Chocolate Trifle

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Now, the recipe I’m sharing today is one I wasn’t totally sure should leave the family recipe box.  It is a Christmas favorite, and I only make it on Christmas every year.  In fact, one year my mom tried to make a Thanksgiving version, but it was so unnatural that we couldn’t do it again. This is a Christmas dessert.  And it only works with chocolate.  No exceptions.

Also, I wasn’t sure I could post it because it only involves these ingredients (plus cool whip but I forgot to take it out of the fridge):

 

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So no, it does not involve any revolutionary baking from scratch.  And no, it doesn’t take me days on days to make.  It takes me maybe an hour including baking and cooling time.  Everything is out of a box.  But who wants to spend more time than you have to in the kitchen on Christmas Eve?  There are far better things to be doing.

First up, spray a 13×9 inch pan with Pam baking spray.  This may or may not be one of my new favorite products.

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Then, make the chocolate cake as the box instructs.  Your creativity comes from the kind of chocolate cake and pudding you use.  Do you go traditional chocolate?  Dark chocolate?  Devil’s Food?  Honestly, it won’t matter, but I personally like the irony of serving Devil’s Food on Christmas.

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Pour it into the cake pan and bake as long as it says on the box.  I feel like I shouldn’t even be including these instructions right now.

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While the cake is in the oven, make two batches of instant pudding.  I do them in separate batches and with a wire whisk instead of a hand mixer.  I don’t know why, but I like being able to feel it thicken while I mix it.  You don’t get that with a hand mixer.  Put the pudding in the fridge, covered, to chill until ready to use.

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Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan until completely at room temperature.  This is more important in terms of cutting it rather than the actual assembly of the dessert, but I still do it.

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Cut the cake into one inch cubes.  In her recipe Sandy (of Trout Farm Apple Pie fame) says not to be fussy with the cutting, but I do tend on the side of perfectionism, so I like to make exact little squares, 8 by 8.

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Now, you need a trifle bowl.  I’m not sure there is any other purpose for this particular serving ware, but I know that when I was moving into my apartment, it was a vital part of my kitchen materials.  Put half the cake into the bottom of the bowl.

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From above:

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Next, add one batch of the pudding.

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Also from above:

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Then, add half of the large tub of cool whip.  And by large tub I mean the actual large tub.  You might think you’ve found it at the grocery store, but it’s the bigger one.

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Now, you get to have some fun.  Put two of the Heath bars, unwrapped, in a Ziploc bag.

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My mom used to smash them on the counter to crush them up, but after watching my dad then yell from the other room about the noise, I’ve started using a different technique: the attack hammer.

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The attack hammer is really a tack hammer that I misunderstood as a child when my mom told me to get it.  But the name stuck, so that’s still what I call it.  Use one to smash the heath bar into little pieces.  You could also buy the bits o’ brickle in the baking aisle, but you don’t get the chocolate when you buy those, so I don’t recommend them.

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Add the two smashed bars on top of the Cool Whip.

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Then, repeat the layers with the remaining cake, pudding, Cool Whip, and Heath bar.

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It looks pretty impressive in the bowl with all of the different layers.  It’s easy.  And when it’s spooned into a bowl, it’s delicious.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Trifle

Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (plus whatever you need to prepare it)
  • 2 boxes instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 large container of Cool Whip
  • 4 Heath bars, crushed

Directions:

  1. Prepare chocolate cake as directed on the box and pour into a 13×9 inch pan.  Bake and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Prepare both boxes of chocolate pudding as directed on box.  Allow to chill.
  3. Cut cake into 1 inch squares.
  4. Layer cake, pudding, Cool Whip, and Heath bar in trifle bowl.  Repeat.
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Mini Almond House Cakes

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And you thought I was done for the weekend.  Time at home + no school tomorrow = wayyyy more time to bake.  Up next: my gingerbread house needed a little town to go with it!

So the recipe on the cake pan was for orange cakes, but I don’t know what it is about orange that it really just isn’t a flavor I’m ever craving.  So instead I went with almond cakes.

To start, I used that wondrous Pam baking spray on my little house cake pan too.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.  This shocked me a little bit.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a recipe tell me to mix the sugar with the flour to start.  But it really just further confirmed for me that the order of mixing things in recipes is arbitrary and I shouldn’t be concerned with it.

