Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

I’ve always felt like those who have birthdays at the end of December get gypped because they’re overshadowed by some of the biggest holidays of the year. A work friend, for example, had a December 27th birthday. I wanted to make a treat to bring in that looked celebratory yet un-holiday-ish. So when I saw this pin for Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes by Michelle of Mangia Michelle, I knew this was exactly the kind of birthday treat that I was looking for.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Pintesting:

Michelle gave a recipe for her cupcakes and also gave the option of using a cake mix. I went with her recipe to give a truer Pintesting. Since this recipe has several components I’ll break them out. This recipe is one that I had to plan for since I don’t keep Ricotta and Mascarpone in my kitchen as staple ingredients. Missing from the ingredients photo is milk.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s extremely important to read a recipe thoroughly before starting – not just the ingredients list. I might have noticed that the ricotta needed to be drained prior to making the cannoli filling. Unfortunately, Michelle didn’t give any details on how to do this. A quick Google gave both the normal (read long) and quick instructions for draining ricotta. That’s why you see the ricotta in a strainer over a bowl.

How to Drain Ricotta Cheese
Lesson learned – READ the recipe first.

The Cupcakes:

Start by creaming the butter and sugar.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the vanilla to the milk.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add the dry and wet ingredients alternating until the batter is smooth and perfect.

Fill the cupcake liners and bake them, then let them cool.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Cannoli Filling/Topping:

The cannoli cream was simple; mix together the cheeses, vanilla, and powdered sugar then stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Once combined, place in a piping bag or freezer storage bag with a large tip. This tip must be LARGE enough for the mini chips to pass through. I have some very large piping tips but none of them worked. I ended up just using the coupler and calling it good.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Insert the tip (or coupler) into each cupcake and fill with the cannoli filling, then top the cupcakes with the remaining cannoli cream.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Freeze the cupcakes for the next step. Michelle gives photos of the mess that happens if you ignore her and don’t freeze. Just do it.

The Chocolate Shell:

This is the one place where I deviated from Michelle’s recipe. She said to use chocolate melts, but I saw a recipe for 2-ingredient Homemade Magic Shell on Pinterest by Ali of Gimme Some Oven and thought this would be a perfect chance to sneak in a bonus Pintesting.

Pintesting Homemade Magic Shell

It seemed like a good idea but it didn’t quite go according to plan.  Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in the microwave. Easy, right?  No.

I put Organic coconut oil and chocolate in a nonreactive ceramic bowl that I’ve used in the microwave countless times. Almost immediately the microwave was sparking and crackling! What was happening? I checked several sites and found that this is not uncommon. According to Living Strong, coconut oil has trace amounts of iron. Apparently, my organic coconut oil had enough to cause sparking in the microwave.  Who knew a yummy dessert would bring about a science lesson?

Obviously microwaving would not be the way to go so I put the bowl over a pot of simmering water and melted them using a double boiler method. It only took a few minutes and minimal stirring to melt the coconut oil and chocolate. Set it aside to cool to room temperature.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

When the chocolate is room temperature and the cupcakes are frozen, dip each cupcake into the chocolate shell sauce to coat the cannoli cream.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Hold the cupcake over the bowl to allow any excess chocolate to drip off.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The chocolate shell will harden fairly quickly. Continue dipping until all of the cupcakes are coated.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

I had a bit of sauce left over and am saving it for ice cream.Note: keep this in the cupboard at room temperature. If you refrigerate it will get cold and hard.

Pintesting Homemade Magic Shell

The Birthday Girl LOVED them!

We had a lot of treats coming through our office from the end of November through the end of the year, but none like these.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

She did note, and I agree, that by using the chocolate shell recipe they had a slight yet discernible coconut flavor – almost like an Almond Joy candy bar. Since she likes coconut this wasn’t a problem. However, the next time I make these I’ll use the chocolate candy melts.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Pintesting Results:

Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Overall Results:  4.25 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  The Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes turned out exactly as Michelle’s blog said they would. The cupcake itself was delicious with a soft light crumb. The cannoli cream filling/topping reminded me of the cannoli I used to get when I was a kid in New York. And even though I deviated from the recipe, the chocolate coating was as pretty as in Michelle’s pictures. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe is not truly difficult; Michelle’s recipe is well written and notes anything to be aware of (such as freezing the filled cupcakes), but it does have a lot of components going on which requires a lot of steps. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  If you need to whip up a quick dessert, this might not be a good first choice. Using the quick method to drain the ricotta took 10 minutes to get it as dry as possible. (The long method takes overnight.) The cupcakes don’t take long to make and bake, but they do need to be completely cooled before filling them with the cannoli cream. Then there’s the freezing time (which I did overnight and then completed the cupcakes in the morning), and once the chocolate is melted it also needs to cool to room temperature. Even compensating for the overnight freezing, plan on 1 1/2 – 2 hours for these. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are staples in my kitchen; with the exception of the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses. These cost me about $8.00. Add the rest of the ingredients and these run about $0.50/cupcake for 2 dozen. That’s not bad for some fancy cupcakes that would cost you $3.00 each at a bakery. 4 PinsPintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: These are not your everyday cupcakes, they’re a wonderful special occasion dessert treat! I will be happy to make them again when the appropriate occasion arises. They are absolutely worth the effort, but since it does take extra effort, I’m giving these 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Bonus Pintesting Results:

