Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chocolate Strawberries and Cream Pie

After Easter candy sales depress me. Chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks look down from their discount shelves, never to fulfill their Easter dreams. I always end up buying a few (of the bunnies, sorry chicks but I'm not a fan) and then they sit on my shelf waiting for some higher purpose. And I imagine that being used in this pie would be a chocolate bunny's dream. Well, actually maybe not since they get melted down and spread over a pie crust then topped with fluffy cream and fresh juicy strawberries. But hey, at least they made it out of the store, right?!
*Disclaimer, yes I realize that the bunnies are made of chocolate and probably don't have "feelings"

Chocolate Strawberry and Cream Pie
3 ounces chocolate, divided or one big Easter bunny broken into pieces
1/2 tablespoon butter (can be omitted if using a high quality Easter Bunny) `
1 pastry shell (9 inches), baked (use your favorite recipe)
2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Sour Cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
1/3 cup strawberry jam, melted

In a large saucepan, melt 2 oz. chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Note -try to use a good quality bunny or the chocolate will be harder to spread when melted. Spread or brush over the bottom and up the sides of pastry shell.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth.
Spread over chocolate layer; cover and chill for 2 hours.
Arrange strawberries over the filling.
Brush with jam. Melt the remaining chocolate and drizzle over the top. Yield: 6-8 servings.
So good!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cinnamon Sugar Bread

Hello friends! Today I made cinnamon sugar bread. It took me oh, about 6.5 minutes to get it in the oven and then 45 tortured minutes waiting (actually I sat on my bum and watched Sex and the City). THEN I read the recipe again, and realized it said to let the bread sit, wrapped in aluminum foil, overnight.. um, ya, about that.... Didn't so much happen. BUT This bread was OUT of THIS world fabulous warm from the oven. Some of it made it overnight, and the next day I warmed it up and it was even fabulouser (okay not a word, but descriptive nonetheless). Warm swirls of cinnamon meet creamy crumbly quick bread. Probably the easiest thing I've made in a while. I didn't even dirty more than one bowl and I stirred it up with a tablespoon, no wooden spoon or mixer required. Seriously this stuff is good.

Cinnamon Sugar Swirl Quick Bread
Adapted from
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup sugar. Add egg, milk, and oil to flour mixture.
Stir until just moistened.
Pour half of the batter into pan.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and 1/3 cup sugar (you can mix together cinnamon and sugar before hand, I didn't though I just sprinkled away).
Cover with remaining batter.
Top with more cinnamon/sugar if desired.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Wrap in foil and let sit overnight before slicing (as mentioned, I sliced off two pieces then wrapped the rest of the loaf in foil).
Enjoy! Happy Easter Weekend!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwiches

Spring has sprung here in Oregon, we are getting sun about one day a week, which is pretty darn good for the Northwest! Spring makes me happy, and when I'm happy, I bake (and run which is needed due to all the baking!) My most recent baking accomplishment is a carrot cake cookie sandwich. I used Martha Stewart's Carrot Cookie Recipe and sandwiched the cookies together with a cream cheese frosting. Martha's recipe calls for raisins but I left them out as I used up all my raisins making these. I also had no cinnamon so I added in pumpkin pie spice instead, sounds weird but surprisingly worked really well in the cookies! They are super moist and the carrots give a nice subtle flavor, don't worry not too carroty. I even had a veggie hater sample one and he declared them delicious, actually he just ate two more so I declare that they must've been delicious!

Carrot Cake Cookie Sandwiches
Adapted From Martha Stewart
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots, (about 3 large carrots)
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe here)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper, and set aside.
Combine sugars and butter; beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until well combined.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice; stir to combine.
Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended.
Mix in oats and carrots. Chill dough in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.
Using a 1/2-ounce ice-cream scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Transfer to oven, and bake until browned and crisped, rotating pan halfway through baking to ensure even color, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat baking process with remaining dough.
Once cooled completely, spread cream-cheese filling onto a cookie. Sandwich together with a second cookie.
Repeat with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Apple Shortbread Bars

I found this recipe on Lovin In The Oven blog. It is fantastic (the blog and the recipe)! You really can't go wrong with any dessert made with apples. I picked up some fresh Pippin apples from the Portland Farmers Market (SO excited it's open!) and used them in the filling. They weren't too sweet or juicy so they were perfect for these bars. I took Kim's advice and used a smaller pan (8x8) so the bars came out thick, I also followed her suggestion to make less of the icing. She recommends leaving off the icing all together, as the bars are quite sweet. But when it comes to dessert sweet is a-ok with me so I left it on. The flavors are reminiscent of apple pie, but the shortbread gives the bars a sweet crunch that really takes these bars to the next level of decadent dessert! You should absolutely make these, now, you will NOT be disappointed!

