Showing posts with label Fall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fall. Show all posts

Monday, October 21, 2013

Candy Bar Bundt Cake with Chocolate Fudge Icing.

It's October. Now is the time to spend way too much money on fun-sized candy bars, smash them into chocolate chunks, and bake them into a candy bar bundt cake. Because you can... and you can get away with absolutely anything in October. Pumpkin spice cookies for breakfast, pumpkin lattes for dinner, candy bars and cinnamon in your popcorn (I can't even) , "just one more" pumpkin spice candle because I'm in love and obsessed/just try and stop me, and spending hours pinning all things pumpkin and then baking absolutely nothing because The Walking Dead is on. This is real life and we're living it!

Aren't you glad too? I'm in love with this Etsy print... and with October. It's the calm before the storm. You know... before we have to deal with candy canes and mistletoe and tangled-up Christmas tree lights.

And a month away from home, at training, where I'm expected to run three miles, study the law, and excel at ground-fighting. Do not major in criminal justice.

In the mean time, we're celebrating that calm by putting down the pumpkin spice and baking a cake. A soft, fluffy, tender, brown sugar-vanilla bundt cake filled with chunks of our favorite chocolate Halloween candy and then completely covered in the thickest, most pure fudge chocolate icing ever.  

And sprinkles. You should never miss an opportunity to use sprinkles. It's the best life advice I could ever give you.

My real life isn't always as sweet, styled, and covered in pumpkin-shaped sprinkles as you would think. Maybe I stress-bake bundt cakes sometimes... because it's who I am, they're a cake-walk to bake, and let me feel completely in control of things for at least 50 minutes.

P.S. Are cake walks even a thing anymore? They were my favorite part of my town's annual Halloween fair growing up. I mean, why try and win a Pixy Stix at the ring-toss when you could when a WHOLE CAKE for walking in a circle?

... this is probably why I run today.

  This bundt cake is the perfect place to start for Everything Ever Baking. As in... this batter smells like chocolate chip cookie dough... and anything can be baked into a chocolate chip cookie! What do you have hiding in your cabinets? Oreos? Chocolate-covered pretzels? Seventeen opened and forgotten bags of chocolate chips?

If you're reading this in November... the answer is probably leftover Halloween candy.

Into this cake went all of my favorite fun-sized chocolate things... 

 Reese's peanut butter cups


 Hershey's Cookies & Cream bars

 Almond Snickers 

I love a good suspenseful cake. With this bundt, each slice was different! The slice above was full of chopped almond Snickers and Rolo halves... making it taste like a rich, moist caramel-vanilla cake with unexpected chunks of chocolate.

My boyfriend ate this slice for breakfast full of nothing but peanut butter cups. He totally thought I'd baked him a peanut butter pound cake.

The secret to this cake's fluffy softness? I almost always swap out the light, golden brown sugar in any cookie or cake recipe for dark brown sugar. Besides adding a deeper and richer brown sugar/caramel taste, it leaves my baked goods so much more tender, soft, and moist.

P.S. This cake came THIS close to having a brown butter icing (my second best life advice tip? Follow that link to my buttermilk pumpkin cake & immediately make it a part of your life). This chocolate icing though? Pure fudge + a good decision. It was similar to the stovetop icing used to ice one of my favorite go-to chocolate cakes: Texas sheet cake.

There's just too many things going on here that I love.

It's fall. Let's smash chocolate and bake cakes!

Candy Bar Bundt Cake with Chocolate Fudge Icing

Printable Recipe

3 cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
1 cup vegetable oil + more for greasing
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups assorted candy, roughly chopped & tossed in 2 tablespoons of flour (I used Rolos, Reeses peanut butter cups, and fun-sized almond Snickers and cookies & cream Hershey bars)- 

Chocolate Icing
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
6 tablespoons evaporated milk
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-3 tablespoons evaporated milk or heavy whipping cream, if needed

Prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup bundt pan generously with oil and dust with flour, tapping out any excess. Set aside.

Mix. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the oil and brown sugar. Add the eggs and mix well. Next, mix in the vanilla extract and vanilla Greek yogurt until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold in the chopped candy bars (tossed in 2 tablespoons of flour).  Pour cake batter into prepared bundt pan and spread evenly.

Bake. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake tests clean. Remove cake and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make icing. In a medium saucepan, bring butter, cocoa powder, and evaporated milk to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and whisk continuously until smooth, about 30 seconds. If icing is still to thick, add extra evaporated milk or heavy whipping creaming one tablespoon at at a time until icing is a pouring consistency. Immediately remove from heat and pour icing over the top of your cake. Work fast- the icing will harden quickly once it's removed from heat!

Source: Candy Bar Bundt Cake inspired and adapted from Scarletta Bakes. Chocolate icing from Brown Eyed Baker.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Kiss Gingerdoodle Blossoms.

 These pillowy pumpkin spice blossoms are inspired by two of my favorite and most popular (and pinned!) fall cookies: 

 Cinnamon pumpkin spice kiss blossoms... soft, chewy cinnamon cookies, rolled in sugar, with a white chocolate-pumpkin spice Hershey kiss on top. 


 Gingerdoodles... gingersnaps and snickerdoodles rolled into everyone's new favorite Christmas cookie. 

Anything with a Hershey kiss on top is my favorite thing to bake. That was the first thing I changed when I updated my About Me page! Whether it's peanut butter, chocolate-peppermint, cinnamon spice, or Oreo-stuffed white chocolate raspberry blossoms... I'll be honest: it's all about pressing a chocolate candy into a just-baked cookie and making those signature crinkles.

I love a good sparkling, sugary-crisp crinkle.

This fall, the only thing I wanted to bake (besides everything pumpkin) was a repeat of last year's cinnamon kiss cookies. They were simple, chewy, and full of fall flavor ... and even better when paired with a pumpkin spice latte for breakfast. And after snooping at what you've been pinning lately, I was inspired and determined to combine the sugar & spice swirls of gingerdoodles with the pumpkin spice Hershey kiss of those cinnamon blossoms we're all obsessed with.

There's three parts to these gingerdoodle kiss cookies.

 Gingersnap dough

 Chilled pumpkin snickerdoodle dough

 And pumpkin spice kisses!

Oh... and a quick dunk in a bowl of nutmeg-spiked cinnamon-sugar. I fall.

Rolled together, it's hard to tell we're baking with two different doughs. Don't worry... all your hard work hasn't gone to waste. Here's a sneak peek at the cookie bottoms!

Gingersnaps meets pumpkin snickerdoodles. 

First up, the gingersnap dough.

If you have ten minutes, you can easily mix together a half-batch of the soft-baked, spicy-sweet gingersnap dough used in my original gingerdoodle recipe. Rich with ginger, cinnamon, and molasses, this recipe needed no improvement (except in quantity!).

Next, the snickerdoodle dough.

Because it's October and let me live, I took things one step further by swapping out the snickerdoodle dough for pumpkin snickerdoodle dough. Pumpkin snickerdoodles have been on my fall to-bake list for the past two or three years and I'm so glad I waited for this moment to test the recipe. With the addition of some fall spices, a few tablespoons of pumpkin puree, a little vanilla, and some extra brown sugar, this cookie dough had all the cinnamon-sugar flavor of the classic snickerdoodle, with the subtle pumpkin flavor I plan on craving from now until December.

Because we're baking with pumpkin, the dough is soft and nearly impossible to roll at room temperature. Chilling the dough for at least one hour (I was too lazy to bake and chilled mine overnight) made the sticky-soft dough pliable enough to roll into balls.

As someone who likes her cookies soft-baked and pillowy, the addition of pumpkin turned these blossoms into the fat, puffy, cinnamon-sugar clouds I was hoping for. Where the original gingerdoodle cookies were thin and chewy, these baked up into perfectly soft (but un-cakey) chewy cookies. And they stay soft! Even several days later.

Last... the pumpkin spice Kisses.

The secret to keeping your chocolate from melting? 

1. Freeze your Hershey Kisses.

2. Allow cookies to cool three minutes out of the oven before pressing your Kisses on top.

3. Place the entire baking sheet into the freezer until chocolate sets.


P.S. An anticipated FAQ: I found my pumpkin Kisses at Target. Can't find them in anywhere near you? Try caramel Kisses or use the back of a spoon to make a thumbprint-shape indent and fill with a sprinkle of white chocolate chips!

Pumpkin Spice Kiss Gingerdoodle Blossoms

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Dough
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
Pinch of salt  
Pinch of nutmeg

Make snickerdoodle dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar, softened butter, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. 

Add in the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg and mix on low until thoroughly combined. Let dough chill for at least 1 hour (I chilled mine overnight). 

Gingersnap Dough
6 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
4 tablespoons molasses 
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 

Make gingersnap dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the molasses and egg and continue beating until combined. 

Add in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

For rolling & making cookie blossoms 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 package Hershey's Pumpkin Spice Kisses

Freeze pumpkin Kisses. Unwrap pumpkin spice Kisses and place them in a small bowl in the freezer until ready to use. 

Prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or spray with baking spray; set aside. 

Sugar & spice. In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and pinch of nutmeg. Set aside.

Combine together. Combine a 1/2 tablespoon of gingersnap dough and a 1/2 tablespoon of snickerdoodle dough together and roll into one dough ball. Toss in cinnamon-sugar and place on prepared baking sheet. Keep snickerdoodle dough in the refrigerator when not using... dough quickly becomes too soft and sticky to handle when at room temperature! 

