Peach Cobbler

Again I apologize for the months-long delay! Let’s get back to it, shall we?

I don’t often bake with fruit, but when I do, I prefer to use whatever is in season. And ’tis the season for peaches! My hometown is on the North Carolina side of the NC-SC border, so my mom doesn’t have to travel far for good peaches. I snagged several from her last weekend when we met at my sister’s house for my niece’s second birthday party.

The Minnie Mouse cake I decorated for the party

The Minnie Mouse cake I decorated for the party

There are so many good peach recipes, but I was in the mood for cobbler. After researching recipes online I stumbled across this one. I especially like that the topping tastes like an oatmeal cookie.

I only made a few minor adjustments. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

(Topping)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon extra virgin blood orange olive oil

Two of my favorite ingredients. I especially recommend using the blood orange olive oil in a citrus or other fruit recipe.

Two of my favorite ingredients. I especially recommend using the blood orange olive oil in a citrus or other fruit recipe.

1 egg
1 cup flour (substitute white rice flour for gluten free)
1 cup old-fashioned oats (substitute gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

(Filling)
6 cups diced, peeled peaches
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon flour (substitute white rice flour for gluten free)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Cream sugars for topping and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla, olive oil and egg.

Sugar mixture.

Sugar mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to sugar mixture until blended.

The topping. I don't know why this picture turned out bluish.

The topping. I don’t know why this picture turned out bluish.

Refrigerate filling for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling. Begin by peeling and dicing peaches. The number of peaches you’ll need depends on their size. I used six.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss diced peaches in lemon juice. Then stir in flour, sugar and cinnamon. Pour peach mixture into a greased 8 x 8 pan.

I also would have been happy just eating the filling!

I also would have been happy just eating the filling!

Drop spoonfuls of filling on top of peaches until covered.

That's the way the (cookie) topping crumbles.

That’s the way the (cookie) topping crumbles.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until cobbler is light brown and bubbly.

The cobbler is delicious fresh out of the oven but very juicy. I think it does best the next day, after it’s had a chance to set in the refrigerator. But of course I recommend warming it up!

Hits the spot.

Hits the spot.

Now go bake something!

Recipe adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen.

Hot Chocolate Cookies

I had the world’s best hot chocolate when I visited Hershey, Pennsylvania, last month. Seriously, it was so rich and chocolatey that I don’t know how any other hot chocolate will ever compare. So of course I bought Hershey’s hot cocoa mix.

While hot chocolate is my favorite cold-weather drink, it also one of my favorite cold-weather cookies. Yep, that’s right: You can use your hot cocoa mix for baking! I first discovered a version of this recipe on one of my favorite running blogs, HungryRunnerGirl.com. Here is my adaptation. Enjoy!

These are amazing fresh out of the oven.

These are amazing fresh out of the oven.

Yields: 2 1/2 – 3 dozen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon dark chocolate balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour (substitute white rice flour for gluten free)
2 packages (or 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons) hot cocoa mix
1/2 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows

The Hershey's hot cocoa makes all the difference.

The Hershey’s hot cocoa makes all the difference.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. (I forgot to do that with my batch, but I recommend using it!)

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

This is how you want the fluffed butter and sugar to look.

This is how you want the fluffed butter and sugar to look.

Beat in the egg, then blend in vanilla and balsamic vinegar.

The batter with the egg, vanilla and balsamic vinegar.

The batter with the egg, vanilla and balsamic vinegar.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, hot cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Pre-mixed dry ingredients.

Pre-mixed dry ingredients.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoon-sized dough balls onto cookie sheets and bake for 7 minutes.

Space evenly apart. I like to do 16 cookies per sheet. Remember to use parchment paper!

Space evenly apart. I like to do 16 cookies per sheet. Remember to use parchment paper!

Remove from oven. Working quickly, carefully add 3 to 5 marshmallows to the top of each cookie and gently press.

This step works better if you sort your marshmallows before taking the cookies out of the oven.

