Banana Zucchini Bread

Alright friends, consider this the end of the hiatus!

Every summer I take a break from blogging because summer just doesn’t seem like a baking season. I have very little motivation to spend hours in the kitchen and instead I want to just buy cartons of ice cream and get my sugar fix that way. Or through endless Starbucks frappucinos. (Is that how you spell frappucinos? That middle vowel is always so confusing. Frappacino, frappecino? Frappocino? Help…)

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Anyways, classes for me start back up in a week which means summer is pretty much over. Here in California the summer weather lasts for quite a while, but that doesn’t mean I can’t anxiously await for Pumpkin Spice to overwhelm the world and take over our souls for four months or so.

I think everyone loves the idea of fall and really welcomes it. It seems to be the most loved of all the seasons and I feel bad that other seasons are neglected. (I’m sorry, summer. I’m just not a show-my-bare-legs-off kind of gal. I still think you’re important, you’re just not my favorite child.)

This Banana Zucchini Bread isn’t a fall recipe per se, but it doesn’t conjure up little school girl memories for me. Zucchini always floods the garden in late summer when kids are heading back to school, and quick breads pack really well into lunches. So while it’s not pumpkin spice-caramel apple-chai latte flavored this recipe is a great way to break the summer silence.

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I’m pretty excited to get back into the kitchen, wrap myself in an apron and start baking in earnest once more! One note though, we recently moved from one apartment to another about an hour away and so I’m still trying to organize my linens, find a good place to photograph, work our the lighting. So these pictures are awful. The bread is not awful. It’s amazing. Okay, back to the blog…

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Here we go. Details: this bread might seem at first to be your typical banana nut bread. But it has extra zucchini and a handful of white chocolate chips which caramelize into the bread giving it little crunches of sweetness through the sweetness. Those little extras make it that much better.

 

 

Banana Zucchini Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup zucchini
  • 1 cup each of chopped nuts and white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray or butter and flour the pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, oil, sugar, bananas and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder and stir together until combined.
  4. Add zucchini, nuts, and white chocolate chips and fold into batter until it's well mixed. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 55 minutes to 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
  6. Let bread cool for 15-30 minutes before turning out onto a rack and slicing.

Adventure: Brazilian Brigadeiros

“’I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.’
‘I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!’”
― The Hobbit

Brazilian Brigadeiro

I am a bit like a hobbit. I don’t really want adventures and tea time sounds much more lovely than getting thrown into the middle of “nasty disturbing uncomfortable things.” I like to garden and eat good food. Really, a well planned party is about as much excitement that I could ever want.

But if you are well acquainted with hobbits, you know that even when they protest and avoid scary adventures, they somehow end up finding themselves in the middle of one anyway. And so, much like Gandalf saw the “Tookish” side of Bilbo as he sat in his garden enjoying the bliss of an uneventful morning, God asks me to share in adventures that I would never consider taking on my own.

Brazilian Brigadeiros

When I was 15 my family moved to Brazil. For 6 months I hated everything. It’s so very difficult to describe culture shock. It’s a feeling that doesn’t make sense in that way because you can’t find the words to describe the specific thing that makes you feel so out of place. I hated how I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying, how people hugged and kissed you even if you had never met them, I hated that it was so hot and sticky all the time. I missed Target, libraries, my school and the grand selection of drive thru options. I missed being in control, and I missed being comfortable. But little did I know that Brazil was the adventure of my teenage years. After the initial shock wore off I truly learned to love it. Brazil has a little piece of my timid heart.

Brazilian Brigadeiro

I even miss it a little. So every once in a while when the little brasileira inside of me starts yearning, I make the food that brings me back to the adventure days. Rich, salty beef perfectly seared on an open grill, silky beans and perfectly cooked rice, each grain separate from the other. The sharp vinegar, onions, and tomatoes of Brazilian vinegrette next to a fluffy crunchy pile of farofa and fried mantioc.

