Happiness Project#87: Banana Muffins!

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PTSD. I’ve been through a ton of scary medical situations in my life, but none have created such a strong reaction from me as living with cancer has. Recently, someone very close to me was diagnosed with breast cancer, and has already gone through her 1st round of chemotherapy. Fortunately, although she’s had a couple of side effects from the chemotherapy meds that she started, she’s doing much (MUCH) better than I did when I went through chemotherapy. Which is SUCH a relief. To everyone.

But because of seeing her start chemotherapy, and seeing how tired it has made her, the PTSD that I have from my own experience, has been hitting me HARD. For the past 7 days, I’ve been trying to quell this crushing anxiety about it. Because it reminds me too much of the hell that I endured last summer. A hell which I honestly did not think I would survive. And even though I feel like I’ve come pretty far this year since walking out of that terrifying experience, just the word, “cancer,” strikes dread within my heart. To where I’ve been struggling with sleeping, and eating, and leaving my house.

So for the past couple days, I’ve been working on new fondant products, and baking. A lot of baking. Since the act of baking (usually) provides me a small dose of therapeutic relief. The messier, the better.

Hence these new Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins, which my Daughter will be taking to her teachers tomorrow, as a THANK YOU for everything that they do. A quick little baking project, with a wonderful punch of flavor. Stress therapy has never been sweeter.

2 cups cake flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

pinch of cinnamon

3 ripe bananas, mashed well (I use a fork to mash them all up nice & good)

1/4 whole milk plain yogurt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line two cupcake pans with 18 paper liners.

In bowl #1 combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.

In bowl #2, either on a stand mixer, or handheld, combine all 3 mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract, mixed well. Slowly add the wet mixture (bowl #2) to the dry ingredients (bowl #1), and gently stir until the flour mixture is absorbed. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the banana mixture into each of the 18 paper cupcake liners, filling them 3/4 of the way full.

Pop the 2 pans into the oven, and bake for 18 minutes. Pull both pans out of the oven, and let cool on a wire rack. And serve, with or without butter.

The best part of this recipe? When a 4 year old bites into one, saying, “YUM!” That always makes my day. Even though they’ve recently been a little darker.

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Happiness Project#79: Lemon Ice Cream Cake!

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Adult friendships are, well, difficult. To put it lightly. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have three very close adult friends in the last 20 years, two of which live out of state from me. And because of my naturally reclusive nature, made even more so since becoming bi-polar, with an anxiety disorder, it’s not easy for me to become attached to a new adult friend. Again, because of my reclusive nature. So when I have allowed myself to become very close to another female friend, I tend to give my all to that person. In every way that I’m physically & emotionally able to.

For over a year & a half, I became very close to a female friend living within my area. To where I truly loved this friend of mine, and would do virtually anything for her. A relationship that I believed was mutual. Until nearly 3 months ago, when I was slammed with a mountain load of physical & emotional stress, and felt myself spiraling down within my darkness. And felt like I could barely help myself, more or less anyone else. A situation which became depressively worse when this very close friend of mine all of sudden (out of nowhere), disappeared from my life, in every way. With no explanation or warning as to why. Which broke my heart, and left me feeling lost and confused.

Just recently, after initiating contact with my friend, and learning that our expectations within a friendship were, and had always been vastly different from one another’s, I realized that I could not hold on to a relationship that showed no possibility of a continuing friendship. So though it broke my heart all over again, I said goodbye to my friend of a year & half. Someone who I loved and cherished dearly. Because I knew that it was best for the both of us.

Through the entire waiting period in between when my friend disappeared, and then finally acknowledging that it was time to say goodbye, I realized something incredibly significant in regards to what I need and want within a true, real friendship. Or in this case, what was not acceptable to me, within (any) relationship. Which is this, no matter how harsh this may sound to those who don’t know or understand me: please do not ever just disappear, with no explanation, from the lives of those who love you. It’s one thing for a teenager to do such (because many teenagers may not understand the importance of honesty and communication within a long term relationship). But as a responsible, loving adult? Unacceptable to me. Because my heart is not disposable. When I name a person as a close friend, I don’t let go. I am fierce in the ways that I love and support those who love me back. Until it seems there’s nothing left to hold on to. Which is unfortunately how this friendship ended.

