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I call them loaves because I originally made them in mini loaf pans.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 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.
It’s Fall 2020. We need chocolate! We need pumpkin spice! And we need it drenched with caramel! These satisfying brownies check all of the boxes with multiple layers of comfort. A rich chocolate brownie is the base. The next layer is heavenly pumpkin cheesecake. The topping is a buttery crumble that rivals the best crumb cake. Finally, as if that isn’t enough, it’s drizzled with caramel sauce!
If it sounds complicated, don’t worry, it’s not. Each layer is super easy to make. You can use your favorite store bought caramel sauce to top it with. Vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream are optional, but highly recommended toppings also. Just saying.
The layers go unexpectedly well together and make the perfect dessert for Halloween or Thanksgiving. I’m even going to add these beauties to my Christmas dessert table this year. Enjoy! You deserve it.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Crumble Brownies
Chocolate brownies with pumpkin cheesecake and crumb topping, topped with caramel sauce.
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.