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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Buttermilk Cornbread

Recently, I had my sister and her boyfriend visiting from New York.  It was so much fun having them in town, I didn't want them to leave!  On their last night with us, we had an easy night in with a delicious homemade dinner and a competitive game of scrabble.  We prepared a Chicken and Spicy Sausage Paella with Mushrooms, and whipped up some Buttermilk Cornbread to go with it.  Both dishes were delicious, in fact we have made the paella a regular dish in our home.  But the Cornbread…  ooh the cornbread.  It reminded me of the corn muffins I used to eat as a kid (I have spoken of my childhood love for mass-produced corn muffins on the blog before - here).  In fact, the next morning I couldn't resist toasting up some of the leftovers with butter for breakfast.  These were a huge improvement from the Entenmann's corn muffins I ate growing up.  

Buttermilk Cornbread, slightly adapted from

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used low fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat to 375° F. Line an 8 inch square pan with Perfect Parchment.  
In a large skillet, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in sugar.  Quickly add eggs and beat just until combined. 
In a measuring cup (I used the same cup I measured the buttermilk in to save from washing more dishes), combine buttermilk with baking soda.  Add to butter-sugar mixture and stir to combine.  
In another small bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, and salt to combine.  Stir into buttermilk mixture until few lumps remain.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 - 40 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool most of the way before removing from the pan.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Nutella-Filled Chocolate-Nutella Cupcakes

Recently, we welcomed another niece into the family.  For the then mom-to-be's baby shower, we made cupcakes we knew the mommy would love: Nutella Cupcakes!  

In this recipe, Nutella is mixed right into the batter.  The cake itself baked up wonderfully - light, fluffy and airy.  But I wanted to make sure that the nutella flavor was unmistakable and over the top, so I hollowed out the center of each cupcake and filled it with straight up nutella.  The chocolate-nutella cupcakes with the nutella center contrasted nicely with the vanilla buttercream frosting.  For a bit of decoration and added chocolate decadence, each cupcake was topped with a chocolate peanut butter heart.

I will add more pictures soon so you can see the cupcakes in more detail.  For now, here is a sneak peek at how the cupcakes were all dolled up for this ultra girly, adorably pink baby shower.  What do you think of the personalized cupcake wrappers?  We made these to say "Welcome Mila" - our new niece's name.  These were our prototypes; these are not currently available for sale yet.  The baby shower guests loved them!  They wore them as tiaras when they were done with their cupcakes.  :) 

The simple addition of ribbon to the edges of a cupcake tower make for such an elegant display!

Nutella-Filled Chocolate-Nutella Cupcakes adapted from Gimme Some Oven
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup hershey's special dark cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup lukewarm coffee
1/4 cup nutella
Additional nutella for filling (optional)

Preheat to 375 and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners (around 24).  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the nutella.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk and coffee to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk mixture.  Mix just until combined. 

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in the pan 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool the rest of the way.

Once cupcakes are entirely cooled, using a sharp paring knife to cut a circle in the top of the cupcake.  (I do this by inserting the knife straight up and down in the cupcake center, and rotating the cupcake with my other hand.  The core will pop right out with a spoon… these are also a perfectly popable snack! :).  Scoop about 1/2 cup of nutella into a piping bag and fill the cupcakes with the nutella.

My favorite vanilla buttercream frosting recipe
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of fine sea salt
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream (optional)

Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and turn the mixer on low.  Slowly add the confectioner's sugar.  When all the sugar is in, add the other ingredients: vanilla, salt, and if desired, the milk/heavy cream (this makes it a little creamier, but also slightly less stiff for piping. It tastes great both ways).
Let mix on medium/high for 5 minutes.  Pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes with a piping bag.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Biscoff Blossom Cookies

On our first business trip for The Smart Baker, we flew to California to visit a new distributor's facilities. It was also my first time ever in California. It was a trip full of firsts: first visit to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, driving through the mountains in California, going to Crumbs (actually, we happened upon the grand opening of the new LA location of Crumbs!), walking the Santa Monica pier and Venice Beach, and so much more.  While the trip was memorable for being the first Smart Baker business trip and our first trip to California together, it was always very memorable because it marks the occasion of my first BISCOFF COOKIE.  Flying home, they handed us each this little individually wrapped cookie … and I fell in love.  

If you love Biscoff like me, you're sure to enjoy these cookies.  They are soft baked sugar cookies with   3/4 cup of biscoff spread mixed right into the dough.  I topped some of the cookies with a Wilbur Chocolate Bud, and others, I left without.   Both were completely wonderful, but I may have loved the ones without chocolate a little bit more. 

