Saturday, April 30, 2011

Treats for Mommies

Usually when I'm making something sweet, I'm thinking of making both kids and their parents happy.....but there are times when I only have to worry about adults.......and those times tend to end up in a dessert with booze in it (there's nothing wrong with that right?). But in this case I needed to make something for breakfast/snack for my fellow Mommies at my oldest son's preschool......hmmm.....maybe too early for booze??

So in comes this recipe from my secret boyfriends (expect to see lots of their recipes).....Nutella Scones. I assume at this point everyone and their uncle knows what Nutella is......but just in's a chocolate/hazelnut spread, and according to their advertising is part of a healthy breakfast. I don't know about that part, but I do know it's delicious!! I remember having it for the first time when I was an exchange student in Germany in high school (I simply can't say the year because it was just too darn long ago!). My host family had a jar of Nutella on the breakfast table, and trying that for the first time on some amazing fresh baked bread......ahhhh...angels started singing :) Recently, I had been talking to some people about Nutella, and to my surprise, they hated it! Not just disliked it....but truly hated it! So, I guess Nutella is a love it or leave type ingredient.......that's why I also decided to make my favorite banana bread....for the Nutella haters.....or those who think chocolate at breakfast is a bad thing.

This was actually my first time making scones, and I found it to be a pretty easy recipe. I had to get used to the's a little different than doughs that I'm used to.....and I know that you do not want to knead the dough more than necessary so that the scones will come out tender. There is Nutella mixed into the dough as well as drizzled on top of the finished as long as you are a fan of Nutella, this is a recipe to try!

The recipe for these scones can be found in my secret boyfriends' latest cookbook, Baked Explorations. I also was able to find the recipe posted on the Baked Sundays blog (they do a recipe from the Baked Explorations cookbook every couple of weeks).

So to please the Nutella haters, I also decided to bust out my favorite banana bread recipe. It's a lowfat banana bread recipe that uses Greek yogurt. I've made this thing so many times that I've actually got the entire recipe memorized.....I don't think I can say that about any other baking recipe! I made it without walnuts this time (simply because I had run out).......I think I prefer it with walnuts, but it is still great without them. For the recipe, please check out the blog, Ingredients, Inc.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ode to a Brownie....and My Secret Boyfriends

Do you love chocolate? If you ask me, the answer is emphatically "YES!!!" Well, if you love chocolate, then you have to try these brownies......they are from my secret boyfriends at Baked NYC (more on them later).

Now, I admit I am kind of a brownie snob....but I will gladly help to devour a pan of box mix brownies! However, I absolutely adore homemade brownies that use lots of good quality chocolate! For this recipe I used some Valrhona dark chocolate bars as well as dark cocoa much chocolate goodness!!

The number one rule with these brownies is not to overbake!! You want to take these out of the oven when a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan has a few moist crumbs attached to it.

To find the recipe for the Baked brownie, check out their book Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.....or you can also just go to Williams-Sonoma and pick up their brownie mix! now that I've introduced you to Baked NYC (in case you'd never heard of them before).....let me now introduce you to my secret boyfriends, Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis, the owners of Baked. They are my secret boyfriends, in that they know nothing about my obsession with them. However, they are not so secret in my house, because the hubby knows all about them!! Pardon the picture......I am a tired Mommy today, but I had to pose with the guys :)

I have probably done at 15 or so recipes from their two cookbooks that are out: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and Baked Explorations. Every single recipe has gotten an amazing response from family, friends, and me!! These guys really know what they're doing, and reading through the recipes, it feels like they're standing there next to you talking you through it.

We are heading to Charleston in June after going to a family wedding, and imagine my surprise when I discovered that the only place there is a Baked bakery, aside from Brooklyn, is in Charleston!! And quickly looking on Google's only 2 blocks from our hotel! Who-hoo! I've already informed my family that they will be heading there multiple times a day each day that we are in Charleston! I am bound and determined to try as many things as I possibly be damned!

And that's that......I can be fickle in my baking/cooking obsessions.....but for the last few months, these are the guys who have stole my baking heart!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I have a confession to make......

