Monday, January 20, 2014

Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Cranberry Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I’ve been craving chocolate chip cookies lately. And when I say lately I mean always. They’re my “I need a chocolate feel-good fix.” But I wanted to mix something else in with them this time so I thought I’d crank them up a bit with cranberries and walnuts. And try to tell myself at the same time I’m eating healthier. It worked for .0001 seconds.

Cranberries, chocolate and walnuts

The players.

Dried cranberries. Chocolate chunks. Walnuts. Who’s ready?

Making cookies.

Just cream, combine, mix and stir the ingredients together. Easy. as. that.

The other reason I love chocolate chip cookies. So customizable. It’s fun to just play with different combinations. What’s your favorite cookie mix in? - there’s chocolate … semi-sweet, milk, dark…  and in different sizes … mini, regular, chunk or wafer-sized yum. There’s peanut butter, butterscotch, mint and other morsels. Then there’s nuts, fruits, coconut, oats, m&m’s and much more. It’s endless what you can make with a simple cookie base.

Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough

And then you end up with dough to play with. Play dough.

Cookie Dough

Scoop or roll into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Bake and eat.

That was easy.

Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

And if you want, drizzle the tops and dress them up with a little melted white chocolate.

Cranberry-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Servings: three dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 10 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugars with a mixer for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at at time until combined. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Then add flour mixture slowly and mix until just combined.
  6. Stir in cranberries, walnuts and chocolate chunks.
  7. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place two inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until done. Optional: When cooled, drizzle melted white chocolate on top.
Source: © 2014 Bakerella.com

Yum

Monday, January 13, 2014

Say Cheese. Cake!

Today I’m giving away cheesecake! Happy Monday!!!

It’s The Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake from Harry & David. What?? That’s right, the gourmet gift basket company also exclusively ships for the Cheesecake Factory. I didn’t know that until this past fall when I visited Southern Oregon’s Rogue River Valley where Harry & David grows it’s famous Royal Riviera Comice pears. My friend Sandy works with Harry & David and invited a group of us to come out and learn about the company. I love Oregon, so I said sure.

Sidenote: Historically, I’m not a big fruit person…I know, I’m weird. I just stick to a set few that I love. So until that trip I don’t think I’d ever even tried a pear. Oh my gosh I have been missing out. Now I don’t know how other types of pears compare, but the Comice pears they grow are really something special. Definitely delicious. And for me to say that about a fruit is saying a lot.

Here’s the fun group of friends I attended with: Helen Jane, Cookies and Cups, The Inspired Room, From Home to RoamInspired by Charm, Reluctant Entertainer, Bake Your Day, SkinnyTaste, Gimme Some Oven, The Little Kitchen, Add a Pinch, Love and Olive Oil and Kevin and Amanda.

Check out the slideshow below for a little peek inside the company and Southern Oregon. It was a few days of incredible meals, beautiful surroundings, pears, chocolate decorating, and some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. You can also click here to see the photos on flickr. P. S. If you’re ever in Ashland, Oregon, stay at the Winchester Inn. Some of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.

Now for some Cheesecake!

The opposite of fruit. : )

Enter for a chance to win CHEESECAKE! Delivered right to your door.

  • To be entered for a chance to win, just leave a comment with the name of your favorite flavor above. Easy!
  • Two (2) winners will be chosen at random to receive your favorite.
  • And if you really want pears instead, that’s totally fine, too. I’ll be sending gift cards to cover the cheesecake, so you can also pick out whatever you like from the site instead.
  • Deadline to enter is Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:00 pm ET. Sorry, Time’s Up! Winners announced below.
  • Winners will be announced sometime Wednesday evening.

Good Luck!

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Hey guys! It’s time to announce the cheesecake winners. Their cheesecakes of choice were Chocolate Mousse and Key Lime.  So that means you Matthew and you too, Chandra! Congratulations!!! I hope you enjoy.

This giveaway is sponsored by me, but my trip to Oregon was paid for by Harry & David. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Adorable

Snowman Cupcakes

I made some sweet snowman cupcakes this weekend and it kinda looks like it’s been snowing powdered sugar in my kitchen. These snowman heads were inspired by one of my new and now absolute favorite Christmas decorations. I’ll show you in a minute. It’s awesome!

But let me walk you through how I made these first.

