April 9, 2010

On Oreo Cheesecake truffles.

Posted in Baking, Bite-Sized, No-Bake, Recipe tagged , , , , , , at 10:39 pm by Dani

On, around, near, and ALL OVER these gosh darn truffles. I have a serious food crush on these things.

It’s another recipe inspired by Recipe Rhapsody. I’m not sure if she got it from somewhere else or if she invented it herself. All I have to say is that if she imagined these up herself, she sure deserves an award. They’re DELICIOUS.

I found this recipe while browsing her archives, and immediately knew I had something magical in front of me. First of all, I can’t resist a bite-sized anything. If you’ve been reading regularly, you probably know that already. Secondly, while I’m not a big fan of eating oreo cookies plain, oreos are a dessert-lover’s dream.

oreos

Oreo flavored things are delicous. Actually, delicious doesn’t cover it. Have you ever seen the commercials for Philadelphia Cream cheese circa 2007? You know, where they’re all in heaven? That’s how putting oreos in my dessert makes me feel.

You got philly in my oreo! You got oreo in my philly! Mmmmmmm.

The only changes I made to the recipe she gave was to add 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, and to call them “Oreo Cheescake Truffles”, as opposed to simply “Oreo Truffles”.

I added the sugar because when I whipped up the batter without it, I couldn’t appreciate the truffles as a new creation. By that I mean that when combining ingredients to make something new, I want the product to stand on its own as a brand new creation; better than the sum of its parts. The recipe without the sugar felt like eating oreo and cream cheese rather than an Oreo Cheesecake truffle. Adding the confectioner’s sugar changed it all. Suddenly I was eating a little bite of cheesecake, and it was wonderful. A love affair was born.

Fine. You guys can make it too. I’ll try not to get jealous.

oreo cheesecake truffles

We'll talk about those pink ones later this week. The Oreo Cheesecake Truffles are the brown ones.

1 package (1 lb. 2 oz) Oreo cookies

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Chocolate for coating. We’ll talk about this later.*

1. Pour cookies into your food processor. Veronica at Recipe Rhapsody warned that if you use all the cookies, you’ll end up with about 1 cup too much. I don’t mind that so much since I just kept the extra in a plastic bag for later. I’m always looking for things that are more interesting than sprinkles. If you’re bothered by the prospect of leftover crushed oreo, then set about 8-10 aside and eat them later. Run food processor until oreos are ground very fine.

2. Pour 3 cups ground oreo into a mixing bowl, and add in softened cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar. Mix with you hands. This will get messy–get over it. Use gloves if you can’t handle it.

3. Coat. Sprinkle leftover ground oreo over truffles.

4. Enjoy.

5. Enjoy again.

6. Stop. Control yourself.

7. Okay, just one more.

Sigh. These are seriously amazing.

*Its later. Lets talk about coating. A few days ago I wrote about coating using real chocolate. I said that I didn’t know what chocolate candy coating was, and didn’t find it necessary. Well, kids, this time I tried using chocolate candy coating. I bought dark cocoa Wilton Candy Melts® at my nearest craft store to see what would happen.

Here’s what I learned. Candy Melts® do indeed melt better. They stay melted well in bowls with any specific heat. They don’t harden too quickly, which is great because you don’t have to keep nuking your chocolate, but also makes it near impossible to roll the chocolates around in sprinkles or whatever topping you’re using. If you want a topping on the chocolate and you’re using candy coating, you must sprinkle them over the truffles, not roll the truffles in them.

I also learned that candy coating doesn’t taste as good as real chocolate. It might have been this brand. Most recipes call for something called “bark candy coating,” but I couldn’t find it anywhere. It may very well taste better. If you have it, go ahead and taste it. It might be tasty.

However, if your coating chocolate doesn’t taste great you’re going to have to ask yourself: what is more important; ease or quality? Normally, I’d say try to find somewhere in the middle, but this is an either/or kind of situation. So what will I do? I’ll be using real chocolate. My kitchen is the only place in my life where I happily work extra hard to make something better. That being said, it is good to know that this other chocolate stuff exists for times when I’m really rushing.

Last thing I want to share: I used my normal method with this new chocolate: roll truffle around in chocolate using two forks, and then place truffle only one fork and let most of the excess drip off.

April 7, 2010

On 2 kinds of truffles.