It is food perfection, my friends. Goodness, those people know how to eat. Brazilians don’t have a huge array of desserts. They are more fans of the savory and salty dishes, but the few desserts that they do enjoy are incredible. After a big party when the bbq has settled down a bit and you feel like maybe you have enough room in your tummy fora bite of something sugary, you can count on a fudgy brigadeiro.

Every single birthday party, get together, or celebration in Brazil has brigadeiros. They are more iconic than cake, even. They are decadent beyond belief and you only need one to be satisfied. Think of them like a Brazilian truffle. Only they are softer, sweeter, and much much easier to make. Hallelujah!

Brazilian Brigadeiros

Look at that impeccable fudgy center! So. Good.

It’s the simplest recipe in the world and takes less time than cookies. It only takes four ingredients and that’s including the chocolate sprinkles you roll them in. Whenever I am standing over the stove stirring the sweet chocolate for brigadeiros, I always wonder why I don’t make them more often since they are easier than easy and delicious. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry right this moment.

Basically it’s sweetened condensed milk, a little butter and cocoa powder cooked down until it’s thick. Then you let the mixture cool in the fridge, roll them into bite sized balls and baptize them in sprinkles. In other words, you can do this! Traditionally you make this with regular sweetened condensed milk and Nesquick powder instead of cocoa. But I’ve found that while Brazilians really like the super-intense-hurt-your-teeth sweetness, people here in the United States aren’t so enthusiastic about it. So I’ve modified it a bit to make it more North American. 😉 Using chocolate sweetened condensed milk and regular unsweetened cocoa powder make these little beauties a little less of a sugar bomb and more suited to our obsession to anything ‘double chocolate.’

Brazilian Brigadeiro

That’s a dessert I can get behind. I’m pretty sure even Bilbo would approve of this chocolatey adventure. He does know the value of a tasty bite after all.

Brazilian Brigadeiros
 
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 1 14 oz. can of chocolate or regular sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, plus extra for rolling
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Chocolate or Rainbow sprinkles
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized sauce pan over medium high heat, place the sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and tablespoon of butter.
  2. Whisk the cocoa powder with the sweetened condensed until smooth and continue to stir as you bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the mixture for about seven minutes until it is thick and shiny. (Make sure to stir the mixture the entire time to avoid scorching)
  3. Transfer the mixture to a plate or bowl and place in the fridge.
  4. Chill for about 2 hours or until the mixture is firm and cold. Now it's time to shape them!.
  5. Prep your workplace before you start, otherwise you'll get butter or chocolate all over everything. Generously butter your hands.
  6. Then, using a spoon or your fingers, pinch off about a tablespoon of the fudge and start rolling it into 1 inch balls. Roll in chocolate (or rainbow!) sprinkles.
  7. Serve in mini paper baking cups. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

 

Lemon Berry Creme Brulee

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It seems that the birds chirp a little louder each morning, the sun is a little warmer, and everything is a little greener. On Saturday we went to the farmers market to enjoy the sun, fresh fruits and veggies, and stretch our legs. Of course, we forgot to get cash before we arrived and felt like goobers trying to pick the things we wanted to buy with the 15 dollars in our combined wallets. #embrassing

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But we got flowers and lemons, which is all I needed to be perfectly happy! For our humble easter dinner I decided to forgo a tower beautiful cake that I had planned and made these lemon berry creme brulees instead. They are exactly what you need to end a salty ham feast. It’s light and fresh and you get to eat sugared berries soaked in lemon juice which might be my favorite thing in the entire world. Top that with a sprinkle of fresh lemon zest and you can go to bed because the day couldn’t get any better after a custard like that.

You’ll find me with a spoon devouring the rest of them in my kitchen, thanks.

