Monday, April 27, 2009

Precious Chicks

Remember Easter? That holiday that took place a few weeks ago? Well, I made these little friends that weekend...

Having discovered the incredible cake truffles on Bakerella, I definitely had to try them out for myself. Of course, my skills definitely need some fine-tuning. I can't believe how smooth her coating is! That woman is full of pure talent. You can check out her chicks and the recipe here to see what I was going for!

Meanwhile...let me introduce you to The Funky Bunch.

This is the pride and joy. You know, THAT guy...the golden child...always picked first...all the girls love him. You hate to love him.

This little chick has a tendency to be a little too intense. That guy that gets stressed out over everything. "Ohmygosh, is there SALT in this??? Don't you know sodium is bad for you?!" Oh my...

Maybe this little guy spent a little too much time with Mr. Intense and CRACKED under the pressure. Get it? Get it? I'll be here all night.

E spent a good amount of time peering over my shoulder asking questions so I decided to let him join in. Here's his special creation. We're so proud of him. :)

Cold season? I think he might need a tissue...

And finally...this is what happens when you've made about 40 cake truffles.

This was my first experience with cake truffles and I must say, they are amazingly delicious. Even though it can be a little difficult to make the cake pops look perfect, they are well worth the effort. Perfect for special occasions and gifts!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No-Bake Raspberry Truffle Tart

We all know and love her. That pessimistic woman inside all of us. I thought she had gone into hibernation with the arrival of Spring, but I was sadly mistaken...

Debbie Downer reared her ugly head with full force today.

What brought on this bout of double D action? Spiders. Or, to be more exact, one voluptuous spider.

There I was, minding my own business at the good old nine-to-five ready to embark on some serious filing action. I opened a cupboard to grab a folder and BAM. Spider. Two inches from my hand. Fat. Short legs, round body. Scurrying toward me.

I immediately crushed him.

A major freak-out session followed. One of those times when your entire body feels like it's covered in spiders. For as long as I can remember, I've had this paranoia that when I kill a spider, his little spider "brothers" are waiting in dark corners to avenge his death. I just imagine them coming after me while I'm sleeping...

This is why I hate Spring. Forget the onset of beautiful flowers and warm weather. Forget the sunshine and chirping birds. Spring means spider season. I had almost managed to forget they existed, but they're back.

Alright. Enough Debbie Downer for one day.

A few weeks ago, I made these No-Bake Raspberry Truffle Tarts as part of The Mixing Bowl Easter Dessert Contest. I kind of just threw a bunch of elements I enjoy together and I think they turned out pretty cute and delicious!


Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 c fine graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c melted butter

Dark Chocolate Truffles:
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
8 oz chopped bittersweet (70%) chocolate
1 t vanilla extract

Raspberry Cheesecake:
1 c marscapone cheese
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
2 T honey
Juice of 1 lime
3 c mashed fresh raspberries


1. Mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.

2. Spray the cups of a 12 muffin/cupcake tin with vegetable or canola oil until well greased.

3. Line each cup with a strip of wax paper so that it hangs over the sides of each cup. This helps with removal of the tarts before serving.

4. Press the butter/graham cracker mixture into each cup using the back of a small spoon. Make sure the crust evenly covers the bottom and sides of each cup. Place pan in the fridge to set while preparing the truffle mixture.

5. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy whipping cream to barely a simmer.

6. Pour the heated cream over the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and let it sit for about 5 minutes to melt the chocolate.

7. Once the chocolate is melted, add the vanilla and whisk the mixture until it appears smooth and shiny. Remove the graham cracker crusts from the fridge and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the truffle mixture into each cup (or put enough truffle mixture in each cup so that it is half full). Place the pan back into the fridge to set while putting together the raspberry cheesecake mixture.

8. In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream until it holds soft peaks.

9. Add the marscapone and mix until smooth. Then fold in the honey, lime, and raspberries.

10. Remove the graham cracker crusts with truffles from the fridge and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the raspberry cheesecake mixture into each cup (or until each crust is filled).

11. Place the pan back in the fridge and allow the tarts to set for about two hours.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies

I would experience a severe case of depression if I ever developed a peanut allergy. My heart aches for all the peanut intolerant people in the world. I usually go through a whole jar of peanut butter every two weeks. To me, nothing is better than settling down with a good PB & J (heavy on the PB) and tuning into The Food Network. I love you Paula Deen. Shout out to my best friend Ina. What's that Alton Brown? You'd like to delve into the world of biscuits? Yes please, sir.

I digress. Peanut butter...back to peanut butter.

I've been wanting to bake a batch of cookies for quite some time and I recently came across a peanut butter cookie recipe that intrigued me. It contains only three ingredients. Yes, three! I doubted the cookies would be any good, but I had to give it a whirl to see for myself.

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
(My changes in red)

1 c sugar (I used organic brown sugar)
1 egg
1 c peanut butter- crunchy or creamy (I used organic unsalted creamy peanut butter)
About 1 T ground cinnamon
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Roll into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the back of a fork, press into the dough twice in opposite directions to create a criss-cross pattern.

Before pressing the balls of dough with a fork, I sprinkled some sea salt on top for some crunch and because I love the combination of salty-sweet things. I also added a little bit of cinnamon into the dough just to add another dimension.

Okay, okay. So it ended up being more than three ingredients with my additions, but I really think my changes added a little something extra. Not that I'm biased or anything. :)

Did I mention these little babies are gluten free?

What are you waiting for? Go grab your PB, an egg, and some sugar and crank out a batch of peanut buttery goodness.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cream Cheese Buns

I have an announcement to make...


This is wonderful! I can get back to baking finally. I just need to make more friends to sample my experiments because I'm thinking my roommates won't be too happy if I'm whipping out cookies and cakes every week.

Want to be friends?

Last weekend I spent all day Saturday baking up a frenzy in my mom's kitchen. I hate baking in my kitchen. Our house is 100 years old and I'm pretty sure the kitchen hasn't been updated since 1909. Okay...maybe I'm exaggerating but it IS pretty crusty.

I began my bake-a-palooza with a dozen delicious blackberry cream cheese buns.


I found the recipe for raspberry cream cheese buns on Bake or Break and I am SO glad I decided to try them out. Of course, I tried to put my own little spin on things and used blackberry preserves instead of raspberry (aka my mom only had blackberry preserves for me to steal from her fridge).

Just look at them. Cute little buns waiting for the oven swirled with blackberry goodness.

Note: I got a little overzealous and filled the muffin cups way too much. I would suggest probably only filling them about halfway unless you want "muffin tops." But then again, who doesn't love a good muffin top? :)

The buns are seriously easy to make and are PERFECT for breakfast. I didn't find them to be too sweet and they are definitely less dense than a traditional muffin or bun. I would say they are a "must try" for every baker out there!

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Carrot Cake Pancakes with Maple Cream Cheese Topping

Today, Seattle finally decided it was time to take off its rain jacket and put on the over-sized sunglasses today. These are the days when I look around the city and can't imagine ever living anywhere else.

...then I remember that 75% of the time clouds and drizzly rain blanket my world. Sigh.

BUT there are those precious days like today when the temperature gauge gets a workout and struggles up to 68 degrees. I can't help but chuckle to myself as the city suddenly becomes packed with eerily pale people who clearly hibernate for a majority of the year.

Oh wait. I'm one of those people.

I'm also one of those people with a special love for all things breakfast. And if breakfast was a kingdom, pancakes would be the king. The all mighty. The creme de la creme. The reigning deity.

Ok. You get the picture.

I usually try to whip up a breakfast creation (usually pancakes) every Sunday morning for E and I. After hearing about my Sunday brunches for quite awhile, my mom requested one of her own so we made the trek to her house on Saturday night.

My mom loves nuts, organic foods, carrot cake, and basically anything delicious (but who doesn't...silly). I browsed my favorite food blogs for awhile before I came across this absolute gem from Joy the Baker (who, by the way, is sensational!):

Carrot Cake Pancakes!!!

Ahhh. Drool. Just the memory of this morning's feast makes me want some more.

I tried to put my own spin on the recipe and used all organic ingredients to max the "healthy factor." Also, I tried to cut down on the sugar to make it less "dessert-y" and thus, less against my Lent pledge! Below is the recipe for both the pancakes and the cream cheese topping and my alterations in parenthesis.

Note: These babies are filling! I mean, I can usually pack away my fair share of food and I was struggling after two pancakes. On top of that, both E and I were full for about eight hours after brunch. Amazing!

Carrot Cake Pancakes:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used organic whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans (I used finely diced walnuts)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (I used pumpkin pie spice)
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup packed brown or granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk (I used soy milk)
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Topping:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 dash ground cinnamon

In a bowl, combine flour, walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, combine egg, brown sugar, milk, carrots, and vanilla; mix well.

Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients until combined. Pour batter by the 1/3 cupful onto a greased griddle. Turn when bubbles form on the top of the pancake. Flip, and cook until golden brown.

For cream cheese topping, blend cream cheese, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon until smooth.

Spread topping on pancakes just before serving. Enjoy! :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Easter Contest


Here's the deal. I'm planning on entering a contest for Creative Easter Desserts and I want your input!

What are some ideas for cute Easter desserts?

New York

It's official.

I love Saturday mornings.

The first morning of the week I'm able to stay in bed for as long as I want to and it's pure magic.

I spent last weekend feasting in New York. What is it about New York City that makes it so enticing? It seems like everyone that visits always becomes addicted and wants to go back for more. I found myself walking around the city trying to mimic the "natives" to try in blend in some more. To me this meant plastering a look of annoyance on my face and always walking unnecessarily fast through crowds.

It must have worked because someone asked me for subway directions. Score one for Natalie. I, of course, acted appropriately nonchalant while dishing out my directions. Come to think of it, she probably never made it home. Hmmm...

The entire time we were in New York, we were surrounded with sweet treats and, as we know, I am unable to eat those until next weekend (!!!!!). However, I basically forced E to try every cupcake we came across so I could smell it and poke at the cake to test its moisture. Creepy.

Look at those cuties! We stumbled across Baked by Melissa while wandering around Soho. The cupcakes are the size of a quarter! So precious. We (and by we I mean E) also sampled a famous Magnolia cupcake. From what I felt, I poked at the frosting and cake more than a few times, I wasn't too impressed. I guess I'm just a devoted Trophy fan after all.

I am already planning another trip back to the Big Apple...and next time, I WILL be sampling EVERYTHING.

Only a little over a week until I can safely bake again! Stay on the edge of your seats...

Tomorrow I'm making brunch at my mom's house. Carrot-y goodness is sure to follow.

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