Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream

You may have noticed a little pattern here. Pumpkin, pumpkin and more pumpkin?

Yup.

See, the Fall in Louisiana is short-lived. Pretty soon it’s either going to be in the upper 80s again and before we know it, it’s gonna be stuck in the 30s. So, don’t judge me if I use pumpkin as much as possible in recipes. :-) I promise, I’ll get over pumpkin soon, but for now, I should be purchasing pumpkin in bulk. I’m not tired of it.

My husband asked me to bake something for his office, and who am I to turn down an opportunity to bake? Seriously, send me to a doctor if I refuse to bake. :-P I’ve been wanting to make these whoopie pies for a while now, and of course, this was the perfect excuse to bake these little treats up. I didn’t want to use a cream cheese frosting, since I’m always paranoid about leaving cream cheese out for an extended period of time (I know…super paranoid), so I thought that this salted caramel frosting would serve just fine. :-)

I love when my husband forwards me emails from his coworkers about what I bake for the office. It’s always good to hear when a recipe is good, and this one was GOOD. Pretty darn popular amongst the people in his office, and they are known to be very honest. I’ve never had a complaint, but one time, my husband was sent home with a recipe request haha!

I made these whoopie pies with a mini scoop so there would be more than enough for his office. Making this recipe with a mini scoop makes about 36 complete sandwiches.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Source: whoopie pies via Culinary Concoctions by Peabody (originally from Baked), buttercream from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fresh nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Salted Caramel Buttercream (for filling)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg) together, until everything is well-mixed.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the granulated and dark brown sugars together, and add the canola oil in. Mix the ingredients well. Add the pumpkin puree to the sugar/oil mixture and whisk until everything is well-blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until everything is incorporated. Whisk the flour mixture into the wet mixture a little at a time, until everything is thoroughly mixed together.
  4. To make mini whoopie pies, use a tbsp. sized scoop to drop tbsp. amounts of batter onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between each cookie for spreading.
  5. Bake the whoopie pies for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies just start cracking on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (without crumbs). Remove the whoopie pies from the oven, and allow them to cool thoroughly on a rack before assembling.
  6. To assemble the cookies, drop a tbsp. of frosting on the bottom side of one whoopie pie, and then press together the flat sides of two whoopie pies. Enjoy!

 

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Strawberry Coulis

Cream Cheese Pound Cake w/ Strawberry Coulis

Last week, my whole body got confused. For the first time since last fall, I felt the urge to bake something with pumpkin. The reason? I went out of town to San Diego for a work conference. The minute I stepped off the plane, I had to ask someone if this was real. I mean, c’mon. 70 degrees at 1pm? IN JULY??! No way. Down here, we get maybe 2 days like that, and they’re in the middle of October. I’m completely jealous of y’all who call San Diego home. When I came home, I was instantly reminded with the 105 degree heat index that it is definitely still the summer.

I guess I should embrace it, since it’s here for another month or so. When it comes to baking in the summer, I try to make things that aren’t super rich. I like to stick to using fruit and simple flavors, like this pound cake. While pound cake contains an unreal amount of butter, for some reason, it just works really well with fruits. This pound cake is perfectly moist on the inside, but on the outside, the cake bakes up to a nice, sort of crunchy crust (hard to describe, but I swear…it’s great). And the strawberry coulis (pretty much a fancy name for sauce) that accompanies this cake is just perfectly refreshing and light.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Strawberry Coulis
Source: Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 package (8 ounces) Philadelphia brand cream cheese, at room temperature (the brand is recommended in SK’s post)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract plus 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt

For the coulis:

  • 2 cups quartered hulled strawberries (about 12 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a bundt pan very well to prepare it for the cake batter
  2. Place the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is smooth. Add the sugar and beat the mixture on high for at least five minutes, until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating well after each egg and scraping down the bowl with a spatula regularly. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, as well as the flour and salt. Beat the mixture on low until the mixture is just mixed (be careful not to overbeat).
  3. Add the batter to the bundt pan and tap the pan to ensure that the top is even. Bake the cake for 75 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out cleanly.
  4. Take the pan out of the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then flip the cake out onto a cooling rack, allowing it to completely cool there.
  5. To make the coulis (which can be made one day ahead), combine the coulis ingredients in a blender, and puree the mixture until it is very smooth. Optional: press the mixture through a strainer to remove the seeds. Chill the coulis until cold.

Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

“Thank you. What is it?”

“It’s a bundt.”

“Bunn-t?”

“Bundt.”

“Bonn—bonnk??”

Name that movie. :-P

I can’t help it. Anytime I bake or eat a bundt cake, that scene pops in my head. As I was mixing this cake, I had the scene playing on YouTube at the same time. I’m a weirdo. I know.

Bundt cakes, to me, are a bake and pray type of cake. I say pray, because you know that moment where you’re holding a plate against the bundt pan getting ready for the infamous flipping of the pan? Yeah, I totally pray that the sucker comes out in one piece. It’s a huge bummer when you’ve worked so hard to bake a cake and the darn thing just sticks to the bottom of the pan. Of course the solution is to make a trifle, but a perfect, pretty bundt cake is so much more of a baking ego boost. :-P

I wanted to make a fun patriotic cake, and instead of making the red, white and blue cupcakes that I made a couple of years ago, I decided that this would be the perfect time to make a red velvet cake. Red velvet is one of my favorites. I actually think it’s sort of a requirement to love a red velvet cake as a southern gal. :-P This recipe was moist, had the perfect crumb and the icing was a perfect mix between a glaze and a frosting, which was great to just drizzle all over the cake to make the fun patriotic look happen.

Just a note: If you make any red velvet cake, I highly recommend Wilton’s No Taste Red. When making red velvet cake, you usually need a good bit of food coloring to make the cake red, and sometimes regular red dyes can add a bitter after taste to your cake if you add too much.

Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: Kiss My Bundt Bakery (via LA Times)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (sift after measuring)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make the cake, in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar and vanilla. Mix on medium speed using the paddle attachment for about a minute.
  3. In another large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder.
  4. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time to the wet ingredients. Make sure to do this slowly so that the batter doesn’t develop clumps.
  5. Pour the batter into a 10-12 cup bundt cake pan that has been greased and floured (or you can use simple baking spray…just make sure it’s meant for baking, since those contain flour). Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes. Then, (say a small prayer ha!) invert the pan onto a plate. (If the cake doesn’t feel like it’s going to come out of the pan, just let it cool for an additional 15 minutes.) Allow the cake to cool completely (about an hour) before frosting.
  7. To decorate the cake, I ended up just placing the frosting (one color at a time) in a ziploc bag and cutting the tip off. Then, drizzle the frosting over the cake and add sprinkles. Enjoy!

 

Snickers Cupcakes

Snickers Cupcakes

Snickers bars are my diet nemesis. The candy bars are 280 calories each (yep), and I could seriously destroy one in a couple of minutes. Now that I’m calorie counting, 280 calories is a lot when you get under 1600 calories each day, but in my opinion, calories don’t count for one day of the year. Your birthday. I turned 28 on Friday, and since Snickers are my favorite, I decided to make these cupcakes to celebrate. Now, of course, I could buy a cake at a bakery and spend $30+, but heck, where can you find SNICKERS cupcakes? Not any place around here, that’s for sure!

The hardest thing for me was bringing home two bags of mini Snickers to make these bad boys happen. I totally ate about 10-ish mini Snickers that week, so I obviously don’t have any willpower against this candy….at.all. Oh, and when it came time to make these Thursday and cut the candy up for the filling….yeah, totally snuck a few tiny bites. Whoopsie!

I will admit, these cupcakes were more time-consuming than I thought, but it’s worth it to give these a try. Just don’t do it on a weeknight, like I did. :-P

If you’re concerned about me completely killing my diet, I’ll let you know that since I could have totally eaten all 20 of these cupcakes, I ended up giving most of them to H to bring to his coworkers. His coworkers absolutely loved these, and some of these actually wanted to know how much they would be for me to make them. So, I guess they weren’t a flop haha! My opinion? Heaven in a cupcake. Oh yes…if you love Snickers like I do, just make these cupcakes.

