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·         1 1/4 cups (6.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
·         3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         3/4 teaspoon baking powder
·         1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·         1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) granulated sugar
·         1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) packed brown sugar
·         2 large eggs
·         3/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (like vegetable, canola, grapeseed, etc)
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         1/2 pound carrots, finely shredded (about 2 cups)
·         2 packages (16 ounces total) cream cheese, softened
·         1/2 cup (3.75 ounces) granulated sugar
·         2 tablespoons sour cream
·         2 large eggs
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.     Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan (I use a metal pan) with parchment paper with overhanging edges to make it easier to lift and cut the bars. Lightly grease the bottom and sides with cooking spray and set aside.
2.     For the carrot cake batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
3.     In another medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla until very well-combined and lighter in color, 1-2 minutes.
4.     Add the dry ingredients and then the carrots and mix until no dry streaks remain (don't over mix).
5.     For the cheesecake batter, whip the cream cheese and granulated sugar with an electric mixer (handheld or stand mixer) until smooth and well-combined, 1-2 minutes. Add the sour cream, eggs and vanilla and mix for another minute or so until evenly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
6.     Spread half of the carrot cake batter in a thin layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Spoon the cheesecake batter and remaining carrot cake batter over the top, alternating heaping dollops so there's an even amount of batter across the bars.

7.     Use a knife to lightly swirl the batter together (see pictures in the post). Bake the bars for 35-40 minutes until the top springs back lightly to the touch. Let cool completely. Serve at room temperature or chilled (these bars can be made 1-2 days ahead of time; refrigerate until serving).

Crispy Crack Brownies (

1 12-ounce bag chocolate chips
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

7-ounce jar marshmallow crème
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups rice krispie cereal

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray. For the brownies, in a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate chips. Stir constantly and remove from the heat when the chips are fully melted. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs, blending fully, one at a time. Add the flour and salt and mix until well-combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the brownies are cooked through and set but not overbaked.
While the brownies are still warm, dollop the marshmallow crème over the top in large scoops and spread into an even layer. In a medium saucepan, melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips together over low heat, stirring constantly. When fully melted and smooth, remove from the heat and stir in the rice krispies. Scoop spoonfuls over the marshmallow layer and gently spread into an even layer. Let the pan of brownies cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until the chocolate krispie topping is set, 1-2 hours. Serve chilled.


Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes (  

12 round shortbread cookies, 2 inches in diameter (the Keebler Brand Sandies work great)
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
Fresh raspberries for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. Place one cookie in the bottom of each of the liners. Dollop with 1 teaspoon jam each.
With an electric mixer (stand mixer or hand mixer), beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk, beating and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes more.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake until they are set, about 20 minutes (the centers may seem a bit jiggly but the outer edges should feel firm to the touch). Transfer the muffin pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. The muffin liners will shrink away from the sides of the tin as they cool. Refrigerate the muffin pan (with the liners still in the pan) until the cheesecakes are cool and set, about 1 hour.
Remove the cheesecakes from the muffin tin. Microwave the remaining jam until slightly thinned, about 30 seconds and use it to glaze the cheesecakes. Garnish the top of each cheesecake with a fresh raspberry, if desired. Serve.


Butterbeer Cupcakes


Chocolate and Coconut Cream Pie Bars (

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into 10-12 pieces

1/4 cup heavy cream
6 ounces (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

3 cups half-and-half
3 cups coconut milk
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut

2 cups heavy whipping cream
3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup coconut, toasted (see note)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9X13-inch baking dish with foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-3 inch overhang on both of the long sides to help remove the bars after baking.
In a large bowl, combine the flour and powdered sugar. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender, two knives or using a food processor for this entire step. Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 16-18 minutes until the crust is light brown. Cool on a wire rack.
While the shortbread is baking, place the chocolate for the ganache (1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips) in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan (or microwave it for a 30 seconds or so). Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate and let the mixture stand for 1-2 minutes. Stir completely until a shiny, smooth ganache forms. Once the crust has cooled for about 10 minutes, pour the ganache over the bottom of the crust and smooth to the edges. Place the chocolate covered crust in the fridge to chill until the ganache is set into a firm layer and the crust is cooled completely.
While the crust is chilling, make the coconut cream filling by combining the half-and-half, coconut milk, eggs, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly until it is very thick like warm pudding. Alternately (and I’ve actually done it this way for the coconut cream pie with great results), you can combine all those same ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl and cook for one-minute increments, stirring well after each minute. It will take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to thicken in the microwave. I always strain my custard/pudding mixures through a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl. That is optional but it helps get rid of any little bits of cooked egg. Once the mixture thickens and after it has been strained (if you choose to do so), stir in the coconut and vanilla extracts and untoasted coconut. Pour the filling over the chilled ganache and refrigerate the bars until they are firm and set up, about 4 hours.
For the whipped topping, combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl and blend on medium-high speed with a handheld electric mixer until soft peaks form and the cream is thick and stabilized. Spread the cream over the chilled bars and sprinkle on the toasted coconut. Chill until ready to serve. Use the foil or parchment overhang to lift the bars from the pan. Cut into pieces and serve.
To toast the coconut, place it in a single layer in a nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until it browns evenly. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn. I’ve also halved this recipe with great success – use a 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan. Because many of the steps can be prepared ahead of time and/or need to be coordinated, read through the recipe before starting. Also, these bars can be made up to a day in advance – if doing so, I recommend not topping them with the whipped cream until you are ready to serve (whipped cream that hasn’t been stabilized by gelatin, which I chose not to do here, has a tendency to weep and give off liquid if refrigerated over an hour or so).


