Category Archives: Dessert

S’mores pie! (AKA pre-made S’mores for tomorrow)

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Who doesn’t LOVE S’mores????

Have you been to Blaze Pizza? They serve amazing custom ordered personal pizza for a dirt-cheap price but most importantly, they also sell ready-made S’mores! Of course, I had to try to make it myself…how hard could it be right? Honestly, it was easy!

Blaze Pizza most likely uses McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits for that crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside finish but I used traditional graham crackers.

End result? Delicioso!

For the melted chocolate finish, all I did was quickly make ganache.
If you want them crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, use the biscuits, if you enjoy the soft and chewy combo, use graham crackers. Delicious either way!

I think I prefer this to freshly made S’mores since the marshmallow cools down and becomes chewy, the ganache is already soft so it’s not like I get a piece of unmelted chocolate.

Ingredients: Makes 2 cookies
4 graham cracker squares (2 sheets)
2 giant marshmallows (cut in half)
1/2 bar of your favorite dark chocolate (think 1/2 of Hershey’s bar)
1/2 bar of your favorite milk chocolate
3/4~1 cup half and half (adjust as needed)

Guide:
Melt chocolate with half and half in a small pot over low heat. Stir constantly. Let it cool until it hardens.                                                              *Will chill fast in the refrigerator or freezer.

Place marshmallows on a baking sheet and broil for 2 minutes or until golden brown.

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Place a tablespoon full of ganache (or a more) on one side of the cracker/biscuit, place 1 piece of roasted marshmallow on the other half.

Put them together, squeeze, and you can eat it immediately or let it cool and enjoy it the next day!

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Mini Zucchini Brownies

Perfect little squares.  Just enough chocolate and nuts.

(I must admit, I was busy making zucchini muffins so my sister Steph did most of the work)

I love sweets but nothing too sweet. I like frosting but only if they’re not too sweet. My friend Calvin makes fun of me and my sisters because we always say “Mmm, this is good! It’s not too sweet!”. So very true. Hahaha.

I found this recipe on-line somewhere and swapped out oil for butter. This brownie is just moist enough,  just sweet enough with just enough crunch. It goes great with a cup of soy latte.

Ingredients: Makes about 32 mini brownie squares
1/2 cup unsalted butter – melted
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

 
Guide:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 mini brownie pans.
In a small bowl, mix butter, sugar, vanilla. In a large bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt. Combine wet into dry. It will get pretty tough to mix but it’s ok. It’ not supposed to look like the regular brownie batter.  Fold in the zucchini and walnuts and divide evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of brownies) – Until brownies spring back when gently touched.
Take them out of the oven; let them sit for 2 minutes before moving the cookies onto a cooling rack.

 
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If baking in one big pan, bake for 25-30 minutes.
Store them in an airtight container for up to couple days – room temp

Moist Zucchini Muffins


Talk about moist muffins! They taste very similar to carrot cake muffins!

My friend Lori gave me a BUNCH of zucchinis she grew in her backyard. I only had a few days before leaving for my business trip so I had to come up with a clever way to use them all before they go to waste! I grilled a couple but what to do with the rest. I KNOW, make yummy muffins out of them!

I found a zucchini muffin recipe on-line but it called for a lot of oil and sugar so I changed it up to what I felt was appropriate to my liking and they came out amazing!

Our home smelled like Thanksgiving was already here (nutmeg and cinnamon) and my boyfriend and his colleagues enjoyed devouring them the next morning. Of course I packed a few for myself to take on the flight.

Ingredients: Makes 24 muffins
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter – melted
1/2 cup apple sauce
4 eggs – beaten
4 1/2 cups grated zucchini (do not squeeze out the water)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Guide:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pans with PAM (baking) if you have one to prevent sticking.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon, white and brown sugar).

In a medium bowl, combine all wet ingredients (melted butter, apple sauce, eggs,  zucchini, vanilla extract).

Mix wet ingredients into dry just until they’re well combined. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop them in the muffin pans and bake them for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Take them out of the oven; let them sit for few minutes before moving them onto a cooling rack.

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You can add pecans or walnuts in the batter if you’d like for an extra crunch!

To store, once completely cooled, store them in an air tight container at room temp up to couple days.

 

Crispy and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside!

This morning at 5:40am, I was woken up by my foster dog Alfie. He wanted to be let out so I grabbed him along with our dog Mo(hawk) and stepped outside. The air was so chilly that it woke me right up. I contemplated on going back to bed, but the sun was up, I wasn’t tired or anything, so decided to bake cookies! WHY NOT.

I remember reading a basic cookie recipe in “Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion” by A.Currah. Like she has in her title, it was so simple that I didn’t have to dig the book out again for the recipe.

Well, after 30 minutes in the kitchen, our house smelled like a cookie factory. Then I contemplated on what to do with 3 dozen cookies…keeping them all at home would be a BAD IDEA…
I decided to set some aside for my family, then split the rest in half for my colleagues and my boyfriend’s colleagues.

We don’t have any cookies left at home…which means I get to bake something new again! YAHOO~!

Ingredients:Her recipe says 4 dozen, but I made mine so big that I got 3 dozen
1 cup butter (2 sticks unsalted butter) – room temp
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups – dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp – pure vanilla extract
2 ¾ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp – finely grounded sea salt
2 ¼ cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Guide:
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees.

Using either a hand mixer or a standing mixer, mix butter and both sugar on medium for 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add an egg at a time and continue to mix. Add in vanilla extract.
Slow down the machine to add flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt until combined.
Add in the chocolate chips and stop the machine once they’re equally distributed in the mixture.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop 2 Tbs worth of dough and place them 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for 11 minutes or until you see the corners turn golden brown.

Take them out of the oven; let them sit for 2 minutes before moving the cookies onto a cooling rack.

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Below picture is a good example of what NOT TO DO if you want round cookies.

If you want round cookies and not square ones, I urge you to bake them in 2 batches (2 sheets at a time).
I’m known to be impatient with these things and tend to overcrowd my sheets…so of course today’s cookies came out SQUARE. Still, most importantly, they tasted amazing!

 

 

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

 

I must confess. I own a TON of cookbooks and I’m addicted to flipping through them reading the recipes or just simply staring at the beautiful photographs and marking every other page with my post it as I say “make!” out loud. My mots recent purchase is “The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook” by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day. MY GOODNESS…not the healthiest book I own BUT, no regrets here!

My boyfriend and I got invited to our friend’s BBQ and being me, I couldn’t show up at their house empty handed. I flipped through the book and found Strawberry Cupcakes! Woot woot! I just bought a bunch of strawberries on sale so it was perfect!

* Tweaked a bit from Cheryl & Griffith Day’s original recipe
For the frosting:
The amount of sugar it called for scared me so I cut that by a lot (their recipe calls for 8 cups)
I also didn’t have fleur de sel (special sea salt) so I added a tiny pinch of fine sea salt
Used a bit more strawberries than it called for just because

Ingredients: Makes 24 cupcakes
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking power
½ tsp fine sea salt (ground mine in my spice grinder)
2 cups whole fresh strawberries – pureed
½ cup whole milk – room temp
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp grated lemons zest
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter – room temp
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs – room temp
4 large egg whites – room temp (I froze the yolks to use later for another dish)

Fresh Strawberry Frosting: Makes about 4-5 cups
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter – room temp
2 tsp fresh lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
Small pinch of fine sea salt (no more than ¼ tsp)
2.5-4 cups confectioners’ sugar (Add ½ cup at a time, mix, taste test & repeat until you think it’s good)
1 cup whole fresh strawberries – pureed

Guide for the cupcakes:
Bring oven to 350F. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper or aluminum liners.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a large measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the strawberry puree, milk vanilla, and lemon zests.

Using a stand mixer w/ the paddle attachment or a large bowl and hand mixer, cream the butter on med-high until light in color. Turn the speed down and gradually add the sugar, mixing it for 3-4 minutes until it’s completely mixed and fluffy. Add the eggs and egg whites one at a time mixing well. Add flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the strawberry mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides to ensure everything is well mixed, and mix for another 1-2 minutes.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cupcake cups, filling each one two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes until test toothpick comes out clean in the center. Cool for at least 20 minutes.

Using a spatula or butter knife, spread the tops of the cupcakes with swirls of the frosting.

Guide for the frosting:
Using a stand mixer w/ the paddle attachment or a medium bowl and hand mixer, beat the butter, lemon juice, salt, on low speed until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add the strawberry puree, and then gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar. Taste test as you add and mix so it’s not too tart or too sweet for you. Mix until completely incorporated.

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Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

The frosting can be stored in an airtight container at room temp for up to 2 days.

Mini Nutella Scones

Nutella, can we say YUMMY?! I LOVE Nutella so when I saw this recipe in “Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, I just had to try it. I knew my friend Tracy would love it too so I made two batches to share! Didn’t change a THING and they turned out amazing.

Yields: About 15 Mini Scones (just depends on how small you cut it)

Ingredients: (this is exactly from their book except for things I put in parenthesis)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder like Valrhona (I used a generic brand unsweetened cocoa)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Nutella

Directions: (I usually have it listed as a “Guide” but their directions worked VERY well!)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place the rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until combined.
Add the butter. Use your fingertips to rub it into the flour until the butter is pea size and the mixture is coarse.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough just comes together. Gently and briefly knead the dough with your hands. Add the toasted hazelnuts and knead gently to incorporate. Flatten the dough into a rectangle approximately 6 by 12 inches. ( it doesn’t need to precise) and spread 1/4 cup of the Nutella on top in a criss cross pattern. Roll the dough up to make a cylinder about 6 inches long, turn it on its end, and gently flatten it into a disk about 1 3/4 inches high. Do not overwork the dough.

Cut the dough into 6 or 8 wedges (cut wedges in half for mini scones) and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the scones for 18-20 minutes (12-15 minutes for mini scones), rotating the baking sheet halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Do not overbake.
*Baked Note*
Matt & Renato’s advice: Do Not Knead Too Much. Stop working the dough the minute it comes together and don’t worry if there are a few dry bits scattered throughout.

Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely. Place the baking sheet with the parchment still on it underneath the rack.

Assemble the Nutella Scones:
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup Nutella in a microwave until pourable, about 10 seconds on high. Pierce the tops of the scones a few times with a fork. Use a spoon ( or two spoons-one to scoop, one to scrape) to drip the warm Nutella in a zigzag pattern over the tops of the hot scones. Transfer them to a refrigerator to set for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.

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Store in an air tight container (best eaten same day as baked – still good next 2-3 days too)

Mini Lemon Blueberry Scones

I used to be in love with Starbucks’ mini vanilla bean scones BUT, I feel they’re a tad bit more on the dry side than before, and I got bored of just having vanilla. I know scones are meant to be dry, but I personally like them more on the moist side so I came up with this recipe.

Ingredients: 40+ mini scones
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup dried blueberries (whole)
1/3 cup dried blueberries (chopped – knife will get sticky!)
2 sticks of cold butter diced up (keep them cold until it’s time to use it)
1 cup butter milk (add 1 Tbs of fresh lemon juice into a measuring cup, and fill it up with milk up to 1 cup line)
1/4 lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
1 egg beaten
Small amount of milk to brush the scones with prior to baking

Ingredients: Lemon sugar glaze
2 cups confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
6 Tbs fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 stick of vanilla bean (optional)

Guide:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Combine flour, baking power, baking soda, sugar, salt, blueberries, lemon zest in a standing mixer bowl
Attatch the paddle and mix on slow until combined
Add the cold butter into the dry mixture and mix on slow until butter is pea sized (or a tad bigger is ok too!)
Whisk the egg and buttermilk together until combined, pour into the dry mixture slowly
Mix just until the dough is combined, almost on the flaky side, do not over mix
Put some flour on your hand, dump the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and press it together so it forms a ball (don’t’ handle it too much since the heat of your hands will melt the butter)
Press down on the ball and make it into a big 3/4″ thick disk
Cut it into long rectangular strips, then cut it across to make small triangles
Place 1/2 of them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and brush the top with milk
Pop them in the oven, and bake for 18-22 minutes, just until the edges are light brown
Once their done, place them on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes

Make the lemon sugar glaze by combining confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice
Scrape the vanilla bean out and add beans in the sugar mixture (discard outer case)
Dunk the top of the scones into the sugar mixture and let it sit for 30 minutes or so until the sugar glaze hardens

Store in an air tight container (best eaten same day as baked – pretty good next couple of days too)

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These scones are perfectly delicious without the glaze too – just not as sweet!

You can also make big scones out of this recipe. It’s up to you! Just increase the the length of baking time by a few minutes and check occasionally until you see the edges turn light brown

You can also use fresh blueberries instead of dried ones but I like the chewiness of the dried ones. If you’re going to use fresh ones, reduce amount of buttermilk since the berries contains a lot of moisture and can make the dough too wet

Try using dried cranberries in place of blueberries to change things up a bit too!