“Mint Thins” or Homemade Thin Mints

mint thin

It’s Girl Scout Cookie time again! Here in New York City, it’s sometimes difficult to procure a box of those delicious, delicious treats. If you’re lucky, someone in your office is the parent of a Girl Scout and you’ve got the hook-up. Otherwise, you’re left scanning the Girl Scout Cookie Finder app, hoping someone has set up shop somewhere near you.

Or… you can just make your own. The Internet is full of copy cat recipes, and countless cookbooks include pages dedicated to “Peanut Butter Patties” (Tagalongs) or “Caramel Coconut Cookies” (Samoas). Yesterday I decided to tackle the cleverly named “Mint Thin” recipe from “The Cookiepedia”.

The recipe is actually pretty easy and straightforward. I found the toughest part of baking was dealing with the sticky dough, which clung to my countertops, rolling pin and fingers with ferocious tenacity. But once the dough was wrangled into rounds, it was very easy to deal with.

The chocolate coating also had its difficulty. For starters, I had to double the recipe to coat all 48 cookies I ended up with. And secondly, the coating melts really, really fast. I suppose tempering the chocolate¬†would have been the best way to deal with it, but the recipe didn’t call for tempering and I didn’t feel like futzing with a thermometer. Using dark chocolate candy melts also would have solved the problem, but candy melts have a tendency to taste a little bit plasticky, and I didn’t want that in this particular cookie. So what did I do to solve this problem? I let the cookies firm up in the fridge in a single layer on baking sheets covered by parchment paper and once they were easily handled, I transferred them to the freezer where God intended Thin Mints/Mint Thins to live. While frozen Tagalongs are my very favorite Girl Scout delicacy, frozen Thin Mints are a close second.


If you can find a Girl Scout selling her wares, I recommend supporting her and buying a box or two. But once those are gone, you should whip these up yourself at home. You’ll feel good for having supported a worthy cause and a local girl, but you won’t go broke buying box after box!

Funfetti Cake!

Funfetti Cake

2015 appears to be the year of royal icing and cakes. This Christmas, I finally mastered the production of royal icing, which has stymied me for some time. While I’m still clumsy with it, at least I know how to make it and actually get it onto cookies now, so I plan to practice, practice, practice in the upcoming year!

Cakes, on the other hand, have always more or less cooperated with me, so this year, I plan to dedicate more time to the presentation of such cakes. My sister-in-law and her husband gifted me a class from Carlo’s Bakery¬†for Christmas, so at the end of this month, I’ll be learning how to correctly apply fondant to a cake and decorate it. The best news is that I get to bring the cake home afterwards!

So, to kick off my year of cakes and royal icing, I decided to bake this Funfetti cake I saw skulking around on Pinterest. The cake recipe is incredibly easy and I think that many different frostings would compliment it, though I went with a very simple vanilla
buttercream. The only real change I made was baking my layers in a 6-inch pan as I didn’t want to cart around a giant cake. The recipe made enough batter for the two 6-inch cake layers AND nine cupcakes. I simply popped the cupcakes in the oven at the same temperature as the cake and started checking them for doneness around 18 minutes.

The decorations on the cake featured in the recipe were very simple, but I wanted to go a little bigger. I baked the cake to take to our friends’ home for dinner, on a night that fell between that family’s father’s birthday and my husband’s, so I knew it needed to be festive to serve as a birthday cake. Additionally, our friends have three children all under 10 years of age, so I knew the sprinkles would be a hit with the kids.


That looks like a LOT of sprinkles, and it is, but it’s not as much as you might think. The cake itself requires 2/3 cup plus a tablespoon of sprinkles, so I ended up buying four little plastic containers of sprinkles and hoped that it would be enough for the cake and the decoration. I’m afraid my fear was unfounded, as I currently have two of those containers left unopened. Now I have to find another recipe to work those sprinkles into! Birthday cake ice cream, maybe?

I’m happy to report that the cake sliced beautifully and is really, really fun on the inside. I was worried that my sprinkles might settle to the bottom of the cake, but they didn’t! And the layers looked just perfect.


If you’ve got a celebration coming up, I highly recommend this recipe. You can dress it up or down as much as you want. You can leave it as two layers or cut it into four like I did. You can go nuts with sprinkles, or if you’re a better decorator than me, pipe some buttercream flowers on top for a real throwback grocery store cake look.

Stay tuned for more cake and royal icing adventures!


Mudslide Cupcakes

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It’s been way too long since I last updated, so here’s an original recipe, just like Colonel Sanders would post!

A few weeks ago, a coworker asked me to make two dozen cupcakes for him to take home to his wife. He asked for one dozen kid-friendly and one dozen “adult”. We all know what “adult” means– booze or coffee. So I set out to combine the two. I Googled a few combos until I realized the answer lay in a frozen cocktail– The Mudslide. The Mudslide typically combines Vodka, Bailey’s, Kahlua, milk, ice and occasionally chocolate syrup together. I decided to skip the vodka in my cupcakes– the flavor of vodka never comes through– and focus more on the other flavors: Chocolate, coffee, Kahlua and Bailey’s. So without further, adieu, the recipe!

