Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Happy Valentines Day.  Do you know where your sweet tooth is? That’s right- it’s still in the same place you left it, no-not at the dentist’s office-but right in the back of your mouth. Your mouth is calling for something red and sweet. It’s okay, you are allowed to indulge today-no need to feel guilty. Your welcome.

Red Velvet Brownies

Red Velvet Brownies

brownie recipe: from thatskinnychickcanbake

 

3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 oz. liquid red food coloring (such as McCormick)

2 tsp. vanilla, divided

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1  1/2 C sugar

2 lg. eggs

1  1/4 C all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

 

Line both sides of  an 8x8x2 inch baking pan with tinfoil  and spray lightly with non stick spray. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder, red food coloring and 1 tsp. of the vanilla to form a smooth paste, set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, stopping to scrape bowl.  Add the remaining one tsp. of vanilla to combine. Add in the cocoa powder paste mixture and beat gently to combine. Stir in the flour and salt to combine. Smooth batter (it will be thick) into prepared pan and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let brownies cool completely before icing.

 

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz. cream cheese, room temp

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp

1 tsp. vanilla

1  1/2 Cups confectioners sugar, sifted

1 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled (I use Ghiradelli white chocolate) (do NOT use white chocolate chips)

 

Chop the white chocolate very fine and microwave on 50 % power to melt chocolate-stopping frequently to stir. Allow to cool. Beat the cream cheese and butter in bowl of stand mixer until smooth.  Add vanilla and beat to combine. Add in the sugar a little at a time and beat until smooth. Add in the cooled white chocolate and beat until smooth. Spread the icing over the cooled brownies (decorate with heart sprinkles if desired) and chill entire pan until icing becomes firm-this makes cutting the brownies easier.

Run a thin knife or offset spatula around the perimeter of the brownies. lift the entire slab of brownies out of the pan and cut into desired shapes.

 


Peppermint Marshmallows

Peppermint Candycane Crush Mallows

Peppermint Mallows

Candycane Marshmallow

Peppermint and Candycane Marshmallows

Some treats evoke a sense of cozy. Marshmallows are cozy. Fluffy, soft, sweet- what’s not to like. This is the season of joyful  and cozy eating and indulging. Just go with it. Forget the diet for now. Just once in your life you need to make homemade marshmallows. I think Christmas time is the perfect time. Imagine Christmas morning as you set up a hot chocolate bar and include these as part of your cozy plan. Make your hot chocolate and have it sitting warm on the stove as your little gremlins open their presents.

I have made mallows several times and I find my favorite recipe is one with a little egg white in the mix. They come out softer and less rubbery. The Husband proclaimed he doesn’t even like marshmallows but he likes these. A lot. This recipe makes a nice thick square when cut and quite a few so you can wrap them in cellophane bags and give as gifts-perhaps with a sleeve of mocha, hot chocolate mix or peppermint mocha mix. Plan to make them early in the day or the night before so they can set up. It’s a gift to yourself curled up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate and tucked into your favorite fuzzy blanket.

Peppermint Marshmallows

 

yield: one 9×13 inch pan (36-40 marshmallows)

3/4 Cup cold water

3 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin

3 Cups sugar

3/4 Cup light corn syrup

3/4 Cup hot water

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

3 large egg whites

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. pure peppermint extract

3 Tbsp. finely crushed peppermint candy canes (about 3 mini candy-canes)

red food coloring

confectioners sugar and cornstarch for tossing marshmallows

 

Line a 9×13 inch pan with baking parchment, allowing excess to hang over both sides. Sprinkle liberally with confectioners sugar

Place the egg whites in a clean mixer bowl with set up of mixer with whisk attachment.

In a small bowl place cold water. Sprinkle gelatin over water a teaspoon at a time allowing to soak in as your sprinkle. Let stand to bloom.

In a heavy saucepan (3-4 quart) combine sugar, corn syrup, hot water, and salt. Cook over medium heat stirring until sugar dissolves. Once sugar dissolves, stop stirring insert a candy thermometer and continue to cook until mixture reaches soft ball stage (240 F on a candy thermometer). Once mixture reaches 200 F start to beat egg whites on medium high-speed until stiff; BE CAREFUL TO NOT LET WHITES GET OVERBEATEN AND DRY. IF OVERBEATEN, THEY WILL APPEAR CURDLED. Turn mixer speed down to low if whites appear to be ready before sugar mixture reaches 240 F. Once mixture reaches 240° F turn off heat and add the bloomed gelatin, and whisk with hand whisk to combine. Carefully pour the sugar/gelatin mixture to the stiff egg whites down the side of mixer bowl in a steady stream being careful not to let sugar touch whisk. Add in vanilla, peppermint and crushed candy cane and beat until stiff and glossy; about 8-10 minutes. Pour half of marshmallow mixture into prepared pan spread to distribute evenly, then drop about 6-8 drops of red food coloring, moving quickly swirl color into mallow. Pour the remaining mallow into pan, spread evenly and again drop more random food color and swirl with knife or bamboo skewer. Dust entire surface with confectioners sugar and cover with plastic wrap.

refrigerate marshmallows overnight to allow to set. Remove entire slab of marshmallow using the parchment paper and cut into squares using sharp scissors.

