Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats

I am way behind the times on the cake batter trend, but I am actually okay with that. I figure that as long as I can still hop on the train that I haven’t completely missed it 🙂

I hold a special place in my heart for rice krispie treats. As simple as they are, I have always loved them. Ask my mom. Apparently I tried to “run-away” once when I was younger but decided to come home because we were having rice krispie treats for dessert. True story. They also single-handedly helped me get through college. My roommates and I would make them in a big bowl in the microwave and dig-in with a fork. No pan or set-time included. We made them quite a bit. Movie tonight? Let’s make rice crispies. Finals week? Add some m&m’s. You get the idea. 

As you may imagine, when I saw the idea for cake batter rice krispie treats on Jessica’s blog, I knew I had to make these. Were they good? No explanation needed, and they may have spurred a interest in other cake batter-flavored treats. Cake batter ice cream anyone? Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats
From How Sweet It Is

3 Tbsp. butter
1 (10 oz) bag marshmallows
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup yellow cake mix
6 cups rice krispies cereal
assorted sprinkles

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add marshmallows. Stir until the begin to melt and mix in vanilla. Add in cake mix one spoonful at a time and stir until combined. Stir in cereal so it is completely coated with marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle in half of the sprinkles and mix. Press into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray (I like an 8×8 or 9×9 to make them thicker) and top with remaining sprinkles. Let sit for about 30 minutes before cutting.


Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream

I mentioned this ice cream in my last post about the pralines but didn’t share the recipe. With the temperatures being reported as north of 100 degrees this weekend, I thought it may be time to share 🙂 

The recipe can be found in The Sweet Melissa Baking book. Ice cream is a treat that never hangs around long at our house in any form, but this one disappears especially fast. It is hands down the best vanilla ice cream I have ever had, bought, or made, and it will be the only vanilla ice cream recipe that I use from now on. Those are some big claims. Naming anything the “best” is always a little bit dangerous, but if you like ice cream, I promise you’ll enjoy this one! My husband, the ice cream connoisseur, says that this may be his favorite ice cream ever. That’s saying quite a bit!

The line up of ingredients in this recipe is a little different from most ice creams in that it includes skim milk and dry skim milk powder. Melissa claims that the dry milk absorbs any extra water in the milk and heavy cream thus keeping the ice cream extra creamy. While the milk powder is an ingredient that many people may not keep in their pantry, I promise you’ll use it. Make these cookies. And THIS ice cream. Serve them together (ooh, now that’s an idea). I’ve made this both with the vanilla bean and with doubling the vanilla extract when I didn’t have a vanilla bean, and it’s great both ways. 

You get the picture. Make some ice cream and enjoy it!

(Printable Recipe)

Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream
From The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup dry skim milk powder
5 large egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, reserving the seeds and pod
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Fill a large pot with about 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Set a large bowl over the top, and check that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water (This is a double broiler set up. If you have a double broiler pan, you could use that too). Remove the bowl and use it to combine the ingredients for the ice cream.

In the large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, brown sugar, salt, skim milk powder, egg yolks, vanilla bean seeds and pod, and vanilla until completely combined. Place the bowl on top of the simmering pot. Be sure the water is simmering and not boiling. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened until nappante (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon), or until the mixture reaches approximately 180-185 degrees F on a candy thermometer. 

Cool the custard in an ice bath (larger bowl filled with ice). Strain the mixture into a resealable container. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. 

After chilling, pour into an ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. The ice cream will emerge soft-serve consistency. Eat immediately if you prefer or transfer to a resealable container and freeze for at least 4 hours for harder consistency ice cream. 

I am linking this to Sweet Tooth Fridays, Sweets for Saturdays, and Eat at Home Frozen Treats.

Strawberry Sorbet

Have you ever wondered what type of a reaction you would get by calling your husband asking if he would stop to pick up a bottle of vodka on his way home from work? Not that I would know, but he may respond by asking if everything is okay. No, it wasn’t the fact that I had a really bad day. I was wanting to make this sorbet with my new batch of strawberries but couldn’t run to the store myself because I was already elbow deep preparing dinner.

