Two fun (and delicious!) cupcakes

Cupcakes were supposed to be a fad, but I don’t see their popularity dyeing out at all.  They are portable cake that you don’t need a fork or spoon to eat, what’s not to love? Plus, they are darn cute!  Below I have posted two fun twists on ordinary cupcakes that people just cannot get enough of.

First, cookie dough cupcakes!  This cupcake has a chocolate chip, brown sugar cake base, filled with cookie dough, and then frosted with a cookie dough buttercream. YUM!  

Everyone loves cookie dough, right?  Wait, not your mom who would never, ever dream of eating raw eggs, or even over-easy eggs, for fear of salmonella? Well, never fear!  My mom is the same way and even she can love and eat these cupcakes.  The cookie dough is an eggLESS cookie dough and even the flour in the cookie dough is toasted at 350 degrees Fahrenheit to take care of any salmonella lurking in the flour. Yup, even flour can have salmonella, who knew? Thus, we are safe with this cookie dough so enjoy!!

This recipe was originally inspired by Annie’s Eats cookie dough cupcakes, but I have modified it to be even more tasty!

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Layers from bottom to top: chocolate chip brown sugar cake, cookie dough (just below the frosting and a bit darker in color), and cookie dough frosting with a sprinkling of chocolate chips

The second cupcake is a riff on one of the Girl Scout’s most popular cookies, the Samoas. What we have here is a shortbread cookie on the bottom, then an uber-chocolate cupcake topped with a chocolate caramel ganache, and then finished with a wreath of toasted coconut covered in caramel goodness with a drizzle of chocolate ganache over top. Did you catch all that? If you like Samoas, I think you will love these!

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These Samoa cupcakes were inspired by this recipe.

 

Plums: A New Discovery

I love rhubarb.  I grew up having it in abundance in the Midwest.  People would get excited if they found out you wanted some because then they could give away some of their I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-all-this-rhubarb abundance.  Here in North Carolina it does not grow.  It is a scarce thing to be treasured.  I have two bags of frozen rhubarb in my freezer that have been there for almost a year now and I’ve been too afraid to use them because I keep thinking I have to use them on the perfect dessert for the perfect occasion.  They are too valuable to use otherwise.  That was my mindset until recently.

What changed?  I discovered plums.  Wonderfully tart plums that when baked, bake in to soft pockets of jam with none of the rhubarb “stringyness.”  Plums are my new rhubarb, at least while living in the South.  Here’s what I’ve done with plums so far in the past couple of weeks:

First I made Brown Butter and Plum Tartlettes.  The rich nuttiness imparted by the toasted, browned butter paired perfectly with the tart bits of plum.  This recipe is definitely a keeper for me.

Brown Butter Plum Tart

Next I had to make what I soon discovered to be “The Classic.”  Marion Burros‘ Plum Tort.  Only I put my own spin on it by taking some of the white flour out and added ground almonds because I desired the rustic taste and texture from the almonds to compliment the plums.  This recipe was loved by a book group I brought it too and it is easy-peasy to make.

Rustic Plum Torte

Most recently I had homemade ricotta on hand so I made a super moist ricotta “cake” that was delicately flavored with a bit of lemon peel.  Over this cake I spooned a scarcely sweetened, almost sour, plum compote.  The opposite flavor profiles of “subtle on the verge of boring” and “way too lively” married perfectly together and created a dessert that still has my husband raving!

A slice of Moist Ricotta Cake, made with homemade ricotta, with a tart plum compote spooned over top.

I hope you enjoy and have been inspired!

~Whitney

Cake

Today I’m going to let you know about a cake I recently made for two of my coworkers’ birthday (they happened to have the same birth date).  I have so many tarts and pastries listed on this blog, I thought it might be good to feature a cake.  The cake I made for their birthday is a chocolate cake, frosted and filled with peanut butter cream cheese frosting, and then “doused” with a chocolate ganache over the top.  Indeed, it is rich.  I was a bit scared it would be too rich and too over-the-top for most people’s senses, but judging from the string of compliments that I received and continue to receive at random about that cake, I would say that people do like a little richness in their lives sometimes, despite their objections and mumblings about being on a “diet.”  This cake is completely satisfying, especially served with homemade coffee and caramel ice creams like I did for the birthday celebration.  I think a little of something completely satisfying, no matter how bad it is for you, is often better for you, both for your spirit and your body, then a lot of something that may be better for you, but fails to satisfy and “hit the mark.”  Do you agree?

A single slice of cake sitting daintily on a plate. Let's get closer, shall we?

Looking beautiful, regal, and elegant. Indeed, the cake was so tall that I had to buy a new cake carrier since it wouldn't fit in the one I had!