2-Ingredient Magic Shell

Overall Results: 4.6 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  The two ingredients did make a chocolate sauce that hardened on contact with cold similarly to Magic Shell. But because my microwave nearly blew up (or at least acted like it was going to), and I had to go with an alternate melting method, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  This was very simple; melt 2 ingredients together and stir. Whether you microwave (at your own risk) or use a double boiler, it’s easy either way. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The total time was about 5 minutes – including switching gears, getting a pot of water, and melting the ingredients. There is the cooling time to be considered and you can’t rush it with a cold water bath, but stirring frequently helped to bring the temperature down in short order It was a lot faster than if I had to run to the store. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  I keep coconut oil, both conventional and organic, in my pantry right next to the extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil (what’s a canola?), and the rest of my oils and vinegars. So this was only a few cents more than the cost of the bag of chocolate chips. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is great over ice cream, but obviously works well for topping cupcakes and other treats. I would recommend using conventional coconut oil since it has a milder flavor. The best part is that you can use this with any kind of baking chip to switch up the flavors. I’m thinking white chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, or even chocolate mint chips would be great. You can even try stirring in sprinkles, toffee chips, crushed nuts, or coconut flakes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving is over, the dishes are done, and even the leftovers are gone. This year I did something a little adventurous (or maybe crazy or even brave) and, with the exception of the turkey and my mother-in-law’s dressing, I made our entire Thanksgiving meal from Pinterest recipes. This is the first of the Thanksgiving Pintesting recipe reviews – the Sweet Potato Casserole.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

I’ll be honest; I didn’t see this initially on Pinterest. First I saw this TipHero video through my Facebook feed. I really like that TipHero gives credit to the original sources for their videos – just like they did for my Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake when they made it into a video. If you scroll down to the end of the recipe you’ll see the credit. When I went to their site for the recipe, I noticed that it gave credit for the recipe to Nikki’s blog Chef In Training so I went straight there and pinned her Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

Don’t hate, but I find the mini marshmallows on so many sweet potato casserole recipes just too cloyingly sweet. If that’s your thing, then by all means, keep making your sweet potato casserole the way you prefer. But I should warn you – this recipe is now my go-to recipe. More on that later – for now here’s the Pintesting.

 The Pintesting:

The ingredients are pretty simple. Nikki used boiled sweet potatoes while TipHero used baked. I had a LOT of recipes to make so I went with baked since the oven was already on for the turkey.

Note: Multitasking is wise when you are making all of Thanksgiving dinner.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

Mix until blended and smooth. I like that the baked sweet potatoes were cooked soft enough that I didn’t even have to get the mixer out.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

Put into a greased 9×13 casserole dish and top with the streusel topping and bake it in a 350-degree oven.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

This is how it looked when it came out of the oven. It smelled incredible!

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

My HH proclaimed that this sweet potato casserole was better than pumpkin pie. He said it one of the best desserts that I’ve made. I let him know that it is a casserole and not a dessert. He disagrees and calls it dessert. We do agree that it’s delicious both warm and cold. It’s like a crustless sweet potato streusel pie. So if you can’t be bothered with making a pie crust or if you’re on a “diet” and can’t have dessert or if you just want an easy side dish with a lot of wow factor, this is the casserole for you!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.55 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe performed exactly as Nikki (and TipHero) said it would.  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: The directions from both the Chef In Training and TipHero recipes were quite simple and straight forward. I really liked that I didn’t have to get the mixer out for this – one less complication when juggling 4 recipes at once. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: Since I baked the sweet potatoes while working on other recipes I had a tough time judging this. On one hand, it took about an hour to bake them which is a lot of time to add to a recipe. If I had boiled them it would probably have only added about 10-15 minutes. On the other hand, just the post baking time would shorten the prep time to only 5 and 25 minutes of baking time. Averaging out the 1 1/2 hours and 45 minutes that’s still over an hour so I’m giving this 3 Pins.

Rated 3 Pins

Cost: Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples. The pecans and sweet potatoes were all that I had to buy for this recipe and I only needed 2. The recipe makes a 9×13 inch casserole dish which is a LOT of casserole/dessert but due to the pecans and sweet potatoes, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  This has been a pleasantly surprising Pintesting. I was expecting a good sweet potato casserole. I wasn’t prepared for one that was not only easy but also delicious enough to be one of the high points of our Thanksgiving meal. I was planning on making a pumpkin flan for a dessert, but HH said to not bother and went for another serving of this sweet potato casserole. Bonus points for making my life easier. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

This is the post that wasn’t going to be and then wrote itself. I made the cake and took some pictures, but didn’t really intend on doing a proper Pintesting – until I shared the pics. The response was mind blowing, so here’s the post complete with my first recipe.