The chemist in me finds the purpose of adding alcohols such as vodka to different recipes interesting. See, alcohol has both a lower boiling and freezing point than water. When you use it for this pie crust, it evaporates earlier than water would in the oven leaving you with more dry ingredients which creates a flaky crust. It has the opposite effect in cold recipes. Since it freezes at a lower temperature than water, it keeps this sorbet from getting too hard in your freezer. See, chemistry can be fun and delicious =) Vodka or no vodka, this sorbet is delicious! While the vodka serves the purpose of helping keep the sorbet soft, it is an optional ingredient if it is a concerning ingredient for you. Unlike my pie crust above, it will not “cook out” of the recipe since the sorbet mixture is never heated. If you leave it out, you will just want to plan ahead and set the sorbet container out at room temperature for a few minutes before serving. 

Enough about the texture. How did it taste? Absolutely delicious! We made quite a few recipes with those strawberries, and this sorbet is one of my favorites. It was the perfect way to showcase the flavor of the fresh berries and has me searching for other recipes using different fruits. One thing I noticed in searching for a recipe was the large variation in sugar content.  I found recipes varying from 1/4 to 1 cup of sugar for 1 pound of strawberries. I ended up using about 1/3 per pound of berries for our sorbet, and it was plenty sweet for the batch of berries that I had. My other change – lime juice instead of lemon juice. Strawberry-lime is a classic combination. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Strawberry Sorbet
Adapted from Group Recipes

2 lbs. strawberries
1 cup cold water
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. vodka (optional)
pinch of salt

Puree the strawberries and cold water in a blender until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds if you want a smooth sorbet (I did this roughly to remove most of the seeds but not all). Stir in the remaining ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Place in a resealable container and refrigerate until cool or overnight.

When ready to freeze, pour the chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to package directions. Serve immediately or transfer to a resealable container and freeze until ready to use. If desired, remove the sorbet from the freezer for a few minutes before serving to allow it to soften. 

Yield: My 1 qt ice cream freezer was not full. Maybe 6-8 servings

I am linking this to Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for Saturday, and Melt in Your Mouth Monday.

Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms

Fruit-Topped Angel Food Cake Squares

Well, this dessert was the destination for the previous angel food cake. It sounds (and looks) pretty simple, but the combination of the pudding part with the berries and cake ends up with something better than the individual parts. We were first introduced to this recipe from a college friend who is one of the best cooks that I know. I think that Jenna probably fed me a couple times a week while I was still living in the dorms during my last year of college.

Since then, this has became one of my husband’s favorite desserts. I have to admit that it is up there on my list too =) We usually only make it once or twice per year because around here it is one of those things that is “dangerous” to have around the house. In making my own cake, it was larger than the ones that I had previously bought. The extra cubes of cake soaked up more of the pudding mixture. In this one, I missed the little pools of pudding that normally form around the cake pieces, so next time, I will probably save some of the cake for another use (like strawberry shortcakes). Either way, there aren’t too many ways you can go wrong with this dessert. Enjoy!

I am linking this to Sweet Tooth Fridays!

(Printable Recipe)

Fruit-Topped Angel Food Cake Squares
From Jenna R.

1 loaf (1 lb) angel food cake (12×5 inch)
1-1/2 c. milk
3 containers (6oz) fat-free yogurt (I like vanilla)
1 can (14 oz) fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 box (6 serving size) instant pudding mix, any flavor (cheesecake is our favorite flavor)
2 c. quartered strawberries
2 c. fresh blueberries
2 c. fresh blackberries

Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray. Cut angel food cake into 1-inch pieces with a serrated knife. Place in the prepared pan in one layer. 

In a medium bowl, mix the milk, yogurt, sweetened condensed milk, and pudding mix with a wire whisk until well blended. Pour over the cake pieces. Gently tap the dish on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Just before serving, gently mix all the berries and spread over the top of the cake. Cut into squares and serve.

SMS: Honey Cream Caramels

Caramel… If there is one ingredient in a dessert that will immediately have me interested, caramel is it. Because I love caramel, there was no doubt that I would be in the mix with this next SMS recipe, honey cream caramels! This SMS was hosted by Carmen of Baking is my Zen, and it might be one of my favorite recipes yet.

