White Chocolate Cranberry Poke Cupcakes

White Chocolate Cranberry Poke Cupcakes

Did you get a chance to see my Sugared Cranberries recipe? Well, here is where I used some of mine.  They paired well with my white chocolate cream cheese frosting on top of the cranberry poke cupcakes. I tried these out on my family at Thanksgiving. They were well received. If you can’t find cranberry Jello gelatin, substitute with raspberry Jello gelatin. And if you prefer to use a shortcut, just use a box of your favorite white cake mix. I won’t tell. This recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened (Do not soften in microwave)
  • 1 package (3 ounces) cranberry JELL-O gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 package (6oz total) Baker’s White Chocolate bars
  • 1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cup powdered sugar

CUPCAKE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Add cupcake liners to cupcake pans.
  2. In a small bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, almond extract, milk, & sour cream. Whisk until blended & set aside.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients (cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt) in the mixer for 30 seconds so the baking powder and salt will be well incorporated into the flour and sugar.
  4. Slowly add the pieces of butter a few at a time while the mixer is on medium speed. Beat for approximately 1 minute or until the dry ingredients are crumbly and moistened by the butter, giving it the look of coarse sand. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl.
  5. It is important to SLOWLY add approx. 1/2 of the egg mixture with the mixer on very low speed then increasing to medium speed for 1½ minutes — the batter will be thick and fluffy. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Add the remaining egg mixture in 2 pourings, scraping the bowl and beating for 20 seconds after each addition. It is now ready to pour into cupcake liners.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Pierce tops of cupcakes with fork immediately after cooking.
  7. Combine boiling water with JELL-O gelatin. Stir until dissolved. Spoon gently over cupcakes, allowing to sink into fork holes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight is best.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt chocolate according to package directions.
  2. Beat cream cheese and butter in large mixing bowl for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add melted chocolate, vanilla extract, lemon juice and powdered sugar. Beat for another 2 minutes.
  4. Pipe onto cupcakes and garnish with sugared cranberries.

White Chocolate Cranberry Poke Cupcake

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Sugared Cranberries

Sugared Cranberries

Hello everyone! It’s officially the holiday season once again. It’s also my favorite time of the year for baking and cooking. I thought I’d start off with something really easy to make. Sugared cranberries are great for garnishing your desserts or dessert trays or even as a sweet and sour treat all on it’s own.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar divided (2 cups & 1 cup)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine 2 cups of sugar with the 2 cups water in a small sauce pan. Heat over low heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Do not bring to a boil!
  2. Remove from heat as soon as sugar is dissolved.
  3. In a large bowl, add cranberries. Top with the sugar syrup you just made and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight is best.
  4. After your cranberries have soaked, drain off syrup completely and allow to sit in strainer for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Pour remaining  1 cup of sugar in a gallon Ziploc bag.  Add cranberries and shake until all cranberries have been well coated.
  6. Empty contents of bag onto a wire rack (with pan or foil underneath to catch excess sugar.)
  7. Let cranberries dry for at least an hour.
  8. Store in refrigerator until ready to use as garnish.

Sugared Cranberries Close Up

Mini Key Lime Tarts

Mini Key Lime TartI wasn’t going to post this recipe because I totally baked the crust for too long on these when I made them. And I was disappointed and frustrated especially because the  key lime filling turned out so well. I hate when things I make don’t turn out good. But not to fear, I have adjusted the baking time on this recipe for you so your crusts won’t turn into hockey pucks like mine did.

CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons key lime juice (6-7 key limes)
  • zest of 1 key lime
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS FOR CRUST:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees and line a standard 12 cupcake tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.
  3. Divide crust evenly amongst the 12 liners, approx. 1 heaping Tbsp in each. Press firmly into the bottom of each liner.
  4. Bake for 3-5 minutes. Set aside on cooling rack.

DIRECTIONS FOR FILLING:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 F degrees.
  2. Prepare a water bath on the stove. (Pot with boiling water.)
  3. Once the water is boiling, place eggs, sugar, key lime juice, zest and melted butter into a large bowl and begin whisking.
  4. Whisk vigorously over the boiling water bath until thick and light (approx. 5-10mins).  You can also use a hand mixer. The mixture is ready when it’s light, thick (like pudding), and ribbons form when you run your whisk through it.
  5. Pour into pre-baked tart crusts and bake for 5 minutes or until set. The center of the pies should jiggle just slightly the pan is nudged.
  6. Cool completely on a wire rack, then place in fridge for at least 2 hours.
  7. Serve cold, topped with whipped cream and key lime zest.

