Easy Peanut Butter Eggs


peanut butter eggs 4One of the best things about holidays is all the holiday themed candy that comes out on display. Packaged in brightly colored bags and interesting designs, they are already hard to pass by, but what makes me really want to buy them are the words, “limited edition”. What do they mean by limited edition? Am I going to see the same product next year or is this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? What if it is something absolutely delicious and I can never have it again? All of the sudden I HAVE to have whatever is in inside the shiny wrapper. I would say 9 out of 10 times I end up buying it to try it out. Am I the only person who is like this? … Possibly.peanut butter eggs 3My #1 favorite Easter candy is the Reese’s peanut butter eggs. I think the ratio of the peanut filling to chocolate is just right and it is perfectly smooth without the thick ridges that the peanut butter cups have. The lazy side of me secretly likes the fact that I don’t have to unwrap each egg I consume (except for the initial packaging of course).
peanut butter eggs 5These peanut butter eggs are super smooth and deliciously peanut-y. It’s also really simple to make! No fancy equipment needed and it is all done in one bowl.  I made mine small, because honestly to me, smaller = cuter. I went a little overboard with the way I decorated mine (which took a lot longer than I’d like to admit). I think it’s the perfect project to do with kids and they can go as sprinkle crazy as they want or not. (But most likely they will because more sprinkles = more fun.)
peanut butter eggs 2For more Easter projects, here are my previous Easter themed posts:

Bunny Cake Pops
White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs
Easter Bunny Surprise Cake

Easy Peanut Butter Eggs

Ingredients:
½ c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. butter, melted
⅛-¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
chocolate or candy melts (whichever you prefer)
optional: sprinkles and sanding sugar (for decorating)

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, mix peanut butter and sugar until combined.
  2. Add butter, vanilla extract and ⅛ tsp salt, mix and taste. If needed, add an additional ⅛ tsp. salt.
  3. Chill mixture until firm, about 1 hour in the fridge.
  4. On a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper, dose out ½ tbsp. portions of dough and use your palms to roll and form into egg shapes.
  5. Place egg shaped dough into freezer to chill and set 15-20 minutes.
  6. Melt chocolate or candy melts and dip chilled peanut butter eggs and shake off excess chocolate.
  7. Decorate as desired.

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.

Lemon Basil Macarons

Lemon Basil Macarons 2The first day of spring came and went with a generous dose of snow in New Jersey and there are still patches of snow here and there. Like many of you, I’m craving warm weather like a breath underwater. I kind of feel like I’m at the end of a race and I can see the finish line, but no matter how fast I run it’s not getting any closer.
Lemon Basil Macarons 4As I stared blankly into my fridge on a frigid Saturday morning, I saw a bag of lemons I bought a couple of weeks ago. Isn’t it funny how we tend to forget things in the crisper drawer? I swear, once I found a few grapes that were beginning to become raisins. Okay, that was kind of gross. Anyways, something about the bright yellow of lemons conjured up thoughts of springtime, warm weather, fresh flowers, sandals, dresses without tights, picnics and longer days, and I just had to use them right away.
Lemon Basil Macarons 7 Lemon Basil Macarons 6These lemon basil macarons are made with lemon macaron shells and filled with a vanilla basil buttercream and homemade lemon curd. The flavor of the basil is subtle and hits you at the very end. I should tell you that as the days go by, the basil becomes less and less pronounced so it is better eaten sooner than later. I thought about incorporating a stronger basil flavor by steeping some basil in warm milk before making the buttercream, but I got cold feet. In fact, I wasn’t sure if lemon and basil would make a good pairing. I’m a little wary of adding a savory element to my desserts but it turned out very tasty. If you love basil though, it might not be enough of a “punch” for you. I suppose you could add more basil to the frosting to increase the basil factor.
Lemon Basil Macarons 5For the lemon macaron shells, I used crystallized lemon. I happened to have some True Lemon lying around and I think it’s a better alternative to using lemon juice. As you know, macarons are very finicky and I’m not quite sure how the extra liquid in lemon juice would affect the batter. If you want, you can omit the crystallized lemon in the recipe. I feel that the lemon curd has enough of a citrus punch but if you can use it, I recommend it.
Lemon Basil Macarons 1The lemon curd recipe makes more than you need, but it’s so delicious that I’m sure you won’t mind having extra around. I’m already thinking of another recipe to use it in. These macarons really taste like springtime in your mouth. I think you’ll love it.
Lemon Basil Macarons 3Lemon Basil Macarons
Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
1 ½ tsp. crystallized lemon
yellow gel food color
green gel food color (optional: for decorative brushstrokes)
vanilla basil buttercream (recipe below)
lemon curd (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add the crystallized lemon and 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Add yellow gel food coloring little by little until the desire color is reached.
  9. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  10. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  11. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  12. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  13. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚F, if not then 325˚F.
  14. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  15. Once cool, mix a tiny bit of water with a small amount of green gel food color and with a small (food use only) paintbrush, paint small strokes onto the macaron shells. Let dry.
  16. Pipe a small circle of vanilla basil frosting on the outer border of a macaron shell. This creates a dam so the lemon curd does not ooze out.
  17. Fill the center of the macaron with the lemon curd and top with another macaron shell.

