Blueberry Cupcakes with Toasted Meringue

Oh, hello there. Can we be friends again, please?!

July was one hell of a month—two of my friends got married, I spent over a week in Maine for my own wedding stuff, marathon training got really intense!! Just everything is happening in a beautiful 2-3 month period, and I can’t bring myself to chill for a sec and bake! I mean I did allow myself to binge read the new Harry Potter book in a couple of days—that’s as wild as I get!

I love when life is crazy busy and exciting, but like, hold up, can I have a day or two when I can think about nothing and just nap?! Maybe I’ll take a nice winter hibernation this year…

So, while being at my mom’s house, I forgot how much I absolutely love waking up every morning and picking fresh raspberries and blueberries from all of the bushes we have around the house! It doesn’t get much better than that—I mean maybe when I would bring my dogs with me to pick them and they would smush their faces into the berries, then leave them on the ground. I suppose that was pretty cute…even though they wasted so many beautiful berries…

ANYWAYS! That there is the inspiration for these moist, berry-filled cakes I’ve made for you. There is just something so satisfying about homegrown produce, and when you can bake with it, I mean, that is the ultimate! Oh wait, then I added some meringue on top—even torched it with my brand new flame! This has been on my “must have” list for like, a lifetime, and my friends were too kind to have gotten it for me!

And let me tell you, it does so much more than just torch meringue, it lights candles, it lights cupcake liners on fire, it makes fruit taste burnt, it’s just all-around fun!

When I stopped lighting nonsense on fire with my new torch, I actually toasted the meringue, and Oh. My. Gosh. Hi campfire on you gorgeous little blueberry cakes! If I hadn’t felt such a sugar high, I would have just torched ALL of the meringue and eaten it like that. The balance of the sugary meringue, the tart berries and the toastiness on top of it all—it’s one of the most perfect bites in my opinion!

I can’t get over it, clearly shown by all of my exclamation points in the last paragraph! And now!

Being at home, in Maine, means the ocean, the fresh air, the weird accents, bonfires, family, lots of dog snuggles, and, of course, fruit picking! Having a beautiful bowl of handpicked berries on the back patio on a cool summer morning is just beyond comforting and relaxing. While these cupcakes are not exactly that, it’s pretty damn close!—I give you yummy blueberries stuffed into cupcakes and topped with (way too much) toasted meringue!

It’s light, it’s happy, it’s summery, and it screams all things Katie! 

cake ingredients

Butter—2 oz, 4 TBL

Sugar—2.75 oz, or 1/3 C

Vanilla Extract—½ tsp

Eggs—2

Plain Yogurt—4 oz, or ½ C

Flour—5.5 oz, or 1 C

Oats—1 oz, or ¼ C

Baking Powder—½ tsp

Salt—½ tsp

Cinnamon—1 tsp

Blueberries—5 oz, or ~1 C

 

process

Preheat your oven to 350˚ F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.

Once light and fluffy, add in the vanilla and eggs.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Alternating between the yogurt (I prefer Greek!) and the dry ingredients, add about ½ of each at a time until you have finished both.

Fold in the blueberries.

In a lined muffin pan, fill each cup up about halfway with the cake batter.

Bake in your preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until the top springs back just slightly.

Allow to cool completely before putting the meringue on top!

 

For the meringue, it is this recipe here, but I halved it to use for this recipe (you can even quarter it if you’d like). Also, torching the meringue is, of course, optional, but if you have a cute little kitchen torch, I highly suggest using it—adds for a great toasty flavor!

 

Bon Appétit!

Graham Cracker Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches

Hello, my friends! I am back, and I am sorry! I haven’t posted for weeks, and I promise I have a sort of excuse, and I am giving you an insane recipe that may trump all ice cream sandwiches…ever…

So. Let’s see. Since I last posted, my brother visited me in WV, my fiancé came back from two too-long months away for work, we went to Germany for a week for a birthday party of a dear friend, and now I am back—about to head home to Maine for a week for even more fun festivities! Basically, the month of July is all about traveling and not staying in one place for too long, which I am loving because it’s just been amazing.

