Archives for category: Holidays

My friend Rosie came home for the holidays with her husband and beautiful new baby girl! We decided to make a christmas wreath made out of cupcakes and gingerbread houses! Below is the cupcake wreath recipe (we did not make the sugared cranberries or cookies but both recipes are in the link with all recipes). Just a warning, the icing used here is buttercream and it takes more time than usual but worth it! You can use any cupcakes, but we used the one in the link (red velvet). Once all the cupcakes were made, we all took turns decorating them with the “grass” icing so it truly was a group effort, and isn’t that what wreaths are all about?! All the cupcake wreath recipes can be found here.

Rosie was also nice enough to make homemade hot cocoa for everyone! It was awesome!

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Wreath

  • 24 cupcakes (see recipe we used)
  • Green buttercream (see recipe below), for decorating
  • Holly leaf cookies (see recipe we did not use), for decorating
  • Sugared cranberries (see recipe we did not use), for decorating
  • Pastry bag fitted with large star tip

Red Velvet Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 stick(s) (3/4 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup(s) milk
  • 2 tablespoon(s) (1 oz) liquid red food color (we did not have any but still tasted the same!)
  • 2 teaspoon(s) white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cup(s) cake flour (not self-rising)

Buttercream Frosting Ingredients

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 cup(s) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cup(s) (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon(s) pure vanilla extract
  • Leaf green gel food coloring

Directions

Make red velvet cupcakes: Heat oven to 350°F. You’ll need 24 regular-size (2 1/2-in. diameter) muffin cups lined with foil liners. In a large bowl with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla 2 minutes until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Stir milk, food color and vinegar in a 2-cup measure until well blended. With mixer on low speed, beat in flour in three additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture in two additions, beating just until blended. Spoon a scant 1⁄4 cup batter over candy in each cup, keeping candy in center. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes, then remove from pan to rack. Cool completely.

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Once they are in the oven, make the buttercream frosting. This takes some time but allows for the cupcakes to cool before starting to decorate. In a large metal or glass bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) a saucepan of barely simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are warm to touch, 3 to 4 minutes. (To tell if the sugar has dissolved, rub a little of the mixture between your fingers. It should feel smooth, not grainy.)

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Remove from the heat. Using an electric mixer, whisk on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff glossy peaks form and the bowl is no longer hot to touch, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and gradually add the butter, a few pieces at a time. After adding all the butter, continue to whisk until the mixture begins to resemble softly whipped butter, about 3 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the vanilla. Mix for 3 to 4 minutes to remove some of the air bubbles. Tint the frosting green.

Assemble the wreath. Remember, if you make the holly cookies and sugared cranberries, be sure to allot time to those too. Assemble the cupcakes in a wreath shape (15 in outer circle, 9 in inner circle). Place the green buttercream in the pastry bag fitted with a large start tip and frost the cupcakes with green buttercream frosting to create a wreath, filling in any gaps between cupcakes with the frosting. Decorate the wreath with the holly leaf cookies and sugared cranberries (or other decorations you may wish to use, we used sprinkles and melted white chocolate). Enjoy!

We all took turns decorating some of the cupcakes with the buttercream frosting:

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My mom shared this recipe with me, which was passed down from my grandfather who learned it from my great-grandmother. There is something so special about recipes that are passed down and this is no exception. It is a recipe from Madeira, Portugal, where my grandfather is from, and eaten year-round, but most commonly enjoyed during the Christmas season. It has a strong taste but goes great with coffee and shared with family and friends!

Ingredients

  • 500g flour
  • 500g sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 stick Crisco
  • 1/2 cup Madeira wine (Porto wine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cups white and brown raisins
  • 3/4 cups nuts
  • zest of one orange

Directions

Mix butter and sugar until combined, Add eggs and wine. Mix cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and baking powder with the flour. Add raisins, nuts and orange zest. Mix flour mixture with first mixture. Add raisins and nuts on top for decoration. Bake in the oven at 350F for 1 hour. Toothpick will come out dry when ready.

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Christmas day, Laura and I made Gingerbread cookies! We had a gingerbread men and gingerbread women cookie cutters so we had gingerbread people! The cookies themselves are so soft and delicious and decorating them was even more fun! We used cinnamon candy balls, black gel icing, and powdered sugar/vanilla icing to decorate. Original recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended. In a large bowl (KitchenAid’s great for this) beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended. Add molasses and vanilla and continue to mix until well blended. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but in this case it should be refrigerated. Return to room temp before using.) Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle flour over dough and rolling pin. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick. Use additional flour to avoid sticking. Cut out cookies with desired cutter– the ginger bread man is our favorite of course. Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies– very good!). Remove cookie sheet from oven and allow the cookies to stand until the cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack. After cookies are cool you may decorate them any way you like. You can brush them with a powdered sugar glaze but they look wonderful decorated with Royal icing.
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We also made (boxed) sugar cookies that day and made trees and stars! So much sweet goodness for such a great holiday! 🙂

