I promised you more spring treats, so here you go! As some of you may know, and many of you probably don’t, I have adored ladybugs my whole life. I have collected ladybugs in any form for as long as I can remember. And I have to tell you, most of the year there aren’t many ladybugs to be found in the stores. My sister collected pandas, and you could find those almost anywhere. I’ve known people who collect pigs or roosters – also pretty easy to find. Ladybugs – not so much. Around Valentine’s Day and Easter you see a few more around, but even then they are pretty scarce. Even so, I have amassed a pretty impressive collection, if I do say so myself. Towels, jewelry, wall art, soap dishes (that one in the picture above – I use it for a spoon rest on my stove!), toys, figurines, etc., etc. But I’m pretty sure it all started with this lovely lady right here.
These cookies are an adaptation of a cookie we started making when I was pretty young. My mom had saved a pull-out section of a Good Housekeeping magazine from the 1980s. It was a special Christmas cookie section for “Christmas Toy Cookies”. One of the recipes was for a ladybug cookie. What that has to do with Christmas or toys, I don’t really know. But I do know I loved making and eating those cookies. The original recipe was for a vanilla cookie with maraschino cherry, or red hots, spots. I decided to go more true-to-life, and make a red body with chocolate chip spots. And if I was going to add color, I figured I might as well add flavor!
The recipe as I have written it adds strawberry flavoring, which I’m sure many of you will enjoy. I, on the other hand, do not like strawberries. I know, I know. I told you I was a picky eater. I did have a bottle of pomegranate flavoring in my cabinet, begging to be used, though, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. You can use either of those flavors, or go with cherry or raspberry. Ooohh, or cinnamon….that would be fantastic, too. You could even leave the flavoring, and the color, out if you wanted to. This is a soft, slightly cakey cookie full of flavor. And they are pretty darn cute, too. 🙂
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs.
Add salt, baking soda, and flour; mix well.
Remove 1/4 cup of the dough, and stir the melted chocolate into that portion.
Add the extract and food color to the plain dough. I used enough food color to make a bright red, but adjust to your tastes.
Divide the red dough into 36 pieces, each approximately 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons. Shape each piece into an oval and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Divide the chocolate dough into 36 pieces, about 1/2 teaspoon each, and push into one end of each oval.
Use the back of a butter knife to make a deep line down the center of each cookie, to define the "wings".
Push mini chocolate chips into each wing. I use 2 or 3 per side, but use as many as you'd like.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cookies are set. If you don't use the food coloring, there will be very light browning, but you cannot see this on the red cookies.
Cool completely on wire racks and store in an airtight container up to a week.
Use any flavor extract, and food coloring, you like. Raspberry, cherry, pomegranate (like I did), even cinnamon would be good if you want to keep them red. Or leave out the extract (use some vanilla), and food coloring if you prefer.
I used flavoring oil, from LorAnn, which is much more concentrated. If you use those, start with 1/4 teaspoon and slowly add from there. I used about 1/2 teaspoon of the pomegranate flavor.
For an extra hit of chocolate, dip the bottom of cooled cookies into melted dark or milk chocolate and set on waxed paper until chocolate sets.
It snowed this morning!! We have had almost no snow this year, and actually hit 80 degrees last week, and I was missing winter. But I woke up this morning to big wet snowflakes! That has absolutely nothing to do with these cupcakes, but I was so excited I just had to share. 🙂
Anyway, on to the cupcakes! Do you guys do anything special for St. Patrick’s Day? Do you attend a parade, or bake anything special? I’ve never really celebrated it much, but a few weeks ago I was in Michaels, mostly just browsing, but with my Cherry Chocolate Chip Rolls in mind. I was supposed to be looking for something Valentine’s Day related while I was walking down the baking aisle, and then I spotted these St. Patrick’s Day sprinkles.
I decided I had to have them, but then I had to figure out what to do with them. Cupcakes sounded like a good idea, but what kind? So I started searching Pinterest for St. Patrick’s Day ideas. It seems like Irish cream is pretty popular right now. And since Irish cream has a lot of the same flavors as mocha, I decided to incorporate in into a favorite mocha cake of mine. And make them cupcakes, because cupcakes are just more fun.
I thought it might be easier (and cheaper!) to use an Irish cream coffee creamer. Since I don’t drink coffee, I had never tried the creamer before. Before I started trying to add it to my cake recipe, I tried it straight. Oh my goodness, you guys, it is SWEET. So I knew immediately I would have to reduce the sugar in the recipe. Thankfully, it turned out perfectly on my first attempt, but I sure am glad I tried the creamer first!
