Baked Sunday Mornings: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

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These are beautiful, perfect cookies that everyone loves. Their puffy, soft texture and crackly tops get me every time. The only problem is that the recipe only yields 2 dozen and they go quick!

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The only kind of tricky part is browning the butter but that is a skill that I mastered many Snickerdoodles ago, so luckily it didn’t slow me down this time.

Head on over and see if everyone else loved them as much as I did!

Next up: Pumpkin cheesecake bars! Yay, can’t wait! I’ve been itching to buy a few pumpkins! This is one of the best times of year here in Texas!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Orange Almond Ricotta Cheesecake

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When it came time to bake this cheesecake I realized I had an 8″ and a 10″ springform pan, but not a 9″. Ah, well. We were going to dinner at our friends’ house so the 10″ seemed like the way to go.

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I increased the amounts a bit for the crust to accommodate the bigger pan. I wasn’t sure how far up the filling would go so I extended the crust to the top of the pan. I had a bit of crust leftover, so that went into the freezer to be made into Compost Cookies at some point in the future.

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It seemed to take forever to get to 160 degrees. I know it was because of the bigger pan, but finally after about 80 minutes it was all set. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I pulled it out of the oven ten minutes before we had to leave for dinner. (it’s a bit hard to bake with three littles running around! πŸ˜‰

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We popped it in their freezer the second we got there and settled in to get some very much-needed grownup conversation/cocktail time. Our five wild boys entertained each other and it was a really nice way to end a stressful week.

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After a lovely dinner of tacos and sampling assorted ciders (we all really want it to be fall now) we decided to cut the cheesecake. It had been in the freezer for about two hours and was chilled through. I forgot to bring almonds for garnish so I had to use a larger amount of sifted powdered sugar to cover the 3 thermometer holes. (I’m so glad I didn’t attempt to eyeball it, I would have seriously under-baked it)

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The verdict from the grownups: it was really great, a nice light way to end a meal and a nice balance with the beverages we were drinking. The kids weren’t as into it at all. The filling wasn’t sweet enough for them, but they did all like the crust.

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I hate to admit that I did not seek out fresh ricotta and I can see how that would have made a huge difference in the filling. I also didn’t buy amaretto, I subbed fresh orange juice instead. I loved the almond-orange combo and would definitely make this again. If I wasn’t going to use fresh ricotta next time I would add a bit of honey or more orange or bite the bullet and buy the amaretto. The filling was nice but not quite perfect. (in my perfectionistic opinion) I did notice that unlike a lot of my cream cheese-based cheesecakes this one didn’t crack at all, the top stayed smooth and beautiful.

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Overall I really really liked it and will definitely add it to the rotation. I love sharing food with family and friends and was glad I could include this cheesecake in our festivities.

Go over and see if my fellow bakers were less cheap/lazy than me and if using fresh ricotta improved their fillings!

Next up: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles….awwww yeah!!!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

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I did NOT want to make this cake. I knew it was going to be delicious, but I just wasn’t in the mood for a layer cake, especially a SIX LAYER cake. I didn’t have an occasion to make it for and I hate having to toss yummy cake that was just too much for us to eat. I had bought the chocolate and heavy cream so I knew I’d end up making the cake, even though I would procrastinate like crazy first.

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I made the layers on Thursday, planning to finish it on Friday in time to share at my PTO night of gossip meeting. That didn’t happen.

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I asked my husband to cut the three layers in half for me, I was terrified of making a giant crumbly mess. He did a great job.

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I procrastinated the buttercream for hours–I put the kids to bed, I cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom….I listened to my favorite podcast…and finally I worked up the nerve to give it a shot. I always did fine with the Baked buttercream, but one batch failed recently when our A/C was acting wonky. I guess the heat just messed it up. But even after several successful cooked buttercreams, it just took that one bad egg to shake my confidence. When it turned out beautiful and fluffy…it was the best feeling in the world. Doing a happy dance in my kitchen at one am–well, I’m glad I was alone. πŸ™‚

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The next step was assembling the layers. It took me a second to realize how to get the layers together without breaking the cakes. I used a flexible cutting board, slid them on and placed them one by one on the yummy buttercream. The layers made me laugh, the looked like Shel Silverstein-style flapjacks…tall and kind of leaning to the side. I didn’t mind.

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Finishing cakes is just not my strong point. I just don’t have enough focus to make them perfect. Once I feel good about the baking process I just want to get to the eating part. I might make it a goal to work on decorating, but right this second I don’t have a lot of interest.

I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the time of day I am baking and what the finished product looks like. When I am doing middle of the night baking (I’m a night owl and sometimes it takes forever to get the youngest boy settled down) my cakes end up looking a bit more…whimsical.

