Monday, December 31, 2012

Champagne Cupcakes

Champagne is my favorite drink. So it shouldn't be a surprise that when I came across a recipe for Champagne cupcakes last week, I was pretty excited to make them. These cupcakes have Champagne in the batter and in the butter cream frosting. Can this cupcake get any better?
Half the fun of making these cupcakes is choosing your favorite bottle of bubbly to bake with.  If you're like me, go with Cook's. Easy on the wallet and it tastes great! You only need 3/4 cup for this recipe, so you get to drink the rest!
The end result is delicious and decadent. There is a slight Champagne flavor incorporated into every element of the cupcake. Enjoy and Happy New Year! :)
Champagne Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
For the cake:
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Champagne

Champagne Butter cream Frosting:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup champagne
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup champagne and 1/2 cup sour cream (mixture will fizz and bubble a little). Add flour and Champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Batter will be thick.
  3. Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter. Bake for 17-22 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Place 1 cup of champagne in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a small bowl and cool.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, pour in the champagne and vanilla. Mix well.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Salted Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Bars

Cheesecake seems to be the main ingredient in quite a few posts on this blog. It's because I'm a HUGE fan of cheesecake. Especially cheesecake bars. 
So easy to make and so versatile. I topped this creamy cheesecake with toasted pecans and salty caramel.
After moving into our new house back in September, we couldn't wait to host Christmas this year. We have had a full house since last Friday and I've loved every minute of it! My family came over for Christmas Eve dinner and this was the dessert of choice. 
I wanted to make something with a sweet and salty contrast. My mother loves pecans, and pretty much anything covered in caramel or any sort of sauce, so this was perfect. She actually ended up eating dessert before dinner! (Now you know where I get it from!)
Salted Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Bars
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup caramel sauce

1/4 cup chopped pecans
12-15 Kraft caramel candies
1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, pecans, and butter; press into the bottom of a foil lined and lightly greased 8x8-inch baking pan.
  3. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack.
  4. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Combine sugar and flour; gradually add to cream cheese, beating just until blended. Add sour cream and caramel sauce.
  5. Add egg, beating until blended. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over prepared crust, spreading evenly to edges of pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until set. Remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle pecans over cheesecake. Chill for at least 2 hours.
  7. Place caramel candies, salt, and milk in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30 second intervals until melted and smooth. Drizzle over cheesecake. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cake Batter Blondies

I know I don't say this often, but this is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. I'm obsessed with using cake mixes for everything...and they always turn out perfect!
This recipe is super simple and soooooo delicious. The blondies come out super chewy and soft. I used Christmas sprinkles to stay in the holiday spirit and they turned out great!

Cake Batter Blondies
Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sprinkles
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl.

Add the milk slowly and mix well. You want to cake batter to be as dense and thick as possible for a chewy blondie so try to use the least amount that you can.

Mix in the sprinkles and white chocolate chips.

Pour into 8 x 8inch baking pan, sprinkle a few more sprinkles on top, and bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are just turning brown. The blondies will still be gooey in the middle just out of the oven but after they’ve completely cooled they will be perfectly chewy and soft.

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes so the center sets, before cutting into squares.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rolo Cheesecake Bars

I made these last Friday night for dinner party with some of our closest friends. Our sweet, smart, and gorgeous friend Keri just graduated from Nurse Anesthetist school and we had quite a celebration! They were a huge success with her and everyone else that tried them!   
This recipe is super easy. I mean, seriously...the hardest part is unwrapping all of the Rolos!  
These cheesecake bars are decadent, addicting, and insanely delicious. They are made with a chocolate brownie crust and a cheesecake layer sweetened with caramel sauce and stuffed with chopped up Rolos. 
Congrats Keri! We love you so much and are so proud of you!
Rolo Cheesecake Bars
Recipe adapted from Bakers Royal
1 package brownie mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons of butter, melted (1 stick)

1 8oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup caramel sauce
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup mini Rolos

Cover inside of an 8x8 pan with enough foil for a one inch overhang on all sides. Cover foil with bake spray. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
To make crust
Place brownie mix and egg in a bowl. Add in melted butter and mix to combine. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while making cheesecake portion.

To make cheesecake
Place cheesecake, caramel sauce, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat until fully combined and smooth. Add in Rolos and fold to combine. Pour mixture over crust and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into bars.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies

I’m pretty much obsessed with peppermint this time of year. When I saw these mint chocolate M&Ms at Target, I knew I had to use them to make something pepperminty and delicious! They pretty awesome straight out of the bag, but you know me, I had to bake something with them! 
I saw first these cookies on Two Peas and Their Pod...and on Pinterest of course! 
I also added crushed candy canes and white chocolate chips to amp up the peppermint flavor.
These are seriously good and scream CHRISTMAS in your mouth! I just love all of the great colors too...such a great holiday cookie!