To top the cupcakes, I figure I might as well go all the way and make an Irish Cream buttercream. It was a good idea. The cupcakes aren’t overly sweet, so a nice big swirl of buttercream compliments them nicely. And it gives the sprinkles a pretty place to land. 🙂
If you aren’t a fan of Irish cream, or coffee in general, you can make some adjustments to this recipe pretty easily. Try any flavor of creamer that sounds good to you. And if you are using a non-mocha flavoring you can leave the instant coffee out of both the cake and frosting. Amaretto would be fantastic (I LOVE chocolate and almond together!). You can amp up the flavor by adding a little bit of almond extract. Or what about the salted caramel mocha? I might add some salted caramel into the buttercream for that one. A peppermint or peppermint mocha version would be fantastic at Christmas! For now, I’m going to stick with the Irish cream, but I definitely have other ideas brewing! 😉
Mocha Irish Cream Cupcakes
Adapted from the Mocha Coffee Cake at Health.com. http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,50400000112136,00.html
Hi everyone! I have something really exciting to share with you today! Oh – and I made you Cherry Chocolate Chip Sweet Rolls. 🙂
So I’ve been back down in Oklahoma, but this time I’ve been in Ponca City, which just happens to be the next town over from Pawhuska. Now, if you read many food blogs, or watch Food Network, you may recognize that name. That’s because it’s where Pioneer Woman lives, and where her Mercantile is located. Well, I was fortunate enough to get to go visit the Mercantile and eat dinner there! The store is really amazing, and the food was fantastic. I bought a cookbook and a few bowls, and then spent too much money at the bakery. 🙂 And dinner was worth the wait (the line was out the door when we first got there!). I had the grilled cheese, and others I went with tried the ribeye reuben, the chicken fried steak, and the fried chicken sandwich. They are all highly recommended by us!
That was exciting enough, but what made the day even better was that the lodge, the guesthouse on their ranch where Ree films her Food Network show, was open for tours that day, and I managed to get there just before they closed! It was really cool to visit both her “studio” and the Mercantile. The Pioneer Woman is one of the most successful and well-known food blogs, so for a new blogger it was a real treat. I definitely recommend stopping at the Mercantile if you ever find yourself anywhere near Pawhuska!
Anyway, let’s get back to these sweet rolls. They are somewhat inspired by Pioneer Woman, since I tried her cinnamon rolls at the bakery (too die for!!), and in the cookbook I bought she has a recipe for Raspberry Cream Cheese Sweet Rolls. I was really craving some kind of sweet roll, and with Valentine’s day coming up, chocolate and cherry seemed to be an appropriate combination. 🙂
These start with a cherry curd, which is really simple to make. You just need frozen cherries, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and corn starch. The recipe makes about 2 cups, and you only need 1/2 cup for this recipe, so there is plenty left over. Spread it on toast, biscuits, pancakes, ice cream, pork chops….well, pretty much anything! You can also substitute any frozen berries in this recipe, and it would be just as delicious.
The filling is just the curd and chocolate chips, but there is so much room for adjustments! Prefer lemon curd? Go for it. Or want them even faster? Use a store-bought jam. Leave out the chocolate chips, or change up the flavor (white chocolate with the lemon curd would be perfect). Add nuts with the chips or in place of them. The possibilities are endless!
This recipe is scaled to make 6 rolls, but can easily be doubled to make a dozen in a 9×13-inch pan.
Oh, and did I mention these come together in about an hour, if you already have the curd made? That’s right – you are only an hour away from warm, chocolatey, sweet-tart cherry sweet rolls!
Combine 1 cup flour and the yeast in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer.
Combine milk, water, sugar, oil, and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each, until mixture is slightly warm, about 1 minute.
Add the milk mixture to the flour and yeast along with the egg yolk. Beat with an electric mixer, or by hand, for 30 seconds or until combined. Scrape bowl, and beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.
Either by hand or with a dough hook, add in the second cup of flour and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead, by hand or with the dough hook, for 3 to 5 minutes, adding up to an additional 1/4 cup of flour, until dough is smooth and elastic. It will be a very soft dough, and should be very slightly sticky. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 7x12-inch rectangle. Spread cherry curd over dough, then sprinkle with chocolate chips. Beginning from the short (7-inch) side, roll up jelly-roll style. (If doubling, roll a 14x12-inch rectangle and roll from the long side.)
Slice into 6 rolls and place, cut side up, into a greased 8-inch square pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 20 minutes.
