Archive for March, 2013

March 31, 2013

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Shhh. I’ve never liked carrot cake. I’ve always been sort of fundamentally opposed to a vegetable becoming so intimate with my dessert (although I suppose the Chocolate Beet Cake didn’t turn out so bad).

I also was always under the assumption that carrot cake was somehow healthier than other desserts, which I am pretty sure is not true when you look at the sugar, oil, butter, etc. that still go into these. Anyways, my favorite part of carrot cake was always the cream cheese frosting.

In the spirit of Easter, and therefore bunnies, I decided I would try my hand at some carrot cake cupcakes. And you know what? They turned out pretty darn tasty! As part of my Easter dessert spread (along with these and some other things yet to come), they were quite a hit and were just in the right spirit for a mid-afternoon Easter sunday snack.

The fun part of these was making the little chocolate carrots to go on top. I always love making things with melted chocolate because they are so easy to make and yet always look impressive and fancy… best of both worlds right? To make these, I just melted down some orange candy wafers, put them in a pastry bag, and drew little carrots all over the parchment paper. When that part dried, I added some green for the leafy parts! Easy peasy, peel them off, pop ’em on top of those cupcakes, and they look like they are from the bakery!

Any carrot cake lovers out there? These are for you! Happy Easter!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
cake adapted from A Pinch Of Yum

makes 12 cupcakes

1 cups flour
1 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 c + 1 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups grated raw carrots
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners (I would suggest doubling up since one layer does get a bit oily). Mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and pinch of salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add in the oil and carrots and mix until combined. Mix in the eggs and stir until incorporated. At the point, the batter will look all wrong – like it has too much oil and too many carrots. Don’t worry. It’s right.

Fill the cups evenly, about 3/4 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting. Frost with cream cheese frosting (below) and serve chilled for best taste!

Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Joy The Baker

4 oz cream cheese (softened – leave out on counter for 2 hours before)
4 T unsalted butter (softened – leave out on counter for 2 hours before)
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes, until fluffy. Add the butter and beat for another 1-2 minutes, until completely combined. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until incorporated. Add the powdered sugar in batches, beating well between each addition, until frosting reaches desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently.

 

March 30, 2013

Rice Krispy Easter Eggs

I used to get really upset about the Easter Bunny. I didn’t understand how he could get in the house if my dad locked the door at night, because I knew he wouldn’t get his fur dirty by coming down the chimney. But somehow he always managed to sneak in (which probably should have been an even scarier thought) and launch a competitive easter egg hunt/battle amongst my brothers and me.

But really, my favorite thing about Easter never had to do with treats or bunnies or chocolate (okay maybe chocolate). It was all about the Easter Dress. My wonderful Auntie Kay (who had two boys that she couldn’t really dress up too much) used to send me a beautiful dress every year for Easter. Imagine pastel flowers, pleated flouncy skirts, ruffled sleeves (oh the ruffled sleeves!!), and I’m pretty sure I usually rocked a matching headband. Cue sweet pictures with my oldest brother sitting on our front hall steps, me grinning sweetly waiting for the perfect photo op and him smirking, waiting for a chance to give me a nougie and mess up my perfectly combed hair….

I don’t have a special Easter dress this year. I’ll have to make do with something in my closet I guess. But I did make a pretty sweet dessert spread for my first Easter with my soon-to-be in-laws, who traveled up to Beantown for the holiday. Maybe out of my kid nostalgia (see above), maybe out of my love of marshmallows (but my hatred for Peeps), or maybe out of my love for The Pioneer Woman from whom I shamelessly copied this idea, I bring you Rice Krispy Easter Eggs. I promise I made some more sophisticated desserts that I will share very soon, but guys, I just couldn’t help it.

Hope the Easter Bunny visits you tonight! But still lock your door… okay?

Rice Krispy Easter Eggs
adapted from The Pioneer Woman

3 Tbs butter
10 oz marshmallows
6 cups rice krispy cereal
Plastic Easter Egg
Sprinkles

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over med-low heat. Add in marshmallows and stir until completely melted and smooth. Stir in cereal until fully incorporate. Turn off heat.

This next part is basically whatever system works for you to smush all that sticky goodness into the egg mold and get it back out in one piece. Here’s how I did it. Lightly grease the inside of each half of the plastic easter egg. Scoop up some rice krispy mixture in each half. Squish them together and wipe off any pieces that came out from the seal. It helps if your hands are a little wet (not dripping). Open up the top half of the egg and add any desired sprinkles. Put the top back on and push the halves together firmly. Open them up and pop the egg onto a cookie sheet to dry, then move to an empty egg carton. Store in an airtight container so they don’t dry out!

 

March 29, 2013

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

In my almost year-long hiatus from the blog world, I didn’t just fold up my apron and step out of the kitchen. Sure, there’s been some takeout. Lots of ice cream from the grocery store for dessert. Frozen ravioli and peas. So sue me.

But also, in the past two years since graduating college and becoming a real life grown up, I kind of learned to cook. In fact, I cook more than I bake these days. Like real meals. Dinner on the table. Meat, veggies, starch. You know.

Don’t get me wrong – I will always be a baker. A dessert kind of gal. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t change that about myself even if I wanted to. If you click on the “Real Food” category on my blog you will find (as of now) a 3 entries. Click on the “Chocolate” category, and you will find around 7 pages of goodies. So don’t worry, I have my priorities straight.

So let’s just say this post is about one of those things that comes out of my kitchen in between the sweet stuff. It’s about one of my new favorite meals.

