Peppermint Chocolate Squared Cupcakes

Merry Christmas in July! It’s probably hard to think about Christmas during this time of the year, especially with everything going on in the world. I am longing for those cooler days though. I totally get that summer is supposed to be warm and some days hot, but, I just feel that this summer has had more days of unbearable heat and humidity than in recent years. Even the days that haven’t been that hot have been too humid for my liking. If it’s 83 degrees, I want it to feel like 83 and not 93 because of other factors. In my post for last year’s Christmas in July recipe, Chocolate Peppermint Chunk Cookies, I discussed the origins of the “holiday.” This year I am sharing a tidbit of information I recently learned, people actually have Christmas in July parties! Sorry, if this comes across as a shocker to me. I have heard of Christmas in July for years, but, never knew that people actually had parties to celebrate. Sounds like a fun idea, but, I definitely wouldn’t put up my Christmas Tree this early in the year regardless of how much I love Christmas. Instead, to celebrate Christmas in July I am sharing with you a Peppermint Chocolate Squared Cupcake recipe.

To amp the peppermint flavor in the cupcakes not only did I add peppermint extract to the batter, but, I infused peppermint into the milk by crushing peppermint candies and adding them to the milk while heating it so they could dissolve into it. And while the frosting also called for milk, I opted to just use peppermint extract to give it a peppermint flavor. The final product, a cupcake that’s making me long for all the sweet treats that are to come with the holidays!

Peppermint Chocolate Squared Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 Cupcakes
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Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk

4 starlight peppermint candies, crushed

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For the Frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

4 ounces melted semi-sweet chocolate (I used 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips)

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Sprinkles or additional crushed peppermint candies to decorate.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

For the Cupcakes: Start by making the peppermint milk. In a small saucepan over medium hear (or using a glass measuring cup in a microwave) heat the milk and crushed candies together until the milk is hot but not boiling. Stir to melt the candies in the heated milk. Pour the heated milk over the cocoa powder in a large bowl and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly. 

In a medium whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Once the cocoa mixture has cooled, whisk in the sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla and peppermint extracts until the mixture is smooth. Then whisk in the flour mixture until just combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake pan and bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes are cool make the frosting. In the bowl of a food processor combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, melted chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, milk, vanilla and peppermint extracts and pulse the ingredients together until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes using your desired method and then top with sprinkles and/or crushed candies.

Recipe adapted from Food Network.

Malted Brownies

My favorite chocolate chip cookie is a Malted Chocolate Chip cookie. The malted milk powder produces a cookie that is both chewy (in the center) and crispy (along the edges) and gives it a flavor that is just extra yummy. So, when I came across a recipe for Malted Brownies, I knew I had to try it.

One thing that was slightly different about these brownies is that they are frosted. Which might make you think that they are going to be like a snack cake, but I can assure you they are not. The consistency is all brownie! And the frosting also has malted milk powder in it, so you are getting double dose of it. It’s made with marshmallow crème (or fluff) and while it was delicious on these brownies, it would make a great filling for a chocolate cake.

Surprisingly these brownies weren’t overtly sweet considering the frosting. I think that was due to the fact that bittersweet chocolate is used to make the brownies. They are rich though, so I would suggest cutting them into 24 pieces as opposed to 12 like I did.

Malted Brownies

Ingredients:

For the Brownies:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips*

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/2 cup vanilla malted milk powder

2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

For the Frosting:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

7oz. jar marshmallow crème

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons vanilla malted milk powder

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

*The original recipe called for 8oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 13 x 9 – inch baking pan and line with parchment paper leaving an overhang on the long sides. Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter and chocolate together in 35 second intervals, stirring between each, until smooth. Let cool for a few minutes.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate mixture and continue whisking until combined. Add the flour, milk powder, cocoa powder and salt and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the brownie mixture in the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack before spreading frosting on top.

While the brownies are cooling make the frosting. In a large bowl beat the butter using a handheld mixer until creamy. Add in the marshmallow crème and vanilla extract and continue beating until combined. Add in the malted milk powder and cocoa powder and continue beating. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and beat until thoroughly combined.

