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Author Archives: Ruthanne

Fireworks Tart!

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A dense chocolate brownie topped with creamy mint filling and a layer of rich fudge- these are the perfect finish to your July 4th cookout!

I’ve been sharing recipes on this blog for several years now, and there are just some recipes that I want everyone to try. These mint brownies are a recipe from my mom and I keep re-making them into different forms because they are just SO GOOD! I’ve filled them with mint, caramel, cookie dough, coconut, pralinecandy cane, irish cream, and peanut butter. Just last Halloween I made the recipe into a spiderweb striped tart that was SO fun, and I decided it needed to be remade in patriotic colors for July this year!

Fun- right? And honestly- soooo yummy!

Here is how we made it: (printable recipe is here)

INGREDIENTS:

Brownie:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder (try to use dark- it makes it easier to color the brownie black)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Food coloring gel in black

Mint filling: (this makes a little more than you need- but makes certain you have enough of each color)

  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons mint extract
  • Food coloring gel in red, white and blue

Chocolate glaze/fireworks:

  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips (again, use dark so it is easier to color black)
  • 6 tablespoon of butter
  • Food coloring gel in black
  • About 1/8 cup of Wilton’s candy melts in each color: red, white, and blue

DIRECTIONS:

NOTE: Throughout this recipe, be careful when moving the tart pan, as holding it from the bottom will cause the edges to slide off. I usually keep tarts on a cookie sheet when I bake and decorate them- I took this one off (very carefully!) so I could photograph the process for you.

Brownie:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Cream butter and sugar together. 
  • Beat in eggs, cocoa, vanilla and salt.
  • Add flour and milk (alternating them and mixing well in between)
  • Add black food coloring gel until batter is a dark almost-black color.
  • Spread evenly in 9 inch tart pan that has been set on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Cool completely.

Mint filling:

  • Melt butter and add to powdered sugar. 
  • Add extract.
  • Mix well, using water to bring it to a thick but spreadable consistency.
  • Divide filling into three bowls and mix in gel food coloring until you get a desired shade of blue and red. I also added a bit of white coloring to brighten up the natural color of the filling- but you wouldn’t have to do this.
  • As soon as color is mixed in, spoon each filling color into a small and sturdy (use freezer, not sandwich) zip-top bag. Push all the air out and seal tightly. As this filling is exposed to air it begins to harden up- so sealing these up right away prevents this. If you are slow, you can always add a little more water to get it back to the right consistency.
  • Set aside until brownie has cooled.
  • Cut a corner off each bag, and squeeze filling out into a circle at the center. Alternating colors, add rings around this until the entire top of the brownie is covered with filling. 
  • Once the top is covered, set a piece of parchment paper or wax paper on top and gently press the filling down so that it goes all the way to the edges. Try to make it nice and flat. The glaze will cover all the ridges, but you want to be sure that the edges are pushed down enough that the glaze has room to get to the edge of the pan without overflowing.

Chocolate glaze:

  • Melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between until completely melted and smooth.
  • Add black gel food coloring until glaze is a dark almost-black (I added quite a bit and never got it completely black- but close!)
  • BEFORE pouring glaze onto tart: melt each color of candy melts and place each in individual zip-top bags (so they are ready as soon as glaze is poured)
  • Pour glaze over top of mint filling, using a spoon or knife to push out to all the edges.
  • Before glaze hardens, cut a small corner on each bag of melted Wilton’s candy melts and pipe circles (like a target shape) in alternating colors on top of the melted glaze.
  • Use a toothpick or skewer to draw lines through the glaze, starting at the center and drawing lines outward- like fireworks!

  • Chill until top layer of glaze is hardened. Do not remove outer ring of tart pan until this has completely hardened. Then, push up on the bottom firmly, until the edges slide out of pan. This takes a little patience- I refrigerated my tart overnight and then let it sit out for about 30 minutes before I was able to push the bottom up and remove that outer ring. If you have a hard time, push up in different spots along the edge, loosening all the edges 1st, before pushing the whole thing out.
  • Enjoy!