White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies
1 box white cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup Mint Chocolate M&Ms
About 1/2 cup crushed candy canes (I used the green and red ones)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist two cookie sheets or line with silicone liners. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, and oil. Stir in the white chocolate chips, M&Ms, and crushed candy canes to combine.
3. Drop heaping Tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared sheets, about 1-2″ apart. Bake for about 10-12 minutes.

4. Allow the cookies to set on the baking sheets about 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store at room temperature, airtight, for about a week. This makes approx. 2 dozen cookies.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores

I’m a huge fan of peanut butter and decided to give these Peanut Butter Cup S’mores Bars a try. S'mores are pretty darn delicious as it is, but add some peanut butter to the mix and you have the ultimate dessert. 
Umm...seriously, is your mouth watering yet?? These are insanely decadent...super ooey, gooey, deliciousness!  
I made these for our friend Nick's annual Christmas party...needless to say they were gone by the end of the night!
Peanut Butter Cup S'mores
Recipe adapted from The Sweet Life

The original recipe called for an 8x8 pan, but I doubled it to fit a 9x13 pan.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
24 peanut butter cups, regular size
2 cups marshmallow fluff
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 9×13 baking dishing with parchment paper; coat lightly with cooking spray.
    2. In a large bowl of the bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.  Scrape down the sides.  With the mixer on low, stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and graham cracker crumbs until mixed.
    3. Spread 2/3 of the dough on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Lightly press the peanut butter cups into the dough, then spread marshmallow fluff on top. (This part is nearly impossible to do without getting it all over you!) Press the remaining dough on top of the fluff and press down lightly.
    4. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown.  Allow to cool for at least two hours to give the bars a chance to set, then remove from the pan and cut into squares with a large, sharp knife.

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecake Bars

    Peanut butter, butterfingers, and cheesecake are all on my list of favorites so when I saw these cheesecake bars, I knew had to make them. I've made these a few times before but wasn't able to get any good photos before they were all gone! 
    I'm always looking for a good excuse to bake, so when my good friend Brittiany asked me to make dessert for her bf's birthday, I knew these would be a hit! The cheesecake layer was creamy and smooth with just the right amount of butterfingery goodness. The hint of peanut butter from the crust lingers in your mouth and is sooo good!
    Butterfinger Cheesecake Bars
    Recipe adapted from Lauren's Latest

    1 package peanut butter cookie mix (17.5 oz)
    1/4 cup melted butter

    Cheesecake Filling
    2 packages 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    2 eggs
    1 tablespoon all purpose flour
    6 fun size Butterfinger chocolate bars

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 dish with foil or parchment and set aside.

    Combine cookie mix and melted butter. Press into prepared dish and bake for 10-13 or until the edges are lightly brown.

    In a large bowl, whip cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Stir in egg, vanilla and flour. Finely chop butterfingers and fold into the cheesecake mixture. Pour over top nutter butter crust and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheesecake has set.

    Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely chilled. Cut into bars and serve.

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    Candy and Caramel Apple Pie

    So I just realized that my last four posts had caramel in them...looks like I might have a problem!
    This one however, is the BEST one yet. I pinned this a few months ago, thinking I would be able to make it for Thanksgiving. But since we spent ours honeymooning in Cabo...I needed another occasion to make it.
    My uncle flew in from India to be here for our wedding and it has meant so much to have him here. We had a little farewell dinner for him and the whole family at our house last night and I figured this was the perfect time to make this!
    Caramel, apples, pecans, and whip cream. What else do you need??
    There are a lot of steps to this pie, but trust me, it is totally worth it! This is by far the best dessert I have made in a while!

    Candy and Caramel Apple Pie
    Recipe from Doughmesstic
    1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
    3 tbsp sugar
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/3 cup butter, melted
    3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
    1 c chopped pecans

    Apple Filling:
    5 Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, sliced very thin)
    5 tbsp butter
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 tsp cinnamon

    Cream Cheese Topping:
    8 oz. cream cheese
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 egg
    1 tbsp lemon juice
    1/4 cup sugar

    3/4 cup whipped cream
    2 tbsp sugar
    1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
    1/4 cup chopped pecans

    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
    • In a medium bowl, combine the crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix well and press into a 9-inch spring form pan and up the sides. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes until golden in color. 
    • Remove pan from oven and cool completely. 
    • Pour caramel into pie shell and sprinkle with 1 cup of chopped pecans. Refrigerate crust while making apple filling. 
    • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add apples and stir. 
    • Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes until apples are softened and tender. 
    • Let cool for 10 minutes and pour into pie shell. 
    • In a medium bowl, using a hand-held mixer on low speed, combine cream cheese and sugar for about 1 minute until smooth. Add egg, lemon juice and vanilla and beat for 1 minute or until fully blended. Pour over apple filling in pie shell. 
    • Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes until an inserted knife comes out clean.
    • Remove pie from oven and let cool. Refrigerate for 4 hours. 
    • Let stand outside the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Top with whipped cream, caramel and pecans, and swirl with a knife.
      Slice and serve.

