Thursday, June 18, 2009

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Em informed me a few weeks ago that she is allowed to bring a birthday treat into school on the second to last day of school, since her birthday is in the summer. At first she requested "gooey brownies," then snickerdoodle-chip muffin tops, but then this morning when she was "eaves dropping" on my Googling for different flavors and recipes for whoopie pies, she decided that THAT was what she wanted. She especially liked the look of the red velvet ones, even though she's never actually had red velvet cake before. I didn't want to send her to school with a birthday treat that she might not like, so I told her before I got her on the bus this morning that I'd make her some for when she got home this afternoon.
Awhile back, around Christmastime, I found this recipe for Red Velvet Whoopie Pies in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I remembered it being a pretty easy recipe, and that the cookies baked up nice and pretty. I also remember them having more of a chocolate flavor than the ones I made today had; maybe next time I'll adjust the cocoa/flour.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies (Better Homes and Gardens)
2 c. flour
2 tbsp. cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. buttermilk (I never have buttermilk, so I used just under 1/2 c. milk and then added vinegar to make the whole 1/2 c.)
2 tbsp. liquid red food coloring (surprisingly I actually had this...I don't know why I had liquid, I usually only purchase gel or paste. If you are using paste, you'll have to eye ball it.)
Mix butter and brown sugar until light. Add egg and vanilla beat until fluffy.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk into butter, beating after each addition until just combined. Stir in food coloring.
Using an ice cream scoop (side note...if you do not own a good ice cream scoop for cookies, GET ONE! Seriously, it is huge time savor, and an easy way to get same size cookies.) drop cookie batter onto prepared baking sheets. Cookies do spread, so be careful not to place them too close together (I used 1/2 sheet pans, and fit 7 on each pan.)
Bake cookies in a 375 degree oven for about 10ish minutes, until the tops are set. Cool completely before filling.
For the filling, I used a 1/2 recipe of my normal buttercream, but added 2 oz. instant vanilla pudding mix combined with 2 oz. milk. I think I would of liked it better without the vanilla pudding, but when I was looking in my baking cupboard, I spotted it and thought...hey, why not?!!
We'll see when Em gets off the bus today if they pass her "quality testing" or if she will change her mind again between now and next week. She is my kid and so much like me, so chances are she'll like these cookies but STILL change her mind a few more times...and then go back to her original gooey brownies!!!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Choco-Peanut Butter Swirl Muffin Tops

I continued on with my muffin quest today and decided to try out some chocolate muffin tops. The original recipe is for choco-choco-chip muffins, but I decided to change it up and add peanut butter. I think the result was pretty good; maybe a little more on the chocolate cake side than muffin side, but still not bad. I loved how they rose up all nice and high and pretty, but didn't like that the edges were crusty. Next time I'll have to be more careful where I spray the pan, I guess. I think that when I make them again in the future, I'll try adding some melted chocolate to the batter, and peanut butter chips throughout instead of just on top.

Choco-Peanut Butter Swirl Muffin Tops
10 oz. flour
1 1/2 oz. cocoa powder
11 oz. white sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. milk, plus an additional 2 oz. (I measured out the first, and weighed out the second for the pb mixture...sorry!)
1 egg
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 oz. creamy peanut butter (I'm sure you could use crunchy, but I like creamy)
peanut butter chips

In a medium-large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl (I used a large measuring cup) stir together 1 1/4 c. milk, egg, oil, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients into the dry (I know this backwards, but I was taught to do this at the last place I overmixes the batter a little, but you end up with higher tops) and mix well.

Measure out about 7 oz. of the chocolate batter, and add peanut butter and 2 oz. milk. Mix together until smooth.

Spray your muffin top pans with cooking spray. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cup to almost the top. Spoon the peanut butter batter equally into each cup and swirl around. Top with some peanut butter chips.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the tops spring back when touched.

I would really also recommend adding the peanut butter chips to the chocolate batter, as the muffin was a little "blah" without.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Am I really a cake moron?

I guess one can say I definitely learned from my cake making mistakes this week. I am the type of cake maker that loves to be put up to a challenge; there is nothing that I won't try. And I will also be the very first to admit that I am a complete know-it-all, and thought that I absolutely knew to a "T" how to do this's pretty simple after all, right? Ha!

