Happy February friends! I have some chocolaty Valentine cookies for you, and whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, cookies are rarely unwelcome!
You may have heard that you can make cookies with boxed cake mix and this recipe does just that, but with a boost of unsweetened cocoa powder and M&Ms! They are delicious; rich and not too sweet. If you’re looking for something tasty to bake for yourself or someone(s) you love, please try these and enjoy!
- 1 box of devil’s food chocolate cake mix
- 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup of butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups of “cupid’s mix” Valentine M&Ms
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pour the cake mix and unsweetened cocoa into a large bowl and stir gently to incorporate.
- Add the eggs and softened butter into the dry ingredients and mix until a thick dough forms.
- Divide the M&Ms: Mix one cup into the cookie dough and place the other cup into a separate small bowl.
- Roll the dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls, then dip the top of each dough ball into the small bowl of M&Ms and place each one onto the baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes depending on the power of your oven.
- Bring the cookies out of the oven and allow them to cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Repeat this process until all the cookie dough has been baked, this should yield about 16 cookies.
Zoey, our little Tinker Bell, is one year old! This year has been an unusual one (understatement of the century), but it has flown by faster than I could have imagined and I have been fortunate enough to spend the majority of it at home with her; grateful for every moment.
Like many one year birthday boys and girls, Zoey has not been exposed to much sugar. Now I don’t mind a little sugar, but I did not want to sugar bomb her all at once so I created a homemade smash cake with frosting for her without adding extra sugar.
This Tinker Bell petal smash cake is a variation of a banana bread recipe my family has made for years without added sugar and a variation of cream cheese frosting without powdered sugar. I would consider the cake a tame banana flavor and the frosting a tangy cream cheese flavor, smoothed out with the addition of a natural sweetener (I used agave nectar). I purchased a used Disney Infinity Tinker Bell figurine off of Mercari, gave it a good cleaning, and used it as a cake topper with the obligatory “1” candle.
She was very tentative about smashing her smash cake, almost like she wasn’t sure if she was allowed to. Even with her audience coaxing her she only tasted a little bit of cake I broke off for her and mostly just played around in the frosting. Her favorite part of the cake was the Tinker Bell figurine up top and she ended up fixating on that. And what the hey, as long as she had fun!
So let’s make a smash cake for the little Tinker Bell in your life!
BANANA SMASH CAKE
- 3 bananas, overripe
- 1/2 cup of butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 cup of flour
- 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Grease two 6-inch cake pans, or line them with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and bananas together with a (hand) mixer.
- Add the eggs in one at a time, beating each in with the (hand) mixer.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl in between each addition.
- Pour the mixed batter into the prepared cake pans about half to 3/4 of the way full.
- Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. The timing may vary depending on your oven so keep an eye on them!
- Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in their pans for about 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Mine were pretty flat. If yours do not turn out flat, cut the very tops off of the cakes to create flat tops for stacking and frosting.
- Frost your cake (see below).
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (NO ADDED SUGAR)
- 5 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 packs of cream cheese (8 ounce), room temperature
- A pinch of salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons agave nectar, honey or maple syrup
- 1 to 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons corn starch
- Green food coloring
*You can make the frosting up to several days in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before frosting.*
- Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl until well combined.
- Add the agave nectar (or sweetener of choice), milk, salt and vanilla extract. Whip again, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch and whip until well incorporated. If at this point the consistency is right for you, you can move on to the next step. If not you can add cornstarch one teaspoon at a time until it reaches the desired thickness (careful not to exceed 2 tablespoons total).
- Divide the frosting four equal parts in separate bowls. Add green food coloring to each bowl of frosting, ranging from dark to light green. Put each shade of green frosting into a pastry bag.
- Pipe and smear frosting on the top of the first layer of cake and gently place the second layer on top of this.
- Begin the petals by piping a dollop of dark green frosting on the side of the cake at the base. Take a flat slender spatula or butter knife press gently into the dollop and smear it to the right. Pipe another dollop of dark green near the end of the smear and repeat all the way around the cake.
- Repeat this process with the next shade of green and repeat, but stop before you reach the lightest shade of green and the top of the cake.
- Pipe and smear a healthy dollop of the lightest green frosting onto the top of the cake and smooth it out with a flat spatula, then continue with the last layer of petals in the lightest shade of green around the top of the cake.
- Adorn your cake with decorations.
Last week, we brought some of the beach to Zoey with edible “sand” made out of graham crackers and oatmeal. After she was done playing, I could not let good food go to waste so I made her some teething cookies with the remaining “sand”.
Not too sweet, but sweet enough to be called cookies instead of crackers, these treats are a hit! They are springy, yet firm enough to soothe her teething gums and she likes them!…Although so does my husband so I’m going to have to convince him not to eat all of them before she can knaw on a few.
- Grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 325 F.
- Combine the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir them with a mixing spoon until a thick dough has formed. You may need to adjust the amount of water or coconut oil you add depending on how juicy your bananas are.
- Section the dough into smaller portions and (using a flat surface and a rolling pin) roll out your dough to 1/4 of an inch thick. You will need to use flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and surfaces.
- With a circular cookie cutter or a drinking glass (I used a drinking glass), cut cookies out of the dough and place them onto the greased baking sheet.
- Cook each sheet of cookies for 12 to 15 minutes. Be careful they are hot! Use the spatula or a spoon to test their springiness. They should be firm yet springy when pressed as they are brought out of the oven.
- Allow the cookies to cool before serving. These can be stored in the refrigerator for a little more firmness.
- Serve and enjoy, but please watch your baby as they eat this to make sure they handle the texture well!
I love snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds! So delicious, easy to eat and prepare, and with numerous health benefits, who could say no? Traditionally I make large batches every year after we carve our Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns and snack on them for weeks!
I do not use oil in this recipe.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Seasoned salt (optional)
As you carve your pumpkins, keep all the seeds in a bowl. I find it easier to separate the seeds and pulp into two separate bowls as I go, rather than sort that mess out later.
Throw the seeds into a colander and rinse under cold water, stirring with your hands to make sure all the seeds are all rinsed thoroughly.
Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt for each half cup of seeds.
Bring the saltwater and seeds to a boil for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Coat a baking sheet with whichever nonstick cooking spray you prefer and spread the drained seeds out in a single layer.
I took this opportunity to sprinkle seasoned salt over the damp seeds. You are welcome to leave them with just the salt that was boiled into them, or add any variety of other toppings depending on your taste.
Cook the seeds until dry and crispy, this could take an hour or more. Remember to stir occasionally so the seeds get baked evenly.
Let them cool for a few minutes…then let the snacking begin!