And though I still hold a great deal of love for this friend, I am honest enough within myself (& strong enough within my life experiences), to understand that not every person that I chose to love, will stay with me for the rest of my life. Because sometimes friends, as well as lovers, are only meant to walk with you for a season or two. Both a sad yet somehow beautiful experience. One that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

So in light of this sad occasion, I did what I always do to bring a little bit of sunshine back into my heart. I created a new recipe, with my favorite dessert flavor: lemon, combined with the comfort of ice cream, and the joy of cake. My Lemon Ice Cream Cake! Created with the many friends & loved ones of mine in mind. This is for you.

For the Lemon Cake:

3-1/2 cups cake flour

pinch of kosher salt

4 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

9 large eggs

Firstly, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 9 inch loaf pans. Sift the flour with the salt into a large bowl. Set aside.

On a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, on high speed, until combined and fluffy. Scrape down the the bottom and both sides of the bowl. Add in the lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat together the 9 eggs. Now add the beaten eggs into the mixing bowl in 3 additions, at low speed, until throughly combined. Now add in the flour mixture, in 3 additions, until the complete batter is just incorporated. The cake batter will be thick and fragrant.

Divide and pour the cake batter into each of the two loaf pans. Pop the two pans into the oven and let bake for 55-60 minutes, until the edges of the cake are slightly brown.

Let the two cakes cool on a wire rack, at room temperature for a least 30 minutes before gently extracting them from each pan.

Now on to the fun and messy part!

With a large serrated knife, cut each loaf in half, so that there are two flat pieces of each cake. Layer each loaf pan with a large piece of saran wrap, so that there are two flaps of saran wrap hanging over the sides of each pan (like wings). Place the first layer of the cut cake on the bottom of each pan.

Grab your favorite vanilla ice cream out of the freezer, and scoop out two to three large globs of ice cream onto the two bottom cake layers. With a knife, smooth out the ice cream until it becomes a uniform flat layer.

Now, add on the top piece of the lemon cake, gently pressing the top cake into the layer of ice cream. Scoop out another two to large globs of ice cream, and (again) spread out the ice cream onto the top piece of the lemon cake. AND sprinkle with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Or layer with fresh cut berries, such as sliced strawberries and blueberries! Once you’re happy with adding on your favorite toppings, take the side hangings of the saran wrap and tightly wrap up each ice cream cake.

Deposit each of the two lemon cakes into the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving!

*Please note: when serving up each ice cream cake, use a large serrated knife, that has been dipped beforehand in hot water, to cut up each piece of cake.

Just know that these lovely little cakes will melt fast! Though perhaps not as quickly as they are consumed!

Happiness Project#78: Chocolate Chip Monkey Bread!

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In light of the recent tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo last weekend, this chocolate chip monkey bread recipe apparently was calling my name. Or my heart perhaps. And I couldn’t resist it’s pull.

The frenzy (& madness) that flooded social media after the tragic killing of the zoo’s incredibly popular silverback gorilla, Harambe, has drawn the attention of parents, zoo patrons, and animal right activists alike. And after watching an eye witness’ horrifying video of the terrifying encounter between the 4 year old boy, and Harambe the gorilla, I dove into the fray, as well.

As a parent, I believe that I am entirely responsible for the actions of my 3 year old daughter. Because she’s ONLY three, and because of this young age, relies entirely on myself & my husband for guidance, encouragement, and love. So because I accept full responsibility for her, I am incredibly vigilant with how I parent.

Thus being said, in response to the situation that led to the little boy falling into the gorilla habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo, followed by a harrowing 10 minute encounter with the gorilla, Harambe, one incredibly important reminder came to mind. This being that all parents, no matter the situation, are responsible for the actions of their children, particularly, and especially, when a parent’s child is very young, and still learning prompts and behaviors from his or her adult figures. I know how brutal this may sound, and can only imagine how many individuals may not agree with my stance on responsible parenting. But this stance is something that I believe makes me a better person, and a better mother to my beautiful little girl. I believe that vigilance, because of how ever-changing this world is, is pivotal, and essential to my daughter’s well being, as well as to that of the general public.

