Red Velvet Cookie Bars

This year I had the privilege of leading a Bible study through Athletes in Action at Queen’s University.  I have run a group for 3 years now and every year it gets even better.  I’ve been so blessed to have these ladies in my life.  Last Monday was our last meeting before exams so I decided to make a special dessert… red velvet cookie bars.  Yep, they are as delicious as they sound.  We also decided to have a plaid theme… in case you were wondering :)

These ladies are super cool and I’m going to miss them very much! Image

Ok, now about the cookie bars.  Not quite a cookie, not quite a cake… a hybrid of red velvet goodness!!  The cream cheese frosting definitely makes them extra awesome.  I topped these bars with little sugar crystals to make them pretty but you can top them with whatever you want.

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Ingredients:

  • 3⅓ cups flour
  • ¼ cup unsweet­ened cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon bak­ing pow­der
  • 1 cup but­ter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons (one 1-ounce bottle) red food coloring (Note: I used cake decorating food colouring from Wilton and only needed a small squirt of the stuff)

For The Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 8 Oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

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Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream together 1 cup butter softened and sugar until light and creamy. About 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and food coloring until combined.
  • Add the flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Press into the bottom of the 9×13 inch pan.  (Note: the dough is a little sticky but is definitely easier to press down with your fingers than a spatula at first.)
  • Bake for about 20 minutes until the edges start to pull away from the sides and a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean.
  • To make the cream cheese frosting, Beat together the cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat together until smooth (approx. 2 minutes on medium high speed).  Make sure the bars are completely cooled before you frost them to avoid a sticky cream cheese mess!

Enjoy!

Source: Recipe adapted from Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars by the Recipe Critic

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

Do you want your entire kitchen to smell like the inside of a Cinnabon store? No point in answering that question really… the answer is usually always YES.  I’ve been on a total cupcake craze lately.  I don’t know what it is… they are just so fun to make.  and cute to look at.  and delicious to eat.  These treats are a little labor intensive but really, really worth the effort.  Just imagine warm vanilla cupcakes with a brown sugar/cinnamon swirl topped with an ooey-gooey coffee flavored cream cheese frosting.  Hungry yet?! :)

Thanks for sharing this recipe with me Gwennie!

Recipe yields 12 cupcakes

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Ingredients:

For the Cinnamon Swirl:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon coffee extract
  • 3 cup powdered sugar (add more or less to make it a stiffness that you like)

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Directions:

To make the filling:

  • In a small bowl, stir all of the ingredients together until combined. Set aside.

To make the cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Line a muffin pan with cupcake papers; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl, making sure there are no streaks of flour remaining (do not over mix).
  • Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter in each of the paper liners in the prepared muffin pan. Make a small well in the middle of each cup of batter with a toothpick, Stir the filling to make sure the butter is combined, then spoon a scant 1 teaspoon of the filling into each cup. Use a toothpick to swirl the filling and batter together.
  • Add another 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter to each cup and repeat the filling/swirling process.
  • Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  • Mix butter, coffee extract and cream cheese on medium speed until well combined (approximately 30 seconds).
  • Slowly add powdered sugar a little at a time and mix until frosting is light and fluffy (approximately 2-3 minutes).

Enjoy!

Source: Cinnamon Roll Cupcake recipe adapted from Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes by Bakingdom

Pirate Party Cupcakes **(so cute I’m re-visiting them!)**

Two years back I made cupcakes for our March Break Pirate Camp at work and they were so cute I couldn’t resist making them again.  Here is the original post here.  These cupcakes are really fun to make.  After they are baked, you hide a chocolate covered coin in the middle as buried treasure.  I used tan colored butter cream frosting and sprinkled a few graham crackers crumbs on top for sand.  I found the liners and little flags at Dollarama which was a great find.  You can also add a little red “X” to mark the spot of the buried treasure.  Arrrgh.

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Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cereal Squares

So these treats kind of happened by accident.  I wanted to make Rice Krispie squares for the weekend but when I went to the store, I happened to notice that Reese’s Puffs cereal was on sale.  I thought I’d try something new and make some chocolate peanut butter squares instead of my old stand by.  Whoa.  These were super good! I mean, Rice Krispie squares are an amazing classic but these are definitely worth thinking outside the box a bit :)

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Ingredients:

  • Approx. 7 cups Reese’s Puffs cereal
  • 2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 8 peanut butter cups, chopped

Directions:

  • Combine butter and peanut butter in a saucepan and melt over medium heat.
  • Gently stir in marsh mallows and stir until melted.  Be careful not to burn!
  • In a large bowl, stir together marsh mallow mixture and cereal.
  • Stir in 1/2 of the chopped peanut butter cups (they will get a little gooey).
  • Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan.  Press cereal mixture into the pan (you may want to use a greased spatula to make this easier).
  • Sprinkle remaining peanut butter cups over the squares and gently press them into the mixture.

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Enjoy!

Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies

These cookies don’t look all that exciting but don’t let their appearance fool you! You will LOVE these things.  Sometimes I’ll splurge and get one of the ginger cookies at Starbucks but eating them warm straight out of the oven is even better!  I don’t know where I got the original recipe for these… all I have is something resembling a recipe scrawled on one of the pages in my recipe book.  So delish.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 white flour
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1/4 dark molasses
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar (for coating)

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Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together the flour, spices and salt.  Set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, mix the sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add the egg and mix until well blended.  Stir in the water and molasses.
  • Mix the sifted dry ingredients into the molasses mixture until combined.
  • Roll dough into balls and then roll in sugar (I like to make my cookies fairly small but you can make them a bit bigger if you like)
  • Bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely (Note: Do not over bake! Cookies will look a little puffy when you pull them out of the oven).
  • Recipe yields approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!