Week 16 & 17 – Pound Cake Cupcakes & Mini Cherry Cheesecakes!

 

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Hello & Happy Holidays! I hope everyone has had a great time celebrating and that you are having fun getting ready to ring in the New Year.  I am behind in my blog posts because the past two weeks have been nuts with baking, shopping, cooking, baking, celebrating and baking some more!  But all good stuff.

With the Bears beating the Packers at home and clinching the NFC North Division in week 15, I wanted to send special treats in week 16 that, to me, said “CONGRATULATIONS!”, and I think festive cupcakes do just that.  So I found a brand new yellow cake recipe from scratch that, in many ways, resembles the Elvis Presley Pound cake that everyone loves so much.  It called for lots of egg & cake flour…very similar ingredients and measurements to that pound cake recipe. Interesting, because I have often thought of how I could convert the pound cake recipe into cupcakes. So, I decided to go out on a limb and just make this new cupcake recipe without a test run.  Low and behold, I think I did ok because the word back was “Great job on the treats – everything was delicious!”  I also decided to do one batch of my favorite chocolate cake cupcakes, which is found right on the back of the Hershey Cocoa box.  Seriously good, rich & moist chocolate cake every time! I made two kinds of frostings – vanilla buttercream for the chocolate, and cream cheese frosting for the yellow cupcakes – the same frosting from the Gingerbread bar recipe that I posted earlier this month.  I’m telling you that frosting is the best cream cheese one out there! Of course, I forgot to snap pictures of my cupcakes, but that’s ok, you guys know what cupcakes look like (hehe!).  But I did get a few shots of one of the best days of 2018!  So here is the recipe from Week 16: Yellow Cupcakes from Bon Appetit ,  Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake  & Classic Vanilla Buttercream from My Cake School

And then today was Treat Day – Week 17, so I consulted with my brother on what to send. Because, I don’t know about you, but with Christmas just two days ago, nothing sounds good to me, except maybe a  vegetarian health spa for a week on a beach.  I decided that these little Mini Cherry Cheesecakes would be a good treat, not too heavy, and they look very festive, as the holidays are still not over.  I have sent these little treats in the years past to Halas Hall.  I remember the first time I ever sent them, my brother called me and said the players loved them so much that the took the entire batch into a meeting with them.  I love it!  They are quite easy and a crowd pleaser… so if you need a little something for New Year’s Eve, these are a great make-ahead treat that travel well in an air tight container. You can always wait until you get to your party to put the cherries on top, and that way you can stack these in your containers for traveling.  Just a thought!  You could also top with anything else that you like, such as a drizzle of caramel, or chocolate, or any other fruit preserve.  So, here is the recipe link from The Brown-Eyed Baker: Mini Cherry Cheesecake Cookies

So,  that concludes my 17 weeks of recipes during the regular NFL Season and Baking for the Bears.  But because we are closing out this year on a GREAT note… and our beloved Bears are going to the play-offs, I’ll be baking and blogging right into the Post Season and New Year…  So, stay tuned for some extra special and exciting Play-Off TREAT recipes coming up!

Thank you so much for reading my blog – Happy Holidays & Happy New Year to you all … and GO BEARS!!!

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Sarah

2018 will mark my 7th Season making treats and baking for the Chicago Bears. You might be thinking, how does one land that gig? Well, let me tell you. It’s riveting… My younger brother, Danny, works full-time for the Bears. Our entire family have been life-long Bears fans, btw. Back in the summer of 2012, he came to me and said, “Hey, we need someone to make treats for the team. Do you think you can do it? Because my boss said, Dan, you’ve got all those sisters, can’t one of them bake? So, I volunteered you.” My first response was, “YES, but I don’t know how to bake”. I mean, up until that point, the only things I remember ever baking were 1) S’mores Bars back in the 80’s off a recipe on the back of the Golden Grahams cereal box. Come to think of it now, I don’t even think those things went into the oven – so technically that wasn’t baking. And 2) Good old Nestle Toll House cookies – which NEVER turned out the same each time I baked them and it drove me nuts and got me to HATE baking for that very reason. I was always in love with cooking, though. I was the gal who threw dinner parties often and provided an obnoxious array of hors d’oeuvres and wine – that’s more my thing. Side note: I learned the hard way that baking and wine don’t mix. Ha! However, I was honored and excited to have been asked to step up to the plate for this little baking / treat-making gig, for THE CHICAGO BEARS, no less. So my answer was an enthusiastic, YES! I figured I still had a month before the first regular season game, which is when the “treat days” begin – every Thursday during the regular season (not preseason). So, I hit the streets in search of good recipes and then got to work test-baking in the kitchen for the rest of that summer. As I became more internet savvy, I started following lots of baking bloggers and watching video tutorials. I would go to parties and if I tasted something that I thought was exceptional, I would never hesitate to ask for the recipe. Baking for the Bears is always in the back of my mind when eating desserts. I now have an arsenal of treat recipes worthy of offering at a bake shop, if I do say so myself;) . I started getting requests for my pound cake, outside of Baking for the Bears, and my Double Chocolate Chip Sea Salt cookies have been quoted as “The best cookies in the world” by a well-known player, as well as friends, family and neighbors. One of the first things I did was perfect a cookie of my own that comes out pretty consistently crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. I no longer rely on the old Toll-House recipe. It’s the one thing I never get tired of baking. The guys get them every week. With that said, this season, I plan to blog my recipes each week, and share with you whatever it is I am making for the Bears. I’ll also give you tried & true feedback on what worked, what didn’t, and any fun comments that the players, staff, friends & co-workers might have regarding the treat of the week. My office colleagues love it when football season rolls around, because I typically find new recipes and test-bake on Sundays to bring in on Mondays for critical reviews. From there, I decide if they are Bear-worthy for Thursday Treat Days at Halas Hall. I hope you will check in periodically and enjoy my blog. I’m super excited for the 2018 Bears football season both on the field and in the kitchen! GO BEARS! This is gonna be a good season… I can feel it!

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