Cherry Chocolate Crumble Bars

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Merry Christmas Eve! For me, this will mark the 3rd day of Christmas celebrations. On Saturday night, my parents, brother, Eric and I celebrated together by exchanging gifts and watching White Christmas and last night we celebrated with my Grandma, aunt, uncle and cousins. And because for us, Christmas is a week long celebration rather than just 1 day, we will be getting together again tonight with some more of the Berendt side of the family. And finally, on Christmas Day we will be celebrating with Eric’s side of the family. Whew! Even typing that makes me tired! But a marathon of Christmas celebrations is just how I like it. But today I have some downtime and am happily spending it in the kitchen. I was asked to bring some cookies to Eric’s family Christmas, so I have spent the day dusting my tiny kitchen in sugar and flour. I decided to bring a batch of my favorite Sugar Cake Cookies and a batch of this new creation. A few years back I worked at the cutest little bakery named Just Delicious. One of my favorite treats from Just Delicious was their White Chocolate Raspberry Crumble Bars. But as per usual, I thought I would switch this classic recipe up a bit. Rather than raspberry preserves I used some Michigan Cherry Jam. I also substitute the white chocolate for semi sweet chocolate as I am a huge fan of the dark chocolate and cherry combination. However, if you prefer the white chocolate raspberry combo, feel free to make your own substitutions. Well, it is almost time for me to get ready for phase three of Christmas 2013, so I will leave you with my Christmas wish for you. May your year be filled with sugar, butter, and all things sweet. Merry Merry Christmas!

Ingredients: Makes 12 bars

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Cherry Jam
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, divided

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients (flour through salt)
  2. Add softened butter and egg into flour mixture and beat with an electric mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs
  3. Take 2 cups of the crumb mixture and place in a separate bowl, set aside
  4. Press remaining crumb mixture into a greased 9×9 pan
  5. Place cherry jam (or your favorite flavor of jam) in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave until jam becomes slightly runny (about 30 seconds)
  6. Pour jam over the crumb mixture in the 9×9 pan and sprinkle 1/4 cup chocolate chips over the jam layer
  7. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the jam layer
  8. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until crumb mixture has slightly browned
  9. Place remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until completely melted.
  10. Drizzle bars with melted chocolate

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

 

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Well friends, Christmas is officially 1 week away! Since Thanksgiving was a week later this year, I have been trying my best to fit in every Christmas related activity I could in the  3 1/2 short weeks we have this season. I’ve been listening to Christmas music nonstop and watching every holiday movie I can. I even got a chance to attend quite a few holiday shows through my job. We got tickets to Cirque Du Soleil’s Christmas show and Elf the Musical. Both were fantastic but Elf was definitely my favorite. I was surprised how reminiscent it is to the movie! But as much fun as these Christmas activities have been, the one thing I have been slacking on is my holiday baking. My mom and I didn’t have our traditional marathon day of baking this year because we didn’t have as many holiday parties to bring them to. However, I couldn’t let Christmas pass by without baking at least a batch or two of Christmas cookies. I always try to bake a new recipe each Christmas and this year was no different. I have seen tons of recipes for the classic Chocolate Crinkle Cookies but hadn’t yet tried them myself. But boy am I glad I finally did. The cookies have a short ingredient list and do not take too long to whip up. The result is a rich chocolate cookie that is reminiscent of a brownie, which just so happens to be my favorite dessert. So here is my new favorite cookie recipe just in time for my favorite holiday!

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Ingredients: Makes 24 cookies

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside
  2. In a large bowl, combine cocoa powder, granulated sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla extract
  3. Slowly add flour mixture to cocoa mixture until just combined
  4. Lightly spray a piece of tin foil with cooking spray and place dough in foil. Wrap and chill for 4 hours
  5. Once dough has chilled, use a teaspoon to divide dough into 24 portions, roll into rough balls
  6. Roll dough balls in powdered and place on greased cookie sheet
  7. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes

Heaven Cookies

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When people talk about “lifelong friends” they rarely mean it in the literal sense. You might meet a lifelong friend in grade school, or even college. But we call them “lifelong friends” as a way to describe the bond we have with them. Because no matter what phase you meet them in life, you know that they will always be a part of you. I feel very lucky to say that I have quite a few of these lifelong friends. But only one is my lifelong friend in both the figurative and literal sense. Because I have known my dear Annie since, well, before we were even born. Our moms met while they were only a few months pregnant with us so I literally do not remember my life without her. We were born a mere 10 days apart and there are few of my childhood memories that Annie is not a part of. In many ways we appeared to be very opposite. She is tall with the curly hair I so wished I had when I was little. While I’m quite petite and don’t even have a wave in my pin straight locks. Annie is outgoing and charismatic, while I was always a bit more shy. But we’ve always just fit together. Annie always pulled me out of my shell, and I always got her bad grades in conduct. Through the amazingly fun family vacations we shared to the not so fun year that we both got dumped within a few months of each other, Annie and I have been through it all. And I am excited for all the new memories we’ll continue to share. In just a few months she will stand by my side as I marry my other best friend, and maybe someday we’ll have little ones of our own that will of course be lifelong friends like us.

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Some of my quintessential “Annie” memories are the countless summer nights that we spent floating in her Grandpa’s swimming pool eating cookies that we lovingly dubbed “Heaven Cookies.” I’m pretty sure her mom bought them on a whim at Kroger, but they were considered our favorite food group for years. They consisted of lemon buttercream and sugary licorice sandwiched between two buttery sugar cookies. So for Annie’s 25th birthday (and our 25th Anniversary of friendship) I thought I would recreate our favorite cookie. And the red licorice makes these Heaven Cookies perfect Christmas cookies as well. Enjoy! (and Happy Birthday Anne!)

Ingredients: Makes 2 dozen sandwich cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Preparation:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix flour and baking powder and set aside
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Beat in egg and almond extract
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture, beating well after each addition
  5. Once dough has come together, wrap in tin foil and chill for 2-3 hours
  6. After dough has chilled, roll out with a rolling pin until dough is approximately 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Use your favorite cookie cutter to cut 24 cookies
  8. Use the same cookie cutter to cut 24 additional cookies, but use a melon baller to cut out a small hole in the center of each cookie
  9. Place all cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes
  10. Let cookies cool completely
  11. To make frosting, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, slowly beat in lemon juice
  12. Spread the “non-holey” cookies with the lemon butter cream and place a small piece of licorice in the center
  13. Top cookie with a “holey” cookie.
  14. Repeat with remaining cookies for a total of 24 sandwich cookies

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Engagement Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes

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Memories are a funny thing. Some fade away instantly, falling into the corners of the mind as soon as the moment is gone. Others come back as fragmented pieces, allowing you to recall an event or a time, but leaving the details behind. And then there are the memories that stick with you. Perfectly preserved, as clear as the moment they happened. Like everyone else, I have my share of all three of these types of memories. But it is those few perfectly clear ones that seem to have had the most impact. One of my clearest memories occurred three yeas ago. It was a small moment between my Grandparents, my cousins and I, but it’s one I recall nearly every day. My grandparents were more in love than any pair I’ve ever known. They have the type of love story that you read about in books, the type of story that everyone hopes to have. And I remember, as clear as the moment it occurred, a speech my Grandma gave to her five grandchildren about the bond they shared. It was Christmas of 2009 when my Grandma shared her hopes for us. She looked adoringly at her husband, like she always did and said “This is what I want for all of you. For you to find someone that you love this deeply, and have this much fun with. I hope each of you finds your best friend to share your life with. Because when you find this… it is when your life really begins.” Her small speech struck me. Because although I never really considered myself a romantic, the words she spoke resonated with me, because I knew that is what I hoped for too. And then, much to my chagrin, a friend came to mind. Someone I had just met a few months earlier, but was quickly becoming quite smitten with. His name was Eric and even after a few months of knowing him it was clear that he was one of the kindest people I had ever met. I had never really felt quite as comfortable or at ease than when I was with my new friend Eric. And it wasn’t long after that night with my grandparents that it became clear that he was that best friend that my Grandma had described. People always say that when you meet your match you just know. Before Eric, I wasn’t quite sure if I believed that. I thought those amazing love stories were just for a lucky few, and for some reason I wasn’t quite sure if I would find that type of love. But after mere weeks of knowing this kind, generous man, I just knew that in Eric, I’d found my home. And after three wonderful years together, Eric asked me to be his wife. On the Friday before Christmas, he took me to Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, and proposed in front of the biggest, most beautiful Christmas tree around.

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We were standing in front of the tree, and Eric told me to look up at the lights. When I looked back at him, he was down on one knee with a ring in his hand. I was shocked and elated and immediately said “Yes!” He then surprised me yet again, by having both of our families meet us downtown to share such a special night with us. It was truly a night I will never forget.

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And since every New Year’s Eve we often celebrate the new year with  bottle of champagne, I thought Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes would be the perfect dessert to celebrate this new step in our lives. The cupcakes have a subtle champagne flavor and are the perfect dessert when topped with a touch of cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 36 mini cupcakes, recipe from The Cupcake Diaries

  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1/2 cup champagne
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4 cup milk

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a mini cupcake pan with 36 cupcake liners
  2. In a small bowl, soak diced strawberries in champagne and set aside
  3. In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients together (flour through salt) and set aside
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until soft and creamy
  5. Add eggs, one at a time to butter mixture
  6. Combine vanilla, vanilla bean seeds and milk in a large liquid measuring cup, set aside
  7. Add one third of flour mixture into butter mixture and beat until well incorporated. Follow by adding one third of the milk mixture. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture into batter until all is well incorporated
  8. Drain the strawberries of excess champagne and pat lightly with a paper towel
  9. Gently fold strawberries into cake batter until well mixed.
  10. Scoop batter into cupcake pan and bake for 10 minutes
  11. To make frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together until well incorporated
  12. Slowly add powdered sugar to butter mixture until all is well incorporated
  13. Stir in vanilla
  14. Use a pastry bag to pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes

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Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

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When my brother was five, he had his heart set on a Power Wheels Fire Truck. It had shiny red paint, a honking horn, and you could actually drive it. Little Sean added it to his Christmas Wish List, but my Grandma had to tell him it was a bit out of Santa’s price range. She said “If  Grandma and Grandpa win the lottery this year, we will buy you that fire truck” And sure enough…my Grandparents won the lottery. And rather than spending their unexpected windfall on themselves, my Grandparents bought each of us an amazing Christmas present. Sean got his fire truck, Kristen got a Barbie Dream House, and I got my very own Fisher Price Kitchen

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I spent hours “baking” cookies and “cooking” dinner in that plastic kitchen. I was only two, but I had already found my lifelong hobby. I never thought I could have a Christmas that would live up to that one. But sure enough, twenty-two years later, I’ve been blessed enough to have yet another, amazing and magical Christmas.

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But before I share that story (and believe me, it’s a good one) I thought I would share one last recipe with the wonderful readers of Miss Petite Sweets. These Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies are easy to make and require only a few ingredients. So I hope you all are having a very Merry Christmas!

For the cookies: Makes 2 dozen, from Two Peas and their Pod

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cheesecake filling:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the white chocolate drizzle:
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and flour
  2. Add eggs, canola oil & vanilla and combine until well mixed, refrigerate for at least 2 hours
  3. To prepare the cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese until creamy and slowly add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until all sugar is well incorporated
  4. Stir in vanilla
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of cooled cookie batter onto a greased cookie sheet and spoon a teaspoon of cheesecake filling into the center
  6. Place 1 additional tablespoon of cookie batter on top and roll into a ball so no cheesecake filling is visible, flatten ball slightly
  7. Repeat with remaining batter to form 2 dozen dough balls
  8. Bake at 350 for 11-13 minutes
  9. After  cookies have cooled completely, drizzle with melted white chocolate

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Soft Gingersnap Cookies


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Christmas is officially one week away and my mind is abuzz with all the wonderful things that the holiday brings. Back when I was little, the week before Christmas brought thoughts of Santa Claus and the gifts I might find under our tree Christmas morning. My cousins, brother and I would go back and forth all week discussing the gifts we hoped Santa would bring us on December 25th. And finally, after weeks of anticipation, Christmas morning would arrive and my brother, Sean and I would rush down the stairs consumed with excitement. Nowadays, the excitement revolving around Christmas has nothing to do with gifts. Night after night of family parties and extended time with the people I love is what makes me look forward to this time of year so much. Just like every year before, the next few days will be filled with laughter, family, and of course, food.

