Neapolitan Seven Layer Bars

NeapolitanSevenLayerBarsWhat happens when you forget to post a Valentine’s Day-themed recipe before Valentine’s Day? You post it days later, obvi!

I try to stick to schedules since I tend to be a planner and a huge list-maker. But stuff happens, I forget, I don’t care, or Intervention is on and I just neglect it. I’m sorry. I’m the worst blogger ever.

BUT, the good thing is is that Neapolitan’s a yearround flavor. It doesn’t necessarily have an expiration date like eggnog or peppermint (though if it were up to me, eggnog and peppermint would not be judged in summertime), and it works because it’s comprised of three fabulous flavors that are seasonless: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. What’s not to love?!

…and it happens to be the theme of my sweet new blog design! BTW, did you enter my giveaway yet? I’m giving away a FREE pair of Tieks flats, a Too-Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette or a $25 Baskin Robbins gift card! Winners are chosen on Tuesday, so wiggle your butt over to that post to enter!!

DSC_0166AANYWHO. Since I’m a lover of both Neapolitan and seven layer bars, I figured there had to be some combining love-child makin’ happening between the two. The results are magical! There’s bites of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry goodness in every bite, and if you’re as fanatical about this flavor as I am, there’s a must-make for sure!

DSC_0171A

Neapolitan Seven Layer Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Bars
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
Packed with strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, these fabulous Neapolitan Seven Layer Bars are a winner!
Ingredients
  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 tsp strawberry extract (optional, but enhances the flavor - I recommend it)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 pkg. Ghirardelli Chocolate & Strawberry Squares, unwrapped and roughly chopped (if you cannot find this flavor, substitute with Chocolate & Raspberry - no one will tell the difference)
  • 1 cup Jet-Puffed Strawberry Marshmallows
  • About 20 Berry Oreos, roughly chopped
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • Rainbow sprinkles, if you'd like
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9" baking pan with foil, extending the sides of the foil over the edges of the pan. Mist the foil liberally with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg, oil and strawberry extract, if using, until a soft dough forms. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan and bake for approx. 12 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the oven but keep the oven on. Evenly distribute the chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, chopped chocolate squares, marshmallows and Oreos onto the dough. I like putting the marshmallows on first so they're covered - it prevents them from burning and expanding as much. Drizzle evenly with the condensed milk.
  4. Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes or until center appears set and the top is golden brown and bubbly. Cool completely (I recommend overnight) before lifting out of the pan and cutting into squares. Garnish with sprinkles, if you'd like!

DSC_0179AI love the rich burst of sweet strawberry in these chewy, gooey bars! They would be perfect alongside a bowl of Neapolitan ice cream… but that’s only if you want to do it a la Hayley :)

Nuts for Neapolitan? Check out my other fun Neapolitan recipes!

Neapolitan CupcakesNeapolitan Cupcakes – be sure to enter my giveaway! 

neabundtNeapolitan Bundt Cake

neapcheesecakeNeapolitan No-Bake Cheesecake

Have a sweet Sunday!!

xo, Hayley

 

Chocolate Cherry Cookie Bites

Chocolate Cherry Cookie BitesIt’s come to my immediate realization that I’ve never had anyone do anything romantic for me.

Like, ever.

After reading a forum on a website which asked the question, “what was the most romantic thing someone’s done for you?” I realized that no one has done anything remotely romantic for me. Why I’m incapable of having romantic things happening to me, I do not know, but I demand some answers.

Never have I ever had a candlelit dinner.

The last time I had a walk on the beach, we were fighting.

Romantic, spontaneous getaways for the weekend? Planned by me.

In fact, I don’t even know if my past significant others knew my favorite candy, which is clearly an indication that we were never meant to be since candy is like, my lifestyle.

Oh well. I suppose I’m meant to eat my Red Vines by candlelight alone.

At any rate, despite being single this Valentine’s Day, I’m actually really excited about it. There’s something exciting about love, even if I’m not in it. So I just make treats to compensate for my loneliness, and it all works out in the end. *cue rom com music here* Today, I’ve made for you – my valentines! – these delectable Chocolate Cherry Cookie Bites. They’re super delish and take hardly any time at all to make, thanks to some easy store-bought, seasonal swaps I found.

DSC_0923AEnter: Pillsbury’s new Chocolate Cherry Cake Mix and Frosting! They have a rich chocolate flavor with sweet hints of cherry swirled throughout, and they’re the base for these simple-yet-scrumptious cookie cups. Your Valentine will be none the wiser with your little store-swap secret, and you’ll be dubbed the best significant other ever. You’re welcome.

(And yes, I will take my Red Vines now).

