Heart’s Desire

HeartsDesireMuffin

Rich & moist, chocolate banana muffins with dried cherries and bittersweet chocolate.

Heart’s Desire Muffins

Makes 5

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. granulated white sugar

1/4 c. natural cocoa

1 1/4 t. baking powder

1 t. ground cinnamon

1/4 t. baking soda

3/4 c. mashed overripe banana

1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted

1/4 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. dried cherries

1 1/2 oz. fine bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces

2 T. confectioner’s sugar, stirred together with a pinch of cinnamon.

Cinnamon gumdrops, optional, or desired garnish

Paper heart-shaped muffin molds*

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat together banana, butter, and buttermilk.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until no dry spots show. Fold in cherries and broken chocolate.
  5. Spoon batter into muffin molds. Smooth tops with the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake for about 22 minutes or until muffins are firm to the touch.
  7. Sift confectioner’s sugar blend over muffins. Garnish, if desired. Serve (either in paper molds or removed from them.)
  • Available through Wilton and speciality baking supply companies.

Enjoy!

May your heart be full  of happiness this Valentine’s Day!

HeartsDesireMuffin@

Orange Chocolate Chip Baked Donuts

Warm from the oven, these baked donuts are hard to resist!
DonutsOrangeChocChip

Orange Chocolate Chip Baked Donuts

Donut batter ingredients:

1 3/4 c. + 2 T. white rice flour (for gluten-free) or all-purpose flour

1/3 c. granulated white sugar

2 t. baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 c. buttermilk

2 lg. eggs

2 T. unsalted butter, melted

2 t. fresh, finely grated orange zest

1 t. orange extract

2.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Topping ingredients:

1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

1/4 t. ground cinnamon

1 T. + 1 t. fresh orange juice

1/2 t. orange extract

2 T. honey

cinnamon sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 6-mold donut baking pan with oil, set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, orange zest, and orange extract. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth. If the batter is a little too stiff, slowly stir in just a little bit more buttermilk. Fold in chopped chocolate.

4. Divide the batter between the oiled donut molds. Spread batter with the back of a spoon to smooth out tops. If needed, run your fingers under cold water, shake them off lightly, then use them to shape the donuts. Batter will stand slightly above the top of the donut pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until done to the touch.

5. While the donuts are baking, prepare the topping. Stir together confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, orange extract, and honey until very smooth.

6. When donuts are done baking, invert onto a cooling rack. Glaze right away, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.

More baked donut recipes:

Strawberry Shortcake Donuts

Cinnamon-Dipped Donuts

Enjoy! Have a great day!

Black Forest Cupcakes

CupcakeBlackForest

These light-textured chocolate cupcakes, served with whipped cream and cherries, are really fun for guests. An added bonus is that you can make the cupcakes ahead of time and freeze them until you have company. Just thaw, top with whipped cream, garnish and serve! Ready to start thinking about Valentine’s Day?

Black Forest Cake Cupcakes

Makes about 24

Ingredients:

2 c. all-purpose flour

2/3 c. Dutch-process cocoa powder*

1 1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. whole milk (or sour cream for a denser cupcake)

3 lg. eggs

2 t. cherry liqueur

1 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 c. granulated white sugar

1/2 c. light brown sugar, packed

1/2 c. dried cherries, finely chopped

2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish

Sweetened whipped cream for topping

24 fresh dark sweet cherries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 12-muffin pans with muffin papers.**
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium size bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat together milk, eggs and cherry liqueur. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl.
  5. On low speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scrape sides. On medium speed, beat in 1/2 of wet ingredients. Scrape sides. Repeat, beating in 1/3 of  flour mixture, remaining 1/2 of wet ingredients, and then remaining 1/3 of flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl in between.
  6. Mix together chopped cherries and chocolate and then fold them into the cupcake batter.
  7. Divide batter equally between muffin cups. Cups should be about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for 20 –  25 minutes or until no wet spots appear on muffin tops and muffins are firm to the touch. Do not overbake.
  9. Place muffin pans on baking racks for 15 minutes, then remove muffins, and place them on racks to finish cooling.
  10. To serve, top with whipped cream, grated chocolate and a fresh cherry.

Enjoy!

* If you need to, you can substitute natural cocoa, but Dutch-process has better flavor in this recipe.

** I use plain white papers for baking, then slip the muffins into decorative papers or foils for serving.

Spiced Mexican Wedding Cookies

When baking an assortment of cookies for the holidays, it is nice to have both a variety of shapes and of flavors. Mexican Wedding Cookies are small, buttery, nut cookies, rolled in sugar that provide a contrast to drop cookies and to cut-out cookies in shape and provide contrast to chocolatey and to fruity cookies in flavor. This version, with spices mixed into the rolling sugar is both flavorful and aromatic. I made this batch last night and loved the way that they made the kitchen smell. Added bonuses are that these cookies are easy to make keep well for gift-giving. Enjoy!
MexicanWeddingCookiesXMas4

Spiced Mexican Wedding Cookies

Makes about 32

Mexican Wedding Cookies – also known as Russian Tea Cakes, Italian Tea Cakes, Snowball Cookies, and Butter Balls, and probably a dozen other names – are a traditional Christmas cookie  in the United States. They are buttery cookies made with ground nuts, baked, and then rolled in confectioner’s sugar. In this version, aromatic cinnamon and cloves are added to the sugar.

