Posted on Leave a comment

5 Layer Cookie Bar BakeAlong

Come do a baking experiment with me! In this video, we try making a five layer cookie bar we saw on Instagram from Fitwaffle Kitchen! This one is great for people who are a little nervous about baking as you can use pre-made ingredients and practice layering.

Ready to give it a try? Great! You’ll need a batch of cookie dough (made from scratch or bought premade) – can be sugar cookie, chocolate chip, or other , a jar of Nutella, a jar of Biscoff cookie butter, a baking pan, non-stick spray or parchment paper, and something to spread with (butter knife, spoon, rubber spatula, offset spatula). That’s it! At Casual Confections, there are very few fails, lots of accidental successes, and plenty of tasty tasty mistakes. Let’s do this!

5 Layer Cookie Bar – Fitwaffle Kitchen
1 batch of cookie dough
1 jar of Nutella
1 jar of Biscoff cookie butter

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Spray 8×8 baking pan with non-stick spray or cover with parchment paper. Press down enough cookie dough to cover the bottom of the pan. Spread a layer of Nutella over the top of the cookie layer. Press a second layer of cookie dough on top of the Nutella. Spread a layer of Biscoff cookie butter over the cookie dough. Then add the rest of the dough on top of the cookie butter. If it does not cover edge to edge, it is ok.

Bake for 30-40 mins on a middle rack. If your top layer is browning too fast, place a piece of foil loosely over the top. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. Cooling may take a while as the bars are thick. Leave out to cool at room temperature or place in the fridge. Once cooled, run a knife or spatula around the edges to loosen it up. Flip bars onto a cutting board. Slice and serve.

Posted on Leave a comment

Cutting a Recipe in Half

The latest video on the Casual Confections YouTube channel walks you through cutting a recipe in half. We work through a box of cake mix and a cookie recipe.

Amazon Affiliate Links:
Duncan Hines Devils Food Cake: https://amzn.to/3kv9dPV
Duncan Hines White Cake: https://amzn.to/3bI8sip
Nestle chocolate chips: https://amzn.to/2ZZvegd

Posted on Leave a comment

Collab: Let’s Learn About Science

LetsLearnAboutScience is an Instagram page focused on young kids and science education. It includes lots of science activities you can do at home! Let’s Learn About Science is currently doing a series on learning about jobs. This week is baking/cooking week and Casual Confections was more than happy to lend a hand!

Charlie designed his own version of the cookie experiment! Head on over to Instagram to see his work and results and then head to our YouTube channel to learn how you can run your own edible experiment!

Looking for other activities to do with kids? Check out our Casual Confections Kids (CCK) posts: Chocolate Chip Cookie Halloween Cake and Cakesicles!

Posted on Leave a comment

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Chocolate, hazelnut, more chocolate…sounds like a yummy treat! Earlier this year, I tried this double chocolate hazelnut cookies with sea salt recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod. I enjoyed it so much that a version of these were included in February’s cookie care packages and were sold at Muggles Market Too.

Feb2020_CookieCarePackages
February 2020’s cookie care package theme was chocolate and included brownie sugar cookies, chocolate hazelnut, and chocolate chip raspberry.

These cookies are easy to make and come together in no time. Give the recipe a go and treat yourself to a special treat.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Double Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies with Sea Salt from Two Peas & Their Pod

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt (optional. I always make recipes without salt)
3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa*
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
sea salt for sprinkling on cookies
(*Dutch cocoa replacement: use the same amount of regular baking cocoa, like Hershey’s, as the recipe calls for (3/4 cup) and add and extra 1/2 tsp for baking soda. So, for this recipe, instead of 1 tsp baking soda and 3/4 cups Dutch cocoa, use 1 1/2 tsp baking soda and 3/4 cups baking cocoa.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time. Next, add in vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and hazelnuts. Scoop the dough into rounded tablespoons (or use a scoop) and place on the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each cookie with sea salt.

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are set, but are still soft in the center. Don’t over-bake. Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 3 minutes. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Butterbeer Cookies

One of the flavors in November 2019’s geek-themed cookie care packages was a butterbeer cookie! If you love a good butterbeer flavored treat, try these cookies and then try the infamous butterbeer fudge!

The first time I made a version of these cookies was using a recipe from Sugar & Soul. It utilizes pudding mixes, extracts, and chips for a blend of flavors resulting in a tasty cookie. Check out the original post for tips and notes on variations for the recipe.

 

ButterbeerCookies_post02
Butterbeer cookies, one of the three flavors in November 2019’s geek-themed cookie care packages

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Butterbeer Cookies via Sugar & Soul

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix, dry
1/4 cup instant butterscotch pudding mix, dry
2 large eggs
1 additional egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp butter extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup Heath toffee bits, straight toffee, not the chocolate toffee mix

In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed.

Add the pudding, eggs, additional yolk, vanilla, and butter extract. Beat for about one minute on medium speed.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients 1/2 cup at a time and mix until combined.

Mix in the toffee chips.

