Category Archives: Valentine’s Day

Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes

Red Velvet Marble CupcakesThis marks the first time I’ve posted a new cupcake recipe on here in more than four years. Wild, but true. I vastly prefer to make layer cakes and I hate cleaning muffin/cupcake pans, but there few reasons for whole layer cakes in a pandemic and cupcakes are far more precaution-friendly than sliceable options, so I’m trying to get back into them. People really like no-contact cupcake delivery. Just saying.

Today’s offering? Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes! With swirls of red velvet in both the cake and the cream cheese frosting, these are perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day!Red Velvet Marble CupcakesBefore I get to how these cupcakes get their marble, let’s discuss red velvet on its own. This southern flavor is divisive; some love it, some hate it, and some love to hate it. I obviously love it, as evidenced by years of red velvet treats for Valentine’s Day (and Oscar Night). The big appeal for me is that it isn’t chocolate or vanilla—it’s a little of both! It’s like the soft serve swirl cone of cakes (?), but red. The signature color used to primarily be from the chemical reaction of cocoa and baking soda, but now it’s usually from food coloring. You can leave out the dye in this recipe if you really want to, but I love the deep ruby color.Red Velvet Marble CupcakesRed Velvet Marble CupcakesNow for the marbling! Here, red velvet cake batter is swirled into delicious vanilla sour cream cupcakes. These little cakes are moist and springy and out-of-this-world good. They are assembled from just one batter—the red velvet is made by stirring cocoa powder, a tablespoon of milk and red food coloring into a small portion of the vanilla mixture. Both colors are scooped into the cupcake pans, then swirled together before baking.Red Velvet Marble CupcakesAs for the cream cheese frosting, I had originally planned to keep it completely traditional, but ultimately decided to continue the marble motif, dying half the frosting red and flavoring it with a hint of cocoa for maximum red velvet realness.Red Velvet Marble CupcakesRed Velvet Marble CupcakesRed Velvet Marble CupcakesTo achieve a marbled/swirled frosting effect, I loaded both colors into the same piping bag, doing my best to keep them on separate sides. You can purchase specialty piping bags for this, or use two smaller bags in a larger bag, but I took the easy way out and also tried to let go of the outcome. Baking is much more fun when you let go of the outcome. I totally love how they all turned out a bit differently!Red Velvet Marble CupcakesThese cupcakes, y’all! If you or your valentine(s) are into red velvet, you’re going to love them. The vanilla portion is delicious, but that chocolate-vanilla hint of red velvet really takes the (cup)cake!Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes

Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes
makes 12-14 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Red Velvet portion:
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk
1-2 teaspoons liquid red food coloring (I used 1/4 tsp red gel + 2 teaspoons water)

Marbled Red Velvet Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces (1 brick) 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
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 teaspoons liquid red food coloring (I used 1/8 teaspoon red gel)

Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.

Make the red velvet portion. Scoop 1 cup of the batter into a small bowl. Add cocoa, milk and red food coloring and mix to combine.

Add 1 tablespoon of plain batter to each cupcake liner. Top each with 1 tablespoon of red velvet batter, followed by 1 tablespoon of plain batter. Liners should be 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the marbled 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.

Remove half the frosting to a medium mixing bowl. Mix in cocoa powder and 1-2 teaspoons liquid red food coloring.

Load half the plain frosting into a piping bag fitted with a coupler and star tip, pressing it as much to one side as possible. Carefully load half the red velvet frosting into the remaining side. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect or symmetrical. Twist the bag closed, then pat it a couple of times to remove the air bubbles. Frost cupcakes as desired, adding remaining frostings to the bag when needed.

Cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five. Red Velvet Marble CupcakesRed Velvet Marble CupcakesRed Velvet Marble CupcakesRed Velvet Marble Cupcakes

Double Strawberry Linzer Cookies

Double Strawberry Linzer CookiesTwo cookie recipes in a week? Sure, why not. With Valentine’s Day coming up, these Double Strawberry Linzer Cookies just couldn’t wait.Double Strawberry Linzer CookiesThey’re filled to the brim strawberry flavor, and even I—an avowed midwinter strawberry hater—can’t resist them. Oh yes, I’m that person. Every year I get on my soapbox about strawberries not being in season in the dead of winter, and yet every year I make a strawberry baked good in the middle of February. I’m full of contradictions.

Thing is, I don’t do my midwinter baking with fresh strawberries, instead relying on flavorful and consistent freeze dried strawberries. I buy them in 1.2-ounce bags, grind them up and throw them in cakes, cookies, bars, buttercream candies, and anything else I can imagine. Here I swapped freeze dried strawberry powder for the ground nuts usually found in linzer cookie dough, yielding a batch of gorgeous pink strawberry roll-out cookies.Double Strawberry Linzer CookiesThe cookie dough is rolled very thin, cut in two-inch circles (some with little windows), and baked for just six minutes. The results are firm, but on the soft side, something that makes these linzers irresistible when doused with confectioner’s sugar and sandwiched with strawberry jam. Yum.Double Strawberry Linzer CookiesWhile these little treats are unapologetically strawberry, they can be made with any freeze dried berries and jam you like! I’ve even been toying with the idea of using freeze dried mango in this dough (maybe with this filling?) for a little tropical flair. The possibilities are endless.Double Strawberry Linzer Cookies

Double Strawberry Linzer Cookies
makes about 4 dozen sandwich cookies

Cookie Dough:
1 1.2-ounce package freeze dried strawberries
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Assembly:
3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
~6 ounces strawberry jam

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
2-inch round cookie cutter
smaller round cookie cutter (I used the wide end of a piping tip)
sifter or wire mesh strainer

Make the cookie dough. Place freeze dried strawberries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 30 seconds. Add flour, baking powder and salt, and pulse to combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated sugar, followed by the egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters.

