Yellow Cake with Mint Chocolate Frosting

I’m not much of a recipe repeater. Of course, I have a few perennial favorites. Like my pumpkin gooey butter cake, and these salted caramel chocolate chip cookies. I make those once a year, without fail.

But most the time, I try new things. I even have the data to prove it: In 2019, 84% of the things I baked were new to me.

It’s not that I don’t have favorites. I just get so intrigued by flavor combos and ideas, and HAVE to try them. And since I don’t really bake thaaaat often, I have to pick and choose.

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It turns out these rules don’t apply when someone else is doing the baking. When I go home to visit my family, I pretty much expect to have all the same things I had growing up. That means zucchini and applesauce bread at Thanksgiving. Banana chocolate chip muffins for New Year’s. And DEFINITELY this Yellow Cake with Mint Chocolate Frosting for any and all birthdays.

My mom made this every year for as long as I can remember. Once, when I was about 25, she swapped in orange extract for mint to surprise me. Orange/chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combos. But… I didn’t want it in this cake! It was technically delicious, but nostalgically, just not the same. It’s gotta be chocolate mint, or not at all.

I haven’t been home for a birthday in years so it’d been a while since I had this cake. And during the first month of quarantine, I just couldn’t stop craving it! So I made one.

The recipe comes from an old cookbook based around ideas for your Cuisinart food processor. I’ve never tried making this in a mixer, but you probably could. The cookbook makes you use a food processor for everything, even when it’s not totally necessary. I guess they had to fill a whole book, ya know?

My mom came up with the mint extract addition herself, and I highly recommend it if you’ve got extract on your hands. If you don’t, plain chocolate frosting would also be swell. It’s got a great richness and texture so it really adds something special to the fluffy yellow cake. Yellow cake isn’t so much a “flavor” as it is a texture and richness. It gets that richness from butter and whole eggs. It’s a lot simpler than some of the other cakes I’ve posted here. But just so. darn. good.

Yellow Cake with Mint Chocolate Frosting

Original recipe: Cuisinart Classroom, by Abby Mandel. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: This recipe technically yields 3 cake layers, but the frosting is only enough to cover 2 layers. If you want to frost all 3, multiply the frosting ingredients by 1.5x and you should be set. That’s what my mom does 🙂 The original recipe claims that this makes 12 servings, but that obviously will depend on how you cut the cake!

Suggested equipment: Food processor. You could probably just use a mixer, too.

Total Time: A few hours or so. You want to let those layers really cool before you frost them!

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup minus 1 tbsp buttermilk (so measure a cup, then measure 1 tablespoon and pour it out)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp mint extract
  • 4-5 tbsp sour cream

Instructions

Make your cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Sift together your flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. Put your sugar and eggs in the food processor, and process until it’s thick and lightly colored. This should take a minute or so, using the metal blade attachment.
  4. Scrape the sides of your bowl, then turn it back on.
  5. Add your butter, and process the machine for about a minute. It should look fluffy! You might want to stop and scrape down your bowl halfway through.
  6. With the machine running, pour the vanilla and buttermilk through the feed tube.
  7. Stop the machine, remove the cover and pour in your dry ingredients. Then blend the batter by turning your machine on and off until the flour disappears. This should take 4-6 pulses.
  8. Line 3 cake pans with parchment, then grease them. Divide your batter among the pans.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Let the cakes cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then flip them onto a wire rack to cool completely. You gotta let them sit for a while before you frost them, or your frosting will get too runny!

Make your frosting

  1. Put your cocoa, sugar and salt in your processor work bowl. Using the metal blade, process them for 5 seconds.
  2. Add the vanilla, butter, mint extract and 4 tablespoons of your sour cream. Process until it gets a thick, spreadable consistency. You can add the remaining sour cream if you need it for a spreadable texture.

Frost your cake 

My cakes will never win a prize for their looks. I take a super lazy approach to frosting. Put one layer on a sturdy surface, and slather the top with frosting. Plop another layer on top, and repeat as needed with your layers. Then, use a spatula or angled spatula to spread more frosting on the very top and all around the sides. Smooth it out the best you possibly can. But don’t stress too much. It’s cake, and it’s gonna taste great no matter what.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

My family kept a pretty healthy diet when I was a kid. But there was one notable exception: Sunday breakfast.

We went through phases over the years, but Sunday was always our day to chow down on a special morning treat. First, it was bagels. Then—pancakes. And once I hit high school, we had homemade waffles every single Sunday.

