Monday, December 24, 2012

Gingery Cinnamon Rolls

It's mah birthdayyyy! I made these cinnamon rolls yesterday because I think we both know I wasn't getting up early enough to make them today. I think we both know I ate one yesterday too.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hot Chocolate Pudding Cake

For the past week, I've been trying to find words where there are none. I can't help but feel a crushing heartbreak for families, children, and a community I'd never heard of before last Friday. The holidays are a season of reflection and gratitude, and I am so very grateful for the life I am able to live.

I'm thankful I could take this picture. That Santa belly is all him by the way. It's probably from the bits of cookies and whatnot I sneak him. 

This pudding cake started out as a pan of cookie bars. We're making lemonade out of lemons here. Or cake out of cookies. Same thing. You'll need: flour, baking soda, salt, espresso powder, marshmallows, brown sugar, cocoa powder, butter, vanilla extract, sugar, and eggs.

Dry ingredients (flour, soda, salt, espresso) make it into a medium bowl.

Butter and sugars start out in a large bowl. Cream them until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated.

Now, you could sift the cocoa powder into the bowl. Or you could sprinkle a little in, mix, sprinkle a little more get the picture.

Serious chocolate action. It's time for the vanilla.

Add half the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Then add the rest and mix until barely incorporated.

Stir in the marshmallows. They're what make this hot chocolate-y.

You don't have to line the baking pan with parchment paper. I did that when I thought these would turn out more like bars. Just grease the pan like you would normally and spread the batter evenly.

Mostly the marshmallows will melt into the batter, making it super-gooey. But you'll see little bits that get toasted, kind of like it's been over a campfire. The edges get crispy and brownie-like, while the middle is fudgier. Much more my speed. Y'know ice cream probably wouldn't be a bad idea here.


I watched White Christmas two nights ago. One particular song struck a chord with me. When I'm worried and I can't sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. It's a sentiment that means more now than ever.

Hot Chocolate Pudding Cake (makes one 9x9 cake)

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tbs instant espresso powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c unsalted butter, softened
1 c granulated sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 heaping cups miniature marshmallows

  • Preheat oven to 375º. Grease a 9x9 pan with nonstick spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, espresso, salt, and baking soda. 
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract. Slowly sprinkle in cocoa powder and mix until smooth. 
  • Add half the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add the remaining half and stir until just incorporated. Stir in miniature marshmallows.
  • Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until edges are crispy and middle has set but is still gooey. Let cool in the pan.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cinnamon-Orange Shortbread Cookies

I think there's nothing my family loves more than a shortbread cookie. We've always had pecan sandies laying around like other families might keep Lay's potato chips or Oreos. But you know me, why buy what you can make?

These shortbread cookies are gussied up with cinnamon sugar and orange zest. Which happens to go perfectly with Russian tea. Please tell me you know what Russian tea is. It's really not tea or Russian, but it's so perfectly my childhood.

A few simple ingredients make these cookies. Powdered sugar, flour, cinnamon sugar, butter, more cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and orange zest.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, spices, and orange zest in a medium bowl.

A little whisking does the trick.

Now what you should probably do here is cream the butter first and gradually add the sugar. Or you can be like me and forget what the instructions actually say and do it all at once.

Life goes on and it all gets creamy.

Gradually add in your flour mixture.

Stop mixing just when a dough forms.

Divide the dough into two 1/4" disks on a sheet of wax paper. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and chill 30 minutes to an hour. Or y'know 10 minutes in the freezer because I can't read instructions and I'm occasionally impatient.

Make your life easy and roll out the dough between the two sheets of wax paper.

Your life will not be as easy if you use this snowflake cookie cutter. A tree is wayyy easier to use. Less tight spaces.

Lay the cut-out cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle the cookies with cinnamon sugar before baking.

You end up with seasonally-appropriate, fragrant cookies.

It's like my childhood Christmas met my adult Christmas and they're way cool with each other.

Cinnamon-Orange Shortbread Cookies (makes about 1 1/2 dozen cookies, depending on size)
Adapted slightly from Southern Living

1 c + 2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tbs orange zest
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/4 c + 2 tbs powdered sugar
Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling (1/2 tbs sugar + 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to distribute evenly.
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter and powdered sugar. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix just until a dough forms. 
  • Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper. Divide in half and form two 1/4-inch disks. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and chill 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Preheat your oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out disks between the two sheets of wax paper. Cut out shapes with 3-inch cookie cutters or simply cut into rounds. Set each cookie about 1.5 inches apart on the baking sheet. 
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake 11-13 minutes or until just golden brown around the edges. Cool fully on a wire rack.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sweet & Salty Fudge

Let's talk about how I've been trying to show you this fudge for like...5 days. Or something. The important part is that I get it to you, right? Because this is good stuff. It's the sort of Christmas decadence worth wearing stretchy pants for. 