Vanilla Basil Buttercream

Ingredients:
½ c. whole milk
3 tbsp. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. fresh basil, finely minced and stems discarded

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and minced basil and mix until combined.

Lemon Curd

Ingredients:
5 egg yolks
1 ¼ c. sugar
⅓ c. lemon juice
zest of 4 lemons
1 pinch of kosher salt
4 oz. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 8 pieces

Instructions:

  1. Start a double boiler by adding water in a small pot and bringing it to a simmer.
  2. In a medium metal bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until smooth. (Make sure the metal bowl is wider than the small pot of water.)
  3. Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and salt and mix until combined.
  4. Place the metal bowl above the small pot of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is thickened. About 8 minutes or around 170˚
  5. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in butter one piece at a time, making sure each piece has melted before adding the next.
  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

*Macaron recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel.
** Lemon curd recipe adapted from Alton Brown.

Garlic Naan

Garlic Naan 1As much as I love trying out new restaurants and cuisines, I have a terrible habit of ordering the same menu items wherever I go. It’s not that I don’t like trying new things, I suppose I know what I like and I always crave that same dish every time. For example, at Thai restaurants it would be pad thai, chow fun at Chinese restaurants, gyro at Greek restaurants and chicken tikka masala and naan at Indian restaurants. Which brings us to today’s recipe, naan. As a lover of all things bread, fresh naan is one of those things that I can eat every day without complaint. (My waistline on the other hand is another story.) Glistening with melted garlic butter and specks of kosher salt, this buttery, chewy, slightly salty, sweet and crispy yeast bread is amazing.
Garlic Naan 4Garlic Naan 8What makes this garlic naan extra garlicky is the addition of granulated garlic to the yeast dough. That plus the chunks of fresh garlic in the melted butter makes this a flavor bomb that is just waiting to be consumed.
Garlic Naan 7 Garlic Naan 6If you’ve never worked with yeast before, I can understand why you would be wary of this recipe. Don’t be scared! Yes, the yeast can die on you but you can easily dump it out and try again if it fails. Just make sure that the filtered (don’t use tap water!) water is not over 115˚F when you add the yeast. Before I got a thermapen (Which btw, is awesome. It is worth every penny), I used to stick my finger in the water and if I didn’t have to immediately pull out my finger from the heat, I knew it was ready to go. Silly I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Garlic Naan 3Cook it under the broiler for that perfectly brown, slightly charred taste that you can probably replicate on the grill. I once read that it also works well on a George Foreman grill and also a greased pan on a stovetop. I’ve tried both methods and the broiler is the best. Hands down.
Garlic Naan 5Garlic Naan

Ingredients:
1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
1 c. warm water* (not above 115˚F)
¼ c. sugar, divided
3 tbsp. milk
1 egg
2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
4 to 4 ½ c. all purpose or bread flour**
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
6 tbsp. unsalted butter

