Cookie Butter French Toast

Editor’s Note: My husband was stumped for dinner tonight, and this is what he happened to have at the house. He almost didn’t make French toast because he didn’t have syrup on hand. Then he remembered he had some Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter lying around.

Just because I’ve been living the “bachelor life” away from Heather doesn’t mean I have been slacking off.  Even something as simple as French toast can be dressed up a little.  For mine I mix a little cinnamon into the egg yolk,  and use the spread, Speculoos (or Cookie Butter if you buy it from Trader Joe’s – which tastes like a spread made of gingerbread cookies), and plain Greek yogurt sweetened with just a little vanilla extract. I like to spread the Speculoos on one and the yogurt on another, top with slice strawberries and eat like an open face sandwich. Enjoy!

Caramel Fudge with Sea Salt Recipe

From the Editor: Many thanks to Nicole Chaikin for sharing her recipe for caramel fudge with sea salt. She’s made many a delicious fudge before, but brought this little gem into work this week and blew our minds with it! We are so grateful to her for sharing the recipe with us. This is the first of hopefully many more to come of Nicole’s delicious recipes.

Caramel Fudge with Sea Salt Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 can (14 ounces) fat free sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup caramel chips
  • 1 tsp sea salt (grinder suggested)
  • 4 tablespoons marshmallow fluff
  • Additional sea salt for garnish
  • Shaved caramel (use zester, grater or microplane)
Caramel Fudge with Sea Salt Recipe Directions
  1. Melt chocolate, caramel, milk, marshmallow fluff and salt in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Remove from heat and pour into 8″ or 9″ pan lined with wax paper or foil, and smooth with a spatula.
  3. Sprinkle sea salt over fudge.
  4. Top with caramel shavings.
  5. Chill for 2 hours or until firm.
  6. Remove wax paper, cut into squares, and enjoy!

I will share more recipes over the next few months, but feel free to check out my blog for other fudge recipes!

Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes

This is a Fifty-Two Cakes guest blog entry from my dear friend, Erica. She was so kind as to share her chocolate Guinness cupcake recipe with us. She and her husband are big beer fans, and they enjoyed Guinness chocolate cupcakes at their wedding, actually!

In the never-ending effort to save some cash, a group of us in Columbia, MO decided to have a pre-St. Patrick’s Day themed party at our friends’ apartment last Saturday. We all agreed to bring a dish and create our own semi-authentic Paddy’s Day meal. As a huge fan of the black stuff, I volunteered to bake Guinness cupcakes to bring to the party.

Not being able to find me years-old recipe, I found a new recipe online at Now with any new recipe I find online, I always browse through the comments to see if and how other bakers have changed the recipe. To my surprise, I found a high percentage of these bakers did not like the recipe because the cupcakes “tasted like beer.” So, I will add my disclaimer and state that these are Guinness cupcakes; they are made with a bottle of beer, and should taste (somewhat) like beer.

Chocolate Guinness Cupcake Recipe Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of fine salt
  • 1 bottle of Guinness
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 48 Cupcake liners*

Chocolate Guinness Cupcake Recipe Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the Guinness, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Then, gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Place cupcake liners in muffin/cupcake baking tin. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pan 180 degrees. Bake another 12 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle. (Perform the toothpick test if you would like.) Remove from tin and set aside to cool on wire rack. This recipe should yield 24 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Icing Recipe Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 bar 60% dark chocolate for garnish (optional)

Cream Cheese Icing Recipe Directions

In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the heavy cream. On low speed, slowly mix in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth. (You may cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.) Optional: Grate the dark chocolate over cupcakes, once iced. This adds an extra bit of sweet and chocolatey flavor to the cupcakes. Plus, the shavings add a nice, decorative touch.

