Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

I made these delicious cookies for my daughter and some of her friends for their Valentine’s (Galentine’s!) Day celebration. Tanya Ott, the amazing baker of globalbakes.com, promised that they would hold their shape and she was right. I was so pleased! 🙂 Because the dough does not contain a rising agent, the cut out shapes stay completely intact while baking.

The cookie recipe was adapted from globalbakes.com. I made half the recipe, used fine sea salt, increased the chilling time, and baked the cookies in a convection oven. Tanya’s blog has many informative videos with amazing royal icing techniques and ideas. I highly recommend checking it out. 🙂

The royal icing recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

For the Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie Dough:

  • 227 grams (1 cup; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 114 grams (4 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 337 grams (2 1/4 cups plus 2 T) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until well blended and smooth.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and egg yolks, and mix until just combined.
  3. Add the flour and salt, and mix to form a soft dough.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, press into a 1/2-inch disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters, and place them on a plastic wrap-lined cookie sheet. Place another layer of plastic wrap between each layer of cookies. (I stack similar shapes on top of one another.)
  6. Chill for at least 15 minutes. (I chilled the cut shapes overnight.)
  7. Preheat the oven to 350F, preferably on convection. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking sheets.
  8. Place the chilled cookies one inch apart on prepared baking sheets. (Bake cookies of similar size at the same time.)
  9. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden brown around the edges. Bake time will vary with the size and thickness of the cookies. Allow to cool completely before frosting or decorating.

For the Royal Icing:

  • 1/2 pound (8 oz) Confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/2 T meringue powder
  • liquid or gel-paste food coloring
  • sanding sugar or sprinkles, as desired
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, meringue powder, and a scant 1/4 cup (4 T) water on low speed.  Beat until mixture is fluffy yet dense, 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. To thin the icing for flooding (filling in areas with additional icing), stir in additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time.  Test the consistency by lifting a spoonful of icing and letting it drip back into the bowl; a ribbon should remain on the surface for 5 to 7 seconds.
  3. To tint icing, dip a toothpick or wooden skewer into food coloring, and gradually mix it in until the desired shade is reached. (I used 3 shades of pink once the icing was “flood” consistency.)
  4. Using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, pipe a border around each cookie. Then, thin the icing to a flood consistency and fill in the border. (I used a larger tip to fill in the cookies.)
  5. Decorate with sanding sugar or sprinkles before the icing has set, if desired.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Brown Butter Buttercream

Sarah Kieffer is an absolute GENIUS. Incorporating brown butter in buttercream!?!? I’m upset that I have never thought of trying it.

These were quite possibly the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. The cake portion was delicious- moist and tender, but the icing really put the cupcakes over the top. It was incredibly light and flavorful. I may have to make them again for Valentine’s Day. ❤

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer. I halved the recipe and made 12 cupcakes. (I now regret not making 24!) I also used fine sea salt. Amazing.

Yield: 12 frosted cupcakes (with about 2 cups buttercream)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 large eggs (I used a scale to measure 1/2 an egg)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 6 T sour cream
  • 2 T buttermilk
  • 1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Note: If doubling the recipe for 24 cupcakes or 2 8-inch round cakes, use 297g sugar and 227g butter.

For the Brown Butter Buttercream:

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter for browning
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick, 114g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 oz (27g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups (226g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Line a standard cupcake/muffin pan with 12 liners. Set aside. (If making a round cake, butter and flour the pans and then line them with parchment paper.)
  3. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, sour cream, and buttermilk.
  4. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low until combined.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add the butter one piece at a time, beating until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  6. With the mixer still running on low, slowly add half the wet ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  7. With the mixer running on low, add the rest of the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  8. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20 seconds. (The batter may still look a little bumpy.)
  9. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and use a spatula to mix the batter a few more times.
  10. Using a large cookie scoop (mine is 3T), divide the batter between the cupcake wells. Each well should be a little more than halfway full.
  11. Using an offset spatula, smooth the tops. Tap the pan gently on the counter 2 times to help get rid of any bubbles.
  12. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (I baked mine for 17 minutes on convection.) (If baking cake in an 8-inch pan, bake for 17 to 22 minutes.)
  13. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. (If using a round cake pan, let cake cool in the pan set on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then, remove to let cool completely.)

