Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes (via Butter Plus Cream)

With St. Patrick’s Day looming in the near future, I decided to finally make this holiday appropriate recipe that has been staring at me since last year.  To start, these may not be the most beautiful cupcakes, but appearances can be deceiving.  What these cupcakes lack in looks, they more than make up for in flavor.   A nice dose of Guinness gets a bath with some melted butter – I can’t think of a better way to begin a cupcake.  The Guinness adds a slight bitterness that rounds out the sweetness and makes it incredibly moist.  With the addition of sour cream, these cupcakes just might be the best dark chocolate cupcakes I’ve made yet.

Heavy cream is whipped into very faintly sweetened, Bailey’s flavored clouds.  I love how this recipe uses whipped cream for the frosting versus a butter cream which I feel would be too heavy for this cupcake.   Have no fear if you normally shy away from Bailey’s. I served this cupcake to two different people who claimed to not like Bailey’s in the slightest; they both took one bite and wouldn’t give the cupcake back.  Now I call that a success.

The biggest wow factor for these little delights is the whiskey ganache that is nestled in the middles.  Each bite of the cake gives way to a soft, silky, dark chocolate truffle.   Apart, the cake, whipped cream, and ganache are delicious. Together, they create a complex layer of complementary flavors that will bring beer lovers and beer haters (is there such a thing??) together in perfect harmony.

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Chocolate Chunk Cookie Nirvana

Chocolate Chunk Cookies (adapted from Fresh Food Underground‘s Levain Bakery Copycat recipe)

I have been on a search for what I deem the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie for quite sometime.  Nestle Tollhouse’s recipe just hasn’t cut it for me for a long time.  Nothing against them, but I just believed that there was more to making a fantastic chocolate chip cookie than the version they had to offer.  So, for the past few years, I have made quite a few recipes all of which had their own merits, but none of them were “the” chocolate chip cookie to end all cookies.

I have read many reports of Levain Bakery in NYC as making the BEST cookies, hands down. Now, I have not yet had the opportunity to try any of them, but just look at the pictures on their site.  Can you even imagine how amazing they must be?  Thick and soft, yet crisp on the edges, they look like a cookie lover’s dream.  Many copycat recipes abound on the internet and I chose the above recipe and altered it slightly for my own tastes.

I browned 1.5 sticks of the butter to add a nutty caramel flavor to the dough.  I can’t tell you how incredible brown butter is in baking.  Out. of. this. world.  Rich, yet mellow, the dough is nothing short of tantalizing (and this is even before it bakes!).  I also changed the ratio of white to brown sugars – 1 cup of brown to 1/2 cup of white.  I like the flavor and chewy texture that a higher amount of brown sugar brings to the party…not to mention how wonderfully brown sugar complements brown butter.  An added splash of vanilla was my finishing touch.  As if these cookies weren’t already decadent enough, I used two kinds of dark chocolate chunks, courtesy of some Trader Joe’s chocolate bars I had lying around – 60% and 72%.

These cookies freeze beautifully.  I’ve been baking them straight from the freezer for about 10-11 minutes and they are just under baked enough to satisfy my love of cookie dough and soft cookies, but has lightly crisp edges.  I may never give up trying new chocolate chip cookie recipes, but I can say that these are definitely a permanent fixture in my arsenal and will make repeat appearances.

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Light and Fresh Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes (via Picky Cook)

*I have been asked to share this recipe on Sweet as Sugar Cookies. Check out the other fantastic recipes she has featured today!*

I am a huge fan of lemon poppy seed muffins.  When I saw this recipe that converted that muffin into pancake form, I was hooked and knew I had to make them as soon as humanly possible which turned out to be a couple nights later for “brinner” (thank you, Scrubs).

Get ready because this next tip is going to change your baking world…always, always, always make citrus zest sugar whenever your recipe calls for zest of any kind.  Rub the zest into the sugar until it smells like an orchard in your kitchen and the sugar and zest are nice and mingled.  The essential oil in the zest permeates every grain of sugar, ensuring that your baking is consistently flavored all throughout.

A pleasant touch of lemon was evident in every bite of these pancakes and was accentuated by the threads of zest.  Poppy seeds lend a satisfying crunch to an otherwise soft and fluffy pancake.  Buttermilk is an absolute must when making pancakes.  The tart bite and body it adds to the batter is unmatched.

Lemon and blueberry is a classic combination, in my opinion.  I made a simple blueberry sauce with just a hint of agave, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and some water and simmered it while I flipped the pancakes.  Using fresh fruit eliminates the need for much sugar, making these an appropriate main course in my book.

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Triple Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Triple Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (via Divine Baking)

*Check out Cupcake Apothecary‘s site for this post among many other delicious treats for her A Themed Baker’s Sunday!

I have been out of the blogging world for awhile. While I have been baking off and on, I have been remiss in photographing said baking. I hope to be back into regular posting and have a few recipes ready to go!  So, without further ado, I give you TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CRINKLE COOKIES.

