Lilac Vanilla Mini Cakes

Lilac Vanilla Mini Cakes

Once upon a time, there was a little black bear who woke up from a long nap. As she stretched, she felt her tummy growl. She ventured into the morning sunshine and smelled something sweet. She sniffed the air, following the sweet fragrance until she came upon a beautiful purple tree. She climbed up to a comfy branch and ate the tender, purple blossoms to her heart’s content.

Bears, butterflies and bees know something good when they see it. We humans can also enjoy lilacs. I knew lilacs were edible, but I hadn’t tasted them until recently. The flavor reminds me of beets, slightly sweet with a vegetable aftertaste. I really wanted to try lilac syrup after seeing so many photos of pretty purple syrup online. I discovered that lilac syrup is not purple. It’s more of a dull, brownish blue-green. Many people use food coloring or blueberries to color their syrup. I decided to skip that step since I would be using my lilac syrup inside of cake layers. I made a simple syrup with lilac blossoms and let them steep for a couple of hours. It was just long enough to give a subtle lilac flavor without being too floral. If you want a stronger lilac flavor, I suggest using more lilac blossoms rather than steeping longer to avoid bitterness.

I paired the lilac syrup with this soft, fluffy vanilla cake and silky Swiss meringue buttercream. If you aren’t a fan of lilac syrup, feel free to use vanilla simple syrup instead and just use the lilac blossoms to decorate your cakes. They look stunning on any cake or cupcakes.

Print Recipe
Lilac Vanilla Mini Cakes
Soft, fluffy mini white vanilla cakes with lilac syrup and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with lilac blossoms
Course Dessert
Servings
mini cakes
Ingredients
Lilac Syrup
White Vanilla Cake
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Course Dessert
Servings
mini cakes
Ingredients
Lilac Syrup
White Vanilla Cake
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Instructions
Lilac Syrup
  1. Combine lilac blossoms, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring gently to dissolve sugar.
  2. Turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow lilac blossoms to steep for 2 hours. Pass lilac syrup through a mesh sieve.
White Vanilla Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, oil and vanilla bean paste with an electric mixer at medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. On medium speed, beat in egg whites in two additions, then beat in egg until well combined.
  5. On low speed, beat in one third of the flour mixture, then beat in sour cream just until combined.
  6. Beat in the remaining flour in two additions, alternating with milk. Beat just until combined.
  7. Transfer batter to prepared cake pans. Bake for 28-33 minutes, or until top is light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not over bake.
  8. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and continue cooling on a wire rack.
  9. Cut cakes into twelve 2 3/4-inch rounds using a cookie or biscuit cutter.
  10. Using a pastry brush, brush mini cakes generously with lilac syrup or vanilla simple syrup.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and temperature of 160ºF is reached.
  3. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed, gradually increasing to medium-high speed. Whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form and mixture reaches room temperature.
  4. Turn mixer to medium-low speed. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, allowing butter to fully incorporate before adding more. If mixture looks curdled, keep mixing and it will correct itself.
  5. Switch to a paddle attachment. On low speed, mix in vanilla bean paste and salt. Continue mixing on low speed for a few minutes until smooth.
  6. Remove about 3/4 cup of frosting and transfer to a small bowl. Using a toothpick, place two tiny drops of lilac gel food color and one tiny drop of violet gel food color into the bowl. Mix with a spatula until well combined.
Assembly
  1. Smear a bit of frosting on each mini cake board. Top with a cake round, frosting, then a second cake round. Frost with a crumb coat if desired. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Frost mini cakes with white Swiss meringue buttercream, then smear small amounts of lilac Swiss meringue buttercream around the sides and top. Smooth frosting with a bench scraper and smooth the tops with a small offset spatula. Decorate with lilac blossoms.
Vanilla Simple Syrup (optional)
  1. Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. When sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract.
Recipe Notes

*If you can't find ultra fine granulated sugar, it's ok to substitute with regular granulated sugar.

