#66 Cranberry & Pistachio Biscotti

Is it just me, or does Christmas feel like it was way more than just a month ago? If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you may have noticed back in December that I was posting a bunch of pictures of counter tops over flowing with cookies, but I never shared any recipes! I know, how inconsiderate of me. That day I joined my sister in law and her fellow culinary school friend to bake cookies for the holidays.

Normally, I would be all up in that mixer and covered in flour, but my almost 2 year old niece and her adorable little friend were just so irresistibly cute, I ended up playing with them on the floor most of the time.

One of my favorite cookies out of the bunch was the Cranberry & Pistachio Biscotti. I am typically not a fan of biscotti. They are just so hard and dry, and always seemed so flavorless. These are quite the opposite. This biscotti packs a ton of flavor from the combination of cranberries, pistachios, lemon, and corn meal. They taste lovely with a nice cup of Raspberry Tea. I’ve been staying away from the coffee/caffeine recently, it was starting to make me kinda crazy, but i’m sure it would taste amazing with a nice cup of hot coffee too. 🙂

Burlap is kinda hairy? Who knew…so strange. Ignore the little fuzzies 😉

The prep for this recipe is so simple, it can be done in about 10 minutes and then it’s popped into the oven. So quick and easy!



This entry was posted in cookies.

National Peanut Butter Day!

If you haven’t already heard, today is National Peanut Butter Day! In honor of such a glorious day, I thought I’d round up some of my favorite recipes using such a gloriously creamy spread. Maybe you’ll celebrate by grabbing a spoon and eating a nice spoonful of peanut butter straight off the spoon. Maybe you’ll be adventurous and add some chocolate chips to it. Or maybe you’ll be so crazy and bake something! In that case, here are some of the recipes I have made, and some that I have bookmarked because I’m dying to make them.

Chocolate Cupcakes with a Peanut Butter Frosting

This is one of my favorite cupcakes now. The frosting really is the perfect compliment to the rich chocolate cake.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies with a Milk Chocolate Filling

Mini little peanut butter and chocolate sandwich cookies! Seriously, these disappeared so fast there weren’t any left to take pictures later on. They’re quite addictive too, so beware!

Tagalongs — The Novice Chef 

Source: Novice Chef Blog

Tagalongs are my absolute FAVORITE Girl Scout cookie. Every year I buy about 6 boxes and hide them from myself so I can savor them, otherwise I will literally eat a box a day until they’re gone and I’m licking the packaging. Finding this recipe on Jessica’s blog was like a dream come true! Tagalongs year round? Uhh, yes please.

Peanut Butter Mini Cheesecake — Bake or Break

Source: Bake or Break

Do I even need to say anything about this picture? I don’t think so either.

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Donuts — Stan’s Donuts, Westwood Village, CA.

Lastly, if you’re on the Westside (Los Angeles Westside that is) you should take a detour and stop into Stan’s Donuts and get a Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Donut. If you don’t have time to bake something up yourself, this really is the ultimate PB Celebration in your mouth.

Go enjoy some Peanut Butter!


#65 Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

My childhood was filled with Funfetti cake. You know, that amazingly delicious box cake mix that seems like no one could ever make from scratch. Since I have become involved in the kitchen on a level higher than box mixes, funfetti cake has been the hardest thing to let go.

Recently, I have made two different types of ice cream, Vanilla Ice Cream and Brown Butter Ice Cream. The best home made ice cream has lots of egg yolks in it and both of these recipes that I shared recently use 6 egg yolks. I’m happy to tell you that this cupcake recipe uses 6 egg whites! So go make a pint of Vanilla ice cream and some Funfetti cupcakes – don’t waste those eggs!

How cute are these little cupcake feet!

There cupcakes are pretty much as close are you’re going to get to the mix. Just looking at the pretty little rainbow sprinkles melted into the batter puts a smile on my face. At first I was only going to try a little bite of it, but that was just silly so the whole thing was gobbled up in about mmmm 10 seconds. Seriously, these cupcakes are so tasty and moist (am I the only one that doesn’t like that word?) I almost didn’t put any frosting on top of it. But alas I did. I made a basic Vanilla Buttercream and only put a small amount on top, so that it didn’t overpower the rest of the cake.



#64 Caramel & Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to get out all of the ingredients out of the pantry and plug in the mixer. Sometimes I am out of necessary ingredients such as sugar/flour/butter and I just really dont want to go to the store. Sometimes I just want something sweet, salty and crunchy that doesn’t require baking, cooling, and frosting.

Alright, so sometimes I’m just really lazy, but the laziness doesn’t overpower my desire for sweets.

This quick dessert is also really great for people who may not have access to an oven or fancy baking equipment. It takes practically no time to do, and it can be made all just using a microwave! For my version, I used the stove to melt down the caramel and chocolate just because I can control the heat better on the stove than in the microwave.

The most traditional way to make these is just dipping them in caramel and then chocolate and calling it a day. Isn’t that boring though? So here are some ways to make it more exciting.

  • Melt down some white chocolate chips in the microwave. First for 1 minute, stir, then 30 second increments until melted. Spoon into a plastic sandwich bag and cut off a small piece of the corner of the bag.
  • Crumble up your favorite candy bar, I used Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. After you dip the pretzels into the chocolate, press the crumbled up candy into it.
  • Sprinkles are always fun too. 🙂

If you leave about 2 inches at the bottom uncovered, it makes a nice little handle to hold on to without making your hands a mess covered in chocolate. At first when you bite into this it’s chewy and chocolatey, and then the salt from the pretzels sneaks up on you and makes it perfect. It is kind of like you’re own home made candy bar!



#63 Brown Butter Ice Cream

If you don’t know what brown butter is already, you’re seriously missing out.

Basically, brown butter is this amazing thing where you melt butter on the stove until it separates and the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan. Once they’re resting at the bottom, they begin to brown and gives off this nutty, fabulous smell and flavor.

The other day I ended up at the library after attempting to go to a yoga class, but it was so full in the parking lot I couldnt even find a place to park. I took a peak at the cookbook section to see if there was anything exciting there and BOOM, this massive 700 page Bon Appetit Desserts cookbook was shining down upon me.

I went through the entire book, many many times, bookmarking with a post-it note on every recipe I wanted to save/try/pretend i’ll make someday.

My only complaint about this cookbook is that there are not that many pictures in it, and there is nothing I hate more than a cookbook with no pictures. BUT the redeeming factor is that this is Bon Appetit and they know what they’re doing. The recipes are detailed and not so crazy that you couldn’t figure out what it should look like on your own. If all else fails, you can always google what you’re making and I’m sure that theres a picture somewhere.

The recipe called for adding in peanut brittle, which sounds delicious, but alas I did not have any, so I left it out. Instead, I had some crushed up pretzels, caramel, and hot fudge so that one could decide what they wanted on it instead of me forcing the pretzels down throats (although they’re really good with it!).

See? How delicious does that look. If you’re looking for a homemade caramel recipe check this post out.

Verdict: This is a great alternative to vanilla ice cream, if for some crazy reason you’re sick of it. It tastes like a buttery, caramel, ice cream. The caramel flavor comes from that brown butter, and its soooooo good. If you have peanut brittle, or see some in the store, you should definitely try tossing some of that in. I think it would compliment that nutty flavor already present in the ice cream very nicely. Otherwise, take a look in your pantry and see what you could toss in, i’m sure you’ve got something!



#62 S’mores Bars

Honestly, who doesn’t love s’mores? I’ve been thinking about making these bars for weeks, and now that I think of it, I dont know what took me so long. I made a version of this a few months ago but it didn’t turn out the way that I wanted it to, so I decided to do some research and make it better.

My perfect s’mores bar: thick layer of a graham cracker crust, a chewey chocolate layer, topped with lots of marshmallows that are lightly toasted in the oven.

I used a flame torch (one that you would use for creme brûlée) to toast some of the marshmallows a little bit more. The recipe originally was a no-bake recipe, but one of the best parts of s’mores is the fluffy toasted marshmallow. The oven was already on at 350 so I popped the s’mores in for a little bit until they were fluffy and then finished off with the flame torch for that classic charred s’mores taste.

Verdict: Delicious. The chocolate layer is creamy because of the condensed milk in it, and compliments the chewy marshmallows and crumbly crust. If you’re craving s’mores, this will definitely satisfy. Be sure to grab a napkin when you’re eating these, they can be a little sticky! 🙂

Tip: Run a large knife under hot water before cutting into squares to try and prevent the marshmallow from sticking to the knife.



#61 Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Don’t ask me how I managed to stumble upon the most ridiculous Yahoo Answers question about ice cream ever, but I did.

“Is eating ice cream bad for the environment”

I burst out laughing and made everyone remotely near me listen to this ridiculous question. Reading through the responses did give me a sense of hope for humanity though, since no one said, “Yes eating ice cream is bad for the environment”.

Obviously the action of eating ice cream is not somehow wiping out species of animals, but the process of manufacturing, then being shipped across country in a refrigerated plane, to be distributed at your grocery store  – yeah that could be bad for the environment.

My solution for an earth friendly version of ice cream? Make it yourself!

Let’s discuss ingredients.