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Why did I choose to use my wavy-frosting comb thing? I don’t know. It was 2am and for some reason I remember thinking ‘it looks kind of like a tree trunk!’ I went to bed with a clean kitchen and a giant cake chilling in the fridge. I giggled a bit when I uncovered it this morning, but loved seeing how great the layers looked and how pretty it looked on the plate. If it had have been a birthday cake I would have covered it with sparkly, pretty candles and sang my loudest to distract from the fact that my cake was a bit imperfect wobbly. Of course my cake testers loved it and proclaimed it the BEST CAKE IN THE WORLD! (they kind of say that about everything I bake ;))

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Go over and see how my fellow bakers fared…did they cut the three cakes into six layers? Did their buttercream turn out? I’m going over to find out now!

Next up: Orange Almond Ricotta Cheesecake…yummy!! (and just one layer!!)

Baked Sunday Mornings: Whiskey Peach Upside-Down Cake

This recipe was made for summer in Texas. There is nothing better than a ripe, local peach this time of year. The ones I chose were a bit firm when I bought them because I wasn’t sure how soon I would be making my cake.

Well, they ripened up at warp speed on my counter so I had to hurry up and use them. I can’t believe it, but I had never made an upside-down cake before. I was really excited to make this cake.

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Luckily the peaches were the only thing I had to buy, I had everything else on hand. The cake mixed up quickly and I had it in the oven in no time.

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I didn’t overload the cake with the peaches, even though it was tempting to. Even still, I had to put a pan under the cake to catch some excess juices. I am used to underbaking my cakes and cookies a bit, so letting it go as dark as I did gave me a bit of anxiety. I let it cool overnight while I pondered my options for toppings.

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I ended up skipping the whipped cream–it turns out my husband doesn’t like whipped cream (I’m just finding this out four years in??! πŸ˜‰ and so I made a second batch of whiskey caramel to pour on top. I was kind of hoping that cooking the whiskey would burn off the alcohol and the kiddos could help us eat the cake, but the second I tasted it I knew that was not an option.

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The cake was still very, very boozy and so the eating duties fell to the grownups. My husband really liked the cake a lot and didn’t seem to mind. I really did like it too and will make it again, but I have to say: I don’t think it needed the extra topping and I don’t know that I would bother with it next time. I really loved the cake and the peaches on their own: I loved the soft almond flavor and lovely texture.

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All in all, another great Baked recipe–and I had enough peaches leftover to make a yummy smoothie for my boys for breakfast the next morning.

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Go see how my fellow bakers did!
Next up: Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream!!! (This is going to be a doozy, I need to get myself invited to a dinner party so I don’t have to eat a whole cake alone!)

Baked Sunday Mornings: Going Rogue Part One

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I’ve never gone rogue before and I’m surprised at how naughty it feels. I *really* wanted to make the tarragon-lime cookies that were assigned to us but today is my almost-eight year old twins’ birthday party and I just couldn’t fit the cookies in.

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As you can see, my cakes and cupcakes are not frosted yet. I literally just pulled them out of the oven and I plan to frost them in the morning. (well…later in the morning, it’s after 4am here already)

Every year the past few years my guys have requested a Halloween-themed party. This year was no exception.

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I am excited about their party and hope I can find a way to look a bit more awake then I’m sure I will feel tomorrow. I’ve been working on decorations all weekend and tonight was crunch time: baking, decorating, and…a last-minute piΓ±ata. I didn’t buy one and regretted it, so I threw one together. It actually didn’t take too much time.

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I won’t be making the cinnamon frosting because I don’t know that the kids will get it. I plan on making a bright white buttercream, and the boys requested fake blood splatters and a fake knife sticking out of the top, so I am using a beautiful, elegant, understated red velvet recipe and turning it into a bloody nightmare. And yes…I used a ton of red food coloring, although the original recipe is supposed to be a bit more toned-down. But if you ever meet my boys (twins AND Leos) you will see that toned down is not always something they are capable of–and I love that about them.

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I’ll write a birthday party recap with pictures of the finished cakes, and a review on the taste (they smell amazing!!) in a bit. In the meantime, go on over and see what my fellow bakers have been up to!

First Week

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My big, handsome boys have conquered their first week back at school, the first week of THIRD GRADE!! (how are they in third grade??!!!)

We have had the same routine for the past four years so even on the first day of school they woke up and began to get ready for their morning. Since we had a short summer, they really didn’t lose that which I am thankful for. I can’t do tears first thing in the morning, ya’ll.

Flashback: First day of second grade.

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They were so little then. I guess I’m going to say that every year when I look at old photos. I’m so proud of my little guys and so glad they had a good week.

Do you still get excited when it’s back to school time, even if it’s been years since you were in school? I do!!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Oopsy Daisy Cake

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I loved this cake, but it came at a weird time. It really is a special cake, and would be perfect for a birthday. But it wasn’t anyone’s birthday and our A/C hasn’t been being freezing up so the house was a little warm-ish and I was baking and sweating and it wasn’t awesome. But I did have help:

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The name made me giggle every time I looked at it, I couldn’t help but think of this.

