Recipe: Birthday Cake Bars

Today is my birthday! 

I've taken off from work and am having a relaxing day buying myself brunch, going to some of my favorite shops, and having a cocktail or two. Over the weekend I celebrated by hosting a brunch party for a handful of friends, surrounded by some of my favorite people and the 50+ balloons I had blown up, and eating great food. We chatted and hung out in the house, played some group games and then had a lull around dinner time before a few of us rented a private karaoke room. We sang until I was on the brink of loosing my voice. I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate. I'm feeling really positive going into 28. 

Let's talk about these bars for a moment, shall we? These Birthday Cake Bars are A LOT. They're a lot of uncooked butter and sugar and vanilla but sometimes that's all you need. These definitely won't be for everybody, but if you have a cookie dough lover in the house then these are a sure bet. If you wanted to feed more of a crowded with these, I would recommend cutting them in half before doubling the recipe. That way, everyone gets a one or two bite treat! 

Birthday Cake Bars

Yields 12 bars

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons milk

To make the bars: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and pale in color (about 4-5 minutes). Add in sour cream and vanilla extract and mix. Add in flour & salt, then milk, mixing until everything is combined into one dough. Fold in sprinkles with a rubber spatula. 

Line a 8x8" or 9x9" baking dish with plastic wrap (enough so that it is hanging over the sides on all sides). Press your dough into the dish until it is evenly distributed. Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the dough and refrigerate for at least one hour, if not overnight. 

To make the buttercream: In an electric mixer, whip butter until it is soft and fluffy. Gradually add in confectioner's sugar, then vanilla extract and milk. Whip for 3-4 minutes until the buttercream is fluffy. If your frosting is too thick, gradually add in more milk one tablespoon at a time. You'll have a thick frosting that's pipeable.

Assemble: Remove your bars from the refrigerator and lift out of the baking pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 even pieces. Fill your pastry bag fitted with a star tip with buttercream and begin piping small swirls until the each bar is covered. If you don't have a piping bag or don't feel like digging it out, you can always spread the frosting on with an offset spatula. 

Store these bars in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. They longer they stay out of the fridge, the softer they will get, but because this is an eggless cookie dough they are fine to eat at room temperature. 

Recipe: Funfetti Christmas Cookies

We're less than a week away from Christmas and I'm over here trying to not feel the pressure. There's still gifts to buy, traveling to do, wrapping to take care of, and cards to mail out but I'm taking a deep breath and trying to enjoy the season. It's important to take good care this time of year and live in the balance between holiday chaos and end of the year relaxation.

Out of all the recipes I've posted on this blog, these cookies are by far the thing I make the most. Simple, soft sugar cookies with sprinkles that you can easily eat 3 or 4 of without blinking an eye. Most recently I made these for a cookie swap party and holiday gifts (also while eating my far share of them myself). Here we go!

Funfetti Christmas Cookies

Yields 2 dozen cookies

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/3 cups flour
3 tbsp sprinkles or nonpareils

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and shortening with an electric mixer. Add sugar and mix until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking powder. With your mixer on low, add dry ingredients to the butter/egg mixer. Using a spatula, fold in sprinkles.

Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake 8-10 minutes or until bottoms just begin to brown. 

Recipe: Funfetti Holiday Donuts

I tried to make a holiday funfetti 3-tiered cake for you last weekend and it failed miserably. Though I've posted a few cakes on this blog, I just can't seem to get a vanilla multi-layered cake to turn out right. The edges are always overdone. The texture doesn't seem right. It's too dark or too sweet or too vanilla-y. I need to go back to the drawing board on that one. So after that debacle, I decided I wanted to use up the rest of the sprinkles I'd purchased and make something I knew I could make right: donuts.

These little babes will be my last recipe of 2016! I'll be taking next week to prep some things for the new year and take a proper rest. As much as I enjoy holiday baking, I'm excited to transfer that motivation into the new year and bake some new things for you in 2017. 

As for right now, I hope you all a restful and lovely holiday weekend and I hope you give someone in your life the gift of butter, sugar, and sprinkles.

Funfetti Holiday Donuts

Makes 12-14 donuts

For donuts:
2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 stick butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 eggs
1 cup full-fat sour cream
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sprinkles

For glaze:
4 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a donut baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg to combine and aerate the flours. Add the cubes of butter and using a pastry blender (or your hands), cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly and sand-like. You'll want tiny pieces of butter throughout the mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy. Add in sour cream and vanilla and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula. 

Scrape the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip (or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe the batter evenly among the wells of the greased pan. Before placing into the oven, lightly tap the donut pan on a flat countertop to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then let cool completely on a cooling rack. 

Once the donuts are fully cooled, place wax paper underneath your cooling rack and start making your glaze. Add powdered sugar and water into a medium saucepan and start whisking them together. The mixture will be very stiff and not come together easily. Once it is mostly combined, heat glaze over medium heat, whisking frequently. The glaze will start to come together and thin out. Remove from heat when the mixture is warm but not hot. Dip each donut into the glaze and let cool on the rack. The glaze will harden quickly, so if you want to add decorations, sprinkle them on immediately.

I find that because of the moisture level in the donuts, it’s best to eat these within 24 hours, or stack on a plate and wrap with plastic wrap. Keeping the donuts in an airtight container may cause them to sweat and the glaze to soften. Enjoy!

Recipe: Funfetti Cake Batter Popsicles

Sometimes I set out to make something that I have imagined in my head. I think up a treat and I can imagine what it will taste like in my head and then I strive to create that. And after a few trial and errors, these came together exactly how I imagined. Incredibly creamy, crunchy from the sprinkles, sweet, and bursting with a cake batter and vanilla flavor. If you're looking for the perfect sweet and creamy popsicle, these should be on the list!

Funfetti Cake Batter Popsicles

Makes 8 popsicles

1 cup of heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cake mix
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat heavy cream and sugar until sift peaks form. Add vanilla and beat one more quick time to incorporate. In a seperate bowl (or in the mixing cup used to measure out the milk) whisk together milk and cake mix until cake mix is dissolved. Add liquid into the whipped cream and fold in with a rubber spatula. Add sprinkles and fold them in as well. Final mixture will be thick, but pourable. Using a spoon, spoon mixture into the popsicle mold (I own this one) until each slot is 3/4 full. As you're filling, lightly tap the mold on the counter to try to prevent air bubbles. Insert popsicle sticks and freeze for 4–6 hours or overnight.

Need something else to make with that open box of cake mix? Make some Lucky Charms Popcorn!

Funfetti Cake Batter Popsicles via Unusually Lovely

Recipe: Orange Creamsicle Funfetti Cookie Dough Bars

A few weeks ago, I made a bunch of these Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Bites and the reaction was "please make more of these and delivery them to my house pronto" from many people in my life. And though I explained that it wasn't practical to bring a bunch of ice cream into work, or delivery them on my scooter to my friends' doors, no one cared and I was given a hard time by family, friends, and coworkers alike. And because G doesn't like chocolate, and has been eating them out of my freezer by picking the chocolate chips out (true story), I wanted to make something that 1. didn't require so much cutting of frozen ice cream before it melts in my 100 degree house, 2. could be individually wrapped for easy sharing, and 3. hit some different flavor combos besides vanilla and chocolate. So these little beauties are the end result.

Funfetti cookie dough + orange swirl ice cream + cool whip = sticky fingers and happy tastebuds. It's just basic math, folks.

Orange Creamsicle Funfetti Cookie Dough Bars

Yields 16 bars

2 1/4 cups flour
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
1/2 carton of Orange Swirl Ice Cream** (I used Friendly's Fruit Swirls)
1 8-oz container of whipped topping

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip butter with sugar until light and fluffly, about 3-5 minutes. Mix in sour cream. Add flour in increments and mix until just combined. Add milk and vanilla. Combine. Using a spatula, mix in rainbow sprinkle until equally distributed throughout the dough.

Lightly spray an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Cut a piece of parchment paper to size, but longer so two sides generously hang over the edges and press the parchment paper to the baking pan. Add the cookie dough to the parchment-lined pan and even out using a spatula. You'll want to evenly cover the entire bottom of the pan to create the "crust." Add half a carton of ice cream and even out with a spatula. Do the same thing with the whipped topping.  Top with sprinkles. Place in the freezer for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Using the parchment paper that's hanging over, remove the bars from the pan and place on a cutting board. Using a large knife, cut the bars like you would brownies. Cut into 4 strips, and then cut each strip into 4 bars. This part is a bit tricky, but take your time, wipe the knife off when it gets too coated in ice cream, and run under hot water for an easier cut. Place each bar on a piece of plastic wrap and wrap completely. Store in freezer immediately after cutting. 

**You could switch out any ice cream that you want! Don't let me stop you from your dreams.