Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

November 25th, 2010

Warning: This dessert is not for people who are counting calories. If you even attempt to make or eat this dessert you might as well just throw your diet out the window, but it will be worth it, I assure you.

Where do I begin describing this dessert? I really should have video taped the expressions of the lucky few who were able to try this dessert at a recent potluck. Those faces were priceless. After one bite you could see a total change in their face from normal to absolute bliss to bewilderment at how a dessert could be so so good. It really made me laugh that everyone had the same reaction. However, its not just the chocolate croissant bread pudding alone that makes it amazing, it requires a few simple steps in order to achieve that “OMG” moment.  First, make sure your bread pudding is fresh from the oven and still warm or just microwave it for a few seconds to get it nice and warm again. Second, place a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Lastly, make sure to get a nice spoonful of the bread pudding and ice cream in one bite.

This dessert is definitely a crowd pleaser and perfect for the holidays. On that note, Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you’ll be enjoying this bread pudding at one of your holiday parties!

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding
(adapted from foodnetwork.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 12 croissants
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Break up the 12 croissants into 1 inch pieces.
  3. Lightly butter a 9×13 in. baking dish. Layer croissant pieces and chocolate chips into the baking dish. Making sure to evenly distribute the croissant pieces and chocolate chips.
  4. Combine butter and sugar in a separate bowl until well blended. Add cinnamon and vanilla and mix well. Add the 5 lightly beaten eggs. Add the heavy cream. Make sure everything is well blended.
  5. Pour the egg mixture onto the croissants. Soak for 8 to 10 minutes. You can push the croissants down to ensure coverage by the egg mixture.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 minutes to brown the top. The bread pudding is done when the custard is set, but still soft. Allow to cool.
  7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on top. Enjoy!

Buttery flaky croissants. I bought a 12-pack of croissants from Costco. Great deal for $5.79!

Croissants broken up into 1 inch pieces

Chocolate chips interspersed with the croissant pieces

Letting the egg mixture soak through

Finished product out of the oven

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream - Unfortunately, this picture does not do it justice and cannot show you how truly amazing it is, but it is believe me.

A Dozen Easter Cupcakes

April 4th, 2010

Happy Easter! It’s been a long 40+ days and I’m excited to finally eat chocolate today! Giving up chocolate for lent was no easy task, but I made it and I’m definitely going to go on a chocolate binge for the next few days. It was interesting to not be able to have anything with chocolate. Whenever I crave something sweet I usually reach for a piece of chocolate, but I found myself replacing it with more healthy treats like fruit and yogurt or maybe some peanut butter on a banana. I guess I could have eaten candy instead, but I’m not much of a candy person anymore (can’t eat sour patch kids like I used to when I was little, and warheads, remember those?).

Although, my first instinct is to pick something with chocolate, giving up chocolate helped widen my view about desserts I would’ve never chosen otherwise. I was able to try all sorts of yummy non-chocolate desserts (strawberry tiramisu, salted caramel macarons, maple bacon donuts) on various outings and it didn’t make me miss chocolate at all. Maybe I’ve changed? But, then again I think I would still have to fight the urge to pick something chocolate over a non-chocolate dessert. At least I feel like I’ve tried a lot of new things and I know that I can live without chocolate, but in all honesty I wouldn’t really want to haha.

For Easter, I decided to make mini cupcakes (vanilla with vanilla frosting, it wasn’t Easter yet when I made this hence no chocolate). To make them egg-stra special, I decided to color the frosting with some nice pastel colors and arrange them in an egg carton. This makes for a great gift idea; easy to whip up and cute packaging!

On a side note, if you’re wondering what my first chocolate dessert will be, its a Sprinkles’ Red Velvet cupcake. I also picked up one of their flavors for the season, Brown Sugar Praline, which is really good. Love that praline topping! Too bad its seasonal, I think they should make it one of their regular flavors.

Looks like a regular egg carton from the outside...

Surprise!

A Dozen Mini Cupcakes - Ready for Easter

Sprinkles Cupcakes - Top Row: Brown Sugar Praline and Vanilla Cupcakes, Bottom Row: Red Velvet with a cute bunny

Lucky Green Tea Cupcakes

March 17th, 2010

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of St.Patty’s day, I made green cupcakes, but went the non-traditional route and decided to make green tea cupcakes. Not very Irish at all, but what better excuse than to try something new and green for this holiday.

After doing some research, I decided to try to use a regular vanilla cupcake recipe and add some green tea (matcha) powder. Luckily, for me it turned out well and the combination of the vanilla and green tea tasted good. The best part about these cupcakes was definitely the frosting.  It’s like a lighter more heavenly version of a buttercream frosting. I used a green tea frosting recipe from the Baked cookbook and I’m so glad I decided to try it. This frosting recipe definitely requires more effort, but the results are worth it! The frosting + cupcake made for an excellent pairing. I think everything had the right amount of green tea flavor. It was subtle and not overpowering.