Snickers Cupcakes
Source: mildly adapted from Annie’s Eats, cupcakes originally from Martha Stewart, frosting originally from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. coarse salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For the filling:

1 bag mini Snickers chopped into fourths (I found it easier to do this after the Snickers were in the freezer)
1/4 cup salted butter caramel sauce

For the frosting:

16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup salted butter caramel sauce
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tbsp. heavy cream

**To garnish the tops, you’ll need 20 mini Snickers.**

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix together until the ingredients are well-combined. In a smaller bowl, whisk the cocoa powder and hot water together until it’s a smooth liquid.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter and sugar using medium heat. Once the butter has melted, remove the mixture from the cook top and transfer the mixture to a mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment on the mixer, beat the butter/sugar mixture on medium-low speed for a few minutes, until the mixture has cooled (you don’t want to cook the eggs when you add them). Add in the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating the mixture well and scraping down the side of the bowl after you add each egg. Add in the vanilla and the cocoa mixture and mix until well-combined. Then, turn the mixer on low and add in the flour mixture in two batches, and alternating with the sour cream. You want to beat the mixture until just combined (don’t overmix).
  3. Using a medium cookie scoop, add the batter to your cupcake pans (lined with cupcake liners) until each cup is about 3/4 full. Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes (rotating the cupcake pan once when the cupcakes are halfway done with baking), until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for a few minutes, and move them to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
  4. Once the cupcakes are completely cool, cut a cone shape out of the center of the cupcakes using a paring knife. Using cooled caramel sauce, add 1/3 cup of the caramel sauce to your Snickers pieces and mix until the candy is coated in caramel. Then, add a spoonful of the filling to each cupcake.
  5. For the frosting, using a paddle attachment on your mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add in the confectioners’ sugar with the mixer on low speed, a cup at a time (to avoid a mess), until the mixture smooth and creamy. Add in the caramel sauce (which should be just a tad on the warm side for this), vanilla and salt on low speed, and mix until well-blended. Add in the heavy cream, and mix the frosting on medium speed for a few minutes until fluffy and smooth.
  6. To finish the cupcakes, frost the cupcakes to your liking (I used a Wilton 1B tip), drizzle on some caramel sauce, and place a mini Snickers on the center of each cupcake.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I know that Valentine’s Day is really just a typical day where Hallmark and the flower shop make bank, but sometimes it’s fun to just give in and be gushy about the day. This past weekend, my husband and I decided to make our own Valentine’s Day dinner instead of wasting crazy amounts of money and time at a restaurant around here. We made an insanely indulgent dish (hello butter!) consisting of corn grits, crawfish etouffee and fried jump shrimp. I know…cheat day! Since H and I have been calorie counting for a couple of weeks now, it made us sluggish the rest of the day. I guess our bodies are getting used to this healthy thing.

So, today I figured I’d share with y’all something that would make your cheat day complete. :-P  The plan was to bring this dessert to work for a charity bake sale, so I knew if I made these, I could easily get them out of the house if they were too tasty and tempting. Thank goodness too, because in my quality control test (ha!), I found that these were extremely tasty! I hope they sell out, because I don’t want to bring any of these home! Or maybe I do, but MyFitnessPal might yell at me.

Just a note: I will say that one batch does not make many of these. I made a double batch for the sale, and ended up with 22 whoopie pies.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Source: found on Big Apple Nosh (cookie recipe originally from Better Homes and Gardens)

Ingredients:

For the whoopie pies:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 of a  1-oz bottle red (preferably No-Taste Red by Wilton or Super Red by Americolor) food coloring

For the filling:

  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 lb confectioners sugar, sifted (you may not need all of it) 
  • pink food coloring (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt until well blended.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter for about two minutes until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and mix until well blended. Add in the egg, vanilla and food coloring and beat the wet mixture until everything is incorporated.
  4. Add the flour and buttermilk mixture a third at a time (alternatively), until the mixture is just mixed. (Don’t overbeat)
  5. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out the whoopie pies on the baking sheet, giving about an inch in between each cookie for rising/spreading.
  6. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, until the tops of the whoopie pies are set. Allow all of the cookies to cool before filling.
  7. To make the filling, beat the cream cheese and butter together for a couple of minutes until fluffy and light. Add the vanilla and optional food coloring. Then, in 1/2 cup increments, add the confectioners sugar until the frosting is fairly firm but still easily stirrable. (A good way to test this is to put an offset spatula in the frosting bowl. If the spatula remains standing, it’s firm enough.)
  8. Place the filling in a ziploc bag with the tip cut off and pipe some of the filling on the flat side of one cookie. Then sandwich that cookie together with another whoopie pie that isn’t frosted (where the flat tops meet).

