Grown-Up Dirt Cake Cups

adult dirt cake cups My Mom is a gourmet cook, and used to spend hours (sometimes even days) preparing fancy birthday cakes for family members. There was of course the multi-step Black Forest Cake for my dad. Then there was the snake cake, per my sister’s request….green fondant dyed different shades of green to look like the skin, a red fondant “tongue”, and even black eyes. I have no idea why a little girl would want a cake shaped like a big green snake for their 5th birthday (or however old she was), but nonetheless my Mom made it. And then there was me. Me, who could have any fancy cake in the world, and what do I ask for? Dirt cake! Don’t get me wrong, dirt cake is delicious, and I could eat buckets of it (which I’m sure I probably did), but looking back now I wonder what I was thinking choosing dirt cake….

It’s been years since I had my last birthday dirt cake, but for some reason, when I was making sugared flowers last week, memories of crushed Oreos and layers of fluffy, creamy pudding came to my mind. Except this time, it was sans worms, with a dash of alcohol mixed in, and topped with pretty edible flowers.

dirt cake with edible flowers no-bake cheesecake dirt cake cups adult dirt cake cups adult dirt cake edible flower cakes mini dirt cakes dirt cake cups

Grown-Up Dirt Cake Cups
Serves 4
A grown-up version of the childhood favorite dirt cake
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  2. 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  3. 1/2 cup mascarpone
  4. 2 tablespoons of vanilla
  5. 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  6. 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  7. Edible flowers, for garnish
Instructions
  1. If you haven't already, start by pureeing the chocolate wafers in a Cuisinart until they turn into fine crumbs. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Dust any extra cookie crumbs out of your Cuisinart, then add in the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugars and vanilla. Blend for a few seconds, until creamy.
  3. In small glass cups or jars (or mini flower pots, if you want to be really authentic), begin layering the cookie crumbs and the cream mixture. I did one heaping tablespoon of cookie crumbs, then one heaping tablespoon of cream mixture, then repeated that, ending with the cream mixture on top. Finish the top off with a light dusting of cookie crumbs and an edible flower.
  4. These can either be served immediately or stored in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours (although keep in mind, the cookie layer won't be quite as crunchy after several hours).
Notes
  1. To make these really grown-up, simply replace the vanilla with the alcohol of your choice. My favorites are: Baileys, Kahlua, Amaretto, or Grand Marnier.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

The Basics of Edible Flowers

edible flowers Once upon a time, many years ago, my sister and I used to think we were flower fairies (we were strange children, I know). We spent many spring days flitting around the garden in flower crowns and fairy skirts (aka costumes that my Mother had made for us). We even had a garden “cookbook” (yes, it was a real book) from which we would whip up tasty treats, such as mud pie and grass salad (I mean, if that doesn’t get your appetite going, I don’t know what will!). The finishing touch to almost everyone of our “dishes” was a pretty flower (because let’s be real, who would want to eat rock soup without a pretty flower on top?!).

While we were cooking up our flower fairy dishes, my Mom was making real flower dishes, everything from sugared violets to decorate a cake to salads with dandelion greens to stuffed squash blossoms. Luckily for you, the only flower cooking that I’ve taken into adulthood is the one my Mom taught me.

Flowers are a great way to accessorize your food in the spring (surprisingly, they do make things, besides rock soup, look good!). Here are some basics on edible flowers to get you going-

how to store edible flowers To keep your edible flowers nice and fresh, line a plastic container with a damp paper towel. Gently place the flowers in a single sheet on top of the paper towel, then fold the edges of the paper towel over the top, forming a tent so as not to crush the flowers. Keep the container refrigerated.The flowers should last 7-10 days stored this way. You can also spritz them with ice-cold water if they need a bit of reviving.

how to sugar flowers how to sugar flowers To sugar edible flowers you will need: fine sugar (you can pulse granulated sugar in a Cuisinart several times), an egg white, tweezers, and a clean paintbrush (optional, but helpful). Make sure your flowers are clean and dry. Beat the egg white with a fork until slightly frothy and some bubbles form (you can add a few drops of water if you need a thinner consistency). Then use the tweezers or your fingers (depending on the size of the flower) to gently dunk the flower into the egg white. Alternately, you can use the paintbrush to paint the egg white onto the flower. Next, gently press the flower into the sugar or sprinkle sugar on top of the flower (again, this depends on the size of the flower). Lay it out on wax paper and let dry for at least 24 hours. Store in an airtight container lined with a  paper towel for up to a year.

