Friday, December 31, 2010

Candied Brandied Apple Tartlets

I have a minor obsession with making bite-sized desserts. I think it stems from the fact that I always want to try one of everything, and with bite-sized desserts, I can actually do that, and keep my sugar intake to a (somewhat) reasonable level. I was looking for a fun spin on apple pie, and for some reason, I decided that brandy would go great in an apple pie. Not really sure why that struck me, other than the fact that brandy rhymes with candy, and candied apples are good, but sure enough, Martha Stewart had a recipe. But like I said, I wanted bite-sized. So, I made it into tartlets. And then, when I was done, I decided they didn't look pretty enough. They needed something more. And the name Candied Brandied Apple Tartlets sounded really fun. So I added a candy apple drizzle. Yum! These were a big hit with my friends!

Candied Brandied Apple Tartlets (adapted from Martha Stewart and


  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 2 Tbl. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of mace
  • 14 Tbl. cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 Tbl. brandy, chilled
  • 1/2 Tbl. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white

In a food processor, pulse together flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, and mace. Add butter and pulse until only pea-sized clumps form. Mix together the brandy, vanilla, and egg white, and add it to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture begins to come together. Turn out the dough onto a sheet of cling wrap. Flatten into a disk, and wrap tightly with cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 3 Tbl. packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbl. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbl. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • Pinch of mace
  • 8 medium-sized red apples (such as Rome), peeled and shredded
  • 1/4 c. brandy
  • 1 Tbl. vanilla extract

Sift together sugars, flour, cornstarch, and spices. In a gallon-sized ziplock bag, combine apples, brandy, and vanilla extract. Toss until well-mixed. Add the flour mixture to the apples, and again, massage until combined.

Roll out the crust dough until it is about 1/8 in. thick, and cut it into small rounds (approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter) that will fit into a mini muffin cup. Put one round into each well of a greased mini muffin tin. Cut the corner off the ziplock bag, and pipe some apple filling into each crust (you want to fill it pretty full).

Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees F, or until apples are cooked and crusts are golden brown. Let cool.


  • 3/4 c. cinnamon red hot candies
  • 2 Tbl. brandy

Combine brandy and red hots in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until a candy thermometer reads 300 degrees F. Note: be careful! It takes forever for the candies to get to about 280 degrees, but once you get even the slightest bit over 300 degrees, the temperature shoots up really quickly, and the candies will taste burnt before you realize it! Not that I know from experience....

Cool the molten candy slightly, then use a spoon to drizzle it over the cooled tartlets.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's Baking? December Round-Up!

I had the honor of hosting December's "What's Baking?" challenge--yay! For my theme, I chose holiday colors--red, green, blue, whatever color was associated with your December holiday of choice. There were lots of great entries, and I look forward to making all of these!

Jen at Beantown Baker made an amazing Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake!

Heather at Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks made some scrumptious-looking Christmas Bark.

Lindsey at Our Share of the Harvest made these gorgeous raspberry and mint Triple Layered Brownies.

Catherine at Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness made these pretty Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies.

Cara at The Boys Made Me Do It! made these festive M&M Christmas Cookies.

Jade at The Mess Pot made these delicious-looking Peppermint Chocolate Cookies.

Amanda at Our Italian Kitchen made these fun Colorful Swirl Cookies.

Ange at The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen made these super-cute Reindeer Cookies.

Jey at The Jey of Cooking made these colorful Pinwheel and Candy Cane Cookies.

And finally, your humble hostess, Steph, of Brownies and Blondies made Peppermint Fudge.

What's Baking: Peppermint Fudge

So, I got to be the host of "What's Baking?" this month--yay! For my theme, I chose holiday colors. Now, I only used one holiday color, and that's red, but I think the results are delicious enough that you won't mind the absence of green!

I have a friend who can't have gluten. As such, I couldn't give her the yummy cookie dough mix I gave everyone else, so I needed an alternative. Fudge seemed like the perfect thing! And peppermint fudge would be fun-looking and seasonal! Just be sure to find candy canes that are gluten-free (some are rolled in flour before packaging). Besides being delicious, this fudge is also really simple--no candy thermometer required!

Peppermint Fudge (slightly adapted from

  • 2 (10-oz) bags of white chocolate chips
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • Healthy splash (otherwise known as 1-2 Tbl.) Peppermint Schnapps
  • 1 1/2 c. crushed candy canes, divided
  • A couple drops of red food coloring

Line an 8x8 pan with foil, and grease it with baking spray.

Pour the white chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk into a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are nearly melted. Remove from heat and continue stirring until all chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Mix in Peppermint Schnapps and 1 c. of cushed candy canes, stirring until well-combined. Add a couple drops of red food coloring to different areas of the pan, and stir once or twice, just to slightly swirl in the food coloring. Transfer mixture to the 8x8 pan, and top with remaining crushed candy canes. Refrigerate several hours, or until firm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Destination Post: Pumpkin Cheesecake-Swirled Brownies

Whoa, a post! Crazy, right? Ok, so life got a little hectic around Thanksgiving. And then I noticed holiday lbs creeping up. So, I've been trying not to bake so much at home, since baking inevitably means eating. So, I haven't had much to post. However, that hasn't stopped me from baking at school, for sure!

Just before Thanksgiving, the executive chef finally gave in to my begging and pleading and bought me a case of pumpkin puree. Now, this would have been much more convenient had he given in, you know, in October, so that I could have used it throughout the fall, but what can you do? One of the stipulations he gave me when he bought it was that he didn't want it sitting around forever, so I had to use it up by next year. Now, a case of pumpkin contains 6 #10-cans. For those of you who think 6 cans sounds like a pretty small number that should be easy to use up, let me explain something. You know those little cans of pumpkin that you buy in the store? They're 15 oz. Or 30 oz., if you get gutzy and go for the BIG can! Now, a #10 can contains 106 oz. of pumpkin puree. Yup. 106 oz. So, I've had pumpkin coming out my ears. And the kids have been getting a LOT of pumpkin-flavored treats. As I write this, I have finished off about 2 1/2 of the cans. So, the end isn't even in sight yet. Which all explains why, when the menu said that the kids were supposed to get brownies for dessert last Friday, they somehow mysteriously morphed into Pumpkin Cheesecake-Swirled Brownies. And they were all the better for it.

Pumpkin Cheesecake-Swirled Brownies (adapted from

  • Your favorite brownie recipe (enough to make a 9x13" pan of brownies)
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbl. whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Prepare your favorite brownie recipe (or cheat and use a boxed mix, like I did) according to directions, making sure you make enough for a 9x13" pan (If you don't have a favorite brownie recipe yet, I recommend this one, minus the Oreos). Pour batter into a greased 9x13" pan and set aside (don't bake it yet!).

Beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, and cream the mixture together until fluffy and uniformly incorporated. Next, add the egg and egg yolk, one at a time, beating each one into the batter before adding the next (This step is important, seriously. It's a pain, but makes for a much smoother batter than if you add them all at once. Trust me, I know this one from experience!). Add the vanilla extract and whipping cream, and mix until incorporated. Next, add the cornstarch, and beat until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly combined. Add this mixture to the rest of the cheesecake batter, and beat until fully incorporated.

Dollop the cheesecake batter over the raw brownie batter, and run a knife through it to swirl it together. Don't be tempted to swirl too much, or you'll lose the pretty marbled effect! Bake at 350 for ~30-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted about 1" from the edge comes out clean.