 

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As I mentioned before, the Christmas season often means a few days of baking dozens of cookies to give to family and friends. And each year I like to try a few new flavors and varieties. Sometimes I’m drawn to more unique flavor combinations or crazy ingredients. But this year, I decided to try a few classic Christmas cookie flavors. And nothing is more classic than a soft gingersnap cookie subtly spiced and sprinkled with granulated sugar. I found this recipe over at Two Peas and their Pod and was delighted with the result. The recipe yields three dozen soft gingersnap cookies, perfect for the most wonderful time of the year.

Ingredients: Makes 3 dozen, from Two Peas and Their Pod

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • White sugar-to roll the cookie dough in

Preparation:

1. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
3. Add in the egg and vanilla extra. Mix until well combined.
4. Add in the molasses. Mix until the molasses is combined with the other ingredients.
5. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture.
6. Form the dough into Tablespoon sized balls. Roll the dough in white sugar.
7. Place each dough ball on a greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly
9. Bake for 8 minutes at 375
11. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

We’re only two weeks into December and it has already been a flurry of holiday related activities. I’ve indulged in a few hot chocolates and packaged up dozens of Christmas cookies to give away as gifts. I saw the Christmas Tree Lighting in Downtown Detroit and drove through Dearborn’s Holiday Light Show on Hines Drive. I spent an evening at  “Christmas with the Rat Pack” with my boyfriend, Eric and had a fantastic time. I then watched a holiday special hosted by my other boyfriend Michael Buble and also had a fantastic time.  I realized that I strongly resemble Buddy the Elf come December 1st. Anything Christmas related makes me ridiculously pumped. Seasonal items somehow always find their way into my grocery cart no matter how many times I convince myself that the green & red packaging does not, in fact, make it taste like Christmas. But do you want to know what does taste like Christmas? Peppermint and chocolate. Anyone who has tried the deliciously decadent Starbucks Peppermint Mocha know that this dynamic combination makes for one festive treat. So I decided to translate the delicious peppermint & chocolate combo into a cupcake. I used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe and simply added a bit of peppermint extract. And a topping of fluffy cream cheese frosting accents these cupcakes perfectly. They would be a great dessert at your next holiday party or could even be given as a gift. Enjoy!
Ingredients: Makes 12 cupcakes
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of half & half
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Preparation:
  1. In a large bowl sift together dry ingredients (flour through salt)
  2. Add egg, milk, canola oil & vanilla into dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until well incorporated
  3. Stir in boiling water (batter will be very runny)
  4. Pour batter into 12 cupcake liners and bake at 350 for 22 minutes
  5. For the frosting, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract together until just combined
  6. Beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time
  7. Use a piping bag to frost cooled cupcakes and top with peppermint candy, if desired

Gingerbread Cupcakes

For me, the day after Thanksgiving is the true beginning of the Christmas season. Suddenly my music selections consist solely of the yuletide variety, Holiday movies are all I really have a taste for and my kitchen is full of the flavors of the season. And though it isn’t quite December yet, I felt a holiday Gingerbread Cupcake would be a great recipe to share. This spicy and sweet cake is covered in a decadent cream cheese frosting making for one delicious dessert. The recipe is from the Cupcake Diaries, a cookbook and memoir written by the bakers behind Georgetown Cupcakes. The soft texture of this cake and the subtly spiciness is proof that these sisters really know what they’re doing when it comes to cupcakes. So even if you aren’t quite filled with the holiday spirit just yet, I would suggest you give this recipe a try. Because the sweet smell of gingerbread wafting through your kitchen is sure to bring on the spirit of the season in no time.

Ingredients: From Georgetown Cupcakes; Makes 24 cupcakes

  • 2 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup hot water

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a medium sized  bowl, sift together dry ingredients (flour through salt) set aside
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and dark brown sugar together until light and fluffy
  3. Add eggs into butter mixture, one at a time, beating after each addition
  4. Beat molasses into butter mixture until just combined
  5. Alternate adding dry ingredients and hot water into butter mixture until all ingredients are well incorporated
  6. Scoop batter into cupcake liners and bake at 350 for 20 minutes
  7. For the batter, beat softened cream cheese and butter together until creamy
  8. Beat in vanilla
  9. Beat in powdered sugar one cup at a time until well incorporated
  10. Use a piping bag to pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes

Peppermint Chocolate Cake Balls

I have a confession. Because it’s Christmas. And at Christmas time you tell the truth. (Hello, Love Actually) Not all of my baking experiments are successful. In fact, a lot of my genius baking ideas turn out to be mishaps. … Continue reading