Whoah! Hello gorgeous! At this point I desperately wanted to put the camera down and exchange it for a spoon, but I held strong and managed to take one more picture for you so you could get the "full effect."

There. A scoop each of coffee and caramel ice cream. The caramel is probably my favorite ice cream I make and the coffee ice cream made a delightful, deconstructed "mocha" with the chocolate cake. Melted pools of cool cream soaking into layers of chocolate cake. . . hmm, I think it is time to go get that spoon.

 

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and I apologize for not being able to pass you a slice of cake through the computer screen as I am throughly enjoying my slice! ;)

Until next time,

~Whitney

A New Tart for the Flower Shop!

Whew!  We made it through Valentine’s week and are still alive and kicking!  In fact, this weekend I whipped up 18 more tarts for Sarah’s Creation Florist.  There are three different kinds of tarts this week, six of each kind.  The first two are old familiar favorites: the Almond-Orange Tart and the Chocolate Tart with the Salted-Peanut Caramel and Chocolate Ganache.  The third kind has never made an appearance at the flower shop before, but it is the tart that I sold to Sarah, the shop’s owner, back in October for my bake sale to raise money for Stop Child Trafficking Now.  It is this tart that captivated her attention and ultimately determined her daughter’s decision to track me down and call me to see if I would like to sell professionally in their shop.  So, without further ado, here is the tart that “started it all.”

Caramel Apple Tart with Streusal Topping:

Caramel Apple Tart with Streusal Topping

These tarts are a favorite with everyone.  After all, who doesn’t like classic American apple pie?  And are not many things made better with a warm caramel sauce, whether set on top a pool of it or drizzled overhead with it?  This tart combines the classic American flavor of an apple pie with a homemade caramel sauce. The apple filling and the caramel are baked together resulting in a transformed caramel-apple filling.  It is kind of like what would happen if you added apple cider to your favorite dark caramel sauce.  The rich deepness of the caramel, that almost verges on burnt, is highlighted beautifully by the sweet-tart Granny Smith apple juices.  It is a match made in heaven with each serving the other to bring out the other’s best.  To top all this caramel-apple love off is a crisp pecan-brown sugar streusal topping.  Like I said, these tarts are a favorite with everyone.

That’s it for now folks!  Hope you are having a good week!  If you get a chance, stop by Sarah’s Creation Florist and buy a tart!  They’re good for celebrating, surprising, or just putting a smile on someone’s face. :)

~Whitney

Valentine’s Week!

Maple Glazed Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

I don’t have much time today in this Valentine’s madness to type pretty prose, but I thought I’d at least show you some pictures of what is being offered this week at Sarah’s Creation Florist.  Pictures are worth a thousand words, right?  While plain in color, the photo above already has me drooling just looking at it because I know what gooey, buttery-sweet goodness lurks beneath that maple-coffee glaze.  Sigh.   I wish I had kept one for myself!

Caramel Sticky Buns with Caramelized Tangerine Marmalade and Pistachios right out of the oven before the pan was flipped.

The Caramel Sticky Buns successfully flipped!

The large pans of Cinnamon Rolls and Sticky Buns are great for families or brought to the office.  Whoever you bring these to, they will thank you!

But of course I also made “individual” sized pans for you to split with your loved one. (Splitting, or sharing, is the loving thing to do–do not keep it all to yourself!)

"Individual" Sticky Buns

Almond-Orange Tarts revamped for Valentine's day with Blood Oranges arranged in a heart shape.

Croissant aux Amandes (Almond filled croissants)

Let’s get a look inside one without filling, to best see the layers, shall we?

Beautiful! Look at those tender, light, fluffy layers!

Pain au Chocolat (Chocolate filled croissant), a French patisserie staple!

Here’s a photo my Valentine’s Chocolate Tarts.  Unfortunately, my camera was on a weird setting and my lighting terrible!

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Tart (with a "window" to the raspberry puree) and Chocolate Salted Peanut Caramel Tart

So let’s look at some non-Valentine’s tarts that have better lighting!

Chocolate Truffle Raspberry Tart

Chocolate Truffle Tart with Salted Peanut Caramel and Dark Chocolate Ganache

Much better, right?  Next are Frosted Sugar Cookie Pops.  This was my first time making these and I think they turned out quite well, don’t you think?

Frosted Sugar Cookie Pops

All packaged up and ready for their delivery!

While these pops are delicious, I will always and forever prefer my Grandma Edith’s sugar cookies to any other cookie out there.  Thus, I had to make these cookies too!

Grandma Edith's Frosted Sugar Cookies

A cookie "Conversation Heart"!

And finally, last, but not least, truffles!  For this Valentine’s Day favorite I made Banana’s Foster Truffles with banana, a brown sugar caramel, and rum and also Aztec Truffles with cinnamon, a hint of orange, and a dusting of cayenne pepper.

Banana's Foster and Aztec Truffles

Whew!  That’s everything!  I think I will go take a nap now or maybe I’ll just go to bed and not wake up until morning.  Waking up at 3:00AM to start my croissants rising the past two nights has tuckered me out!   Good night and Happy Valentine’s Day!

~Whitney

Sold Out!

This past Monday, February 6th, I brought these chocolate tarts to Sarah’s Creation Florist early in the morning.  By Monday afternoon, they had all sold out!  Needless to say, these tarts will be making a reappearance for Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate Tarts with Salted Peanut Caramel and Chocolate Ganache Drizzle

I had made a version of these tarts for my friend’s baby shower that I hosted this past weekend.  The positive feedback was phenomenal.  One guest went home and split half the tart with her roommate and apparently her roommate started moaning like Meg Ryan at Katz’s Deli in the movie “When Harry Met Sally.”  I guess that means it was really good?!

Tarts for the baby shower!

Due to this feedback I quickly whipped up another batch and brought them to Sarah’s Creation Florist Monday morning.

Here’s a full description of this tart:

With the velvety smooth chocolate truffle filling, salted-peanut caramel, and dark chocolate ganache drizzle, these tarts could be reminiscent of a refined candy bar.  However, the luxurious and seductive texture of the truffle, and the deep amber-colored, intensely flavored caramel (boiled until  just shy of burned), combined with the salty peanuts and the addition of a chocolate ganache drizzle (just for good measure) elevate this tart far beyond just another overly sweet and comparatively bland candy bar.

On Monday I also brought some Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti.

Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti

Biscotti packaged and ready to go!

Biscotti description:

Perfect for all coffee and tea drinkers! When dipped in a beverage of choice the almonds retain their crunch while the cookie becomes soft and the chocolate wonderfully melty.  This dunked cookie is so good and fun to eat that it will be gone long before you reach the bottom of  your cup!

Both of these items will be available the week of Valentine’s Day along with several other items including:

  • Chocolate Truffle Raspberry Tart (Fancy Chocolate Tart)
  • Almond-Orange Tarts with Blood Oranges
  • Conversation Heart Frosted Sugar Cookies
  • Cookie Pops (heart-shaped frosted sugar cookies on a stick)
  • A variety of flavors of small, handmade chocolate truffles,
  • A “Breakfast in Bed” theme comprised of Pain au Chocolat (chocolate filled croissants), Almond-Filled Croissants, Gooey Cinnamon Rolls, and Tangerine and Pistachio Caramel Rolls

Some of these items will be available at Sarah’s Creation Florist on Friday and all will be available on Monday (13th) and Tuesday (14th) of next week.  Please stop by and grab something for those you love!

Two Lemon Tarts and One Fancy Chocolate Tart

Week number four already!  I can’t believe it has almost been a month since my first delivery!  I have learned a lot this month, mostly about time management skills, but I have also learned other valuable tidbits while experimenting in the kitchen.  For example, did you know that a decent amount of salt is necessary to yield sugar cookies with the most flavor?  It’s true, at least according to my sugar cookie experiments and my eager coworkers who served as taste testers.

So what did I bring this week?  I brought two different kinds of lemon tarts (Since I could not decide which one to make, I made them both!) and a fancied-up chocolate tart.

A Chocolate Truffle Tart With a Layer of White Chocolate and Raspberry

Here’s the Fancy Chocolate Tart with its layer of white chocolate and raspberry bulging rather seductively out of the bottom of the tart.  The taste of the rich, dark chocolate truffle in this tart is heightened by its contrast with the sweet white chocolate and the tart raspberry layer.  To me, this is my ideal chocolate tart.

Let’s look at it from another angle shall we?  It’s too good not to, right?

Hello Beautiful

Ok, moving on, next we have my Sunny Lemon Tart.

Sunny Lemon Tarts with White Chocolate Piping and Sugared Almonds

This lemon tart has a puckery lemon filling that is made similarly to making a lemon curd.  To balance the tang of the lemon, sweet white chocolate is piped in stripes across the tart and then sprinkled with sugared almonds for sweetness and crunch.

The second lemon tart is a whole lemon tart, meaning that it has an entire lemon in it, the only part of the lemon not included is the seeds!  If you don’t love lemon things that make you pucker, but do like sweet lemon bars, then this tart is for you.  Upon first tasting the it, it starts sweet, with a mild lemon flavor, and then it finishes with just a slight bitterness that results from using the entire lemon, peel, pith, and segments.  It is a “grown-up” lemon bar if you will.

Whole Lemon Tart