Banana-Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

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Today is my lovely, beautiful sister’s birthday – Happy Birthday, Sharon! To celebrate this most joyous occasion, I decided to make an absolutely epic, multilayer, drenched/dipped/filled with chocolate cake. And then my plans were thwarted . . . by the birthday girl herself.

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Oh yes, Sharon had the notion that the birthday girl (and not the baker) actually gets to choose the cake! The nerve. She dropped hints about wanting a small (WHAT) cake and a warm cake (I said I could microwave my ten-layer one) and finally, it came out that she wanted individual molten chocolate cakes. Which, okay, I absolutely love. But I was still a little sad about missing an opportunity to create a dessert masterpiece. Continue reading

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Thanksgiving Truffles

Approximately 12 years ago, I made pretty much the best dessert ever for my parent’s Thanksgiving dinner party: Mini turkeys. That’s right. Painstakingly hand-made mini turkeys consisting of a Hershey’s kiss and Oreo cookie body, candy corn feathers, and cut up Twizzlers for the wattle. Finishing those turkeys constituted basically the proudest moment of my life up to that point. Someone (besides my parents) even complimented me on them!

But then . . . no one ate them. Correction: I ate two. One brave adult ate one. And two of my friends, also around the age of 10, each ate one. Sad life. I’ve tried to block out that particular dessert experience from my mind for many years. Now, though, as I reflect back upon my first dessert rejection, I guess I (sorta kinda) get it.

I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily want to eat a mashup of store-bought candy masquerading as a dessert that had been touched and molded into shape with the possibly dirty (but I always washed my hands with soap – even under my fingernails!!!) fingers of a ten-year-old. I’m going on record now, though, to say that if I come across those lovely mini turkeys in my Thanksgiving festivities this year, I promise to eat one. Scratch that. I’m getting five of those suckers. Props to little kids who believe in their dessert craft!

In an effort to avoid the pain of rejection, though, I decided to create a more adult palate friendly dessert this year. And it’s still shaped like a turkey. Hah! Though it can be traditionally truffle shaped for those who so desire. As I considered different food combinations in my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about pumpkin and cream cheese. So, I didn’t. Instead, I used them, along with some powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and pumpkin pie spice as the filling for my truffles. Ermahgawd. I would most definitely eat this filling by itself. In a bowl – no melted chocolate covering or decoration needed. Continue reading

Mini Key Lime Pies

The last time my family went to Florida, we did not eat even a bite of the famed key lime pie. I know, right? I mean, the Florida Keys! Key limes! What’s up with that? Super appalled at our lack of dessert nomming, I purchased key lime bar mix immediately upon arriving home, and placed it on our pantry shelf . . . where it sat. And waited. And sighed. And is probably still sitting. Whoops?

I don’t know what happened. Well, no, I do. I am, first and foremost, a procrastinator, and secondly, an easily distracted individual. I’ll think up about ten different baking ideas – usually as I’m trying to sleep! – before settling on a dessert, open up twenty tabs on my computer and forget about at least half of them, crop photos and read CNN (my new hobby – at least it’s actually educational) in the middle of writing my blog post.

Where was I again? Oh, right. Not easily distracted at all. I recently came across key limes again, in the form of a bag of 25 key limes – for just one dollar(!!!) at my new favorite supermarket, El Rio Grande. 25! One dollar! They also have five avocados for one dollar aka what is going on in the world. (Answer: Lots of guac)

So, faced with the prospect of finally eating my long-awaited key lime pie, I debated the merits of using a pie pan, a mini cupcake pan, or a square pan to make bars, and finally settled on mini key lime pies made in a cupcake tin! The particular advantages of this option? Well, I finally got to try out my new cupcake tin!

You might have noticed that I haven’t yet made full-sized cupcakes on this blog, and that’s because, well, we didn’t have one. I repeat, my sister and I did not have a cupcake pan. Which is ridiculous. I mean, absolutely crazy! Especially considering the fact that last year, we each had one. Where did they go? It’s still a total mystery.

Continue reading

Pumpkin Spiderweb Cheesecake

Since Halloween is an occasion traditionally associated with food (and yes, candy totally qualifies!), I – for once – don’t feel totally crazy about my food rants today. Such as the fact that I most definitely went trick-or-treating senior year of high school…after I told my parents I was going to study for the SAT IIs. Whoops? And then things seriously went south after my mom found a huge bag of candy in my closet. I really need to improve my hiding skills. And lying skills (maybe not?).

Or, the fact that Chipotle used to give out free burritos if you dressed up like a burrito on Halloween! I am convinced that if Chipotle had reserved the free burritos for those completely wrapped in tinfoil (like me – with green tissue paper for lettuce!), the free burrito deal would still be alive. Alas, it was not meant to be.

Thankfully, there are many more ways to get your food fix in on Halloween. And since amazing Halloween recipes (like this…or this!) have been popping up on all over the place, I decided it was time to give it a try. Unfortunately, my dessert decorating skills (as opposed to my dessert eating skills) are a bit below par. I generally try to dress up my desserts with sprinkles, cover mistakes with frosting, or, in severely desperate cases, drizzle melted chocolate on top as a distraction.

Um yeah sorry about all those finger marks…

When I came upon this picture of spiderweb cheesecake, however, I thought it looked pretty doable. What I didn’t factor into the picture was my running out of chocolate chips! Like, completely out. Which, considering the amount of chocolate chips I buy and the number of chocolate chip bags in the pantry only two weeks ago, is absolutely ridiculous.

So, I used a glaze…to initially good, and later abysmal (like when it started running all over my cheesecake) effects. That is why, though I used a glaze, I recommend using ganache, like Martha Stewart (the best) did.

I used my Mom’s recipe for cheesecake, which is a long-time family favorite that pops up every Thanksgiving! She actually got the recipe from her friend Anita (if you’re reading this, thank you for introducing this cheesecake into my life!). Trust me, it’s absolutely delicious. Continue reading

S’mores Rice Krispie Squares

You already know about my love of all things s’mores.

But here’s something I haven’t told you (for fear that you won’t be my friend anymore): I am a fiercely competitive individual. Once, when I was about eight years old, I convinced my opponent (and, yeah, I guess she was my friend) in Monopoly that I could build hotels on any of my properties without owning all three of the same color block. By the end, she owed me $8000. I know, despicable, right?


Don’t say anything yet. We haven’t even talked about one of my favorite games of all time: Taboo. I pretty much turn into a monster whenever I play this game. I am that girl. Yeah, the girl who is blaring out all these random words that don’t even relate to the description because she doesn’t trust anyone to describe the target word besides herself and is hoping one of these words she’s screaming out will somehow hit the mark. And then she swears profusely when she doesn’t get it right. Quite. Obnoxious.


Though, in my defense, my scream-out-every-possible-word strategy does often work. And, top secret tip: People always crack up when the target word is “bimbo.” Like, every single time. So, every time the person giving the hints starts laughing, I shout, “bimbo!” Pretty sure my success rate is at least 1%.

But, back to the whole competitive thing. Even though evidence points to the contrary, I’m not actually telling you incriminating stories about myself just for the sake of it. I’m actually building up to the fact that I developed this recipe for the “incredibly easy” category of the Dallas Morning News Holiday Cookie Contest! My awesome friend Alexa, who is from Dallas and thus, super in the know about these things, told me about the contest, and my competitive side immediately started rearing its ugly head.


Unfortunately, it found its enemy in my procrastinating self, and thus, I may or may not have started thinking about this recipe a couple of nights ago. Sooo I’m not getting my hopes up. I am, however, quite enjoying these bars. Graham cracker crust + marshmallowy rice krispies + melted chocolate = love.

Continue reading

Caramel Apple Dessert Dumplings

When I was in the fourth grade, I designed a restaurant menu for Spanish class. My Spanish teacher, who regularly put the fear of God in her students (me, I thought, most of all), told my class to describe our food offerings in as much detail as possible.

As I harbored no desire to risk her wrath, I determined that El Restaurante Gato would detail its food down to the last garnish on the plate.

Such was my downfall. I remember Señora’s (as we faithful students called her) voice even now: “Grapes, apples, pineapples, I understand. But why does this fruit salad also have mayonnaise, beans, and eggs?” She was confused.

Maybe you, too, are confused. Let me explain. The fruit salad I wanted on the menu was not, in fact, an American style fruit cup or bowl with fresh cut fruit as the sole ingredients.

No, when I wrote down “fruit salad,” I was actually referring to the Chinese fruit salad that my mom regularly made at home – one that includes mayonnaise, kidney beans, and eggs, and is, against all odds, quite delicious. Seriously. Trust me on this one.

This is what I opened my mouth to defiantly explain to Señora. Unfortunately, being a shy, nine-year-old all aquiver in the face of my scary Spanish teacher, I ended up grabbing my eraser to fix the “extraneous” ingredients. And I was, therefore, scarred for life.

…Just kidding. I would be lying, though, if I said that this didn’t greatly impact my Chinese food-eating psyche. I mean, this, along with the third grade incident where I was too afraid to eat my lunch because people were commenting on a gross smell (turns out, it was from the hot food line, not my own innocent lunch) could have killed Chinese food for me.

Luckily, since I am a hungry girl, and no other cuisine besides Chinese really exists in my household, I continued eating – and loving – Chinese food.

Now, at 21 years old, let me share a few life lessons I learned from these experiences:

  1. Eat what you like, and don’t let the (third grade) haters keep you down.
  2. My mom cooks the best Chinese food ever. Duh.
  3. Chinese food rocks.

And so, keeping with the Chinese food love, and because yesterday was Mid-Autumn Festival(!!), I present to you, my totally non-traditional, the-only-Chinese-part-is-the-wrapper, Caramel Apple Dessert Dumplings! Continue reading

S’mores Truffles

Let’s play two truths and a lie:

  1. Once, to combat the Monday-morning work blues, I ate s’mores for breakfast.
  2. When I’m craving campfire marshmallows, I roast marshmallows on a chopstick over my stove.
  3. Last summer, in desperate s’mores withdrawal, I microwaved two chocolate chips and one mini marshmallow onto a wheat thin.

So maybe I’m not very good at lying…because all of these are true. I may also be a freak. A crazy lover of marshmallows that are crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. A strong believer that rectangles of Hershey’s chocolate are the only acceptable choice for authentic campfire s’mores. The very type of girl who might make you…these:

What are these, you ask? Guess, guess! …no guessing? Fine. These, my friends, are little scoops of dark chocolate ganache, covered in homemade marshmallow fluff, and rolled in graham cracker crumbs. Oh man.

A lot of things about that sentence excite me, but probably none as much as the concept of homemade marshmallow fluff!

This cloudy pillow of goodness is so easy to make. So marshmallow-y. Thus, oh so dangerous. And, okay, I’m calling it marshmallow fluff, but it’s actually based on a recipe for 7-minute frosting – that miracle of light, whipped, shiny frosting that takes only 7 minutes to make (with most of that time spent in the stand mixer). Seriously wicked (good) stuff. Continue reading