Recipes, sweet tooth

Brownie Shortbread Cups

These brownie shortbread cups will hit all your cravings… both buttery soft shortbread and gooey fudge brownies. You can have the best of both worlds.

These brownie shortbread bars have two layers. The bottom layer is a simple shortbread crust made from little more than butter, sugar, and flour.The crumbly cookie crust comes together in a single bowl before being patted out in a muffin pan. While the crust bakes slightly in the oven, prepare the brownie batter, you can also use your favorite brownie mix box. After baking in the oven, the cups are ready to devour. The combination of shortbread and brownies is pretty phenomenal if you ask me

Let’s get to baking!

INGREDIENTS

For the crust:

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1–1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the brownie:

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1–1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

OR

2 boxes your favorite brownie mix and the ingredients needed

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line an 8 or 9” square baking pan with parchment paper or a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Lightly grease with cooking spray and set aside.

Begin by preparing the crust. 

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and stir just until combined to crumbs. Gently press the mixture down flat into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until set. 

In the meantime, begin making the brownie filling.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, gently melt together the butter, chocolate chips, and sugar, stirring regularly to melt evenly and prevent scorching the chocolate. Once melted and smooth, set aside. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium speed with a mixer until they lighten in color and fluff up, about 2-3 minutes. Gently stir in the chocolate mixture. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, stirring just until combined. 

Pour the batter on top of the prepared shortbread and smooth. 

Increase the oven heat to 350 and bake for an additional 30-33 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out only with a couple of small brownie crumbs. Do not overbake. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely prior to slicing.

Cookies, Recipes

Melt in Your Mouth Chocolate Chip Bars

Got a sweet tooth and love chocolate? Then these chocolate chip bars are for you!

They start with my brown butter chocolate chip cookie recipe and are filled with milk chocolate and sweetened condensed milk. The brown butter and brown sugar gives a toffee-like richness to the cookie bars. And they are so easy to make in a 9×13-inch pan; no scooping or rolling needed. Just press and bake!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag of milk chocolate chips
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 4.4 ounce large milk chocolate bar, chopped 

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, about 6 minutes, until it becomes brown in color. It will foam, reduce, then foam again. Once it’s done cooking the foam is a light brown and it will dissipate after you remove it from the heat. Once it starts to brown, keep stirring so it doesn’t burn. Let sit for about 5 minutes to cool.

Pour into an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. While still hot, add both sugars and mix on low until combined. Let sit to cool for a few minutes.

While the butter mixture is cooling, combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk and set aside.

Turn the mixer on low. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing completely.  

Mix in vanilla extract. 

Add flour mixture one cup at a time to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Line a 9×13” baking pan with parchment paper for easy removal.

Press half the cookie dough in the prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the top of the bottom layer (be careful to leave about 1/4” edge around the pan, then sprinkle the chopped chocolate bar over the top. 

Press the remaining cookie dough on top of milk and chopped chocolate bar. Press with your hands to flatten. It will mostly cover but not completely cover the bottom layer.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake for about 35-45 minutes until the tops of the bars start to get golden brown. 

Cool completely before slicing into bars.

Cakes & Pies, Recipes

Strawberry & Lemon Bundt Cake

Filled with fresh strawberries!

Who doesn’t love a cold glass of strawberry lemonade on a hot day. Now think about that as a delicious slice of cake. All of the same refreshing flavors, but in cake form. Count me in!

This cake is perfect for brunch, a picnic or patio party! It is made with fresh strawberries and fresh lemon zest and a sour cream cake batter, this moist and tender strawberry cake will make your day. Guaranteed! 

I love fresh strawberries with this recipe but you can use frozen ones.  Just make sure to thaw them before using, then dry off and toss with the flour.

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 2 cups strawberries, chopped
  • 2 and ¾ cups all-purpose flour, spooned & leveled plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup full fat sour cream, room temperature

For the lemon glaze:

  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  •  1/4 cup lemon juice
  •  1 zest of one lemon
  •  1 teaspoon salted butter

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Add the strawberries and 1 tablespoon of flour to a mixing bowl and toss together until all of the strawberries are coated with the flour. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar for about 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Mix in the eggs one at a time until well combined, then mix in the vanilla. Slowly mix in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and oil.

