Welcome to Natasha's Creative Confections! If you have stumbled upon this blog page, then you're in for a real treat! One of my favorite things to do is bake. If you choose to read on you will find pictures and recipes of some of the fabulous treats that I have created. So take a look around and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lemon cookies...well, kind of :)

I was looking to make a quick and easy cookie recipe to have a bit of dessert around :) I have this cookbook full of recipes you can make with 4 items or less, which, yes, is exactly what you're thinking: too good to be true :)

If you can bake something amazing using 4 items, I'd love to know your secret because these cookies were so strange...that is the best way I can describe them! They didn't taste bad...just weird! They were chewy, yet hard, kind of like a taffy...and not a ton of flavor.

When I added all of the ingredients, it looked wrong haha. The dough was so powdery like there had been too much flour and I couldn't form them into cookies! I added more butter to make them appear to be more dough like, which then led to me having to add more sugar and lemon juice (and those are the 4 ingredients!) to try and balance the flavor. What I thought was going to be a simple and quick batch of cookies turned out to be a slight disaster and a big mess! Oh well...see if I ever bake with 4 ingredient recipes again! :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Pies

~Pumpkin Pie~

~Apple Pie~

So, in case you didn't already know this about me, I love to bake :) But, I especially love to bake for special occasions--Thanksgiving being one of them. I really enjoy baking pies and I don't get to do it a whole lot, but it's so fun to make pies that you know will be eaten by everyone! (It also makes me slightly nervous too!)

But, I was in charge of bringing dessert, so that leaves me no choice but to put all my nerves aside and whip up some delicious pies! Classic Apple and Pumpkin...might think a little boring since it's so common and traditional, but a GREAT HOMEMADE apple and pumpkin pie...? Nothing wrong with wanting to keep the tradition with that :)

What are your favorite Thanksgiving desserts? :D

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

'Tis the season for pumpkin!

I'm not going to spend a lot of time convincing you that this bread is one of the most delicious ways to consume pumpkin, but truly, it is :)

I'll just provide the recipe and let you form your own opinion after you bake it :D This recipe comes from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.

(This makes 2 9x5x3" loaves, but you can cut the recipe in half if you only want 1)

-3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
-2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1/2 tsp. allspice
-1/2 tsp. ground ginger (optional)
-2 tsp. baking soda
-2 tsp. salt
-1 3/4 c. (one 15-oun. can) pumpkin puree
-1 c. vegetable oil
-3 c. sugar
-4 large eggs
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9x5x3" loaf pans, dust them with flour, and knock out the excess flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, baking soda, and salt.

2. In another large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and oil until combined. Add the sugar and whisk again. Whisk the eggs into the mixture, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Add 2/3 cup room-temp. water and whisk until combined. With a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Do not overmix.

3. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Gently knock the bottom of the pans against the countertop to even out the batter. Use the spatula to smooth the tops.

4. Bake in the center of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 mins. to 1 hour and 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Invert the loaves onto wire racks and cool completely before serving. The loaves will keep for 3 days, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

Hazelnut is one of my absolute favorites! I have been wanting to incorporate into baking for awhile and finally found the time to make a chocolate hazelnut tart :)

Mmm mmm good...this was delicious. Toasted hazelnuts incorporated into the crust, chocolate hazelnut filling and topped with more toasted hazelnuts. How could this be anything but amazing? :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fleur de Sel Cupcakes

So, these were just the simplest cupcakes to make....not really, but they were DELICIOUS!

I love sea salt and caramel together...it's such a tasty combination and a real treat to be able to make yourself! I found this recipe in one of my baking books and have been wanting to try it for awhile. It's actually meant for a cake, but I thought cupcakes would be a fun--I infused the chocolate cupcake with the salted caramel filling which was a nice little surprise :) But...have you ever made caramel? It can be so tedious and frustrating because you need to get the temperature JUST right. I struggled with this a little and had to make a few batches of caramel...but it all turned out ok!

They were topped with a caramel chocolate frosting (or mainly just chocolate because, again, a little trouble with that darn caramel) that was so creamy and rich and then decorated with a touch of sea salt, or fleur de sel if you will, that brought a lot of flavor.

Try these sometime! (if you have the patience...hehe)


For the cupcakes:
-3/4 c. dark unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 1/4 c. hot water
-2/3 c. sour cream
-2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
-2 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 tsp. salt
-3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
-1/2 c. vegetable shortening
-1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
-1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
-3 large eggs, at room temp.
-1 Tbsp. vanilla

For the salted caramel:
-1/2 c. heavy cream
-1 tsp. fleur de sel (sea salt)
-1 c. sugar
-2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
-1/4 c. sour cream

For the whipped caramel ganache frosting:
-1 pound dark chocolate (60%-70% cacao), chopped
-1 1/2 c. heavy cream
-1 c. sugar
-2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
-2 c. unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-in. pieces

To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake/muffin pans with liners. In medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water and sour cream and set aside to cool. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbonlike, about 5 mins. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix again for 30 seconds. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

3. Divide batter into cupcake liners. Bake 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Remove pans from oven to cool on wire racks.

To make salted caramel filling:
4. In a small saucepan, combine the cream and fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved. Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream mixture so it doesn't burn, in a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 c. water, sugar and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F. or until the mixture is dark amber in color, 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute.

5. Add the cream mixture to sugar mixture. Whisk in sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to infuse cupcakes.

To make frosting:
6. Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat. Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream so it doesn't burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 c. water, sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don't splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F., 6-8 mins. Remove from heat and let caramel cool for 1 minute.

7. Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 mins, then pour the caramel over the chocolate. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted.

Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase the speed to med-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat on high speed until mixture is fluffy.

8. When cupcakes have cooled, remove from pans. To fill them with the caramel, use a pastry bag fitted with tip #19 (or a long thin tip). Insert the tip into the middle of the cupcake, squeeze to release the caramel and fill cupcake. Release pressure on pastry bag before pulling the tip out of the cupcake. Repeat for each cupcake.

After each cupcake has been filled, use another pastry bag to pipe the caramel chocolate frosting on top of the cupcakes. (If you would like, you can use a special tip of your choice to create a nice design out of the frosting, or you can simply cut a small hole in the bag to pipe the frosting on that way). Top each cupcake with a dash of fleur de sel.