 

Lemon Berry Creme Brulee
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup plus additional sugar
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup sliced strawberries
Instructions
  1. To make the creme brulee, preheat your oven to 325 F.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel all of the skin from one lemon and place in a saucepan with the cream, and juice from one lemon. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring the cream occasionally for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. In a heatproof bowl whisk together ½ cup of sugar with the egg yolks until light.
  5. In a thin stream add ½ cup of warm cream to the yolk mixture, whisking continually. Temper the egg yolks into the remaining cream in a thin stream, whisking the entire time to avoid the eggs cooking.
  6. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve and discard the lemon peel and any cooked egg bits that might have formed.
  7. Pour the custard into individual ramekins placed in a roasting pan. pour water into the roasting pan until it comes up to the middle of sides of the ramekins.
  8. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until the custard is set, but the middles still jiggle a little when you shift the pan.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool. If making ahead, chill the custards in your fridge and then finish the rest of the recipe prior to serving.
  10. Sprinkle the tops of each custard with about a tablespoon of sugar and use a chef''s cooking torch to lightly burn the sugar. If you don't have a torch, place them on a baking tray and broil them in your oven. Just make sure you keep the door cracked and you watch them every step of the way to make sure they don't get too black!
  11. Mix the berries with 3 Tablespoons of sugar and the juice of 1 lemon. Dust the creme brulees with lemon zest and serve with berries.

 

 

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Almond Madeleines with Orange Glaze

Windy weather brings out one of two parts of me. The first part wants to wrap up in blankets and hope for the electricity to go out so that I can drink tea by candlelight. The blustery rattle is perfect for snuggling down into a pillow fort.

The other part of me that is awakened by windy gusts is the adventure mood. Getting my hair whipped back from my face, watching the trees bend and rustle make me want to go explore or dash off somewhere unknown. Today has been pretty gusty, which was awesome! Because it was adventure gusty and I had archery practice. Archery practice always feels very adventurous. Heroes always shoot bows and arrows, and heroes are always exploring.

Little did I think that wind is bad for shooting. Duh. So practice was cancelled and I decided to make little tea cakes instead. Okay, so that transition needs some work. But tea cakes, or French Madeleines, are the most perfect thing to nibble on while you build your pillow fort and load up Netflix with a cup of tea nearby.

Madeleines can be found in a few places. Your Starbucks might have a few shrink wrapped, and sometimes you find them in a grocery store bakery. But these are sad little chewy lumps that are masquerading as true madeleines. Real madeleines are soft, but firm. Slightly sweet and tender. You can flavor them in lots of different ways, just like cake, but I think that simple ones are the best.

These almond cakes are dipped in a sweet orange glaze that hardens slightly as it dries and gives it a light orange sugary bite to the cute little shells. I had a very very hard time not eating these impulsively while I took pictures. In fact, I’m going to go make tea and fluff my pillows in preparation for my evening. My evening filled with sweet almond madeleines.

Hurray for happy snuggling! Or adventuring, or whatever your choice of windy activity you prefer.

Almond Madeleines with Orange Glaze
 
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon orange extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup melted butter, cooled
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour your madeleine pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs, extracts, and ¼ cup of granulated sugar 8 to ten minutes until pale fluffy ribbons form when the batter is dropped from a spoon.
  3. Sift together the all purpose flour, powdered sugar and almond flour. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg and sugar batter until well incorporated.
  4. Fill each madeleine shell with about a tablespoon of batter.
  5. Bake on the middle rack around 10 minutes or until the tops of the cookies spring back when touched lightly.
  6. To make glaze whisk together 2 tablespoons of orange juice with 1 cup of powdered sugar until smooth. Dip the madeleines in the glaze while still slightly warm and let cool completely for glaze to harden.
  7. Store in airtight container.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

So I’ve been ambitious lately and I jumped into the world of French Macarons. I actually had never eaten one until about a month ago when someone at work came back with a box of them from NYC. It was the best cookie ever. Lemony, chewy and crunchy at the same time. I knew that making them on my own was considered pretty crazy since they are known to be impossibly tricky and finicky.

