Thin Mint Cheesecake

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It’s Girl Scout cookie time!! Which means I brought home a bag full of Samoas (Caramel Delights) and Thin Mints last week… I may have over-ordered on cookies, but I never felt like I had enough Samoas last year after my last box mysteriously disappeared. (I probably ate them and just forgot… Whoops!) But this year I’m prepared, and a few boxes will be going into the freezer for later. 🙂

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I’ve been wanting to make things out of Girl Scout cookies for a while, but other things always seemed to hit at the same time (Pancake Tuesday, St. Paddy’s Day, etc.). But this year, I’m making two things using my two favorite Girl Scout cookies! The first is this Thin Mint Cheesecake, which has a crust made from an entire box of Thin Mints, minus the 2 that I nibbled while I was baking. 😉

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Instead of making an entire chocolate-peppermint cheesecake, I decided to divide the batter. I didn’t want a heavy cheesecake, as cheesecake is already rich and dense. So about two-thirds of the batter was dyed light green and flavored with just peppermint. The rest of the cheesecake batter was amped up with melted chocolate and swirled  into the peppermint batter.

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And wow, this cheesecake is amazing! I brought it to a party on Friday night, and it was devoured. Thankfully, I cut two pieces from the cheesecake to take photos, and saved them for the boyfriend and I to enjoy later! And those were the perfect after-dinner treat last night! 🙂

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

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Hot Toddy Cupcakes

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Well, we had our first real bit of winter here in DC. While it had gotten pretty cold in December and early January, the snow just kept missing us! (Definitely the opposite of what happened to my friends and family in the Midwest, who’ve been pummeled with snow almost every week…) It was nice to finally get some snow here , even if it does shut the city down for days… 😉

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One of the great things that comes along with cold and snow is the Hot Toddy. It’s the perfect drink to warm up, relax a bit, and fight off a stuffy nose. For those not familiar, a Hot Toddy starts with Earl Grey tea (or English/Irish Breakfast tea, depending on your preference) sweetened with honey. A shot of whiskey and a squirt of lemon are added, along with a cinnamon stick and a star anise.

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While drinking a Hot Toddy, I decided that I wanted to make a cupcake version. And the challenged lied in how to infuse the Earl Grey tea into the cupcake and how to marry all the flavors together without being too muddled or overwhelming.

I started off my infusing butter with loose tea leaves to flavor the cupcake base. I kept the cake pretty simple: sweetened by both sugar and honey with a small amount of cinnamon and anise extract added. The buttercream icing is flavored with whiskey (I used honey whiskey for just a bit of honey flavor) and lemon extract.

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And the result was a Hot Toddy cupcake! The flavors come together perfectly, with a great tea flavor that’s not too strong or bitter. Because the cake is sweetened with honey, it’s also not overwhelmingly sweet. Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

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Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake

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I’ve been thinking about this cake for over 3 months, ever since Thanksgiving. I had a large bounty of apples that I’d picked up from the Farmer’s Market and was looking for desserts to make. And Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect opportunity because I can usually make a few different desserts!

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For the last few years, the boyfriend and I have been hosting a left-behind Thanksgiving dinner, but since we had plans with his family last year, we hosted a Secondsgiving over the following weekend. Usually, I take care of the turkey and the desserts, which are my two favourite parts. But last year, other friends who host a left-behind dinner bought over all their leftover dessert… So I didn’t need to bake anything!

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While I had mixed feelings about not being able to make all the desserts, it was a nice change of pace to be able to focus on savories and sides. But then I never got the chance to make the Caramel Apple Upside-down Cake! After 3 months, I finally found the right time!

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The cake starts with a layer of sliced apples coated in a quick caramel sauce. A fluffy cinnamon cake is baked on top of the apples, and the whole thing is inverted onto a serving platter. The caramel cooks the apples and creates a gooey layer on top of the cake, with a light caramel taste. To boost the caramel flavor, serve the cake with extra caramel sauce!

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One thing to note when baking this cake is to use extra-wide aluminum foil to cover the bottom of your springform pan, and place a large cookie sheet on the rack below the cake. Springform pans have a tendency to leak slightly, so you’ll want the pan there to catch any drippings! Otherwise, you’ll panic when smoke starts pouring out of your oven, like I did… 😛

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

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Chocolate Pudding Cake

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Today, I want to share one of my family recipes: Chocolate Pudding Cake. This is one of the recipes that has been passed down through the generations from my great-grandmother, Nanny, although I made a few minor changes. I know I’ve mentioned it previously, but I come from a long line of amazing bakers on both sides of my family!

