Boston Cream Cupcakes

 I love cupcakes!  Cupcakes are my favorite way to eat cake! I love the individual servings, the adorable liners. With a cupcake you get the perfect ratio of cake to frosting. Today I decided to make Boston Cream Cupcakes. Mr. Sweets and Whimsy loves Boston Cream Pie and Boston Cream doughnuts. So, I decided to make a classic yellow cake, but dress it up with some chocolate ganache drizzled on top and a vanilla pudding filling. The kids loved it! A hit all the way around and such a pretty cupcake. Mr. Sweets and Whimsy is already talking about the “next time” I make this and the multi-layered boston cream cake I will make as well…..yes- it’s that good!

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 I started with a yellow cake from scratch. You can absolutely use a box mix, but I really LOVE this recipe, it has a great texture and buttery flavor. I started with the wet ingredients. Whip the butter and sugar together, then incorporate the eggs. 

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 Next I put together my dry ingredients. I love using cake four. It gives your cake an airy texture. Cake flour is made from winter wheat and has a very light texture and color. Cake flour always needs to be sifted to avoid clumps. For this cake I also use some baking powder and salt. I also incorporated milk alternately with my flour mixture.

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 In the meantime, I started melting my chocolate for my ganache. Melt chocolate chips and whipping cream together until you get a silky smooth consistency. 

ganache

I also wanted to get my pudding into the fridge so I made that next.  I went ahead and used a packaged pudding mix for this… Next time, I’m excited to make an authentic pastry cream. But, this was still yummy and… I had some leftovers and I made a special treat! Stay tuned! 

pudding

 I decided to use a jumbo cupcake tin because I wanted the ganache to have a large area to drizzle over and set up. With a smaller cupcake the ganache tends to run to the plate. sad…

batter

After the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I made an “x” in the top with a sharp knife.  I used a decorator bag with a long attachment, filled it with my pudding and piped a small amount into the center of the cupcake. You will know you have piped enough pudding when you see some peeking out the top of the cupcake. You can also use a Ziplock bag as your piping bag if you’d like! (Especially if you use the Jumbo cupcakes- they can handle it!) With regular size cupcakes it is very easy to overfill the cupcake and you may split the cake- just go easy on the filling either way!  An alternate solution- you can cut the cupcake in half horizontally and fill like you would a sandwich.   I like the surprise filling! Keeps me on my toes! 

filling

 Next comes the glaze! It is heavenly! Truly! A wonderful color and taste and a really nice compliment to the cake and the surprise filling! 

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 Can you see the vanilla pudding? Next time I will definitely put my piping bag further into the cake to add more filling! Mmmm…..a little chocolate pudding wouldn’t be bad in this either! 

filled cupcake

Remember that vanilla pudding I had left? well- i also had some ganache left over. Look how pretty!  But, honestly that chocolate ganache would be good on anything!! 

final pudding

 I’m sure Boston Cream (in all forms) and I will dance again and if we do I’ll invite you to come along!

ENJOY!!
 

Boston Cream Cupcake
A take on a classic! Perfect fluffy yellow cake topped with heavenly chocolate ganache and a surprise filling!
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For the Cake
  1. 1 cup butter, softened
  2. 1- 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 4 large eggs
  4. 3 cups sifted cake flour
  5. 2- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 cup milk
  8. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the chocolate Ganache
  1. 1 cup whipping cream
  2. 12 oz chocolate chips
For the pudding
  1. 1 box vanilla pudding
  2. 2 cups whole milk
For the cake
  1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
  2. Combine flour baking powder, and salt;add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  3. Mix at low speed after each addition until blended. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour batter into buttered cupcake tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes for the jumbo pans. (16 minutes for the regular cupcake tin)
  5. Cool in tin for 10 minutes. Remove from tin, place on wire rack to cool completely.
For the Chocolate Ganache
  1. Heat the whipping cream in a double boiler over medium heat. Pour over the chocolate chips, stir until you get a smooth and silky constancy.
For the pudding
  1. Follow package instructions
For the Boston Cream Cupcakes
  1. To assemble: Make an "x" with a sharp knife on the top of a cooled cupcake. Pipe pudding into center of the cupcake until to see some pudding "peeking" over the top. Drizzle with chocolate ganache! YUMM!!
Adapted from The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (for the cake recipe)
Adapted from The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (for the cake recipe)
Sweets & Whimsy http://sweetsandwhimsy.com/