Bake in a 375-degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before topping with the powdered sugar glaze and serving. Store, covered, at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
Yep. You read that right. I made a Puppy Chow, or Muddy Buddy if you prefer, pie!
So, are we done with the January diets yet? Because this is decidedly NOT diet food. But it is so delicious I promise you won’t care.
You all know what Puppy Chow is, right? It’s a chocolate and peanut butter mixture that you pour all over Chex cereal, which you then douse with powdered sugar. It is highly addictive, and definitely one of my favorite sweet treats. The best pieces are the ones that are coated a little thicker with the chocolate and peanut butter.
So I figured, why not just fill a pie shell with that filling? And if you made that pie crust with crushed up cereal, so much the better. And then you certainly can’t stop there – better put a heavy coat of powdered sugar on top.
This is a pretty simple pie, but it is very rich. A small slice goes a long way. And you can certainly change it up (but I don’t know why you would want to 🙂 ). Use white chocolate chips instead, or even milk chocolate or butterscotch. Try using a different nut butter or even using Nutella in it’s place. And if the powdered sugar seems like just too much, go ahead and top it with crushed nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, whatever makes you happy), or pretty sprinkles for a special occasion. I hope you give this a try – you will love it!
Puppy Chow Pie
A chocolate and peanut butter filling in a cereal crust - just like Puppy Chow (Muddy Buddies)!
For the crust
4 cups Chex cereal (rice or corn)
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
For the filling
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar, for topping
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Finely crush the cereal. You should end up with about 2 cups of crumbs. Mix well with the sugar and melted butter. Spray a 9" pie pan with baking spray, and press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of pan. Use a small greased bowl or measuring cup to help. Bake the crust at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
While crust is baking, heat chocolate chips and whipping cream in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Add peanut butter and stir until smooth. Microwave additional 15 seconds if mixture is not hot enough to melt peanut butter. Stir in vanilla. Chill mixture in the refrigerator until room temperature and beginning to hold it's shape. It should be about the consistency of peanut butter. Whisk briefly by hand, just until mixture begins to lighten in color. Immediately spread into cooled crust and refrigerate, about 30 minutes to an hour, until firm.
Dust generously with powdered sugar and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
You can use different cereals (rice krispies, corn flakes, etc.), as long as they are unsweetened and crunchy. You need 2 cups once crushed.
Substitute semisweet chocolate with any chips you like.
Any nut butter or Nutella can be substituted for the peanut butter.
Top with crushed nuts or sprinkles instead of powdered sugar, if desired.
The Archaeologist Bakes http://www.thearchaeologistbakes.com/
It’s back to the field for me this week, so I’ve got a really quick recipe for you. Actually, it’s not even a recipe. Chocolate bark is so easy, and infinitely customizable.
I had a bag of pumpkin spice chips sitting in my pantry, and I’ve been trying to decide what to make with them. Cookies, bars, cupcakes – they’ve all been done. But pumpkin spice chocolate bark? That sounded perfect for a busy weekend.
I dug though my collection of chocolate molds, and found that I had a pumpkin version. Mine has 12 cavities that are about 1 inch across. You can find these in some hobby stores, as well as in cake decorating supply stores (there is usually at least one in good-sized cities) and online. I started by melting down a few green candy melts and piped that into the stems. You can also paint it in with a paintbrush (that you use only for food) or even a toothpick. Then I melted about 1 cup of the chips and spooned that into the pumpkins. I melt my chips and candy melts in the microwave in 15 to 30 second bursts. The one cup of chips made 24 pumpkins, or two trays worth in my mold.
While the pumpkins were firming up in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, I melted a pound of chocolate almond bark. I spread that out between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick on a parchment (or wax-paper) lined baking sheet. Before it set, I added the pumpkins and threw on some fall leaf sprinkles for a little color and variety. Once it started to set, but before it was completely firm, I scored it into pieces with a sharp knife. I put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes so it could set completely, and then broke it along the scored lines.
The best part about this is how easy it is to customize. You could use any flavor almond bark or chocolate for the base – try different baking chip flavors like butterscotch, cinnamon, or white chocolate. The same goes for the pumpkins. And you don’t have to have a chocolate mold – you could pipe simple shapes onto wax paper and let them set before dropping them onto the base chocolate. Or if all you have are some pretty sprinkles, drop the contrasting chocolate by spoonfuls onto the base and swirl with a skewer or knife before adding the sprinkles. This was so much fun and gave me so many other ideas! I’m sure you’ll see the concept again around Christmas!