First off, Germany. Need I say more? We were in Munich and then a small town outside of the city for many celebrations. Oh, and guess what? My best friend is living in Munich for a couple of years, so hello to Luci-Katie time!!

Secondly, we are headed to Connecticut to see two of my incredible friends (who I met in WV, go figure!) tie the knot! I am so excited, like can’t contain my excitement, can’t wait to see my friend in a gold sequined dress, can’t wait to dance the night away with the two brides, kind of pumped. I’ve been counting down the days to this weekend in forever. Ugh. SO MUCH LOVE!

And last, but not least, I am then headed to beautiful little Maine for a week. This includes dress alteration #1, my bachelorette party, bridal shower, so much dog snuggles and friend cuddles…tell me how could this be any better?! Oh shoot, and beach time. Lots and lots of beach time—heart eye emoji here, please.

By the time I am back, it’ll be almost August and summer will have slipped away…ugh why did I have to make that so sad so quickly?!

Back to the happiness and sugar-high!

Okay, okay…so I made these ice cream sandwiches, right? But what is so mind-blowing about them to me is that they use graham cracker donuts. Like, this is basically a s’more, but with an ice cream center and two fluffy donuts to hold it altogether. Yeah, this girl is ALL about the campfires, bonfires, s’more fires…but with the heat clouding my thoughts, I needed something to cool me down some.

And boom—donuts + ice-cream = new obsession!

Yes, you can use whatever flavor ice cream you want, I chose peach because we just made it at work, and it just screams summertime in my opinion! Final touch? Drizzle on melted chocolate for an even messier, even tastier treat.

Yep…mouth salivating, going to walk to the freezer to get one right now...

So, while I may have been MIA for a couple of weeks, and will be going up and down the east coast quite a bit over the remainder of the month, I hope that you all can forgive me and make these ASAP! Trust me, this drippy mess is worth every sticky little bite!

ingredients

Flour—5.5 oz, or 1 C + 1TBL

Graham Cracker Crumbs—1.75 oz, or 1/3 C

Brown Sugar—4 oz, or ½ C

Baking Soda—¾ tsp

Salt—½ tsp

Eggs—1

Milk—4 oz, or ½ C

Vanilla Extract—1 tsp

Butter, melted—2 oz, or 4 TBL

 

process

Preheat your oven to 375˚ F.

In a bowl, combine the flour, crumbs, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, mix together the egg, milk and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix until almost combined.

Add in the melted butter.

Mix.

Pour your donut batter into either a piping bag or a large sealable baggie.

Spray your donut pan with nonstick spray.

Fill each section about ½ - ¾ full of batter.

Bake in your preheated oven for 8 minutes, until the donut springs back when touched.

Allow to cool before assembling ice cream sandwiches.

 

assembly

Once your donuts have cooled, it’s time to fill them!

For this recipe, I used homemade peach ice cream that I had made at work, but any and all flavors will work!

Take one generous scoop of ice cream and put it in the center of your donut.

Gently press down with either a spoon or an offset spatula.

Place another donut on top, press firmly to hold in place.

Now you may either wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer, or cover the ouside with more graham cracker crumbs and sprinkles, and then freeze!—clearly the second option is the route I took.

While the ice cream sandwiches are firming up, melt some chocolate over a double boiler.

Drizzle over the ice cream sandwiches, and now it’s time to eat!

 

Bon Appétit!

Salty Chocolate Tart

Good morning, my wonderful baking friends! I have quite a confession to make, and I hope that you all will understand—this recipe below is amazingly quick and simple, I can hardly believe it myself. The dough has only 6 ingredients in it, and I know that they are in your pantry, and the chocolate ganache has 4 ingredients…yes, FOUR! I mean, I have made 3 of these tarts over just a couple of days, I promise that I have some sort of life outside of baking…

…which may be hard to believe, I know!

I made this recipe for a friend of mines birthday this week, whose love for baking is just about as crazy as yours truly. She is honestly all sorts of wonderful—an outdoors loving, musical obsessed, positivity radiating, lovely person, AND she was all about us blasting the Hamilton soundtrack at 9am at work the other day, sooo does it get any better than that?!

So to start with Miss Anna’s birthday chocolate tart, I used a simple pâte sucrée base (recipe found in my Lemon Blueberry Tart recipe!). It’s really just a sugar dough, it makes quite the vehicle for this type of tart, not the main star, but would totally win for best supporting role! ...And from there, a dark chocolate ganache. It is so simple to make, I don’t know why I haven’t made this (really) since school a couple of years ago.

Boiled cream—pour over the chocolate—stir to combine—add the butter—add the alcohol—put into baked tart shell—let set.

What I love is that while it is simple in steps and ingredients, the flavor is mind blowingly divine. You can play around with how dark you want your chocolate to be, but it’s going to end up so smooth and creamy, slightly sweet yet very rich, only a small sliver is required, or 3 small slivers if you’re me. Another fun addition you can do to this tart? For my friend’s, I added crushed up pretzels to the top of it, because I mean, duh, and the salty chocolate combination was undeniably delicious. Or you can just sprinkle coarse salt on top as well, and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or Carmenere goes a long way with this dessert as well!

This is certainly going to become a go-to for most dinner parties and celebrations, but it is also absolutely acceptable early on a Friday morning, dancing along to a little bit of Hamilton and enjoying for a birthday of a beautiful friend!

pâte sucrée ingredients and process

found here

 

chocolate ganache ingredients

Heavy Cream—10 oz, or 1 ¼ C

Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped—5 oz, ~10 squares if using a Ghirardelli bar

Butter, cubed—2.25 oz, or 4 ¼ TBL

Bourbon—0.5 oz, or 1 TBL

 

process

Set up all of your ingredients, as the heavy cream will boil very quickly.

Place the heavy cream in a small saucepot with the heat on medium.

While the cream is coming to a boil, put the chocolate in a medium heat-safe bowl.

Once the cream comes to a boil (watch out so it does not boil over!), pour it over the chocolate and allow it to sit like that for 3-4 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, begin to stir the heavy cream-chocolate mixture.

Once it has homogenized, add in the butter.

Stir until melted and combined.

Add your alcohol of choice—in my case, bourbon, always!

Stir.

Pour into your prepared 10” tart pan.

Place in the refrigerator for about 4-6 hours or overnight so that the ganache can set.

To decorate: it is tasty all on its own, but sprinkling salt over top the entire tart really makes the chocolate pop; also, fresh fruit is always a great option as well!

Enjoy with a glass of red wine and good company.

 

Bon Appétit!

Homemade Caramel Corn + Nutella Stuffed Cookies

This recipe was brought to you by my weird urge to eat Nutella from a jar…which then turned into me needing something to dip into it, and then I made caramel corn…

So I have been having these strange I want to go to an amusement park feelings lately, which is out of the ordinary because I really dislike them. Growing up, it was always what we would do on our last day of school, the true start to summer, and I went along because why would I want to be the one girl who chickens out?! But honestly, they are everything I can’t stand—the dirtiness, the scary rollercoasters, the huge groups of people, being forced to go on the Tilt-A-Whirl about 10 times even though it makes you sick—you get the picture. Just lately, the thing I have been craving is the smell.

Yes. The smell of an amusement park to me is lots and lots of fried dough, French fries that have been doused in vinegar and then huge bags of kettle corn. There is this one not so great place on the ocean called Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach, but you always went when you’re in that area, even if you did just come from Funtown/Splashtown (yes, what on point names!). Their pier fries have to be THE best things I have ever had—they come in one of those big paper cones and you just drown them in ketchup and vinegar…gosh I can’t wait to go back to Maine for some of those…

Anyways, let’s get my mind away from fries and onto these cookies. It’s been in the 90’s here in Charleston and all I can think about is how badly I want to stuff my face with some too-greasy fried dough covered in powdered sugar, play a game of skee ball and then lay out on the beach. Sadly, eating fried food is all I can do here—which is kind of the same thing as homemade caramel corn, right?!

The caramel corn is so simple to make, it’s probably the easiest and most straightforward recipe out there. No thermometers to mess with, just simply boiling the ingredients until they are the caramel color you desire, pouring it all over your popcorn and letting the oven do the magic.

Note: you do not have to stuff these cookies with anything, I just think that they make it THAT much more exciting! Also, this caramel corn is insanely yummy as a snack all on its own as well.

Next is the sweetest Nutella cookie you ever did taste. To “tame” it, I used very dark chocolate chunks, upped the salt a bit, and then gave it even more depth by stuffing the cookies with basically caramel-Nutella wrapped sweet+salty popcorn!

It’s a mouthful. Honestly…

The cookie on its own is divine, but adding the filling elements brings it to the next level. Does it help that it is half the size of my face? Absolutely! But really it’s just a fun cookie to have. You all know I am obsessed with everything fruit, especially during the summer when every variety seems to flourish, but I just couldn’t resist giving you all something a little on the bad side!

You all can stuff your faces with watermelon, strawberries, grilled corn on the cob—but I know when you’re craving some of the amusement park/pier food, you’ll be thanking me with this one!

caramel corn ingredients

Natural Popcorn, popped—1.5 oz, or 5 C

Butter—3 oz, or 6 TBL

Brown Sugar—6 oz, or ¾ C

Corn Syrup—2 oz, or 3 TBL

Cream of Tartar—¼ tsp

Salt—1 tsp

 

process

Pop your popcorn and spread the 5 cups on a sheetpan lined with parchment or a Silpat.

Preheat your oven to 200˚ F.

In a medium sized saucepot, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar and salt.

Cook the caramel on medium heat, bring to a boil and allow to boil for about 5 minutes.

Drizzle over the popcorn that is spread out on the pan.

With a spatula or wooden spoon, gently “toss” the popcorn and caramel together, making sure to coat each piece.

Place in your preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes to insure that the popcorn is all covered with the caramel.

Allow to cool completely until you are ready to stuff the cookies—you will need to chop up the popcorn to do so!

 

cookie ingredients

Butter, room temperature—8 oz, or 2 sticks

Nutella—5.5 oz, or ½ C

Sugar—8 oz, or 1 C

Brown Sugar—8 oz, or 1 C + 2 TBL

Eggs—3

Vanilla—1 tsp

Flour—24 oz, or 5 ½ C

Salt—1 ½ tsp

Baking Soda—1 tsp

Dark Chocolate Chunks—9 oz, or 1 ½ C

 

process

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter, Nutella, and both sugars.

Once smooth and fluffy, add in the eggs, one at a time. Add in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.

With the mixer on low, slowly add this dry mixture to the dough.

Add in the chocolate chunks.

Transfer to another bowl and allow to chill for about 30 minutes.

 

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350˚ F.

Take about 2 TBL of cookie dough, roll it into a ball and then flatten into a bowl shape so that you can stuff it.

Put about a ½ tsp of Nutella in the bottom of each little cookie bowl, and then the same amount of chopped caramel corn on top.

Cover with enough cookie dough to completely enclose the Nutella/popcorn filling.

About 8 of these cookies fit comfortably on a sheet tray, as they are very large!

Bake for 15-17 minutes.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool and enjoy!

 

Bon Appétit!

Rhubarb Plum Mini Pies

Raise your hand if you’re not entirely ready for the month of June to be here…

Raises hand.

Wasn’t it just my birthday? Didn’t Roberto just leave for a 2-month work trip? When did wearing dresses even become too hot? I’m just all sorts of behind on the times here. I love summer, just as I love all seasons, but the salty sea air, the fresh fruits and veggies from the garden, the no-makeuped face because a sunkissed face looks simply perfect—these things simply give me life!

As the next 4 months of my life consist of weddings, moving, trips, showers, our wedding…I’m truly trying to chill any chance I get, to really enjoy my last few months in West Virginia and to not let the stress of planning the upcoming “I dos” AND moving to another state overwhelm me. Little by little I have been exploring this incredible state, been staying up slightly later than my normal 9pm bedtime, and just all around seizing each and every day.