Cinnamon Muffins

 I got a little teary when I was making these muffins yesterday. My love of cooking comes from many places, but one of my fondest memories and greatest teachers is my Grammy. We would always cook oatmeal cookies or lemon cookies together while the boys were in the garage eating sardines ( I definitely got the better deal John!)  I have many memories of baking with her! She isn’t living in Virginia anymore, so we aren’t able to cook together like we once did. I think that is why God allows us to have memories, so we can replay that memory over and over and never let it go.  She would always tell me to “keep clean hands” while cooking. So we would both put a “hanky” up into our sleeve to wipe away the mess along the way. I had to change out my paper towel six times yesterday- not sure how she was able to only use one! I’ll continue to try to live up to a one hanky recipe! Love you Grammy! These muffins are dedicated to you! 

final picture-muffinsThis is a Taste of Home recipe that I found when my kids were little. I changed a few things to suit our taste and it has remained a family favorite!  Start with your wet ingredients. I always like to whip my butter or shortening (shown here) by itself just for a minute or so to break up any lumps. Then add your sugar. Once that mixture is combined, add one egg. At this point, I added 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla because I felt the batter needed a fuller body taste and because I’m a huge vanilla fan! Don’t add the milk just yet, we will add that gradually, with the dry ingredients. 

wet ingredients

 The dry ingredients include flour, baking powder, and cinnamon(the original recipe calls for nutmeg- use what your family prefers!). I only added a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, but you could go up to 1/2 teaspoon and it would not overpower the taste. It just depends on your love of cinnamon! Hey, cinnamon has several health benefits- so go for it! At this point, we can add the dry mixture alternately with the milk until the mixture is combined. 

dry ingredients

 Monkey Man buttered my muffin pan for me. On this particular morning he refused to wear a shirt for his photo shoot- scandalous, I know! He says he was “hot”, I’m guessing he was getting a little self-conscience regarding the monster pj’s that have frequented this blog….hey- help is help- I’ll take what I can get!  Fill your muffin pan half full with your batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes. 

buttering the muffin tin

 You aren’t going to get a ton of color from these muffins. I love how buttering the muffin pan gives the outside a edges a slight crisp! 

muffins

Next we combine our topping.  1/2 cup sugar and 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. In a separate bowl melt 3 tablespoons of butter. I later transferred my melted butter into a wide rimmed bowl so I could get a better dunk! 

topping

 Now comes the fun part. After you have removed your muffins from your pan, and your muffins are still warm, let them take a swim top down in your melted butter. weeee!

butter dive

 Immediately let them take a dive into the cinnamon sugar mixture! 

cinnamon sugar dive

 So pretty! We always have leftover butter and cinnamon sugar leftover. so….one time, I dipped the bottoms of the muffins as well as the tops and wow! it tasted exactly like a cinnamon sugar doughnut. 

yummy muffin

 Repeat the dunk with the remaining muffins!

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 These muffins are my go-to “guest” muffins!- a perfect starter for your early risers, these are the perfect “sweet” in the sea of savory that breakfast usually includes at our house!  They are my fancy muffins, they are the perfect brunch muffins, they are moist and are best served warm and perfect with a cup of coffee or tea! If you are a fan of cinnamon sugar doughnuts- these will make you very happy! 

 

Cinnamon Muffins
Yields 1
A moist cinnamon muffin with a cinnamon-sugar topping!
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Cook Time
16 min
Cook Time
16 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/3 cup shortening
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
  9. 1/2 cup milk
TOPPING
  1. 1/2 cup sugar
  2. 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  3. 3 tablespoons butter, melted
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg or cinnamon; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk until well combined.
  2. Fill greased muffin cups half full. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. Add butter to a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip muffin tops in butter, then in cinnamon-sugar. Serve warm. Yield: 1 dozen.
Adapted from http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cinnamon-muffins
Sweets & Whimsy http://sweetsandwhimsy.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guacamole Three Ways!