The Pintesting:

It started with this picture of a pineapple upside down cake in a bundt pan on Pinterest. Because it’s my HH’s favorite cake, I wanted to surprise him with this.

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Sadly, the link went to a picture. Can we take a moment to talk about responsible pinning here? Check the pins before repinning them, folks.

I did a search for an original source, but only came back to the same picture that was on Pinterest.

UPDATE: I found the original source for the picture! Her name is Tina Carver, this is her original idea, and she is very happy that her cake is getting so much fame. 😀

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Luckily, the picture was enough this time. Pineapple upside down cake traditionally starts with melted butter and brown sugar, then an arranged layer of the pineapple and maraschino cherries, over which the cake mix is poured. When the cake is baked and inverted onto the serving plate, then you see the design of the fruit. This is no different other than it’s in a bundt pan, and the pineapple rings are halved and arranged vertically.

I wanted to ensure that the cake would come out of the bundt pan cleanly, so I really greased the pan with my favorite pan release. (The recipe will follow.) I used a stick of melted butter and sprinkled a half-cup of brown sugar on top of it, then alternated the halved  pineapple rings and cherries. I think it turned out just like the original picture.

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Substituting pineapple juice and milk for the liquid and adding a box of instant vanilla pudding makes this cake incredibly moist and flavorful.  The cake batter gets poured on top, and then the cake gets baked, cooled, and flipped.

And let me tell you, you’re going to flip for this cake.

Pintesting Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Normally I give my Pintesting results at the end of each post, and this would get 5 Pins. Instead, I’m sharing my recipe. Enjoy!

The Recipe:

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 1 Cake = 17-18 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice

Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1/2 Cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 Can pineapple rings in 100% juice (reserve the juice)
  • 1 Jar maraschino cherries
  • 1 Box yellow or pineapple cake mix
  • 1 4-serving box instant vanilla pudding
  • 3 eggs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare the bundt pan by generously applying pan release (recipe below) or non-stick spray.
  3. Melt the butter and evenly pour into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar.
  4. Cut the pineapple rings in half and alternate with the maraschino cherries around the bundt pan as shown in the picture. Set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer or large bowl, stir the cake mix and pudding mix together. Drain the pineapple juice into a measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 Cup of liquid. Add this with the eggs and the amount of oil called for in the recipe to the cake mixture; following the instructions on the box.
  6. Carefully pour the batter over the fruit. Place the bundt pan on a baking sheet and bake as instructed for a bundt cake on the cake mix box. The cake is done when an inserted knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Slide a knife around the edges including the inner ring.
  8. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Slice between the pineapple rings and serve warm or room temperature.

Notes

Several people have commented that they had the butter and brown sugar overflow their bundt pans causing a big mess in the oven. Just say no to messes. Make sure to put the bundt pan on a baking sheet.

Also, use the baking time for a bundt cake that's listed on the cake mix directions. This will vary by brand. My times are approximate - go by the box.

In order to prevent problems with the cake being too moist, soft, or cracking, cover the pan with foil half way through baking and then uncovering for the last 10 minutes. This will also keep it from over browning. (Thank you, Barbara!)

http://pintesting.com/pintesting-pineapple-upside-down-bundt-cake/

Best Ever Pan Release: from I Am Baker

Mix equal parts of vegetable shortening, vegetable oil, and all-purpose flour until smooth. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, apply to the pans paying special attention to corners, nooks, and crannies.

 

 

Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Some days it seems like the angels sing, the stars align, and everything falls into place in order to make things happen. When that happens, life is easy as pie – or in this case, tarts.

My HH and I were thinking about how nice it would be to have just a little something sweet but didn’t want to go through a lot of fuss (or dishes). Then I remembered seeing this pin that had crossed my path recently. These Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts on the Inspired Dreamer site seemed like the perfect little treats. That I had one pie crust, one jar of lemon curd, and the exactly the right cookie cutter was just shy of divine intervention to make this. So let’s get on with this test!

The Pintesting:

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts - ORIGINAL PIN

There are only 3 main ingredients; one pie crust, a jar of lemon curd, and powdered sugar. Also helpful is flour for dusting while handling the pie crust. The hardware required is a flower-shaped cookie cutter and mini muffin pan.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Roll out the pie crust and start cutting flowers with the cookie cutter. Does anyone else think the flower cutter looks groovy? Flower Power!

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Cut out 12 flowers; rerolling the scraps and cutting to make the 12.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Carefully put them into a mini muffin pan.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Fold 3 alternate petals toward the center, gently place the dough into the cup, then work the petals on the sides by overlapping the three inner petals.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Bake for about 5 minutes.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

The flower tart shells pop right out of the pan – no greasing was required. Use some caution when removing them after baking as they are a little more delicate and can crumble if handled too roughly.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Cool, dust with powdered sugar, and spoon with lemon curd.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

This almost can’t be called a recipe, but it was inspired, cute, and easy. It did perfectly satisfy our sweet tooth craving, and there were plenty left over to share. We had them with a cup of tea. It was a perfect pairing. Now for the results.

