girl scout cookies as a cupcake: tagalongs

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I saved the best for last in my girl scout cookie roundup – tagalongs.  Tagalongs are crispy vanilla cookies topped with peanut butter and coated in chocolate.  I was actually really excited about making these cupcakes.  I’ve always been a fan of chocolate and peanut butter together, plus I’ve been dying to perfect my peanut butter frosting.  This was just the nudge I needed to get started.  Plus, it was the perfect break from work that I needed.  Oooops.  Don’t tell my boss.

I went with a plain jane vanilla cupcake – my go-to recipe, then topped it with some peanut butter frosting (a new favorite for sure!), and coated that with a hard chocolate shell (super easy recipe below!).  I contemplated stuffing the cupcakes with peanut butter, but I thought that might be too heavy.  So I left it out.  But feel free to experiment with that, especially if you’re crazy about peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
(Makes 12 cupcakes)

For the vanilla cupcakes:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk

For the peanut butter frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the hard chocolate topping:

1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line your cupcake pan with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until uniform.

In another large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.  Add all the milk and mix.  Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients and mix.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix, ensuring everything is incorporated.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, prepare the frosting;  in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Add the vanilla extract and mix.  If too thin, add more confectioners sugar.  If too thick, add milk 1 tsp at a time.  Frost the cupcakes however you’d like and stick them in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.

In a medium-sized bowl, add the chocolate chips and coconut oil.  In a double boiler or in the microwave, melt everything until incorporated.  If microwave, be sure to microwave 30 seconds at a time, mixing well after each time.  This prevents the chocolate from burning and seizing up.  It typically takes no longer than 90 seconds for everything to fully melt.  Dip the tops of each cupcake in the chocolate, or just pour the chocolate over the tops.  It should harden very quickly and will turn from shiny to matte.

Well, that’s it!  I hope you enjoyed my girl scout cupcakes!  Here is the full list of my creations:
girl scout cookies as a cupcake: samoas
girl scout cookies as a cupcake: thin mints
girl scout cookies as a cupcake: s’mores

cupcake on,
Sharon

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girl scout cookies as a cupcake: thin mints

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Growing up, my favorite girl scout cookie flavor was always “animal treasures”.  You know, the shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate with an assortment of animals embossed on the top.  They were sweet and chocolatey and fun!  It’s now been several years since they’ve been sold (RIP, lil’ guys) and I still find myself anxiously wondering each season if they’ll magically pop back into the lineup.  Luckily, the new s’mores cookies  are becoming my new favorite.

Despite my love for animal treasures and s’mores, it’s clear that thin mints are the clear favorite worldwide.  It seems that every year, they make up the majority of the sales.  So for my second cupcake creation, I had to give thin mints a shot.  I crushed up the thin mints and created a delicious cookie crust, made a rich chocolate cupcake, filled it with mint chocolate ganache, and frosted it with mint chocolate frosting.  If you’re a mint lover – enjoy!  You’re in for a real treat.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes
(Makes 12-15 cupcakes)

For the thin mint cookie crust:

1 cup (about 15 cookies) thin mints, crushed
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the chocolate cupcakes:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

For the mint chocolate ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup (about 6 oz) milk chocolate chips
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

For the mint chocolate frosting:

2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp heavy cream
3 tbsp mint chocolate ganche (recipe follows)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line your cupcake pan with liners.

Prepare the cookie crust; add the thin mints to a ziploc bag and seal.  Using your fist or the flat side of a meat tenderizer, crush the cookies until it is a coarse mixture.  Add to the melted butter and stir until incorporated.  Press about 1 tbsp into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Bake for 3 minutes and remove from the oven.

Prepare the batter; combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.  In a couple batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.  With the mixer at a low speed, add the boiling water.  Be patient – it will take about a minute for everything to incorporate.