Whisk together 1 Cup confectioners sugar along with 1/2 Cup confectioners sugar and toss cut marshmallows. Shake off excess sugar mixture and store in an airtight container.

 


Raspberry Lemonade Bars

Raspberry Lemonade Bar

Happy Independence Day

Raspberry Lemon Bars

raspberry lemonade bars 3

raspberry Lemonade bars 4

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

yield: (about 30-32 bars-depending on the size cut)

Crust:

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 Cup sugar

2 Cups flour

pinch of salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the flour and salt together, then add to butter/sugar and beat until combined. Prepare a 9×13 inch pan lined with parchment paper with a 2 inch overhang. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350° F and bake for 15-20 minutes until very lightly browned. Place the pan on a wire rack while you make the filling.

Filling:

2 1/2 Cups sugar

zest of 3 lemons

1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 Cup seedless raspberry puree (press fresh or thawed frozen raspberries through a fine sieve).

6 large eggs

1 Cup flour

red and/or burgundy gel paste food color (optional)

Confectioners sugar for serving

1. In a food processor pulse the sugar and lemon zest together several times; about 8-10. Add the lemon juice, raspberry puree, and eggs and combine until smooth. Add in the flour and pulse to combine. The filling is not quite the color that I liked- so I added a few drops of red and burgundy gel paste food coloring.

2. Pour the filling onto the crust and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 30 minutes until set; when you jiggle the pan the center should not look loose. Let pan cool over a wire rack. Refrigerate the pan of bars until well chilled before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar before serving.


Happy Chinese New Year 2015: Chinese Almond Cookies

Happy Chinese New Year 2015. The year of the sheep or as some say; the goat. These cookies are simple and perfect any time of year with a little bit of tea, but very popular during Lunar New Year. May the year bring you prosperity, good health, and above all-happiness.

Chinese Almond Cookies

 almond cookies sliced

almond cookies unbaked

Chinese Almond Cookies for Chinese New Year

Chinese Almond Cookies

yield: about 4 1/2 dozen small cookies

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1 Cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

3/4 Cup almond meal (almond flour)

1 3/4 Cup all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 egg (for egg wash)

2 tsp. milk (for egg wash)

blanched almonds for tops of cookies*

* (If you don’t have blanched almonds-you can take whole almonds with the skin on-and soak them in water for 1 hour. After one hour drain the almonds and gently push the skins off by pressing with your first two fingers. Blot almonds with paper towels to absorb any excess water).

 

1. Cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy; about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and almond extract. Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and combine on medium speed until almost combined. With clean hands mix together gently until rest of dough is combined. Divide dough into 2 equal portions and roll each into a 1.5 inch wide by 14 inch long log; wrap in parchment paper and chill for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 325° F. In a small bowl; make the egg wash by whisking the egg and milk until combined. Cut logs into scant 1/2 inch slices and press an almond onto each cookie. Place cookies 2 inches apart. Brush with egg wash. Bake for 17-19 minutes until cookies are light golden brown. Let cool on sheets over a wire rack until cooled. Serve with tea.


New Years Eve Champagne Cocktails

I’m not one to go out on New Years Eve. This does not mean I don’t drink champagne; that is a MUST.  I’ve just never been one to go out and party on New Year’s Eve; for some reason I enjoy staying at home and making a special meal and celebrating with the ones I love.

With champagne.

I know that sounds incredibly boring. I love champagne. I know a lot of people do not really care for the taste of it, so I have made it my mission to come up with a few ideas for you. Yes, there was some serious tasting and research involved. Someone has got to do it. You see the lengths I go to for you?! . The first champagne cocktail is a turquoise sip. I just made that up.  Perhaps it is a rif on a blue angel-so I’ll just call it the New Years Eve Champagne Cocktail, or maybe I’ll call it the turquoise sip. That sounds kinda cool; or maybe it’s because it’s a Sunday morning and I just have had waaayyy too much champagne taking photos and making cocktails…yep, that’s it for sure.

The second cocktail is really a process and less of a recipe and that is filling a champagne flute with different flavors of sorbet or sherbet and then filling with champagne. You could totally use 7-up or a lemon line soda in place of in both these drinks so your young-ins can partake.  For the Turquoise sip; just remove the blue curacao and use blue Hawaiian punch instead.  I totally dorked out and forgot to rim the glass with sugar for the turquoise sip, but definitely do that with silver, blue or regular sugar if you have some.

turquoise sip champagne cocktail

New Year's Eve Champagne Cocktail

New Years Eve Champagne Cocktails

“Turquoise Sip”

yield: one drink

1 oz. pineapple juice (cold)

1/2 oz. blue curacao (1 Tbsp.)

sparkling wine or champagne

sparkling sugar for rim (optional)

In a champagne glass pour the juice and blue curacao, add the champagne and serve cold.

