Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Lazy Blogger's Cake Mix Blondies

Hello friends,

I must apologize; I've been so terrible about keeping up with posts lately. I don't know what's come over me...No wait, I do. It's terrible books like Mrs. Dalloway that I am being forced to read, against my will, in the name of Literature.

I will not rant about how terrible it is (though I really want to) but just let you all know to scratch it off your "Must Read List", if it's even on there at all.

Anyway, this will be a quick post because I have something big in the works for April here on the blog. But I can't tell you yet, silly, since it's still March! So to be brief, I tried to think of what I could whip up easily to share with you all today and I had seen all over Pinterest this image of "Cake Batter Blondies."

With only five ingredients and 25 minutes in the oven I was sold. However, I have to tell you, just buy the funfetti cake mix. Do not use yellow cake mix and attempt to put your own sprinkles in, or you will end up with...

Exhibit A: Not so Pretty, Slightly Purple, Cake Batter Blondies

I know, not my most aesthetically pleasing post, but they are pretty darn delicious so I can't really complain. I used this recipe from Six Sister's Stuff, and I am now enjoying (as crumbs drop all over my keyboard) all the awesomeness of cake batter with the dense, chewy texture we've all come to love from brownies.

That's all for now! BUT April is sure to bring something exciting along here On Sugar Mountain, so check back on Sunday April 1st for more info!

Happy Baking!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Banana Bread Snickerdoodles


I have found it.

The cookie to end all other cookies.

Don't laugh; I am dead serious here. It is called the Banana Bread Snickerdoodle and it has now become my most absolute favorite cookie in the entire world.

I am actually going to take a moment here to personally thank the creator of these cookies, Mrs. M.O.B. over at Mind Over Batter.

Dear Mrs. M.O.B.,

Your cookies are so amazing that I think you could end all the arguments currently happening on Earth by making just one cookie for every person on the planet.

Please let me know if you need help in doing so.


Now that that's out of my system - you NEED to make these cookies! She has you microwave the bananas and then take the juice from them and turn it into a syrup that goes BACK into the cookie dough. I know. It's that intense.

My whole kitchen smelled like a banana bread bakery during all of this. It was the best smell. ever.

A little bit more work than your average snickerdoodle I'll give you that. But it doesn't matter. If you consider yourself a lover of banana bread or snickerdoodles, you must must must make these cookies.

The recipe makes over 3 dozen, which sounds like a lot. However, see how much it makes when you are face-to-face with the delectable and dangerously delicious dough. Go ahead, I dare you; try not to eat an unhealthy-sized spoonful of it.

Enough said. Get going on making these cookies and start achieving world peace with their awesomeness.

Banana Bread Snickerdoodles By Mind Over Batter
makes roughly 4 dozen cookies

3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 medium very ripe bananas, peeled and chopped
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
 1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp banana syrup (recipe follows)

For banana syrup:

1. Place chopped bananas into large microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 2-3 minutes, or until the bananas start to let out juice.
2. Mash bananas through a fine mesh strainer, put banana mash aside.
3. Take banana juice and place in small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Heat until syrupy, about 2 minutes (it should reduce to about 2 tbsp). Allow to cool before using.

For cinnamon sugar:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1. Mix together with hands until well incorporated.

For cookies:

1. Sift together flour, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cinnamon into a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl cream butter until fluffy, about 1 minute. beat in both sugars and the mashed bananas until fully incorporated.
3. Mix in egg, vanilla extract, and banana syrup until well combined. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredient mixture roughly one cup at a time. Be sure to chill dough at least one hour before baking.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper (or grease liberally with cooking spray).
5. Use a cookie scoop or small spoon to scoop out tablespoonfuls of dough. Roll into balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place at least 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie ball slightly with the bottom of a glass.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes or until cookies are slightly firm. Let cool five minutes on pan before transferring to wire cooling rack.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pop Tart Pops

Hello all,

Can you believe I'm back at college already? Where on earth did my Spring Break go?! Sigh, well, back to real life I suppose. As real as college life is anyway.