So my neighbor, Jill, is one of my best friends. I mean, she is like the "borrow a cup of sugar" type of neighbor (although she would actually borrow the sugar from me...the only sugar she usually has is the little packets that you put in your coffee...but you get the idea.) There have been many of times in the past few years that I have run to her house, annoyed with life and needing someone to talk to, and vice versa. She's the only person that I don't mind a "drop by unannounced" visit from. She knows all of my secrets, and I am pretty sure I know most, if not all of hers. She is a one in a million friend and person. So this week was her birthday, and I wanted to make her a cake. They are having a bbq today, so I thought that would be a perfect excuse to make a "for real" cake and not just a round, generic "Happy Birthday!" cake. She collects fairies, so there was my theme. I looked through pages upon pages of pictures at Cake Central, Flickr, Google to get some ideas, and finally decided on a tree stump with a giant mushroom on top, and fairies sitting underneath the mushroom. Easy-peasy, right? I started with the fairies, making them out of fondant (the last time I made figures I used only gumpaste, and because I'm a bit inexperienced at making figures, the gumpaste was hardening too fast for me.) So everything was going great till I got to the face. I tried sculpting the face. I tried painting the face. Yeah...let's just say I'm not a talented painter. I remembered seeing face molds in the clay section at Michael's, and I found a 50% off coupon (which made the molds something like $3.50.) Once the fairies were done, I was pretty happy with them. So on to the mushroom. I decided to use rice krispy treat, another medium that I have not worked with much. Looking back, I should of mixed some white chocolate into the marshmallow mixture, because the mushroom would NOT harden up enough. It started to crack...I patched it up and went with it anyway. Biggggggg mistake. Let me say that again. Biggggggggggg mistake. I covered the mushroom in fondant, painted it, and it looked pretty cool, but was way heavy. So next the cake. I used 12in, 10in, and 2 8in rounds. The 10in and one of the 8in I torted. I sculpted it some, crumb coated it, and the next day covered it in fondant...I had my tree stump, and man it looked great. However, my mushroom was not looking so hot. I patched it up again, and decided to go with it. Ok, one more time....bigggggg mistake. I put it on the tree, in the back part (uhhhh, DUH?! That mushroom was so heavy, and there was NOT enough support) so of course, that part of the cake started to squish. And then.....the base of the mushroom started to split. I decided to cut my losses with the mushroom, tossed it in the trash...but then was left with a crater in the top of the cake from where the heavy mushroom sank. Quick thinking came up with a puddle made out of blue tinted piping gel.

I hate it that I get ahead of myself a lot of the time with cakes, and don't completely think things through. I had no support in the cake, no support under that darn mushroom. What was I thinking?! I kind of wish to do another of these cakes soon, to redeem myself!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Snickerdoodle-Chip Muffins

Yum. Yum. Yum. That is what comes to mind with these muffins. They should have a halo over their shiny sugary little heads, they are so perfect and angelic. Moist, melt in your mouth.....*sigh*...yum.
I will be the first to admit that I have had muffin troubles in the past, so I have put my brownie quest aside for now, and have ventured out on a new journey to find some really perfect muffin recipes. This recipe was originally for French Breakfast Muffins (and I sincerely apologize that I do not know which blog I found it on;) I'm sure it was great as it was, but I really wanted to change it up so that...well, that I could call them Snickerdoodle-Chip Muffins. Silly, I know, but still...yum.

Snickerdoodle-Chip Muffins
1 stick butter, divided
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1 healthy glug of vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
6 oz. chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet because that was what I had, but next time I will make them with milk chocolate)

Melt 1/3 c. butter in a microwave safe bowl. Whisk in milk, egg, and vanilla. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Stir in wet ingredients until just combined. Add in chocolate chips.

In a greased muffin tin, scoop batter equally into 9 portions. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.

For the topping, mix 1/3c. sugar, a heaping 1/4 tsp. cinnamon together in one bowl. In another bowl, melt remaining butter. Take warm muffins and dip them first in the butter, and then in the sugar.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cookie Tray Cookies

I've been neglecting the blog a little lately; I have been trying to avoid the boredom baking that has been leading to my weight gain! If my baking doesn't have a purpose, I can't do it. These cookies, however, had a purpose in their short little lives. I decided to send a tray of cookies into work with Ad a few weeks ago for his birthday (it's like sending treats into school with your kid to share with their friends! Haha!) While I was planning out my game plan for what I was going to make, someone Ad works with asked me to donate some items for a fundraiser bake sale that was also that weekend. Here are a few items that I made...

These oatmeal cookies were a last minute idea; I needed something else to add that were quick, easy, and used ingredients that I had. This recipe started from Beth's Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies on Allrecipes, but I was low on oatmeal, so I changed it up a little. You can mess with the spices some too; I absolutely love cloves, so I added extra. I think these are one of my new favorites.

Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. oats
1 pkg. white chocolate chips
Cream butter, shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add in remaining ingredients except for white chocolate chips and mix well. Stir in chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

These No Bake Cookies are so old school, yet so many people don't know what they are. I love them. They are so easy to throw together, and are really more of a candy than a cookie. These are another great cookie to add to cookie trays because they are something a little different, and they require no baking (I actually made these because I was almost out of propane, but wanted to get one more cookie in!)

No Bake Cookies
2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 c. quick cooking oats
In a saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla, salt, peanut butter, and oats.
Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Cookies will firm up when completely cool.

I love how decorated sugar cookies look, and really wanted to add some to Ad's tray. I am in search of a new sugar cookie recipe, as well, so this was a good chance for me to try out the No Fail Sugar Cookies on Cake Central. The recipe itself was easy to put together, the dough rolled nicely, and the cookies didn't spread at all. However, if I even just slightly overbaked them (meaning, if the bottoms got just a tiny bit golden) the cookies were hard as rocks! The ones that were still light on the bottom were great, though, and had really nice flavor. I followed the recipe exactly, other than cutting it in half. You can find the recipe here.
For the icing, I just made a simple royal measurements, just egg white and confectioner's sugar until it got to the right consistency. The only bad thing about making these cookies is that I had them laying out on the kitchen table to dry, and Cam kept poking them to see if they were ready! I ended up with maybe only a dozen good ones that didn't have round finger holes in the icing! Ugh! Kids!