Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Oh brownies, how I love to make you even better.  I'd given some of the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars to my in-laws and learned they lasted mere minutes in their house.  So when Dave and I went over for dinner later in the week, I knew a pumpkin flavored dessert was in order.  These are based on my Brownies recipe, and the pumpkin is a perfect match for the fudgy and moist brownies.  I love how they look, they taste magnificent and the balance of pumpkin to chocolate is ideal.  Dave loved how the pumpkin was clear and definitive without tasting like pumpkin pie.

Stumbling around the web for pumpkin flavored desserts, I saw the idea of these at Betty Crocker.  I used that recipe to create the filling, but the brownies come from my previously posted Brownies (rather than a box.  But by all means, use a box if that's what you want to do.)  If you're having a Halloween celebration, you can't miss with this recipe.  The colors and flavors are perfect, you get enough for a crowd and the colors work with the holiday theme as well.  I do note below that I would have made one change to the preparation of the filling (and I should have recognized to do that before I made the filling, but oops), but otherwise, these are perfect.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

We're nearing the end of apple season, but their is still a lot of fall flavors left out there.  So, in honor of fall, I'm bringing you a few recipes featuring pumpkin!  It pairs so nicely with different flavors like chocolate and cinnamon, and lends itself to many forms, like bars, bread and cookies.  These bars are fantastic: soft, delicious, sweetly pumpkiny with a bit of chocolate. They are a little cakey in texture, but that certainly isn't a detriment.  I made these when friends came over for dinner.  Dave literally used two hands to eat it, announcing it was fantastic and Cindy's son, Jake, noted, "this is delicious."

This recipe comes from Two Peas & Their Pod and they might be the most adorable bloggers ever.  Like I can't explain.  Just go visit their blog and oogle over all the yummy things they make and how sweet they are.  The recipe is perfect and I didn't change a thing.  It's fairly simple to pull together and you just might have all the ingredients on hand, except maybe the pumpkin.  Unless you're like me and bought five cans of it not knowing why but that you needed it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

German Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Personally, I've always found German chocolate to be a subtle flavor and the real essence of what we've come to know as German chocolate comes from the supporting players like nuts and coconut.  As you know I'm wary of cakes, but I like the idea of these flavors for a cookie, especially for the holidays.  The result is a cookie with a good texture and nuttiness, but without a cohesive flavor throughout.  Dave was a little disappointed the recipe didn't include coconut and thought the chocolate was far lighter than most German chocolate treats he's enjoyed.  Depending on your audience, this could be hit or miss as it.

I found this recipe posted from Jeannieskitchen on, and it was originally a Taste of Home recipe submitted by Joyce Robb.  First off, I had to halve this recipe when I saw it made 13 dozen cookies!  I'm all for recipes that make a lot of cookies, but this was little much for my crowd.  Feel free to double up the quantities below and you'll have a great cookie exchange treat.  Second, I would add a little more than the 2 ounces of German chocolate (maybe 4 ounces), increase the toffee bits to at least a cup and add flaked coconut.  That was really the flavor that was lacking to give you that ultimate German chocolate taste. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tools of the Cookie Princess: Spices & Ingredients

Last year I posted about how I find good deals on the common ingredients I use to bake. While I still believe that many of your ingredients can be off-brand and you shouldn't be afraid to stock up when something you use goes on sale, I also believe in using the best quality ingredients you can afford for certain things.

While I don't shop the King Arthur Flour catalog regularly, I do know they carry high quality ingredients that often don't compare to the competitor. When I decided to buy the cinnamon oil last month that I used in my Apple Spice Bars, I did so because I knew I wouldn't find the a similar item of the same quality nearby. Splurging occasionally on the ingredients that make a difference to the flavor of a recipe is something that should be encouraged and I hope you treat yourself to something decadent every once and a while.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Candy Bar Cookie Pops

My nephew turned 8 this week.  Where does the time go?  Keeping with the birthday baking theme with my nieces this year (Stained-Glass Flower Lollipops and Colorful Cookie Pops), I wanted to create a similar treat for him too.  And, being that Halloween candy (in tiny fun sized portions) is plenty available this time of year, these were the perfect treat.  Plus they were easy to pull together from a prepackaged mix and five other ingredients, including the sprinkles.  This is a perfect recipe to make with kids if you want to get them involved in the kitchen. I made these with Milky Ways and the nougat and caramel really cut the super chocolately cookie. 

Researching kid-friendly recipes, I found this recipe at Betty Crocker and am totally pleased with it. You could use any candy bar that would yield to a popsicle stick.  The recipe calls for "milk chocolate covered candy bars with chewy caramel and crispy crunchies" but standing in the candy aisle at Target, I could not for the life of me figure out what those were.  Any guesses?  So, to the Milky Ways it was.  I must have made my cookies a little big because I only got 20 pops, not the 28 it calls for, but I was very concerned about the caramel leaking out.  Fun and cute, these are perfect birthday treats, for a bake sale, or just to use up leftover Halloween candy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Blondies with Pecan Pie Topping

Yummy!  And an original recipe, although based in part on the standard Blondies recipe. This is what happens when frugality meets innovation and they run into necessity.  I had a good bit of the pecan pie topping leftover from the Pecan Pie Cookies and I didn't want to see it go to waste.  I thought it would make a good topping for something with apples, maybe a bread.  Then Cindy texted me that she and her brood were coming over (they were invited) and I knew I needed to make a dessert for the occasion (since I was in the middle of making holiday cookies so I knew they'd be disappointed seeing all the tasty goodies on the racks but not allowed to eat them).  So I quickly put together these Apple Blondies and used the remaining pecan topping to create this delicious treat.

