Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​

You may have noticed that, in recent months, I’ve gone from doing two posts a week to one. It’s not because I am not enjoying baking or blogging or anything like that. I’m just generally burnt out. I started to feel it around the holidays (every baker’s busy season), but tried to keep going until I realized that it’s okay to slow down a little bit, especially if the alternative is having a meltdown. I’m working more than ever and getting back to a more pre-pandemic level of socializing, and combining that with my natural introversion and some classic depression and anxiety led me to a bit of a breaking point.

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​

Rather than disappearing completely (which I didn’t want to do), I’ve been taking it easy on myself for the time being. It’s been good for my brain and put some joy back in this place. Though I still feel some unnecessary shame for cutting back on posting, I will say that lightening my load has resulted in what I feel is a higher quality of baked goods on here. I really want every one to be a showstopper. Today’s Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake definitely fits that bill!

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​

I mean, if the icing and decorative pieces of Oreo don’t immediately grab your attention, the chunks of cookie throughout the cake just might do it. There are 30 Oreos in the cake batter alone—we are not skimping on the cookies in this cookies & cream!

The batter for this bundt is just another variation on my favorite recipe. Why is it my favorite? Because it’s so easy to make! Simply throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix the living daylights out of them for 3 1/2 minutes, then fold in the Oreos before baking. Here, I’ve added a little sour cream for flavor, texture and to keep all the Oreo pieces from sinking to the bottom. That means you get a little Oreo in every bite!

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​

Isn’t she gorgeous? I mean, I’ve never seen an ugly bundt cake, but one with this many Oreos?! That’s showstopper material.

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​
Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake
makes one 10-cup capacity bundt

Cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
30 Oreos (regular or Double Stuf), cut into quarters

Icing & Garnish:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons whole milk
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4-6 Oreos, cut/broken into chunks

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 325F. Heavily grease a bundt pan with softened butter (or shortening) and dust with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine all ingredients except Oreos in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick. Fold in Oreos.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around all exposed edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and let cake cool completely. Cake may be made up to a day in advance; it will keep double-wrapped in plastic wrap.

Ice and garnish the cake. Place a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment. Place cake on the cooling rack.

Make the icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, and salt. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more milk by the teaspoon; if it’s too thin, add more confectioners sugar in 2 tablespoon increments. Pour over cake. Immediately scatter chopped Oreos over the top. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cake to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five. Oreo garnish will soften over time.

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn

I’ve been holding out on you.

This recipe? These pictures? They’re from last summer! I did a bunch of work ahead so I could spend time with my family in New Mexico, which was a good idea, in theory. The trouble is, I forgot to write down the finished recipe, so I had to wait until I had a spare moment to re-test it…and that didn’t happen until about two weeks ago.

What can I say? I’m busy.

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn

Please believe me when I tell you this one was worth the wait though. I mean, it’s Peanut Butter Caramel Corn. How could it possibly be anything but wonderful?!

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn

Oh yes, all the crispy, crunchy, sweet and glossy deliciousness you love about traditional caramel corn is here, but with a big punch of peanut butter. Roasted peanuts optional, but recommended.

If you’re intimidated by the idea of making your own caramel corn, fear not! The caramel coating is made with my go-to no-stir method—just toss all the ingredients together and let them do their thing. Trust me!

When it’s ready, toss the peanut butter caramel with a whole bunch of plain popcorn (and peanuts!) and bake it low and slow until it’s super glossy and your kitchen smells amazing.

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn

This recipe for Peanut Butter Caramel Corn makes a huge batch and keeps for two weeks, which is a good thing because you’re going to want to bring it everywhere. It’s a positively dreamy addition to just about any occasion. Family vacations, movie nights, picnics, beach days, cookouts, sitting around in your pajama—whatever you’ve got going on, this is *the* thing to bring. Just promise me you won’t wait a year to make it.

Peanut Butter Caramel Corn
Peanut Butter Caramel Corn
makes about 12 cups

1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil
3/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1 1/2 cups peanuts (optional)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced into 8 pieces
3 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)

Pour oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add 4-5 popcorn kernels. Heat over medium heat until kernels begin to pop. Add remaining kernels and cover with lid, leaving it a little bit ajar. Jostle constantly while popcorn pops, until pops are 2-3 seconds apart. Do not burn.

Remove pot from heat and pour popcorn into a bowl. Measure popcorn to ensure there are 12 cups. Set aside excess or pop more, as needed to meet the 12-cup requirement for this recipe. Add roasted peanuts, if using.

Preheat oven to 250F. Heavily grease two rimmed sheet pans, your largest mixing bowl, and 2 silicone spatulas with oil or non-stick spray. Put popped popcorn in the bowl. Set aside.