    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Caramel Cheesecake Bars

    Chocolate and cheesecake is the best combo. Throw in some caramel and you've got my heart singing! These are super easy to make and so so so good!
    A thin layer of brownie crust topped with a creamy and silky cheesecake layer, drizzled with sweet caramel sauce makes these bars impossible to resist!!

    Caramel Cheesecake Bars
    Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups
    • 1 pkg brownie mix
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 3 Tbsp flour
    • 1 Tbsp vanilla
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • Caramel sauce (I used Hershey's Caramel Ice Cream Topping)

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
    • Combine brownie mix, melted butter and 1 egg, stirring until smooth. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
    • Using a mixer, beat cream cheese, sour cream, brown sugar, flour and vanilla until combined and smooth.
    • Add remaining eggs, one at a time. Finally add half the bottle of caramel sauce.
    • Pour over the hot crust.
    • Bake for 30 minutes until the center of cheesecake is just set.
    • Remove from oven and cool completely. Then refrigerate at least 4 hours.
    • When ready to serve, drizzle remaining caramel on top.

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Caramel Apple Cider Cookies

    Here's another Pinterest "must try" recipe! I have been on a caramel kick lately and realized I was hoarding 3 bags of Kraft caramels! I needed an excuse to use them and I figured that these would be the perfect fall cookie.
    They are super yummy and taste just like a caramel apple! The caramel center is best when slightly warm and gooey, so either eat them warm from the oven, or you may want to pop them in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
    Caramel Apple Cider Cookies
    Recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
    1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 (7.4 oz) box Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink Mix (10 packets – found next to hot chocolate mix)
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    3 cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 (14 ounce) bag of Kraft chewy caramels

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (you need this so that the caramel doesn’t stick to the bottom of your cookie sheet).
    • In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
    • With an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.
    • Beat in eggs, one at a time.
    • Add vanilla and mix well.
    • Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
    • Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut (about 2 tablespoons).
    • Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely.
    • Shape the dough into a ball, and place on parchment covered cookie sheets about 3 inches apart.
    • Bake 11-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Once the cookies are done, carefully slide the parchment off of the baking sheet onto the counter.
    • Eat warm from the oven or slightly warmed in the microwave.

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    Butterfinger Caramel Bars

    graham crackers. marshmallows. caramel. butterfinger. chocolate. 

    Butterfinger Caramel Bars (Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups)
    9 graham crackers
    2 cups mini marshmallows
    1 (11 oz) bag Caramel bits
    2 Tbsp milk
    1 (10 oz) bag Butterfinger Bites, coarsely chopped
    2 oz semi-sweet chocolate (for drizzle)

    • Line a 9x9 baking pan with foil, allowing foil to hang over the edge for easy removal.
    • Spray foil with cooking spray.
    • Place graham crackers on bottom of the pan, breaking to evenly fit.
    • Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over graham crackers.
    • Melt caramel and milk together in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute. Stir and continue heating in 30 second intervals until melted.
    • Pour caramel over the marshmallows and gently spread until evenly coated. The marshmallows will melt slightly, which is fine. Make sure to coat evenly so the caramel sticks to the graham crackers.
    • Sprinkle chopped Butterfinger on top and and press the candies into the caramel/marshmallow mix.
    • Melt semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on high power in 30 second intervals until melted.
    • Drizzle semi-sweet chocolate on top of Butterfinger.
    • Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour or until set. Cut into bars when ready to serve.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Chai Pumpkin Spice Cookies

    I love fall. I love the colors, cool weather, decorating, and especially baking! What better way to start it off than with Chai Pumpkin Spice Cookies? Apple and pumpkin desserts are the best and my absolute favorite. I saw these cookies on Pinterest months ago and could not wait to make them!
    The past couple of months have been pretty crazy...planning for the big day and moving into a new house has kept us pretty busy. I finally had some time to put these cookies together and they were totally worth the wait! I looked for Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses everywhere and ended up finding them at Target. They only sell them at the very beginning of the season, so make sure you get them soon!

    Chai Pumpkin Spice Cookies
    1/3 cup butter, melted
    1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
    1 (18.25 ounce) package spice cake mix
    2 large eggs
    2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
    22-24 Pumpkin spice Hershey’s Kisses

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Position the cookie rack in the middle of the oven and cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    2. In a stand mixer, add the melted butter, vanilla, half of the cake mix, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and ground cardamom and mix until blended and smooth. Add the rest of the cake mix and beat until just combined.

    3. Using a mini cookie scoop (or two teaspoons), drop dollops of dough onto the parchment about an inch-and-a-half apart.

    4. Bake cookies a sheet at a time for 9 to 12 minutes or until the edges look set and the top looks barely set when touched. Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately place pumpkin kisses in the center of each cookie. Don’t touch or the kisses will turn into puddles! Cool completely.