Working with one quarter at a time, sandwich dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll until 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to the freezer (on a baking sheet) for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. It is okay to stack the sheets of dough in the freezer.

While the dough is freezing, place racks in the center positions. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer. Peel on of the pieces of parchment off. Use a lightly floured 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut cookies. Use a smaller cookie cutter to punch the centers out of half the cookies. Place them 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Repeat with remaining dough. Scraps can be re-rolled, frozen, and cut.

Bake cookies 6-7 minutes, until tops are no longer raw-looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking with any remaining dough.

Set a cooling rack over a piece of parchment. Once all cookies are baked and cooled, set the cookies with the centers cut out on a prepared rack. Sift confectioners sugar over the tops.

Spread each whole cookie with 1/2-1 teaspoon of jam (amount is based on your preference). Carefully sandwich cookies together. Serve.

Strawberry Linzer Cookies will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. Place wax paper between layers for best storage. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Double Strawberry Linzer CookiesDouble Strawberry Linzer CookiesDouble Strawberry Linzer Cookies

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies. Try saying that five times fast. Or, you know, skip the silliness and just make ‘em.Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

These are a homemade take on the super soft, vibrantly frosted Lofthouse Cookies I loved during my college years. While you won’t find me buying them these days, I think about them more than is probably reasonable. They are like a supermarket birthday cake and some sugar cookies had a baby and I am here for it.Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Like the cookies that inspired them, these are feather-soft thanks to the sour cream and confectioner’s sugar mixed into the dough. Those ingredients in particular make these puffy sugar cookies super tender and almost cakey. I know I’ve railed against cakey cookies in the past, but I’ll make an exception for these.Soft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

The dough comes together pretty quickly, but is on the sticky side and needs a chill before baking. I roll these cookies super thick (1/2 inch) and cut them with a 2-inch cutter. I tested with bigger cutters, but found that a smaller diameter helps the cookies to bake evenly, reducing the chances of dense centers and crisp edges. While those are usually good things in cookies, these are best when they’re soft all around. In fact, I prefer to eat them the day after they’re baked for maximum softness. So good.

Quick tip: in case you want to take your sugar cookie game to the next level, you could absolutely make these in the shape of a football, heart, Christmas tree or other simple shape. Keep in mind that this dough spreads and puffs a bit, so you won’t want to do anything terribly intricate. But also…go wild.Soft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies are good unadorned, but a thick smear of vanilla buttercream and smattering of sprinkles take them over the top! I went with a pink marbled motif, dying half my frosting and then spreading both colors together, but feel free to use whatever color(s) of frosting or variety of sprinkles you like here. Get festive with it for holidays, big games, birthdays or any day!Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
makes about 3 dozen medium cookies

Cookie Dough:
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 cup sour cream (not fridge-cold)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Decorating:
Vanilla Buttercream (recipe below)
food coloring, if desired
sprinkles of choice

Special Equipment:
a 2-inch round cookie cutter
offset icing spatula

Make the cookie dough. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, confectioner’s sugars, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in sugar, followed by egg, sour cream and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 2 installments, beating until combined. Dough will be a bit sticky.

Divide dough into halves and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

Generously flour a surface and rolling pin. Unwrap one half of the dough. Roll the dough to 1/2-inch thickness, lifting and turning the dough frequently so that it doesn’t stick to your surface. Use a 2-inch round cutter to cut cookies. Cut directly down. Do not twist.

Place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 9-10 minutes, rotating top-to-bottom and back-to-front at the 5 minute mark. Cookies are done when puffed and no-longer raw-looking. They should be mostly pale, but there may be some golden coloring at the bottom edges. Let cookies cool on the pans for 8-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Let sheet pans come to room temperature before proceeding with the next batch.

Repeat rolling, cutting and baking with remaining half of dough. Re-roll scraps as desired, refrigerating if anything gets too sticky.

After cookies have cooled completely, use an offset icing spatula to frost each one with about 1 tablespoon of Vanilla Buttercream (I used 1/2 tablespoon each pink and plain white buttercreams). Garnish with sprinkles immediately after frosting. Buttercream will crust after an hour or so. You may serve the cookies immediately after frosting, but they are softest the next day.

After they’ve crusted, leftovers may be layered with wax or parchment paper and kept in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for a couple of days or I’m the refrigerator for up to a week.