Mudslide Cupcakes

Makes roughly 18 cupcakes

Kahlua Ganache Filling:

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Kahlua (or more, to taste)

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove until it’s bubbling, but not full-on boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes. Stir the chocolate and cream together until the mixture is smooth. Add the butter and the one teaspoon of Kahlua and stir until the butter is fully melted and incorporated. At this point, you can taste the filling to see if it is “Kahlua-y” enough for you. If not, feel free to add a little more, but do know that as the filling sits, the flavor will become slightly more pronounced. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until cool.

Chocolate-Coffee Cupcakes:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup brewed coffee, chilled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two muffin tins with 18 cupcake wrappers. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa in a large bowl and set it aside. In a small bowl, combine the coffee and vanilla, and set this bowl aside as well. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar one at a time, making sure the first egg is incorporated fully before adding the second. Stop and scrape down your bowl if needed. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the coffee mixture, beating after each addition. Scrape the bowl, remove the paddle attachment, and fold in the chocolate chips. Fill each cupcake wrapper about 1/4 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Be sure to check your cupcakes at the 18-minute mark for doneness as times can vary based on your oven. Once the cupcakes are done, allow them to fully cool before continuing to the next step.

Once the cupcakes are cool, use a small paring knife to remove a cone of cake from the center of each cupcake, making sure not to cut through the bottom of the cupcake. Remove the ganache from the fridge and give it a good whisk to loosen the mixture back up a bit. You want it to be about the consistency of thick frosting. Using a small spoon, place a dollop of ganache into each hollowed-out cupcake. You may very well have leftover ganache. Get creative with the leftovers. I imagine it would be very good heated up a bit and poured over ice cream.

Bailey’s Frosting:
16 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 cups (or more, if needed) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on low until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and Bailey’s and bea to combine. If the frosting looks too runny, add more powdered sugar to achieve a good spreading consistency. Transfer the frosting to another bowl, cover it and put it in the fridge. Wash out the standing mixer bowl to make the Kahlua Frosting.

Kahlua Frosting:

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 cups (or more, if needed) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons Kahlua
3 tablespoons brewed coffee, chilled

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on low until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder, Kahlua and coffee and beat to combine. If the frosting seems too runny, add enough powdered sugar to get it back to a good spreading consistency.

Now, you certainly can just spread the two frostings on your cupcakes with a butter knife or offset spatula and call it a day, but if you would like to swirl the frostings as I have, you will need a few things. I filled one small piping bag with the Bailey’s frosting and another with the Kahlua frosting without snipping the tip of either bag. I then fitted a larger bag with a piping tip. I then cut the tips off the smaller piping bags and put them side by side in the larger bag so that both ends were resting inside the piping tip. This requires a little patience and shifting, but it’s worth it in the end. Do a test pipe on a paper towel so you can be sure both frostings are coming out at once. Pipe the frostings onto your cupcakes.

I hope you enjoy these! My coworker liked them quite a bit and the extras were taken to my husband’s coworkers who were also impressed. The hidden Kahlua ganache is a nice surprise.



Milk and Cookie Shooter


By now, even my 87-year-old grandmother has heard of the Cronut, the croissant-dougnut hybrid brought to life by New York City baker Dominque Ansel. Well, a month or so ago, he was at it again, creating a Chocolate Chip Cookie Milk Shot, a shot glass made of chocolate chip cookie dough and filled with vanilla-infused milk. The idea is to sip the milk and eat the cookie bit by bit, as one might eat a taco salad or soup in a bread bowl.

The minute he heard about it, my husband wanted me to make it. Sometimes I get the impression he doesn’t realize how hard certain things are to create. Has he not seen the numerous Cookie Bowl Fails that litter the Internet? Cookie dough doesn’t necessarily want to hold a particular shape– it likes to spread and puff and do all sorts of other things that are great if you want a cookie form, but not so good if you want, say, a shot glass form.

Luckily, myriad food bloggers have taken it upon themselves to duplicate this sweet treat and the talented baker over at Wanna Come With? came up with a fantastic recipe and tutorial, which I used to create the confection in the above photo.

I didn’t tweak Wanna Come With?’s recipe at all, so I urge you to follow it if you want to create these yourself. I do recommend that whatever vessel you choose to use as a mold (Rum Baba molds worked very, very well for me), pick up at least four of them. I bought two and it took me FIVE HOURS to make 14 of these suckers. Save yourself some time and buy four.

The verdict from my husband? Well, to quote him directly, “Well, I don’t need to go get a real one because I can’t imagine it tastes any better than yours.”

