Sunday, February 27, 2011

Funfetti Whoopie Pies/ Adrian's favorite cookie!

Funfetti cake makes me feel like a kid again and cookie sandwiches are pure perfection! Two cookies, with frosting..all in one bite!? YES PLEASE!
One bite of these and you will be teleported back to the 1st grade!
I made these for my co-worker Adrian. I have made cake batter cookies for the office quite a few times, and he swears these are his favorite cookies in the world! So I thought I’d make them even more epic, and turn them into whoopie pies for his birthday!
Warning it is very hard not to consume less than 4 at a time!

For the cookies:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 package funfetti or rainbow chip cake mix

For the filling: 
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar,
depending on your desired consistency
add a few drops of red food coloring..who doesn’t love pink!?  

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cream the butter and cream cheese. Blend in egg and vanilla. Add cake mix in two parts, mixing well (it will be a super thick batter—if it is too stiff, add a small quantity of heavy cream to the batter and mix well). Using a small cookie scoop, drop balls of cookie dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Leave about 2 inches between the cookies. (*If batter seems too thick, you can add a bit of water)
Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool cookies for at least 15 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack; the cookies are very delicate when they first come out of the oven and they will break if you try to transfer them too soon.
Once completely cool, add a generous dollop of frosting to the bottom of half the cookies, and then sandwich the rest of the cookies on top to form something that vaguely resembles a whoopie pie, but tastes like something else entirely.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Sour Cream Blueberry Bread

Hello all!
I cannot believe there is already only 8 days left in the month of February! yikes!
I actually baked this quick bread right when I got back in town from my holiday stay in Florida; and unfortunately haven’t had time to share this recipe with you until now!
I thought baking the boys breakfast for our first week back from holiday vacation would help us get settled and back into the swing of things at the office. My go to quick bread recipe is usually my mother’s infamous banana bread, which I will share with you one day; however as I stated in my previous entries, my mother gave me several cookbooks for Christmas so I was anxious to try a new recipe from one of them.
The first one that made my tummy feel warm and happy inside was this sour cream blueberry bread, by William Sonoma.
I baked the bread on a Sunday night, and once it had cooled I cut 2 slices for Tyler and me, in order to test it out and make sure it was edible for the office the next day.

Well it turns out this bread was quite edible! When I went into the kitchen of my office to take a few pictures of the bread, and cut myself a slice….it was all gone! All that remained were a few remnants of crumbs and foil I wrapped the bread in.

Although I was not able to have a slice for a snack during my Monday I was not upset! This disappearing act put a huge smile on my face!
I felt bad that Tyler didn’t get to have very much of it. Poor thing…he is so patient. He sits and watches me bake…and then watches me wrap the baked goods up to bring to work the next day! He rarely gets to over indulge in quite a few of my treats.
Since I had all the ingredients, I made this bread again the following evening.
I gave Tyler a large portion to bring to his work, and kept a small portion at home. This bread is so good you have to bake it twice! 

On a side note… never hesitate to bake a quick bread for yourself, if you are craving it. I am fortunate to have an office full of boys to share my treats with but if I did not I probably would hesitate to bake so much. I mean you may think, what will I do with all this bread? Should I force myself to eat it before it turns? Should I force myself to meet my neighbor and give them half? Well after visiting  my “LA mom”, Laura Harvell for a new years day celebration at her home, I quickly learned that these breads can be stored in the freezer for quite some time, and then taken out, defrosted, and taste exactly how it would if you just pulled the bread out of the oven!
Laura made my chocolate chip pumpkin bread early in the holiday season, but then went on a trip to visit her daughter, my bestie, Stephanie in NYC. She placed the bread in the freezer, for about 3 weeks, took it out the night before her new years day party, and it was ready to serve the next morning!
It was still so moist! I couldn’t believe it!