For kids Non Alcohol version:

1 oz. pineapple juice

1-2 oz. blue Hawaiian punch

7-up  or Sprite

 

Sherbet/Sorbet Cocktail

mixed sorbet cocktail

mixed sorbet cocktail prep

lime, mango, raspberry sorbet and champagne cocktail

sorbet champagne cocktail

Sherbet/Sorbet Cocktail

Per cocktail/mocktail

1 small scoop lime sherbet

1 small scoop raspberry sorbet

1 small scoop mango sorbet

Champagne, Asti Spumante, or sparkling wine (7-up or Sprite for non Alcohol version)


Salted Caramel-Chocolate Truffles

 

I know a lot of people do not consider themselves a baker, or they get intimidated with complicated multi step recipes. Holiday time is a time to have fun and TRY to decrease your stress by just having fun in the kitchen and making tasty treats that you enjoy but are comfortable with. If you are not one to knock out a Buche de Noel then- by all means this easy truffle recipe is something you can certainly do. I love anything caramel and especially SALTED caramel. I HATE tempering chocolate so these truffles are covered in cocoa, but you could certainly dip them in tempered chocolate if you like a more formal looking truffle.

 

salted caramel_chocolate truffles 1

salted caramel chocolate truffles

Salted Caramel-Chocolate Truffles

yield: about 72-80 truffles

2 Cups sugar

1/2 Cup water

16 oz. (1 pound) semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 2 1/2 Cups)

1 1/2 Cups heavy cream

2 tsp. kosher salt

Cocoa powder (natural-unsweetened) for coating (such as Hershey’s)

1. In a heat proof medium bowl place the chocolate chips and set aside.

2. Place a small glass of water and insert a pastry brush inside the glass (I prefer a silicon brush for this) and set next to the stove. Measure the salt and have next to the stove as well.

3.  In a 3 quart (medium) saucepan place the sugar and carefully pour the water over the sugar to combine. Heat the sugar and water over medium high heat and bring to a boil until sugar turns amber in color. DO NOT stir the caramel- but rather swirl the pan from time to time to ensure color stays even. If sugar crystals form around the edges of the pan- take the wet pastry/silicon brush and let water drip down the sides of pan to dissolve any crystals. Once sugar is almost amber microwave the heavy cream for about 30-40 seconds until warm. Once sugar is amber color, remove from heat and pour in the warm cream and kosher salt and whisk to combine. Caution- with the adding of the cream it will bubble up and spit so be careful not to get burned. Combine well and then pour the caramel over the chocolate chips until combined and the chips are melted. Pour the mixture into a shallow cake pan or heat proof container. Chill the mixture (uncovered) in the refrigerator until it becomes set; about 50-60 minutes.

4. Remove chilled and set truffle mixture and scoop out small amounts (about 1 inch) and roll in your hands until smooth. If you have a small scoop this works well. Roll the balls in cocoa powder and place in a wax paper or parchment lined container. Once the truffles are all rolled, chill again to help the cocoa meld a bit to the chocolate. Serve at room temperature.


Fourth of July Meringue Cookies

Happy Birthday America.

On Independence Day you MUST wear something red white and blue as well as try to eat something red white and blue. I’ve got you covered with the last one. The rest is up to you.

An extra special Thank You to all the Men & Women in our Armed Forces for your selfless and brave service.

fourth of july meringues

fourth of july meringues 2

Fourth of July Meringues 3

Eton Mess with red white and blue meringues

Eton Mess: Layer sweetened whipped cream, top with macerated raspberries and macerated blueberries, drop in some crumbled meringues, top with whipped cream and repeat…

Fourth of July Meringues

yield: about 16 meringues

 

3 large egg whites

3/4 Cup superfine sugar

large pinch (1/4 tsp.) cream of tartar

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

 

In the bowl of a clean stand mixer bowl place the egg whites and sugar. Place over a saucepan that has about 1 inch of water. Bring water to simmer and whisk whites and sugar until sugar granules are no longer felt when you feel with two fingers, and mixture is warm. Whisk in cream of tartar and salt. Place bowl on stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed until meringue forms and is stiff peak and glossy; about 7 minutes; towards the last minute pour in the vanilla while whisking.

Take a disposable pastry bag and fit with a round large tip (such as 804 or 805 Ateco). Using a bamboo skewer use gel paste food coloring and make a stripe of red color down one side of the inside of the bag. Do the same with blue gel coloring on opposite side of the bag. Make sure the stripe of color is fairly thick. Place the pastry bag inside a large glass or tumbler and fold the cuff of the bag over the glass to keep the bag in place. Carefully use a large spoon and drop dollops of meringue down inside of bag being careful not to disturb the sides of the inside of bag as much as possible.

Pipe decorative swirls of meringues going about 4-5 turns onto prepared sheet pan. Bake in a 200 degree F (preheated oven) for about 1 hour and 15 to 1 hour and 20 minutes (depending on the humidity and size baking times will vary) or until meringues are dry. Rotate baking sheet half way through baking time. If meringues are taking long to become crisp you can turn off the oven and keep door propped open and let meringues cool the rest of the way inside the oven.

Meringues will keep for several days in an airtight container.

Serve meringues crumbled over ice cream or with whipped cream and macerated berries to make Eton Mess.