Vigilance is not always easy. Especially with toddlers. But no matter how challenging it may be, it’s one of the most important aspects of who I am as a mother. Something I would never change. Because my daughter’s safety and happiness will always be worth it.

From last weekend’s tragedy, I hope that from this situation, good will come, and the importance of individual responsibility will be forefront within the near future.

So in honor of the gorilla named Harambe, and the legacy that he has left behind, I’m sharing this delightful, buttery, chocolatey monkey bread recipe for all who need a little bit of simple comfort. Here’s all you’ll need:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 cup salted butter, melted

1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 can giant refrigerated biscuits, 8 count

Firstly, preheat the over to 350d. Lightly butter a 9 inch round cake pan.

Mix together the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Pop open the can of biscuits. On a wooden surface, flatten out each biscuit. Cut up the cream cheese in 8 small squares, and add 1 square to (the center of) each flatted biscuit. Press in a small handful of chocolate chips to each square of cream cheese. With your fingers, fold up each biscuit until all 8 biscuits resemble the shape of a ball.

Space out each biscuit ball into the buttered cake pan. With the melted butter, lightly brush the tops of each ball. Followed with a generous sprinkling of the cinnamon-sugar. Yummy!

Pop the pan into the oven and let bake for 18 minutes.

Pull out those lovely rolls of monkey bread from the oven, deposit the pan on a cooling rack, and throw on some more chocolate chips! Yes, MORE! Must I convince you?

From my heart to yours, and to all of the many grieving fans of the majestic, Harambe, may the memories of this gentle giant live on forever.

 

 

Happiness Project#75: Funfetti Cookie Cheesecake!

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Holy Sweetness! This cheesecake. This funfetti cookie cheesecake is quite possibly one of the yummiest things that I have ever wrapped my taste buds around. After toying with it’s balance through a couple of failed baking sessions. But at last, THIS. Which I am quite proud of, I must admit. Because unless you’ve been hiding under a rock all of our life, you can’t not like cookies, cake AND sprinkles. The best of everything dessert. In my humble opinion, at least.

This cheesecake has basically saved me. From my very turbulent heart. The past two weeks has been some of the most impossible weeks I’ve ever faced. In comparison to my very difficult stay in the mental ward, when I had been suicidal shortly after the birth of my daughter, 3 years ago. That’s how rough the past couple of weeks have been. From unexplainably losing a mommy friend of mine (one of my closest this past year & a half), to the tragic passing of one of my Crown Books comrades, to discovering that I have, yet again, another tumor rapidly creating mass chaos within my body, I was at the edge of my tolerance. For, well, everything. Including life in general.

However, thanks in part to a new support group of women that I’ve been interacting with, as well as the calming presence of my doctor, I’m feeling more optimistic and hopeful about where I am right now in life, than I have in years. YEARS. Which, in my life, is a cause for much celebration! Starting with THIS cheesecake. Something you do not want to miss out on. Trust me. Ready? You’ll need:

For the cookie crust:

24 pre-baked sugar cookies (which you can create from scratch or with pre-made freezer dough)

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

To prepare your cookie crust, first, finely crush up those 24 pre-baked sugar cookies in a food processor. Your cookie crumbs will want to resemble a texture akin to grainy sand.

Dump the crumbs into a small bowl. Add in the 1/2 cup of sprinkles, as well as the melted butter. With your hands, mix all three ingredients together until the full mixture is slightly moist.

Now to the 9 inch springfoam baking pan. Lightly grease the bottom of the pan, so that the cookie crust does not stick to the surface upon extraction. Preheat the oven to 325d. While the oven is warming up, take heavy ply aluminum foil and tightly wrap up the entire bottom and outside surface of the pan. This is to prevent water from seeping into the cheesecake layer while being baked. Once wrapped, take your funfetti cookie dough and firmly press into the bottom of the cheesecake pan. Bake this bottom layer in the oven for 8 minutes.

While your cookie layer is baking away, you can work on preparing the cheesecake layer. Here’s what you’ll need:

24 ounces of cream cheese, warmed to room temperature

1 cup of granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole milk

On a stand or with a hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese together with the sugar, until smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl between each addition. Add in the vanilla extract, slowly followed by the whole milk. Mix well until your cheesecake batter is lump free.

