Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today was one of the worst days ever.  I’m not going to talk about.  Instead I’m going to talk about cookies.

Fact: Cookies make life better.

There’s something I really love about a plate of cookies.   No it doesn’t matter what kind of cookies.  I just sorta find them pretty.

I gave these away.  The next day I received a few texts telling me they were popular with co-workers.  I won’t lie, I was sorta kicking myself for giving them away.  As I wrote this post, all I wanted was one of these cookies.  That’s what happens when you have a stressful day: you want cookies.

From what I recall, they were a little bit cakey (but less so than your average pumpkin cookie, which always seems more like a muffin top to me) and chewy.  I’m pretty sure that means they’re good.  Cakey but chewy?  Done.  I want it again.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup white sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Set aside.  Cream together butter, pumpkin puree, sugars and egg yolk.  Mix in dry ingredients until just combined.  Fold in Chocolate chips.

Form dough into golf ball-sized balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden on the edges.  Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from baking sheet.

Put on a plate and make someone’s day that much better.

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Fall Cupcakes: Gingerbread Cupcakes with Caramel Filling and Pumpkin-Cream Cheese Frosting

You all remember the Fall Cake, right?

Inspired by my time spent working at a bakery… One layer of pumpkin cheesecake, another layer of gingerbread cake, caramel pecans in between and on top, then covered in vanilla buttercream.

That was it a little too intense for me to make that often.  So if you’re looking for the perfect fall dessert, that isn’t super complicated but will likely impress people, this is it.

Okay so it requires a lot of steps, but I promise it’s not that complicated and super delicious in the end.

Fall Cupcakes

for Gingerbread Cupcakes (adapted from Food Network’s Gingerbread cake)

1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1/4-1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (plus more for garnish)
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup boiling water

For Caramel Filling:

1 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

For Pumpkin-Cream Cheese Icing

8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbsp butter, softened
4 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 lb powdered sugar (note you might need more depending on how sweet you like it)
dash of cinnamon
dash of ground ginger (or just use pumpkin pie spice)

Start my making the cupcakes.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Combine the sugar, oil, molasses and eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in crystallized ginger.  Add dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices), mix until almost combined.  Stir in boiling water.  Pour into cupcake pan lined with baking cups.  Fill only a little past half way.  This is sort of crucial.  If you over fill the pan, you get this:

Sad sunken in cupcake.  Not cute.

So fill them a little more than half way and bake them for about 15 minutes (mine took 14 mins) or until they pass the toothpick test.

Next make your caramel filling.  Heat sugar in a deep saucepan, until the sugar melts.  Once the sugar is a deep golden brown, take it off the heat and quickly stir in butter.  Once the butter is melted in there, add a pinch of salt and stream in the cream as you stir.  Keep stirring until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

At this point, your cupcakes and caramel need to cool completely.  In the meantime, go for a walk, rake some leaves (this really doesn’t apply to you if, like me, live in California…), call a friend, paint your nails, go to the gym, listen to Beyonce and dance a little bit, you get the idea…

Then come back and make the pumpkin-cream cheese icing.  It’s super easy, all you need is a hand or stand mixer.  Throw all the ingredients together and let the machine do the work.  Truth be told this frosting is delicious but not super stiff (that’s what she said).  You can add more powdered sugar if you’d like but I can only take so much sugar, it definitely hardens in the fridge but your piping might not be as beautiful as you’d like.  Oh well, it’s delicious.  Stick it in the fridge while you prep your cupcakes.

Now you can assemble!  Filling a cupcake with caramel is easy.  There are two ways to do it, but both ways involve putting your cooled caramel in a ziploc bag and cutting off the corner to create a make-shift piping bag.  Then you can either:

1. Take a knife and hole in the top and scoop some of the cupcake out.  Then take the “piping bag” and pipe some caramel into it.

2. Shove your finger into the top of each cupcake while they’re still warm.  Same effect.  It creates a hole.  I sorta like this method… some people might have an issue with it.  Obviously, please wash your hands before doing this 🙂 Then pipe in the caramel.

Once you’ve filled all your cupcakes with caramel.

Frost them as you’d like, either with a piping bag and tip or just a knife.  Both look lovely.  Either way garnish with some slices of crystallized ginger.

I swear these taste better the next day.  I don’t know what it is, but true story.  Would I lie to you?  Either way, we’re well into October and speeding into November.

That probably means you should give these cupcakes a try.

Almond-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Did you hear that chocolate may reduce women’s risk of stroke?  In case you really needed a reason to eat more chocolate, now you have one.

I’m only looking out for you, and because I love you so much and I don’t want you to have a stroke, I’m going to share some ways you can eat more chocolate.

Like this

Champagne Brownies

Spicy Chocolate Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Chocolate Wine Cake

Oh and don’t forget these

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Filling, Cream Cheese Frosting and Sea Salt Candied Walnuts

And most recently this:

Almond-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup almond butter (I used maple almond butter)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, heaping
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup chocolate chips (or more, if you’d like)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together butter, almond butter, and sugars.  Beat in egg.  Add dry ingredients (except oats) and blend together.  Fold in oats and chocolate chips.

Place balls of dough on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven, or until golden on the edges.  The center will be slightly undercooked but don’t forget they keep cooking even after you take them out of the oven, not to mention a slightly undercooked center is delicious.

