Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles prove convenience food can taste good!

Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles prove convenience food can taste good!

Sometimes, you just have to take shortcuts. My sister Karen, for instance, loves to bake. But she also works for a tax firm which means she is really, really busy at this time of year. What hours she has away from work are full of catching up on life and all it includes.

So occasionally Karen resorts to baking mixes, in this case, Bisquick. Such mixes are great for things like dumplings and biscuits but cookies?

Yup, Karen played with a Snickerdoodle recipe and came up with this creation, which she asked me to share on the blog. These Snickerdoodles use Heart Smart Bisquick rather than the usual dry ingredients and brown sugar for a richer taste. Instead of rolling them in the usual cinnamon-sugar combination, I tweaked the final step and substituted Vermont Vanilla Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar. The result is a cookie quick to the oven and quick to disappear.

Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

1/2 c. softened butter

3/4 c. brown sugar

1 tsp. Vermont Vanilla Pure Cinnamon Extract

1 egg

1 tbsp. lemon juice

2-1/4 c. Heart Smart Bisquick

1 tsp. cream of tartar

2 tbsp. Vermont Vanilla Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar

  • Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in cinnamon extract, egg and lemon juice.  Add Bisquick mix and cream of tartar; beat on low speed until combined.
  • Pour Vermont Vanilla Cinnamon Vanilla Sugar into a small bowl.  Shape dough into 1-in. balls and roll in cinnamon sugar.  Place 2″ apart on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set on edges and golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Syrup


The perfect snack – Mexican Hot Chocolate and Vermont Vanilla Sugar Cookies!

I love Mexican Hot Chocolate. The touch of cinnamon gives it a sophistication worthy of more adult tastes. For years now I’ve been buying the blocks that you have to grind in a blender in order to add them to your hot milk and have them melt in a reasonable period of time. As delicious as the finished product is, the time and appliance-consuming process took some of the enjoyment out of it.

So when I saw a recipe for Homemade Chocolate Syrup on, I wondered if it could be adapted. Why not – it starts with dry ingredients so ground cinnamon could easily be mixed in with them, right? Right! I nailed it with just one attempt by adding a tablespoon of cinnamon to the cocoa, sugar and salt mixture. The result is divine Mexican Hot Chocolate that’s easy to make for one person or a crowd.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Syrup

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Callebaut Belgian, very rich stuff)

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

dash of salt

1 cup water

1 teaspoon Vermont Vanilla Pure Vanilla Extract

Get you ingredients ready - this cooks up quickly!

Get your ingredients ready – this cooks up quickly!

In a small saucepan whisk together sugar, cocoa, cinnamon and salt.


Mix dry ingredients

Add water.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and cook 1 minute.


Add water and place over medium heat


Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook one minute

Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Cool.


Remove from heat and add vanilla extract

To make Mexican Hot Chocolate, add two tablespoons of syrup for every eight-ounces of warm milk. Store extra syrup in refrigerator.

I poured my syrup into an empty 16-ounce honey jar and had about four ounces left for a smaller container. You can also adjust the cinnamon to your taste – I think the proportions are perfect but you might like more or less. This will make a great Christmas gift for neighbors and friends as well as a great item for food swapping. Disfrútate!

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Southern Peach Cobbler

A favorite summer dessert

A favorite summer dessert

One of summer’s most succulent pleasures is that of eating peaches. We just can’t get enough of this fruit, either fresh-in-hand, in salads or smoothies, or baked into pies and cobblers. I absolutely love peach cobbler, especially when it’s warm and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. I prefer a biscuit topping like the one in this recipe, which I originally found at AllRecipes. I substituted vanilla sugar for white sugar in all three parts – the filling, the biscuits and the sprinkling. It made for a subltly delicious difference.

If the thought of peeling all those peaches fills you with dread, be sure to read past the recipe to my short tutorial on peeling peaches the easy way. It’s still messy – dealing with anything as juicy as fresh peaches is bound to be – but much faster and more efficient.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Southern Peach Cobbler


8 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
1/4 cup Vermont Vanilla Vanilla Sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Vermont Vanilla Vanilla Sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water

For sprinkling:
3 tablespoons Vermont Vanilla Vanilla Sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2-quart baking dish.

Ready for the oven

Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in hot water until just combined.

Combine until mixture resembles coarse corn meal

Combine until mixture resembles coarse corn meal



Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them.

Lots of dollops!

Lots of dollops!

Mix together vanilla sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over entire cobbler. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

Okay, my oven is giving me trouble and this is a shade past golden

Okay, my oven is giving me trouble and this is a shade past golden

Make sure you eat it warm with a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream - or ice cream!

Make sure you eat it warm with a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream – or ice cream!

Peach Peeling tutorial:

Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside.

