Strawberry Dream Cream Cupcakes!

I spent a lovely Memorial Day weekend in Milwaukee with family and friends and did a great deal of cooking/baking. I didn't make any sort of record of the cooking, but when I arrived at Becky's house we discovered that the refrigerator had not been functioning for an unspecified amount of time. Most everything was salvaged, but I spent the evening concocting a spaghetti sauce and some taco meat in order to use up some thawed beef. I also got a lesson in making baby food saturday morning. Although it's not difficult, it's definitely an extra step for a busy mom, so I have to give a shout out to Becky for keeping up on it.

I was looking forward to what Gregory (my brother/ 'suicide prevention bakeologist') had in store for us to make all week. His next Martha recipe in line was Strawberry Cream Cupcakes. The recipe is not simple, but totally worth the time and effort. They are unbelievable! and that's coming from a girl that is extremely partial to chocolate. So, 6 sticks of butter and a lot of delicate work with egg whites later, we had the best cupcakes I have had to date. The white cupcakes were light and airy and the strawberry buttercream frosting was perfectly sweet and creamy. We were going to a party that evening in honor of a friend that recently passed the official licensure exams for psychology so we turned the cupcakes into a cake with a congratulatory message for Kim. These were a huge success, and although they are not something you can quickly whip up I will definitely make them again for an occasion. I think we could both use some practice on decorating and we better hop to it...Gregory is only a few recipes away from the Martha Wedding Cake in his journey through her baking book.

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Oodles of Doodles Sandwich Cookies

Considering I am still thinking about the delicious cinnamon sugar crepe that I had while in Austin I decided to share the wealth and make some snicker doodle cookies inspired by the crepes. I made Betty Crocker's lighter recipe for the snicker doodles. That way I don't have to feel too bad about sandwiching 2 together and adhering with a delicious cream cheese frosting. I used Martha Stewart's cream cheese frosting recipe as an homage to my brother who has been going through the 'Martha Stewart Baking Book' page by page for over a year. As an added touch I sprinkled some toasted coconut into the frosting while making the cookies. I think it adds the perfect flavor to make these a little more special than your average cookie. I personally think that coconut is delicious, although I know plenty of people that beg to differ, so for those crazy folks I left some cookies without the addition.

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I want S'more!

One lazy afternoon a few weeks ago I came across an easy recipe for S'mores cookie bars on Baking Bites and have been waiting for a good opportunity to make these for a group. Since I got back from Austin on Saturday night and had a not so productive day on Sunday, I needed a quick dessert to make for a girls dinner on Monday night. The cookie dough was super simple and assembling the chocolate and marshmallow fluff was done in a snap. The toughest part about this one was my lack of equipment (i.e. I don't have a food processor or rolling pin) so I had to crush the graham cracker crumbs with the outside of my 'adjust-a-cup' measuring cup. That still only took about 30 seconds, so I think I will be making this one anytime I need a quick, gooey treat. This will probably be the first of many pictures that is less than appealing due to my remembering I need to document my creations after the roomies and I have already dug in. We only do this to make sure they are not poison before bringing them to a gathering......

S’Mores Cookie Bars

-1/2 cup butter, room temperature
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 large egg
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
-3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs*
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
-1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick.Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff.Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned.Cool completely before cutting into bars

Makes 16 cookie bars.
*Note: 3/4 cup crumbs is approx 7 full-sized graham cracker sheets

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I <3 Austin!

I was fortunate to be in Austin for work last week and able to extend my trip to have a couple days to explore the city and all the deliciousness it has to offer. Thanks to Bridget and Bethaney I had a plan in place for all the yummy places to hit up. So through 90 degree weather and extreme humidity I trekked through the city and think I earned most of the food I consumed. Here's a sampling of my favorite treats.
I started out the morning with Flip Happy Crepes. How can crepes from a trailer not be fabulous?! I had the cinnamon sugar crepe that has inspired me to create some sort of snicker doodle sandwich cookie with a cream cheese frosting filling, so stay tuned.

After a delightful afternoon spent at Barton Springs doing my best to avoid a sun burn I made my way to Shady Grove. I like to call this meal of Frito Pie and a swirl margarita 'perfection'. I have to subtract a point or two from this establishment just because they forced me to ask for my 'table for one' twice. I thoroughly enjoyed this mini-vacay by myself, but I wasn't looking to shout it from the roof tops that I was on my own. Aside from that, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was great.

After lunch I started my journey to the flagship Whole Foods store. Which is huge and beautiful, I definitely suggest checking it out if you're ever in the area, and it just so happens to be right across the street from Amy's Ice Cream. I figured I took a few extra steps throughout the afternoon (I got a little turned around on my way to whole food's, which may or may not have had something to do with the Shady Grove Margarita's), so I decided to indulge. I got a combo of belgian chocolate and coffee ice cream. It was probably the creamiest ice cream I have ever had. It's definitely up there, along with Babcock Ice Cream and Trader Joe's Coffee Blast ice cream, as one of my favorites.

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faulty product, faulty user?

I just got back from a fantastic long weekend in minneapolis and needed to update with this delicious chocolate hazelnut cake that carrie, andrew, and I took on. Carrie and I bought matching spring form pans and had to put one to the test with this cake. when we entered the kitchen in the final minutes of baking we entered a smoke filled room due to a slight butter leak out of the pan. This certainly could not have been anything we did wrong so it must have been a faulty pan.......later on we happened to take a peak at the directions again to realize we added 1 cup of butter instead of 3/4 cup and 12oz of chocolate opposed to 10oz. It was still tasty (I don't know that too much butter or chocolate has ever been a completely horrible thing), and we were only slightly embarrassed when we transferred the cake to a paper plate to bring to a party and by the time we got there the plate was soaked with butter.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake Recipe:
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5 egg yolks
1-1/4 cups ground hazelnuts
10 oz melted dark chocolate, cooled
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit. Grease and flour the bottom of a 9" spring form pan. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and beat until the mixture lightens in colorFold in hazelnuts, then the chocolateTransfer to the preoared pan and bake for 40 min. Let cool in pan. Release cake from pan and dust with powdered sugar

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