Making the caramels was relatively simple. My husband’s step father has an old family recipe that he always makes around Christmas that is really similar, and although his has fewer ingredients, I knew the basic idea of how this process would go. He has made his so long that he doesn’t even need a candy thermometer anymore. We tried this one Christmas and ended up with more of a caramel syrup than caramel candies. Oops… =)

One thing I noticed was that 250 degrees F and the hard ball stage were not at the same point on my candy thermometer. I went ahead and took the sugar mixture off the stove at 250 degrees as directed, and my caramels ended up just a little bit chewy. In the end, this was fine because we like them better that way, but I definitely did not have the crumbly caramel that others indicated. Did anyone else notice this? 

After halving the recipe, I ended up with about 30 caramels. My only change was that I wrapped the caramels in aluminum foil rather than in waxed paper as that has always worked well for the family’s recipes. I “tested” one to make sure it would come off the foil, and so far, so good. Head over to the SMS page to check out the other bakers’ posts and enjoy your caramels!

Hint of Thin Mint Ice Cream

thin mint ice cream close

Top of the mornin’ to you. Hope you all have big plans for a great St. Patrick’s Day! I am not the least bit Irish, but I wanted to join in the fun with some St. Patrick’s themed recipes today. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure to don some green hued clothing today to make sure that I don’t get pinched =)

The idea for this ice cream actually came about from a botched box of Thin Mints. A couple weeks ago my husband and I fell subject to the Girl Scouts sitting outside the grocery store (how can you say no?!?). We actually did okay. Just one box each of Thin Mints and Samoas, but when we opened the thin mints they had melted just enough to stick together like crazy. I suppose that’s a casualty of living in Phoenix? Thinking I shouldn’t eat a sleeve of Thin Mints at a time, ice cream came up as a recipe that would benefit from the addition of crushed Thin Mints. Perfect. I have had an ice cream freezer attachment for my Kitchen Aid for several months, but it hasn’t gotten much use because I hadn’t been home.

thin mint ice cream churning

Now, which ice cream? I debated between vanilla and mint ice creams for a couple of days, but finally decided on mint since it is one of my favorite flavors. I ended using this recipe from My Kitchen Addiction. It’s one that I have had saved in my bookmarks since before I owned the ice cream attachment, and I am glad that I can finally make it. I am sure we’ll be making it again. The ice cream turned out wonderful. It was creamy, minty, and green, and I think I like the addition of the Thin Mints better than the original chocolate chips. I am thinking we may have to make this a yearly St. Patrick’s Day tradition! Enjoy!

thin mint ice cream serving

(Printable Recipe)

Hint of Thin Mint Ice Cream
Adapted from My Kitchen Addiction

2 c. heavy cream, divided
1-1/2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp. mint extract
3 drops green food coloring
1 sleeve of Thin Mints, roughly crushed

Warm 1 cup of the heavy cream, whole milk, granulated sugar, and pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (if using a candy thermometer, it should reach 170 degrees F). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the vanilla and mint extracts and the food coloring, and stir until cool over an ice bath. 

Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator overnight. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions, adding the crushed Thin Mints in the last 2-3 minutes of churning.

Yield: about 1 quart 


Final Countdown to Christmas #4: Dad’s Milk Chocolate Fudge

This is another one of those recipes that has endured years and years of Christmases in our family, however this one has always been my Dad’s thing. I can remember having to stand on a step-stool in order to see over the edge of the stove so that I could help. 

In the years since my husband has been around (which is actually quite a few Christmases in itself!), it has become one of his favorite Christmas treats. I can’t blame him. Out of all the different kinds of fudge that I’ve tried, this one is definitely my favorite. We had some trouble finding marshmallow creme this year and actually drove around to three different grocery stores to find it. The fudge is worth it. 

The recipe that we use is based of the fantasy fudge recipe that is listed on the back of the container of Kraft marshmallow creme. Our main swap is that we always use milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet or dark chips, and that is exactly the reason that I love it so much. The other modification is in cooking time. We never use a candy thermometer, so we usually just cook it for 5-6 minutes instead of the 4 listed on the can. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Dad’s Milk Chocolate Fudge
Adapted from Kraft Fantasy Fudge

3/4 c. (1-1/2 sticks) butter
3 c. sugar
2/3 c. (5oz can) evaporated milk
1 (12oz) pkg. milk chocolate chips
1 (7oz) jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla extract 

Grease a 9×13-inch pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Combine butter, sugar, and evaporated milk in a 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5-6 minutes while continuing to stir. Remove from the heat and stir in the marshmallow creme and chocolate chips. Mix in the vanilla.