This step works better if you sort your marshmallows before taking the cookies out of the oven.

I like to put 3 marshmallows on each cookie.

I like to put 3 marshmallows on each cookie.

Return to the oven and bake an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until marshmallows start to puff (2 minutes works well for me). Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Be careful when you take them off the baking sheets. These cookies will be soft!

Fresh out of the oven with slightly puffy marshmallows.

Fresh out of the oven with slightly puffy marshmallows.

This is the perfect time to taste one…before they cool completely.

This is the perfect time to taste one…before they cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Tips: These are best eaten warm. Once the cookies cool, you can re-create the fresh-out-of-the-oven taste by zapping your cookie in the microwave for about 10 seconds on medium power.

Now go bake something!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins

I’m baaaack! I know, I know, you probably gave up on me. But let’s start again — with a yummy new muffin recipe!

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

While I’m a little late jumping onto this year’s pumpkin bandwagon, it’s still an appropriate flavor for the holiday season. But what REALLY makes this recipe special is my new discovery: Hershey’s cinnamon chips! My boyfriend and I went to Hershey, Pennsylvania, a couple of weeks ago and I discovered these in Hershey’s Chocolate World (which offers a vast assortment of chocolate treats and related merchandise). I haven’t found them in stores yet, but I might be willing to special order them. Trust me on this. If you like cinnamon, you will LOVE Hershey’s cinnamon chips!

Note the competing brands…I'm Nestle all the way when it comes to chocolate chips. Maybe they should come out with their own cinnamon chip...

Note the competing brands…I’m Nestle all the way when it comes to chocolate chips. Maybe they should come out with their own cinnamon chip…

Without further ado, let’s dive into the recipe!

Yields: 14 regular-sized muffins (i.e., a fat baker’s dozen)

Ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup original applesauce
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon dark chocolate balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups flour (substitute white rice flour for gluten free)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils are wonderful baking ingredients.

Flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils are wonderful baking ingredients.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line your muffin pan with paper liners.

Mix sugar, applesauce and eggs.

Pre-mixed.

Pre-mixed.

Add pumpkin, water, balsamic vinegar and vanilla.

One 15-ounce can is enough for two batches, with a little left over.

One 15-ounce can is enough for two batches, with a little left over.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt and spices).

My mom gave me this cute spatula!

My mom gave me this cute spatula!

Gradually pour into the pumpkin mixture, stirring until just combined. Stir in chips.

Another necessary baking step: Sample the batter!

Another necessary baking step: Sample the batter!

Pour batter into muffin cups so that they are 3/4 full.

The two lonely muffins that had to bake separately.

The two lonely muffins that had to bake separately.

Bake for 15 minutes. Once out of the oven, keep the muffins in the pan for an additional two minutes before removing to a cooling rack. (That two-minute time period is crucial. Don’t leave them in the pan too long. The pan will still be hot, which means the muffins will continue to bake. The key to not overcooking any baked good is to take it out of the pan at the appropriate time.)

Store in an airtight container. As with any muffin or cupcake, these are best enjoyed after sitting overnight in the container. I’m no scientist, but I think it has something to do with retaining moisture.

Now go bake something!

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com.

Homemade Snickers Bars

If you love Snickers, and if you love easy recipes, then look no further! These Snickers bars require no actual baking. They don’t even require flour. (They are naturally gluten free.) My only critique is that they are a little messy, but really what that means is they are finger-licking delicious! I enjoyed them so much that I might make them again when my parents visit in a few days. Without further ado:

I could easily eat all off these myself.

I could easily eat all off these myself.

Ingredients (yields approx. 40 bars in a 9 x 13 pan):

2 cups milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, chopped
14 oz. caramels
1/4 cup whipping cream

Directions:

Grease a 9 x 13 pan with Crisco. (I didn’t actually do that with this batch, but I wish I had.) Melt together 1 cup of chocolate chips, 1/4 cup butterscotch chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter. Spread on bottom of pan, and then place in the freezer to set.

