mini tagalong cheesecakes

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As many of you are aware, FH and I were assaulted by tiny Girl Scouts the other week. Despite my best efforts, I was left with a couple boxes of Tagalongs hanging out in the pantry.  

I hadn’t opened them yet because… well, I know what happens when I open a box of Girl Scout cookies (or any cookies, to be honest) and let’s just say it’s not pretty.

Those “servings” on the side of the box? Lies.

The number of servings is closer to one than the number alleged on the side of the box, and the serving size varies mainly depending on how much space is between me and my self-loathing on that day.  (Oh, I went to the gym yesterday? That’s like 10 extra cookies!)

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A question lingered a moment in my head, “Do these little monsters know what they’re doing when they chase us with cookies and look at us with their stupid doe-eyed faces? Do they!?”

Like, I can walk by a cookie display at the store without caving (usually), but walking by a small child with a sad look who is practically begging me to purchase cookies? Even worse, one that COMES TO MY DOOR WITH COOKIES AND TRIES TO GUILT ME INTO BUYING THEM?

I’m pretty sure they know what they are doing to us. Preying on the weak.

So I was left with a problem to solve – how do I open the box of cookies without immediately inhaling all of the contents and collapsing into a pile of self-loathing on the floor?

My solution? Chop up all the cookies and divide them between another bite-sized treat… Thus, the mini Tagalong cheesecake was born.

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tagalong cheesecakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 21 cheesecakes

Serving Size: 1 min icheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup peanut butter (not "all natural", I use Jif)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box Tagalongs, coarsely chopped** (or 1.5 cups mix-ins of your choice)
  • 21 whole cookies* (see note below)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees and line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each liner* (see note below)
  2. In a small bowl, gently beat eggs with vanilla extract, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl or stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add peanut butter and continue beating until incorporated.
  4. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until combined, scrape down sides of the bowl. .
  5. Drizzle in egg mixture, a bit at a time, beating until incorporated. Add sour cream and beat until combined.
  6. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl and stir in chopped cookies by hand.
  7. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake about 22 minutes, or until filling is set. Outsides should be stiff but it's ok if the centers jiggle a little when you tap the pan.
  8. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate uncovered (or they will get condensation on top) at least 4 hours or overnight.
  9. Serve with whipped cream, drizzled chocolate, and additional chopped cookies, if desired.

Notes

*For the "crust" you can use a cookie of your choice - I used a second box of Tagalongs for the first 16 and then used Oreos as needed for the rest.

**You could use 1.5 to 2 cups of any mix-ins for these cheesecakes - chopped peanut butter cups or chocolate/peanut butter chips would also be great.

I got 21 cupcakes out of this recipe, your yeild may vary depending on the depth of your cupcake tins.

With the variety of frozen cheesecakes sold in stores, I'm willing to bet that you could freeze these and thaw as needed but have yet to test this on my own.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/02/25/minitagalong-peanut-butter-cheesecake-recipe/

 tagalong cheesecake pin 0959

Oreo Overload Cupcakes

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This weekend was filled to the top with Oreos.  I made these Oreo cheesecake cupcakes for the BF’s co-workers, and then I made these cupcakes for the BF.   Well, in his honor, at least.

You see, he sent me the original inspiration for this recipe.  Oreos, in my opinion, are pretty much the most perfect cookie in existence.  The quintessential cookie.  Crisp cookie, creamy filling, and once dunked in milk it will lead your tastebuds to immediate bliss.

Immediate.

The only way to make Oreos better?  Mix them with more chocolate, more cream, and even more Oreos, for maximum Oreo consumpion.  These cupcakes have an Oreo cookie base, then chopped Oreo cookies mixed into the cake batter, Oreo crumb frosting, and the tiniest cutest little Oreo right on top.

That’s right, we have four layers of Oreo here, people.  Four!

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The only problem I had was the frosting.  This is probably the only frosting I have ever made that I would recommend chilling just a bit before using (although my kitchen tends to be a bit warmer than the average kitchen anyway).  I had much better success using a spatula to spread the frosting than I did attempting to pipe it.  This may be partly because I hand-crushed the Oreos for the frosting instead of using a food processor, so they weren’t uniformly-sized and therefor didn’t come out of my piping bag evenly.  So, using a food processor to make your crumbs may help, but the easiest fix for me was just to spread the frosting with a spatula instead.