Painted Raspberry Macarons

Of course I ignored all reason and tried to make them anyway. So far I’ve made chocolate peanut butter ones, nutella ones, and these pretty painted raspberry ones. I seriously debated if I should put up a recipe for these for Valentine’s Day. I mean, they are perfect for the occasion. Special, loved by all (especially your gals if you celebrate “Galentine’s Day”) they show people that you actually care about them because

1. You spent a lot of time babying these super special cookies to get them just right. Sifting and separating eggs and counting each stroke as you stir the batter only 35 times! It’s slightly stressful. and,

2. You’re willing to share the beautiful result of your labor of love. It’s difficult, I admit, to give them away. But it really does say “I love you and consider you a nice enough human to give my macaron eating obsession and share them with you.” And really, that’s all we want from the day of love, isn’t it? Someone who is willing to give you their food? Exactly.

But! I get carried away. I don’t have a recipe for Macarons yet. I’m just not confident enough that I have mastered this yet. They are delicious, but the process isn’t streamlined, my feet aren’t tall enough, I haven’t decided on the perfect oven temperature, all those little things that make the perfectionist baker in me twitch a little. But believe me, a macaron recipe will be coming to Nifty Spoon in the future. Probably the near future since I’m a little obsessed with them and can’t seem to stop making them. So sit tight, Valentine’s! I will deliver a recipe in due time! Meanwhile, I have lots of great recipes for Valentine’s day if you’re looking for one. I’ll post them below. And remember, no day is too ordinary to spread a little love around with tasty baked things! At least, that’s my motto in life. It’s gotten me this far. 🙂 <3

Valentines Day Recipes:

1.  Red Wine Cake Truffles

2. Chocolate Coffee Custard Cups with Cherry Sauce OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3. Cherry Chocolate Chip Cake OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4. Grapefruit Peach Crush OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

5. Raspberry Cinnamon Rolls OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

6. Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Valentine’s Cake Truffles

Red Wine Cake Truffles

Valentine’s day is so cute. I’m sorry, I know there are people out there who hate Valentine’s day and think that it’s a commercial attack on all single people. I feel for you, sad lonely folk. I’m ready to give you a hug. But even when I was single (which was most Valentine’s days, let’s be honest) I still loved it.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Truffles

It’s just so darn cute. There’s chocolate and hand written love notes and roses and sometimes stuffed animals. You can always use more chocolate and more flowers and Valentine’s day gives you both so we shall celebrate it here on Nifty Spoon!

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Truffles

A few years ago Cake Pops made an appearance and everyone decided they were the new cupcake, the new fad that was here to stay. I admit, cake pops can be adorable. They are portable and on a stick and everyone loves cute things on a stick! But I’m not sure why, I never really liked them. I felt like if I wanted to eat cake I would do just that. Eat cake. Smushing it all up and squishing it onto a stick and then covering it in chocolate that has to be mixed with shortening to make it pretty? It just doesn’t sound appetizing. So I never made cake pops. I ate a few here and there when they were offered. I wasn’t impressed.

And then this Valentine’s day I wanted to make a red wine chocolate cake. Magnificent, covered with red wine chocolate buttercream and delicious. My batter ended up overflowing in the oven. I was too impatient to wait before turning the cake out of the pan and it split into four huge ugly steamy chunks that would never stick together no matter how hard I tried to patch it up with frosting. I was dismayed. What was I to do with an entire ruined (but incredibly delicious!) red wine chocolate cake with red wine fudge butter cream? *tears*

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Truffles

I had to make cake truffles. This was the clear solution. Here are a few things I learned while making these little bite sized treats.

  1. I am not talented or skilled when it comes to coating things with chocolate. It wasn’t a pretty picture, my friends.
  2. Cake pops truly can be tasty! It takes a good cake to make a good cake ball. Quality going in = quality coming out.
  3. Red wine always needs to be mixed with chocolate. It makes it ten times better. Plus…cake! Red Wine Chocolate Cake Truffles

Now, I am no expert at cake ball dipping or drizzling or covering or any sort of make-this-truffle-look-astounding skill. These pictures clearly show that. (Haha! HELP!) So I will direct you to the website that helped me the most HERE. I used the method that recommended a plastic fork with the middle tines broken off and that was very helpful. If you are having troubles with melting the candy coating or chocolate (like I did with my first two attempts, HA!) this tutorial might be a good resource. As far as the cake and frosting–follow this recipe. It’s delicious!