Come Sunday morning, my mom would pull out her waffle maker and start cranking out batches of crispy, fluffy waffles. Most had chocolate chips. Because if you’re going for an indulgent breakfast, why not go all the way?

When I moved into my first post-college apartment, my mom got me a waffle maker as a gift. It usually lives in the back corner of my deepest cabinet, and I don’t take it out much. But these last couple weeks, I’ve found a lot of comfort in making crisp, fluffy waffles for an extra-special meal.

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Back in the day, my mom used the Krusteaz waffle mix. Maybe I’ll get some soon for a nostalgic treat. But in the meantime, I loved this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. These waffles truly live up to their name: They’re rich and full-flavored, with crispy edges and fluffy centers. You can, of course, omit the chocolate chips. But… why would you?

If you’re concerned about getting buttermilk right now or wasting some of it, I recommend buying shelf-stable buttermilk powder instead. It’s one of my favorite baking hacks, so I always have a container in the fridge. It lasts for ages, and comes in handy for everything from biscuits to scones to cake.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

Original recipe: Smitten Kitchen. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: I got five, 4-part Belgian waffles out of this. It will depend somewhat on your waffle maker’s shape and volume.

Suggested equipment: Waffle maker 🙂

Total Time: ~30 minutes

Cook Time: Depends on your waffle maker. I cooked up all my batter in ~10 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk.
    • If you’re using powdered buttermilk, follow the instructions on your container to make sure you use the right amount of dry powder and added water. In the original recipe, Deb also says you can swap in 1 1/2 cups sour cream OR 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.
  • 2 eggs, separated into yolks and eggs
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled (1/2 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Neutral oil for your waffle pan (Canola, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda. If you’re using buttermilk powder, this is when you’ll add in the powder portion.
  2. In another bowl, combine your egg yolks and the buttermilk/sour cream/yogurt. If you’re using buttermilk powder, this is when you’ll add in the water portion.
  3. To the bowl with the eggs, stir in your butter and vanilla.
  4. Spray your iron with oil, and preheat it.
  5. Meanwhile, stir your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  6. Use your mixer or a whisk to beat your egg whites into soft peaks. That means that they’ll hold a bit of a peak, then fall back down again. This step helps get your waffles crispy, so don’t skip it!
  7. Stir your egg whites gently into the batter.
  8. Once your iron is heated, spread batter into the iron and bake until it’s done.
  9. You can serve these immediately, or warm them for a few minutes on a low oven setting.

Waffles keep really well, so you can freeze your extras for another day. They don’t keep as well in the fridge, but it’ll be ok for a couple days. I ended up eating my waffles three days in a row. Shh. Don’t tell my mom.

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Lemon Clove Cookies

Today’s topic: Lemon math.

Baking with produce can be tricky since quantities vary so wildly. One person’s “medium” lemon could be another person’s “small.” And sometimes a piece of produce just doesn’t produce the quantity of juice or zest or whatever that your recipe calls for.

There are all kinds of tables telling you how to convert pieces of produce to volumes of juice. But I usually just over-buy whatever the ingredient is. Recipe calls for 2 lemons? I’m getting 4. Recipe says 3 zucchini? You know I’m buying 5.

A couple weeks ago I found myself with some extra pesky lemon math. I had odd amounts of juice and zest based on the first lemon recipe I made. I started pulling out all my cookbooks to find a solution… and behold! These Lemon Clove Cookies were the answer.

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And wow—what an answer! I never would have thought to pair lemon with cloves. It really, really works! They’ve got a great citrus base with a hint of sweetness and the perfect bit of spiciness. The cloves make these cookies extra comforting—they’re really the perfect tough-day snack.

I froze my batch planning to take them to work, but haven’t managed to do that… so I’m just eating them one-by-one from my freezer. Stick ’em in the microwave for a bit and you’ve got comfort on a plate.

Lemon Clove Cookies

Original recipe: Celebrating the Midwestern Table. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: 24 cookies

Suggested equipment: Food processor or a blender, mixer

Total Time: ~ 2 hours

Cook Time: 9-12 minutes

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp grated zest. That’s roughly 2 large lemons but… buy extra just in case!
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg

Glaze

  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

Make your cookies

  1. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cloves and salt. Set aside.
  2. If you’re using a food processor, fit it with the metal blade. You can also use your blender for this step. Pour in your lemon zest and sugar, and mince the two together until the zest becomes small specks. Now you have lemon sugar!
  3. Use your mixer to cream the butter and lemon sugar together until fluffy.
  4. Add your egg, and mix until smooth.
  5. Add in your flour combo and mix well.
  6. Wrap the dough airtight and place in your fridge to chill for about 45 minutes.

Glaze and bake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Get your glaze ready. Use a fork to froth the egg and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Shape your dough into 1 tablespoon balls and place them onto prepared cookie sheets. Press each ball lightly with your fingers to flatten it, then lightly brush glaze over each cookie.
  4. Bake the cookies about 9-12 minutes. Mine took 9 to hit the perfect chewy texture.
  5. Let the cookies cool on their sheets for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

These keep extremely well. Just put them in an airtight container, or pop them in your freezer.

Nutter Butter Oreo Bars

A couple months ago I found myself with an extra package of Nutter Butter cookies. I’d bought them for an event, then didn’t need them, and they were just sitting around in my cupboard, waiting to be baked into something.

So I started searching Pinterest for ideas. I wanted to make some kind of blondie or cookie with little bits of Nutter Butter baked right in. When I saw this Pin from Six Sisters’ Stuff, I knew I had a winner.

And then I remembered that I also had Oreos in my cupboard.

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Enter these Nutter Butter Oreo Bars. Because why stop at one mix-in when you could have two?

These have a lovely blondie base, studded with chocolate chips, Oreos and Nutter Butters. Super simple to make, and a delight in every bite.

I happened to have Chocolate Oreos but you could definitely use regular Oreos, too. I decided to use mini chocolate chips instead of standard sized because I was worried too many big mix-ins might be overpowering. I loved how my mix-in ratio turned out but you could certainly use regular chips if that’s all you’ve got.

Nutter Butter Oreo Bars

Original recipe: Based on this recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff.

Yield: ~48 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~50 minutes

Cook Time: ~30 minutes

Ingredients

For your blondies

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 8 Nutter Butter cookies, crushed into small pieces. Divide your Nutter Butte
  • 8 Oreos, crushed into small pieces

For the topping

  • 2 Nutter Butter cookies, crushed into small pieces. Divide your Nutter Butte
  • 2 Oreos, crushed into small pieces

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use a rolling pin or your hands to crush your Nutter Butters and Oreos into small pieces
  3. Use your mixer to cream the butter and sugar
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla, then beat until combined
  5. Add in your baking powder, salt and flour. Mix on low until it’s combined.
  6. Mix in your chocolate chips, Nutter Butters and Oreos. You can do this part with a wooden spoon if you’re worried about over-mixing your dough
  7. Grease or line a 9×13 inch pan
  8. Use your hands to press the dough into the pan. Make sure its’s an even layer. If the dough is super sticky, you can spray your hands with cooking spray so it doesn’t stick to you
  9. Sprinkle your topping evenly over the batter (that’s your extra 2 Oreos and 2 Nutter Butters, combined)
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes. You want them to look slightly golden, but the center might still seem a little gooey
  11. Let the bars cool completely in the pan, then use a sharp knife to slice into squares

 

 

Confetti Cookies

IMG_6084I can’t think of a cheerier treat than these sprinkle-splattered cookies. They’re basically an amped up sugar cookie, made way better with a couple simple additions. The dough calls for both butter and cream cheese, which makes your cookies softer and cakier than most sugar cookies out there. You’re also gonna add in some almond extract, which gives the cookies a more more complex flavor than standard sugar cookie fare. Most people can’t tell there’s almond in there… but it definitely makes things tasty.

I made these for a dinner party and they were a truly awesome party pick. The recipe yields tons of cookies, they’re easy to transport and they’re a crowd pleaser. They also keep well: You can store them in a container for a couple days or freeze dough for later. 

The original recipe shared two sets of instructions so you could pick between using a food processor or a mixer. I was already using my mixer for somethin’ else while I baked these, so I used my food processor this time around. If you only have a mixer, check out Smitten Kitchen’s original post for detailed instructions! 

 

Confetti Cookies

Original recipe: Smitten Kitchen

Yield: ~ 4 dozen cookies

Suggested equipment: Food processor or mixer

Total Time: ~An hour

Cook Time: ~10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt (you can swap in table salt instead)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese (1/4 of an 8 oz brick)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional, but definitely recommend using it!)
  • 1 cup sprinkles (Recommend using jimmies like this so they stick better)

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 375F
  2. Assemble your food processor with the metal blade.
  3. Put your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the food processor. Pulse a few times to blend.
  4. Slice your cream cheese and butter into large chunks, then put them in the processor. Blend until the mixture gets powdery.
  5. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract. Run machine until the ingredients form a dough and start to ball together. You should stop to scrape things down a couple times while you mix.
  6. Chill your dough for 20 minutes so it’s easier to roll into balls.
  7. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop your dough into sizeable balls. Deb from Smitten Kitchen recommends using a 1.5 tablespoon scoop to make sure they’re the right size. Make sure your dough balls are about 2 inches apart on the sheet.
  8. Roll each ball in your hands to heat it up a bit. This makes the dough tackier, which makes it easier to roll in sprinkles! Then, drop your ball into the sprinkles and roll it around to coat evenly.
  9. Use the bottom of a glass to press down on each cookie so it’s about 1/4-1/2 inch tall.
  10. Bake for 9-10 minutes. They’ll look a bit underbaked on top, but golden underneath. You want them to be a bit underbaked so they stay soft over time… if you bake these all the way through to start with, they’ll crisp up faster.
  11. Let your cookies cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them over to racks to cool completely.

 

Lemon Raspberry “Snickerdoodles”

I have a strangely vivid memory of my first snickerdoodle. Ninth grade, school cafeteria, right after class. I’d never heard of snickerdoodles before, but loved them immediately. Partly because they’re delicious… and partly because the word “snickerdoodle” is really, really fun to say.

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Snickerdoodles stand out from the pack because they’re super chewy, with a bit of a tang that complements a cinnamon top. I’ve made a ton of takes on snickerdoodles over the years, from the classics to apple butter doodles and even a rosemary version. But I’d never thought about applying their approach to a totally non-cinnamon cookie until I saw this recipe from Hummingbird High. Michelle is genius to apply that snickerdoodle style tang and texture to a lemon raspberry flavor combo.

I brought these to work and so many people asked for the recipe, I knew I had to share it here. If you make these, keep a super close eye on the cookies as they bake. The little raspberry bits seem prone to burning, so make sure to get your cookies out of the oven at just the right time!

Lemon Raspberry “Snickerdoodles”

Original recipe: Hummingbird High. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~24 cookies

Suggested equipment: Food processor, mixer

Total Time: About an hour, with cooling time

Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

Ingredients

For the cookies 

  • 1 1/2 cups, minus 1 tbsp granulated sugar (just measure 1 tablespoon out and put it back in your container!)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • Zest from one medium lemon
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (It’s important to use kosher salt instead of regular table salt! They’re totally different sizes and impart a different flavor.) 
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract

For the topping 

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freeze dried raspberries (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)

Instructions

Make your raspberry sugar

Use a food processor to combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar with the freeze dried raspberries. Pulse the processor until the raspberries get pretty small, and the mixture looks uniform throughout.

 

Make your dough 

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F and move a rack to the center of your oven.
  2. Combine your granulated sugar, brown sugar and zest in a small bowl. Use your fingers to toss it all together, then rub the zest into the sugar so it clumps and starts to smell fragrant. This helps release the oils that provide great lemony flavor. Set this aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk your flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and kosher salt.
  4. Throw your sugar mixture into your mixer, then add the butter. Beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until it’s light and fluffy.
  5. Reduce your mixer speed to its slowest setting, and add the eggs one at a time.
  6. Add your lemon extract, and make sure it’s fully incorporated.
  7. Keeping your mixer on its lowest speed, start adding in the flour mixture. Add it gradually until it’s just combined with the other ingredients.
  8. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop your cookie dough so it’s about two tablespoons of dough per cookie. Put them on the sheets at least a couple inches apart so they don’t meld together when they spread in the oven.
  9. Roll each cookie dough’s top in the raspberry sugar coating, then put it back on the pan. The original recipe has you roll the whole ball but I found that the raspberries burn a bit, so I found it better to just put the raspberries on top.
  10. Bake your cookies 8-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they’re not burning on the tops. Take them out of the oven when the edges look set, but the centers are puffed and gooey. If the top starts to brown, it’s time to take them out.
  11. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then flip them over to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Basil Lime Cookies

I’m an equal opportunity cookie eater. Classics or cuckoo, I’ll give it a shot. But I’ll be honest: I have a real sweet spot for the cuckoo. Throw in some herbs, funky spices, potato chips, beer… and I’ll just have to give it a try. 