Powdered sugar coated

The heads. I just picked up some powdered doughnuts to play with. They needed to be rolled in more sugar though to cover up some of the dark areas.

Frosting

The snowmen bodies were just frosting. I kept it on the thick side, so it would stay sturdy and hold it’s round shape when the heads were placed.

Oh yeah … I used this recipe for the cupcakes.

Powdered Sugar

Right after frosting each one, coat with powdered sugar to match the doughnuts and make it look like one snowy body.

Powdered

The scarves were pink tinted frosting piped on top. When you place the heads and press down, it will look like the scarf wraps all the way around. Then you can sprinkle a little sanding sugar on top for an extra snowy look. You can also put the heads on a lollipop and insert to make it more stable.

One tip – If you want your frosting white, use shortening instead of all butter. It would have made the bodies look brighter. See the frosting and recipe here.

Snowman Cupcakes

Now for the faces.

Powdered sugar doughnuts

I decorated the doughnuts while they layed on a small tray. Just poke a toothpick in position for all the facial features.

Seeds and Sprinkles

Then press chocolate jimmies in for the eyes and mouth and orange sunflowers seeds for the nose.

Petite Mints

These Smooth and Melty Mints in pink worked out great as snow dotted buttons on each belly.

Waffle Cones

And the hats… just gently sawed off waffle cones. You might say that’s a waste of a waffle cone, but I’m not much of an ice cream cone person. I like my ice cream in a cup with a cone on the side. So I just save the unused pieces and use them like nachos.

And speaking of ice cream, let me show you the inspiration for these cupcakes.

Ready?

Santa's Frozen Treats Ice Cream Truck

It’s Santa’s Frozen Treats Ice Cream Truck topped with a sweet little snowman head.

I. Love. This. Thing.

P.S. I think the cupcakes are cute, but after the fact I now wish I had made them into cake pops. Just look at that little head. I’m pretty sure I could have made the faces way cuter and definitely less messier. Until next time.

Santa

Back to Santa. Inside the truck is an ice cream sundae train track complete with moving train, lighted interior and it even plays 8 holiday tunes. It just makes me happy so I guess I’m going to have to leave it out all year long.

Here’s a short video of it in action on my instagram.

Monday, December 30, 2013

It’s been one sweet year!

The holidays are almost over and the year is winding down. I’ve certainly had more than my share of sweets the last several days. Too much even. What about you guys?

But extreme sugar overload hasn’t stopped me from being super excited to start a brand new year of baking. A year of sweets and smiles.

Before more baking begins, here’s a quick look back at a few of my favorite posts from 2013. Check out the links below if you missed any along the way.

Enjoy and here’s to a Happy New Yummy Year!

MINI DOUBLE-DECKER CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUT COOKIES

These were way too much fun to decorate. And double-decking them totally makes them look like real little doughnuts instead of cookies.

CONFETTI CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

These are just simple, fun cookies cuted up with confetti sprinkles and pastel M&M’s. They’ll make you smile with every bite.

 

BOO THE DOG AND GRUMPY CAT CAKE POPS

I can’t stand how cute these came out. I love Boo… but then Grumpy Cat’s frown steals my heart. So I had to include them both.

PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Umm… Cookies. Cupcakes. Peanut Butter. Chocolate. These are a win all the way around.

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

I’ve been wanting to make one of these cakes forever and it did not disappoint. Sometimes I forget how much I love cake because I make so many other mini treats throughout the year, but this one makes me want to bake more big layer cakes.

BUNNY CAKE POPS

These glam bunnies might be my favorite easter-themed pops to date. So girlie and sweet.

CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER TRUFFLES

No-bake, bite-size yumminess. Yes and yes. And the coating possibilities make them so pretty.

BUTTERSCOTCH BROWNIE BARS

These were crazy good. I had forgotten all about them until going back through these old posts, but now I think I need to make another batch pronto.

LUCKY CHARMS MAGIC MUNCH

Individual sweet little snack bags with downloadable labels, too. Oh and just a warning – this stuff is super addictive, so if you plan on giving away as treats, make a second batch so there’s enough for you to nibble on, too.

MINIONS CAKE POPS

These guys. Oh my gosh. They turned out so cute. You have to check out the other characters I made, too!

