Most Popular Recipes of 2016

Hello! I hope you’ve been enjoying this holiday week with your family and friends. I am still in Texas for another week, but I certainly haven’t been on vacation. This week, my little sister and I catered a birthday party for one of my favorite readers (hi Robyn!), and then I had a little pop-up sale for all my hometown friends. I made Peanut Butter Blossoms, Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Malted Whoppers Cookies, and Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars–we sold out after two hours! It was so much fun to see people from all parts of my life in Texas: high school, college, church, and summer camp. I am so humbled by and appreciative of their support.

I’ll be putting those pop-up sale recipes on here in 2017, but first, let’s take a look back on this past year. 2016 has not been my favorite year on record, but one thing is certain: I have eaten well. From what I can tell from this site’s analytics, you have too! These were the most-viewed recipes on E2 Bakes this year.

10a. Enchiladas Suizas

Most Popular Recipes of 2016If I could write a love letter to a food item, it would be these Enchiladas Suizas. Filled with chicken and Monterey Jack cheese and smothered in a tangy tomatillo-sour cream sauce, they’re nearly as good as those from my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. The batch can be doubled or tripled easily (heck, I quintupled it for my catering gig this week), and it makes excellent leftovers.

10b. Winning Hearts & Minds Cake {Grain-Free}

Most Popular Recipes of 2016I fell in love with this recipe when I saw it on Orangette a few years ago. Molly Wizenberg is a genius when it comes to simple recipes that are also rustic, elegant, and delicious. This Winning Hearts & Minds Cake comes together in minutes. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles beyond being supremely chocolaty, and is a wonderful dessert for dinner parties and lazy nights in alike.

9. Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies

Most Popular Recipes of 2016Who doesn’t love oatmeal chocolate chip cookies?! Chock full of oats, brown sugar, and chocolate, they’re a classic. Cream cheese is subbed for half the butter in my recipe, making these cookies extra chewy and lower in fat than others, but you wouldn’t know it from the flavor.

8. Banana Pudding Cookies

Most Popular Recipes of 2016After trying the Banana Pudding Pudgies at Evelyn’s Kitchen a few years ago, I became obsessed with figuring out how to make my own. After more than a year, these are the result. And, oh, are they good. Super soft and chewy and tasting just like banana pudding, this is one of my favorite recipes on this blog.

7. Coconut Oil Biscuits

Most Popular Recipes of 2016I grew up eating my grandmother’s Buttermilk Biscuits, and until recently, would have insisted that they were the only way to go. After trying these Coconut Oil Biscuits though, I can safely say I was wrong. I love the delicate balance of savory biscuit and coconut flavor, but my favorite thing about these biscuits is that I can make them for my vegan friends 😊

6. Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Most Popular Recipes of 2016Puff Pancakes are my absolute favorite weekend breakfast. The batter comes together in the blender before baking in the oven. The pancake puffs up and turns golden as it bakes, becoming custard-like in the center and chewy at the edges. It can be dolled up any way you please–I prefer maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar, and salt. If I’m feeling fancy though, I go for this Caramel Apple version.

5. Vanilla Layer Cake

Most Popular Recipes of 2016If you have a good vanilla cake recipe, you can use it as a base for any cake you like. I spent years developing this recipe, and I am totally in love with it. Moist, buttery, and incredibly delicious, this Vanilla Layer Cake is a staple in my repertoire.

4. Carrot Cake Blondies

Most Popular Recipes of 2016You know that feeling when you want cake, but don’t want to make a cake? This is the recipe for that moment. Carrot Cake Blondies have all the flavors of the classic cake, but are almost no trouble at all. My favorite thing about this recipe? There’s nearly as much cream cheese frosting as there is blondie 💕💕

3. Everyday Cassoulet

Most Popular Recipes of 2016Everyday Cassoulet is my favorite weeknight meal. It’s a super easy one-pan meal that is much more than the sum of its parts. Double the recipe–you’re going to want leftovers.

2. Marzipan Bundt Cake

Most Popular Recipes of 2016This cake came to be when I needed to use up a can of Marzipan that kept falling out of my cookie add-ins cabinet, and it’s so much more than I had anticipated! This is a simple tight-crumbed bundt cake with a huge almond flavor! Drizzled with vanilla glaze and paired with a cup of coffee, it’s a great dessert for any occasion.