 

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Next, in a large bowl, beat together the yogurt, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and almond extracts.

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When I’m at my apartment, I always melt butter in the microwave.  It’s easy and consistent.  However, when I’m home, I use the method I far prefer: stovetop with our special butter melting cup.  I don’t know why this cup is a butter melting cup, but that’s what I’ve always used it for and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it used for anything else.  So I put the butter, sliced, in the cup and put it on top of a griddle over low heat, stirring until melted.  You probably don’t want to know this, but the butter in the picture is only half of the butter that was used – I had to do this twice.

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I feel like this somehow melts butter better than a microwave.  I have no idea if that’s true, but it’s my favorite way to do it and I need to find my own butter melting cup at some point.

Anyways, the next step is to add the dry ingredients and blend on the lowest speed (to avoid splatter) until combined.  Then you can blend on medium speed for another minute to get it nice and smooth.  Another under-appreciated thing to note: my mom’s hand mixer has various speeds other than high and higher.  That’s a luxury I didn’t realize I missed.

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Spoon about half the batter into the cake pan and spread up the sides, just like with the gingerbread house.

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Put it on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan before flipping onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with the remaining batter to make six more little houses.

I used the same Wilton icing from the Gingerbread Bundt Cake to decorate the little houses, but this time I used a #3 tip because it was a little smaller.  The coconut choice was actually made because of the almond cakes, I just figured it would work with gingerbread as well.

 

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The beauty of shaped pans is that they have all of the details lined out for you – all you have to do is trace them to end up with an adorable little village.

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Then, once I had them all decorated, I obviously had to create my village.  My mom and I had a debate as we searched for a platter to fit all of my houses.  Should they all fit on one?  Should I have little subdivisions for my town?  Should I just cover a cookie sheet in tinfoil and call it a tray?

In the end, we settled on little subdivisions with the big house in the middle.  I used stained glass candy (shout out to Ann Mullins!) to make a road and shredded coconut as snow.  And then I arranged them all near each other and took pictures before I let anyone eat them.

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Here’s a close-up of the big gingerbread house that didn’t make it on the previous post:

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Anyways, unless you also happen to have awesome house-shaped bakeware for Christmas, these are probably going to be more difficult for you to make.  However, the gingerbread cake and almond cakes can be made into regular cakes/cupcakes as well, and I’m sure the coconut frosting can be used and adapted into a variety of different things.  So these posts were more for me to show off rather than for you all to try at home, but enjoy them anyways!

Merry Christmas!

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Mini Almond House Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Wilton Coconut Icing

Directions:

  1. Spray pan with baking spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in medium bowl.
  3. In large bowl, beat together yogurt, butter, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract until well blended.
  4. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until combined and then at medium speed for an additional minute until smooth.
  5. Spoon half of the batter into tins about 3/4 full and spread up sides.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan and then completely on wire rack.
  8. Repeat with remaining batter.
  9. Decorate with icing and create your own village!

 

 

Gingerbread House Bundt Cake

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There is no place like home.  Spending time with my family, unlimited Boston sports games, a huge kitchen to bake in.  It’s amazing.

And last week, when I announced via our family text that I wanted to make a gingerbread house, I had no idea what would be waiting for me.  When I got home, my mom asked me to unwrap two of my presents early because “I would want to use them”.  I hate opening presents early.  For starters, I’m a huge fan of routines.  Also, it would mean less to open on Christmas morning.  But I was curious, and this is what I got:

 

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I was beyond excited.  I feel like you aren’t a real adult until you have seasonal bakeware.  And it meant I could make a gingerbread house with a whole little village to go with it!  And so the Sunday of two blog posts begins.

First up, the gingerbread cake.  Grease and flour your pan to start.  I just used Pam baking spray because it has flour right in it.  And I knew it was going to be impossible to successfully butter this particular pan by hand.

Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and baking powder.

 

 

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In a large bowl, beat the sugar, brown sugar, and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Or just until combined if you’re impatient.

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Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.  At this point it will look way better.  You can then blend in the vanilla.

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Alternate adding the flour mixture with the milk.  I did about three additions of each, beating on low after each addition.  I started with flour and ended with milk, but I don’t actually believe that it makes a difference.

