Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting

Good Morning! I hope everyone’s week is off to a great start. This week is filled with fun things for me, which I am super excited about. I’m currently sitting in a hotel room in Michigan, off to do some college visits. After I fly back tonight, I’m only in school for 2 days before my physics class and I head to Six Flags for Physics day! After a long day at the amusement park, I’m headed straight to upstate New York for even more visiting. I can’t wait!
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This week was also a bittersweet goodbye to MSM for another year. Most of my friends graduated this year, so I was so proud of them but also so sad that they won’t be able to join me again for next year. I took all of my finals and did my make up jury, which I’m happy to say I got an A- on! Overall, it’s been a stressful few weeks, but now that it’s over, I’m so excited to get back in the kitchen and work on making some great summer recipes for you guys!
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As you’ve probably figured out by now, I love dessert. My favorites have to be a warm oatmeal brown sugar cookie coming out of the oven, but cupcakes are a close second. I was looking for a cupcake recipe that has ingredients that you probably all have in your pantry right now, because I don’t have zucchini flowers or stone fruits all the time, so I know you don’t too. While the cupcake was so moist and delicious, the highlight for me was the frosting. It is too easy to make and absolutely fantastic. The combination of the peanut butter and the cream cheese makes it so creamy, but the brown sugar makes sure that it doesn’t get as sweet or chalky because of the copious amounts of powdered sugar that other recipes use. What are you waiting for? Get baking!

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Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting from How Sweet It Is

makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to mix. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and egg until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and milk, again mixing until combined. Slowly pour in melted butter, continuing to whisk. Add in the flour, soda and salt, mixing with a large spoon until batter is smooth.
  3. Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to liners. Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until tops are puffy and golden, and don’t jiggle when touched. Let cool completely.

Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting

  • 6 ounces cold cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • raw turbinado sugar for topping, if desired
  1. Add cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth, then add peanut butter and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add in brown and powdered sugars gradually, with the mixture on low speed. Once everything has been added, turn to medium-high speed and mix for 4-5 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides. If you’d like the frosting a bit sturdier, add additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing like before. Frost cupcakes!

The perfect way to make any boring meal extraordinary. I’ll be waiting (for the frosting of course)!

-Rayna 🙂

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Homemade Pop Tarts

Happy holidays everybody! I hope everyone has had a wonderful time at their seders or will have a great time at their upcoming Easter brunches. Now is a wonderful time to spend some time with family and friends, and of course, prepare and enjoy lots of food. Some of my highlights included the 7 different types of charoset that my mom and I prepared, ranging from American Ashkenazi to Moroccan Charoset Balls, to Persian. All of them were incredibly delicious and there’s more than enough to last me until next Tuesday!

Some exciting news about gymnastics is that I made regionals! I had the state championships this past weekend and not only did I win floor, bars, and the all around for my age group, but I qualified to the Super Team! That is above the regular 15+ team, and the scores are the top 7 all-around scores for the entire meet, regardless of age. To say the least, I’m incredibly excited to compete and to have qualified to regionals for the second year in a row.

But that’s enough about me. The starts of this post should really be these pop tarts. These delights from King Arthur Flour have been in my recipes-to-make list for awhile, but I was always intimidated by making my own crust, mostly because of the giant butter v. vegetable shortening debate. Like yeast, I was able to get over it, and I’m so glad I did. These were almost like hand pies, because of the crispy buttery-ness of the crust and the sweet fruit filling. They were basically the most gourmet pop-tarts I’ve ever had!

Homemade Pop Tarts

Ingredients:

Pastry

  • 2 cups (8 ½ ounces) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 quarter-pound sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

Cinnamon Filling

  • 1/2 cup (3 ¾ ounces) brown sugar
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
  • 4 teaspoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Fruit Filling

  • 3/4 cup jam (I used strawberry)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pecan-sized lumps of butter still visible. Mix the egg and milk, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive.
  2. Divide the dough in half; each half will weigh about 10 ounces (about 280g). Shape each half into a rough 3″ x 5″ rectangle, smoothing the edges. Roll out immediately; or wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  3. Make the filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour. If using the fruit filling, mix the jam with the cornstarch/water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.
  4. Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. Laying a 9″ x 13″ pan atop the dough will give you an idea if you’ve rolled it large enough. Trim off the edges; place the scraps on a baking sheet, and set them aside, along with the 9″ x 12″ rectangle of dough.
  5. Roll the second piece of dough just as you did the first. Press the edge of a ruler into the dough you’ve just rolled, to gently score it in thirds lengthwise and widthwise; you’ll see nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.
  6. Beat the egg, and brush it over the entire surface of the dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each marked rectangle. Place the second sheet of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around each pocket of jam, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Cut the dough evenly in between the filling mounds to make nine tarts. Press the cut edges with your fingers to seal, then press with a fork, to seal again.
  7. Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.
  8. Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it’s a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13 to 15 minutes, till they’re golden brown.
  9. Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 25 to 35 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.

