S’more Cups

Have you ever had the hankering for a warm gooey s’more but didn’t have access to a campfire to make one?  Well this my friends is your ticket to year round s’more deliciousness, no campfire needed!  Everything you love about a s’more is packed into one easy to eat bite size cup.

If you are bored with the traditional s’more or just want to change it up a bit try switching out the chocolate underneath the marshmallow for a Rolo or even Reese’s peanut butter cup.  Do you prefer dark chocolate?  No problem, just use dark chocolate instead.  Whatever flavor combinations you decide, I am sure you will adore these sweet treats just as much as my friends and I have.

S'more Cups

S’more Cups

Ingredients
7 whole graham crackers
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 small milk chocolate candy bars, divided
12 large marshmallows

Directions
1- Preheat oven to 350°F.
2- Place graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crackers are fine crumbs. Add in powdered sugar and melted butter and pulse until graham cracker crumbs are thoroughly moistened.  Using a tablespoon, evenly divide crumb mixture into each cup of a 24 cup mini muffin pan. Shape into shallow cups with a mini tart shaper or your fingers. Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling. Meanwhile, break one of the candy bars into rectangles. Remove pan from oven and place 1/2 rectangle into each cup.
3- Cut marshmallows in half crosswise using scissors dipped in cold water. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup. Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are just slightly puffed and softened. Cool for 15 minutes in pan before carefully removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
4- Break remaining candy bar in small pieces and place in a small bowl. Microwave on high 1 – 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds.  Using a table spoon dollop enough melted chocolate on top of each cup to cover the marshmallow.  Let stand at room temperature 40-60 minutes or until chocolate has set.  Store the cups in a single layer in an airtight container for up to one week.  Freezing is not recommended.

Yields 24 cups

Recipe as seen in Pampered Chef’s Simply Sweet; 56 Irresistible Desserts Cookbook, 2010.

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Amber

Cherry-Almond Streusel Tart

My dad had a cherry tree that was speckled with juicy tart cherries, with that came his hankering for a cherry pie. I didn’t get quite enough cherries to make him a pie so I decided to make this tart instead. This particular tart has all the great features of a pie but takes less cherries and lot less time to prepare making it great for a week night baking adventure.

I have learned a very valuable lesson while making this tart. I will never ever attempt to make another cherry dessert without a cherry pitter! Even though using a paperclip does the trick , it takes forever and is quite messy. A cherry pitter is now on my wish list.

Cherry-Almond Streusel Tart

Cherry-Almond Streusel Tart

Pastry Crust Ingredients
1 cup AP flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Cherry Filling Ingredients
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Dash salt
4 cups fresh tart cherries, pitted or frozen pitted tart cherries, thawed
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Streusel Topping Ingredients
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
2 tablespoons cold butter

Directions:
For the crust – Mix flour, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary). Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap and freeze about 20 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. Once chilled, press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-in. fluted tart pan with removable bottom; trim edges.

For the cherry filling – In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Stir in cherries; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in extract. Pour into prepared crust.

For the streusel topping – Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar and almonds. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over filling.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 8 servings.

Crust recipe slightly adapted from Betty Crocker, Tart recipe as seen on Taste of Home.
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Almond Joy Cupcakes

I know I have not been around much, at all, but that does not mean I have not been a busy bee in the kitchen. Truth is that I have been making all kinds of new delicious things, I just have not been able to share them here, with all of you lovely people. Now that daylight is lasting a little bit longer I hope to be able to snap more pictures and get back to this blogging thing.

Now onto these delicious cupcakes. Much like Jen over at Beantown Baker think this my new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. I will admit that I do not always let the batter sit for a full hour, but either way I have never had these cupcakes turn out anything but extraordinary.  This topping combination might just have to be added to my favorites list.  It is basically a coconut cream cheese frosting with a hard candy coating.  The hard candy coating makes these cupcakes a little messy to eat, but honestly what cupcake is not messy.  Until  next time my friends…stay sweet.   

Almond Joy Cupcakes

Almond Joy Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
Ingredients
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut up
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients
1/4 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Chocolate candy melts
Sliced or whole almods (for topping)
Flaked coconut (for topping)

For the Cupcakes
To prepare the cupcakes, In a heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and cocoa powder.
– In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the granulated sugar, butter, and water, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Pour the butter mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth.
– Whisk the milk, egg, extra yolk, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until combined.
– In a bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until blended. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 1 hour or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
When ready to bake the cupcakes, Preheat the oven at 350 degrees and line standard muffin tins with 16 paper liners.
– Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip. Set on a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

For the Topping
Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add shredded coconut and vanilla, mix again. Slowly add powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency.
– Pipe topping onto cooled cupcakes. Use a knife to smooth out the topping.
– Place chocolate melts in a microwave-safe bowl and melt and stir until smooth. Dip cupcakes into chocolate and then quickly sprinkle almonds and/or coconut on top.

~Yields approximately 16 cupcakes

Cupcake recipe as seen on Beantown Baker
Frosting as seen on Your Cup of Cake

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Soft Pretzel Bites

Believe it or not, but I have been making soft pretzels since the 7th grade.  I started with a recipe not to far off from this one in my Home Economics class and have been trying many different recipes since.  I still go back to that original recipe every now and again, because it is simple and requires no rise time, but I also enjoy changing it up and trying new recipes.  Some day I hope to take pieces from each recipe and combine them together to make the ultimate soft pretzel recipe.      

The one thing that I do not like about soft pretzels from most chain stores is the butter that they are drenched in before and after baking.  It is not the butter I have an issue with, I happen to enjoy the taste of pure salted butter, but it’s the greasiness of fake liquid butter that just makes my stomach cringe.  I would much prefer having a “naked” pretzel to dip in warm nacho cheese or mustard.  The nice thing about making your own pretzels, you get to make them how YOU like to enjoy them.  I really do hope that you make these soon so that you can savor the flavor or warm baked pretzels from your own home.    

Soft Pretzel Bites

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
4 1/2 cups (22 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, melted (optional)
Pretzel or Kosher salt (optional)

Instructions
1 –
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the water, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed for 10 seconds.  Switch to the dough hook and add the flour and butter.  Mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
2 – Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
3 – Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an wide 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
4 – In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Slice each rope into 1-inch pieces.  Place a lightly damp towel over the pretzel pieces to prevent them from drying out while you roll and cut the other pieces.
5 – Using a slotted spoon lower a handful of the pretzel pieces into the boiling water and boil them for 30 seconds, flipping them around in the water with the spoon a couple of times. Remove the pretzel pieces from the water using the spoon, drain as best you can, and place them on the baking sheets. If desired, brush the top of each pretzel with the melted butter and sprinkle with the pretzel/Kosher salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 10 – 12 minutes. If any melted butter remains, simply brush the pretzels with it before serving.   Serve warm.  
Leftover pretzels can be reheated in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Cheese Sauce

Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Kosher salt

Instructions
1 –
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.
2 – Slowly whisk in the milk until no lumps of flour remain.  Stirring constantly, bring the milk to a simmer over medium-low heat until it thickens, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the shredded cheese until all of the cheese has melted.  Add a pinch of salt, if needed.  Serve warm.  Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave on medium power at 30 second intervals.

Recipes as seen on Smells Like Home 

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