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Key Lime Pie Cupcakes…*
…an upside down key lime pie

For my boss’s birthday, I wanted to make a special treat that would show my appreciation for him—something that couldn’t be found in the employee cafeteria, or leftover from a banquet function or business meeting. I did a little digging and found out his favorite dessert is Key Lime Pie, and I immediately started drafting an idea in my head. My plan was perfected when I found this recipe by Culinary Concoctions. These Key Lime Pie inspired cupcakes are sweet, savory, yet extremely refreshing. Although I’ve only had Key Lime Pie once in my life, I knew the flavor profile was spot on, thanks to my personal taste-tester and roommate, Sarah. The bold, citrus flavor is brought out in the lime-flavored cupcakes and creamy key lime filling. The crunchy graham cracker bottom is the perfect complement to the moist, citrusy cake. These treats are further accented with a sweet, vanilla-lime buttercream, sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs, and garnished with a candied lime wedge for that extra ‘beachy’ touch. They closely resemble an upside down key lime pie, if you will. I hope you enjoy them as much as my coworkers did…oh, and Happy Birthday, Olivier!
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Layers and layers of citrusy goodness!
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Crunchy on the bottom, soft in the middle, creamy on the top—perfection!
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The Ingredients…*
Lime Cupcakes
(Recipe by Culinary Concoctions)
(Makes 24 cupcakes)

2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 egg whites
2 eggs1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup milk
½ cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. lime zest 

Graham Cracker Crust
¾ cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/8 cup granulated sugar
3-4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Key Lime Filling
8 oz mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
5 oz key lime juice
9 oz sweetened condensed milk

Lime Buttercream
(Makes 2.5 cups)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
6-8 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. key lime juice, and most likely more to thin out frosting
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The Instructions…*
Graham Cracker Crust
(1) Prepare two muffin pans with liners
(2) In a food processor, blend together graham cracker crumbs and sugar
(3) Add 3 Tbsp. melted butter; pulse a few times. If it seems like it needs more butter add the remaining Tbsp.
(4) Distribute evenly among cupcake liners and press to form a shell using a spoon

Lime Cupcakes
(1) Preheat oven to 350°F
(2) Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; set aside
(3) Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy
(4) Add egg whites, beating well after each addition. Add eggs, beating well after each addition
(5) Add lime zest; beat until blended
(6) Combine milk, vanilla, and buttermilk in a small bowl together; Whisk until incorporated
(7) With electric mixer at low speed, add flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beating well after each addition
(8) Pour batter evenly into prepared pan (best to use an ice cream scoop) Place right on top of the graham cracker crust
(9) Bake 20-22 minutes (for full size cupcakes) and 15 minutes (for mini) or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean
(10) Cool cupcakes in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and allow to cool completely on rack
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Key Lime Filling
(1) Place all ingredients in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment
(2) Mix on low for 30 seconds; increase speed to medium and blend for 2 minutes
(3) Place in a separate bowl and place in fridge for 2 hours
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Lime Buttercream
(1) Place the butter in a large mixing bowl
(2) Add 4 cups of the sugar and key lime juice; on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.
(3) Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough
(4) You may not need to add all of the sugar. If too thick, thin with more key lime juice (I added a splash of pure vanilla extract to mine and it turned out sweeter and just the right consistency)
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To assemble:
(1) Take key lime pie filling and place into a pastry bag fitted with a small tip
(2) Take tip and place into cupcake squeeze filling into cupcake
(3) Frost cupcake, sprinkle with crushed graham crackers, and if desired, top with candied lime wedge. Enjoy! :)
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Brown Sugar Banana Bread Pancakes…*
a thick slice of banana bread right off the griddle

For those that know me, know that my favorite meal of the day is breakfast. I could eat it for every meal if I had the choice. When it comes to pancakes, I sort of lose control. Actually, that’s an understatement. I have a serious weakness--an obsession--with them….especially the thick, buttery, straight-off-the-griddle, syrupy-topped ones. Forget the premixed, frozen, and ‘just add water’ ones. If you’re going to have pancakes, you might as well do it the right way and start from scratch. If you’re looking for a simple, yet delicious homemade recipe, check out Sittie’s Sunday Morning Pancakes; but if you’re up for a challenge, I have the perfect recipe for you, complements of How Sweet it is. These Brown Sugar Banana Bread Pancakes are hearty, fluffy, and mouth-watering. They are thick, sweet, and resemble your favorite banana bread straight out of the oven…except 10x better. Stacked tall and topped with a dollop of butter and a warm vanilla maple glaze, these hot cakes are sure to start your day off right. I think Jack Johnson would even approve ;)
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“Maybe we could sleep in, I'll make you banana pancakes, pretend like it's the weekend now …” (Jack Johnson)
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The Ingredients…*
(Recipe adapted from How Sweet it is)
For the pancakes:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons butter, melted

For the vanilla maple glaze:
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


*Note: if you don’t have/can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, use 1 cup of regular whole wheat and 1 cup of all purpose. Or 2 cups of all purpose
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The Instructions…*
(Makes 12 pancakes)
For the pancakes:
(1) In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl
(2) Measure out the milk and add the vanilla extract to it
(3) Whisk together the dry ingredients and add in milk and vanilla, stirring to combine (the mixture will still be dry)
(4) Add in mashed bananas and mix; add in melted butter and stir until batter is somewhat smooth
(5) Heat a skillet or grilled on medium heat; using a 1/3 cup measure, spoon batter into rounds and cook until bubbles form on top – about 2-3 minutes; flip and cook for a minute or two more. Repeat with remaining batter
(6) Serve hot with butter and syrup, or the vanilla maple glaze
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For the vanilla maple glaze:
(1) Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth; Pour over pancakes
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These hot cakes are even better steaming hot, oozing with butter and drenched in maple syrup… :)
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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Bars…*
…peanut Buttery, chocolatey, vanilla bean bar

HELLO SUMMER! It’s finally ice cream season! Wait, who am I kidding? It’s ALWAYS ice cream season! Let me rephrase that: It’s finally that time when the jingly sound of the ice cream truck echos the streets, and the time when it’s acceptable to visit every ice cream shop in town. Thank God! My favorite flavors include Mint Chocolate Chip, Moose Tracks, and Birthday Cake, but above all, I love Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Sometimes I buy it just to pick out the cookie dough chunks—mmmmm! I thought it would be appropriate to make a frozen treat that incorporated my favorite ice cream flavors in one—something that I could save in my freezer for those ‘gotta have’ moments. With a little inspiration from Lauren of Keep it Sweet, and a little creativity, I dreamt up this lovely dessert. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough meets Moose Tracks ice cream in this peanut buttery, chocolatey, vanilla bean bar. Slice it any way you want, or eat it with a spoon! Either way, you’ll be happy to know that the cookie dough is eggless, meaning you won’t have to worry about getting sick. Out of those of my friends lucky enough to sneak a slice of this sinful snack, the reactions have remained consistent. They dissect the bar in layers, completely in awe of the flavor profile and the amount of satisfaction in each bite.Must I say more? Happy ice cream season :)
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Cookie dough overload? No way--there's no such thing!
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The Ingredients…*
(Recipe adapted from Keep it Sweet)

For the chocolate chip cookie dough:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips 
 
For the bars:
1 batch prepared chocolate chip cookie dough (recipe above)
3 cups vanilla bean ice cream
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1 cup peanut butter
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The Instructions…*
(Yields 12-16 servings)

For the chocolate chip cookie dough:
(1) Beat butter and sugar until fluffy; mix in milk
(2) Gradually mix in flour and salt
(3) Stir in chocolate chips
(4) Press into a 9x9 pan lined with wax paper
 
For the bars:
(1) Cover prepared cookie dough layer with vanilla ice cream; cover and freeze for an hour
(2) Once ice cream is frozen, place chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl
(3) Melt chocolate in microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in-between
(4) When chocolate is melted, spread evenly over ice cream layer, cover and re-freeze for an hour or until ready to serve; spread with peanut butter and top with chocolate chunks (if desired)
(5) Cut into bars and enjoy! :)
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Top with chocolate chunks for extra crunchy goodness :)  
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Ohhhhhh Myyyyyy Goodnesssss!
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Peanut Butter Cup Layered Krispie Treats...*
… Rice Krispie Treats for the PB & C lovers 

Whew—what a past few weeks it’s been! I started my new life as a grown up, a working girl, a manager in training. Long gone are the days when sleep and productivity went hand in hand.  When I’m not at work, or on the train going to and from work, I’m sleeping…and drinking coffee (probably far too much for my own good). It’s been over two weeks since I baked and I’m going absolutely crazy. Luckily, the pastry chefs at the JW Marriott Chicago (my new home) are beyond exceptional and I’ve been spoiled with their tasty treats. They are beautifully crafted and intricately detailed. There are times when I look at them and sigh, secretly wishing I had half the talent as the ladies and gentlemen who created them—the ones wearing the white embroidered double-breasted jackets and matching hats. I can only hope that one day, my dream of owning my own bake shop will come true. Until then, I will continue to bake my way through the trials and triumphs of life’s unexpected adventures, acquiring tastes and skills I never knew existed.

With the little time I found in my week, I wanted to whip something up that was simple, yet loaded with peanut butter and chocolate. I didn’t want to turn the oven on and break out my mixer so when I found Picky Palate’s recipe PB Cup Layered Krispie Treats, I knew it was a match made in heaven. These bars are crunchy, gooey, sticky, and sweet. I don’t think I will ever grow out of Rice Krispie Treats--especially when they are topped with Reese’s, peanut butter, and milk chocolate.  Simply irresistible.
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The Ingredients…*
(Recipe by Picky Palate)
6 Cups rice krispie cereal

1 large bag mini marshmallows
1/4 Cup butter
2 Cups creamy peanut butter
50 mini Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, quartered
1 1/2 Cups melted chocolate to drizzle
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Chocolate, PB, marshmallows, && Rice Krispies—all of my favorite things in one treat!
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The Instructions…*
(Yields 16 squares)
(1) Place cereal into a large mixing bowl, set aside
(2) Place marshmallows and butter into a large bowl and microwave until puffed up, about 3 minutes; Remove and pour into cereal, mix to combine then pour into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish and press to make even
(3) Melt peanut butter until nice and runny, about 45 seconds
(4) Pour in quartered peanut butter cups, stir gently then pour over treats
(5) Drizzle melted chocolate over top and refrigerate to harden; when set, cut into squares and serve!!
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Dangerous! To be honest, I’m very surprised this actually made it onto the Rice Krispie Treats…
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Nom, nom, nom! :)
 
 
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Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes…*
… special treat for the birthday girl

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my last weekend before starting my new job than to celebrate my wonderful roommate’s 22nd birthday. She wasn’t a fan of desserts until she moved in with me and had to adjust to the ludicrous amount of sweets surrounding her. In the past few weeks, she has discovered that she does in fact have a teeny-tiny sweet tooth. Occasionally, I use her as my ‘taste tester’ and ‘instruction reader’. She doesn’t mind though, for she’ll come whimpering in the kitchen asking if she can “lick the bowl” of cake batter, cookie dough, or leftover buttercream. Then we both drool over the oven as we impatiently wait for the treats to finish baking. This time was no different. As she requested, I made homemade funfetti cupcakes and a small layer cake for sharing. Both were frosted with an abundant amount of sweet vanilla buttercream and topped with crunchy, colorful nonpareils. If that doesn’t scream birthday, I don’t know what does! 
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I have a confession. I am completely obsessed with sprinkles. I realize I am 22 years old but I can’t help it. I love how they taste. How they look. How they crunch in your mouth. How they stick to your teeth. Nom nom nom.
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The Ingredients…*
For the cupcakes:

(Recipe by How Sweet Eats)
1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup assorted brightly colored sprinkles + more for top of frosting
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For the vanilla buttercream:
(Recipe by Savory Sweet Life)
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened (but not melted! Ideal texture should be like ice cream)
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
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The Instructions…*
For the cup
cakes:

(Recipe by How Sweet Eats)
(1) Preheat oven to 350° F
(2) Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes; Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined
(3) Combine dry ingredients in a bowl; Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined
(4) Add the milk; Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients; Fold in assorted sprinkles

(5) Pour into cupcake tins (or cake pan) and fill 2/3 of the way full
(6) Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool, then frost with vanilla buttercream :)
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For the vanilla buttercream:
(Recipe by Savory Sweet Life)
(1) Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed
(2) Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter
(3) Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes
(*) If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time
(4) Frost/pipe onto cupcakes/cake as is and top with even more sprinkles :)
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Pretty in pink buttercream. Sarah’s favorite color :)
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The beautiful birthday girl with her best friends.
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Just in case you were wondering, I tripled the recipe so I could make a double layer cake so the birthday girl could blow out her candles and make a wish! :)
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Bring on the sprinkles. You can never have enough. At least not in my world.  
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Vanilla Bean Doughnuts…*
… light, airy, perfectly baked and dipped

 Do you ever walk past the bakery section in a grocery store and just want to dive into the doughnut display and eat all of them? No? Okay, maybe that’s just me but I can’t hold back anymore. Sometimes you just need to give into your cravings and indulge a little. I feel like I use that excuse more often than not, but that’s beside the point. The day has come. I have finally ‘given in.’ The first baked doughnut recipe is here and I can promise you one thing: there will be plenty more to come because I literally can’t. stop. eating. them. These mouth-watering doughnuts are soft, tender, and full of sugary goodness. The vanilla glaze bumps up the flavor while the chocolate sprinkles add a little crunch, bringing me back to my childhood memories filled with chocolate milk and pink frosted cake doughnuts. Yummmmmy.  Although, the best part is that all you need is a mini doughnut pan and you can make these babies in 15 minutes flat. You can’t even drive to the nearest Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts and back in that short amount of time. And even if you could, you’re going to spend far more money on 2 {greasy, fried and overly frosted} doughnuts, than you will on the {light, airy, perfectly baked and dipped} 36 that this recipe yields. Are you following me? Good. Now go ahead, buy yourself a little doughnut pan and your life will be forever changed. And that’s a promise :)
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The Ingredients…*
(Recipe by Sprinkle Bakes)

For the doughnut batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. butter, melted
Seeds from one vanilla bean
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For the vanilla glaze:
1 cup confectioner’ s sugar
1 tbsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
4 drops of liquid blue food coloring
White nonpareils (I used brown sprinkles)
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The Instructions…*
(Yields ≈ 3 dozen mini doughnuts)
For the doughnut batter:
(1) Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray donut pan with nonstick cooking spray
(2) In large mixing bowl, sift together all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder and salt
(3) Add buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds and butter and beat until just combined
(4) Spray doughnut cavities with cooking spray or brush with butter; Fill each donut cup approximately 1/2 full
(5) Bake 5-8 minutes or until the top of the donuts spring back when touched
(6) Let cool in pan for 4–5 minutes before removing
(7) Finish doughnuts with vanilla glaze *(Doughnuts are best served fresh)
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For the vanilla glaze:
(1) In small bowl, stir together sugar, milk and vanilla extract until sugar is completely dissolved
(2) Add food coloring and stir until color is uniform
(3) Use immediately to glaze doughnuts, and then sprinkle on nonpareils
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Spring Garden Cake…*
…plant a piece on your plate

It must be known that this cake was simply made with the intention of having fun. A couple weeks after Sarah and I moved into our cute little apartment, we were invited to the ‘Annual Gardening Party.’ At the gathering, all of our neighbors would work together to create a beautiful landscape in our community courtyard. The flyers advertised that lunch would be provided so Sarah and I wanted to contribute in the only way we knew how: dessert. With my baking knowledge, and Sarah’s creativity,we were able to plot a cake layout that would incorporate what we imagined our garden to look like. We included butterflies, sunflowers, roses and a watermelon patch (creative, I know). We even had plans to add in a few ants, but the chocolate covered raisins (my weakness) had no chance of surviving in this household.  Regardless, the cake turned out just as we had hoped--well-ordered, imaginative, and flavorful. Everyone at the party enjoyed it as they dug out heaping slices onto their paper plates lined with chips and party subs. Yum :)
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My lovely roommate and I decided to keep the cake simple by using a box mix and premade frosting, so we could focus our attention on the décor, or should I say, the plants and animals.
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For the sunflowers:
Lemon slices
Mocha-flavored Jelly Belly’s
(1) Slice lemon slices into triangular shapes
(2) Arrange petals around 3 Jelly Belly’s to form sunflower
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For the roses:
Airheads in red, pink and green

(1) Using a wooden roller, flatten out Airheads until thin/flexible
(2) Roll red/pink Airheads together to form rose petals
(3) Trim the green Airhead into a leaf-shape and attach to rose petals
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For the butterflies:
White chocolate covered pretzels

Assorted Jelly Belly’s
(1) Simply arrange 3-4 Jelly Belly’s in a line to form the butterfly’s body
(2) Place 1 pretzel on each side of the body at a 45° angle to form the wings
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Fudge Popsicles…*
…frozen chocolatey delight

I realize I just made Orange-Banana Smoothie Pops, but how could I just stick to one frozen treat? All of the recipes I stumbled across looked so tempting and delicious I couldn’t hold back. It didn’t help that my roommate took part in the stumble-upon marathon and was enthusiastically begging me to make another treat. Today, I bring you the fudgiest, creamiest, most delicious chocolate pops you will ever taste…and trust me, I’ve tried ‘em all. These are quite simply, the perfect summertime dessert for any chocoholic or dessert lover. If I may, I would recommend doubling the recipe for these chocolatey pops are quick to disappear. Enjoy :)
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The Ingredients…*
(Recipe by Smitten Kitchen)

(Yields ≈ 4 popsicles)
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups whole milk
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
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The Instructions…*
(1) In the bottom of a medium saucepan over very low heat, gently melt the chocolate chips, stirring constantly until smooth
(2) Stir in sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk and salt and raise heat to medium; Cook mixture, stirring frequently until it thickens, anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes
(3) Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter and stir until combined
(4) Set aside to cool slightly then pour into popsicle molds; Freeze 30 minutes, then insert popsicle sticks. Freeze the rest of the way before serving (about 4 additional hours)
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Orange-Banana Smoothie Pops…*
…light, flavorful & packed with nutrients 

The past few days have been so hot and muggy, I’ve avoided turning on the oven at all costs. Of course my sweet tooth is still intact, so I had to find a way to curve my cravings with something other than a warm cake, or a fresh baked loaf of bread. I turned straight to the freezer section to gather my inspiration for this recipe. It didn’t take long before I hit the popsicle section—row after row of odd shaped frozen treats, covered in chocolate, swirled with yogurt, and blended with ‘real’ fruit. I wanted all of them. However, I’ve learned that for the most part, homemade treats are healthier, more rewarding (and sometimes cheaper) than their ready-made counterparts. This recipe is a prime example of that. For under $4, I was able to make a total of 6 pops that kick every other store bought pop to the curb. These frozen treats are light, flavorful, and packed with nutrients. The sweetness of the bananas balances out the tanginess of the orange juice and the tartness of the lime. Enjoy these smoothie pops in the heat of the summer season! 
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The Ingredients…*
(Recipe by Country Living) 
(Yields ≈ 6 popsicles)
1 container (6-ounce) yogurt
2/3 cup(s) thawed orange juice concentrate (I used Orange Strawberry Banana Juice)
2 large bananas
Zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
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The Instructions…*
(1) Puree yogurt, thawed orange juice concentrate, bananas, lime zest, and fresh lime juice in a blender
(2) Pour into six 3-ounce molds. (or you can use mini baking tins or paper cups with popsicle sticks)
(3) Freeze until smoothie pops are solid, about 4 hours
(4) To release pops, dip molds into hot water until pops loosen and slide out; if using cups, peel away paper and ENJOY! :)
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Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes…*
…ever-so-sweet & refreshingly cool 

Aforementioned, I was asked to make a few special treats for Jonah’s Bar Mitzvah that took place last weekend. First up was Katrina’s ‘Award-Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies,which proved to be a huge hit. However, the most talked about dessert at the party was the mini Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes I made, inspired by Jonah’s favorite flavor combination. They turned out to be a magnificent replica of the ever-so-sweet and refreshingly cool Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. The rich, chocolatey cupcakes were topped with a light and creamy mint buttercream that I sprinkled with mini chocolate chips to match its frozen counterpart. They were so delicious that I made them again the next day for my friend’s summer bbq, and they were just aspopular with my 22 year old friends as they were with the 13 year olds at Jonah’s party. That just goes to show that these are a real crowd pleaser! Enjoy :)
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The Ingredients…*
For the Chocolate Cupcakes:

(Recipe by Martha Stewart) 
(Yields ≈ 18-24 cupcakes)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Mint Buttercream:

(Recipe by Tracey’s Culinary Confections) 
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
green gel food coloring (optional)
semisweet chocolate chips
 
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The Instructions…*
 For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
(Recipe by Martha Stewart) 
(1) Preheat oven to 350° F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside
(2) Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl
(3) Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes; Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed
(4) Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full
(5) Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed, then transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the buttercream…
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For the Mint Buttercream:
(Recipe by Tracey’s Culinary Confections) 
(1) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the confectioners' sugar and butter (first on low and then increasing the speed to medium) until evenly distributed and crumbly, about 1-2 minutes
(2) Add the cream, extracts, and salt and beat on high speed until light, fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes
(*) If you want green buttercream, beat in a little bit of food coloring at a time until you achieve your desired color
(3) When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost as desired; Garnish with chocolate chips and ENJOY! :)
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Next time, I think I’ll serve these mini cakes next to a cold scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream! The more, the merrier ;)
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My little dessert display at Jonah’s Picnic. . .
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Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the desserts, especially the cupcakes :)
 

little shortcake...*