Mini Pecan Pie Muffins

in the form of mini Pecan Pie Muffins! I must say that these are by far some of the tastiest muffins I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. Everyone at church raves about them when I bring them to potluck breakfasts.

Why mini? Well, they are just so darn cute and these little babies pack loads of flavor and often one mini is enough to satisfy me. Their size makes them easy to transport (I have used empty egg cartons) perfect for breakfast/brunch potlucks when people want to taste a little of everything. Most people go back for “just one more” of these muffins as they can’t seem to get enough!
These are by NO means a healthy breakfast muffin (is there such a thing anyway??) but because they are made into mini muffins, you can easily enjoy one with a bowl of fruit and a glass of skim milk to balance out the sugar/butter in these little babies.
I got the recipe from allrecipes but changed it up a bit. My changes are in red. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pecan-Pie-Muffins/Detail.aspx
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I rate this recipe an 8.5
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Mini Pecan Pie Muffins
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans (I used 1/2 cup ground, 1/2 cup chopped)
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 TBS ground cinnamon
1/4 cup ground pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour 18 mini muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners. (I greased and floured, do this or they will stick!)
In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour and pecans. In a separate bowl beat the butter and eggs together until smooth, stir into the dry ingredients just until combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Cups should be about 2/3 full.
In a small bowl wisk together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 TBS cinnamon and 1/4 cup ground pecans. Gently sprinkle over top of muffin batter. Make sure not to get a lot on the pan or it will burn and stick making clean-up hard.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks when done. I let cool in pan for 2 minutes and then transfered to rack to finish cooling. Take care when removing from pan as they are delicate and will fall apart easily. I used a toothpick to pry them loose from the sides of the pan when needed.

Ginger Cookies

Oh, yes, the adjectives often used to describe me also describe one of my favorite holiday cookies.

Ginger Cookies are a must have in my house around the holiday. NOT the thin little snap type (while I do like those with pumpkin dip) I need a cookie to sink my teeth into and these cookies fit the bill.

I love how the ginger/cloves/cinnamon balance out the delicate sugar “crust” on these cookies. These cookies are so easy to whip up and make your house smell wonderful while they are baking. I will admit, I have not tried any other ginger cookies but don’t feel the need to. The texture of these cookies is dense yet chewy and because they are rolled in sugar, the outside has nice crispness to them. These are not thin like a snap, but rather a nice hearty cookie that packs a mouthful of flavor. These are made with shortening, I am not sure they would retain their great texture if you used butter, but it is worth a shot if you insist on avoiding shortening.
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I rate these cookies an 8.5
Ginger Cookies
from Better Homes and Gardens
4 1/2 cups flour
4 tsps ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups shortening (I used butter flavor transfat free Crisco)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup Molasses (NOT Blackstrap)
3/4 cup sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 350.
In large mixing bowl wisk flour, baking soda, ginger, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
In mixing bowl beat shortening for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in eggs and molasses until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add as much of the flour mixture as your mixer can handle and fold in the rest by hand.
Shape dough into 2 inch balls and roll into 3/4 cup sugar just to coat. Place on baking sheet at least 2 inches apart. Press down slightly on dough balls so they evenly bake and spread out.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are LIGHLTY brown and tops are puffed. Do NOT overbake. Cook on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and finish cooling on wire rack.
**I made mine smaller using my medium size scooper from Pampered Chef and baked for about 7-8 minutes.

Cheesecake Swirled Ghiradelli Award Winning Brownies

of chocolate and cheesecake!

These brownies are awesome! So rich and chocolatey paired with the creaminess of cheesecake swirled throughout! So simple yet so impressive and decadant. You really should use a good quality cocoa powder to fully appreciate these brownies. I used the recipe for the brownie from the Ghriadelli Sweet Cocoa Can.

I rate these brownies an 8.5

Ghirardelli Award Winning Brownies
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa
2/3 cup unsifted flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnuts (I did not use)
1 cup Chocolate Chips (I used 1/2 semi sweet and 1/2 milk chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350.
Line 8×8 pan with foil and spray with PAM.
In bowl, stir together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add butter.
Sift Cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into egg mixture.
Stir in chips (and nuts if using).

**Spread into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few crumbs.

Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

**If making cheesecake swirled brownies, use recipe above but only spread 2/3 batter into pan. Dollup cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan.
Dollup the remainin 1/3 batter on top of cheesecake mixture.
Run a knife through the brownie and cheesecake layers to create a pattern or swirls.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out with a few crumbs when inserted. Do NOT overbake

Cheesecake Swirl
7 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 TBS flour
1 tsp pure Vanilla
1 egg

In bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla beat until smooth. Add egg and beat just until combined.

Sinless Chocolate Chew Cookies

So, I am never one to shy away from full fat/full calorie baked goods. I mean, come on, all that butter and sugar is what MAKES many desserts taste so darn good! Well, these little devils have sugar but are butterless and let me tell you, they deserve a place at the top of the dessert chain right along my Death by Chocolate Brownies (pic and recipe yet to be blogged about) and my Basic Blondies! I first saw this recipe a while back on a website for Weight Watcher users (I am not on WW but like to lurk around different boards). This recipe reappeared on TheNest’s cooking board and I knew I had to make them. These cookies are so chocolatey, so rich and so sweet that you will swear you have died and gone to heaven. The best part is, these have all the flavor and texture as butter hoarding baked rivals but are much lower in fat, making them a fairly “sinless” dessert when looking at the alternative baked goods. I wouldn’t call these a health food but I would call these little devils DELISH! Especially with a scoop of FroYo sandwiched between two of them.

I rate this recipe an 8.5
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Sinless Chocolate Chews
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup cocoa powder, (I used Ghiradeli unsweetened)
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and cocoa. Set aside.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the egg whites and vanilla with a fork.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg whites, and mix either by hand with a spatula or at low speed with a mixer for 2 minutes.
The batter will seem dry at first, but will become shiny and smooth as it mixes.
Cover the bowl, and refrigerate the batter for 3 hours, or up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchement paper (or these babies will stick!) Drop the dough by balls onto the prepared baking sheets using a medium icecream scoop (like from pampered chef)
Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes or until set around the edges.
Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.