By now, you”ll be able to take out the cookie layer from the oven. Let rest for a few minutes, at room temperature, before spooning in the cheesecake batter on top.

For this recipe, I used a water bath to control the overall temperature of the cheesecake while it was baking. For a water bath, take a tall lipped pan, or a turkey roasting dish (that is wider that the spring foam pan) and, after placing the cheesecake pan within it, slowly pour boiling water into the bathing pan, until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.

Let bake for 50 minutes, until the edges of the cheesecake is slightly firm to the touch, and the center of the cheesecake is slightly gooey.

Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake rest inside the oven, with the oven door cracked open, for 45 minutes to an hour.

Upon removing the cheesecake from the oven, smoothly remove from the water bath, and unwrap the cheesecake pan from the aluminum foil. Again, let stand, at room temperature for a good half hour.

Now comes the waiting. Cover the top of the cooled cheesecake with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 7 hours.

Once you’re ready to serve (after that long 7 hour wait), remove the pan from the fridge, and gently pop open the pan. Now here’s the super important tip: when releasing the cheesecake from the pan, do not shake the cheesecake out of the pan. That was my mistake with my 1st failed recipe. Let the cheesecake pull away from the pan itself. Even if that means waiting a few minutes for it to do so on it’s own. Therefore, your lovely cookie cheesecake will come out nice and clean.

AND now sprinkle! With as many sprinkles as your happy heart desires! Must I say, the more the merrier? OR scoop on some cold vanilla ice cream. Because cookies, cake, sprinkles AND ice cream? Kinda brilliant!

Until next time, all my love! xoxoxo

 

 

 

Happiness Project#72: Carrot Cake Pops!

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Valentines Day. Most of you know how I feel about Valentines Day. I’m not a believer. For many reasons, though mostly because of how disturbingly commercialized it is (in the US, at least). No matter my many disagreements with this specific day though, I do, however believe in love. Real love. That’s shown and celebrated, in no matter how small or grand a way, every day. And is no more or less significant because of any “holiday.”

So while standing firm in my own beliefs on love & relationships, I finally had the time to re-create one of my favorite cakes into what I call a “messy” cake pop treat. Because, well, I LIKE being a messy baker. It’s kinda freeing in this way. And fun. WAY more fun! My Chloe Girl agrees, wholeheartedly. Ha.

Hence these super yummy, and delightfully pink Carrot Cake Pops! With a whole lot of sprinkles and whole lot of LOVE! So from my heart to yours, here you go…

For the Carrot Cake, you’ll need:

2 cups cake flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

pinch of kosher salt

4 eggs

1-1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Firstly, preheat your oven to 350d. Lightly butter a square glass baking dish.

On a stand mixer, or by hand held, mix all of the dry ingredients together, until well combined.

Add in each egg, one at a time, until fully mixed with the dry ingredients. Followed with stirring in the vegetable oil until the full mixture becomes thick and creamy.

Now, slowly add in first the carrots, and then the pecans. Stir with a wooden spoon until also fully combined.

Pour the entire cake mixture into the prepared baking dish, smoothing out the top with a rubber spatula.

Pop that cake into the oven and let bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Once the cake is nicely baked through, let the entire dish cool on a wire rack for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

While the cake is cooling, prepare your cream cheese frosting. Need a new homemade cream cheese frosting that you’ll use for just about everything? Here’s my favorite go to:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

2 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Firstly, combine the butter and cream cheese into the bowl on your stand mixture. Whip up until fully combined.

Add in the 3 cups of powdered sugar, one cup at a time, scraping down the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl, at the finish of adding in all 3 cups.

Add in the vanilla extract, and then the heavy whipping cream. Whip together, at high speed, for 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside the bowl of frosting.

Now the messy part, which I kinda love! Taking the dish with the fully cooled carrot cake, dig your hands into that perfect cake and crumble all of it up. ALL of it. Anyone else breaking into a happy dance? Ha.

