Sunday, October 30, 2011

Marbled Pumpkin Brownies

Do you love brownies!? Do love pumpkin pie!?  If you answered yes to both those questions then you will love these!  Its basically a brownie swirled with a pumpkin pie.  Can you say delicious?  These were a huge hit with my friends and family.  These would even be a fun treat for Thanksgiving, traditional flavors in an nontraditional form.   I don't have much more to say other then, "TRY THESE!!!"

Happy Halloween!!

My only Halloween decoration is that pumpkin.... very sad!
Marbled Pumpkin Brownies - Adapted from Better Homes and Garden
Yield: 24 Squares
Pumpkin Ingredients:
3 Ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1 Tablespoon Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 Cup Canned Pumpkin
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cloves (optional)
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg (optional)
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 Tablespoon Flour

Brownie Ingredients:
1 1/4 Cups Flour
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
6 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate, Chopped (I used semisweet chocolate chips and reduced the sugar to 2 Cups)
3/4 Cup Butter, cubed
2 1/4 Cups Sugar
4 Eggs
1/4 Cup Milk
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
3/4 Cup Coarsely Chopped Walnuts, toasted (optional, I didn't use nuts)

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil, extending foil over the edges of the pan. Grease or PAM the foil; set pan aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese and the 1 tablespoon butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. I did this step with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add the 1/2 cup sugar. Beat until well combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. 
  3. Beat in 1 egg, the pumpkin, 1 teaspoon vanilla, the cinnamon, and ginger until combined. Stir in the 1 tablespoon flour. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl stir together the 1-1/4 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan combine the chocolate and 3/4 cup butter. Cook and stir with a whisk over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Gradually add the 2-1/4 cups sugar, beating with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined. I used a whisk to make the brownies.
  6. Add the 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk and the 2 teaspoons vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture just until combined.
  7. Spread chocolate mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture in several mounds on top of the chocolate batter. Using a knife, gently swirl the cream cheese mixture into the chocolate batter. If desired, sprinkle with walnuts.
  8. Bake about 60 minutes or until center is just set when pan is gently shaken. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Use foil to lift uncut brownies out of pan. Cut into squares.
  9. Enjoy!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

Pumpkin! Pumpkin! Pumpkin! Its that season, so get use to it.  My co-worker loves pumpkin so I made these for her.  They are a delicious pumpkin muffin with a streusel topping.   They are very moist and pumpkiny!  These are perfect for breakfast or just a snack.   I changed up the recipe a little bit, you can see my changes below.  There are a few things that are not allowed in my house, one of them is sour cream.  My boyfriend and I both loathe sour cream and mayonnaise, so I don't buy it.  I substituted the sour cream for yogurt and they turned out great!!  These are a perfect fall treat, so enjoy!!

Muffins ready for the oven!
Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins with Streusel Topping - Adapted from Naked Cupcakes
Yield: 12 Muffins
1 1/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour - I use regular all-purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon - I used more like 1 teaspoon
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon Cloves
1 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Egg
1 Cup Pureed Pumpkin
1/4 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Sour Cream - I used low fat vanilla yogurt

Streusel Topping:
1/2 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Oats
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon - I used more like 1 teaspoon
1/3 Cup Cold Butter

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 and line a muffin pan with liners.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and rolled oats in a medium bowl.
  3. In a second large bowl, whisk together the egg, pureed pumpkin, milk, and sour cream until smooth.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until incorporated.
  5. Divide the batter between the 12 prepared muffin cups.
  6. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  You can use the same bowl as before.
  7. Add the cold butter and cut it into the streusel mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs (you can use a pastry cutter, two knives, or even your fingers to do this, I think hands work the best!!)
  8. Sprinkle the streusel topping on top of the filled muffin cups.  Fill in and pat down the streusel into the muffin tin.
  9. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Enjoy!
Warning: These are messy... bake at your own risk to clean up afterwards!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

For my birthday, my dad sent me 30 vanilla beans!! I have been looking for an excuse to make vanilla bean cupcakes and the perfect occasion came along. Makenna's 1st birthday! I remember a year ago when I got the text that she was born and I have had the pleasure to watch her grow over the last year. She is now a crazy and energetic little girl with her whole life ahead of her. I am Auntie Merlot, even though I am not related and I love every moment I get to spend with her. Her birthday was on Friday so I met up with the birthday girl and her mom South Coast Plaza to shop for the perfect birthday outfit. We rode the carousal and play peak-a-boo. And then it was nap time... Life of a 1 year old.  She enjoyed her birthday cupcake when she got home. 