Posted in Baking, Bite-Sized, No-Bake, Recipe tagged , , , , , , , , at 2:42 pm by Dani

About a month ago I made truffles for a friend’s birthday party. They were a smash hit, and I highly recommend making them for any event. They’re another example of a food that looks more impressive than it actually is. I didn’t alter the recipes when I made them, with the exception of excluding nuts, and I can’t imagine anything making them any better. So without further ado, the truffle recipes:

Alton Brown’s Chocolate Truffles:

(Note: This yields about 20 truffles, depending on how big you make them.)

10 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

3 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I used dark and it still came out great)

1/4 cup brandy (I used chocolate liqueur once, and it didn’t taste as good. Stick with brandy.)

1. Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir, and repeat this process 1 more time. Set aside.

2. Heat the heavy cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate mixture; let stand for 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the brandy (don’t be worried if it doesn’t combine easily. Water into fat = resistance. Just keep stirring).

3. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

4. Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

5. While its in the fridge, you’ll be prepping your work station for coating the truffles, but we’ll talk about that after I present the recipe for the next set of truffles.

The next type of truffles are….

Paula Deen’s Cookie Dough Truffles:

Note: this makes a whole heaping lot of truffles. The recipe says 5 dozen, but mine were a bit smaller so I easily had 75 truffles, even after munching on the batter prematurely. Keep this in mind and scale down accordingly.

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cup all-purpose flour

1   (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup semisweet mini chocolate morsels

1 cup finely chopped pecans (I excluded these)

1. In a large bowl cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy (5-10 min).

2. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in flour and add milk. Add chocolate morsels and pecans (or just morsels, if you’re me), mixing well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on waxed paper; chill 2 hours.

Now lets talk about coating truffles

April 2, 2010

On my favorite Passover dessert.

Posted in Baking, Bite-Sized, Holidays, No-Bake, Recipe tagged , , , , at 10:47 pm by Dani

Actually, it’s my favorite desert ever. It’s from an Israeli cookbook, and yes folks; I’m going to translate the recipe for you. You should know that this is a big deal, since though I’m a native hebrew speaker, I can barely read the language.

So here it is, with a couple of my ammendments, and know this took me forever to read out of the book, but I do it for you:

chocoalte log completed

This is a picture-phone photo of the photo in the book. I swear, one day I'll get a real camera.

Chocolate Log:

8 matzahs

1 cup sweet wine (aka Manaschewitz)

200 grams unsweetened chocolate (just over 7 oz)

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

1 tsp instant coffee

1/2 cup margarine (or butter, but the recipe calls for margerine), room temp

3 tbsp brandy (or orange liqueur, but I highly recommend using brandy)

You’ll also need aluminum foil.

1. Crumble matzah in a medium sized bowl. Pour wine in.

2. On low heat, melt the chocolate, milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and coffee. Remove from heat and immediately add margarine and brandy. Stir until margarine melts completely.

3. Remove wine from matzah, gently squeezing out the excess. Gently, people, but still effectively. You don’t want a watery product, nor do you want to crush the matzah too small.

4. Add chocolate mixture, and stir to combine. Be sure to coat all the matzah.

5. Separate the mixture into two equal parts. Grease 2 sheets of foil, about 18″ long each. Pour mixture onto foil in a strip, and roll it up in the foil. The cookbook says to refrigerate overnight, but I always stick it in the freezer instead. That way when you serve it, it won’t get all messy and gross by the time people get to it.

This is what it should look like going into the fridge/freezer

6. When ready to serve, remove from foil and slice into pieces about 1/2″ thick. Put each piece into a cupcake baking cup.

March 31, 2010

On passover pies and some baking gospel.

Posted in Baking, Holidays, Pie, Recipe tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:06 pm by Dani

It all began saturday. I was babysitting for a family I’ve worked for before. Babysitting is a great gig–good pay, in cash, and (depending on how pleasant the family is) you get dinner out of it too. Sure, usually it’s the other half of the grilled cheese the kid wanted but didn’t end up eating, but still. And hey, I like grilled cheese.

Grilled Cheese

Yum. I mean, really. YUM.

I arrive at this home, and the mother opens the door. Once pleasantries were exchanged, we wandered into the kitchen where a huge paper bag was sitting on the table. She says to me, “You like to bake, right? [I assume she’s seen me facebook about baking] Well I made this really great almond pie and it was a huge hit. The recipe is on facebook, and here are all the ingredients.” I look inside the bag, and lo and behold: everything I need to make a pie! She included pre-made crusts (2 of them), almonds, sugar, corn syrup, and honey. She also said that before I leave I should take butter out of the fridge too. Wow.

