Some of you may have seen this coming…
After my 3-D Pumpkin Cookies, and 3-D Christmas Drums, I was bound to have a few more cookie treasure box ideas!
I’ve been looking forward to doing a Valentine’s Day version since the original Pumpkin Surprise Cookies, and the time has finally rolled around. In some ways, I like this design the best, because you can customize the top of the box any way you want.
I chose a pretty classic design for the top, but the sky’s the limit for the colors and design! These would be extra special personalized with a name, or maybe lovers initials (J+G).
Here’s how I made them…
I started with a batch of my Chocolate Roll Out Cookies. You could certainly use a traditional Sugar Cookie Recipe, or any flavor of your choice.
Bake 3 or 4 heart cookies (of the same size) for each finished box. If you use only 3 total cookies, the space inside for a treasure will be quite small (the depth of one cookie), appropriate for small candies (such as mini M&M’s, or just a note). You can see in the finished photos, I made one box using 3 cookies, and the others using 4.
Bake full cookies (with no cut-outs). After the cookies are baked and have cooled slightly, use a small heart cutter to cut out the centers of the cookies you’ll be using between the top and bottom cookie (either one or two cookies per set, depending on what you’ve decided you want to do).
Allow the cookies to fully cool. Decorate one of the full heart cookies (for each set), which will be your top cookie. You can find some decorating inspiration in my past Valentine’s cookie posts, here, here and here.
While the top cookies are drying, assemble your cookie boxes. I used brown royal icing to hold together each layer. If you use a thin line of icing (as shown below), it probably doesn’t matter what color you use, because it wont show.
Once the decorated cookie tops are dry (after several hours or overnight) add goodies of your choice (small candies, a special note, jewelry) to the box, and set the top on.
(above) 4 cookies ready for one box (a top, a bottom, and two center cookies)
(below) Use royal icing to adhere center cookie (or cookies) to the bottom cookie.
Fill the pretty cookie boxes with goodies of your choice (small candies, a special note, or jewelry), and share with people you love.
Now that all the decorations for Christmas have been put up (well… most of them at least!), the house looks a little bare. This cute little Valentine’s garland is perfect to add a little cheer to a window, wall, or mantel.
For this craft, I enlisted the help of a talented and crafty friend, Kristine C. Kristine designed and assembled the garland pictured. The original inspiration for this garland is from Etsy shop, Funkyshique.
This cute and crafty garland is quite easy to make… in fact, make two and share one with a friend!
Let’s get started!
Burlap (less than 1/4 yard)
No-fray fabric treatment (as pictured above)
White craft paint
Sponge, or sponge brush
Red craft paint
Small paint brush
Thick twine/jute (available in craft or fabric stores, or The Tomkat Studio shop)
Hot glue gun
Valentine’s Garland Directions ~
1. Cut burlap into small rectangles (ours were 3.5″ x 5.5″). For our banner we used six rectangles. Cut as many rectangles are you’d like for banner.
2. Cut a notch (as pictured) into the rectangles, creating a flag.
3. Use the no fray fabric glue along the edges of the burlap. This step is optional, but will help the banner last more than one season. Allow glue to dry.
4. Using a small sponge, or sponge brush, paint the burlap flags white. Add as much or as little paint as you’d like, to achieve the look you want. Allow to dry.
5. When the white paint is dry, use red paint and a small paint brush to paint a heart in the center of the flag. You can freehand the heart shape (as we did), or if you’d prefer you could use a marker to trace the shape first, then fill in with the red paint.
6. While the red paint is still wet, sprinkle red glitter onto hearts. Shake off excess glitter.
7. When the paint is all dry, use hot glue to glue each flag along a piece of jute twine (leaving some excess twine on either end for easy hanging).
Hang the garland in your kitchen window, along your mantel, or anywhere in your home or office that needs a little love.
I struggled a bit with the title for this post. I wanted to title it “Amazing Banana Cake…” or “Delicious Banana Cake…” or “Amazingly Delicious..” In the end, I left the title simple and to the point, but let me add here… this banana cake is amazing, it’s delicious, and it’s quite easy to make! Go now and put your bananas in a paper bag- so they’ll ripen faster, and then you can make this cake!
I experimented with several recipes before settling on the ingredients and proportions listed below. I was so happy when I tasted the first slice of this cake! Then I “sampled” a couple more slices, just to make sure they were equally good! This cake is sweet, fluffy, moist and flavorful.
To answer the question… “what’s the difference between banana cake and banana bread?”, this cake is similar in flavor to a wonderful banana bread, but lighter and fluffier. And certainly, the addition of delicious cream cheese frosting makes this recipe sweeter, and more decadent than banana bread.
Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
This cake is easy to prepare and is a delicious way to use over ripe bananas.
Yield: 9 moderate sized slices
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 mashed (over ripe) bananas (about 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extact
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 block (4 oz.) cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons milk or cream, if needed to thin frosting for easy spreading.
1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375*F.
Grease an 8"x8" pan (with butter or non-stick cooking spray).
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, sour cream, eggs, melted butter, mashed banana and vanilla. Whisk (can be done by hand, or with electic mixer) until fully combined.
Add flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and stir with whisk or spoon until fully combined and smooth.
Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake at 375*F for about 30 mintues (check after 25 minutes). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no wet batter.
Cool (in pan) on wire rack.
Make the frosting-
In the bowl of an electic mixer, or with an electic hand mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, then add vanilla. Add milk or cream, if needed to thin frosting for easy spreading.
Spread frosting onto cooled cake (make sure the cake is cool, or the frosting will melt).
Top cake with chopped, toasted nuts, if desired.
Recipes Source- Glorious Treats
This recipe as is makes an 8"x8" cake. I'm sure you could use a 9"x9" pan if desired, but you will likely need to reduce the baking time a bit. If you'd like to make an 9"x13" cake, I'd recommend increasing the recipe by 1.5 or doubling the recipe. You will have to adjust the baking time accordingly. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no wet batter.
This cake comes together quite easily, and would be perfect to prepare and pop in the oven right before dinner, then it can bake and cool during dinner, and be frosted and enjoyed for dessert. If you’re lucky, there may be a piece or two left over to enjoy in the morning!
I guess I need to start with the title of this post, Perfect Homemade Brownies… yes, I know the word “perfect” is quite presumptuous. Certainly tastes and opinions will vary quite a bit from person to person…. so it would be impossible for everyone to agree on what is “perfect”. I guess that’s one of the luxuries of being the author of a blog… I can pick what is perfect to me! =)
I recently asked the question on my Glorious Treats Facebook page, “…what make a brownie perfect to you?” Although there was quite a range of descriptions (and I love how passionate you all are about brownies!), the vast majority included the word “fudgy” in your description. If you are one of those “fudgy” brownie lovers, these are for you! If you like ”cakey” brownies, you may still want to give these a try… they may have just enough (flavor/texture) balance to win you over!
These brownies are rich, full of chocolate flavor, fudgy and moist (without being overly dense or oily). I would describe them as “better than a boxed mix” brownies. They have very similar qualities to a great boxed mix, but a deeper flavor.
I’ve made (and eaten) quite a few brownies in my life. They are one of my favorite desserts. I’ve been searching for a perfect homemade brownie recipe for a while, and I believe I’ve found it!
Perfect Homemade Brownies
Rich, moist and fudgy, without being overly dense.
Yield: 24 (2 inch) brownies
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 Tablespoon (3 teaspoons) vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (semi sweet)
Preheat oven to 350*F and lightly grease a 9"x13" pan. If desired, line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, add 4 eggs, and beat with cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder and vanilla. Stir until fully combined and smooth.
In a medium sized bowl, melt butter in the microwave (or melt in a small sauce pan on the stove). When melted, add sugar, and stir to combine.
Add warm butter/sugar mixture to the egg/cocoa mixture, stiring until smooth. Make sure the butter mixture is warm, but not too hot, or it will scramble your eggs.
Add the flour and chocolate chips to batter and stir until fully incorporated.
Spread batter into prepared pan, and smooth as needed.
Bake brownies about 30 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the brownies and making a little divit so you can see the center a bit. You should find moist crumbs, but no wet batter.
Cool pan on wire cooling rack.
Notes- For the best flavor, use the best quality cocoa powder you can. The original recipe calls for dutch cocoa, I used natural (not dutch) cocoa with great results, so I imagine you could use either.
The addition of the small amount of espresso powder will not impart any coffee flavor in the final brownies, it simply enhances the chocolate flavor.
If you'd like the choocolate chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, allow the batter to cool before adding chips.
Certainly, if you like nuts in your brownies, free free to add them at the same time as the chocolate chips.
Enjoy these delicious brownies with a glass of milk, or scoop of vanilla ice cream. They are sure to be a family favorite!
Today’s recipe is pretty, pink, and delicious! If you like cheesecake (even a little), you are likely going to love this! This Strawberry Cheesecake Mousse is light and fluffy, sweet (but not overwhelming), and has a deliciously light cream cheese flavor. I’ve made several similar recipes in the past… first Cherries on a Cloud, then Candy Corn Cheesecake Mousse, then Strawberry Blueberry Mini Cheesecake Trifles.
I made a few little changes this time, adding fresh fruit puree to the mixture, (instead of just laying fruit on top as with some of the previous recipes) and also, I used real whipped cream (in place of cool whip). Both adjustments were deliciously successful. I’m sure as spring and summer roll in, I’ll try other fruit purees as well.
I like the addition of the crust (the graham cracker crumble) for a little texture, but it is not necessary.
Strawberry Cheesecake Mousse
This dessert is fluffy and delicious, with a light cream cheese flavor.
Yield: 6 moderate sized servings
Graham Cracker Crumble
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 5 full sized crackers)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup strawberry puree (made from about 1 cup fresh or frozen whole strawberries)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 (8oz) block cream cheese
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-5 fresh strawberries, for garnish
Prepare the graham cracker crumble-
Crush graham crackers in a plastic bag. Crush crackers until the mixture still has some pea sized pieces (you do not need it to be all fine crumbs).
Put cracker crumbs in a bowl and pour melted butter on top. Add 1 teaspoon sugar, and stir mixture until crumbs are moist.
Spread mixture into a baking dish (such as a 9"x9" dish) and bake at 350*F for about 12 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Make strawberry puree-
In a food processor, or blender, chop/blend fresh or frozen (and slighly thawed) strawberries. Process until the berries are chopped, juicy, and no piece is larger than a pea.
Make whipped cream-
In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), whip heavy cream until it begins to thicken. Add powdered sugar, and continue to whip until thick and holds stiff peaks. Move whipped cream to a separate bowl (if using bowl of elecric mixer).
Make cheesecake mixture-
In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar, and continue to beat. Add vanilla, then add strawberry puree, a little at a time. Continue mixing, and beat until fully incorporated.
Fold cheesecake mixture into the whipped cream, and stir gently until fully combined. Taste to check for sweetness. If needed, add an additional tablespoon or so of powdered sugar, and fold in gently.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of graham cracker crumble into the bottom of 6 serving dishes.
Spoon or pipe (with a large piping bag, or large ziplock bag with a corner cut off) strawberry cheesecake mixture into dishes.
Top with fresh strawberries if desired.
Chill in refigerator for 15 minutes, or until ready to serve
Best when eaten the day it was made.
Recipe Source- Glorious Treats
This recipe can be made sugar free by omiting the graham cracker crumble, and using splenda, (or similar) in place of the powdered sugar.
If desired, Cool whip may be used in place of the whipped cream (I would suggest about 1 or 1 1/2 cups).
I used full fat (regular) cream cheese. Reduced fat cream cheese has a higher water content, and I have not experimented with it for this recipe.
If using fresh strawberries, make sure they are nice and ripe. If ripe strawberries are not available, use frozen. I used frozen strawberries in this recipe, and fresh berries just for garnish.
If you use frozen strawberries, make sure they are just strawberries, with no additional sweetener.
If desired, you may want to add a drop of pink food coloring to add to the pink hue. I did not add any this time, and you can see the color is very pale pink.
This Strawberry Cheesecake Mousse would be perfect as a Valentine’s treat, or delicious as a light spring or summer dessert.
Looking for more Valentine’s ideas? Browse all my Valentine’s Day posts, or find lots of sweet and pretty ideas from around the web on my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board.