Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hey guys, hope you all had a good weekend. I did, I live for the weekends. I did a little shopping in preparation for my trip to New Mexico this week. I grew up there and haven’t been back in years. I’m going to help out my dad and visit family and friends. I’m actually really excited! Isn't it fun picking up those little travel size items? It seems like I always find something new that I have been wanting to try, so it’s always a score when I find the smaller version. It’s a good way to decide if you want to buy the actual product.

So the other half is giving me a hard time because I didn't go to the gym with him. I baked these yummy cookies instead. Hey they're healthy, and low cal. That counts for something right? These are nice and soft and moist and totally addictive. They are a healthier version but if you eat like ten at a time it's not going to make a difference. That said, they are scrumdiddliumtious.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Makes about 35 cookies 

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 cup splenda
1/4 cup brown sugar splenda
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp maple extract
1/2 cup mashed banana (1 medium)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60%baking chips) 
1/2 cup chopped nuts (You can use any kind, I used mixed nuts) 

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by maple extract and mashed banana. 

4. Stir in flour mixture, then mix in the chocolate chips and toasted nuts until well-distributed in the batter

5. Shape dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches between cookies to allow for spread. (I used my cookie dough scoop)

6. Bake for 11-14 minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown.

7. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

107 Calories – 5g Fat – 5g Sugar 

Recipe adapted from Baking Bites.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blood Orange Vanilla Cake for a Special Day

Hope everyone had a great long weekend, those of you that had one. (thank god for bank holidays) I had an eventful one myself. This weekend I got to experience something new, the other half and I went to the symphony. They were playing Beethoven, and it was wonderful. We went to a great restaurant for dinner early that evening, Biga on the Banks, and then had time to stop in at a bar for a drink before the concert. Got to bake and relax, nothing better than that!

I started this little blog a year ago today as a creative outlet for my cakes and other sweets. I love to bake and I wanted to share it with others. The first blog I stumbled upon before I had ever heard of a baking blog was The Cupcake Project. The recipe was her Oreo Cupcakes with a built in chocolate cup for milk. I had been searching for an oreo cupcake recipe and was directed to her site. I couldn't believe my eyes, what a genius idea! I started reading some of her older posts and probably went through her whole blog in about two days. This was so exciting to me and is when I decided that keeping a blog would be a great way to document my baking adventures. You can tell from my first post that I was not very well versed. Needless to say I've gotten a little more talkative, and surprisingly it sparked my interest in photography and food styling as well. I am not the greatest at it by any means, but I am learning and enjoying every moment of it.

The color of the cake is all natural. The delicate pink hue came from the beautiful blood orange juice. I had been thinking of what I might like to bake to celebrate my blogs first year, and when I came across these oranges in the market they just called out to me. I have always wanted to try a blood orange and finally caught them in season. The cake turned out nice and fluffy with a sweet vanilla flavor and a wonderful hint of orange. It reminded me of a creamsicle. Yummy :)

Blood Orange Vanilla Cake

5 large egg whites (5 ounces/150 grams) at room temperature
3/4 cup blood orange juice (180 mL/6 liquid ounces), at room temperature
zest of 1 blood orange
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (9 grams)
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (10 ounces/285 grams)
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 ounces/350 grams)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder (19.5 grams)
3/4 teaspoon salt (5 grams)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (6 ounces/170 grams), at room temperature and cut into cubes


1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease and flour two round 8-inch pans. (I used 9-inch pans)

2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, 1/4 cup of blood orange juice, zest, and the vanilla. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.

4. Add the butter and remaining 1/2 cup of blood orange juice, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.

5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.

6. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale,  weigh to ensure 2 even layers.

7. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not overbake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.

8. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons blood orange juice
zest of 1 blood orange
Pinch of salt


1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and vinegar, to remove any trace of grease. 

2. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

3. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. 

4. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continously, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). 

5. Add vanilla, blood orange juice, zest, and salt, mix well.

Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.

Recipes slightly adapted from Sweetapolita's fluffy vanilla cake and swiss meringue buttercream. Rosie is amazing, her blog is one of my favorites.

My very first post, a year ago, and don't laugh at how little I wrote: Monster Cookies

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Healthy Trail Mix Muffins

Ok so sue me, I've hopped on the healthy wagon. Unfortunately I'm not one of those girls that is just naturally skinny, especially with all these yummy sweets around. I've tried cutting my portions in half, the 3 day diet, the grapefruit diet (talk about gross!), I've even tried the Atkins diet, way back when. None of them work! What I've found to work, and this is for me, is to cut my calorie intake, and throw in some daily exercise to tighten things up. Now this doesn't mean I am depriving myself of food, by not eating enough or by not eating what I like. I do this by taking a recipe I like and replacing it with healthier options. Now I'm not gonna lie! These muffins are not as good as their full fat, full sugar, all white flour counterpart, but they do the job by cutting the craving and cutting the calories. If these sound good and you're not watching your girlish figure feel free to use the good stuff! If you could use a few more of these "healthier" versions, then you are in luck! I've got this beautiful, talented friend, Randi, that cooks like this as her way of life. The other half and I usually go to her house for dinner every weekend. :) Anywho, she just started her own blog where she will be posting her yummy recipes along with her crafts and tips to get through the day as a busy mama. She even makes her own wreaths and will be selling them on etsy soon.
Isn't it beautiful!? Go visit her! 