Friends, Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, Friends.  I think this might be kind of healthy. It uses a healthy amount of cheese, yes, but most of the deliciousness comes from pureed butternut squash and whole wheat noodles. Notice in the background that this dish goes quickly – by the time we thought to snap some pictures we were on to the second casserole dish.

I highly suggest you call up some friends, invite them over for an early Sunday evening meal. Serve them this mac and cheese in a beautiful casserole dish. Roast up some asparagus or other green veggie for some added color. Drink some wine and laugh a lot. Go back for seconds. And okay, okay, make these for dessert. Or these. Or these.

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
adapted from Simple Bites

1 lb whole wheat pasta (any shape will do!)
1/4 cup butter
3 Tbs flour
3 cups milk (I like to use 2%)
1 2/3 cups butternut squash puree**
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups grated cheese (I used mostly cheddar with a little parmesan)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

**There are a few different ways to make butternut squash puree, but my favorite is to roast the squash first – I think it brings out the best flavor. Just cut a whole butternut squash in half or quarters, scoop out the seeds, and roast at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until nice and tender. Let cool and scoop flesh into a food processor to blend into puree! Measure out what you need and freeze the rest.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease one or two casserole dishes (depending on size – I use two 9-10 inch round dishes, but it would probably fit into one bit 9×13 dish).

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, minus one minute. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Sprinkle in flour, stirring with a whisk to incorporate. Add the milk, continuing to stir, and cook for 2-4 minutes until mixture thickens slightly. Add in butternut squash and then the cheese. Stir with whisk until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth and dreamy (yes, dreamy). Stir in the mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the cooked pasta into the saucepan and mix well so sauce is fully incorporated with the pasta. Fill prepared casserole dishes. Top with desired amount of breadcrumbs (i.e. more is always better, in my opinion) and pop in the oven. Bake until heated all the way through and cheese is bubbly, but careful not to let the top dry out.

March 20, 2013

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

I share something in common with Joy The Baker. I’m pretty sure we are both in love with browned butter. And peanut butter I guess.

The first time I ever browned butter I was afraid I would burn all that yummy buttery goodness right up. But the trick is to just keep swirling and watching and smelling that nutty goodness. After the butter melts and starts crackling and bubbling, stay with it. Don’t give in to the urge to whip it off the stove just yet. Because after the crackling starts to subside, you will notice rich amber flecks of brown butter gathering at the bottom of your pan. Once the butter starts to take on this delicious amber hue, get that pan off the stove and scrape all that yummy butter into a bowl to keep it from burning.

These Browned Butter Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats, (any treat with Butter in the title twice has got to be good) are from Joy The Baker’s new cookbook – you’ll have to check it out for the recipe.  I’ll just say that there is browned butter, marshmallows, peanut butter, and rice krispie cereal. How could that possible go wrong! Yes, I know my last post raved about this cookbook as well – it’s that good.

Stay tuned for some seriously good things coming out of my kitchen with my bread baking brother Dan comes to town. Ciabatta? Hungarian Mushroom Soup? Lemon Poppyseed muffins? Hmmm….

March 17, 2013

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

DSC_0041

Sometimes, a girl just needs a makeover. A fresh start. A clean slate.

Ladies and gents, I present the new and improved A Sprinkle In Time.

Yes, it’s been almost a year since I graced your presence with sweet treats. Sorry about that. Sometimes life gets in the way, ya know?

DSC_0051

But I’m back and better than ever.

DSC_0047

Listen, I am generally not into change. I keep the same CD in my car for months on end. I’ve been using the same makeup routine since I was a freshman in college. I must eat pillow cookies every Christmas Eve (more on that someday). I believe in the chocolate chip cookie recipe off the back of the bag and Betty Crocker box mix brownies.

But every once in a while, I get that antsy feeling. I need to shed my skin and try something new. Once upon a time that meant dying or chopping off my hair, or dropping out of college to backpack through New Zealand. I think I’m a grownup now, because all I could think of was a new blog layout… and these brownies.

DSC_0054

Inspired by a recipe from my brand new Joy The Baker Cookbook (which I cannot stop reading cover to cover every other day) and the need for something just a little different, I pulled out my apron and my trusty old camera and whipped up some Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies.

DSC_0010

I must say, I am generally into fudgy brownies over cakey ones (again, not really into change here), and these brownies definitely fell into to cake variety, what with the 4 eggs fluffing things up. However, their deep chocolate flavor mixed with a sticky sweet swirl of peanut butter across the top made for quite the elegant treat. These are grownup brownies. These are brownies to send to your future in-laws. These are brownies for a new beginning.

DSC_0052

Welcome back friends, I missed you.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
adapted slightly from Joy The Baker

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 Tbs unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs (although I’d like to try with just 2 to try a more fudgy version)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 Tbs confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Butter up a 9×13 pan real good.

2. Mix together flower, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

3. In a double boiler, melt butter and chocolates until smooth. Remove from heat.

4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla until pale and thick.

5. Add chocolate mixture all at once and whisk until completely incorporated.

6. Add flour mixture all at once and whisk until completely incorporated, making sure to scrap to the very bottom of the bowl.

7. Heat peanut butter in the microwave in 10 second intervals (20-30 seconds total) until slightly running.

8. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar. Heat one more time if necessary.

9. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan. Drop dollops of peanut butter mixture on top, all across the pan, making sure to get some near the eduges.

10. Run the blade of a sharp paring knife back and forth through the batter to swirl the peanut butter and chocolate together. Swirl until evenly distributed but not mixed.

11. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.