Favorite Party Recipes

Part of me cannot believe that the Superbowl is Sunday. I mean, that’s the end of football season until next Fall. I have to wait at least six months to watch another game after this. Sad.  (If you know me, you know I’m being dead serious about how sad this is to me. Crazy football fan here!) A perk of Superbowl Sunday? Watching Millie run up to the TV when I randomly switch over to the Puppy Bowl.

To mourn celebrate the end of another football season, here’s some great recipes that will definitely disappear if you serve them at your Superbowl parties.

Queso Blanco
Restaurant Style Queso Blanco

Restaurant Style Salsa
Restaurant Style Salsa


Crawfish Pies


Crawfish Cheesecake

Jambalaya
Pork and Sausage Jambalaya

Berry Mash Bruschetta
Berry Mash Bruschetta

Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

IMG_4426
Oreo Cupcakes

Oh, and if you have an occasional puppy bowl break, I’m pretty sure the dogs at your party would love you for these!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Pumpkin PB Treats

Grasshopper Cheesecake

Grasshopper Cheesecake

It’s 2012! Even though it’s really just a date, it’s cool to mentally have a new start at things. I’m not going to make BIG resolutions anymore, because I tend to let myself down. So, I have my 101 goals in 1001 days list to look to every once in a while, and I’m hoping to reach a few of those small goals sometime this year.

Every New Year’s Day, my Memaw holds a spaghetti and meatball dinner. No, we don’t have black eyed peas or cabbage. We have spaghetti and meatballs. Sounds boring, but trust me, this isn’t your average spaghetti and meatballs. Oh man. We only have it once a year, and the sauce is just the most divine, flavorful red sauce. I haven’t had a comparable red sauce, to date. It’s the best. ever.

This family meal was so much different than Christmas for us. Since we hosted Christmas last week, it was good to just sit back and enjoy good food and family time. I’m not saying we didn’t have a good time, but of course, when you host anything, it’s really hard to sit back and fully relax. ;-)

Whenever we’re invited to a meal or a party, I always offer to bring something. I’m usually told “no”, and I kind of was told “no” this year (oh well). Memaw mentioned, however, that she wanted me to find a recipe for her to give her at the party. Up until a few years ago, she used to order a grasshopper cheesecake (like the drink, not the bugs) from a company, but they discontinued making the cheesecake. She simply asked me to find a recipe for a grasshopper cheesecake, but I went a step further and brought her the cheesecake. That’s just how I roll.

Since my Memaw is diabetic, I used the Splenda baking blend in the filling instead of sugar. Keep in mind if you use Splenda to make this, you have to use 1/2 of the amount a recipe calls for. :-) Of course, I was worried about how the cheesecake would come out, since it’s a sugar substitute, but as you can see, the cheesecake came out just fine. In fact, my family could not stop eating this cheesecake and I had an empty cake stand to bring home, which always marks a good recipe.

I did mildly adapt a few things, based on comments I read on the recipe site. I also changed the crust to an oreo crust since I had some oreos to use up.