One more thing before I go and eat another cupcake, if you are wondering where you can buy green tea (matcha) powder, you can usually find it at specialty food stores or better yet at Japanese markets if there’s one in your area. If you still can’t find it, you can also order it online. Just make sure you buy unsweetened green tea (matcha) powder. Also, the higher the quality green tea (matcha) powder you purchase, the brighter green your baked goods will turn out. Good luck!

Green Tea Cupcake

Green Tea Cupcake

A peek inside

A Peek Inside

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Red Velvet Cheesecake

February 14th, 2010

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought it would be perfect to make mini heart shaped red velvet cheesecakes for V-day and I’ve been dying to make them ever since I tried it for the first time at Magnolia’s Bakery in NYC. I had to make up my own recipe because I couldn’t really find any red velvet cheesecake recipes. I guess they aren’t that popular yet.

I was scared that this project would become a complete fail for several reasons: 1) I’ve only made one other cheesecake before and that time I had an actual recipe to follow 2) I couldn’t find instructions on baking times for mini cheesecakes, so I had to guesstimate and 3) did I mention that I’ve never done this before?!? Experimenting makes me feel really out of my comfort zone haha.

Anyway, after all my worrying and stressing and peeking into the oven every 5 minutes, the cheesecakes came out a beautiful shade of red and there were no cracks at all. Success! The final test was the taste test and it was…GREAT! It really reminded me of Magnolia’s version (maybe even better? haha) and I’m so excited that I don’t have to fly 3,000 miles to get some now. I topped it with some whipped cream and it complemented the cheesecake perfectly. Make sure to make these for your sweetheart because there’s nothing that says I love you more than a Red Velvet Cheesecake <3

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Red Velvet Cheesecake

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New Year, New Resolutions

January 4th, 2010

Happy New Year everyone!

I haven’t given much thought to resolutions for this year. I figured that I would just keep the same ones I come up with every year, but stumbling upon this website gave me inspiration to add some new ones to my list. I don’t like making more than a few resolutions a year, because the more resolutions the harder I find it to remember them throughout the year. This New Year’s Resolution generator website was very entertaining and if you need a little help on resolutions this generator is perfect for you! What did you decide to pick? Here are my picks:

This was a helpful reminder for me, because I almost never back up my files. Two years ago I learned my lesson after my computer crashed and I didn't back up a lot of my files. So, this year I promise to do it as often as I can remember. Which is more than once, I hope...

This was a helpful reminder for me, because I almost never back up my files. Two years ago I learned my lesson after my computer crashed and I didn't back up a lot of my files. So, this year I promise to do it as often as I can remember. Which is more than once, I hope...

This year I defnintely want to create more desserts, crafts, and make use of my brand new sewing machine.

This year I defnintely want to create more desserts, crafts, and make use of my brand new sewing machine.

This resolution sounds like fun...have a few friends over, cook a good meal, drink some wine, and serve the ultimate dessert to top off the evening. I will defnitely update you guys when this happens haha.

This resolution sounds like fun...have a few friends over, cook a good meal, drink some wine, and serve the ultimate dessert to top off the evening. I will definitely update you guys when this happens haha.

This one made me laugh...I like tomatoes, but I can't promise that I'd ever eat it like an apple.

This one made me laugh...I like tomatoes, but I can't promise that I'd ever eat it like an apple.

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2009

Hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday filled with lots of dessert!

I went to a White Elephant Christmas Party this past weekend and whipped up two really simple and easy treats. Both of the recipes require no baking, are cream cheese based, and can be made ahead; so it saves you plenty of time during this busy season.

I wanted to make something unique and I found the perfect recipe for a Dessert Ball. Think of a cheese ball spread, but instead it’s sweet. This was so easy to whip up and once all the ingredients were combined I just popped it in the freezer until it was time to bring it to the party. The dessert ball was paired with graham cracker sticks to spread on. Everyone at the party was intrigued by the ball. This was definitely a crowd pleaser and perfect for people who like cheesecake tasting dessert.

The other dessert on the menu were Oreo truffles. I like to call these the “Wow Truffles” because every time someone bit into it, the first thing they would say is “WOW! These are so GOOD!”. It even converted my non-chocolate loving friends. You know a dessert is awesome when even people who hate chocolate start eating your chocolate dessert and rave about. The truffles were also a snap to make and had the shortest ingredient list.

IMG_2908

Dessert Ball with Graham Cracker Sticks

IMG_2916

Oreo Truffles aka Wow Truffles - So good even chocolate haters love them.

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Thankful for All Things Pumpkin

December 1st, 2009

I hope all of you had a wonderful and filling Thanksgiving! Believe it or not, I still feel full from everything I ate over the last few days.

I’m a bit sad that the November is over because there were so many Thanksgiving themed desserts I wanted to try out, but they never made it to reality. I’m not sure how the month flew by so quickly, but I ended up making only a couple things from of my long baking list. I have so many different dessert recipes lined up just for Thanksgiving/Fall, but I guess they will have to wait until next year. The two recipes that actually made it to the oven, were Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins and Pumpkin Pie.

