Cream Cheese Frosting

This is my favorite cream cheese frosting.  I use it for chocolate cake, spice cake, carrot cake, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin bars and so on.  Occasionally, I will sprinkle some pumpkin spice in it for a little something different.  My new favorite variation, though, is to add the juice and zest of one lemon plus a couple of drops of lemon essential oil to the recipe.  It is delightful on a variety of cupcake flavors.  (A bit more powdered sugar might need to be added to create the proper spreading consistency after adding lemon juice.)

1 8-oz. bar cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
4-5 c. powdered sugar, sifted

Cream the cheese and butter, then stir in vanilla.  Add sugar to desired consistency.

Chocolate Cupcakes

These chocolatey treats didn’t take much more time than a cake mix to make, and the flavor was so much better.  They were part of the cupcake lineup for my oldest daughter’s Sweet 16 Open House, and they were gone well before the party-ing was over.

The cupcakes freeze very nicely, and they taste delightful with almost any icing you choose.

1 1/3 all-purpose flour
1/4 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
3/4 c. baking cocoa
1/4 t. salt
3 T. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature, if possible
3/4 t. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together dry ingredients; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.  Stir in vanilla.

Alternately add flour mixture with milk; stirring until incorporated.

Line muffin tin with 12-18 liners.  Fill tins 3/4 full.

Bake 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before icing.

Graham Delights

These are soooooo easy to make–and taste better than they sound.  Quick, easy and relatively inexpensive for a cookie tray.

graham crackers (enough to line bottom of jellyroll pan)

1/2 c. sugar

1 c. butter

1/2 c. raw, chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds

Boil butter and sugar in a saucepan for one minute; pour over graham crackers to cover evenly. 

Sprinkle with nuts and bake at 325 until golden and bubbly–about 6-9 minutes. 

Cool slightly, then remove with spatula and set on wax paper to cool completely. 

Break into squares and store in an airtight container.

Brownie Pudding Cake

I am doing you a favor by not posting a picture of this delightful dessert.  And, you should be thankful that the recipe is not scratch ‘n’ sniff.  It is an old Pampered Chef recipe, and it is heavenly.  It’s also easy to make and uses on-hand ingredients.  Yum-o!

First Layer:
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 milk
3 T. butter, melted
1/2 T. vanilla
1 c. chocolate chips

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in large bowl.  Add milk, melted butter and vanilla; stir until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spread batter evenly in an 8″ baking dish.

Second Layer:
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 3/4 c. boiling water
1 t. vanilla

Whisk together sugar and cocoa.  Gradually stir in boiling water and vanilla.  Carefully pour liquid over batter already in baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. The gooey layer will go to the bottom and the top will be a heavenly brownie.   Cool 15 minutes before serving.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Nikki’s Chocolate Cookies

nikki'scookiesAren’t these pretty cookies?  They taste really good, too.  A girl named Nikki brought them to a class I taught once, and I kind of fell in love.  I mean, Nikki is a nice girl and all, but these cookies are…amazing.

Nikki uses peanut butter chips in these, which are lovely.  I baked them today with mint chocolate chips that I got on clearance after Christmas.  Also lovely.  I think it would be tough to mess these up.  Moist, super chocolatey and easy.  They also freeze beautifully.

Although we gave Nikki a hard time at the class for using “plastic” margarine instead of real butter in her batch, either way is tasty.  The only other change I make is to reduce the amount of sugar by a bit, which I do in almost all of my cookies and quick breads.

It is my pleasure to run into Nikki almost every time I go to my dentist (her place of employment).  She always has a smile on her face, and it’s fun to “talk shop” with her about gardening, parenting, baking and just being who God calls us to be.  Come to think of it, I guess Nikki is about as amazing as her cookies.

1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 (12-oz. pkg.) peanut butter or mint chips

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture.

Stir in chips.

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 or so minutes.

Cowboy Cookie Mix in a Jar

This is our favorite cookie jar mix!

1 1/3 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. chopped nuts of your choice (or peanut butter or butterscotch chips)
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt

Layer ingredients in a quart jar in the order given.  Press each layer in gently but firmly before adding next layer. Include a card with the following instructions:

Cowboy Cookie Mix in a Jar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together 1/2 c. softened butter, 1 egg and 1 t. vanilla.  Stir entire contents of jar into bowl.  Dough will be very stiff; you may need to use your hands!

Shape into walnut-sized balls and place 2″ apart on prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 11-13 minutes.

S’Mores in a Jar

This is a fun gift to give.  It’s like summer camp-outs in a jar.

1 1/2 sleeve graham crackers, crushed
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. mini marshmallows

Layer ingredients in the order listed in a quart jar.  I usually add enough marshmallows to fill the remainder of the jar.

Attach the following instructions:

Pour mix into well-greased 9×9″ baking pan (or deep-dish pie plate); set aside.

Whisk 1/2 c. melted butter and 2 t. vanilla together and pour over mix.  Stir well; pat lightly into pan.

Bake for 15 minutes, then cool before cutting into squares.