Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homemade Breakfast Pastry

Hi everyone!

I was having a discussion with some friends about prepackaged breakfast pastries (what a glamorous life I lead!), and without naming names, we decided that the boxed ones were too dry, and the freezer ones were too sweet.  As we talked, I realized that I could make a hybrid of these two products, so I did!

All I did was take refrigerated pie dough, and cut it into rectangles.  I placed a blob of seedless strawberry jam in the middle, and then put another rectangle on top.  No need to spread the jam around, because the heat of the oven will take care of that for you.
Seal the two dough pieces together VERY WELL - I spent some time pressing them together, then crimping with a fork.  You could also use an egg wash to help the seal.
Place the pastries on a baking sheet and bake for seven minutes at 425.  This took some trial and error, but I called a baking friend, and that's what we decided. 
While they're baking, whip up a quick glaze - I mixed confectioners sugar, milk and vanilla.  It's up to you if you want to eat these hot or cooled...the glaze tends to run on hot pasty, so I let mine cool for 10 minutes, and then applied it.
Spread on the pastries and if you'd like, add some sanding sugar in the color of your choice.

How to describe these?  The filling is warm and delicious, and the pastry is light and flaky...and the glaze is sweet and sticky and wonderful!!!!

I hope you enjoy,
- Sugar Baby

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Turquoise and Pearl Sugar Cookies

It has been pretty cold and snowy in Washington, DC this week, and there's something about that weather that makes me want to bake!  I am a huge fan of Bridget's blog Bake at 350, and wanted to try her sugar cookie recipe.  Here it is, taken from her website:


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
2 sticks salted butter, cold and cut into chunks
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract


Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

Roll on a floured surface to about 1/4" to 3/8" thick, and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (she recommends freezing the shapes on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

What I love about this recipe is that you can use cold butter!  You don't have to plan it out ahead of time, which is fantastic, because I usually get the urge to bake at 11:00 at night.  I didn't have any almond extract, so I just skipped it.

It's a crumbly dough, and I had a hard time getting it to come together, even after kneading it, so I added another tablespoon of butter, and that helped immensely.

Bridget uses royal icing and flooding icing beautifully, but I used the regular sugar cookie icing that is my standby, because it's much simpler.   To color the icing, I used Wilton gel colors Royal Blue and Teal, with a tiny dab of black.  I just messed around with the colors until I found one that I liked, and I ended up with a turquoise that is similar to a Tiffany blue.

When the cookies were all iced, they seemed to be missing something, so I piped "pearls" around the outside, and I think they're really pretty.


Have fun baking, and stay warm!
- Sugar Baby

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Hi everyone...tomorrow is National Peanut Butter Day!!!!!!!  I absolutely love peanut butter and chocolate you could probably tell from the scrumptious homemade snickers bars and chocolate peanut butter whoopie pies I made this month.

I wanted to bake a few days ago, and I flipped through some cookbooks and my recipe binder, but I was uninspired.  I pulled out my faithful book The Cake Mix Doctor, and flipped through it...when my eyes landed on Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars, I knew that was it!

The Cake Mix Doctor is a handy book when you're low on time or ingredients, or just want to kick up a boring cake mix.  They have a photo index in the front that is just genius, and some really fun recipes.

The ingredients you'll need for the base and top layer are:

1 package yellow cake mix
1 cup peanut butter [creamy or crunchy - it's up to you]
1 stick butter, melted
2 large eggs

The middle layer needs:

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk - aka the nectar of the gods.
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Any other mix-ins that you want - grated coconut, pecans, etc.  I left these out.

Okay, here's we go:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Get out a 13 x 9 baking pan ungreased

Put the cake mix, peanut butter, melted butter, and eggs in a mixing bowl, and beat for one minute on low speed.  Scrape down the sides - dough will be thick.

Reserve 1.5 cups of dough, and press the rest into the pan, mushing it (ha) until it covers the entire bottom of the pan.

In a medium size saucepan, melt the butter, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate chips on low heat until smooth - three or four minutes.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and any other mix-ins you want.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust, spreading until it covers the pan.


Crumble the reserved dough over the chocolate - I just used my fingertips to break it up.


Bake for 20-25 minutes until light brown, and cool on a rack for 30 minutes.


Cut into bars, and enjoy!
- Sugar Baby



Friday, January 18, 2013

Ceramic Measuring Spoons

My friend Tory gave me the coolest ceramic measuring spoons for my birthday!  I absolutely love them, and have already made some whoopie pies and homemade snickers bars with them - yum!

On the back, they give the size - one tablespoon, one teaspoon, half teaspoon and quarter teaspoon.

I don't know where she bought them, but here are some that I've found online:

Really cool Forest animal measuring spoons from Etsy:

Owl measuring spoons from Sur La Table:

Penguin measuring spoons from Boston Warehouse:


I think ceramic measuring spoons are really fun, and add a lot of color to one's kitchen!
- Sugar Baby

Friday, January 11, 2013

Poker Night Cookie Tray


My friend is hosting a father-son poker night tomorrow for 26 people, and I offered to make cookies for her!  I bought cookie cutters in the shapes of a heart, diamond, club and spade (can be found here) and got to work.