3 ways to use edible flowers There are many ways to use edible flowers, from topping soups (pea soup is my favorite), tossing in salads, and freezing into ice cubes for a springtime cocktail. Here are 3 other ways they can be used:

how to use edible flowers To top a cake or cupcake

ways to use edible flowers Stirred into tea (hot or cold)

three ways to use edible flowers  To top off a cheese appetizer (the one pictured is goat cheese)

For a complete list of edible flowers, click here.

Stuffed Funfetti Donuts

baked funfetti donuts The day has finally arrived. The day where you no longer have to hear me talking about my birthday because….it is MY BIRTHDAY! To celebrate, I decided to take my funfetti obsession and turn it into something new and fun. Hence, this fluffy cream filled delicious golden pocket of sprinkled goodness (say that 10 times fast!) aka stuffed funfetti donuts. I have also decided that if you give me a present, I may give you a donut. I say ‘may’ because the likelihood that any of these donuts will be left is pretty much a big fat zero. I mean it is my birthday so eating 8 donuts is totally acceptable. So is drinking champagne at 9am (yes, even on a Tuesday), taking a nap at 3pm, and possibly staying in my pajamas until dinner. And you can’t judge me, because it’s my birthday! (If I try to get away with this again on Wednesday then I give you my full permission to get all judgmental on me.)

So let’s face reality- since I’m going to be eating all the funfetti donuts, how about I give you the next best thing? The recipe. I know you have to actually mix the dough, then roll it out, then wait for 20 birthdays and a day for everything to rise, but these are so yummy you’ll forget all about how you gave me a present and I couldn’t even give you a single bite of donut in return….

funfetti donuts baked funfetti donuts donuts fluffy frosting stuffed funfetti donuts cream filled funfetti donuts stuffed funfetti donuts funfetti donuts funfetti donuts filled

Stuffed Funfetti Donuts
Yields 8
A fluffy funfetti donut baked then stuffed with a creamy filling
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Prep Time
3 hr
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Prep Time
3 hr
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Donuts
  1. 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  3. 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 large egg
  6. 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  7. 1/3 cups milk (any fat percentage will do, although I use whole or 2%)
  8. 2 tablespoons sprinkles
  9. Extra melted butter (for brushing onto the baked doughnuts)
  10. Extra granulated sugar (for rolling the baked doughnuts in)
Filling
  1. 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  2. 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  3. 3 large egg whites
  4. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
To make the donuts
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, with the dough hook attached, add the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and eggs. Mix for 30 seconds.
  2. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk and butter to just until it begins to bubble and boil. Remove from the heat.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, begin adding the milk mixture.
  4. Continue mixing for about 5 minutes, or until you have a batter that is sticky and stretchy (FYI, it won't look anything like bread dough).
  5. Cover the bowl with a warm towel (I soak mine in hot water than wring it out before using it) or plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  6. Once the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl (with well-floured hands) and place it on a well-floured surface. Knead for about 30 seconds, or until it becomes less sticky and more manageable.
  7. Flatten the dough out, then toss on the sprinkles. Use the palm of your hand to slightly press them into the dough, then begin folding the dough over, slightly kneading it. Just make sure not to over-knead.
  8. Pat the dough out to about a 1/2 inch thickness.
  9. Cut out the doughnuts with a 2-2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter and place the rounds on a silpat mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  10. Again, cover with a warm towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  11. When they are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they are puffed and lightly golden brown.
  12. Once they are baked, brush each doughnut with melted butter then toss in granulated sugar. Cool completely before filling.
To make the filling
  1. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the sugar, corn syrup, 2 tablespoons of water, and the egg whites. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture heats up to 160 degrees on a cooking thermometer (this should take about 2 minutes).
  2. Attach the bowl to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until glossy, stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes). Add the vanilla, then beat for about 30 seconds longer.
To fill the donuts
  1. You will need a pastry bag and a large pastry tip (I used Wilton's Bismark Tip #230; see the widget below this post for links to shop these supplies). Add about 1 cup of the filling to the bag. Working from the side of the donut, insert the pastry tip. Simultaneously begin squeezing in the filling while pulling the pastry tip out (an extra pair of hands comes in handy with this step). Continue until you have filled all the donuts.
  2. Serve immediately. These will last up to two days in an air-tight container, but they definitely taste the best on the first day.
Notes
  1. The donuts and filling can be made the day before then filled right before serving, though they won't taste as fresh.
  2. Extra filling can be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. It's basically marshmallow fluff, so pull out the bread and peanut butter and make yourself a yummy sandwich while you're at it!
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Donut recipe adapted from Your Cup of Cake; Filling adapted from Martha Stewart