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Chocolate Cherry Cookie Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
These sweet and simple cookie cups are made using Pillsbury's new Chocolate Cherry cake and frosting mixes! Both of these ingredients lend for easy swaps in the kitchen yet impart a great, rich chocolate cherry flavor.
Ingredients
  • 1 box Pillsbury Chocolate Cherry cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup oil
  • About 1 cup Chocolate Cherry Delightfulls Morsels (by Nestle - they're cherry-filled chocolate chips; find them on your baking aisle, or sub another chopped chocolate-cherry candy)
  • 1 can Pillsbury Chocolate Cherry frosting
  • Maraschino cherries with stems, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 24-cavity miniature muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg and oil with a spoon until a soft dough has formed.
  2. Drop rounded Tablespoonfuls of dough into each muffin cavity, then gently flatten them down with your fingers. Bake the cookie cups for about 12-15 minutes or until the edges are set; do not over-bake. Allow the cookie cups to set in the muffin cups for about 5 minutes.
  3. Gently use the handle of a wooden spoon to make an indentation in the middle of the cookie cup, careful not to puncture through the cup. Immediately fill the well with a heaping pinch of the chocolate-cherry morsels. Allow the cups to cool completely before gently popping them from the muffin tin.
  4. Remove the cap and foil lining from the frosting and microwave it on medium-high power for about 30 seconds, stirring vigorously so it's smooth and pourable. Dunk each cookie cup into the melted frosting briefly, covering the top. Allow excess to drip off and return the cookie cups to a foil-lined baking sheet or wire rack. Immediately top with a maraschino cherry. Repeat with remaining cups, then serve!

DSC_0927AThese could not be simpler or any cuter! I’m a huge fan of the chocolate & cherry flavor combination and these cups hit it outta the park with their rich, chocolaty flavor and the bright bursts of cherry. If you can’t find the chocolate cherry cake mix or frosting, substitute regular chocolate cake mix with a teaspoon or two of cherry extract or maraschino cherry juice. And stir some cherry extract or maraschino cherry juice into canned chocolate icing in a pinch.

I hope you enjoyed! Have a great day, lovers!!

xo, Hayley

Strawberry Meringues

Strawberry MeringuesSo, unless you were born today, the Super Bowl was yesterday. And if you have Facebook friends like mine, they were updating you with play-by-plays the entire freaking time.

Like, I get it. If I wanted to watch approximately 235974 hours of football, I would be doing so. But I use Facebook as an escape – a way to creepily peer into the lives of my friends and acquaintances, not get misfit ESPN commentators giving me second-by-second descriptions of everything happening.

It’s kinda like how I feel about going to the movies, with everyone talking and repeating lines during the film. It’s a movie, not a freakin’ interactive play. Keep yo’ trap shut, homie.

Maybe I’m just bitter? Probably. Don’t answer that.

DSC_0887AAnywho. After an unsuccessful attempt at escaping to Facebook yesterday, I decided to do some brainstorming for Valentine’s Day inspiration. It was then that I remembered I had made some Cotton Candy Meringues a couple years back and how delicious they were! Meringues only seem hard, but they’re actually quite simple to prepare and make for a light, airy, and quite delectable cookie!

If you’re feeling super fancy, feel free to dip these in chocolate!

DSC_0882A*adapted from my Cotton Candy Meringues, recipe above

4.0 from 1 reviews
Strawberry Meringues
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 48
 
Light and airy, these melt-in-your-mouth cookies are delectable and so perfect for Valentine's Day! If you'd like, dip the bottoms in melted chocolate or melted white chocolate for an extra special treat!
Ingredients
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar (make sure it hasn't expired!)
  • 1 pkt. Duncan Hines Strawberry Shortcake Frosting Creations (if you cannot locate this, feel free to substitute about 1 tsp strawberry extract and a couple drops of pink liquid food coloring)
  • Valentine's sprinkles, optional but recommended
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees F and line two baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, fill the bottom of a medium pot with water and bring it to a simmer on the stove. Place the metal bowl of a stand mixer (or another glass bowl larger than the pot) over the simmering water and quickly add in the egg whites and sugar, whisking them until frothy. Once frothed, remove from the stove and quickly attach the stand mixer bowl to the machine or pour the mixture into a stand mixer bowl.
  3. Add in the cream of tartar and strawberry shortcake flavor packet, and using the whisk attachment, begin whipping the mixture until stiff, glossy peaks have formed (about 6-8 minutes on medium speed). The peaks are done when they stand straight up. IF YOU ARE USING STRAWBERRY EXTRACT, blend in the extract and food coloring once the peaks are just about stiff, then whip until stiff.
  4. Spoon the meringue into a disposable piping bag attached with an open star tip and pipe little mounds of meringue onto the prepared baking sheets. If you'd like, top them with assorted Valentine's sprinkles for a festive touch. Bake for approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even cooking. Once the meringues are done, turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and allow the meringues to set and finish cooling in the oven.
  5. Once cooled, remove from the oven and gently peel from the baking sheets. Dip in chocolate if you'd like, or serve immediately!

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DSC_0883AI love how tender these soft and airy cookies are! They practically dissolve on your tongue with a delectable, airy texture and a wonderful strawberry flavor :) The sprinkles add a festive touch and make these cookies extra special, but feel free to omit the sprinkles if you’d like, or use sparkling caster sugar for a sparkly feel!