Spread frosting over cooled brownies. To make slicing the brownies easier refrigerate for about 10 minutes so the frosting can set.

Slice into 12 large brownies or 24 small brownies.

Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens

Coconut Lime Crumble Bars

Feliz Cinco De Mayo! I was planning on making a different version of these crumble bars last year for Cinco De Mayo, but I ended up making a Key Lime Bundt Cake instead. And truth be told, these crumble bars are not the exact recipe from the ones I saw. I decided to tweak the recipe to use ingredients I had on hand and I thought the filling from the original recipe sounded too sweet since it listed two cans of condensed milk (and one is sweet enough) so I used the filling recipe for my Key Lime Pie. What I ended up with was a delicious crumble bar with hints of coconut in the crust and topping and a filling that was perfectly sweet and tangy.

I began by making the crust. In the bowl of my food processor I combined all of the ingredients – flour, shredded coconut, oats, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, Kosher salt and coconut extract (which is completely optional, but, will up the coconut flavor) – and pulsed it until it started to clump together but was still crumbly. I reserved a cup of the mixture and pressed the remaining amount into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan I lined with parchment paper leaving an overhang.

I then baked the crust in a 350 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes until it was beginning to brown. I actually took it out of the oven at the 15-minute mark but since it still looked a bit undercooked, I decided to leave it in the oven for a few more minutes. You don’t want to leave it in too long though as you will be baking it again with the filling and you don’t want the crust to get hard during the second bake.

While the crust was cooling, I made the filling. In a large bowl I beat egg yolks until they were pale and fluffy and then added in condensed milk, key lime juice and lime zest. Now, I used key lime juice, but you could easily just use freshly squeezed lime juice. I prefer the flavor of key limes over regular limes and while I would love to use freshly squeezed key lime juice, key limes are a rarity at my local supermarket.

Once the crust had cooled, I poured the filling on top.

And then sprinkled the reserved flour mixture over it.

I then baked it in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the filling had set and the crumble topping was beginning to brown.

After letting it cool completely on a wire rack, I refrigerated it for a few hours before slicing and enjoying.

Coconut Lime Crumble Bars

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

1 cup old-fashioned oats*

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 teaspoons coconut extract (optional)

For the filling:

1 14oz. can condensed milk

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup lime juice**

Zest of 1 lime

*can substitute quick oats

**I used key lime juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang.

Make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor combine all of the ingredients for the crust. Pulse until the mixture begins to clump together but is still crumbly. Reserve 1 cup of the mixture and press the remaining amount into the prepared baking pan, just on the bottom. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Cool for 10 minutes.

Make the filling: While the crust is cooling make the filling. In a medium bowl beat the eggs with a hand mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in the condensed milk and then the lime juice and lime zest.

Pour the filling over the cooled crust and sprinkle the top with the reserved crust mixture.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the filling is just set and the crumble topping is golden.

Let cool completely on wire rack and then refrigerate for at least hour before slicing into 12 bars.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Mascarpone Cake

After making the Tiramisu Cheesecake I posted two weeks ago I still had about a cup of mascarpone cheese left. While I could have used it to spread on toast or crackers, I decided to bake something else with it. I came across a recipe for a Mascarpone Cake that sounded simple and delicious, so I decided to give it a try.

This is one of those recipes that most people love… It comes together in one bowl. No need for sifting or mixing your dry ingredients in one bowl and then combining them with your wet ones in another. You simply mix all of your wet ingredients first and then add the dry ones at the end. And after baking and cooling it’s time to enjoy.

This cake tasted just as the recipe sounded… delicious. It was reminiscent of a pound cake for me, just not as a dense. And not sweet at all. If you do you need a bit for sweetness to it, you can follow the original recipe and dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar once it has completely cooled.

Mascarpone Cake

Ingredients:

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a tube pan with baking spray (or coat with butter and lightly dust with flour) and set aside.

