Individual Strawberry Brownie Tarts

As I promised on Facebook last week, this week is going to be full of Valentine’s worthy treats. Lots of pinks and reds. And of course some chocolate too!

These Individual Strawberry Brownie Tarts are the perfect dessert for impressing your Valentine. A rich and chocolatey brownie topped with a delicious (and simple!) cream cheese frosting, juicy strawberries, and drizzled with chocolate syrup. Decadent and impressive, but surprisingly easy! For the brownie I stuck with a simple one-bowl recipe. While the brownies were baking I cleaned out the bowl and used it for the simple frosting. If you realllly wanted you could make them just a few steps easier by using boxed brownie mix and store bought frosting, but you might find that the (very few) extra steps for the homemade version are worth it. And you can definitely use store bought chocolate syrup (like Hershey’s).

As for the “individual” part of this dessert – I used a this heart shaped mini-cake pan from Wilton. You could also use ramekins or even a regular muffin tin (making 12 instead of 6, so they aren’t too thick). Or if you don’t feel like messing with individual dessert you could also use a pie pan, tart pan, or spring-form pan.  No matter which option you choose, I’m sure your Valentine will be impressed!!

 


Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

You may have noticed that I have been saying “Week of Christmas Treats” and not “Week of Christmas Cookies“. As much as I love (really. love.) cookies, I can’t ignore the other delicious treats loved by so many this time of year. Fudge is something I’ve ignored for the last few years, but I couldn’t let that crime continue another year.

When deciding what kind of fudge I wanted to make I had a lot of ideas swirling around in my head. Once I finally had it narrowed down to 2 ideas, I started searching for good recipes. The problem I came across is that a lot of recipes call for marshmallow fluff or sweetened condensed milk, and some even call for Velveeta cheese (seriously?! tell me it’s better than it sounds). I really wanted to avoid those kinds of products, which, luckily I suppose, really narrowed down my search results. In the end the winning recipe contained evaporated milk (something I usually have on hand anyways) and no marshmallow fluff or sweetened condensed milk (something I never have on hand).

Of course, chocolate and peanut butter are a winning combination in my book. But that’s not all that’s great about this fudge! This fudge is also pretty easy to make and the resulting texture is amazing. Smooth and rich without being obnoxiously sweet (which I find some peanut butter fudge to be). The hardest part for me was deciding when to stop beating the fudge after it cooks and sits. I probably could have gone a bit longer, but I wanted to avoid overbeating.



 

Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Week of Christmas Treats day four and, once again, I’m super excited about this recipe. Funny story, I actually got the recipe from a cookie magazine I bought at Home Depot, of all places. It was a total impulse buy and it wasn’t until I got in the parking lot  and examined the receipt that I realized I had paid $10 for it! Yikes, a little steep for a magazine. Luckily it all turned out well because it was full of yummy recipes.

There is a lot to love about this cookies. First the sweet and spicy cinnamon coating. As the cookie bakes, the sugar coating forms almost a crust. This crust gives the outside just the right crisp, while also sealing in the moist interior. The interior reminds me of a chewy and cakey brownie. If you use the optional cayenne pepper, it doesn’t really affect the flavor, it just adds a warmth. The flavor really reminded me of a Mexican hot chocolate I’ve had in the past. Mmmm….

One last note I need to make. When I wrote out my shopping list for cookie-baking I was sure, SURE, that I had cream of tartar. I could even picture in my mind where it was in the drawer. Fast-forward to cookie-baking time and cream of tartar is no where to be found in my kitchen. Of course I had already started and did not feel like running to the store. So I googled for substitutes and what I found is that there isn’t really one good substitute for it. The best I could find was vinegar, to replace the acidity. So that’s what I used. The cookie texture was perfect and we loved the flavor, so I plan to stick with the vinegar whenever I make these. But I’ll make a note in the recipe that cream of tartar can also be used.

 

 

Roll-Out Sugar Cookies

Day Three of a Week of Christmas Treats, and today’s recipe has been a long time coming. I feel a little guilty that I haven’t yet shared this recipe. But better late than never!

I’ve been making this particular cookie recipe for 2 years now. The dough rolls out like a dream. The baked cookie holds it’s shape without sacrificing flavor or texture. And It’s the perfect canvas for both beautiful royal icing and tasty buttercream. It’s the same recipe I use when throwing a cookie decorating party and every year for Christmas. In fact, I’ll be tagging this recipe as a Baking Basic, because I think everyone needs a great sugar cookie recipe under their belt.

 

For decorating I used Sugarbelle’s royal icing recipe. I allowed the cookies to rest over night (I feel like decorating the same day leads to a funky royal icing texture/look) and then piped the outlines (with a pastry bag and small round tip) and let it dry for an hour or so. Once the outline was dry, I flooded the cookie with the desired color (using squeeze bottles). To make a the heart and swirl effects, while the flooded icing was still wet, I dropped small drops of a different color and then used a toothpick to drag through the dot. One day I’ll slow down and take pictures of my own process, but in the meantime there are lots of other super helpful tutorials.

To add to the fun I invited the girls I used to nanny over for cookie decorating fun. This was, I think, the third time I’ve decorated cookies with them, so by now they are pros.