Vanilla Bean Cupcakes!

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Vanilla cupcakes may sound a little boring, but I promise you these are anything but that! These vanilla bean buttermilk cupcakes are so moist and taste so amazing, they are worth making the next time you have a celebration or just feel like making cupcakes!

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I filled mine with dulce de leche, which I bought from the store. You can find it just about anywhere, usually in the baking aisle by the sweetened condensed milk. The icing is vanilla Italian buttercream, which I have posted previously. You can find it under, Fillings, Frostings, and Buttercream. It says Almond Italian Buttercream, but just add 1-2 tsp. of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste in place of the almond extract.

After baking the cupcakes and letting them cool, I used an apple corer to remove some of the center. I’ve also used a spoon, which works just fine if you don’t have an apple corer. (Just to be clear, this is not an apple slicer. It has a handle and is only for removing the core.) I removed about a half inch to an inch of the cake. The more you remove, the more filling you have to enjoy! I save the centers and put them on ice cream sometimes. 😉 You can use a piping bag or a small spoon to fill them. I’ve used both and either way works well.

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Along with being very moist, these cupcakes are very flavorful. The cake is so soft and pillowy. Yummmmm! They are highly satisfying if I do say so myself.

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I mean, come on. Just look at how good these look!

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Ingredients

2/3 (about 5.3 oz) cup unsalted, softened butterIMG_1315

1 ¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste plus ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 ½ cups sifted cake flour

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 ¼ cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Cream until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla bean paste and vanilla extract. Scrape the bowl in between the addition of each ingredient.
  4. Measure all dry ingredients and sift them together. Measure buttermilk. Add some of the dry and some of the liquid. Let it mix. Scrape sides of the bowl and repeat until all ingredients are combined and a smooth batter is formed.
  5. Line cupcake pans with cupcake liners. I filled mine about 2/3-3/4 full and yielded 19 cupcakes. If the liners are filled a little less, the recipe could yield about 24. Bake for about 17-20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies!

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It doesn’t get better than this…right!?…I made these cookies last week because I was leaving to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and niece. I know how much they love my baking, so I thought what a great opportunity to create a new recipe. They’re very similar to my monster cookies except there’s no oats or butterscotch chips. I was going to use just M&Ms in them but then didn’t have quite enough, so I threw in half a cup of my favorite Ghirardelli chocolate chips! And I’m sure you could guess this, but they’ve been approved by my 2 year old niece!

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I used all butter (unsalted), creamy natural peanut butter, and all brown sugar. They came out so much better than I thought. They are so soft, thick, and very chewy! My favorite!

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I ended up making the cookie dough and chilling it for at least an hour and half because I had to go do some errands. I came back, turned on the oven, scooped, and baked. It worked great! You don’t have to chill them that long (20-30 minutes should work fine after scooping, before scooping–chill for about an hour). These cookies turned out oh so yummy!

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I can’t believe that summer is almost over! I start my last semester of pastry school next week! It has been so much fun, and I am very excited for this last semester of classes! I will be learning advanced breads and plating desserts as well as running the student-run bakery. I hope you get a chance to make these cookies! They’re wonderfully delicious!

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Ingredients

1 cup softened, unsalted butterIMG_1299

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 ½ cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 ¼ cup All Purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ – 2 cups M&Ms

½ cup Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, peanut butter, and sugar until smooth. There should be no chunks of butter. Do not beat it too long or the cookies will spread.
  3. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Then add the vanilla. Scrape the bowl in between the addition of each ingredient.
  4. Measure all dry ingredients and add them after the eggs and vanilla. Mix on a slow speed a little. Finally, add them M&Ms and chocolate chips until combined.
  5. Scoop to desired size. My cookie scoop gave me yield of about 45 cookies. You can refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes to help decrease spread. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done.

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Enjoy!

Fresh Cherry Almond Scones!

One fresh cherry almond scone please!

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These scones are my absolute favorite! I prefer them to be made with fresh cherries but dried can be used. One of the things I really like about these scones is that they are rustic looking because they are not cut into triangles or circles.

This time of year when cherries are in season is the only time I make them. The fresh cherries contribute to making this scone an excellent one.

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Cherry and almond is probably one of the greatest flavor combinations! They’re so moist and so DELICIOUS!

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These past few weeks have been pretty busy and a little crazy so I haven’t gotten to post anything. I had a cake project assignment and my practical for my cake decorating class, which ended up turning out fantastic. For my FIRST cake that I ever stacked and covered in fondant, I was very happy! I know it’s not perfect but the overall look of it was exactly what I envisioned. I made chocolate cake with white chocolate vanilla bean mousse, and vanilla bean Italian buttercream. It’s so yummy!