DSC03506 DSC03507

Boil butter, sugar and evaporated milk together for 5 minutes. Don’t start timing until the mixture actually begins to boil. Take off heat and add the marshmallow fluff, 1/4 cup peanut butter, vanilla, almond extract and chopped peanuts. Spread over first layer and then place back in the freezer to set.

DSC03508 DSC03509

Melt caramels with whipping cream until smooth and then spread over marshmallow layer. Place back in the freezer to set.

DSC03510 DSC03513

Melt together remaining chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter. Spread on top of caramel layer. Place in the refrigerator until set, and then cut and enjoy. Store in the refrigerator.

The picture speaks for itself. :)

The picture speaks for itself. 🙂

Tips: I recommend taking out of the refrigerator and allowing to soften for about 20 minutes before eating them. But don’t let them sit out too long. The softer they get the gooier they will be!

Now go bake something!

Recipe adapted from Food.com.

 

Sprinkled Donuts

When I was growing up, I loved visiting my grandparents at their ranch in California. They were (and still are) two of my all-time favorite people. I have a lot of wonderful memories, but I especially loved getting up early in the morning and going to the donut shop with my Grandpa. It’s been 12 years since he passed away and probably 13 years since we last visited the donut shop together. But when my parents and I visited the shop recently, not only did the owner remember my Grandpa, she also knew me by name. I can’t tell you how happy that made me. Sadly, I could not buy a donut because I am now gluten-free. (My parents did, though.) For the record, sprinkled donuts are my favorite, and that’s what my Grandpa always ordered for me. So that, of course, is the recipe I have for you — with a twist! These are funfetti donuts, with sprinkles on the inside and on the outside. You’re welcome. 🙂

Funfetti and sprinkles!

Funfetti and sprinkles!

A couple of years ago my friend Carolyn bought me a mini donut maker, which is adorable and easy to use. (If you don’t have one, you can make this recipe using a regular donut pan.) Grease with Baker’s Joy, wiping off excess with a paper towel. The donut maker comes with directions, so be sure to follow them!

Super cute!

Super cute!

Ingredients (yields 2 dozen mini donuts):

1 cup all-purpose flour (substitute white rice flour for gluten free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or substitute regular vanilla or plain yogurt)
1 egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon extra virgin blood orange olive oil (optional)
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

This is what they'll look like on the inside. Yum!

This is what they’ll look like on the inside. Yum!

Glaze:

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon whole milk
1 box confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
sprinkles

Directions:

If using the oven instead of the donut maker, preheat to 350 degrees and grease the pan with Baker’s Joy.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and sugars. Set aside.

Whisk the milk, yogurt and egg until smooth. Add the melted butter, vanilla and olive oil, whisking until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined. Fold in the sprinkles.

To transfer the batter into the donut molds, I recommend spooning it into a ziplock bag. Cut one corner of the bag and squeeze the batter into the molds.

Truth be told, I could eat the batter like this and be perfectly happy!

Truth be told, I could eat the batter like this and be perfectly happy!

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If using the oven, bake for 9 to 10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Set the donuts on a wire rack to cool. Then get ready to make the glaze.

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Combine the glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk until smooth.

This is not an exciting picture.

This is not an exciting picture.

Remove from heat and immediately begin dipping the donuts, one by one. Dip each one and then dip them all a second time for a nice thick glaze. Immediately after the second dip, coat the donut in sprinkles. I like to pour the sprinkles into a bowl and dip the donut directly into them.

SPRINKLES!

SPRINKLES!

Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

Now go bake something!

Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Mickey Mouse Cake

Hello from California! I’m on vacation with my parents, so this will be quick. Here is the Mickey Mouse cake that I decorated for my nephew’s 5th birthday. My sister baked the cake so I don’t have a recipe for you, but I thought you might enjoy seeing my four-hour masterpiece. (I’m such a slow decorator.) My favorite tip for decorating character cakes is the star. I love the effect, and so did my nephew! I also discovered that the best way to make black frosting is to use special dark cocoa powder. Add that to your chocolate frosting instead of regular unsweetened cocoa powder. It works much better than black food coloring, which stains your teeth purple and has a tendency to bleed.