Apple Shortbread Bars
Shortbread Crust Ingredients
2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. real butter, softened (no substitutions!)
1 egg, beaten

Apple Filling Ingredients
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. apple pie spice, or cinnamon
4 c. (about 3 medium) sliced, peeled baking apples (I used 3 pippin apples)

Glaze Ingredients
1 c. powdered sugar
About 2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

To prepare crust, mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Cut in butter with a pastry blender or use your hands to mix in until you have pea-sized crumbles.
Gently mix in beaten egg. Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Gently pat about 2/3 of the crumb mixture onto the bottom of the dish. Preheat oven to 350 and set aside.
To prepare apple filling, combine flour, sugar, and apple pie spice.
Toss with apples and spread apples out on prepared crust. I actually forgot to toss apples with flour and sugar and had to pick them off the crust and toss them. Apparently I can't watch TV and bake at the same time ☺
Pat reserved crust mixture over the apples, it's ok if there are some uncovered parts, its supposed to be like a streusel. I just tore off bits of batter with my fingers and patted it into place. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until lightly browned. When finished, allow to cool completely. To prepare glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and enough milk to achieve desired consistency. My tip, to make less of a mess, combine all glaze ingredients in a Ziploc bag and smoosh together with your hands. Be sure not to leave any powdered sugar lumps. When glaze is desired consistency, cut off a very small portion of one of the corners of the Ziploc.
Drizzle glaze over cooled pastry and allow to harden (you can place it in the freezer to hurry things along).
Cut into bars and serve.
What's your favorite fruit dessert? I think these might be mine!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Light Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Another tasty light option today! Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins. The perfect way to utilize any frozen berries still lurking in the depths of your freezer. The muffins are sweet and tender with berries bursting through in every bite. The lovely thing about this recipe is that it is so very versatile. The original recipe calls for raspberries but really any kind of berry or fruit would be delicious (okay maybe not ANY kind, but most kinds!) The muffins stay healthy thanks to non-fat cream cheese and the use of egg whites. I used even less sugar than called for in the recipe, and some of the reviewers said they halved the butter and added an eighth cup of applesauce. Oh the healthy possibilities!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins
Adapted from Cooking Light

2/3 cup (5 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl.
Beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add vanilla, egg whites, and egg; beat well. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk to cream cheese mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Gently fold in strawberries. Grease 24 muffin cups or line with foil cup liners in muffin cups.
Spoon batter evenly into liners. Bake at 350° 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from pans; cool on a wire rack.
The Cooking Light website says that each muffin has 142 calories. If you make the adjustments I made (less sugar, non-fat cream cheese, omit nuts) they are even less than that! So eat two!
Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Coconut Cream Eggs

Tired of Cadbury creme eggs yet? Ok, me neither, at least not the caramel kind. However, I would like to encourage you all to add a new sweet to your Easter candy repertoire AND one that you can make yourself! Coconut Cream Eggs, think Mounds Bar but way better. Better for a few reasons, no preservatives, weird add-ins, etc. the filling is way creamier than a mounds bar, and they are smaller than Mounds bars so you can eat more ☺. I have problems coating things in chocolate, they never seem to look as perfect as I want them to, so my eggs are not all perfectly egg shaped. They are more oblong and randomly sized, which is due to the fact that I was in a hurry and didn't take time to mold the cream cheese/coconut mixture the way I should have. So be sure you give yourself a bit of time if you are a perfectionist. If not, don't worry they'll still taste fabulous!

Coconut Cream Eggs
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup flaked coconut
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening

In a bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar and coconut. Refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours or until easy to handle.
Using hands dusted with confectioners' sugar, mold rounded tablespoonfuls of coconut mixture into egg shapes. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 2 hours or until slightly firm.
Melt chocolate chips and shortening. Remove eggs from the freezer a few at a time; dip into chocolate mixture until completely coated. Return to waxed paper; refrigerate until hardened.
I drizzled mine with colored frosting. I used this recipe. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 3 dozen.
Happy Spring!