Category Archives: Holiday

Chocolate Macaroon Tart

Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}I had no intention of making a third (or fourth?) Easter dessert, but then I discovered macaroon crust on Pinterest and, well, here we are talking about a Chocolate Macaroon Tart.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}So, what’s so special about a macaroon crust? For one, it’s basically a big chewy, crisp-edged coconut macaroon cookie that you can bake and fill with whatever no-bake filling you like.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}There is no “for two.” It’s that simple.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Now, there are many ways to make a macaroon crust. Some have flour, some contain egg whites. I looked at a few options before realizing that it would probably work with just two ingredients: sweetened flaked coconut and sweetened condensed milk.

Oh, and salt. Can’t forget the salt.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}I folded the ingredients together and pressed the mixture into a heavily-greased springform or tart pan.*

*I think the only piece of baking equipment that I don’t have is a tart pan, which is probably why there have not been many tarts on here. Feel free to use whatever you have.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Half an hour later, it was toasty at the edges and light-golden in the center.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}I filled it with chocolate ganache and let it set up in the fridge before slicing.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}(I also gave it a few swipes with the back of a hot spoon for some rustic glossiness and because I am a control freak.)Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Who knew five Ingredients and no grains could make something this irresistible?! Silky chocolate ganache filling + toasty coconut crust 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}It’s like eating a chocolate-coconut candy bar…but classier because it’s a tart. We all know how much classiness matters when you’re sneaking cold wedges of Chocolate Macaroon Tart out of the fridge after your bedtime. Not that I’ve ever done that. Twice. On the same night.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Happy Easter to those celebrating! Chag sameach to those observing Passover! And if you’re not celebrating/observing anything, have a great weekend anyway.

Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}
makes one 9- or 10-inch tart, about 12 servings

Macaroon Crust:
1 14-ounce package sweetened flaked coconut
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Ganache Filling:
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9- or 10- inch tart pan or springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again.

Make the crust. Combine sweetened flaked coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold together until combined. It will be thick.

Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Lightly grease your hands before pressing mixture onto the bottom and up the sides. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until edges are browned and center is turning pale golden. Remove to a rack and cool completely.

Make ganache filling. Place chopped chocolate in a large measuring cup or heatproof mixing bowl. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is steaming and bubbles are forming at the edge.

Pour warm cream over chopped chocolate. Do not stir. Cover bowl with a lid or aluminum foil for 5 minutes. Remove lid/foil. Use a fork to stir until chocolate and cream are combined and smooth. Pour into crust. Tap a few times to release air bubbles. Let tart sit at room temperature until filling is set (a couple of hours), or chill uncovered in the refrigerator. Remove tart from the fridge at least 15-20 minutes before running a thin, flexible knife around the edge and releasing from the pan.

Slice into thin wedges and serve. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}

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Carrot Cake Petit Fours

Carrot Cake Petit FoursJust in case you thought I had this baking thing figured out, know that these far-from-picture-perfect Carrot Cake Petit Fours were the fourth test batch and by far the least hideous.Carrot Cake Petit FoursPart of me wants to try again, but it’s not a good part. As a rule, any part of you that can feel utterly demoralized by cake (!) doesn’t deserve too much of your attention. Or maybe it deserves all of your attention? Maybe it should to go to therapy…?

As another rule, you should not take mental health advice from food blogs.Carrot Cake Petit FoursSo, uh, back to Carrot Cake Petit Fours. These sweet little squares are basically miniature layer cakes. They’re super cute and delicious, and just the right amount of cake so that you don’t feel any guilt about going back for seconds. I can eat one in about three bites—four, if I’m being ladylike. <—But why start now?!Carrot Cake Petit FoursTraditional white almond petit fours are my family’s Easter dessert of choice, so I have been trying my hand at these little cakes for the last couple of years in an effort to recapture my youth. Last year, I went for Funfetti. This year, I’m combining my family’s favorite with an Easter classic: Carrot Cake!Carrot Cake Petit FoursNow, I’ve learned a lot of things in these efforts, chief among them that petit fours are a pain in the ass labor of love. There are many steps to making them and one is applying poured fondant. They take a minimum of 2.5 hours to assemble, and that’s after you’ve baked and chilled a sheet cake. There are SO MANY dishes. So many.

I wouldn’t even bother, except that each batch—even batch 3, after which I swore I was giving up until next Easter and was so deflated that I had to leave work early to go home and go to bed—has sent me down Childhood Easter Memory Lane. And so, I trudge on with the hope that I will one day make flawless petit fours.Carrot Cake Petit FoursAlas, today is not that day. But I’ll be the first to tell you that while my poured fondant skills leave something to be desired, my carrot cake game is strong 💪 Flavored with dark brown sugar and warming spices, and studded with the perfect amount of shredded carrots, this cake is seriously phenomenal. And it should be—it’s a streamlined version of my favorite carrot layer cake. Since the batch is 3/4 of the original recipe, I’ve adjusted the volumes of the sugars and slightly reduced the oil. Nothing major; just some tacked-on tablespoons that were bothering me.

You’ll also notice that I left out the raisins and pecans. I usually like those in carrot cake, but figured all the slicing, frosting, and decorating petit fours require would be made easier without any variance in texture.Carrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursAs for assembly, the cake is baked and chilled before being torted (sliced in half equatorially to produce two thin layers) and filled with my favorite fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting. I don’t usually like to say that any of my recipes are the “best ever,” but I make an exception for my Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s the best ever.Carrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursAfter being stacked back together, the cake is trimmed to remove any crispy or uneven edges. Then the remaining cake is sliced into 1 1/2-inch squares. Those are crumb-coated (lightly frosted), and then the real fun starts.Carrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursPetit fours are traditionally coated in poured fondant for a clean finish. Easier said than done! The good news is that poured fondant is mercifully quick and easy to make—just some melting and whisking over a double boiler. The less good news is that I tried three different methods of applying it to the cake and the best is a squeeze bottle. It allows for the most control, with spooning/spreading coming in as the best alternative. Dipping is a big no for these—crumb city. As I said before, this is a pain in the ass labor of love.Carrot Cake Petit FoursBut when all is said and done and decorated with little piped carrots, it’s totally worth it. The moist carrot cake, cream cheese frosting, and even the poured fondant assembly—totally worth it. Because they are just that delicious and that frigging cute, imperfections and all.Carrot Cake Petit Fours

Carrot Cake Petit Fours
makes about 2.5 dozen petit fours

Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 cups coarsely grated carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Poured Fondant:
2/3 cup hot tap water
2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups white chocolate chips (a little more than a 12 ounce bag)
2 lbs confectioners sugar

For Decoration:
1/2 cup Cream Cheese Frosting
orange food coloring (or red and yellow)
green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch cake pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for easy removal. Grease again. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients in two installments. Use a silicone spatula to fold in carrots.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread to edges. Tap full pan on the counter 5 times to release air bubbles. Bake for 33-37 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Use a thin, flexible knife to release cake, and then use overhang to lift it onto a rack. Allow to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Once combined, beat on high for two additional minutes, until light and fluffy. Set 1/2 cup of frosting aside.

When you are ready to assemble, line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment. Top each with a cooling rack. Set aside.

Line a cutting board with parchment. Remove cake from refrigerator, unwrap and place on cutting board. Use a serrated knife to even the top of the cake. Torte cake (slice into 2 very thin layers). Remove top thin layer so you can frost the bottom thin layer. Return the top thin layer to cover the frosting. Crumb coat (lightly frost) the top.

Use serrated knife to trim off crispy cake edges (about 1/4-inch on all sides). Slice cake into 1 1/2-inch squares.

Use an offset icing knife to crumb coat squares on all exposed sides. Place on prepared racks/pans.

Make poured fondant. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together hot water, light corn syrup, and vanilla.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

Place white chocolate chips in the heatproof bowl. When water simmers, place bowl back over the water. Whisk until melted. Alternate adding confectioners sugar and liquid ingredients, whisking constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes (it works best around 100F).

Use a funnel to fill a squeeze bottle with poured fondant.

Working quickly, use squeeze bottle to cover the the top and sides of each square. Use an offset icing knife to adjust sides as necessary. Re-warm poured fondant as needed (I like 8-10 second bursts in the microwave). This may be done with a spoon as well, although a squeeze bottle is simpler. Let poured fondant set for at least an hour.

Divide reserved frosting into 2 small bowls. Tint one with orange food coloring and the other with green. Pipe carrots (instructional video here), if desired. Serve.