Amazing, right? So thoughtful. Now I’m really excited to make this pie except….it’s passover! Crusts are NOT kosher for passover. Before I’ve even put my purse down I’ve started thinking about how to work around this. Sure, there’s corn syrup in the pie, but not all jews avoid corn syrup. And anyway, I can substitute honey or sugar water if I’m baking for a jew-crowd. But this crust thing was a problem.

Well, I figured the crust out, and my sister had a baby shower to which I could bring the pie. I had all the ingredients! The trifecta of baking is complete!

Lets review:

THE TRIFECTA OF BAKING:

1. Have somewhere to bring the completed product. It’s no good making a beautiful cake if no one is going to eat it. Have some event to bring it to. Not that I’m not guilty of aimless baking from time to time…but this is why I LOVE holidays!

2. Have a plan (or have your recipe). Know what you’re going to make. This is especially true if you’re going to be making something up, or altering something to the extreme. For example, when I made my girl scout cookie cupcakes, I had it all written out. What frostings, what cakes, how many. Everything. I knew exactly what I was going to be changing before I stepped into the kitchen.

3. Have all the ingredients. If you’ve ever been in the middle of a complicated recipe and realized you were an egg short, you know. Never get caught with a missing ingredient once you’ve started. The only exception is if you’ve accounted for this in the planning stage, and you know that something is going to have to rest and you’ll have time to run to the store.

Almond Pie

Almond Pie

Crust:

4-5 sheets matzah

1/3 cup butter, softened

3 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp brandy

1. Preheat oven to 350. Run matzah through a food processor with brandy. Let sit for 5 minutes.

2. Add cocoa and sugar, and mix using food processor. Matzah should be pretty fine, at this point. More coarse than matzah meal, but fine enough to press into a crust. Add softened butter and process until the texture is consistent throughout.

3. Grease an 8″ or 9″ pan, and work the mixture into a crust. it might crumble a little–that’s okay as long as you work it until it holds together. If it really refuses to hold together, add some more butter, just beware adding too much butter prematurely.

4. Bake 10-15 minutes.

Filling:

1 pie crust

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup*

1/3 cup butter melted

1/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup sliced almonds toasted

*For passover, 1/2 cup corn syrup can be substituted with 1/2 cup honey or you can heat 1/2 cup water and dissolve 2 tbsp sugar into it. Either way. Just remember that you also have 1/4 cup honey in the recipe, so if you go the honey route it’s a total of 3/4 cup honey.

1. Leave oven at 350 degrees. Mix eggs in large bowl with whisk. Stir in sugar, corn syrup (or substitute), melted butter, honey, and almond extract. Mix well with whisk. Stir in almonds last.

2. Pour mixture into crust. Bake 45 minutes.

3. Optional. Decorate with whipped cream!

Note that during the rest of the year, a pre-made crust will work just fine. I don’t usually use pre-made crusts unless I’m in a rush, but soon I’ll post cookie crust directions! You can make your own graham cracker crusts and it’s really easy.

March 30, 2010

On salvaging failures.

Posted in Baking, Cake, Holidays, Misc Musings, Recipe tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:36 pm by Dani

This is the story of a cake. This is the story of an inedible, nasty cake. This is the story of making a bad cake good. This is a cake rehab story. So it goes.

Cake

My mommy’s birthday is on Wednesday, so for the passover seder sunday night (we did it a night early) she requested I make her a layer chocolate-strawberry cake. Easy thing for her to ask for; not so easy for me to produce. I spent days trying to find a cake recipe that worked, but when sunday came around, I had nothing. So I used the recipe on the potato starch box, which was a very last minute decision. It was also a complete failure.

It was extremely dry. I took a bite of the pre-assembled cake and I ran straight for a glass of milk, resisting the urge to drink straight out of the carton. My throat was on FIRE. I DO NOT recommend this recipe. I know I know, passover cakes are always dry. Well, use the boxed mix then. Don’t waste your time on a from-scratch cake that’s going to be gross anyway. Or if you have a great passover chocolate cake recipe, leave it for me in a comment.

