Christmas Cookie Extravaganza

Now that Santa has blessed us all with his presents and holiday cheer, it’s finally time to profile some fun holiday cookies. A close friend and I have a tradition of baking Christmas cookies together, and last year, we made these deliciously cute Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies:

FullSizeRender-2

Since they were a huge hit, we knew we had to step up our game and try our hand at something even more complex: Roly-Poly Santa Cookies!

These were actually really hard to make…they tested our craftsmanship (ie. molding Santa hats out of dough, squishing dough pieces together to ensure that the cookies wouldn’t break after baking) and endurance (each cookie probably took 5-7 minutes just to shape). But I must say we prevailed and took home the gold for our cookies this year:

FullSizeRender-5

Pre-baking. Protip: To ensure that the pieces all stay together after baking, try to connect the arms with the faces more before baking.

FullSizeRender-4

FullSizeRender-3

This Santa won the “Best Looking” Award

Another protip: We made powdered sugar by blending regular sugar, but we may have needed to blend the sugar more since we didn’t really get a powdery texture in our frosting.

After we reveled in our glorious accomplishment, I took home the pound of extra frosting we made and decided to bake gingerbread cookies the day after at another friend’s place.

But this time, we couldn’t find gingerbread cookie cutters anywhere. It’s like all the stores said move over, Christmas, and cleared out everything for whatever else is coming. So we settled for “bunny” and “dog” cookie cutters which were the only options.

Shoutout to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for this awesome eggless recipe: Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies. WITH molasses :O

When we actually got to cutting the dough, we felt that our bunny and dog cookie cutters were too big so we ended up making circles, which created about 45 cookies! 45! I guess you could say we baked up a storm.

Anyway, we had lots of fun using the leftover chocolate chips, red hots, and frosting from the Santa cookies to decorate these gingerbread circles:

FullSizeRender-7

FullSizeRender-6

Quite the baking adventure, but I’m already looking forward to what 2016 baking has in store. Get ready, Pinterest.

Advertisements

Muffins = Smart Cupcakes

As a farewell to fall and hello to winter, I made these yummy Pumpkin-Banana (eggless) Muffins the other day. When I make these next time, I’d probably add a bit more spice than what the recipe calls for for a stronger taste.

If you’re feeling like you really want to load up on the sweet, definitely consider topping these muffins with frosting (I just used store bought)! After all, muffins are healthier than cupcakes…right?

 

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice

This Thanksgiving, I decided to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon (a bit late I know) and try my hand at some pumpkin desserts. If you ever need to whip up a dessert in less than hour, this is the recipe for you: Vegan (well except for the chocolate chips) Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars.

No eggs and no mess! I didn’t have pumpkin spice, so I just ground cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger into a powdered form – didn’t explicitly follow any proportions but used cinnamon more than the other spices.

The end result is a pie of chocolatey – pumpkin goodness, with the flavors of fall reminding you of your daily pumpkin-spiced latte. Definitely an easy recipe I’ll be keeping in my back pocket!

FullSizeRender-3

Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

It’s Brownie O’Clock

Watch out – some decadent brownies coming your way. These Browned Butter and Red Wine Brownies might just be the best you’ll ever see.

One thing I will admit though, is that I still don’t really understand “Browned Butter.” When we melted the butter in a saucepan and let it heat, it never really turned reddish brown like it was supposed to. The milk solids did separate from the fat (I think?), but that was kind of it… if the same thing happens to you, just make a judgment call after 10 minutes or so since our brownies still came out amazingly well.

Some other things to note:

We didn’t use walnuts, but we did use red wine. I didn’t know this before, but red wine apparently enhances the flavor of the chocolate and loses much of its alcohol content when heated (I guess it’s up to you how you feel about that! 🙂 )

We also doubled the proportions here so that our brownies would come out thicker – with our standard pan, following the proportions suggested by the recipe would have yielded very thin brownies. Definitely a fun recipe to try and I can promise you’ll be in for a real treat!

IMG_5408 IMG_5412 IMG_5427 FullSizeRender

Fried is the New Fun

Who ever thought that making funnel cakes at home would actually be easy? Edit: APPLE CIDER funnel cakes. Quite a fall treat.

When I moved into my apartment, I noticed my roommate had bought a red plastic funnel. And I remember wondering when we would actually use it. Well, the day came when K and I decided to experiment and make our carnival dreams a reality using this Dine & Dish recipe.