In a large bowl beat together the eggs and sugar with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract, mascarpone cheese and oil and continue beating until combined. Add the flour and baking powder and beat until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared ban and 30-40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from An Italian In My Kitchen

Tiramisu Cheesecake

I attempted to make Tiramisu Cheesecake before but the recipe I had just wasn’t a good one. The cheesecake filling didn’t have that classic coffee flavor that traditional Tiramisu has and with the two times I tried making it, neither time produced a cheesecake that firmed up. I was determined though. I had a tub of mascarpone cheese in my refrigerator that was quickly approaching its expiration date and I wanted to make something with it besides a traditional Tiramisu. So, I did a Google search for “desserts using mascarpone cheese” and what came up was nothing too exciting. Then I did a search for Tiramisu Cheesecake and came across a recipe that I decided to slightly tweak in hopes of finally making a cheesecake that sliced well and had the coffee flavor I am used to when it comes to Tiramisu.

I began by making the crust. In my food processor I processed about 20 ladyfingers into fine crumbs and then added in melted butter and Kahlua and processed it for a few more seconds to combine everything. I then transferred the mixture to a 9-inch springform pan and pressed it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. I baked it on a baking sheet in a 350 F preheated oven for 6 minutes and let it cool on a wire rack while I made the cheesecake filling.

One thing I like about making cheesecakes is that it is a one-bowl dessert. Which means it’s quick and there’s not a lot of clean-up afterwards. In a large bowl I beat cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, flour and salt with a hand mixer on medium speed until it was combined and smooth. I then added in sugar, Kahlua, vanilla extract and espresso granules. Finally, I added 4 eggs, one at a time, and beat everything until it was just combined.

I then poured the cheesecake filling into the cooled crust and placed it on a baking sheet and baked at 325 F for about an hour.

After letting it cool completely on a wire rack, I refrigerated it overnight. Unfortunately, it did end up with a small crack in it.

Using a fine mesh sieve, I dusted the top of the cheesecake with cocoa powder. I then carefully removed the ring from the pan.

I made a small batch of whipped cream which I used as a “glue” to place ladyfingers I cut in half around the cheesecake. I used 13 ladyfingers.

I filled a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the remaining whipped cream and pipped dollops of it around the cheesecake. I thought about dusting the top of the whipped cream with more cocoa powder, but I decided that what was already on the cheesecake was enough. I didn’t want the cheesecake to be overpowered by it.

And while the ladyfingers around the cheesecake gave it a pretty look, they were a bit of a pain when it came to slicing it. I ended up removing them as I sliced. And while the decorative ladyfingers may have been a bit of a fail the flavor wasn’t. It had the perfect amount of coffee flavor. If you want to reduce the coffee flavor in your cheesecake, I suggest omitting the instant espresso and/or reducing the amount of Kahlua you use in the cheesecake filling.

Tiramisu Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

18 ladyfingers

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons coffee liqueur*

 

For the Cheesecake:

3 8oz. bricks cream cheese, at room temperature

8oz mascarpone cheese (1 cup)

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons coffee liqueur*

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons instant espresso**

4 large eggs, at room temperature

 

For Topping:

Cocoa Powder

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

13 ladyfingers, cut in half

 

*I used Kahlua

**I used Café Bustelo

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

To Make the Crust: In a food processor, process the ladyfingers into fine crumbs. Add in the melted butter and coffee liqueur until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while making the cheesecake filling and lower the oven temperature to 325 F.

For the Cheesecake: In a large bowl beat the cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, flour and salt with a hand mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until incorporated. Add in the coffee liqueur, vanilla extract and espresso granules and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating until just blended. Pour into the prepared crust.

Place the cheesecake on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 50 – 60 minutes, until the sides of the cheesecake are set but the center is still jiggly.

Cool on a wire rack and then refrigerate overnight.

To decorate: Make whipped cream by beating together the whipping cream, vanilla extract and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form.

Using a fine mesh sieve, dust the top of the cheesecake with the cocoa powder. Carefully remove the ring from the pan and using some of whipped cream place the halved ladyfingers around the cheesecake. Transfer the remaining whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe dollops of the whipped cream around the cheesecake.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe for Tiramisu Cheesecake filling slightly modified from Spruce Eats

Small Batch Bread Pudding

This week I am bringing you two different types of bread puddings. A traditional sweet small batch today and a savory one later this week. Both of these came about due to leftover bread after ordering Italian food.