Heat a large pot of water just to boiling. Cut a small “x” in the bottom of each piece of fruit. Carefully place peaches in boiling water. Allow to sit for one minute.

Let peaches sit in boiling-hot water for a minute

Let peaches sit in boiling-hot water for a minute

Remove to ice water. Allow to sit in ice water for a minute or so.

Give them another minute or so in ice water.

Give them another minute or so in ice water.

You’ll see the skin start to peel back from the fruit.

Cut a small "x" at the bottom of each peach

The fruit is starting to show from beneath the skin

Take a paring knife and pull it off. Most will some off in large swaths. This is a quick way to remove skins from peaches and also tomatoes.

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Easy Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Creamy and refreshing Easy Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Creamy and refreshing Easy Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

The extended heat wave that had us sweating it out in the northeast last week inspired us to take out our ice cream maker. When it’s really hot I don’t want to go anywhere near either a stove or oven and ice cream for dinner sounds like a great idea. An ice cream like this one, which doesn’t even require cooking the custard mixture, sounds even better!

The original recipe was submitted by Darryn M. Briggs at It is ready to go into your ice cream maker in just 15 minutes and ready to eat in less than three hours. Unless you are one of those lucky people with the new-fangled, double insulated ice cream makers, in which case you’ll be indulging in its creamy goodness in less than an hour! Whether it take one hour or three, this ice cream is worth the time and effort.

I’ve been told by a few Vermont Vanilla Peppermint Extract consumers that it is wonderful in ice cream and I’m happy to say they are right about that. This ice cream is delicious, with just the right amount of minty refreshment. We opted for a few drops of food coloring because mint ice cream just looks better to us when it’s green. Have your own brand of fun with this recipe then have it for a snack, have it for dessert or, if you’re really decadent, have it for dinner. It doesn’t matter when or how you enjoy it, just enjoy!
Just seven ingredients get this ice cream into your freezer quickly!

Just seven ingredients get this ice cream into your freezer quickly!

Easy Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
2 cups 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 drops green food coloring (optional)
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate
Two extract give this ice cream recipe great flavor

Two extract give this ice cream recipe great flavor

1. In a large bowl, stir together the milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and peppermint extract until the sugar has dissolved. Color to your liking with the green food coloring.
2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After about 10 minutes into the freezing, add the chocolate chips. After the ice cream has thickened, about 30 minutes later, spoon into a container, and freeze for 2 hours.
Once ready, this delicious ice cream went quickly!

Once ready, this delicious ice cream went quickly!

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Classic Vanilla Cupcakes from The Sugary Shrink

A double shot of vanilla - Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

A double shot of vanilla – Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

I recently discovered the Sugary Shrink baking blog when the sugary shrink herself, Julia Murphy, posted a link to her latest creation in a Facebook group of which we are both members. The post certainly caught my eye since it involved vanilla cupcakes but I was totally hooked after I visited Julia’s blog and saw more of her fabulous creations. This woman is an artist, folks!

Incredibly, is Julia is a fairly recent convert to scratch baking – she’s just been too busy to worry about baking. A mom of four – two boys and two girls ranging in age from 17-24 – who is currently living in Heidelberg, Germany where her husband works for a company supporting the US Army, Julia is a doctoral student at California Southern University. She has an Associates Degree in Deaf Communications and worked as a licensed interpreter for the Deaf for 7 years before moving to Germany. She also has a BA in Psychology, a MA in Counseling Psychology, and worked at an addiction treatment facility for a couple of years until the long commute became too much for her and her family. Leaving her job, experiencing a couple of other life changes and the onset of another long, dark and cold German winter had her struggling with depression, which she mostly pulled out of through quilting. As she told me, creativity activates the part of the brain that regulates mood.

This creativity turned to baking just this year after she joined her husband on a business trip to Washington D.C. and sampled one of the famous Georgetown Cupcakes. A week later she was back in Germany and craving another cupcake but, as incredible as German bakeries are, cupcakes are not their thing. She tried making her own from a box mix but it wasn’t the same. That is when Julia’s baking obsession began.

“I went from box mixes to using ingredients.” she says. “I went from frosting in a tub to frosting from ingredients. I started with the basics and began adapting them to my tastes. I also looked to my German grocery stores for inspiration –colors, flavors, ingredients, etc. I really love combining the cultures of American baking and German ingredients/inspiration.”

Baking and decorating helped Julia shake off what remained of her depression. She baked nearly every day for months and when she wasn’t baking she was thinking about it, planning, creating and practicing her decorating skills. She worried about the expense but her husband saw it as a form of inexpensive and effective therapy.

Here is the really amazing thing – Julia has recently lost quite a bit of weight and doesn’t eat her creations! Other than some tasting along the way to make sure she likes the flavor balance, she abstains from almost all her cakes and cupcakes. I consider that an amazing show of self-control – Kudos to Julia and her husband, who also has lost weight and is keeping it off!