First hurdle: making a substitute for Allspice. We ground up cinnamon and cloves (didn’t have nutmeg unfortunately) which seemed to work.

Once you’ve got the batter ready and the oil heated comes the fun part: making your funnel cakes. Using the funnel / makeshift funnel, create cool shapes in the pan and flip with tongs. You can make several small cakes or one big one (note that bigger ones are harder to flip). We went all out and probably made over 20 (see the mountain of cakes below). The apple cider and cinnamon added a really nice touch, though the taste isn’t as strong as you’d expect it to be. It’s also recommended that you eat the funnel cakes soon after they’re done so that they’re still hot and don’t become soggy. Topping the cakes with ice cream is also the power move here.

Final tip: Don’t try substituting apple cider for anything else without seeing if it’s been done before…we tried that and let’s just say it didn’t come out so splendid.

This calls for a carnival party, right?

IMG_5410 FullSizeRender FullSizeRender (1) FullSizeRender (2) FullSizeRender (3)

Going Bananas for Nutella…Again

Nutella is making an appearance once again – this time, along with bananas. Who doesn’t love a nutella banana combo?

I’m also seriously into eggless baking. With both the 3-Ingredient Nutella Cookies I made a couple weeks ago and these Decadent Banana Nutella Muffins, I’ve found that leaving out eggs makes the dish feel lighter (and less guilt-inducing, perhaps)!

My first time making muffins and I’ve got to say they were a hit! The recipe I link to above makes about 24 mini-muffins + 3 regular muffins – I tried this on a regular muffin tray and it came out to 16 muffins.

It’s also really up to you as to how you want to do the nutella. With my first batch of 12, I created a nutella swirl on top after pouring in the batter (also left out the nutella on some for a slightly healthier option). For the last 4 muffins, I actually mixed in the nutella with the batter – also came out well, but perhaps a less exciting photo since you miss the magical swirl. Roughly 17 minutes of bake time worked well for me.

A totally awesome recipe I’d recommend trying even if you’ve never made muffins before! And a great way to finally use up that extra Nutella you might have… 🙂

FullSizeRender-2

FullSizeRender-4

IMG_5276

FullSizeRender-3

And Above All, Think Chocolate – Betty Crocker

I know it’s not a Thursday so I’m going to refrain from using #TBT here… but I was Skyping one of my best friends today and remembered the time we made these delicious Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Hershey’s Cookies and Cream Kisses… talk about magical combo: chocolate AND cookies AND cream. Can you get much better than that?

Best part about making these cookies was definitely eating the kisses along the way, to the point where we were actually concerned we wouldn’t have enough left for the cookies. I know, we need to practice self-control.

We also baked the cookies for some time with the kisses pressed in, even though the recipe suggested to press them in afterwards. Still tasted amazing, so totally up to you!

And while we’re at it, here’s a quick history lesson on the origins of our favorite Cookies & Cream. It looks like nobody’s quite sure how the flavor was invented since there are a few different theories:

  1. John Harrison, the official taster for Dreyer’s/Edy’s Ice Cream, claims he invented it for the company in 1982
  2. Blue Bell Creameries claim they first produced the flavor in 1980 after an employee tasted it at a Houston ice cream parlor the year before
  3. South Dakota State University claims the flavor was invented at their Dairy Plant (I wish my school had a dairy plant…with free ice cream tastings…)
  4. Steve Herrell of Massachusetts’ Herrell’s Ice Cream also claims to have first invented the flavor

To whoever it may be, on behalf of all Cookies & Cream lovers, thank you for baking the world a better place.

FullSizeRender

Money Can’t Buy Happiness… But it Can Buy Nutella… Which is Basically the Same Thing…

Opened our fridge today to look at what I could use when making dinner – tofu, spinach, other veggies…tofu stir fry am I right?

But for some reason I knew today wasn’t a tofu stir fry kind of day as soon as I saw the jar of Nutella in our pantry. Gosh, it looked so darn good and so ready to be eaten.

Thankfully, I came across this recipe for 3 Ingredient Eggless Nutella Cookies and knew that this was it. Super easy, quick, YUMMY, and seemingly healthier than using eggs (or so I tell myself).

The end product was amazing! Will definitely keep this recipe in my back pocket if I’m ever craving some cookies. S/o to my cousin for being an awesome baking buddy.

As far as actual dinner…well, I haven’t solved that problem yet.

FullSizeRender-2 FullSizeRender-1 FullSizeRender-5