Friday, August 26, 2011

Milky Way Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Inspired by the Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie, I give you the Milky Way Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie! I happen to think these bad boys may even TOP the Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie, because the gooey caramel and melted chocolate center really can't be beat! A huge thank you goes out to one of my favorite fellow food bloggers, Picky Palate, for designing this recipe! I followed her delicious recipe exactly, with the exception of deciding to slice the mini Milky Ways in half to make a more realistic sized cookie.

I'm excited to share these tasty treats with my friends and family over the weekend! If you're looking to put a fabulously sweet and unexpected twist on the age-old favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, give these a try and let me know what you think! I have a feeling you won't be disappointed!

Tip: Refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes before assembling the sandwich. It helps to keep the butter from melting, which would make your cookies spread more while baking. It's well worth the wait, believe me!

Happy Baking! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Love These Pans!

Custom Brownie Pan

Mini Multi Tier Cake Pan

Wilton Giant Cupcake Pan

12-Count Mini Donut Pan
A friend recently emailed me a link to these 17 Fun and Useful Baking Pans for Kitchen Lover and I fell in love! The pans above are just a few highlights from the list, but the webpage features tons of unique pan options for creating delicious treats! Many people don't realize how crucial the pan is to the baking process! It can truly make or break a dish! Hence my obsession with this awesome array of pan options that make it super easy to create delicious and impressive desserts! The first photo is of a custom brownie pan that adds two chewy edges to every brownie! It also fits standard box mixes with no adjustments necessary and works as one continuous chamber, so batter can be easily spread! What more could one want?!

Do any of you own these pans? What are your thoughts? What pans are at the top of your wish list? Let me know what you think! Happy Baking! :)

Cream Cheese Brownies & New Baking Things!

I'm back! After an inexcusably long hiatus, I have finally returned to my favorite place on the internet! I should explain that although I haven't blogged in a while, it does not mean I haven't been baking! I just simply haven't had time to photograph and write about all of my latest creations since recently, all my time has been consumed by job and apartment hunting! Since my last post, I turned 21 in Las Vegas (woohoo!), found an apartment and am in the final stages of finding a job for the fall! In the midst of all of this, I managed to whip up a few yummy things, but unfortunately ran out of the time necessary to document them! But, I am finally back and hoping to be able to make more time to keep this up to date on what's currently coming out of my oven! 

As I mentioned, since my last post, I celebrated my 21st birthday! My close friends and family know how much I love to bake and many of them gave me baking-related gifts for my birthday! So thoughtful! Tonight, I decided to make a batch of Cream Cheese Brownies and pulled out a few of the new baking items I received for my birthday. Below is a picture of my new cupcake timer and mini-measuring flowers that one of my good friends gave me for my birthday! Too cute, right?! I'm mildly obsessed with them. Stay tuned for future posts about many of the other awesome baking accessories I received for my birthday! 

Tonight I decided to bake a batch of Cream Cheese Brownies! I was in the mood for something super-gooey and chocolatey and decided to give these brownies a delicious twist of cream cheese, just to make things more interesting! Check out the photos below of the necessary ingredients, and how the process evolved into a fabulously sweet dessert! Tip: The marble effect can be tricky to create so be careful not to over work it!

This recipe is TOO easy to pass up, so if you're looking for a fast, fun and fiercely tasty treat, give these a try! Let me know what you think! Happy Baking! :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

I have to thank Jenny at Picky Palate for creating this amazingly delicious recipe! I am a big fan of good 'ol fashioned sugar cookies, but these are just simply on another level! I boxed up these cookies and shared them with friends and family over the weekend and received nothing but rave reviews, so I would highly recommend whipping up a batch for yourself asap! They are a bit more time consuming than your standard cookie, but I can assure you, they are worth the extra effort! I tasted these cookies both warm and chilled and couldn't get enough of them either way! This sugar cookie recipe creates a to-die-for soft cookie and the cinnamon roll twist (ha, get my pun?!), with a touch of gooey cream cheese frosting just puts these over the top! Plus, the cinnamon roll influence makes these totally acceptable to enjoy at breakfast, or really any time of day! Be sure to check out the recipe on my fellow blogger Picky Palate's website and let me know what you think! Happy Baking! :)