Additional Notes

  • If you find yourself without a hand mixer, as I did, use a large fork instead. Your mixing time will increase from a couple of minutes to 5 to 10 minutes, but you will still get the desired outcome. Plus, consider it a shoulder workout.
  • If you compare my recipe with the original (linked to above), you’ll find I did cut the amount of confectioners’ sugar. You may want to start tasting the mixture at 1/2 pound, and add more to taste. I also only used about half of the total prepared icing. How much icing you add can be your preference!
  • *I prefer to use double the number of cupcake liners. The inside liner will become slightly greasy and messy while baking. So before serving, I double-up the liners so the outside is nice and clean in appearance (without any noticeable batter or grease spots)!

Here is a recipe for chocolate beer cake.

“The Debutant” Lemon Meringue Pie

Straying from our cake theme, this is a Fifty-Two Cakes guest blog entry from my wonderful mother-in-law, Dawn. She was so kind as to share her famous lemon meringue pie recipe. She and her daughter, Carly, cleverly named her lemon meringue pie “The Debutant.” Carly wrote this delightful introduction.

The way some people feel about a fine wine or a 52 dollar and ounce Aztec chocolate or a 300-year-old goat cheese is the same way I feel about pie.  I regard pie, almost any kind, with passion and fanaticism and I suppose a psychiatrist might connect my feelings about pie to my childhood.  Growing up, every other week or so my mother would dust her heavy, hard hands with flour, take a silver bowl, three ingredients and a touch of tap water and in five minutes she’d be ready to fill her pie with fruit or pudding or pumpkin.

It looked so easy and when I left home and tried to make a pie myself I realized that it was nearly impossible.  The trick with pie is that you have to treat it with gentleness and wisdom. Seriously.  You have to learn how to handle the dough, or how to handle it without really handling it at all.  It’s something you learn.  It takes time but you get there.  I don’t have my mother’s magic hands so I’ve introduced a fork to the Crisco and flour stage and it’s less elegant but turns out just as grand.

The thing about pie is, if you ask my eldest child, pie means “I love you.”  He told me this the other day.  And though I know I am in grave danger of hitting some unfortunate sappiness, bear with me, because I think my son is right.  Pie is something that takes a gentle touch, a bit of courage and moment or two.  It is a calculated act that says to the person you are serving it to that you thought of them… That is, of course, unless you are like me, who makes the pies and then hides them in a high cupboard away from the children.

PS – The best thing about this lemon pie is that in addition to its being delicious it doesn’t really keep past a day so you have got to eat it all in one go.  I suggest it is best eaten at breakfast with a spoon.

Lemon Meringue Pie Crust Recipe:

  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour (set aside 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • Mix together with your fingers or pastry blender until the mix just comes together.  Then add:
  • ½ c. water…making sure you only add enough water until the crust forms a ball.

Mix together the all-purpose flour, Crisco shortening and salt with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mix just comes together. Then add the salt. Then add the water just a little at a time, adding only enough water until the crust forms a ball. Put the crust mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll it out on a pastry cloth, place it in a pan, and prick the bottom with a fork. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes until browned. Let it cool

Lemon Meringue Pie Filling Recipe:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk (I use fat free but any will do)
  • 3 egg yolks temperature
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon rind

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and mix until the starch is completely incorporated.  Add the milk and stir until dissolved.  Cook on low heat until just begins to thicken and bubble, cover and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring often so mixture will not burn. Remove from heat.

Place egg yolks in a small bowl and add about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture, stirring quickly and constantly so eggs won’t curdle.  Then place egg mixture back into the sauce pan and mix well. The heat of the milk will continue to cook the egg so do not place the pan back on the stove. Add the butter, lemon juice and grated lemon rind, mixing well, and pour it into the cooled pie shell.  Refrigerate until completely cool.

Meringue Recipe:

  • 5 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
  • Nutmeg

Pour five egg whites into a grease-free bowl.  Turn mixer on high and add the pinch of salt, ½ teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/3 cup to ½ cup sugar to taste.  Whip on high until stiff peaks form.  Dump on top of the lemon filling, sealing the meringue to the crust with a spoon so it will not separate from the crust.  Make cute little peaks and sprinkle with nutmeg if desired.  Place under broiler and broil until just browned.  Refrigerate immediately.

Note: This delicious “Debutant” lemon meringue pie must be eaten in one day!

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