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Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

2 ½ cups AP flour

½ cup whole wheat flourIMG_1276

¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. Baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cubed

1 ¼ cup buttermilk plus 1-2 Tbsp. for brushing the tops

1 -1 ½ tsp. pure almond extract

1 cup fresh cherries quartered or halved

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar for topping

 

Flat icing:

About ¼-1/2 cup powdered sugar

Add milk or water as needed for desired consistency

Add a few drops of pure almond extract to taste

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 1 to 2 baking sheets with parchment depending on pan size and desired scone size. My scones were a little bigger and yielded 10 scones so I only used one baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix ingredients together.
  3. Cut up the cherries and remove pits with a paring knife. Or if you have a cherry pitter that can be used. Set aside
  4. Measure buttermilk and add almond extract to the buttermilk.
  5. Cut up the butter into small chunks and add to the flour. A pastry cutter, fork, or your hands can but used to cut in the butter. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is about pea sized or a little bigger. Add the cherries to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and butter. Mix them gently to coat them with flour.
  6. Add the buttermilk and almond extract mixture. Stir carefully so the cherries don’t get smashed. Mix until combined.
  7. A cookie or muffin scoop can be used, but I used my hands and made them about the size of a tennis ball. They were quite large so make them smaller if you want. I got about 10 scones with the size I made them. Brush with extra buttermilk or milk and sprinkle with about 1-2 Tbsp. granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 18-21 minutes if they are tennis ball size. If they are smaller they will probably bake for 10-15 minutes. There done when they get a little brown on top and the bottoms are lightly browned.
  9. Once the scones are cooled, prepare the flat icing and drizzle it over the tops. Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top.

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**This recipe has been adapted and changed from other similar recipes.

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones

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Nothing says summer like lemon and blueberry! Yum! Just like the orange poppy seed scones I posted previously, these lemon poppy scones are just as amazing!! Flaky and slightly sweet with a little crunch from the poppy seeds. So good!

They are delicious on their own or with your favorite jam. I made a simple blueberry compote to go with mine and I thickened it using cornstarch. I didn’t measure it exactly, but it is so easy to make. I used about a cup of frozen blueberries (fresh blueberries would work well too), a splash of lemon juice, about a teaspoon of lemon zest, and a sprinkle of sugar. Stir it every once in a while until it starts to boil. Next comes the slurry, which is cornstarch and water. To make the slurry, start with a couple tablespoons of cornstarch and slowly add cold water while mixing until you have a thick liquid. Pour a little bit at a time while stirring the blueberries until desired thickness is reached and it has come to a boil. This ensures that the starch has been cooked out. The heat should be on a medium-high heat when adding the slurry. You also may not use all of the slurry and if you need more start with a tablespoon of cornstarch and slowly add the cold water. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

2 cups AP Flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

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2 Tbsp. sugar

 

1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Zest of 2 lemons and the juice from 1

½ cup cold butter, cut into chunks

2/3 cup almond milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1-2 Tbsp. sugar

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a bowl combine AP flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and poppy seeds. Mix it together thoroughly.
  3. Measure the milk. Add the vanilla extract to the milk.
  4. Zest 2 lemons (should be about 1 Tbsp.) and squeeze the juice from one of them. Add to the milk and vanilla. Let it sit.
  5. Cut up the cold butter into the bowl of dry ingredients. A cheese grater can also be used for this part.
  6. Use your hands, a fork, or pastry cutter to cut in the butter chunks. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until they’re about pea sized or a little bigger. It should be crumbly.
  7. Once this is achieved, add the milk mixture a little at a time. There will be about 1/8 to ¼ cup of it left. You’ll know when to stop once the dough comes together and can be made into a nice 7-8 inch disc. It shouldn’t be sticky or wet.
  8. Cut into 8 triangles and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. (It doesn’t have to be lined with parchment but makes clean up easier.)
  9. Brush the tops with remaining milk mixture and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes. This recipe yields 8 scones. Serve with a blueberry compote your favorite jam.

 

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I love these scones a lot! They are best when they are fresh out of the oven because you have a little, sweet crunch on top from the sugar that was sprinkled on top before baking, but they are still good the next day or even after being frozen.

I hope you get a chance to make these this summer! They’re worth making!

Almond Macarons

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First of all, I love macarons! I was very excited when I heard I was going to be learning how to make them this past spring in one of my classes! I love the chewiness of them and that they can come in almost any flavor. These almond ones are amazing! I also made some chocolate ones recently that were…To Die For! Yum!

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These pictures are from when I made them in class, but I did just recently make them for my brother’s wedding! Everyone LOVED them! I had some leftover chocolate Italian buttercream and used that to fill some of them! They were quite yummy! I added a little almond extract to the buttercream filling, and it just made it so much better! Vanilla buttercream works well too!

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Macarons are very tricky to make. They take lots of practice! I’m still working on my technique and making sure I don’t over whip my meringue. They are definitely a challenge, but that’s what I love about them.

This recipe is one I got from school, which was taken from Sugar Baby Confections by Gesine Bullock-Prado. I filled them with vanilla Italian buttercream, but Swiss buttercream could be used and also in the form of chocolate or almond.

