Category: Desserts

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Finally, a truly Easter themed recipe! I originally wanted to make Cake Pops for Easter, but with everything else going on, we decided to move that project out and make these Easter Basket Cupcakes instead. The recipe starts with a fairly basic vanilla cupcake. If you don’t have cake flour, feel free to substitute all purpose flour and cornstarch as suggested here in the Joy of Baking. Then you make a powdered sugar icing, which we chose to leave white. Finally, you add green tinted coconut, and some type of egg shaped candy. We had a cupcake assembly line going so it didn’t take long at all. They came out so cute, and tasted great although the frosting was almost too sweet. But not so sweet that I couldn’t finish the cupcake of course. It was the perfect little treat to end our meal!

Strawberry Shortcake

One of the best things about going south for Spring Break is the fresh local fruit. The strawberry season in New England is short, and feels far away right now. But in Florida, there is a crop picked in early winter. So armed with a pile of local strawberries, we got to enjoy strawberry shortcake in March. First, we cleaned and sliced the strawberries, and placed them in a bowl with just a pinch of sugar.

We debated making the shortcakes with Bisquick, but with the pantry items on hand, it was just as easy to make these Buttermilk Biscuits. They came together in less than a half an hour.

After dinner, we sliced the biscuits and added the strawberries and some whipped cream. OK, here we used Cool Whip, but for a more authentic version, you could whip up some heavy cream. This dish was great, and almost tricked me into thinking it was the 4th of July.

Tootsie Rolls

I was lucky enough to be invited to a candy party last weekend, and figured this was a good excuse to try to make candy. The lovely hostess Elizabeth is vegan, so I started some Internet searches for vegan candy recipes. I decided to make homemade tootsie rolls using this recipe, which can be either vegan or not, depending on the ingredients. I had to use more powdered sugar in order to get the right texture, but they came out pretty well. I probably should have let them cool a little more before packing them up to leave the house, but time was of the essence, there was Skittles infused vodka waiting! They were good, but a little too sticky.

Since I was on a roll (get it?) I decided to make another batch to bring to work. This time I used a bit more sugar, and also let them cool completely for about an hour before storing them in a airtight container. The modified ingredients and simplified instructions are below. The texture this time was more like fudge, not exactly like a Tootsie Roll but still good.

There were definitely a few things that surprised me:

1. Just one tiny teaspoon of cocoa powder provides the chocolate for a whole batch
2. Almost 2 cups of powdered sugar somehow fits into this same size batch
3. Ginger snaps give the candy a distinctive spicy flavor

I don’t have much experience making candy, but it was fun!

1 t cocoa powder
2 T butter, margarine, or vegan margarine
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1/3 c. ginger snap crumbs
1 2/3 c. powdered sugar, plus more for dusting cutting board

Place cocoa powder and butter or margarine in a small saucepan. Heat slowly, until butter or margarine is melted. Add corn syrup and stir well. Remove from heat.

Add 1/3 cup sugar and stir to mix thoroughly. Repeat 3 more times, until you’ve added 1 1/3 c. sugar total. At this point, turn the candy ‘dough’ onto a cutting board dusted with powdered sugar. Knead in an additional 1/3 c. sugar. Add more sugar if dough does not feel stiff enough.

Divide dough into sections, and roll each section into a log. Slice into 1″ pieces. Allow to cool completely before storing covered.

-Adapted from recipe submitted by vegbilayameogo on vegweb

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Way back in November of last year, I got a large supply of chia seeds as a gift. Yes, they’re the same chia seeds you used years ago to make a plant pet, but now they’re food, and healthy food at that. See my friend Elizabeth’s post here which explains more.

I’ve used a spoonful of seeds here and there, mostly in my oats. But this semester, I am taking Food Science, and learning all about the properties of various foods. Chia seeds have this amazing ability to gel when mixed with water or another liquid. So I decided to play around this week and make chia chocolate pudding. There’s a ton of recipes floating around the Internet, and I just followed the basic ratios.
I admit, I really wanted to love this pudding. It’s chocolate pudding, right? But I am always honest with you guys, and the gritty texture really bothered me. Plus, I had to add what seemed like a lot of sugar to make this palatable. I’ll stick to other starches for pudding, and find more recipes to use the chia.