Did I ever tell you what a smash hit the homemade pop tarts were? My boss was so happy with them that he heated his up in the microwave and actually ended up burning his mouth on it in excitement. So I wasn't surprised when another supervisor mentioned to me that our boss was really in the mood for pop tarts again. 'But I already did a post on pop tarts' I thought to myself.

'But this was important' she explained 'He won't accept the cinnamon challenge unless you give him more pop tarts.'

Cinnamon challenge you may ask? It's when you ingest an entire teaspoon of cinnamon by itself and try to swallow. Yes, I know, college students have weird ideas concerning entertainment. This is one of them.

But how could I say no to seeing that happen? So I thought to myself 'how do I switch up pop tarts to make it delicious for my coworkers and still new and exciting for my readers?'

Answer: Pop Tart POPS!

Like cake pops, only more pie-ish. I decided to stick with the classic strawberry which is always a favorite, along with a few Nutella-filled Pops for those daring eaters.

I used the basic pop tart pie crust from my previous post here with the only switch of using Nutella as a filling for some along with a chocolate frosting. Can I tell you though, between us, buy the premade pie crust. Seriously, just do it. Homemade is neat and all, but it gets finicky really quickly. and the pre-made is already rolled out to the right thickness and will save you a good deal of time.

Needless to say they are sure to be a huge hit at my job (where I believe I may slowly be giving everyone diabetes with all these treats). If you enjoy your co-workers' company as much as I do, maybe whip a few up for them, or if not, for some hungry housemates!

Oh, and as for the cinnamon challenge? I will try my best to get a video of every exciting second of it for you all to see. I know I can't wait. :)

Happy Baking!

Pop Tart Pops

1 homemade or store bought pie crust (recipe link here)
1 jar strawberry preserves or 1 jar Nutella
Popsicle sticks
Chocolate or Vanilla Glaze

1. Roll out Pie Crust to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into equally sized small rectangles. Place rectangles on parchment-lined cookie sheet and place one Popsicle stick in the center of each.

2. Scoop one teaspoon of filling over Popsicle stick and center of pie crust rectangle. Cover with another pie crust rectangle and use a fork to crimp the edges all the way around.

3. Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes or until golden.

4. Coat with frosting and sprinkles and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fresh Lemon and Strawberry Frosted Donuts

Hello all,

Daylight Savings Time has passed this weekend and I have to tell you, I am LOVING the extra sunlight. It just makes the days so much cheerier, granted I am currently writing to you from Florida (the Sunshine State). I am sure when I get back to NJ I will be greeted by the lovely gray, overcast weather I have come to call my own.

But while I'm still down here catching the rays, I thought I'd share these fresh fruit-frosted donuts with you!

I can't say I looked up the lemon frosting, but sadly I did discover that Strawberry Frosted Donuts, from say Dunkin Donuts, are not frosted with anything that resembles real strawberrries. Gross. 

How are we still okay with that? I mean I understand that if you use real strawberries it wont be as smooth and glossy, but I think that might very well be a sacrifice we are willing to make for real fruit frostings.

Regardless, mine utilize the wonderful fresh strawberries down here in Florida, along with some lovely fresh lemons as well.

I ran into some trouble with lighting for my photos (when does that not happen) but discovered that the sun was the perfect accompaniment to my donuts. Now if only NJ was this bright all the time I'd take all my photos outside each morning!

I've included the basic sour cream donut recipe below along with the new fruit glazes/frostings. Feel free to switch out the lemon juice for lime (key lime donuts anyone?) or use your favorite fruit in place of the strawberries. The possibilites are endless, not to mention delcious.

Happy Baking!

Sour Cream Donuts (makes about 2 dozen mini donuts)
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2. In separate bowl whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients. Using a mixer on medium speed, blend until smooth.
3. Fill each cooking reservoir with about 2 tbsp of batter.
4. Bake about 4-5 minutes or until donut springs back when touched.
5. Glaze or coat with powdered or cinnamon sugar.