Once that cake is fully crumbled, drop in a cup of the cream cheese frosting onto that crumbled cake. With your hands (again), kneed the frosting into the crumble. The goal is for that cake crumble to become moist enough to roll up into 2 inch cake balls. So you’ll need to continue to add in another cupful or two of frosting to the crumble, until you’re able to roll up 18 to 20 carrot cake balls. Messy, yes, but SO darn FUN!!!

Place each cake ball onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

5 minutes before that hour is up, take a 12oz bag of white or vanilla candy melts and warm up, in 20 seconds intervals, in the microwave, until fully melted and creamy.

Take the fully chilled carrot cake balls out of the fridge and set next to the bowl with the melted candy melts. Prepare to get MESSY (again)! To the point where donning that favorite kitchen apron of yours is recommended. Very recommended.

With a large slotted spoon, dip each cake ball into the melted candy, ensuring that each ball is fully coated before gently depositing each coated cake ball onto the same parchment lined baking sheet that they were chilled on. After each ball is coated, take a lollipop stick and insert into each pop. Followed by sprinkling each cake pop with your favorite colored sugar crystals. In this case, pink. LOTS of pink.

Let your fully decorated cake pops sit at room temperature, until fully hardened. And eat. Or gift to those you love. Since these are LOVE pops!

May your every day, be a day for love. And a day for giving. Especially when giving involves your favorite cake pop.

Happiness Project#69: Candy Apple Cookie Cups!

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If you give a Mama a cookie…

It’s been one of my rough weeks. Or to be painfully accurate, a rough month. I re-injured the already deteriorating discs in my neck a few weeks ago, and have been in and out of my (hated) neck brace every day since. If you’ve ever had a severe back or neck injury involving the many discs in your spine, then you presumably know all too well how frustrating wearing a neck brace is. Not only are you virtually immobile with the range of movement in your neck but because of needing to be virtually immobile, you’re generally restricted from doing a whole slew of everyday activity. Like driving. Or being in a car. So thus being said, I’ve been on doctor’s house arrest (for lack of a better word). For nearly FOUR weeks, people. FOUR weeks. No fun.

Fortunately, even though I had to cancel numerous play dates and rely on my husband to run all of our out-of-house errands, my nearly 3 year old daughter didn’t seem to mind. Or notice that we were always inside, with only occasional romps out in the courtyard. Toddlers, my friends. They create play and adventure no matter where the are. Toddlers ROCK!

Anyhow, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the perfect pain-free opportunity to create these super cute cookie cups since well before Christmas. And this weekend was finally my chance. Because if you give a depressed and restless Mama a cookie, she’s going to throw in a whole jumble of yummy, mood altering additions. Like cool whip, caramel sauce, diced Gala apples and mini Snickers candies. Candies. Enough said.

Best of all? This bitesize treat is not only designed for all family members in mind but it’s ridiculously easy to create. Like ridiculous. Ready? GO!

Firstly, you’ll need to create the sugar cookie dough. And since I already have my own sugar cookie recipe that I always use, refer to my Messy Hearts Sugar Cookies post for the easiest cut out cookie recipe you’ll ever need. Or use your own recipe instead. Just note that your sugar cookie dough will need to be a stiffer consistency in order for the cookie cups to set up correctly.

Once you’ve created the dough and rolled it out, on a lightly floured work surface, use a 3 to 4 inch round cookie cutter to create the flat circle needed for the shaped cups.

Set your oven to 350d and lightly spray 1 mini cupcake pan (or 1 standard size cupcake pan) with butter.

Now the messy and FUN part. Take your already cut circles of dough and gently press each disc into each cupcake mold, creating a cup of dough, pressed flat in the middle of the pan, climbing up each side of the mold until the dough is just barely peeking out above the top. Think cup shape.

Slide that pan into the oven and let bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cookie cups are lightly golden in color.

Set out, in the pan, until fully cooled.

Onwards to the cup fillers! You’ll need…

1/2 cup melted and slightly cooled caramel candies

8oz container of Cool Whip

1/2 part Gala Apple, cut into very small, diced pieces

1/2 bag mini Snickers candies (cut in half pieces)

With the tip of a pairing knife, gently loosen each cooled cookie cup from the pan. Place each cup within an assembly line for fillings.