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir water, 1 tbsp sugar and yeast together until yeast is incorporated.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix 3 tbsp sugar, milk, egg, salt, garlic and 4 cups of flour until combined.
  3. Once yeast has proofed, add it to the flour mixture and mix in the standing mixer with the dough hook attachment until combined. The dough should look fairly wet.
  4. Let the dough rest for 8 minutes.
  5. With the mixer on medium-low speed, knead dough until dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl, about 6-8 minutes. If the dough does not pull away or show signs of it at 5 minutes, add the additional ½ c. of flour ¼ c. at a time until desired consistency forms.
  6. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or doubled in size.
  7. On a floured surface, deflate and divide the dough into 16 even pieces and form into smooth balls.
  8. Place dough balls on a baking sheet and let rise for 30-45 minutes, or doubled in size.
  9. While the dough is rising, preheat the broiler in your oven. Line the broiling pan with a sheet of aluminum foil.
  10. In a microwave safe bowl, add the minced garlic and the butter and gently melt the butter.
  11. Once the dough has risen, flatten out the dough into a round or oval shape by gently stretching it out. The naan becomes crisper the thinner you stretch it.
  12. Place dough onto the broiler pan and cook 1-2 minutes until golden brown and slightly charred.
  13. Flip the dough over and cook for another minute or two until desired color is reached.
  14. Take naan out and while it is still hot, brush on melted garlic butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.
  15. Continue this step until all of the dough is cooked, buttered and salted.

*Make sure the water is not above 115˚F
**Both types of flour work well, but the bread flour produces a chewier naan.
***Recipe adapted from allrecipes.

Blueberry Pie Doughnuts

Blueberry Pie Doughnuts 3It’s the ultimate Pi Day! As you may or may not know March 14th (3.14) is Pi Day, but this year is extra special because it is 2015 which makes it 3.14.15 = 3.1415. Last year I made some pie pops which were tasty and cute but this year I fused two of my favorite things… pies and doughnuts.
Blueberry Pie Doughnut 2This blueberry pie doughnut is a light yeasted doughnut filled with blueberry filling and topped with a vanilla and blueberry glaze. I won’t lie, the recipe takes time and it’s a messy process, but definitely worth it. A word of warning, putting the blueberry glaze is the messiest part. The glaze sets quickly so it is similar to working with hot candle wax. Just go Jackson Pollock on it and have fun. As for the mess you make, some things are just worth the extra effort.Blueberry Pie Doughnuts 4

Blueberry Pie Doughnuts

Ingredients:

1 ½ c. milk
⅓ c. vegetable shortening
2 tbsp. active dry yeast
⅓ c. water (95 to 105˚F)
2 eggs
¼ c. sugar (divided)
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
5 1/4 c. all purpose flour
Oil, for frying
Blueberry filling (recipe below)
Vanilla glaze (recipe below)
Blueberry glaze (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine milk and shortening and heat until shortening melts.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir water, 1 tbsp sugar and yeast together until yeast is incorporated.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix eggs, 3 tbsp. sugar, salt, nutmeg and flour until combined.
  4. Once yeast is proofed, add the milk and yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix in the standing mixer with the dough hook attachment until combined.
  5. Let the dough rest for 8 minutes.
  6. With the mixer on medium-low speed, knead dough until dough is smooth and pulls away from the bowl, about 6-8 minutes.
  7. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour or doubled in size.
  8. On a floured surface, roll out dough to ¼ in. thick and cut dough using a 2 ¾ inch round pastry ring and 1 inch round pastry ring for the center of the doughnut.
  9. Set punched out dough onto a baking sheet and cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat oil in a pot to 365˚F and cook for 1 minute per side.
  11. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool before glazing.
  12. Cut cooled doughnuts in half using a bread knife.
  13. Dip top half of the doughnut in the vanilla glaze, and generously cover the bottom half of the doughnut with blueberry filling.
  14. Assemble the doughnut and splatter blueberry glaze over the top.

Blueberry Filling

Ingredients:

3 c. of blueberries*, divided
⅓ c. sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, combine 2 cups of blueberries with ⅓ cup of sugar.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until all the berries burst and sugar is completely melted; about 5 minutes. The mixture should look very liquid.
  3. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water until it becomes a slurry.
  4. Add to the blueberry mixture and cook until it becomes thick. It will become almost paste-like.
  5. Transfer blueberry mix to a bowl and rest of the blueberries and lemon juice.
  6. Add more lemon juice if needed.

Vanilla Glaze

Ingredients:

¼ c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier, heat milk until it simmers.
  2. Slowly add sugar, whisking in one cup at a time.
  3. Add vanilla extract.

