Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chocolate Panna Cotta & Florentine Cookies-February Daring Bakers Challenge

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

So, here's what you need to know about Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies:

1) You will love it.
2) You will not respect yourself in the morning.
3)The hour you spend hoofing it on the treadmill will not even come close to accounting for the calories you will consume in one bite of this amazing dessert.
4)When you combine heavy cream and any form of sugar, there is a chemical process that takes place that creates a substance in desserts that is very, very similar to super glue. That glue makes all things stick to your ____________________(you can fill in the blank with your problem area..butt, hips, thighs, cankles, etc..).
5)This dessert is so absolutely worth it that you will for get about #1-4.

So, as you can tell, what I'm getting at here is this is seriously sinful stuff. No, you don't want to have it every night. But, make it for a dinner party, a girls night or make it for your sweetheart when you're having a date night at home. Its quite impressive when served in fine crystal glassware or even in individual ramekins. Its the perfect dessert for special occasions or holidays.

I will say upfront, the cookies were suppose to be spread with chocolate and sandwiched together. Honestly, after looking at the 2 cups of heavy cream in the panna cotta.... I just couldn't do it. But, if you're fearless and have no problem with the fact that your pants may not fit tomorrow. Well, then you go for it! But, even without the extra chocolate they were excellent. If you want the cookies to stand up for plate decor and be extra crisp, place them in the fridge after they've had time to cool.


Chocolate Panna Cotta: 
Bon Appetit


1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2  cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes. 
2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a low boil.
3. Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved. 
4. Transfer to ramekins, or nice glasses for serving.
5. Cover and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.

Nestle Florentine Cookies:


2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups dark or milk chocolate


Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C) 
Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar,  flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.
3. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flaten slighty with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula. 
4. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets. 
5. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
6. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire wrack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean). Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end)cookie atop the chocolate. This recipe will make about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwiched florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cutie Cupid Cupcakes

So, originally the school where Princess Runwild attends said they would not be having a Valentine's Day party this year. Well, I don't know about you, but for me Valentine parties at school were just always such fun. You know getting to decorate your own little valentine box/bag and then everyone getting to go around and hand out their cute little valentine cards. Which speaking of said cute little valentines, once upon a time they came with their own cute little envelopes. No more. I suppose its not environmentally correct. Whatever....Personally, I liked the little envelopes. And you could recycle them if you felt morally obligated to do so.

Last year when I was buying them for the first time for Runwild's preschool party, I went to 4 different stores trying to find Valentine's with envelopes. I did not succeed. Apparently, you can only get the ones that fold and seal with a sticker. Blahh.

On a happier note, I thought they no longer made the Scratch N Sniff Valentines, but I did actually find them this year. Unfortunately, Runwild wanted Rapunzel Valentines. But, its ok......I've secretly got the scratch n sniff ones hidden in my night stand. After they go to bed, I'm going to scratch them and sniff them until they are only paper scented ;) Or until Princess Runwilder discovers them and takes them away from me....She's such a bully.

Oh, yes, back to my point, the school was not going to have a Valentine Party, so I promised the girls I would throw them their own little Valentine party at home. Of course, now the school has decided they WILL have a party, but you know that doesn't relinquish me from my prior commitment of a party. No way! And that's fine, I'm always up for having parties with my Runwilders for any occassion. At  MY parties their is always one rule: There must be cake in some form at all parties in the Sinful Southern Sweets household.

So these little Cupid Cupcakes are what I have made for our Valentine Party tomorrow night to meet the 'Cake Criteria Rule.' They will be served along side Cupid's Crunch, heart shaped pizza, heart shaped jello and heart shaped cookies. And any thing else I can get my heart shaped cookie cutter to slice through. You know, if you're gonna do it, you might as well do it right!

These cupcakes were not at all difficult. I used a food grade marker for the eyes and mouth (I think you can even buy these at Hobby Lobby).
You could also use a toothpick dipped in food coloring. The peach icing can be achieved using a tiny bit of pink and a touch of orange food coloring mixed into white frosting. I did make one cupid with wings, but I'm just not sure about him. The wings just seem too much to me. Maybe a smaller marshmallow would work.

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day!!


Cutie Cupid Cupcakes
adapted from here


12 Cupcakes, baked from a mix or your favorite recipe
1 can white frosting tinted Pink- or peach (white mixed with a bit of pink and orange)
12 Large marshmallow
Thin pretzel sticks/toothpick
1/2 c.Crisped rice cereal
Food Grade Marker/Decorators' gel
Candy heart

  • Frost a cupcake with pink- or peach-tinted frosting. Try to make a smooth surface with back of spatula.

  • For wings, use kitchen shears to cut a large marshmallow in half vertically, then snip each half widthwise a few times for a feathery look. Press a thin pretzel stick against the sticky side of each marshmallow half, then stick the pretzels into the cupcake.

  • Press a handful of crisped rice cereal along the top of the cupcake for Cupid's curly locks, then add a decorators' gel or food grade marker for mouth and eyes. Finally, set a candy heart in place and pipe on frosting fingers, if you like.

  • Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Cupid's Crunch and a free Valentine's Printable

    Ok, so Valentine's Day is just a few days away now. Hopefully, you have secured that perfect gift for your significant other. If not, you better get busy! And don't let yourself fall into that old trap of when your loved one says "Oh, you don't have to get me anything...." Yes, you do. It never ends favorably when you take that advice. Well, it doesn't! I'm just sayin'...I'm not saying it has to be expensive or big. But, you'd better show up on Valentine's with something. Even a heart made of construction paper is better than nothing. I've never had to worry about that with my Mr. Sweets. He has always said that every lady deserves to get flowers on Valentines. He's a sweet one, he is......

    So, when you get your Sweetie's gift procured, you might then think about doing something sweet for your friends, co-workers or kiddos. Thats's where today's recipe comes in. Today's recipe is a great sweet snack mix that I came up with and named 'Cupid's Crunch'. With a mix of cereal, candy and toffee covered popcorn, its sure to be a hit.
     And since I was feeling extra lovey dovey , I decided to make a little printable tag, for all my sweet readers,  that can be cut/punched out and attached to a bag of Cupid's Crunch. Using a paper punch is the quickest and easiest option. My punch is a round- 2 5/16" punch. You can download the tags here.

    Cupid's Crunch
    2 cups Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Oat Cereal (or Cheerios:)
    2 Cups Crunch n Munch toffee coated popcorn
    1 Cup Teddy Grahams or Annie's Bunny Grahams
    1 Bag Jelly Beans (*I found the heart Jelly Beans at Walmart)
    1/2 cup red M&Ms
    2 cups mini marshmallows

    Combine all ingredients. Mix. Serve

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Strawberry Brownie Ripple Cupcakes

    Well, the count down to V-Day is on! Good thing I blew that diet so I could make these cupcakes for y’all. Oh, the things I do for my blog.  LOL!

    I think being such a healthy eater over the last month made me lose all self respect when I began concocting the recipe I’m sharing today. Mr. Sweets has been insisting that pinecones are probably the equivalent of my recent healthy fare. Ahh, he's just not up for change. And technically, I think horse feed would be the more appropriate comparison:)

    So, when I finally took a day to ditch all that 'horsefeed' this week, I created a strawberry cupcake with a brownie ripple in the middle. Unbelievably good and terribly sinful. Kinda reminds you of a chocolate covered strawberry. I’m sure your Sweetie would love to have a couple dozen of these if you decided to forgo the traditional box of candy.

    You could make these with any flavor cake mix, but the strawberry looked so sweet and Valentiney. If you still wanted the color, but not strawberry flavor. You could just tint a white cake mix pink. Or if you think about it next month, you could tint the cake mix green for St. Patrick’s Day. Whichever you choose, to achieve the 'ripple', just run a toothpick or skewer around in the unbaked cupcake and you'll get something like this:

    For the frosting, I just settled on a simple buttercream, but it would probably be killer with a cream cheese frosting too!

    Strawberry Brownie Ripple Cupcakes

     Strawberry Layer
    1(18 oz) Box Strawberry Cake Mix 
    1/3 cup greek yogurt (or plain yogurt)
    1 c. water
    1/3 c. vegetable oil
    3 eggs, beaten
    *Mix all ingredients together and set aside.

    Brownie Layer
    1 Box Family Size Brownie Mix (for 9x13pan)
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    1/4 cup water
    2 eggs, beaten
    *Mix all ingredients together and set aside.

    Line Muffin Pans with cupcake liners (recipe make apprx. 30 cupcakes). With a medium cookie scoop (or a tablespoon), scoop 2 level scoops of strawberry mixture into each cupcake liner. With a small cookie scoop (or a teaspoon), scoop 2 level scoops of brownie mixture on top of strawberry mixture. Top brownie mixture with another scoop of strawberry mixture. Using a toothpick or skewer, make a few zip zags through unbaked cupcakes to create swirls. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes. Cool completely. Frost with Buttercream frosting (Recipe follows)

    Vanilla Buttercream Icing:
    1 cup butter, softened
    2/3 cup shortening
    1 pound powdered sugar
    2 tablespoons meringue powder or 2 egg whites
    1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    milk as needed for consistency
    1. With the paddle attachment and your stand-type mixer, beat the butter, shortening, powdered sugar, and meringue powder/egg whites together.
    2. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Beat the frosting, adding enough milk to reach the desired consistency.


    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Slimmed Down Sweets-Diet Coke Cake

    So, we’re heading toward the middle of February. I have been seriously off my game in the blogging segment of my life. See, I (like about a million other Americans) decided for my New Year’s Resolution that I was going to be healthier. Well, you know what? That seriously puts a quietus on the making/baking of my Sinful Southern Sweets. And you know what else, I don’t like that!! So, I decided to post a recipe that some of you still holding tight to your weight loss efforts might appreciate.

    I was talking to one of my sister in laws the other day and telling her about this cake. Its beyond easy. If you have ever been around anyone on Weight Watchers you have probably heard of this cake. I have joined Weight Watchers so many times, Mr. Sweets usually just asks once a year if we’ve made our yearly donation to Weight Watchers. Humph,….Funny, funny. Oh, and its not that the program doesn’t work. It does, I just have problems with structure. Hmmm, imagine that!

    So, back to the recipe, this is the infamous Diet Coke Cake. You can make it with any flavor cake mix and any diet drink. I used a strawberry cake mix and a Cherry Diet 7-up.  Some recipes do not call for egg whites, but I think  you’ll have better results using them. If you are doing weight watchers, this was once 4 points (sans cool whip). I understand the program has changed so that point value might not be accurate anymore. Hmmm, I guess its time to make my yearly donation and find out:)
    Don’t worry, my stint with healthy eating usually only lasts as long as the next holiday. I will soon have some serious Sinful Southern Sweets coming up for Valentine’s Day!!


    Diet Coke Cake
    1 (18 oz) cake mix, dry, any flavor
    12 oz diet soda, any flavor
    1/4 cup liquid egg whites (or 2 egg whites from whole eggs)

    1)Mix together the dry cake mix, soda and egg whites. 
    2) Pour into a lightly greased 9x13 pan.
    3)Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
    4)Slice into 12 pieces. 4 Weight Watchers Points per slice.
    5)Top with Cool Whip, if desired (make sure to count points for Cool Whip).