I’ll be honest, these were amazing because of the texture.  Although I sort of wish I had used PB instead of almond butter, or maybe added some almond extract in there, and coconut.  Yes, coconut would have been divine. 

But really, the chocolate will suffice, after all that’s all that really matters right now.

So be healthy and go make some Almond-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and eat a few handfuls of chocolate chips while you’re at it.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Filling, Cream Cheese Frosting and Sea Salt Candied Walnuts

Did you see that title?  Yeah, it’s intense.

I have a little bit of a confession though.  I wasn’t going to blog about these.  Not because they aren’t good.  No, no.  They are the most amazing things ever.  But because I wasn’t happy with the photos.  You see, prior to my full time employment, I had time to bake in the morning and take photos in daylight.  Now that I work all day, baking happens at night (unless it’s the weekend of course).

In case you’re not really into taking pictures… pictures look better when taken in natural light.  Truth. I was even tempted to make these again this morning just so I could take pretty pictures in the sunlight! But in the end, laziness (or health consciousness?) prevailed.

That said, nothing is going to change the fact that these are amazing.

Not even a mediocre pictures.

Next time you have a gathering or just really need something sweet, please make these.  They’re wonderful.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Filling, Cheese Cheese Frosting and Sea Salt Candied Walnuts

1 recipe for your favorite chocolate cupcakes (I like Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake)
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
2 sticks of butter, softened
Few cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 sugar
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Bake cupcakes and allow to cool completely.  While they are baking, you can make the caramel filling.  Place sugar in a deep saucepan on medium heat.  Allow the sugar to melt (about 10 minutes), stir occasionally until the sugar is a golden brown color.  Remove from heat and immediately stir in butter.  Once butter is mixed in, stream in cream while you stir.  Stir until all combined and smooth.  Set aside to cool.  You can make this a day in advance if you like. Once the caramel is completely cooled, place into a ziploc bag (or a piping bag, if you’re fancy) and cut off one corner so you can pipe caramel.

Next, make the cream cheese frosting.  Using a stand or hand mixer, blend together cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla.  I say a few cups of powdered sugar because 1. I never measure and 2. you should use as much as is necessary to get the consistency and amount of sweetness you like.  I’m guessing I used about 6 cups?  Once your cream cheese frosting is ready, put it in the fridge to keep firm until you’re ready to use it.

Next prep the cupcakes.  Scoop out some of the cupcakes to make room for the caramel.  I use a small knife just to make a small hole on top then pull out some of the filling.  Pipe some caramel into the hole.  It doesn’t need to be a ton, but let’s be honest a lot is always delicious.

Now you can make the candied nuts.  First, lay out some wax paper so you’ll have somewhere to place the candied nuts.  This really is an essential first step.  Next in a pan, over medium heat, combine the walnuts and sugar, stir occasionally.  After a few minutes, the sugar will start to melt.  Stir to coat all the nuts.  Once they look golden and candy coated, remove from heat, sprinkle with salt, stir again and then spread them on the wax paper.  Be careful.  At this point they will be very hot.  Give them some time to cool, then go through and separate any pieces and stuck together.

Lastly, now you can finish assembling the cupcakes.  Frost them however you like.  My sister and I went through a different types of frosting styles with different tips, but in the end it doesn’t really matter, since it’ll be covered in delicious candied nuts.  So once you’ve frosted them, lay some salted, candied nuts on there.  Refrigerate so everything gets firmed up together.  Then serve!

(Note: This picture will be infinitely funnier if you’ve read this)

You might be wondering why I decided to bake in the middle of the week.  Well, I suppose it’s not that out of character for me, but I had a reason. It’s my favorite brother-in-law’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Tim!!  I think he liked them 🙂

In fact, I think everyone that’s eaten them has liked them.  I’m pretty sure that means I might have to make these again.

There has to be another birthday coming up soon, not that I really need a reason to bake.

Have a great weekend!

Weekend of Brunch: Part One

This weekend was delicious.  I really can’t describe it any other way.  I went up to San Francisco and stayed with this fella…

my friend, Daniele.

He’s pretty.

You might remember him from World Cup Waffles where we woke up early made waffles and watched the World Cup.   Now he’s just being amazing in San Francisco.  So I visited, because few people in the world understand my love of food like this man does.  So the first stop on this weekend of fun was brunch, at the place called Plow.

It was quite possibly the most wonderfully amazing place ever.  We shared some millet corn bread muffins.

Austin was obviously intrigued.  It’s my new mission in life to recreate them.

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but I’m a brunch enthusiast.  Eating out usually isn’t that exciting for me.  But brunch.  I have a special place in my heart for brunch. This brunch…

That was November in my mouth.  Daniele said it.  I agreed.

Basically everything was delicious.

After brunch, we decided moving around would probably be a good idea.  That meant moseying to a park and looking at dogs.  Because, well… that’s what we do.

I can pretty confidently say that this summed up the weekend: food, booze, public spaces, staring at dogs and babies, admiring gentlemen… in the least creepy way possible.  But wait there’s more!

Later, back at the ranch Daniele’s house, we might have made an apple crisp.  And I might have poured bourbon in it.  It might have been amazing.

Ok you should probably go try putting bourbon in your apple crisp.  It’ll revolutionize your life.

Well friends, stay tuned for part two.  Part two might be more exciting since right now I’m running on about 3 hours of sleep.

Goodnight!