Lady Bug Cupcakes

So, let me start off by apologizing for my recent blogging hiatus. Just because I haven't posted in a while does not mean that I haven't been baking however, so not to worry! Even though the story of these cupcakes is a sad and tragic one, I figured I'd share it with you all so that you can experience both my highs and lows of baking! 

As I've mentioned, I am taking a Wilton basic cake decorating class. In our third class, we focused on cupcake decorating! As an avid cupcake enthusiast, let's just say I was more than excited to attend this session of my Wilton class! Unfortunately, the night was more or less a disaster before it even began. Without getting into the gruesome details, the night ended with my new fancy cupcake carrier and one dozen homemade cupcakes in the trash! It was terrible. Luckily, when I got home, I had some extra cupcakes set aside to decorate that I didn't bring to class. I managed to muster up the motivation to decorate a few of these before throwing in the towel for the evening. 

I thought these little lady bugs were a perfectly cute design for summer! Before class, I baked two dozen classic yellow cupcakes using a Duncan Hines mix. I then whipped up a few batches of Wilton's vanilla buttercream frosting and chocolate buttercream frosting to use for creating the design. When making black frosting, it's best to start with chocolate buttercream frosting since it is already a darker color. Check out the Wilton's buttercream frosting recipes on their website! I used Wilton's icing colors to dye a variety of different colors to use in class. The colors for the lady bugs were the most challenging, since red and black are very dark and rich colors, but don't get discouraged, it CAN be done! Here's a tip: frosting colors darken over time, so if your red is looking a little pink-ish at first, stick it in the fridge in an air-tight container and check on it in about an hour. You should see an improvement!

Luckily, I made it through the class and ended up learning how to create a bunch of beautiful frosting flowers and a variety of other very cool cupcake designs with different decorating tips! I am excited to whip up another batch of cupcakes to try out all of these new techniques on another day - hopefully sans tragedy! 

Anywho, check out the Wilton website for tons more tips on cupcake decorating! Best of luck and happy baking! :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Let me start out by saying that of all the things I've baked so far, these evoked the most praise. It seems wrong to refer to these deliciously crazy concoctions as just a cookie. In reality, they are three cookies all wrapped into one. It is a cookie INSIDE two cookies! What's not to love? I tested these tasty treats on chocolate lovers and chocolate shruggers (Ok, you caught me, I made up a word for people who aren't crazy about chocolate) alike, and no one could turn them down! Luckily, I doubled the recipe to serve the crowd my family was hosting at our house on Cape Cod over the holiday weekend, because I could barely get these cookies off the baking sheet before they were gobbled up by my family and friends! I would suggest trying them both warm and chilled. If you eat them warm, it is more difficult to taste the distinct chocolate chip and Oreo flavor than while they are chilled, but either way was a hit amongst my taste testers, just the same! I have to thank my fellow Picky Palate blogger for creating this amazing recipe! It was the hit of the weekend! Ordinary chocolate chip cookies might never be the same...

Cupcake Charlie's

Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting from Cupcake Charlie's

One dozen cupcakes from Cupcake Charlie's
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! I spent the weekend celebrating on Cape Cod, enjoying beautiful weather, great family, friends, fireworks and some seriously delicious baked goods. One of my favorite places to visit on the Cape is Cupcake Charlie's. Cupcake Charlie's is a specialty cupcake bakery and their red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting is my personal favorite. Their wide variety of delicious treats is too tempting to pass up, so if you're ever on Cape Cod, I would most definitely recommend you stop by for a Lemon Drop, Hostess with the Mostest, Grammy's Carrot Cake, or Raspberry Delight cupcake (among others!)

