Happy Halloween! Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

I decided earlier in the week that I really wanted to make cream cheese sugar cookies for halloween and once I decide I want to bake something there is no stopping me.....Not only did I have to purchase a set of 100 cookie cutters to get the pumpkin I wanted, but since I was going to the symphony last night I was also up until 2 am baking and frosting these buggers. They sure are tasty though. It took me a bit to get the cooking time correct, the recipe said 8-10 minutes but each batch took about 12-15. I was also very excited to use my new food coloring gels that I have been hearing so much about, they really do seem to give a richer color and you don't need to use as much. Now I can't wait to make some Christmas cookies with all of my new cutouts!

Recipe's Adapted from Allrecipes.com
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1.In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and egg yolk. Beat until smooth.
2.Stir in flour until well blended.
3.Chill the dough for 8 hours, or overnight.
4.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/3 at a time to 1/8 inch thickness (I prefer a little thicker cookie than this), refrigerating remaining dough until ready to use. Cut into desired shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until light and golden brown. Cool cookies completely before frosting.

2 C Confectioner's Sugar
6 teaspoons milk
4 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
food coloring

1. In a small bowl mix together sugar and milk until smooth. Add additional milk 1/4 teaspoon at a time if needed.
2. Stir in corn syrup and almond extract and mix until smooth and glossy. Separate into smaller bowl and add food coloring.
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Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes- Happy Birthday Claire!

I LOVE other people's birthdays. I have always been a fan of other people's birthday celebrations and I think I like them even more now since it is the perfect excuse to make something sweet for the masses. Claire requested a lot of something chocolaty and delicious so that she would have treats to enjoy for awhile after her birthday. Did I have the perfect recipe for her. Martha Stewart's Salted Caramel Cupcakes. For a total of 52 mini cupcakes I figured there would be plenty to go around. I learned a few things while making these.

1. do not microwave the water and then forget to put it in the mixture
2. do not overfill the liner, if anything they are better off lower than recommended.
The first batch made it into the garbage.
3. It is not smart to immediately put a finger covered in 360° caramel to your mouth
4. these are DELICIOUS and worth the time and effort
I made these over the course of a few days, starting with the frosting since it can be refrigerated up to 5 days. The next night I made the cupcakes, and on the final night I made the caramel and with the help of Bridget and Bethaney, assembled these delicious little morsels of heaven


Chocolate Frosting ( I actually made a half batch and it was more than enough, this is the full recipe below):
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1.Combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. set aside.
2.With electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture.
3.Frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen up to 1 month in an air tight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup warm water

1.Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners.
2.Whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract, and the water; beat until smooth and combined.Spoon the batter into liners about two-thirds full.
3.Bake approximately 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Transfer tins to wire racks and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 1 month in air tight containers.To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces. I used a small melon baller.

Salted Caramel
2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, preferably fleur de sel

1.Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.
2.Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. 3.Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.

Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over filling.Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip (I used Wilton #1M) and pipe Dark Chocolate Frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers - do NOT refrigerate.

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Caramel Apple Cream Brownies

Fall is in the air and as much as I want to make some pumpkin goodies I still had some apples to use up from my apple picking adventure with Maria, so I decided to put all the delicious pumpkin recipes I found on Picky Palate and make these AWESOME fall brownies. With the apples and cream cheese in these brownies they are very moist and perfect for the bakers edge, because the one drawback I have found with this pan is that the cooking times are a little tricky and some of the brownies I have made have been slightly dry. These were the perfect treat to bring to CJ and Shelly and their adorable new baby Addison.

I made a few modifications to the Picky Palate Recipe:

1 Box Trader Joe's Truffle Brownie Mix (this is for an 8x8 pan or the baker's edge)
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 Cup granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons butter
3 small-medium baking apples, peeled and thinly sliced ( I used honey crisp and empire)
4 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 Cup chopped pecans (or other nut of choice)
14oz Sweetened condensed milk- for caramel sauce (or purchase caramel sauce and warm in microwave)

1. Preheat oven to 350° Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Pour into a 8x8 inch pan that’s been sprayed with non stick spray
2. Place softened cream cheese and sugar into a mixing bowl, mix until smooth. Place dollops of cheese over brownie batter. Use a butter knife to carefully swirl without dragging against the bottom of dish.
3. Place butter into a large skillet over medium heat to melt. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour evenly over brownies.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until center of brownies are cooked through. Remove and let cool completely before cutting into squares.
5. While the brownies are baking place sweetened condensed milk in double boiler. Cook over medium heat for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally until milk thickens and turns a caramel color. Just before serving, drizzle caramel sauce over brownies

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I'm Dutch.......

So when I had some apples I needed to use up I decided to make Dutch Apple Bread. It is a simple apple bread with a delicious brown sugar/cinnamon topping like a Dutch apple pie. This turned out so great that I have actually made it twice since the initial trial. As I said, the first time I made it I just needed to use up some apples and ended up eating the whole thing myself during the coarse of a week for breakfast everyday. It was like having cake for breakfast, fantastic! The other two times I shared and brought it to gatherings where it was a real crowd pleaser and gone before my eyes. I apologize for my hiatus from blogging, especially since it's the end of apple picking season, but I suggest you try this if you happen to find yourself with some extra apples lying around.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped, peeled apple
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat Oven to 350°
2.In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
3.Beat in eggs and vanilla.
4.Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; stir into the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Fold in apples and nuts.
5.Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. For topping, combine the first four ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

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Grandma Vi's White Chocolate Haystacks

I happen to think that white chocolate is very misunderstood and people should give it more of a chance. I will say that if you are in the mood for chocolate it probably isn't going to do the trick, but on it's own it's so sweet and delicious.

My cousin Becky came to visit (and deliver my car to me!) the other weekend and I made sure to have all the fixin's to make one of her favorite treats that our Grandma Vi used to make. I did run a little short on peanut butter so we had to add a little maple flavored almond butter, which was a nice little twist on the original. Side note: if you have never tried any of Justin's natural peanut, almond, or hazelnut butter you really should, they are simply delicious!

These are so quick to throw together and will disappear in mere moments because even though they have a crunch they just melt in your mouth. If you are still opposed to giving white chocolate a shot I suppose you could use dark chocolate, milk chocolate , or butterscotch chips instead.

-12oz White Chocolate
-1 Cup Peanut Butter
-2 Cups Mini Marshmallows
-4 Cups Chow Mein Noodles (or just shy of a 12oz bag)

1. Melt white chocolate and peanut butter over double boiler or in the microwave
2. Pour chocolate/peanut butter mixture over chow mein noodles and stir in marshmallows. Gently combine.
3. Spoon clusters onto wax paper and let cool.

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