 Our family has taco night once a week! Everyone loves tacos in this house. And if Momma doesn’t make enough- watch out- things get fiesty!  We have tried all  kinds of tacos. Beef tacos, chicken tacos, fish tacos, steak tacos, shrimp tacos, BBQ chicken tacos. Soft and hard tacos…. they are all yummy! We also make guacamole and fresh salsa every week as well. It’s quite an event! Excited when we can gave a garden again!   I have always made my classic Guacamole, but I thought I’d change things up a bit and try a few new flavors. 

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 This was the perfect time to do some flavor experimenting because it’s Science Fair time around here and Glitter Girl did her project this year on the fastest way to ripen an avocado.(results- 3 cherry tomatoes in a brown paper bag is the fastest way to ripen and avocado)  She did such a great job! And of course we made some Classic Guacamole to share with the fair attendees! 

science fair

First up- Roasted Guacamole: So everyone knows my love for roasting! So I decided to roast my garlic, jalapeno, and purple onion which are some of the ingredients I use for my classic recipe.  I would have loved to roasted a red pepper and added that….definitely next time!  The flavors in this guacamole is really nice! Rich and full of body! This would be the perfect condiment for a turkey bacon sandwich! This was Glitter Girls favorite! 

roasted guacamole

 

Next up: Cucumber Dill Guacamole. This recipe was a Pampered Chef inspiration- I changed some of the quantities. At first, I didn’t know how I felt about the combination of cucumber and dill in my guacamole, but it is really nice and shouts spring!! It’s so fresh and has lots of pop in your mouth!  This is a must try!

cucumber dill

 

The Classic Guacamole will always be my favorite! Full of fresh veggies and the bite of cilantro! Even though everyone makes their guacamole a little differently, most recipes call for the basic ingredients: avocados, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and cilantro. I had a friend that used to mix together her favorite salsa and a couple of avocados and call it a day. This is my take on a classic….

classic guac

Of course, I had an awesome helper! Monkey Man had a blast using the citrus juicer to squash every cherry tomato he could get his hands on…. I guess I’ll be making some pico de gallo tonight! And I just want to note- he does have other pj’s!… he always seems to be wearing this pair when we are taking blog pics! And we are always blogging early in the morning!

helper

  A couple tips for making guacamole:

*Save your avocado seed! Place the avocado seed in your finished guacamole to prevent it from turning brown.(you can see i did that while prepping the other ingredients in many of my pictures) Alternatively, you can squeeze some reserved lime juice over your guacamole and cover it with plastic wrap.

*Guacamole is a recipe that you may not be able to count on the same quantities of ingredients every time. It requires tasting and  adjusting the seasoning. The quantities that I have included in this post are approximately what you will need. You are the cook and you have complete creative license in this recipe! 

 *Keep in mind when taste testing that you probably will be eating your guacamole with a salty chip- so don’t oversalt! I go with a pinch at a time! 

*Go easy when adding your lime juice. I usually add a few tablespoons at a time and added even less when I made the Cucumber Dill Guacamole because I knew I was adding cucumber, which gives off a lot of liquid. Also, every lime is a different size. It’s hard to say that you will add the entire lime half to every recipe, just use your judgement! 

I was tempted to chop up some mangoes or peaches to make a fruity guacamole, but i knew that would not be appreciated by Mr. Sweets and Whimsy. Next time, I may add some bacon…. the possibilities are endless! 

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Chocolate Fudge Sandwich Cookies

We’ve been busy this week. Anyone else?! We went on a family trip to Washington, D.C. this weekend and were trying to get everything done before the next possible snow storm…. crazy!  One of my favorite forms of stress relief is baking-there is something about  a few simple  ingredients coming together to accomplish a yummy goal.  Friday, I was in need of some stress relief and made some fudgey, chocolate cookies and thought I’d put them over the top with a creamy, marshmallow-y filling! Very rich, very satisfying, and worth every bite! 

final pic

 I started with the cookie recipe:

Then I made the frosting:

 I absolutely love the texture of this frosting! It’s gooey and sweet and the coffee makes it over-the-top!  

filling

Once your cookies are baked and cooled, dollop your cookie with some frosting. I may or may not have gone overboard with the frosting! Presentation isn’t everything! A little chin drippage isn’t all bad. 

sandwich

 We spent the entire day in D.C. yesterday and loved every minute! Glitter Girl loved seeing what we have been learning at home put into action! We museum hopped, which was great for Monkey Man! Spent some time at the National Mall running and playing! We live close enough to the city to make it a one-day trip- of course we could have stayed a day at each museum- they are so wonderful!