“So,” you ask, “what did you do? Time was running out, you needed a cake, and all you had was a dry, spongey, brown block. How on EARTH did you salvage this atrocity???”

I couldn’t help thinking about the mexican favorite: Tres Leches cake. It is the polar opposite of my dry, gross, THING. What makes it unique is that a mixture of evaporated milk, condensed milk, and cream is poured all over the cake, super saturating it.

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake. This is wet, not moist.

Drippy cake was not what I wanted, and condensed milk kind of freaks me out (it’s goopey!), so I did this to save the cake:

1. Combine approx. 1/3 cup whipping cream with 1 cup non-fat milk (or alternatively, 1 1/3 cup whole milk)

2. Fold a 2 layers of paper towel in half, twice, to make a cloth thats 1/4 the size of a standard piece

3. Cut cake so that it will be layers, each about 1/4″ thick

4. Soak paper towel in cream/milk. Squeeze out enough cream/milk so that it’s no longer dripping, but still saturated

5. Dab each layer with saturated paper towel. Don’t skimp, but don’t go overboard either. Make ganache and spread between layers. Skewer to keep stable.

If you’re unsure about the cutting into layers, ganache, or skewering steps, read this post. I talk about the basics of layer cakes. But, for those who are too lazy, I’ll do a quick, concise review at the end of this post. But first: frosting!

I had a multitude of fresh strawberries (and also a lemon tree) so I made Fresh Strawberry Frosting:

1 box confectioner’s sugar

1.5 tbsp unsalted butter

3 strawberries, chopped fine

1 tsp lemon rind (Your’e all thinking, I can just leave about the rind. Don’t. Trust me, it’ll be a million times better)

1/3–1 cup milk/cream/water

Combine all ingredients except milk/cream/water. Beat on high, slowly adding milk, cream, or water until the texture is smooth, yet thick. Tastes like candy! Yum.

In the end, no one knew my cake started out as a big hot dry mess. It wasn’t drippy, and the ganache helped to keep all the milk from sinking to the bottom. From epic failure to success: that’s what I call a good day.

Keep reading for layer cake basics. Aka, click me!

March 26, 2010

On donuts (with bacon).

Posted in Baking, Recipe tagged , , , , , , , , at 2:39 pm by Dani

Straight from the things-that-seem-gross department, Bacon donuts:

Bacon Donut
I apologize for the quality. Phone camera. Who wants to buy me a camera?

Oh, so you want a little more explanation? Fine, be that way.

First thing’s first. Gotta give a quick shout out to my friend Sarah, with whom I have a friendship based entirely on our love for food. In short: We like cheese. Without Sarah’s support, I never would have had the courage to throw bacon on a donut.

 Bacon Donuts (and regular ones too!)

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know by now that I live (well, bake mostly) by the word of Alton Brown. So, without further ado, I give you where I started:

***PLEASE NOTE: This is not the entire episode. This is part two.

If you don’t want to watch, of if you can’t memorize all that: here is the recipe all written down for you. Food network dot com is wonderful.

First thing I do when baking from a recipe is gather the ingredients and measure them all out into containers. This might mean more dishes, but it makes everything so much easier. The end result looks like this:

Ingredients

Now lets talk about the bacon element. I really wanted to fry the bacon donuts in bacon grease, which meant I needed a lot of it. So, when I went to the market to buy bacon, I looked for the fattiest one I could find. In order to save the grease, what you have to do is lay the bacon onto a cooling rack or something similar (It needs to have holes big enough for the fat to drip through, but not too much space that the meat falls through. And of course, it needs to be oven-safe). Then put the cooling rack or equivalent into a cookie sheet or baking pan; something that can catch all the grease. This is what it should look like:

Bacon
Really really really fatty bacon. You might want to spread them out more, but I found that it was fine like this.

Bake in oven at 400 degrees F or until the fat is almost completely melted away. Be careful not to let the bacon burn because you’re waiting for the fat to melt off completely. Something to try: Maybe cut a big portion of the fat off and “cook” it without the bacon for about 10 minutes, then add the strips of meat. I didn’t do this, but it’s something to think about. I almost burned all the bacon waiting for the fat to liquify. If you really want to go all out, you could buy the fatty bacon and also a package of bacon to cook for the meat part. That way you could cook the first former without worrying about overcooking.

