Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Cake Pops

I made four different desserts for Christmas Eve dinner last night and these cake pops were the overwhelming favorite. They were super rich and chocolate-y, perfect for anyone with a major sweet tooth. I made the cake and frosting the night before, froze the pops, and decorated them the next morning with the help of my brother and sister.

In light of the holiday, I'll fill this post with photos instead of words. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Conor and Megan showing off their decorating skills.

Merry Christmas Cake Pops
Makes: 30-40 pops  Prep: 1 hour  Total: 24 hours

Boxed chocolate cake (or favorite chocolate cake recipe)
2 8-ounce cream cheeses
1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Red and green candy melts
30-40 lollipop sticks

Bake cake as directed and let cool. Crumble cake into a large bowl and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time and stir until incorporated. Add vanilla and whip for 2-3 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Combine the cream cheese icing with crumbled cake and stir until the mixture is smooth. Form into 2 inch balls and set onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sticks into the center of the balls so they look like upside-down lollipops. Refrigerate overnight.
Place candy melts in the microwave for 1 minutes. Remove and stir, and microwave again at 30-second increments until fully melted. Dip cake pops into the melted candy and decorate with additional frosting. Store pops in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints

I've decided that December will be a month of cookie recipes. With only three days left until Christmas, cookies are kind of the only thing on my radar. Today I had my best girlfriends over to bake and decorate cookies. Of course, we had to devour some brie and queso dip before getting started. Seriously, every party we have involves cheese... probably not normal. Anyway, I whipped up a few batches of these thumbprints (based off of my grandma's recipe) and my friends made some classic sugar cookies. Here are the prettiest cookies of the bunch:

It's funny how we spend so much time shopping and getting ready for the holidays, but the best moments are simply sitting around with your best friends and family. I moved to Boston several years ago, but somehow I still find the same charms every time I come home. As I write this I'm listening to "Love is Christmas" by Sara Bareilles, so perhaps that's why I'm feeling so introspective. To wrap this up, when you're running around this holiday season don't forget to slow down and enjoy the people around you. And also have a cookie. :)

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints
Makes: 1 dozen cookies  Prep: 10 minutes  Total: 20 minutes

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg, divided
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup slivered almonds, chopped
1/4 cup raspberry jam

Mix butter, brown sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl. Crack the egg and separate the white from the yolk, saving the egg white in a small bowl. Add the yolk to the sugar mixture and mix well. Add flour and salt and mix until fully incorporated.
Lightly whisk egg white. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and dip into egg white. Roll into finely chopped almonds and place on a greased baking sheet. Press thumb into the center of each cookie and bake at 375 for 10 minutes or until the dough is set. Remove and let cool. Fill each cookie with raspberry jam and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cranberry Rocky Road Cookies: The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Happy holidays, everyone! :) I'm back home for winter break and have one online final and a paper before I'm officially done with this semester. I've already moved out of my Boston apartment and will soon be making my journey to The Middle-of-Nowhere, New Jersey for a 6-month internship. I said my bittersweet goodbyes to all my amazing Boston friends this weekend, and I have to say this has been the best semester EVER. I made some wonderful new friends and got even closer to old ones, which makes it terribly hard to leave. Love you all so much, and thanks for an incredible year!

On the bright side, a few positives of leaving Boston are 1) a great new job, 2) [hopefully] great new friends, and 3) more time to blog!!! Which brings me to...

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap
 This year two amazing food bloggers, Julie at The Little Kitchen and Lindsay at Love & Olive Oil, arranged an international cookie swap for food bloggers to network, exchange information, and best of all, cookies! I can't think of a better and tastier way to connect with other bloggers out there.

I was scrambling to come up with a recipe for this event, since I usually don't ad lib on baking recipes, but I was really stuck on the idea of chocolate and marshmallow because it was my favorite ice cream as a kid. Somehow this transitioned to rocky road, then dried cranberries were thrown in the mix, and huzzah! Cranberry rocky road cookies were born. These were very quick to whip up and are the perfect holiday cookie for both chocolate lovers and fruity dessert lovers to enjoy.

Cranberry Rocky Road Cookies
Makes: 4 dozen cookies  Prep: 15 minutes  Total: 30 minutes

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cups baking soda
2/3 cups cocoa
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.
Place softened butter in an electric mixer and beat for 30 seconds until whipped. Add in sugar, eggs and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa and mix well. Add dry ingredients into the mixer in four parts and beat for 2 minutes.
Next, chop whole walnuts before measuring. Add walnuts, chocolate chips and dried cranberries into the cookie dough and beat for 1 minute.
Scoop dough with a tablespoon and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until the dough is risen and remove from the oven. Add a few mini marshmallows to each individual cookie. Bake for another 2 or 3 minutes, remove from the oven and let cool.
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