We decided to stop for dinner at, wait for it….. Bobby’s Burger Palace!!! Glitter Girl and I are huge Bobby Flay fans!  I have been so excited about going there and so glad we actually made it! Robin Merriman from Trinity Designs Studios recommended the sweet potato fries and the dark chocolate shake and they didn’t disappoint!  I loved reading the menu–so inspiring! It was just what I needed!

looky!

 We visited the National Botanic Gardens…. so beautiful and peaceful! 

botanical gardens

There are no words for how I felt when I walked into the Botanic Gardens for the first time. It was magical! With the amount of dark and dreary days we have had at my house and lots of white white white, it was breathtaking to see, smell, and hear the sounds of life again!  In the main hall, they change the theme every season. When we were there the theme was classical music and they had a fountain performing to the timing of the music. 

botanic gardens

 I can’t wait to go back during the summer when they have the children’s garden open! It was a much needed family trip and we are so blessed to live so close to such a beautiful city!

 

Chocolate Fudge Cookie Sandwiches
A rich fudgey cookie with gooey, sweet marshmallow-y filling!
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For the cookies
  1. 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  2. 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 3 large eggs
  5. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
For the frosting
  1. 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  2. 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  3. 1 jar (7-1/2 oz) marshmallow fluff
  4. pinch salt
  5. 1 teaspoon coffee (I used my morning coffee which had some creamer in it!)
For the cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet.
  2. Put the semi-sweet chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl; heat at 30 second intervals until melted- about 2 minutes.
  3. Whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until smooth.
  4. Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into another bowl. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until moistened. Switch to a rubber spatula and finish folding the batter together; take care not to over-mix.
  5. Use a medium cookie scoop or spoon to drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto the prepared pan. Repeat to make 24 cookies, spacing them about 1-inch apart. Bake until the cookies spring back when lightly touched, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.
For the frosting
  1. Combine all ingredients together. Dollop frosting onto the back side of the cookie, place another cookie on top to make a sandwich!
Sweets & Whimsy http://sweetsandwhimsy.com/

Linda’s Chopped Salad

This past weekend (before the snow) we spent some time with my dad in the country. It was a beautiful weekend. We were able to spend some time outside, ride the tractor, take some pictures, and make some yummy food. I was craving a “big salad” and decided to put one together with the ingredients I had on hand.  This salad has so many possibilities!  Here is my version!

 Linda’s Chopped Salad! Beautiful colors and lots of flavor! 

final salad

 I used a combination of spinach and iceberg because it is what I had on hand. Any combination of lettuces will work. 

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 I marinated a can of garbanzo beans. Yum! Combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, sugar, red pepper flakes, garlic, basil (you could also use a half bottle of Italian dressing for a quick marinade). Refrigerate and marinate. I marinated my garbanzos for two hours. 

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 Chop some salami and monterey jack cheese

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 Thinly slice some onion

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Toast some walnuts.IMG_7874[1]

 My dad and Paul (Mr. Sweets and Whimsy) are building a deck onto the front of the house. It’s going to be really nice and we already have  lots of deck parties planned when the weather is nice!

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Back to the salad…. Drain garbanzo beans. I saved my marinade to use as dressing for those who were interested. I WAS interested and it WAS good! 

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 These kids love it here!

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 I chopped up some tomatoes and my salad was done. 

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The country suits my big girl! Love those blue eyes! 

katelyn

 So excited to see this same view in a few weeks when green is the dominant color. 