The apples keep the bars moist without them being gooey and the pecan topping is a very subtle nuttiness.  The cinnamon and spice in the blondie compliment the crunchy brown sugar top.  And they are delicious with or without a bit of vanilla ice cream.  A clever fall combination of flavors if you want to do some more apple baking before the orchards are empty.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pecan Pie Cookies

Welcome to holiday cookie season!  I've started making some of my freezer friendly recipes and this is the first in the group.  And just to give you some variety this year, I'll also be including things other than cookies throughout the season.  I've got birthdays and Thanksgiving to bake for in the coming months, so I promise you there will be some variety. The decision making process for which cookies to bake this year was tough and I limited myself to just nine repeats from last year's list because they are fan favorites.  Those are:

Almond Swirls
Cinnmon Snaps
Fruit Filled Thimbles
Gingerbread Cookies
Hotel Cookies
Oatmeal Cranberry
Old Fashioned Sugar Cut Outs
Orange Cranberry

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Crisp

It's my first guest post!  Well, it technically might not count because my guest isn't a blogger.  But he did make the recipe and it came from his personal recipe stash, so I didn't feel right passing it off as my own.  Please welcome my Chief Tasting Officer and First Lieutenant in Charge of Sprinkles, Dave!  (Yeah, he's my husband, too, but for this blog, that's not nearly as important a job.)  Dave took complete control of this tasty treat, although we did work together to determine how to adapt it from a microwave version to an oven version.  He didn't even let me take all the photos (but I did highjack the camera at one point because I wanted particular shots).  This makes a sweet and crunchy version of a classic New England treat, featuring local apples and yummy cinnamon.  By baking in the oven rather than microwave, you get a crunchy topping that pairs nicely with the softened apples.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Spice Bars

A few weeks ago Dave and I went to the King Arthur Flour store in Norwich, Vermont and yes it was everything I imagined and more.  They are undergoing a huge expansion/renovation which instilled an even more compelling urge to visit again for a class.  I had a short list of specialty ingredients I wanted to buy (and a long list of "things I want but shouldn't buy because that would be frivolous").  One of those things was cinnamon oil.  I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with it--maybe a cinnamon frosting, perhaps in cookies or blondies--but I knew it was apple season and I needed it.  So the next day, after several failed attempts at baking (as in I wanted to make something only to find I was missing a key ingredient, like zucchini for zucchini bars or oats for oatmeal bars), I scampered to the internet and found this delicious treat for a soft, gently sweet bar that combines the right amount of spice to highlight these perfect fresh from the orchard apples (seriously, we picked them off the tree that morning!).

This recipe comes from Beantown Baker (I know I use her a lot, but she really is this awesome).  I made a few minor adjustments related to the spices by adding 1/2 teaspoon of baking spice, and dropping down the vanilla to a teaspoon and the cinnamon to 1 1/2 teaspoons since I used 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon oil.  This cinnamon oil is delicious and tastes exactly like red hot candies.  Use it sparingly--as wonderful as these turned out, the cinnamon flavor increased over time and completely took over the bars by the time we polished them off (not that it was a bad thing, but if that's not what you want, you might be disappointed).  Next time, I would bump up to two teaspoons vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon oil (noted in the recipe below).  I also should have baked them a little longer--the middle of my pan was a little undercooked, so I'd bring the total bake time to 40 minutes, checking frequently in the last 10 minutes.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispies Treats

As if the Cookies & Cream version wasn't enough, I had to whip up another batch for Angela's birthday.  Hey, hungry college kids gotta eat, right?  And word on the street is a sugar buzz helps the late night studying.

Now this recipe really got Dave excited because chocolate and peanut butter is his biggest weakness. The topping on these treats is heavenly, creating a peanut butter and chocolate candy layer resting over a sweet and crunchy peanut buttery cereal treat.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cookies & Cream Rice Krispies Treats

My cousin, Angela, not only had a birthday last month, but she also started college this fall.  And though it's been (gulp) ten years since I've been in college, I fondly remember packages full of fun stuff and food and the anticipation of getting a package slip in my mail box, wondering who it was from and what it could be.  So I set about filling a box full of the essentials: microwave popcorn, gum, candy and of course, a homemade treat or two.  When I told Dave I was making Rice Krispies treats for Angela, he kind of shrugged and said that was cool.  When he learned they weren't just the plain old version he exclaimed, "Rice Krispies treats come in different flavors?  Why didn't anyone ever tell me this?"  Of course we had to taste test these before sending them to an eager college kid and they certainly delivered in the yummy department.  Chewy and crunchy, not too sweet, with bits of mini Oreos scattered throughout and a drizzle of chocolate swirled on top, these aren't your run of the mill Snap Krackle Pop treats.  It's a little bit of chocolate tucked into an already crowd-pleasing treat.

This recipe comes from Picky Palate and I was surprised by her slight alteration to the original Rice Krispies Treats quantities.  She cut down on the marshmallow slightly and upped the amount of cereal, in addition to the mix ins.  The result was still delicious.