Add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients on low speed. 

Mix in each addition until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter. 

Then add the strawberries and gently fold them into the batter until just combined.

Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan or cake pan and evenly spread it around.

Bake at 350°F for 50-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. 

Cover loosely with foil if needed for the last 5-10 minutes of baking to prevent excess browning.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then invert the cake onto the wire rack to finish cooling.

The Lemon Glaze

While the cake cools, make the glaze.

In a large microwavable measuring cup, the 4 cup capacity ones are the best, combine the sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest.

Add in the butter then microwave on high for 45 seconds.

Take out the measuring cup and whisk until smooth, making sure there are no lumps.

Let it sit for a few minutes. 

Top with the lemon glaze. 

On the Side, Recipes, Small Bites

Fresh Herb Ricotta Cheese Bread

A no yeast bread that is super quick to prepare! 

Ready in less than an hour, this Herbed Ricotta Cheese Bread is sure to become a favorite!

This quick bread is loaded with fresh herbs, ricotta cheese, and a dash of smoked paprika. 

Ricotta is a fresh, soft, Italian cheese with a small curd and a light, mild, slightly sweet flavor. In the United States, it is most commonly known as an ingredient in lasagna. I honestly love ricotta even just by itself. For this recipe, I decided to use ricotta instead of heavy cream or milk, the ricotta gives the bread a light texture that practically melts in your mouth!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
  • ½ cup green onions or scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • smoked paprika

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. 

Grate butter into the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the consistency of coarse meal.

Stir in scallions and fresh herbs. 

Add ricotta cheese, then add milk and stir until just combined.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. 

Knead 2 to 3 times, then pat dough into a 9-inch rectangle. 

Transfer bread to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops liberally with egg wash. Sprinkle top with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and smoked paprika.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bread is golden brown.

Cookies, Recipes

Chocolate Espresso Biscotti

My Meme and Papa loved Biscotti!

Do not get scared away from making these classic, twice-baked Italian cookies at home! Biscotti cookies are incredibly easy to make and can be customized with your favorite add-ins. Biscotti remind me of my grandparents, Meme and Papa. They would always dip a biscotti in their coffee. If you’ve ever had biscotti before, you already know that it’s not soft at all; instead it’s hard and crunchy. Perfect for dipping into your morning coffee or a glass of milk.  See I just gave you an excuse to eat cookies for breakfast!

Tonight, I wanted to make a cookie that I could drizzle my leftover orange chai cream cheese from my Orange Chocolate Chai Roll so I created this Chocolate Espresso Biscotti recipe.  Let me tell you, the batter was to die for! I seriously could have eaten the entire bowl! Rich in chocolate and espresso… the perfect combination! You can either drizzle the tops of these with the orange chia cream cheese, melted chocolate or just eat them as are. Honestly they are that versatile. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¾  cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • ¼  cup plus 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾  teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Espresso instant coffee, such as Café Bustelo
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾  cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. 

Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl and mixing well after each addition. 

Beat in the vanilla. 

Add the dry ingredients And stir on low speed until just combined.

Dust a work surface with cocoa powder. 

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sticky dough out onto the work surface and dust the top of the dough lightly with cocoa powder. 

Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough ball (if it’s still too sticky, dust with a bit more cocoa powder) and cut into quarters. 

Form the dough pieces into four short logs by rolling back and forth. Place the logs onto the prepared baking sheet and shape into longer logs about 3/4-inch high and 2 inches wide. 

Allow enough space for the logs to spread a few inches while they bake. 

Bake for about 30 minutes, until firm to the touch. 

Let the biscotti logs cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, or until just cool enough to touch (if you wait any longer, the biscotti will be difficult to cut); then, using a sharp knife, slice the logs on the diagonal into 3/4-inch slices (I do this right on the baking sheet). They will crumble just a bit; don’t worry about it. 