1. No-Churn Banana Pudding Ice Cream

Most Popular Recipes of 2016You guys sure do love banana pudding! I am almost in shock that this is my most popular recipe of the year. No-Churn Banana Pudding Ice Cream is my most re-pinned recipe, and I get why. The creamy base, mashed banana, and crushed vanilla wafers make this ice cream absolutely delicious. I know it’s winter and all, but this ice cream would make a good dessert any day of the year.

Have you made any of these recipes? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram.

Thank you for reading this year–I can’t wait to bake more in 2017! Happy New Year 🎉

Christmas Cookie Round-Up

Merry almost-Christmas, y’all! Have you been baking up a storm leading up to the 25th? I have (clearly), and I still have a few more things I’d like to make before the holidays are over, but since I’m not in my usual corner of the universe, we’ll see if it actually happens.

Family has a way of distracting me from my work, which is probably a good thing, so I don’t have a recipe for you today. Instead, I’ve picked some Christmas cookie recipes from my archives to give you a little last minute inspiration.

Eggnog Sandwich Cookies

Christmas Cookie Round-UpY’all know I love a sandwich cookie–there are tons of them in my archives. These Eggnog Sandwich Cookies are soft on the outside and held together with a cinnamon and nutmeg-scented creme filling. I can’t stand eggnog in its traditional form, but I can destroy a stack of these.

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

Christmas Cookie Round-UpThese are the perfect cookie for the coffee-lover in your life. The cookie itself is a simple no-chill chocolate roll-out that has been spiked with espresso powder. The cookies have a spectacular mocha flavor on their own, but they really sing with a white chocolate dip and a sprinkle of peppermint candy.

Chocolate Crinkles {Gluten-Free}

Christmas Cookie Round-UpChocolate Crinkles are a classic Christmas cookie, and mine just happen to be gluten-free! Three doses of chocolate and no need for unusual flours!

Oreo-Stuffed Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies

Christmas Cookie Round-UpEveryone loves Oreos–they really cannot be improved upon…unless you wrap them in peppermint candy-studded cookie dough. I could say more, but I don’t think I need to convince you to make these.

Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies

Christmas Cookie Round-UpLeonard Farm Chocolate-Covered Pecans are a family Christmas tradition. Crunchy and coated in milk chocolate, they’re perfect on their own. But they’re also spectacular folded into cookie dough and stuffed with salted caramel (what isn’t?!). If you are in Brooklyn and looking for chocolate-covered pecans, Sahadi’s carries a dark chocolate version. Chocolate-covered almonds would be good here, too!

Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles

Christmas Cookie Round-UpThese soft and chewy red velvet cookies are spiked with peppermint extract and then rolled in pulverized peppermint candy. The chocolate-vanilla flavor of red velvet is only improved with that glass-like coating of starlight peppermints! And of course, who wouldn’t love that festive red color?!

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons

Christmas Cookie Round-UpGingerbread Men are one of my favorite Christmas cookies ever. While many bakers prefer to ice them with royal icing, my favorite hometown bakery favors three simple chocolate buttons. I’m hoping to make it there while I’m in town, but if I don’t, I can make my own version at home.

Are you making any of these recipes or any of my other holiday treats this year? Let me know! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday ❤🎄💚

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue PieFor the next three weeks, I feel like I should call this blog E2 Bakes Fort Worth. I’m in town for the holidays and a family event during the first week of January. Three weeks of family time may seem like an eternity to some, but I think it’ll go by in a flash. When my immediate family and I get together, we just *click.* Everything is more fun with my parents and sisters around. Oh, and I can’t forget about our trusty schnauzer.

We used to do the big family Christmas every year, but these days, we prefer a quieter holiday. We cook and decorate and play Dominoes–it doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the best.

Lemon Meringue PieSince we aren’t expecting any company this year, we don’t have to make any specific holiday menu. The plan is to make a lamb pot pie, and I’m hoping to make pots de creme for dessert, but we’ll see. That’s the great thing about Christmas being “just us.” We can make those things…or not. There are no expectations beyond an ear-splitting rendition of “O Holy Night,” and my mom’s all-citrus fruit salad.

But there is something to be said for traditions. I do not come from a family of bakers, aside from my grandmother, Nonnie. She would have been 98 this past Sunday. Nonnie made the best Buttermilk Biscuits and chocolate cake I’ve ever had, but she had much more than those two items in her baking repertoire.