Biscoff Blossoms, adapted from Gimme Some Oven
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup Biscoff spread
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
Wilbur chocolate buds (or Hershey Kisses) optional
About 2/3 cups turbinado sugar for coating

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper.  

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, biscoff, and both sugars.  Beat on medium-high until light and creamy (about 3-4 minutes).  
Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. 
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add flour mixture into the butter mixture and beat until just combined.

Roll dough to approximately 1 tablespoon sized balls.  Roll each ball in turbinado sugar and place on the parchment lined sheet approximately 2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookies are just beginning to crack on the surface (around 10 minutes).  If topping with chocolate buds, gently press one into the center of each cookie immediately after removing from the oven.  After 5 minutes, remove to cool completely on a wire rack.  

Also, if you happen to be reading this on the day it was posted (February 25, 2014) please be sure to tune in to CNBC tonight at 9pm eastern time to see our episode of Shark Tank!  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

With the holidays right around the corner, this is a great recipe to have in your back pocket.  Recently, I went to a little get-together and needed a quick and easy holiday treat.  I had a box of Whole Wheat Gingerbread mix from Hodgson Mill sitting in the pantry.  I'm generally kind of wary about any sort of baking mix, due to the chemicals and other weird things in the ingredients list.  Much to my surprise, when I looked at the ingredients list on the box of this Gingerbread mix, I saw only ingredients that I could easily pronounce… Whole grain whole wheat flour, molasses, brown sugar, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, salt and cloves.  Knowing everything in this mix was a normal baking ingredient I typically stock in my own pantry, I found this recipe for Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cupcakes on Hodgson Mill's website and set to work with no hesitation.   These have a wonderful texture, not something you'd expect from a whole wheat recipe.  And the little bit of cocoa added to the batter, along with the cinnamon brown sugar buttercream really make these something special. 

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting
For the cupcakes (makes 15 cupcakes)
1 15oz box Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Gingerbread Mix
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup water, room temperature

In a medium bowl, whisk together the gingerbread mix, baking powder, cocoa powder and brown sugar, and set aside.  
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and eggs.  
Using a large spoon, stir  the dry ingredients into the wet in three additions alternating with the water, beginning and ending with the dry mixture and stirring until it’s incorporated and the batter is smooth.  
Fill a paper lined muffin tin ½ to 2/3 full with batter.  
Bake cupcakes in a 350˚F oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Immediately remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack.  

For the frosting
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 1/2 sticks) 
1/3 cup light brown sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups powdered sugar
1/8 - 1/4 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add brown sugar, salt, vanilla and cinnamon beating until well incorporated.  Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time beating well after each addition.  One tablespoon at a time, add the milk and beat on high speed.  Add milk until the desired consistency is reached.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hodgson Mill GIVEAWAY!

Those Whole Wheat Pumpkin Crumb muffins with from my last post were the perfect fall or winter breakfast (or snack… at any time of the day).  That was one of those recipes when I was really sad when they were gone.  I think I'll be making them again soon.  I have so many other plans for the Hodgson Mill flours sitting in my pantry, too!

Want to try baking with Hodgson Mill's flours for yourself?  The nice people are Hodgson Mill are nice enough to offer a Prize-Pack giveaway for one lucky Ice Cream Before Dinner reader!  One lucky winner will receive a $25 value of assorted Hodgson Mill products, your choice of choice of gluten free or whole wheat products.

Also, don't forget!  Hodgson Will is also doing a  “25 Days of GRAIN Holiday” Sweepstakes - One winner will be selected to win every day for 25 days – winner's choice of $25 worth of gluten free products or an assortment of whole wheat baking mixes and flours!  Plus, they're offering a $1 off coupon, good for any 5LB bag flour or cornmeal (

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Have a GRAIN Holiday: Pumpkin Crumb Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling and Salted Caramel Sauce

How many times have your grand baking plans ended in disaster?  For me, it has been quite a few.  This Thanksgiving was no exception, except thankfully this time I was able to turn it around into a total baking win - and I found a new favorite muffin recipe in the process. 

I had very high hopes for Thanksgiving dessert.  I was going to make crepes for the first time.  We prepared all of the fixings (the filling, the sauce) ahead of time besides the crepe batter - we left that to the last minute so that the crepes would be fresh when it was time to eat… It turns out crepes are not as easy to make as all those Parisian crepe makers make it look.  After many attempts, we finally got some that weren't so bad-looking, but they were hardly the perfect looking pastry I had envisioned.  While it tasted pretty good, it just didn't live up to my expectations.  I think I'll leave the crepe making up to the experts.

The morning after, I found myself awake early... with a muffin craving... and lots of extra ingredients left over from the failed crepe making experiment.  Armed with a variety of premium flours from Hodgson Mill, I set to work.    The end result was an absolutely perfect Morning-After-a-Holiday muffin (or any other day muffin, for that matter).  These moist, Whole wheat Pumpkin Muffins have a brown sugar crumb on top, and a Cinnamon Cream Cheese filling.  The Salted Caramel drizzle is an absolute MUST and takes these muffins to the next level of awesome.  I enjoyed these so much, I think I'll be making them on the day after Christmas, too.  You would never guess there are whole wheat!  I really think the high quality flour used made a big difference here.  The awesome people of Hodgson Mill are giving out $1 off coupons good on any 5 lb bag of Hodgson Mill flour or cornmeal, click here.  Plus, they are doing a 25 Days of GRAIN holiday sweepstakes.  One winner will be selected to win every day for 25 days – winner's choice of $25 worth of gluten free products or an assortment of whole wheat baking mixes and flours.

Pumpkin Crumb Muffins with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling and Salted Caramel Sauce,
makes 12 muffins

Ingredients for the muffin: 
1 1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Hodgson Mill flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
14 oz pure pumpkin (aka pureed pumpkin, canned pumpkin)
2/3 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Ingredients for the Crumb topping: 
1/2 cup White Whole Wheat Hodgson Mill flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Ingredients for the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line a muffin tin with 12 liners and set aside.

Prepare the filling: Using a hand mixer, combine the softened cream cheese and the cinnamon and sugar.  When they are fully incorporated, add in the vanilla.  Mix to combine.  Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and refrigerate.

Prepare the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter with a fork or whisk.  It should form small crumbs.  

Prepare the muffin batter: In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Fold in the wet ingredients until combined.

Fill the wells of the cupcake tin with the batter, about 2/3 full.  Pipe a dollop of cinnamon cream cheese filling onto the top of the batter.  Then, sprinkle each muffin with crumb topping.

Bake for about 18 - 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the batter (not the cream cheese) does out clean with only small crumbs.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing to a cooling rack.

Salted Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt + additional for topping

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter together with the heavy cream.  Remove from the heat and set aside.  

Spread sugar into a thin, even layer at the bottom of a large pot.  Turn the heat to medium-low and allow the sugar heat up for 8 minutes, no stirring.  Let the sugar continue to heat up for the next 8 minutes.  Towards the end of this time, it should begin to liquify.  

When it begins to appear light brown and clear in spots, begin to fold the melted sugar on top of the unmelted sugar with a spatula.  Continue to fold until the entire thing has melted and it turns golden brown - This happens very quickly, so keep a close eye on it.  

When it turns golden brown, remove it from the heat and quickly stir in half of the cream-butter mixture - Stirring continuously the entire time.  Be careful to avoid bubbles and splashes from burning you.  Don't be scared if it begins to harden and clump.  If this happens, return the pot to medium-low heat and stir constantly until it has all melted.  Be patient!  If you want a thicker caramel, keep on the heat, stirring constantly for another 10 minutes.  Keep in mind, it will thicken as it cools.  As the last step, add in the sea salt and stir to incorporate.

Drizzle on top of the pumpkin muffins immediately before serving.  The caramel sauce can be stored in the refrigerator, and heated in the microwave prior to drizzling.  Serving suggestion: Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt on top of caramel drizzle before serving.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Third Annual “Have a GRAIN Holiday” recipe contest from Hodgson Mill

For three years running, Hodgson Mill has hosted a "Have a Grain Holiday" recipe contest.  50 bloggers create delicious seasonal baked goods using their high quality flours.  My entry into this contest two years ago was Gingerbread Cake Bites with Lemon Frosting.  The result was adorable, bite-sized, pretty delicious, and perfect for holiday parties.  Plus, knowing that their flours, "have nutritious whole grains still ground between millstones, just as they did, oh, 6000 years ago," I felt pretty good about serving it, too.  

I love the flavors of holiday baking, so I'm already starting to brainstorm ideas for this year's contest… more to come in the next few weeks!  

To celebrate this contest, Hodgson Mill has a coupon good for $1 off any 5LB bag of Hodgson Mill flour or cornmeal - get yours here: It gets better… they're also going to host a special sweepstakes launching on 12/1 – with a chance to win a prize every day for 25 days!  I'll share this link with you in the next few weeks, too.  

Furthermore, one lucky reader of will receive a great selection of assorted Hodgson Mill – a $25 value - winner's choice of gluten free products or a selection of Whole Wheat items (US residents only).

Woo, holiday baking!  Have you starting testing out new holiday recipes yet?


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