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Simple Turtle Cookie Cups

Simple Turtle Cookies

I cannot resist those small paperback cookbooks that are in each grocery check out lane.  They just seem to call my name every time I am standing in line to check out.  The most recent to hit my cart is by Betty Crocker and features their boxed cake mixes and cookie mix pouches.  Some people may feel that using mixes is not “real” baking, but not me!  As much as I love “real” baking, on occasion I take help from experts like Ms. Betty Crocker. 

After a crazy work week, I was not too keen on spending a great deal of time in the kitchen, but the sweet tooth that I reside with was expecting a sweet snack!  That’s when I remembered my new cookbook and one recipe in particular that caught my eye.  All I needed was Betty Crocker double chocolate chuck cookie mix, a chocolate covered caramel candy (like Rolos) and pecan halves to create a Turtle Cookie Cup.  I really didn’t plan it this way … but I will be using my mini-muffin pan again.  I promise to put it away after this week to return at a much later
date!      (Yes Memoria,  still in the mini mode!  I have put it away for a while!)

Do not ask for volunteers to unwrap the candies ... you may end up a few short!

Let me warn you in advance … do not let anyone “volunteer” to take the wrappers off of the rolo candies or you will run into the same problem I had … not all of them made it back to me in the kitchen!   The recipe says to roll the dough into 1  1/4 inch balls and I would get 36.  Nope … only got 24.  Short of measuring the diameter of each one, I adopted the “eyeball it” method used by Rachael Ray.  So a few “lost” rolos turned out not to be a big deal after all!
 

Simple Turtle Cookie Cups

Source: Betty Crocker
Servings: 36 cookies  (only made 24 for me)
Cook time:   8 to 9 minutes

Ingredients:
1   pouch (1 1.5 oz.) Betty Crocker double chocolate chunk cookie mix
3   tablespoons vegetable oil
1   tbsp water
1   egg
36 round milk chocolate covered chewy caramels, unwrapped
36 pecan halves

Directions:
Heat the oven to 375 F.  Place miniature paper baking cups in each of the 36 mini muffin cups.  In a large bowl, stir the cookie mix, oil, water, and egg until a soft dough forms. Shape the dough into 36 (1 1/4 inch) balls. Place in the muffin cups. Bake for 8 or 9 minutes or until the edges are set. Immediately press one milk chocolate covered caramel into the center of each cookie cup. Cool for two minutes. Top with a pecan half.. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.  Remove from pans with a narrow spatula.

DEBBIE’S  BAKING  NOTES: 

  • Remember I only got 24 cookie cups.
  • The dough will be soft and a bit on the sticky side.  I put it in the fridge for just a few minutes to firm it up. 
  • Bake only for 8 or 9 minutes … no longer.  Even with mine being bigger than the recipe calls for, they did not need extra baking time. 
  • Take from the oven and IMMEDIATELY press the chocolate covered caramel into the cookie cup and place the pecan on top.  You want the to candy to melt and spread into the cookie.
  • I stored the cookie cups in an airtight container.  To keep them soft, I placed a slice of bread into the container.  (My grandmother always did this and it kept these types of baked goods nice and soft.)

Simple Turtle Cups

Pepperoni Pizza Bites

Pepperoni Pizza Bites

If I ask my nephew what he wants for dinner,  there’ is a ninety percent chance he will say pizza.    If I had to choose a favorite pizza, it would be the Hawaiian, you know the kind with Canadian bacon, pineapple with a few jalapenos thrown on top for a hint of heat. 

So when I called Seth (he holds the Pioneer Ridge, 7th grade, 100 meter hurdle record) last Sunday evening and said I was bringing Pepperoni Pizza Bites over for him to sample, he was only too happy to lend his taste buds to my latest cooking venture.   His first comment was that it was just like pizza …. only inside out.  He would be right!  There is pepperoni and cheese on the inside, enclosed in a “crust” and then dipped in warm pizza sauce.

I am using my mini muffin pan again this week and bringing you another recipe to justify its place in your kitchen.  I even went crazy and bought a pan that makes 24!   I have had friends who have made this recipe in a standard cupcake pan (adjust the cooking time), who swear they turn out perfect.

Pepperoni Pizza Bites

Pepperoni Pizza Bites
Adapted from Everyday

Makes 24   (I actually got exactly 24!)

3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 ounces pepperoni, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pizza sauce  (I buy the 8 oz cans of pizza sauce)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (optional)

Preheat oven to 375o.  Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg.  Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups.  Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.  (Watch them close.  I have found that all mini muffin cups are not created equal.  My new pan has smaller cups than my old one.)

Microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 Tablespoon basil.  Sprinkle the puffs with the remaining 1 Tablespoon basil.  Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Look at all the pepperoni in the batter!

Pepperoni Pizza Bites

NOTES FROM DEBBIE:

  • Anytime I bake, I like the egg and milk to be at  room temperature.
  • For this recipe I prefer the finely shredded cheese.
  • MORE PEPPERONI … Seth recommends a little bit more.
  • I am going to experiment with adding a little “pizza type” seasoning to the batter. Maybe something like a bit of oregano and onion powder.
  • Take help from the store …. buy the canned pizza sauce.
  • I made a double batch and divided the second batch into snack size portions and froze them.  Now that I am the proud owner of an upright freezer, I am forging blind into the foreign world of “freezing” food.   I will let you know how they hold up when defrosted and re-heated.
  • My future batchs will be different flavors …. definitely Hawaiian or maybe spicy sausage with onion and black olives and pepperjack cheese.   Let me know what flavor combinations you try!

Cherry Tassies

Cherry Tassies

What are tassies?  Tassies – pronounced tas-eez – are defined as cups or small goblets.   In this case, bright red, long-stemmed maraschino cherries are perched in tender pastry cups …  mini muffin pan cups! 

I love maraschino cherries.   To this day, the first bite of my banana split is the cherry I pluck from the top.  Who knew that they could be baked into a butter pastry, flavored with vanilla and almond and crushed cherry candy.  The crushed candy adds little flavor bursts to each bite without making them overly sweet.

Cherry Tassies

Cherry Tassies
Adapted from a recipe by Better Homes and Gardens
Makes 48

Ingredients:
Nonstick cooking spray
1-1/4   cups butter, softened to room temperature
2-1/4   cups powdered sugar
1     teaspoon baking powder
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon almond extract
1  1/2   teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg  (room temperature)
2-1/2   cups all-purpose flour
1/3   cup finely crushed cherry flavored candies
48 red maraschino cherries or liquor-flavored maraschino cherries with stems, drained

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.   Liberally coat the mini muffin pan with nonstick spray; set aside.  In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high for 30 seconds.  Gradually beat in 1-1/2 cups of the powdered sugar, the baking powder and salt.   Beat in almond extract, vanilla extract and the egg.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can; stir in remaining flour and candies.
2. Place remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar in a shallow dish. Shape dough in 1-inch balls; roll in powdered sugar. Press each ball into the bottom and sides of prepared muffin cups.
3. Place cherry, stem side up, in each cup (cherry will not fill the cup).  Bake about 12 minutes or until pastry is browned.  Sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Cool 10 minutes in pan.  Use a small sharp knife to loosen tassies from cups.  Transfer to rack to cool completely.
4. To store: Place tassies in a covered airtight container.  Store at room temperature up to 24 hours or refrigerate up to 3 days.  Return to room temperature before serving.  Makes about 48 tassies.

NOTES FROM DEBBIE: 

  • Make sure you liberally spray the mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.   I use the kind that has flour added.
  • I ground 20 cherry life saver candies in a small food processor to make the 1/3 cup.
  • I used my stand mixer and had no difficulty mixing in all the flour and candies.  I did not have to mix anything by hand.
  • The recipe says it makes 48 tassies.   I was able to make 36.  I rolled the dough into a little bigger than 1 inch balls.
  • After you roll the dough ball in powdered sugar, press it into the bottom and up the sides of the mini muffin cup.  I was able to find a shot glass that fit perfectly into the mini muffin cup.  When I pressed it into the dough ball there was just enough room for the dough to travel up the wall of the mini muffin cup.  If you are unable to find an object that fits the cup, press into place with your fingers

    Cherry Tassies

  • Do not be concerned … the cherry will not fill the cup!  I did gently press each cherry into the dough at the bottom of the cup in an attempt to make the stem stand as straight up as possible.

    Cherry Tassies

  • I baked the tassies for exactly 12 minutes.  Immediately upon removal from the oven, I sprinkled each top with a coarse sanding sugar.  This adds a nice “glitz” to the tassies.  I used the Wilton brand, White Sparkling Sugar. 
  • Cool the tassies in the pan, on a rack, for 10 minutes.  During this time I gently rotated each tassie in the pan to loosen it.  I had no problem removing the tassies.  Use a sharp knife to help you begin to lift them out of the pan. 
  • If you would like to make “Tipsy Tasssies” find whisky-flavored cherries, labeled Tipsy Cherries.  Sometimes these are found in the gourmet sections of a grocery store.

    Cherry Tassies