OREO ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

Okay… these are the easiest things ever. But can I just say, they might have made me smile the biggest when I was making them. Yes, I was completely giddy… like a little girl. These would be fun for a sleepover with different flavors and sprinkles to play with.

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING

This picture says everything. Make this right now. Oh my gosh.

JUST PEACHY HAND PIES

Little individual pies. I love how you can personalize these for people or label them for flavors by switching up the letters.

RAINBOW BRIGHT CUPCAKES

These fluffy frosting cloud cupcakes are smile inducing.

S’MORES BROWNIES

Chocolate, Marshmallows and graham crackers all baked up in a nice little brownie. No campfire required.

MINI POLAR BEAR CUPCAKES

It’s hard to tell here, but these are miniature cupcakes. Decorating them is easy and you don’t even need a piping bag. Just a few different size sprinkles.

BIG LOVE ITTY-BITTY CAKE POPS

Okay, this one took a template and a little time to do, but the effect is awesome. Take a look at the XOXO version, too.

SUGAR COOKIE DESSERT STANDS

I think this might have been my favorite project from last year. It was so much fun making teeny-tiny play food cookies and then having the tiered stands work out like I had imagined. I’m like a kid sometimes when things all come together and I certainly felt like one making these sugar cookies.

HUMPTY DUMPTY CAKE POPS

These happy little guys will steal your heart. They are suited up and ready to party. Check out their appearance at this Humpty themed baby shower, too.

 

Well, that’s it for a little random sweetness from the past 12 months. Hope you enjoyed looking at these again or even for the first time.

 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Say Good Morning with these Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

Here’s a sweet recipe if you’re looking for something to make ahead of time that you can pop in the oven on Christmas Morning. Or any morning. Like tomorrow morning. I created these for the December issue of Ladies’ Home Journal and they are amazing swirls of chocolate and cinnamon bathed in a delicious and easy vanilla glaze topping. And I totally want to make them again right now. Every time I make cinnamon rolls I wonder why I don’t make them more often. Oh my gosh. They are so good and simple for such a luscious result.

Sorry, I don’t have step-by-step photos for these since they were photographed by the magazine, but feel free to take a look at my pumpkin cinnamon rolls if you want a visual guide.

Okay… here’s the recipe.

Let the chocolate cinnamon rolling begin.

Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls

Servings: 18 rolls

Ingredients

Rolls

  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Filling and Icing

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • Vanilla Icing, recipe below

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine warm milk, butter and sugar. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand 2 min until yeast softens. With the bread hook attachment stir in the egg, salt and 3 cups of the flour. Mix well, then add remaining flour and mix until dough pulls away from the bowl edges, about 5 min.
  2. With floured hands form dough into a ball and place in a buttered bowl, turning to coat all sides of ball. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a very warm place until doubled in size, about 3 hr.
  3. Make filling by combining the sugars, cinnamon and chocolate. Butter two 8-by-8-inch pans and set aside.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 14-by-24-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Spread with the melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture. Starting with one long end, roll dough tightly to form a long spiral. Pinch the seam together. Cut into 18 slices, about 1¼ inch thick each, and place 9 in each prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  5. In the morning remove rolls from refrigerator and bring to room temperature in a warm place, 1 hr. Heat oven to 375°F and bake until rolls are golden and cooked through, 18 to 20 min.
  6. Let rolls cool slightly then spoon on some Vanilla Icing. Serve warm.
  7. Vanilla icing - Whisk 2 cups confectioners’ sugar with 1 tbsp melted butter, ½ tsp vanilla extract and 3 tbsp milk until smooth. Makes 1 cup.
  8. NOTE: If you make and bake them on the same day, don’t refrigerate after rolling; just let the rolls rise a second time before baking.
Source: Contributed to Ladies Home Journal, December 2013

Ladies' Home Journal
Ladies' Home Journal

Thanks Ladies’ Home Journal. I’m thrilled to be featured this month in the magazine.

Peppermint and Vanilla Cream Cheesecake

And guys, if you want more yumminess, grab a copy before they are gone. Because you will totally want to make this Peppermint & Vanilla Cream Cheesecake from Clara, too.

There’s just too much deliciousness in December.

 

Wishing you guys a Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays. Sending big hugs!!!!

 

Photo credits: Ladies’ Home Journal

 

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