamon. Start from farthest edge and roll dough tightly into a long skinny log shape. Slice into 24 rolls. 

3.  Place rolls in two 9x13 pans that have been greased with butter, or sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 


4.  While the rolls are baking, prepare cream cheese frosting. With paddle attachment on the stand mixer, combine room temperature butter with powdered sugar. Beat until well combined, then add vanilla and pinch of salt. Mix again, then while mixer is going, drop cubes of softened cream cheese in the bowl one at a time until frosting is well mixed.
Spread on warm rolls and enjoy!   

 
Nothing could be better than these red, festive sweets to jump start the winter holiday!! Think of how fantastic these desserts would look on the buffet table of your next holiday gift exchange, as a compliment to a classic red winter-themed engagement party, or as a great seasonal present to give to your neighbors and acquaintances.

So fill your plates with these red velvet goodies and get into the Christmas spirit. Enjoy the crimson inspiration of the holidays with every savory bite. Have a wonderful weekend!


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Thursday, November 22, 2012

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Wishing you & yours the loveliest of lovely Thanksgiving Days!  This year I am thankful for my amazing husband and all he does to support & take care of our family, my fun-loving, nut ball of a son who always keeps us on our toes and fills our home with laughter, and our brand new, sweet little baby girl.  I am thankful for all of the fun & exciting opportunities that lay ahead for my growing business, and for the opportunity for my husband & I to follow our dreams . . . and of course, I am thankful for all of YOU!!

And just in case your kids are out of control while you are doing your best to get dinner on the table, why not send them to the family room with Grandma to put together this simple little craft to adorn your table so that you can keep your concentration in the kitchen:)

WHAT A TURKEY (Thanksgiving Day Craft)
(via Parents Magazine)



Directions:

~ Ask each child to write what she’s thankful for on a paper feather, then stick it into this cute turkey centerpiece.

How to make it:

~ Cut a 1-inch sliver off the bottom of a 9-inch polystyrene ball. Wrap sphere neatly in thick dark-brown yarn, covering surface completely; knot on bottom. Make a 4-inch ball from light-brown yarn and attach to body with a wooden craft stick. Create simple facial features using felt: white circles (approximately the size of a quarter, with 1/8-inch pom-poms for pupils) for eyes, yellow triangles for the beak, and long red felt teardrops as the wattle. Cut feather shapes from colored craft paper and bend in half lengthwise to create seam. Glue wooden craft stick to the bottom third of the feather and insert in a fan shape on turkey body.


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! Photobucket

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Cocktails!

So, let's just say you are in charge of one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal....the cocktails! You could either show up with the traditional, if not boring, supply of white & red wine, OR you could really JAZZ things up with one of these ever-so-yummy fall inspired libations and turn this holiday into a festive good time!

Take a look at a few of my favorites . . .


APPLE CIDER MARTINIS
(via 11 Magnolia lane)

Ingredients:

~ Apple Cider (Trader Joe's brand is yummy!)
~ Smirnoff  'Whipped Cream' Vodka
~ Buttershots Liquer (by Dekuyper)
~ sugar & cinnamon for the rims

Directions:

~ Mix 2 parts vodka to 1 part buttershots in the shaker (with some ice) to your liking, then pour in the apple cider and shake well–very well–you want the ice to break up a bit and chill the drink. I would recommend 2:1 on the liquors then at least 2 parts cider–but that still may be too strong for some, so adjust accordingly. Be warned: these are strong drinks–just like a classic martini. This drink is also a great after dinner/dessert drink because they are on the sweet side.




APPLE CIDER MARGARITAS
(via How Sweet it Is)

Ingredients:

~ 1 ounce Grand Marnier
~ 1 ounce gold tequila
~ 5-6 ounces sweet apple cider
~ orange segments and apple slices
~ cinnamon + cane sugar + coarse sugar for glass rimming
~ cinnamon sticks for garnish

Directions:

~ Add a few spoonfuls of cane sugar, coarse sugar and cinnamon to a plate. Run an orange segment around the edge of the glass, then press into the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat the rim. Add a few orange slices in the bottom of the glass, fill with ice, then add the Grand Marnier, tequila and apple cider and stir to mix. Garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. Enjoy


APPLE CIDER SANGRIA
(via Nerve.com)

Ingredients:

~ 2 oranges
1 lemon
2 apples
1-2 cup bourbon
½ cup triple sec
3-4 tsp hot sauce (they use Crystal)
¼ cup simple syrup
2-3 cinnamon sticks

Directions:

~ Combine in a quart container and let marinate for at least a day.  Combine mixture with 2 bottles of sauvignon blanc and 3 cups apple cider and adjust to taste.  Garnish with chopped apple.

Go on, get crazy with it . . . and have a wonderful one!! Photobucket