Lavender Cupcakes

I love lavender, and I love cooking with it.  I’ve been eyeing these lavender cupcakes for a while, but for some reason I haven’t gotten to them.  Finally I decided that any day is a good day for cupcakes and went for it.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Lavender
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Milk

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

Lavender Cupcakes

Review

Most of the recipes I’ve tried with lavender say to strain out the lavender after doing something with it (like steeping in a mixture).  This recipe, though, leaves the lavender in it.  I kind of wish I had a food processor because it was actually pretty hard to cut those tiny buds without them going everywhere.  But in the end, I could see why the chopping and leaving was the best option-the lavender flavor was super strong in this recipe, which I liked because lavender usually feels more like an essence to me in most recipes.

I didn’t add food coloring to mine because I didn’t have any, and no one but my husband and I would see or eat them.  If I was making these for a party, though, I would add the coloring because it is a great visual.  Once the lavender is chopped, this recipe is pretty much like any other basic cupcake recipe.  It was easy to follow and there were no difficult techniques.  The same was true of the icing (which was a perfect complement to the cake).

Overall, I would totally make these again.  I think that this is a great recipe to “show off” a bit to your friends without having to actually put in more effort than your normal cake.  They’ll think you did something fancy, but really, you just chopped some lavender.

Creme Brulee

I love cooking desserts, and creme brulee has been on my list to try for a while.  It is always so satisfying to eat, that I had to know if I could make it at home.  Plus, using a torch in the kitchen just sounds like fun.  (Too bad I don’t have one and tried using a heat gun instead.)  Of course, though, I couldn’t try plain creme brulee.  I had to go big, so I went with caramel coffee!  For this you will need:

  • Eggs
  • Heavy cream
  • Coffee
  • Caramel syrup
  • Sugar
  • Torch

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

Creme Brule

Review

Making creme brulee is a million times easier than I anticipated, which makes me super happy.  I can now make this fancy dessert any time I want to impress guests (or I just have a craving!).  That said, this is a “plan ahead” sort of dessert, so don’t think you’re going to be able to whip this up on a moment’s notice.

What I liked about this recipe is that the caramel and coffee flavors came through in a perfect, mild manner.  I could taste both, but neither was overwhelming, and neither overpowered the other.  This recipe is full of all those things you shouldn’t eat, so only pull this one out for special occasions.

I don’t have a kitchen torch, but I do have a heat gun that I sometimes use for crafts.  So, when it came time to crystallize the sugar on top, I pulled out the heat gun and hoped for the best.  It wasn’t ideal (and you can see how some parts burned a bit), but it ultimately got the job done-just not in the pretty fashion I would have liked.  It also took longer than a torch would have.  That’s okay, though.  Now I have an excuse to buy a torch.

Overall, I would absolutely make this recipe again.  I can’t wait to try some new variations on the flavors!

Lemon Lava Cake

I’ve made chocolate lava cake before, but, for some reason, that’s a fall/winter dessert in my mind.  Then I saw this lemon lava cake and I thought that felt like a perfect summer dessert.  Plus, the center is made of lemon curd, and I’ve been itching to make some again.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Lemons
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Flour

Get the full recipe here, or check out my pin on my Just Desserts board.

Lemon Lava Cake

Review

Lemon curd isn’t hard to make, but it does take patience.  You have to make sure the temperature isn’t took hot and constantly whisk until the curd starts to thicken.  There is no way to speed up that process.  But it is so worth it.  I loved that this recipe made just a small bit of lemon curd because sometimes there is so much I don’t know what to do with it.  One thing this recipe didn’t mention that I like to do when making lemon curd is to strain it before you put it into the refrigerator to cool.  This helps separate out any bits of egg (usually the whites) that didn’t incorporate properly and, instead, scrambled a bit.