Oreo Overload Cupcakes

Yield: 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 24 Oreo cookies, whole (I used birthday cake Oreos)
  • 12 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (I used regular)
  • 1 recipe your favorite chocolate cake - I used this one (halved), but even a box mix will do
  • For the Frosting:
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened to room temp
  • 1 (4-ounce) stick unsalted butter, softened to room temp
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 Oreo cookies, finely crushed*
  • 24 mini Oreos

Instructions

    Make your cake
  1. Preheat oven and line 24 cupcake wells with liners. Place 1 whole Oreo in the bottom of each cupcake liner.
  2. Make your cake according to directions, stirring chopped Oreos in at the end. Fill each well 2/3 full with batter and bake until done. My cake recipe took 24 minutes to bake as cupcakes. Once baked, remove from cupcake tins and cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Make your frosting
  4. Whip butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides and add vanilla extract, beating again to incorporate.
  5. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating carefully after each addition to avoid exploding powdered sugar all over your kitchen. After the last bit is mixed in, scrape down the sides and beat on medium-high until light and fluffy.
  6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the Oreo crumbs, beat again until well mixed. Allow to chill just slightly so it is easier to handle and spread on cupcakes, topping with a tiny Oreo cookie, if desired.

Notes

Using a food processor for your frosting crumbs will help to ensure you end up with a smoother, more uniform frosting. I ended up spreading my frosting with an offset spatula, glopping some on top of each cupcake and then letting it set for a bit and then came back to actually spread the frosting a later. Of course I didn't find this out until the last couple of cupcakes (that had been sitting with glopped frosting on top)...

http://wee-eats.com/2013/03/24/oreo-overload-cupcakes/

ultimate vanilla cupcakes

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Last weekend while I was on my quest for the ultimate chocolate cupcake, I discovered the ultimate vanilla cupcake. Well, I didn’t really discover it, but I did make it, from the very same blog that is trying to find the ultimate chocolate cupcake.

I thought it would be super cute to make fourth of july cupcakes… ya know, red and white cupcakes with red, white, or blue colored frostings. I’m sure it would have been very cute, except that I ended up hating the frosting recipe and having to use my leftover chocolate frosting for them. I figured I would just use independence day sprinkles instead, but couldn’t find them. My choices were quickly reduced to Valentine’s sprinkles, Christmas sprinkles, or dinosaur sprinkles… and really, who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

These really are the ultimate vanilla cupcakes. They are the perfect texture and density and chock-full of sweet, vanilla flavor. I highly recommend these to anyone looking for a reliable vanilla cupcake.

I used Cupcake Project’s “favorite chocolate frosting“, which uses cream cheese as a base. A few people thought the cream cheese flavor overpowered the chocolate, so here are some other frosting recipes:

“Ultimate” Vanilla Cupcakes

[ Printable Recipe ]

Yield: 16 cupcakes

  • 1 cup (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups (175 grams) cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) full-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon pure (not imitation) vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) whole milk
  1. In a small bowl, combine sugar and seeds from the vanilla bean.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  3. Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside. *If you’re a weirdo like me who keeps vanilla sugar in the pantry, go ahead and use that instead
  4. Using the back of a spoon, move around the bowl and apply pressure to break up any clumps of seeds and to better infuse the vanilla flavor into the sugar. Set aside.
  5. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
  7. Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you’ll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
  8. Whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth in a separate bowl.
  9. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
  10. Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until incorporated.  The batter will be very liquidy.  (Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be that way.)
  11. Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full (about ¼ to ⅓  cup of batter).
  12. Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown.  If they are not done, test again in two minutes.  If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes. (*When “done”, poking them with a toothpick should result in just a few moist crumbs sticking to it)
  13. When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and cool completely on a cooling rack.

 

[ Recipe from Cupcake Project ]

m4s0n501

chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes

strawberry chocolate cupcake 1I’m generally really bad about posting timely recipes. I make my Christmas cookies at Christmas, not before, so I don’t have anything to post about them until afterward. Apply that same thing to pretty much every holiday themed treat and there you have it.

Well, luckily for you, I was determined to get something up in time for Valentine’s Day. I hope to make this a tradition for all the holidays this year, but realistically speaking I’m guessing one, maybe two, will make it. But that won’t stop me from trying!

So, inspired by a super cute picture from Pinterest, I was determined to make these cupcakes BEFORE Valentine’s Day. The flavors are chocolate + strawberry, so I was all “aw, chocolate-covered strawberries!” I think that, technically, the chocolate would have to be on top for it to be “chocolate-covered”, but whatever.

I played with the idea of making a chocolate ganache for the top, or even placing a little chocolate-covered strawberry on top of them… all great ideas, but since I’m not getting around to posting this until the DAY BEFORE Valentine’s Day, I decided to opt for the fastest, most stress-free way possible.

So, something relatively unheard of around here – BOX mix (GASP!) – to make all of your lives easier. You can definitely whip these up in time for your Valentine sweety or to take to work (or, as I like to do, send them to work with your other half so that you’re not tempted to eat any), or if you’ve got a Little whose got no Valentine, send them off to school with a bunch of these bad boys and they’ll be sure to win over their classmates.

Some reviews I read complained about the brownie portion of these not baking all the way through. Mine baked just fine (maybe they weren’t realizing that the brownie portion would be fudgy and brownie-like?), I’m sure it could be remedied by following the “cake-like brownie” directions, or just using a chocolate cake mix instead of a brownie. I used milk chocolate brownies, because Boyfriend loves the milk chocolate, but dark chocolate or whatever your favorite is will do just fine.

