Snow Day Sweets: Heath Cupcakes

Mother Nature heard my snow day plea! Winter storm Kayla hit Mankato with a vengeance last Tuesday. School was actually called off the night before, so that meant:

Alarm = off. Sweatpants = on. Showering = optional. Oven = on

There is no better way to spend a snow day than in the kitchen. I had a bag of Heath baking chips leftover from some Christmas baking and after a little Pinterest perusing, I decided to make these beauties:

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Mmm. Oh yes. Chocolate fudge with Heath cupcakes, rolled in chocolate ganache and more Heath, topped with caramel frosting.

Drool.

I saw a bunch of recipes with homemade cakes, but I was feeling a bit lazy. After looking at a few recipes, I decided to wing it. They were surprisingly easy. I used a box cake mix with a heaping 1/2 cup of Heath bits stirred in the mix.

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For the ganache, I used this recipe here. It was a bit thick, so I added a little milk to thin it out. This was a crazy easy recipe – it’s called one minute frosting for a reason. In the recipe picture, they show it glazing a cake. Judging by the picture, it would make for a beautiful cake! Next snow day…

Roll the edges (or whole top – I won’t judge) in Heath chunks and tada!

They looked ridiculously delicious just like that.

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But it’s cupcakes – go big or go home. No better way to top this than with a nice heaping scoop of caramel frosting.

Cue sugar coma….

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Schnockered Snickers Cupcakes – Halloween edition

Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat…

Preferably chocolate. Bonus points if alcohol is included.

This recipe was just that.

S’mores and I were invited to a Halloween party, so of course I volunteered to bring dessert. Since Halloween was on a Saturday (teachers everywhere are thanking their lucky stars) and it was an adults-only party, I wanted to add a little booze to the mix.

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We went as soap and a loofah – and won the award for best duo costume!

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We had a TON of candy for trick or treaters (Target had a sale! I couldn’t help myself). After surveying the candy, the majority of it were Snickers bars. Chocolate, peanuts, nougat, and caramel – what’s not to love? May I present to you

Schnockered Snickers Cupcakes with Caramel Vodka Cream Cheese Frosting

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Oh yes. They were DELICIOUS! And pretty easy.

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S’mores even helped!

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I mixed up a box of dark chocolate cake mix according to the directions, scooped it into mini cupcake liners, and threw some chopped up Snickers in those bad boys.

For the icing, I kind of made it up.

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 8oz brick of cream cheese
  • splash of vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar (plus more if you like your frosting a little thicker
  • caramel vodka (you be the judge of how much you’d like… 😉 )

For the garnish, I drizzled a little caramel sauce, chopped up Snickers bars, and a little chocolate spider (it was Halloween after all). They were a hit!

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Mini Donuts and Big Changes

It’s been 5 months since I last posted. And holy crap has a lot changed in those 5 months.

Here’s the super-abridged, Cliff notes update on my life.

  1. New job in Mankato!
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I’m teaching K-5 general music – exactly what I wanted. I know what you’re thinking…”isn’t S’mores from Mankato?” Congratulations – you’re correct! Which leads me to…

2. Moved in with S’mores

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Yes. You read that right. After 6 months together. Again, call me crazy, but it felt so right. And so far, it is!

3. Chopped off 8 inches of hair

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Fresh start!

To be completely honest, the transition from living with my parents in the same community I’ve called home the past 25 years to living in a brand new town, in a brand new (to me) house, with a brand new job hasn’t been easy. But nothing good in life comes easily. And I know I’ve got a REALLY good thing going.

Know what else is really good? Mini donuts.

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I found these adorable mini donut pans on sale at Kohl’s.

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I knew I would find SOME way to use them. Who doesn’t love donuts?! I searched my trusty friend Pinterest for this recipe. Since they’re baked, they’re partially healthy…right?

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Super duper easy. They whip up in less than 10 minutes, bake in 5, and then you have glorious mini donuts. I decided to add some of my own flavors to the batter.

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I left part plain, added pumpkin spice to one, cocoa powder to one, and sprinkles to one for a funfetti mix!

I also got creative with the glaze. The base is powdered sugar and milk, then you can go CRAZY! I’ve tried mint extract, maple extract (with the pumpkin? Hello fall explosion in your mouth), peanut butter, and cocoa powder. All were successful!

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Who doesn’t love anything mini?!

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The final round-up:

  • Funfetti
  • Chocolate donuts with chocolate glaze and chocolate sprinkles
  • Chocolate donuts with peanut butter glaze and Reese’s on top
  • Chocolate donuts with mint glaze
  • Plain donuts with glaze and sprinkles
  • Pumpkin spice donuts with maple glaze
  • Plain donuts with cinnamon sugar

Woof. A little like my life as of late –  little spice, little stress, little chaotic, but plenty sweet and oh so delicious.

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New Year, Third Wheel

Happy New Year!

In true Claire style, I rang in the new year just like last year – third wheeling it. Actually, I’ve only had 1 holiday ever with a significant other – sugar cookie and I were dating during Valentine’s Day last year. So being single for the holidays isn’t anything new. And it wasn’t that bad. I hang out with this couple quite a bit (they’re pretty awesome) and last year they invited me to see a local band in Cumberland. It was great! But I had one too many long islands and too much cheap champagne. Combine that with a round about on the way home – not pretty. This year was much better – no long islands and slightly tastier cheap champagne. I’d say that’s a win!

Of course, I had to make something to bring to their house. Perfect excuse to use my new Christmas present

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Isn’t she beautiful?! You know you’re old and lame when kitchen appliances make you happy…

But this recipe was a first. It’s a Claire original! I’ve been trying to think of a fun, exciting name, but nothing is coming to mind (I’m open for suggestions). It’s egg-less peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough sandwiched between two Nilla wafers, dipped in melted chocolate and peanut butter.

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Oh yes. How can you even put a name to that deliciousness?!

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I followed this recipe for edible peanut butter cookie dough and just added a mess of chocolate chips. Scoop up some of that yummy-ness and squish it between two Nilla wafers. Dip half in melted chocolate (I added a spoonful of peanut butter too. Because you can never have enough peanut butter) and BAM. Chocolatey peanut buttery goodness.

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And of course the holidays wouldn’t be complete without some lonely guys. Woke up to a text message this morning from turtle cheesecake (haven’t heard from him since September) – a picture of the two of us from his phone and the caption “good times.” Sorry sir, you blew it.

I’ve also received a couple (lame/creepy/weird/boring) messages on both POF and OkCupid, but this one is by far my favorite from Plenty of Fish. It needs no explanation…

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Here’s to a year filled with dates, desserts, and chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate

Banana Boo Boo

It was bound to happen eventually – a Pinterest fail.

Tonight’s attempt was chunky monkey blondies.

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What I loved about the recipe was the fact that it was all mixed in 1 pot. Less dishes = happy Claire. I added some leftover pecan pieces I had laying around and decided to add melted peanut butter on top because who doesn’t love the combination of banana-peanut butter-chocolate?

The problem was baking them. I had them in the oven almost 15 minutes longer than the recipe said because the middle looked way too jiggly. But the edges started getting too dark so I pulled them out in hopes the residual heat would firm up the middle a bit.

The edges were actually servable – and quite tasty

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The middle was a different story – a gooey mess of undercooked banana dough

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Live and learn – my life is far from Pinterest perfect

Cuckoo for Cocoa Cookies

I’ll take my chocolate any way I can get it, but in the winter my chocolate drug of choice is hot cocoa.With marshmallows of course. I found this recipe that combines marshmallows and cocoa and puts them into cookie form.

The result?

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Chocolatey deliciousness.

I made a few tweaks to the recipe:

– instead of 3 cups of chocolate chips (1 each of semisweet, white, and milk) I decided to dump 2 bags (about 4 cups) in the mix – 1 milk chocolate 1 white chocolate. I don’t like opening up a bag and only use some of it (I usually end up eating the rest before I can use it in another recipe…)

– I didn’t have any mini marshmallows but I did have some super sticky, somewhat old, regular marshmallows that needed a home. So I cut them into chunks with my kitchen shears and shoved them in the middle of the cookie. I actually really liked the result – a chewy molten center of melty gooey marshmallow.

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Snow day sweets

November 10th. Snow day. Yikes.

It just so happens that I stopped at the grocery store yesterday because they were having a really good sale on butter.

So naturally I bought 6 pounds.

I am SO ready for the holiday baking season!

Since driving anywhere today was totally out of the question, it was a great day to stay in and bake.

My mom bought 25 bananas to hand out for Halloween (yes…she’s that mom. But she also handed out full size candy bars and chocolate milk. Not too shabby!) We had 8 trick or treaters. I can only eat so many bananas before a) I get sick of them and b) they get overripe. But overripe bananas = banana bread.

I used my great aunt Lillian’s recipe. She was an awesome baker! I was pretty young when she died, but I remember vividly what a sweet woman she was – and how delicious all of her food was. And this banana bread recipe is bomb

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banana bread collage

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The finished product. Can you just smell it? And the best part –

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Buttered banana bread butt. Best. Thing. Ever.

After making banana bread, I was still in the baking mood. I found this really easy recipe for homemade brownies and I’ve seen on Pinterest people who bake brownies in cupcake tins and fill the middle with peanut butter. Peanut butter and chocolate? I’m in!

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I knew these were going to be tasty because the batter alone was freaking delicious! I may never use boxed brownie mix again.

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I baked mine for 15 minutes and they were perfectly chewy on the outside, but maybe a little underdone in the middle. The recipe warned about overbaking so I was a little cautious about them drying out. But I don’t mind my brownies a little soft. I also learned you should let them cool completely (or pop them in the freezer if you’re impatient like me) before trying to take them out – or else you end up with a crumbly, melty peanut buttery [delicious] mess.

Now, if I only I can find a man who loves doing dishes. Then I’d be set for life!