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GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Celebrating National Chocolate Cake Day, I decided to go a bit different from the traditional chocolate cake by complimenting chocolate with the worlds most loved stout, Guinness. If you’re a chocolate lover, and I don’t just mean milk chocolate… you will love this recipe! You don’t have to like Guinness to enjoy this recipe BUT these cupcakes are meant for taste buds that can appreciate a deep, dark chocolate flavor. So, if you’re ready for decadence, brace yourselves and go all out. I decided to pair it with a salted caramel frosting instead of the popular Bailey’s and/or Jameson frosting that a lot of people are doing. Personally, I find the salted caramel does an equal justice to the Guinness and chocolate.

The recipe typically calls for two sticks of butter but if you happen to find yourself making dry cakes; what I do is use half butter and half grapeseed oil. You can use any oil that you prefer but grapeseed oil yields the least flavor so the Guinness and chocolate aren’t competing with the flavor of the oil. When decorating the cupcakes feel free to be creative. I like keeping things simple and so all I did was sprinkle a little cocoa powder and edible gold dust on top. You can find edible gold or silver dust in the baking isle of an arts ‘n crafts store like JOANN’s, Michaels or Hobby Lobby, even Amazon.com. Have fun and HAPPY NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CAKE DAY!


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GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
GUINNESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the Guinness, cocoa powder, and brown sugar. Whisk everything until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Add the flour, sea salt, granulated sugar, and baking soda into a bowl of a standing mixer on low.
  3. Pour the Guinness mixture in three parts beating everything until everything is just combined. Increase speed without getting flour to fly out of the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs and plain Greek yogurt with the last part of the Guinness mixture, beat on medium until smooth.
  5. Pour the batter into the cupcake pan ¾ of the way.
  6. Bake at 350 F Degrees for about 20 - 25 minutes. Poke the center with a toothpick. If it comes out mostly clean then your cupcakes are done.
SALTED CARAMEL FROSTING
  1. In a small saucepan melt the butter, dark brown sugar with the heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract until the brown sugar dissolves. Let it come to a light boil for only a minute and then remove from heat to cool.
  2. Pour the salted caramel into a mixing bowl and pour a little bit of powdered sugar at a time. Start the mixer on low speed at first and bring it up to medium speed.
  3. Mix approximately 2 cups of powdered sugar until you get a nice thick fluffy consistency. Add a little more powdered sugar if needed.
  4. Use a heaping teaspoon to place a dollop of the frosting on top of the cupcake and use the back of the spoon to swirl around in circles until you have it spread out evenly.
  5. Garnish the top with cocoa powder and/or edible gold dust, sprinkles, whatever you prefer to decorate with.

BOURBON BALLS

A friend of mine celebrated his birthday in September and gave me a little hell for not posting a Bourbon Balls recipe on the food blog in honor of bourbon month. I’ll admit I had never heard of bourbon balls before until he mentioned it. WELCOME TO THE SOUTH, JENN! I had discovered there are so many ways to make yummy bourbon balls and I truly wanted to try a few different variations but because I was on a mission to make a batch for his birthday, it was important that I took into consideration of his nut allergy. Instead of using 1 cup of ground pecans, I used shortbread cookies. All that butter, come on… of course it was still good. So, if you’re looking to make this recipe, feel free to use pecans if you like. I have found using pecans is most traditional.

When making these sexy bite-sized treats it’s important to keep extra bourbon available because depending on the weather that day you may need to add more bourbon. For example, the dry air of Autumn was kicking in and so I had to add an extra splash. And even some times had to dip my finger tips in bourbon that I poured in a bowl to help smooth everything out. Also make sure you use a bourbon that you love drinking.

A few last things to make your bourbon balls more to your personal liking. You don’t have to roll the balls in cocoa powder, you can use whatever you like. Finely chopped coconut shavings, mini chocolate chips, crushed nuts, powdered sugar, or sprinkles. I lightly brushed edible gold dust on top of mine after rolling them in cocoa powder for a subtle look of class, which you can find at pretty much any craft store or on Amazon.com. Let me know how they come out for you!

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BOURBON BALLS
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Servings
balls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Use a food processor to ground the Nilla wafers and shortbread cookies until it’s a flour consistency. If there are any big chunks, remove them.
  2. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Pulse several times until everything is combined together. Then, add the bourbon and honey. Let the food processor run until everything forms together like a big sticky ball. Add a splash of bourbon if the dough is too dry.
  3. Place the bourbon dough in a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Put about an 1/8 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder in a separate bowl.
  4. Use a medium-sized melon baller to scoop out the bourbon dough. Gently roll the dough in between the palm of your hands until it forms a perfect sphere. Roll each ball in the unsweetened cocoa powder and place in a paper candy cup.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve. They also stay just fine at room temperature.

PIGNOLI COOKIES

These are my number one absolute favorite cookie of all time. They remind me of childhood. They remind me of good times during the holidays. It reminds me of the massive gatherings during the holidays with family and amaretto is my favorite flavor. Pignoli means “pine nuts” in Italian hence the pine nuts topped on these unique cookies. They’re most commonly found in Sicily but you can pretty much find them anywhere during the holidays. Because pine nuts are expensive and so is almond paste (the main ingredient), these are typically made only during the holiday season or a special occasion.