It's the kind of thing babies like to get on their fingers and wipe on everything they see.

It's the kind of thing flaky sea salt was made for.

Five ingredients. No candy thermometer. No hassle. You'll need: miniature marshmallows, bittersweet chocolate, unsalted butter, sweetened condensed milk, and flaky sea salt.

Butter, marshmallows, and the condensed milk meet in a medium saucepan. Condensed milk is just luscious. Much more than its name would suggest.

Here we're getting melty and starting to smooth out. Keep stirring until it's completely smooth.
Time for the good stuff. Add your roughly chopped chocolate to the gooey marshmallow mixture. Bittersweet chocolate is really best here because the marshmallows and condensed milk have plenty of sugar.

You can take it off the stove now. The residual heat should be enough to melt the chocolate completely.

Pour that velvety mixture into a pan lined with parchment paper.

Smooth it out with your spatula.

And sprinkle with sea salt. It's kind of the prettiest ever.  Let it chill in the fridge for about an hour.

A note: If you let it sit longer than a day, the salt will kind of melt onto the surface of the fudge. So it won't have that pretty crystal look, but it'll still taste dynamite.

I really shouldn't have put two pieces of fudge on the plate. I feel like that's being deceitful. Because you really can only eat one piece at a time. 

But you can't fault somebody for trying. The depth of really good bittersweet chocolate with a healthy dose of sweet and salt just can't be beat.

Sweet & Salty Fudge (makes about 1 pound of fudge)

3 c miniature marshmallows
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
4 tbs unsalted butter
12 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
  • Line a 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium saucepan, combine marshmallows, condensed milk, and butter over medium heat. As marshmallows melt, stir mixture and continue until completely smooth.
  • Stir in chocolate and remove from heat. Continue stirring until chocolate has completely melted into the marshmallow mixture.
  • Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle sea salt over the fudge. Refrigerate at least an hour before cutting. Store leftovers in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Instagrammin': Fall Edition

It's been a while since I've done an Instagram post. This encompasses pretty much all of fall. As we move into the holiday season, I'll be sharing more about Christmas, Santa, and Grady (duh). You can follow me at sweetsaltysc. 

Wanna know what this is? This is my celebratory champagne and pizza from Noah's Antica Pizzeria. It happened because I am now gainfully employed with

Have you ever seen a cuter pumpkin? I know this was like, two months ago, but I'm still not over it.

I think this was at the Georgia game. Oh, that was a glorious day.

Chad Michaels. As Cher. Flawless.

This was my first seasonal latte. Let's be real, I only drink these once every couple of weeks and in the cooler months at that. I look forward to it every year, just like Christmas music and pumpkin bread.

I like to put Grady in this onesie when Emily has to take a business trip. Plus he totally has Oompa Loompa hair here.

Have you ever seen a baby wearing only a diaper and socks? You may faint from the cuteness.

This is one of my favorite tricks! If you yell touchdown, Grady will do touchdown with you.

Have you ever been so tired that you had to lie down while drinking your bottle?

Y'all, doesn't that sound like just the thing? I've already had a request for it, and I fully intend on making good on that.

I know I showed you this picture already, but I'm still so proud of it! It's time to start training for more races...or y'know, so I can eat more holiday cookies.

On me, they're fuzzy socks. On Grady, they're baby Uggs.

I know this feeling. You settle down for a short nap and BAM! Crazy hair.

Sundays are meant to be had with hot chocolate. Even if you're watching zombies. But especially if you're watching Housewives.

The beginnings of pumpkin cheesecake. We ended up with two this year because my cousin and I think alike.

Y'all, the Pioneer Woman's Pecan Pie is on point. I made a few personal adjustments, but the integrity of the pie is intact.

Yes, my grandmother makes radish flowers. They. Are. Awesome.

Did I mention my cousin does event planning? She's pretty awesome.

And finally, our Thanksgiving spread. Both turkeys, ham, dressing, mac & cheese, squash, butterbeans, and just about everything else you can think of. Delicious and worth waiting a whole year to eat.