Have a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

Strawberry Marshmallow Cookie Cups {Happy 4th Bloggiversary To Me!}

Strawberry Marshmallow Cookie CupsSo, I totally did something dumb.

I missed my own blog’s birthday!

Seriously, how this happened, I don’t know. Actually, I do know: it’s because I was sick, I was busy planning my own birthday, and because I am lame and forget minor details like the DAY IN WHICH MY BLOG WAS BORN.

In other words, I’m a terrible blogger. #loserstatus

It’s hard to believe that four years ago, I created this little space in the interwebs. I just wanted to post pictures of my frilly, fun-flavored cupcakes and had no idea that I would garner so much attention, meet so many wonderful people, create so many delicious things, and make blogging my full-time job in just four years.

It’s been a long road, but a very fun one. Sometimes this job feels like work, but most of the time it’s hilariously fun and I pinch myself since it’s still unbelievable to me that this is my life.

So what I’m trying to say without being super mushy-gooey is, thank you for making this blog what it is. Thank you for being so supportive, so loyal, so loving and so interested in my silly stories and wacky recipes. Thank you for liking, commenting and pinning the living ‘ish outta my stuff. Thank you for being here!

DSC_0895ASeeing as I forgot, I don’t have a sparkly, sprinkly post lined up, but I *do* have some ultra-delish cookie cups for you to enjoy! These bad boys are sweet sugar cookie cups filled with creamy white chocolate and are topped with a strawberry heart marshmallow. They’re sweet, simple, and totally perfect to celebrate this bloggiversary and for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday!

I love you! Now eat your heart (cookie cup) out!

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Strawberry Marshmallow Cookie Cups {Happy 4th Bloggiversary To Me!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Adorable, petite cookie cups filled with creamy white chocolate and topped with gooey strawberry marshmallows. These little bites are perfect for Valentine's Day!
Ingredients
  • 1 pkg refrigerated sugar cookie dough (24 count), at room temperature
  • About 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 24 Kraft Jet-Puffed Strawberry Heart Marshmallows
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 24-cavity miniature muffin pan with cooking spray. Take one dough ball and gently flatten with your hand, then place into the muffin cavity to fit. Repeat with remaining dough.
  2. Bake the cookie cups for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Remove from the oven. Allow the cookie cups to cool for about 5 minutes, then using the handle of a wooden spoon, create small indents in the center of each cup, careful not to puncture the cup. Fill with a pinch of white chocolate chips in each cup's well.
  3. Immediately top the cups with a single marshmallow. Allow the cups to set for another 15 minutes or so before gently removing them from the pan with a knife. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before serving. These are best served at room temperature, or lightly warmed up before eating.

DSC_0904ACute, pink, festive and delicious! Valentine’s treats don’t get easier than these sweet 3-ingredient treats!

Have a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

Red Velvet Scones

RedVelvetSconesSo as some of you know, I got back from a cruise recently (and will be posting pics and inspired recipes soon!).

Overall, the experience was wonderful. I met so many awesome people, gained so much exposure and knowledge for photography and blogging, and got to travel to the Caribbean islands of St. Maarten, St. Thomas and the Bahamas, taking in their exotic beauty, amazing culture and fabulous food.

But if I had to complain just a little about the experience, it was my raging seasickness (seriously, I didn’t think I’d be affected but dude, I was a dead man walking. Homie don’t play with seasickness) and the fact that my room was haunted.

Yes, haunted.

See, I was rooming with Alyssa from Simply Quinoa and even she agreed that our room was possessed, probably from people who’d fallen overboard or something in years past. We’d be chillin’ in our room minding our own business and suddenly the toilet would flush. I mean, I was under the impression that ghosts didn’t have bowel movements but seeing as our toilet legitimately flushed in our room, I suppose they ate the creme brulee and had to expel immediately.

Then on another day, Alyssa and I were chit-chatting and the shower started leaking. Not like the normal after-shower shower dribble most do, but like someone had turned it on for a couple quick seconds and then it shut off. It was so bizarre, and we both stopped mid-sentence and just looked at each other like, WTF. Later in the week, the shower did the same thing, the sink made a leaky drip noise, and we’d find towels on the floor that weren’t there prior. Needless to say, it was bizarro.

Oh, and then there was this enormously LOUD crash during the night. It woke both of us up in a startle and in the morning, we checked the bathroom thinking our makeup exploded everywhere, but the bathroom was pristine. No fallen pictures with shattered glass everywhere, no bloody messages written on the mirror, nothing.

In other words, our ghost was clearly the most hygienic ghost I’ve ever encountered. And the crash? It was probably doing its best to navigate the closet-sized bathroom too. I hear you, ghost. I was bonking my elbows everywhere while trying to shave in near-contortionist-positions. I feel ya, man. 

But next time? We’re forcing it to go in on the room cost. I don’t care that you didn’t bring clothes, that you aren’t hogging the outlets or that you merely disappear during nighttime, leaving the awkward “who’s that ghost guy gonna sleep with tonight?” question. You’re paying a third for using up all our towels and making the stateroom attendant think we’re insane with our voodoo toilet.

Now that I’m back home, I’m not experiencing anything paranormal except the need to make everything Valentine’s-y for Valentine’s Day. And to me, red velvet goes hand-in-hand with this lovely holiday since it’s such a rich, delectable flavor and of course, because of the ruby red color.

DSC_0454ASo if you’re already thinking ahead like me, may I suggest some Red Velvet Scones? Not only are they simple to make, but they taste phenomenal. Soft, flaky, chewy and moist, they taste identical to red velvet cake but in a scone form so you can eat ‘em for breakfast (you’re welcome!) They’re topped with a sweet and creamy cream cheese frosting to bring the whole flavor together and create a pretty striped topping. While I like them plain, feel free to sprinkle on nuts, dried fruits, or sprinkles for a festive touch.

And whatever you do, don’t share with the bathroom ghost.

DSC_0457A*adapted from Duncan Hines 

Red Velvet Scones
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Tender, moist and bursting with rich red velvet flavor, these scones are the perfect breakfast treat!
Ingredients
  • 1 & ½ cups red velvet cake mix
  • 1 & ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 Tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
  • ⅔ cup heavy cream or milk
  • 1 can cream cheese icing
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper that's been misted lightly with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and flour and whisk together. Drop in the cubed cold butter and using two forks or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mix resembles thick, coarse crumbs.
  3. Make a small well in the center of the mixture and stream in the cream or milk. Then, using a spoon or your hands, begin working the dough into the milk, working from the outside in, until the mixture is just barely combined. Do NOT overmix or this will result in very tough scones!
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead into a ball. Place the ball onto the prepared baking sheet and gently press it into about a 10" circle. Score the circle into 8 wedges with a sharp knife. Bake for approx. 20-25 minutes or until the scones appear set and are golden around the edges. Allow scones to cool for about 30 minutes.
  5. Cut the scones into separate wedges and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, melt the frosting in the microwave (be sure to remove the lid and foil wrapping first!) until pourable. Drizzle over top of the scones and allow the icing to briefly set before serving.

DSC_0460AButtery, soft, chewy, moist and bursting with that rich, decadent red velvet flavor, these scones are an indulgent breakfast that can’t be beat! The cream cheese drizzle is the icing on top of these flavorful, festive scones :)

Have a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

{The Chewiest!} Red Velvet M&M’s Cookies

redvelvetmmcookieSooooo I just got back from Disneyland, and I am having some serious issues to adjusting back to the real world.

Instead of waking in the morning feeling like P.Diddy in my luxurious hotel room, I wake up looking like a hobo in my twin-sized bed with ripped plaid sheets.  There isn’t anyone to restock miniature toiletries in my bathroom when I leave for a small period of time.  And when I walk outside, I don’t see gigantic furry animal costumes, hear sounds of laughter and sparkles, or smell freshly fried beignets and irresistible churros.  I just see my dead front yard and hear cars drive by, which is hardly glamorous.  And there’s definitely no churro aroma, either.

I’m just trying to figure out whyyyyy I can’t live in the castle, ride Space Mountain all day or stuff my face with Monte Cristos.  It seems kinda cruel that I must transition back to this cold, cutthroat real world when I was just riding roller coasters and my biggest issue of the day was deciding exactly which keychain to buy.

Oh, the cruelty of this world!  There is a serious lack of magic in my neighborhood.  And any rodents I see are not dressed in polka dotted dresses.  I’m also pretty sure they’re rabid and don’t come from a land of smiles and giant mouse-shaped waffles.

Anyways, it’s been kinda rough as I struggle to navigate back into the real world, where calories count and happy music isn’t constantly humming around you.  Especially since the day after I came home, I was greeted with a huge pile of bills waiting for me and my mom informing me that her work is dropping my vision and dental insurance.  I mean, it would have been tooootally different if she handed me a stack of bills and mentioned that little diddy while I had mouse-ears on and was posing with Goofy, but noooooooo.  Welcome back from paradise, Hayley — adulthood didn’t bother to take a vacation from being sucky!

Dammit, reality.  I hate you.

DSC_0269AWhile at Disneyland, I had the pleasure of attending a Disneyland Lunch which was sponsored by the TechMunch conference I was there for.  At the lunch they had a Whoopie Pie Bar where you could choose your pies and fillings and the pastry chefs from Disneyland would happily fill and decorate them to order for you.  It was such a neat idea, and for someone who usually resists red velvet, there was something super enticing about these freshly baked whoopies.  So I ordered a red velvet one with classic cream cheese frosting and oh mah god, it was phenomenal!  The pie was perfectly plush and chewy, the cream cheese filling delightfully luscious.  In fact, it had me hankering for some more red velvet deliciousness, so when I got home I whipped these cookies up.

They’ll definitely be that security blanket when reality bites.

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5.0 from 2 reviews
{The Chewiest!} Red Velvet M&M's Cookies
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Sinful red velvet cake turns into delicious cookies in this super simple recipe, featuring red velvet flavored M&M's! Can't find the special M&M flavor? Substitute them for regular M&M's or pretzel M&M's, or leave them out altogether.
Ingredients
  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup oil
  • Splash vanilla extract
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup red velvet M&M's (available at Walmart as a Valentine's Day special -- see note if you cannot find these M&M's)
  • Heart Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, silicone liners, or mist lightly with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil and vanilla extract with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Stir the M&M's and white chocolate chips in by hand until combined.
  3. Using a cookie dough scoop, scoop Tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough onto the prepared sheets, about 1" apart from another. Bake for approx. 8-10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure an even cooking process. Remove from the oven and while still hot, sprinkle the tops liberally with heart shaped sprinkles. Likewise, you could also roll the dough balls in sprinkles before baking, but I wanted the tops to be sprinkly.
  4. Cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store airtight, at room temperature, up to a week.

DSC_0271AThese are easily some of the softest, chewiest cookies I’ve ever eaten or made!  A lot of people knock cake mix, but it produces some seriously moist, light & chewy cookies that are absolutely to-die for!  Plus, it makes creating red velvet cookies a cinch — just open a box of red velvet cake mix, add a few simple ingredients and bake.  I love the addition of the red velvet M&M’s and the white chips for added color and a little pop of crunchy texture.  The red velvet M&M’s have a hint of red velvet flavor but aren’t too strong — just like red velvet, they kinda just tasted like chocolate.  But I liked the idea of having that crunch and texture in the soft cookie.  I know you will, too!

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

 

 

Sugar Hearts

sugarheartsHappy Saturday, my peeps!

As you are reading this, I am probably breaking a personal record by sleeping in until the late afternoon.  HAHAHAHAH just kidding, I am probably already awake.  However, I am extremely tired (and I know this even as I write in the future) because I just returned home from Disneyland!

I was at an amazing conference called TechMunch that is geared exclusively for food bloggers.  And the conference was actually held at and in Disneyland… which means my butt was running around from class to class, churro booth to churro booth, and riding rides until Mickey himself kicked me out of the park, night & day for three days.

AKA, I’m a liiiiittttle bit tired.

So here’s a super easy, fool-proof recipe for y’all to whip up for your Valentine’s, or because it’s Saturday, or for Super Bowl tomorrow, or just because it’s seriously TWO ingredients that 99.9% of you probably have on hand.  These Sugar Hearts are adorable confections that will surely put a smile on anyone’s face.  Plus, who doesn’t love sugar!?

DSC_0249APop them in your tea, serve them on a platter, feed them to your Valentine, or feed them to a horse… I really don’t care.  But you SHOULD totally make them!

DSC_0240A*from the genius Francois at Sweet Explorations 

5.0 from 2 reviews
Sugar Hearts
Author: 
Recipe type: Candy
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
These candies are simple to create, but make a HUGE impression! Who knew sugar could be so adorable and versatile?!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • Red food coloring
Instructions
  1. Place the sugar in a large bowl. Begin by adding a Tablespoon of water at a time until you've hit three Tablespoons. Add in a couple drops of red liquid food coloring.
  2. Using a spoon, combine the sugar, water and food coloring until the mixture resembles wet sand and begins to clump together.
  3. Flatten the mixture on a clean, flat work surface. I flattened mine evenly into about a ¼" thickness. Using a very small heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut hearts out of the sugar mixture. I like starting toward the edges and working my way toward the center since the sugar can crack a little. If it cracks you can always push it back down into the mixture.
  4. Place the sugared hearts carefully onto a parchment-or-silicone-lined baking sheet. Place the candies into a warm oven (about 150 degrees F) for about 10-15 minutes to allow them to set and dry. Remove from the oven, cool on the tray and serve!

DSC_0247AI love how easy and versatile these little treats are!  They may be small and simple, but they make a HUGE and powerful impression for those you love!  Switch things up by using different shaped, miniature cookie cutters for different occasions — try footballs for Super Bowl, shamrocks for St. Patty’s Day, or pumpkins for Halloween!  You could also consider adding a drop of any extract of your choice for a hint of flavor to these petite candies — try cinnamon or cherry for these hearts for a nice surprise!

Have a delicious day!

xo, Hayley

Red Hot Cinnamon Cupcakes

redhotcinnLet’s talk true love.  Or actually, the complete antithesis of true love.

Mannie, my sweet dog, is obsessed with squirrels.  He loves to chase them, bark at them and stare at them.  In fact, anything squirrel-related, he’s all for it.  I never let him off the leash to actually get them, and even if I did, they are way too quick for him.  So we usually admire them from afar.  And then, of course, there was that whole incident when we had a pecan tree in our yard and the squirrels would actually throw the nut shells onto my dog’s head as he barked at them from below… hence his obsession, I suppose.

ANYWAYS.  A few days ago we were walking to the park when we spotted an unfortunate squirrel lying on the side of the road.  And by unfortunate, I mean straight-up dead.  Mannie immediately noticed it and I let him stare at the squirrel’s lifeless, belly-up body for a good few minutes as this was Mannie’s one true chance to be up close to a real squirrel, even if it was dead.  Eventually, I realized if I didn’t tug his leash now that we’d be staring at a dead squirrel for the rest of eternity, so I motioned for Mannie to keep walking.  But no, there was a squirrel present and dammit, he was determined to stare at it until the end of time.

That is, until he somehow gained super strength, thus gaining an inch on his leash by some kind of squirrel-hating miracle and did the unthinkable: he picked that mother-lovin’ dead squirrel up in his mouth and held it like some hopeless rag doll.  Mannie then began spinning in circles violently like some morbid carousel from the pits of hell.

A moment passed before my brain registered that holy shit, my dog is holding a dead animal in his MOUTH, at which point I started screaming bloody freakin’ murder while still holding onto his leash, thus spinning in violent circles with Mannie as my body became entangled in the leash.  We spun for a good few revolutions, squirrel lifeless in mouth, until the end of the leash had come and my knee happened to knock the squirrel out of Mannie’s mouth.  From the trajectory of our spinning, plus the universe’s cruel sense of humor, I basically drop-kicked the lifeless animal.  The dead squirrel ricocheted off of my knee and flew into the street, landing with a part-satisfying, part-horrifying thud.

The worst part of this whole ideal (besides neighbors witnessing my screaming over a dead animal), was the fact that Mannie was so nonchalant about the whole experience and hopped the rest of the way home like nothing morbid had happened just a few moments ago.  Actually, he was probably thrilled to have finally united with his longtime love/enemy and it was then that I realized that despite desecrating an innocent tree animal, this was a good experience for Mannie nonetheless.

DSC_0205AAnyway, naturally this terrible story segued into the recipe for these cupcakes.  Please don’t let the morbid story deter you from making them — they’re truly amazing and perfect for your true love (who hopefully is living and breathing).  If you love Red Hot candies, you’ll flip for these cupcakes!  They’re a redo from a recipe I made years ago and are even better than I remember.  Satisfy your sweet tooth with these sweet, hot cupcakes!

DSC_0202A

5.0 from 1 reviews
Red Hot Cinnamon Cupcakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Cupcakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
Sweet, hot and oh-so cute, these Red Hot Cupcakes will ignite a lotta love in your Valentine!
Ingredients
  • 1 box white cake mix, plus ingredients on back of box
  • 1 tsp cinnamon extract
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Red Hot candies, coarsely crushed
  • FOR RED HOT FROSTING:
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 tsp cinnamon extract
  • 1 (32 oz) bag powdered sugar
  • ½ cup Red Hot candies, crushed
  • Red food coloring
  • Sprinkles, if you'd like
  • Cinnamon Lips gummies, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with about 16 paper liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Once the batter has come together, stir in the extracts and Red Hot candies until combined.
  3. Portion the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling about ¾" full. Bake for approx. 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean; cool the cupcakes completely.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and extract together until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until frosting is light and fluffy. Add in the food coloring. Taste-test the frosting mixture to make sure the cinnamon flavor is strong enough -- if not, add a little more. Fold the Red Hot candies into the frosting.
  5. Fill a piping bag with a large round tip (I like Atecco 807) with the frosting and pipe high onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with Valentine's sprinkles, and if you'd like, the Cinnamon Lips gummies. Store leftover cupcakes airtight in the fridge for a couple of days.

DSC_0212aI used to work at a bakery that made a similar cupcake for Valentine’s Day and it was easily one of my favorite flavors!  There’s just something so intriguing about a spicy cupcake topped with a sinfully sweet & spicy Red Hot buttercream.  Plus, I love the little pops of red candy swirled throughout the batter.  These will definitely tantalize and please your tastebuds and your Valentine’s :)

Have a fantastical day!

xo, Hayley

Red Velvet Cream Cheese Cups

redvelvetcupsIt isn’t easy for me to say this but… I admit defeat.

Sadly, it is with great displeasure and disgust that I admit I like a Maroon 5 song.

It happened completely randomly and if I could go back and change it I would.  But sadly, time machines haven’t been invented yet (seriously, what ARE you scientists working on that could be more important than a time machine?!) so I am stuck in a world where I find a Maroon 5 song catchy.

So okay, Maroon 5 is not my favorite band simply because Adam Levine is not my favorite person.  Actually, ever.  Looking at his face makes me want to kick a teddy bear in the face.  I simply cannot stand him.  His voice.  His dorky tattoos.  His singing.  His lame pictures of him half-naked looking all moody.  It all sickens me to the core to the point where when The Voice commercials come on I scream, “OH THE HUMANITY!!” and change the channel for anything else other than his face.  I even sat through a brutal 3-minute Sarah McLaughlin commercial just to avoid seeing Adam promoting acne lotion.  OH THE HUMANITYYYYY.