Fresh Lemon Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
splash of milk

1. Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add lemon juice and begin to stir. Add milk slowly, until consistency is smooth but still thick.
Fresh Strawberry Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup strawberries
splash of milk

1. Sift powdered sugar into medium bowl. Pulse straberries in food processor until completely chopped. Scrape strawberry puree into powdered sugar and whisk until it comes together. Add splash of milk as needed to create smooth consistency.

 To frost donuts: dip donut in frosting, pull up and allow excess to drip off. Poke hole in center with finger to allow frosting to form to shape of donut. Then allow to dry on cooling rack or dip in sprinkles.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Back to Blogging with a New Room and a Cupcake Review!

Hello friends!
Oh how I've missed you all  during these past few weeks of stressful exams. During the hours of excruciating studying my mind would wander and I'd think to myself "what awesome new recipes are floating around the blogosphere that I'm missing right now?" and I just could not wait to get back.

Well, I made it. I am officially on Spring Break for the week with my lovely family down in Florida, and while I am here I plan to bake up a storm of delicious goodies to share with you all!

But first...

Wasn't I surprised to find a completely new room waiting for me to enjoy as soon as I got home?!

It's like HGTV in there!

My mom (and even my dad) did it all while I was away at Rutgers, and it is just such an improvement over the old layout. I finally have a desk (no more doing work from the bed!) and I LOVE the bookcase setup as a focal point in the room since I am a huge book worm.

THEN as if this wasn't nice enough, my Dad surprised me with a trip to a cupcake shop! I didn't know cupcakeries were as big down in Florida as they are up in the Northeast (with what feels like millions in NYC).

The shop is called Mmm Delicious Cupcakes and is located in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Now although the shop isn't bright pink or glitzed out and overly decorated, I have to tell you these are some (if not the) best cupcakes I have ever had. This is where simplicity = superiority.

At Mmm Delicious Cupcakes you will find a slew of delicious flavors that vary daily, from Classic Chocolate to Strawberry Milkshake and even Pillow Talk, a decadent chocolate cake with a marshmallow creme center.

My family and I opted to buy half a dozen and went home extremely excited with: Red Velvet, Wedding Cake, Classic Chocolate, Cookie Dough, Salted Caramel, and Pillow Talk.

As soon as we got home I naturally dove into my first choice: Red Velvet.

I am just going to come out and say it: this cupcake rocked my socks.

Light, airy, moist, and full of flavor, this Red Velvet is hands-down the best Red Velvet Cupcake I've ever had. Beautifully adorned with a fantastic Cream Cheese Frosting, this cupcake is worth the $1.99 and then some.

And to be honest, almost all of the cupcakes we received were just that: fabulous. Salted Caramel also received big points amongst the Gonzalez family, along with Classic Chocolate.  The only one that I believe we would not get again was Wedding Cake, but honestly it wasn't a bad cupcake, just not my style.

If you are ever in the Tamba Bay Area and are looking for a sweet fix, you have to stop by Mmm Delicious Cupcakes. Their sweet treats not only satisfy your sweet tooth, but their simple, elegant presentation reminds us that frills and fondant decorations aside, it's the cake that counts. I've linked them here in the post so please go check them out and show some cupcake love!

Well, that's all for now fellow bakers! Since I am in Florida for the week I plan on taking advantage of the wonderful Fresh Produce in my posts, so I foresee Strawberries in the near future!

Happy Baking!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

Hello all!

This will be another quick post as I am still running the gauntlet that is Rutgers Midterms. Sigh, why can't I just get graded for how delicious these cupcakes are?

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes: what a thought. Now I am always a bit disappointed with citrus-y cupcakes, because the tartness from the fruit just isn't there. So I was pleasantly surprised when these cupcakes: moist, dense, and sweet, were also so full of lime flavor that I almost puckered a little when I ate one. Almost.