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Finally, spoon the batter into the pan and use the spoon to spread it up the sides of the pan.  You want to fill all of the little crevices, so this is actually pretty important.  And my gingerbread house is a bundt cake!  How cool is that?!

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Put the pan on a cookie sheet and bake at 325°F for around 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

 

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Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping onto a wire rack to cool completely.  My mom showed me the trick of putting the wire rack on top of the pan and then flipping the whole thing.  Miraculously, my cake came out clean!

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Now, the cake is beautiful on its own.  The detail in the pan makes it pretty awesome.  I see no reason why you couldn’t just serve it like this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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But I love decorating.  And a gingerbread house at least deserves some icing.  So I made some frosting and went for it.

When I took cake decorating classes two years ago, I made a lot of frosting from the Wilton recipe, and that’s what I used here.  Also, as you’ll see in the second post, I used the icing on almond cakes as well.  So I went with a hint of coconut for the flavoring, and it worked well.

In a stand mixer, blend together the crisco, water, and extracts.  You could use any extract you want, and Wilton makes just about everything in clear so that it won’t color your frosting.

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Then, add confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder.  I used the towel trick to avoid having sugar everywhere.

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At first, I made the frosting way to stiff, and I was cramping up trying to decorate my house.  So don’t be afraid to add water by the teaspoon to make sure you reach a consistency that will actually emerge from a pastry tip.  I used a #5 tip on the house to make lines a little thicker.

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Action shot:

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Despite being a lot of work, this cake definitely addressed my need for making a gingerbread house.  And being a bundt cake, it is far more likely to get eaten than stale gingerbread and candy sitting on the counter, so it has that going for it.  In the next post, you’ll see the finished product with the rest of the village, but for now, take a couple of recipes.

Enjoy!

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Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Directions:

  1. Spray bundt pan with baking spray and set aside.
  2. Whisk together cake flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, beat sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.
  5. Blend in vanilla.
  6. Add flour and milk alternately, mixing after each addition.
  7. Spoon batter into pan and spread up sides.  Put on baking sheet and bake at 325°F for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Wilton Cake Icing

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup crisco
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 7-8 teaspoons water
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder

Directions:

  1. Cream together shortening, extracts, and water in a stand mixer.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder and mix on medium speed until thoroughly mixed.  Add water until correct consistency.

Gingerbread Men

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This is the latest I’ve posted in awhile.  I always underestimate how long it will take me to decorate cookies.  Oh well, I can’t help being a perfectionist.

Anyways, after a brief hiatus last week, the Christmas Cookie Project is back with a vengeance.  Tomorrow there’s a holiday at work, to which I committed cookies.  And then there are all of the various people I need to give cookie tins to.  And then of course there are my students, who have requested treats as well.  In short, I will be baking every day this week.  And maybe posting some of it, but more likely posting a mega-cookie-montage next week.

This week, we are starting with the classic: Gingerbread Men.  Technically, the recipe is for Peppar Kakor (the o is supposed to have those dot things, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it), or Swedish Molasses Ginger Cookies.  But I just use it for gingerbread men.

To start, cream together the egg, crisco, vinegar, sugar and molasses.  I almost used up one of my two open molasses jars on this and remembered not to buy more, which was exciting.

 

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With all the molasses, the crisco makes a nice little island in the middle.  But when it’s mixed up, it looks like this:

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In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, baking soda and the spices.

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Add the flour to the molasses mixture and mix well.  I did so in a couple additions because I didn’t want to overwork my yellow mixer.

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Add flour until the dough is the right consistency for rolling.  In other words, you don’t want it to stick to your hands.  I also throw it in the fridge for a bit to chill because I think it makes it easier to handle.  Ironically, while my cookie dough was chilling, I got in a workout, which seems kind of strange to do in the middle of baking cookies, but when I was done the dough was ready to be rolled.

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Take out a piece of it, put it on a well floured mat, flour the rolling pin, and roll it really thin.  Like really really thin.  Otherwise your gingerbread men will be obese and very not man-shaped.

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If you want to see how obsessive I am about cookie cutting maximization, check out my elephant cookies, but I figured I didn’t need to subject you to that again.

