Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart

Last Christmas, Alex's mom made this delicious Chocolate Mint Cake that I have always wanted to try to make myself. It was super rich and tasted like a peppermint patty. Unfortunately, I never get the opportunity to make cake, so I have yet to try it out.

I decided that I would try turning them into cupcakes for a holiday party that we are attending tonight. They came out pretty good if I do say so myself! They weren't the easiest cupcakes in the world to make, but "the harder the recipe, the most delicious the food" is always the way it goes.

Candy Cane Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 36 cupcakes

Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 (16oz) package light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 (8oz) container sour cream
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 3 cupcake tins with cupcake liners
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt
  3. Beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer, beating about 5 minutes or until well blended
  4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition
  5. Melt semisweet chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at high for 30-second intervals until melted (about 1 1/2 minutes total time). Stir until smooth
  6. Add melted chocolate, beating just until blended
  7. Gradually add to chocolate mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture
  8. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition
  9. Gradually add 1 cup hot water in a slow, steady stream, beating at low speed just until blended
  10. Stir in vanilla
  11. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
  12. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, finish cooling on wire rack
Peppermint Butter Cream Frosting
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 (16oz) packages powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint oil (or substitute 1 tsp peppermint extract)
Directions
  1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with milk
  3. Beating at low speed until blended after each addition
  4. Stir in vanilla extract and peppermint oil
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
  • 1 (12oz) package semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp butter
Directions
  1. Microwave semisweet chocolate morsels and whipping cream in a 2-quart microwave-safe bowl at medium (50% power) for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt
  2. Whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth
  3. Whisk in butter; let stand 20 minutes
  4. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture forms soft peaks
Assemble
  1. Scoop peppermint frosting into a large ziplock bag
  2. Use a pairing knife to cut a small circle in the top of one of your cupcakes. Angle the knife toward the center of the cupcake, so a small cone of cake can be removed. Do not throw this away
  3. Take the bag of peppermint frosting and clip away a very small piece of one corner of the bag
  4. Pipe a small amount of peppermint frosting into the center of the cupcake
  5. Replace the removed piece of cake to cover the peppermint frosting
  6. Repeat for all cupcakes
  7. Frost the top of each cupcake with Chocolate Ganache frosting
Finishing Touches
  • 3 Peppermint Candy Canes
Directions
  1. Place 3 candy canes in a large plastic bag.
  2. Using a rolling pin, beat candy canes till they are practically dust
  3. Sprinkle each cupcake with crushed candy canes

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

I love our first Christmas tree. It was so fun picking it out and decorating it. Its little pink lights add a nice ambiance to the room. However, it is still looking a little bare since it is our first Christmas living together.

On Saturday afternoon, Kristina and I got together and made some ornaments to add a little more sparkle to our tree's branches.

Beaded Snowflake Ornaments
  • 16 corsage pins with pearl ends
  • Crystal-like beads in desired shapes and sizes
  • 1 small cork
  • Iridescent white glitter paint pen
  • Silver Monofilament thread
Directions
  1. Cut the cork, so it is about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Cover the cork using glitter paint pen. Allow to dry. Apply a second coat, if necessary, and let dry.
  3. Place beads on 1 corsage pin in desired order, leaving the last 1/4 inch without beads.
  4. Make 3 more beaded pins using the same arrangement.
  5. Make another set of 4 beaded pins, using a different arrangement.
  6. Make an additional set of 8 beaded pins.
  7. With the round side of the cork laying on the work surface, poke one beaded pin into the cork, like a spoke of a wheel.
  8. Place a matching beaded pin opposite the first.
  9. Place the remaining two opposite each other, between the first set.
  10. Using the remaining set of 4 matching pins, poke each into the cork, slightly closer to the top of the cork and alternating with the first set of four.
  11. With the remaining 8 pins, place 1 beaded pin into the center of the side of the cork. Put three other pins around this one angled in toward the center.
  12. Repeat on the other side.
  13. To hang, cut a desired length of monofilament and tie to one spoke of the snowflake.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We've Got Magic to Do

Things always get super busy around the holidays. There are trees to trim, presents to buy, old friends to connect with, and holiday parties to attend. This directly interferes with bad weather, frigid temperatures, and cold and flu season! All of these things combined have made me less crafty and more busy, so I hope you'll forgive this repeated post while I try to catch my crafty breath!

Magic cookie bars are a staple at our house around the holidays. They are so fun and easy to make. They don't even dirty a spoon! Alex doesn't like nuts, so I decided to kick these up a notch with more candy! They were sweet as can be, but super delicious!

Magic Cookie Bars (inspired by Eagle Brand Recipes)
Makes 2 dozen bars
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 six oz package of chocolate chips
  • 1 six oz package of white chocolate chips
  • 1 six oz package of butterscotch chip
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a small sauce pan, melt butter
  3. Pour butter evenly into a 13x9 baking dish so that it coats the bottom of the dish
  4. Layer remaining ingredients evenly on top of the butter
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bottom is golden brown
  6. Let cool before cutting into squares