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 #34: Grandma’s Fresh Apple Cake!

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A little over a week ago, while I was over at my Mom’s house, I came across an old & well used Notebook of Recipes that my Grandmother (on my Mother’s side of the family) had contributed to (possibly) back in the 1980’s. As you could imagine, I was near bubbling over with giddiness because of this particular find. Not only because I grew up on so many of my grandmothers very own cookie and cake recipes, particularly her Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Traditional Angel Food Cake, but also, because in my family, I am virtually the ONLY baker. Truth. I couldn’t tell you why either. That’s simply the way it’s always been. Though I’m certainly not complaining. I’m usually very excited about being the sole bearer of all-things-yummy when confronted with family gatherings. Baking, after all, to me, is more than just tinkering around with “that” new recipe I’ve been drooling over or assembling my large, enthusiastic group of taste-testers. When I bake up recipes, new or old, especially for my family, it’s my way of giving back to the ones I hold most dear. It’s my way of giving love. And I wonder if this is how my Grandmother felt whenever she dug her hands into a ball of flour or sat in front of her oven, waiting patiently for a new cake to rise. I wonder, if she too, felt truly at home and relaxed, with chocolate chips sprinkled all over the kitchen island and a dripping whisk in hand. If, in this one area of homemaking, it felt perfectly okay to create a little messy chaos. Because even though 55 years separate my Grandmother & I, I can’t help but wonder if we share more than just a family tie (& the love we have for one another). Perhaps I also share with her, this love & driven passion for kitchen wizardry. Something passed down through the years. Something I truly hope that I will always honor her legacy with. And what an amazing & inspiring legacy it is! Those of you who know my 91 year old Grandma Betty, I’m sure, will agree. So in the hopes of preserving these precious family recipes, I did no creative tinkering with this 1st (of 4) cake recipes. I’m hell bent on preserving her kitchen legacy, one recipe at a time.

So with no further adieu and much pride, I present to you my Grandma Betty’s Fresh Apple Cake!

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups diced, raw apples, peeled *there was no preferred apple listed in her recipe so I used Granny Smith, a very traditional apple used in baking*

1/2 cup margarine (or butter), melted

3/4 cups chopped nuts *once again, there was no preferred nut listed in her recipe so I used pecan chips, though walnuts work well also*

2 eggs

Confections sugar (for sprinkling)

Told in my Grandmothers Exact Recipe:

In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt. Add apples, nuts, margarine and slightly beaten eggs. This will be a thick mixture. Mix it well. Pour into a 9×13 inch pan, greased well & bake in a preheated oven 325 for 1 hr. to 1 hr & 15 min. Cool slightly & sprinkle with confections sugar.

My Notes:

I ended up using a 9 inch round cake pan and therefore needed to keep the cake in the oven for a longer period of time, 1 hour & 45 minutes to be exact. After I tested the cakes center (a couple of times) for firmness, I pulled it out of the oven and let it rest overnight. The next day, however, when I went to gently pop it out of the pan, I discovered that it’s center had fallen in (which upset me greatly.) Fortunately though, after texting my Mom about it, she assured me that it was indeed supposed to fall in it’s center, the way it did. You can imagine how relieved I was at knowing this, particularly since I had never made an apple cake before. However, even though I still wasn’t convinced that I had done her recipe due justice, my Mom ended up taking it home with her that night and you know what I did most of the night? I couldn’t help but fret about it. This is what we do, as bakers, when re-creating new or very traditional recipes. We fret. But you know what? Apparently, it tasted even better the next day, after all of the flavors had seeped well enough in!! Enough so that my Mom’s boyfriend ate THREE whole slices! THREE!! Now that, is what I call a happy success!! =)

Enjoyed my Grandmothers Fresh Apple Cake? Stay tuned for the rest of her traditional dessert recipes! Coming soon!

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