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

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Don’t let anyone try to tell you that pumpkin season ends at Thanksgiving. They’re fools. It’s still technically fall for like, 10 more days, and fall is prime pumpkin season. To celebrate this fact, here is a recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, a perfect way to use up all that leftover canned pumpkin puree you bought back in October. It’s a delicious, moist bread full of chocolate chunks that’s just as good to eat for breakfast as it is for dessert.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Makes two 9×5 loaves

The Ingredients

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TSP salt
2 TSP baking soda
1 TSP baking powder
1 TSP ground cinnamon
1 TSP ground nutmeg
1 TSP ground ginger
1 TSP ground cloves
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
15 ounces canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
2/3 cup water
2 cups chocolate chip (I prefer Ghiradelli’s 60% cacao chips)

The Process:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9×5 loaf pans.

Whisk together the first eight ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the oil. Add the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and the water in alternating steps, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, whisking to combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and place them on a rack set in the middle position of your oven. Bake until a cake tester or chopstick inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean (or just with chocolate smeared on it but no bread). Now here’s the only tricky part. Baking times vary wildly on this recipe, so I would start checking the bread at 45 minutes, but be prepared for it to take longer. The loaf pictured above took a full 70 minutes to cook thoroughly in my oven.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan (careful, it’ll be hot!) and place it on a rack to finish cooling completely. Slice and enjoy! It’s especially good with a little cream cheese smeared on top, but great just on its own. Wrap any left overs in plastic wrap and they’ll hold at room temperature for a few days.

Recipe: Whiskey Apple Pie Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting


We are deep in the thick of apple season. I’ve been dining on apple pie and drinking apple cider seltzers (1/2 apple cider, 1/2 club soda) like crazy. This is the start of my favorite food season. It starts off with apple, moves into pumpkin, takes a left turn at mashed potatoes and biscuits and finally ends at cookies. What’s not to love?

I believe Whiskey Apple Pie to be my signature dish. And what better dish to introduce myself to my new coworkers than a more mobile, more easily shareable version of that pie?

Oh, yeah, I have a new job! Everyone in my department was laid off back in June. I spent a month unemployed but fortunately found a new gig pretty quickly. I worked from home for 10 weeks over the summer until finally joining other human beings back in an office. The good news is that I have sick days again! The bad news is that my day starts at 6 a.m. I’m slowly adjusting. Anyway, as I have learned, baked goods are the quickest way to make friends at a new job. I think I did pretty good with these. As soon as the word ‘whiskey’ passed my lips, people were clamoring for a cupcake. One guy told me they tasted like Christmas.

These turned out really quite delicious. You can make them non-alcoholic if you’d like, but I think it adds a really nice flavor.


Whiskey Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Makes around 18 cupcakes

The Ingredients:

For the Apple Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP baking soda
1 TSP salt
2 TSP cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 TSP vanilla
2 cups grated apples
(2 Granny Smith, 1 Fuji or comparable pairing)

For the Whiskey Apple Pie filling:
3 apples, finely chopped
(2 Granny Smith, 1 Fuji or comparable pairing)
1 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP light brown sugar
1 TSP lemon juice
1/4 TSP cinnamon
1/2 TSP cloves
1 TSP ginger
1 TSP nutmeg
2 TSP Whiskey

For the Cinnamon Frosting:
1 cup butter
at room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar
2-4 TBS milk
2 TSP vanilla extract
1 TSP cinnamon

The Process:

Make the whiskey apple pie filling first by placing the chopped apples, butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, whiskey and spices in a medium pan and cook over medium heat until the apples are tender and most of the liquid has cooked off, about eight to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool while preparing the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients– flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla and whisk. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. It will get harder and harder to stir this mixture and you may find that you need to get your hands involved and knead the dough a little bit. Don’t be concerned about how dry the batter is. Work the grated apples into the batter and you will see that the mixture moistens up nicely. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full with batter and bake for anywhere from 18 to 24 minutes. My cupcakes needed a longer bake time. Remove them from the oven when a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, use a paring knife to remove a ‘cone’ of cake from each cupcake. Fill each hole with enough pie filling to be flush with the tops of the cupcake.

Beat the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until it is light and creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and beat to combine. Add just enough milk to make the frosting easily spreadable/pipeable. Frost the cooled cupcakes.

4th of July Baked Goods

America’s birthday is once again upon us. The weather seems a little unstable out here in Brooklyn. My dream of seeing the Macy’s fireworks show may be dashed again.

If the weather is threatening to rain on your parade, here are some 4th of July baked goods you can whip up to celebrate indoors.

Stars in Your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie

Nothing is more American than apple pie, so try your hand at the Stars in your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie. It’s one of my favorites.

Marzipan star

If you have a vegan in your life, you could try the Red, White and Blue cupcakes I made a couple summers back. They have marbled interiors and cute marzipan decorations on top.

Googling “Fourth of July” baked goods will bring you many results, but here are a few of my favorite from around the Web.

The Busty Baker’s Red, White and Blue Cake is gorgeous…

as are her Firework Sugar Cookies.

There’s the classic Berry Flag Cake.

This one’s been making the rounds on Pinterest in various forms: Red, White and Blue layered drinks.

I hope these links have given you some ideas for your own Fourth of July yummies. Have a great holiday, don’t forget the sunscreen (or umbrella) and Happy Birthday, America!