2 T chia seeds
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. milk
Pinch sugar or sugar alternative

Mix all ingredients, and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Stir well, add more sweetener if needed, and enjoy.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

My sister was on a roll with making desserts this past weekend, and brought this Pumpkin Cheesecake to add to the Thanksgiving table. The gingersnap crust was the best, and the pumpkin flavor was good, although subtle. She skipped the pecans in this one, although it might be a nice touch. The cheesecake was a hit with the family, and I am sure will be brought back again in future years.

Thanksgiving was a really nice day overall, and I am thankful that I got to spend it with my family, including my nephew. It was a little chilly, but we bundled up to play outside for a while. (I’d be more thankful if he was wearing a Red Sox hat, but as long as he goes to Harvard someday…)

Molten Lava Cakes

We have a lot of great recipes to cover this week, but let’s take it in chronological order. On the night before Thanksgiving, when the pies were baked and the turkey was stuffed, my family had a birthday celebration. We started with a great meal of take-out Indian food, at my suggestion. I can’t believe how far my family has come since our great Indian feast this summer! My nephew is a man of few words, but he did say “yum” when served some Chicken Biryani. And perhaps the best compliment was my Dad saying that my chana masala was better than the restaurant version.

We then moved on to the main course, and by that, I mean dessert. My sister prepared molten lava cakes using this Paula Deen recipe. My request was for something “chocolatey”, and she delivered. All I did was hang out in the kitchen, snapping photos. She started by melting butter and chocolate in a glass bowl set in a pan of hot water.

Once that was melted, she added eggs, and flour and sugar.

When those ingredients were combined, she added a pinch of vanilla and chocolate liquor.

Then, she poured the mixture into small glass dishes, and put them in the oven. In less than 15 minutes, the lava cakes were done, and ready to be adorned with vanilla ice cream.

Yeah, I think we all liked them! They were very rich, and each bite had an intense chocolate flavor. This is not an everyday recipe, but perfect for a special occasion. Thanks to my sister for making it happen! What’s in the gift bags you ask? Don’t worry, you’ll see later.

Pineapple Cupcake

So last week my Mom and I had some unexpected time together, and decided to bake cupcakes. Well, the starting point was a can of crushed pineapple that my Mom wanted to use. And then Google helped us figure out that the pineapple could replace the water in a cake mix. Yup, there was a yellow cake mix in the cabinet so we were in business.

Really, that’s it – you just follow the cake mix instructions and substitute a 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple for the water. Well, my Mom followed the instructions and made the cupcakes, and I did some homework.

But then we needed frosting of course! We used the old fashioned method of whipping up a tablespoon or two of butter, adding a splash of milk, and then mixing in enough powdered sugar until it looks like frosting. My nephew was not too happy about the mixer (he hates the noise) but when he got a tiny lick of the frosting, he recovered well. And we all enjoyed our cupcakes later that night.

Granola Stuffed Apples

My cooking club theme this month was cinnamon, and every dish was great. We had pork tenderloin cooked with apples and cinnamon, cinnamon spiced sweet potatoes, and a Persian grain salad with cinnamon and cilantro.

I made these granola stuffed apples for dessert, using my first batch of homemade granola. It was a very simple recipe, although coring the apple with a knife was a little tricky. After the apple is cored, you just stuff in the granola, top with butter and cinnamon, and bake in the oven until soft.

While the apples were good, I think they would have been even better if they were baked just a little longer, and then topped with ice cream. For some reason, they just seemed a little too ‘plain’. But if you’re looking for a simple dish, then give this a try.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (Vegan)

When I was invited to a pumpkin party this weekend, I immediately started googling ideas for what to bring. After all, there was pumpkin infused vodka being served, so clearly snacks were required. This recipe for pumpkin cinnamon rolls jumped out at me, but I was a little nervous at first. Dough can be unpredictable, at least in my cooking experience, and I was worried they wouldn’t turn out well. But at the very least, it would make a good story, so I forged ahead, and was very pleased with the final result!

I used almond milk instead of soy milk, and used 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice in place of the nutmeg and ginger, but otherwise I followed the instructions exactly as they were written. And I have to say, it really wasn’t that hard. You do need to let the dough rise twice, but there was plenty to do around the house to keep me busy. When it came time for baking, I ended up placing 9 rolls in a 9″ pie plate, and the remaining 4 rolls in a small loaf pan.
Thanks to Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk for posting such a great recipe! Wish I could stay home from work today and make another batch….