Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Here are some mini cupcakes I whipped up a couple of weeks ago for our neighbour's annual Christmas party.  There were both vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and I topped them with some classic vanilla buttercream. Yum!

The beautiful lights at the Alberta Legislature Grounds

I hope everyone is having a fabulous Christmas season! Ours has been busy as busy can be, but a total blast at the same time.

My Aunt/Godmother and I at her Christmas party

At John's work Christmas party

From Christmas parties to Christmas baking to shopping and everything in between, this Christmas is gearing up to be a fabulous one!

Decorating can be so tiring!

From our family to yours, I hope you have an absolutely wonderful Christmas this year! Thank you to each and every one of you for making this year so amazing :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dill Pickle Soup

One of our favourite restaurants these days is the Continental Fine Treat Bistro. The food is warm comfort food with a classy twist and we have always had both excellent meals and awesome service at this restaurant.  One of our favourite items it their Dill Pickle Soup, and I recently found out that the recipe for this soup had been in an article in our city's paper! 

As soon as I realized this could be made at home, it became dinner that night.  This soup is really easy to make, and tastes even better the next day so it makes an awesome soup to take to work for lunch.

The creaminess paired with the dill pickle flavour is out of this world! I know it sounds strange, but man is it good!

This recipe is enough for two generous servings.

Dill Pickle Soup

  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 3 medium to large dill pickles, shredded
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped fresh dill
  • chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer and add the celery, potato, and shredded carrot
  2. Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, and then add the shredded dill pickle
  3. Mix together the flour with the water in a small bowl and then whisk it into the soup
  4. Bring the soup to a simmer, and season to taste with the salt and pepper
  5. When ready to serve, whisk in the whipping cream and garnish with the chopped parsley and dill
  6. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: this restaurant has no idea who I am. We just love their food!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

The other day I had two sad looking banana's so I decided to whip up my husband's favourite muffin, the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins that are a stable at our house. After quickly scanning my fridge I realized that we were out of sour cream! Since I couldn't make these specific muffins, I checked out my Mostly Muffins cookbook for another option.

Poor John, as soon as I saw these Peanut Butter Banana muffins I knew they had to be made! They just sounded delicious and perfect to take for breakfast at work. Why poor John?  For some reason he doesn't like peanut butter messing with his favourite muffins, but even he had to agree that these were good.

I used chunky peanut butter, but smooth would work really well too.  I made 16 muffins from this recipe, but it originally states that it makes 12 if you want big muffin tops on your muffins :). If you don't have cupcake liners, be sure to grease your muffin cups so that they don't stick to the pan.

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter (I used chunky peanut butter)
  • 2/3 cup soy milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and fill your muffin pans with cupcake liners
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt
  3. In a second large bowl, whisk together the egg, mashed bananas, peanut butter, soy milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla
  4. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients
  5. Add the chocolate chips and mix until just combined
  6. Fill your prepared muffin cups, and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of a muffin
  7. Let stand in the pan for about 5 minutes before carefully removing
  8. Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Baby Shower Cake - Welcome Mason!

‘Tis the season for baby showers I think! After making the desserts for my friend’s baby shower a few weeks ago, I was asked to make a cake for a bouncing baby boy that has made a recent arrival.  This was another time that I was given free reign on the cake design and I wanted to try my hand at some more fondant figures.

I covered the cake in baby blue (appropriate, no?) and decorated it with green and yellow stars.  It was then topped with a bear that was made out of chocolate fondant.

The cake itself was a vanilla bean cake iced in classic vanilla buttercream. Always a crowd pleaser!

Welcome baby Mason!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

You know how sometimes you are walking through the grocery store, grabbing healthy options for your week and doing your best to resist the temptation of the candy aisle, and then when you look at your basket at the till you find that it has a bag of candy in it? And you have no idea how it even got there?

No? um, me neither

But these randomly showed up in my shopping bag the other day and I figured it would be best for all parties if they were consumed as soon as possible. You know, to remove the temptation and all that.

I figured the colourful candy shell would be ridiculously cute in cookie form, and pairing chocolate and peanut butter is always a winner. I used my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe as a base, and added some chopped up peanut butter M&Ms and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

I had some when they were still warm from the oven and they were unreal! I ate 6 in one sitting. SIX cookies, in one sitting. And that doesn’t even count the rest of the day! oops. Good thing it is sweater season. Puffy sweaters are in fashion, right? please?

I made my cookies a bit smaller than usual, so I was able to get about 4 dozen from this recipe.

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped peanut butter M&Ms
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chipes
  1. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray it with cooking spray) and preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Whisk together the flour and baking soda
  3. Mix butter and the two sugars together until light and fluffy
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt to the sugar mixture and mix until completely incorporated
  5. Add the flour mixture, followed by the chocolate chips and mix until the chocolate chips are evenly distributed
  6. Using a tablespoon, drop the cookie dough onto the baking sheets.  Each baking sheet can hold about 1 dozen cookies 
  7. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes and remove when the edges are golden brown and the middle of the cookie is still soft.  The cookies will finish setting after they are removed from the oven
  8. Enjoy!

I seem to be on a bit of a cookie kick lately! Must be the holiday dessert platters calling me :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lemon Cornmeal Cookie Sandwiches

With this chilly weather upon us, sometimes it is night to have a treat that reminds us of the summer and how warm things can be.  I made these lemon cornmeal cookies awhile back, but somehow they got lost in my disorganized mix of pictures. I came across them again recently, whipped up a new batch, and fell in love all over again!

The cookies are amazing on their own, but I love to whip up a small batch of cream cheese icing and make sandwiches out of them.  Delicious!

One thing to note about these cookies is they don’t really rise, so whatever size you make them when you put them on the pan, that’s pretty much what size they will be when they come out of the oven. I didn’t realize this the first time so I ended up with these super small and cute sandwiches, perfect for popping in your mouth every time you walk through the kitchen. Every. Time.  My tummy thanked me, my hips didn’t.

So if you need a burst of sunshine on your Christmas cookie platter this year, whip these up!  The cookies were one of Martha Stewart’s cookies of the day, and the cream cheese filling is totally optional.  The original recipe makes 24 individual cookies, but since I make mine on the smaller size I get about 16 cookie sandwiches (32 individual cookies).

Lemon Cornmeal Cookie Sandwiches
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Cream cheese filling (optional)
    • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup icing sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, lemon zest, and salt
  3. In a large bowl mix together the warm butter, sugar, and egg 
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well
  5. Roll the dough into small balls (about 1 1/2" in diameter) and place on the cookie sheets
  6. Lightly flatten the cookies with the palm of your hand
  7. Bake for 16 - 25 minutes (depending on the thickness of the cookies) until the edges are lightly browned
  8. Let cool completely
  9. While cooling, beat together the cream cheese, butter, and icing sugar
  10. When the cookies are cool, spoon some filling onto the bottom of one cookie, and than add another cookie to make a cute sandwich
  11. Continue with remaining cookies, and Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Virtual Cookie Swap! Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies

This year the beautiful Rachel from had a fabulous idea, a virtual cookie swap for Christmas! How fun!

She organized a bunch of us bloggers (that girl has mad organizational skills!) to share our favourite cookie that we were going to bake up for the holidays so that everyone can get a fabulous start for the Christmas season.  I am so excited for all of the amazing recipes that everyone has shared!

If you want to see what other delectable cookies have been contributed, you can check out her round-up here, and I strongly recommend that you do. Except that it will give you the urge to rush into your kitchen and fire up that oven.  Consider yourself warned.

I decided to do a twist on the traditional shortbread cookie. I absolutely love the buttery taste and texture of shortbread cookies, and how you can always depend on them showing up on the dessert table at Christmas every year.  I thought it would be cute to incorporate some crushed candy canes for a pop of both colour and a yummy peppermint flavour.

These were so easy to make! And so festive looking as well.  I’m super happy with how they turned out.

I used the traditional shortbread cookie recipe that my family has always made, and mixed 2 crushed candy canes into the dough. I then baked them up as usual and out came cute candy cane shortbread cookies! These don’t even need sprinkles (and that is saying a lot, I love sprinkles!).

When it comes to crushing the candy canes, if you have a food processor please use it. I figured “hey, I’m only going to need, like, 2 candy canes. Totally not worth having to wash my entire food processor!”. I was wrong, just use the darn food processor. I made such a mess cutting these candy canes up with a knife I think the cleanup was even longer! Eh, you live, you learn. These cookies were worth every minute of the cleanup!

I made just over two dozen cookies with this recipe. And then I ate half a dozen before I could control myself. So maybe double this recipe, just in case.

Candy Cane Shortbread Cookies
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2 candy canes, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the corn starch, icing sugar, and flour
  3. Blend in the butter until a soft dough forms
  4. Add the chopped/crushed candy canes and mix until distributed throughout the dough
  5. Roll into 1" round balls and place on the cookies sheets
  6. Flatten each ball with your hand or a lightly floured fork
  7. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the edges are a light golden brown
  8. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cookie rack
  9. Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Confetti Cupcakes

You know what is a fun dessert? Funfetti cake! You know what else is fun? You can make your own funfetti cake at home and customize it for whatever you need!

For the baby shower the soon-to-be-momma asked for lemon funfetti mini cupcakes. To make these I used the vegan lemon cupcake recipe, and added about a ¼ cup of rainbow sprinkles right before piping the batter into the cupcake liners.  It worked out fantastic!

One thing I will warn you about is to not mix the batter too much after the sprinkles are added.  The sprinkles (I have used both jimmies and non pareils and they each work awesome) will start to dissolve in the batter and mixing will greatly increase the rate that they dissolve.  I just threw the sprinkles in after the batter was ready and give it a few quick folds to distribute the colours.

I tried this technique a second time for some Christmas cupcakes that I made for my aunt this week.  I added a scant ¼ cup of Christmas jimmies (red and green mix) to the batter, gave it a quick stir, and then filled my muffin cups and baked it up.  And taaa-daaa, Christmas Confetti cupcakes!  I know that I am not the first person to figure this out, but man I am still excited about it.  The possibilities are endless! I think it’s time I stocked up on some more sprinkles…

So as a general guideline, I would recommend adding a scant ¼ up of sprinkles for every 12 regular cupcakes that the recipe makes.   Have a fabulous weekend!

Oh, and here are the other cupcakes I had made for my aunt :) Chocolate cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting, topped with holly sprinkles and some silver draggees.  

Happy holidays to you!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Catching up with the times!

Naked Cupcakes is now on facebook! I know, it took me long enough eh?

But I am there now! So please feel free to show me some love :)  You can either visit the page here, or click the 'like' button in the right column of the blog.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes

These are the delicious vegan carrot cake cupcakes that I had also made for the baby shower for my friend.  I never used to even like carrot cake, now I love a chance to make it!  The warm spices are perfect for a winter dessert.

I find that I usually have trouble making mini carrot cake cupcakes, maybe it is because there is so much ‘stuff’ for the batter to hold together in the tiny cup? So to try and avoid that this time, I chopped up my raisins so that they were more manageable are and I shredded the carrots extra small.

These small changes seemed to do the trick! After the cupcakes had cooled they came out of the cupcake wrappers much better than previous attempts. Whew! 

Since I couldn’t get my hands on any vegan cream cheese I made a vegan buttercream frosting and added a bit of butter flavoring to complement the carrot cake.  I think the flavor combo came out quite  nice.

And the little ninja still hasn’t made an appearance! I’m getting impatient :)

The original recipe is from Vegan Cupcakes take over the World.  I modified it a bit to work with the requests for the shower and what I had available in the house.  This makes 12 regular, or 3 dozen mini cupcakes.

Vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup soy milk 
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line you muffin pans with paper liners. Lightly spray the liners with baking or cooking spray
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and let sit for a few minutes to curdle and thicken up
  3. Add the sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla, and mix well
  4. In a second bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and all spices
  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet
  6. Add the carrots and raisins and mix until well distributed
  7. Fill the prepared liners and bake for 26 - 28 minutes (regular cupcakes), or 12 - 15 minutes for mini cupcakes
  8. Let cool before frosting
  9. Enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jungle Baby Shower Sweets (Vegan Sugar Cookies)

Last Saturday I attended a baby shower for one of my best friends! She is due in the middle of December, and her family decided to throw her a Jungle themed baby shower. So excited!

I was asked to do the desserts (yay!) and was given free reign with the design. The only request were "mini cupcakes (carrot cake and lemon funfetti) and ninja cookies".  The ninja cookies are kind of an inside joke, just go with it.

Oh, and everything had to be vegan. After making these sugar cookies I have to admit that this is the best sugar cookie recipe that I have come across so far. I love how they rolled out, baked up, and tasted! I am also really happy with this vegan icing (ie: no meringue powder could be used!) that I used to decorate the cookies, one batch was enough for 3 dozen of these! Since cookie decorating isn't my forte, I think I will stick with this icing recipe for now.

In addition to the cupcakes and cookies I decided to make a jungle-themed cake to highlight the main baby shower theme. It is sometimes hard display a theme with something as small as mini cupcakes and I had some fun ideas for the cake.

The cake was an 8" vanilla funfetti cake that I topped with chocolate fondant.  This was the very first time that I was able to completely cover a cake in fondant with NO rips or tears!! I happy-danced all over the kitchen over this one.  

I then rolled out two different colours of green fondant and cut it with a variety of cookie cutters. I realized quickly that I only own two different leaf cookie cutters! A maple leaf and a tiny 1" leaf.  Oops.  So I used a funky heart cookie cutter and a snowflake cookie cutter as well to add some extra shapes. Since I was going to be layering the leaves I wasn't too worried about people noticing snowflakes and hearts on the jungle cake :)

The animals were also made completely out of fondant.  I think the Elephant and the Giraffe are my favourites! My idea of Lion needs some work though... I still can't believe I was able to make something like these out of fondant.

I hope everyone enjoyed the desserts at the shower! I had an absolute blast and I CANNOT WAIT to meet this little ninja!

This cookie recipe made 3 dozen ninja cookies. The original recipes for both the cookies and the icing are from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.

Vegan Sugar Cookies

  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup margarine, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp additional extract (could be lemon, maple, almond, more vanilla, etc. I used maple)
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, corn starch, salt, and baking powder
  2. In a second large bowl cream together the margarine, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Add the vanilla, other extract of choice, and the soy milk to the sugar mixture and beat well to combine
  4. Add half the flour to the wet ingredients and mix well
  5. Add the remaining flour and mix until a soft dough just begins to form
  6. Divide the dough in half and press each half into a disk that is 1" thick
  7. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap, and then place in a ziploc bag and set them in the refrigerator
  8. Let the dough chill for a few hours, or overnight
  9. When ready to roll the dough, preheat the oven to 350 F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper
  10. Flour the counter, and then roll one disk (keeping the second disk in the refrigerator until you need it) until it is about 1/4 - 3/8" thick
  11. Cut out the desired shapes and place on the prepared baking sheet
  12. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until the edges just start to turn golden brown
  13. Repeat with the remaining disk of dough
  14. Let cool completely before decorating
  15. Enjoy!

Vegan 'Royal Icing'
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp soy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Food colouring (optional)
  1. In a large bowl sift the powdered sugar until no lumps remain
  2. Whisk in the soy milk and vanilla until smooth
  3. Divide the icing into several bowls and dye the icing any colour you like
  4. Using a pastry bag with a small round tip, or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off decorate the cookies until your heart is content
  5. Let dry completely before storing (they can be stacked with layers of parchment paper between the cookies)
  6. Enjoy!
I'll post the vegan Carrot Cake Cupcakes and the vegan Lemon Funfetti Cupcakes recipes later this week :)