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    Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (Starbucks Copycat Recipe)

    These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are the perfect fall breakfast. Soft, pumpkin muffins with a sweet cream cheese filling and topped with a buttery streusel are even better than Starbucks!
    Make sure to try my Pumpkin Bread Recipe too…it’s the absolute BEST!

    These Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins Are My Version Of A Starbucks Copycat Recipe!
    These Pumpkin Muffins are so incredibly delicious! They are my version of the popular muffin that comes out at Starbucks every year, but even better. I have made these three ways: with the cream cheese on top surrounded by streusel topping, with the cream cheese inside and the streusel covering the top of the muffin, AND with the cream cheese on top without any streusel if that’s what you like! I wanted to give you a few options and show you just how easy these pumpkin muffins are!
    You Will Love the Cream Cheese Filling!
    The cheesecake filling inside (or on top of) these muffins is absolutely delicious. It’s a creamy bite that pairs beautifully with the spiced pumpkin muffin. The cream cheese adds a little something special to this recipe, in my opinion, but if you don’t like cream cheese you can absolutely omit it. But I love it, and I think you will too!

    Ingredients/Yield: 24 Standard Muffins
    I’ve broken up the ingredients list into 3 parts here for you to make it easier: the cream cheese filling, the muffins, and the streusel topping! The full ingredient list with the measurements is in the recipe card at the bottom of the post!
    Cream Cheese Filling:
    Cream Cheese at room temperatureLarge eggGranulated Sugar
    Pumpkin Muffins:
    All purpose flourPumpkin pie spice. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice use 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.CinnamonKosher saltBaking sodaVegetable oil. You can also use canola oil as well.Granulated sugarLarge eggsPure pumpkin puree. Don’t get this mixed up with pumpkin pie filling. Make sure you’re using 100% pure pumpkin!
    Streusel Topping:
    Light brown sugarButter at room temperatureQuick oats. You can also use old fashioned oats if that’s what you have on-hand. I prefer the texture the quick oats give as they are cut into smaller pieces.All purpose flourGround cinnamonPumpkin seeds. I like to use salted pumpkin seeds in the streusel topping, for a little bit of a salty bite!

    How To Make Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins:
    These muffins are simple to make, they just have a few steps. You don’t even need to use a mixer if you don’t want to, and can omit the topping or the filling if you desire!
    Cream Cheese Filling: In a medium mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, egg, and 3- tablespoons sugar with a hand mixer until combined and smooth, 1-2 minutes. You can also do this step by hand, I just prefer to use the hand mixer for ease!Transfer the cream cheese mixture into a bowl and refrigerate while you complete the next steps.Streusel: In a medium bowl mix together the light brown sugar, butter, oats, flour, cinnamon, and pumpkin seeds until combined and coarse crumbs form. Set this aside. Muffins: Line 2 muffins tins with cupcake liners and preheat your oven to 350°F. You can also coat your muffin tins with nonstick spray if you don’t want to use liners.In a large bowl whisk together your dry ingredients (flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.) Set aside. In another bowl mix together the wet ingredients (oil, 2 cups sugar, eggs, and pumpkin puree.) Stir until smooth.Add the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until combined.To create muffins with the cream cheese INSIDE: Fill the liners halfway full with the muffin batter. Drop a spoonful of the cream cheese into the batter and top with a tablespoon more of batter covering the cream cheese. Repeat this process with the remaining batter and cream cheese. Then Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly on the muffins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the muffins are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.To create muffins where the cream cheese REMAINS ON TOP (like Starbucks): Fill the muffin tin 3/4 full and spoon the cream cheese in the center. Sprinkle the streusel mixture around the edge of the cupcake, not covering the cream cheese. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.Allow the muffins to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Can I Make These Without the Cream Cheese Filling?
    Yes, absolutely! The base recipe for these Pumpkin Muffins is standalone great! You could even use the recipe for the streusel on the muffins without the cream cheese!

    This recipe works on so many different levels:
    The pumpkin muffin is light enough to enjoy on its own. It has the perfect crumb and moistness. It also is sturdy enough to hold up to the cream cheese filling. It’s a completely adaptable pumpkin muffin recipe with the ideal amount of spice and pumpkin flavor!The streusel topping is crunchy and delicious without overpowering the muffin. It includes pumpkin seeds with adda little protein and crunch! I like to use salted pumpkin seeds to add a slightly salty bite!This recipe is also great to cut in half if you would only like to make 12 muffins! You can also use large muffin tins if you want a true bakery-style muffin!
    How To Store Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins:
    Store these muffins airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You need to keep these in the fridge due to the cream cheese. If you omit the cheesecake filling, you can store them at room temperature for 3 days.
    These muffins freeze beautifully. Store them airtight in the freezer for up to 30 days for best freshness. Thaw them in the refrigerator!

    Here are some other pumpkin recipes you will love!


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    Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (Starbucks Copycat Recipe)

    These moist Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are sweet, delicious, and adaptable! Perfect with a cup of coffee!


    Cream Cheese Filling:

    8– ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    1 egg
    3 tablespoons granulated sugar


    1 cup light brown sugar
    1/2 cup butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup quick oats
    1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped


    3 cups flour
    1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
    2 cups granulated sugar
    4 eggs
    1 (15- ounce) can pure pumpkin puree


    Cream Cheese Filling: In a medium mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, egg, and 3- tablespoons sugar with a hand mixer until combined and smooth, 1-2 minutes.
    Transfer the cream cheese mixture into a bowl and refrigerate while you complete the next steps.
    Streusel: In a medium bowl mix together the light brown sugar, butter, oats, flour, cinnamon, and pumpkin seeds until combined and coarse crumbs form. Set aside.
    Muffins: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 tins with liners. Set aside.
    In a large bowl whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
    In another bowl mix together the oil, 2 cups sugar, eggs, and pumpkin puree. Stir until smooth.
    Add the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until combined.
    Fill the liners halfway full with the muffin batter. Drop a spoonful of the cream cheese into the batter and top with a tablespoon more of batter covering the cream cheese. (This creates muffins where the cream cheese is inside the muffin. See the notes for other methods.). Repeat this process with the remaining batter and cream cheese.
    Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly on the muffins and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the muffins are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    Allow to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


    To create muffins where the cream cheese remains on top, fill the muffin tin 3/4 full and spoon the cream cheese in the center. Sprinkle the streusel mixture around the edge of the cupcake, not covering the cream cheese. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

    If you don’t prefer streusel, you can omit it. 
    Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

    Keywords:: cookies and cups, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin recipe, starbucks copycat

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    Giant Stained Glass Spider Web Cookie

    This Giant Stained Glass Spider Web Cookie makes a fun Halloween party centerpiece. It’s made with dark chocolate sugar cookie dough and crushed hard candies. Break it apart to share pieces with partygoers.

    Happy First Day of October!
    I’ve been working on some special Halloween baking projects, and this was one I couldn’t wait to share. You may recognize the technique, or maybe you’ve even made stained glass cookies for Christmas. They are popular around the holidays because they will make any cookie tray look a little more lively and beautiful.
    I wanted to put a new spin on the idea. And when I spotted this spider web stencil, I imagined an extra-large cookie with a web of multicolor panes.

    Spin a (cookie) web!
    Mix up a batch of my favorite chocolate sugar cookie dough to get started. The recipe is from my first baking book, and a dozen years later it’s still my go-to for sugar cookies. The dough keeps its shape well during baking, so it makes the perfect blank canvas for all kinds of cookie projects.
    Roll out the dough and place the stencil on top Use an X-acto knife to cut out the webbing. To remove the cookie dough cut-outs, spear them at an angle with a toothpick and pop them out. You can see this in action in the video I made at the end of this post.

    Fill in the blanks.
    Fill in the spaces between the webbing with crushed hard candies. I have a big bag of these fruity hard candy pieces that I used for this project, but a bag of Jolly Ranchers from the grocery store will do just fine. Place same colors of candies in separate zip-top bags. Use a rolling pin or small hammer to crush the candies. 
    Use a small dessert or demitasse spoon to portion the crushed candies into the spaces. Full disclosure: This part can be tedious, especially filling in the small triangles near the center. If the candy spills over the edges of the webbing, use a small kitchen-dedicated art brush to sweep it back into the hole.

    Bake at 350°F.
    When all of the spaces are filled in with crushed candies, bake the cookie for 5 minutes, or just until the candy is melted. Remove from the oven to cool, and then fill with more crushed candies. This second layer of filling goes waaaay more quickly because the cookie dough is baked. The crushed candy doesn’t stick to it as much. Bake again for another 5 minutes, or until the candy is melted. Let the cookie cool completely on the pan before attempting to pick it up. The double layer of candy strengthens the cookie, but you’ll still need to be careful picking it up.

    You can make the cookie a little creepier with a big red spider made of modeling chocolate. I like the Satin Ice Chocopan brand. It’s easier than it looks, and I’ve included its creation in the video tutorial.

    Attach the spider to a corner of the cookie using a little melted chocolate. Let it firm before placing the cookie upright.

    This cookie reminds me of a round stained glass window I once saw in an old Victorian home. It’s really pretty in the light, and looks best angled so the sun shines through it. Or, if you have a candle or twinkle lights, they’ll look pretty illuminating the colorful panes, too!
    You may be asking yourself, ‘how do you eat a Giant Stained Glass Spider Web Cookie?!’. After you’re done showing it off, break it into pieces with your hands. The cookie will easily separate between the webbing for many servings.

    Giant Stained Glass Spider Web Cookie

    Heather Baird

    You’ll need a 12×12-inch spider web stencil to make this cookie. You may find one at your local craft store, or see links in the blog post for resources. Use your favorite fruity hard candies for this treat. Most any hard candy will work, but Jolly Ranchers are widely available and work well.

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    Prep Time 1 hr 30 minsCook Time 20 minsTotal Time 1 hr 50 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 14

    Equipment12×12 inch spider web stencilX-acto knifesoft art brushparchment paperextra-large baking sheet
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Dark chocolate web cookie14 oz. bag fruit-flavored hard candies such as Jolly Ranchers1 cup unsalted butter1 cup plus granulated sugar1 egg1 tsp. vanilla extract2 cups all-purpose flour1 cup dark cocoa powderPinch of saltRed spider
    Instructions Place same colors of candies in separate zip-top bags. Use a rolling pin or small hammer to crush the candies. Pour each color of crushed candy into separate bowls; cover and set aside.In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking.Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency.Have a large baking sheet ready to hand, large enough to accommodate a 12×12-inch sheet of cookie dough. Set aside.Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper and top with a second sheet. Roll dough between the sheets into a large square greater than 12×12, with a rolling pin. Aim for a little more than 1/4-inch thickness, but not quite 1/2 inch. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and place the web stencil on top of the dough. Cut around the outside edge of the stencil so that you have a 12×12-inch sheet of dough. Remove the stencil and pick up the dough by the bottom parchment paper. Transfer it to a large cookie sheet or cake board and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 20 minutes.Preheat the oven to 350F.Place the stencil back on top of the cookie dough and using the X-acto knife, cut out the webbing. Use a toothpick to pick the pieces of dough away from the webbing. My technique is to place the toothpick into the dough pieces at an angle and lift (see video). Lift the cookie by the parchment ends and place on a large baking sheet.When all of the pieces are removed, use a small spoon to place crushed candies into the open spaces. Alternate colors. When the spaces are all filled, bake the cookie for 5 minutes, or until the candies are melted. Don’t overbake, and don’t let the candy bubble (this will disturb the webbing and cause crumbing – I learned the hard way!). Cool on the pan completely. Fill the spaces again with crushed candy matching like colors. Bake again for 5-6 minutes, or until the candies are all melted. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the pan.SpiderMeanwhile, make the spider. Knead the red modeling chocolate until pliable. Use the chocolate to roll a 1 1/2-inch ball and a 1/2-inch ball. Use a kitchen-dedicated art brush to place a dot of melted chocolate on one side of the larger ball, and attach the smaller ball to it, to make a spider head and body.For the legs, roll 8 rope-shaped lengths of modeling chocolate, tapering the ends. Place four pieces of the long ropes side-by-side and pinch together at one end. Repeat the process with the other four pieces. Use the back of a knife to impress marks into the legs creating segmented insect legs.Flatten the pinched ends of the leg pieces and dot one of the pinched ends with the melted chocolate. Connect the two pinched ends and refrigerate until the chocolate is set. Dot more chocolate on the center flattened piece, where the pinched ends met, and place the spider body on top. Refrigerate until firm. Arrange the legs as desired.Dot chocolate on one corner of the cooled cookie and attach the spider. Let stand until set, about 15-20 minutes. When the spider is well set, stand the cookie upright and peel away the parchment. Place leaning upright near a sunny window, or place on a cake plate stand. You could also place it on a book stand.If using this for a Halloween party centerpiece, place near candle light, or in front of string/twinkle lights. Break the cookie into shards and pass out to party guests, or make a show of by having four guests at each corner of the cookie break it over the table.
    NotesWhat to expect:

    This is a craft project as much as a baking project. Dedicate time to its creation without other distractions. Filling the small areas will feel tedious to some, I’m sure, but I think the end result is well worth the effort.
    Tools are key. Have a kitchen-dedicated X-acto knife fitted with a new blade at the ready. It will neatly cut the intricate pieces for easy removal. Be sure to have a large enough baking sheet to accommodate such a big cookie. I ran into this problem and had to trim two edges before baking.
    Crushing the candy in zip-top bags with a rolling pin or hammer will inevitably make some holes in the plastic bags. This happens because of the candy’s jagged edges. It can’t be helped much, so expect this. When you pick up the plastic bag some of the candy may spill out. 
    Crushed candy will stick together and solidify in the bowls over time. My advice is to crush the candy and then get to filling those spaces. Don’t crush the candy a day ahead because it will be a solid mass in the bowl the next day.
    This cookie is twice-baked. Watch the cookie as it bakes, and remove it when the candy is just melted. If you allow the cookie to bake for longer, then it will bubble and break the webbing, or cause crumbs (you can see some crumbs in my cookie’s panes, I learned this the had way). Fill the cookie with crushed candy a second time and bake again until just melted. Even though this is a big cookie, there’s not a ton of cookie dough to it. The cookie should be well baked right at 10 minutes.
    You may have a little leftover cookie dough. Re-roll scraps and cut extra cookies. Serve them around the big cookie. 

    Keyword chocolate cookie dough, dark cocoa powder, hard candies, modeling chocolate, unsalted butter

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    Salted Caramel Popcorn Cake

    Rich sea-salted dulce de leche buttercream will wow your taste buds in this Salted Caramel Popcorn Cake (aka Crunch ‘n Munch Cake). Along with three brown sugar cake layers it supports a pile of caramel corn, honey-roasted peanuts, and dulce de leche drizzle.

    The Tennessee Valley Fair ended last week, and I didn’t go for a bunch of reasons. It’s an end-of-summer tradition and a harbinger of fall. I love going to see the livestock shows and I never miss a look at the prize-winning pumpkin, but what I really go for is the food. I missed the funnel cakes, the smell of burnt sugar, snow cones, cotton candy, and the giant bags of caramel corn.
    This Salted Caramel Popcorn Cake is my consolation. It’s three layers of brown sugar cake, topped with the easiest, tastiest salted dulce de leche buttercream. I crowned the cake with loads of caramel corn clusters with peanuts (a.k.a. Crunch ‘n Munch). It’s pretty much the caramel cake of my dreams.

    The first thing I need to talk about is this salted dulce de leche frosting. Oooh, it’s so good. Easy, too! The recipe makes a big bowl, and it may seem like too much for an 8 or 9-inch cake, but it’s just the right amount for generous filling and those big swirls of frosting on top.

    Layer up!
    Bake up these tender cake layers made with butter and light brown sugar. The batter is so fluffy, and yields a delicate, slightly crumbly cake that doesn’t rise much. You might not even have to level it. It’s a nice vehicle for all that caramel frosting.

    Cover the cake in a thick layer of salted dulce de leche buttercream, and pipe on some tall frosting swirls. I topped each swirl with caramel corn pieces.

    Just a little heavy cream mixed and heated with dulce de leche will loosen it enough to make a nice drip/drizzle.
    Also, how much caramel popcorn on top is too much? Asking for a friend. If I’d had another box of Crunch ‘n Munch on hand, this cake might’ve been twice as tall! Top the cake with a mountain of caramel popcorn and then drizzle the heck out of it with more dulce de leche.

    Add pinches of coarse sea salt to the caramel for little explosions of flavor (seriously!). I used this homemade vanilla salt that I make around the holidays for Christmas gifts. It’s also really good on shortbread. But use whatever you have on hand! Or, if you’re looking for a good coarse salt to stock, this Celtic grey sea salt is tops.

    This is an evergreen cake that’s appropriate for all occasions. However there’s still something quite autumn about it, even though it’s not pumpkin. And it’s not spiced.

    Prepared dulce de leche is easily found at the grocery store in the baking aisle or in the ice cream toppings section near the frozen foods. I recently discovered n’dulce, (found with the ice cream toppings) which is what I used for this cake. It has that intense deep brûléed sugar flavor that translates so well in buttercream. It’s worth seeking out.

    Salted Caramel Corn Cake

    Heather Baird

    Rich sea-salted dulce de leche buttercream will wow your taste buds in this Salted Caramel Popcorn Cake (aka Crunch ‘n Munch Cake). Along with three brown sugar cake layers it supports a pile of caramel corn, honey-roasted peanuts and dulce de leche drizzle.
    Read the recipe notes for additional information, and what to expect when baking and assembling this cake.

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    Prep Time 13 minsCook Time 30 mins1 hour chill time 1 hrTotal Time 1 hr 43 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment8 inch cake pans, 3large closed star piping tipPiping bag
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Brown sugar cake layers3 cups cake flour2 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 3/4 cups full fat buttermilk at room temperature2 teaspoons vanilla extract1 3/4 cup light brown sugar3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature1/4 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt4 large egg whites at room temperatureSalted dulce de leche buttercream2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature7 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar one 2 lb. bag13.4- ounce jar prepared dulce de leche n’dulce recommendedMilk or heavy cream for thinning the frosting1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    Instructions Brown sugar cake layersPreheat the oven to 350F. Spray three 8-inch round baking pans with flour-based baking spray (or grease and flour pans).In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and baking soda together. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a glass measure with a pour spout.In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, butter, oil and salt. Beat on medium-high until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scraped down the bowl using a rubber spatula. Add egg whites one at a time, mixing well between each egg addition.Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the dry and wet ingredients in three additions. Begin and end with flour. Stop mixing when just a few streaks of flour remain. Finish folding together the ingredients by hand with a large rubber spatula. This will ensure that your cake’s texture is even and won’t bake with tunnels (air holes) throughout.Place approximately 2 2/3 cup of batter into each of the prepared pans. Smooth the batter evenly with a rubber spatula and tap the pans on a work surface to release any air pockets. Bake cakes until golden and crowned, about 25 to 30 minutes. The cakes are done when a toothpick tester inserted near the center comes out clean.Cool the cakes in the pans on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Level them using a serrated knife or cake leveler, if needed (my cakes did not require leveling).Salted dulce de leche buttercreamIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar. Beat on low speed, gradually increasing to medium as the sugar is incorporated. The mixture will be thick. When the butter and sugar are just combined with some streaks of sugar still remaining, stop the mixer and add the dulce de leche in three additions until thoroughly combined, mixing well after each addition. Beat in milk or cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a spreadable consistency, about 2 tablespoons. Beat in the fine sea salt. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and beat again to make sure no streaks of butter or sugar remain. Beat again if necessary. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel to prevent the frosting from drying out.AssemblyPlace a cake layer on a cake board or flat serving plate. Top with 1 1/4 cups of buttercream; spread evenly. Repeat process with next cake layer. Place remaining cake layer on top. Frost the entire cake in a thin coat of the buttercream (crumb coat). Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.Cover cake with a second generous, thick layer of the buttercream. Smooth the top and sides evenly using an offset spatula, a cake smoother, or a bench scraper.Place the remaining buttercream in a large piping bag fitted with a large closed star decorator tip. Pipe 8 large swirls on the top edge of the cake. Immediately place a caramel corn cluster on top of each swirl.In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the dulce de leche and heavy cream. Heat 30 seconds or until hot, and the mixture stirs together easily. Pick up the mixture with a spoon and it should all in a ribbon back into the bowl. If it doesn’t fall correctly stir in a little more cream. Heat again if necessary.Spoon or pipe the 3/4 of the caramel on top of the cake so that it drips down the edges. Top with handfuls of caramel corn, drizzling as you go with the remaining dulce de leche so that all layers of the caramel corn get a little of the drizzle. Sprinkle the peanuts on top. Add pinches of coarse sea salt to the caramel drip and drizzle.Serve slices of cake at room temperature. Store leftovers covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator.
    NotesWhat to expect:

    Tender, light cake layers that won’t rise much during baking. You shouldn’t have to level these cakes, but if your oven runs hot it could force them to crown (rise in the centers). Go ahead and level them using a serrated knife. 
    Lots of buttercream. The recipe makes a big stand mixer-sized bowlful, but it’s the star of the show and really wows as the filling and covering on this cake. If you’re not a big frosting fan you could halve the recipe. But my tasters loved the cake recipe written, as is. 
    A thick drizzle. Some brands of dulce de leche thin better than others. Some may require more cream to achieve a nice ribbon-like consistency. My recommendation is n’dulce brand, which is well behaved and thins easily. If your drizzle doesn’t thin easily, experiment with a little more heavy cream and heat.
    Aaand, about the caramel corn’s crunch. Ideally, you’ll assemble and serve this cake on the same day. That way the caramel corn will remain fresh and crunchy. I used Crunch ‘n Munch brand caramel corn clusters, which has a thick coating of caramel that I feel has a little more longevity in the refrigerator that other caramel corn. Over time in the fridge, the caramel corn with soften and lose its crunch.

    Try to enjoy this cake within a couple days of assembly, and share the love! You shouldn’t have any trouble pawning slices off to co-workers, friends, and family.
    The brown sugar cake layers are adapted for this recipe from a New York Times recipe that you can find right here. The buttercream recipe and other elements are original to 

    Keyword brown sugar cake layers, caramel popcorn, coarse sea salt, dulce de leche, salted dulce de leche frosting, unsalted butter

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    Candy Corn Jello Shots

    Whip up these Candy Corn Jello Shots for a fun October treat. This kid-friendly version has fruity, tropical flavor that can be made grown-up with your favorite spirit.

    October is just days away, and I’m a little too excited about all the sweet and spooky things this month brings. I’ve been working on some fun Halloween sweets and the truth is, I have too many ideas and not enough time to make them all. But I’m going to try!
    First, I decided to make some cute candy corn Jello shots – or parfaits, if you’re serving them to kids. I’ve seen plenty of versions of this treat around the web, but I wanted to put my own spin on them. As written, my version is non-alcoholic, tropical-fruity, and darn cute, too! However, if you’re looking for a grown-up party treat then these are super simple to alter with your favorite spirit. I’ve included those instructions in the recipe.

    Jello shots are set firmer than the standard Jell-O recipe on the box, yet not as firm as say, a Jell-O Jiggler (shoutout to any 90’s kids in the room!). This version is dessert-like, so serve each glass with a little spoon.

    Layer #1
    Cook up a pot of opaque white ‘jello’ using powdered gelatin, sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk. Make these grown-up by swapping the coconut milk for whipped cream flavored vodka or another favorite liqueur. It’s best to limit this addition to spirits that are clear or milky white. Godiva white chocolate liqueur comes to mind.
    Divide this mixture between two measuring cups. Tint one cup with yellow food color and add lemon extract. Flavor the other cup with coconut extract. Cover the white coconut-flavored cup and set aside. Fill tall shot glasses 1/3 of the way up with the yellow gelatin and chill.

    Layer #2
    The second layer comes together with a small box of orange Jell-O, powdered gelatin, and orange juice. Again – swap the orange juice for something more spirited if you’d like. Pour the mixture on top of the set yellow layer and chill until firm.

    Layer #3
    The final layer is the creamy coconutty mixture that’s been hanging around since we started this whole process. At room temperature it shouldn’t congeal, but it could. Give the mixture a stir and if you find any jelled gelatin, then microwave the mixture for 30 seconds to melt it. Cool the mixture before adding it to the glasses.

    Top it off!
    A swirl of whipped cream on each shot gives these a touch more creaminess, which I’m all for. Yum! These can be made a couple of days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.

    Add candy corn on top of each shot and these are dressed and ready for Halloween festivities. I can’t wait!

    Candy Corn Jello Shots

    Heather Baird

    Whip up these Candy Corn Jell-O Shots for a fun October treat. This kid-friendly version has fruity, tropical flavor that can be altered with your favorite fruit juice and soda. See the recipe notes for the grown-up version of this dessert. The texture of this treat is comparable to the classic Jell-O shot, which is set a little firmer than a regular Jell-O recipe. The higher ratio of gelatin will also help the shots to set more quickly. Serve each of these with a small dessert spoon.

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    Prep Time 15 minsCook Time 10 mins1-2 hours chill time 1 hrTotal Time 1 hr 25 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 12

    Equipment2.4 oz. shot glasses, or 3 oz. dessert cups
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 2 cups water3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin .25 oz. each7 oz. sweetened condensed milk 1/2 of a 14 oz. can2/3 cup coconut milk cold1 teaspoon coconut extract1 teaspoon lemon extractYellow food color3 oz. box orange Jell-O gelatin dessert1/3 cup orange juice cold1/2 cup heavy whipping cream chilled2 tablespoons granulated sugar14 candy corn pieces
    Instructions Pour 1 cup of the water into a small saucepan. Whisk in the contents of two packets of the unflavored gelatin. Cook over low heat while slowly stirring, until the gelatin is dissolved, about 5 minutes.When the gelatin is dissolved, stir in the sweetened condensed milk. Add 2/3 cup coconut milk. Stir to combine. Divide the white opaque mixture between two glass measuring cups with pour spouts. Stir the coconut extract into one cup. Cover it and set aside; keep at room temperature. In the second cup, add the lemon extract and a few drops of yellow food color. Mix well to combine.Set 14 tall shot glasses (2.4 oz. each) on a sturdy tray that will fit inside your refrigerator or freezer. Pour the yellow gelatin mixture 1/3 of the way up into each shot glass. Refrigerate until the gelatin is semi-set, about 20 minutes or 10 minutes in the freezer (I used the freezer method). You can tell the gelatin is correctly set and ready for the next layer if you tip a shot glass from side-to-side and the surface tension holds any unset liquid under the surface in place.Meanwhile, make the orange Jello layer. Pour the remaining 1 cup of water into a saucepan and whisk in 1 packet of gelatin. Cook while stirring until the gelatin melts, about 5 minutes. Stir in the orange Jell-O and stir until dissolved. Add 1/3 cup orange juice and stir. Let cool 5 minutes. Evenly distribute the orange gelatin over the yellow layer, approximately 1/3 of the way up each shot glass. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes or 10 minutes in the freezer.Stir the reserved white coconut gelatin. If the mixture has partially set, microwave it for 30 seconds and stir until gelatin is melted. (I didn’t have this problem at 70 degree room temperature). When the orange layer is set, top each shot glass off with the white gelatin. Refrigerate until the entire dessert is set, about 30-45 minutes (more or less depending on your fridge temp).To make the whipped topping, beat the heavy cream in a medium bowl while gradually adding 2 tablespoons sugar. Beat until billowy and stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag with a closed star tip, and pipe a swirl of whipped cream on top of each shot glass. Garnish each with a candy corn piece.
    NotesSpike them! For a grown-up candy corn Jell-O shot add your favorite spirit. For the white and yellow layers, omit the coconut milk and replace it with an equal amount of whipped cream vodka or plain vodka. Limit these additions to liquors that are clear or milky white, such as Godiva white chocolate liqueur or Bailey’s. For the orange layer, replace the orange juice with Cointreau or Triple Sec. 
    Variations. The flavors of the opaque gelatin layers can be changed up by swapping in cream soda or almond milk for the coconut milk. Add clear vanilla extract to the mixture instead of the coconut and lemon extracts. You can change the flavor of the orange layer by adding pineapple juice instead of orange juice. 
    Make-ahead! The layered shots can be made a couple of days ahead of serving, but wait to garnish them with the whipped cream and candy until party time. After the layered shots are assembled, place a small piece of plastic wrap over each glass so the gelatin’s surface doesn’t dry out.

    Keyword coconut extract, coconut milk, lemon extract, orange Jell-O, orange juice, powdered gelatin, sweetened condensed milk

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    Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

    Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers are perfect for parties and game day gatherings. They’re stuffed with cheesy goodness and wrapped in bacon which crisps in the oven as they bake.

    In spite of all the cinnamon-spiced, pumpkin-filled things I have on the blog agenda, this savory bake has edged them all out to be my first published recipe of Fall 2021. The reason? First of all, it’s football time in Tennessee. I don’t watch the game, but my dad is a fan. And I enjoy making, sharing, and eating all kinds of game day food. Second (and perhaps more pressing) the jalapeno pepper plants in my little garden overfloweth.

    The vegetables in my garden have been plentiful this year, but none more so than the jalapeno plants. They are so easy and fun to grow! Even now, when all the other plants are waning, the jalapenos are still going strong. I’ve let them grow on the vine too long, so now I have some really colossal peppers that need a purpose.
    This recipe is it! It’s a party staple but you don’t need an excuse to make them. They are so easy to make, not too hot, and everyone seems to love them.
    Cheese, please!

    Grate a block of good extra-sharp cheddar instead of using the pre-shredded stuff, if you can. It blends with the cream cheese better and melts like a dream! The pre-shredded stuff will work in a pinch, but you’ll love how melty and bubbly the block cheese becomes.
    Onion and garlic powders, along with freshly ground pepper add more savory flavor to the peppers. Some people leave those spices out, but they work a special magic on plain cream cheese. I say use them!

    The seeds and ribs carry most of the heat in the pepper, so put on some gloves and scoop them out. Use a spoon or a curled finger to scrape the ribs out.

    Once hollowed, fill them with the cheese mixture. Use the back of a spoon to press the mixture into the pepper cavities.

    That’s a wrap!
    Here’s my cheat. I use thin pre-cooked bacon. Hormel Black Label is what I keep on hand and it works well. It’s pliable enough for wrapping and crisps up perfectly by the time the peppers are cooked. If you prefer to use uncooked bacon make sure it’s THIN sliced.

    This classic appetizer is so simple and really satisfying. My peppers were so big, I had to use two strips of bacon per pepper half. The recipe I’ve written calls for more normal-sized peppers that you can easily find at the grocery store, for a yield of 24 poppers.

    These are so wonderful served with sour cream and a sprinkle of scallions or chives. I served these with the last of the garden’s cherry tomatoes. A fond farewell to summer.

    Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

    Heather Baird

    These delicious baked bites are game day staples and a classic party appetizer. Instead of uncooked bacon, I use thin pre-cooked bacon (Hormel Black Label works for me). If you use uncooked bacon, make sure to get THIN CUT. This ensures that the peppers and bacon will be cooked through at the same time.Use gloves or two plastic baggies over your hands to scoop out the ribs and seeds from the peppers. Otherwise you may experience burning fingers from the capsaicin in the peppers.

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    Prep Time 15 minsCook Time 20 minsTotal Time 35 mins

    Course AppetizerCuisine American

    Servings 24

    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar block cheese preferred1/2 teaspoon garlic powder1/2 teaspoon onion powder1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper about 12 turns from a grinder1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt12 fresh whole jalapeno peppers each 3 inches long12 slices uncooked thin sliced bacon or 24 thin slices pre-cooked baconSour cream for servingScallions or chives for serving
    Instructions Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foilPlace the cream cheese, grated cheddar, garlic powder, onion powder, ground pepper and sea salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir together with a rubber spatula. Fold together several times to make sure all the ingredients are well dispersed. Cover and set aside.Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise. Put on gloves and scoop the seeds and ribs out with fingers, or use a spoon to scrape them out. Place the hollowed pepper halves on the prepared baking sheet.Fill the pepper halves with spoonsful of the cheese mixture, heaping them a little higher than the edges of the peppers (don’t overfill or the cheese will bubble out).If using uncooked bacon, cut the slices in half so you have 24 pieces of bacon. Wrap each filled pepper with a bacon half so that the ends of the bacon meet underneath the peppers (seam-side-down, so to speak).If using precooked bacon, wrap one whole piece of bacon around each filled pepper so that the bacon ends meet underneath the peppers.Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the bacon is browned and the peppers are softened.Serve peppers warm with sour cream and chives. These are also great at room temperature.
    NotesBacon can be crisped further under a broiler for 2 minutes. Watch carefully!
    Larger or smaller peppers will change the yield of the recipe. My peppers were huge, but were still fully cooked at 20 minutes.
    Bacon pieces can be secured with toothpicks prior to baking, if they don’t want to stay put.

    Keyword bacon, cream cheese, extra-sharp cheddar, fresh jalapeno peppers, garlic powder, onion powder, pre-cooked bacon

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    Throw the Ultimate Backyard Oktoberfest Party with a Feast of German Fare

    Bring Bavaria to your backyard with our ultimate Oktoberfest party guide! Here you’ll find a feast of authentic savory German fare, tempting sweets, and festive drinks.

    A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to plan and develop recipes for an entire Oktoberfest feast, at the request of my friends at My pal and colleague, Camille, ( managing editor and all-around creative whirlwind) was putting together a shoot for a huge Oktoberfest party guide. I was beyond thrilled to be invited to contribute! And if that were not enough excitement, the party would be held in my own backyard. You guys. I was completely over the moon! (Still am.)

    While Camille and her team set up a beautiful biergarten/drink station under our big poplar tree, we dressed a buffet table nearby. We donned it in Oktoberfest party pennants, blue linens, and a white tablecloth that totally gave me peasant shirt vibes. Then we filled it to the brim with the best German fare we could find and make – including a German fare charcuterie board to rival all others. Read on for links to all of the recipes.

    Party-Perfect Recipes for German Fare.

    You could say this is the German version of mac-and-cheese. My mini Käsespätzle, pies recipe is a riff on the classic German cheesy noodle dish. Here I’ve transformed it into a hand-pie for your party. Get the recipe at this link: Mini Käsespätzle Pies.

    This classic Kartoffelpuffer recipe (German potato pancakes) is easy to make as appetizer-sized mini pancakes to feed a crowd. Serve the crispy mouthfuls with applesauce and sour cream for dipping. Get the recipe at this link: Mini German Potato Pancakes.
    Brezen and Brot.

    It wouldn’t be much of an Oktoberfest party without soft pretzels! These soft, chewy twists are a frequent sight in German biergartens and the perfect salty companion to spicy mustards and beer cheese. And! This recipe shortcuts the work with pizza dough. Get the recipe at this link: Easy Bavarian-Style Soft Pretzels.

    Homemade bread bakers, this one is for you! Dense, nutrient-rich dark seeded breads are well loved in German culture. And dreikernebrot, is the perfect example of dense, chewy German bread full of aromatic grain flavors. Making it is a bit of a production, but the end result is well worth it. Find the recipe at this link: Homemade German Seeded Bread Recipe.
    Old World Sweets.

    Black Forest Cakes in miniature! This rich chocolate cake hails from the Black Forest region of Germany (you may recall my full-sized version here). It’s a layered confection soaked with Kirsch (cherry liqueur), and filled with whipped cream and Morello cherry preserves. Find the recipe at this link: Mini Black Forest Cakes.

    These individual strudels have a crunchy phyllo wrapper with a sweet interior of shredded apples, golden raisins and walnuts. Find my recipe at this link: Mini Apple Strudel Recipe.
    A Cozy Sip.

