Holiday Baking Fest 2016: Pumpkin Pie Angel Food, Gluten-Free Pudding Cookies, Eggnog Cupcakes and Nutella Frosting!

I keep baking things and not updating here, so I’m combining everything together in one dessert-filled post! It works this time since there’s not as much to say. While I’ve tried to bake “from scratch” so far, I confess to using box mix for two of the treats in the post title. In my defense it wasn’t my idea!

My family has been very supportive of my new hobby. My mom in particular will pick up ingredients from the store and make suggestions for future baking endeavors. One week she put two box mixes sitting on the kitchen counter since both were about to expire. First there was the “Gluten-Free Sugar Cookie Mix.” I guess she bought it with the intention of giving it to my grandmother or aunt, who have different levels of Celiac/wheat sensitivity. Then my other aunt got in on it and “donated” a box of angel food cake mix she had for years.

I knew I had to doctor these up. The gluten-free cookies would undoubtedly have that “gritty” texture when baked. As for the angel food cake, it was so old I worried it wouldn’t taste right. I even Google’d it to make sure it was safe to eat.

We also had canned pumpkin, so I tried this super-easy Pumpkin Pie Angel Food Cake. Literally all you do is mix together canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and the mix. I wasn’t sure how it would work since the canned pumpkin isn’t really “liquid,” but the batter still got this weird meringue type of consistency (which I suppose is typical for angel food). After baking from scratch this seemed almost too fast and easy – I wanted to bake more!

The cake came out awesome. The box mix still tasted great and none of the pumpkin flavors overpowered. Highly recommend for an easy Thanksgiving dessert.

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I improvised a bit for the “Gluten-Free Pudding Cookies.” My mom also wanted me to use instant vanilla pudding, so I combined it with the gluten-free sugar cookie mix. (I really don’t mind suggestions. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m in the mood to make.) I figured the pudding would add moisture since gluten-free baked goods can be dry. A search for pudding cookies gave me this simple Perfect Plain Cookie recipe. Not as simple as the cake, but all you do is add both mixes, two eggs and melted butter.

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They are very plain, and I did taste the gluten-free texture, but they’re still delicious. The pudding made them light and fluffy. My sister got the idea to break out the Nutella to go with them. Only advice here is to make the cookies the exact size you want when placing on the tray since they don’t expand. If I do try these again with different box mixes, I’d add sprinkles or maybe a chocolate chip in the middle for some more flavor.

Speaking of Nutella…I finally made frosting! And it tasted delicious! Sinful would be a better descriptor though, because the Nutella made it super rich. I didn’t have quite enough powdered sugar but it came out fine anyway. You’ll want to eat it by the spoonful.

I made cupcakes to go with it anyway. Again I turned to leftovers since we had eggnog from my sister’s “friendsgiving” party. Making these Eggnog Cupcakes with almost a dozen ingredients satisfied my desire for a more involved recipe. I’ve also wanted to bake with alcohol so I was happy to see it used rum (or bourbon, but I picked rum). Plus the recipe calls for oil so I didn’t have to worry about leaving the butter out long enough.

These and the frosting have been my most successful baking attempt so far. You actually taste the eggnog and they’re not too dense. The Nutella frosting might be a little strong for them, so I’ll go with vanilla the next time I make them. I’m thinking they’ll be perfect for Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house.

A normal person would post a beauty shot of perfect cupcakes with amazing frosting designs. I haven’t attempted this yet so the best I can do is post the cupcakes and frosting separately. On the topis a boring post-oven shot of the cupcakes, on the bottom, the frosting left in the bowl:

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Piping bags and tips are officially on my Christmas list. I considered asking for a stand mixer, but I might just borrow my grandmother’s KitchenAid when necessary.

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