About the cupcakes, they are amazing!! I had never cut open a vanilla bean, so the whole process was new to me. I never realized how small the little granules are. I was sent 3 types of vanilla beans and I decided to use a Tahitian bean. The cupcakes would be good without the vanilla bean too, because the cake is just perfect. Its moist and not too sweet. I made just a regular vanilla buttercream and added some pink food coloring for color. Overall, for how simple the flavors are, this is one of the best cupcakes I think I have ever made.

Happy 1st Birthday Makenna!!

Little tiny vanilla beans....

Birthday girl enjoying her cupcake!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes - Adapted from The Busty Baker
Yield: 12 Cupcakes
1/2 Cup Milk
3 Egg Whites
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Vanilla Bean, split and seeds scraped - I used a Tahitian vanilla bean
1 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Flour
3/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) Unsalted Butter, room temperature

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tin with liners.
  2. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together milk, egg whites, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds to combine.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter, mixing on low until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. It’ll look a bit like the start of pastry dough.
  4. Add half of milk mixture to flour mixture and beat until dough is moist and thick (a bit like cookie dough). Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add remaining milk mixture and beat until combined. Mixture should look more like batter now.
  5. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling with about 2 tablespoons of batter each. Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  6. Make a frosting.
Quick Vanilla Buttercream - Adapted from
Yield: Too much for 12 Cupcakes - but you can freeze buttercream!
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Butter, Unsalted
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons Whipping Cream

  1. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.
  3. Add coloring if desired.  Pipe onto cupcakes.  
  4. I rolled mine in sprinkles for some extra pinkness. 
  5. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nutella Scones

Friday was treat day again for my boyfriend at his work.  I had to work late on Thursday so we started making these at 10:30 at night.  I was reading though all the ingredients and making the dough and put them in the oven.  I had a sneaking suspicion I had done something wrong.  I notice the recipe said 3/4 stick of butter, not 3/4 cup of butter.  So I accidentally doubled the amount of butter in these but I don't think anyone noticed.  They weren't the correct texture for a scone, but they were chocolaty and filled with Nutella, so who can complain!?

I forgot to take photos, my boyfriend took these at his work on his iPhone.
Nutella Scones - Adapted from I'll Have What She's Having
Yield - 16 Scones
2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) COLD Unsalted Butter, cut into chunks - This is where i went wrong!!
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
3/4 Cup Toasted Hazelnuts, coarsely chopped - I didn't use nuts.
1/2 Cup Nutella
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicon mat, or nothing if you use Airbake - I am obsessed with my Airbake! 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter to the flour. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the chunks of butter become pea sized and the flour holds together when squeezed.
  3. Whisk the cream and egg together. While mixing, slowly pour the cream mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just comes together. Stir in the hazelnuts, if you choose to use them.
  4. Then pour the dough onto a floured surface. Knead the dough into a 6 inch by 12 inch rectangle (doesn’t have to be exact).
  5. Spread 1/4 cup (I used a little more!) of the Nutella over the dough, then roll it into a cylinder. Flatten the cylinder into a disk, then slice it into wedges (16).  They start small and expand a lot in the oven!
  6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.
  7. Once baked, place on a cooling rack. Warm the remaining 1/4 cup Nutella, then drizzle it over the cooling scones.
  8. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

Espresso in a cookie is always a good idea!  Espresso in a chocolate chip cookies is a life changing idea!!  These cookies were so good, everybody loved them!  I made these to share with all the volunteers at a Working Wardrobes event that was this weekend.  I had to work, so I wasn't able to volunteer this year but I always make sure to make a treat to share with everyone.  The event is a long day and lots of work, so I figured everyone could use a little pick-me-up!!   Its hard to see the espresso in the cookies, but the taste is there.  They smell amazing too.  Its like drinking a latte and eating a cookie at the same time.  You MUST try these if you are a coffee lover...

