dessert party

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My daughter graduated from high school in June. (YAHOO! YIPPEE! WAHOO!) On that Sunday we had a dessert party to celebrate her graduation. She and I love to bake, so instead of typical luncheon foods and/or party snacks, it made sense to serve only desserts. A graduation open house dessert party!

**********

In order to not have too much to do the day of the party, we started a few days prior. Here is the rundown of what we did:

Two days prior to the party my daughter baked the cupcakes, both cinnamon chocolate and vanilla bean. We kept them in the basement fridge until Sunday morning, when she made the corresponding frostings, and she then frosted all the cupcakes about one hour prior to the party.

 

 ***

With some of the cream cheese frosting, my daughter piped it onto the edge of oreos, then rolled them into color sugar. She did this right after frosting the cupcakes. It took longer than expected, and required a steady hand, but they were worth it! Cute and delicious!

foodwithpictures frosted oreo cookies

***

Three days prior to the party I made the cookie dough for the chocolate kiss cookies, rolled each teaspoon of dough into blue sugar (her school color), then put the balls into silicone ice cube trays so that they wouldn’t form one large ball by sticking together, then those trays were put into a large plastic zipper baggie. This was stored in the freezer until the morning of the party. On party day it sat out for about an hour, then the cookies were placed on parchment lined cookie sheets into the preheated oven. Cooking time was about 1-2 minutes longer than usual. These were baked about two hours before the start of the party.

 

foodwithpictures chocolate kiss cookies

 

 

foodwithpictures kiss cookies with blue sugar

 

***

The other cookies made ahead of time were the m&m cookies. I used the dough from our favorite chocolate chip cookies, but used a large bag of m&m’s instead of chocolate chips. Each teaspoon of dough was rolled into a ball, then placed into a mini-muffin paper liner, and then stored in the freezer in a covered 9×13 pan. The cookies also had an additional minute or two added to the baking time, but one batch came out a little too brown, so in the future, if baking from frozen dough, I would only add 1 minute to the baking time, not 2 minutes.

foodwithpictures m&m cookies

 

 

***

The night before the party I melted semi-sweet chocolate and in a separate container I melted milk chocolate.  I dipped some pretzel rods into each of these (not both chocolates on the same rod), then placed them on wax paper. Once on the wax paper, I quickly sprinkled a bit of sea salt on them. These were stored in airtight containers until just before the party was to start.

 

foodwithpictures pretzel rods dipped in chocolate

 ***

When I had the melted milk chocolate, I pierced marshmallows with decorative toothpicks (either one regular size marshmallow or 3 minis on each stick), dipped them in the melted chocolate, then rolled them in crushed graham crackers to create Smores-on-a-Stick. (These were very cute … but in my opinion almost too sweet!)

foodwithpictures smores on a stick

 

 

foodwithpictures smores on a stick

 

***

Shortly before the party started I washed strawberries, then cut a store-made pound cake into one-inch cubes. These were put onto wooden skewers, placed on a serving tray, then drizzled with chocolate sauce.

foodwithpictures pound cake and strawberries

foodwithpictures strawberries and pound cake

***

For my party guests who are gluten-free we purchased gluten-free pretzels and dipped half of the pretzels into melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, and the other half were dipped into melted milk chocolate. We also dipped marshmallows into the melted chocolate, such as for the Smores-on-a-Stick, but without the graham crackers. Also, strawberries and grapes were put on wooden skewers and served on another tray. And we made hot air popcorn, added butter and salt, and put that into individual paper cups.

foodwithpictures gluten free

foodwithpictures popcorn

 

 

 ***

In addition to the desserts, we had individual milk boxes (chocolate milk and white milk), juice boxes, water, iced tea, and lemonade. I meant to make a pot of coffee, but completely forgot! I also had some wine, sangria, and beer, for those that wished to drink that kind of beverage.