Without stirring or jostling, combine sugar, light corn syrup, honey, salt, butter and water in a 4-quart pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let boil 5 minutes. Do not stir. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and baking soda; be careful, mixture will bubble up violently. Whisk in peanut butter.

Pour peanut butter caramel over popcorn and use greased spatulas to toss together. Do not touch any coated pieces that fly out of the bowl—the molten sugar will burn you. Wait til they cool a bit before picking them up.

Divide coated popcorn among sheet pans. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Line a sheet pan or a surface with parchment. Pour baked popcorn on top. Let cool to room temperature. Serve.

Leftover Peanut Butter Caramel Corn will keep in a ziptop bag for up to 2 weeks. It may soften slightly on humid days.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

Have you ever had Millionaire’s Shortbread? Called “millionaire’s” because it’s so rich, it’s a popular sweet in the UK, consisting of a buttery shortbread crust layered with homemade caramel and dark chocolate. It’s as delicious as it is beautiful to look at, and one of my favorite recipes that hasn’t made it onto this blog yet…though I have a sneaking suspicion it will before the year is out.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

For now though, I’m taking the Millionaire’s Shortbread look and flavors and pushing them in an easy no-bake direction, just in time for picnic season. Instead of using a shortbread crust, I’m swapping in a layer of Rice Krispies Treats!

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

Oh, y’all, these Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats are so good! They’re super rich and delicious with an irresistible, chewy, crispy crust. And I mean, can we take a minute to admire these layers?!

Let’s take a look at each one. To start, I used my go-to Rice Krispies Treats formula. As a general rule, I use 1 tablespoon butter : 1 cup mini marshmallows : 1 cup cereal and round up as needed. I’ve doubled that formula to give the other layers a good thick base. If you like, you may use another formula (there are a zillion out there), but keep in mind that you want these Rice Krispies Treats to be sturdier than they are gooey to support all the other layers.

For the middle caramel layer, I decided to forgo the homemade caramel this time around, instead opting for a mix of melted soft caramel candies and cream. Some will sink into the nooks in the Rice Krispies Treats as it sets, while the rest will set smoothly to support the chocolate topping. Yum!

The top is the easiest layer of all three: dark chocolate and butter melted together until smooth and spread from edge to edge. Easy peasy.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

As with many no-bake treats, these are easy to make but take a fair amount of time since each layer needs to set up before the next can be added. The whole process can be done in a couple hours though (including setting time), so it’s no big deal. If you don’t have time to make these all in one go, you can take a few minutes here and there and assemble them at your leisure.

Once all the layers are set and chilled, it’s time to slice up the treats! Since these are so rich, I like to cut these pretty small (24 servings from an 8-inch pan), but do whatever makes you happy. While you need a few chills to set these treats properly, you may serve them cold or at room temperature. I like both, but am extra fond of the gooey caramel centers the room temp versions have to offer.

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats

Like I said above, I think these would be wonderful for picnics and other casual get togethers this spring. I took a batch to a meeting last week and they were *very* popular. More than one person said “I can’t believe you actually made these. They’re so good!” Just proof that you only need a tiny amount of effort for a dessert that looks and tastes like a million bucks!

Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats
Millionaire’s Rice Krispies Treats
makes one 8-inch square pan, about 24 treats

Rice Krispies Treats:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Caramel Filling:
16 ounces caramel candies (1 1/2 11-ounce bags, about 60 caramels)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Chocolate Topping:
4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Butter a 8-inch square pan. Line it with parchment, leaving overhang on at least two sides for removal. Butter again.

Make the Rice Krispies Treats. Heat a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add butter and swirl to melt. Add mini marshmallows and salt, and stir constantly until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in Rice Krispies cereal.

Transfer cereal to prepared pan. Use greased implements or hands (be careful—the mixture is hot!) to press the mixture into an even layer. Let cool completely.

Make the caramel filling. Combine caramels, heavy cream, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour caramel over the top of the Rice Krispies Treats and smooth to the edges. Let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes before transferring to the freezer for 30 minutes (or the refrigerator for 2 hours) to firm up.

Make the chocolate topping. Combine chopped chocolate and butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, just until melted. Drop chocolate over filling and use a small offset icing spatula to carefully spread it over the caramel. Let cool a few minutes before transferring to the freezer until chocolate has hardened and the bars are chilled through, about 30 minutes (or 1-2 hours in the refrigerator).

Use parchment overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Carefully remove and discard parchment. Use a lightly-greased sharp chef’s knife to slice into 24 pieces. For cleanest slices, wipe knife clean between cuts.

Treats may be served cold or at room temperature. They may be kept covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For best storage, layer them with parchment or wax paper.

