What’s Baking: Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake

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This month’s What’s Baking theme was Chow Ciao Italiano, chosen by Nicole from Seven Ate Nine. We do a lot of Italian baking around here, but instead of sharing something that is a favorite, I wanted to make something that was different from our usual rotation. And I’d had this cake bookmarked forever and needed an excuse to make it.

I love the Italian rainbow cookies. Whenever we get cookies from the local Italian bakery, they’re my first choice – and the first I grab off of cookie platters. The idea of those cookies in a cake was just too exciting to pass up. Much to my delight, this was pretty spot-on. It was delicious and had all the flavors of my beloved cookies. It also looks gorgeous – perfect for a special occasion.

To see what everyone else made for Chow Ciao Italiano, check out Nicole’s blog later this month!

 

Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake
(from Always Order Dessert)
Makes 1 9″ cake

3 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 c. granulated white sugar
6 large eggs
12 oz. almond paste, grated with a box grater
1 T. pure almond extract
1 c. milk
3 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
3 t. baking powder
Red, green and yellow food coloring
1/4 c. seedless raspberry jam
1/4 c. apricot preserves
For the ganache:
1 c. heavy cream
12 oz. semisweet chocolate

Butter and flour three 9″ cake pans and place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of each. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the grated almond paste, almond extract and milk, and beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the almond paste batter and mix until combined. Separate the mixture evenly into three bowls and dye each bowl a different shade (one green, one yellow, one red). Pour each into individual pans, making sure to smooth out the top.

Bakefor approximately 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper and let cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the ganache by heating 1 cup of heavy cream in a small saucepan just until bubbles start to form around the edge. Turn off the heat and pour over the chocolate in a large bowl. Stir continuously until melted completely and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

To assemble the cake, start with the pink layer of the cake  on the bottom and spread the raspberry jam over the top until it nearly reaches the edges of the cake. Top with the yellow cake and spread the top of the yellow cake with the apricot preserves. Top with the final green layer. Use a spoon to pour the ganache over the cake, using an offset spatula to even the sides and make sure the cake is completely covered. Use as much ganache as you need. Let sit at room temperature in a cool spot for 1-2 hours until completely set.


PB Pretzel M&M Rice Krispie Treats

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I’m pretty sure these could be considered a health food. Marshmallows and pretzels are low-fat. Chocolate has antioxidants. Peanut butter is a good source of protein. Mix it all together and it’s practically a superfood.

No? Not buying it?

Well, these are worth making anyway: quick, easy and a crowd pleaser.

PB Pretzel M&M Rice Krispie Treats
(from Cait’s Plate)
Makes one 9×13″ pan

1 bag of regular marshmallows
3 T. butter
6 c. rice cereal
1/2 cup peanut butter, melted
1 medium bag of pretzel M&Ms

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until melted. Stir in the melted peanut butter.

Add the melted marshmallow mixture to the rice cereal in a large bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the pretzel m&ms and stir to combine.

Press the mixture into a lightly greased 9×13″ baking dish. Let cool before slicing.


Cake Batter Popsicles

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Its nearly August – AUGUST! – and I haven’t made any popsicles or ice cream yet this summer. It’s tragic. Especially considering I bought a whole bunch of popsicle molds to start off the season. As soon as I realized this unfortunate fact, I started browsing for a batch to kick off what will undoubtedly be a rest-of-the-summer popsicle binge.

I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, so I combined a few recipes to create these Cake Batter Popsicles. These came out amazing. They totally taste like you’re slurping down the last of the cake better from the bowl. My only regret is that I didn’t make these sooner!

Cake Batter Popsicles
(inspired by Mrs. Happy Homemaker and Rachel Cooks)
Makes 6

1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding
1/3 c. yellow cake mix
1 3/4 c. cold milk
2 T. rainbow sprinkles

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pudding mix and cake mix. Whisk in the cold milk and stir until it starts to thicken slightly. Stir in the sprinkles.

Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours before enjoying.


