Pecan pie was my mom’s favorite, but she didn’t bake pies, so I always used to bake her one for Thanksgiving. One year, I made a chocolate version. It was delicious, but let’s just say it wasn’t user friendly. It was gooey and hard to serve. Over the years, it eventually morphed into these Maple Pecan Brownies. The brownie version is still delicious, rich and gooey with toasty pecans, but much more user friendly.
I used an 8-inch square baking pan for the batch in the photo because I wanted the brownie squares to be thick. You can also use a 9-inch square pan and you’ll get a few more squares out of it, but they’ll have less height. Keep in mind that the baking time will be shorter for the 9-inch pan because the batter will be spread thinner.
The biggest challenge of this recipe is the baking time. The initial time in the oven is to partially bake the brownies. The top should be set before adding the pecan topping. This will take anywhere from 20-30 minutes depending on your pan and your oven. Mine took 28 minutes. The second baking time is to set the pecan topping. This will take about 20-25 minutes. You will notice that the top will be deep brown and the center will stop jiggling. Another way to test doneness is with a food thermometer. The internal temperature will be about 190ºF. Click here to find an instant read kitchen thermometer.
Enjoying Maple Pecan Brownies with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee is a must. Thinking of it brings back memories. I can practically smell my dad brewing the coffee to go with his brownie.
Maple Pecan Brownies
Rich, gooey brownies topped with pecan pie filling
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, overlapping the sides an inch or two. Spray parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together melted butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until well combined.
Stir in eggs and vanilla, one at a time, until well combined.
Stir in cocoa powder, baking soda and salt until well combined.
Stir in flour just until combined.
Spread batter into prepared baking pan. Bake just until top is set, about 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare pecan topping.
When brownie top is set, remove from oven. Gently pour pecan topping around the outer perimeter of brownies, to avoid making brownies sink in the middle. Evenly distribute the pecan topping over the top gently with a spoon.
Return the brownies to the oven and continue baking until the topping is set, about 20-25 minutes. Brownies will stop jiggling and topping will look deep golden brown. Internal temperature will be about 190ºF. (If your topping starts to brown too much on the edges before the inside is done, apply aluminum foil around the edges as you would with a pie.)
Remove from oven and cool completely before cutting, about 2- 2 1/2 hours.
Cut into squares, wiping knife between cuts. Store in a covered container.
In a medium bowl, stir together maple syrup, butter, brown sugar, egg, maple extract and salt until well combined.
Stir in pecans until well coated with maple syrup mixture.
Any respectable autumn baking recipe needs to have the three C’s. Cozy. Comforting. And of course, cinnamon! Would pumpkin-spice-anything even exist without the three C’s? I think not! These Apple Spice Cookies understood the assignment. The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in this cookie dough will remind you of cinnamon rolls and apple pie.
The apples in this recipe are cooked briefly on the stovetop to bring out the flavor and create the perfect texture. Dropping raw apple chunks into cookie dough or cake batter is never a good idea. If you’ve ever baked an apple pie, you know that apples release liquid as they’re cooked and that liquid will end up in your baked cookies, creating soggy spots. So definitely don’t skip this step!
These gorgeous, golden brown cookies are perfectly delicious on their own, but extra credit goes to the Brown Butter Icing for taking them over the top!
Make sure to head over to TikTok to watch the video of these Apple Spice Cookies being created.
In early September, I saw someone announce the fall season on social media. In addition to people pointing out that it was too early for the announcement, the word police corrected the person with the word autumn. Since both terms are correct, we can call the season whatever we prefer. I think autumn is a pretty sounding word, so I’ll use it for the rest of this post. Whatever you call it, these Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves are a perfect little celebration of the season. They have just the right amount of pumpkin spices, making them so fragrant that your kitchen will smell like cozy autumn heaven.
I call them loaves because I originally made them in mini loaf pans. They’re so cute and delicious that I often give them as holiday gifts. This year I decided to try them in ramekins and I loved the results! I used 6-ounce ramekins, but you can use 8-ounce ramekins, any size mini loaf pans, a muffin pan or even a 9-inch loaf pan. Keep in mind that baking times will differ. To find the ramekins I used, click here.
Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves with Caramel Filling
Mini loaves of tender pumpkin bread with caramel filling and luscious cream cheese frosting
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour seven 6-ounce ramekins or six 8-ounce ramekins or any loaf pans of your choice.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
Beat in pumpkin and vanilla until combined.
Divide batter evenly into prepared ramekins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not overbake. (Mini loaves or muffins bake for 15-25 minutes, depending on size. 9-inch loaf bakes for 40-50 minutes)
Cool completely if serving in ramekins or remove from pans after cooling for 10 minutes. Continue to cool on wire rack.