I poured all the grease through a regular strainer to get all the chunks out. If you have a cheesecloth you could run it through that to get a pristine oil, but this was sufficient. I ended up with about 2 cups of grease, which was enough for a small saucepan. Yeah, I know, you’re not really “supposed” to fry things in saucepans, but I can tell you from experience that it works, so who cares? This amount of grease lasted me about 10 donut holes, which was quite enough. Lastly, crumble bacon once cooled. You’ll be sprinkling it onto the donuts at the very end.

Left: Grease. Right: Bacon.

DONUT TIME!!!

Follow the instructions on the food network site I linked to at the beginning of this post. Yeah, this one. But first, read the next three paragraphs. Don’t have a stand mixer? Neither do I. Read the next two paragraphs.

two donuts: a warning
See the one on the right? That’s why you should read my advice first. The left was the second attempt. Lots of flour. You’ll understand in about 2 paragraphs.

This is the part where you’re going to think I’m crazy (assuming you didn’t already think that). I watched Good Eats, and proceeded to spend half a day trying to find a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to borrow. Seriously. Half a day. I REALLY wan’t one. Anywho, in the end I didn’t manage to get my hands on one, so I kneaded the dough by hand. After sufficient googling, I felt confident that this would work just as well. In fact, I found many webpages dedicated to the question, “Can the dough hook ever replace kneading by hand?” I took this to mean the two are relatively interchangeable. So I used my hand mixer to mix the dough until it was too think to use with my sad little-engine-that-could machine. Then I started kneading. I kneaded for about 45 minutes total.

If you use this recipe and decide to do what I did, note that the dough will be VERY VERY sticky. One option is to flour your hands and add flour until kneading is comfortable, but I didn’t want to do that because I worried that it would ruin the fluffiness of the donuts. So instead I went the patiently-deal-with-dough-stuck-to-everything route. I just kept working at the dough even though it made my hands look like Incredible Hulk hands, only not green. At first it didn’t seem like anything was happening, but I kept working the dough until eventually it was more interested in sticking to itself than anything else. The key point here: Patience.

Also worth noting is how much flour you need when rolling out the dough. The answer is: A lot. The dough was really soft, which is good, but it also means it doesn’t hold its shape so well when you try to pull it off the counter. So remember: LOTS OF FLOUR. Again: LOTS OF FLOUR. Cover your surface ENTIRELY before you start working with the dough.

Next time we’ll talk glaze. Stay tuned.

March 21, 2010

On layer cakes and Oreo frosting.

Posted in Baking, Cake, Recipe tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:46 am by Dani

A few weeks back I was watching the Good Eats episode entitled “The Art of Darkness III” The first recipe he talks about is for Chocolate Ganache. I had never before realized just how simple ganache is! Just bring together equal parts chocolate and creme. That’s it. No really, I promise. Don’t believe me? Watch it yourself:

That is it; I was hooked. I had to make something with ganache and it had to be immediate. So I went out and bought some prepackaged cake mixes (I’m usually very anti cake mix but the need for instant gratification overpowered the distaste for shortcuts) in white cake and devil’s food cake, a box of confectioner’s sugar, a box of Oreos, Ghiradelli’s 60% Cacoa chocolate chips, and creme. This is the result:

Cake

I'm into making things pretty. I only wish the frosting went on smoother.

What you’ll need:

(2) 8 or 9 inch round springform pans

(1) Serrated knife

(1) Electric Mixer

(2-3) Heavy Duty ziplock bags

(1) Pair Scissors

(1) Knife to spread with

(4) Long skewers

(2) Cake mixes, and any ingredients called for on the boxes

(1) Package confectioner’s sugar

(Approx. 15) Oreos

(10 oz.) Chocolate

(10 oz) Whipping creme

(1/3 cup) butter, room temp

(Approx. 1/4 cup) Milk

Optional: Food Processor, small pot, mixing spoon

1. Prepare both cake mixes, baking each in one of the springform pans. Chill them in the refrigerator.

2. Combine confectioner’s sugar and butter with hand mixer on high, add milk a little at a time until the consistency feels right. I’ve talked about this process before, and you’ll see it again because I LOVE FROSTING.

3. Put 6 Oreos into a ziplock bag, and crush against the counter or with the flat side of a knife. As fun as beating up cookies can be, please refrain from being too aggressive. If the bag breaks it’s not so fun to clean this up.