Grasshopper Cheesecake
Source: adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients:

For the crust:

  • 1 3/4 cups of crushed oreos (cream filling removed…about 20 oreos)
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3- 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (or 1/2 cup Splenda baking blend)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup creme de menthe liquer

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F.
  2. To prepare the springform pan for the water bath, wrap foil around the outside of the pan along the bottom and sides of a 9 inch non-stick springform pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix crust ingredients with fork until crumbly. Press the crust on the bottom and about 1 inch up the side of the pan.
  4. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Once the crust is baked, place the pan in the freezer to cool down while you make the filling.
  5. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave the chocolate on high for 60 seconds and stir the chocolate. Microwave in 30 second intervals until just melted and smooth. Set the chocolate aside to slightly cool.
  6. In a mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down frequently. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth. Stir in liqueur on low. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cheesecake mixture.
  7. Take the pan out of the freezer and pour the rest of the filling evenly over crust.
  8. Stir the 1/4 cup of cheesecake mixture into the melted (but cooled) semi-sweet chocolate. Drop 8 to 10 spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture randomly onto filling. With a knife or small spatula, swirl the chocolate mixture into the cheesecake mixture.
  9. Fill a roasting pan with about 1 1/2 inches of hot water to make the water bath for the cheesecake. Carefully place the springform pan in the roasting pan, and place the roasting pan in the oven. Bake for 70-80 minutes, until the edge looks set. Turn oven off and open door slightly (I just leave it open by placing a wooden spoon in the door). Cool cheesecake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and remove the foil from the pan. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow it to cool at room temperature for 1 hour. After it has cooled, refrigerate the cheesecake for 3 hours or overnight.
  10. To serve, carefully remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and enjoy!

 

Top 10 Recipes of 2011

Am I the only person who is shocked that Christmas just passed? I can’t believe it. Neighbors are taking down lights, and our tree looks SO empty without gifts under it. My favorite holiday is over, and crazy enough, it’s time for a new year. 2012.

Time to take the shrink wrap off of the new planner and get used to writing “2012” on papers/emails/etc. This is just crazy.

Also crazy…sometime in 2012, my 4 year blogiversary is happening and my 3 year wedding anniversary is happening too. WHAT?

It’s a lot to look forward to, but before everyone rings in the new year, I just wanted to share with y’all the top 10 posts of 2011. :-)

Yellow Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

10. Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream – This was my first time making SMBC, and I swear, if you haven’t tried SMBC before, just do it. Please?

Pecan Pie Macarons

9. Pecan Pie Macarons – Gotta love macarons. These were really a huge favorite for Thanksgiving, and the star shape (which was a happy accident) made them super cute and festive!

Queso Blanco

8. Restaurant Style Queso Blanco – This is it. The ultimate queso blanco. If you’re as addicted to queso as me, you’d understand how wonderful it is to FINALLY have a recipe for this!

Strawberry Cream Cake

7. Strawberry Cream Cake – I’m actually glad I compiled this top 10, because I sort of forgot about this cake. Since it’s currently strawberry season in Louisiana, I think I MUST make this cake again. Yum!

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles

6. Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles – This is the recipe that made my year, basically. I still can’t believe I won that recipe contest, and I’ve been told by a few friends who made this that these little truffles were a hit at their holiday parties! So happy to hear that!

Banana Nutella "Ice Cream"

5. Banana Nutella “Ice Cream” – Two ingredient “ice cream”. It’s basically awesome and couldn’t be any easier. Your food processor does all the work!

Corn Grits

4. Grilled Corn Grits – I can’t be from the South, and not have a post about grits. I promise you if you make this, your hips may never be the same again, but your taste buds will tell you it’s completely worth it!

3. Easy Pasta Salad – My first (and so far, only) vlog. I might get the courage to make one again, since you guys seemed to like it so much!

Diet Cupcakes

2. Cooking For Kids – The infamous post. Yup, who’da thought that a soda cupcake would get so much response from you guys (both good and bad)…yikes!

Homemade S'mores

1. S’mores for a Shower – Nutella S’mores. I can see why you guys loved this one so much. I’m sort of craving s’mores right now, actually. :-P

I hope you have a wonderful New Year with your family and friends, and thank you so much for reading The Nifty Foodie! See y’all in 2012!

Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yellow Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

When I started my food blog almost 4 years ago, I never expected that I would make so many friends through this. While I’ve only met a handful of bloggers in real life, I consider so many of them to be dear friends of mine. When my friend, Amy of Sing For Your Supper announced that she was pregnant, I smiled and felt like I needed to run to Texas and give her a huge congratulatory hug. I know that sounds absolutely crazy, but I just feel like my friendships online are just as real as the ones I have face-to-face. I was absolutely flattered when Kelsey of Apple A Day asked me to contribute to Amy’s (all sweets) virtual baby shower! I knew that my contribution had to be pink, since Amy is expecting a little girl, so I decided to make cupcakes with a (super pink) strawberry swiss meringue buttercream!

