Monday, June 25, 2012

Forgotten Kiss Cookies

The other day I was looking for something to make for a girls night, and I was not in the mood at all to bake and was tempted to just buy something from the store, which I hate to do since I normally look for excuses to bake something. From the very very begininng of this pregnancy i've just felt exhausted all.the.time. I always tell myself i'll go to bed early or nap but instead I always tough through it though and don't let it stop me from doing everything that needs to be done. Yes, i've been pretty grumpy lately, especially with my kids. Can I just have a week alone on a desserted island? ANYWAY, back to the cookies. Girls night, didn't feel like baking. So I did some quick searching and came across this recipe and knew right away I wanted to give it a try. Very basic ingredients (you don't even need eggs) and the dough comes together quickly. The cookie had a slight melt in your mouth texture and tasted like shortbread. I really liked them and look forward to making them again with different kinds of kisses.
Forgotten Kiss Cookies

1 Cup Softened Margarine
1/3 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips Or Mini M&ms
1 9oz. Bag Hershey Kisses (I used caramel kisses. Some of the caramel will ooze out but I liked them)

FOR CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE (optional): (I didn't do the drizzle on mine)
¼ cups Mini Chocolate Chips
1 teaspoon Shortening

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, beat butter/margarine, sugars, and vanilla until well blended.
Add the flour and blend until smooth.
Stir in mini chocolate chips.
Mold a scant tablespoon of cookie dough around each unwrapped kiss, covering completely. Shape into balls.
Place onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until set.
Cool completely, move from cookie sheet to wire rack.
Prepare chocolate drizzle, if desired, and drizzle over each cooled cookie.
makes 2-3 dozen
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Banana Split Cupcakes

With 3 birthdays in our family this month, there won't be any shortages of dessert. Next week my daughter turns 3 and she hasn't been able to stop talking about it for the last couple weeks. But first up was Landon's birthday. My baby boy turned 1 last Sunday! We took some of these to our class at church and I sit in the very back trying to keep Landon quiet.This week he had wandered up to the front where I couldn't really see him, but he was being quiet so I let him be. A few minutes later I discovered he had gotten someone's cupcake they had sitting by them on the floor. (Their fault, right?? ;) ) Let's just say he was shirtless for the rest of church, but i'm glad he liked it. 
I've been wanting to make these cupcakes for some time and this was the perfect occasion. I was actually surprised as how much they actually were like a banana split. The cupcake tastes exactely like banana bread and has strawberry and pineapple inside as a filling. Then it's topped with a whipped cream frosting, ganache, sprinkles and a cherry.
Banana Split Cupcakes 
Yield: 30+ cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana

For the filling:
1 lb. strawberries, hulled and diced small
2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
12 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

For the frosting:
1½ cups heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ tsp. vanilla extract

For the ganache:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup

For garnish:
Multi-colored sprinkles
Maraschino cherries

Preheat the oven to 350° F and line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium low and add in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the mashed banana until well combined. With the mixer on low speed alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing only until just incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 to ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-22 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry filling, combine the strawberries and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Toss well, smashing slightly with a fork. Allow the berries to macerate at least 20-30 minutes.

To fill the cupcakes, cut a small cone out of the center of each cupcake with a paring knife or small biscuit cutter. (The excess cake can be discarded.) Add a teaspoon or two of the strawberry filling to the center of each cupcake. Top with a teaspoon or two of the crushed pineapple, filling to the top of the cupcake.

To make the frosting, add the heavy cream to the chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until thoroughly combined and stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat! Blend in the vanilla extract.

Add the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe a swirl of the whipped cream onto each filled cupcake, covering the filling. Transfer the filled and frosted cupcakes to the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate; let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk together until a thick, smooth ganache forms. Blend in the corn syrup. Let stand at room temperature at least 10 minutes so the ganache is not hot.

To finish the cupcakes, pour a spoonful of the ganache over the whipped cream topping of each cupcake. Garnish with sprinkles and maraschino cherries before the glaze sets. Chill the assembled cupcakes until ready to serve.
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I know, it's almost summer time and i'm posting a soup recipe. I've had this one stashed away for a while and didn't even think to post it until this last time I made it. I couldn't NOT post it. It's so good! It's flavorful without being overly spicey. And don't skip making your own tortilla strips, it doesn't take that long and they're so much better than store bought ones.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup grapeseed oil, peanut oil, other high smoke-point oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium Anaheim, poblano or jalapeƱo chile, seeded, veins removed, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained (recommended Muir Glen fire-roasted)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 ripe avocado, optional
1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese or mild cheddar
Chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges

Cut tortillas in half, and then cut the halves into 1/4-inch wide strips. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a 3-quart pot. Working in three batches, fry the tortilla strips in the oil, until lightly browned and crisp. Remove the tortilla strips from the pan and let drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Add the chopped onions to the pan, cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped chile and cook for 2-3 minutes more, until the onions and chiles have softened. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the broth, tomatoes, and salt. Increase the heat to high, heat until the soup begins to boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and cook until heated through.

To serve, top soup with tortilla strips, cheese, cilantro and other desired garnishes (avacado, sour cream, lime wedges). Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter