Category Archives: Desserts

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

This past May, we celebrated my triplets 9th birthday. May begins a very busy birthday season in my home which includes three kid parties and one family party. This year, I let me kids each have their own kid birthday party. I decided to make them each their special themed cake for their indiviudal party. As I was planning my trio’s family birthday party, I did not want to add a fourth fancy cake to my list of party duties to accomplish in a matter of weeks. May is such a busy month for us with birthdays, baseball, softball, end of the year activities, and the regular day to day responsibilities. I know I am not the only one who feels the May crunch! My kids love making brownie sundaes, so I came up with the idea to have brownie sundaes for their family birthday party, but really kick them up a notch with the ultimate brownie sundae bar! I chose my kiddos favorite ice cream flavors, and a few of their favorite treats to use as toppings. Putting together an ultimate brownie sundae bar is quick and simple!

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

My ulitmate brownie sundae bar included homemade chocolate chip cookies, which I choped some into cubes and left some whole,

Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

crushed oreos, which I placed whole oreos in a zip top bag and let my kids go to town smashing them into crumbs,

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

freshly whipped cream,

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chocolate and vanilla ice cream,The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

sprinkles and chocolate sauce,

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

homemade mini vanilla bean donuts,

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

and of course, homemade delicious fudge brownies.

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

Everyone at the party enjoyed being able to build their own brownie sundae. It was fun to watch how the kids “designed” their own sundaes! They were so excited to see their favorite treats on the table as toppings for one of their favorite desserts. I just love using food and my baking skills to make people feel happy, loved, and special! The excitement and smiles on my kids faces was priceless!

The Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar

To set up your own ultimate brownie sundae bar:

  1. Choose your favorite brownie recipe or store bought brownie. Click HERE to get my absolute favorite recipe for delicious, rich, fudge brownies.
  2. Next, choose your ice cream flavors. Any flavor would work wonderfully with brownies!
  3. Then, choose your toppings. Have fun with this part! The sky is the limit! After all, this is an ULTIMATE brownie sundae bar!!! I chose my kids favorite treats as toppings. *For my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (and one of my most requested recipes of all time) click HERE.                                                                                                           *For the mini baked vanilla bean donut recipe, click HERE. To bake the donuts in a mini donut pan, bake them for 4-6 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the donut comes out clean.                                                                                                                           *To make the fresh whipped cream, place 1 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract, and 1-3 tablespoons (depending on your preference of sweetness) of sugar into a large bowl. Whip with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. I made this the morning of the party, and kept it refrigerated until ready to serve.                                      A few other topping ideas are: mini marshmallows, candies, chocolate chips, caramel sauce, fruit puree, crushed vanilla wafers, pirouette cookies, mini waffles, pizzelle cookies, etc.
  4. Set up your table. I chose to use bowls to serve the brownie sundaes in, but plates would work as well. Have fun displaying all of your wonderful items and toppings for your ultimate brownie sundae bar. You can include cute labels for each topping if desired to make your table come together and look cute and pretty!

I would love to see what you come up with when you create your own brownie sundae bar! Please stop my blog at www.bakingforblessings.com. If you follow me on Facebook or instagram, take a photo of your ultimate brownie sundae bar and tag me so I can see your wonderful creations!!

Bake and Share Ideas:

  1. Do an Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar for your next gathering such as a birthday party, baby shower, wedding shower, BBQ, or fourth of July. Choose toppings that the guest of honor loves or that fits with the theme of your gathering.
  2. Invite friends and neighbors over for an Ultimate Brownie Sundae Bar. You provide the brownies and ice cream and ask each family to bring their favorite topping to share.
  3. Have a family movie night and enjoy an ultimate brownie sundae bar with your movie. Choose toppings that coincide with the movie you are watching or you can use movie theater candy and popcorn as toppings!

Challah Donuts

As I mentioned in my last post, Challah Bread, my family discovered that my father is half European Jewish through an ancestry DNA test this past fall. I turned to baking to celebrate this new family heritage by making challah bread for my families holiday celebrations. It was so exciting to be able to connect to our family history through baking!

While strolling along in the grocery store one day shortly before the holidays, I came across a “bake From Scratch” magazine holiday issue. (Just a side note here…this magazine has become one of my new favorite baking publications out there!-and no, they did not pay me to say that.) I was thrilled to come across an entire section in the magazine devoted to challah dough! It included four recipes you can make with challah dough including challah donuts. YUP, I said CHALLAH DONUTS!!!!!! I about jumped up and down in the store thinking of how delicious fried challah dough would be. That soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet dough fried into a donut sounded like heaven to me.  Then I thought about how I could fill these fried rounds of deliciousness with one of my most favorite things on this earth, vanilla bean pastry cream. AND, I found another way to connect to my family history though baking…well baking and frying in this case.

I decided to treat my family to a very special movie snack for family movie night during the kids holiday break. At first, the kids were a little disappointed that I did not make popcorn…until they took one bite of these drool worthy challah donuts. I heard words like, “amazing,” “the best thing you have ever made,” and “can I have another one.” Nobody missed the popcorn! Since then, I have gotten many requests to make them again. I just fulfilled one of those requests last week. My son requested challah donuts  to celebrate getting his cast off his arm. I was more than happy to bless him with these fried, pastry cream filled bites from heaven!

Challah Donuts

Ingredients:

For the Donuts:

1 recipe of Challah Dough (see recipe below)
Vegetable oil for frying
1 C (210 grams) granulated sugar (vanilla sugar works wonderfully here! See my baking tip below)

For the Pastry Cream:

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise, seeds scraped
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Directions:

For the Pastry Cream:

1. In a medium sauce pan, combine the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.

3. When the milk mixture comes to a simmer, very slowly pour 1/2 cup of the milk mixture into into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to slowly add the milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until it has all been incorporated.

4. Place a fine mesh strainer over your saucepan. Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan through the mesh strainer to catch the vanilla bean pod and and any bits of egg.

5. Cook the mixture over medium high heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, about two minutes.

6. Transfer the mixture to a an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attached, or a hand mixer. Add the butter and beat on medium speed until the butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.

7. Place the pastry cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

For the donuts:
    1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray with baking spray with flour.
    2. Turn out dough onto a heavily floured surface, and roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a 3 1/2- inch round cutter, cut dough, rerolling scraps as necessary.  Place onto prepared pans.
    3.  Set a wire rack over paper towels. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan (I like to use my cast iron dutch oven) pour oil to a depth of 3 inches, and heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees. Add donuts to hot oil in batches of 3-4, being careful not to crowd the pan. Fry until light golden brown, 1 1/2-2 minutes per side. Remove, and let drain on prepared rack. Let cool for 5 minutes. Place the granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Dip doughnuts in sugar.
    4. Spoon pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Use a sharp knife to make a small hole in one end of each doughnut. Insert piping tip and fill with cream. Serve immediately.*Makes approximately 24 donuts. You can freeze half of your challah dough to use at a later time if you only want to make 12 donuts.

       Challah Dough

      Ingredients:

      1¾ cups warm water (105° to 110°)
      2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar
      1 tablespoon (14 grams) active dry yeast
      ½ cup (100 grams) olive oil
      5 large eggs
      ½ cup (144 grams) honey
      2 tablespoons (36 grams) kosher salt
      7½ to 8 cups (1,050 to 1,120 grams) all-purpose flour

      Directions:

      1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine 1¾ cups warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand until mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat in oil. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in honey and salt. Gradually add flour, ½ cup (70 grams) at a time, until dough begins to pull away from sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium-high, and knead for 3 to 5 minutes.

      2. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let stand in a warm, draft-free place (75°) until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.

      Recipe adapted from bake From Scratch Holiday 2016

      Recipe Source for pastry Cream: Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

      Baking Tips:

      • Dip your donuts in vanilla sugar to take them above and beyond. Vanilla sugar can be purchased or you can make some by placing a used vanilla bean in a bowl of sugar. Let the bowl of sugar sit for a few days before using.
      • Use a good deep fry thermometer to maintain the proper temperature when frying
      • Place your challah dough in your oven with the oven light on to rise. If it gets too warm with the oven light on, prop the oven door open.
      • If your dough is too sticky while kneading, add flour 2 TBS at a time until dough pulls away from side of bowl

      Bake and Share Ideas:

      1. Whip up a batch of challah donuts for your next family movie or game night
      2. Share challah donuts at your next brunch whether you host a brunch or attend a brunch
      3. Invite some friends over for coffee and challah donuts!

American Flag Cake Pops, BFB Bake and Share Military, and What I Have Been Up To

This past month has been ridiculously busy. Every May is crazy. It is the beginning of birthday season in our house which typically lasts into June and includes hosting four birthday parties! Add in baseball season, softball season, end of the school year craziness, and regular life responsibilities makes for one crazy month. I decided that I needed put blogging aside for a few weeks in order to focus on my kids and family and all of my added responsibilities this month. I have a lot to share with you in the next few weeks including my kiddos birthday celebrations and cakes, my end of the year teacher gift, and this very special bake and share post for the military.

American Flag Cake Pops

American Flag Cake Pops

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Two years ago, on June 9th, 2014, my town lost a hero. 19 year old Private First Class Aaron Toppen was killed in Afghanistan in an apparent friendly fire accident during a Taliban Ambush. The town has had a wonderful outpouring of love and support to honor the sacrafice that Aaron made for this country. The latest event to honor Aaron was held last weekend. Will Marquardt, an 8th grade Boy Scout, chose to erect a flag pole to honor Aaron Toppen in front of our local junior high school as part of his Eagle Scout project. He organized the project as well as the dedication ceremony held last weekend. When his mom, my trios former preschool teacher, contacted me to ask me to make cake pops for the ceremony, I jumped at the chance to honor Aaron’s memory with my baked goods. I think, in this case, I felt more blessed just to make this cake pop flag for this event than those did eating them! I didn’t care how busy I was this month. No matter what, I was determined to get this project done! Thank you to all military men, women, and families who serve, who have served, who have given their lives, and to those families who’s loved ones are deployed. Thank you to Will Marquardt for giving our town a wonderful memorial to our town hero Aaron Toppen.

Aaron Toppen Flag Pole

American Flag Cake Pops

When Will’s mom asked me to make cake pops, I knew I wanted to make something that resembled the American Flag. What I ended up doing was pretty simple! I think the hardest part was measuring out the holes to place the cake pops in in order for them to make the flag pattern.

American Flag Cake Pops
American Flag Cake Pops

 

American Flag Cake Pops

2 cakes of your choice. I doubled my tender white cake recipe.
1 batch of your favorite frosting. I used my Swiss meringue buttercream
red candy melts
white candy melts
blue candy melts
shortening
cake pop sticks
a basket or tray to hold your cake pops-my basket was 18 x 26
foam to insert your cake pops in-I purchased my foam at Michaels
white fondant
a small star cookie cutter-I found mine in a set of star cutters at Michales
white crinkle paper to cover the foam

Instructions:

1. Bake your cakes. Let cool completely

2. Crumble your cake. I break my cake apart and pulse it in a food processor until it is all crumbly.

3. Add about 1 cup of frosting to your cake crumbles. Use the back of a large spoon to mix the frosting into the cake. Pinch the cake/frosting mixture between your fingers. If it stays together, you are ready to roll. If it does not, add a little bit more frosting. Be careful not to add too much frosting. It will make your cake balls too mushy.

4. To roll the cake balls, I use a small cookie scoop. This helps to ensure that my cake balls will be the same size. I use a rounded scoop and roll the cake into a ball using my hands. To make the flag, I made 88 cake balls.

5. Cover the cake balls and refrigerate. You can also make the cake balls ahead of time and freeze them. Be sure to defrost them in the refrigerator before you use them.

6. Before you begin dipping your cake balls, you will need to set up your basket and foam you will be displaying your cake pop flag in. I had to cut my foam to fit in my basket. This can be messy. I cut mine outside. Once I had the foam in my basket, It was time to measure! I did 8 horizontal rows and 11 vertical rows. I measured out where each hole should go and marked it. I also determined how many blue cake pops I needed and where exactly they would go. Then, I marked a cake pop stick to the proper depth I wanted each stick to go into the foam. This does depend on what size cake pop stick you use. Be sure that it is deep enough to support the cake balls. I then made a hole using my marked stick in each spot I measured out. This will make placing your completed cake pops into the foam so much easier! It will also ensure that all of your cake pops are the same height! I also added the wooden red, white, and blue stars around the outside of the basket for decoration. I found them in the dollar section at Target.

Basket and Foam

Foam holes

marked cake pop stick

cake pop stick

7. Roll out your fondant and cut out stars.

8. Place the candy melts and and 2-3 TBS of shortening in a bowl.  Melt the candy melts in the microwave. Start with 30 seconds, then stir the candy melts. Microwave for another 30 seconds, and stir. Continue to stir until the candy is melted completely. Return to the microwave for 20-30 seconds more if needed. You want your candy to be a pourable consistency. Add more shortening if necessary to reach the desired consistency. Place your melted candy in a tall glass.

9. Dip the end of a cookie stick in the melted candy, then insert it into the cake ball. Dip the cake ball into the candy just until it is fully coated. Remove it from the candy, and tap off any excess candy. I found this video from Bakerella very useful when I was first learning to dip cake pops. I still use her method of dipping the cake pop, then tapping my hand to remove excess candy for the cake ball. Place the cake pop in the foam to dry. I dipped my blue cake pops first. As soon as I placed the cake pop in the foam, I added the white star to the top before the candy dried.

10. Continue to dip the cake pops until you are finished. After I completed the blue cake pops, I did a row of red, then white, then red, and so forth. Insert the white crinkle paper in between the cake pops to cover the foam when all of the cake pops are completely dry. I used 2 large bags.

11. Step back and enjoy your beautiful creation!

Baking Tips:

*The cake balls can be made ahead of time. Wrap them tightly and freeze. Defrost the cake balls in the refrigerator before using

*Start dipping with chilled cake balls!  I find that the dipping process is so much easier when the cake balls are cold. I take about ten cake balls out of the fridge at a time. Dip those, then take ten more out and so forth

*The cake pops can be made 1-2 days in advance. Just wrap them tightly either individually, or wrap the entire basket making sure no air can get in!

Bake and Share Ideas:

  1. Make American Flag cake pops to share at your Memorial Day gathering or Fourth of July party
  2. Make American Flag cake pops and give them to a military man or woman as a “thank you” for their service