• 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened

• 2 T. confectioner’s sugar + 1/2 c. extra for rolling cookies

• 1 t. vanilla extract, or almond extract (if using almonds), or hazelnut extract (if using hazelnuts)*

• 1 c. all-purpose flour

• 1 c. pecans, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts, very finely chopped or pulsed in the food processor to the texture of coarse kosher salt

• 1 t. ground Vietnamese cinnamon

• 1/4 t. ground cloves

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 T. of the confectioner’s sugar and the vanilla extract. On lowest speed, beat in flour and then nuts. The mixture will be very crumbly.
  3. Spoon a small about (about 1 heaping teaspoon) of mixture into one of your palms. Squeeze lightly until the mixture holds together then shape into a ball. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture, spacing the balls well apart on the 2 baking sheets.
  4. Bake for about 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on the bottom. The tops of the cookies will be very pale. Place baking sheets on wire racks and allow cookies to cool.
  5. Once cool, whisk the spices into the remaining 1/2 c. of confectioner’s sugar. Roll the cookies in confectioner’s sugar mixture until well coated. Once you have rolled all of the cookies once, roll them in the mixture again until you have used all of it. To avoid getting finger prints in the cookies, transfer cookies to a serving plate or a storage container using a fork to lift them.

Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

North Pole Cupcakes

NorthPoleCupcakes4

These festive, chocolatey-peppermint, cheesecake cupcakes are easy to make with a food processor and can be made ahead of time and frozen so that you have them on hand for holiday company or surprise visitors – that is, unless a certain someone in your house likes to sneak into the freezer and eat them as is. You might need to make extras!  Enjoy!

North Pole Cupcakes

An easy to make, festive treat for the winter holiday season!

makes 12

Ingredients

• 12 Mint Oreo cookies (or gluten-free sandwich-style cookies)

• 2/3 c. granulated white sugar

• 16 miniature peppermint candy canes, divided

• 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips

• 16 oz. cream cheese, softened

• 1/4 c. sour cream

• 2 lg. eggs

• 1 T. chocolate liqueur

• 1/2 t. mint extract

• whipped cream for topping (canned is ok)

• shaved chocolate, chocolate sprinkles, sugar pearls, or sugar sprinkles for garnish

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin papers. Place one cookie in the center of each muffin paper.  (The cookies will be a little smaller than the bottom of the muffin cups, but the cookies puff out during baking.)

2. Unwrap 4 of the candy canes and break candy into small pieces (should be about 1 T.). Using a large food processor, process sugar and broken candy canes until they are crushed to a fine consistency. Add chocolate chips and process until the chips are finely crushed. Add cream cheese and process until smooth. Scrape down bowl. Add sour cream and process until smooth. Scrape down bowl. Add eggs, chocolate liqueur, and mint extract. Process or beat until well blended and perfectly smooth. Scrape down bowl.

3. Divide cheesecake batter between muffin cups, filling to the top, but not over the top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until cheesecake batter is puffy and set in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. (The cupcakes will sink in the middle as they cool and don’t look very pretty until garnished.)

4. Once completely cool, cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. (Once cooled, muffins can be removed from the baking pan, placed in a plastic container, covered tightly, and frozen until shortly before serving. If no one sneaks into the freezer to eat them, cupcakes should keep for about 1 month.)

5. Serve cold. (If frozen, remove cupcakes from freezer shortly before serving – about 15 minutes. When ready to serve, remove muffin papers. Garnish each cupcake with whipped cream, shaved chocolate or other decorations, and an unwrapped candy cane. Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

Variation: Instead of whipped cream, top with chocolate ganache or chocolate buttercream flavored with peppermint.

Young Bakers & Chocolate Mint Crinkle Cookies Recipe

It was cold and dreary here today, so my friend Sara and her daughters came over to bake cookies. What a perfect afternoon to have the oven on … and the girls did a great job!

SH1

StH1

SH3

StH2

ChocolateMintCrinkles

Chocolate Mint Crinkles

Makes about 58 cookies

Chocolaty sugar cookies with Andes’ Mints.

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/3 c. Dutch process cocoa

1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened

1/3 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed

1/3 c. granulated white sugar

1 lg. egg

2 t. bourbon or 1/2 t. vanilla extract

1 1/4 c. finely chopped Andes’ mints or Andes’ creme de menthe baking chips

2/3 c. sparkling decorator’s sugars*

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and then bourbon or vanilla extract. On lowest mixer speed, beat in dry ingredients and then mints.
  4. Scoop a rounded teaspoonful of dough, roll into a ball, roll in decorator’s sugar to completely coat and then place on baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls of dough at least 2” apart. When the first baking sheet is filled, bake cookies for about 14 to 16 minutes or until just barely set. Meanwhile, finish rolling the remaining dough.
  5. As baking sheets come out of the oven, place them on wire racks and allow cookies to cool.

* Sparkling sugars are available through baking specialty companies such as King Arthur Flour and Wilton. For this recipe, I use white, green or gold sugar, depending on the occasion.

Happy Baking! Have a great weekend!

SH4