Julia tries to blog every day so she keeps baking blog -lovers more than satisfied. Check out the Sugary Shrink and treat yourself to a visual delight. The link to the homepage is and here is the link to the vanilla cupcake post that piqued my initial interest:

Below is Julia’s vanilla cake recipe, which she loves for its “sexy vanilla goodness.” These cupcakes turned out light and moist, qualities I’ve found to be elusive in some yellow cake recipes. I think you’ll enjoy them as much as Julia and I do.

Classic Vanilla Cake

Yield: triple-layer, 8” or 9″ round cake or approx. 30 cupcakes

  • 2 ⅔ c.  cake flour
  • 1 t.  salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 ½ t. baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • 4 t. vanilla extract, clear or Vermont Vanilla Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. oil
  • 1 c. buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F . Prepare cake pans with non-stick spray or cupcake pan with paper liners.
  2. In medium sized mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients; set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar – beat thoroughly until smooth. Add oil and vanilla – beat on high until frothy.
  4. Alternating…add flour mix and buttermilk; set mixer to low.
  5. Batter will be thin.
  6. Divide batter among cake pans or fill cupcakes ⅔ full.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes; cupcakes 15-17 minutes.
  8. Cool completely. Frost with luscious Vanilla Buttercream.

I’ve been looking for different cupcake liners – the pleated ones always cave in when they’re filled with batter!

The Sugary Shrink’s Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Yield: Approx. 4 cups; enough to frost double-layer 8″round cake or 24 cupcakes with average sz swirl


  1. Cream butter in a stand mixer (at least 4 minutes).
  2. Add about 1 c. powdered sugar until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla, mix well.
  4. Add remaining powdered sugar.  Mix on med high until smooth and puffy (approx 6 minutes).
  5. Add milk to desired consistency and taste.
  6. If adding color…do that now.

Pretty, yummy. Pretty yummy!

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Double Vanilla Whoopie Pies

Double Vanilla Whoopie Pies  - twice the vanilla goodness!

Double Vanilla Whoopie Pies – twice the vanilla goodness!

I participated in the local Farmers’ Market this past Saturday and needed a goodie for the patrons to sample. Samples are such a great way to meet new people and spread the joy of baking. Even if those taking the samples don’t buy any product, and nine times out of ten they don’t, at least you’ve made a connection and shared something yummy so your time is not in vain.

I had been wanting to try this recipes, which was originally posted on the King Arthur Flour website, as so may of my favorite and potential favorites are. This weekend’s farmers’ market seemed the perfect excuse to put these babies together. They were definitely worth the effort.

What I really like about this recipe is the filling. Most whoopee pie fillings use shortening and often marshmallow crème. I really like the lighter, fresher taste the whipping cream gives to this filling recipe. It’s still sweet, but, to me, not as cloying as some whoopie pie fillings are (some of them make my teeth hurt!). Just be aware that the filling needs to chill for several hours so it’s best to start either the night before or early in the morning of the day you want to make these goodies.

The vanilla cakes with vanilla filling are great – I’m a total segregationist when it comes to cakes and like to frost vanilla-based cakes with white frosting and chocolate cake with chocolate frosting – but I think this filling would be really delicious in a chocolate cake whoopie pie. My chocolate-loving daughter returns from her travels abroad in a few days so I have a feeling we will be trying that combination very soon.

Sorry there aren’t a lot of pics with this recipe – I was working on a deadline to get ready for the market and didn’t take the time to photograph the process. The picture of the finished product, however, should be enough to motivate you to try these on your own!

Double Vanilla Whoopie Pies


2 cups (one pint) heavy or whipping cream

1 bag (10-10-1/2 ounces) mini marshmallows

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons Vermont Vanilla Pure Vanilla Extract

Place first three ingredients in a saucepan and gently heat, stirring frequently, until marshmallows melt completely (be careful not to get this too hot – cream boils over quickly!). Remove from heat and stir in the extracts. Pour into a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer and refrigerate overnight or until thoroughly chilled.

Remove filling from refrigerator. Beat at high speed (you’ll need a machine here – hand mixing will not do the job), scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure you are incorporating all of the chilled filling. Beat about 45 seconds, until smooth and glossy. The filling will thin out and become almost sauce-like. Set aside to rest at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. It will stiffen as it sits, bringing it to spreading consistency.

While the filling is resting, you can make the cakes:


1 cup sugar

2/3 cup (11 tablespoons) butter, softened

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Vermont Vanilla Pure Vanilla Extract

¼ teaspoon Vermont Vanilla Pure Almond Extract

2 large eggs

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2/3 cup milk



Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease or line with parchment  two large or three smaller baking sheets.