To Make the Brown Butter Buttercream:

  1. Have a small, heatproof, freezer-safe bowl set next to the range.
  2. Melt one stick of butter in a light-colored, heavy bottomed skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Swirl the butter around with a rubber spatula as it melts and starts to bubble.
  3. When it starts bubbling, increase the heat to medium and keep stirring the butter until it boils and begins to foam, about 3 minutes. It will smell nutty and you’ll start to see little brown bits on the bottom of the pan. *Keep stirring, making sure to genly scrape the bottom of the pan with the spatula as you do so. At this point, the butter will begin to quickly change from light brown to dark to burned, so keep a close eye on the pan.*
  4. Once the butter and browned bits are golden brown, remove from the heat, and immediately pour the brown butter and the toasted bits and flecks from the bottom of the pan into the reserved heatproof, freezer-safe bowl.
  5. Let the brown butter cool in the bowl for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature. Then, place the bowl in the freezer and let chill until solid, about 30 minutes.
  6. When the butter is solid (but not frozen!), transfer it to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.
  7. Add the remaining 1/4 pound (1 stick) of room temperature butter to the brown butter in the mixer bowl and beat on medium until smooth.
  8. Add the cream cheese and beat on medium until smooth and creamy.
  9. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and mix on low to combine.
  10. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined. (I turn the mixer off in between additions of sugar.)
  11. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, 6 to 8 minutes.
  12. Using a cookie scoop (I used a 3 T scoop), place a heaping dollop of buttercream on top of each cupcake. (Alternatively, use an offset spatula to ration the icing.) Spread the buttercream over the top decoratively, as desired.

Note: Frosted cupcakes should be refrigerated if not serving right away. Bring to room temperature prior to serving.

Frog Birthday Cake (Yellow Layer Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting & Oreo Filling)

My daughter’s 15th birthday celebration involved several sweet treats. All of her requests were granted! 🙂 We enjoyed crumb cake, salted brown butter blondies, number cookies, of course, and this cute cake. She asked for a frog cake after falling in love with others she had seen while perusing Pinterest.

For dinner, we had Summer Corn Pasta with Sausage & Basil– her favorite dish from our summer vacation in Rehoboth Beach. I was surprised by this request because we usually have calzones!

The recipe for the yellow layer cake was adapted from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. We also enjoyed this cake on her 13th birthday. I used the vanilla cream cheese frosting with Oreo filling from her 12th birthday cake– it’s her favorite.

Yield: One 9-inch layer cake, generously frosted

For the Cake:

  • 7 oz (1 3/4 cups) plain cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
  • vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the cake pans with flour, tapping out the excess. (I would consider using 8-inch pans next time to elevate the cake slightly.)
  3. Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a 2-cup measuring cup with a spout. Measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds.
  5. With the mixture still running at the lowest speed, add the butter, one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, about 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added.
  6. Add the reserved 1 cup egg mixture and mix at the lowest speed until incorporated, about 5 to 10 seconds.
  7. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  9. Beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.
  10. Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans. (about 1 lb plus 2.5 oz per pan) Spread to the sides of the pans and smooth with an offset or rubber spatula.
  11. Bake until the cake tops are light gold and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 27 minutes. The cakes will mound slightly but will level when cooled.
  12. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  13. Run a knife around the pan perimeter to loosen. Invert one cake onto a large plate and reinvert onto another wire rack. Repeat for the other layer. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling (as well as Frogs & Mushrooms):

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 to 6 full-size Oreos or 15 mini-Oreos, crushed in a food processor
  • green gel food coloring, plus additional colors for mushroom caps, as desired
  • chocolate chips, for frog eyes
  • chocolate sprinkles, for frog mouths
  • sugar pearls, for mushroom caps
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Remove about 1 cup frosting and set aside for mushrooms and frog cheeks.
  6. Remove 1 1/4 cup of frosting for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
  7. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling frosting. Spread on one of the layers.
  8. Place the second layer on top.
  9. Tint the remaining frosting pale green with food coloring, mixing well.
  10. Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
  11. Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale green icing.
  12. Tint the remaining frosting deeper “frog green.” Place the majority of the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, for the frog bodies. Place the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, for the frog eyes, arms, and legs.
  13. Pipe the frogs on the cake, as desired, using the large bag/tip. Add eyes, arms, and legs using the small bag/tip.
  14. Divide the remaining frosting into 4 bowls. Keep one bowl of frosting white for the mushroom stems.
  15. Tint one bowl red, for the frog cheeks and mushroom caps.
  16. Tint the other 2 bowls of frosting, as desired, for mushroom caps.
  17. Pipe mushroom stems around the sides of the cake. Using a variety of pastry bags and tips, pipe decorative multi-shaped mushroom caps on the stems. Decorate caps with sugar pearls.
  18. Pipe rosy cheeks on each frog with the red frosting.
  19. Place 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips in a sandwich sized ziplock bag. Microwave until melted. (I check the progress in 30 second increments.) Cut a small corner off of the ziplock bag; use the melted chocolate to pipe eyes onto the frogs.
  20. Add mouths onto the frogs with chocolate sprinkles.
  21. Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