My mom and I found this cake pan at an antique store.

My mom and I found this cake pan at an antique store.

I love that the candles spell out his name.

I love that the candles spell out his name.

Happy 5th birthday, Nicky!!!

Happy 5th birthday, Nicky!!!

Now go bake something!

Banana Buttercream Frosting

Banana and peanut butter is one of my favorite flavor combinations. Throw in a little bit of chocolate, and that’s what perfection tastes like! I used this banana buttercream frosting on the peanut butter-chocolate cupcakes I made, and I couldn’t get enough of them. For a little bit of texture and another pop of chocolate I sprinkled mini chocolate chips on top.

I wish I had some of these left...

I wish I had some of these left…

Unfortunately this is the only relevant photo I have of this frosting. Completely forgot to capture this recipe on camera. Oops.

Ingredients (yields 2 1/3 cups):

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon extra virgin blood orange olive oil
1 box confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Mash bananas with a fork or in a food processor. Cream with butter. Stir in vanilla and olive oil. Gradually add sugar until frosting is fluffy and spreadable.

Tips: If it’s warm in your kitchen like it was in mine, you might need to add more confectioners’ sugar so the frosting isn’t runny. Conversely, if your frosting is too thick, add a tablespoon of milk at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

Now go bake something!

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes: Choose Your Own Adventure

Last week cupcake minis made a long-overdue reappearance in my life. One of the best parts about bite-size cupcakes is you can eat three or four at a time before you’ve eaten the equivalent of a regular-sized cupcake. And of course what that really means is you can eat half a dozen minis at a time, because who can ever stop with just one regular-sized cupcake? 🙂

I had a lot of fun with this recipe. I knew I wanted to make a peanut butter cupcake, but then I thought, why not try a peanut butter-chocolate combo like the cookies I recently made? And then I thought, why not make both? I used the same base recipe for both versions. Then for the peanut butter-chocolate, I added a few extra ingredients. I also decided to vary the frostings (recipes coming soon…hopefully much sooner this time). I used a strawberry jam frosting with the classic peanut butter cupcakes and a banana buttercream frosting with the peanut butter-chocolate. I garnished the banana buttercream with mini chocolate chips.

Someday I'll learn how to take better pictures. (Okay, that's probably not true.)

Someday I’ll learn how to take better pictures. (Okay, that’s probably not true.)

Try one or both versions…both were a hit with my group of guinea pigs. In fact, they were all surprised to learn that these cupcakes were gluten free. (But don’t worry, all of you skeptics out there. This recipe can be made with regular flour.)

Ingredients (yields 3 dozen mini cupcakes + 2 regular cupcakes):

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (substitute white rice flour for gluten free)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/16 teaspoon (or a pinch) salt

To Make Peanut Butter-Chocolate:

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon extra virgin blood orange olive oil
1 teaspoon dark chocolate balsamic vinegar (I purchased mine at a specialty olive oil and vinegar store in Shirlington)

Flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils are wonderful baking ingredients.

Flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils are wonderful baking ingredients.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line muffin pans with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and peanut butter. Beat in the egg, and then stir in the vanilla (and olive oil and balsamic vinegar for the chocolate version).

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt (and cocoa powder for the chocolate version). Gradually add to peanut butter mixture, alternating with the milk. Stir until just combined.

This is the classic peanut butter batter.

This is the classic peanut butter batter.

Spoon into cupcake liners.

Peanut butter-chocolate batter.

Peanut butter-chocolate batter.

Peanut butter batter.

Peanut butter batter.

 

Side by side! These are the regular-sized cupcakes.

Side by side! These are the regular-sized cupcakes.