As I am trying to live in the moment as much as possible, something that has been on my mind lately is when can I have a huge garden, 3 dogs, 5 chickens and maybe a pig?! We are moving to beautiful Vermont after the wedding and looking into house buying—yes, insert a freaked out yet excited face—and all I want is a big enough yard to be able to 1. Have the mowed lawn smell all around me, and 2. Learn how to really garden like my mom always has. Some of my favorite memories growing up would be when my mom was like Oh, Kate, can you go pick a few containers full of blueberries before dinner? Always yes, always, always, always.

So yes, I have been craving that lifestyle for a while now—and then I got it into my head that I had to bake with rhubarb. While strawberry rhubarb is always a yes, how about plums in place of the strawberries?! Slightly sweet, a very different texture, just needed to spice it up a little bit. I used my go-to piecrust (always a dash of cinnamon), stuffed it with a fruity, citrusy filling, and baked them into tiny, adorable little things!

While baking a normal sized pie is, of course, always welcome, I wanted to make little individual sized pies—this was much more cutesy to gift to some of my friends! They fit perfectly into itty-bitty boxes that I had, tied them up with some string, I guess you could say it is one of my favorite things!

…I will always quote The Sound of Music…

Whether you’re itching to have a garden, like me, fully embracing summer, like me, craving a flaky pie crust, like me, or just loving life and all its beauty, like me, then these Rhubarb Plum Mini Pies will make your hot and hazy June days all the more sweeter!

crust ingredients

Flour—7.5 oz, or 1 ¼ C

Brown Sugar—1 TBL

Salt—½ tsp

Cinnamon—1 ½ tsp

Butter, cold—4 oz, or 8 TBL

Milk, cold—4 oz, or ½ C

 

process

In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.

Cut the butter into cubes, making sure that it keeps as cold as possible.

Add it to the flour mixture.

Using your hands or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the flour, breaking the butter up into tiny, pea or hazelnut sized pieces.

Once all of the butter has been coated in flour (basically smooshed!), slowly add in the milk, mixing as you go.

When all of the milk has been added, your dough should be slightly sticky.

Wrap in plastic and chill until you are ready to use!

 

filling ingredients

Rhubarb, diced—9 oz, or 2 C

Plum, diced—6 oz, or 1 C/1 medium

Sugar—4 oz, or ½ C

Brown Sugar—4 oz, or ½ C

Cornstarch—0.75 oz, or 2 TBL

Orange Juice—2 ½ TBL

Cinnamon—1 tsp

Butter, small cubes—1 oz, or 2 TBL

Eggs—1, for eggwash

 

process

In a large bowl, mix together the diced rhubarb, diced plum, sugars, cornstarch, OJ and cinnamon.

Reserve filling until you are ready to use.

Cut the butter into tiny cubes and set aside.

 

To make the pies—remove the dough from the refrigerator, and place on a floured work surface.

Roll out the dough to about ¼“ thick.

If you are using mini pie pans, use a cutter that is about ½-1“ bigger than the pan, and cut out 16 circles; you may reroll out the dough when needed.

Spray the bottom of your pie pan(s) and press the rolled out bottom crust gently, but firmly, into ever edge.

Fill the pies with enough of the filling to make a nice mound.

Eggwash the edges of the crust and place the top crust, making sure to press into the wash so that it will stick.

Crimp the edges with a fork, cut a vent in the middle of the pie with scissors or a knife, and refrigerate while you preheat the oven.

Once you have finished with all of your mini pies and they are in the fridge, preheat the oven to 425˚ F.

Brush the tops of each pie with the eggwash and sprinkle with sugar—I like to use turbinado sugar because they are bigger!

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

Turn the oven down to 375˚ F.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, until they are golden brown on top.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool just slightly.

Enjoy by themselves or with a yummy scoop of icecream on top!

 

Bon Appétit!