The cake batter was surprisingly sticky.  I expected something a little more liquid than dough.  That just means the batter won’t really spread when you put it in the ramekins.  I used my fingers to spread it out.  I used the method where you spoon some batter, spoon some curd, then cover with more batter.  I don’t have a piping bag, so this next tip is just for the spooning method.  Make sure that you make a seal with the batter to keep the lemon curd in the middle.  If you don’t, some will seep out the edges and will ooze out the sides when you pull it out of the oven.  You need it to be neatly tucked in the middle to get that perfect “lava” effect when you first cut into it.

Overall, this was a fun summer dessert.  The tartness of the curd with the sweetness of the cake was a perfect combination.  You can make the curd ahead of time, and just have to make the batter whenever you’re ready or this treat.  I will absolutely be making this again.  In fact, I already did!

 

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Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream

This week has been kind of ridiculous, so I think the best way to close it up is with a sweet something to send you off to your weekend.  Lemon + (other fruit) is a combo I can’t get enough of, so these lemon cupcakes with blackberry buttercream went straight onto my “to bake” list when I saw them.  You will need:

  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Lemon
  • Blackberries
  • Sugar
  • Milk

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

 Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Icing

Review

As always, changes were made.  This time I did NOT change out the flour to whole wheat (shocking, I know!), but I did make some other changes.  I use vanilla Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and soy milk instead of regular milk.  I also had a problem with the sugar, which I’ll discuss later.

When I mixed up the cake batter, I was a little worried.  The wet mixture seemed like an odd combination, and when I added it to everything else, I was worried by the somewhat lumpy texture.  However, my fears were unfounded.  This was seriously one of the best cake batters I’ve ever had.  It kept a soft yellow color, and was light and spongy.  I will DEFINITELY be using this batter as a base for other recipes down the road.  The flavor was spot on too.  Just the right amount of lemon!

The buttercream, though.  Hoooooo boy.  And it’s all my fault.  I’m certain that the actual recipe is lovely. This is all on me.  Here’s what happened:

Me (at the grocery store):  Oh look!  Pourable powdered sugar!  So cool!  (I put this in my cart.)

Me (at home, adding sugar to my icing):  Huh, this looks kinda grainy.  Strange.  (Keeps adding and mixing.)

Me (mixing icing):  This really is gritty.  Maybe I should write a letter to the company.

Me (reading the sugar box):  Granulated sugar? Awwwwwww, no!

So, my buttercream turned out, well, not right.  I had already halved the recipe (even though I made a full batch of cupcakes) because I don’t like a ton of icing on my cake.  So, I decided to double the cream cheese in the batter to see if that helped with the overall gritty feel and overly sugary taste.  And, it did, but not as much as I would have liked.  The blackberry puree worked perfectly though!  That flavoring was spot on.  So, my icing wasn’t great, but that was my fault-not the recipe.

Will I make these again?  Absolutely!  I can’t wait to try this batter out with other flavors!

Guinness Truffles

On the same day that I made the key lime tarts, I also went for these Guinness truffles. I was in a dessert zone, so I went ahead and made both (partially because I wanted to make sure I got to the truffles before we drank all the Guinness).  For this you will need:

  • Guinness
  • Semi-sweet chocolate
  • Butter
  • Pretzels

Check out the full recipe here,or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

guinness truffles

Review

I have made truffles before, so I was pretty confident that the process would be a simple one, and I was right.  Besides letting the mixture cool in the refrigerator, the longest part was waiting for the Guinness to reduce.  Mine took FOREVER, but your mileage may vary.  This recipe is simple, straightforward, and requires few ingredients and will make approximately 16 truffles.  However, I wish I had made mine smaller, because I simply couldn’t eat an entire truffle because it was so rich. If you did smaller truffles, I could easily see this recipe making 2-3 dozen depending on how small you went.

The flavor is good, but not quite what I was hoping for.  I thought that I could taste the Guinness right at the end of the flavor, but my husband disagreed.  He thought that he could taste bitterness at the end, but that it wasn’t necessarily the Guinness itself.  It might just be the small bite of the semi-sweet chocolate.  That tends to be a problem for me with Guinness flavored things-it’s just so hard to get that taste.  I once made Guinness cheesecake and we didn’t really taste it there either.