Next, prepare the ganache; in a small saucepan on medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a simmer.  Pour the hot cream over a medium bowl containing the chocolate.  Whisk together for 2-3 minutes, or until the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated with the cream.  Add the peppermint extract and mix.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Cool slightly and using a cupcake corer or teaspoon, remove a small amount of cake from the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with ganache to the rim, about 2 tsp worth.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, prepare the frosting; beat the sugar and butter until they are incorporated.  Small clumps are okay.  Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract and beat for 2-3 more minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.  If too thin, add more confectioners sugar.  If too thick, add milk 1 tsp at a time.  Frost the cupcakes however you’d like!

– cupcake on,
Sharon

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girl scout cookies as a cupcake: s’mores

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It’s winter time, and you know what that means!  Well here in the east coast, of course that means snow, and lots of it.  But it also means girl scout cookies are available!  It’s hard to say no to those cookies – so far I’ve grabbed them at the grocery store, the bank, and even at the drive thru at Dunkin’ Donuts (what?!) – am I the only one that thinks they’re everywhere this year?!  Oh well, I’m happy about it!

So when Shirley texted me the other day saying, “could you turn our favorite girl scout cookies into cupcakes?”, I immediately responded with, “YES!  You’re a genius!”  How fun to combine my love of baking with my love of these cookies.

I’ll start today with the NEW, but oh so delicious s’mores cookies.  These cupcakes have it all – a graham cracker crust, chocolate cupcakes, marshmallow frosting, and the s’mores cookie to top it off.

Check back all week for more cupcakes inspired by the girl scout cookies!

S’mores Cupcakes
(Makes 12-15 cupcakes)

For the graham cracker crust:

1 cup (about 3 sheets) graham crackers, crushed
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the chocolate cupcakes:

1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

For the marshmallow frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups marshmallow fluff, either store-bought or homemade
2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line your cupcake pan with liners.

Prepare the graham cracker crust; add the graham crackers to a ziploc bag and seal.  Using your fist or the flat side of a meat tenderizer, crush the crackers until it is a coarse mixture.  Add to the melted butter and stir until incorporated.  Press about 1 tbsp into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Bake for 3 minutes and remove from the oven.

Prepare the batter; combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.  In a couple batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.  With the mixer at a low speed, add the boiling water.  Be patient – it will take about a minute for everything to incorporate.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, prepare the frosting; beat the butter until creamy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the marshmallow fluff and beat for 2-3 more minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and mix.  Working 1 cup at a time, add the confectioners sugar and mix until combined and at your desired consistency.  If too thin, add more confectioners sugar.  If too thick, add milk 1 tsp at a time.  Frost the cupcakes however you’d like!

– cupcake on,
Sharon

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copycat levain bakery chocolate chip cookies

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Stop the presses.  This morning I made the most amazing chocolate chip cookies.  Huge.  Crispy.  Fluffy.  Ooey gooey.  I could barely wait for them to cool down before I demolished one three of these in one bite, with a glass of milk, while standing up.

To give you some background info, my fascination with these chocolate chip cookies started many years ago while watching an episode of “Best Thing I Ever Ate” on Food Network.  The episode was on cookies, and the Levain Bakery was featured.  I came to find out that the Levain Bakery is a bakery in NYC that specializes in their one of a kind gigantic cookies.  They have many varieties, such as double chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and double chocolate peanut butter, but the one that stole my heart from the start was their chocolate chip cookies.  I immediately told my mother about these cookies, who being the incredible mom that she is, surprised me the next day with a box of 4 Levain Bakery cookies.  And that’s when my love and obsession for these cookies began.  And because I now live 3 hours away from those amazing NYC cookies, today I set out to make a copycat version of these chocolate chip cookies.

Copycat Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes 6-8 large cookies)
Adapted from Modern Honey

1 cup butter, cold and cut into 1cm cubes
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup dark chocolate, cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 410F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar.  Beat on high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add each egg one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Beat in cake flour, flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.  Mix until combined, but be sure not to overtax.  Stir in the chocolate until just incorporated.