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For now, I am enjoying the season we are in and the special spiritual meanings the seasons have for me personally. During these dark, cold days of winter, I think of the moments in life that are dark and lonely as well. Instead of focusing on the negative in those times,  I am trying to look for what God wants to do in my life, how He wants to build my character, how He wants to refine me to be even better in the next season of my life. So, I will hold on and enjoy the meaning of winter. Times of quiet, times of family togetherness. Times to play in the snow, to enjoy warm foods, and wait with anticipations for the first daffodil of spring and the smell of freshly cut green grass! Enjoy winter, embrace winter, learn from winter!  God has unbelievable promises to come!

A-mazing was a little salad can teach you! 

Linda's Chopped Salad
A chopped salad with lots of flavor and textures!
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 head Iceberg lettuce, chopped(about 1-1/2 cup)
  2. 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  3. 1/2 cup hard salami, chopped
  4. 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, cut into cubes
  5. 1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced
  6. 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  7. 1 can garbanzo beans, marinated (see ingredients below)
  8. 1 cup chopped tomatoes
For marinade
  1. 1 cup olive oil
  2. 1 lemon, juiced
  3. 1 teaspoon basil
  4. 2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  6. 1 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 teaspoon pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
  9. *alternatively, you can use a 1/2 bottle of Italian dressing to marinate the garbanzos!
  10. **use marinade as dressing or dressing of your choice.
Instructions
  1. Make marinade and place garbanzo beans in marinade. Let sit in marinade for 2 or more hours.
  2. Prepare all other ingredients.
  3. Mix lettuce and meats together in a large salad bowl.
  4. Drain marinated garbanzo beans and place them on top of the salad.
  5. Place chopped tomatoes around edges of salad.
  6. Put toasted walnuts on top of salad and serve!
Notes
  1. Mix up your meat, lettuces, and cheeses for a whole different salad. Also, try marinating to garbanzo beans (or your favorite beans) in another dressing of your choice!
Sweets & Whimsy http://sweetsandwhimsy.com/

 

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Cookies

Even though Northern Virginia has more than a foot of snow and COLD, I spent my day making ice cream!! What?! Let me explain-  So, when I was younger or yesterday (whatever) I came up with this idea that when you eat something cold your body compensates and warms itself up, so really by eating ice cream in the winter it is beneficial to your body temperature and overall health. I do not however have the opinion that it is at all OK to eat hot soup in the summer–that is just crazy talk. Anyway, it was a fun adventure and I definitely feel warm and fuzzy all over after having this treat! 

final pic

 First, I made the cookies. The original recipe for this cookie is chocolate peanut butter(also known as “Santa Cookies” in this house- Santa LOVES these cookies!)  but today we used chocolate mint chips!  And not just chocolate mint chips, but Andes chips…. really rich and decadent. I wish you could see the candies- such a pretty color and perfect for St. Patrick’s Day! Next time I think I will reserve some chips to add to the top right before baking. And for all of those Thin Mint fans out there- these are just the ticket to satisfy your craving year round.  

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To make these cookies, combine your wet ingredients and mix well.

Then add your dry ingredients: 2 cups all purpose flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk to combine.

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 Add these fantastic chips!

IMG_7927[1]Place your cookie dough creation on your cookie sheet using a medium scoop. These cookies do have a tendency to spread. I usually only bake 6 cookies at a time. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

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 Next, I made my ice cream!  Not a fan of food coloring, so my mint ice cream is white, but still minty!    

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 This truly was the easiest ice cream recipe I have ever made- take a look! 

I let my ice cream firm up slightly in the freezer and then put my cookies face down and started making cookie sandwiches!

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 I had to work quickly, but I survived the ice cream spillage on my fingers! 

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 Wrap in plastic and freeze until firm. 

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  This is what it looks like outside my window.  Thirteen inches of beautiful snow and 25 degrees…. so logically I made ice cream to warm the body and soul….  remember this trick next time- your family will thank you!! 

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 Monkey Man- see those crazy eyes?? – today he never took a nap because he discovered he can climb out of his crib. But he still has enough energy to work his way through an ice cream sandwich like nobody’s business. 