The Results:

Overall Results: 5 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  These tarts turned out PERFECTLY. The pin photo was almost step-by-step enough to make these, but the recipes’ detailed instructions help ensure great results. The little tarts were a lovely combination of sweet, tangy, crisp, delicate, and pretty. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This very simple recipe would be fun to do with kids. The pie dough is very forgiving. I had several flowers tear a bit while I was working with them, but this was fixed while patting them into the tin. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  These took about 20 minutes from start to finish, and that included the photos and dishes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  I happened to have everything on hand this time, so there was no extra shopping costs.  I had purchased the lemon curd at World Market for $3.99 to serve with scones. The pie crusts come two to a package (mine was the leftover in the back of the fridge), and cost about $3.00. That’s 29 cents per tart. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  These were quick, easy, and the tart shells are extremely versatile. You could fill them with any curd, custard, or pudding to make a bouquet of desserts. If you leave off the powdered sugar, you could use the shells with savory fillings, too. They’re perfect for a tea party, garden party, or mother’s day. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Brigadeiros

Today is (yesterday was) chocolate caramel day!

So obviously my perfect intentions for staying ahead of the game this year didn’t work out as perfectly as I’d hoped. Does anyone else have this problem?

That’s okay – chocolate makes everything better, so let’s focus on that. Combine chocolate with caramel and you take “better” to a whole new level. When I saw this recipe for Brigadeiros, and saw how few ingredients they needed, I knew I had to give this a go.

Pintesting Brigadeiros - ORIGINAL PIN

You’ve never heard of Brigadeiros??? Don’t feel bad; neither had I until this pin came across my Pinterest feed by Stacy of Food Lust People Love. They are a Brazillian chocolate caramel (swoon) made from only 4 ingredients. Shall we get on with the Pintesting?

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Here are the ingredients. I had everything on hand – hooray for a well stocked pantry. Not shown is the butter; 1 Tablespoon for the recipe and more to coat your hands when shaping them.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Pour the sweetened condensed milk and butter into a skillet, then sift the cocoa into the mixture.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Don’t miss this step or you’ll have clumps of cocoa! Use the back of a spoon to break up the clumps.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Heat on medium heat, stirring to combine well.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Keep stirring…

Pintesting Brigadeiros

…and stirring, until the mixture is nice and thick. Stacy says 10-15 minutes; it was just over 10 minutes for me.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

Pour the chocolate sprinkles into a container and grease your hands with butter while the caramel cools enough to handle. Roll spoonfuls into little balls,

Pintesting Brigadeiros

and then coat them in the chocolate sprinkles.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

I did several at a time; dropping them in and swirling the bowl of sprinkles.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

My friend was having a birthday, and so I thought it would be fun to use these to top mini cupcakes.

Pintesting Brigadeiros

To go with the chocolate and caramel candy, I did rich chocolate mocha cupcakes with a salted caramel buttercream. The cupcakes were delicious, but the Brigadeiros were the star. Everyone loved them – especially the Birthday girl.

Now for the Pintesting results.

Overall Results: 5 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy: These sweets were as easy to make as Stacey’s’ blog said they would be. Her step-by-step instructions were easy to follow and the Brigadeiros turned out perfectly on the first try. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: This is one of the easiest candy recipes I’ve ever made. No melting sugar, no worrying about melting chocolate seizing, and no candy thermometer needed. Once the caramel has cooled sufficiently, you could let children help with the rolling and shaping, but use caution since it does stay quite warm to the touch. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: Start to finish, this was done in 30 minutes – including the dishes! The recipe makes quite a lot, which requires quite a lot of rolling and shaping the caramels, so I thought it might take a long time. Nope! 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: Since I had everything on hand, this was free for me. Even if you had to buy everything, the four ingredients would set you back fewer than $10 and you’d have lots of leftovers. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: Stacy made these and served them in cute little paper cups, but don’t let that limit your creativity. I topped cupcakes with them. They’d be great to garnish a cake. You could even press them into candy molds or hand shape them into unique designs for any occasion. These are quick and easy – so much so that I’m going to be making more to bring as a class treat. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

This is the year that I get completely organized, stay ahead of the game, and don’t let circumstances control the direction of my life.

*Cue Laugh Track*

Each January, like so many others, I make goals and resolutions to get my life organized. Then life sits back and just laughs and laughs. Well this year I’m doing a few things differently to plan better. For example, I’m not waiting until February 13th or 14th to start working on a post for Valentine’s Day.

The Pin for these Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies came across my Pinterest radar a few days after Christmas; Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction had posted them as a Christmas treat. While I see how their colors look holiday festive, I think the pink, red, and white is much more perfect for Valentine’s Day. That they combine one of my favorite flavor combinations (cherry almond) with one of my favorite cookies (shortbread) is a major bonus for moi.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies by Sally's Baking Addiction

The Pintesting:

There are only 8 ingredients – including the optional (therefore not shown) white chocolate.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Ingredients

Cream the butter, then add the sugar, extracts, and maraschino cherry juice.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Add the flour…

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Add Flour

…and cherries

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Add Cherries

Wrap and chill the dough – I chilled it overnight.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Wrap and Chill

Roll the dough into balls and chill again. The chilling was very stressed in order to keep the dough from spreading into cookie puddles.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Bake the cookies just until they’re done – NOT browned – then cool completely.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Baked Cookies…then drizzle with melted white chocolate “if desired” – because who doesn’t like chocolate on cookies??? I tried melting the chocolate in the microwave, but it started to seize before it got very melty. Rather than just lose the battle, I decided to try making the nearly ruined chocolate into a white chocolate ganache to drizzle. Both tasted amazing (which is why there are only a half dozen in the picture), but for looks I like the melted chocolate. It gives a nicer visual contrast.

Pintesting Cherry Almond Shortbread Cookies - Cookies Finished

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.55 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  These cookies were very simple to make and delicious. Mine didn’t seem to come out quite as pink as Sally’s did, but that could have something to do with either my camera, the lighting in my kitchen (which is terrible), or because today is National Inane Answering Message Day. I’m going with the first two. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  The recipe was well written with detailed step-by-step instructions. A novice baker should be able to make these as long as they follow the recipe. That said, I might not recommend this for children unless they had adult supervision. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  While the mixing of this recipe goes pretty quickly, it calls for a lot of chilling time throughout the process. I chilled the dough overnight and then stuck the first baking sheet in the freezer while rolling the dough for the second sheet. This is definitely a plan ahead recipe; not something you can whip together at a moment’s notice. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  The ingredients are very basic to most kitchens with the exception of the maraschino cherries. The jar was less than $3. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  These bite-sized cookies started vanishing before they were even drizzled with the chocolate. They were loaded with flavor, and my favorite Valentine (aka Handsome Hubby) loved them. They’re perfect for popping in your mouth. Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day, Christmas or any other holiday. Show yourself some love and make these now. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Some of you know that I’ve been working very hard to change to a healthier lifestyle and lose weight, although the weight loss is secondary to getting healthy and fit. The problem is that I also love to cook and bake, and I don’t always want to choose the celery and peanut-butter rather than a rich dessert. Don’t get me wrong – I really like healthy foods, but I’m honest enough to admit to having moments of weakness. (Don’t we all?)

So when I saw this pin for Oatmeal Fudge Bars by Deborah from her blog Taste and Tell, my eyes lit on the “Oatmeal” and my brain tried to convince me that these were healthy. Well, oatmeal IS healthy… and chocolate has lots of antioxidants… and it would pair so nicely with coffee, which also has antioxidants.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - ORIGINAL PIN

Yes, I followed that logic right down the path to the kitchen. I mean, wouldn’t you? And since I had all of the ingredients, I thought it was a sign that this was the right thing to do. As you can see, the ingredients are pretty basic.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Ingredients

The first step is to prep the pan with non-stick spray, parchment paper, and more spray.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Prep the Pan

Cream the sugar and butter,

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars

…until it’s light and fluffy.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Add in the eggs and vanilla.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Mix the dry ingredients

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Mixed Dry Ingredients

Then add them to the creamed mixture

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Crust combinedPintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Crust

and pat it into the pan, reserving 1/3 of the mixture.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Pat Crust Into Pan

Now for the fudge layer.  Melt the milk, chocolate, and butter in a saucepan, stirring until smooth.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Fudge Filling

Stir in the vanilla and salt.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Add vanilla and salt and stir until smooth

Spread the fudge mixture over the crust (after a quick taste test), then crumble the reserved crust mixture over the fudge layer.

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - Top with reserved crust mixture

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Deborah says to let the bars cool before cutting, but she didn’t say for how long. I waited for 20-30 minutes because they smelled so good and I didn’t want my coffee to get cold. (Seems like a legit reason.) You can see that in the first picture that the fudge layer didn’t have long enough to get really set and solidified. The next day, however, these cut much better and the fudge layer seemed fudgier (2nd picture).

Pintesting - Oatmeal Fudge Bars - warm and cold

These bars were a huge hit. The HH loved them. They were delicious both warm-ish and completely cooled. Will I make these again? ABSOLUTELY!