Ginger Crinkle Cookies (

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

In a large bowl, with a handheld electric mixer or using an electric stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, egg whites and molasses. The mixture will look curdled – no worries, it’s ok!. In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Add the dry ingredients to the molasses mixture and mix until combined.
Cover and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the granulated sugar in a shallow dish. Form the dough into 1 1/2-tablespoon sized balls and roll each one in the sugar. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased or lined baking sheets (lined with parchment paper or silpat liners). Bake for 8-10 minutes until the tops are crackly and the edges are set. Don’t overbake or they will lose their chewy texture. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

1 box chocolate fudge cake mix
1-3 oz. box instant chocolate pudding
2 cups sour cream
5 eggs
1 cup melted butter
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips  
Beat first 6 ingredients until well blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for about 14-15 minutes (8-10 minutes for mini cupcakes).

Buttercream Frosting
1 cube butter, softened to room temperature   
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
3-4 Tablespoons milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy.  Add sugar, milk and vanilla and beat until fluffy.    

Another yummy option is to frost with this Peanut Butter Frosting:

Peanut Buttercream Frosting
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
2/3 cup softened butter
1 3/4 peanut butter
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
Enough powdered sugar for desired consistency.  Garnish with cut up Reeses Peanut Butter Cups    

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

36 Oreo Cookies, divided
1/4 cup butter
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened    
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs 
4 ouces semisweet chocolate
4 ounces white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil, with ends extending over sides.  Finely crush 24 Oreo cookies.  Melt 1/4 cup butter; mix with crumbs.  Press onto bottom of prepared pan.

In a large, bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended.  Add sour cream and vanilla; mix well.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each until just blended.  Chop remaining cookies.  Gently stir into batter; pour over crust.

Bake the cheesecake for about 35-40 minutes or until the sides are set and the center is almost set.  Cool completely on a wire rack in the pan.

When the cheese cake is completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  When chilled, remove the cheesecake from the pan using the foil overhang and cut the cheesecake into bite-sized pieces.  Place the cheesecake bites on a wax or parchment paper-lined baking pan. Melt the semisweet chocolate and white chocolate in separate bowls in microwave at 50% power, stirring frequently.  pour the melted chocolate into a ziploc bag, one for the semisweet chocolate, one for the white chocolate.  Snip a small corner off the corner of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the cheesecake bars.  Chill the bars until ready to serve.   


Lemon Custard Ice Cream

2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup lemon juice

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, flour and salt.  Gradually add milk.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from the heat; cool slightly.  Whisk a small amount of hot milk mixture into the eggs.  Return all to the pan, whisking constantly.  Cook and stir until mixture reaches 160 degrees and coats the back of a metal spoon.  Remove from the heat; stir in cream and lemon juice.  Cool quickly by placing pan in a bowl of ice water; stir for 2 minutes.  Press waxed paper onto surface of custard.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer two-thirds full;  freeze according to manufacturer's directions.  When ice cream is froze, transfer to a freezer container; freeze for 2-4 hours before serving.  Yield;  2 quarts. 

Chocolate Pudding Dessert 

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cubes (3/4 cup) butter
2/3 cup chopped nuts
1 cup powdered sugar
1 package (8 ounces) softened cream cheese
1 carton (9 ounces) frozen whipped topping
2 packages (3 ounces each) instant chocolate pudding mix
3 cups milk

combine flour, butter and nuts, cut together as for pie crust, until mixture resembles course meal.  Press well into 9 x 13-inch baking pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.  Beat together powdered sugar and cream cheese until fluffy.  Add half the whipped topping.  Spread on cooled crust.

Prepare pudding according to package directions, using just 3 cups milk.  Spread pudding on cream cheese layer.  Spread remaining whipped topping on pudding layer.  Sprinkle with additional chopped nuts or shaved chocolate if desired.  Chill several hours or overnight.  Makes 15 servings. (Lion House Cookbook)

Turtle Bar Cookies

40 Kraft caramels, unwrapped
5-7 Tbs. milk
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ cups oatmeal
1 1/8 cup brown sugar
2/3 tsp. soda
1/3 tsp. salt
1 1/8 cups butter, softened
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt caramels in milk, 30 seconds at a time in the microwave.  Set aside.  Combine dry ingredients and butter.  Mix until crumble.  Pat half of mixture into ungreased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and pour melted caramel over.  Pat remaining flour mixture on top.  Bake an additional 15 minutes.  Best if made the day before.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs

For the filling 
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

For the vanilla buttercream frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.  Beat cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin pie spice on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. 

In another bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugars, vegetable oil and eggs.  Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist.  

Scoop a spoonful of batter evenly into the muffin tray.  Drop 2 teaspoons cream cheese filling into the center of each cup.  Top with remaining batter to completely cover the filling.  Place into oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack before frosing.

For Frosting
Beat butter and confectiners' sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1-2 minutes.  With mixer on low speed, add milk, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice, beating just until incorporated.  Continue to beet on medium speed untio frosing is light and fluffy, approximatey 1-2 minutes. Frost cupcakes and garnish with graham cracker crumbs, if desired.