With your hands, make balls of dough about 2in in diameter.  Place them on a cookie sheet or silpat mat, keeping at least 2in between each ball.  You will need to use two cookie sheets, or just bake 4 cookies at a time.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops of each cookie is golden brown. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for a least 5 minutes, and then another 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack.

cookie on,
Sharon

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Almond Butter Cookies

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It’s no secret that I love sweets and desserts.  If I had my choice, it’d be a hot fudge brownie sundae, with extra brownies and chocolate ice cream any every day.  But, sometimes, I can appreciate sweets that are much more subtle – I was shocked at how satisfied these left me.  They are much simpler, the perfect pairing to a meal or with a cup of tea.

I made these for the first time this past holiday season for a few different gatherings and everyone was immediately a fan.  At our housewarming party, I sent a friend of mine home with a bag full, since he liked them so much, and hey, he was going to finish them all anyways!  He savored them for the next few days and was upset when they were gone.

I shape them into small crescents, but any way will do.  I’ve made them with brown sugar and really like the way it compliments the nuttyness of the cookies.

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Almond Butter Cookies
(makes about 15 cookies)

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat together the butter, sugar, and extracts.  Once combined, add the flours.  Stir together until a flaky dough is created.  Knead the mixture together with your hands until a dough is formed.  Break the dough into small pieces, approximately 2 tbs in size and shape into small crescents.  Place cookies on a buttered cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until lightly browned.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

-sweet on,
Shirley

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biscoff chocolate chunk cookie cups

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I’ve heard about biscoff spread for a long time now.  I’d always loved biscoff cookies (you know, those gingersnap-type cookies that they serve on Delta flights), but I never saw the need to purchase the spread.  Then, last week, I got a coupon for a jar of biscoff spread. I guess after drooling over so many biscoff recipes on the internet, it was just the kick in the butt that I needed to get a jar and try something out.

As soon as I got home, I couldn’t wait to open the jar and give it a taste.  Wow.  Pure deliciousness.  It’s like they took those delicious cookies, pureed them up, and somehow made it into a peanut-buttery-like creamy texture.  If I didn’t know I had to use the spread for this recipe, I may have just eaten the whole jar with a spoon.

Whether it’s for this recipe, another recipe you’ve seen on other blogs, or just to try it out with a spoon and your mouth [no judgement], I highly suggest you pick up a jar of your own to try.  Because I’m not sharing.

Biscoff Chocolate Chunk Cookie Cups
(Makes about 12 cupcake cookie cups)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy biscoff spread
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup bittersweet baking chocolate, broken into small chunks
vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a cupcake pan with liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, vanilla extract, and biscoff spread.

In another bowl,  mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a few batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Fill each cupcake liner about 1/2 – 3/4 full with the batter.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookie cups are cooked on the edges but a little soft still on the inside.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

– bake on,
Sharon

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toll-house chocolate chip cookies

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I have a confession to make.

I love using ready-to-bake cookie dough from the store.

Yes, the person who bakes every week and loves making anything from scratch, just admitted to cutting corners.  But hear me out.  I think making cookies from scratch is the way to go.  They always come out tasting better.  And, you always know what ingredients are going in.  There are also no rules – are you feeling coconut flakes today?  How about macadamia nuts?  Well then go ahead and add it to the mix.

But, sometimes, I just get a craving.  A craving for some ooey-gooey barely baked thin as can be chocolate chip cookies.  The type that you pick up off the baking sheet and it falls apart on you.  Knowing that these ready-to-bake products (err.. Pills.. err.. bury..) were not the best for you, I was on a mission to find something just as delicious to curb my appetite.

A few hours later, I had in front of me, the most delicious chocolate chip cookies ever.  Homemade, yet had the consistency and flavor that I was searching for.  Yes, please, I’ll have six more.

Toll-House Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes about 30 small cookies)
Adapted from Nestle Toll House

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl or in your mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy.  Add the egg, beating well.  Gradually, in 2-3 additions, beat in the flour mixture.  Lastly, using a spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoon-sized batches onto a baking sheet, being sure to leave 1-2 inches between each cookie.  Depending on the size of your baking sheet, it make take more than 1 batch.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the center appears to be slightly undercooked (the cookies will continue to cook when out of the oven).  Serve warm.

– bake on,
Sharon

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