Bunny Hug Cookies

Still looking for something fun and simple to bake for Easter… These Bunny Hug Cookies are quick, easy and adorable. You’ll need three things to make them – sugar cookie dough (use your favorite recipe or go the short-cut route like I did and use a store bought prepackaged mix), Cadbury Mini Eggs and a gingerbread man cookie cutter. You may be scratching your head on that last one, but, I’ll get to that in a few.

Since I opted to use store bought, more specifically Betty Crocker’s Sugar Cookie Mix, I didn’t have to wait for the dough to chill in the refrigerator as is necessary with most sugar cookie recipes made from scratch. So, once the dough came together I rolled it out on a lightly floured surface and cut out the bunny shape. Here’s the trick to using a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut out a bunny, hold it upside down. The legs are then the bunny’s ears, while the gingerbread man’s head becomes the bunny’s body and the arms, well, they are still the arms on the bunny.

Once you cut out all of your cookies transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet and place a Cadbury Mini Egg in the center of the cookie between the arms and gently wrap the arms around the egg, the arms won’t completely wrap around the egg. Lightly press the dough onto the egg so it can stick. Don’t worry if the dough slightly tears when you fold up the arms. Once you bake the cookies it will be fine. Use a toothpick to poke eyes and a nose and then bake the cookies in a 350 F (anything higher and the Cadbury eggs will crack miserably) for about 8 -10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden around the edge. Let the cookies rest on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. If you find that the nose and eyes have disappeared while baking use the toothpick once again to redefine them while the cookies are still warm.

And there you have it… Bunny Hug Cookies!

 

Bunny Ear Cupcakes

Earlier this week I showed you how quick and easy it is to create Sprouting Carrot Cupcakes and today I am showing you a fun companion cupcake to go with them, Bunny Ear Cupcakes.

For these cupcakes I decided to make coconut cupcakes, since it is a popular flavor for Easter, topped with cream cheese frosting (my favorite frosting flavor). I then sprinkled the top of the frosting with sweetened shredded coconut.  If you are not a fan of coconut, or, just want to make something a bit quicker and simpler you could opt to make a white or yellow box cake mix into cupcakes and then top it with store bought vanilla frosting and instead of topping the cupcakes with coconut opt for white sprinkles.

Using kitchen shears I cut large marshmallows in half on the diagonal. I then dipped the cut side in a small bowl I filled with pink sanding sugar. And voila, bunny ears.

Next, I placed the marshmallow bunny ears on to the cupcakes.

And there you have it, Bunny Ear Cupcakes. While I decided to stop with the ears, sometimes less is more, you could decorate these cupcakes further by using chocolate chips for the eyes and rolling a small ball of marshmallow in the pink sanding sugar for a nose.

Coconut Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 Cupcakes
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon almond extract*

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk**

7 ounces sweetened shredded coconut***, plus more for topping cupcakes

*If you want a stronger coconut flavor, substitute the almond extract with coconut extrac

**I’ve gotten into the habit of making my own buttermilk. To do so, add 4 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar to a measuring cup, then fill it with enough milk (I’ve used 2% and whole milk) to reach 1 cup. Stir it a few times then let it sit for 10-15 minutes. The buttermilk is ready when it begins to curdle. For this recipe since I only needed 1/2 cup of buttermilk, I used 2 1/4 teaspoons of vinegar and added enough milk to my measuring cup to reach 1/2 cup.

***I used about a 1 1/2 cups of coconut

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a 12-cup cupcake tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer beat the butter and sugar together on high spend until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, 1 at a time. Scraping the bowl as needed between each addition. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and continue mixing until everything is well incorporated.

In a separate medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until well combined and then fold in the shredded coconut.

Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake tin, filling the batter to the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once completely cooled top with frosting.

Recipe modified from Food Network

 

 

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 8oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add in the sugar until well combined. Add in the vanilla extract and continue beating until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

 

 

Chocolate Bunny Topped Easter Cake

Happy Easter! A few weeks ago when I posted about the Springtime Chocolate Chip Cookies I made I mentioned that I picked up some things at my local Target store to create an Easter cake and I am happy to say that the cake turned out just as I pictured it in my head. So, what did I pick up? Edible Easter Grass, Cadbury Mini Easter Eggs and a Chocolate Bunny.

IMG_7246

To begin, I baked my favorite Carrot Cake and frosted it with Cream Cheese Frosting.

IMG_7194 

The Edible Easter Grass. If you’re wondering, it’s made of wafer paper candy; it does have a slight green apple flavor and surprisingly doesn’t have any kind of after-taste. And from what I read about it online most of the companies that sell it here in the United States import it from Germany.

 IMG_7193

I cut the grass into 1 – 2 inch pieces and spread it onto a cookie sheet. I then misted the grass with a little water and mixed the grass so that it could clump together. I was careful not to use too much water because the grass would then disintegrate.

 IMG_7196

I first placed the Chocolate Bunny in the center of the cake and then started spreading the grass around the bunny lightly pressing it into the frosting.

 IMG_7197

I decided to only cover the top of the cake with the grass.

 IMG_7198

And after placing some Cadbury Milk Eggs in the grass my cake was decorated and ready for Easter!