Side story: in preparation for these cookies I had to find a gingerbread man cookie cutter.  I used it as an excuse to go to Williams-Sonoma, and was directed to the back of the store.  The first one I saw was one of their nice copper ones, and it was $8.  I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on a single cookie cutter and was about to abandon to go check at CVS, when I went to the other side of the rack and found the $2 version.  So I bought 4.

Anyways, transfer the cookies to a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until the edges are golden.  There is very little time between golden and burnt to a crisp, so keep an eye on them.  I also made houses for my gingerbread men.  It seemed fitting.  But they demonstrate golden brown better.

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Allow to cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet to crisp up before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container until ready to frost.

Now, this time around I had meringue powder, so I used a different royal icing recipe than the sugar cookies.  To make the icing, mix the confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder, and 5-6 tablespoons (depending on the consistency you want) of water until it looks like frosting.  Pro tip: if you mix with your mixer as if it’s a spoon first, you won’t have a sugar-covered kitchen.

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Scoop the icing into a pastry bag with a #3 tip and keep the remaining covered while not using.  It hardens really fast.  Ice the cookies as you wish.  I just googled “Decorated Gingerbread Men” to see what other people did.  And I had M&Ms on hand so I used those for buttons.

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At first I accidentally put the M&M “m” side up, but then I was able to rationalize that it was advertisement for SMiLes by Meg and decided they all had to be “m” side up.  Geminis are really good at coming up with these sorts of justifications, I’ve been told.

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I also wasn’t totally sure the best way to go about decorating the house, but this is what I came up with:

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Anyways, I had a lot of cookies, so I set aside 10 houses and 10 men for my cookie tins.  The rest are finding there way to work tomorrow for our party.  So if you’ll be there, get excited.

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Gingerbread cookies store really well for awhile, as long as you keep them in airtight containers.  Also, the icing hardens fast enough that they are fine to stack.

Enjoy!

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Gingerbread Men

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup crisco
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3-5 cups flour 

For the icing:

  • 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 5-6 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Cream together egg, crisco, vinegar, sugar, and molasses.
  2. Whisk together baking soda, spices, and 3 cups flour in separate bowl.
  3. Add to molasses mixture and mix well.
  4. Keep adding flour until dough is the right consistency for rolling and cutting cookies.  Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll dough thin and cut cookies.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 8 minutes or until edges turn brown.  Leave on cookie sheet for 2 minutes to crisp before removing to wire rack.
  7. Mix confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder, and water for icing in a large bowl.  Transfer to pastry bag and decorate.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes

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It was 60° on Friday.  It’s December.  It’s really hard to get into the Christmas spirit when the weather feels like we’ve skipped about 5 months.  Fortunately, I planned Christmas activities for the weekend anyways.  And now it’s snowing!  It all works out.

Anyways, today I had some friends from college over for a Christmas brunch.  This involved lots of baking last night, and lots of real cooking this morning.  But with my forest of paper trees and Straight No Chaser to get me through it, it was impossible not to feel Christmas-y.  Side note: if you haven’t listened to their Christmas album, you’re missing out.  It has some of the classics, but without trying to make them sound like the originals.  Wicked awesome.

So as I browsed through recipes and websites to find a good crowning dessert to my brunch, I was stuck.  I was serving a lot of stuff with cinnamon and nutmeg and those sorts of spices, but I didn’t particularly want that to carry into the dessert as well.  I also wanted to make something a little more pretty than cookies.  So in my website hunt, I came across another blog, The Pastry Affair, and it had the perfect solution: Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes.  They were chocolate, which is always good, and mint, which finishes most meals well.  And they are really cool looking.  An all-around win.

First up, you have to actually make the chocolate cupcakes.  They recommended just using a box mix, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that if I was going to post to the blog.  So I used another chocolate cupcake recipe from their blog, which has now possibly become my favorite.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder.

 

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Add the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract to the same bowl and beat until well mixed.  This recipe is one-bowl baking at its finest.  No pretending that it matters if you add flour to liquid or anything like that.  It cuts right to the chase.

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Another side note: I just used coffee from my Keurig.  I have a mini Keurig, and when I made the cup, I then started second guessing whether it actually made a full cup (as in 8 oz), so I measured it.  I now know that my Keurig is not cheating me – it makes an 8 oz cup.  That was a satisfying discovery that I felt I needed to share.