With a tablespoon, dribble the caramel sauce into each cookie cup. Followed with a spoonful of cool whip. Now layer the cool whip section with 3 to 4 diced pieces of apple. Followed with another 2 to 3 spoonfuls of cool whip, filling each cookie cup all the way to (or slightly above) the top edges.

Garnish with mini snickers! Or another apple piece! Because at least the apple part is healthy, right? Ha.

*P.S. Cookie Cups are one of the most versatile desserts you’ll ever run across. Want to use a different candy combination? Try chunks of chocolate chips with mini peanut butter cups! Or how about a healthier option (beyond candy)? Add in a couple tablespoons of your favorite cold yogurt, instead of the cool whip, with a coordinating fruit garnish! The options are endless!

Serve immediately or chill in the fridge until ready for mass family consumption! Just don’t except these lovely little cups to last for much longer than 24 hours. I have a sneaky suspicion that they won’t even last through an hour. Toddlers, remember?

Happiness Project#67: Holiday S’mores Muffins!

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3 months. 3 months later & I’m back! Bananas, right? Not to say that I haven’t wanted to be baking and blogging, because I have! I’ve just had NO time for anything extra in my crazy busy life.

My pastry business is booming, like you wouldn’t believe! I’ve been blessed to have a cake and cupcake order every other weekend now. Which is a whole lot of fun artistry, as well as a wealth of new experience for me.

And just last month, I started up my 2nd business venture as an Usborne Book Consultant. Which is beyond thrilling to my book loving heart! It’s been over 3 years since I left the children’s book industry yet no matter the many years away from it, my first passion will always be and still is that of a children’s bookseller. Needless to say, being able to hand sell wonderful children’s books is like a breath of fresh air. Something that my heart will always take immense delight in.

So in lieu of my beautiful, crazy busy life as a Mom (first) to my amazing (nearly) 3 year old daughter, and a business woman (second), my blog has sadly suffered. Until now!

And since Christmas is just a short 6 days away, I’d like to share my newest holiday muffin with you! Not only because it’s super quick to whip up, but it also features two of the most delicious combined flavors: chocolate and marshmallow. Because let’s get real here, who doesn’t love chocolate and marshmallow? Please don’t delude yourself. It’s not fair to anyone (or any stomach) involved.

Ready for this yummy holiday treat? Let’s do this!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup low fat buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1-1/2 cups chocolate chunks

1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Break out either a 6 cup jumbo muffin pan or a 12 cup baking pan. Line with paper liners, of whatever festive design you’re itching to throw down.

In a medium sized bowl, beat together the butter, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract, for about 1 minute until well incorporated.

In a 2nd bowl, add together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir until fully combined.

Transfer the flour mixture into a large bowl, on a stand mixture (or easily by a hand held mixer). With your hands, make a shallow well into the center of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk mixture into the shallow well and beat gently until smooth.

Now, using a large spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chunks, followed with the mini marshmallows.

Fill up each muffin or cupcake liner 3/4 to the top of each liner. Transfer to the oven and let bake for 19-20 minutes.

Pull out your tray from the oven and let your muffins cool slightly on a wire rack before consuming. Or better yet, gifting to a favorite friend or co-worker. You’ll make their day. Trust me.

To all of you who have been such faithful followers of mine, thank you for making this little blog of mine such a joyful experience! I can’t wait to see what the new brings!

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness Project Recipe #60: Anniversary Cookie Bars & Snickerdoodle Frosting Dip!

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10 years. May 15th was an incredibly special day for my Husband & I. Because May 15th represented an entire 10 years of being together. An entire decade. Of facing more challenges than many would face in their entire lifetime, more or less 10 years. A story most of you know very well. Because being expressive about all the ups, downs and most beautiful things and people in my life thus far, is who I am. Most especially in regards to my Husband. Who I knew I was meant to spend the rest of my life with, 10 years ago, on our 3rd date, on a darkened beach in Santa Cruz. 10 years of happiness, joy, tears, & pain, but most importantly, love. Real love. Grown up, every day, loving-this-one-person-through-everything-kind-of Love. A Love that has journeyed through fire & back yet come out better and brighter, in the best of ways. This Love between this one man and I. A Love like no other. Real Love.