Next week in my Wilton class, we are tackling cupcakes! Simply put, I'm aspiring to Cupcake Charlie's status. Yes, I know, I'm dreaming big! Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how my homemade cupcakes  rank on the Cupcake Charlie's scale of delicious decadence!

Until then, happy baking! :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Star-Spangled Sugar Cookies

Homemade Star-Spangled Sugar Cookies
Who else is excited for the holiday weekend?! I think these cookies speak for themselves in demonstrating my enthusiasm about the Fourth of July! It really is one of my favorite holidays of the year! It is always a highlight of my favorite season (summer!) and I love celebrating it with my friends and family in one of my favorite places: Cape Cod! So in honor of America's independence this year, I decided to pull out all the stops to create some very patriotic sugar cookies.

I was excited to use a sugar cookie recipe I found on that was featured as a moderation to another recipe. The moderation was created to produce a softer sugar cookie (by adding less flour initially, allowing for more flour to be added during the rolling-out process). The moderation didn't turn out to completely live up to my expectations however, as the dough was much too soft to be rolled out. I ended up having to add so much flour to the dough as I kneaded it and prepared it to be cut into shapes that I think it may have just been worth it to add the extra 3/4 cup of flour in the first place. You live and learn -- such is baking! 

Nevertheless, once I added enough flour to create a dough consistency that warranted rolling out, I used a set of four different star cookie-cutters to create a variety of cookie sizes. The recipe yielded about 40 cookies so I definitely had my decorating work cut out for me! Luckily, I had some help from a good friend who assisted me by mixing up and coloring some of the frosting, and decorating some of the cookies! Baking can definitely be more fun with a friend, and we had a blast coming up with different festive ways to employ red, white and blue frosting, piping gel and edible glitter! When all was said and done, we were left with an array of classic sugar cookies with a star-spangled twist! Yum!

In addition to great family, friends, food and fireworks, I'm looking forward to sharing these celebratory desserts with everyone this weekend! What are your plans for celebrating the Fourth of July? No matter what they are, I would definitely recommend whipping up some of these cookies! They are a fun and easy way to get into the celebratory spirit!

Happy 4th and Happy Baking! :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My First Wilton Basic Cake Decorating Class Cake!

My first Wilton Basic Cake Decorating Class cake!
I am so excited to share the results of my first Wilton Basic Cake Decorating Class! On Monday night, I attended the second session of the Wilton Basic Cake Decorating Class that I am currently taking. After receiving much instruction in the first class, I arrived at the second class prepared to create my first completely decorated cake with an array of new decorating tools, two consistencies of homemade Wilton buttercream frosting (thin for frosting the cake and medium for icing the design), and a freshly baked classic yellow cake!

I got to work right away, as the class is only two hours long and I hoped to avoid being rushed at the end. To my dismay, I missed the memo on bringing pre-colored frosting to class for the design I planned to use, and so while some of my other classmates saved decorating class-time by doing this in advance, I had to spend extra time prepping my materials. Luckily, I was able to complete my decorating once I returned home after class and I was content with how my first attempt came out!

I love that Wilton provides you with a detailed mini text book for class that maps out each session step-by-step. Decorating your first cake can be overwhelming if you don't know what to expect and you don't have anything to reference, but the book helps to avoid all that! Lesson #2 covered everything from torting and leveling a cake, to filling and frosting a cake, to a variety of icing methods and techniques, to piping gel design transfers, and much more! After Monday's class, I feel totally confident that I could create another great cake for any occasion! I am really looking forward to our next class where we will tackle cupcakes and cupcake decorating! I would absolutely love to go on to complete Wilton's second and third courses that provide instruction on frosting flowers and mastering fondant! Someday, for sure.

I have been preserving my first cake in the fridge all week waiting to share it with my family over the holiday weekend, so hopefully it will taste as good as it looks! I have to admit, I tasted a few bites of the top of the cake that I leveled off with a bit of my homemade frosting, and I found myself reaching for seconds!

