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 am now a fledgling intermittent faster. Do you want to try it with me?
If you’re not familiar with intermittent fasting, it is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat (although healthier foods yield better results), but rather when you should eat them.
I’ve chosen the 16/8 schedule, which means that I am restricting my eating to an 8 hour timeframe and fasting the remaining 16 hours of the day. This is what is working for me, but there are several other schedules out there if you’re looking for something different.
- 20/4: Restrict eating to 4 hours of the day and fast the remaining 20.
- 5/2: Eat regularly for 5 days of the week, on days 6 and 7 only consume about 500 calories per day.
- 24 hour: Fast for 24 hours straight, once or twice a week.
- 36 hour: Fast for 36 hours straight once a week.
Why am I doing such a thing you ask? Odd as it may sound, I wanted to conserve food during the pandemic. After breaking my fast, I usually don’t feel hungry again until right before the 8 hours are up. Everything is simpler, there are fewer meals to prepare, cook or clean up after!
In addition to conserving food, I would love to reach my pre-pregnancy weight or lower. As I mentioned above this eating pattern has me eating fewer meals and consuming less calories a day. I’ve also read that intermittent fasting can boost metabolism and that’s encouraging!
There are several other potential benefits, but the best thing I can do is tell you about my personal experience. I will practice intermittent fasting for the next three months at least and report back with my findings. How about you?
Welcome back friends! This week we are cooking up Creme de la creme a la Edgar as a dipping sauce with Roquefort’s butter cookies from Disney’s The Aristocats!
This recipe is featured when Edgar wants to get rid of Duchess and her kittens, thinking they will be the sole heirs to his employer’s fortune. He makes a cream for the cats to drink, laced with sleeping pills and drives them out to the countryside to abandon them. Roquefort the mouse brings his cookie to share the cream, and ends up falling asleep too!
First thing is first, I did not lace the creme with sleeping pills, I’m not trying to knock you all out. What I did do was infuse it with chamomile to add a calming effect, although this is optional. With or without the chamomile it really is quite tasty as a dip, on its own, or even as a creamer for tea or coffee.
I’d also like to mention that when Roquefort brings out his “cookie” he actually refers to it as a cracker, but it looks so similar to a Sable Breton or French Butter Cookie that I took the liberty of switching it over. Totally worth it when pairing the cookies with the cream!
CREME DE LA CREME A LA EDGAR
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 or 2 chamomile tea bags (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS (CREME DE LA CREME A LA EDGAR)
- In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and the chamomile bag or bags (optional).
- Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the cream mixture begins to steam. Do not let it reach a boil.
- Remove the creme from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Divide into a bowl, bowls or cups and enjoy with Roquefort’s cookies (see below)!
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
INSTRUCTIONS (ROQUEFORT’S COOKIES)
- Pre-cut the butter into small cubes and allow enough time for it to soften.
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites (you can keep the egg whites in the fridge for another recipe).
- Place the confectioner’s sugar and the egg yolks into a large bowl and whisk them together until they are fluffy and lighter in color.
- Add the softened butter, and whisk the mixture again until combined, this should look like a thick paste.
- Sift and stir in the baking powder and flour. Stop as soon as the dough comes together.
- Prepare a baking tray lined with a baking mat or parchment paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 325F.
- Lightly flour your work area and transfer the cookie dough to it. Sprinkle the dough with a little bit of flour and flour your rolling pin.
- Using the floured rolling pin, gently press and stretch the dough to flatten it.
- Using a round cookie cutter (mine was about 2.5 inches in diameter), cut out the cookies and place them on your prepared baking tray, leaving a little bit of space between each cookie.
- Use the tip of a butter knife, create four + shaped patterns in the dough (see image above). If you butter knife is sticking to the cooke dip it in a little bit of flour.
- Repeat the process with any extra dough left. If the dough starts to become really soft, place in the fridge for a few minutes to harden.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cookies have a golden tint. Keep an eye on them, every oven is different!
- Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack until completely cool.
- Dip in the Creme de la creme a la Edgar (see above) and enjoy!
Welcome back friends! This week we are baking Mrs. Judson’s cheese crumpets from Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective!
These crumpets are featured when Olivia Flaversham and Dr. Dawson arrive at Basil’s apartment. Mrs. Judson (Basil’s maid) offers and serves them before Basil sets off on a lead, Olivia managing to snag a few before they rush off.
I am going to be so bold as to say that these are not traditional crumpets. Disney usually does their homework pretty thoroughly so I may be wrong, but perhaps they meant scones? Traditional crumpets look like the ones I made for Ratty and Mole’s Recipe in November, cooked on a flat surface within round rings. It was very hard to achieve the puffed look from the film using a crumpet recipe in a muffin tin, but I tried twice. The first time I used the recipe from Ratty and Mole’s Crumpets and added cheese, but they were very deflated up top. The second time I got a bit more lift by using baking powder instead of baking soda. Neither option had as much lift and puff as the cartoon, but they both taste cheesy and delicious so use what you have available!