In the fall, my daughter would love to eat some sort of “pumpkin spice” item every day to celebrate the season. 😉 She loved these cupcakes!

These super moist cupcakes were delicious but it was the maple-cream cheese frosting that really put them over the top. The frosting was fabulously creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from David Leite via smittenkitchen.com. I modified the method and used fine sea salt.

Yield: 18 cupcakes (with leftover frosting)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

For the Frosting:

  • Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) pure maple syrup
  • pinch fine sea salt

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Heat oven to 350° (175°C), preferably on convection. Line a cupcake pan with 18 liners.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition.
  5. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.
  6. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the mixer, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
  8. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  9. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, rotating halfway through the baking time, about 19 to 20 minutes on convection or up to 20 to 25 minutes in a standard oven.
  10. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely before topping with the frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter to combine.
  2. Add all of the additional ingredients and continue to beat on medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Frost the tops of each cupcake, swirling decoratively. (I used a pastry bag and decorative piping tip.)
  4. Refrigerate cupcakes for 30 minutes to set up frosting prior to serving.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

My daughter and I planned to make caramel cookies and cream ice cream after enjoying the flavor at Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory in Annapolis, Maryland this spring.

I started (and finished!) my caramel ice cream recipe search with Jeni Britton. One of my favorite homemade ice creams is Jeni Britton’s Vanilla Bean– I make it at least once a summer. President Biden is also big fan of her ice cream. She has a new flavor, White House Chocolate Chip, inspired by his favorite order. 🙂

The secret to her fabulously creamy ice cream is the inclusion of corn starch and cream cheese in the base. “Salty Caramel” is one of the most popular flavors in their stores. The caramel is made using a dry-burn technique. The resulting caramel flavor is rich and sophisticated.

This recipe was adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer, via BonAppetit.com, contributed by Julia Bainbridge. I modified the technique. We first used the ice cream as filling in snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches. Yum! The leftover ice cream was served with crushed Oreos as a topping instead of being mixed in. Perfect- beyond creamy too.

Yield: about 1 quart

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. (I used a stainless steel bowl.)
  3. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.
  4. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. (I used a giant glass bowl. It is important that the bowl with the cream cheese can easily fit into the bowl of ice water.)
  5. Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color. **Note: This is a dry-burn technique- be cautious. Caramelizing the sugar this way is faster but you have to watch it very closely and be ready to incorporate the cream.** See below.
    • The Dry-Burn Caramelization Technique:
    • Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready. Do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom of the pan with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top.
    • When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring it into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar.
    • Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color- like an old penny.
    • When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat.
  6. Immediately after removing from the heat, and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit (about 1/4 cup) of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.
  7. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  8. Gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
  9. Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  10. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. (I used a hand-held mixer.)
  11. Add the vanilla and whisk.
  12. Place the bowl in the ice bath, making sure that the ice water doesn’t come in contact with the ice cream base.
  13. Let stand, stirring occasionally and adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
  14. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain mixture into a frozen ice cream machine canister. Churn until thick and creamy. (I churned mine for 25 minutes.)
  15. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment or plastic wrap directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. (I used a glass loaf pan.)
  16. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours. (I froze the ice cream a day in advance.)

Mother’s Day Vanilla Naked Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting & Strawberries

Not to brag, but Mother’s Day was my daughter’s favorite holiday when she was little. ❤ It has now been surpassed by her birthday, Easter, and Christmas, of course, but she still recognizes it is an important day. 🙂 She tirelessly made this cake- completely independently- for Mother’s Day this year.

My son made a family favorite (my choice!), Penne with Vodka-Cream Sauce, for our Mother’s Day dinner. He served it with garlic bread and a giant salad. This lovely dessert topped off our celebratory meal. Lucky me! 🙂

The recipe was adapted from one of our favorite birthday cakes, Rainbow Sprinkle Cake, contributed to The New York Times by Julia Moskin. She used 8-inch pans, omitted the sprinkles, and modified the proportions and baking time. She also topped the cake with fresh strawberries. Delicious.

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup/110 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), slightly softened, more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups/190 grams all-purpose flour, more for pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2/3 cup/158 ml whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), slightly softened
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • 2 1/4 cups/225 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, optional

To Make the Cake:

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, and place a rack in the center.
  2. Butter and line the bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides, then tap out any excess flour.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together milk and vanilla.
  5. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add egg and whites and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  7. Add half the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating to blend after each addition.
  8. Scrape down bowl and blend once more.
  9. Remove bowl and use a spatula or spoon to fold in sprinkles by hand.
  10. Divide batter evenly between the pans (approximately 400 g per pan), and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. (She baked the cakes for 22 minutes.)
  11. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 to 4 hours, before turning out.

To Make the Frosting & Finish the Cake:

  1. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, butter and salt together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add sugar and beat until smooth.
  3. Beat in vanilla just until incorporated.
  4. Taste frosting; you should be able to taste the cream cheese and a little bit of saltiness, as well as the sweetness. If desired, add more salt or sugar. Keep refrigerated.
  5. Turn cooled cakes out of pans.
  6. Using a bread knife, cut off any domed or uneven parts of each cake to make flat surfaces.
  7. Place one of the cakes on a platter or a cake stand, cut side up. Line the edges with parchment or wax paper to keep the cake stand clean.
  8. Using an offset spatula, frost the top.
  9. Stack the other layer on top, cut side down.
  10. Place remaining frosting on top of the cake and, working from the center outward, frost the top and sides of the cake, as desired. (She kept the sides relatively naked.)
  11. Top the cake with sliced strawberries, as desired.
  12. Refrigerate cake 30 minutes or longer to set. Serve cool.

Cinnamon Roll Blondies

One of the most dangerous things I’ve ever done is to “join” baking groups on Facebook. The beautiful baked goods that are shared make me feel compelled to bake and to try cookbooks that are raved about.

This recipe is from 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More by Sarah Kieffer. This book has a major fan base online. I’m only one recipe in and am already a huge fan. 🙂

Baked goods that involve cinnamon-sugar are a crowd-pleaser in my house so selecting cinnamon roll blondies out of this book was an obvious choice. These blondies had the added bonus of incorporating nutty brown butter too. I weighed the ingredients when possible. Fabulous!

Yield: One 9×13-inch pan, about 24 small blondies

For the Brown Butter Blondie Base:

  • 2 cups (284g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 227g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200g) brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt (I used coarse salt)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

For the Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 oz (113g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch salt (I used coarse salt)

For the Cinnamon Sugar Swirl:

  • 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt (I used coarse salt)
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

To Make the Brown Butter Blondie Base:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch (23×33-cm) baking pan and line with a parchment sling. (I used a metal baking pan.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons (170g) of the butter. Brown the butter until it is dark golden brown and smells nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add the remaining 4 tablespoons (57g) butter to the pot, swirling the pot until the butter stops foaming.
  6. Add the granulated and brown sugars, vanilla, and salt, and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  7. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk until combined.
  8. Transfer the butter-egg mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  9. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and smooth into an even layer. Set aside while you make the toppings.

To Make the Cream Cheese Filling:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt, and mix on medium speed until well combined.

To Make the Cinnamon Sugar Swirl:

  1. In a small saucepan or skillet, melt the brown sugar, butter, and salt together over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon until combined.

To Assemble:

  1. Dollop the cream cheese and cinnamon sugar over the top of the brown butter blondie batter base in the prepared pan, alternating between the two.
  2. Drag the tip of a butter knife through the batter, creating swirls. (I created swirls parallel to the length and the width of the pan.)
  3. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes, or until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies comes out with only a couple of crumbs. (The testing spot should be in a central location that does not have the toppings because they will appear wet when the base is fully baked.)
  4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  5. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut into bars.

Note: Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. (We placed a few in the refrigerator and they were also absolutely fabulous chilled.)

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Napa Cabbage Curry
Ina Garten's Easy French Apple Tart
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