Dessert

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

How cute are these Easter jelly bean cookies?! These Carrot Cake Nest Cookies are the Food Network Magazine’s April cookies, which is perfectly fitting because they just scream springtime. After last month’s complicated Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies I was very excited to see a classic drop cookie – with a twist of course.

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The cookie batter is filled with all the carrot cake staples: grated carrots, chopped toasted walnuts, and the warming spices of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Using brown sugar and an egg yolk gives the cookies that ideal chewy texture, which are similar tips I use in my Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Before being baked, the cookie dough balls are rolled in shredded sweetened coconut. In addition to the chewiness, I love the crunch and texture you get in each bite from the chopped walnuts and shredded coconut.

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

If it stopped there I would still gladly chow down on these carrot cake cookies any day of the week. But there’s more! Piped onto each cooled cookie is a pocket of sweet and buttery cream cheese frosting and some pretty jelly beans. Carrot cake is not complete without cream cheese frosting so it only makes sense for us to frost these cookies to make them truly carrot cake cookies! The little dollop in the middle of the cookie gives just the right balance of cookie to frosting.

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Even though they’re so cute, I thought I was going to end up picking off the jelly beans and eating them separately, but I actually really loved a bite of everything all together! Something about the added texture and sweetness of the jelly bean was a nice touch. I also used some of my favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors so that might have been part of it!

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The recipe calls for blue and white jelly beans, but if you don’t have enough feel free to branch out into other fun Easter pastel colors. I used the blue and white combo ones for the photos, but I had other cookies in this batch topped with pink and purple jelly beans as well. I hope you all enjoy these Carrot Cake Nest Cookies – they were one of my favorites so far!

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Carrot Cake Nest Cookies
 
Yield: about 22 cookies
Ingredients
for the cookies
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup finely grated carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1¾ cups shredded sweetened coconut
for the frosting
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Blue and white jelly beans, for topping
Directions
for the cookies
  1. Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium-high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and the vanilla then beat again until well combined. Add the carrots and walnuts then beat again. Slowly add the flour mixture while on low speed and beat until just combined.
  3. Scoop tablespoons of dough then roll the balls into the shredded coconut. I used my medium Oxo cookie scoop. Place 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use the handle of a wooden spoon or something round similar in size to make a deep indentation into the centers of the cookies. Bake the cookies, switching the baking pans halfway through from top to bottom, for 22-24 minutes, or until the cookies are set and the coconut is golden brown. Let cool completely on the pans placed on wire cooling racks.
for the frosting
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla with the whisk attachment until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag with the corner snipped or a pastry bag fitting with a round tip. If you aren’t ready to use right away, keep refrigerated. Pipe the frosting into the indentation if each cooled cookie then top each cookie with 3 jelly beans.

 Recipe from January/February 2019 issue of Food Network Magazine.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for my referral. This does not affect the retail cost of the item. Thank you for supporting Lemon & Mocha!

Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies

Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have to admit that I was completely dreading these March cookies from the Food Network Magazine. The photos looked incredibly intimidating, especially since it’s a magazine so of course the rainbow cookies in the photograph was absolute perfection. Then I looked at the recipe and saw it involved tinting the cookie dough six, yes, six, different colors and these weird instructions for rolling, measuring and wrapping the dough that somehow gives you these cool rainbow cookies. I’m committed to completing this monthly cookie challenge so I rolled my sleeves up and dove in.

Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The actual cookie dough is a very simple, buttery cookie recipe. You then divide the dough into six pieces so you’re going to want to make sure you have a lot of bowls ready! I used my kitchen scale to divide the dough since the recipe specified the amounts in ounces. Side note: if you don’t already have a kitchen scale, I highly recommend one if you do a lot of baking. They are fairly inexpensive (under twenty dollars) and are necessary for many baking recipes. Particularly for when you are baking something with layers, for example I make Matt those Italian tricolor cookies every Christmas and it is definitely key to make sure each of those thin layers has an exactly even amount of batter.

Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Anyways, back to these crazy rainbow cookies! So once you have your dough divided up you tint each section with gel food coloring. Food coloring typically comes in a pack of red, yellow, green and blue. You could combine colors to make the orange and purple, but I used the same neon gel food coloring that I used for my Chocolate Marshmallow Monster Cookie Sandwiches, which ended up being a lot easier and didn’t use up all of the red food gel. Now, I bet you’re wishing I would stop babbling about food coloring and are wondering how to get that cool layered rainbow shape!

Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

The gist of it is that the purple section gets rolled into a log. The blue section then gets rolled into a rectangle that wraps around the log, then the green section gets rolled into a slightly larger rectangle that wraps around the now larger log and so on until you have a big roll of cookie dough. After the dough log has had a chance to chill, you slice rounds, like a classic slice-and-bake cookie, then cut each round in half to get that rainbow half-circle shape. Voila!

Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

I was relieved to discover that making these cookies wasn’t as bad as I anticipated, but if I ever had a desperate need for rainbow cookies in the future I would most likely just pipe rainbow frosting on top since mixing gel food coloring into cookie dough – six times – takes far too long to make it worth it in my opinion. What do you think? Would you give these pretty Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies a shot?

Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies  |  Lemon & Mocha

Rainbow Slice-and-Bake Cookies
 
Yield: about 36 cookies
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon each red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple gel food coloring
  • 1 cup white candy melts
Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla then beat to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture on low speed until just combined.
  2. Divide the dough: 2 large pieces (about 7 ounces each), 2 medium pieces (about 5 ounces each) and 2 small pieces (about 3 ounces each). Tint 1 of the large pieces of dough red and tint the other one orange. Use a rubber spatula (so it doesn’t stain) to work the food coloring into the dough. Repeat with yellow and green for the 2 medium pieces of dough. Repeat with blue and purple for the 2 small pieces of dough.
  3. Lay a piece of plastic wrap, about 12 inches long, on a clean work surface. Take a large piece of wax paper, about 12 inches long, and lightly flour it. Put on gloves so you won’t get food coloring on your hands and so you can easily move from one color to the next. On the floured wax paper, roll the purple dough into a 7-inch log. It will be about ¾-inch thick. Set aside on the plastic wrap. Brush any purple dough off your gloved hands or the wax paper; dust with more flour if needed.
  4. Use a rolling pin to roll out the blue dough on the wax paper into a rectangle, roughly 3½ inches by 7 inches. Place the purple log on the edge of the blue rectangle and use the wax paper to help you tightly roll it around the purple log, lightly pinching the seam where the 2 long blue edges meet. Set the log back aside on the plastic wrap. Brush any blue dough off your gloved hands, the wax paper or the rolling pin; dust the wax paper with more flour if needed. Repeat for the remaining colors, in these sizes and in this order: green 5 inches by 7½ inches; yellow 6 inches by 8 inches; orange 7 inches by 8½ inches; red 8 inches by 9 inches. Wrap the plastic wrap around the whole log then refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight or place in the freezer for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. Cut the ends off of the log. Slice into ⅜-inch thick rounds then slice each round in half. If any of the cookies have a slight gap between the layers in spots just gently press them together. Place the rainbow cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets then place them in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This helps prevent spreading when they bake.
  7. Take one pan out of the fridge and bake the cookies for 10-13 minutes. The cookies will be just set around the edges. When you take them out of the oven, if the bottoms of the rainbow have puffed out a little, carefully use a spatula to help press the bottom of the cookie to be flat. You have to do this while they’re right out of the oven because once they cool their shape will be set. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Remove the second baking sheet from the fridge and repeat the baking and cooling instructions.
  8. Once the cookies are completely cooled, melt the candy melts in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds, stir, then continue microwave and stirring in 20 second intervals until smooth. Place the melted candy melts into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip or in a resealable plastic bag with the corner snipped. Pipe the little clouds on the ends of each rainbow cookie then let set for at least 5 minutes.

 Recipe from January/February 2019 issue of Food Network Magazine.

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission for my referral. This does not affect the retail cost of the item. Thank you for supporting Lemon & Mocha!

Chocolate Tahini Banana “Soft Serve”

Chocolate Tahini Banana Soft Serve  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I’m sharing a chocolate-packed tasty treat with you all. This Chocolate Tahini Banana “Soft Serve” is creamy, smooth and topped with a quick chocolate magic shell. If the magic shell sounds familiar it’s because that’s what I used to top the Pistachio Semifreddo I posted last summer. It’s no secret that I love using tahini in the kitchen. I use it to make hummus, turn it into a dressing and drizzle it over lettuce wraps. However, I had only ever used it savory dishes and lately I’ve seen a lot of sweet recipes popping up with tahini listed as an ingredient.