For as much as I love to bake yummy homemade treats, if you asked my oldest son what the best dessert is, I'm pretty sure he'd say "Oreos!!" In fact, for all the wonderful compliments he gives everything I make.......he actually never wants to eat them. Now granted, my youngest will devour pretty much anything you put in front of him, so he makes up for his brother :) My point with all of this is that I usually have a stash of Oreos at home (in fact I bought I giant box at Costco the last time I was there) I'm game to try any recipe that involves Oreos!

Last week was our nephew Nicholas' 9th birthday, so since the family was already going to be together on Easter Sunday, I brought him a birthday cake. When I saw this recipe for an Oreo and Chocolate French Silk Cake on Bakers Royale.....I was sold! I also know that my sister-in-law's favorite dessert is French Silk Pie.....who-hoo!!!

If you have ever made pudding at home, then this could not be easier! Actually, even if you haven't made pudding at home, it's still pretty darn easy. I happened to have some Valrhona dark chocolate on hand (my favorite!), so I knew the chocolate pudding would come out perfect. Pour that chocolate pudding over an Oreo crust and top with some whipped cream (or Cool Whip) mixed with crushed Oreos, then decorate as desired, and voila! You have a dessert that the hubby has placed in his top 10 favorites! And with the amount that I bake, there are many to choose from :)

I chose to freeze the cake/pie overnight and then just stick it in the fridge a couple of hours before serving, which led my brother-in-law to declare that it tasted like an Oreo pudding pop cake! And there's nothing wrong with that........

Go on over to Bakers Royale for the recipe.......and if you've never tried Valrhona chocolate before, you can pick some up on your next visit to Trader Joe's. I just made some of the most delicious brownies with the rest of coming soon.......

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Chick-a-dees

I had been waiting for Easter to try out the cute little Easter chicks from Bakerella. If you haven't check out her blog yet, you have to get over there and immediately get insanely jealous at the things she can make!! You can also find her book, Cake Pops, just about everywhere these days!!

I was initially going to make these little guys in yellow....but for some reason I had a major gloppy disaster on my hands once I started trying to melt my yellow candy melts. I think that maybe the temperature got a little too high for them (I was melting in the microwave), and instead of becoming beautifully glossy and melty, instead they turned into bumpy, yucky looking mess. And these were Merckens candy melts, not Wiltons, and I have never had any trouble with them before. I suppose I should have documented the mess....but being new to this blog thing, it didn't really occur to me until after I had cleaned it up!

Since that was my last bag of yellow, I decided to try some neon pink birds......a shade that you always see in nature, right?? I also tried to do some orange chicks, but once I melted the chocolate, realized they were more peachy or flesh-toned. So, they were my naked birdies.....kind of weird, but cute enough to display.

One last thing.....I decided to use white cake with vanilla frosting inside these. I normally use red velvet and cream cheese frosting when I make cake balls or cake pops, but I thought it might be a little creepy biting into a bird and having it be red. Thinking too much? You decide....

For a tutorial on these cute little guys, as well as a ton of other ideas, check out Bakerella's blog!

Back to School

I decided to take a cupcake decorating store to learn more decorating techniques. When I normally make cupcakes, I end up just throwing on a blob of frosting, add a dash of sprinkles or sanding sugar, and call it a day. But sometimes you want something a little more special, right?

I decided to take the Cupcake Crazy class at our local baking supply store, Clarice's. Three hours and a dozen different cupcakes.....sign me up!

I particularly like the flower cupcake (using a rose tip), while the hubby was more partial to the bird's nest and the cherry pie, and my sister-in-law voted for the carrot patch (candy corns and green frosting). Although it's too late to do the Easter cupcakes, I do plan on trying some of the others this summer.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Peep at the Peeps

I had been planning on making some more cake pops for Lukas' class for Easter.....but then I found this cookie cutter that is in the shape of bunny peeps.....and I had to make them!! I had some beautiful sanding sugars from Williams-Sonoma......their colors are so much more vibrant than ones I've found other places....I am especially in love with the pink! And no, I didn't make the googly eyes. I have a ton of them that I bought online......I put them on everything......googly eyes make everything cuter!

I found the cookie cutter at Copper Gifts.....check them out for beautiful handmade copper cookies cutters. The sugar cookie recipe that I always use is from Cookie Craft......there are also tons of great decorating ideas in there.