I decided to make iced sugar cookies (recipe here) and Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies.  I just rolled out the respective doughs and cut out the shapes.  Then I iced the sugar cookies and left the chocolate chip ones as is, and organized them in a pretty ceramic tray.

I think they're really cute, and I like the contrast between the sugar and chocolate chip cookies!

- Sugar Baby

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Butterscotch Pecan Pie

I couldn't sleep last night, and I had a baking craving, so I looked in my pantry to see what looked interesting.  A bag of pecan halves caught my eye, so I looked online for a good recipe.  I found a Betty Crocker recipe for chocolate pecan pie, and when I reached for the chocolate chips, I saw a bag of butterscotch chips right next to it.  Butterscotch and pecans sounded good to me, so that's what I made.

I've never baked a pecan pie before, and I'm super happy with the results - yay for broadening my baking horizons!

FYI - my ceramic pie plate has a crimped edge design.

Here's the link to the Betty Crocker recipe, and I only changed one or two things:



1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon shortening
2 or 3 tablespoons cold water

[or feel free to use a premade pie crust]


2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup corn syrup (the recipe didn't specify light or dark - I used light because that's all I had)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup pecan halves or broken pecans
1 cup of butterscotch chips
2 tablespoons bourbon (if desired - I left it out and added a 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and spray your pie plate lightly with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and 1/4 tsp. salt together.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the shortening until it is pea sized.  Add one tablespoon of water at a time, fluffing with a fork, until the mixture is moist and the dough starts to come together.

Remove dough from the bowl and form into a disc.  Place it on a floured board and roll out until the circle is two inches wider that your pie plate [hold pie plate upside down over dough to gauge size].  Fold the dough in half, then half again, and place in your pie plate, point side in the center.  Unfold gently and press into the bottom and sides.  Fold down the top of the crust slightly, and then crimp or flute however you like.  Set aside.

Mix the sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, salt, eggs, and bourbon (if used) in a bowl, and beat with either a hand mixer or stand mixer until well combined.  Fold in pecans and butterscotch chips gently, and pour into the crust you prepared.  Cover the top edges of the pie crust with strips of foil to avoid burning the crust.

Bake 40 - 50 minutes, or until set, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes.  My pie took longer, about 60-70 minutes, so you may have to adjust the time a little.  The pie is done when the edges are firm, and it's still a bit jiggly in the center.

Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for two hours to fully set the pie.  Serve with whipped cream if you'd like, but I think it's rich enough to stand on its own.


- Sugar Baby 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Homemade Snickers Bars

I saw this drool-worthy recipe for homemade snickers bars over on the How Sweet It Is blog (here's the direct link) and decided to make them...oh my goodness, they are CRAZY GOOD!

There are a lot of steps, but you can break it up into a multiple day project, since the layers have to harden completely before you proceed to the next one. 

A few things I did wrong - I didn't grease the pan enough, and as you can see from the photo above, most of the bottom layer of chocolate stayed in the pan.  Oops!  I also wrecked my first batch of fondant by not paying close enough attention, and it overcooked and became grainy.  I tried it again, stirring constantly, and it is soooo thick and creamy.  Even with my misadventures, these bars are amazing.  I saw in the comments section on Jessica's blog that people were saying that there's no peanut butter in Snickers - that is true, but you really don't taste it very much in the chocolate, and it adds another layer of flavor.  Also, I highly recommend storing these in the refrigerator - if not, the nougat and caramel start to ooze out (as seen above).  Plus, they're great cold!

Please check out How Sweet It Is - I stumbled upon it last week, and have printed out a bunch of new things to try.  Salted Dark Chocolate Truffle Cookies?  Yum.  Peppermint Pattie Brownies?  Yes, please.

I'd love to hear from some of you in the comments section...any new year's baking resolutions?
- Sugar Baby

 [Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with the How Sweet It Is blog in any way - I just think it's great.]

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Whoopie Pies

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays, and happy new year to you!

My birthday is the day after Christmas, and my sister-in-law knows that I love to bake - so she gave me this amazing Whoopie Pie gift set from Mama Moore's (I was unable to find a website - but I know you can find this type of pan at Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma):

For those unfamiliar with whoopie pies, here is some background information on them.

I wasted no time, and decided to make them the next day!  Included in the package is a whoopie pie pan with twenty indentations, the chocolate cake mix, and a peppermint frosting mix.  I love peanut butter and chocolate together, so I decided to use my favorite peanut butter frosting filling, found here.  (Note: most whoopie pie fillings use a marshmallow creme, but I think that any frosting is fine.)

It was super easy - unfortunately, my camera is on the fritz, so I don't have any in-progress shots, but here is a photo of the final product, taken with my cell phone:

I had stacked the tops in piles, so they are a bit messed up (lesson learned), but they were SO delicious, and a huge hit with my friends and family.  If you're looking for a whoopie pie recipe from scratch, I've had great results with this one
Also, I have to give a shout out to my favorite whoopie pie bakery - Wicked Whoopies in Freeport, Maine - they have all different flavors of fillings, and are sooooo delicious.
My New Year's resolution bake more, of course!
- Sugar Baby