So, I would consider this first cake attempt to be a success! As a new cake decorator, here are some of my tips for those of you who are just starting out, as well (or considering it!):
- Take your time! A class setting can be intimidating as everyone goes at a different pace and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Don't allow the pace of the group deter you from taking the time you need to learn and create your best work!
- Frosting a cake is harder than it looks. Crumbs can creep in without a moment's notice and it takes some serious patience and a steady hand to keep them at bay. The secret is to use a lot of frosting so your spatula never touches the cake, and of course, practice, practice, PRACTICE!
- Color your frosting in advance. Enough said. It saves time, and the icing darkens over time, so doing it in advance will help you get a better feel for the true color you will be using on your cake.
- Don't take yourself too seriously. It is just a cake, after all. It should be fun and remember, you are new at this. Cake Boss wasn't a "boss" over night. It takes time, but if you stick with it (like anything), you are bound to see improvements!

Happy Baking! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Toasted Coconut Cookies

Toasted Coconut Cookies 
Happy Thursday, all! With the end of the week fast approaching, I was hoping to whip up something delicious for the family to enjoy over the weekend! I think these hit the spot! I love coconut flavor, especially in the summer! So, with that in mind, I was thrilled to come across the recipe for these soft-on-the-inside-crispy-on-the-outside cookies on a fellow blogger's site.

The toasted nature of the coconut in this recipe really does do wonders for enhancing the flavor. On the flip side, the coconut is not overwhelming and truly adds the perfect kick to this delicious dessert! I made my cookies a little bigger than the recipe called for, so naturally I ended up baking them for a bit longer, but other than that, I thought this recipe was wonderful! 

If you're looking to put a new spin on your cookie creations this summer, I would encourage you to give these a try! It's a good thing I got some shots of them beforehand... I don't know how long they'll last ;)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wilton Cake Decorating Class

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:
I am so excited to be taking the Wilton Decorating Basic course! For the next couple of weeks, I will be learning the ins and outs of cake decorating on a basic level! There are three Wilton cake decorating courses you can take. The remaining two focus on flowers, cake design, gum paste and fondant method. I would be thrilled to complete them all, but right now I am loving the first class.

Our first class meeting was tonight and we began by learning how to bake a great cake, make three different types of frosting (stiff, medium and thin), how best to level, frost and fill a cake, and how to use a featherweight decorating bag with a variety of tips! We practiced frosting techniques on sugar cookies, in preparation for creating our first complete cake next week! In order to participate in the class, I purchased the Wilton Decorating Basics student kit which includes a variety of materials used in class. I'm so glad I'll be able to master the art of cake decorating with tools that I can keep for a lifetime of amazing cakes ahead! The class is conveniently held at a Michael's craft store too, where picking up extra accessories is almost TOO easy! Let's just hope my bank account can support my artistic needs! Our homework for next week is to bake a cake to be leveled, frosted and decorated in class, so be sure to check back for a post on the finished product! Here's to great cakes!

Happy Baking! :)


My Finale Dessert! Manjari Mousse (Photo Credit:
My friend Ashley (right) and I (left) enjoying dessert at Finale in Boston, Mass.
Over the weekend, the girls and I finally visited the sensational dessert destination of Boston, Finale Desserterie & Bakery.  I love Finale because they use the best ingredients to create edible works of art. You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm serious when I say that the desserts at Finale are some of the most beautifully designed I've ever seen! So beautiful that I couldn't seem to get a photo of my Manjari Mousse that did it justice, so I tried to provide a better one above by borrowing it from someone else.