Bake mini cupcakes for 8 to 12 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. Bake regular cupcakes for 14 to 20 minutes. The large range is because when you’re only baking 4 cupcakes like I did, then it doesn’t take very long. A full pan will take longer. Allow the cupcakes to sit in the pans for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. (I can’t stress this enough. It’s one of my secrets to baking moist cupcakes!)

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Frost as desired and store in an airtight container. If you end up using the strawberry jam or banana buttercream frostings then store in the refrigerator.

Tips: When baking with peanut butter, I recommend greasing the measuring cup with Baker’s Joy. This will make it easier to scoop out the peanut butter and to clean the measuring cup. Also keep in mind that your baking times might vary depending on the color of your pan. Darker pans bake faster than lighter pans.

Now go bake something!

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com.

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting (Borrowed)

Remember those bake sale cupcakes I made a while back? Here is the frosting recipe Jo Ann used. This post will be short and sweet because I was not involved in the frosting process. But Jo Ann was super sweet and sent me a few pictures. Enjoy!

A JoBecca creation!

A JoBecca creation!

Ingredients (yields enough frosting for 12-15 cupcakes):

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

These make me want to go strawberry picking.

These make me want to go strawberry picking.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Blend strawberries in a blender until smooth. Microwave blend for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave for another minute. Stir. Make sure it doesn’t overflow. Let cool completely.

Mmmm strawberry puree.

Mmmm strawberry puree.

Cream butter until smooth and fluffy. Mix in 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Blend in strawberry puree and vanilla. Add remaining confectioners’ sugar to desired tasted and consistency.

Pretty and pink. :)

Pretty and pink. 🙂

Tips: The more confectioners’ sugar you add, the thicker the frosting!

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com.

Now go bake something!

Bake Sale Cupcakes

Last week my friend Jo Ann and I made cupcakes for a bake sale benefitting the American Heart Association. I baked the cupcakes, and then she filled and frosted them.

A JoBecca creation!

A JoBecca creation!

I’m going to share the recipe with you, even though I’m not entirely happy with it. While I’m told that they tasted great (and they sold out at the bake sale!), I think they could be better.

Let me explain. The cupcake was white chocolate, which by itself doesn’t have a very potent flavor. The recipe called for melted white chocolate, which I used. Then I decided to add unmelted chocolate chips to the batter. I hoped this would give the cupcakes a stronger flavor and provide some texture. Well, wouldn’t you know…the white chocolate chips melted in the oven! I use semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter chips all the time, and I’ve never had that problem. In fact, I think I’ve used white chocolate chips before without them melting. I’m not sure why they melted in this case…but this does call for further experimenting! (Maybe it’s because of the melted white chocolate already in the cupcakes?)

Can you see the holes? That's where the white chocolate chips used to be!

Can you see the holes? That’s where the white chocolate chips used to be!

Anyway, here is the cupcake recipe that I used. The next recipe will be Jo Ann’s strawberry buttercream frosting. (And I should also ask her about the strawberry filling.)

Ingredients (yields 15-18 cupcakes):

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin blood orange olive oil (you should know by now that this is one of my secret ingredients!)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flours (substitute white rice flour for gluten free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, unmelted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line muffin pans with cupcake liners. Cream butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Then add vanilla and olive oil.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Stir the melted white chocolate chips into the sugar mixture. Next, add the flour mixture, alternating with additions of milk. Fold in unmelted white chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the pan, filling each liner 3/4 full.

Pre-cooked and pre-holes.

Pre-cooked and pre-holes.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out crumbly. Allow the cupcakes to sit in the pan for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, frost (and/or fill) as desired! Store in an airtight container.

Jo Ann used those kind of strawberry filling. I will fill you in (haha, get it?) when I share her frosting recipe.

The filling is strawberry jam!

Tips: Because the white chocolate chips melted in the oven, the toothpick test was a little tricky. The newly melted chocolate made it a little more difficult to tell when these cupcakes were ready.

Now go bake something!

Recipe adapted from The Curvy Carrot.