**To find the lilac gel food color I used, click here.

***To find the violet gel food color I used, click here.

****To find 3-inch mini cake boards, click here.

Vintage Chocolate Cake with the Best Chocolate Frosting

Dark Chocolate Cake with the Best Chocolate Frosting

If you love chocolate cake, this is the post for you! Chocolate cake is one of the best comfort foods there is. I’ve tasted many over the years, but my all time favorite was one I had growing up. I’ve spent years trying to duplicate it. Most cookbook recipes were either too dry, too dense or too spongey. Some books have some velvety, butter based recipes that use the reverse creaming method, but they don’t have the moist, nostalgic texture I was looking for. I noticed that nearly every chocolate cake recipe on the internet is a variation of the century-old recipe from the Hershey’s Cocoa tin. I think many people have passed it down as a family recipe, each grandmother adding her own personal touch. Even some celebrity chefs have claimed it as their own. It’s an easy, delicious, moist recipe and its popularity is well deserved. You can tweak the flavor additions a bit to make it your own too. It’s a recipe that’s hard to mess up.

The recipe I’m sharing here is my version of the vintage original, adapted over time by my family. I like to use dark or black cocoa powder in this recipe, which makes a rich, dark chocolate cake. The chocolate frosting recipe is one I developed, mostly because I couldn’t find a chocolate frosting recipe that didn’t taste gritty and/or look speckled from the cocoa powder. Swiss meringue buttercream with melted chocolate added is one alternative, but, while it is smooth, silky and perfect for piping, it’s missing that deep chocolate richness. Another option is chocolate ganache. It looks rich and creamy in those viral videos, but it’s a little too rich and overpowering to use as frosting in my opinion.

I think this frosting recipe is the one! it has the best of both worlds and is perfect for a classic chocolate cake. You’ll notice this frosting contains maple syrup. It gives a subtle maple note in the background, but mostly, it helps make the frosting silky and gives it shine.

Print Recipe
Vintage Chocolate Cake with the Best Chocolate Frosting
Course Dessert
Keyword cake, chocolate
Servings
2 layer 6-inch cake
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Frosting
Course Dessert
Keyword cake, chocolate
Servings
2 layer 6-inch cake
Ingredients
Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Frosting
Instructions
Chocolate Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease two 6-inch cake pans and dust with cocoa powder. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Add sugar and stir to combine.
  3. Combine egg, egg yolk, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Whisk lightly to combine.
  4. 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.
  5. Add hot coffee and stir to combine.
  6. Pour batter into prepared cake pans, dividing batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Chocolate Frosting
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together maple syrup, water, cocoa powder and espresso powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar and salt until smooth with an electric mixer
  3. Gradually add cooled maple syrup mixture and beat until combined.
  4. Stir in melted chocolate until well combined.
Recipe Notes

*For smoothest results, use chopped bar chocolate and make sure chocolate is completely melted.  Do not use chocolate chips

 

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Marble Cookies

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Marble Cookies

To the indecisive German baker who invented marble cake, I thank you! Marble cake, sampler platters and tasting flights are the perfect solution for those times when you just can’t decide. Let’s take one more decision off the table. No longer will we have to decide between chocolate and strawberry cookies. These marble cookies are the best of both worlds. Chocolate and strawberry are opposites in many ways, but complement each other so well. After all, who doesn’t love chocolate covered strawberries?

The dark chocolate cocoa powder gives these cookies a deep chocolate flavor. Freeze dried strawberries provide the sweet strawberry flavor and color. I crushed the strawberries with a mini food processor, but you can also use a mortar and pestle, a clean spice grinder or a sturdy plastic bag and a rolling pin. When you crush the 1 1/2 cups of freeze dried strawberries called for in the recipe, you’ll end up with about 1/3 cup of strawberry powder. To find freeze dried strawberries, click here.

This recipe makes about eighteen cookies but you can also make nine large cookies as seen on my recent TikTok video. Follow the instructions for large cookies. To view video, click here.

Print Recipe
Dark Chocolate Strawberry Marble Cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
  4. Beat in vanilla extract until well combined.
  5. On low speed, mix in flour mixture just until combined.
  6. Divide dough in half. Leave half of dough in the bowl and place the other half in another bowl.
  7. Add freeze dried strawberries to half of the dough and mix just until combined
  8. Add cocoa powder to the other half of the dough and mix just until combined.
  9. Roll dough into 1 1/2 teaspoon size balls. (For large cookies, roll dough into tablespoon size balls.)
  10. To form cookies, place two chocolate dough balls and two strawberry dough balls in your hand in a checkerboard pattern. Roll into a ball.
  11. Repeat with remaining dough balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  13. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  14. Place cookies two inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
  15. Bake 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set and edges are golden. (For large cookies, bake 14-15 minutes.)
  16. Transfer to wire rack to cool. (For large cookies, cool on cookie sheet one minute, then transfer to wire rack to cool.

The Nutcracker Land of Sweets Cupcakes

Nutcracker Land of Sweets Cupcakes

The tradition of enjoying the Nutcracker Ballet at Christmastime has been in my family for over 20 years. The Nutcracker Land of Sweets is a magical theme that has me mesmerized. Gingerbread, candy canes, gumdrops and billowy clouds of pink frosting are what dreams are made of. And that’s exactly what these dreamy cupcakes are made of. The cupcake flavor is a subtle spice cake. The recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart cake recipe I made last summer. The original cake was paired with blackberry jam, but I knew plum jam would be perfect for these cupcakes. I topped them with a mildly sweet, fluffy Swiss meringue buttercream.

Part of the fun of making these cupcakes began at the store as I collected the sweets to decorate the cupcakes. Another perk of the job is taste testing the candy. I discovered that purple spice drops are licorice flavored and red spice drops are cinnamon. Who knew?

Print Recipe
The Nutcracker Land of Sweets Cupcakes
Spice cupcakes filled with plum jam, topped with fluffy pink frosting, gingerbread men and Christmas candy, and dusted with sugar snow
Course Dessert
Keyword cupcakes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Spice cupcakes
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Course Dessert
Keyword cupcakes
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Spice cupcakes
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Instructions
Spice Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12 serving muffin pan with disposable baking cups. (I used silver foil liners.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla, one at a time, mixing until well combined.
  5. Add flour mixture in two additions, alternating with milk. Mix until combined.
  6. Divide batter evenly into wells of prepared muffin pan, filling about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake until light golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 16-18 minutes.
  8. Let cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes. Gently transfer cupcakes to cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Core the center of each cupcake, removing a 3/4-inch deep circle. Fill with jam and replace the circle top.
  10. Frost cupcakes with pink Swiss meringue buttercream. Decorate with cookies and candies. Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Pink Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercreamgue Buttercream
  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set over a pan of gently simmering water.
  2. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and temperature of 160ºF is reached.
  3. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixture with a whisk attachment. Whisk on low speed, gradually increasing to medium-high speed. Whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form and mixture reaches room temperature.
  4. Turn mixer to medium-low speed. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, allowing the butter to fully incorporate each time before adding more.
  5. Switch to paddle attachment. On low speed, mix in vanilla, salt and food color. Continue mixing on low speed for a few minutes until smooth.
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Spice Cake

Apple Spice Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Apple Spice Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

These Apple Spice Cookies were one of my most popular cookies last fall so I decided to bring them back a little early this year. I’m definitely not the type of person to be drinking pumpkin spice lattes in 90º weather in the middle of August, but these are my favorite fall cookies ever so I wanted to give them a proper head start. The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in this cookie dough will remind you of cinnamon rolls and apple pie and help you look forward to fall.

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!

apple spice cookies with brown butter icing

Make sure to head over to TikTok to watch the video of these Apple Spice Cookies being created.

Print Recipe
Apple Spice Cookies with Brown Butter Icing
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Cooked Apples
Brown Butter Icing
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Cooked Apples
Brown Butter Icing
Instructions
Cooked Apples
  1. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add apples, sugar and cinnamon to skillet.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Drain any excess liquid from cooled apples.
Apple Spice Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract, one at a time, until well combined
  5. Stir in flour mixture, just until combined.
  6. Fold cooled apples into cookie dough.
  7. Divide dough into 12 equal golf ball size portions and place three inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
  8. Bake until golden brown, about 12-13 minutes. Let cool 1 minute on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
Brown Butter Icing
  1. In a small saucepan, cook butter over medium heat until golden brown and fragrant.
  2. Immediately transfer browned butter to a small bowl. Whisk in powdered sugar, vanilla extract, salt and 1 tablespoon milk. Add more milk if necessary to reach desired consistency.
  3. Drizzle icing over cooled cookies.
Recipe Notes

NOTE:  If your cookies spread too much when baking, refrigerate dough for 20 minutes, then bake as directed.

Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves with Caramel Filling

pumpkin spices mini loaves with caramel filling

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.

pumpkin spices mini loaves with caramel filling

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 an 8 or 9-inch loaf pan. Keep in mind that baking times will differ. To find the ramekins I used, click here.

Print Recipe
Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves with Caramel Filling
Mini loaves of tender pumpkin bread with caramel filling and luscious cream cheese frosting
Servings
mini loaves
Ingredients
Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves
Cream Cheese Frosting
Servings
mini loaves
Ingredients
Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves
Cream Cheese Frosting
Instructions
Pumpkin Spice Mini Loaves
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour seven 6-ounce ramekins or six 8-ounce ramekins or any loaf pans of your choice.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
  5. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla until combined.
  6. Stir in flour mixture just until combined.
  7. 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. 8 or 9-inch loaf bakes for 40-50 minutes)
  8. Cool completely if serving in ramekins or remove from pans after cooling for 10 minutes. Continue to cool on wire rack.
  9. Make 3/4-inch well in the center of each loaf. Fill with caramel sauce. (For an 8 or 9-inch loaf, poke multiple holes with a skewer. Fill with caramel sauce.)
  10. Top with cream cheese frosting and pumpkin seeds
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla extract and salt and beat until combined.
  3. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat at medium speed until combined.
  4. Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined.

Fairy Puffs

Fairy Puffs sugared mini muffins wtih edible flowers

My dad used to take me on walks in the woods to look for fairy rings when I was a child. I wanted to see a real fairy so badly! I got a book about fairies, hoping to learn more about them. Fairies love little cakes, milk, honey and butter so I’m sure these Fairy Puffs would be fairy approved.

My Fairy Puffs recipe is loosely based on an old favorite mini muffin recipe. I tweaked it quite a bit, including the addition of pink dragonfruit powder. Dragonfruit has a subtle flavor, so the bright fuchsia powder is mostly for color. But oh what a beautiful color it is! You can find dragonfruit powder in healthy food stores or online. To find the dragonfruit powder , also known as pink pitaya powder, I used, click here.

fairy puff muffins

Decorating these little cuties was so entertaining! After sampling multiple variations of sparkling sugar and cinnamon sugar, I decided that dipping the bottoms of the muffins in butter and cinnamon sugar, then dipping the tops in butter and sparkling sugar gave them the perfect balance of sugar and spice. I had purchased some edible flowers a couple of days prior, and they added a pretty, magical touch. The flowers I used are called bachelor’s buttons and I got them at a local gourmet flower seller.

sugared mini muffins with edible flowers

Print Recipe
Fairy Puffs
Course Breakfast, Brunch
Keyword cake, muffins
Servings
mini muffins
Ingredients
Fairy Puffs
Topping
Course Breakfast, Brunch
Keyword cake, muffins
Servings
mini muffins
Ingredients
Fairy Puffs
Topping
Instructions
Fairy Puffs
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a 24 serving mini muffin pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, dragonfruit powder, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg and beat until smooth.
  5. Add flour mixture and milk alternately in two additions and mix just until combined.
  6. Fill wells of prepared muffin pan with batter.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (Be careful not to over bake. Small muffins can dry out easily.)
  8. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove puffs from pan and transfer to cooling rack. (Loosen puffs with a small offset spatula or butter knife if necessary.)
Topping
  1. Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.
  2. Place colored sparkling sugar crystals in another shallow bowl.
  3. Dip the bottoms of each puff in melted butter, then into cinnamon sugar mixture.
  4. Dip the tops of each puff in melted butter, then into sparkling sugar.
  5. Decorate with edible flowers if desired.
Recipe Notes

*To purchase dragonfruit powder, click here.

 **To purchase pink sparkling sugar crystals, click here.

 

Strawberry Shortcake Crumble Muffins

strawberrry shortcake crumble muffins

Have you noticed the strawberry shortcake crumble topping trend? I noticed many people 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. I wanted to pile on as much crumble topping as possible so I used tulip baking cups. They’re made of grease-proof parchment paper squares. You can buy them online or make them yourself with squares of parchment. You can use the link provided at the end of the recipe to find the ones I used. Keep in mind, if you use standard muffin liners, you’ll use less batter and topping for each muffin, so you’ll end up with a few more muffins.

I used fresh strawberries for the puree in the muffins, but feel free to use frozen, defrosted strawberries if you cant get fresh ones.

Strawberry shortcake crumble muffins

Print Recipe
Strawberry Shortcake Crumble Muffins
Strawberry muffins topped with strawberry shortcake crumble
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Strawberry Shortcake Crumble Topping
Strawberry Muffins
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Strawberry Shortcake Crumble Topping
Strawberry Muffins
Instructions
Strawberry Shortcake Crumble Topping
  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.
  2. Cut cubed butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or with your fingers until it forms pea size pieces.
  3. Place half of crumble mixture into another medium bowl and combine with freeze dried strawberries. Mix well and press together with your fingers to form pea sized pieces.
  4. Gently combine the two bowls of crumble together. Set aside in refrigerator while preparing muffin batter.
Strawberry Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line the wells of a 12 serving muffin tin with tulip baking cups or parchment squares.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and extract. Beat until well combined.
  5. Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed, just until combined.
  6. Add buttermilk, strawberry puree and food color. Beat on low speed, just until combined.
  7. Divide batter evenly into wells of prepared muffin tin.
  8. Sprinkle crumble topping evenly over muffins.
  9. Bake at 375ºF for 5 minutes, then turn oven temperature down to 350ºF and continue baking until topping is golden and a toothpick inserted in center is clean, about 13-17 more minutes.
Recipe Notes

To find tulip baking cups, click here

To find floral tulip baking cups, as seen on TikTok, click here

 

Cherry Blossom Cookies

cherry blossom cookies

Each spring, I look forward to the sight and fragrance of beautiful botanical blooms, especially cherry blossoms. Inspired by the beautiful pink trees, I baked some cherry blossom cookies just in time for Mother’s Day. These perfectly pretty, pink cookies are easy to make and fun to decorate. You can sprinkle sparkling sugar on them before baking and call it a day or you can make some pink cherry icing and add sugar pearls or sprinkles. Either way, they look beautiful and taste delicious!

Print Recipe
Cherry Blossom Cookies
Pink cherry flavored sugar cookies with cherry icing
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Cherry Blossom Cookies
Cherry Icing
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Cherry Blossom Cookies
Cherry Icing
Instructions
Cherry Blossom Cookies
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer on medium speed, until blended.
  2. Add sugar and salt. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg and extracts. Beat on medium speed until combined.
  4. Add flour in two additions. Mix on low speed just until combined.
  5. Mix in food color on low speed, a tiny bit at a time, until desired shade is achieved.
  6. Divide dough into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours or up to overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 375º.
  8. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8" thickness.
  10. Cut out cookies with 2-inch blossom cutter. ***See note below.
  11. Transfer to prepared baking sheets. (Sprinkle with sparkling sugar if using.)
  12. Bake for 7-9 minutes until bottom edges are lightly browned.
  13. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack.
  14. Cool completely then ice with cherry icing, if desired.
  15. Decorate with sugar pearls or sprinkles before icing sets.
Cherry Icing
  1. In a small bowl, whisk first four ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Mix in pink gel food color, a tiny bit at a time, until desired shade is achieved.
Recipe Notes

*Do not use imitation cherry flavoring or extract. Imitation extracts may make your cookies taste medicinal. 

** I used Wilton gel food color in shade rose. Click here to find it. 

*** Use your favorite blossom cookie cutter or click here to view the blossom cutters I used.

Marshmallow Mudslide Cookies

marshmallow mudslide cookies

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

Print Recipe
Marshmallow Mudslide Cookies
Chocolate fudge-filled cookies topped with toasted marshmallows
Course Dessert
Keyword chocolate, cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Fudge filling
Cookies
Course Dessert
Keyword chocolate, cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Fudge filling
Cookies
Instructions
Fudge filling
  1. Melt chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk together in a double boiler or in the **microwave in a medium microwave safe bowl.
  2. Stir in chopped nuts. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Cookies
  1. Heat oven to 350º.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer.
  4. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time and mix until well combined.
  6. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  7. Add dry ingredients in two increments, mixing just until combined.
  8. Roll fudge filling into tablespoon sized balls
  9. 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.
  10. Place cookies about 2 inches apart on large baking sheets.
  11. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
  12. Turn on broiler.
  13. Place a marshmallow on top of each cookie.
  14. 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!
Recipe Notes

*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.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Candied Blood Orange Slices

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Candied Blood Oranges

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 of 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.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Candied Blood Oranges

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!

Print Recipe
Gingerbread Cupcakes with Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Servings
12-14 cupcakes
Ingredients
Gingerbread Cupcakes
Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Candied Blood Orange Slices
Servings
12-14 cupcakes
Ingredients
Gingerbread Cupcakes
Blood Orange Cream Cheese Icing
Candied Blood Orange Slices
Instructions
Gingerbread Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray the wells of a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed, until smooth.
  4. Add brown sugar and orange zest and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add molasses and beat until combined.
  6. Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
  7. Mix in dry ingredients in two additions, alternating with buttermilk. Beat just until combined.
  8. Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tin, filling wells 2/3 full. (If you have any remaining batter, prepare an additional muffin tin.)
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan.
  11. 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
  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed, until smooth.
  2. Add butter, orange zest and salt and beat until combined.
  3. Add powdered sugar. Beat at low speed until powdered sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth.
  4. Add blood orange juice and beat, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
Candied Blood Orange Slices
  1. Slice oranges into thin 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Combine sugar and water in a shallow saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add orange slices to saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain oranges, reserving syrup.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
Recipe Notes

*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.

Pastel Snowball Cookies

pastel snowball cookies

This delightful melt-in-your-mouth cookie recipe has been in my family for decades. We call them Snowballs, but they’re also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes or Greek Kourabiedes. I make them every year for Christmas, but they would also be perfect for Easter, Mother’s Day, birthday parties, tea parties, weddings, bridal showers, and baby showers.

Pecans are my favorite nuts to use in this recipe, but you can use almost any nuts you have on hand. The original snowy white version is a classic but you can take them up a notch with pretty pastels and fruit flavors. You can use crushed, freeze-dried fruit for color and subtle flavor. Spirulina is a nutritious, vibrant powder you can use to make beautiful blue cookies. You can also dress up your snowballs with edible glitter or luster dust used for cake decorating. There are endless ways to be creative with these cute cookies!

Print Recipe
Pastel Snowball Cookies
Melt-in-your-mouth powdered sugar covered shortbread cookies
Course Dessert
Keyword cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Cookies
Pink powdered sugar
Blue powered sugar
Lavender powered sugar
Course Dessert
Keyword cookies
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Cookies
Pink powdered sugar
Blue powered sugar
Lavender powered sugar
Instructions
Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 325º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy.
  3. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and sea salt. Beat until light and fluffy.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, combine flour and pecans.
  5. Add flour and pecan mixture to butter mixture gradually. Mix on low speed until well combined.
  6. Shape dough into scant 1-inch balls. Place balls one inch apart onto parchment lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake until light golden brown, about 18-21 minutes
  8. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a plastic bag. With a spatula, transfer three warm cookies into the bag. Shake gently to coat cookies with powdered sugar. Transfer to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cookies.
  9. Cool cookies completely then proceed to instructions for pastel powdered sugar, depending on which color you have selected.
Pink powdered sugar
  1. Process freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries into a fine powder in a mini food processor.
  2. Whisk freeze-dried berry powder with 1/3 cup powered sugar together in a small bowl.
  3. Transfer powered sugar mixture to a plastic bag. Place three cookies in the bag and shake gently until coated with the powdered sugar mixture. Transfer cookies back to the rack and repeat with remaining cookies.
Blue powered sugar
  1. Whisk 1/3 cup powdered sugar and spriulina powder in a small bowl.
  2. Transfer powered sugar mixture to a plastic bag. Place three cookies in the bag and shake gently until coated with the powdered sugar mixture. Transfer cookies back to the rack and repeat with remaining cookies.
Lavender powered sugar
  1. Process freeze-dried blueberries into a fine powder in a mini food processor.
  2. Whisk freeze-dried blueberry powder with 1/3 cup powered sugar together in a small bowl. Whisk in petal dust for a more vibrant color, if desired.
  3. Transfer powered sugar mixture to a plastic bag. Place three cookies in the bag and shake gently until coated with the powdered sugar mixture. Transfer cookies back to the rack and repeat with remaining cookies.
Recipe Notes

*The ratios for the pastel powered sugar are approximate. Freeze-dried fruit varies in color. Add more or less to achieve your desired shade.