 **********

Can’t forget the decorations! I wanted the kitchen to look festive, colorful, and whimsical, but didn’t want to spend a lot of cash making it so. I purchased two rolls of crepe paper, and two packages of inexpensive paper lanterns.

foodwithpictures decorations 2

foodwithpictures decorations 1

***

For the paper products, I have been keeping a keen eye on the clearance section of Target for the past year and as I found bargains I purchased a few packages of plates and colorful napkins. I was also lucky to acquire some plates, paper straws, and bowls from a friend who had extras after purchasing too many for a large school party she planned. The dollar store was my final stop for the plates that said “Congrats 2014 Grad”.  Total cost for all the paper products was less than $10.

**********

The party was fun. And sweet! The vanilla bean cupcakes were the first to go, and the m&m cookies and the cups of popcorn were also scooped up quickly.

Prior to the party I had plans to make whoopie pies, and made the cake part two days ahead, but I made the mistake of using a new recipe and they didn’t turn out as expected. They were very tasty, but LARGE. More like cupcakes rather than easy to hold and eat whoopie pies. After the party I sliced each one in half, then put in the filling, and my kids enjoyed them very much.  Here is a pic of those.

foodwithpictures whoopie pies 1

***

foodwithpictures plate

Easter Bunny Cakes

Each Easter we make a bunny cake. It’s a tradition that started when I was a child. Sure, there were many years a bunny cake didn’t get made, such as when I was single, but once I had kids the tradition got started up again.

My favorite cake recipe to use when making our Easter bunny cake is this orange cake and we frost it with vanilla frosting. All the kids (yes, even my older kids!) have fun decorating the bunny with sprinkles and candies.

Here are some of the bunny cakes from the past few years:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here are the photos to show how easy it is to make this bunny out of two round cakes.

Leave one of the round cakes as is, and cut the other as shown in this photo.

Leave one of the round cakes as is, and cut the other as shown in this photo.

Place the cake pieces as shown (you'll need a large platter or cookie sheet).

Place the cake pieces as shown (you’ll need a large platter or cookie sheet).

If you make one of these adorable bunny cakes, send me a picture … I’d love to see your bunny creation!

mini cheesecakes with chocolate cookie base

cheesecake with cookie base

Last month, when it was time to make cookies to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve, my insistent soon-to-be 8 year old decided we needed a chocolate cookie instead of the butter cookies we had made the day before. I searched my recipes, but nothing jumped out at me as the perfect chocolate cookie for Santa, so I did the logical next step by going to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. There I found her White Chipper Chocolate Cookies. Perfect! We made a batch on Christmas Eve and we all loved them, as I’m sure Santa did as well, based on the empty plate we found the next morning.

One thing about this recipe: It makes a lot of cookies. At least 4 dozen. Which got us wondering what we could do in addition to regular cookies because even though we’re cookie lovers, even the most delicious cookie can seem boring when you have over 4 dozen of them to eat. My soon-to-be college freshman daughter immediately thinks of cheesecake when we’re brainstorming things to bake. I remembered the other mini cheesecakes she made, the ones with an Oreo as the base. I thought, why not use one of these delicious white chipper chocolate cookies as the base? We were drooling just imagining how yummy it would taste!

So that’s what we did last week. We made the cookies as per Mel’s recipe, and made two dozen as regular cookies.

white chipper chocolate cookies (2)

The remaining cookie dough was put into muffin tins lined with paper liners. We put in one rounded tablespoon of dough into each paper liner. These in the muffin tins we took out of the oven on the lower end of the baking time — just before the 9 minutes were up. (We used 2 pans, for a total of 24 mini cheesecakes.)

cookies in muffin tins

After they were baked and cooled, my daughter made the cheese cake using the basic Philadelphia cream cheese recipe, but halved the ingredients, which ends up being:

  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs

Once those ingredients were blended together, she put a large scoop of this cream cheese mixture onto each of the cookies in the paper liners in the muffin tins, filling them about 1/2 – 2/3 full.

cookie base with cheesecake

These little goodies were baked at 325F for 20 minutes. Once cooled, they needed to be refrigerated for a couple hours before serving.

cheesecake with cookie base (2)

Good news: They were as delicious as I expected they would be! And I think next Christmas Eve we may surprise Santa with one of these mini cheesecakes instead of just cookies. We’ll be the favorite house on his route!

birthday cake

triple chocolate squares with mint

My oldest turns 21 in just days. And he’s away at college on his birthday, so I’m sending him treats to enjoy while studying. When he returns home for the Thanksgiving break, I’ll make him his favorite birthday cake, brownie ice cream cake.

I wanted to give him a full week of goodies to eat, so earlier this week I sent double chocolate cookies, and today a package of banana muffins (his favorite), and triple chocolate cake squares. For the triple chocolate cake squares, instead of using semi-sweet chocolate chips, I used a bag of Nestle dark chocolate and mint morsels for the topping. So good!!!!! Since he’s a fan of chocolate and mint, he’s sure to love these!

ice cream cake

ice cream cake 4

In my recipe binder I have a recipe for Easy Ice Cream Cake from a 2007 Kraft recipe magazine. My daughter and youngest son made this for our July 4th celebration last week. We were unable to include the crushed cookies the recipe called for, due to an allergy issue, but plan to make homemade chocolate cookies to use next time we make this ice cream cake.

This cake is so easy to put together and because it’s made out of ice cream sandwiches, it’s great for a large gathering, especially if kids will be present. Summer cookout or birthday party or neighborhood get together…. This Ice Cream Cake is perfect!

*Edited to include the info needed if you do add the cookies! I had mentioned them above, but forgot to list them in the recipe when I first posted it. Oops! All correct now.

*Update: We’ve made this again — this time with the chopped sandwich cookies mixed in with the fudge topping, Cool Whip and pudding mix. OHMYGOSH! So ridiculously and sinfully good! 

~~~

Ice Cream Cake

1/2 cup ice cream fudge topping, warmed

1 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip whipped topping, slightly thawed, divided

1 4-ounce package instant chocolate pudding mix

8 chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped

12 ice cream sandwiches

~

In a bowl combine the fudge topping with 1 cup of the whipped topping.

Stir in the dry pudding mix until well blended.

Stir in the chopped cookies.

Use parchment paper (or foil) to line a loaf pan — leaving a large amount on each side for easy removal of the ice cream cake later on. (Make sure there’s enough parchment paper to go up the side and across the top.)

In the lined loaf pan, place four of the ice cream sandwiches across the bottom.

Spread half of the pudding mixture on the ice cream sandwiches.

Repeat with another layer of ice cream sandwiches, then the remaining pudding mixture.

Finish up with the last four ice cream sandwiches.

Frost the top with the remaining whipped topping. *Note: If you assemble this before putting it into the loaf pan, you could frost the sides as well at this point.

Fold over the parchment. Tuck in any extra parchment into the sides to help seal it.

Freeze at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, allow to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes or so, to make cutting easier.

ice cream cake 1

ice cream cake 2

Use a sharp knife to cut about 1/2 inch slices.

ice cream cake 4

We prefer to cut the long side and then each of those large slices into three servings.

ice cream cake 5

ice cream cake 6

The hardest part of this recipe: Deciding if you should eat it with a spoon or a fork.

ice cream cake 7

Store remaining ice cream cake back in the loaf pan in the freezer.

bunny cake — 2013

bunny cake 2013

Each Easter we make a bunny cake that the kids decorate.

Sometimes I use golden yellow cake, other times orange cake. This year I made the orange cake and my daughter made white frosting using the basic ingredients of softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. She’s been baking long enough to know how to make this frosting without a recipe.

Here’s our bunny cake from this year, 2013. You can see some others we’ve made in past years in the original bunny cake post, here.

2013 bunny cake (step 1)

2013 bunny cake (step 2)

bunny cake (step 3)