When we were young and she was in good health, she would come over on Christmas Day with boxes and boxes of homemade desserts. Many of them were made up on the fly, using up ingredients she found around her little house. There were strawberry cakes and chocolate cream pies, and I recall one Christmas where my mom allowed us to eat her apple cake for breakfast for days. No two years were exactly alike, save for one item: Lemon Meringue Pie. I don’t remember her ever making one for another occasion.

Lemon Meringue PieLemon Meringue PieLemon Meringue PieWhile Lemon Meringue Pie may not say Christmas to you, it does to my family and me. The flaky crust, lemony base, and airy topping bring back memories of our childhoods. While I was baking this pie yesterday afternoon, my dad stopped in for a few minutes. Instead of remarking at the horrific mess the kitchen had become, he looked at me and said “This brings back memories of being in my mother’s kitchen.” That’s probably the highest compliment he could give me.

Lemon Meringue PieLooking for more holiday recipes? You’ve come to the right place! Check out my Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles, Iced Sugar Cookies, Pear & Cranberry Torte, Eggnog Bundt Cake, Gingersnaps, Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms, and Chai Shortbread Snowballs. For food gifting, try my Hot Chocolate Mix, Brownie Mix, or pair these Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread with a box of tea.

Lemon Meringue Pie
makes one 9-inch pie

1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough (or other good crust)

Meringue:
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large egg whites, room temperature

Filling:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
5 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425F.

Roll pie crust to 12-inch diameter. Fit it in a standard pie plate, trim the overhang to 1-inch, and crimp. Line the inside of the unbaked pie crust with parchment (or non-heavy duty foil). Fill with pie weights (or dried beans). Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully lift out parchment and weights. Bake an additional 10-12 minutes. Set crust aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325F.

Make the meringue. In a small bowl, use a fork to combine cream of tartar and sugar. Set aside.

In a separate small bowl, use a fork to whisk together cornstarch, water, and vanilla.

Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat them on medium-high for 1-2 minutes, until frothy. Add sugar mixture one tablespoon at a time, beating until completely incorporated. Add cornstarch mixture one tablespoon at a time, until combined. Continue beating on medium speed until egg whites form stiff peaks. Set aside.

Make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to beat egg yolks. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in water. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens. Whisking constantly, pour 1/3 cup of the mixture into the egg yolks. Whisking constantly, add egg yolk mixture to the pan. Stir in lemon zest, followed by lemon juice and vanilla. Let simmer for 1 additional minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter. Push filling through a sieve to remove any lumps.

Pour hot filling into prepared crust. Drop spoonfuls of meringue over the top of the filling, and use the back of the spoon to spread it out. Bake 20 minutes, until meringue is lightly browned. Let pie cool completely on a rack before slicing and serving.

Lemon Meringue Pie is best served the day it’s made.

Brownie Mix {Easy Gift Idea}

Brownie MixChristmas is five days away! How did this happen? Where did the last three weeks go? As you read this, I am either on a plane or in Texas…unless you’re reading this before 4:15am, in which case, I am frantically running around my apartment, probably making more noise than is appropriate.

Have you finished all your Christmas shopping? Are you one of those people who has all the gifts under the tree by December 15th? I definitely am not. Nope. I am not quite a Christmas Eve shopper, but I definitely procrastinate.

Brownie MixTake this blog post, for instance. I had plans to do a post about baking with small children, but when I went to prepare everything, I realized it just wasn’t going to happen. Enter my best friend, Emily. She is something I am not: logical. She texted to ask if my Cocoa Brownies were an appropriate teacher gift. They’re quick, easy, and super fudgy and delicious–perfect gift for teachers, coworkers, or anyone who makes your life simpler. But again, it’s five days before Christmas. There is no time to make ten batches of brownies.

Brownie MixSo today, let’s take the work out of making brownies. Let’s keep the oven and stove off. Let’s not even break out a whisk. Nope. Let’s make brownie mix. Just layer all the dry ingredients that go into my Cocoa Brownies into a quart mason jar, top them off with chocolate chips (and pecans, if that’s your style), and screw on the lid. Tie on a ribbon and a little note with instructions for assembly, and voilà! Another gift done, and it only took five minutes! And it makes you look like Martha Stewart! Mason jars are magical like that.Brownie Mix

Looking for more easy food gifts? Check out this Hot Chocolate Mix, or pair these Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread with a box of tea.

Brownie Mix
makes 1 quart mason jar

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (or more chocolate chips)

In a quart-sized mason jar, layer ingredients in the order in which they are listed (i.e. Granulated sugar will be in the bottom of the jar). Tamp down each layer with a long-handled spoon. Screw on lid.

