Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

As seen on my Instagram account, I decided to stuff chocolate chip cookies with nutella last night after my success with nutella muddy buddies.  Results were delicious!

I used a brand new chocolate chip cookie recipe from Thomas Keller's Ad Home At Home.  I don't know why I haven't tried more dessert recipes from this book as the pie crust is still my go to for numerous occasions.  This cookie may have bumped my "best" chocolate chip cookie for the last 6 months to second place.

Process was a bit cumbersome as you have to do twice the work for one cookie.  I started with 1 tablespoon of cookie dough which I flattened out to fit the teaspoon of nutella.  Then, I added another semi-flat tablespoon of cookie dough on top.  I sealed the edges together and slightly rolled it into a ball shape. The amount of chocolate chips in this recipe did almost make the amount of nutella nonexistent.  I would recommend cutting back on the chips if you want the nutella to come through.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake

Want to know how to make a cheesecake taste even more rich?  Add white chocolate to your batter!   Inspired by the Starbucks White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha drink, I decided to turn the house favorite Oreo Cheesecake into the perfect holiday treat for our dinner guests this past weekend.

I followed the white chocolate and raspberry swirl cheesecake recipe from Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook but eliminated the raspberry swirl for 8 chopped Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joes.  Also, the crust was made with the chocolate peppermint cookies.

Chocolate Cookie Crust
A Baked By Jen Original
Makes 1 9-inch crust

15 chocolate peppermint sandwich cookies
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Place the cookies in a ziploc bag.  Flatten, remove excess air, and seal.  Roll a rolling pin over the bag until you have finely crushed crumbs.  Place crumbs in a bowl and mix in the melted butter.  Press firmly into a 9-in springform pan.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack as you proceed with cheesecake recipe.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

I am pretty sure I have gained 10 pounds this month alone; I am afraid to step on the scale at this point.  The last few weeks, I have been baking up all sorts of holiday sweets for family, friends, coworkers, from the tried and true to something new, like this white chocolate peppermint fudge.
I've included the recipe; however, I would increase the amount of extract to at least 1 teaspoon the next time I make it.  The peppermint flavor was very subtle.

White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge
slightly adapted from
Makes 64 pieces

2 (10z) packages of white chocolate chips
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups of crushed peppermint candy canes, divided

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil.

Combine the chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir frequently until almost melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth.  When the chips are completed melted, stir in the extract and the crushed candy canes, reserving 1/4 cup.

Spread mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Sprinkle remaining crushed candy canes over the top.

Chill for 2 hours, then cut into 1 inch squares.

The other sweets that I have made over the last few weeks included:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nutella Muddy Buddies (Puppy Chow)

I've seen several versions of Muddy Buddies also known as Puppy Chow floating around the blogosphere and I had every intention to keep to the basics but we happened to pick up a jar of nutella recently.  So, I thought what if I substitute nutella for peanut butter and it was the best decision yet.

Nutella Muddy Buddies (Puppy Chow)
adapted from
Makes 18 servings (1/2 cup each)

9 cups of rice, corn, wheat or chocolate chex (or combination)
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 nutella
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, measure out the cereal and set aside.

In a microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and butter uncovered on High for 1 minute; stir.  Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture is stirable.  Stir in the nutella.  Stir in the vanilla.  Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated.  Pour into a 2 gallon resealable food storage plastic bag.

Add powdered sugar by the 1/2 cup.  Seal bag each time and shake until well coated.  Spread on a waxed paper lined sheet pan to cool.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Baking Ideas

As I spend the next few weeks trying to narrow down what sweets I would be baking for everyone around here, here is a list of a few favorites from the archives.  (I am shocked that there isn't a post with holiday cookies!  I will definitely need to change that this year.)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Double Crust Apple Pie

Decided to change it up for Thanksgiving this year and made my very first double crust apple pie  instead of the usual pumpkin pie and/or pumpkin cheesecake.  Recipe was from Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts book with no adaptations.

I thought this pie was a fail as the second we cut into it all this liquid flooded the bottom of the pie plate.  Turns out we just didn't let it rest long enough.  The leftovers the next day didn't have the same problem.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Bread

I couldn't let Fall past me by without baking anything with pumpkin; so, enter this pumpkin bread.  I quickly whipped up a batch and took a loaf over to the in laws for dinner this past weekend.  The bread had a great texture (dense and moist) however, I must admit that it was lacking pumpkin flavor.  The topping which I thought would be a streusel turned into this liquid mass that just sank into the bread once baked.  If anyone else has made this bread, from The Pastry Queen, feel free to leave me a comment on how it turned out for you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

For the last few days, I have been hooked on eating these banana oatmeal muffins for breakfast.  The best part is that I don't even have to feel guilty about it.  Instead of flour, they are made with ground up oatmeal.  The ones featured here are made with sugar but you can definitely substitute  apple sauce or honey for it.  Most of the ingredients are readily found in your kitchen at home too.