Kitchen Necessities

Dress & Dine- Valentine’s Day Tea Party

Dress & Dine- Valentine's Day Tea Party || Runway Chef When I was younger, tea parties were a part of daily life. My Mom always had an afternoon cup of Earl Grey, so of course my sister and I, along with our 50+ stuffed animals, had to have our afternoon tea, too. I eventually even had my own china tea set (in pink and mint green polka dots, no less). Our tea parties weren’t always fancy and we didn’t always dress up, but for special occasions, we would go all out. Our Valentine’s Day tea parties, in particular, really stand out in my mind, or I should say, the heart sandwich cookies (including the miniature versions we made for the stuffed animals) stick out in my mind. 

When I was choosing a theme for this month’s Dress & Dine, my mind instantly went back to those Valentine’s Day tea parties I had as a child, and I knew I had to recreate an adult-appropriate version for February’s post.

valentine's day look Dress & Dine- Valentine's Day Tea Party

Dress// Half the fun of a fancy tea party, is dressing up in fancy clothes. Things like florals, lace, bows and tulle instantly come to mind, and of course lots of pink for Valentine’s Day. As you can see I went in a flower-y direction, donning a floral skirt, a floral lace top (that I wore at our wedding), and a floral necklace. So as not to look like a full-blown flower shop, I switched things up a bit with a pair of striped heels. Pink nails and lips, and a high bun completed my Valentine’s Day tea party look.

what to wear for Valentine's Day Valentine's Day outfit
Dine// Most of the items on the Valentine’s Day tea party menu are reminiscent of traditional tea party food, but each has been given an updated twist. Petit fours are made from funfetti cake cut into mini heart shapes and drizzled with white chocolate. The tea sandwiches are filled with a roasted garlic whipped feta or balsamic roasted strawberry cream cheese. I also whipped up some mini feta beet tarts (the colors are perfect for Valentine’s Day) and the mini rosewater whoopie pies from yesterday make an appearance. (Find all the recipes below.)

Valentine's Day tea Party for Adults Valentine's Day Party Mini Beat and Feta Tarts
funfetti cake Funfetti Petit Fours Rosewater whoopie pies roasted garlic tea sandwiches tea sandwiches
Drink//For beverages, the obvious drink of choice is tea, since this is a tea party after all. However, since this is a party geared towards adults, you better believe that tea is going to be spiked! I created a tasty tea cocktail (should I call it a ‘teatail’?!) from one of my favorite teas (Earl Grey), some of the leftover roasted strawberries from the cream cheese, and of course, a splash of bubbly to finish it off (because everything is better with champagne!). (You can find the recipe below.)

I also included a bowl of loose Earl Grey tea for guests to scoop into favor bags and take home.

Strawberry Early Grey Tea Cocktail Valentine's Day Tea Party How-To Tea Party Favors
Decorate// Decorations are the icing on the cake of any party. Whether you have a few balloons and a nice bouquet of flowers (fresh or dried), some confetti tossed on the table and a few tea lights lit, or you go all out with name cards, banners, fun straws and fancy silverware, decorations are what pull everything together. If you are short on time, there are plenty of adorable, pre-made options out there, like these available on Minted (hint: the banners and signs are all customizable allowing you to put a personal touch on your party decor). For my decorations, I worked with Minted to shower my party with some ombre love, making sure everything from my customizable party sign to the adorable stickers and my favorite paper straws all screamed Valentine’s Day fun. One tip when you are decorating- make sure each food has a little sign letting guests know what it is (this is especially helpful for those who might have food allergies).

Valentine's Day Tea Party Hugs & Kisses banner Valentine's Day Party Sign

 *All paper products and decorations were generously provided by Minted. All opinions are my own.

Funfetti Petit Fours
Everyone's favorite cake in a Valentine's Day appropriate shape and tea party appropriate petit four
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. Funfetti cake, about 1/2" thick (I used funfetti cupcakes sliced into thirds)
  2. 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  3. 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  4. 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
  5. Sprinkles, optional
Instructions
  1. Use a mini heart cookie cutter to cut the cake into hearts. Lay the hearts out in a single layer on a cooling wrack that has been placed on top of a sheet of wax paper.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the chocolate, cream, and vanilla. Stir constantly until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Drizzle the chocolate mixture over the hearts, decorate with sprinkles (if you choose), then let the chocolate harden for at least one hour.
  4. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Tea Sandwiches
Two new flavor combos (balsamic roasted strawberry and roasted garlic whipped feta) give traditional tea sandwiches a modern update
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups of strawberries (I used frozen)
  2. 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  3. 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. 1/3 cup of cream cheese
  6. 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  7. 1 head of garlic
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
  9. 1/2 cup of feta
  10. 1/4 cup of cream cheese
  11. A pinch of salt
  12. Bread, crusts cut off
Instructions
  1. To make the balsamic roasted strawberry cream cheese: Spread the strawberries on a foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle them with the balsamic vinegar, granulated sugar, and the pinch of salt. Roast at 350 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the berries begin to brown and the juices are running. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Once the strawberries have cooled, place about half of them, along with half the syrup that has formed, into a cuisinart, along with the cream cheese and powder sugar. Pulse until well combined, about 30 seconds. Place the cream cheese in a covered bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour to harden it up before using.
  3. To make the roasted garlic whipped feta: Thinly slice off the top of the head of garlic and remove any loose skin. Rub the top with the olive oil, then wrap it in a piece of foil. Place the foil packet on a baking sheet, and roast at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  4. After the garlic has cooled, peel the skin away and place the cloves in a cuisinart. Add in the cream cheese, feta and pinch of salt, and pulse to combine.
  5. Assemble your tea sandwiches, by first cutting your bread into squares (I cut each slice into 8 squares), then spread one half with the cream cheese of your choice before placing another piece of bread on top.
Notes
  1. The cream cheeses can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, however the sandwiches should be made as close to your party as possible.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Mini Feta Beet Tarts
Mini light bites of beets, creamy feta and crunchy phyllo
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. Phylllo dough
  2. 1/3 cup of feta cheese
  3. 1 cup of beets, chopped (I used canned)
  4. Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray, then line each tin with 3-4 pieces of phyllo dough (I found it was best to either cut the phyllo into small squares with food scissors, or just use my hands to gently rip off small pieces).
  2. Top the phyllo with a few beet pieces and a sprinkle of feta.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the phyllo is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Notes
  1. These taste really good topped with a little of the roasted garlic whipped feta (if you have any left).
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Strawberry Earl Grey Bubbly
A 'teatail' aka cocktail made from tea, balsamic roasted strawberry syrup, and topped with champagne
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 oz Earl Grey tea (steeped and cooled)
  2. 1 Tbsp Roasted balsamic strawberry syrup (puree the remaining strawberries and juice from the above cream cheese in a cuisinart)
  3. 1 oz Elderflower liquor
  4. 1 oz Gin
  5. 1 oz Champagne
Instructions
  1. Chill Gin and Elderflower liquor in shaker over ice. Then add in tea and balsamic strawberry syrup and shake. Strain into tea cup and top with Champagne floater.
Notes
  1. This can be made sans alcohol. Just use the tea, strawberry syrup, and sparkling grape juice in place of the champagne.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Mini Rosewater Whoopie Pies