And whenever you hear that awful song, you want SO BADLY to hate it SO BADLY but inside your body is doing some Miley-esque twerk that goes against your better judgment and you just can’t help that it’s SO DAMN CATCHY.  And when you hear it on the radio in the car with another person, your mind is like “OMG CHANGE IT, I totally hate this song” but inside you die a little, sad that you have to lie to yourself about hating this song.  Later, you’ll go home, put your earbuds in and dance like a seizing maniac to it in the privacy of your own room.  No one must know!

And I get it, y’all — I am in the minority here.  All my friends find him droolworthy.  And most of the population seems like they aren’t as allergic to him as I am.  But like, can we never ever bring up the fact that I downloaded “One More Night” onto my iPod?  We’ll pretend it never happened, like when Britney Spears shaved her head, or when parachute pants were in fashion.  It’ll just go down in history as some minute unfortunate non-event.  And I’m sure after listening to the song no less than 3487613846837462734 times I’ll eventually delete it from my playlist and never hear it again.

DSC_0228AIn the meantime, it’s time to console my fragile soul with something sweet & delicious.  If you’re a fan of red velvet cupcakes, this treat was exclusively created for YOU!  Long ago are the days when candy cups were only filled with peanut butter or fudge.  Behold are the days when aforementioned candy cups are stuffed with luscious cream cheese frosting and coated in a red velvet flavored chocolate.  It may not ever beat Reese’s for Best Candy Cup, but you bet your damn butt it’ll come in for a close second.

Whip these up in under 30 minutes and have yourself some candy cups to celebrate our little secret.  And remember, it is a secret.  No one must know… not even Adam.

DSC_0227A

5.0 from 3 reviews
Red Velvet Cream Cheese Cups
Author: 
Recipe type: Candy
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
 
Red Velvet Cake lovers will FLIP for these bite-sized candies that taste just like the real deal!
Ingredients
  • 2 pkgs Wilton Red Velvet flavored candy melts
  • 1 container prepared cream cheese icing (you could also use your own favorite recipe if desired)
  • 1 tsp cream cheese extract (optional)
  • Assorted sprinkles (optional)
Instructions
  1. Line a miniature muffin tin with approx. 24 paper liners; set aside. In a large microwaveable bowl, melt ONE package of the candy melts in 30 second increments, stirring after each round, until smooth & melted.
  2. Spoon one teaspoon of the melted red velvet chocolate into each muffin cup. Using the back of the spoon, push the chocolate up against the sides of the liner as well to create the bottom of the "cup." Repeat with remaining cups and pop the cups in the freezer to briefly set, about 5 minutes.
  3. If using the cream cheese extract, stir the extract into the can of frosting before filling your piping bag. You do not need the cream cheese extract, I just like that it enhances the tangy flavor of cream cheese frosting for these cups and helps balance the sweetness a little. Spoon your icing into a piping bag attached with a small round tip. Likewise, you could spoon the icing into a Ziploc baggy, seal out the air, and snip off a corner of the baggy for a makeshift piping bag. Pipe a generous teaspoon or so of frosting into the bottom of each cup. Pop the candies back into the freezer to allow the frosting to set, about 10 minutes.
  4. While the frosting middle sets, microwave the remaining bag of red velvet candy melts until smooth. Using your spoon, spoon the mixture on top and over the mounds of frosting in each candy cup to enclose the cream cheese icing inside of the candy cup. Repeat with remaining candy cups, and sprinkle with icing if desired. Pop them in the freezer for about 5 minutes to set.
  5. Once firm, peel back the liners and serve!

DSC_0238AThese candy cups would be perfect to tie up for quick & easy Valentines for the classroom or office!  You could also swap out the Valentine sprinkles for regular jimmies or non-pareils to make these transition into any holiday or occasion — just think how cute they’d be with Christmas sprinkles, too!  The decorating options are endless, and no matter how you dress ‘em up, they’ll still be deliciously gooey and creamy inside — the perfect surprise inside of these adorable candy cups!

Have a fantastical day!!

xo, Hayley

 

 

Insult Candy Hurts {Mean Pound Cake!}

candyhurtsNow that I’m older (and single) I am kind of indifferent toward Valentine’s Day.

Sure, it’s kind of a dumb holiday but it isn’t terrible.  You know what’s a terrible holiday?  Actually… I can’t really think of any, so pretend I never asked.  No, wait  — I’ve never liked Thanksgiving.  Maybe it’s the food, but mostly it’s the company.  And on Valentine’s Day, at least I don’t have to eat dehydrated turkey meat and hang out with my family.  I can wallow myself in my room watching Criminal Minds reruns, pantslessly shoveling candy in my face while no one bothers me.  Score!  Take that, pilgrims.