Ingredients for Dryer’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream : skim milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, whey, molasses, acacia gum, guar gum, ground vanilla beans, natural flavors (with vanilla extract), carob bean gum, carrageenan, xanthan gum

Ingredients for Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: whole milk, vanilla bean, sugar, heavy cream, and egg yolks.

1.  I feel like we shouldn’t eat things that have the letter “x” in one of the ingredients, can we make that be a rule?
2. FunFact: Do you know what “carrageenan” is? I learned this from my job working at the aquarium…it’s red algae! It helps stabilize the ice cream and what not, but really, why do we need this in our ice cream.
3. “Natural flavors”? Why are they adding natural flavors to my ice cream, to balance out the taste of all of those gums and algae?

Here’s the deal. Ice Cream doesn’t need all of this stuff in it if you’re making it from scratch, and honestly its not difficult at all. All you need is an ice cream maker, which you can find on Amazon for $49 or you can go down to Bed Bath and Beyond with your purse full of 20% off coupons and get one there, I love those coupons.

This is the ice cream machine I use

My intentions are not to scare you away from store bought ice cream, because I go out and get it myself too. I’m just showing you how making your own ice cream will yield a much more delicious and real flavor. Trust me, I love some good ole’ Haagen Dazs, (wow, am I the only one that didn’t realize that is how you spell Haagen Dazs. Guess I’m too distracted by the insides to care about the packaging) but this is better.

It was hard to resist not just grabbing this freezing bowl of ice cream and running far, far away…but I managed to share peacefully.

Honestly, this stuff was eaten so quickly that it was super difficult to get any decent pictures in. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

Verdict: Best vanilla bean ice cream I’ve ever made. I think what took it to the next level of creaminess was adding that extra egg yolk. So glad I did. Last time I made ice cream, that little bit that was left over would taste icy from being in the freezer over night. This one holds up very nicely the next day (no guarantees there will be any left), just like a store bought one, minus all the algae ;).

Tip: Since you’re going to have a bunch of left over egg whites, I figured I would include some ideas for you to not let anything go to waste such as: Angel Food Cake, Meringue Cookies, Macaroons, Pavlova, and Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting. I made Meringue cookies but they didnt turn out the way that I hoped. I thought they weren’t done, when they were, and cooked them a little (a lot) too long. My plan is to crush them up and put them on ice cream/cupcakes/anything. No waste when it comes to desserts!



#60 Toffee Chocolate Cupcakes

I swear I think I used about 7 lbs of butter the past 2 weeks. It has reached the point where when I am at the store, I cruise by the butter section and just grab an extra pound because hey why not, right?

After Christmas I needed a few days to recuperate after the days of eating dense, chocolate, amazing, delicious desserts. It was just too much! It was like that Groundhog Day movie every morning: afternoon in kitchen, huge dinner, amazing dessert, pat your stomach like you have a chocolate food baby growing in there, sleep, repeat.

Finally after a few days I started to feel withdrawals from not baking, but still not craving anything special. I had to make something for New Years Eve, I knew it would be wrong if I didn’t. I book marked this recipe from Annie’s website a while back, and every time I go through my bookmarked recipes/cookbooks to decide on what I want to make, the picture of these cupcakes makes me drool.

These. Were. So. Good!

I’ve been on a cupcake break recently just because there wasn’t enough texture going on for me, my mouth felt bored…does that make sense? You know what I mean. This cupcake wins in the taste and the texture category.

Details: chocolate cake with espresso undertones in it (amazing), then it is dipped in a ganache and rolled in toffee (I used left over toffee from my English Toffee Recipe but you can use toffee from the store too) and topped with this ridiculous Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Ahhhhh….delicious

The one thing I did change from the recipe on Annie’s site was that I didn’t add the caramel sauce to the frosting. I tried the frosting right before adding the caramel sauce and it was already very sweet on its own and I didn’t want it to be too overwhelming. I think it turned out perfectly this way, but if you want to give the caramel sauce a try go ahead!

Environmental Side Note: I bought these environmentally friendly cupcake liners by If You Care (what a cute name for a company) a month or so back and finally had a chance to try them out! As many of you know, I’m a big supporter of being responsible in taking care of our environment. I understand that we all can’t be perfect and compost everything and be zero waste, but the little things do count!

These cupcake liners are unbleached, biodegradable, and safe for our landfills and compost bins. Even the packaging for the product is made from recycled cardboard, and uses vegetable based inks for the writing.  All in all, its a great product and environment friendly, which makes me very happy, and it does its job for my cupcakes. And hey, I think they’re cute. I’m into really simple stuff, sometimes those cupcake liners are just nuts with designs that just bake away in the oven. Go try them out for yourself 🙂

Happy New Year! 2012, lets do something exciting!