What’s Baking: Rum & Coke Cookies

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As soon as bake your favorite cocktail was announced as the July theme for What’s Baking, I started looking up rum and coke recipes. Rum and coke was my go-to in college and even though I’m more likely to opt for a glass of wine, I still consider it my favorite. Old habits die hard, I suppose.

When I started looking for recipes, I assumed I’d make cupcakes… and then I ran across these. These start with store-bought sugar cookie dough and then you dress them up to make them rum or cola flavored. I thought having two separate doughs would make the flavors come through more strongly, but the flavor of the cookies is on the subtle side. Knowing they’re rum and coke, I can totally pick out the flavors, but if I was just handed the cookie and told to guess, I’m not 100% sure I could.

Either way, these were delicious and a very fun baking experiment!

Rum & Coke Cookies
(from She Knows)
Makes about 3 dozen

2 tubes Pillsbury sugar cookie dough
2 c. flour
1 egg white
1/4 cup white rum (and 1 Tbsp. rum extract, if desired – I skipped this but would recommend it!)
20 oz. Coca-Cola
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder

Mix one tube of the cookie dough until smooth and creamy and then mix in one cup of flour, white rum and rum extract (if using) until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Add Coca-Cola to a saucepan and over medium-high heat, reduce until only 1/4 cup remains. Cool slightly. Mix the other tube of dough until creamy and smooth. Add boiled-down Coke, remaining one cup of flour and cocoa powder and mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

After the dough has chilled, roll them into rectangles, approximately 1/4-inch thick. Brush egg whites on the rum-flavored dough and stack the coke flavored dough on top. Cut in half lengthwise. Brush the top of one half with egg white and stack the other half on top of it. Repeat until you have a stack the desired width. Wrap log in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Unwrap the chilled dough and slice the stacked layers approximately 1/4-inch thick. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Cute & Easy Minion Cupcakes

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Seriously, how cute are these guys?!

I mean, the minions from Despicable Me are fantastic, but I’d argue that they’re even more adorable in cupcake form.

This isn’t so much a recipe as a decorating tip. I don’t remember where I originally saw this idea, but it’s so cute and easy – and since Twinkies are officially back, it seemed like the best time to share!

For the cupcakes and blue icing, I used a box mix and canned icing. I warmed the icing slightly to get it to pour over smoothly, but you could totally just slather it on.

The minion bodies are Twinkie halves. The eyes are white Smarties. I used black gel icing to attach the eyes to the bodies and to outline the Smarties. The mouths, hair, and goggle bands are black licorice rope – these are all held on by the black gel icing too.

It doesn’t matter if they’re perfect since all of the movie minions are different – the differences give them personality!

If you’re planning a Despicable Me themed party – or just want to make a special post-movie treat – these would be perfect.


What’s Baking: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies

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When I saw this month’s What’s Baking theme was sweet and salty, I knew I’d be making something with a chocolate/peanut butter/pretzel combo. It’s embarrassing how many recipes I have saved with that combo – it’s clearly a favorite!

This recipe won out over the others because the cookies are portable – perfect for taking on vacation! We’re renting a house on the Outer Banks so I’ve been working on some dishes and snacks to bring with us. Even though we’ll have a kitchen, I don’t want to spend my whole vacation cooking! Having these already done will make for an awesome treat.

You can check out the rest of the sweet and salty recipes next week in a roundup on Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookies
(from Keep it Sweet Desserts)
Makes about 3 dozen 2″ cookies

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. creamy peanut butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 t. vanilla extract
2/3 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. pretzel pieces
Sea salt for sprinkling

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Slowly mix in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces. Chill the dough for two hours.

Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons-full onto a lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly brown around the edges. Let cool on the making sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

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My Mother-in-law’s birthday is on Wednesday so we did some early celebrating this weekend. Mark definitely gets his please-don’t-make-a-big-deal-over-my-birthday thing from his Mom so we kept things pretty low-key. Cake is a necessity, though, no matter how low-key you’re going.