 

All Fruit Popsicles

Watermelon PopsicleIt is summer time. Days of 100 F degree weather are the norm here. The nice thing about summer is the abundance of fruit available. And I tend to buy more than we can eat before they go bad. Here is a great way to use some of your extra fruit up and a healthy alternative to store bought corn syrup and whatever else popsicles.  Plus, who doesn’t like a nice cold popsicle on a hot day? If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can use plastic cups and popsicles sticks with cling wrap to hold them in place. Feel free to switch up your ingredients. I just used what I had on hand, but there are tons of different combinations out there. This recipe yields 6.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups watermelon chunks
  • 2 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 nectarine, sliced
  • 1 kiwi, sliced
  • 1/4 cup blueberriesWatermelon Popsicle 2

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a blender, puree the watermelon chunks.
  2.  Watermelon Popsicle 1
  3. Fill 1/4 of your molds with watermelon puree.
  4. Add equal amounts of each fruit into the molds. Watermelon Popsicle 3
  5. Pour the rest of the watermelon puree to the fill line on each of the molds. Watermelon Popsicle 4
  6. Freeze your filled molds for 4 to 6 hours; overnight is best. Watermelon Popsicle

Black Forest Bundt Cake

IMG_6752I finally bought myself a bundt cake pan. Being a bundt pan novice, I didn’t realize I needed to spray the pan with baking spray oil so heavily.  My lesson was learned after 10% of the top of my first bundt cake stayed in the pan. Good thing I had enough ingredients to try again.  Otherwise, the bundt cake pan would have been put in the far back of a cupboard never to be seen again.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

FILLING INGREDIENT:

  • 1/2 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling (use remainder to serve on the side)

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • sprinkles of your choice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Prepare your bundt pan by coating it heavily with baking spray or butter and flour.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, almond extract,  vanilla extract and sugar on medium speed for 1 minute.
  4. Sift into the bowl the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt.
  5. Mix together on medium speed for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin.
  6. Top the batter with the cherry pie filling. Black Forest Bundt pan 2
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.IMG_6749 (2)
  9. Whip the heavy cream in a cold, chilled bowl until it starts to thicken.
  10. Then beat in confectioners sugar, almond and vanilla extract until the mixture begins to hold its shape.
  11. Top the bundt cake with the whipped topping and add sprinkles. If you have maraschino cherries add those too. I didn’t have enough to decorate my cake though.
  12. Serve the extra whipped topping and cherry pie filling on the side. Your guests will be pleased! Black Forest Bundt 2

Olive Oil Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cranberries

olive-oil-oatmeal-cookieI know what you are thinking. “What?! Joann is not fattening us up with butter in her cookies like always?” No worries. I made these more out of curiosity rather than trying to be more health conscious. And actually, these were not bad at all. They turned out sweet, savory and moist all in one.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries or raisins)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Meanwhile line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Mix together olive oil, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs in a large mixing bowl until blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, cloves and nutmeg.
  4. Add flour mixture, rolled oats and dried cranberries to olive oil mixture.
  5. Drop in tablespoon balls on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  7. Let cool at least 3 minutes before transferring to baking rack to completely cool.
  8. This recipe yielded 32 cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Mini Cheesecakes

mini-cheesecake-1Since my father passed away earlier in December, this Christmas was bittersweet. I think my cooking and baking has reflected my sadness. So these mini blueberry cheesecakes I made weren’t given the usual attention and detail that I normally like to give my recipes that I post. So I apologize if the pictures aren’t as appealing as the mini cheesecakes really are.

 CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 graham cracker sheets
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick of melted butter

FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

To make the crust:

  1. Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they are crumbs.
  2. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse until well combined.
  3. Press 1-2 tablespoons into the bottom of your cupcake liners.mini-cheesecake-2

 

To make the filling:

  1. Using an electric hand mixer, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth
  2. Add heavy whipping cream, vanilla and almond extract, and lemon juice. Mix on high for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Pour filling over crusts to the rim of each cupcake liner.
  3. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours. I made mine the night before, so it was refrigerated for 12 hours.mini-cheesecake-3

To make the topping:

  1. Combine the blueberries, sugar, butter, cornstarch, vanilla extract and lemon juice into a small saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium high heat for about five minutes.  Stir frequently until the blueberries breakdown and the sauce thickens.
  3. Let cool down and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Are you ready to serve? Let’s go:

  1. Carefully remove the mini cheesecakes from the cupcake liners.
  2. Arrange on a platter and spoon the blueberry sauce over the top of each mini cheesecake.mini-cheesecake-4

 

This recipe yields 12 mini cheesecakes. Double the recipe if you have a larger crowd to feed. You can substitute any berry for the topping. I just like blueberries the most.