For the recipe and step by step instructions, be sure to visit my sister's site Simply Pinspirational as she made these for the household upon discovering them on Pinterest.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

SF Giants Cake

For my friend's husband's birthday, I suggested making a cake and she requested a small and simple one, as we would just be having dinner at a restaurant with a few family members and friends.  (Last year, I made him an iPad cake.)  I made him a 6-inch chocolate cake covered in vanilla buttercream frosting.  I brought back a favorite technique of mine for this cake, the buttercream transfer.  It was the easiest way to copy the logo of his favorite baseball team onto it.  The fun part was that I purposely picked a chocolate cake in order to fill it with an orange frosting to mimic the team's colors on the inside as well.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Ideas

I can't believe tomorrow is Halloween already.  Thought I'd round up a few Halloween favorites seen around my blog as I didn't get a chance to bake up anything this time around.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin Cupcakes

What are you planning to bake for Halloween tomorrow?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tiny Toes Theme Baby Shower Cake

It has been an busy start to the Fall season for me.  This makes three weekends in a row of baking for me.  Remember the friend where I made banana cupcakes for her Bridal Shower and chocolate chip cupcakes for her Bachelorette/Birthday party? Well, this time the sweets are to celebrate her baby shower!  The theme was based off of some party supplies named Tiny Toes with a mix of purple and pink as she is having a baby girl.

I made a mini topper cake using Dorie's Perfect Party Cake recipe as my friend wanted a plain white cake.  This cake was delicious; I love the hint of lemon in it.  However, it was very crumbly when I was cutting it up and serving it.  I wonder if it was because I used milk instead of buttermilk.

The cupcakes were made of the yellow cake recipe I stumbled across when baking with my niece a few months ago.  Don't you just love it when a cake recipe converts to a cupcake recipe flawlessly?  Frosting was a vanilla buttercream frosting; the other half was melted chocolate added to the vanilla buttercream frosting.  Of course, I had to use my Nielsen-Massey Pure Tahitian Vanilla Extract again.  The toppers were pink and purple marshmallow fondant circles imprinted with the letter L for Lea.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Train Theme Cake

Worked on another birthday cake this past weekend.  This time I got to make a cake for a boy turning 3.  I kept this cake a bit more simple by sticking to buttercream and fondant accents.  Also, instead of making Henry the Train out of fondant or whatever, I picked up a toy that he could just keep afterwards.

This cake came together with minimal amounts of hiccups.  If you remember, I couldn't wait to go back to this theme since it was last done for a Cake4Kids recipient.  I made sure that the train tracks made its way onto the board this time.  Also, it was great to have this cake turn out the way I imagined given I also made this boy's first birthday cake.  That cake almost broke me when nothing would turn out as planned.

Cake is 6in (2 layers) and 8in (3 layers) tiers of chocolate cake and chocolate frosting.  I used Pure Madagascar Vanilla Extract in the frosting for the first time and I am hooked on it now.  I wish I had a picture of the inside for you.  I have started to use an Ice Cream Scooper to measure out how much frosting I put in between each layer and it looks a lot nicer now.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Alice in Wonderland Cake

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of making an Alice in Wonderland cake for a 4 year old's birthday party.  I had fun creating subtle references to the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and "Queen of" Hearts with this cake.

The flavor of choice was chocolate cake with oreo buttercream frosting.  I didn't think to make the oreo buttercream frosting just a filling.  So, this cake is actually filled and crumb coated with oreo buttercream frosting.  It made it a bit difficult to smoothly cover in fondant.

I gave this cake a mini topsy turvy look by trimming down the top tier.  I forgot to place the trimmed piece back on top of the cake to give it more of a slant.  It probably would've gave the cake a bit more support too as the layers of fondant weighed it down a bit.  The wrinkles at the bottom bothered me quite a bit.

Because I didn't want the hat to look squatty; I made it with 3 layer of cakes.  I love the height/look of the cake with the 3 layers.  Going forward, this will probably be the standard for cakes smaller than 6 inches.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sweet and Salty Brownies

We had a potluck at work today and the easiest and quickest thing I could think of putting together was brownies.  So, I threw together my go to brownies.  Because I had left over caramel sauce, I decided to toss that in too.  Turns out, my final result was very similar to Baked Explorations' Sweet and Salty brownies.  Following suit, I sprinkled 1 teaspoon of fleur de sal and  1 teaspoon of coarse sugar on top once it was done baking.  I thought these would bake up very similar to these other caramel filled brownies  I made but the filling mostly soaked into the brownies.  This wasn't too bad as it kept the brownies very moist.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cocoa Caramel Cake

My niece won first place in the Made By Kids category at the Cake4Kids CakeOff-4Kids event this past weekend!  Under my supervision, she baked, frosted, and decorated both a tasting cake and a show cake (which we ended up serving that night as well).  They were chocolate cakes with a salted caramel buttercream frosting.

Instead of having her use Hershey's cocoa powder in my go to chocolate cake recipe, I supplied her with a "premium" can of Ghirardelli cocoa powder.  It definitely changed this chocolate cake recipe for me.  I don't think I can ever go back to every day grocery store brand now.  (To make matters worse, I recently purchased both E. Guittard and Scharffen Berger cocoa powders to do a comparison in the near future.)