Pour into the prepared pan. Cool and cut into squares.

Final Countdown to Christmas #2: Peppermint Marshmallows

I’m getting a little late in the day on this one, but it’s still technically Tuesday. Better late than never right? We had a marathon baking session today to almost finish out my baking list, so I should be set for the next few days. 

Marshmallows are something that have been on my “to make” list forever. I have wanted to make them for quite some time, but they seem like one of those things that need an “occasion” such as a camping trip or something along those lines. My “occasion” never came up, so there they sat on the list.

I saw this recipe on What Megan’s Making a couple weeks ago on her 12 Days of Christmas Countdown, and it was perfect. My occasion would be Christmas Eve and the destination for these little goodies was definitely going to be a steaming, hot cup of hot chocolate! 

Fast forward a couple weeks, and I’ve actually made these twice. The first time with only a hand-held mixer and the second time in Arizona with my kitchen aid. They worked well both times, but I could definitely see the mixture set up a little quicker using my stand mixer. It almost set up too much as it was really hard to get the pretty red swirls in the second batch. My only advice with this recipe would be to stop the last mixing process if you think they’re getting pretty thick. You want to be able to pour them very slowly not have to press a spatula on the goop to get it to spread out =) However, while my second batch wasn’t quite as pretty, they are still delicious. Try these out! I know that mug of hot chocolate is calling your name!

(Printable Recipe)

Peppermint Marshmallows
Adapted from Martha Stewart and What Megan’s Making

vegetable oil cooking spray
1-1/2 c. warm water, divided
2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 pkg (1/4 oz. each) unflavored gelatin
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 large egg whites

liquid red food coloring 
Line the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan with parchment paper and coat the parchment with cooking spray. Set aside. Put sugar, corn syrup, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and let the mixture come to a boil. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until mixture registers 260 degrees on a candy thermometer. 
Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over 3/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften. Set the bowl with the gelatin mixture over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in extract. Set aside.  
Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Whisk gelatin mixture into sugar mixture. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar/gelatin to the egg whites. Mix on high speed until very thick, 12 to 15 minutes or until the mixture looks like it is really starting to thicken.
Pour mixture into lined pan. Working quickly, drop dots of red food coloring across surface of marshmallow. Using a toothpick, swirl the drops into the  marshmallows to create a marbleized effect. Let marshmallow stand, uncovered, at room temperature until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. Cut into squares using a pair of kitchen scissors. Roll the cut marshmallows in powdered sugar to prevent sticking and store in a ziploc bag or airtight container.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

I’m hoping it isn’t too strange to post an ice cream recipe just as fall is about to officially start. However, I promise that I have some good reasons, and I’ll go through them with you if you like.
1) Who doesn’t love ice cream even if it’s getting a little colder?
2) We need something to serve with the wonderful pies everyone seems to be baking.
3) Ice cream is perfect sandwiched between two fresh cookies.
4) This KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment was one of my birthday presents from my husband this year, and we needed to make sure it worked =)
5) This last one requires a bit of a story. The weather here last Saturday was crappy in my opinion. It was one of those cloudy, gloomy days where it doesn’t really rain but just mists all day long. I think the high might have been 61 degrees. Not exactly “ice cream” weather. I worked that day and didn’t end up talking to my husband until later in the evening when he called exclaiming, “Sorry I called so late. We were outside swimming. It was 107 here today.”  Guess maybe it is still “ice cream season” in some parts of the country =)
This recipe was my first experience making homemade ice cream. When we were growing up, mom would make it on occasion, but I don’t think I ever did too much to help. After getting each piece of the equipment and/or recipe chilled for the correct amount of time, it really went together pretty smoothly. I love, love that I can keep the bowl in the freezer. That just means that I’m that much closer to ice cream if we get a craving. As far as assembling the ice cream base, I kind of guessed when the custard part was done cooking. It looked like it was steamy, but I’m wondering if anyone knows a temperature that you are suppose to reach? It seems like that would be more of an exact way to do it.