Bake. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until done.

Stick a kiss in it. Remove from oven and allow to cool for three minutes on baking sheet. Gently press a frozen pumpkin spice kiss into the center of each cookie. The Kisses will start to get shiny and melt after a just few minutes. At this point, just pop the whole baking sheet into the freezer until the chocolate sets.

Source: Cookie blossoms inspired and adapted from my cinnamon pumpkin spice kiss blossoms and gingerdoodles

Friday, September 13, 2013

White Chocolate Cranberry S'mores Cracker Candy.

Sometimes, during those long days when I hit a life rut, I think about writing a cookbook... because that's a thing people do and it helps me focus on what I love. 

And browning butter. 

And making stacks of graham cracker candy.

I think it would be full of imperfect bundt cakes... because I don't have the patience to sift powdered sugar.

I would stuff peanut butter cups inside cupcakes... because even a plain vanilla cupcake is capable of being something extraordinary.

It would probably be called Stacks on a Cake Stand... because that's my style. It's who I am. Own it!

And be real: there would be an entire chapter on brown butter. 

We learn who we are by doing the things we love. 

Baking teaches me that magic happens when you least expect it... usually right before you give up. Molasses and sugar become brown sugar, butter finally browns, and butter and sugar become smooth vanilla frosting. It teaches me follow that thought that wonders if there's such a thing as a white chocolate cranberry s'more... or if you can ever really have too many cake stands. 

It teaches me that comparison truly takes the joy out of the things you love. Be you! 

Running teaches me to keep moving forward, one step at a time... and it teaches me that I'm capable of anything. I can beat my last mile time. I can run at 6 MPH without falling flat on my face. I can shut down that voice that tells me to slow down or give up. I'm stronger than I think and the good things I want in my life are worth fighting for.

Too deep? Let's talk brown sugar and graham crackers. 

One of my favorites things to bake is cracker candy. The possibilities are endless! A bubbling, caramel-toffee glaze of butter and brown sugar poured over a layer of salty-sweet crackers is the perfect blank canvas for any flavor, holiday, or season. 

Just look at all the combinations I've made so far...

Saltines + chocolate + crushed almonds     =      chocolate almond cracker candy 
(Every Christmas I bake at least two batches... it's my most requested holiday treat!)

Graham crackers + marshmallows + M&M candies      =      Christmas s'mores candy

Buttery Club crackers + chocolate + peanut butter chips + sea salt     =     salt river bars

Graham crackers + marshmallows + Hersheys chocolate     =     graham cracker s'mores candy
(my most popular and most pinned recipe!)

Cinnamon graham crackers + pumpkin spice marshmallows + white chocolate + toasted pecans     =     pumpkin spice s'mores cracker candy
(I love this combination... and it's the first thing I baked in my new apartment last fall!)

Today's combination is inspired by fall... and one of my favorite seasonal flavors (besides pumpkin!): white chocolate cranberry. Maybe I'm just ready for Christmas and cranberry bliss bars. Either way, let's make white chocolate cranberry s'mores a thing. 

This is what I imagine fall looks like.

Graham crackers covered in that sugary-rich toffee glaze and sprinkled with puffy marshmallows, white chocolate chips, tart dried cranberries, and toasted pecans.  

So addicting, as rich as fudge, full of fall flavor, and as easy as melting butter, sugar, and sprinkling everything ever over graham crackers. 

This is fall baking. In and out... and out the door to find pumpkin spice lattes.  

 White Chocolate Cranberry S'mores Cracker Candy

Printable Recipe 

12 sheets of graham crackers
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 cups mini marshmallows
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang over the ends, and spray foil with cooking spray. Line graham crackers up on the foil so that the sides are touching.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and mixture comes just to a boil (about 4-6 minutes). Remove from heat and pour evenly over crackers. Bake 5 to 6 minutes, or until bubbly.

Remove pan from oven and immediately sprinkle mini marshmallows, white chocolate chips, pecans, and dried cranberries over the crackers. 

Return pan to oven for another 2-3 minutes, or until marshmallows begin to soften and puff up. 

Cool completely. Lift from pan using foil edges; cut into bars and enjoy!

Source: Inspired by my graham cracker s'mores candy

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cookie Butter Buttercream.

I spend all summer trying to figure out what to do with myself. Do I bake pies? Do I bake in Mason jars? Do I make ice cream? How do you even make ice cream? That just seems like a lot of work when I live so close to a Coldstone Creamery. Can I just get away with grilling slices of banana bread? 

I love summer, the bucketlists and carefree, sun-filled months, but when it comes to baking, I just don't feel the inspiration. I want long days by the pool with a book and a tropical drink and late nights with kettlecorn, s'mores, and Once Upon a Time. Just let me live.
Fall is when I find my inspiration. 