To make Cocoa Brownies:

1 jar Brownie Mix
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, cold, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter. Set aside.

Pour brownie mix into a large mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients together. Use a silicone spatula to stir in melted butter followed by beaten eggs and vanilla. Spread brownie batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Slice and serve.

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}Christmas is just nine days away, y’all, and the spirit is real. We have a HUGE real tree in the living room, I have a six-foot fake tree in my bedroom, and my workspace has been adorned with a garland and my beloved Snoopy lights ❤️💚🎄💚❤️

It is freezing cold and I still have tons to do before I hop a flight to Texas on Tuesday, but I am totally loving every minute. Even the all-nighter I pulled earlier this month. (I subsequently learned that 31 is waaaaay too old to pull an all-nighter.)

On Wednesday, I posted an Iced Sugar Cookie recipe that is super time-consuming. Totally worth the effort, but still. The time I allocated for long, intricate recipes has now officially come and gone. So today, let’s take it easy. Not that easy means plain or boring. Oh, no. Today, it means a no-bake, five-ingredient, accidentally vegan, gluten-free recipe that is still classy, decadent, and perfect for gifting and entertaining. I’m talking about Salted Marzipan Truffles, y’all!

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}I’m no chocolatier, but I have to say that these truffles kind of make me look like one. Packaged marzipan (in the baking aisle) is scooped by the 1/2 tablespoon, rolled into balls, dipped in chocolate, and sprinkled with finishing salt. When you bite into one of these truffles, the flavor comes in three waves:

  1. Deep, dark chocolate flavor.
  2. A salty punch.
  3. Sweet, almond-y marzipan. Yes.

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}If, like me, you are not much of a candy-maker, working with melted chocolate can be intimidating. I have never successfully tempered chocolate (or even tried, really). Nine days before Christmas is *not* the time for me to try to master a new skill. Nope.

So, I take a little shortcut. I melt chopped dark chocolate in the microwave and stir in two secret ingredients. First, 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil. Since coconut oil solidifies at 76F, this will allow our chocolate to harden more easily than if it were left to its own devices. If you don’t like coconut, don’t worry! This tiny amount of oil does not change the flavor of the chocolate. If you really don’t want to use it, feel free to sub non-hydrogenated shortening.

The second secret ingredient? Corn syrup. Just 1 teaspoon adds gloss to our chocolate, leaving just a bit of sheen on the matte surface of the finished truffles. The corn syrup you see in stores is NOT the same as high-fructose corn syrup, but if you don’t wish to use it, you may sub in 1 teaspoon of Lyle’s Golden Syrup or mild honey (if you’re not vegan).

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}The dipping chocolate will be shiny, smooth, and luxurious. Working with one ball of marzipan at a time, drop it into the melted chocolate. Move it around with a fork to coat. Briefly drain it by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl, and gently roll it onto the wax paper. Then, sprinkle on a pinch of finishing salt. That’s the whole process. Repeat it approximately 23-24 more times before freezing all the truffles for fifteen minutes.

That is literally the entire recipe. If you’re a fast roller and dipper, you can go from ingredients to truffles in 45 minutes or less. I have every intention of putting these out at a holiday party I’m catering tonight, but I also think they’d make adorable gifts packed into decorative Chinese takeout boxes.Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Five-Ingredient Salted Marzipan Truffles {Accidentally Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 2 dozen truffles

1 11-ounce can marzipan*
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped*
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons large-flake finishing salt (I use Trader Joe’s Cypriot Pyramid Salt)

Special Equipment:
microwave-safe bowl (or double boiler)
wax paper
baking sheet or plate (must fit in freezer)

Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

Scoop marzipan by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons), roll into balls, and set on prepared pan.

Place chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir with a fork. Add coconut oil. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Stir in corn syrup.

To dip, drop one ball of marzipan into the melted chocolate. Use a fork to coat marzipan in chocolate. Drain briefly by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl. Use the fork to gently lay the truffle on the prepared pan. Immediately top with a pinch of finishing salt. Continue this process until all truffles are coated and salted.

Place baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes, until chocolate has solidified. Serve.

Truffles will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Re-salt as necessary by lightly moistening the tops with water and sprinkling with salt. Allow to dry before serving.

Notes:

1. If you are vegan, make sure the ingredients on the marzipan do not include egg whites.
2. If you are vegan, make sure your chocolate is certified vegan.