I was actually slightly intimidated here, because this was my first official swiss meringue buttercream. I was armed with online pointers about what to do if everything goes wrong, since sadly, if something can go wrong with a recipe, it usually goes wrong for me.

Much to my surprise, though, the buttercream came together perfectly. I was waiting for the separation, the curdling, the “Oh dangit, I did it again!”, but no. It whipped up beautifully and tasted so so good! As in, I want to make all of my birthday cakes with swiss meringue buttercream from now on. Seriously. If you’ve never made a swiss meringue buttercream (also fondly known as SMBC) before, just try it. If you’re like me, and you’re scared of all of the things that can go wrong, read this awesome blog post by Confessions of a Foodie Bride to be a little more prepared.

As for the cake, this was actually a recipe I’ve made before, which is absolutely fabulous. I think it’s my favorite from-scratch cake recipe to date. The whipped egg whites just make the batter so light and perfect. It’s a good standard cake recipe to try.

If you want to check out what everyone else made for Amy’s baby shower, check out the round-up posts at Kelsey’s blog (the hostess for the baby shower) and Amy’s blog (go congratulate the momma-to-be)!

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Source: Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of fresh strawberries, pureed in a food processor (using part of the adaptation mentioned on Martha’s website)

Directions:

  1. In the heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).
  2. Pour the mixture into your stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Once it reaches that point and the mixture isn’t cool yet (just feel the sides of the bowl to find out), continue beating on low until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating a minute or so after each addition of butter. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Add in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir in strawberry puree with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth. If your frosting isn’t pink enough to your liking, add a touch of pink food coloring. :-)

 

Oreo Cupcakes

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A couple of weeks ago, my husband told me his office was having a potluck and wanted to bring some baked goodies. It’s way easier to bring a tin full of baked goodies vs. a crockpot full of mini sausages with BBQ sauce, so baked goods it was. At first we were thinking brownies, but hey, if you don’t act fast on those potluck sign-ups, the easy goodies get taken (like brownies). So those were out. Cookies were taken, and cake was being brought.

So, I thought…why not bring cupcakes? Sure, cake would be provided but we could bring a fun flavor. :-) Then, oreo cupcakes popped in my head. This was yet another recipe that has been forever starred in my Google reader, and now I had an excuse to make them!

There’s many ways that people make oreo cupcakes…some crush them up…some leave them in chunks. I wanted to leave them in chunks so people knew exactly what these cupcakes were, and of course, provide for a fun surprise in the cupcakes. :-)

Of course, I tried one for quality control. I absolutely loved it. The frosting went perfectly with the cupcake and the oreo/cake combination was just really great tasting together. The next day, my husband told me they were gone by the end of the day, and he got tons of compliments from his coworkers. Guess I should make these again! :-)

Oreo Cupcakes
Source: Beantown Baker

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour, plus 2 Tbsp for the Oreo chunks
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 pkg Oreo Cookies (~45 cookies)

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese at room temp
  • 1 stick butter at room temp
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Insert liners into a medium cupcake pan.
  2. Twist apart 24 Oreos. Place the wafer with filling on it, filling side up, in the bottom of each paper liner. Cut other wafers in half. Save 24 halves to place in the frosting. Crush the other wafer halves, also for garnishing.
  3. Cut the remaining Oreo cookies into quarters with a sharp knife. Toss with 2 Tbsp flour and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and mix to combine.
  5. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until integrated. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add the egg whites. Beat for 2 more minutes. Stir in the quartered cookies.
  7. Fill the cupcake lines three-quarters full. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan.
  8. For the icing, cream the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
  9. Add vanilla extract. Slowly add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Stir in some of the leftover cookie crumbs (make sure they are well crumbled to avoid a clogged piping tip). To assemble the cupcakes, frost cupcakes (once they are completely cooled) and sprinkle with crushed oreos.