Coconut Lime Tart

I wish Spring would get here, pronto.

Again, in my desire to make believe that spring has finally sprung, I whipped up a truly refreshing spring-time dessert that I brought to Easter.

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Using this recipe as my base, I went ahead and made some modifications to use ingredients I either had on hand, or knew I would use again. For example, I just could not see my future need for coconut flour, so regular old bleached flour it was for me.

My substitutions:

Crust – I used whole wheat flour instead of spelt flour. Side note: What is spelt flour?

Filling – Plain bleached flour instead of coconut flour

Garnish – I added chopped pistachios right on top of the whole tart

I also didn’t have a rectangular tart pan. I didn’t have an 8 inch springform pan either. So, I used what I did have – a 9 inch springform pan. I’m not sure I’d use it again, as it made the tart filling be a really thin layer.

Finally, I have no idea what the heck the parchment paper was all about. All it seemed to do was mess up the edges of the tart. I’d go without the paper next time around.

I found this dessert to be subtle-y sweet, an not over the top. My favorite part was definitely the nut-based crust, as opposed to a standard graham cracker crust. It really gave the tart a wonderful flavor.

Orange Rosemary Cornmeal Cake

Over the weekend, I went to my parents’ house for dinner.

Offering to bring dessert, I thought I’d go for something spring-y in the hopes that maybe spring will arrive in Chicago sometime soon. Yeah right.

I also wanted something with a bit of an Italian element to it, as we’d be eating a Sunday night staple growing up – Dad’s homemade pizza.

I decided to try out this cake.

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Though I followed the directions perfectly, and my baking powder was new, I was sad to see that the cake didn’t rise nearly as much as I thought it would.

Even with its general flat-ness, the cake was a hit. The combination of the orange and rosemary was delicious. And chopping the rosemary into the sugar made the kitchen smell amazing.

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The batter was very thick, so I thought the cake would come out heavy. Not at all – it was super light.

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I definitely recommend making this. I’ll be giving it another try to see if my second attempt rises more. If not, I’d still make this cake to use as a part of some other dessert, like perhaps an ice cream or yogurt parfait drizzled with limoncello. Hmmm…maybe I’ll make that parfait anyways!

Stars Abound

My friend, Liz, hosted a small viewing party to watch the Oscars last night. I thought about what to bring for a dessert, and I decided on these cute star cookies.

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Making them was actually quite easy.

Start with your favorite sugar cookie dough. Store-bought or homemade works the same.

Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out star-shaped cookies.

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Use a smaller cookie cutter, ad cut another star shaped cookie out of the larger one.

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Put the cookies on a silicone baking mat (this is super important!) and bake at 350 for about 8-10 minutes.

In the mean time, take some jolly ranchers and hit them once with a meat tenderizer.

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You don’t need to completely smash the candy – larger pieces will work fine.

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Once your timer goes off, take the cookies out of the oven and remove the smaller cookies from the pan. They should be done.

Fill the inside part of the stars with the crushed jolly ranchers.

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Be careful not to over fill, or you’ll end up with cookies like this:

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That one didn’t make it to the party.

Put the cookies back in the oven for only another minute or so. When they come out, they should look like this.

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Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes. You want to make sure the candy hardens.

Use a spatula to remove the cookies from the pan, and let them cool on a baking rack.

I love the way the candy is sort of see through and creates a pop of color in the cookie without adding icing. The red was a great way to add the red carpet into the cookie itself. Also, because the candy is really thin, you can bite into the cookie without breaking your teeth.

These were a big hit at the party – none were left!

Skinny Chocolate Chip Tea Party Scones

I know this is a bit late, but better late than never.

Sunday afternoon, my friend Lauren hosted a High Tea at her place, complete with a variety of tea options, baked goods, and of course, fancy jams.

I volunteered to make the scones, but changed it up from last time, when I made cranberry ones. This time, I made chocolate chip scones, and I made them skinny.

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I started out with this recipe from skinnytaste, but made a few of my own edits.

For starters, I substituted skim milk for buttermilk. I know, crazy. Dan got me all worried they wouldn’t fluff up (usually the buttermilk will react with the baking powder to give scones their fluffy texture), but fluff they did.

Another change is that I added a pinch of cinnamon. Cinnamon magically makes everything tastier.

I also used mini chocolate chips instead of the regular sized ones. They’re just so cute!

Finally, instead of forming a large circle of dough and cutting it into twelfths, I used my handy scone pan. The recipe made eight of the scones for me, which filled the pan exactly.

I think with my modifications, each scone ended up around 175 calories.

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Worth the indulgence, if you ask me.

NYE Ball Drop Cake Pops

Happy new year to all!

Yes, this post is a couple days late, but better late than never.

I’ve had a great couple weeks of holiday fun, so I wasn’t posting as regularly. Alas, my holiday mini-vacation is over and it’s back to my normal schedule starting today.

I had to share these fun cupcakes and cake pops.

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The dropping ball is a chocolate donut hole dipped in glaze and silver sprinkles.

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The cupcake itself is funfetti.

I won’t chronicle the making of this dessert, other than to say that I used a cake pop maker. My review: it’s an OK product, but buying a spherical cake mold would probably be better.

I had some extra cake pops, so I wrapped them up pretty and brought them separately.

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We had a great time ringing in the new year with family and friends that we are blessed to have in our lives.

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I wish you a healthy and happy 2013! Here’s to another great year!

Hot Cocoa Bar with All the Fixings

My holiday party had so much going on that I had to split the post into two.

You were probably wondering what happened to dessert in my last post. Did I get so wrapped up in making the appetizers and putting together the wine tasting that I forgot about dessert?

Of course not!

Instead of making one big dessert, I decided to make several little desserts as part of a hot cocoa bar.

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I always loved the idea of a hot coca bar and having a ton of different little mix ins to customize your hot chocolate. I think planning the hot cocoa bar was the part of party planning that I enjoyed the most.

I planned to make some hot chocolate from scratch with real milk and cocoa powder (no mixes!) and have cookies, chocolate chips, candy canes, marshmallows, and some booze to let everyone have exactly the cup of hot cocoa they wanted.

I pinterested and googled to see if I was missing anything. That’s when I came across this set of hot cocoa bar printables. I thought they were so cute, so I incorporated them into the decor.

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I ended up deciding to bake cinnamon biscotti

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and gingerbread cookies. The thing about the cookies – I bought this great cookie cutter from World Market that cut cookies that were able to hang on the edge of the cocoa mugs.

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Aren’t they cute? Little hanging gingerbread stars.

I also was crazy enough to attempt to make homemade honey vanilla marshmallows. The honey really comes out in the warm cocoa.

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I rounded out the bar with mini chocolate chips, cinnamon sticks, chocolate dipped candy canes, and frozen whipped cream dollops made at home from heavy whipping cream.
For alcohol, I had some peppermint schnapps and whipped cream vodka on hand.

I was so glad I put this hot chocolate bar together. People loved it and said it was a great addition to the party.

Perhaps you can try one before this holiday season is over.

Peppermint Chocolate Chips Cookies

The holiday baking has begun!

This was a really easy cookie to make, but I guess it was good to ease into the baking this year.

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The secret to this treat is its moistness, which comes from using candy cane Jello pudding as the base for the cookie. Following this recipe I used when making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, I only substituted white sugar for the brown sugar.

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I think they turned out very well, especially for cookies that took me less than 25 minutes to make, start to finish.

I actually served them last week at my wreath decorating party. One of my friends commented specifically that the cookie wasn’t as dry as other cookies, and that’s when I mentioned that I had used a pudding mix in the cookie.

Try it.