Truthfully, I made this small batch bread pudding twice. The first batch with half of a rustic loaf and then to tweak the recipe I used regular sliced white bread.

First, I sliced the bread into cubes. Now, bread pudding is best made with thick crusty bread to absorb the custard, when I used the rustic bread that was the perfect consistency. With the sliced white bread, it was a few days past its expiration date, and I had it in the refrigerator, so it was kind of stale already. It wouldn’t have hurt to toast it in the oven for a few minutes before using it though.

Next I divided the bread among three ramekins that I lightly greased with butter and placed on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl I whisked together the contents for the custard – eggs, milk, heavy whipping cream, sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract – and then transferred it to a large measuring cup to make it easy to pour and divide among the ramekins. I let them sit for about 10 minutes so the bread could soak in the custard.

I then baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for about 45 minutes. I knew they were ready when they had puffed up, were golden brown on top and most importantly a cake tester inserted in the middle came out clean. And while the custard did overflow a bit and they were a bit humongous on top they did “deflate” as they cooled. Most importantly though they were delicious.

Here’s a pic of the one’s I made with the rustic bread deflated and cooled.

Later this week, a savory bread pudding made with focaccia. YUM!

 

Small Batch Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

3 cups cubed bread

2 eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon group nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter three 8oz. ramekins and place on a baking sheet.

Divide the bread among the buttered ramekins.

Whisk the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer to a measuring cup and divide the mixture among the ramekins. Let sit for 10-15 minutes so the bread can soak in the liquid.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let the bread pudding cool on the baking sheet. While cooling the bread pudding will deflate after rising considerably during baking.

Enjoy once cool or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Hidden Heart Bundt Cake

Two years ago, I made my first Hidden Heart Cake in a loaf pan. This year, I decided to make another one, but, with a small twist. Instead of a loaf pan I decided to make it in a Bundt pan. I also made it more festive for Valentine’s Day by drizzling it with chocolate ganache and topping it with Valentine’s Day themed sprinkles.

To start I had to make a pink cake for the hearts. After prepping a mix of white cake per the box directions I tinted it pink. I then poured it into a Bundt pan that I sprayed with baking spray. Once it was done, I let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight. It’s easier and cleaner to cut up a cold cake. I will point out that I was a bit concerned after making this first cake. It didn’t bake up with a lot of height so I was worries that the chocolate cake wouldn’t be able to completely cover the hearts, but, after a little more thinking I realized it shouldn’t be a problem since the hearts would be taking up some of the pan so the chocolate cake would bake up higher.

The following morning, I cut the cake into slices (about 2-inches each) and then using a 2-inch heart cookie cutter I cut hearts from those slices. If you like making cake pops, you could use the leftover cake to make some.

I then prepped a box of chocolate cake mix per the box directions. I poured some of the batter into the bottom of my Bundt pan that I once again sprayed with baking spray. I did this to ensure that the top of the hearts would be covered by the cake.

Next, I arranged the hearts in the pan upside down. Remember, Bundt cakes are baked upside down and then you invert them once they are done.

And finally, I poured the remaining cake batter into the pan making sure to cover the hearts and getting the batter on the sides of the hearts closer to the outside of the pan.

I baked the cake in a 350 F preheated oven for about 30 minutes. And once the cake had cooled in the pan for 15 minutes, I inverted it onto a wire rack to cool completely. You can see in this close-up shot that a little bit of the pink did peek through, but I knew I would be able to cover that with the chocolate ganache I was planning on pouring over the cake.

To make the ganache, I combined chocolate chips, heavy cream and vanilla extract in a microwave safe bowl and microwaved it for 35-second intervals, stirring between each, until the chocolate chips had melted, and the mixture was smooth. I wanted the ganache to be a little thicker before I poured it over the cake, so I refrigerated it for about 15-20 minutes, stirring it every five minutes.

Before pouring the ganache on the cake, I lined a baking sheet with wax paper and then placed the wire rack the cake was cooling on on top of the wax paper.

