Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Birthday Baking Extravaganza!

This last weekend was not only the mark of the 22nd year in my life, but also happened to be the birthdays of several important people in my life. Because so many wonderful people are born in the great month of July, the opportunity to combine our special days together and have one big birthday weekend presented itself and could not be passed by! Emails were sent, texts messaged and phone calls made. Everyone and anyone was invited to our Rough and Ready homestead to help us bring in another year of living. What better reason does a girl need to break out all of her best dessert recipes and get to baking!?

Here are the desserts I decided upon and made:
Pumpkin Brownies
Banana Bread Cobbler
Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes
Lemon Cream Cheese Squares
Tres Leches Cupcakes with a Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
Carrot Cake Cupcakes

This may seem like a very lofty task to take on all by myself, and that's because it is. For this reason, I begged my good friend Becca to lend a hand. Becca was glad to help, and took on the Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes as well as the Pumpkin Brownies, both of which turned out absolutely delicious and were popular among guests.

I started my project on Friday night after work, beginning with the Lemon Cream Cheese Squares. I picked up the base of this recipe through my years of searching blogs and websites for dessert recipes I could make my own. After a little changing, this is the recipe I end up with:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup powder sugar
8 tbsp unsalted butter @ room temperature
1 egg white
10 oz cream cheese @ room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus one tbsp for topping
2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup sour cream
6 tbsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
2.)Process flour and powder sugar in food processor, add butter and process until the dough come together. I like to add about half the juice of one lemon to this mixture as well, but it's optional. Pulse together for about 20-30 seconds and then pat dough over the bottom of a prepared 8" X 8" pan. Glaze the top with egg white and pour off excess. Bake for 25 minutes and place in fridge to cool completely.
3.) Cream the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest on medium until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add sour cream and lemon juice, then beat again making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl continuously. Add eggs and vanilla then spread the mixture over the completely cooled base. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 1 hour.

Also optional: Mix about a cup of powder sugar with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to make a glaze to top these lemon bars with. If the mixture still needs to be thinned out, you can also add a splash of milk, or even more lemon juice for extra tartness.

This turned out to be a great summer time treat, and was refreshing for such a hot California weekend, unfortunately however, with all of the chaos of getting ready for the party, I did not manage to get pictures of any of my wonderful desserts before they were all gone! I apologize and will work on never letting such a thing happen again.

Next we have the Banana Bread Cobbler, which turned out to be a great breakfast dish the morning after our big bash. Here is that recipe:

3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup uncooked regular oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional, I did not use them)

Stir together the brown sugar, flour and butter until crumbly. I used my hands for this, it seems easier. Stir in the oats and pecans then set aside.

1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 medium bananas, cut into slices

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Lightly grease an 11" X 7" dish.
Whisk flour, sugar, and milk, just until blended. Whisk in melted butter and pour into pan, topping with the sliced bananas and streusel topping. Bake at 40-45 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

This was my personal favorite recipe and I would highly suggest giving this one a try :)

One of the special individuals who had a birthday to celebrate happened to be my wonderful boyfriend, also turning 22. He loves Carrot Cake, and has mentioned several times, how much he would love for me to make him a carrot cake. How could I not take this opportunity to make him the dessert of his dreams?? This was the first time I have ever tried homemade carrot cake without using a boxed mix, so needless to say I was a little nervous. However! These turned out wonderful, and I had a very happy boyfriend :)

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 15 oz can of cooked carrots, or 1 jar of carrot baby food (I used the can of cooked carrots)
2 beaten eggs
1 1/4 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup golden raisins (also optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
Combine flour and the next five ingredients in a food processor. Pulse six to seven times and place into a large bowl.
Combine sugar, oil, and carrots (smashed), and eggs, then stir with a whisk.
Add to flour mixture and stir, then stir in carrots and raisins.
Put in prepared cupcake tins and bake for about 40 minutes.

For Cream Cheese Icing
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup powder sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredient together and mix until one cohesive mixture on med-high speed.
You can also toast coconut and top each cupcake with it, but I did not do this due to the fact that my boyfriend does not like coconut.
If you want to toast, I suggest putting the coconut onto a baking sheet and putting under to broiler, watching the entire time, until just golden brown.

Next, if you are ever looking for a really easy to make, fast dessert, try these Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes

2 lbs cream cheese
42 Oreos, 30 left whole, and 12 chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Line muffin pans with liners and place one whole cookie in the bottom of each cup.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed, gradually adding sugar and beating until combined. Then, beat in vanilla. Drizzle in the beaten eggs, a bit at a time, and beat in sour cream and salt. Finally, stir in chopped cookies and bake for 22 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely on wire racks and refrigerate overnight.

This recipe makes 30

The other recipe that my good friend made, turned out more like a cake then brownies, so I would like to do a little more tweeking to this recipe and try for myself to try and get a more dense chocolaty brownie. However, here is the recipe if anyone would like to give it a try for themselves!

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup fat free milk
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 to 1 cup raisins or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Mix ingredients, the dry first and then add the combine pumpkin, applesauce, beaten eggs and milk. Mix until this is well blended then stir in raisins or chocolate, followed by spreading into a prepared cake pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until well set.

Last but not least, are the Tres Leches Cupcakes. We had a few guests at the party who discovered, could not eat gluten. I have never tried baking gluten free desserts, but thought that now would be a perfect time to give it a shot! Therefor, I made these little tasty treats gluten free, but because I am not a professional at this yet, they turned out a bit dense...they all disappeared, but I would like to spend a little more time perfecting this recipe as well.

1/4 cup shortening ( I used extra sour cream and one plain vanilla yogurt here)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup gluten free flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large mixing bowl, cream sour cream, yogurt cup, butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed. Add yolks, one at a time and beat until yellow disappears. Add vanilla.
Mix in flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture, alternately with the buttermilk to the wet mixture.
Beat the white until they have stiff peaks and fold into the batter.
Pour batter into prepared cupcake tins, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let cool on a wire rack, poking a whole in the middle of each while cooling. I used a chopstick for this, but you can use whatever is handy!
When cook, pour sweetened condensed milk onto the top of the cupcakes, making sure to fill each hole, then top with buttercream icing.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 3/4 cups powder sugar
2 tbsp milk

Combine all ingredients together, mixing with a hand mixer on med-high speed until mixed well and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes. When cupcakes are cook, pipe icing on top of each.

I must once again, apologize for the lack of pictures! I promise that all of these desserts turned out quite beautifully and are definitely worth giving a shot :)

I hope you enjoy this post, and as always, let me know what you think of the recipes I have provided!

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