The coffee also gives the finished cupcake a much more complex flavor than your run-of-the-mill box mix, which was pretty cool.  I was a fan.

Anyways, the batter will be very liquidy, which makes the scooping-into-cupcake-tins action very challenging.  I used a ladle to start, but eventually just settled on a spoon.  It was messy, but I had no better method.  Fill the lined cups about 2/3 full.

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Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, such that a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  I have a single cupcake tin with only 6 spots, so this baking took a very long time for me.  But I did end up with more than 2 dozen cupcakes, which was pretty good.  Let them cool completely on a wire rack.

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For once, I was patient and did let the cupcakes cool completely.  This was mostly due to the fact that I didn’t finish baking them until around 10pm and you really shouldn’t frost cupcakes a day in advance if you want them to look good.  Fast forward to this morning: time to make the frosting.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth.  If you have a stand mixer, I highly recommend you use that.  My hand mixer has two speeds: high and higher.  I also wasn’t totally sure it was going to survive the stress of beating two sticks of butter, but we got through it.

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Then, add vanilla extract, salt, and peppermint extract and continue beating.  This may be the first time I’ve used salt on my blog – I usually leave it out, but I figured that with the other extracts being added to the frosting, it might counteract the intensity a little bit, so I kept it in.

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Next, add the confectioner’s sugar and heavy cream little by little, mixing after each addition.  I did this by adding about a quarter of the box of sugar and one tablespoon of heavy cream at a time.

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If you’re afraid of spray, you can also do the towel trick to make sure you don’t have a kitchen that looks like it was snowed in:

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You may have to add a little extra heavy cream to get the consistency right – the frosting should be stiff but pliable, if that makes any sense.

Now comes the fun (and extremely innovative) part: striped frosting!  I loved this for so many reasons.  The cupcakes look awesome, I got to play with my cake decorating stuff, and it kind of looks like blood for awhile, which is morbid but funny when you’re by yourself icing cupcakes to give to your friends later.

So what you do is dip a toothpick in red food coloring gel (has to be gel, not liquid – you don’t want to mess with the ratios and consistency of the frosting) and draw three lines up the inside of a pastry bag.  It should look something like this:

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Then, use a spatula to add the frosting to the pastry bag, making sure not to scrape the sides.  You also shouldn’t try to fit all of the frosting in at one time.  I made that mistake, and was oozing frosting out of the top into my hand the whole time, which really just resulted in me eating far more frosting than I was intending since I had to keep cleaning off my hand.

This is the part where it looks bloody:

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I used a 2D tip and just swirled the frosting on top of each cupcake to cover.  I was going to use my cupcake pedestal, but that seemed like too much effort and I had a quiche in the oven.  They looked pretty awesome at this point in the process, even without the final step.

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But, I continued on anyways, and crushed 4 candy canes in a bag.  Not going to lie, it sounded like I was doing construction in my apartment as I beat the bag with my measuring cup, but it worked.

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Finally, sprinkle the pieces onto the top of the cupcakes.  When you get lazy/if you aren’t photographing them for a website, it’s just as easy to put the candy cane pieces on a plate and smush the cupcake upside down in the pieces to coat.  But that doesn’t look quite as nice as this.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Candy Cane Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1 box confectioner’s sugar
  • 4-5 tablespoons heavy cream
  • red gel food coloring
  • 4 crushed candy canes

Directions

For the cupcakes:

  1. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in a large bowl.
  2. Add the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.  Beat until well mixed.
  3. Spoon into lined muffin tins to fill 2/3 of the way.  Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

For the icing:

  1. Beat butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla extract, salt, and peppermint extract, beating until well combined.
  3. Beat in confectioner’s sugar and heavy cream a little at a time until smooth.  Add more sugar or cream as necessary to reach the consistency of stiff yet pliable.
  4. Use a toothpick to paint three lines of red food gel up the inside of a pastry bag with a 2D tip.  Add the frosting to the bag using a spatula and being careful not to scrape the sides of the bag.
  5. Pipe icing onto cupcakes in a spiral to fill the top.  Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Biscotti

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It is impossible to say exactly how awesome it was to go home to Massachusetts this weekend.  I spent four whole days with my family for Thanksgiving break, and I am already looking forward to going back for Christmas.  Unfortunately, I was so caught up in the awesomeness of being home that I forgot to photograph while I was baking things for Thanksgiving.  I made Pull Aparts successfully for the first time ever (a yeast recipe very similar to monkey bread) but alas, I have no proof for you.  I also made some pretty delicious brickle from a Serious Eats recipe, but, again, I have no proof.