Make 3/4-inch well in the center of each loaf. Fill with caramel sauce. (For the 9-inch loaf, make multiple holes with a skewer. Fill with caramel.)
Top with cream cheese frosting and pumpkin seeds
Cream Cheese Frosting
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add vanilla extract and salt and beat until combined.
Gradually add powdered sugar and beat at medium speed until combined.
Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined.
Have you noticed the strawberry shortcake crumble topping trend? I recently noticed many people have been sharing various versions of the crumble recipe all over Tiktok. I’ve seen the topping on cake, cupcakes and countless other desserts. Most people seem to make it using strawberry gelatin mix and vanilla pudding mix. The version I’m sharing here uses freeze dried strawberries instead. I’m not opposed to using gelatin mix, I just seriously love the tart, natural flavor of freeze dried strawberries. This topping is irresistible on these tender strawberry muffins.
Since strawberry season is in full swing, I used fresh strawberries for the puree in the muffins. Feel free to use frozen, defrosted strawberries if you cant get fresh ones.
Strawberry Shortcake Crumble Muffins
Strawberry muffins topped with strawberry shortcake crumble
Have you ever had mudslide cake? It’s a deliciously messy chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and marshmallows, also known as Mississippi mud cake. I saw one covered in a layer of marshmallow fluff and it made its way into my dreams. I woke up with the inspiration to make a cookie version of the gooey mudslide cake.
I saw a few mudslide cookie recipes out there that used standard size marshmallows and chocolate chips mixed into the cookie dough. If you’ve ever baked with marshmallows, you know that they nearly disappear during the baking process. Chocolate chips melt beautifully into little pools of chocolate, but then harden once cooled to room temperature. I happily volunteered to address these challenges! After some trial and error, I created a satisfying cookie with plenty of gooey marshmallow goodness and a rich fudge filling that stays soft at room temperature. Dreams do come true!
Marshmallow Mudslide Cookies
Chocolate fudge-filled cookies topped with toasted marshmallows
Melt chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk together in a double boiler or in the **microwave in a medium microwave safe bowl.
Stir in chopped nuts. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350º.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer.
Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time and mix until well combined.
Add vanilla and mix until combined.
Add dry ingredients in two increments, mixing just until combined.
Roll fudge filling into tablespoon sized balls
Roll cookie dough into 1/8 cup balls then flatten into a disc with your fingers and place a ball of fudge filling in the middle of each disc. Wrap the cookie dough around the ball of filling, sealing it completely.
Place cookies about 2 inches apart on large baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
Turn on broiler.
Place a marshmallow on top of each cookie.
Broil cookies until marshmallows are toasted. This takes about 1 minute. CAUTION Watch cookies carefully when broiling! They can go from done to burnt in the blink of an eye!
*I used Kraft Jet-Puffed S'moreMallows, but if you're unable to find them, use jumbo marshmallows. Cut them in half lengthwise with kitchen shears. Place on cookies cut side down.
**To melt fudge filling in microwave, heat for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave for 10 second intervals, stirring until melted.
Every winter, when blood oranges come back in season, I start keeping an eye out for them at grocery stores and farmers markets. This year was different. I’ve been at home, having my groceries delivered instead perusing the local produce aisles. If you’ve been entrusting strangers to do your shopping like I have, then you know delivery produce selections are hit and miss. So I was elated when a bag of perfectly beautiful, ripe blood oranges landed on my doorstep. This simple joy made my day. There was no choice. I had to make something worthy of the gorgeous red beauties!
I didn’t get enough of gingerbread this holiday season, so I decided to make a gingerbread cupcake recipe that I created a few years ago when I was experimenting with blood oranges. I used blood orange zest in the cupcake batter and brushed the warm cupcakes with the blood orange syrup left over from making the candied oranges. If you don’t make the candied oranges, you can easily make a batch of the syrup* or skip this step altogether. They will still be delicious. I topped the cupcakes with cream cheese icing made with more orange zest and some blood orange juice mixed in. The juice makes the icing turns a soft shade of pink.
Candied blood orange slices are so stunning, that I can’t bring myself to just lay them on top of a dessert. They remind me of stained glass windows. I like to place them on toothpicks so they can stand up in regal style! Many recipes out there will instruct you to boil the orange slices, then let them air dry. This is perfectly fine if you don’t mind floppy candied oranges. For this recipe, boiling the slices, then letting them dry in the oven on low heat will give them enough stiffness to stand up.
If you can’t find blood oranges where you live, here’s a link to get blood oranges shipped to you. This recipe will also work with other types of oranges. You won’t get the deep scarlet color and the flavor will have a bit more tartness, but it will still be beautiful and delicious!
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Preheat oven to 350º. Spray the wells of a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed, until smooth.
Add brown sugar and orange zest and beat until light and fluffy.
Add molasses and beat until combined.
Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
Mix in dry ingredients in two additions, alternating with buttermilk. Beat just until combined.
Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tin, filling wells 2/3 full. (If you have any remaining batter, prepare an additional muffin tin.)
Bake for 15-18 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan.
Place cupcakes upside down on cooling rack and brush generously with orange simple syrup. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.
Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed, until smooth.
Add butter, orange zest and salt and beat until combined.
Add powdered sugar. Beat at low speed until powdered sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth.
Add blood orange juice and beat, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Candied Blood Orange Slices
Slice oranges into thin 1/4 inch slices.
Combine sugar and water in a shallow saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Add orange slices to saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Drain oranges, reserving syrup.
Heat oven to 175ºF. Place on a large baking sheet lined with a baking mat in a single layer and bake until orange slices begin to stiffen, about 2 hours.
Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. If desired, insert toothpicks when slices are cool enough to handle. The slices will continue to stiffen as they cool.
*To make orange simple syrup, combine the juice of one orange with enough water to make 1/2 cup. Combine mixture with the zest of one orange and 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and transfer to a glass container. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Purple is passionate. It’s mystical. It’s regal. Don’t we all know someone whose favorite color is purple? It’s painfully obvious. They can’t hide it. They don’t want to hide it. They can’t just be friends with purple. They’re in a relationship with purple. The first time I made this Purple Berry Cake, a purple lover I know said that when she saw it, it spoke to her soul. This cake is, what I like to call, a double-take cake. People stare. They can’t resist it’s charismatic charm. Once they stop staring and taste it, they fall hopelessly in love.
Fresh berry purée is added to the batter, creating a soft, moist cake. The layers are brushed with berry syrup, which helps keeps the cake moist and gives it a nice punch of berry flavor. I used blackberries and blueberries, but you can use any combination of purple berries that you like. After baking, the color of the cake layers will be a brownish gray with a hint of purple, depending on your berries. I think I need to come up with name for this color. How about Silverberry? You can see tiny flecks of the berries in the cake and I think the color is lovely, especially with the lavender frosting. If you want a more purple cake, feel free to add some gel food color to the batter. I used Wilton Violet gel food color to achieve the pretty lavender cream cheese frosting. The extra butter and the addition of heavy cream makes this frosting silky and spreadable.
I’m obsessed with edible flowers lately, so I garnish my baked goods with them whenever I can get my hands on some. I found these pansies in the produce department of my local food market. If you can’t find pansies, pesticide free violets or rose petals would also be pretty. Make sure to apply them to your cake right before serving, since they are delicate and will wilt over time. Brush some of your berries with a little dab of edible gold luster dust for an extra regal touch.
Purple Berry Cake with Silky Cream Cheese Frosting
Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray two 6-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper circles.
Purée the berries in a blender or small food processor.
Strain puréed berries through a sieve. Reserve 2/3 cup berry puree. Set aside remaining puree for syrup.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat 1 1/4 cups (8.75 ounces) sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract with an electric mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Add flour in two additions, alternating with buttermilk, beating at medium speed just until combined.
Stir in the reserved 2/3 cup berry purée.
Pour batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and continue cooling on wire racks.
Meanwhile, make berry syrup. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining berry purée, remaining 1/4 cup sugar (1.75 ounces) and 1/4 cup water over medium-low heat. Stir together and bring to a boil. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Split each cake layer into two and brush with berry syrup. Fill and frost cake with Silky Cream Cheese Frosting.
Silky Cream Cheese Frosting
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer at medium speed, until smooth.
Add vanilla extract and salt and beat until combined.
Gradually add powdered sugar and beat at medium speed until combined.
Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until smooth and creamy.
Add gel food color with a toothpick, a little at a time, until desired shade is reached. Beat at low speed until well blended.
Garnish top of cake with fresh berries. Brush a few of the berries with edible gold luster dust. Garnish with fresh flowers immediately before serving.
I’ve seen some fully-loaded cookies out there, but these extreme cookies just earned the title! They’ve got enough chunky, chocolatey, sweet and salty glory to satisfy the most ravenous cookie craving!!! (Yes, all of those exclamation points are necessary.) But, before we even go one step further, I must mention a few disclaimers. I strongly urge you to make sure your fridge is stocked with milk. Please change into your comfiest pants before attempting this recipe. Canceling all plans for the rest of the day is recommended, as a nap may ensue immediately following consumption of these cookies. OK, now that we got that out of the way, let’s jump in with both feet!
Did you notice how serious the mood got? We need a moody photo that looks like it was taken in a rustic cabin to emphasize the seriousness of these chocolate cookies. It’s no coincidence that I’m sharing this recipe with you right before Father’s Day. Every Dad I know is an accomplished snacker. Dad will love these cookies for his personal snack stash! Package them up and deliver them to your Pop with a jug of milk or a thermos of coffee. You can probably skip the straw. We all know that Dad is going to chug his milk, but every respectable blog photo of milk must contain a pretty straw.