These Basil Lime Cookies are the perfect cuckoo cookies. I had no idea how these would turn out, and they ended up being one of my favorite recipes I’ve made in a while. It’s an unusual flavor combo for cookies, and it works beautifully. Imagine a soft, pillowy sugar cookie, with herbaceous and zesty notes. You get a sense of the basil when you first bite in, and an aftertaste of refreshing lime zest. Hard to imagine before you try it—so you’ll just need to try it!

These are perfect for a holiday cookie swap because they’re really stand out on the cookie table. They’re also perfect for summer, since it’s such a refreshing flavor combo. Or, you know, make them whenever you want. Cookies are always a good idea.

Basil Lime Cookies

Original recipe: Betsy Life

Yield: ~20 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~An hour

Cook Time: 8-12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Zest from one lime
  • 3 tbsp basil, very finely chopped. Don’t get lazy here—it’s better to have small specks of basil in your cookies, rather than big chunks!
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions 

  1.  Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Use your mixer to cream the butter and granulated sugar, until it’s light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in your egg, vanilla, lime zest and basil. Ingredients should be fully combined before you move onto the next step.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix your flour, baking soda and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to your wet ingredients, and mix until it’s fully combined.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a Silpat, then scoop your dough into 2-inch balls. Place the balls about an inch apart so they have room to puff up in the oven.
  7. Bake about 8-12 minutes. Mine took 10 minutes to bake through.
  8. Cool on a cooling rack for a bit, then transfer to an airtight container. They’ll keep for a few days at room temp, and freeze well too!

 

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve got to say it: I don’t like Pumpkin Spice, the flavor. Doesn’t matter if it’s in a latte, a candy bar, ice cream… I tend to stay away.

But pumpkin, spiced? Now that’s a flavor. It all comes down to ingredients, and where the “spice” is coming from. When you take actual pumpkin and punch it up with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, you get magic. When you dilute it all down to some Pumpkin Spice syrup, you really just get the sugar.

The Pumpkin Spice Cupcake recipe I’m sharing today adds buttermilk into the mix for even more flavor. It’s a smart move, giving the cake more depth than pumpkin could contribute on its own.

IMG_0387You’ll top these cupcakes with a simple-but-awesome Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. You could omit the cinnamon if you want something simpler, but I highly recommend keeping it in there. It’s the perfect complement to the spiced cupcakes and makes for an all around awesome treat.

This recipe means serious spice business, so make sure you have everything on hand before you start. It’s a good amount of measuring small bits of spices, but I promise it’s worth it! I turned a bundt cake recipe into cupcakes since I don’t own a bundt pan. If you’re interested in other sizes, check out the reader comments on Cozycakes Cottage.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Original recipe: Cozycakes Cottage. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: ~26 cupcakes

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~2 hours

Cook Time: ~18 minutes

Ingredients

For your cake

  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tps baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cups canned pumpkin (you’ll need one 15 oz can)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (I used dried buttermilk. If you do the same, follow the instructions on your can!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs

For your frosting 

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk

Instructions

Make your cake batter 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Mix your flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt in a large mixing bowl, then set it aside. If you’re using dried buttermilk, mix that in too.
  3. Mix your pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl. If you’re using dried buttermilk, make sure to add water at this step!
  4. Use your mixer to beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until they’re fluffy. It’ll take a few minutes.
  5. Add your eggs, and beat until they’re totally incorporated.
  6. Turn the mixer speed down to low. Add your flour and pumpkin mixtures in there, alternating between the two until you’re out of both. Make sure everything is mixed together before moving on—sometime dry ingredients hide in clumps at the bottom of batter!
  7. Line your cupcake tin, and fill each tin about 2/3 of the way full.
  8. Bake 18-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Mine took exactly 18 minutes.
  9. Let the cupcakes cool in their tins for about 10 minutes, then remove and cool all the way on a wire rack. Make sure they’re completely cooled before you frost them!

Frost your cupcakes

  1. Use your mixer to beat the butter and cream cheese until they’re fluffy. It’ll take a couple minutes on medium speed.
  2. Add your vanilla and cinnamon, and beat again.
  3. Lower the speed, and gradually add your powdered sugar. Mix until it’s smooth and fully combined.
  4. Add the milk, and mix again.
  5. Frost your cupcakes, and enjoy!

 

Apricot White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes I go a little crazy and stock up on WAY too many baking supplies. It’s usually because things are on sale…or because I’m trying to hit a free shipping minimum.