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Truffles

Red Wine Chocolate Cake Truffles
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup ilk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • ½ package of raspberry jello
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 3-6 Tablespoons (or more if needed) dry red wine
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • Candy coating or chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9 inch baking pan.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl combine egg, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to bowl with flour and beat on medium speed with a mixer until well combined. Stir in the wine until mixed. (The batter will be thin) Pour into your prepared pan
  4. Bake 30 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean or the top of the cake springs back when pressed lightly. Cool 10 minutes, then turn cake out of pan and cool completely.
  5. When cake is cool, place in a large bowl and crumble into fine crumbs (similar to wet sand) with forks. You can also use a food processor.
  6. For butter cream: in the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter until creamy. Slowly blend powdered sugar and cocoa powder until well combined. Mix in ½ tsp vanilla and red wine by Tablespoon until the thickness is desirable. Add ¾ cup of frosting to the cake crumbs and stir until the crumbs hold together like a dough when grabbed in your hand.
  7. To roll ball, pinch a amount of the cake "dough" and roll into balls in your palms about 1 inch wide. Place the cake "dough" balls in the fridge for half an hour or in the freezer while you melt the candy coating for decorating. There are many ways to melt chocolate and candy coating, view the website linked above to see suggestions.

 

Green Onion Couscous Cakes with Shrimp

Dear world, this is my new favorite thing ever.

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I feel like couscous is always so sadly forgotten. Everyone is enamored with quinoa because it’s hip and protein filled and healthy and yayayayah. But I will always (100%) choose couscous as my favorite grain. Its texture is fun and different, delightfully chewy and firm and a nice way to switch up dinner after making rice for so long.

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I could eat couscous on it’s own all day every day, but these couscous cakes are the perfect way to snazz it up. They are classy, but soooo delicious. I think they have got to be the best way to impress people without too much effort.

A few years ago I made these for a ladies book club get together for a friend. Even the woman who had a shellfish allergy and couldn’t enjoy the shrimp topping couldn’t get enough of them because they are hands down delicious. They are great! Plus, they are a wonderful way to eat more lettuce. No one can argue with that, right?

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Let’s be honest, your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier isn’t that fun anymore now that we are creeping up on February. No fear, these couscous cakes will make your light dinner or lunch fun again!

Okay, I’m done gushing, here’s your recipe. But seriously. I really like these things.

Green Onion Couscous Cakes with Shrimp
 
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan
  • ½ cup chopped green onion
  • ¼ cup Italian bread crumbs
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • Sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 3 Tablespoons sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • Salad greens
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves
Instructions
  1. Prepare your uncooked couscous according to package, and fluff with a fork. Transfer couscous to a mixing bowl and let cool completely.
  2. Add cheese, green onion, bread crumbs, salt and pepper to taste to couscous. Stir to combine. Add the two eggs and stir thoroughly to combine.
  3. With wet hands roll a 2 inch ball of couscous mixture in your palms and flatten into a patty shape. In a non stick frying pan sprayed lightly with oil, cook the patties until golden brown on medium high heat. About 2 minutes for each side.
  4. In another skillet heat 2 Tablesoons of butter until melted. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and saute until golden brown. Add shrimp, chopped bell pepper, and sun dried tomatoes. Heat until the shrimp is cooked through and opaque and the pepper are slightly soft but still firm. \
  5. Arrange salad greens on a plate and place couscous cakes on top. Scoop the shrimp topping onto each couscous patty and drizzle the extra garlic butter sauce over the salad green if desired.
  6. Eat while still warm.

 

Happy New Year! Top Five Recipes from 2015

Hello Cuties!