Turn the biscotti on their sides (so that the cut sides are down) and place back in the oven for 10 minutes to dry and crisp up. 

Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Once cool, drizzle with your choice or leave as is. 

Cakes & Pies, Recipes

Orange Chocolate Chai Roll

I’ve always wanted to make a swiss roll cake. Every time I watch a baking show on Food Network or my favorite show the Great British Baking Show, I’m memorized how they roll the cake and fill it with deliciousness. So when my friend Adam told me he made one, we started talking about different flavors to put together for a Christmas one. He inspired me to create my own. 

I used cocoa powder, brewed chai tea, and orange zest for the cake batter. For the filing, I used cream cheese, pumpkin spice seasoning, more zest and orange juice. 

When I sliced into the orange to add the juice, I realized I accidentally bought blood oranges at the market. I was so excited, I actually did a little dance. When my Papa and I were in Sicily, we would eat a blood orange every morning with breakfast. It was like he was sending me a little sign from heaven! 

INGREDIENTS

CAKE:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chai tea
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons juice from orange
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar to aid in rolling

FILING 

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Heavy whipping cream

INSTRUCTIONS

MAKE THE CAKE:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line (10×15”) pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

Beat eggs at high speed for 3 minutes, until frothy and dark yellow. 

Beat in sugar, tea, and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cocoa, salt, baking powder, and flour. 

Blend the dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

Spread in the prepared pan. Batter will be in a very thin layer and you will need to use a wooden spoon or spatula to spread it to all the corners of the pan. 

Bake for 10-15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done because if you lightly poke the top with your fingertip it will slightly bounce back.

While the cake is baking, set a clean kitchen towel out on a large work surface, lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of the towel. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar and cocoa powder (about ¼ cup). 

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, turn it over on the kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar and cocoa. Remove parchment paper carefully.

Working at the short end, fold the edge of the towel over the cake. Roll tightly, rolling up the cake into the towel. Let cool completely while rolled, at least one hour (or you can wrap it and chill it overnight).

MAKE THE FILING

Combine cream cheese, pumpkin pie spice, and 1 teaspoon orange zest in a medium bowl. Beat at medium speed until well mixed. 

Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream, beating well after each addition until smooth and creamy.

Gently unroll cooled cake. Spread filling over cake to 1/2 inch from all edges. 

Starting at the 10-inch side, gently roll up the cake. 

Sprinkle with additional orange zest just before serving. 

Cut into slices. 

Cookies, Recipes

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

A soft and chewy, chocolate cookie topped a chocolate mint drizzle and a sprinkling of crushed candy canes. 

Chocolate and peppermint is a popular combo, especially during the holiday months. This is another recipe that I created for my brother. He loves chocolate and peppermint! I basically took my red velvet cookie recipe that I adapted from Paula Deen, and just switched out cake box mix and the topping!

These chocolate cookies are soft, chewy, and a bit fudgy in the center. I love the addition of the peppermint flavor because it really awakens the cookie. Crushed peppermint candies make a festive, crunchy topping for these festive cookies. They are the perfect holiday cookie and  will get you in the holiday spirit ASAP. Perfect for cookie exchanges, holiday gatherings or alongside a cup of iced cold milk. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 (18 oz) box moist chocolate cake mix
  • 1 (8 oz) package room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick room temperature butter

Chocolate Drizzle 

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract 
  • 2 large candy canes, crushed

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg. 

Then beat in the vanilla extract. Beat in the cake mix. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. 

Roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls. 

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes. 

The cookies will remain soft and gooey. 

Cool completely 

Melt semi sweet chocolate in a double boiler (or in the microwave, just be careful to stir frequently so chocolate doesn’t burn) until it’s smooth.

Add peppermint extract and whisk together. 

Drizzle a dollop of semi-sweet chocolate over each cookie.

Sprinkle a few pieces of crushed candy cane on top of the chocolate cookie centers while the chocolate is still warm. Let chocolate set for 30 minutes to an hour.