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We all celebrate St. Patrick’s Day a little differently in our house- here is Mr. Sweets and Whimsy’s celebratory breakfast- Corned Beef Hash with eggs. Maybe next year I will blog this recipe– we will see! 

cornbeefncabbage

 

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Cookies
Homeade vanilla mint ice cream sandwiched between chocolate mint cookies!
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For the cookies
  1. 2 eggs
  2. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  3. 1-(10 oz package) Andes Mint Chocolate Baking Chips
  4. 1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  5. 2 cups sugar
  6. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  9. 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
For the ice cream
  1. 2 cups whole milk
  2. 2 cups heavy cream
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the cookies
  1. 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  2. 2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in mint chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. 3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. (Do not overbake; cookies will be soft. They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling.) Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.
For the ice cream
  1. Whisk all ingredients together. Place in ice cream maker and follow manufacturers instructions. Makes 2 quarts
Sweets & Whimsy http://sweetsandwhimsy.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Banana Bread

Can you tell yet that I love all things ROASTED?!  To make this flavorful and moist Banana Bread, I roasted my bananas first!! It made all the difference and has quickly become a family favorite! Remember my Roasted Applesauce post? You can see it HERE! Well, roasting bananas is even easier! Absolutely no prep- just put those bananas on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the peels are black!  Baby Monkey Man’s favorite first food was roasted bananas with blueberries! And that stuff went fast in our house because Momma LOVED it too! It tastes like banana-blueberry pudding- but with nothing added! A-mazing! 

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 Here are my Bananas after they have been roasted….yum! 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes!

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 My bananas are done roasting and the inside is a perfect mushy consistency and still a nice banana-y color- just what you want for your banana bread! 

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 This may sound silly, but this is another one of my tricks to a wonderful banana bread! Grease and flour your pan! I know the spray is easier, but the butter and flour will give the outside of your crust a nice texture and color! I only used a half pat of butter to grease my pan!

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 Add your dry ingredients:  you can make this recipe with a bowl and spoon! No fancy gadgets required! Once you have mixed your dry ingredients together, take the back of your spoon and make a well for your dry ingredients. 

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Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and out comes this beautiful loaf! Look at that golden brown crust! So pretty!  

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 Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire cooling rack until completely cool. Use a serrated knife to cut into slices to avoid a crumbly slice! 

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Happy, Happy customers! Monkey Man and Glitter Girl gobbled up a slice right away and have enjoyed it every morning this week with their Winter Smoothies

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beautiful blonde

This Banana Bread was wonderful all by itself, but just imagine all the mix- in possibilities!! Chocolate chips, blueberries, nuts, peanut butter drizzle! Excited to make this recipe again and even try them as muffins!

Happy Baking and Sweet Dreams! 

 

Roasted Banana Bread
Yields 1
A moist, delicious banana bread made with roasted bananas!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups self-rising flour
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 cup butter, melted
  5. 3 roasted bananas
  6. 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  7. 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  8. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Grease and flour loaf pan; set aside. Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl; make awell in center of mixture. Stir together melted butter, roasted banana, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla; add to dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, invert onto wire rack until completely cool. Cut into slices with a serrated knife! Enjoy!
Notes
  1. To make muffins: Spoon batter into lightly greased muffin pans, filling three-fourths of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees for 19-21 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from pans immediately. Let cool on wire rack. Yield: 20 muffins
  2. ~Cooks tip: During the baking process if the top of your banana bread is getting to brown for your liking, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top and continue baking until the bread is fully cooked.
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Vanilla Bean Shortbread with Chai Tea Drizzle

I’ve been so excited to publish today’s post!! Not only is this recipe fantastic, but my humble little cookies made a trip to a very talented photographer, Danielle Heaphy! She was kind enough to have a photo session with them and she made them smile!

shortbreadwithglaze

So, the weather is starting to look like spring in most of Virginia, but up here on the mountain it’s still a little nippy at night. And crazy to think we are expecting more snow in a few days- crazy!  Chilly winter afternoons are perfect for hot tea and these wonderful shortbread cookies! 

butter

This buttery recipe has very few ingredients! Set your butter out at room temperature so the mixing process is easier! This recipe calls for four sticks of butter! 

sugar  add one cup of sugar.

vanilla bean

 I used half of a vanilla bean for the dough and the other half for the drizzle. To use a vanilla bean, you split the bean in half with a sharp knife and scrape out the dark goodness in the center called the “caviar.”  You can store your vanilla beans in a closed, but not air-tight, container in a cool, dry place. Do not store vanilla beans in the refrigerator or freezer! (The cold will dry them out)   Gourmet beans should remain moist and easy to work with for at least six months!! If the beans do dry out a bit, you can soften them a bit by placing them in some warm water or milk just before use.