Overall Results: 4.7 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy: These bars turned out exactly like they were portrayed. The oat cookie crust and crumble were the perfect compliment to the rich fudgy filling. The recipe was detailed and straightforward with no issues or surprises. It would have been good to know that these are best served completely cooled for the filling, but they were delicious either way. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating -  5 Pins

Difficulty: The bars were simple to make and the recipe was easy to follow. Because of the added cooking step rather than just mixing and baking, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: The prep time took 20-25 minutes – longer than the 15 minutes in the recipe. However, I’m trying to take pictures while working a recipe for the 1st time. The total time, including cooling time which is necessary, came to almost 1 1/2 hours. This is a perfect recipe to make early in the day or even the night before. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: I had every single ingredient in my cupboard for this recipe. Not running out to the store is a good thing. Even if you did have to make a grocery run, not any ingredient is more than a few dollars. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating -  5 Pins

Practicality: We had these for dessert, in our lunches, and as snacks. They would be great for a cookie exchange, potluck, or… anything. The cookie on top and bottom makes it not as messy for eating with your hands rather than a fork – again, perfect for kids lunches. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating -  5 Pins

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake

Work Birthdays mean treat days. They give the perfect opportunity to make delicious desserts without the guilt since everyone else helps eat them. The added break time is just an added bonus.

Since the Birthday Girl loves chocolate and coconut, I thought a German Chocolate Cake would be the perfect treat. Another upside about this cake is that the topping won’t get damaged by the Florida heat over the hours during transportation and while it’s waiting to be served. (Read no melty buttercream.)

I had already had a chocolaty butter cake in mind and went to my Everyday and Specialty Cakes board on Pinterest to find a great Coconut-Pecan Icing. After reviewing about a dozen recipes, this pin was the one I thought would best fit the bill. It helped that I had all of the ingredients on hand, meaning I didn’t have to run out to the store for any specialty ingredients. Major bonus. Thank you, Melissa, from Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen!

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Original Pin

The ingredients; butter, evaporated milk, brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, salt, egg yolks, vanilla, pecans, and coconut. (Yes, I keep all of the above on hand – in case of a baking emergency. Don’t ask. I’m sure there’s therapy for this, but why not just be prepared to bake?)

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Ingredients - Pintesting

Start by toasting the pecans in a 350°F oven for 6-8 minutes.

German Chocolate Cake Toast the Pecans - Pintesting

I pulled them out of the oven at 7 minutes, and the smell was fantastic. The taste test was amazing, too.

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Pecans Toasted - Pintesting

Melt the butter, evaporated milk, brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, and salt…

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Heat Ingredients - Pintesting

…until bubbly.

German Chocolate Cake Cook - Pintesting

Next comes the egg yolks to thicken.

German Chocolate Cake Egg Yolks - Pintesting

Temper them so they don’t scramble.

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Tempered - Pintesting Then add back to the pan to finish cooking for about 15 minutes.

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Finish Cooking- Pintesting

Once cooked, pour into a bowl and add the coconut, pecans, and vanilla.

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Mix to Combine - Pintesting

Stir to combine, and let set to cool and thicken more.

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Finished - Pintesting

This is the point where I deviate from Melissa’s recipe and used my own cake recipe. Also, since this was going for a long car ride to work, I thought a 9×13″ would be more practical.

I had some extra chocolate ganache in the fridge, so I piped a border. Then I added the B-day girl’s name. It didn’t turn out as good as I wanted it to, but in my defense it was 5:30 in the morning and I hadn’t had any coffee. Most days I don’t walk and talk before coffee much less bake and decorate a cake. Thanks for understanding.

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Birthday Cake - Pintesting

Jess thought it was sweet (sentiment) and delicious (cake). You can see that the Coconut-Pecan Icing was piled high, and EVERYONE loved it. The next time I make this cake, and I’m DEFINITELY making it again, I’m going to make a layer cake like Melissa did. Then I can edge each layer in chocolate ganache – and NOT write on the top.

Coconut-Pecan Icing and German Chocolate Cake Eat Cake - Pintesting

Now for the Pintesting results.

 

Overall Results: 4.4 Pins

 

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy: This Coconut-Pecan Icing recipe is easily as good as what I get at my favorite bakery. It has a wonderful caramely background to support the crunchy-sweetness of the coconut and toasted nuttiness of the pecans.  5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Difficulty: Any time you’re making a caramel you are flirting with disaster. I think it’s kind of a culinary rush, but if you’ve ever burned sugar or caramel, you know it’s no laughing matter. The corn syrup and melting the butter and milk with everything all together helps reduce the risk of burning. Another thing to watch is burning the pecans when toasting them. If it smells like they’re done before the timer has gone off, get them out – FAST. Nuts can go from perfection to trash in less than a minute. As long as you don’t get distracted, this recipe will go off without a hitch. But if you take your eyes off for too long, then very bad things can happen and your smoke detector will yell at you. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Time:  This recipe was ready in the time it took to bake and cool the cake. I started the icing first, then got the cake going. Total time, including cooling was about 40 minutes. I did help the cooling by chilling the metal bowl and stirring often. It’s great when things time out perfectly. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Cost:  Since I had everything on hand, I’m going by approximate memory of cost for most items. Fortunately most of the ingredients are common to most kitchens. The possible exceptions could be the corn syrup, coconut, and pecans. If you had to buy these three ingredients you’d be under $10 and you’d have leftovers for the next time. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins

Practicality:  I’m not sure when I’ve last wanted to sit down and eat a whole bowl of frosting with a spoon, but this would definitely call for it. It makes a LOT and doesn’t take long. I’ve found my new go-to recipe. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peach and Cherry Tarts

It’s time to Celebrate! Summer is a time of celebrations. There’s Independence Day (and Canada Day for my Canadian friends), Labor Day, and many birthdays of friends and family – including MINE (yes, I still get excited about my birthday, don’t you?). Summer is a great time to party it up! As much as I LOVE to make and eat cake, after a while I just need something different.  Too many cakes + bathing suit season = disaster.So when I found this Pin for a simple but delicious looking Peach and Cherry Tarts by Jo from Jo Cooks, I was all over it.

Pintesting Peach and Cherry Tarts - ORIGINAL PIN

Fresh peaches and cherries have been calling to me in my grocery store for a while now. I’ll walk past them, and the smell of those peaches calls me over, enticing me. “You know you want to buy us… We are your husband’s favorite…” It’s like the siren’s song. Then there are all of the wonderful health benefits to eating fresh fruit. Add the simplicity of the recipe… okay, let’s get started!

peach-and-cherry-tart3

The Pintesting:

The recipe called for puff pastry, fresh peaches, fresh cherries, mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and a little sugar. I couldn’t find the mascarpone cheese, so I went with all cream cheese and a little milk and vanilla to help sweeten and loosen up the mixture.
Peach and Cherry Tart - Ingredients - Pintesting

Puff pastry comes frozen, usually in two sheets folded in thirds, and requires thawing before using. The instructions say to thaw overnight in the refrigerator or 30 minutes on the counter. Since I was making this early in the morning, I chose to thaw it overnight so I’d have one less thing to worry about before coffee. Seriously, who does ANYTHING before coffee? Exactly.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Puff Pastry - Pintesting

The pastry should unfold once thawed. However, mine was stuck together in two solid rectangles of dough. What to do? I just dusted the counter with a little flour and rolled it out to its intended size.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Roll it out - Pintesting

Once the dough was the right size, I cut it into thirds and put the pastry onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Cut into thirds - Pintesting

Now for the sweetened cream cheese. As I said before, I couldn’t get mascarpone cheese so I went with all cream cheese. Mascarpone cheese is a bit softer than cream cheese, so I added a little milk (maybe a teaspoon) and a little vanilla (1/4-1/2 teaspoon) to loosen and lightly sweeten the mix.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Sweet cream cheese - Pintesting

Mix together until smooth.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Mixed - Pintesting

Divide onto the pastry sheets…

Peach and Cherry Tart - Divide - Pintesting

…and spread it evenly.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Spread evenly - Pintesting

Slice the peaches thinly and pit and half the cherries. I like that you don’t need to peel the peaches. A note about fresh peaches; look for fruit that is just ripe but isn’t too soft. Peaches bruise easily and turn into mush if they’re too ripe. They should be firm enough to handle without indenting with gentle pressure.

I love fresh cherries but don’t care for the lovely purple hue they turn my fingers while slicing or pitting them, so I sliced the cherries under running water. That fixed the problem before it became one.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Arrange fruit - Pintesting

Arrange the peach slices on the pastries and the cherries down the center.

Pintesting Peach and Cherry Tart

Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. (My convection oven compensates automatically, thus the temperature difference.)

Peach and Cherry Tart - bake - Pintesting

Done! That’s it. I brought these into work to be a morning tasty treat to celebrate my birthday. Make my own birthday treat? Yes! That’s just how I roll. Making people happy with food makes me happy.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Finished - Pintesting

So this is how the Peach and Cherry Tarts looked when I set them out mid-morning. They didn’t last long, though. Everyone loved the fresh taste from these that wasn’t super sugary.

Peach and Cherry Tart - Served - Pintesting

Oh, and those oddly shaped rolls on the left side are my way of using the other puff pastry sheet.

Bonus Recipe:

  1. Cut the puff pastry sheet into quarters and put a row of four miniature candies down the center of each section; I used Hershey Kisses and Rolos because that’s what I had on hand but you can use any kind of miniature candies. (Note: this is a PERFECT way to use up Halloween candy that didn’t get passed on to trick-or-treaters. You know – that extra bag that you got “just in case”.)
  2. Brush all the edges with egg wash and fold the pastry over in thirds like a letter. The egg wash will help seal the pastry so the chocolaty goodness doesn’t leak out.
  3. Place it seam side down on a parchment-lined sheet pan tucking under the edges.
  4. Brush the whole pastry with egg wash to make it brown and shiny and beautiful.
  5. I baked these with the tarts and they came out perfectly. Yes, there are only three. Yes, I made four. Don’t judge – I was testing for doneness.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 4.55 Pins

5 Pins Overall

Accuracy: The recipe was thorough, well-written and simple to follow. I had to substitute for the mascarpone cheese, but that didn’t take away from the recipe at all. The tarts turned out fantastic. I love how the fruit took the spotlight and made a wonderfully fresh and naturally sweet dessert (or in our case, mid-morning snack) without a lot of added sugar. It was really spot-on with the recipe and presentation. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Difficulty: There are only 6 ingredients in the recipe, and normally they’re easy to find at my grocery store. (Sorry mascarpone.) When I make this again – and I definitely will – I’ll thaw the puff pastry on the counter rather than use the overnight method. A puff pastry novice might have been put off by the dough that wouldn’t unfold. And while I didn’t think that thinly slicing the peaches, and pitting and halving the cherries was any trouble, others at my office didn’t seem to agree. “Sure, it’s simple for YOU”. Of course, these are the people that think that I float through my kitchen and sing as I cook and bake, while woodland creatures come and do the dishes and clean my house. All I can say to that is… I wish!

Princess Wannabe

Yeah… In the real world, this gets 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Time: I whipped this up before work – including getting ready and without the help of any woodland creatures. The whole thing took about an hour. If I hadn’t had to roll out the puff pastry, it might have taken a little less time, so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Cost: With only 6 ingredients, or 7 since I subbed the mascarpone by adding milk and vanilla, the total cost was still around $10, and we had extra cherries for lunches and snacks. 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Practicality: This recipe is simple, cost effective, delicious, healthy, and (in my humble opinion) quick and easy tart. It works equally well for dessert, brunch, lunch, or any other food option. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Bite-Sized Apple Pies

Summer is almost here. Depending on where you live, school is either already finished or nearly so. That means it’s time for summer vacations, and in my world that means lots and lots of snacks and foods in miniature sizes – perfect for taking to the park, to the beach, on a road trip, on an airplane, or just about anywhere.

I used to love having sandwiches cut up into quarters instead of just cut in half. Somehow that made them fancy and taste better. Little boxes of raisins, small packages of cheese and crackers, baggies of washed grapes, little bottles of soda (or pop, if you’re from Michigan), and individual bags of chips were some of the foods I remember on road trips. Mom was smart and did not let us have a bunch of sugary sweets when we would be stuck in the back seat of a car for hours, but sometimes we’d get Twinkies or cupcakes or Swiss rolls.

Now nothing can beat a good all-American apple pie, but they’re not very easy to eat when you’re on a road trip. Thankfully I saw this pin by Laurie from Cookin’ Up North who came up with a great solution. So let’s see if this is worthy of vacation food.

http://cookinupnorth.blogspot.com/2011/09/bite-size-apple-pies-from-taste-of-home.html

http://cookinupnorth.blogspot.com/2011/09/bite-size-apple-pies-from-taste-of-home.html

The ingredients are super simple; cinnamon, sugar, pie crust, butter and apples.

Mini Apple Pies - Ingredients - Pintesting

Mix the cinnamon sugar and slice the apples. Laurie wasn’t sure if the skins should be left on or peeled and chose the leave the skins on – this time. I decided to do both; one apple each way.

Mini Apple Pies - Prepped - Pintesting

Brush the pie crust with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut the crust into wedges. I used a pizza cutter for this step and it works like a charm!

Mini Apple Pies - Dough - Pintesting

Roll up the apple slices in the pie crust wedges.

Mini Apple Pies - Wrap It Up - Pintesting

Brush the outsides with butter and cinnamon sugar, then bake.

Mini Apple Pies - Sprinkle and Bake - Pintesting

Let them cool at least a little before trying to eat these.

Mini Apple Pies - Done - Pintesting

My oldest daughter and husband were there to give their opinion for the two varieties of the mini apple pies (with and without the peel). All three of us liked the peeled apple slices better than the skin-on apples. We found that the peel had a tendency to get stuck in our teeth, much like when you eat corn on the cob. The simple ingredients really showed off their flavors for both versions. I think I’d call these “Easy Peasy Apple Pies” because these cute little pies need a cute little name. Now, for the Pintesting results.

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

5 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  These little pies give a quick and easy way to enjoy the deliciousness of apple pies in a way that’s mobile friendly. BONUS – the built in portion control (IF you can eat just one). The crust was crispy and flaky, and the “filling” was perfect. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This was extremely simple. It would be a great recipe for kids to do with minimal adult supervision. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Time:  The prep time was about 10 minutes, and the bake time was about 15 minutes for a total of 25 minutes. That’s really quick for home made apple pie. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Cost:  The most expensive ingredient was the store-bought pie crust, which I bought on sale at 2 for $5. You could easily make your own pie crust, which would increase the time, but if you have a favorite recipe go ahead and us it. The remaining ingredients were already in my kitchen, and you’re likely to find in most other kitchens, too. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Practicality: These little pies would be perfect for lunches, after-school snacks, a picnic, road trip or even as flight food. They’re also perfect for a quick dessert. I think served warm with vanilla icecream would be fantastic! 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins