by Danielle Jackson
Some of you may know this, but in addition to being a publicist at Sourcebooks, I’m an avid baker.
Which is sort of a tough hobby to have when you have to fit in a wedding dress pretty soon… but oh well! I still love to bake, and I especially love to share baked goods with friends. I’ve gone as far as to schedule weekly “snack days” in the Sourcebooks PR department. We have a schedule and we all take it VERY seriously. And more often than not, we all make something homemade (though we do not judge store-bought items). The last few years I’ve alternated baking things for family and friends with making crafty items for them. It’s a lot of work, but I think these special handmade—and sometimes edible!—items are really fun.
Here are three of my all-time favorite things to bake, and share with people! The photos below are my own :)
Mini-Pecan Tarts (from our very own CAROLYN BROWN!)
I love these for the Fall—and they are so easy! In the photo below, you’ll note I cheated, and just used mini-phyllo cups that I bought from the grocery store.
- 1/2 c. butter
- 3 oz. cream cheese
- 1 c. flour
- Soften butter and cream cheese.
- Mix in flour.
- Roll in ball; chill.
- Press into small tart pans with thumb.
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. melted butter
- 2/3 c. pecans, chopped
- 3/4 c. lite brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Mix filing ingredients together.
- Fill shells 1/2 full.
- Bake at 325°F for 25-30 minutes until shell is light brown.
Chocolate Caramel Potato Chips (from BigOven.com)
Potato chips are my weakness—once I eat one I eat a million. So adding sugar to this saltiness was a perfect match for me. This was one of the first things I made for the PR dept. Snack Day. Time consuming? For sure. Worth it? YES!
- 12 oz milk chocolate
- 12 oz rippled potato chips
- 14 oz caramels, unwrapped
- 3 Tablespoons half and half
- 4 oz Heath Bar Brittle (Note from DJ: I just crushed up a bunch of Heath bars)
Line baking sheets with wax or parchment paper and set aside. Put caramels and half and half in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir until melted and creamy.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the melted caramel halfway down both sides of the potato chips. Be sure to brush only a light coat, or the chips will get too soggy. Place on lined baking sheets to set for about 30 minutes.
Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and dip the caramel coated chips about a third of the way, allowing the excess to drip off. Sprinkle the Heath Bar bits on the melted chocolate and place back on the wax paper to set for about 2 hours.
'Self-Frosting' Nutella Cupcakes (from FauziasKitchenFun.com)
I made these for my birthday this past March and all 24 of them disappeared early in the evening! Nutella is possibly one of the most amazing things ever made… ever. And because it is so awesome, there’s no need to frost these cupcakes! I think they would also work for a brunch dessert.
- 1 ½ cups self-rising flour (180gm)
- 1 ½ tsp. vanilla essence
- 2 large eggs (use 3 if you have small eggs)
- ½ cup milk
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup butter/margarine
- 3-4 tbsp. powdered hazelnuts (Note from DJ: I don’t always include this part)
- quarter/half cup Nutella spread (or peanut butter/any chocolate spread)
Grind the sugar to a powder and set aside.
Sift the flour twice, then mix the powdered hazelnuts into it.
Line your cupcake pan with papers. Preheat oven to 170 C.
Beat the butter with the sugar until light and creamy. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Now add a third of the flour and beat until combined, then add half the milk. Again beat the batter until milk is mixed in. Add another third of the flour, mix it in, and then add the remaining milk. Finally add the last of the flour and the vanilla essence. Beat just until everything is well combined.
Pour into the cupcake liners (I filled to three-quarters of the way) and then on top of every cupcake, add about 1 slightly heaped tsp. of Nutella. Using a toothpick, swirl the Nutella into the tops of the cupcakes, making sure to turn some of the white batter on top of some parts of the Nutella so that the 'frosting' is intertwined slightly with the cupcake.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the batter/white part of the cupcakes comes out clean. If you stick the toothpick into the Nutella it will be gooey because the chocolate will not solidify during baking, so take care to check the white parts.
Remove from pan and let the cupcakes cool on a rack. They are yummy warm or at room temperature.
What’s your favorite thing to bake? Share that in the comments, and you’ll be enetered to win one of two Jenny Colgan Prize Packs! Jenny Colgan is one of our women’s fiction authors, and her books have a sweet theme, and include recipes! The prize pack will include a copy of Meet Me at the Cupcake Café, and an advanced reader copy of The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris (in stores February 2014).
**Contest open to US and Canada only. Please leave an email address so I can contact you easily! Winners will be chosen on Monday, October 14.**