So to honor this most beautiful day, I gave this Man of mine another little a piece of my Heart. Through a whisk and a spoon. A little bit of cinnamon and a whole lot of sugar. Because this is one of the most significant ways that I give to those I hold so dearly within my Heart. This gift of myself through my kitchen.

Hence his favorite dessert flavor of all time. Snickerdoodles. With a side of cookies. In the yummiest form ever: cookie bars! Which are perfect, seriously perfect, for dunking.

From my Heart to your Kitchen, may you enjoy this special treat just as much as my Husband does.

Cookies:

1 cup salted butter

1-1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of kosher salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly spray one 8×10 inch glass baking dish. Line the sprayed dish with parchment paper, leaving just enough excess on each side to create an overhang.

In a stand mixture, cream the butter, sugar and eggs at medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in each egg, one at a time, until well mixed. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, adding the heavy cream as needed, until throughly combined. This dough should be a stiff not soft texture. If it’s too soft to handle, cover and let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.

Break out that pastry board (marble is always preferred over wooden) and rolling pin. Quick tip, one of the most valuable things I learned while in Pastry School is that rolling pins are NOT all created equal. The most efficient rolling pin for cookie dough? The classic wooden pin with no handles.

Once the cookie dough is stiff enough to roll into a large ball, lightly flour your pastry board AND rolling pin (so that the dough doesn’t stick to either surface while being rolled out). Roll out the dough to about 1 inch thick. Now gently and loosely transfer the rolled out dough into the prepared baking dish. Once transferred, using another piece of parchment paper, gently but firmly press the dough into the full baking dish.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the pan cookie is firm to the touch and slightly browned on the very edges of the dish. Let cool in the dish for 10-15 minutes. Now before you go on removing the giant cookie with the overhang of parchment paper, use a small pairing knife to cut that giant cookie into cookie strips (or bars). Then remove the entire cookie from the dish with the parchment paper. Set aside to cool throughly.

Next up: the Frosting Dip!

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

2 to 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1/2 tablespoon fresh ground cinnamon

On your stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy.

Drop the mixer speed down to low and gradually add in the 3 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until fully incorporated.

Switch your mixture speed back up to a higher setting and add in the kosher salt, followed by the heavy whipping cream. Whip for 3-4 minutes until the frosting has nearly doubled in size.

Lastly, but most importantly, add in that ground cinnamon. Which kinda MAKES this frosting, in my Husband’s opinion.

AND spread onto those cooled cookie bars! Or use as a cookie dip. Which is even more FUN!

Happiness Project:#55: Happy Heart Cookies!

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Love. Friendship. Happiness. Joy. Pain. Sadness. Life. For those of you who have been following my blog, from the very first recipe post, a little over 2 years ago, you’ve seen my Heart here. My Joys. My Life. My Struggle. For everything worth meaning. And you know of the importance I place upon being able to express all of these feelings & experiences. Because I believe in the power of sharing one’s Life and one’s Heart to those who will listen. No matter how shadowed or darkened that I may be. And it’s because of you, you who support and love me through it all, that I’ve journeyed to where I am today. It’s because of YOU that I am still here. In more ways than one. And it’s because of you that I know, truly know, of the immeasurable blessings within this beautiful little life of mine.

So for you, I am thankful. From every little piece of my heart. Thank you for letting me be, me. This Happy Heart Cookie recipe is for YOU ❤

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon

pinch of kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F. Spray a 9×10 inch glass baking dish. Then layer with parchment paper. Lightly coat (again) with (a butter & flour) spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and stir for a few minutes until nicely combined.

In another large bowl, on a stand mixer (or by hand held), beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on high until fully blended and creamy.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Blend in the vanilla extract and continue mixing for 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the flour mixture, in two batches, until just combined.Then throw in those chocolate chips and stir em up!

Spoon out the cookie dough into the prepared dish and evenly spread out the entire dough with either a rubber spatula or the flat of your hands.

*I prefer to use my hands with most of my cookie recipes so that I can feel the dough between my fingers. There’s something uniquely therapeutic (and magical even) about working with cookie dough within ones hands, instead of with a spatula or rolling pin. And wonderfully, beautifully messy.