    Although Oktoberfest is ALLLL about the beer, it’s also nice to have something warm to sip on a cool fall day. Traditional glühwein, which translates to ‘glow wine’ will make cheeks rosy and keep Oktoberfest and fall fun in full swing. Find the recipe at this link: Authentic German Mulled Wine Recipe.

    Speaking of cozy! Even Cashew got in on the fun. We found some puppy lederhosen, and he and brother Biscuit crashed the party in style. (Look for Biscuit in the image gallery – he’s the one eating cheese!)

    The real Oktoberfest in Munich was cancelled this year because of :: gestures wildly at everything:: so this is a great time to take party matters into your own hands. I hope this guide will inspire you to create your own Oktoberfest party at home!
    Be sure to browse the entire Oktoberfest party gallery on, with links to all the crafty details.

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    Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding with Maple Toffee Sauce

    Celebrate the arrival of fall with this seasonal take on everyone’s favorite comfort food. Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding is light and custardy while Maple Toffee Sauce sweetens it with butter and brown sugar notes.

    Fall doesn’t officially begin until next week, but it’s already arrived in my kitchen. Recently I’ve been seeking out the coziest, most delicious fall comfort foods that will fit all occasions. This Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding is a perfect example. It’s simple and causal enough for a weekday bake, but also totally holiday dinner-worthy. The Maple Toffee Sauce really makes it special.

    Start this recipe with a loaf of soft brioche. Cube it up or tear it into bite-size pieces.

    Whisk together the custard ingredients and add a whole can of pumpkin puree to the bowl. When buying canned pumpkin, read he label carefully to make sure you’re buying pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling – been there!

    Stir in the brioche and toss to coat. Brioche is soft and cottony, and will do a good job of soaking up all that delicious pumpkin spiced custard.

    Pour it all in a 2 quart shallow baking dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour.
    You could also use French bread in this recipe, but it has a denser texture. So, if you use it instead of brioche, plan on letting it soak for at least four hours or overnight.

    The toffee sauce is so easy to make. Use English brickle toffee bits, which can be found next to the chocolate chips in most US grocery stores. You’ll stir them together with butter and maple syrup until melted, then whisk in evaporated milk. The sauce adds some sweetness and buttery toffee flavor to this pudding.

    You just can’t get any cozier than this, friends! It’s a lovely dessert, but I’ll admit to having this for breakfast a few mornings in a row. It’s a decadent way to start the day, and could be a nice breakfast offering if you’re having overnight guests for Thanksgiving this year.

    Bread pudding is often my go-to dessert for family gatherings and holiday dinners (like this one, which is over-the-top in the best way possible!). And who doesn’t love something you can make ahead?
    Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding with Maple Toffee Sauce will be in heavy rotation at my house this season. I hope you’ll love it as much as we do!

    Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding with Maple Toffee Sauce

    Heather Baird

    Bread pudding gets a fall twist with pumpkin puree and spices. It’s simple to assemble and casual enough for a weekday treat, but also fitting for a holiday dinner. Serve it warm with scoops of ice cream for an extra-indulgent treat.

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    Prep Time 10 minsCook Time 35 mins1 hour chill time 1 hrTotal Time 1 hr 45 mins

    Course DessertCuisine American

    Servings 8

    Equipment2 quart shallow baking dish
    Ingredients US CustomaryMetric Pumpkin bread pudding1 1/2 cups half and half1/2 cup evaporated milk3 eggs1/2 cup packed brown sugar1/2 cup granulated sugar1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg2 teaspoons vanilla extract15 oz. can of pumpkin puree14 oz. loaf brioche bread cubed1/2 cup golden raisins optionalMaple toffee sauce
    Instructions Pumpkin bread puddingGrease a 2-quart shallow baking dish with cooking spray.Combine the half and half, milk, eggs, sugars, spices, and vanilla in an extra-large bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the pumpkin puree. Add cubed brioche, and toss to coat them in the mixture. Stir in the raisins, if using. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover and chill for at least one hour before baking.Preheat oven to 350 F.Remove bread pudding from refrigerator, and bake uncovered 35-40 minutes, or until set in the center. Test with a knife inserted in the center of the pudding. It will come out clean when done. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool slightly, about 15-20 minutes before serving.Maple toffee sauceWhile the bread pudding cools, prepare the sauce. Combine the butter, maple syrup and toffee over medium high heat. Cook until the toffee begins to melt, then gradually whisk in the evaporated milk. Cook while whisking until the mixture is consistent. There will be a few bits of almonds from the brickle floating in the syrup, so expect this. Transfer to a small serving pitcher and let cool.Serve the bread pudding warm with a generous drizzle of warm maple toffee sauce.
    NotesBits O’ Brickle is a baking ingredient that can usually be found in grocery stores in the baking aisle beside the chocolate chips. Or order it online.
    French bread can be used in place of the brioche. It will need more time to soak up the custard due to its firmer texture, so plan on refrigerating it for 4 hours, or overnight before baking.

    Keyword bits o’brickle, brioche, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice, toffee sauce

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    For this adaptation of , rich, double-cream ricotta works as the luxurious filling while honey, mixed into the filling and drizzled on top, sweetens the deal. A sourdough starter or culture isn’t necessary; instead, a combination of active dry yeast and apple cider vinegar brings a bit of lift and tang to the mix. Finally, fresh […] LEGGI TUTTO