Malted Milk Blondies

Malted Milk Blondies

Due to time constraints, I had to slice into these Malted Milk Blondies before they had cooled completely, so they lack the clean edges I usually go for. But perfect aesthetics aside, look at these warm, malty brown sugar blondies full of chopped malted milk balls. Aren’t they magnificent?

Malted Milk Blondies

If you’re as completely over-the-moon about malted anything as I am, these are basically flawless. In addition to the softness and chew of a great blondie, they have a depth of flavor that can only come from a hefty scoop of malted milk powder. My favorite bites are the ones that have little bits of malted milk ball candy in them! Malt on malt on malt—if you know, you know.

Malted Milk Blondies

Besides being absolutely delicious, making Malted Milk Blondies is easy as can be! The batter comes together in minutes and bakes in half an hour. When it comes out of the oven, I like to dot the top of the blondies with more chopped malted milk balls for even more malt flavor (and some cuteness).

Oh yes, malt lovers. These are for you. They’re for us.

Malted Milk Blondies
Malted Milk Blondies
makes one 8- or 9-inch pan, about 16 bars

1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup malted milk powder
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
~1 1/4 cups roughly chopped malted milk balls candy (like Whoppers), divided

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square pan and line with parchment, leaving overhang for bar-removal. Set aside.

Make the blondie base. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, and malted milk powder. Mix in egg and vanilla, followed by flour and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in 1 cup of roughly chopped malted milk balls.

Transfer the blondie batter into the prepared pan and smooth to throw edges. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (no raw batter). Let blondies cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan, then use parchment to lift them onto a cutting board. Slice with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve.

Blondies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Carrot Cream Cheese Muffins

Carrot Cream Cheese Muffins

There are two kinds of people: the ones who love carrot cake and the ones who don’t. I’m decidedly the former, as evidenced by posting two carrot recipes in a row. To those of the latter persuasion, let me say this: sorry, not sorry.

Carrot Cream Cheese Muffins

Where last week’s carrot cake was vegan and gluten-free, this week’s muffins are quite the opposite. Made with a carrot-flecked batter and filled with a little well of sweetened cream cheese, these Carrot Cream Cheese Muffins are a delightful addition to your Easter repertoire.

If these look familiar, it’s because they are…kind of. They’re inspired by some cream cheese-filled muffins Starbucks used to have (and maybe still does) that looked cute, but didn’t taste very good. These muffins, however, look cute *and* taste great. I should know—it took eight batches to get them just right!

Carrot Cream Cheese Muffins are simple to make, but require some special assembly. Once you’ve whisked up the carrot muffin batter, put 3 tablespoons in each well of a standard muffin pan. Next, pipe some sweetened cream cheese into the center of each well of batter. It’s about a heaping tablespoon of cream cheese per muffin, but since that’s impossible to measure while piping, I have a little trick. The wells are about 3/4 full before the cream cheese, so when I pipe it in, I watch for the batter to juuuuust reach the top of the well. It’s the perfect amount every time.

Carrot Cream Cheese Muffins

These muffins bake up in just about 20 minutes, getting some lift from a 425F start, then baking to perfection at 375F. The cream cheese will rise to the upper third of the muffins and expand a bit, which is a very good thing as far as I’m concerned. If you’d like a well that goes further into your muffins, bake them at 350F for 20 minutes. You should know, though, that if you go for the lower temperature, you’ll have flatter muffins.

That said, they’re delicious both ways. There’s no wrong way to get your carrot cake on, after all.

Carrot Cream Cheese Muffins
makes 12 muffins

Carrot Batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups shredded carrots, not packed (about 3 medium carrots)

Cream Cheese:
1 8-ounce brick full-fat brick-style cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, or grease well. Set aside.

Make the carrot batter. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together oil and water. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Set aside.

Fold shredded carrots into the dry ingredients. Add liquid in two installments, stirring to combine. Batter will be thick. Let batter sit 5 minutes while you prepare the cream cheese.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until it’s fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar until combined. Load mixture into a piping bag, twist to close and snip off a corner.

Assemble muffins. Put 3 tablespoons of the carrot batter into each well of the prepared muffin tin. They will be about 2/3-3/4 full. Tap pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Pipe cream cheese into the center of each well until the batter reaches the top of each well (or within 1/8-inch of the top). Wet your finger and smooth down any peaks on the cream cheese to prevent burning. Tap pan 5 times on the counter again to help the cream cheese settle.

Bake muffins 5 minutes before reducing the heat to 375F for another 15-16 minutes. Muffins are ready when a toothpick inserted in the non-cream cheese section comes out clean. Let muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or at room temperature for up to 2 days.