Mini Rosewater Whoopie Pies - Runway Chef What’s better than one cookie? Two cookies, of course. And what’s better than two cookies? Cookies with frosting smack dab in the middle of them, obvs. So it kind of makes sense that whoopie pies would be such a popular little cookie. Although is it really a cookie? The pie name always throws me off. And the fact that it tastes like a mini cake makes me think ‘whoopie cake’ would somehow have made a better suited name (not ‘gob’ or ‘bob’, as Wikipedia would like to say). Regardless of what it’s called, I will never say no to anything with frosting in the middle. To sweeten these babies up for a Valentine’s Day treat, I made just a few simple tweaks (a dash of pink food coloring in the cookie batter, a splash of rosewater in the frosting), making these easy cookies an extra-special treat for your extra-special someone.

mini whoopee pies with rosewater cream Mini Rosewater Whoopie Pies - Runway Chef pink whoopie pies rosewater cream rosewater frosting rosewater whoopie pies mini whoopie pies vanilla whoopie pies with rosewater cream pink whoopie pies

Mini Rosewater Whoopie Pies
Yields 25
A sweet rosewater cream enveloped by two mini vanilla cakes make up these delicious pink whoopie pies
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
7 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
7 min
Total Time
1 hr
For the cookies
  1. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  3. 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
  4. 1/2 a tablespoon of vanilla
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1/3 cup milk (I use 2%)
  8. Food coloring (optional; I like the gel type, which can be seen in the 'Kitchen Necessities' below)
For the rosewater cream
  1. 2 egg whites
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/2 a teaspoon of cream of tartar
  4. 1/2 a teaspoon of rosewater
To make the cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet (or two if you have them) with either parchment paper or silpat mats.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until creamy. Continue mixing while you add in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Then add in the egg, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as you mix.
  3. Finally, add in the milk and flour alternately. Start with a little flour, then a little milk, and repeat until you have added the entire amount. If you are using food coloring, you can also add the desired amount at this time. Mix until everything is well combined. The batter at this point will be thick and fluffy.
  4. Scoop the batter by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave about 1" in between each cookie.
  5. Bake for 6-7 minutes, or until they are springy to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack.
To make the rosewater cream
  1. Place the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn't directly touch the bowl. Whisk vigorously for 3-4 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites have turned white and started to grow in size.
  2. Remove the bowl from the hot water and place on the mixer stand. With the whisk attachment on, begin beating the egg whites on low. Gradually continue to increase the speed, until it's on high. Continue whisking until the volume has doubled and the egg whites are stiff. Add the rosewater and mix well. In total, you will mix your egg whites for about 10-12 minutes.
To assemble the cookies
  1. Once the cookies have cooled, lay out your cookie halves. Place a generous teaspoon of frosting on half the cookies. Place the other half of the cookies on top. Let set for at least an hour before serving.
Notes
  1. Store in an airtight container. These taste best on the first day, but will stay fresh up to two days.
  2. I also tried these with several other fillings (a rosewater buttercream, which can be seen in some of the pictures above, and a rosewater cream cheese frosting). The rosewater marshmallow/seven minute frosting was my favorite (hence why it is the one I chose to gave you the recipe for), but feel free to change the filling based on your taste preferences.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Kitchen Necessities