Blueberry Glaze

Ingredients:

1 ½ tbsp. milk
1 c. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. blueberry filling (more or less depending on how deep of a purple you want)

Insturctions:

  1. In a saucier, heat milk until it simmers.
  2. Slowly whisk in powdered sugar.
  3. Mix in blueberry filling.

{Simple Sundays} Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins 1One of the best things about baking is that there are so many ways to make the same things: cookies can be crunchy or chewy, muffins can be dense or light, and brownies can be cakey or fudgy. The thing is everyone is usually in one camp or the other. For me, cookies must be chewy and brownies must be fudgy, but when it comes to muffins, I love both kinds as long as they’re not tough.
Corn Muffins 3A few days ago, I was really craving corn muffins. (Not corn bread, which I think is a different breed.) The last time I had corn muffins was on my trip to Atlanta. We stopped by a Cracker Barrel as a rest stop and had a satisfying meal… satisfying except for the corn muffins. (I call it corn muffin because it was not square but baked in a muffin pan.) Ick! What is that stuff? As I bit into the corn muffin, disappointment filled my mouth in the form of salty, bland and coarse morsels. I need my corn muffins to be sweet and corny. I set out to make my own recipe. When freshly baked, it has a crisp exterior and a light and sweet interior. I wish I had some corn kernels to add to it, but I did not at the moment. I would encourage it if you have some on hand.
Corn Muffins 2Corn Muffins

Ingredients:

1 ½ c. flour
1 ⅓ c. cornmeal (stone ground if possible)
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. kosher salt
¾ c. milk
4 oz. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ˚F and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix milk, butter, oil and egg.
  4. Mix milk mixture into the flour mixture and fold batter until just combined.
  5. Scoop batter evenly into the paper lined muffin pan and bake about 13-18 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Cool and enjoy.

Injeolmi (인절미) Macarons

Injeolmi (인절미) Macarons  5Have you ever tried Korean rice cakes, called Tteok (떡)? I’m not talking about the dried up, crispy American counterpart that we have in the states. Korean rice cakes are soft, chewy and if you’ve ever had mochi, they are very similar in texture. Korean rice cakes come in a variety of flavors and this one is injeolmi (인절미) flavored. It’s covered with roasted soybean powder and has a toasted, nutty taste. Since this past week was the Korean New Year, I thought I’d add a little Korean flair to my usual macarons. A good macaron has a light delicate shell that breaks into a slightly chewy interior. This macaron is slightly chewier due to the small piece of injeolmi in the middle.
Injeolmi (인절미) Macarons 1 Injeolmi (인절미) Macarons  3You start off by making some injeolmi. It sounds more intimidating than it really is. You just mix some sweet rice flour, salt, sugar and water, cook it in the microwave, pound it and cut it up. You can see the step by step here. Once done, you make your basic macaron shells with a dusting of the roasted soybean powder. Then mix in some roasted soybean powder to your vanilla frosting. The components do not take that much longer than your standard macaron.
Injeolmi (인절미) Macarons  6Injeolmi (인절미) Macarons  8I originally attempted to make injeolmi macaron shells by substituting some of the soybean powder for the almond flour and it did not turn out well. Unlike cocoa powder which acts a lot like flour, soybean powder seems to suck up liquid easily. In the end I ended up with a whole batch of no-footed dense macaron shells. Not good. Not good at all. Just wanted to share what didn’t work me just in case you decide to try for yourself!
Injeolmi (인절미) Macarons  7

Injeolmi Macarons

Injeolmi Macaron Shells

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
roasted soybean powder (for dusting)

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.
  11. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  12. Dust roasted soybean powder onto the macaron shells before putting into preheated oven.
  13. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚F, if not then 325˚F.
  14. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  15. Let cool and fill with injeolmi frosting with a small piece of injeolmi in the center.

Injeolmi Frosting

Ingredients:
½ c. whole milk
3 tbsp. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
⅓ c. roasted soybean powder

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and roasted soybean powder and mix until combined.

Injeolmi

Ingredients:

1 c. sweet rice flour (glutinous rice flour)
¼ tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. sugar
¾ c. water
roasted soybean powder (for dusting)

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe oven bowl, add sweet rice flour, salt, sugar and water and mix until homogenous. Cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Cook in microwave for three minutes on high.
  3. Mix with a wooden spoon and re-wrap and microwave on high for another minute.
  4. Pound the rice cake dough for 3-5 minutes with a wooden spoon until you hear the popping sound of the bubbles in the rice cake dough.
  5. On a cutting board, spread a generous amount of soybean powder and transfer the rice cake dough on top of it. Dust more soybean powder on top and smooth into a small rectangle.
  6. Cut into bite sized pieces for eating right away. For the macarons, cut into tiny squares that would fit into the macaron shell.

