Vanilla Almond Buttercream Frosting

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Vanilla Almond Buttercream

This weekend I wanted to play a little with baking a cake and decorating it since it has been a while since I’ve made and decorated one. I decided upon a vanilla cake, baked it, then the big decision was what kind of frosting I would use. I prefer buttercream, but it doesn’t set up as well as the frostings I’ve made with shortening. I really don’t like the frostings made with just shortenings, so I decided to do a mixture. The recipe was inspired by the recipe I found on I Am Baker‘s website.

To make the buttercream, you will need:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening (I realized I put in a whole stick when I only needed half, but it still turned out pretty well with the whole stick)
1 two pound bag of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup milk (I used Vanilla Silk Milk)

Directions:
1. Put the butter, shortening, vanilla extract, and almond extract in the mixer and cream together about 30 seconds.
2. Dump the entire bag of powdered sugar in, along with the milk. Mix until creamy and desired texture. You can add more milk if you’d like your frosting to be thinner.
3. Enjoy!

I kept my frosting a bit stiffer since I knew I’d be decorating the cake using rosettes.

Vanilla Almond

Baking love,
Heather

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

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Cookies and Cream Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream

My husband and I had family over for a BBQ this weekend and I needed to make some camera cake pops for my friend, Beryl, so I decided to make Cookies and Cream Cupcakes and Cake Pops. My husband loves them…and I do, too! I decided to use a box mix, but made a few changes using a picture I pinned on Pinterest. (Unfortunately, I’m unable to link to the pin- it is just a picture and doesn’t include the directions for baking the cake!) The pin said that by making a few changes to the box recipe, your cake will taste like homemade.

I bought a Butter Recipe Yellow Cake and, following the suggestions on the pin, I added one more egg to the batter, used milk (I used vanilla flavored coconut milk) instead of water, and since this was already a butter recipe, I didn’t have to change out oil for butter. However, if you use a box mix that calls for oil, switch it out for butter and the directions say to use twice as much butter as the amount of oil the box calls for. I wasn’t sure what would happen with the cupcakes, but was hoping for the best when the batter turned out very thick.

Mixed batter

At this point, I folded in crushed Oreos.

With Oreos

I made 12 cupcakes with the batter and used the rest to make a cake in my 8 x 8 pan to use for the cake pops.

Cupcakes before Oven

I put both in the oven- the cupcakes were done after about 18 minutes and the cake took about 25 minutes.

Baked

While the cupcakes were cooling I used the same recipe for the frosting as I used in my Oreo Cupcakes post, which comes from Lil’ Luna’s website. This super easy Marshmallow Buttercream calls for 4 ingredients and takes all of 5 minutes to make (if that).

To make the frosting you will need:

1 cup butter at room temperature (I ALWAYS forget to take the butter out early enough so I have found that putting it in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds, then 10 second intervals until my finger will leave an indentation works well)
1 7oz jar of marshmallow fluff
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

First, mix the butter and sugar using the mixer until they are creamy. Then, stir in the marshmallow fluff and vanilla by hand. Put the frosting in your piping bag and pipe onto your completely cooled cupcakes! If you try to frost them before they cool, it is likely the frosting will melt- give them at least 30 minutes to cool and I have found putting them on a cooling rack really helps.

After you have piped on the frosting, add some cookie crumbles to the top of the cupcake!
Up Close Cupcake

Enjoy your delicious cupcake!
Cupcake with Packages

I did find that making the few changes to the box recipe did make the cupcakes taste better- everyone LOVED the cupcakes at the BBQ! From what I could tell from my taste-tests, the cake pops were quite delicious as well, although they were a little harder to mold. I either mixed in too much frosting, or the cream from the Oreo cookies made the consistency a little moister. I’m pretty sure that even though they were not up to my standards of perfection in the molding department, the flavor was excellent!

Baking love,
Heather

S’mores Cookie Crumble Bars

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Cookie with Ingredients and words

Today I was craving marshmallow creme, but I didn’t really want to open the jar without having something to bake, in fear that I would eat the entire jar in one sitting. I had found a recipe on Pinterest for S’mores Cookie Crumble Bars linked from the Food Network website. I decided this would be the perfect recipe to try!

To make the bars you will need…

Ingredients
1 cup store-bought graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
One 4.4-ounce bar milk chocolate broken into pieces (I used Ghirardelli)
1 cup marshmallow creme

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the ends of the pan for lifting out the finished bars. Spray with cooking spray if you wish- I was worried the aluminum foil would stick to the bars.

Stir together the ground grahams, flour, sugar and salt in a small bowl.

Dry Ingredients

Cream the butter, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until creamy and combined; do not beat a great amount of air into the mixture.

Creamed Ingredients

Add the graham mixture and continue to beat on low speed until just combined and large crumbles form.

Mixed

Place about two-thirds of the mixture in the prepared pan and firmly press down (this was easiest done with my hands). Reserve a few pieces of the chocolate for garnish (I set aside two squares), and then scatter the rest of the chocolate pieces over the base. Drop spoonfuls of the marshmallow creme over the chocolate, stretching the creme so it covers more of the base (this is easier if you spray the spoon/spatula with cooking spray, otherwise the marshmallow creme sticks). Drop the remaining cookie batter in small clusters over the chocolate and creme so the creme is mostly covered.

Ready for Oven

Bake until the dough is golden brown and the cookie in the center of the pan feels firm, about 40 minutes.

Out of Oven

The marshmallow creme will puff through the crumble and brown, and it will deflate as it cools. Cool in the pan at least 15 minutes.

Using the foil overhang, lift the crumble bars out of the pan. Melt the reserved pieces of chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals until smooth, and then drizzle over the cookies.

Chocolate Topped

Cut into squares.

Finished Cookie

Serve warm or at room temperature.

With Ingredients

This was the perfect way for me to get my marshmallow creme fix (I saved a big spoonful to eat…deliciousness!) and the S’mores Bars were pretty good too! I do wish these had a bit more chocolate and marshmallow creme because there was a lot of cookie compared to the other ingredients. I only ate an end piece so perhaps I’ll have to try one of the middle pieces too, just to make sure….

Baking love,
Heather

Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole

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Baked French Toast

Over Memorial Day weekend we had some friends and their kids come to visit. I figured I’d make breakfast each morning for all of us and one of the things I LOVE to make is Overnight French Toast. I don’t think I’ve made the same french toast recipe twice because I’ve either thought it was too sweet, too sticky, or not sweet enough…just call me Goldilocks when it comes to overnight french toast. However, my search for a delicious french toast recipe may have just come to an end…

While on Pinterest (because I’m obsessed), I found Paula Deen’s Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup recipe. I thought I’d give it a try, and I certainly was not disappointed in this recipe! This buttery, delicious, sweet goodness had the perfect amount of bread, eggs, and pecan topping to balance everything out. I noticed that some people said they thought it was too buttery, but I, personally, loved the buttery goodness in the topping!

Anyway, to make this yummy breakfast dish you will need…

Ingredients
1 loaf French bread- mine was a day old and the perfect for this dish!
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk- I used vanilla soy milk which I think added to the flavor
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Maple Syrup
Praline Topping: (I made this in the morning)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.

Directions
Slice French bread into enough slices to cover the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch buttered baking dish, 1-inch each. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. (I had plenty to cover all the bread and for it to be soaking the mixture that was left on the bottom of the pan.) Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread.

Before Oven

Bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Baked

I served the french toast with bacon and fresh fruit- it was a delicious breakfast all around!

Baking love,
Heather