I think the most annoying thing about Valentine’s Day is the blatant forced “love” in everyone’s face.  I don’t mind the hearts, the roses or the candies.  But the fact that everything has something to do with love is a little… much.

I mean, I can’t just get a card that says “hey, Happy Valentine’s Day.”  They ALL have some creepy, mushy message talking about wearing one another’s blood in vials around our necks and staring deeply into each other’s eyeballs while reciting poems.  Or they use the word ‘caress’, which as far as I’m concerned should be banned.  Caress?  It reminds me of someone rubbing a bald man’s shiny head.  And as she stared deeply into his eyes, seeing his soul within, she gently caressed his shiny bald head, rubbing it gingerly like she was polishing a bowling ball.

And then there’s all that weird merchandise like tea towels that have owls in love on them.  Since when are owls in love?  And since when does owl love need to be merchandised into things like mugs and tea towels?  And why aren’t scorpions ever in love, hmm?  Are they too ugly for love?  Too bitchy?  Because I’m kinda feeling like the lonely scorpion here, just looking for my mate to costar on a tea towel with me.  WHY DOESN’T ANYONE LOVE ME.

So you see, Valentine’s Day can be a pretty touchy subject for some people, and I get that.  As long as I get my chalky conversation hearts, I’m good.  I’ll probably even buy a towel with owls in love on it because that shit is cute.

ANYWAYS, today’s post is dedicated to those who are either indifferent to Valentine’s Day or who hate it.  Hate it because it’s a commercialized, fake holiday bastardizing love, hate it because you’re single and all your friends are happily in relationships, hate it because one time you contracted a DISGUSTING case of pink eye on Valentine’s Day and like, gunk was pouring out and okay I’ll stop with my true life story… or hate it because your boyfriend dumped you for a homeless person (a few short months after said pink eye incident).

DSC_0218AI created something for your haters that will completely encompass your hatred of the holiday without sacrificing fun or flavor — but of course.  Yeah, it’s heart-shaped and yes, it’s doused in pastel colors, but if you look closely, the traditional “Call Me” or “Hot Stuff” messages are replaced with more sinister one-liners, like “Drop Dead” or “U R Ugly” to show your loved ones you really don’t give a shit about their roses and Kenny G music.  I call them Insult Candy Hurts, and thankfully they’re easy to make and even easier to destroy in your mouthhole.

Suck it, love owls!!

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Insult Candy Hurts {Mean Pound Cake!}
Author: 
Recipe type: Cake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 21
 
Does Valentine's Day get you down? Or do you just hate people intensely? Either way, show your true feelings by making these adorable Insult Candy Hurts! You're just a few simple ingredients away from telling everyone how you REALLY feel about their commercialized holiday!
Ingredients
  • 3 pkgs. Sarah Lee pound cake, thawed to room temperature (likewise, you could use a prepared loaf pound cake, like in the bakery of your local grocery store -- just buy three if they're normal 9" loaf size -- this is what I did)
  • 1 can prepared frosting
  • Gel food coloring (I used yellow, pink, purple, and green, but you could use whatever you'd prefer)
  • Red Candy Writer (like those squeeze-tube writers located in the cake decorating aisle)
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Meanwhile, unwrap the pound cakes if necessary. Slice them in about 1" thick slices.
  2. Using a medium-sized heart shaped cookie cutter (making sure your cutter isn't bigger than the pound cake slice), cut a heart shaped chunk of the pound cake out of the middle of the slice. Place the heart shaped cake onto the rimmed baking sheet and discard scraps (use them to make a pudding, cake pops, or eat -- pound cake is freaking delicious). Repeat until all the hearts have been cut out of the loaves. You can use the ends of the loaves if you'd like -- I did -- but they won't be as thick as the rest of the hearts. Up to you.
  3. Freeze the hearts for about 1 hour or until solid and firm.
  4. Once frozen, distribute the frosting evenly among a couple of bowls. Tint each bowl a different color of your choosing. Again, I used pink, green, yellow and purple. Microwave each bowl of frosting for about 10-15 seconds or until the frosting is runny and liquefied.
  5. Using a spoon, top each pound cake heart with a spoonful of melted frosting, alternating colors on different cake hearts. Allow the icing to set -- you may want to double coat them. Once the icing has set, use your candy writer to write your awesome messages onto the hearts. Stick with smaller sayings like "Die", "H8 You", "Drop Dead", "Kick Brix", "U R Ugly" etc. Serve!

DSC_0224A“Candy Hurts” are a popular phenomenon on sites like Tumblr.  People like to take adorable, Kawaii-style graphics and put insulting sayings on them which I find SO adorable and way more bearable than the traditional, way-mushy stuff.  I thought these precious pastel-colored cake hearts looked ever-so-sweet with their crass messages scribbled on in red chocolate.  I’m sure any other anti-Valentine’s fans will love them, too!!

Have a fantastical day!

xo, Hayley

 

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