Vanilla Buttercream

makes enough for 3 dozen cookies (with a little leftover)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3-5 tablespoons heavy cream
food coloring, if desired

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt and vanilla. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

To dye half of the buttercream, remove half to a smaller bowl. Add a drop of gel food coloring (or a few drops of liquid) and use your electric mixer to beat until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Use buttercream to frost Soft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies.

Soft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar CookiesSoft Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Easy Coconut Truffles

Easy Coconut TrufflesWith all the coconut recipes in my archives, you’d never guess that I couldn’t stand it when I was a child. I don’t know when I started to like it—I’m guessing around the time when my whole extended family randomly started bringing German Chocolate Cake to every occasion…?

Well, I guess it’s not important. The point is that coconut is my jam and I bake with it as often as possible.Easy Coconut TrufflesI spent a good chunk of January working on a coconut cookie for the blog, but the recipe’s just not quite “there.” I was a little bummed after round 4, realizing that I was going to have to let the recipe come to me rather than forcing it (baking gets spiritual around these parts). In the meantime though, I had three bags of sweetened flaked coconut taking up space in my kitchen. I realize that bags of coconut don’t have souls, but I swear they were taunting me.Easy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesAnd so, I threw the contents of one in a bowl with a cup of sweetened condensed milk (a la this), rolled the mixture into balls, coated them with dark chocolate and topped ‘em off with toasted coconut, and called them Valentine’s Day-appropriate…which they are.Easy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut Truffles are way better than any candy you’ll find in a heart-shaped box, and super fun to make at home. They require a grand total of six ingredients (!) and are chock-full of coconut flavor thanks to the creamy filling and toasty garnish. And even though they’re a little imperfect, they’re completely wonderful.

If that’s not a metaphor for love, I don’t know what is.Easy Coconut Truffles

Easy Coconut Truffles
makes about 3.5 dozen truffles

Filling:
1 14-ounce bag sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
pinch of salt

Coating:
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (not chocolate chips)
1 teaspoon coconut oil (or butter)
1 teaspoon corn syrup (or mild honey)

Toasted Coconut:
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Special Equipment:
microwave-safe bowl or double boiler
parchment paper
baking sheet or a few plates (must fit in refrigerator)

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir together coconut and sweetened condensed milk until combined and a bit sticky. Cover mixture loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to a day.

Make toasted coconut. Preheat oven to 325F. Scatter coconut on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Bake coconut, stirring every 3-4 minutes until toasted to your liking, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Line a rimmed baking sheet (or a few plates) with parchment paper. Remove coconut mixture from refrigerator. Lightly grease your hands. Scoop mixture in 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) increments and roll into balls with your palms. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all coconut mixture is used. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or freeze for 15).

Make the coating. 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 coconut into the melted chocolate and use a fork to coat it 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 toasted coconut. Continue this process until all truffles are coated and garnished.

Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, or until chocolate has set. Serve.

Truffles will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.Easy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut Truffles

Friday Favorites: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a divisive occasion, but whether you love it or hate it, it’s a week away. I, for one, think any excuse to show people you love them is a good one, and you won’t be surprised to learn that I express love primarily through food (and videos of dogs on Instagram).

Here are some of my favorite treats from Valentine’s Days past. Look out for a new one next Wednesday!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayRed Velvet Cheesecake Bars

I may associate red velvet with Oscar Night, but most bakers like to make it for Valentine’s Day. These bars are much simpler to make than the traditional cake, and bypass the frosting in favor of a thick layer of cheesecake.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayStrawberry Sugar Cookie Squares

I’ll never understand why strawberries are so popular for Valentine’s Day. Who wants to eat a flavorless February strawberry?! That said, freeze-dried strawberries are good year-round, especially when pulverized and mixed into soft sugar cookie squares and buttercream. They provide both flavor and color here—these are food coloring-free!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate-Covered Strawberry Buttercreams

Speaking of strawberry buttercream, that’s the name and filling of these homemade candies! The frosting is made and chilled before being scooped, rolled, and enrobed in dark chocolate.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayCoconut Cluster Brownies

I have a bit of a thing for cheap drugstore chocolate, which is exactly what inspired the milk chocolate-coconut candy layered on top of these brownies. I’ll take these over a heart-shaped box any day of the week!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

These Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread hearts are one of my favorite recipes on this site. They’re simple to make and the flavors are universally loved, and while you can make them in any shape you like, I think they are particularly adorable as half-dipped hearts.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate Cut-Out Cookies

For all the class and restraint embodied in those shortbread, these cookies go in the exact opposite direction. They’re brash and bright and snarky and I l-o-v-e love them. Oh, and while icing is great, the rich chocolate cookies underneath are the real stars of the show.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Valentine’s falls on a Friday this year, and if you’re anything like me, making a fuss after a long workweek is not my idea of a good time, especially if it means I have to wear real clothes. Skip the fancy dinner and celebrate the morning after with a Chocolate Puff Pancake. It’s super delicious and easy to make and you don’t have to change out of your pajamas to make it.

Have you made any of these or any of my other Valentine’s Day recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayFriday Favorites: Valentine’s Day