4. Add Oreos into frosting and set aside. Do not refrigerate.

5. Ganache time. Chop up chocolate either with a knife or food processor. Heat the cream barely to a simmer, and pour it over the chocolate. Let this sit for 2 minutes. As Alton would say, “Just walk away.”

6. If using a food processor, pulse it 2 or 3 times, or until the creme and chocolate are combined completely. If using a spoon to mix, quickly stir until the same blend is achieved.

7. Lets return to the cakes. Use the serrated knife to even out the tops, and slice through the cakes parallel to the bottom of the pans, to create 2 thinner layers out of each cake. I used the Betty Crocker mixes, and they held together great.

8. Pile up the cakes while the ganache it is still warm and liquid-y. Pour about 1/4 of the ganache over the center of the bottom layer, and spread it around, avoiding the outer 1″. Place the second layer over this, and repeat with the 2nd layer, then again with the 3rd. Over the 4th layer also add ganache, but this time spread it all the way out, and also coat the sides of the cake.

Cake Innards

Cake Innards

9. Use the 4 skewers to stab the cake from the top all the way through, evenly spaced, to keep the layers from sliding around as the ganache sets.

10. Refrigerate for a few hours, or until ganache is stiff and cake is solid.

11. Now you can frost the entire cake with your Oreo frosting, and use the rest of the cookies to decorate. I suggest filling a plastic bag with the frosting and cutting of 1/2 inch from the corner, and using this to pipe the frosting over the cake before trying to make it smooth with a knife, and putting the leftover frosting in the last bag and cutting off a much smaller tip to decorate. This is how I decorated, but you can let your imagination run wild.

Top of cake

Stay tuned for my next layer cake: Mommy requested one for her birthday, which happens to be passover. Should be interesting.

March 19, 2010

On themed parties and cupcakes.

Posted in Baking, Cake, Recipe tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:02 am by Dani

This past weekend, a good friend of mine celebrated her 26th birthday with a little blast-from-the-past party: kindergarten themed! Of course, little ol’ me volunteered, well actually insisted on making the deserts. My original plan was a layer cake: plain yellow cake with chocolate ganache and strawberries. I made 1/3 of a batch of yellow cake to see how it would taste, and was heading out to the market to purchase chocolate, when I saw the cutest little girls in green vests outside my market. That’s right, it’s GIRL SCOUT COOKIE SEASON.

Girl Scouts

Adorable

What a better way to celebrate childhood than with some girl scout cookie themed cupcakes! So here was the plan:

4 types of cupcakes, each in the theme of a girl scout cookie:

  • Tag Along: Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting
  • Thin Mint: Chocolate cake with mint frosting
  • Lemon Chalet Creme: Yellow cake with lemon frosting
  • Shortbread Trefoils: Yellow cake with sugar vanilla frosting
Cupcakes

Completed Cupcakes

First, the cake. For the yellow I used Paula Deen’s basic 1-2-3-4 cake recipe. This cake recipe is a standard, crowd pleasing southern cake that every Louisiana grandmother makes for her grandchildren’s birthday.

I love Paula Deen’s desserts, even if they are a little butter heavy. This, however, I do not endorse:

But, I digress.

Lets talk cake first:

This is Paula’s recipe. Just a few notes: I made this cake twice, and it seems the key to a moist and fluffy texture is to (1) sift the flour once before you measure it (make sure you sift directly into the measuring cup) and then once you’ve got your 3 cups, sift it again. Also, (2) 6-8 minutes is a minimum creaming time in my opinion. I creamed the butter alone for a good 5 or so minutes with my hand mixer, then for at least 10 more minutes once I added the sugar. THIS REALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Don’t be lazy. My shoulder was only burning a little by the time I finished, but it was worth it (if anyone wants to buy me a stand mixer for my birthday, I’d basically love you forever). Also, I added a little almond extract. I couldn’t taste almond, per se, but it gave it a little indiscernible kick. I poured the batter into a cupcake pan, filling each hole about 2/3 of the way. Cupcakes always cook faster than cakes, so I checked on the cupcakes at 10 minutes, and every few minutes afterwards. Check by inserting and removing a toothpick from the center of a cupcake. When it comes out clean you know it’s done (about 15 minutes cooking time total) and you can remove the cupcakes and let them cool.

Trefoil Cupcake

Trefoil Cupcake = White cake + sugar vanilla frosting

For the chocolate cake I used the recipe on the Kroger Baking Cocoa can. I am personally a big fan of recipes that are found directly on the products. There is an exception: recipes that refer to each ingredient according to brand. It irritates me on principle, and I try to steer clear of these. But the recipes where the only brand is the product on which the recipe is found tend to be great. The makers want to really highlight their ingredient, which means the recipe will taste great, and since the recipes are meant for the average every day grocery shopper they tend to be really simple. So here it goes:

Chocolate Lover’s Cake:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

2 cups sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 sticks margarine (I used butter, also 2 sticks usually means 1 cup, in case your sticks are differently sized)

1/4 cup Kroger Baking Cocoa

1 cup water

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

Blend sugar and flour in a large bowl (I sifted them together). Combine 2

sticks margarine (I used butter), Kroger Baking Cocoa and water in a saucepan: bring quickly to a boil. Pour over flour mixture and mix well. Add buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and baking soda, mix well. Next pour into the cupcake pan, filling each about 3/4 of the way, and baked for about 15 minutes. Do the same process with the toothpick, and be careful not to over cook any of these cakes.

Thin Mint Cupcake

Thin Mint Cupcake = Chocolate cake + mint frosting

Now you’re ready for frosting!

March 14, 2010

On pi (pie) day.

Posted in Baking, Pie, Recipe tagged , , , at 9:11 pm by Dani

Pi day = 3/14

Pi = 3.141593…..

Pie = Delicious

I’ve always been intimidated by pie. Not by eating pie–that’s easy. Rather, the prospect of making pie has always made me feel small and insignificant. Not pizza pie. I’ve been making pizza pie for years. I’m talking about Pushing Daisies, Waitress, 50’s diner pie.

My Hero

Now that you know my inspirations, get ready to hear about my process. First I do research. My love for food network (the yeast puppets are my favorite) gives me a good idea where to start. I found this great website on pie crusts, and had a few friends send me their recipes for apple pie. I youtubed to see what Alton says (I almost never make anything without consulting Alton.) The last credit must go to a lady named Mama Burndt. I do not know this woman personally, nor do I know Baby Burndt, but her recipe ended in my hands (and inbox) and she is just as responsible for this pie as I am.

And without further ado, I give you my very first attempt at pie-making

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Ingredients:

Crust

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

2 tbsp sugar

Pinch of salt

7 tbsp butter

4 tbsp Crisco

5 tbsp ice water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

1. Sift flour, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. You’re going to be banging at the bowl with a knife, so be sure it’s one you don’t mind scuffing up.

2. Chop butter into small pieces. The smaller you cut now, the easier step 3 will be.

3. Add butter and Crisco into flour mixture and, using a knife or pastry cutter, cut the butter and Crisco. Stop when the biggest pieces are pea-sized. This is good. We want little clumps of butter.

4. Pour in ice water slowly while stirring with a fork. Stop when all of the flour is moist, but not wet or sticky. You may not need all the water, or you may need extra. If you accidentally use too much water, never fear. Just add a little more flour.

5. Using your hands, roll the dough into a ball (be careful not to over-handle it), and refrigerate it until it is chilled. This is a perfect time to start the filling.

Filling

6 Granny Smith, 2 Mcintosh apples

1/4 cup sugar

Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and/or clove. As much or little as you fancy, though be wary: more than 2 tsp of total spices might kill the flavor of the apple.

1 tbsp butter

6. Slice the apples into thin pieces on a cutting board. Transfer apples to a bowl. Try to keep as much of the juice as possible.

7. Add sugar and spices. Use your hands to toss the apples until they are evenly coated. Let this sit while we get back to the crust.

8. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, separate it into two pieces, and roll both out. Rolling pins work if you sprinkle flour over everything, but I hate flour. It’s messy. I prefer to lay the ball out onto wax paper, and just smoosh it flat with my hands. Once it’s as thin as I’d like, I use the rolling pin for just a second to even it out.

9. Place a 10″ circle of dough onto an 8″ pan, and put the rest of the dough back in the fridge.

10. Fill the pie with apple mixture, while evenly placing dots of butter throughout the filling.

11. There will be extra apple slices. Squeeze these over the pie, letting all the juicy goodness drip into the pie. The more the better.

12. Cover the pie with the rest of the crust, in whatever configuration you’d like. Cover the edges with foil to keep them from browning too much.

Bake 50 minutes. Tada! Enjoy.

Pie Innards

Mmmmmmmm....Pie