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This old-fashioned cake starts with a thick chocolate batter, and then you pour hot liquid (almost like hot chocolate) on top. As it bakes, a gooey cake forms, with a rich chocolate pudding underneath.

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The best part of this cake, besides the fact that it tastes amazing, is that it is incredibly easy to whip up! All of the prep work takes only about 15 minutes, and you don’t need an electric mixer. You also really only need one bowl and a large measuring cup, so dirty dishes are minimal (a big plus in my book!).

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So, if you’re looking for a quick and easy dessert — something for Valentine’s Day perhaps? — look no further! Grab some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for topping, and you’re good to go.

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Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

Download the recipe!

Super Bowl Cake Pops!

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It’s been a long time since I’ve published a post about decorating. Actually, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything in general! Sadly, I caught the flu sometime around New Year’s Eve and was confined to my bed and couch for almost 10 days. And when I finally returned to work, I was in crazy-deadline mode (and still am!) and didn’t do anything besides work and sleep. So I haven’t touched my oven in weeks, and that makes me really sad…

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So I decided to whip up something FUN! And next weekend’s Super Bowl seemed like the perfect excuse. One thing to note is that I’m not particularly in to sports, except maybe a little bit of hockey. (Can’t deny my Canadian roots, eh?) I knew who was playing the Super Bowl because it’s hard not to with Facebook and other social media, but I needed to look up the team colors on Google.

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One thing that’s great about cake pops, is that you can make them using leftover cake, cake scraps, or freshly baked cake. So grab your favorite white or yellow cake recipe (or use a box mix for an easy shortcut), and let’s get started! Click below for the step-by-step directions. Thanks for reading! And GO [insert sports team name of your choosing]! 🙂

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Gingerbread Cake with Eggnog Ice Cream

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For anyone who hasn’t tried it before, ice cream is really hard to photograph. It melts quickly under bright lights and turns in to a less-appetizing puddle. Which is why I suppose food artists use mashed potatoes to mimic ice cream in more-professional shoots. You see, I thought a lot about this last night while rushing to catch a few photos before my Eggnog Ice Cream melted away.

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But I managed to grab a few good photos before giving up and eating the spoils. Thankfully, the melted ice cream worked in this cake’s favor. As the Gingerbread Cake soaked in the melted Eggnog, the flavors blended together to create something amazing!

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On their own, the Gingerbread Cake and Eggnog Ice Cream are delicious. In fact, this cake is so good, that when the cat jumped on the counter and nibbled the corner of a slice, the boyfriend yelled, “You ruined something perfect!” (I just laughed, which I’m sure gave the cat mixed messages…) But put together, the gingerbread and eggnog create a beautiful, sweet, and creamy dessert.

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Both of these recipes are perfect for the upcoming holidays. And, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, don’t fret! The Eggnog Ice Cream can be frozen in the freezer without an ice cream maker. You just need to make sure you break up the crystals as the ice cream freezes to get the ice cream as smooth and creamy as possible.

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To make ice cream without a machine, freeze the ice cream base in a deep baking dish (stainless steel, heavy plastic, or something else durable). After 45 minutes, remove the dish from the freezer and stir it vigorously with a rubber spatula. Put it back in the freezer, removing it every 30 minutes to stir again. The ice cream should be sufficiently frozen after 2 to 3 hours, when you should then transfer it to a freezer-safe plastic container to harden.

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

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Brandied Applesauce Cake

Remember that Brandied Applesauce I posted about last week? Well, it was so good that I made a double recipe, twice. So my house is FULL of little jars of applesauce, in both the fridge for snacking and the freezer for saving. However, I’ve maxed out the capacity of my freezer, and I don’t want any of the applesauce to go bad and be wasted. I needed to find something to do with a few cups of applesauce.

My first thought was an applesauce cake. But then I realized that Thanksgivukkah is coming up this week, so I wanted to merge my applesauce cake idea with a more traditional Jewish apple cake. (For those of you not aware of Thanksgivukkah, this year’s first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. This is an extremely rare occurrence that is not projected to sync up again for thousands of years!)

This recipe uses my brandied applesauce, along with a few chopped apples, walnuts, and raisins. The applesauce and small amount of oil also means that you don’t need to wait for butter to soften, it’s low in fat, and (if you use oil to grease your pan and certified brandy) it’s kosher!

Of note, if you don’t want to use the brandied applesauce as a base, you can substitute regular applesauce mixed with a few tablespoons of brandy. You can also omit the brandy altogether, increase the spices, and dust with powdered sugar. It’s an extremely versatile cake!

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel to ask in the comment section below. 

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