Author Archives for SweeterThymes

Orange Rolls

Orange rolls are one of life’s simple pleasures. If you have never had one, you’re in for a treat! These rolls look and act like cinnamon rolls but taste like fresh squeezed orange juice. It is hard to explain the way zesty orange flavor enhances this buttery sweet dough but it is truly an addicting combination.

Every time I am making sweet rolls half of my family wants cinnamon and the other half wants orange rolls. I always end up making a batch of each to satisfy everyone in the house. As much as I would like the ease of only making one batch, I understand the dilemma. Trying to pick between cinnamon and orange rolls is an impossible decision. It is like trying to decide between chocolate and vanilla. Both are incredible flavors, and each make different but equally delectable desserts. So, don’t pick a favorite…choose to love them both.

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Sour Cream Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing is quite like fresh baked cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Over the years our simple Christmas continental breakfast has begun to look more like an all you can eat brunch buffet but it all began with the sweet aromatic smell of cinnamon rolls baking while waiting to see what Santa left by the tree. After the kids got a quick peak at what Santa had left them they would head to the kitchen for a gooey cinnamon roll before the games and playing could begin.

The addition of sour cream into the dough with heavy cream poured on top take these cinnamon rolls from good to by far the softest gooiest rolls you will ever sink your teeth into. I don’t know what it is about sour cream that makes me think I need to add it to every recipe…but the experiment certainly paid off here.

Try these rolls just once and you will soon see why they become the must have family favorite. The next best thing to how these rolls taste, is the fact that they can be made ahead. Make the dough, roll out the spirals and then refrigerate overnight or freeze until ready to use. This makes homemade cinnamon rolls a luxury you don’t have to plan ahead to enjoy…

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Lavender Lemon Bars

lemon bars

Something about lemon bars just tastes like summer! The sweet-tart curd is perfectly balanced on top of a buttery shortbread crust. As a child, they were my favorite treat. The very thought of the tangy creaminess makes my mouth water. As my palate has matured (that’s a polite way of saying…I have gotten old) I still love my childhood favorite but I have added an aromatic twist. Lavender and lemon pair so perfectly that they beg to accompany each other. The flavor combination takes this classic bar cookie and upgrades it to a level that begs to be served at your next bridal or baby shower.

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Berry Cream Cheese Dessert

berry dessert slice

This dessert was created for our annual Fourth of July backyard BBQ. The berries on cream cheese create the perfect red, white, and blue color palette. This dessert has become so popular at our house that we no longer call it our Fourth of July dessert, it is now our go-to,  every chance we get dessert.  With its sugar cookie crust, cream cheese filling, and mounds of fresh berries you will soon see why we have such an addiction…


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Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

choc chip 1

Have you seen the Friends episode where Monica is trying to figure out and re-create Phoebe’s grandmother’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe? I feel like I have lived my life inside this episode trying to come up with the perfect quintessential cookie. A cookie that is slightly crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside. A cookie that has a rich buttery flavor in every bite. A cookie that allows the chocolate to accent but not overpower. Monica finally found her perfect cookie recipe on the back of a bag of chocolate chips….my search, however, has not been that simple.

I have tried every recipe imaginable from copycat “Mrs. Fields” recipes to the $500 Neiman Marcus recipe. I have tried recipes that combine low protein cake flour with high protein bread flour (which ends up creating all-purpose flour). I have ground whole grains into flour, tried malted barley, sugar syrups, you name it I’ve tried it. The recipe I have finally deemed “perfect” is not easy and does take prep work but it so incredible that it is worth every extra effort it involves. I promise this IS the best chocolate chip cookie EVER!!!

choc chip 2The first secret to this cookie is browned butter. If you have ever made madeleines you are familiar with browning butter and how it is a game-changer in baked goods. The deeper nuttier flavor it adds to a recipe heightens and enhances the flavor. Browning butter is easy, can be made ahead, and is well worth the time it takes. Combining sugars in this recipe creates the perfect texture. Brown sugar adds moisture, golden syrup adds chewiness, and the turbinado sugar adds a sweet crunch that retains its integrity even through the baking process. I have come to believe that corn starch is pure magic in cookies. Adding about 2 tablespoons for every cup of flour adds a softness to cookies that can’t be created any other way…not to mention the perfect crumb.

This recipe does take advanced preparation. After making the dough it needs to sit and mellow so the flavors infuse together. This may seem like a silly extra step but I have baked them right after mixing (when no one could wait for a fix) and I could taste the difference. My family has come up with a solution, we now freeze the dough balls. I recommend forming the dough into balls before freezing the dough. The dough is too hard to scoop after it is frozen plus you can take out the exact number you need without wasting precious dough.

I recognize that everyone claims to have the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. As much as I don’t want to disagree with Monica or offend anyone’s great aunt Ethel…this recipe is quite possibly the world’s most perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe ever!

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Raspberry Macarons

Rasberry MAcaronIhave to admit, even before our current pandemic hit, I have always been a little over the top crazy about food storage and emergency preparedness.  When COVID-19 first started to surface I began taking inventory of my basement bunker. I came across several #10 cans of freeze-dried raspberries that needed to be rotated. Fresh raspberries are a favorite at my house, but what could I do with freeze-dried raspberries. If you know me or follow my blog at all you probably know that my kitchen tends to revolve around french macarons. So, it should come as no surprise that my mind instantly went to infusing the fresh tart flavor of raspberry into these magical almond cookies.

These cookies are SO incredible that I can’t figure out why it took rotating food storage to come up with the idea!!! The flavor tastes exactly like fresh raspberry. Anyone who makes macarons knows that the recipe is delicate and that additional moisture can “break” the meringue. For this reason, pastry chefs often add artificial flavors or flavor pastes to macarons. Artificial flavorings albeit functional cannot deliver fresh flavor. Freeze-dried fruit powder, however, satisfies both the palate and the delicate moisture balance in meringue.

To make the raspberry powder simply put freeze-dried raspberries into a food processor and pulverize. Dehydrated fruit is not the same and simply does not preserve fresh flavor the way freeze-drying does. Next, sift the powder through a fine-mesh sieve to remove all of the seeds, ensuring a smooth macaron skin. Now, when it comes to incorporating fresh fruit into an already finicky macaron this is usually done in the filling or layered between the two shells.  Due to the current quarantine, I decided not to brave the grocery store and make my normal raspberry buttercream with the same freeze-dried powder rather than fresh berries. The flavor was so much better that I may never go back. How can freeze-dried taste better than fresh? It is the concentration of flavor it allows the recipe to hold without adding additional moisture. This filling is so fresh and tangy, I am not going to lie, I was eating it by the spoonful.

I have to say that these perfect little cookies are my silver lining to a very stressful quarantine. They have honestly made me rethink my whole food storage. Maybe storing almond flour, dehydrated egg whites and some freeze-dried berries is all I need. I always imagined Marie Antoinette as arrogant and out of touch with the French people when she proclaimed “let them eat cake”… truth is maybe she understood food storage better than all of us!

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Raspberry Buttercream


2 cups (4 sticks) room temperature salted butter

2 lb confectioners sugar (1 bag powdered sugar)

1 T. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 – 1/3 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup freeze-dried rasberry powder (or to taste)


  1. Cream together butter until light and fluffy. This is the most important stage of the entire recipe and may take between 5-8 minutes for butter to double in size. Continually stop mixture to scrape down the sides of bowl to insure all of the butter becomes same consistency.
  2. Add the salt and powdered sugar beat on medium high until dry mixture fully incorporates with the butter.
  3. Slowly combine the freeze-dried rasberry powder into the mixture
  4. Add vanilla and 1/4 cup of evaporated milk. Begin whipping the buttercream mixture on high for another 5-8 minutes until the frosting becomes super light and fluffy. Add additional evaporated milk during this process until the desired consistency is reached.


  • The quality of butter is extremely important to this recipe as it not only creates the texture but is the flavor base that is built upon when adding flavorings.
  • I like to use ground sea salt as is breaks down quicker in the finished buttercream.
  • Use your favorite brand of vanilla. I have different brands and quality vanilla extracts I use for different recipes. For my buttercream, I prefer Molina. It is not the most expensive vanilla but does not have an overwhelming alcohol taste. If you are using a stronger, higher quality vanilla reduce the amount to 2 tsp.
  • If you are in need of a true white buttercream use heavy cream instead of evaporated milk and substitute regular vanilla with Wilton clear vanilla. I like to use evaporated milk over heavy cream as it provides a richer flavor but it does add a cream color versus a true white color to the frosting.

Quarantined With My Peeps…

peeps #1 (2)If going to the grocery store right now gives you a straight-up panic attack, but Easter wouldn’t be Easter without Peeps…we have a solution for you. Homemade Peeps! It’s funny, I have been making homemade marshmallow for years but not once have I had the desire to make my own peeps. Until now that is. Suddenly, the daunting task of braving the grocery store only to find empty shelves makes the thought of everything made at home from scratch seem better.

I used my standby no-boil marshmallow recipe for the peeps and it worked like a charm. I was a little worried at first as I have no clue how to pipe a Peep. Let me put your fears to rest…I played with about 5 peeps and low and behold they looked close to the original. Now, they may not be perfect but why make something home-made if it’s going to look like a machine fabricated it.peeps #6 (2)

If you don’t have sanding sugar sitting around your pantry this quarantine…make your own. It is super easy and you can customize your colors. If you don’t have unflavored gelatine, substitute for an egg-white marshmallow recipe. I always keep unflavored gelatin in my food storage as it can be used as an egg substitute in a pinch (or a pandemic as the case may be). Best of all making peeps homemade allows you to change up the flavor. I used Nielson Massey’s vanilla bean paste as I think this product is a gift straight from the Gods, but the possibilities are endless. Use freeze-dried raspberries or strawberries from your food storage to shake things up a bit. Try a little citric acid to add tang to the sanding sugar. Bottom line…have fun with it.

There are many things while quarantined we have to go without…but Peeps aren’t one of them. One of the greatest things that may come from this crazy pandemic is our resourcefulness and ability to learn new skills. Instagram is full of celebrities baking bread and putting on t-shirts while doing a hand-stand. While I cannot say with certainty that you will be able to put on a shirt while doing a hand-stand, I am fairly confident you can make homemade marshmallow and toss it in sugar. Let this Easter weekend go down in the history books as the Easter you were quarantined with your “Peeps”.

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Carrot Pretzel Rods

With the decision to close public schools, students have had to get creative with their online schooling. My favorite class, Early Childhood Education, gave the project to create a lesson plan with an activity that could be used to teach children. My mind instantly went to baking with my mom and the millions of questions I would ask.  I loved learning what all of the ingredients do and how they react together. Baking is basically a big science experiment with a delicious outcome! I then chose to create a science-related lesson about the physical changes that occur when you melt chocolate. The second part of the project was to actually do the lesson with some of your family, so my sister and I got to work dipping pretzel rods into the melted chocolate. When I say that these treats can truly be done by anyone, I mean it! These fun spring treats are adorable, delicious and such a fun quarantine activity for the whole family!

   – Maddie ( First post without Mom ♥)

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Homemade Chocolate Covered Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Eggs


My mom has been making homemade chocolate-covered Easter eggs as long as I can remember. It’s funny when I was a little girl I thought she was trying to save money by making marshmallow instead of buying it. Looking back I clearly didn’t know how inexpensive marshmallows were and that my mother was no frugal genius. She made homemade marshmallow because there is simply nothing like it. It is so incredibly silky and smooth. It is like eating a sweet cloud infused with vanilla.

Please, Please, do not let the thought of making homemade marshmallow in the shape of eggs and dipping it in chocolate intimidate you. This is honestly one of the easiest and most impressive recipes you will ever make. The marshmallow is no-bake. You read that right…no boiling, no baking required. You don’t even need a fancy mold. I press a plastic easter egg in a tray of flour to make an impression, then spoon in the marshmallow. I even temper the chocolate used to dip the eggs in the microwave. What could be easier? I make these every year with my kids and when I say I make them with my kids…I mean it. They don’t sit by and watch mom make eggs…they make them. We actually do well over a hundred eggs every year. We make them for friends, family, even the kids in the neighborhood, they are that much fun to make.

We like to decorate our eggs with simple royal icing drop flowers but that is completely optional and decorations could be purchased if royal icing isn’t your thing. These eggs are also amazing using our strawberry and raspberry marshmallow recipe. The take away of this blog post is that you can do this! Try this and recipe and impress everyone with your mad culinary skills.


2 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin

4 Tbsp cold water

1 cup boiling water

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp finely ground sea salt

2 tsp vanilla bean paste

2 lb milk chocolate

assorted drop flowers and leaves


  1. Fill several cake pans with flour and use a large-sized plastic easter egg to press 30-40 egg impressions in flour
  2. In stand mixer bowl pour 4 Tbsp cold water over 2 envelopes of unflavored Knox gelatin.
  3. Let water fully absorb into gelatin.
  4. Pour 1 cup boiling water over gelatin and stir until hot water completely dissolves gelatin.
  5. Add sugar and salt.
  6. Whip on high until stiff peaks form.
  7. Add vanilla bean paste.
  8. Whip until incorporated.
  9. Spoon marshmallow mixture into prepared egg impressions.


  1. Let marshmallow mixture sit at least 4 hours before tossing in flour and removing.
  2. Dust off excess flour with a pastry brush and place marshmallow eggs on parchment paper.
  3. Use a plastic bowl to melt chocolate 1 lb at a time.
  4. Melt chocolate in the microwave in 30-second burst, stirring in between.
  5. As the chocolate gets close to being smooth drop time to 10-second bursts.
  6. Dip marshmallow eggs in the bowl of melted chocolate.
  7. Place dipped eggs on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper,
  8. Place drop flowers and leaves on chocolate eggs as they begin to dry.
  9. Let eggs dry completely before packaging or eating.
  10. Enjoy!!!


  • Personalize eggs with names using royal icing. I like to use a Wilton #2 or #3 tip to scroll names.
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