For me this was a bust.  The truffles were so rich that their size made them difficult for me to finish, the Guinness flavor was more of a whisper, and you absolutely should NOT roll them in the exterior pretzels until right before serving.  Those pretzel chunks definitely lost their crunch.  I’m not saying this is a bad recipe by any means, it’s just not what I was hoping it would be.

Caramel Pretzel Cookies

I love salt and sweet together.  It’s just a good combination.  And when that’s what you’re craving, you want it NOW.  I was having one of those “now” moments when I found this recipe.  I ran to the store and got straight on making a batch.  Here’s what you will need:

  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Caramel pieces
  • Pretzels

You can find the full ingredient list and recipe here, or check out my pin on my Just Desserts board.

caramel pretzel cookies

Review

Did I like this recipe?  Let me present the evidence:  I ate the entire batch in a three day period, I made a second batch, I ate all of those as well.

These cookies are SO GOOD.  Even using the whole wheat flour, I could not stop eating them.  They are the perfect combination of salty and sweet.  Plus, they are super easy to make!  Seriously, instead of reading the rest of this review, you should be on your way to the store to get the ingredients to make these cookies.

Here are some tips I picked up from making my second batch:  break the pretzel sticks into thirds or smaller for better incorporation into the batter (in the first, pictured batch I only broke them in half).  You do not need the chocolate chips.  I left them out of my first batch because I wasn’t feeling like chocolate (I know), but I did put chocolate chips in my second batch.  I kind of liked them more without, but your mileage may vary.  Finally, enjoy them with a nice cup of black coffee.  The bitterness of the coffee is a great pairing for the salty and sweet.

Seriously, why are you still reading?  Go make these cookies!

(If you made these cookies and the soft chocolate chip cookies and took them to a party, you would probably always be invited to every party ever.)

Cinnamon Sugar Prezel Bites

I’ve had this pin sitting on my board for quite a while now, but I simply hadn’t made it.  So the other day when I was craving something sweet, I looked at what recipes I hadn’t tried and which recipes I had the ingredients for.  It was finally time for these pretzel bites to shine!  You will need:

  • Flour
  • Yeast
  • Baking Soda
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

C S Pretzel Bites

Review

My bites did not turn out as pretty as the picture did, but that’s okay.  I’ve made these twice now, so obviously I was a fan of the recipe.  My husband really liked them, thus the second batch later that same week.  However, while the results were tasty, I had a few problems with the recipe.

One problem was that both times I felt like there was too much of a baking soda taste on some of the bites.  I am fairly certain this has something to do with how long the bite was in the boiling water, but it was still a shock whenever I popped one in my mouth and it felt like I was licking a baking soda covered spoon.  I guess this is more my fault than the recipe’s, but I did have less baking soda bite when I reduced the amount in the water with my second batch.

I also had difficulty rolling the dough into ropes to cut apart.  The dough just wasn’t very elastic for me.  I do think I might have been trying to make my ropes thinner than necessary, but even at the start my dough was uninterested in acting like a play-doh snake.

These drawbacks aside, this is still a great recipe.  It is time consuming, and not what I would label “easy,” but still worthwhile.  Obviously I’ve already made them twice, and I do anticipate making them again.  This is probably a once a quarter sort of recipe for me.

Pumpkin Cookies

When I opened up my blog today, ready for a new week and a new post, I realized I forgot to post on Friday!  I was so excited about my birthday (which was Saturday), that I forgot to do several of my normal Friday activities!  Sorry everyone!