These cookies make amazing ice cream sandwiches, too. Press a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream between two cookies and pop it in the freezer. If you want to make these cookies picture perfect, use a scoop to portion out your dough. This will make them uniform in size and they’ll bake more evenly. Click here to find the scoop I used. For even more visual appeal, don’t crush the pretzels before adding to the cookie dough. Some of them will break when you are mixing them into the dough and this is fine, because the large pieces help make these cookies chunky. This recipe makes eighteen large cookies. That’s one dozen for Dad plus six for you to snack on, because when these babies come out of the oven with their melted chocolate chunks and little pools of caramel, resisting will be impossible! Now it’s cookie time…you’ve got this!
Fully Loaded Chocolate Snack Attack Cookies
Large chunky, sweet and salty chocolate cookies loaded with chocolate chunks, pretzels, caramel, rice cereal and nuts.
Preheat oven to 350º F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside
In a large bowl, cream butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating at medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla and beat just until combined.
Add flour mixture and beat at low speed, just until combined.
Stir in chocolate chunks, pretzels, caramel bits, chocolate rice cereal and peanuts.
Scoop 1/4 cup portions of cookie dough and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until set. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute before transferring to wire rack to cool.
My relationship with Valentine’s Day has transformed over the years. When I was a child, I joyfully skipped home from school with my bounty of tiny Valentine cards, candy hearts and a cupcake someone’s mother baked. As I grew older, I was hot and cold towards Valentine’s Day, depending on the state of my love life at the time. After having kids, Valentine’s Day became about red construction paper, doily hearts and glue sticks. I happily cleaned up sprinkles and kissed chubby, frosting-stained cheeks. Now I think of Valentine’s Day as simply a day to celebrate love. I embrace Valentine’s Day and all the hearts, roses and chocolates that go with it! Show your loved ones that you love them on Valentine’s Day, but more importantly, show them throughout the year, by loving, respecting and accepting them for who they are every day.
If your heart beats for a chocolate lover, then this Valentine cake for two will have them swooning. It’s small in size, but grand in chocolate indulgence. It has three layers of moist chocolate cake, rich, white chocolate buttercream and a silky chocolate glaze. As if that isn’t enough, I loaded the top with chocolate candy! Some of the candy is store bought and some I made with candy melts and chocolate molds. Click here to find the cherub mold.Click here to find the heart mold.
I hope you share this Valentine cake with someone you love! However you celebrate the day and whoever you love, have a happy one!
Chocolate Lovers' Valentine Cake for Two
A mini chocolate cake with white chocolate buttercream, topped with chocolate glaze and chocolate Valentine candy. Perfect for sharing!
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease & flour three 4-inch cake pans. *See note below.
Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Add sugar and stir to combine.
Combine egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Whisk lightly to combine.
Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and mix on low speed with a handheld electric mixer, until combined. Stop mixer. Scrape sides of bowl with spatula. Turn mixer up to medium speed and beat for 1 minute.
Add hot coffee and stir until incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared cake pans, dividing batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool.
White Chocolate Buttercream
Melt white chocolate in a double boiler over gently simmering water. (Alternately, you can melt the white chocolate in the microwave. In a small microwaveable bowl, heat the white chocolate for 30 seconds, then stir. Heat again for 10 second intervals, stirring until melted, being very careful not to overheat it.)
Set white chocolate aside to cool until lukewarm and still soft.
In a medium bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and creamy.
Add vanilla extract, salt and melted white chocolate. Beat at low speed until combined. Stop mixer. Scrape sides of bowl with spatula.
Add powdered sugar. Beat at low speed, until powdered sugar is combined. Beat at medium speed until buttercream is smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl occasionally. Keep covered at room temperature until ready to use.
When cakes have cooled completely, trim the cake layers to 1-inch tall.
Attach one of the layers to a cake board with some of the white chocolate buttercream. Apply 1/4-inch thick layer of buttercream to the top of the cake layer, followed by the second cake layer, another 1/4-inch thick layer of buttercream, then the final cake layer.
Apply a crumb coat (thin layer) of buttercream to the cake. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Apply chocolate sprinkles to the bottom edge of the cake.
Melt chocolate drip glaze ingredients together in a double boiler over gently simmering water. Let cool slightly.
Spoon chocolate glaze into a piping bag. Snip off the end of the bag with kitchen scissors. Drizzle chocolate glaze along the edges of the perimeter of the cake, then fill in the middle. Smooth top with a small offset spatula.
Top cake with assorted chocolate candy. If desired, you can stack some of the candy and adhere them with melted chocolate to give some variation in height.