Chocolate Tahini Banana Soft Serve  |  Lemon & Mocha

At first I thought using tahini in a sweet recipe sounded really strange. But then when I thought about it more, tahini is very similar to peanut butter. They’re both creamy, nutty and rich in flavor. Considering I love peanut butter in sweet desserts, it’s not too much of a stretch to think I might also enjoy tahini swapped in. Clearly, since I’m posting this recipe now, the verdict is that I enjoyed it very, very much!

Chocolate Tahini Banana Soft Serve  |  Lemon & Mocha

I swirled it into my chocolate banana “soft serve” and drizzled a little more on top for good measure. Have you ever had banana “soft serve?” I’ve also heard it called nice cream. There’s probably many different ways it’s described, but I think of it as a dessert smoothie bowl without the yogurt. It has the texture of partially melted ice cream and thanks to the cocoa powder it’s super chocolatey. You make it by blending frozen bananas, which bring the sweetness and that semi-frozen texture.

Chocolate Tahini Banana Soft Serve  |  Lemon & Mocha

I added frozen cauliflower florets as an experiment and it was a big success! It didn’t change the flavor at all, but secretly added some veggies to this sweet treat. The creamy tahini added the right amount of nuttiness, which pairs so well with chocolate and banana. Of course it wouldn’t truly be a chocolate treat if I didn’t find a way to add chocolate on top of my chocolate so I drizzled some magic shell on top. You can make magic shell by melting chocolate chips with coconut oil then drizzling over something cold, like this Chocolate Tahini Banana “Soft Serve,” which makes it harden into fun chocolate swirls that you can crack with your spoon and eat with each bite.

Chocolate Tahini Banana Soft Serve  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love making this when I want to eat some dessert, but I don’t already have anything made. A few bursts in my high-speed blender and it’s time to eat!

Chocolate Tahini Banana Soft Serve  |  Lemon & Mocha

Chocolate Tahini Banana "Soft Serve"
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups frozen ripe banana slices (about 1½ bananas)
  • 1 cup frozen cauliflower florets
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon coconut oil
  • Sliced bananas and tahini, for topping
Directions
  1. Add the frozen banana slices, cauliflower florets, cocoa powder, agave and vanilla to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Taste for sweetness and add more agave if needed. Divide the mixture between 2 bowls.
  2. Melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Continue to microwave for 15 second increments, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Carefully drizzle over the “soft serve” to harden and top with banana slices and a tahini drizzle.
Notes
I've also made this using 88 Acres Watermelon Seed Butter instead of tahini using a 1-1 substitution.

 

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

As much as I want it to be spring already, we still have a few more weeks until the first official day of spring. And, considering that I live in New England, it’s usually a few more weeks after that. I decided to embrace the last bit of winter that we have left and make these decadent and cozy Hot Chocolate Cupcakes.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

My inspiration for these cupcakes came from these adorable sparkly snowflake toppers! I have the coolest goddaughter who seriously gets my love of baking and cooking. This past fall for my birthday she scoured Etsy to find unique cupcake toppers for each season. I immediately knew the upcoming year on Lemon & Mocha would have to include four special cupcakes, each showcasing the cute seasonal toppers from my goddaughter.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I was trying to decide what to make for the winter cupcakes I immediately thought of my favorite winter beverage: hot chocolate. The base of these cupcakes is my Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes. I tweaked the recipe this past fall and they truly are the most moist and light cupcakes with a big chocolate flavor. I’ve raved enough about my chocolate cupcakes in the past though so we can move on the frosting, which is what makes these not just chocolate cupcakes, but Hot Chocolate Cupcakes.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Let me get right to it; this frosting is crazy good. All it took was one bite to know this hot chocolate frosting would be an immediate member of my cake repertoire for years to come. And then I sampled a second, a third and a fourth bite just to be really, really certain.