Don't fret it won't all be the healthy kind around here, it's all good in moderation right? At least that's what I keep telling myself. Happy baking!

PS. If any of you guys have a good low cal recipe send it my way, I'd love to try it, and I'll be sure to give you all the credit. Email Me! 

PSS. I'd like to apologize if you don't see a comment that you may have left. I accidentally deleted a few of them one night while I was playing on my iPad. Unfortunately I wasn't able to recover them. So sorry!

Now onto what we're here for.....

Healthy Trail Mix Muffins 
Makes 12 muffins 

· 1/4 cup ripe banana mashed 
· 1 tablespoon canola oil 
· 3/4 cup Splenda 
· 1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar blend 
· 2 eggs 
· 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour 
· 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
· 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
· 1/4 teaspoon salt 
· 1 teaspoon vanilla 
· 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
· 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
· 3/4 cup nonfat yogurt 
· 1/2 cup trail mix (I used a raw granola trail mix from Spouts) 
· Extra Splenda brown sugar blend and chopped pecans for topping (optional) 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper muffin liners and spray them with cooking spray. 

2. In a large bowl, stir together the banana, sugars, vanilla, yogurt and eggs. Combine the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; add to the wet mixture and mix well. Then fold in the trail mix. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Cups should be at least 3/4 full. 

3. Then sprinkle with Splenda brown sugar blend and chopped pecans. 

4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until muffins spring back when touched lightly.

135 Calories - 4g Fat - 6g Sugar

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Celebration Champagne Cupcakes

Well, well, well I'm a little late on the New Year's Eve bandwagon. I wanted to post these little babies before the big night, but ended up making them the day of.  Then I realized, these are super awesome and good anytime of year, for any celebration, even if that celebration is waking up with enough energy to bake these marvelous little bites of yumminess. So...if you've got any left over champagne in the fridge from New Year's Eve? Wait, what am I saying? Of course not, it's champagne and who would have any left over? Well, just in case you saved a little, I've got a perfect way to use it. It's time to pop some bubbly and make some champagne cupcakes. These cupcakes are my new favorite, seriously, you have to try these.

Soooo guys, did you come up with any New Year's good intentions resolutions this year? I would like to try and be more creative this year and develop some new recipes. I would also like to work on my photography, let's be honest, it needs work. I may even purchase a couple of new toys to help me out with that. I also want to try (experience) something new at least once a month. This month I am going to the symphony. It's such a romantic idea, and an excuse to dress up. It's the first concert to start of the city's Beethoven festival. I would also love to eat a lot more sweets and not get fat...haven't quite figured that one out yet.

Anywho, if you are craving a delicate, moist cupcake, stuffed with a creamy white chocolate ganache, with the best buttercream you have ever had, in the entire world, you better get that oven preheating. :)

Oh by the way, I broke down and bought a cupcake corer.  Handy little dude if I do say so myself.

Celebration Champagne Cupcakes

Champagne Cupcakes 
  • 1/2 cup butter softened 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1 3/4 cups flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream 
  • 1/2 cup champagne
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. 

4. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. 

5. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup champagne and 1/2 cup sour cream (mixture will fizz and bubble a little).

6. Add flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Batter will be thick.

7. Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter. Bake for 17-22 minutes. Set aside.

Champagne Whipped White Chocolate Ganache 
  • 8oz white chocolate 
  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1/8 cup champagne 
1. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler over hot water.

2. In a saucepan, bring to boil the heavy cream to boiling; remove from heat when it froths and add champagne. 

3. Whisk 1/3 of cream into chocolate until smooth. Slowly whisk in remaining cream. Refrigerate overnight or freeze for a few hours. 

4. Whip until stiff. 

Champagne Swiss Meringue Buttercream 
  • 5 large egg whites 
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar 
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 4 tablespoons champagne 
  • Pinch of salt 
1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with vinegar on paper towel, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. 

3. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continuously, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth)

4. Add vanilla, champagne, and salt, mix well. 

5. Keep in airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, rewhipping in mixer for 5 minutes.

For the topper, I just piped the 2012's out on wax paper with white chocolate.  Make sure your numbers are thick or they can easily melt or fall over.  You could do anything though, a heart, the number of years for an anniversary, what ever you'd like.

The wonderful cupcake recipe came from Sprinkle Bakes, and I added the champagne to Sweetapolita's swiss meringue buttercream.


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