Leftover petit fours will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.Carrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit FoursCarrot Cake Petit Fours

Easter Basket Thumbprints

Easter Basket ThumbprintsIf you’re looking for something easy and adorable to contribute to this year’s Easter desserts spread, your search is over.Easter Basket ThumbprintsEaster Basket Thumbprints are just as festive as my Easter Egg Hunt Cake and only 1/4 of the work! Who can resist their pastel cuteness?! Not this lady.Easter Basket ThumbprintsThis recipe is simply an Eastered-up take on the Holiday Icing Thumbprints I posted last Christmas. They are meant to resemble little two-bite Easter baskets 🙂 Easter Basket ThumbprintsThey are simple to make, too. I don’t have children, but I definitely would have made these with my older kids back in my nanny days.Easter Basket ThumbprintsEaster Basket ThumbprintsEaster Basket ThumbprintsThe sugar cookie dough bases are rolled in pastel sparkling sugar for color and texture (crispy edges!) before baking.Easter Basket ThumbprintsThen, immediately after baking, a well is pressed into the center of each cookie. These are the “thumbprints,” even though they’re made with the back of a 1/2 teaspoon. They’re filled with green icing…Easter Basket ThumbprintsEaster Basket Thumbprintsand topped with some coconut “Easter grass.”Easter Basket ThumbprintsEaster Basket ThumbprintsDot on a little extra icing and finish your cookies with a couple of Easter egg candies. I went with these candy-coated malted milk balls. Let’s not discuss how many I ate during this little photoshoot.Easter Basket ThumbprintsOr how many of these cheerful Easter Basket Thumbprints I ate in the days that followed.Easter Basket ThumbprintsNo regrets.Easter Basket Thumbprints

Easter Basket Thumbprints
makes about 3.5 dozen cookies

Cookie Dough:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 oz (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)

For Sugar Coating:
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1-2 drops each pink, blue, and yellow food colorings (liquid or gel)

Coconut:
1 cup flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
3-5 drops green food coloring (preferably liquid)

Icing & Garnish:
1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, divided
2-3 tablespoons (6-9 teaspoons) milk
2-3 drops green food coloring (liquid or gel)
1 package Easter egg candies (I like Whoppers Mini Robin Eggs)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg, vanilla, and peppermint extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Make the sugar coating. Place 1/4 cup granulated sugar in each of 3 small bowls. Add 1 drop food coloring to each bowl (I used pink, blue, and yellow) and use a fork to stir in the color. If you use gel coloring, you may need a drop of water to ease the color onto the sugar. Add another drop of food coloring, if needed to reach desired color.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll each into a ball. Roll balls in colored sugar before placing at least 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Use the back of a very small spoon (like a 1/2 teaspoon) to slowly press a well into each dough ball. They may crack a bit—this is okay.

Bake cookies 12-13 minutes. Cookies are done when puffed and no longer raw-looking. When you remove the cookies from the oven, press the back of the small spoon into the centers again. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, coating, and baking process with all remaining dough, letting the cookie sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Dye the coconut. Place flaked coconut in a small bowl and add 3 drops green food coloring. Use a fork (or your fingers) to distribute the dye evenly. Add another drop or 2 of coloring, as needed to achieve desired color.

Make the icing. Place confectioners sugar in a small bowl. Stir 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons) of milk into each bowl. Add 2-3 drops green food coloring and whisk with a fork until combined. Add more milk by the 1/2 teaspoon until icing is very thick, but pourable.

Transfer icing to a piping bag (or ziptop sandwich bag), twist it tight and snip off a very small corner. Fill wells in cookies as desired. Sprinkle/press on coconut.

Add a drop of icing to each cookie to adhere Easter egg candies.

Icing will set over time. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days. Place wax paper between layers for easiest storage.Easter Basket Thumbprints Easter Basket Thumbprints

Friday Favorites: Easter

Easter is just a couple of weeks away! I’ve got some festive new recipes coming up next week, but if you’re looking to plan ahead, why not try one of these treats from the archives?Friday Favorites: Easter
Hot Cross Buns

These are technically a Good Friday treat, but this blog has no feelings about liturgical specificity, okay? Okay. No matter when you choose to partake in Hot Cross Buns over the Easter weekend, you’re sure to love these spiced, iced, raisin-studded buns 💗 Friday Favorites: Easter
Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake is the queen of Easter desserts! Mine is made extra flavorful with the addition of dark brown sugar, along with the usual raisins, pecans, and spices. A thick coat of extra-fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting and classic piped carrots are the literal and figurative icing on the cake!Friday Favorites: Easter
Carrot Cake Blondies

All that said, not everyone loves the idea of making a layer cake over a busy holiday weekend. If that sounds like you, bake up a batch of Carrot Cake Blondies instead! They’re simple to make and have all the classic carrot cake flavor you love.Friday Favorites: Easter
Funfetti Petit Fours

Carrot Cake is great and all, but my family’s traditional Easter dessert is a big box of petit fours (miniature cakes covered with a thin layer of poured fondant) eaten late on Saturday night. I tried my hand at these confections last Easter, adding a fistful of rainbow sprinkles in the process, and I couldn’t be happier with the cheerful, delicious results.Friday Favorites: Easter
Easter Egg Hunt Cake