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies - Adapted from
Yield: 2-3 Dozen
1/2 Cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Egg
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
1 3/4 Cups Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Instant Espresso Coffee Powder (I used Starbucks VIA, Caramel flavor)
1 1/2 Cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips

  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 30 seconds. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips.
  4. Using a 1-ounce scoop or a 2-tablespoon measure, drop cookie dough onto a prepared cookie sheet about 3 inches apart.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Bake a little longer for a crispier cookie.
  5. Serve warm with a glass of milk or Coffee! 
  6. Enjoy!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rolled Chocolate Sugar Cookies

I found these stencils at Michael's.  They are Martha Stewart and are so fun for Halloween!  I did a chocolate cookie with powdered sugar, but you could also do a regular sugar cookie and use cocoa powder for the stencils.  You can also use them on cupcakes!  

Chocolate Rolled Cookies - Adapted from All Recipes
Yield: Depends on cookie cutter size...
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg and 1 egg yolk

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and egg yolk. Add the vanilla. 
  3. Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients to form a soft dough. Divide dough into 2 pieces, flatten and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Dough is sticky so be sure to add more flour to the rolling surface as needed. Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To use the stencils, place the stencil on the cookie and sift some powdered sugar on them.  
  7. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles


What to say about these cookies?  Well if you scroll down you will see that they are vegan.  I am all for meat and animal products, especially when it comes to baking.  Butter and eggs make or break a cookie.  But not this one, its amazing.  I didn't tell people until after they took a bite, then I told them it was vegan and they were all impressed.  It has a different texture, but the flavor is there and they look perfect.    I feel like they are healthier too without the butter so you can justify eating more cookies.  These cookies would be a delicious on a Christmas cookie platter.    They might be good too if you add chocolate chips... Ill save that idea for text time.

Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles - Adapted from The Post Punk Kitchen
Yield: 2 Dozen Cookies
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
3 Tablespoons Almond Milk (I used Soy Milk)
2 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 2/3 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon cinnamon (I did more like 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (I did put this in...)
Cinnamon Sugar for Rolling Cookies: (you can adjust this to your taste.... I used more cinnamon)
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare you baking sheets.
  2. Mix the topping ingredients together in a bowl, then pour on a flat plate. Set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough.
  5. Roll dough into tablespoon sized balls. Roll dough balls in the sugar topping.  Place on baking sheet and flatten with the bottom on a cup til they are 1 1/2-2 inch discs, they will spread. 
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, they should be a bit spread and crackly on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  7. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes for Halloween


I have a confession to make.  I have never made cream cheese frosting.  Big mistake, because now I love it!!  My previous philosophy was cream cheese was only meant to go on bagels, but now I know its delicious on cupcakes too!   A coworker asked me to make something with pumpkin in it, so I found this recipe and wanted to do a Halloween theme.  I wasn't thrilled with the pumpkin idea at first, but I figured then I wouldn't eat them.  Big problem, these cupcakes are so good I cant stop eating them.  Even my boyfriend cringed at the idea of a pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese frosting, but after one bite, he loved it and ate the whole cupcake!  The flavor in the cupcake is amazing with all the spices and pumpkin flavor.  Its a dense cupcake, almost muffin like, and not very sweet.  The cream cheese frosting adds a rich and creamy flavor and brings everything together perfectly.  This is a perfect fall treat, and the decoration is fun for Halloween!! 

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes - Adapted from Annies Eats
Yield: about 24-30 cupcakes
2 2/3 Cups Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon Nutmeg
¼ Teaspoon Ground Cloves
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 (15 oz. Can) Pumpkin Puree
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1 Cup Canola or Vegetable oil
4 Eggs

For the frosting:
8 oz. Cream Cheese
5 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, room temperature
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
3 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. 
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Set aside. 
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  4. With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. 
  6. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. 
  8. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.
  9. Enjoy!!