Ingredients

7 oz. Almond flour

7 oz. Confectioner’s sugar

2 Tbsp. egg white powder or Meringue powder

3 egg whites

1/2-1 tsp. pure almond extract

1/2 tsp. salt

7 oz. granulated sugar

1/2 cup water, divided

food coloring if desired (usually 2-3 drops, but a few more is fine if needed)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the confectioner’s sugar, almond flour, and meringue powder. Set aside.  IMG_0603
  2. In the bowl of a mixer using the whip attachment, add the egg whites and salt. Add the granulated sugar and half the water to a small pot.
  3. Start whipping the egg whites a little until frothy and shut off the mixer especially if the egg whites are cold (they will take longer to whip).
  4. Start heating the sugar in the pot (Do not stir). Using a candy thermometer, set it to 230 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the mixer with the egg whites back on. Once the sugar has reached 240 degrees Fahrenheit, pour it slowly down the side of the bowl, while the whites are whipping until the pot is empty. Add the almond extract. Add the coloring after it has cooled and the mixing bowl doesn’t feel so hot. Let it keep whipping until it reaches medium soft peaks.
  5. Once medium soft peaks have been achieved, mix in about 1/3 of the meringue into the dry ingredients. Add another third and fold in gently. It should look homogenous and have no lumps. Add the last of the meringue and fold in.
  6. Using a piping bag with a large round tip, pipe each cookie to desired size on a parchment lined pan. My batches yielded about 40 sandwich cookies, so about 80 single cookies.
  7. Let them sit out for about half an hour or until they have formed a skin. Preheat the oven after about 15 minutes of sitting out.
  8. Bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool completely before filling. I used Italian buttercream but you could use Swiss buttercream. These recipes can be found on the categories box under Fillings, Frosting, and Buttercream. To make vanilla buttercream, just add 2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract. To make almond buttercream, start with 1 tsp. of pure almond extract and taste it. Add more as needed. No amaretto is needed to make it.

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These freeze very well too! Enjoy!!

 

Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies

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These are my absolute favorite brownies!! And you know what they’re perfect for?… Brownie Sundaes topped with caramel sauce! They’re also good on their own. It’s one of my favorite desserts and summer time treats! And one of my mom’s favorites as well!

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These brownies are so fudgy, chocolatey, and chewy! I haven’t found many brownies that even compare to these. I don’t normally add nuts to these, but they would be wonderful with pecans, walnuts, or even hazelnuts!

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As with most of the things I bake, I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips (60% Semi-sweet). They are my favorite chocolate chips to use! I love a darker chocolate, and I think that they really take these brownies to the next level. I have made them with milk chocolate chips and they’re good, but not the same as when I use the darker chocolate chips. Use whatever you desire, but the dark chocolate is much better, in my opinion.

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Ingredients

2 sticks butter, unsalted

3/4 cup cocoa powder

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2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups Ghirardelli chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts (Optional but pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts would be yummy!)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9 X 13 pan and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a small pot. Once melted, pour into a mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the cocoa powder. Mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after adding ingredients.
  3. Add the sugar and mix until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste. Mix.
  4. Add the flour and salt. Mix well and finally add the chocolate chips and nuts if desired. Mix until combined.
  5. Spread the batter in the greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake until done, about 25-30 minutes.
  6. Let cool and enjoy on their own or with ice cream and caramel sauce! Yum!!

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Gluten-Free Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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These gluten-free coconut chocolate chip cookies are SO good you won’t taste the difference! They turned out so much better than I ever expected they would. I also thought it would take me more than 3 batches to figure out the right combination of ingredients.

I had found a really good coconut chocolate chip cookie recipe a few years ago and wanted to see if I could make them gluten-free. After some testing and tweaking, I found the winner!

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This third test batch is very close to my first variation, but I used a combination of brown and granulated sugar. Instead of all coconut oil, I used half shortening. I also froze them before I baked them to help prevent them from spreading too much like the first batch. The result…a thick and chewy cookie! Tastes just as good as it looks! And you can’t even tell it’s gluten-free by looking at it! Needless to say I am very happy with the end result!

 

Ingredients

¼ cup coconut oil         Coconut6

¼ cup shortening

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup almond flour

½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Semi-sweet 60% as usual.)

1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

½ cup chopped pecans

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Directions

  1. Cream together the coconut oil, shortening, and both sugars in the mixing bowl with a paddle attachment.
  2. Add the egg and mix on medium high for about 30 seconds or until incorporated. If the egg is cold, it could make the coconut oil form chunks and you don’t want that. This is why I recommend turning up the speed after adding the egg. Otherwise, you could add a room temperature egg and would not have to turn the speed up on the mixer.
  3. Next add the vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
  4. Add the almond flour, baking powder, salt, coconut, and chocolate chips. Add the pecans at this time if using them.
  5. Scoop onto 2 parchment lined cookie pans. Freeze for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven at this time to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Yield is approximately 21 cookies depending on size of desired cookies.

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Everyone can enjoy these cookies!