The verdict: We loved the “homemade ice cream” taste! We added chopped strawberries as one of the suggestions in the booklet, but I wasn’t a big fan of them in the ice cream after it had set up in the freezer. The strawberries froze harder than the rest of the ice cream and ended up as little ice chunks. Next time I will definitely look for a recipe that calls to puree them if we are going after strawberry ice cream. Nevertheless, the base of the ice cream was very good. I’m not sure if we’ll make this exact recipe again soon, but that’s more a factor of the number of ice cream recipes I have saved than anything specific about this recipe =) Enjoy!

KitchenAid Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
From KitchenAid Ice Cream Booklet


2-1/2 cups half and half

8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2-1/2 cups whipping cream
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half and half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat, set aside.
Place egg yolks and sugar in mixing bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened. Continuing on speed 2, very gradually add half and half; mix until blended. Return half and half mixture to medium saucepan;cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly. Do not boil. Transfer half and half mixture into large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.
Assemble and engage freeze bowl. Do not pour in the ice cream base before you turn on the crank. Turn to stir (speed 1). Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on stir (speed 1) for 15-20 minutes or until desired consistency. Immediately transfer ice cream into serving dishes, or freeze in an airtight container. Ice cream will set up to hard-serve stage after 2-4 hours in the freezer.

SMS: Butterscotch Pralines

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of baking along with several members of a baking group called Sweet Melissa Sundays. Each week one of the members chooses a recipe from the The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, and the plan is to keep going until we’ve baked all the way though the book.  The recipes thus far have been great, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know several bloggers in the group a little bit better.

This week is was my week to pick a recipe out of the book. Since I’ve only been a member since March, I was both excited and a little nervous to pick a recipe knowing that 48 other bloggers would be scheduled to bake my pick. Out of the beautiful layers cakes and delicious sounding pies, I ended up choosing butterscotch pralines for 3 reasons:

1) It sounded like a pretty quick, simple recipe, and I knew that we’d be packing to move to Arizona over Memorial Day weekend.

2) I love butterscotch anything

3) Melissa describes that they are great crumbled over ice cream. 

SOLD! Both the hubby and I are suckers for anything that goes with ice cream 🙂 Having never actually eaten pralines before, I did a quick google search to check out the history of pralines. It sounds like the idea originated in France and was first made with almonds, but despite the French origins, the candies now consist of pecans and are most associated with New Orleans. I did wonder a little bit because it seems like most other recipes for pralines call for either butter, cream, or both, but I proceeded with Melissa’s recipe as written.

The recipe basically consists of cooking a sugar mixture to a soft ball temperature and then stirring in the butterscotch chips and the pecans. As I thought, it went pretty quickly.  I only made a half batch at first, but I was done with the first recipe start to clean up in about 30 minutes (my husband begged me to make more a couple days later). I’ll give you a short pictorial presentation below :

Don’t the butterscotch chips look yummy! I love butterscotch!

Cooking the sugar mixture and making sure I cooked it exactly to soft ball stage. See the word soft just above the metal piece of the thermometer below  🙂

The praline mixture in the bowl. Sorry, this one isn’t the greatest picture, but I was trying to work quick. They set up fast!

The verdict: we really enjoyed them! They are pretty sweet on their own, but as promised, are GREAT served over vanilla ice cream. I don’t have an ice cream freezer to make my own ice cream, but I can only imagine that it’d be that much better over homemade ice cream. I hope everyone enjoyed them as much as we did! Be sure to stop by the SMS page and check out everyone’s treats!

Butterscotch Pralines
From The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. butterscotch morsels
1-1/4 c. pecan pieces

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, water, corn syrup, vinegar, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil, without further stirring, until the mixture reaches 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.

Immediately transfer the hot mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in the butterscotch morsels on medium speed until the morsels are melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in the pecans.

Immediately drop by tablespoonfuls (or a 1-ounce (#40) cookie scoop) onto parchment paper or aluminum foil. (If the mixture gets to firm, you can put it back in the saucepan and melt it carefully while stirring over low heat.) Let the pralines stand at room temperature to set, 5-10 minutes. 

Pralines keep in an airtight container at room temperature, layered between sheets of wax paper, for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2 dozen.