These little fudgy drops of goodness are nothing short of delectable.  No flour in sight, these cookies get their structure from powdered sugar and a soft-whipped, creamy meringue.  The triple threat comes in the form of Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder (because it’s my favorite!), melted 72% dark chocolate, and 60% chocolate chips.  My house smelled like Hershey, PA – where the air always smells like chocolate = heaven.

With each bite, I vacillated between thinking I was indulging in a dark chocolate truffle and a rich morsel of fudge.  However, I wasn’t about to pick a winner as both are decidedly delicious options.  The powdered sugar crust gives way to a velvety smooth inside occasionally interrupted by chocolate chips.  Decadence at its finest.

These are a little more labor intensive, but are quite worth it for a special event or a Friday night (if you’re me).

Posted in Chocolate, Cookies, Dessert, Gluten Free | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The most amazing chocolate peanut butter concoction ever

Triple Layer Sour Cream Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (via Sky High Cakes)

This cake is the epitome of chocolate peanut butter bliss.  A dark chocolate, sour cream cake is baked into three perfectly moist layers and then is enveloped in a peanut butter cream cheese frosting.  As if that wasn’t enough to make you drool, a chocolate peanut butter ganache is whipped up and then POURED over the cake.  The miracle in this step is that it drips down the sides, then magically stops mid-drip. The effect is a feast for the eyes.

I have made this chocolate cake four times in the past year and it has easily become my favorite chocolate cake ever.  I’ve paired fudgy chocolate frosting with it as well as white chocolate cookies and cream frosting.  It is hands down the best. period.  It’s also the easiest chocolate cake I have ever made (and that’s including boxed mixes!).  It all takes place in one bowl, using a whisk. No pulling out the stand mixer or even a hand mixer here.  Seriously, get this book and you’ll never have to buy a box mix again.  A key to getting a better moisture level and texture to your cakes is to wrap them in plastic wrap after they’ve cooled and put them in the fridge overnight. It transforms them, I promise.

The ganache on top might seem a bit, well, over the top for some of you. (ha).  But, I thought it toned down the sweetness in the frosting instead of adding to it.  I will say that it made a lot of ganache and I didn’t need to use all of it on the cake, but I went for it since I had already poured 90% of it on already. :)  When in Rome….

This is a very rich and decadent cake – not to be underestimated.  I made a three layer 8″ cake and a tad over half fed 15 people.  So, when you need dessert for a crowd and no one is allergic to peanuts (the horror!), this is the cake to wow them.  Slice thinly (or not, if you’re alone) and carry a large glass of milk.

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Bacon Jam

Bacon Jam (Recipe via Tasty Kitchen member Foodie with Family)

This jam rocked my socks off…and the socks of everyone who had the good fortune to partake of it.  Any recipe that starts off with 3 lbs. of BACON is sure to be a good one, but this was so much better than I even imagined it would be. 

Salty, smoked bacon gets the royal treatment.  A healthy dose of onions and whole garlic cloves become so soft throughout the cooking process, they practically dissolve with a nudge from the wooden spoon.  Real maple syrup and brown sugar caramelize the bacon and make it more like candy than breakfast.  Dark coffee adds depth and complexity to the background flavors while bacon shines in the foreground.  Apple cider vinegar lends a much needed bite that is the perfect counterpart to the sweetness.  Bacon is definitely the star among all the supporting characters, but each one is necessary.  The end result is a flavor that makes your whole mouth rejoice.  Each and every tastebud is activated and enhances the bacon-euphoria.  Eaten plain or on toast with a poached egg, it is simply incredible.

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Beeramisu

Beeramisu (adapted from Taste For Adventure)

First, you’ll have to excuse the very poor photo.  This Beeramisu did not take well to being photographed in the evening which is when I was eating it… :)  I’ll have to paint a picture with words to do it justice.

I loved this dessert.  I’ve always been a fan of Tiramisu, but got the idea that a good beer would be just as good, if not better, than traditional liqueurs often used in Tiramisu.  Obviously, I was not the first to come up with this idea (as any search for “beer” and “tiramisu” will yield a myriad of results).  I decided to make it easier by omitting the eggs in the cream.  I used half mascarpone and half cream cheese to make it a little easier on my wallet.  I had a Java Head Stout on hand which paired wonderfully with the brewed coffee.

Dainty lady fingers go for a quick swim in the beer and coffee mixture, not too long, though.  Just enough to moisten them without losing their structure.  One layer goes in the pan and is smothered in the sweetened whipped mascarpone, cream cheese, and heavy cream that is faintly vanilla-scented.  Another layer of the lady fingers sandwiches in the cream and then the second half of the cream is again spread over the little cakes.  All of this is topped with a dusting of cocoa powder. 

Now, the next step is important – you must let this chill for at least 2 hours.  I know, it’s torture.  But, you will be rewarded for your restraint.  The time spent in the fridge allows the flavors and textures to marry in a way that can’t happen immediately after assembly.  The cake layer soaks in more of the coffee and beer and adheres to the cream layers.  The end result is rich and light at the same time.   The coffee and beer flavors mix and mingle to become a dynamic duo that pierces through the creamy filling and adds just enough bitter to balance the sweetness.  It’s one of kind and not to be missed.

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