The weather here continues to be perfect fall weather.  On Saturday we did some geocaching.  (Have you ever done that?  It’s so much fun!). The weather was just right for a sweater but no jacket.  So, I thought that a perfect fall recipe was in order today!  For these pumpkin cookies you will need:

  • Pumpkin puree
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Sugar

Get the full recipe on my pin on my Just Desserts board.  This recipe is from Thirty-One, the home-party bag and organizer company.  Clicking on the pin takes you to their website (but sadly not the recipe).

pumpkin cookies

Review

These cookies were super fluffy.  I was shocked at how soft they were.  I added a touch too much baking soda, and you could really tell, so don’t make that mistake!  I wish I had been able to make the frosting, but I didn’t have the ingredients on hand.  The cookies are fine without the icing, but I can tell that the frosting would really add to the overall flavor.

Cooking these cookies was a snap.  Everything came together easily and quickly.  My only problem was storing the cookies.  Even though I only made a half batch, there were still a lot of cookies.   My cookies stuck together in my normal cookie box.  I think some wax paper in between layers would have really helped.  That said, the cookies didn’t last long, and I wasn’t disappointed when I pulled out two cookies instead of one.  There cookies are a perfect fall recipe, and they go great with some hot tea or cider.  (My favorite?  Eating them with a hot chai tea latte!)

Snickerdoodles

I have a sweet tooth.  I love pretty much every dessert I’ve ever tried.  I know this about myself, and I also know that I shouldn’t eat every dessert I come in contact with, so I try really hard not to make or keep many desserts in the house.  But sometimes I just need a cookie.  So I found myself raiding my cabinets trying to figure out just what I could make without going to the store.  And that’s when it hit me:  snickerdoodles.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Cream of tartar
  • Egg
  • Butter

Check out the original recipe here, or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

snickerdoodles

Review

This dough did not come together like I anticipated.  It was very crumbly, and I expected something much softer and easier to roll into a ball.  It honestly felt like there was a liquid ingredient missing.  I scanned the pictures and comments looking for something I had left out, but didn’t see anyone else with this problem.  That isn’t to say I was unable to make cookies, just that it felt “off” during the cooking process.

As for the final product, the cookies were good but not great.  For me, personally, there was a little too much cream of tartar.  I would have cut that by as much as half.  I also just didn’t get the super soft cookie that I was hoping for.  I certainly ate the cookies, but I think that was more about me wanting cookies than really enjoying the cookies.  I honestly think I simply missed something because so many other people seem to have had great success with this recipe.  If you decide to check it out, let me know what your results are.  I am very interested in how these cookies turn out for other people.

Will I be making these again?  No.  They just weren’t my cup of tea, which is really a shame because I love snickerdoodles.  I guess I’m still on the hunt for a good recipe.

Carrot Cake Trifle

My dad’s birthday is later this week, and he likes carrot cake.  So, in honor of his birthday, I thought I would try out this carrot cake trifle recipe. Carrot cake isn’t my favorite, and I thought that this recipe might help me enjoy it more.  The recipe includes a low fat option, which is the one I made (mostly because I already had some of the ingredients).  You will need:

  • Carrot cake mix (+necessary ingredients)
  • Cheesecake pudding mix (+necessary ingredients)
  • Cool whip
  • Caramel sauce
  • Pecans

Check out the original recipe (including the non low-fat option), or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

carrot cake

Review

This recipe was just okay.  I wish I hadn’t bought a cake mix with raisins in it. I know that raisins are pretty standard for carrot cake, but I just don’t like cooked raisins.  (I don’t mind them out of a box as a snack or in trail mix.  I just don’t like them in cake.  What was I thinking?)  That said, eating around raisins isn’t that hard.  What didn’t totally work for me was how the pudding/cool whip mixture soaked into the cake.  There was still pudding mixture that was separate from the cake, but it had started to get absorbed by the cake, and I found that to be a bit of a bummer.  I’m not sure how the other mixture reacts to the cake, so maybe that one is a bit better.

That’s not to say it didn’t taste good.  I really did enjoy the taste of everything.  I just was a bit disappointed by the sogginess factor.  I probably would make this again for a crowd that included carrot cake enthusiasts and carrot cake okayists.  I don’t know that this would win over people who were not fans of carrot cake, but it has enough other flavors going on that it just might.  If you like carrot cake, this it definitely worth a try.