While pignoli cookies are a more of a luxury to make than your typical average cookie, they are super easy to make and require not a whole lot of time at all. The outside should have a light crusty crunch that leads you to a center right under the pine nuts to a chewy bite that will melt in our mouth like heaven! If you love almond paste, amaretto (almond) liqueurs then without a doubt you’ll be wanting to make these every year.

When you’re making the dough, you’ll come to find that it’s very sticky and difficult to use a spoon to place the cookies on a baking sheet without creating a big ole mess. So, save yourself the TIME & STRESS and go buy yourself a medium-sized cookie dough scooper (holds about 1.5 tablespoons in a scoop)! You can find these almost anywhere nowadays. I got mine through Amazon Prime for about $6 and it showed up in two days. The OXO Good Grips brand for this particular baking tool is fantastic and does not rust!

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PIGNOLI COOKIES
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Have ready two large cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and a medium cookie dough scooper (1.5 tablespoons).
  2. Crumble up the almond paste with your fingers into a bowl of a standing mixer. Then, run it through together with the sugar until it’s almost incorporated (It will appear as pebbles covered in sugar).
  3. Add one egg white at a time until the dough smoothes out. Then, add in the powdered sugar, flour, and almond extract until it’s well mixed together. The dough will appear sticky and very moist.
  4. Use the cookie dough scooper to place the cookie dough onto a cookie sheet. Cover the top of each one with pine nuts (about 15-20 pine nuts each).
  5. Bake at 350 F degree for about 10 - 12 minutes or until the bottom edges are golden.

REFRESHING LEMON BARS

Here’s a Summer treat that can’t be beat. I’ve never had these before until my hubby told me how much he loves them. When we went into a small Amish town a few weeks ago I tried my first lemon bar. Honestly, for as great as their goods are I wasn’t too impressed with them at all. There wasn’t much of a lemon flavor to it! So it had me motivated to do some research on how to make these things that I believe should be packed with zing.

I came up with what I feel is a perfect marriage. One thing is for sure, never make lemon bars without the lemon zest! And there’s no reason to be using too many eggs in a recipe when you can use baking powder. I’m pretty sure no one wants an eggy tasting lemon bar.

For a gluten-free version just use your favorite all-purpose gluten free flour instead.

I don’t know about you but some vanilla ice cream sounds pretty freakin’ amazing with this right about now!

 

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REFRESHING LEMON BARS
Servings
bars
Ingredients
CRUST
FILLING
Servings
bars
Ingredients
CRUST
FILLING
Instructions
CRUST
  1. In a large bowl combine the flour and powdered sugar thoroughly with a whisk.
  2. Pour half of the melted butter into the bowl and mix with a large spoon until everything starts to come together. Pour the rest of the melted butter, mix until most of the butter is absorbed and then use your hands to fold the dough until everything comes together in a ball.
  3. Evenly spread out the dough into a 9" x 13" baking dish.
  4. Bake at 350 F degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden.
FILLING
  1. Zest your lemon first before juicing them and set aside in a small bowl.
  2. In a standing mixer combine the granulated sugar, flour, and baking powder on low. Then add the egg yolks and increase the speed to medium until everything is combined well.
  3. Reduce the speed back to low and slowly add the lemon juice. Then increase the speed again until everything is mixed together and looks frothy.
  4. Pour the mixture over the baked crust and put it back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

PUMPKIN MUFFIN TOPS

Are you one of those people that only eats the top of a muffin? Or ever wish you could just have one big muffin top instead? Me too! I love this time of year and I can’t really say that enough so I apologize if I sound like a broken record. With Spring and Summer time I tend to lose my interest in heavy foods so that by the time Autumn comes, I’m all for recipes like this. Maybe I indulge a bit too much at times but I figure I go the other half of the year recovering, haha!

Okay to the point! For all you pumpkin lovers out there and all the yummy spices that go hand-in-hand with pumpkin, you’re gonna love these. They come out so tender, not too sweet leaving room for the sweet icing. And afterwards you’ll probably not like me anymore because from that moment forward you’ll only want to eat muffin tops. I’ll admit to having one for breakfast in the morning but when they’re around I just can’t help it. Enough of my babble! Enjoy and let me know how they turn out for you.


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PUMPKIN MUFFIN TOPS
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
MUFFIN TOPS
GLAZE
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
MUFFIN TOPS
GLAZE
Instructions
MUFFIN TOPS
  1. In a large bowl, with a whisk combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, salt, and set it aside.
  2. In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Then add the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla extract.
  3. Grab your bowl of dry ingredients and pour a third of it into the mixture until it’s fairly incorporated. Do this two more times until all of the dry ingredients are mixed together with the wet, creating a dough.
  4. Place the cookie dough using a tablespoon and slightly flatten each one.
  5. Bake the muffin tops at 350 F degrees for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden orange. Let them cool completely before drizzling the glaze on top.
GLAZE
  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients together and whisk together thoroughly. Add more milk as needed until you get a consistency that is like honey.