Once the ganache was thick enough, I drizzled it over the cake and sprinkled the ganache with Valentine’s Day sprinkles. I then placed the cake in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the ganache could set.

And then it was time to slice it and I happy to say that the cake came out perfectly. It tasted good and the hearts were distinguishable when the cake was sliced.

Hidden Heart Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1 box white cake mix, plus the ingredient to prepare the batter

1 box chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare the batter

Pink food coloring

 

For the Ganache:

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Valentine’s Day themed sprinkles

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 10-cup Bundt pan with baking spray, or grease with butter and dust with flour.

In a large bowl prepare the white cake mix per the directions on the box. Once prepared add in pink food coloring and stir to incorporate the color. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Cool the cake for 15 minutes in the pan and then invert on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight*.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. And prep the Bundt pan once again.

Remove the pink Bundt cake from the refrigerator and slice the cake into 2-inch thick slices. Using a 2-inch heart cookie cutter cut hearts from the slices. Set aside.

In a large bowl prep the chocolate cake mix per the box directions. Pour enough batter into the pan so there is about a 1/2-inch layer of cake batter on the bottom. Arrange the cut hearts upside down in the pan. They should fit in perfectly and be snugged next to one another. Pour the remaining batter over the hearts, and make sure to get it into the sides of the pan. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted towards the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cake has completely cooled make the ganache.

Combine all the ingredients for the ganache in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 35-second intervals, stirring between each internal. Once the chocolate chips have melted and the mixture is smooth let cool for a few minutes before placing in the refrigerator so the ganache can thicken up. Refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Place a piece of wax paper on a large baking sheet and place the cake on the wire rack on top. Once the ganache is thick, drizzle over the cake. Sprinkle the cake with Valentine’s Day sprinkles and then place in the refrigerator for a few minutes so the ganache can set.

Slice and enjoy!

*It’s not necessary to refrigerate the cake overnight. You can slice the cake the same day you bake it once it’s cool. I just find it easier to work with the cake once it’s cold.

Chocolate Pumpkin Flan

It’s Fall Y’all! And you know what that means… It’s time for some pumpkin treats. Truth be told I feel like Fall came out of nowhere this year. Between working from home and barely going anywhere due to the pandemic the days are just passing by quickly and rolling into each other. Now that September is winding down though I’m doing my best to be cognizant of the days/dates to make sure I get all of my holiday projects and goodies done. I’m kicking off Fall with a Chocolate Pumpkin Flan.

While traditional flan uses eggs as the base to make the custard, this flan uses a combination of cream cheese, eggs and pumpkin. One thing that does remain the same though is the delicious caramel sauce. And I am happy to say that I was finally successful in making caramel sauce. I have tried in the past and all I have ended up with is burnt sugar. I was determined this time to get it right. One thing that helped, besides having patience, was using a smaller saucepan. I normally use a medium sized one and I think that was preventing the caramel from coming together. By using a smaller one it was easier for the sugar to melt into the water and begin the caramelization process. I also resisted the urge to stir it and instead swirled the pan every few minutes to ensure it wouldn’t burn.  As with a traditional flan, once the caramel was done I poured it into the pan I was using and then poured the batter for the flan over it. Oh, one other thing this flan has that a traditional flan doesn’t have… melted chocolate. If you didn’t know, chocolate and pumpkin go together really well. After baking in a water bath, initially I was thinking that I could bake a 9-inch pan inside of a 10-inch springform pan, but, after I added the water it seeped right out so I ended up baking it in a water bath inside of my roasting pan, I let it cool and then refrigerated it overnight before unmolding it. It didn’t come out easily, but, once it did it thankfully didn’t break apart.

Final verdict… It was delicious. It had the exact consistency of an egg custard flan but the flavor of pumpkin and chocolate with a hint of spice thanks to pumpkin spice. Which is just a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice.

So, even with all the craziness going on are you looking forward to the holidays? Me and a friend were saying the other day how when the summer started, we had no clue how the summer would be and what we would be able to do. And now here we are, the summer is over, and we made it through without doing anything really. With the extra time on the weekends I was able to get some projects done in my backyard and I am in the middle of remodeling my living room. All in all, I am sure most people are looking to put this year to bed. For now though, bring on the pumpkins, the mums and the scarves!