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Cocoa powder and marshmallow fluff help give this buttercream frosting that classic hot chocolate taste. There’s less powdered sugar than a traditional buttercream because we are using marshmallow fluff to sweeten the frosting and to make it, well, fluffy! Also because it wouldn’t be a perfect hot chocolate without marshmallows. Enjoy!

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes  |  Lemon & Mocha

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk, see note
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee, see note
for the frosting
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups marshmallow fluff
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Mini marshmallows, for topping
Directions
for the cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners so you have enough for 24 cupcakes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until smooth.
  4. Pour the hot coffee into the batter and stir until combined. The batter will be extremely liquidy. Divide the batter between the 24 cupcake liners, filling them slightly more than half full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes back mostly clean. Alternatively, they are done when you gently press your finger on the center of a cupcake and it lightly springs back. I find mine to be done at exactly 19 minutes.
  5. Let cool in the pans for a couple minutes then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
for the frosting
  1. Beat the butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scrapping down the sides as needed. Add the marshmallow fluff, powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Beat until combined and fluffy, scrapping down the sides as needed. Pipe the frosting using a pastry bag (see note) and top with the mini marshmallows.
Notes
To make your own buttermilk: pour 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk, any fat percentage, into the measuring cup until you have 1 cup. Let sit for 5 minutes before using.
If you don’t want to use coffee you can use hot water, but the flavor of the chocolate won’t be as pronounced. You can use decaffeinated coffee if you prefer.
The frosting recipe is written assuming you will be piping a generous amount of frosting on each cupcake. If you would prefer to simply frost with a knife then you can most likely halve the frosting recipe.

 

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m all about the easy desserts these days. You will understand why when you see the March cookies! One of the best quick and no-bake desserts are rice krispie treats. Last February, I posted my Chocolate-Dipped Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats, which are these same treats, but dipped in chocolate and covered in Valentine’s Day sprinkles. I decided that these treats are so crispy, gooey and full of flavor that they deserved their own post.

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats  |  Lemon & Mocha

I find normal rice krispie treats to be very bland. Good thing these aren’t normal rice krispie treats! If you’ve made my Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies then you know how much rich depth of flavor browned butter can add to a baked good and these krispie treats are no exception. If you’ve never browned butter before it’s really simple. You melt butter on the stovetop and then continue to cook the melted butter over medium heat until it becomes golden brown in color, which takes about 4 or so minutes. You will be able to smell it as well; it will smell lightly caramelized and have you swooning. Rice krispie treats require melted butter anyways so it only makes sense to go that one step further and add some flavor to the butter.

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats  |  Lemon & Mocha

Typically when making rice krispie treats all the marshmallows get melted down, but I’ve left some mini marshmallows unmelted to create extra gooey pockets in the krispie treat. If we’re making a marshmallow treat we might as well go all out, right? Of course, if you really wanted to go extra all out you could take a cue from the Chocolate-Dipped Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats. I’ll take either version, which is saying a lot about the flavor and texture of these Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats since I’m so chocolate obsessed.

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you really want to make people’s mouths drop, follow the directions below for the jumbo-sized krispie treats! It makes a thick bakery style krispie treat like the ones pictured here that will have everyone thinking you bought them at your local bakery.

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats  |  Lemon & Mocha

Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats
 
Yield: 12 regular or 9 jumbo krispie treats
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4¾ cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
Directions
  1. Line a 13x9 pan or a 9x9 pan (see note) with nonstick aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a large pot big enough to fit all the cereal, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter, making sure to continuously swirl the pan, until the butter is golden brown in color, about 4 minutes. Lower the heat then add 4 cups of the marshmallows, stirring until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
  3. Add the cereal to the pot and gently stir until coated. Gently stir in the remaining ¾ cup of mini marshmallows. Pour the contents of the pot into the prepared pan and spread evenly. I used a small piece of wax paper to lightly press on the krispie treats in the pan to create an even-ish surface without pressing too hard (you don’t want the krispie treats to be dense). Let cool completely.
  4. Once cooled, remove the foil from the pan and cut the krispie treats with a sharp knife. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
Notes
For 12 normal-sized krispie treats use a 13x9 pan. For 9 jumbo-sized krispie treats use a 9x9 pan.
The krispie treats stay for a few days, but they taste best the same day.