Form the dough into a giant ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least two hours. Remove the dough a little while before baking so the dough can soften a bit and be easier to work with.

Scoop the dough using a medium cooking scoop and roll the dough between your hands to form round balls of dough and place onto a nonstick baking sheet about two inches apart.

Bake at 350°F for 10-13 minutes.

Cool on the pan for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Posted on Leave a comment

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Turtles are a delicious treat of chocolate, caramel, and pecans. I can never eat just one! When the opportunity to try a turtle cookie recipe presented itself, I had to jump on it!

This recipe by Live Well Bake Often makes a very chocolaty cookie stuffed with caramel. That’s right – a caramel center! These babies are best fresh from the oven or reheated in the microwave for 15 seconds to remelt the caramel. Yum!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chocolate Turtle Cookies by Live Well Bake Often

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (I always omit salt as a personal preference)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
9-10 soft caramel candies, unwrapped and cut in half (or could use whole depending on the size of the cookies you’re making)
3/4 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar for 1-2 minutes; mix in the egg and vanilla extract until fully combined. Slowly ad the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Cover the cookie dough tightly and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat and set aside.

Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator. Using a cookie scoop or spoon, measure out two Tbsp-sized pieces of cookie dough onto a prepared baking sheet. Flatten each piece of cookie dough, place half of a soft caramel candy in the center, then wrap the dough back around the caramel, and roll the dough into a ball. Roll the top and sides of each ball of cookie dough into the chopped pecans.

(My notes on this segment: Used a 1 1/2 Tbsp scoop for my cookies and used only one half of a caramel in each one. While this was tasty, I will add a whole caramel next time to get a better filled center. The amount of a caramel to add will vary depending on the size of the caramels you have. Rolling the dough in the pecans did not go as easily as I expected to. I ended up pressing the pecans into the top and sides as much as I could and many still fell off. I still ended up with enough pecans on the cookies but not nearly the coverage I was expecting based on the photos.)

Place each piece of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave a little room between each one. Bake in two separate batches at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (You’ll be tempted to try one fresh from the oven, but remember, the caramel is hot! Let the cookies become warm before trying them.)

Cookies may be stored on the counter in an air-tight container for up to five days. Cookies may also be frozen for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature before serving. (and remember, microwave for 15 seconds to get that gooey center back).

Posted on Leave a comment

WBTV Morning Show – Muggles Market Too

Muggles-Market-Too-Banner2020

A plate of butterbeer fudge made it on to a local morning show today! Check out leader of the Charlotte Geeks, Joey Starnes, as she shows off goods from many of the vendors you can visit and purchase from at Muggles Market Too, next Saturday and Sunday, March 7th and 8th, at the University Hilton in Charlotte, NC. Click to watch the WBTV Muggles Market Too spot.

TVStill_ButterbeerFudge
Butterbeer fudge on display with many other vendor goods for Muggles Market Too during a tv segment on WBTV

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Muggles Market Too and the Saga Conference

Greetings! Only one week to go until the Saga Conference and Muggles Market Too in Charlotte, NC!

Be sure to swing by, say hi, and grab some tasty treats.

MugglesMarketToo2020
Muggles Market Too tables! Come see me at I16!

 

MENU
These are some of the goodies that will be available for purchase while supplies last. If you’d like to preorder, send an email to CasualConfections@gmail.com. You can pay via invoice or pay day-of in cash. Your order will be ready for you to pick up at the table.

  • Assorted Cookies
    • Brownie sugar cookies
    • Chocolate hazelnut
    • Chocolate chip raspberry
    • Apple cider sugar cookies
    • Chai sugar cookies
    • Maple sugar cookies
  • Dean’s I Want Pie bars
    • Strawberry
    • Red raspberry
    • Pineapple
  • Butterbeer fudge

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Macarons

Macarons are a tasty sandwich cookie that can be customized in many ways. It’s also a very finicky treat to make. There are many ways these cookies can go wrong, but that’s no reason to avoid trying to bake them. Whether you over mix, under mix, end up with hollows, or little nipples on top of your cookies, your oven may be too hot or cold, the non-slip mats may be better for your oven than parchment paper…you’ll still end up with a tasty cookie and a fancy new recipe under your belt!

Rested and baked macarons
Macaron shells after resting and baking. The tops are not flat but the feet are looking good!

There are several different methods to try, too, so if you don’t succeed at first, check out another method that might be easier for you. For my first and second go, I used King Arthur Flour’s recipe. This recipe gives you a nice plain macaron shell to work with. The base recipe is easy to add color and other details to (I added some cinnamon on top of some of mine the second go-round). This ended up being a great first recipe for me, though I do recommend checking out a video or two on YouTube to see someone go through the process. The first time I pipped macarons, I did a swirl instead of a flat pipe and ended up with plenty of air pockets resulting in a hollow cookie (still yummy).

Macaron inside
Inside a macaron. The top shell has an air pocket toward the top. The bottom shell is full. Both are very tasty!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Plain Macaron Shells (via King Arthur Flour)

1 1/2 cups almond flour (sprinkle lightly into a dry measuring cup and level with a straight edge)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
3 large egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 Tbsp + 1 tsp water

Process the almond flour and confectioner’s sugar in a food processor for about 20 seconds (I skip this step). Sift to remove any large pieces and to aerate the mixture (don’t skip this step).

Separate the eggs and put the whites in the bowl you will use to whip them (use whisk attachment). Don’t start whipping yet, but add a pinch of cream of tartar.

Combine the water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until dissolved, then bring to a rapid boil. Boil for about 2 minutes. The temperature should reach 235°F-240°F (I go by temp, not time for this step). Take the syrup off the heat. Immediately start whipping the egg whites using an electric mixer. When they hold a curved peak on the end of the beater, stop, grab the pan of the hot syrup, resume beating, and pour the syrup steadily into the whites as you beat them.

Continue beating until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and forms soft peaks. Remove from mixer.

Fold in the almond flour mixture until everything is evenly combined. Then, start stirring. This will thin the mixture. Stir until the batter runs in ribbons that disappear back into the mass in 10-20 seconds (the batter should be sort of thick, not too runny). Test frequently and stop when you reach this point.

Pipe onto parchment-lined baking sheets. The cookie should flatten out. If it doesn’t spread, stir the batter some more. Cookies can be positioned close together since they don’t spread while baking.

Allow the cookies to rest on the sheets in a dry place with good air circulation (counter top is fine) until you can touch the top and come away with a clean finger (roughly 2 hours).

Toward the end of the baking time, preheat oven to 275°F. Bake 25-30 mins, until firm on top. Remove and let cool completely on the sheet. Use a thin spatula to remove them from the parchment (I’ve been able to lift them easily with my hand). Spread half of the cookies with filling. Top with the remaining cookie.

Macaron chocolate peppermint
Macarons (second attempt) with chocolate peppermint buttercream

 

Chocolate Peppermint Buttercream Filling

This I made up as I went along. I took about a stick of butter and beat it until soft. I added some unsweetened cocoa and mixed until combined. Then, added a splash of milk and mixed again. Then I went back and forth with adding powdered sugar, milk, and cocoa until I got a flavor and consistency I liked for the macarons (not too stiff, not too soft). Add a tiny splash of peppermint extract, mix again, and then you’re ready to go.

Posted on Leave a comment

Brownie Roll-out Cookies

I was on the hunt for a tasty chocolate sugar cookie that didn’t spread when baked, didn’t need to be chilled for 2 hours, and could be handled well as a cutout. After looking over several recipes, one from Smitten Kitchen was recommended. After reading the blog post description of the cookies, how to work with the dough, and comments from others who have experimented with it, I decided to give it a go. This recipe is amazing! Some people have used it for hamantaschen and ice cream sandwiches. The chocolate flavor is so rich that it would make for a great s’more cookie or any sandwich cookie (raspberry filling anyone?)! I’m using this recipe to make Cookie Cat sandwich cookies which will include strawberry and vanilla marshmallow creme in the middle. Yum! The Cookie Cat cookies will be available for purchase at the Muggles Market in Charlotte, North Carolina, on November 2nd! I’ll have a post up about how to make the cookies later that month.

MugglesMarket2019
Muggles Market 2019

The dough is soft, which is why there is a recommended time for chilling it, but it is totally workable whether at room temp or having been chilled.  So use it right away or make the dough and store it away to bake later.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Brownie Roll-out Cookies via Smitten Kitchen

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup lightly salted butter, softened (use 1 stick salted, 1 stick unsalted to achieve lightly salted) *as usual, I used unsalted butter since I bake without salt by choice
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Whisk dry flour and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cocoa in a mixer (can do it all at once, just start the mixer on low speed until the wet and dry ingredients are mixed a bit so they don’t fly out. Then raise the speed to medium). Gradually add flour mixture and mix until smooth. Cover the bowl in plastic and chill for at least an hour (some bakers do 15 mins while they clean everything else up, I’ve done as few as 10 mins and as much as an hour).

Brownie rollout cookies
Cutting shapes using brownie roll-out cookies

Roll out chilled dough on floured counter (use flour or cocoa powder). Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra flour off (can do with a dry or slightly wet finger). Bake on a parchment-lined sheet for 8-11 mins (former for 1/8″ cookies, latter for 1/4″ cookies) until edges are firm and centers are slightly soft and puffed. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Available Now: Carrot cake cookies!

Package of carrot cake sandwich cookies

Carrot cake cookies are everything you love about the dessert, down to the cream cheese filling, but in a snack portion!

Two boxes (update: Only one left!) of six carrot cake cookies are available for purchase today! $15/box + tax.

Local pick up only (Charlotte/Matthews, NC).

Posted on Leave a comment

Casual Confections Q&A

Lauren Widrick of Lauren Widrick Coaching and I did a Q&A about Casual Confections. We discussed where I started, how I made the baking blog into a business in the past 5-6 months, and what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. There’s also a nice plug for the Charlotte Geeks Muggles Market and Geek Gala!