Happy Halloween! Pumpkin donut holes

donut-holes2I hope everyone had a great Halloween! It’s my all-time favorite holiday, and it lasts a full month in my house. I love to decorate with spooky decorations, go to haunted houses (the scarier the better), and of course cook and bake with fresh pumpkin.

This year, I searched Pinterest for new and interesting pumpkin recipes and found these baked pumpkin donut holes (by livewellbakeoften.com). They are so good! They go great dipped in your morning coffee, or as a dessert. The best part is that they are made in mini muffin pans, so they are super easy.

You can bake them ahead of time, and then dip in melted butter and roll in cinnamon and sugar the day you want to serve them.

Pumpkin donut holes (adapted from livewellbakeoften.com)
Makes about 30 donut holes
For the donuts:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
For the coating:
  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
To make the donuts:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two mini muffin pans with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, egg, milk, butter, and vanilla paste.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins so they are ¾ full. Take a knife and spread out any lumps so that the tops are smooth.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. After 5 minutes of cooling, transfer the donuts to a wire cooling rack.
To coat the donuts:
  1. When ready to coat the donuts, melt the butter and let cool.
  2. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Dip each donut into the butter and then roll into the sugar and cinnamon mixture.


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Kitty in Cookie Form

Hades-cookies1It’s been a looooong time since I’ve posted, and part of the reason is the little guy above. Our poor cat Hades had a urinary block in mid-August, and it has only gotten fully resolved recently. Turns out, he had to be hospitalized 3 times, and ended up having surgery the last time he was there (third time’s a charm, right?).

Without being too graphic, the surgery involved the removal of his male anatomy so that he will no longer get blocked if he develops urinary crystals. Poor guy had to wear a cone for 2 weeks and even though he got his stitches out yesterday, he has to wear the cone a few more days.

It’s like he’s saying, “Mom, why are you photographing my humiliation?”

Hades-cone3   He really has been a trooper through the whole process.

Hades-cone2 Hades-cone1But you know who else was awesome? Our vet and his entire staff. They made sure our Hades was well cared for, and made sure the entire ordeal was affordable for us. At one point early on, I was worried we wouldn’t be able to swing the surgery and THAT was a scary prospect. But they worked with us, so that we could have the procedure done. Hades was so close to death the third time we brought him in, but they worked fast and brought him back (which was amazing). We are so grateful.

So when Hades had his stitches out yesterday, I decided I wanted to make cookies to thank everyone. And since Hades can be difficult at times (as his name suggests), I decided to make Hades cookies so they can bite his head off!

Hades-cookies2 Hades-cookies3

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Mr. Softee ice cream cupcakes

icecream-cupcake4I can’t believe it’s been four months since my last post! Things have been so busy with the work and house…I haven’t had time to do much baking. But I did make these cupcakes last month for Father’s day, and they were a hit!

These were inspired by a tutorial I saw on Cake Central on how to make hi-hat cupcakes. They reminded me of the Mr. Softee cones, which I was first introduced to when I moved to New York. So I looked up how to make ice cream cone cupcakes, and to my surprise, you can actually pour the batter into the cone and bake it right in there for the same amount of time you would use for a cupcake liner. You can still bake them in a cupcake tin, just put one cone in each hole.

icecream-cupcake2Then you make the hi-hat frosting, freeze for 10 minutes to solidify, and dip in melted chocolate. Easy! I used red Mercken Melts so they would look like a Mr. Softee cone. Also, because my husband hates regular chocolate (weird!).

icecream-cupcake5icecream-cupcake3What is cool is that when you cut it down the middle, there is cake all the way to the bottom! The cone gets a little softer and chewy, and takes on the taste of the cake. I used my go-to recipe for vanilla buttermilk cupcakes for this one.

icecream-cupcake1The only real difficulty is how to transport these. My sister-in-law showed me some pics online of a setup where people cut holes in a foil tin and sat the cupcakes in the holes. I decided to do a variant of this, and got one of the chafing dish stands to help.

icecream-cupcake7icecream-cupcake6These are really fun to make, and also really fun to eat! Perfect for summer.

Mr. Softee cupcake frosting
For the frosting:
  • 1¼ cups white sugar
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
For the dip:
  • 1 lb red Mercken's melts (or whatever color you prefer)
  • Crisco
To make the frosting:
  1. In a stainless steel mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, sugar and cream of tartar. Whisk until foamy. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and continue whisking until the egg whites are hot (about 160 degrees F). I used a candy thermometer.
  2. Using a heavy duty mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, and the frosting has cooled to room temperature. This takes a while. I just let it go and came back occasionally to check on it.
  3. Using a piping bag and a large round tip, pipe the frosting in swirls onto the cupcakes, until they are tall & pointed on top. Place frosted cupcakes on a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before dipping them in melted chocolate.
To dip:
  1. Microwave ½ cup Mercken's melts at a time with 1 TBSP Crisco. Microwave at half power for 30 second intervals and stir until it is smooth and flows freely from the spoon.
  2. Pour melted chocolate into a tall cup, so there is enough depth for dipping. Gently hold cupcake cone upside down into the chocolate and swirl so that all the frosting is covered. Add sprinkles if you desire, while the chocolate is wet.
  3. Place cupcakes on a plate and keep in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes so the chocolate solidifies.
  4. Enjoy!
Whichever cake recipe you use, bake cupcake batter in cones for the same time as specified on the recipe. Fill cones about ⅔ full.


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Cookies for an artist

artist4Here’s another cookie post. I made these for my dental hygienist, who paints on the side and has given us some really beautiful artwork. He gave us this painting coincidentally on the same day that we put a bid in on our house.  And how it’s hanging over our fireplace.


Since he shared his art with me, I wanted to share mine with him.

These were fun to make. I used a thicker layer of royal icing for filling in the palette by using Wilton tip #3, instead of my usual #2 tip. I still used the #2 tip for outlining the palette, though. For the paints, I used  a large tip (#11 or 12 will work nicely) and full strength icing. A more detailed tutorial on how to decorate sugar cookies (and also the recipe) can be seen here.


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Twin baby boy sugar cookies

Twins1I’m really into sugar cookies lately. They are so easy to make, and then you can spend all your time decorating them in cute ways. You don’t have to worry about the structural integrity like with carved cakes, and they are easy to transport since the icing dries hard. And who doesn’t love a sugar cookie? Find me one person…I challenge you! My favorite recipe is this one, and it has never failed me.

Anyways, I made these for my friend’s baby shower, and as you can guess, she is having TWIN BOYS! Double trouble :) I can’t take full credit for the design…I found them on Pinterest. This was fairly complicated to draw on a cookie, but after a few tries, I got it.  The entire design is done with royal icing (recipe here). Start by drawing the outline with full strength royal icing, and let that dry. I used a wilton #2 tip. Then, to fill in the cookie, add just enough water to the royal icing so that it flows freely from a spoon. You still want it a thick liquid, but fluid. I also used a #2 tip for this part, because if you flood the cookie too much, you will lose the designs. So I filled in with a thin layer of blue and peach icing so you could still see the faces and polka dots. If you are really concerned, you can add some icing to the cookie (using an icing bag and tip) and then spread it around with a toothpick.

A more in-depth tutorial can be seen here.

Remember, for complicated designs, keep the pressure on the icing bag steady and move slowly and deliberately. I messed up most when I rushed. If you do mess up, you can take a thin paintbrush (that is devoted to cake decorating), dip it in water, and gently move the outline where you want it. You can also use this method to smooth down stray icing that doesn’t lay flat. But do this right away, as the icing dries fast.

Have fun, and be creative! Think of sugar cookies as your canvas and icing as your medium.


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