The best part of the night was when I let her decide whether to use coffee or boiling water with this recipe and she replied with the most logical answer, "Kids don't drink coffee!"

The show cake included a base made of candy melts and extra candy melts as "sprinkles" on top.  She piped on the frosting using a 2D tip.  I was trying to teach her to do swirls but her making drop flowers worked out a lot easier.

Not wanting her to deal with hot bubbling sugar, I prepared the salted caramel sauce for her which she simply added about 1/2 cup to my go to vanilla buttercream recipe.  I was afraid of burning the caramel; so, I took it off the heat a lot sooner than necessary; hence, it didn't turn out as amber.  It might explain why the taste was too subtle in the frosting.  So, I let her drizzle the caramel sauce all over the top of the cake and it turned out really good!  People thought the tasting cake was her show cake as well.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Whole Wheat Waffles

Finally found a weekend morning where my husband and I weren't running out the door the second we woke up to break in our new waffle maker.  I have been using the same one for the last 15 years until we were gifted with a new one as a wedding present.  This new machine was amazing; the waffles came out perfect.  They were fluffy on the inside with a slight crunch on the outside.

Just like 95% of all other recipes I come across, I had to tweak this recipe a bit by using whole grain flour instead of all purpose flour.  The waffles tasted so nutty that I felt as if I needed to add actual nuts to batter next time.

The best part was that I am now able to make 4 waffles instead of 2 at a time!  I baked up the entire batter and simply froze the leftovers in a ziploc bag.  Made for a quick breakfast on the go during the week.

Recipe adapted from BH&G New Cook Book

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Oreo Cheesecake

For my niece's birthday cake, I was inspired by the Oreo Dream Extreme cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory.  I knew I had to incorporate chocolate into her cake, as it was her favorite, but I didn't want it to be just a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  The creamy cheesecake compliments the richness of all the chocolate components.

Oreo Cookie Crust

Layer of Oreos

Original New York Cheesecake

Chocolate Mousse

Next time, I cannot forget to line the pan with parchment paper.  Because I didn't line the pan, I was afraid that it would just fall apart if I attempted to remove the disk.  Hence, the cake was presented with the disk still attached.  Not a big deal this time around as I attended her party and served the cake myself.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes

Chocolate and peanut butter is a combination that never gets old in my book.  I have made these exact cupcake combination multiple times.  However, this time around, I added a surprise element.  A few of the cupcakes had a mini reese peanut butter cup inside.  Next time, I would toss them in some flour as they did sink all the way to the bottom.

Peanut Butter Frosting
A Baked By Jen Original
Makes enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes

1/2 cup of butter
1 cup of peanut butter
3 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of milk

Beat the butters together until light and fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar.  Add the vanilla extract. Add enough milk until desired consistency is reached.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tin Roof Ice Cream

I can't believe that summer is already coming to an official end with Labor Day weekend approaching just around the corner.  To top it off, I did not make a single batch of ice cream this entire summer!  With that realization, I decided to tackle tin roof ice cream which has been bookmarked in my copy of The Perfect Scoop for quite some time now.

The ice cream had so many different components but if you stick to a component a day, it's not as labor intensive as it seems.

First, I made the fudge ripple.

Then, I made the chocolate covered peanuts.

Last, I made the vanilla ice cream base.

I 've had huge successes with the philadephia style vanilla ice cream but this time, I went with the french style vanilla ice cream.  The egg yolks made a world of a difference!  It was so rich and creamy.  My test tasters thought they were eating caramel ice cream.

Though summer is officially coming to an end, I definitely don't see that as a reason to stop making.. and eating ice cream.  This batch only encouraged me to step out of my hiatus.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New York Style Crumb Cake

My to bake list, a collection of ideas off the Internet, is growing out of control.  In addition, I have 3 new, now months old, cookbooks which I haven't made a single recipe out of yet.  It was clearly a sign that I was neglecting my oven.  So this week, I did two things.  One, I added my to bake list here to my blog to help move things along.  Two, I made a crumb cake out of the Baked Explorations cookbook which I received months ago for my birthday.

What I learned is that crumb cake is not interchangeable with coffee cake in New York.  A crumb cake does not contain cinnamon swirls nor nuts of any kind.  Those elements were not missed at all in this crumb cake.  I did reduce the "crumb" topping by half but the cake and the crumb topping still balanced each other out perfectly.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Niece, The Future Baker

I can't believe that's second annual CakeOff-4Kids event is already taking place next month!  I entered last year and won the best decorated category but this year, I wanted a chance to taste the 50 cakes by other volunteers.  However, my 10 year old niece will be entering the kids' 15 and under category.  In preparation for the event, she asked to come over and make a cake for her Dad's birthday party this past weekend.  She did an amazing job!  I was quite impressed with her piping skills.

Cake was Baking Illustrated's Yellow Layer Cake which is now a go to yellow cake recipe for me.  It wasn't too sweet and very fluffy.  She frosted the cake with the Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting.  The writing was done with melted candy melts.
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