Most shortbread recipes do not call for vanilla at all, even extract. I love the taste of vanilla in my cookies, so I always add it- it gives the cookie a fuller body in my opinion! Adding a vanilla bean takes the cookie over the top…. you won’t believe it until you taste it… it’s really really good! Not only is the taste yummy, but the little flecks of vanilla bean add to the charm of the cookie. 

flour

Add your dry ingredients. (4 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt) Whisk to combine! Add your flour mixture to your wet ingredients and mix until just combined. 

myhelper1My helper!

chillAfter you mix your dough together, wrap in plastic wrap and let chill for 30 minutes.

cut dough in half

After your chill time, unwrap and place on a floured surface. To make dough easier to work with and to avoid over working the dough, I usually cut my dough in half and put the dough I’m not working with back in the fridge. 

cut dough in squares

 Roll dough into a square with about a 1/2″ thickness, then with a sharp knife…. cut into rectangles. I made these rectangles fairly large for dipping in chocolate! At this stage I also prick the cookies with a fork. This is not a mandatory step, but it will prevent your cookie from becoming puffy or having air bubbles. not something you want if you plan to drizzle or dip. The air holes allow the steam to escape. 

bake

 Bake your cookies until they just starting to brown on the edges. 350 degrees for 15- 20 minutes. 

chaitea2

drizzle

 

 

 

 

 

Prepare your Chai Tea for your drizzle! To make the drizzle, I used 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon Chai Tea and 1/2 caviar from the reserved vanilla bean.

stackedshortbread

 These are the smaller cookies I made for the Chai drizzle.  

kids with shortbreadlovinshortbread

 

 

 

 

 

The kids LOVED these cookies! Especially the chocolate dipped cookies! Yum!!  To melt my chocolate, I used a double boiler over low heat! Once your cookies have cooled, simply dip the cookie and set on parchment until the chocolate is set. 

shortbreadwithchocolate

 I can’t wait for everyone to try these cookies. Perfect with a cup of tea, a good book! It makes the chilly temps a little more tolerable!!

~Thank you again to Danielle Heaphy! A wonderful family photographer! To create unique and beautiful family pictures this season contact Danielle! Go to http://dlhfamilyphotography.wordpress.com to find out more. 

Vanilla Bean Shortbread with Chai Tea Drizzle
Yields 4
A delicate shortbread cookie with a rich drizzle made with homeade Chai Tea!
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For Cookies
  1. 4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1/2 Vanilla Bean
  4. 4 cups all-purpose flour
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
For Chai Tea Drizzle
  1. 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1/2 Vanilla Bean
  3. 1 tablespoon Chai Tea
For Chocolate drizzle
  1. 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Directions
  2. Cook's Note: This recipe can easily be doubled, as what was shown in the episode.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add 1/2 vanilla bean. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut into 2 1/2-inch squares with a plain or fluted cutter (or cut into any shape you like). Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. At this point you can drizzle or dip!
  7. For drizzle: Mix all ingredients together! Feel free to add more powdered sugar to adjust consistency. Place cookie on parchment paper until drizzle is set.
  8. For chocolate dipped cookies: Melt chocolate. Dip cooled cookies in chocolate. Place cookie on parchment paper until chocolate is set!
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Winter Smoothies!

My kids have smoothies every morning for breakfast! Every morning!  I love this habit! During the summer, we love using fresh fruit and have a blast making lots of fun combinations. During the winter, we struggle to find fresh fruit that is affordable and…well… fresh.  Today, I’m sharing two of our favorite recipes and as with most of my recipes you can do your own combinations! A favorite at our house is banana chocolate …. Mommy’s favorite~ tropical fruit with a drizzle of honey!….add a hot bowl of oatmeal and the kids are fueled up until lunch.  