If you’re looking for a showstopping finish to your Easter lunch, look no further! Easter Egg Hunt Cake is a towering, coconut-covered vanilla cake that’s filled to the brim with your favorite colorful Easter egg candy. How cute is that?!Friday Favorites: EasterHave you made these or any of my other Easter recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Most Popular Recipes of 2018

Hello! How was your Christmas (or your Tuesday, if you don’t do Christmas)? I had a ball eating and laughing and gallivanting around Austin with my family. We cooked like crazy and spent most of the rest of the time loving on these three sweet pups. Don’t you love their matching jammies?Most Popular Recipes of 2018It’s hard to believe that 2018 is ending—how was Maine four months ago? how am I now closer to 34 than to 33?—but here we are.

My year-end blog tradition is to do a rundown of the ten most popular recipes on this site over the last 365-ish days, so…well, let’s get to it, shall we?
Most Popular Recipes of 2018Most Popular Recipes of 201810. Caramel Pudding/Wedding Cake. July feels so long ago now that I almost forgot I spent half that month making my biggest single baked good to date: a three-tiered eighteen-layer wedding cake with alternating layers of chocolate and caramel pudding! Every recipe that went into the finished cake is on this site (and explained in further detail in my Let’s Make a Wedding Cake series), but this caramel pudding is the surprise hit of them all! It’s made completely from scratch and is just as good by itself as it is layered with vanilla cake.
Most Popular Recipes of 20189. Blueberry Kolaches. If you’ve never heard of a kolache before, you must never have driven from Dallas/Fort Worth to Austin! For the uninitiated, they’re a pillowy-soft filled Czech pastry. This version is made with blueberries, but if you’re looking for something a little more seasonal, check out my recipe for kolaches filled with fresh grapefruit curd.Most Popular Recipes of 20188. Buttermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy. I was raised with Texan grandmothers, so you know I love a fluffy, flaky biscuit. This is my second go-round with this southern staple (the first is here), and while they’re pretty great by themselves, they’re even better with rich, silky chocolate gravy.
Most Popular Recipes of 20187. Banana Pudding Cookies. Y’all sure do love banana pudding! There’s been a twist on that classic on every top 10 list so far. Maybe I’ll make the real deal in 2019, but until then, I’ll get my fix with these cookies. They don’t contain any pudding mix, but they taste *exactly* like banana pudding. The best.
Most Popular Recipes of 20186. Rosemary-Parmesan Cheese Straws. Who doesn’t love a cheese straw? Crispy, flaky, cheesy—perfect with a cocktail or mocktail, or just on their own. These Rosemary-Parmesan Cheese Straws have been a favorite this holiday season and were even featured on Buzzfeed a few weeks ago! #isthisreallife
Most Popular Recipes of 20185. Pumpkin Pie with Toasted Pecan Crust. We’re all familiar Pumpkin Pie—it’s spiced and wonderful and it’s simply not Thanksgiving without it. But did you know that you can make it without eggs, granulated sugar, and pastry crust? And that this vegan, gluten-free, pecan-crusted version might actually be better than the original? Give it a try and you may agree.Most Popular Recipes of 20184. Maple Layer Cake. Wedding Cake aside, this might be my favorite layer cake of the year. It’s stunning, simple, and bursting with maple flavor!
Most Popular Recipes of 20183. Toasted Oat Graham Crackers. These crispy, crunchy, non-traditional graham crackers were created for the express purpose of eating vegan gluten-free s’mores while on my annual trip to Maine. They’re super easy to make (the dough comes together in a food processor!) and they’re so much more than just a vehicle for melty chocolate and toasted marshmallow…although they’re reeeeeeally good at that. If you’re into making things with gluten-free oats, check out these Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies, too. So dang good.Most Popular Recipes of 20182. Silky Smooth Sweet Potato Pie. I was surprised to see this pie in the top 10, but I shouldn’t be. I mean, what’s not to love about sweet potato pie?! This version is made with a twice-sieved filling, so it’s rich, dense, and not at all fibrous.Most Popular Recipes of 20181. Chocolate Mousse Cake. This cake was originally published in 2017, and I’m so glad to see it getting its due now. This triple decker grain-free beauty is made with my favorite flourless chocolate cake, an easy chocolate mousse, and a thick layer of whipped cream—need I say more? Make one for your New Year’s Eve celebration; it’s the perfect way to move into 2019.Most Popular Recipes of 2018
Did your favorite E2 Bakes recipe make the cut? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Happy New Year ❤