Beat the sugar and butter together until smooth and creamy. Beat in baking powder, salt and extracts. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping bowl after each addition. Add the flour and milk alternately, beginning with one cup of flour and 1/3 cup of milk. Beat well after each addition. The final batter should be fairly thick and fluffy.

Scoop the cakes onto the prepared baking sheets (a cookie scoop works well here if you have one). Leave about 2-inches between each scoop. Bake the cakes for 7-8 minutes, or until they’re springy to the touch and feel set. Remove them from the oven and allow to cool on the pan, or transfer them to a cooling rack.

When cakes are cool, spread the flat side of half the cakes with the filling, then top each with another cake (flat side toward filling). Again, a cookie scoop makes this job easier. Serve immediately or store in a plastic container and enjoy within a couple of days. For longer storage, wrap pies individually and freeze. Makes about 18 whoopie pies.


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Chocolate Mousse Raspberry Cake


I may make vanilla extract but I love me some chocolate!

For almost twenty years now my husband and I have gotten together with three or four other couples every two months or so for what we call “Gourmet Club.” The hosts choose a culinary theme, usually a foreign or regional cuisine, divvy parts of the meal out and send along a few suggested recipes. Then we all get together on Friday or Saturday night and talk and drink and laugh and eat. Especially eat.

Our most recent get-together date had to be changed at the last minute so we just did a potluck (interestingly enough, it ended up with kind of a mango theme – there were mangos in several dishes, including the soup and the main course). The host asked if I wanted to make the dessert – uh, yeah!

What a great opportunity to try something I wouldn’t normally make for just the two of us left here at home. Something rich, something indulgent – something like Chocolate Mousse Raspberry Cake.

I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website and knew I had to make it when I saw it had won the 2010 Great Cake Contest, which is sponsored in part by King Arthur Flour.  It also took top honors for Sharon Kurtz of Emmaus, PA, at the Great Allentown Fair. I did change a few things, most notably the icing. The original recipe called for a buttercream that used butter-flavored shortening. I prefer not to use shortening so decided to frost my cake with a chocolate ganache. I think it was a good choice – rich and delicious!

You can view the original here. Below is the version I came up with. I assure you, there were no complaints.

Ready to start the cake

Ready to start the cake

Chocolate Mousse Raspberry Cake


  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened baking cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons Vermont Vanilla Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 teaspoons Vermont Vanilla Pure Coffee Extract
  • 3 large eggs


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons butter, soft
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vermont Vanilla Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1-1/2 to 2 pints fresh raspberries

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum, optional


1) For the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour two 8″ round by 3″ deep cake pans, or four 8″ round pans. The recipe can also be  made in three 9″ pans (that’s what I did).


When I make a chocolate cake I dust my pans with baking cocoa rather than flour

Sift together or whisk the dry ingredients through a strainer into a large mixing bowl.


Sift the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl

Combine the oil, buttermilk, boiling water and vanilla in a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix on medium speed for another 2  minutes or until smooth.


Now’s the time for a sample spoonful!

2) Divide the batter among the prepared pans (if you have a scale, the batter weighs about 50 ounces so you can divide 50 by 3 or 4 and get the amount you’ll need per pan). Bake for 50 minutes for 3″ deep pans, or 28 to 33 minutes for four 8″ pans, or 9″ layers, until the   cake just begins to pull away from the edge of the pan, and a tester inserted  in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely.


3) For the filling: Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Whisk together 1/4 cup of the  confectioners’ sugar with the clear gelatin and add to the whipped cream. Beat until the cream has stiff peaks; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, cream cheese, remaining 3/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until well-blended and smooth. Add the melted chocolate to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 1 minute, or until light and fluffy. Scrape the mixing bowl, then fold in the whipped cream. You’ll use the raspberries when you assemble the cake. Refrigerate the filling until you’re ready to assemble the cake. 
4) For the frosting: Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the rum if desired.


The chocolate pieces melt nicely in the hot cream

Allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy (I used the whisk attachment on my mixer).


5) To assemble the cake: Turn the cooled layers out of their pans. Split them horizontally if you’ve baked two deep 8″ cakes; trim any domes off the tops if you’ve baked 4 individual layers. Place the first layer on a serving plate (line the   edges with strips of waxed or parchment paper to keep the plate clean), and spread it with 1 cup of the filling. Cut 1/2 pint of raspberries in half and   place them over the filling, covering its entire surface. Repeat until all the layers are stacked; place the last layer bottom-side up for a flat surface on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake,   decorating with more frosting and fresh raspberries. Chocolate curls would be beautiful here – wish I’d thought of it earlier!
The perfect plate on which to serve this chocolate indulgence

The perfect plate on which to serve this chocolate indulgence

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