We are now three days into the new year and I still feel a little bit shocked that it’s already here. 2015 was a year like any other, it had it’s wonderful ups and it had its terrible downs. However, all in all, at the end of everything the good came pushing through and overtook the bad.

Me and the happy hubby had a wonderful Christmas and New Years. We were able to spend time with both his family and mine over the holidays, which is amazing and no easy feat. 🙂 Lots of travel and food and laughter. We had beach weather and winter wonderland weather. It was great.

Now we are home (a little fatter and lot happier) and I’m looking forward to all the planning and goal setting that 2016 brings. I’ve already filled out all of the blog posts, journal entries, and art projects I’m anticipating to finish for January in my new planner. Although it’s easy to quickly dismiss the passing year in excitement for the new one rushing in, it’s always good to look back and reevaluate. I’ve changed a lot since last year and so has this little Nifty Spoon blog. I was struggling with taking photos, staying focused, and coming up with original recipes. I feel so much more confident this year! Although still wary since I have so much more to learn. 😉 I’m excited and can’t wait to get back into my tiny kitchen. My fridge and pantry are clean and organized, my planner is full of potential posts and I have lists upon lists of recipes I want to try! In the reminiscing of nostalgia here are the top 5 recipes from 2015. Thank you so much, friends, for sticking with me and visiting Nifty Spoon. It means a lot to me in my little world. Happy New Year!

5.) Chai Spice Molasses Cookies

These might have been my favorite thing to eat, hands down. So soft and full of spicy goodness. I love any molasses based cookie, but when you add the spices from Chai tea in there these cookies become ultra irresistible.

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4.) Kahlua Mudslide Cheesecake

Either you guys like it when I have funny and explosive mishaps in my kitchen or the idea of a creamy Kahlua dessert covered in chocolate is too hard to pass up. I’m guessing it’s the latter.

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3.) Crispie Nutella Bird Nests

I had so much fun creating these little Easter Themed Treats, plus everyone loves Nutella. It’s a universal law or something.

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2.) Spiced Crabapple Jelly

I was surprised with how popular this recipe was! I love making jam or jelly of any kind and crab apple is such a unique and interesting fruit to work with I should have known you guys would share my sentiment. I wish I had a crab apple tree nearby so I could make this whenever we run out.

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1.) Wookie Cookies

And the number one post of the entire year! It’s really no surprise at all that these Wookie Cookies rose above the rest. Besides being adorable and perfect for this year’s release of the new Star Wars film, they were featured on several websites like Brit + Co. and Yahoo Food. I was overwhelmed with gratitude when I learned that this post was viewed not hundreds, but thousands of times! You guys rock!

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Vintage Poinsettia Pinwheels: Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

What is even going on? Where did this come from? How on earth did Christmas get here? Honest to goodness, it was just summer, I swear.

I’m serious. I’m concerned with how quickly time is moving. I must be an adult now. Only grown ups say things like “Where has the time gone?” and “This year just flew by!” I mean, when you’re a kid a whole year is 1/6th of your lifetime. Years don’t fly by, they crawl. Just waiting until your birthday to arrive is freaking eons when you’re a kid.

But no, I must be old because I’m sitting here having a hard time realizing that Christmas is here. NOW. Let’s pause a moment because even though I am in a bit of denial about how the holidays snuck up on me, I am PUMPED. Christmas is here. It’s time to put up the tree (check!) break out the christmas music (check) go gift shopping (ummmm) and bake so many things I put myself and everyone around me into a pure cookie coma. (CHECK)

And since I’m feeling nostalgic for the long lost days of childhood when a year seemed like a reasonably long amount of time instead of a blink or two, I decided to make some cookies that my mom made for Christmas when I was a kid. I remember thinking that these cookies were sooooo fancy. There was the rolling and the cutting and the shaping and the sprinkling and then cherries. Cherries always means fancy in my book. I was pretty proud that my mom had such an exquisite taste in cookies. I’m still proud of my mom’s taste in cookies. She just knows which ones are the best. Mom’s are great like that.

