Heart Cookies

heart cookies 1It’s been a long time since I last made sugar cookies. I have the same aversions to making them as everyone else does: while the dough is easy to make, it takes nearly forever to roll them all out, cut them into pretty shapes and then bake them, not to mention frost and decorate each individual cookie (a step that’s not necessary, but let’s face it – who wants to eat a plain sugar cookie? No one.). Since I’ve been making cupcakes pretty much nonstop in recent times, I thought it was time for a change of pace, and Valentine’s Day was the perfect excuse to make a batch of seasonal cookies. Plus, I really wanted to try my hand at royal icing (and, having no meringue powder, used this recipe which substitutes pasteurized egg whites instead – for the record, 3 oz egg whites is equivalent to 3 large egg whites). Spreading the frosting evenly wasn’t as easy as I anticipated, but a butter knife solved the problem nicely.While sugar cookies aren’t something I’m going to make all the time, they were definitely a nice treat.

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Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

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Happy Monday everyone! I can’t even express how happy I am that the Raven’s won last night (Baltimore born and raised, hon!) – sorry, 49ers fans. I hope everyone’s recovered from screaming and chanting and eating way too much last night. Now, on to cupcakes.

There are no words to describe how incredibly perfect these cupcakes are: you just have to eat one. I first made these over the summer, shortly before I started this blog, and I made the mistake of baking a full batch – the recipe comes from a cupcake shop, so it already yields an abnormal amount of cupcakes, plus I made them mini cupcakes, quadrupling the yield, and (if I haven’t mentioned this already) I have the astounding ability to make cupcake batter stretch twice as far as it’s supposed to, even if I follow the recipe exactly and fill the cups up to the very top. Even so, these are possibly the best cupcakes I’ve ever made.

The most frustrating part by far, however, was the frosting. When I first made these, it took two attempts and left one of my pans coated in rock hard sugar. I also had to buy three bake-sale type large foil trays to house the cupcakes that wouldn’t fit in my 8 largest Gladware containers. But, I emerged from the project as a more accomplished baker, being able to claim that I’ve made frosting that requires the use of a candy thermometer.

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Note: I made a third of the cupcake recipe, and a half of the frosting recipe. I also like to make these cupcakes as girly as possible by adding 8-10 drops of red food coloring to the frosting and sprinkling the tops with edible pearls.

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Salted Caramel Cupcakes

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Over the weekend, I decided to whip up a quick batch of cupcakes (possibly my favorite thing to make in the kitchen). One of my most recent flavor obsessions is salted caramel, probably sparked by the delicious salted caramel cupcakes from a local bakery, and the new seasonal latte found at Starbucks. I thought I’d make a batch of salted caramel cupcakes myself and use my new silicone cupcake wrappers (found in various colors, shapes and sizes here) too. I used this simple cupcake recipe and made some caramel icing (my recipe follows) to top them off. The result? A rich, sweet, buttery indulgence.

Caramel Icing

½ cup butter, softened

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 – 4 Tbsp caramel sauce, to taste (use a thicker, dessert sauce/ice cream topping kind, usually in a jar instead of a bottle)

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat butter until soft. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix in caramel sauce until desired consistency and taste.

Frosts about 12 cupcakes. Top cupcakes with sea salt.

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