Cookies, Recipes

Root Beer Float Cookies

I love finding new and interesting products on Amazon. One night I was looking through the different extracts that are out there and I came across ROOT BEER! 

Immediately my dad popped into my head, he loves root beer floats. I knew I had to order it so I could create a Root beer float cookie for him!

These cookies are soft, sweet and creamy with a buttery glaze drizzled over the top giving you that familiar root beer flavor! These cookies go great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a cold glass of milk! 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon root beer extract (found it on Amazon)
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

The glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoon root beer extract
  • 2 tablespoons hot water

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a bowl, mix together brown sugar, egg, milk and root beer extract. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. 

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients bowl, whisking to combine. I add a cup at a time.

Drop the dough by teaspoons 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. You can use a small cookie scoop or spoon. 

Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes. 

Cool completely before adding the glaze. 

For the glaze

Mix together all of the glaze ingredients in a small bowl. 

Stir until well combined. 

Using a fork, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled cookies. 

*if glaze is too thick, add another tablespoon of hot water, until you get the consistency you desire. 

Cookies, Recipes

Red Velvet Cookies

Paula Deen’s Red Velvet cookies recipe was the inspiration for this cookie. I absolutely love red velvet cake, it is my favorite! So when I watched Paula Deen make red velvet cookies out of a cake box, I fell in love! 

These cookies are the easiest cookies you will ever make! All you need is 5 simple ingredients and yes, I said a box of cake mix! And the best thing is that this recipe can be used with any cake mix for so many great flavor combinations! Wait to see my Chocolate Peppermint cookies! 

So if you are looking for a soft and tender, beautifully crackled cookie with a white chocolate drizzle, look no more!  

Ingredients

  • 1 (18 oz) box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 (8 oz) package room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick room temperature butter
  • White Chocolate Drizzle
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, melted 
  • Christmas Sprinkles

Instructions 

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. 

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth. 

Beat in the egg, Then beat in the vanilla extract.

Beat in the cake mix. 

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to firm up so that you can roll the batter into balls. 

Scoop and roll into balls. Arrange 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheets. 

The cookie dough is sticky, I like to keep a cup of water next to the bowl and dip the scoop in to help the dough from sticking.

Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. 

Bake for 12 minutes. 

Let cool on wired rack.

White Chocolate Drizzle 

While the cookies are cooling, place the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, microwave for 10 seconds.

Remove and stir then place back into the microwave for 10 seconds.

Remove and stir until completely melted. Be careful not to overcook the white chocolate!

Dip a fork or spoon into melted chocolate, and let the first large drip (to prevent a large drop) land in the bowl. Drizzle chocolate over the edges and tops of cookies. Sprinkle Christmas sprinkles immediately. Let dry for 15-25 minutes. 

This recipe was inspired and adapted from Paula Deen.

Cookies, Recipes

Italian Christmas Cookies

These cookies are soft, buttery, fluffy and melt in your mouth delicious! And as all Italian cookies are, perfect for dipping in espresso….or wine!

Most Italian cookies are often made with anise, which is a licorice flavor. Not everyone loves that flavor so for these cookies, I did a little switching around and used vanilla and almond extracts instead. If you want that traditional Italian cookie taste, add the anise either way you will love these cookies. Now the secret to these cookies is the Ricotta cheese, it makes for the moist tender cookies ever!

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon anise, optional

The Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Christmas sprinkles for topping

Instructions 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Cover a baking sheet with Parchment paper. 

Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until fluffy with the paddle attachment. 

Add in the ricotta cheese and eggs and mix until incorporated.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and powder. 

Slowly add to the wet ingredients and beat together until combined.

Scoop the dough into teaspoons and roll into a ball. Drop on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just set. 

Remove onto a wire rack to let cool.

To make the glaze:

In a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and almond extract until you get the desired consistency. I like to dip the top of the cookies in the glaze and let them set on parchment paper. Sprinkle with Christmas sprinkles immediately.