*Macaron recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel.
** Injeolmi recipe adapted from Maangchi.

Red Velvet Oreo Truffles

Red Velvet Oreo Truffles 2Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and because it is on a Saturday, I can only imagine how busy restaurants and love themed places will be. I got a box of red velvet Oreos from H earlier this week and I’ve been trying to incorporate it into something Valentine’s Day themed. If you’ve never made Oreo truffles before, you’re about to be mind blown at how easy this recipe is. You technically need only three ingredients: Oreos, cream cheese and some sort of chocolate, almond bark, or candy melts. I modified this recipe a tiny bit by adding a dash of salt (because the overwhelming sweetness of the red velvet Oreos need them) and a splash of vanilla extract (to round out the flavor). You would think that something as simple as this wouldn’t be very tasty, but I had 6 truffles sitting on the counter and they were gone within 10 minutes… all eaten by the same person… sneakily… like a robber in the night. As simple as this recipe is, what really takes time is decorating each truffle, which can be as simple or as complicated as you like. If you’re trying to think of something last minute to do for your special someone, this is the perfect recipe for you. ;)
Red Velvet Oreo Truffles 1Note: I originally wanted this to be a {Simple Sunday} post, but I just didn’t have time to do it this weekend. 

Red Velvet Oreo Truffles

You will need:
1 package red velvet Oreos
3 oz. cream cheese
⅛-¼ tsp. kosher salt (optional, but recommended)
dash of vanilla extract (optional, but recommended)
chocolate/ almond bark/ candy coating (your preference)
sprinkles, sparkling sugar, sugar pearls… basically anything you want to decorate it with

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl of a food processor, crush Oreos until crumbs form.
  2. Add cream cheese, ⅛ kosher salt, and vanilla extract and process until a smooth lump forms.
  3. Taste and add the extra ⅛ kosher salt in needed.
  4. On a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, wax paper or silicone mat, dish out ½ tbsp. portion of truffle dough.
  5. Place sheet pan in freezer for 5 minutes to set.
  6. Roll each truffle dough ball in hand until a smooth ball forms.
  7. Place sheet pan in freezer for 5 minutes to set.
  8. Meanwhile, melt your desired candy melt in the microwave.
  9. Remove truffles and dip into candy melts.

Decorate as desired.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  3Is it the middle of February already?? I feel like February just started and here it is already nearing its end. As Valentine’s Day approaches, I can’t help but feel a little more love and happiness in the air. Maybe it’s all the hearts plastered every way I turn or people posting all things related to love on social media, but I’m digging the atmosphere. Yes, I know that you should show your love and affection to your significant other/ loved ones every day of the year but what’s the harm of celebrating that love?
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  2I once had an ex-boyfriend who frequently bought me chocolate covered strawberries from Godiva. Not knowing how much they cost ($7 a piece!!), I used to eat them in one seating without much thought. I only found out how much they cost recently and boy, do I feel bad about not savoring them. But that was my first encounter with chocolate covered strawberries and it’s been one of my favorite flavor parings since.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  4This cake is my spin on a chocolate covered strawberry. A rich dark chocolate cake is filled and frosted with fresh strawberry frosting and covered in a chocolate ganache and adorned with chocolate dipped strawberries. Because fresh strawberries in February are not the tastiest, I suggest buying frozen strawberries for the frosting to ensure full strawberry flavor. I happened to have this cake pan that I bought on clearance a year or two ago, and I thought it fit the theme perfectly. If you do not have the cake pan, you can always make the same cake sans the strawberry frosting heart in the middle. Talking about clearance, am I the only person that scours the holiday section at Target after every major holiday? I cannot resist the themed sprinkles and sparkling sugar at a deep discount. Sometimes, I’ll land on a real gem… like this cake pan at 75% off. It’s a guilty pleasure and I look forward to going to Target post February 14th. ;)
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake  1Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
¼ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1. tsp. kosher salt
½ c. vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. strong, hot coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and line 2 cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, both cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
  4. With the mixer speed on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Turn off the mixer. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the two mixtures.
  6. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot coffee to the batter. Once added, raise the speed to medium until completely homogenous.
  7. Divide batter equally among the two cake pans and bake about 25-30 minutes. Checking at 20 minutes for doneness with a toothpick test.*
  8. Let stand for 5-10 minutes when done, then put onto a cooling rack to fully cool.