Finale provides the ideal environment for indulging. My choice, the Manjari Mousse, consisted of Bittersweet Valrhona Manjari chocolate mousse layered with chocolate buttermilk cake and French apricot puree, served with a napoleon of blackberry cabernet sorbet and strudel dough. In other words, Y-U-M! Whether or not you can appreciate the deeply intense and meticulously designed array of flavors in each Finale creation is frankly irrelevant because everything is just so good! As a dessert enthusiast, I was delighted to experience my choice in slow motion, acknowledging and savoring each and every level of flavor. Each dessert is put together on the dessert plating stage at Finale, which features overheard culinary mirrors that allow all diners to watch (in amazement) the artistic process of concocting each dessert. Needless to say, I was completely enthralled and utterly impressed. A+, Finale! I'll be back. 

Who wants to go to Finale?!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Margarita Bars & Chocolate Raspberry Cookies with Raspberry Glaze

Margarita Bars

Chocolate Raspberry Cookies with Raspberry Glaze

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! On Saturday night, my family hosted a dinner party, and of course I jumped on the opportunity to try out some new dessert recipes! I later learned that experimenting with new recipes during a dinner party isn't always the best baking strategy, but you live and learn!

I was psyched to find the Margarita Bar recipe on a fellow blogger's page! It seemed like the perfect treat to top off a summer gathering, and they were! Plus, these tasty bars feature a tablespoon or two of tequila and triple sec, so the margarita flavor is completely authentic -- yum! One of the biggest challenges of baking is the balance between oven temperature and baking time however, and these bars proved to be no exception. Although I cooked the bars with the oven temperature and baking time suggested in the recipe, they turned out to be a bit undercooked after all. This recipe is more difficult to test as well, since the tried and true toothpick method is a no-go with the gooey consistency of the bars (no matter how perfectly they are cooked). I ended up popping the pan of bars in the fridge for a while to help them set before cutting and serving them, but they definitely would have worked better if they had been in the oven for a few more minutes. Next time! 

I love the flavors of chocolate and raspberry together, so I was really excited to tackle the new recipe for the cookies! The chocolate raspberry cookies proved to be a perfect example of why experimenting with new recipes at a dinner party can be dangerous, however. To make the cookies, I used a Paula Deen recipe from the Food Network which called for Hershey's Premier Dark Chocolate Baking Pieces Filled With Raspberry Creme. Well, on my last minute run to the grocery store to grab the necessities for my desserts, I realized that the store did not carry this item. So, instead I used a generic brand of Chocolate Covered Raspberry Cremes. I realized after baking the first round of cookies with these candies that this was a poor choice. The raspberry creme filling from the candies more or less melted and transformed into a syrupy mess on the cookie sheets, ruining my perfectly greased pans. That round of cookies ended up being chiseled and pried from their syrupy graves. In doing so however, I racked my brain for a plan B! There was still plenty of cookie dough left and I couldn't leave the guests hanging! For the second round, I decided to pick out all of the evil baking pieces, and instead infuse the chocolate cookie dough with raspberry flavor by adding a tablespoon or two of the raspberry preserves that the glaze recipe uses. Luckily, my improvisation was a success and I was able to salvage at least half a dozen cookies. Another perfect example of living and learning through baking!

When people ask me how I know that baking is my passion, I explain that I'm never too tired to do it, it never discourages me to the point of wanting to quit, and it is always relaxing to me, no matter what the circumstances. Not to mention that it comes with some pretty delicious benefits that make me and everyone I love happy! So, even though these recipes weren't my best successes, I still had a great weekend of baking and learned more from it than I would have if everything had gone according to plan. So, I encourage you to stick with baking, too! It isn't ALWAYS perfectly glamorous and delicious, but I promise that if you keep at it, you too can single-handedly save a near-disastrous dinner party. 

Happy Baking! :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sicilian Inspiration: Pesto Chicken Florentine & Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Pesto Chicken Florentine

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Those who know me probably would not associate me with cooking. It's not necessarily because I am bad at it, it is just because I have always enjoyed baking much more. As a result, I've honed my baking skills much more than my cooking skills, but we all know there's no dessert without the main meal (except in certain cases when dessert IS the main meal, which happens to be my favorite). So, lately, I've been trying to develop my cooking skills in hopes of becoming a great baker AND chef! 