Yield: 9 tarts.

What’s not to love?

-Rayna

Brown Sugar Blueberry Cookies

Well it’s official, I’m a junior in high school! School started yesterday, and we had a modified schedule so I would be able to meet all of my teachers. I’m not stranded without any of my friends in any class, so I think I’ll be alright! Also, while I’m getting adjusted to my new schedule in school, I head back to the gym this week after taking our annual week-long break. It’s a strange schedule, but next week, things should start to settle in.

I put blueberries in a cookie. Not dried blueberries- fresh, plump, juicy blueberries. In a cookie. And it was delicious. These irresistible delights from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen are like a perfectly puffy cloud cookie, and once you get a squirt of the fresh summer berries, these are irresistible. They would make a perfect, light ending to your Labor day barbecues, a perfect breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, midnight snack…the possibilities are endless! 🙂

Brown Sugar Blueberry Cookies
Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling dough

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 370 degrees and prepare 2 baking sheets. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract until fully incorporated. Add in the milk until it just comes together.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix (or else you’ll get hockey puck cookies-ew)! Fold the blueberries in gently, taking extra caution not to pop them.
  3. Take a medium sized bowl and add the 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Using a tablespoon or an ice cream scooper (or your hands), make balls of dough and roll them in the granulated sugar, then place them on a tray.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the cookie centers are set and the tops are lightly colored.

They’re almost too easy. 🙂
-Rayna 🙂

 

Brown Sugar Walnut Pound Cake

Hello again! As I’m writing this, I’m watching the most exciting sporting event of the year, the Olympics. Clearly I’m most excited about the gymnastics part, but I like watching the other sports too. 🙂 I’m planning this week around the times of the team and all-around finals, and even at the gym we’re stopping practice early on Tuesday so we could watch the team finals live! You could say my coach/gym/everyone is super excited.

This delicious pound cake from Martha Stewart has an interesting story behind it. During the end of the year in my English class, my teacher would have 3-4 students present a poem each week. However, she made it clear that she didn’t want every single student just walking up to the front of the room and reading the poem out loud- she wanted something interesting. Since my poem was titled The Black Walnut Tree, it was only appropriate that I bake a cake with walnuts in it. And let me tell you, this cake was fantastic. It was super moist and the candied walnuts added a nice crunch and a touch of sweetness. My English class loved it, and I think you will too!

Brown Sugar Walnut Pound Cake

Makes 2 9×5″ Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (3 1/4 cups) all purpose flour
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2 cups candied walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrres and prepare 2 loaf pans.
  2. In an electric mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the eggs one by one until combined. Add in the vanilla extract. Slowly add in the flour until just combined. Fold in the candied walnuts.
  3. Divide the batter into the prepared baking dishes and bake for 65 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly.

So simple, so delicious.

-Rayna 🙂

(I was experimenting with different angles in these pictures- what do you think?)

Maple Bacon Brown Sugar Scones

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope all of you are enjoying this sunny but exceedingly toasty weather! Not much has been happening over on the East coast. I’ve just been hanging out with some of my friends, swimming day and night, and of course baking. 🙂 My summer schedule for gymnastics starts up again tomorrow, and after not being in the gym for 2 weeks, I am ready to go in and work towards being a Level 9 gymnast. Okay I’ll stop blabbering now and get to these uber- delicious scones.

I hope you guys are ready for some seriously drool-worthy scones. I don’t have very much experience with scones, only trying those blueberry buttermilk ones last September. While those turned out to be a resounding success, scones just seem like a ton of work during the school year when you have hours upon hours of homework waiting for you. But I made an exception for these scones. The bacon is baked goods trend had to get to this blog somehow, and I think that these maple-glazed goodies are the perfect things. The most important thing is using good quality bacon. That’s right, I really really really would not recommend buying that nasty precooked stuff. Who knows what’s touched that bacon? So once you get yourself some (hopefully) organic, (hopefully) local bacon, you will be addicted to these scones. They are light and fluffy, not dense and heavy. They are not too too sweet, making them a perfect way to start off the week.

