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! 🙂

Download the recipe!

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Homemade Gummies

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I had a few lofty goals for Valentine’s Day this year. First was a cheesecake experiment, which unfortunately failed. The cheesecake was tasty, but the presentation just didn’t work out. 😦 So I bumped up my Panna Cotta post to Tuesday, and I tried to come up with something new. Last minute, I decided to make some heart-shaped homemade gummies.

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I started grabbing the equipment and ingredients from my baking “office”, but then realized that I didn’t have nearly enough corn syrup. Since it’s snowing in DC and I didn’t have enough time to go to the grocery store, I starting flipping through cookbooks to come up with other options.

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Tada! The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook has a recipe for super-easy homemade gummies, using Jell-O! And what do I have in my baking cupboard, but a box of cherry Jell-O. All was not lost! And within 45 minutes, I had fresh, homemade sweet and sour cherry gummies.

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These gummies are perfect for a last-minute Valentine’s Day treat. Bring them to work, send them to school with the kiddos, or just nibble on a few yourself! You can make them with any flavor of Jell-O and as sweet or sour as you choose. The only ingredient that may be hard to get last-minute is the citric acid, but look for it in the canning section of your local super market or hardware store. (It may be labeled as Sour Salt or Lemon Salt!)

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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! Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

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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!

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! 🙂

Download the recipes!

Cherry-Almond Streusel Tart

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This weekend, the boyfriend and I went down to the Farmers’ Market. Wandering around the market has become a Saturday early-morning tradition. This weekend we were running a little late after accidentally sleeping in after the Fourth of July holiday. So I was concerned that all the “good stuff” would be already sold out!

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But, at the first of many produce stands, I found baskets of beautiful sour cherries! (They also had gooseberries, which I’m still thinking about… I may have to pick some up next time!) We decided to keep wandering because the cherries were a bit pricey. But I couldn’t stop thinking about them! Sour cherries have a limited harvest season and can be extremely hard to find, so they’ve been on my mind for a while…

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When we hit the last produce stand on the block, I saw even larger (and slightly cheaper) baskets of sour cherries. And I knew that I needed them! I picked up about 2 pounds of cherries to go along with the oyster mushrooms, pickling cucumbers, and peaches already in our bag. And, thankfully, I had enough cherries to make this tart and a batch of Peach & Sour Cherry Jam! 🙂

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The tart starts off with a buttery almond crust and is filled with slightly sweetened sour cherries. It’s  topped off with an almond-streusel topping that gives a bit of crunch to the tart. If you can’t find fresh sour cherries near you, you can use frozen or canned sour cherries. If using frozen cherries, thaw them first, and then drain the accumulated juices. If using canned cherries, try to find cherries packed in juice instead of syrup, and drain them well.

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Irish Coffee Float

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Everyone is used to that night when you rummage through the fridge and throw a meal together with all of the week’s left overs. But now that I’m baking so much and not always finishing off each ingredient, I’ve had to come up with creative ways to use my leftovers…

From one of those crazy brainstorms, the Irish Coffee Float was born! It stated off as an experiment when the boyfriend and I returned from vacation, and he really wanted an “adult” iced coffee. But iced coffee with Bailey’s sounded just a little too normal, so my brain went racing…

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I had leftover Guinness ice cream in the freezer! So why not throw in a scoop? Oh, and there’s Whiskey Caramel in the fridge! Let’s drizzle that on top! And, like magic, a new favorite drink was created. (And we finished off the leftover ice cream and caramel…)

This drink is perfect for cooling off in the upcoming hot summer days! Click below for the recipe. Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Chocolate Pizza

A few weekends ago, I decided to try to make homemade mozzarella cheese. One of the blogs I follow (Love and Olive Oil) has been posing a monthly “Kitchen Challenge”, and June’s challenge was for homemade mozzarella. Since I’ve missed out on the timing for the last few challenges, I decided to give this one a try! And while I was at it, why not make homemade pizza dough? And, if I can make homemade pizza dough and cheese, why not go all the way and try for a dessert pizza?!

Well, the homemade mozzarella was a bit of a FAIL as I forgot to put the citric acid in the first batch, and the next 5 batches curdled. The last batch finally set up properly (I am less than enthused about the results), but by that time, I’d already given up on incorporating it in to this dessert…

So I switched gears slightly to use goat cheese instead of mozzarella, which ended up working out well. Cause this pizza came out amazing! Especially with the addition of my homemade Cherry-Bourbon Jam! And I was inspired to make two batches of homemade pizza dough: one regular and one chocolate. (The mini pizzas that the boyfriend and I made were adorable and super tasty! Check out a picture on my Instagram.) Overall, it turned out to be a fun challenge, and I can now add homemade pizza to my repertoire! 🙂

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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