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!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Homemade applesauce

I've been wanting to make homemade applesauce for SO long. My grandma used to make this all the time--it was one of my favorite things! She supposedly never had a recipe for it, so I tried my best to come up with something I thought might work :)

It doesn't really look anything like hers--hmmm...but it's ok :) I can keep trying. There is nothing wrong with this applesauce--it actually tastes pretty good! But, when you're expecting your grandma's, it's slightly disappointing :( I don't know if I'll ever be able to recreate hers, but I'm going to keep trying!

If you are looking for a good homemade applesauce though, this recipe works great!

-4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
-3/4 c. water
-1/4 c. sugar
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine apples, water, sugar and cinnamon in a medium saucepan.

Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until apples are soft. Let cool and then mash with a potato masher or a fork.

Mixed Berry Crumble Tart

I've been looking for new things to make for Christmas dessert. I usually do a pie or two but I've been wanting to change things up a bit--have a little more variety. Last year I made a cranberry cake, so this year I decided to go with a tart.

I love tarts. They have become one of my favorite things to make, so I am excited to do this for Christmas. I feel like there is not a whole lot of variety with tarts--lemon or some sort of chocolate tarts are really popular and since there is going to be a chocolate pie my aunt is bringing, and I'm not a huge fan of lemon, I decided to go with berry...mmm.

This tart has a crumbly, streusel topping, which I'm guessing is going to be scrumptious--I don't know yet! I'm writing this entry before I've even tried it :)

Ingredients for the tart crust:
-1/4 c. toasted almonds, ground in food processor
-1 c. flour
-2 Tbsp. sugar
-1/4 tsp. salt
-6 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
-1 lg. beaten egg
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Grind almonds in food processor.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and egg. Add the butter until combined. Add the nuts, vanilla and salt. Mix together with a fork to blend.

2. Work in flour with fork and use hands to form a round ball. Knead the dough gently with fingertips. Wrap the ball of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Unwrap dough on light floured surface and roll out. Butter the tart pan and mold pastry into pan, making it even. Poke holes on bottom of crust. Line with parchment or foil and use beans or pie weights to hold down.

4. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Take out to cool while you work on your filling.

Ingredients for the filling:
-3 (1-pint) baskets fresh berries (I used blackberries, raspberries & blueberries)
-1/2 c. sugar
-finely grated zest of 1 med. orange
-4 tsp. unbleached all-purpose flour

In a medium bowl, combine the berries, sugar, orange zest and flour and stir to blend well. Use a silicone or rubber spatula to scrape the filling into the cooled tart shell.

Ingredients for the topping:
-1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
-3/4 c. sugar
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-in. pieces

1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cold butter and mix on medium-low speed until the mixture begins to form clumps the size of small peas.

2. Cover the filling evenly with the topping.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes, until the fruit is soft and bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes before serving. Or, cool completely, then reheat just before serving. Serve with a scoop vanilla ice cream!

Russian Teacakes

Requested by my dad--one of his favorites :)

This recipe comes from a very old Betty Crocker cooky book. I've only used this recipe and it is slightly vague. I was told by my dad not to "deviate from the recipe" haha, so I did my best interpreting what certain ingredients were referring to. (I'm sure he wouldn't notice if there was a difference)


-1 cup butter (although it doesn't specify if it is melted or softened, I melted it because I knew it would keep the cookies from spreading--which is what they are supposed to do)
-1/2 c. sifted confectioners' sugar
-1 tsp. vanilla
-2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
-1/4 tsp. salt
-3/4 c. finely chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

1. Mix butter, sugar and vanilla thoroughly. Stir flour and salt together; blend in. Mix in nuts.

Chill dough. (It doesn't specify how long to chill--I did it for about a 1/2 hour)

2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll dough in 1" balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes, or until set but not brown. While still warm, roll in confectioners' sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

This cookie has worked its way into becoming a cookie I now always make for Christmas. I first made them a few years ago, and they've been a tradition ever since :) I make them especially for my sister, who really loves them :)

I know it's hard to find macadamia nuts for a reasonable price, but they're totally worth it for this cookie! Maybe find them when they're on sale and stock up for future baking days :)

-1 c. butter, softened
-3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
-1/2 c. white sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp. almond extract
-2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 c. coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
-1 c. white chocolate chips or chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth.

Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then stir in extracts. Combine the flour, baking soda & salt together in another bowl and then gradually stir into the butter mixture. Mix in nuts and chocolate.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Homemade Peppermint Bark

This has recently become one of my favorite holiday treats. I came across this recipe, not really looking for it, but when I saw it, I knew I had to make it for Christmas.

It's a refreshing and fun treat to snack on :)

-1 package (12 oz.) white baking chips
-1 tsp. peppermint extract
-8 to 10 drops of red or green food color
-1/2 c. crushed peppermint candies or candy canes

1. Crush peppermint candies.

Microwave chips in large microwaveable bowl on high (or use the chocolate melt button, if you have one) 1 1/2-2 minutes or until almost melted. Be sure to take out about every 30 seconds and stir to prevent the chocolate from burning. Once the chips are almost melted, add the extract and stir until the chips are completely melted and mixture is smooth.

2. Spread on foil-lined large baking sheet to 1/4-inch thickness. Add food color, drop by drop, over mixture. Using a wooden skewer, swirl color through bark. Sprinkle with crushed candies, pressing lightly into bark with spatula.

3. Refrigerate 10 minutes, or until set. Break into irregular pieces to serve.

Store in covered container at cool room temperature.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Alright...this is the first among many Christmas items being baked this year :) I think I will try and do a blog for each thing that I bake--so be on the lookout for a plethora of new entries!

This is one of my husband's favorite cookies--and I've never made them before! I don't know why--they are pretty simple, I guess they've never crossed my mind. If you enjoy peanut butter and chocolate together then I'm sure you'll love these cookies. Check out the recipe and try them for yourself if you've never done them before. They are a sure people pleaser!

-48 Hershey's milk chocolate kisses --(this recipe says it will make 48 cookies, but I only got around 30)
-3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
-1/2 c. shortening
-1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
-1/3 c. sugar
-1 egg
-2 Tbsp. milk
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 tsp. salt
-Granulated sugar for rolling dough

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove chocolates from their wrappers.

2. Beat shortening & peanut butter together in a large bowl until blended. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk & vanilla; beat well. Stir together the flour, baking soda & salt and gradually beat into the peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-in. balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets.

4. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie; the cookie will crack around the edges. Remove from cookie sheets to wire racks and let cool completely.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cranberry Brown Sugar Cake

I used the same recipe for the Blueberry Brown Sugar Cake I made back in March, but I just substituted for cranberries.

It added a yummy tartiness and brings a fun color to spread holiday cheer!

This is similar to a coffee cake and would be excellent served on Christmas morning alongside a hot cup of coffee or cocoa :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake...again!

I had a Christmas party for work last weekend and wanted to bring a tasty dessert. Everyone really enjoyed the cheesecake I made last year, so I decided to bring it again--but a little jazzed up this time with a chocolate chip filling and a homemade chocolate ganache to drizzle on top!

Yum yum, it was scrumptious! Everyone gobbled it up--I only had one tiny piece left! It even turned out better this time than when I made it for Chad's birthday. It is a much better idea to mix in the chocolate chips to the filling than to just put them on top. It looked better and, I personally thought, tasted better too!

Now, if only there wasn't that split on top of the cake...oh well, hoping for next time :D

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

So...not technically considered baking, but these tasty pancakes are so easy to make--and you'll love them! They have a great amount of sweetness and they just melt in your mouth!

Hmm...Christmas morning breakfast, perhaps? :)

-1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
-1 egg
-a few drops of vanilla extract
-1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted
-1 c. all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 c. milk
-butter, for frying
-chocolate chips, to add

1. Whisk together the sugar, egg, and vanilla until foamy. Whisk in the melted butter and then add the flour and baking powder. Pour in the milk, whisking it all together to make a smooth, thick batter.

2. Melt a little butter into a nonstick frying pan--just enough to coat the bottom. When it is sizzling, drop in tablespoons of batter, allowing enough room between them so that you can turn them over easily. At this point, drop a few chocolate chips onto the pancakes before flipping them for the first time.

3. Fry over medium heat until air bubbles appear on the surface and the bottoms are golden and set. Flip them over with a spatula and fry the other side. When the new undersides are golden brown, lift them onto a plate with your spatula and cook the rest of the batter, adding more butter to the pan as it is needed. Make sure tha tthe pan keeps a steady heat and doesn't get too hot.

4. Top with butter and powdered sugar. Eat and enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pumpkin Cookies

I had leftover pumpkin from Thanksgiving and was looking for a quick recipe to use it in and I found it in these tasty little pumpkin cookies!

They are the perfect little size to have a small treat, especially if you're craving pumpkin :)

--I used half of this recipe because I only had 1/2 c. pumpkin...I still ended up with around 20 cookies!

For the cookies:
-2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
-1/2 c. butter, softened
-1 c. pure pumpkin
-1 lg. egg
-1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.

3. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle glaze over cookies.

For the Glaze:
~Combine 2 cups sifted powder sugar, 3 Tbsp. milk, 1 Tbsp. melted butter and 1 tsp. vanilla extract in a small bowl. Mix until smooth.