The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins were an idea I got from the Starbuck’s version, but I did it semi-homemade style and used a box of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread Mix. It still turned out really well and having a cream cheese center is always a nice twist.

Pumpkin pie was definitely a must bake on my list. At first, I couldn’t figure out which kind of pumpkin pie I wanted to make. I found so many versions of pumpkin pie and they all sounded so good. I decided to make traditional pumpkin pie since I had never made it before. The directions on the recipe made it seem fairly easy, but I messed up just a tad. The filling said it was good enough for one pie but I came out with enough for 2 pies. So, I made the mistake of overfilling the pie thinking it would fit…bad idea. I filled it up so much that I had a difficult time putting it in the oven without trying to spill too much. Another reason overfilling your pie is a huge mistake is that I didn’t take into account that it would rise just like any other baked good, so as it was baking it overflowed a little. But, thankfully it didn’t affect the overall taste; it just didn’t look as pretty as I would’ve liked.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix and a Log of Cream Cheese

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix and a Log of Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese Centers

Cream Cheese Centers

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Cream Cheese Goodness

Cream Cheese Goodness

Ready Made Crust

Ready Made Crust

My Overfilled Pumpkin Pie

My Overfilled Pumpkin Pie

Making Decorative Leaves

Making Decorative Leaves

Acorn & Oak Leaf Cut-outs

Acorns & Oak Leaves

My Very First Pumpkin Pie and Definitely Not the Last!

My Very First Pumpkin Pie and Definitely Not the Last!

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A Foodie Christmas Tree

November 10th, 2009

Just saw these new Christmas tree ornaments at Sur La Table. I think this year’s tree should be foodie themed, how about you?

Starting from the Top Left: Cake Ornament, Pink Cupcake Ornament, Espresso Machine Ornament, Pickle Jar Ornament, Prosciutto Ornament (I think this is one of my fav ones), and Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Ornaments (looks good enough to eat!)

(images via Sur La Table)

Happy Belated Halloween!

November 7th, 2009

I’m going to have to blame my lateness on my current situation: my over a week long illness that’s taking its precious time and does not seem to want me to get better yet. It made my Halloween preparations and plans very difficult, but I still managed somehow, even though I did have to give up a few things I wanted to get done. It was especially frustrating last week because I had started getting sick last Monday and miraculously the next morning I was all better, but the sneaky little bugger came back with a vengeance the next day and since then I have been battling it for almost 2 weeks now.

Anyway, on to what I was able to accomplish during my sick week. I was able to sew part of my Halloween costume. I was little red riding hood and I decided to sew my own cape. It came out pretty well, I’m just thankful I didn’t mess it up (it was my first time sewing anything). I baked two items out of the three items I had planned for Halloween, and I also managed to give out Halloween candy.

This year I decided to try out some new recipes. I baked Buttermilk Spice Muffins (the exact recipe from Mimi’s Cafe, I couldn’t believe they just posted it on their website) and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. The Buttermilk Spice Muffins were good, although next time I might double the spices. Unfortunately, I personally can’t tell you how good the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins were. By the time I made these, I couldn’t really taste anything anymore, but my friends seemed to like them so there’s a good sign! I’ll have to try baking them again when I’m not sick.

Buttermilk Spiced Muffins

Buttermilk Spice Muffins

Halloween Mini Muffin Liners

Mini Halloween Liners

My Little Red Riding Hood Basket Filled with Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

My Little Red Riding Hood Basket Filled with Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Sweets for Your Sweetheart

January 21st, 2009

Need a Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetheart? I found a few items that might just be perfect for your sweetie with the sweet tooth. Warning most of these gifts are pricey, but hey nothing says I love you more than quality baked goods haha.

Sweetie Pies – from Williams Sonoma, 12 for $49, These Valentine’s Day version of whoopee pies are filled with creamy buttercream in three delicious flavors – chocolate, raspberry and vanilla.


Message Cookies
- from Williams Sonoma, $22 for 9 cookies, These cookies are very cute and definitely a step up from your normal conversation hearts.

Perfect Ending’s Heart Red Velvet Cake – $68, Lovely red velvet cake from the same bakery that Eva Longoria ordered her wedding cake from. If it’s good enough for Eva, it’s good enough for me!

Perfect Endings’ Valentine Cupcakes -9 for $69, You get 3 of each: Red velvet, rich chocolate, and chocolate caramel cupcakes. I really want to try these cupcakes since Oprah keeps raving about them and they are on her all-time favorite list.


Glitter Heart & Box
- from Dean & Deluca, $125 -This very expensive and completely edible gift is amazing! The chocolate heart box is made with a white chocolate coating that is covered with layers of shimmering edible glitter. Inside you’ll find nine chocolate truffles, three of each; White Chocolate Caramel, and Dark Chocolate with Caramel and hand painted Framboise.