Earlier this week I decided to create a meal for my family inspired by all of the great food I experienced on my trip to Sicily this past March. Sicily is known for their delicious tomatoes, lemons and ricotta cheese, among other things! So, with this in mind, I decided to make a pasta dish, Pesto Chicken Florentine, and Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze for dessert.

I based the pasta dish on a recipe I found on For a healthier kick, I used whole grain pasta and light alfredo sauce. I also decided to add diced tomatoes for an extra level of flavor which was well received by my taste-testers! I served the dish with fresh french bread and let's just say there weren't many leftovers! 

Dessert was a total hit, as well! I used a Giada De Laurentiis recipe from the Food Network to make the lemon ricotta cookies, which basically disappeared within hours after setting them out for my family to enjoy! These cookies are truly lemony delicious. The ricotta creates a very moist, nearly cake-like cookie that could be enjoyed at any time of day! The glaze adds the perfect finishing touch. I am definitely considering these one of my new favorite cookies, especially since they are inspired by the famous fruit of one of my favorite destinations: the legendary lemons of the beautiful Italian island of Sicily!

I encourage you to try out either of these recipes and let me know how it goes! Happy Cooking & Baking!

Red Velvet Graduation Cupcakes & Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Red Velvet Graduation Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

A few weeks ago, my brother graduated from high school. After the ceremony, family and friends celebrated with a barbeque at my family's house. I was responsible for the night's desserts and decided on red velvet graduation cupcakes and strawberry swirl cheesecake bars! I aimed to design a menu that would appeal to differing tastes and decided on a mix of chocolate and fruit choices that ended up being a hit amongst guests. 

The festive graduation cupcakes were a perfect touch to the evening's celebration. I decided to focus the majority of my time on decorating each cupcake and so instead of making the cupcake mix from scratch, I saved prep time by using Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Red Velvet Cake Mix. I frosted the cupcakes with Duncan Hines Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting and used a variety of cookies and candies to create  miniature graduation caps on each cupcake. I began with a miniature Reese's peanut butter cup placed upside down on top of a frosted cupcake. Then, I placed a thin peanut butter fudge cookie on top of the Reese's cup, securing it with frosting. This completed the mortar board. To create the tassels, I cut short pieces of Twizzler's Pull 'n Peel candy and attached them with frosting and an M&M on top of the peanut butter fudge cookie. To create a consistent color scheme, I chose all red ingredients and accessories. The cupcakes looked great displayed on my new Wilton Cupcake Dessert Stand, which I purchased especially for the occasion! 

The strawberry swirl cheesecake bars were a great way to take advantage of the debut of strawberry season! When I came across the recipe on (one of my favorite recipe resources), I couldn't wait to try it out! The bars were rich and bursting with fruity flavor -- a perfect summer dessert! I would encourage you to add this easy-to-make and delicious dessert to your summer dessert menu. It certainly did not disappoint amongst my family and friends!

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Graduation Cake

In May, I graduated one year early from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. To celebrate, my family hosted a dinner party at a local restaurant and surprised me with this amazing cake! As an avid viewer of shows such as Cake Boss, Fabulous Cakes and Ace of Cakes, I was completely enthralled by the intricate details of this both delicious and imaginative masterpiece, made by Elegant Edibles. The cake was designed to encompass many of my interests, passions and experiences at UMass Amherst. One of the most impressive features of the cake was the edible marker. Guests of the dinner party were able to write well wishes on the "box" with the marker, which added an even more personal touch to the already meticulously individualized dessert.

The cake tasted as good as it looked! Composed with my favorite fruit flavor (raspberry), the cake featured white vanilla butter cake with raspberry filling and raspberry buttercream icing covered in fondant. All of the decorations were edible. The dessert was a complete hit amongst my family members and friends at the dinner party! I am really excited to begin my Wilton basic cake decorating class next week to begin learning the tricks of this trade! It's amazing how great desserts can truly top off a great dining experience. 

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