It’s not a huge deal, because I bake a lot. But sometimes I go extra overboard and run out of pantry space.* Right now, I’ve got extra caramels, semolina, M&Ms, rye flour…it’s quite the diverse list of impulse baking buys, and I’m on a mission to use it all up!

IMG_0290First on my list: These Apricot White Chocolate Chip Cookies. My leftover apricots met leftover white chocolate chips in a perfectly spiced, chewy cookie. Oatmeal and fruit cookies are some of my favorites but they’re often overlooked in favor of flashier flavors. Don’t underestimate the power of a good spice combo, and fruit. These star cinnamon, nutmeg and dark brown sugar for the perfect flavor combo.

Of course, the whole reason I made these was to use up leftover white chocolate chips. But honestly, I don’t think they even needed the white chocolate chips at all. Next time, I might add in a second kind of fruit instead, or swap in some dried peaches for the apricots and call it a day.

Apricot White Chocolate Cookies

Original recipe: The Redhead Baker. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: ~3 dozen cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~An hour

Cook Time: ~12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp sinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (if you want them!)
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use your mixer to cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar until it’s light and fluffy
  3. Add your egg and vanilla, then beat until the mixture is well-blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before you move on
  4. In a separate bowl, stir your flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder and nutmeg until it’s mixed together
  5. Add in your dried apricot pieces, and toss with the flour mixture. This keeps the apricots from clumping together in the dough
  6. Add the dry ingredients to your mixer bowl. Mix until combined
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips and rolled oats by hand. You just want to get them distributed throughout the dough—don’t overmix the dough
  8. Line baking sheets with parchment, and place balls of dough about two inches apart. Dampen your hands with water, and press down on each dough ball before you throw the sheet into the oven
  9.  Bake your cookies 9-12 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the edges begin to turn dark brown
  10. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on their pans, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

The cookies keep well and freeze well, but be careful transporting them because they can get a little crumbly!

Smoked Cheese Cookies

If you hear “cookie,” your brain probably goes to sweets. But savory cookies are a thing. And they’re a very, very good thing, at that. I found this gem in the Dorie’s Cookies cookbook, which I highly recommend. It’s a great mix of savory and sweet recipes, covering all types of cookies. From biscotti to brownie drops, Dorie’s got you covered.

IMG_4745This is the first recipe I made from Dorie’s book, and what a winner it is. These cookies live up to every bit of their name: smoky, cheesy and buttery too. I started telling people they were like “biscuit tops.” I mean…if muffin tops can be a thing, why not biscuit tops, too?

These go great with wine, with more cheese, or even with a square of chocolate. They’re the perfect thing to bring to your next dinner party, or wine and cheese night. I put them out at a party and then walked away…forgetting that people would be surprised to bite in and find cheese, rather than a sweeter flavor. I didn’t hear any complaints though—these were nibbled up in no time!

Smoked Cheese Cocktail Cookies

Original recipe: Dorie’s Cookies, by Dorie Greenspan. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: ~45 cookies

Suggested equipment: Food processor

Total Time: ~2 hours

Cook Time: 18-20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 oz cubed, smoked Gouda (mine was about 3/4 a cup in the end)
  • 2 oz shredded, sharp cheddar cheese (mine was about 3/4 a cup in the end, though the original recipe says it will be 1/2 cup lightly packed)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions

Make your dough

  1. Put your butter, Gouda, cheddar, cayenne, salt and pepper in your food processor. Pulse until the butter is coarsely chopped, and the mixture forms into small clumps.
  2. Add the flour, then pulse again until larger clumps form.
  3. Line a work surface, then turn your dough out on it. Knead the dough until it comes together into a big piece.
  4. Split your dough in half, and form each half into disks.
  5. Roll each disk out between two sheets of wax paper until the disks are about 1/4 inch thick. Freeze for at least an hour, or until the dough is very firm.

Bake your cookies

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Work with one disk of dough at a time. Use a 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter or the rim of a glass to stamp circles out in your dough. Place the circles at least 1 inch apart on your baking sheets.
  3. Bake the cookies 18-20 minutes. Mine were perfect at 19! You know they’re done when they look lightly golden on top, and they’ve just firmed up a bit.
  4. Let the cookies cool on their baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store baked cookies for a couple days in a closed container, at room temp. You can freeze the dough for a couple weeks if you wrap it in plastic.