Chocolate Pumpkin Flan

Ingredients:

2oz. semi-sweet chocolate

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1/4 cup water

1 12oz. can evaporated milk

1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened and cubed

4 eggs

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Microwave the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on high for 1 minute, or until almost melted. Stir until completely melted, set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan add 3/4 cups of the sugar and the water. Cook on medium heat until the mixture is golden brown and a syrup-like consistency. This will take 10-15 minutes. Do not stir the contents, instead swirl the pan every few minutes. Pour into a 9-inch round pan.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, combine the evaporated milk and cream cheese and mix together until smooth.  Add the remaining sugar, the eggs, pumpkin, pumpkin spice and melted chocolate and continue mixing until well incorporated. Pour the mixture over the syrup in the pan.

Place the 9-inch pan inside of a larger pan, a roasting pan is ideal, and fill the larger pan with enough water that it comes halfway up the sides of the small pan.

Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool completely on a wire rack and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before inverting and unmolding. Drizzle any remaining caramel sauce left in pan over flan. Slice and enjoy!

Recipe from Kraft Foods

Applesauce Brownies

Earlier this week I posted a recipe that used applesauce and whole wheat flour as two of its ingredients and today I am sharing another recipe with those two ingredients… A brownie recipe. Granted these brownies were more like snack cakes, but, were delicious nonetheless. And truth be told, that’s all that really matters.

After making the batter I poured it into an 8×8-inch pan I sprayed with baking spray. I’ve come to realize that greasing your pan isn’t enough when it comes to making brownies. The addition of flour in the baking spray ensure that the brownies will not stick the pan when removing them. I then sprinkled the top of the batter with a walnut, chocolate chip and sugar mixture.

Next, I baked them in a 350 F preheated oven for about 30 minutes and after letting the brownies cool in the pan for a few minutes…

I removed them from the pan so they could cool completely on a wire rack…

Before slicing and enjoying them. As I mentioned, the texture is definitely more cake-like than brownie, and yes, I know that cake-like brownies are a thing, but, having had and made cake-like brownies, these definitely were not reminiscent of that. The brownies themselves aren’t overly sweet so the chocolate chips in the topping is a welcomed sweetness as is the crunch from the walnuts.

Applesauce Brownies

  • Servings: 12 Brownies
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 tablespoons cocoa powder*

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 unsweetened applesauce

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 chopped walnuts

1/4 chocolate chips (any type)

 

*I used a 50/50 combination of Hershey’s 100% Cacao / Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder. The original recipe called for King Arthur’s Triple Cocoa Powder

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease an 8×8 inch pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the butter, cocoa powder, oil, sugar, eggs, applesauce and vanilla and using a hand mixer on medium speed beat the ingredients until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until just combined.

Spread the batter in the prepared ban.

In a small bowl combined the ingredients for the topping and then sprinkle over the batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a cake tester inserted about 1-inch from the sides comes out clean.

Allow to cool in pan before slicing them.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Lemon Oatmeal Sugar Cookies

These cookies have a little bit of everything. A nice light lemon flavor, a tad bit of oatmeal and the soft chewiness of a sugar cookie. While they are perfect for the warmer months ahead, they would also be a nice addition to your holiday cookie baking. Since I wasn’t sure how they were going to taste, I halved the recipe and ended up baking only 24 cookies. Big mistake! These cookies were such a hit I should have baked the full amount. But just in case you don’t need 48 cookies, you can easily halve the recipe below.

Lemon Oatmeal Sugar Cookies

  • Servings: 4 Dozen Cookies
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Ingredients:

1 cup butter, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 3/4 cups flour

1 cup quick-cooking oats*

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Additional sugar to roll the cookies

*Can also use old-fashion oats

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lines two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice. Gradually add in the flour mixture.

Pour additional sugar into a small bowl. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough and then roll in the sugar and then place on the prepared cookie sheets. Using the bottom of a glass flatten the cookie about halfway down.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Recipe slightly modified from Taste of Home