Strawberry Puree

Ingredients:
2 lbs of strawberries, smashed
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries and lemon juice on medium heat until mixture thickens and reduces 1/3-1/2 of the original volume, about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:
2 c. whole milk
½ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients:
1 batch of strawberry puree
1 batch of vanilla frosting

Instructions:

  1. Mix vanilla frosting with strawberry puree until the mixture turns strawberry pink and fluffy.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:
8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
¾ c. heavy whipping cream

Instructions:

  1. In a heatproof bowl, pour heavy cream on top of chocolate and microwave for one minute.
  2. Let stand 3 minutes and stir until combined.

Assembly

1 batch chocolate cake
1 batch strawberry frosting
1 batch chocolate ganache
6-8 strawberries, rinsed and dried

Instructions:

  1. Fill and frost chocolate cake with strawberry frosting.
  2. Chill in freezer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pour ¾ of chocolate ganache and use offset spatula to push ganache over the edge.
  4. Before the ganache sets completely, dip the strawberries in the remaining ganache and garnish the cake.

* Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Ina Garten.

Cookies and Cream Macarons

Cookies and Cream Macarons 1Another year has come and gone, and as predicted a slew of healthy dishes and diet how-tos flooded my newsfeed as soon as the new year started. I’m all for being healthy and starting with a blank slate, but what’s life without a little treat now and then? Personally, I feel like I’ve been indulging a little more than I should since January. Actually, I think I’ve been eating worse than I did during the holidays. Am I the only person who is at their heaviest from January to March? I’ll chalk it up to holiday blues… and not my obvious laziness. Talking about laziness, does anyone else still have their Christmas tree up? I keep putting that particular task off every week. I just know it’s going to stay up till February. Help.
Cookies and Cream Macarons 4You know what didn’t last though? These macarons. I made this ridiculously tall, four layered red velvet chocolate cookies and cream cake for my brother’s birthday and I happened to have a bit of the frosting leftover, and that is what sparked this macaron.  What makes this cookies and cream frosting different from the standard cookies and cream? It is made with cookies and cream cookie butter. I picked up a jar of this cookie butter from Trader Joe’s months ago but I still had more than half the jar left. Stirred into my go-to vanilla frosting and lots of Oreo cookie crumbs, it tastes just like an Oreo.
Cookies and Cream Macarons 2Do my photos look any different? Mr. L gifted me with a gorgeous Nikon D3200, and I’m hoping to get to learn how to shoot photos correctly with this thing. I’m having a tough time getting the right things to focus. Other than that, I’m ecstatic to start the new year with new equipment and fresh ideas. Here’s to a new year. :)
Cookies and Cream Macarons 3
Cookies and Cream Macarons

Basic French Macarons

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
6 Oreos, crushed into crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 ˚F, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.  Take cookie crumbs and sprinkle onto tops of wet batter.
  11. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macarons are dry to the touch, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  12. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚F, if not then 325˚F.
  13. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  14. Let cool and fill.

Cookies and Cream Frosting

Ingredients:
½ c. whole milk
3 tbsp. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾  c. cookies and cream cookie butter
12 Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot over medium heat, whisk milk, salt and flour until combined.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture (to prevent skin from forming) and put bowl into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and cookie butter and mix until combined.
  8. Fold in Oreo cookie crumbs.

Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows and Coconut White Hot Chocolate

Coconut White Hot Chocolate 1As a subscriber to Bon Appètit magazine, I fell in love with their section on holiday desserts in their newest issue. It was filled with such beautiful photographs (seriously, OMG how gorgeous is this cookie wreath?) and unexpected flavor pairings; I had to make something from it. The blood-orange marshmallows were calling my name and that’s where my journey started.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 1If you’ve never made homemade marshmallows before, I can only describe it as a springier, fluffier, less dense version of the store bought kind. Without the preservatives, the marshmallows melt in your mouth and it is best consumed as soon as possible. While I loved the idea of blood orange marshmallows, I just felt that pomegranates were more of a winter fruit so I substituted pomegranate juice for the blood orange juice and it worked out great. The problem was when I tried to make the coconut half of the marshmallow, it wouldn’t whip up fluffy like the pomegranate layer. I used the low fat coconut milk as the recipe stated and I tried it a second time, using less coconut milk and subbing water for the rest of the liquid stated but again, it did not puff up as it was supposed to.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 2My “spider-sense” tingled when I first read the recipe thinking that it was odd that there was any kind of fat in a marshmallow recipe. After all, a marshmallow is a stabilized meringue and fats are meringues’ number one enemy. So having two failed batches of coconut marshmallows, I just dumped it on top of the pomegranate layer and hoped for the best. It set alright and the coconut marshmallow was definitely denser than the pomegranate half, but tasty nonetheless.
Coconut White Hot Chocolate 2I had some coconut milk leftover so I decided to make it some white hot chocolate with it. Heat some coconut milk and low fat milk, add some white chocolate Lindt truffles and stir until it melts. You can blend it in a blender if you want some froth too. Top with whipped cream (I uh… whipped mine for a little too long hahaha) and some marshmallows and it’s a flavor bomb that is just rich enough for it to be indulgent but not heavy.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 3All in all, I think making marshmallows at home is a fun weekend project and people are always amazed when you make homemade candy.  As for packaging, you can always cut them out in fun shapes, or you can cut them into neat squares and put them into treat bags tied with a little ribbon.
Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows 4Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows and Coconut White Hot Chocolate

Pomegranate Coconut Marshmallows

Note: I will state the recipe as written by the original author with my adaptations. I’m going to chalk up my coconut layer not forming because my light coconut milk was not “light” enough. I bought it from Trader Joe’s.

Ingredients:

For the pomegranate layer:
3 ¼ tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
¼ c. cold water
¾ c. sugar
½ c. 100% pomegranate juice
5 tbsp. light corn syrup, divided
red food coloring

For the coconut layer:
3 ¼ tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
¼ c. cold water
¾ c. sugar
½ c. low-fat coconut milk
5 tbsp. light corn syrup, divided

Assembly:
powdered sugar

Instructions:

For the pomegranate layer:

  1. Spray a 13×9 in. baking pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, add the ice water and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let gelatin bloom for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, add the sugar, pomegranate juice, 2 tbsp. corn syrup and cook until the mixture hits 230˚F.
  4. Add the remaining 3 tbsp. corn syrup to the gelatin mixture.
  5. When the mixture hits 230˚F, turn on the mixer to high and slowly drizzle the pomegranate syrup down the side of the bowl.
  6. Beat until soft, fluffy peaks form and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  7. Beat in a few drops of red food coloring until you reach the color you desire.
  8. Quickly add the pomegranate mixture into the prepared pan and smooth with an offset spatula coated with nonstick spray. Cool.

For the coconut layer:

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, add the ice water and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let gelatin bloom for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, add the sugar, coconut milk, 2 tbsp. corn syrup and cook until the mixture hits 230˚F.
  3. Add the remaining 3 tbsp. corn syrup to the gelatin mixture.
  4. When the mixture hits 230˚F, turn on the mixer to high and slowly drizzle the coconut syrup down the side of the bowl.
  5. Beat until soft, fluffy peaks form and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 5 minutes.
  6. Quickly add the coconut mixture on top of the cooled pomegranate layer and smooth with an offset spatula coated with nonstick spray. Let set for 12 hours before unmolding.

Assembly:

  1. Dust a cutting board with powdered sugar and unmold the marshmallow slab on top of it.
  2. Dust with additional powdered sugar and cut marshmallows either with a cookie cutter or into 1-2 inch squares.
  3. Package as desired.

Coconut White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:
⅓ c. low-fat coconut milk
⅔ c. low-fat milk
3 white chocolate Lindt truffles
whipped cream for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Heat coconut milk and milk together until hot.
  2. Stir in Lindt truffles and stir until melted.
  3. Optional: Blend in a blender for froth.
  4. Pour into mug, top with whipped cream, marshmallows and a Lindt truffle.

Marshmallow recipe adapted from Bon Appètit.

 

 

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