IMG_7202

 

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Coconut is one of those things that people either love or hate. For me, I love coconut. Come the summer I can never pass up getting a Coconut Italian Ice and while I enjoy most flavors of Chobani Greek yogurt my favorite by far is the Almond Coco Loco Flip. So, it’s pretty surprising that I have never had a Coconut Macaroon. I’ve always wanted to make them, but, some other treat makes its way into my oven instead. I finally got around to making them and I must say I wish I had made them sooner!

These were by far one of the easiest cookies I have ever made… They didn’t require a hand or stand mixer and were easily prepared in one bowl. You can’t beat simplicity like that. I began my mixing together shredded sweetened coconut along with sugar, flour, and salt.

IMG_7133

I then added in egg whites and almond extract and mixed the ingredients until they were well blended. Then using a cookie scoop I scooped up the coconut mixture…

IMG_7134

And dropped them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and baked them in a 325 F preheated oven for about 20 minutes.

IMG_7135

Once out of the oven I immediately transferred the macaroons to a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_7148

After they cooled it was time to dip them in melted chocolate. Conveniently I had half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in my fridge. I melted the chocolate in the microwave and then dipped the bottom of each of the macaroons in the chocolate and then placed them on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and put them in the fridge so the chocolate could set.

IMG_7152

And since I had some chocolate left-over I decided to enjoy a mid-afternoon snack of chocolate dipped pretzels… You can’t go wrong with sweet & salty!

IMG_7156

Overall these macaroons were delish… With the combination of coconut, almond extract and chocolate they were reminiscent of an Almond Joy candy bar!

 

Coconut Macaroons

Makes 3 Dozen

Ingredients:

1 14oz. package sweetened coconut flakes (5 1/3 cups)

2/3 cup sugar

6 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl. Stir in eggs whites and almond extract until well blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonful (I used a small cookie scoop which yielded 26 macaroons) onto prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bakes for 18-20 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy as is, or dip in melted chocolate for an extra sweet treat!

Keep The Bunnies Away Carrot Cake

I was never a big fan of Carrot cake. While I pretty much like any vegetable – including Brussels sprouts – the idea of a vegetable in a cake didn’t sound all that appealing when I was growing up. But then, at my first job after college whenever a coworkers birthday rolled around we would usually get a carrot cake from a place a few blocks away and my love of a vegetable in a cake was born. I soon found out though that not all carrot cake is the same. I have had my share of bad ones which usually entailed them being too dry or instead of being frosted with cream cheese frosting they are frosted with buttercream frosting. In my opinion, cream cheese frosting is the only way to go… The same goes for Red Velvet Cake. I’ve been making this Carrot Cake for a while now after finding the recipe on the Food Network website, it’s called Gigi’s Carrot Cake from Emeril Lagasse and I love it. It’s been a while since I’ve made one and being that it is Easter weekend I decided it was time to whip up another one.

To start I peeled and grated my carrots. The very first time I made this cake I didn’t have a food processor so I grated the carrots by hand and while it was a nice arm workout I am definitely spoiled now and won’t be going back to using a box grater anytime soon.

IMG_9876

I only needed 3 cups of grated carrots for the recipe, which is approximately 1 pound of carrots, but I mistakenly bought a 2 pound bag instead. I ended up grating all of carrots since I had a yummy recipe for grated carrots in my recipe binder.

IMG_9878

I started working on the batter by first combining the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt) and then set it aside.

IMG_9886

I creamed 3 sticks of butter and then added in 2 cups of granulated sugar.

IMG_9888

Once the butter and sugar were combined I added in the dry ingredients by alternating between the 4 eggs the recipe calls for.

IMG_9889

I then added in some vanilla extract.

IMG_9892

And it wouldn’t be carrot cake without the carrots.

IMG_9893

Finally, I added in the nuts. While the recipe calls for pecans I have always used walnuts. And I actually didn’t mix in the walnuts with the mixer but instead folded them in by hand with a spatula.

IMG_9894

And here’s what my batter ultimately looked like.

IMG_9896

I then divided the batter between my three prepared 9-inch pans.

IMG_9897

After baking for 25 minutes and cooling in the pans for 10 minutes I removed the cakes from the pans so they could cool completely.

IMG_9898  IMG_9899
Once the cake was completely cooled it was time to frost it. To make the cream cheese frosting I creamed the cream cheese and butter together first and then mixed in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract. I actually made two batches of the frosting. With the first batch I frosted between each of the layers and did a crumb coating and with the second batch I fully frosted the outside of the cake.

IMG_9900

After decorating it with a few fondant/gum paste flowers I had made and writing on it this was the final product. I can’t wait to cut into it!

IMG_9905

Oh, and those left-over grated carrots I had I used them to make a Carrot Raisin Salad.

IMG_9907

Gigi’s Carrot Cake

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2002

Ingredients
3 sticks, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Pecan Cream Cheese Icing:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 3 (9-inch) cake pans with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat. In a medium bowl or on a piece of parchment, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, beating well after the addition of each. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in the nuts. Divide between the 3 cake pans and bake until set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove from the pans, and let cool.

For the Frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and pecans.

When the cake is cool, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread the top with cream cheese frosting and top with a second and third cake layer, spreading the icing between each layer. Spread the icing around the sides of the cake and let harden slightly before serving. To serve, cut into wedges.

Carrot Raisin Salad

Ingredients
1 lb. carrots, peeled & grated
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
Juice from 1 lemon

Directions
Pour boiling water over raisins for five minutes and then drain to plump them up. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix together and then chill for a few hours before serving.