2 medium-ripe bananas
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus
  extra for greasing
1 heaping cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
Mash the bananas well with a fork or coarsely puree them in a food processor. Measure out 1 cup and set aside.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pecans. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, butter and the 1 cup mashed banana pulp. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the banana mixture. Stir together just until combined. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Gently fold in the blueberries, taking care not to break them up. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until the top of the bread is firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto the rack and let cool completely. Makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pink Velvet Cupcakes

Happy Valentines Day!

For this holiday I decided to bake pink velvet cupcakes for all the men in my life.
I originally was going to use my friend Sylvia’s recipe (def. check out her site here- amazing!)

But when I arrived home from the store I was missing white vinegar! If you have ever been or live in the LA would know that attempting to trek to the nearest market at 6:30 in the evening is not the easiest of ventures. What would normally be a 10 min trip turns into a 45 min trip! –(No thank you!)
So I had to get creative and work with what I had. I found another pink velvet recipe from a taste of home. I don’t think this is your traditional pink/red velvet recipe..but hey, it is titled "pink velvet" that is what I went with! ; )
Earlier in the week I emailed Sylvia to see if the use of red food coloring (lightly added) could be used; rather than purchasing pink gel paste as required in her recipe.
She states that:  "originally I tried just going easy on the red food coloring and it didn't have the same bright pink effect.  The batter without the food coloring is somewhat of a muddy color so I think if you want a true pink color; it's safer to get the pink gel."
Whether you use Sylvia’s recipe or the recipe below, I recommend purchasing the pink gel as well. There is no way you can get such an electric shade of pink, by simply just using a few drops of red dye.
Since I have a lot of trouble with cream cheese frosting, I decided to stick with my favorite: Vanilla Buttercream! Unfortunately I over beat the butter and the frosting did not come out as stiff and thick-hence the pictures of the icing looking like a blob of marshmallow! I filled each cupcake with the buttercream as well!
Minus my lack of decorating skills the color is fun and the taste is a delight!

makes apprx 24 cupcakes I doubled to make 48!
 1 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar 
1/8 teaspoon pink paste food coloring 
 3 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
 1/4 teaspoon salt 
 1 cup buttermilk  

In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and food coloring until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk beating well after each addition. 
Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 23-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Classic Birthday Cake

A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I both celebrated our birthdays.(they are a week apart)
For this special occasion we decided to have a combo birthday party, with our closest friends.
I wanted to make a cake rather than cupcakes, but was a bit hesitant to. I didn’t think our friends would want a huge slice of cake so late at night, and I also thought they would be timid and not cut the cake as they pleased.
But instead of making a finger treat, like candy, cookies, or cupcakes I went with my initial cravings and stuck with a cake.
However, instead of writing “happy birthday” on the cake...I blatantly wrote "EAT ME!"...I thought it best to be direct and get my purpose of baking a cake across! I mean I didn’t bake it for decoration!
I thought about making something fancy like a coconut cake, but since I had other duties to attend to (cleaning the house, and making Jello shots) I decided to keep it simple and use William Sonoma’s recipe for the Classic Birthday Cake! -Yellow cake with chocolate frosting! Who doesn’t love a classic?
It was absolutely perfect! So perfect that there was none left for me to have for breakfast the next morning!
So really I had nothing to worry was not simply was devoured!
Classic Cake:
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottoms of two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper; or simply grease the pans with cooking spray.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed beat the butter until smooth. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until just blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk in 2 additions, beating on low speed after each addition.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and spread it evenly. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around the inside edges of the pans to loosen the layers. Invert onto the rack and lift off the pans, then carefully peel off the parchment paper. Let the layers cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Frosting:
(makes enough frosting for one 9 inch cake)
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup-* I didn’t use this-fine to leave out!
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

In the top of a double boiler, or in a heatproof bowl, combine both types of chocolate set over barely simmering water and stir occasionally until melted. Let the melted chocolate cool slightly. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Continue to beat while gradually pouring the melted chocolate into the butter sugar mixture. Beat until smooth.