Here is Monkey-man enjoying his Chocolate-Banana Smoothie! 
monkeyman

 The star of the show! I  only use one banana to make two 8-oz smoothies. The kids would be even happier if they could have 16 oz each! It may have something to do with the chocolate! 

bananas

 Add 1/2 cup yogurt of your choice. We use Vanilla yogurt- usually Greek! I love using Greek yogurt in smoothies because it gives my smoothies lots of thick body!

yogurt

 Add 1/2 cup milk

milk

 Drizzle in some chocolate syrup….. drizzle to your taste!  At this point you can add a spoonful of peanut butter instead of the chocolate or AS WELL AS the chocolate! mmmmm……..

chocolate

 Add ice…. I usually use 8 oz of ice. Use more or less depending on your desired consistency.

ice

 Blend until smooth!

blender

 Drizzle with chocolate syrup just for fun!

finished

 

For my tropical smoothie… We pick a bag of frozen tropical fruit! Our fruit mix included peaches, mangoes, pineapples, and strawberries! I use fruit juice or water as my liquid and drizzle honey on top- totally optional! Yum! 

 

tropical smoothietropicaltropical smoothie1

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t wait to enjoy the bounties of summer!   But, I have a feeling the winter smoothie recipes will stay in our breakfast recipe box! I’d love to hear about your combinations! What smoothies make an appearance at your breakfast table?

Mini Chocolate PB Cakes

My family loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate! It’s a perfect marriage of sweet and salty! My inspiration for this recipe was to make mini cakes- not a brownie, not a cupcake…. it’s a spongy cake with a nice chocolate flavor- not to rich, we wouldn’t want to distract from the creamy deliciousness of the peanut butter!  Speaking of peanut butter, this peanut butter frosting deserves a post of it’s own!  It leaves me wondering what else I can put this decadent, creamy yumminess on?!  
IMG_7635[1]

   Sift your dry ingredients together.

IMG_7645[1]In your stand mixer, cream your butter

IMG_7647[1] and Sugar

IMG_7655[1]Add eggs

IMG_7659[1] Milk,

IMG_7656[1] and vanilla!

IMG_7668[1]I decided to use this adorable “Square Pan” for my batter. This is a spongy cake and the pan will give you 12 perfect mini cakes! You could always use some cute cupcake liners if you’d like. Round liners will work or you can purchase square liners at your local craft store! Bake and allow to cool. IN the meantime, make your frosting! 

Start with some CREAMY peanut butter! 

peanut butter

IMG_7678[1]Add 2 cups powdered sugar 

IMG_7680[1]then add milk or cream and mix to combine. Check the texture of your frosting. At this point you can add up to two more cups of powdered sugar. I only added one more cup for a total of 3 cups for my frosting and it was perfect!

IMG_7681[1]Look at that frosting goodness! 

IMG_7682[1]Put your icing into your favorite frosting tool. I like to use this decorator that comes with several size/shape tips, but a gallon size bag with the tip cut off will work in a pinch! 

IMG_7686[1]Start decorating!  I was not going for fancy or professional looking. I was going for coverage! The chocolate cake deserves a healthy amount of frosting and I was happy to comply! 

frosting

I topped off this fantastic treat with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup! And as you can see, I decided to make some Mini Chocolate PB sandwiches!  Just for those who need double Chocolate PB therapy! My tastebuds are happy and I hope yours will be too!

Sweet Dreams! 

 

Mini Chocolate PB Cakes
A moist, fluffy mini cake with rich peanut butter frosting!
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For the Cakes
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  5. 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  6. 1 cup sugar
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  9. 1 cup whole milk
For the frosting
  1. 1/2 cup butter
  2. 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  3. 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  4. 1/3 cup whole milk
For the cakes
  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition.
  2. Drop batter by very rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared square baking pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes. Carefully transfer cakes to racks and cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.
For the Frosting
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in 1/2 of the confectioner's sugar. Mix in 1/4 cup of the milk. Beat in the remaining confectioners' sugar. If necessary, add a little more cream or milk until the frosting reaches a good spreading consistency. Makes enough to frost one 2 layer 9 inch cake or one 9x13 inch cake.
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