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In preparation for Christmas, Cristina, Laura and I made these reindeer cookies! I’ll be honest and say that the cookies did not come out very well. I’m not sure if it was the recipe or if we missed something but I’m sure if you use any cookie recipe that does not raise too much in the oven, you can still make them look like reindeer by decorating them as such! Ultimately, the most fun part of this recipe is the decorating! You can see the original recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup smooth natural peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 32 chocolate chips (we used black gel icing)
  • 32 small pretzels
  • 16 cinnamon candy balls

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and sea salt. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the peanut butter and maple syrup until smooth. Add the peanut butter/syrup mixture to the flour mixture in the medium-sized bowl and mix until combined. Roll a tablespoon-size amount of dough in your hands to make a ball. Create a point on the bottom edge of the dough for the reindeer’s’ face. Place the dough ball onto a parchment lined baking sheet and press down slightly with your hand. Leave a 1 1/2 space between the cookies on the pan, as they will expand. Add 2 chocolate chips for the eyes, two pretzels for the antlers and a Swedish berry, dried cranberry or dried cherry for the red nose. Repeat to make 16 cookies. Place in the oven to bake for 8-10 minutes.

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The ears didn’t stick too well but the ones that did looked adorable!

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All the baking we did that night! More recipes to come!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

I just want to take a moment and thank all of you who check out my blog. I have almost 2,500 views and that really means a lot to me 🙂 Hope you keep enjoying my posts!

In preparation of one of my favorite holidays, my sister and I made pecan pie for our guests! Not only is baking with my sister a blast, but she also takes beautiful pictures that I hope you will enjoy as much as I do! Check out her pictures here and here.

Both the recipe and the pictures are a special treat! (See if you can guess which ones are mine and which ones are hers…)

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Dig in and enjoy this great holiday with your families!

Crust Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. ice cold water
  • 2 Tbsp. ice cold vodka (or an additional 2 Tbsp. ice cold water)

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust, partially pre-baked
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 2 cups pecans (plus extras to line the top, if desired)

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Crust Directions

Pulse together flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until combined. Sprinkle in half of the cubed butter, and pulse in 2-second intervals, 2-3 times, or until incorporated. Add remaining butter and pulse until incorporated. Dough will be in little clumps. Sprinkle dough either by hand or with a spray bottle with the vodka and ice water. Then use a spatula or spoon to mix the liquid into the dough, mixing until just combined and the dough sticks together. (You can also do this step in a food processor — just be careful not to overmix. The dough should not form a ball in the food processor.) Use your hands to pack the dough into a ball, like you’re packing a snowball.

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Then carefully pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thick round disk. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days, until ready to use.

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Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface, then lightly dust the top of the dough and the rolling pin with flour as needed. Roll out the dough into a circle at least 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick, the perfect size for a 9-inch pie plate.

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Carefully transfer dough to the pie plate, and gently press the dough into the plate without stretching it.

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Use some kitchen shears or a knife to trim off any excess pastry, leaving about a 1-inch border of crust around the top of the pan. Then, section by section, carefully lift the rim of crust so that it sticks straight up, then fold it back about 1/2-inch (towards the outside of the pan) and pinch the crust into itself to sculpt an upstanding ridge. Use a fork or your fingers to form a scalloped edge if desired. Poke the bottom of the crust all over with a fork so that it does not bubble up while baking. Place pie crust in the freezer for 10 minutes to re-chill the butter before continuing.

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If your recipe calls for pre-baking the crust, line the inside of the chilled crust with aluminum foil so that it is gently pressed into the bottom and sides of the crust, and hangs over the edges of the top of the crust. The foil should basically be like a second skin, fitting the mold of the crust. (A chilled pie crust will prevent the foil from damaging the crust shape.)

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Fill the bottom of the crust with pie weights or dried beans.

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Then bake immediately at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.

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Remove the crust, and carefully lift out the aluminum foil layer with the beans in it, and set that aside. If any of the crust has started to bubble up, poke it with the fork a few more times. Return the crust to the oven for 10-12 minutes for a partially baked prebaked shell (should be lightly browned), or 15-17 minutes for a fully prebaked pie shell (should be golden brown).

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Filling Directions

Partially pre-bake a pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan according to instructions, then heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, salt and cinnamon; add eggs and whisk until smooth. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until the butter turns brown and fragrant. Slowly pour butter into the sugar mixture, and whisk to combine.

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Stir in chopped pecans.

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Then pour filling into the prepared pie crust.