The recipe for these cookies has been lingering in my recipe box for a long time and now that I think of it, I have no earthly clue as to why. These are great! They are perfectly tender with a sweet almond flavor that compliments the little cherry centers and a light crisp from the sugar sprinkles. Plus, they are just fun to make. I love how they are beautiful without needing to use cookie cutters or frosting or piping bags. I appreciate a wonderful frosted cookie for sure, but sometimes making that extra batch of frosting is a pain. It dirties more dishes, it takes more time. Sometimes it can turn cookie decorating into a weekend job instead of just an afternoon. But these pretty poinsettia pinwheels are ready to eat as soon as you take them out of the oven. They were perfect for this year’s Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I had a lot of fun packing up cookies and receiving treats from other food bloggers in the mail. It connected us all and I was able to be introduced to new blogs and recipes, which is always awesome.

I think these vintage pinwheels are so unique and that makes me happy. I actually forgot about how grownup I was while making these. I was a little girl again, getting flour on my shirt and sprinkles all over the counter. Seriously, the kitchen was a mess. It looked like a whale was making these instead of a small woman with functioning thumbs.

Happy baking everyone! What is on your list to make this Christmas? Don’t forget to check out all the food bloggers who were baking up a storm this month for the 2015 Cookie Swap. I can personally recommend Sara’s butterscotch oatmeal cookies from sweetdashofsass.com, Jennifer’s GIANT white chocolate cranberry cookies at jenniferbakes.com, and delicious toffee chocolate chip cookies from Crystal at chasingsaturdays.com. They were all scrumptious and beautiful! 😉

Dark Chocolate Tassies

It’s baking season, my friends!!

 

No, seriously. If you haven’t made cookies yet then you should! Just get in your kitchen and bake ALL THE THINGS. Baking means a lot of things in the Nifty Spoon kitchen. Mostly it means messy counters, dishes in the sink, and too many things to eat when I’m finished. It also means some dancing to my latest music addiction (Um. Adele.) getting batter on my clothes, and stopping every 20 minutes to hug my husband because baking=happy.

Baking also means chocolate! and these Dark Chocolate Tassies are as chocolate as it gets. You’ll want a glass of milk when you sneak one of these off of your cookie plate.

They are rich with just a slight bite from the dark chocolate and the smooth sweetness…mmmmm. And what’s best is they are bite size so you can eat them over and over. Or at least until your conscience kicks in and you feel the chocolatey guilt start sticking to your tummy region. 😉

But let’s not think of that. Remember, January with all the healthy recipes and resolutions is coming and we can concern ourselves with guilt then. Now it’s baking season!

So. Chocolate pastry, chocolate and pecan filling, with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate jimmies. Let’s start that Adele dance party in the kitchen, shall we?

Dark Chocolate Tassies
 
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • FOR PASTRY:
  • 1¼ cup flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
Instructions
  1. To make pastry shells: sift together the flour, ⅓ cup of sugar, and cocoa powder in a shallow bowl. Using a pastry cutter, fork, or even your fingers rub and cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is in pieces the size of small peas.
  2. Add the egg yolk and sprinkle the cold water over the butter and flour and mix with a fork until it forms a loose dough. If dough is still dry, add additional water one teaspoon at a time until dough holds together when squeezed in your fist.
  3. Roll the dough into 24 balls 1 inch in diameter. Press each ball of dough into the wells of a mini muffin pan, squishing up the sides to form the pastry shells. Place a pinch of chopped pecans into the middle of each pastry shell. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and chocolate chips over medium heat, stirring often. When smooth, add egg, vodka, sugar, and vanilla extract, stirring until combined. Pour a tablespoon of filling into each pastry shell.
  6. Bake in preheated oven 12 to 15 minutes until the filling is puffed and slightly cracked on top.
  7. Let cool 15 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack to finish cooling completely.
  8. Enjoy!