From pumpkins and the colors of changing leaves to the cooler weather, candy corn, and that crisp, fall magic in the air that makes you feel alive and like celebrating everything and nothing at all. Even my autumn-inspired Pinterest board has me wishing I could just call in to work and spend the morning in my tiny apartment kitchen with a whisk, some brown butter, and not a care in the world, baking all things pumpkin spice, cinnamon, salted caramel, and gingerbread.    

These cupcakes were inspired by one of the best cupcakes I've ever baked: my pumpkin spice cupcakes for two. Two perfect pumpkin cupcakes topped with the tiniest batch ever of cinnamon spice buttercream. 

The only problem? Obviously. They only made two!

This is what a problem looks like solved.

Twelve of the most irresistable, cakey, perfectly-moist pumpkin spice cupcakes, loaded with that rich, spicy fall flavor from cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. These cupcakes the softest and so moist... like the texture you would get from using a boxed spice cake mix, only better. For years to come, these will be my go-to pumpkin cupcakes. I'm already dreaming of cream cheese frostings, chocolate glazes, a sprinkle of candy corn... and thick, creamy cheesecake centers.    

Okay. So you caught me. I tried to distract you with all that sugar-talk. There's only eleven cupcakes in that picture. I don't want to talk about it. 

Or the half-jar of cookie butter I ate for dinner last week.

Let's talk frosting.

The frosting for these pumpkin cakes was inspired by the rich, gingerbread-y cookie butter truffles I baked into my chocolate chunk brown butter brownies and the peanut butter buttercream from my vanilla bean peanut butter cup cupcakes. Biscoff is like peanut butter. Could we substitute it for the peanut butter and turn it into a sort-of gingerbread buttercream for pumpkin things? 

The answer is yes.     

Yes and now.

This is the stuff spoons were made for.

These cupcakes (eaten chilled and shamelessly in the middle of the night after a stressful workday) were one truly irresistable start to fall. The combination of pumpkin spice cake, sugary cookie butter frosting (think gingerbread + snickerdoodles + cinnamon graham crackers), topped with salty-sweet crushed chocolate-covered toffee pieces was the most perfect match of fall flavors.

Combined with a pumpkin spice latte and a lazy afternoon? 

These cupcakes were everything ever. 

P.S. Unfrosted... they could totally just be pumpkin spice muffins. Cake for breakfast. Do your thing! 


Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cookie Butter Buttercream 

Printable Recipe

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

Cookie Butter Buttercream Frosting 
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup Biscoff (or Trader Joes creamy Cookie Butter)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons cream (or milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Crushed Heath toffee bits for sprinkling on top, optional

Prep. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Set aside.

Whisk. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside. 

Mix. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing until just incorporated. 

Scoop & bake. Using a cookie scoop, fill cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake tests clean. Allow cupcakes to cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. 

To make the frosting, cream together the butter and cookie butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add vanilla and one tablespoon of cream at a time; beat until light, fluffy, and desired consistency. 

Frost it! Pipe frosting onto completely cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with crushed toffee, serve & enjoy!

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Source: Cupcakes barely adapted from Annie's Eats and Biscoff frosting recipe from Baked Bree

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Icing.

Thanksgiving is in two days. You're stressed, I'm stressed, there's just no time for lists and adjectives and real life. Let's get in and out with this one.

What: Moist, dense pumpkin cake. Brown butter icing. 

The plea: Please, please make this for Thanksgiving. Make it the day before, make it tonight, make it for breakfast.

Why: Because it's way too easy to skip. Three bowls: mix flour and spices, mix pumpkin and buttermilk, beat sugar and butter. Combine all three.



Wait. This is the holidays. Let's simplify this thing one step further.

I don't condone skipping the brown butter icing, but in a pinch, you can totally just dust this cake with powdered sugar.

Like I said. In and out. There's just no time.

The recipe: Scroll down or click here.

And... done. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of pumpkin pie cake, family, and laughter.

Pumpkin Spice Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Icing

Printable Recipe

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 
3 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspooon salt 
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter (or spray with a nonstick baking spray) and flour a bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.

In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, buttermilk, and vanilla until smooth.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a wooden spoon and sheer determination), beat the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs and beat another minute until combined.

Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in small batches, starting and ending with the flour mixture and mixing until the batter is smooth.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rake.

Allow cake to cool completely before icing. Or, if you want, you can skip the icing and just dust the cake when cooled with powdered sugar.

To make the icing, place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until golden brown (more info here on how to brown butter). Pour browned butter into a medium bowl and stir in powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Let stand 1-2 minutes or until slightly cool. Drizzle over cake.

Source: Pumpkin cake from Collecting Memories and brown butter icing from Pillsbury