Once you’ve spread out and flatted the cookie dough in the baking dish, pop it into the oven and let bake for 20-25 minutes, depending upon how firm or slightly gooey you like a chocolate chip cookie’s center. Though when it comes to cookies, any cookies, there’s never really any right or wrong way to create the perfect cookie. Right? Right!

Let cool on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before getting creative with your heart (or any other) shaped cookie cutters. When using your cookie cutters with this baked cookie, gently press the cutter into the giant cookie so that it doesn’t crumble or break. Gently extract each cut heart piece and serve! Or store in a favorite family cookie jar or fun container for up to 4 days.

To all of my Family, Friends and Followers, thank you for everything! ❤ ❤ ❤

Happiness Project#51: Cinnamon Roll Crumb Cups!

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Guess what, my friends. Sometimes even I mess up a recipe. Sometimes quite tragically. Enter the Cinnamon Roll Muffins that I had foolishly attempted at 10pm last night, while I was what I like to refer to as being “stupid tired.” You know that tired which overcomes you at 8pm when you’re a Mother of a 23mo Toddler, after being pulled out of bed at 7 in the morning by little hands that want to go, go, GO? THAT tired. Where I tend to just kinda loose all sense of rhyme or reason. And willpower. Must not ever forget the general lack of willpower. You hear me, Mamas?

Anyhow, so last night. Cinnamon Roll Muffins. Fail. Not so much in the taste department but tragically & irreversibly in the prettiness department. To the point where I almost wanted to toss the whole batch. Until I actually tasted one of them, that is. Which, fortunately, saved this entire recipe. Because guess what? These sad, flat-toped muffins still tasted very, very good! Can I get a Hallelujah?! Hallelujah! Which got me thinking. About (my favorite) white coffee mugs. And spoons. And drizzle. Because let’s be real here, photography prettiness really does matter and can be JUST as important as the actual recipe itself. Truth.

Hence, this re-invented Cinnamon Crumb Cup recipe! Which became one of the best mistakes I’ve ever made thus far in my many kitchen adventures!

Cinnamon Roll Muffins (which will become crumbs very soon):

2-1/2 cups cake flour plus 2 reserved tablespoons

1 cup granulated sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 cup butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons fresh ground cinnamon

For the Icing Drizzle:

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350D. Butter and lightly flour a 12 cup Jumbo Muffin Pan, tapping out the excess flour from the pan.

Firstly, in a small bowl, combine the fresh cinnamon and the 2 reserved tablespoons of flour. Mix and set aside.

In a 2nd (large) mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Whisk to fully incorporate.

On a stand mixer, in another large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed, for a few minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in each egg, one at a time until fully incorporated, followed by the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Drop the mixer speed to a lower setting and gradually add in the flour mixture. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Lastly, add in the whole milk, a half cup at a time, until just incorporated.

Onward to the swirly part! Using a Tablespoon, drop 2 tablespoons of the muffin batter into each muffin round. Drop in a large pinch of cinnamon on top of the muffin batter. Followed by, again, dropping in another 2 tablespoons of muffin batter on top of the cinnamon layer. Now grab a butter knife and gently swirl the batter and the cinnamon layer together. This will create a messy marbled look. Key word: messy.

Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 21-23 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the muffins center come out clean.

The resulting muffin tops will look slightly flatter than a traditional dome shaped muffin (due to using cake flour instead of all purpose flour). Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before gently extracting each of them onto a wire rack.

Now here’s the part where I became a tad bit creative. Even though I could have just eaten up those flattened muffins as is, the photographer in me wanted something a bit more ascetically pleasing. Which meant crumbling up each muffin, with my fingertips, and then spooning those lovely crumbs into my favorite coffee mugs. Followed by drizzling each of those lovely cups of crumb with a super messy glaze.

Because drizzle, people! Drizzle! How can you not have a cinnamon roll without it’s glorious sugar topping?? You. Can’t.

And this powdered sugar glaze is ridiculously easy to create, too! So no excuses!

To create the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and the whole milk into a medium size mixing bowl, and whisk a couple of minutes until a shiny glaze forms. And then, drizzle!

Ha! So there you have it. Mix, bake, drizzle and serve. A mistake well worth anyone and everyone’s breakfast table!

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