BAKED CHEESE CRUMPETS
- 1 teaspoon of cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon of dried active yeast
- 1 cup of warm milk
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 cup of shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
- Stir the sugar and yeast into the warm milk and let it rest for 10 minutes until frothy.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt.
- Add the liquid to the flour mixture and stir/knead until a thick dough forms.
- Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place for an hour to let the dough rise.
- Dissolve the baking powder in the warm water and add it to the dough. Using a mixer, beat the dough for about one or two minutes. Any remaining lumps will dissolve during the next resting stage.
- Lightly coat the shredded cheese with flour, add it to the batter and stir to incorporate.
- Lightly grease a muffin pan and scoop the batter into it, filling each space no more than 2/3 full.
- Cover the batter while it’s in the pan and let it rest again in a warm place for at least 30 minutes. The batter should be nice and bubbly.
- While the batter is resting for its final 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 400F.
- Bake the crumpets for about 20-30 minutes until they are lightly golden. Keep an eye on them, everyone’s oven is different!
- Remove the muffin pan from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the cheese crumpets from the muffin pan and serve warm, or you can reheat them later!
Welcome back friends! This week we will be baking Winnie the Pooh’s hero cake from Disney’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Winnie the Pooh’s hero cake (and the hero cookies we made last week) is featured in the “Blustery Day” featurette when Christopher Robin throws a Hero Party for Pooh Bear, believing him to be Piglet’s rescuer during the flood. Pooh and Piglet really just happened to be in the same predicament at the same time and came out together perfectly alright, but it was still sweet of Christopher Robin and their friends to celebrate them all the same!
This is a surprisingly complex cake, and I had a lot of fun creating and tasting it! I chose to make pink velvet cake (my own interpretation of what flavor the pink color stood for) with chocolate frosting. White buttercream frosting surrounds the base of each of the orange candles and orange buttercream, in color and in flavor, whimsically dots the chocolate frosting in puffs. If you take the cake with the chocolate frosting and orange buttercream in the same bite it is absolute heaven and will definitely satisfy the rumbly of any tumbly!
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons of baking powder
- 2 pinches of salt
- 12 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of almond extract
- 1 1/3 cups of whole milk, room temperature
- 4 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 8 drops of red food coloring
- 8 egg whites
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans with spray or parchment.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In another large bowl, beat the butter until softened.
- Slowly add the sugar and beat until fluffy, then add in the almond extract, food coloring, milk, and vanilla extract; mix on low until ingredients are incorporated.
- Beat in the egg whites one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven) until a toothpick is inserted at their centers comes out clean, not wet with cake batter.
- Remove the pans from the oven and allow the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes within the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before assembling.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the frostings (see below).
- 1/2 cup of butter, melted
- 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon of oil
- 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
- Milk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
INSTRUCTIONS (CHOCOLATE FROSTING)
- In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, cocoa powder and oil until well incorporated.
- Sift in the powdered sugar half a cup at a time and mix well.
- Add milk a little at a time and keep mixing until the chocolate is smooth and creamy.
- Add the vanilla in last and stir until well incorporated.
- Once the cakes are cool, put a small dollop of this frosting on the center of cake stand, then place the first layer of cake down on top of the dollop; this will anchor the cake to the stand.
- Scoop the desired amount of chocolate frosting onto the top of the first layer of cake and spread it around evenly, then add the next layer of cake over it.
- Apply the rest of the chocolate frosting to the sides, and then the top of the cake, using an icing spatula or something similar. I added texture to the sides of my cake using a cake comb that came with the little cake decorating set I bought.
* You can double this recipe for a thicker layer of frosting on the cake.
ORANGE AND WHITE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
- 1/2 cup of butter, softened
- 2 cups of powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract
- Orange food coloring
INSTRUCTIONS (ORANGE AND WHITE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING)
- In a medium bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar together by low speed (or hand otherwise you’ll have a cloud of powdered sugar).
- Add in the whipping cream and orange extract and mix until well incorporated.
- Pause and scoop about a fourth of the white frosting into a pastry bag and set aside.
- Add in the orange food coloring and beat until fully incorporated.
- Scoop the orange frosting into another pastry bag with a large tip.
- After the cakes cool and you’ve applied the chocolate frosting, pipe 4 dollops of the white buttercream frosting onto the top of the cake where you want the candles to be and stick the candles in at their center.
- Using the orange buttercream, pipe small orange puff dots all around and on top of the cake.