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The cake was a classic Baked cake, but with two layers instead of the three I’m used to with the other cakes I’ve made. (Sweet & Salty, Lemon Drop) I used local coffee and local organic chocolate (that was on clearance! I may have bought 4 bars, don’t judge) and the cakes baked up intensely dark and fragrant although they did seem to sink in the middle a bit.

That didn’t matter at all once I filled and frosted them. I always bake the cakes one evening and then frost the next day and that is what I did this time. I finished up the cakes at around 1am and for some reason after I added the chocolate and peanut toppings it just seemed like it needed to be a peace sign. I think I may have been delirious.

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The cake was well-received at home:

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and my kid-testers approved:

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I would definitely make the cake again, but it would have to be for a special occasion.

Go see what my fellow bakers made! Next up: Lime Tarragon Cookies with White Chocolate Lime Topping. (Yum!!)

Baked Sunday Mornings: Banana Mousse Parfait

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The banana mousse we made this time was quick, easy and yummy. A great treat for the summer.

I really lagged on making it because I wasn’t sure whether I was going to use vanilla bean paste (would have to purchase) or substitute regular vanilla extract ( had on hand.)

In the end I decided to buy the vanilla bean paste because it came in a good-sized ( 4oz.) jar so I will definitely use it for when I want that iconic vanilla bean-speckled appearance. (scones, ice cream)

I waited so long to make this that my original bananas got a little too ripe:

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Oops!

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I used my shiny new food processor instead of my old cranky blender to blend the bananas, milk, sugar and vanilla bean paste. The heavy cream whipped up fast in the stand mixer–I chilled the bowl over night. Folding in the whipped cream was quick and the finished product was swirly and speckle-y–very pretty.

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I keep pint glasses in the deep freeze for summertime iced tea and lemonade so I used four of those for the mousse. I was curious to see what it tasted like on it’s own so I just put the mousse by itself in the glasses and chilled for most of the evening.

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I let my boys (judges of all desserts in our house) each have one after dinner. My Monkey wanted cookies on top of his:

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But the other two boys ate theirs as is:

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Everyone really liked it!

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This was a good, quick way to make an ice-cream like dessert without dragging out the ice cream attachment. The flavors were perfectly balanced and it wasn’t too sweet.

It would also be great frozen into popsicles, which is what I think I will do next time.

Go over and see what everyone else did with the recipe!!

Next up: (for July 7) Malted Vanilla Milkshakes–yum!!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Cream Cheese Chocolate Snacking Cookies

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It’s a miracle these cookies ended up in the oven– the dough was so smooth and tasty on it’s own. Almost like pudding.

And if you know me at all, you know that chocolate pudding is one of my huge weaknesses.

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But they did get baked and I was very happy with the final product. Soft and chewy cookie, perfect size. They taste even better as they cool. I used a medium scoop and got about 30 cookies.

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We have friends coming over for dinner tonight and my sweetie suggested I make homemade chocolate malt ice cream sandwiches for the dessert.

I was planning on making these cookies for them but loved CCCSCs so much that I made a second batch of dough just for the sandwiches. (without chocolate chips)

The original batch of cookies I am definitely keeping for snacking. πŸ™‚

I had a ladies’ clothing swap to go to and took a bag of cookies with me. Otherwise I know I would have single-handedly eaten them all!

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Since I had to throw out more than half of my Mississippi Mud Pie, I was happy to share the cookies with friends. We made a valiant effort, but it was just too much pie for two people to handle. A batch of cookies is much easier to finish off!

I’ll include the outcome of the ice cream sandwiches in a separate post, it was my first time making chocolate malt ice cream and I can’t wait to let you know how it turned out!

In the meantime head over and see how my Baked Sunday Mornings friends’ cookies turned out!

Next up: (in two weeks) Banana Mousse Parfaits! Can’t Wait!

Baked Sunday Mornings Next Up: Cream Cheese Chocolate Snacking Cookies

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I wrote my last Baked Sunday Mornings post in a hurry. I didn’t write it before I went out of town and was too tired on Saturday when I returned. I wrote it before work on Sunday and forgot to mention what we were baking next!

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We are working from the Baked Elements book and this weeks’ recipe is cream cheese chocolate snacking cookies.

The name is funny to me because in my world every cookie is great for snacking, but I am especially excited about this recipe because I don’t believe I’ve ever put cream cheese in a cookie before. Also, it has the word chocolate in it so I’m in!

I also have to admit that I do not yet own the Elements book, so in between work appointments I am going to stop by the book store and grab it. I saw from another blogger that these cookies are hard to photograph…and the pictures are not my strong point in the first place, so I’ll have to look for a cute plate or something while I’m out!

What’s going on in your kitchen this week?