Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


My, oh my! This frosting totally blew me away! Let's say, despite the "warnings" about its deliciousness on the site I discovered it, I was just not prepared for this. No, I wasn't.

It was creamy, it was luscious, it was velvety, it was rich, it was light, it was DIVINE! An what a great combo with the dark chocolate cupcakes I piped it on! Wow!

For the love of all things chocolate, do give this frosting a try! It will not disappoint you!

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1-2 tsp vanilla
1-3 tbsp milk or half-n-half or cream :)

Cream the butter and cream cheese with a mixer.
Add the cocoa and vanilla.
Add the confectioner’s sugar in small batches and blend on low until combined. Scrape down sides with each addition.
Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until you get the consistency you desire.
Frost your cake or cupcakes. (I actually filled mine with it too, for a a little extra awesomeness. :)) Enjoy! :) 

Recipe courtesy goes to:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lemon Sugar Cookies

I love this sugar cookie recipe because it does not require butter at room temperature- that is, no pre-planning involved. As long as you have butter in the fridge, you can whip these up in no time- just cut the cold butter in chunks and cream with the sugar! Voila! You've got yourself some pretty good sugar cookies with minimal wait time! What is also great about this recipe is that because of the cold butter, the dough is very easy to roll and cut out and the cookies hold their shape really well with baking. What more can you ask for when sugar cookies are concerned? Well, taste of course- that's why I decided to boost the flavor with some fresh lemon juice and lemon zest and I think this really sealed the deal. The frosting, of course, had to be pink... :)) Just look at these babies:

Of course, since I made them for Teacher Appreciation Week, I had to incorporate a "Thank-you" somewhere. :) Piping it on almost 4 dozen cookies was definitely a labor of love, but my kids' teachers deserve it. :)

Lemon Sugar Cookies:

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold & cut into chunks
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
lemon zest of one lemon


Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg, vanilla extract, lemon juice and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. (You may want to freeze the cut out cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking- they will hold their shape better). Bake for 10 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack. Ice with your favorite icing. Since I am not too crazy about the taste of royal icing, I used the following recipe to which I added some lemon juice to carry out the lemon theme, but only vanilla extract would be fine too.

And here are my cookies, packaged for the teachers, along with spring flowers and some thank-you balloons too. :) 

Lemon Frosting:
  • 2-2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps fresh lemon juice
  • 3-4 Tbsp milk
  • Coloring if desired

Mix all ingredients well and add a little more milk or powdered sugar to get the right consistency for spreading and/or piping.

Recipe for cookies adapted from: bakeat350
Recipe for frosting adapted from: melskitchencafe

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

I have had the recipe for this delicious dessert for more than ten years now. I have made it dozens and dozens of times over these years and never- for some reason- posted it on my blog. Until now, that is. :) Last Sunday we celebrated Orthodox Easter with friends of ours who are Orthodox Christians. This was the dessert I decided to make for this occasion. It is super easy to put together, yet every time I have made it for parties, I have had excellent reviews. This time was no exception: there was only one piece left out of the whole pan- hence, the corner piece is what I had to take a picture of for here. :))

Another great thing about this "salad" dessert is that it is extremely versatile. You can make it with pretty much any kind of fruit, as long as you can find a gelatin to match its flavor. I have made it with raspberries and it is outstanding. I am pretty sure blueberries, cherries, peaches/apricots will be awesome too. It is not overly sweet and the combination of the slightly salty pretzel crust, the tangy cheesecake middle layer and the fruity top layer is  a winner. It could be a little tricky to serve and keep it in neat looking slices- as you can see from the picture below, but nobody complains once they have a bite. :)

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 (8 ounce) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry gelatin, such as Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen strawberries or 1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced

Preheat oven to 350F.
Stir together crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons sugar; mix well and press mixture into bottom of 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake 8-10 minutes, until set; set aside to cool. 
In a large mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Spread mixture onto cooled crust, making sure to create a "seal" all the way to the sides of the pan as you don't want the gelatin layer to seep in to the pretzel crust and make it soggy.
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries and allow to set briefly. When mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour carefully and spread over cream cheese layer.

Refrigerate until set, at least a few hours or overnight. Enjoy!

Special thanks for this outstanding recipe to my sister-in-law, Kathryn- all the way from Texas! :)

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