I did not follow the recipe that was posted online, but instead followed the recipes on the back of my box mixes. So if you decide to use a different type of cake or brownie mix than I did, just follow the instructions on the back of the box. If you’re not a particularly big fan of strawberry cake, just use white and dye it red or pink :) If you’re super anti box mix, just use your favorite cake and brownie recipes.

Happy Valentine’s Day <3

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Cupcakes

[ Printable Recipe ]

  •           1 (19.5 ounce) “family size” package brownie mix
  •           2 eggs
  •           1/2 cup canola oil
  •           1/4 cup water
  •           1 (18.25 ounce) package strawberry cake mix
  •           1 1/3 Cups Water
  •           1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  •           3 Large Eggs
  •           1 container fluffy white frosting (or frosting of your choice)

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 36 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions, set aside.

3. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, set aside.

4. Spoon the brownie batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup 1/3 full. Spoon the cake batter over the brownie batter, until muffin cups are each 2/3 full.

(I did this one pan at a time, so that one pan was baking as I was filling the 2nd pan)

5. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, and a toothpick comes out clean – about 20 minutes.

6. Cool completely, then frost and decorate as desired. Let your other half try one for “quality control” because he (or she) just can’t wait for them to cool.

* If you decide to use a different type of cake or brownie mix than I did, just follow the instructions on the back of the box. If you’re super anti box mix, just use your favorite cake and brownie recipes.

chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

choco pb hi hat cupcakeThese types of things are generally far too involved for me… all the steps required, they’re just too much. Even BF said he was “really impressed” with me… lol ~ I love that I can impress someone just by not being lazy. Amazing, right? So hard – make cupcakes, cool cupcakes. Make frosting, pipe frosting, chill frosting. Melt chocolate, dip cupcakes, and (worst of all) clean up melted chocolate mess.

Have you ever had to clean up melted chocolate? It’s absolutely exhausting. I might be being a little bit dramatic, but still. So hard.

The allure of chocolate and peanut butter though… I had to have these. I set aside the whole day to make these. And they were so worth it. If I could inject that peanut butter frosting straight into my veins, I’d be hooked. Light and fluffy with the perfect balance of peanut butter salty-sweetness. Amazing.

These are medium fancy and super cute… and who can resist peanut butter and chocolate? Plus the novelty of a “hand-dipped” cupcake? Irresistable. Luckily this recipe only makes 10 cupcakes – so right when I was reaching the point of being ready to give up, I was done! Now I know 10 cupcakes is my limit.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

[ Printable Recipe ]

makes 10 cupcakes, active time 1 hour, total time 3 hours

  • For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Peanut Butter Buttercream:
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • For the Chocolate Coating:
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Procedures

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with 10 cupcake cups. In medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt until combined; set aside.

  2. In large bowl, whisk sugar, buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla until combined and smooth. Whisk in dry mixture until smooth. Spoon batter into cupcake cups, dividing evenly. Bake until center is just set, about 25 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely.

  3. While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the buttercream. In bowl of standing mixer, whisk sugar, egg whites, and salt until combined. Set bowl over pan of simmering water and gently whisk until mixture registers 160 degrees F on instant read thermometer. Immediately transfer to mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until mixture resembles shaving cream and is just cool. On medium speed, whip in butter, one piece at a time, until combined and creamy. Add peanut butter and vanilla and beat until smooth. Transfer buttercream to pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip.

  4. Pipe about 1/3 cup frosting onto each cupcake. Chill cupcakes in fridge until buttercream is completely firm, about 1 hour.

  5. When cupcakes have chilled, make the chocolate coating. Place chocolate and oil in a medium bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water. Gently whisk until chocolate has just melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a large mug.

  6. Holding cupcake by the bottom, carefully dip in chocolate to submerge all of the frosting. Pull up and let excess chocolate drop off for a few seconds before turning cupcake right side up. Transfer to cooling rack and repeat with remaining cupcakes. Let cupcakes rest a few minutes to allow chocolate to set and buttercream to soften before serving.

Notes:

  • When preparing buttercream, make sure the butter is soft, or it won’t easily incorporate into the buttercream.
  • If you don’t have a pastry bag or tip, fill a zip-lock bag with buttercream and then snip 1/2 inch off corner.
  • Avoid letting the bowl touch the simmering water, or it will overheat the mixture.
  • You will have leftover chocolate coating. This is purposefully done so that there is enough to easily dip each cupcake. Freeze leftovers for the next time.
  • Store the cupcakes in a cool, dry place to enjoy a creamy, soft buttercream. For continued storage, refrigerate. Before serving, allow cupcakes to come to room temperature to re-soften the buttercream.

[ adapted from serious eats ]