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If desired, line the top of the filling with extra pecans.

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Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until the filling is set.

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If the edges of the crust begin to turn too brown, briefly remove the pie from the oven and cover the crust with a pie crust shield or loosely wrap with aluminum foil, then return to the oven. Once the filling is set, remove the pie and let cool completely on cooling rack, 3 to 4 hours, before slicing.

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Original pie recipe here and original crust recipe here. Enjoy!

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And remember to always be thankful, even when things don’t go your way!

For the past two years, my master’s program has delayed some of my BWF posts but just this past weekend I graduated! This starts a new transitional time for myself but also for BWF as I can bake and post a bit more and incorporate Vines into some of my posts. We made these delicious cupcakes this past weekend to celebrate and covered them with “graduation caps.” If your loved ones haven’t graduated yet, these are a quick and easy way to celebrate them in a very sweet way. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (about 10 cookies) plus additional for garnish
  • 1 container (16 ounces) vanilla frosting

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 24 standard (2-1/2-inch) muffin pan cups or line with paper baking cups.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in large bowl. Stir in sugar. Add milk, butter and vanilla; beat with electric mixer at low speed 30 seconds. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Add egg whites; beat 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup crushed cookies.

Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling two-thirds full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes to racks; cool completely.

Frost cupcakes; garnish with additional crushed cookies.

Check these out:

https://vine.co/v/bEYUQPzKtxV

https://vine.co/v/bEYHDIHFUlP

For my sister’s 21st birthday, we decided to bake a fresh strawberry cake (to do something different) with a fondant beer pong scene on top of the cake. It was a delicious cake and we doubled up the recipe so we would have enough space to display our masterpiece. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, stir before measuring
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Heat oven to 375°. Grease and flour a 13×9-inch baking pan. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside. In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and blend well. Slowly beat about 1/3 of the flour mixture into the creamed mixture with half of the strawberries. Beat in another 1/3 of the flour mixture and the remaining strawberries. Blend in the remaining flour mixture and beat until smooth. Spread in the baking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched with a finger. Cool on a rack; frost with cream cheese frosting.

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Now for the masterpiece!

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This traditional Venezuelan dessert is one of my all-time favorite recipes! My mom shared her delicious recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or rum
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

Pour sugar and water into pan over high (6) stove top. Once the sugar starts to boil, lower heat (4). Once caramel starts to form, turn pan so that caramel surrounds the bottom and sides of the pan. CAUTION: the caramel gets really hot so be sure to not let the caramel come off the pan.

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Set aside to cool.

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Mix eggs, milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla in blender. Can also add some cream cheese if thicker consistency is desired.

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Pour blended mix into the caramel covered pans.

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Turn oven to 350 F and place pans in larger containers filled with water for 1 hour. OR can place pan in large pot also filled with boiling water over stove top for 45 minutes.

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Remove from oven and make sure that a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Separate from sides with a knife and let cool. Flip over to serve.

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You can also make individual-sized quesillo in a cupcake pan. The hardest part is getting them out so be sure that the caramel has hardened so that it comes out easily when you scrape the sides.

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I promise this recipe will make up for lost time! This dessert is essentially a very soft peppermint bark and it is a delicious holiday recipe, especially with a big glass of milk! Steven and I baked this treat this Sunday afternoon, reminiscing of the beginning of the BWF blog! One year ago, almost exactly, this blog began at Steven’s house with friends in preparation for the holiday season. Enjoy and happy holidays!

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 (1-oz.) bottle red liquid food coloring
  • 1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 13×9 inch pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2-3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil. Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 1/2-2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk in 2 cups sugar.

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Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Add food coloring, peppermint extract, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Gently stir in 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/8 tsp. salt. Pour batter into prepared pan.

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Beat cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffly. Add egg whites and remaining 1 tsp. vanilla and beat until blended. Stir in 2 Tbsp. flour until smooth.

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Drop cream cheese mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls over batter in pan; gently swirl with a knife. (Be sure to spread out the tablespoonfuls so that they don’t all merge together like ours did!)

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Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 32 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a  few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles.

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Gently remove foil; cut brownies into squares.

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Mmmmm….

 

This week’s BWF is a spin-off of a classic recipe. For the 4th of July, I offered to bring cupcakes for my friend’s BBQ and I wanted to do something festive and I went to the grocery store to get ingredients for a cool cake. We had just gotten power back from a bad thunderstorm that swept the area BUT this is what I saw when I went to the grocery store that morning:

Needless to say, I had to work with what I had at home. I happened to have the ingredients for red velvet cupcakes but I had red sprinkles. SO I decided to dye the cupcakes blue and use the red sprinkles and vanilla frosting. Here are pictures of the delicious result!

 

Hope you all had a great 4th of July weekend!

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