Maple Bacon Brown Sugar Scones: From How Sweet It Is

Makes 16 scones

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cups cold butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
  • course sugar for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. In large bowl combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until it forms coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Fold in bacon crumbles. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. Divide in half and pat into 7 inch round circles. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges.
  3. Bake at 425 for 12-14 minutes. Top with maple glaze.

Maple Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • drop of water
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Combine syrup, vanilla and powdered sugar and stir until combined. Based on the consistency of the glaze, add water one drop at a time and stir – if you accidentally add too much, just add a bit more powdered sugar. Continue to stir until desired consistency is reached. Pour over scones!

Why are you still reading this? Go bake! 🙂

-Rayna 🙂

Maple Brown Sugar Pudding Cake

One of the things that my mother encourages me to do is to make recipes from her extensive collection of cookbooks that now take up an entire bookshelf in our living room. We have cookbooks ranging from everyday vegan meals to whole grain baking to Jewish food for the holidays. Needless to say, we don’t lack for recipes in my house. When I was looking for a delicious cake to whip up for my dad’s birthday in April, I knew exactly where to look.

As you can imagine, between school, gymnastics, and viola, I don’t have too much spare time. So, when I bake, I like things to be fast and delicious, which is why I have a slight obsession with making cookies. This cake comes together so quickly, and it will absolutely blow your mind. When I first saw the recipe, I thought it was going to be something along the lines of a gooey butter cake- dense, and almost like eating batter. Boy, was I wrong. The brown sugar liquid that you pour on top of the cake batter seeps through the cake, creating a gorgeous, golden brown caramel at the bottom of the pan, while it still makes the cake irresistibly moist. If you really want to make this dessert even better, add a scoop of home made vanilla bean ice cream. Food-gasm. 🙂

Maple Brown Sugar Pudding Cake- From King Arthur Whole Grain Baking

Makes 1 9×9 cake

Ingredients: For the First Layer

  • 6 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 3/4 ounces packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 4 ounces milk
  • 2 3/4 ounces grade B maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick, 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces chopped walnuts (optional)

For the Second Layer

  • 7 1/2 ounces brown sugar
  • 3/4 ounce cornstarch
  • 14 ounces hot water

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and get an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan (don’t line/spray).
  2. For the First layer: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and brown sugar in a large bowl. Mix together the milk, syrup egg, vanilla, and melted butter in a medium bowl. Pour this mixture into the dry ingrediets, stirring evenly until moistened. Stir in the walnuts and spread the batter into the pan.
  3. For the Second layer: Combine the brown sugar and cornstarch in a bowl until thoroughly mixed. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the top of the batter. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and pour the hot waster over the batter.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes, during which the cake layer will rise to the top and the pudding layer will settle to the bottom. Remove from the oven and serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (HIGHLY recommended 😉 )

A healthy, delicious, easy cake. What’s not to love?

-Rayna 🙂

Rugelach

This cookie has a very funny story behind it. My best friend Deanna and I were hanging out in October, and while baking another item we decided it would be a good idea to make rugelach dough as well. Because of schoolwork and gymnastics and classical viola, I barely had any time to bake as it was, so certainly I couldn’t do a roll-out cookie such as rugelach! So this dough went into the freezer, and now I finally got a chance to make this traditional Jewish cookie.

Rugelach is conventionally a cream cheese dough (such as this one) and I made 2 batches- one with raspberry jam on the inside and one with a layer of brown sugar. The cream cheese dough was very good, but if it had sat overnight rather than in the freezer for a few months, I’m sure that it would have turned out even better. All in all, this was such a fun cookie to make, and they’re just too cute as well!

Rugelach- Dough from CIA Baking and Pastry

Makes about 30 cookies

I don’t feel comfortable giving you guys the recipe, but rather I encourage you to buy this spectacular book that will teach you all of the basics of becoming a spectacular baking and pastry connoisseur.

For the filling, I just used raspberry jam (you can use whatever flavor you would like!) in one batch, and I used just a thick layer of brown sugar in the other. I would add something to the brown sugar to make it adhere better next time, and probably add some sort of crunchy element (i.e. nuts).

Off to bake with my new treasure, the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book!:)

-Rayna 🙂