So instead, in honor of the first day of December, I decided to begin a month-long project of cookie recipes.  Every Christmas (for the past couple of years at least), I’ve made cookie tins for friends and family.  Usually, I do this with two full days of cookie-making, but I’m not sure I have two full days in a row this year to make that happen, so my cookie recipes will be coming in a steady stream all month.  Don’t be surprised if you get an update that I posted on a not-Sunday – I just don’t want you all to miss any cookie I decide to make.

First up – Chocolate Chip Coconut Biscotti.  I’d never made biscotti before this, but I’d always wanted to.  Also, I was home, so naturally I had to make a coconut recipe for my mom.  These went to a Boxwood Tree party she was going to, so hopefully someone that was there will chime in and let us know how they tasted.

First thing’s first, whisk together the flour and baking powder.  Note the red bowls and appliances – my obsession with yellow is only matched by my mom’s obsession with red.

 

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Then, in a stand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes on medium speed.  I was very excited to get to use a stand mixer.  Still debating whether I need one in majestic yellow or buttercup – anyone know which one is the lighter color?

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Action shot:

 

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Add the eggs one at a time and beat each time.  Then add in the vanilla and coconut, mixing until completely combined.

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I may have gotten a little out of control with the action shots of the stand mixer.  The whole hands-free mixing thing was pretty exciting.

Next, add the flour while the mixer is on low speed and mix until there are no more streaks.

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Finally, add the nuts and chocolate chips and mix until combined. The original recipe called for mini chocolate chips and almonds, but I had pecans and walnuts on hand and the grocery store didn’t have the mini chocolate chips, so I went with regular size.  The mini would probably be pretty good, but if you like big bites of chocolate, there’s nothing wrong with the regular ones.  Also, any chopped nut works.  If you are looking for an almond joy flavor, then the almond/dark chocolate/coconut combo is perfect, but if you just want good biscotti, choose your own adventure.

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Let the dough chill, covered, in the fridge for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, you could make origami Christmas trees to decorate your windowsill.

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However, I will warn you that this becomes an extremely addicting craft which may cause you to go to Michael’s and spend $2/sheet on squares of pretty paper to make them with.  For that reason I’m not including the steps, though the internet is a wonderful thing for finding this sort of craft.

Once the dough has chilled, shape it into two loaves on a cookie sheet.  The loaves should be about 10 inches long by 3 inches wide by 3/4 inch thick.  I may or may not have used a ruler, but we’ve already established that I can be obsessive about things.

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Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until brown and cracked on top.  They should spring back when pressed.  Let them cool on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes more.

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A close up of what I mean by cracked:

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Once cool, transfer them to a cutting board and slice them on the diagonal, about half an inch thick.  Put the pieces on cookie sheets cut side down.

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Bake at 325°F for about 20 more minutes, or until brown on top and dry.  They will continue to dry on the cookie sheet as they cool, so resist the urge to eat them warm since biscotti are way better when they reach the right texture.

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Finally, stack them up and serve them with some hot chocolate!  (Credit to my mom on the stacking job – I only wish I could have made them look as nice)

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They’ll keep in an airtight container stored at room temperature as well.  And they pack nicely into tins if you want to give them as gifts.  I also can’t think of a reason not to dip them in chocolate to make chocolate-dipped biscotti, I just didn’t have the time.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip Coconut Biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  2. In a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment on medium speed to beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla and coconut, mixing until well combined.
  5. Add the flour with the mixer on low speed until there are no streaks remaining.
  6. Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips.
  7. Chill in the fridge, covered, for 30 minutes.
  8. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 10 inch by 3 inch by 3/4 inch loaf on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until brown and cracked on top.
  9. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 30 minutes.
  10. Transfer to cutting board and slice on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick pieces.  Put the pieces cut side down on the cookie sheet and bake for an additional 20 minutes at 325°F, or until brown on top.
  11. Allow to cool so that biscotti will dry out.