My thoughts: I love this dessert for so many reasons. It is a little time-consuming, but it’s SO cute!!!  If you want to save time, skip the colors in the mint layer- just make it white- and decorate the top. Or swirl the colors and make these in a sheet cake pan to have a bunch of them (refer to my candy cane brownie recipe here for directions and just add some blue instead of pink!) However you make them, ENJOY!!!  Happy summer to you! ~r

Other patriotic desserts for your 4th of July celebrations: (click on a photo to see the recipe)

 

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Smoke Bomb Oreo Pops!

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These adorable smoke bomb Oreos will be the hit of your July 4th parties!

It’s hard to believe that July is just around the corner– but it is! I love summer, and making fun patriotic treats always reminds me of pool parties and days at the beach on Lake Michigan 🙂 I made smoke-bomb brownies last year, and they were such a hit that I decided to turn them into Oreo pops this year!

Cute, yummy and SO easy to make ahead and have ready for all your summer celebrations!

Here’s how we made them: (printable recipe here)

INGREDIENTS: (makes about 30 pops)

  • One package of Double Stuff Oreos
  • 2 bags of Wilton’s candy melts in red
  • 1/4 cup of Wilton’s candy melts in white
  • Twizzlers Pull-n-Peel licorice in red/white/blue (or licorice strings of another variety)
  • Large star sprinkles
  • Tiny star spinkles

DIRECTIONS:

  • Gently twist apart all Oreos.
  • Melt white candy melts in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between until melted and smooth.
  • Dip end of a lollipop stick into the white chocolate, spread a little on the top of the white Oreo filling and then press the stick flat into the center of the filling.
  • Place top of Oreo on, and set on a cookie sheet. When all Oreos have sticks inserted, pop these in the freezer for 15-20 minutes (until they are nice and firmly set).
  • While these chill, cut licorice strings into about 30 (1 inch) segments.
  • Melt red candy melts in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between until melted and smooth.
  • Dip the end of a licorice string into the red melts and then set flat against a large star sprinkle and allow this to harden- this will basically “glue” the star onto the end of the licorice. 
  • Gently dip chilled Oreo in red candy melts, using a spoon to cover all sides. Tap stick against side of bowl to drain excess. Set on parchment paper.
  • While candy melts are still soft, set end of licorice into the top of the Oreo and sprinkle with tiny stars.
  • Allow everything to harden up, and then slide each pop into a small cello bag and tie with ribbon (alternatively, store in an airtight container with parchment paper as layers between).
  • Enjoy!

My thoughts: These are easy little treats to make- and they have OREOS inside- so they are delicious too! (If you have never made Oreo Pops before, check out our tutorial here.) ENJOY!

Other fun and very patriotic desserts for your July: (click on photo to see recipe)

 

Baseball Brownie Cups!

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Dense chocolate brownie cups topped with fudge and a dome of creamy peppermint topping! These baseball brownies are a perfect idea for Father’s Day!

Our day to celebrate dad is almost here! I happen to have a pretty incredible dad. By the time this posts he will be in Canada fishing with my uncles and cousins (does Father’s Day get better than that??) I’ve celebrated all of his various hobbies over the years…fishing, golfing, football (watching), setting off epic firework shows… but I hadn’t made anything baseball. Until now. Let me introduce to you, the YUMMIEST baseballs you will ever meet!

Seriously- they are almost too cute to eat!!

Now, these look difficult to make. Let me assure you that they are not- until you pipe those little laces on top. Then, if you have shaky hands like me, these are AGONY. Just being honest. 🙂 If you have a steady hand (or have a friend to help) you will zip through that piping like nothing though! Promise.

Here is how we made these (printable recipe here):

Ingredients: (makes 24 baseball brownies)

Baseballs: (make these 1st)- you will need a little chocolate bomb mold to make these:

  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • Food color in white
  • One bag of Wilton’s Candy melts in white
  • About 1/2 cup of Wilton’s Candy melts in red.

Brownies: 

  • 1cup butter
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 6oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons butter (do not substitute margarine here!)
  • Green jimmies for grass!

DIRECTIONS:

Mint Baseballs:

  • Melt white candy melts in microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between until smooth.
  • Use a pastry brush to brush melts into a chocolate bomb mold and freeze for a couple minutes until hard.
  • Make mint filling  by adding melted butter to sugar and extract.
  • Mix well, using water to bring it to a thick but spreadable consistency.
  • Add white food coloring to make it pure white (the butter gives it a slightly yellow color)
  • Place filling into a large zip-top bag and seal tightly.
  • Cut a corner off bag and pipe mint filling into each white shell- filling them about 3/4 full.
  • Use a knife to spread mint filling to edges. It will dip in at the center just a bit- and you want this. If it is full all the way across it doesn’t settle on the curved top of the brownie well (see the gap along the bottom in the below photo).
  • Refreeze these for a few minutes before gently popping them out and setting them on a plate. 
  • Repeat this process until you have 24 mint bombs ready.

  

  

Brownies:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Cream butter and sugar together. 
  • Beat in eggs, cocoa, vanilla and salt.
  • Add flour and milk (alternating them and mixing well in between)
  • Spoon evenly into 24 cupcake liners in a cupcake tin.
  • Bake at 350F degrees for 15-18 minutes (don’t over bake- they will start to pull away from the liner)
  • Cool.  
Chocolate Glaze:
  • Melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between until completely melted and smooth.
  • Set aside until bombs ready to assemble.
  • Assemble the brownies by spooning a little chocolate glaze on top of a brownie and spreading to all edges.
  • Place a “baseball” in the center and sprinkle jimmies around edge.
  • Allow this all to harden up (refrigerate to speed process up).
  • Melt red candy melts in microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between until smooth.
  • Place melted candy melts into a bag or squeeze bottle fitted with a tiny writing tip (I used a Wilton’s 1.5 size).
  • Carefully pipe laces on top of baseballs (use photo as a guide) and allow these to harden.
  • Store in a lightly sealed container for 3-4 days.
  • Enjoy!

See how the center of each baseball needs to accommodate the dome-shaped top of the brownie? Here is what happens if you fill them too flat:

See along the edge how it doesn’t connect well? Yeah. Don’t do that. 🙂

My thoughts: Yes, these take some work. But they are SO CUTE!! I’ve spent way more effort on recipes that didn’t score this high in the fun/cute category. If you are going to waste time making something- waste it making these! Plus they are the BEST brownies… I promise. Delicious. 🙂 

My dad doesn’t play much baseball anymore- but he used to, and I have fond memories of playing hours of catch in the backyard with him. Just for fun, here’s a throwback to his baseball days:

That’s me in the 70’s bib 🙂 And here we are now:

Happy Father’s Day dad! Love you!!!!!!

I know you will probably stop right here on this idea, but just in case you are making TWO desserts for dad, here’s a few other ideas. Click on a photo to see the recipe:

 

 

 

Elderflower Lemonade Cupcakes

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Elderflower syrup and fresh mint leaves make these cupcakes unique. The lemonade frosting on top makes them unforgettably delicious!

Just a few weeks ago I made Elderflower Lemonade that was amazing. Seriously- you need to try it! After making many batches of it for friends and family, it occurred to me that these flavors would make such good cupcakes! I experimented a bit with the cupcakes, and topped them with my famous lemonade frosting and YUM! I really liked them. A lot!

Plus they are so fun and springtime-y! The only special ingredient you’ll need is Elderflower syrupI got mine on Amazon and you won’t want to skip this ingredient because it is the secret deliciousness behind this recipe. Plus, once you have it you can make the lemonade- and you will not regret it!!

Here is how we made these (printable recipe here):

INGREDIENTS: 

  • One boxed white cake mix (plus eggs and oil to make according to package)
  •  Elderflower syrup (about 1-2 cups depending on boxed mix)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves
  • 2- 8oz. packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened to room temp.)
  • 1 packet (0.23oz.) of Kool-Aid Lemonade
  • 1- 7oz. container Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip Topping (refrigerator temp)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  • Make cake mix according to package, but replace 1/2 of the required water with elderflower syrup (so if the mix calls for one cup of water, use 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of Elderflower syrup)
  • Bake according to package, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • Cool on countertop.
  • Cream together cream cheese, lemonade and yellow food coloring until smooth.
  • Beat marshmallow creme and powdered sugar in and then fold in Cool Whip until completely smooth.  
  • Place frosting in a large zip-top bag, fitted with a decorating tip, and keep in fridge until ready to frost.
  • Before frosting, use a toothpick to poke holes into the top of each cupcake (6-8). Use a pastry brush to generously brush the top of each cupcake with elderflower syrup, allowing it to soak into the holes. 
  • Pipe lemonade frosting on the top of each cupcake and decorate as desired.
  • Keep in a loosely sealed container, refrigerated, for 2-3 days.
  • Enjoy!

My thoughts: These really are such a deliciously different flavor of cupcake. The mint with the lemon- and that yummy syrup… I love them! They are on my permanent list of spring cupcake options! I hope you get a chance to try them! 🙂 ~r

This lemonade frosting has been one of the biggest hits on this blog. It was originally created in 2011 for a Strawberry Lemonade Layer Cake, which is my most popular recipe- ever. This is a little sad to me since my photography in 2011 needed LOTS of improvement, and the photos are awful 🙂

I remade it (making the frosting a bit thicker) in 2012, and used it on cupcakes in 2013.

It is a go-to frosting recipe for sure. It actually tastes like lemonade, and as my friend Laura (the frosting-hater) says: “I love it- it tastes more like a creamy filling than a frosting.”

Spring recipes are SO FUN! Here’s a few more to try (click on photo to see recipe).

 

Key Lime Pie Shakes!

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These creamy key lime pie shakes are just the thing to kick-start summer!

It’s June NEXT WEEK!!!  Summer is almost here! One of my favorite flavors of summer is lime, and these creamy lime shakes with graham cracker crumbles are the best! I added sweetened condensed milk (because that’s what you add to key lime pie!) and it blended with the ice cream and lime to make the thickest, creamiest shake I’ve ever had. Even after I took photos under hot lights, these shakes were still thick and creamy! Yum.

Here’s how we made them (printable recipe here):

INGREDIENTS: (fills about 6, 8-oz. glasses)

  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream
  • 2 cups of non-alcoholic lime Margarita mix
  • 1 can (14oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • A touch of green food coloring (if desired)
  • Cool-Whip topping or whipped heavy cream
  • About 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs

DIRECTIONS

  • Combine ice cream, margarita mix , condensed milk and food color in a blender (I have a small blender and did mine in 2 batches)
  • Top with whipped cream/Cool Whip and sprinkle with graham crumbs.
  • Add a cherry on top if you’d like. I hate cherries, so I added a little red Sixlet instead 🙂
  • Enjoy immediately!

 

My thoughts: These are easy and quick to throw together- and if you like key-lime pie, you will love these refreshing little shakes! Hope you get a chance to try them! 

Other key-lime recipes here on Easy-baked: (click on a photo to see the recipe)

Maple Pecan Cupcakes

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maple-pecan-cupcakes

These rich, dense chocolate cupcakes are topped with a light whipped maple pecan frosting that is out-of-this-world delicious! 

I know. Maple pecan things are a dessert for the fall- not early summer! I just couldn’t resist. Maple and pecan are two of my favorite flavors together! I thought about saving this post for November and I couldn’t make myself wait to share it with you because it is just that good! These are delicious. So if you can’t bring yourself to make them, pin the recipe for later- but pin it. You will want this one someday!!! Promise.

Here is how we made these (printable recipe here)

INGREDIENTS: (makes 24 cupcakes)

  • One boxed chocolate cake mix plus oil and eggs to make according to box
  • Milk- enough to replace the water required by boxed mix.
  • 1 (3.9 oz.) box of chocolate pudding (instant)
  • 3 cups chopped pecans (divided)
  • 24 pecan halves
  • 2 sticks salted butter (softened)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of maple extract or flavoring

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  • Mix 1 and 1/2 cups of chopped pecans with dry cake mix.
  • Add eggs and oil according to package, and add milk instead of water- in the same amount as listed on package.
  • Add box of instant chocolate pudding.
  • Beat on high for 2 minutes until smooth.
  • Scoop evenly between 24 cupcake liners placed in muffin tins and bake according to package- until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  • Gently remove from tins and allow cupcakes to cool on countertop.
  • Make frosting by placing butters, powdered sugar and maple flavoring in a large mixing bowl.
  • Beat on high until light and very fluffy (2 to 3 minutes).
  • Fold in one cup of chopped pecans (this leaves 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top!)
  • Use a cookie scoop to place a dome of frosting on each cooled cupcake. Press a pecan half on top and sprinkle with a bit of chopped pecans. 

  • Store in a loosely sealed container for up to 3 or 4 days. Refrigerate to keep a day or two longer.
  • Enjoy!

My thoughts: You are going to love these! If you want to simplify, just make the boxed cake mix as-is plus nuts. The milk and pudding make the cupcakes more dense, rich and moist- but you could skip adding these extra ingredients to save time. It’s that frosting… even my friends who aren’t big frosting lovers were licking this stuff off the top of these cupcakes. Yum. Hope you get a chance to try them- now- this fall- whenever!! 🙂 Enjoy! ~r

Other maple and/or pecan recipes to try! (click on a photo to see instructions)

 

Elderflower Lemonade (bezinka limonáda)

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Elderflower syrup and mint add a refreshing twist to this fresh-squeezed lemonade!

Last spring I was in the Czech Republic at the headquarters of the mission organization I work for, Josiah Venture. We were waiting for over 140 college interns to arrive and we all went out for dinner at this adorable little restaurant. The menu was entirely in Czech and someone ordered me a lemonade and when I got it and took my first drink I LOVED (loved.loved.loved) it! It took me awhile to figure out what it was I loved so much, and the secret ingredient was: Elderflower syrup! This is commonly made in central Europe to add to beverages and desserts- but I’d never heard of it or tasted it before.

Since I don’t have Elderflower growing in Indiana, I went to my trusty Amazon and discovered that Monin makes this syrup- and it is delicious (find it here)I spent the winter adding it to hot green tea (amazing!) and now that it is spring I gave the lemonade a try- and nailed it! Seriously….you have got to try this! It’s indescribably good.

Here is how we put it together (EASY!!!!!!) Printable recipe here.

INGREDIENTS: (to make one liter, or about 34 ounces): 

  • 2 medium lemons
  • 8-10 mint leaves, slightly crushed (give them a squeeze before you add them!)
  • 3 to 4 slices of lime, halved.
  • 2/3 to 1 cup of Elderflower syrup
  • Club soda and ice

DIRECTIONS: 

  • Juice lemons and add juice to 1 liter carafe (note: in my photos I used a half-liter size, which is fun to drink right out of with a long straw!)
  • Place mint leaves, lime slices, and syrup in carafe.
  • Fill with ice to about 2/3 full.
  • Add club soda until filled- stir well and serve in individual glasses.

My thoughts: Well, in case you didn’t catch this earlier in the post: I LOVE THIS BEVERAGE!!!!! If you like your lemonade sweet add a little more syrup. If you like it tart, add less. Add some different fruits if you like- I think some sweet raspberries might be good crushed into this too. Yum. You really need to try this!!!  🙂 ~r

I enjoyed mine on my back porch- right out of the 1/2 liter carafe 🙂 

One of my favorite parts of travel is discovering new international recipes to try. Here are a few from the past: (click on a photo to see the recipe!)

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