Mom’s go-to dessert is always blondies, so I thought a chocolate chip cookie cake would be right up her ally. It’s basically one, giant chocolate chip cookie. I used some store-bought icing to dress it up a little. (And hide how lousy a job I did pushing the batter to the edges of the pan!) Regardless of what it looked like, it was delicious – enough so that she and I had seconds before she went home. Perfect.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
(from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
Makes 1 9″ Cake

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 t.cornstarch
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Line a 9″ square pan with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient until it forms a cookie-like batter. Stir in chocolate chips.

Press the dough into the prepared pan and bake for 16-20 minutes or until the edges just start to turn brown. Let the cookie cool completely before removing it from the pan.

Frost as desired.


Mini Doughnut Muffins

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Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend is also the big plant sale for the local master gardeners group. Since we’ve moved here, I’ve been going and picking out plants to round out the year’s vegetable garden – and my Mother-In-Law comes too. She’s an avid gardener and helps us so much with the yard. I don’t know what it would look like without her!

The plant sale starts early, so it’s become a tradition to have brunch after the sale and before we dive into planting everything in the yard. This year, we made these mini doughnut muffins as part of the brunch spread and they were a bit hit. My husband and I happily polished them off the next morning.

These aren’t “healthy” by any stretch of the imagination, but since they’re not fried they’re a slightly-better-for-you splurge.

Mini Doughnut Muffins
(from The Sweet Life)
Make approx. 1 1/2 dozen

for the doughnuts:
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
3/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. milk
1 t. baking powder
1 c. all-purpose flour

for the topping:
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375F degrees and generously spray or grease 2 mini muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the white sugar, melted butter and ground nutmeg. Stir in milk, baking powder and flour until just combined.

Divide mixture among mini muffin tins and bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned on the top.

While they are baking, place melted butter in a small bowl. In another small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.

When the muffins are done, let cool for a few minutes until cool enough to handle and then turn out on a plate. Dip each muffin in the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

 


Mini Chocolate Thin Mint Cookie Pies

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It’s Girl Scout Cookie season. They’ve had booths set up at the grocery stores and the mall and I seem to buy a box every time I walk by. You have to stock up while you have the chance!

I made these for a causal dinner party because they seemed so seasonally appropriate. They’re super quick and easy to put together and are a great combination of chocolate and mint. If you like Thin Mints, you’ll love these.

Don’t have a box of Thin Mints handy? You can search for a Girl Scout Cookie sale in your area here.

Mini Chocolate Thin Mint Cookie Pies
(adapted from foodie crush)
Makes 12 mini pies

2 packages mini graham cracker pie crusts
1 (3.4 oz.) package chocolate instant pudding and pie filling
2 c. frozen whipped topping
18-20 Thin Mint cookies, about 1 1/2 sleeves or 1 1/4 cup, crumbled, plus more for topping

Prepare pudding according to package directions and set in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set up.

Mix the prepared pudding and 1 1/2 cups whipped topping together. Fold in the crumbled cookies. Divide pudding mix between pie shells. Top with remaining whipped topping and addtional cookies.

Refrigerate for at least a half hour before serving.


Macadamia Lemon Bars

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The latest recipe swap covered my favorite topic: dessert. I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like.

I was really pleased about my assigned recipe from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles. I’ve had lemon bars on my to-make list for quite some time, but they always get bumped in favor of something chocolately. This was the perfect opportunity to finally try them out!

These were just as good as I was imagining and I really loved the addition of the macadamia nuts. Another check on my cooking bucket list thanks to the recipe swaps!

 

Macadamia Lemon Bars
(from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles)
Makes an 8×8 pan of bars

For the crust
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. macadamia nuts, finely chopped

For the filling
1 c. sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs
3 T. lemon juice
2 t. lemon zest
2 t. macadamia nuts, chopped
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir togetherthe flour, powdered sugar and melted butter until well combined .  Stir in the nuts.  Press the crust mixture into the bottom and 1/2″ up the sides of prepared baking dish.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Beat in the eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Pour the filling over hot crust and sprinkle with nuts.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and the center is set.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Dust with powdered sugar and cut into bars.  Chill until ready to serve.

You can see the rest of the yummy desserts made as part of the swap below. Thanks to Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting!