What’s Baking Red Velvet Round-Up

February was my month to host our What’s Baking blog group. I chose red velvet as the theme because it only seemed fitting with Valentine’s Day.  And, I realized, I haven’t baked anything red velvet and it’s about time I did. I just love the contrast of the bright white cream cheese frosting to the red velvet base- whether it be cake, cookies, brownies or whatever.  And, the chocolate flavor is so mild, even my husband can enjoy it and he did indeed.

Whats Baking Badge

My good friend Eva, of Eva Bakes, made these amazing looking red velvet marble brownies.  I almost made brownies too, but at the last-minute went with cookies instead. These look so crazy delicious that I had to put them to the top of my baking to do list.

Red velvet cheesecake brownies by Eva Bakes

Alison, of Sparks from the Kitchen, made red velvet cookie bars with vanilla bean frosting.  Butter cream frosting is always made better by the addition of real vanilla bean and these look delicious. I have never made the red velvet version, but frosted sugar cookie bars are one of my favorite things to bake. Why?  Because they have the taste of soft frosted sugar cookie with much less work and my family absolutely loves them. My husband has been known to eat most of the pan himself.

Red Velvet Cookie Bars - Sparks from the Kitchen

Nicole, of Seven Ate Nine (can’t help but love this blog name), made Red Velvet Cake Batter Squares.  She had these bars at her rehearsal dinner at The Blue Willow Inn almost 5 years ago and was able to recreate them from the inn’s cookbook. I love how food can bring you back to a day and you can almost relieve that memory as you eat it.  And, I also love that these bars have just 5 ingredients.  I mean really, it can’t get any easier than that!

Red Velvet Cake Batter Squares- Seven Eight Nine

Ange, of The Tiny Tyrant’s Kitchen, made red velvet chocolate chip cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies have always been my favorite dessert to eat. I have never had red velvet chocolate chip cookies before but I’m thinking that should change.  Ange had the same problem I did.  Our red velvet wasn’t as red as we would have liked because of the brown color of the cocoa. But, never mind that because these look delicious.

Red velvet chocolate chip cookies- The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen

Carrie, from Carrie’s Sweet Life, made a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for her grandmother’s birthday. Until now, Carrie had the same problem I do, and that is finding a homemade cake that she likes. I have found homemade cake to be too dense or too dry. This is the cake that changed all that for Carrie… as it was moist, the frosting wasn’t too sweet..in other words perfection.  I’ll have to give it a try. I have been meaning to make a layer cake so I can use the beautiful and incredibly thoughtful engraved cake server set my husband gave me for reaching a million views in November.  Awww…

Red Velvet Cake from Carrie's Sweet life

And, I made soft red velvet sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting.  In this house, we love soft, frosted sugar cookies.  So, I thought a red velvet version would be just perfect. And, I was so right. These cookies were amazing. They were really soft, with a hint of cocoa, and the most delicious cream cheese frosting.  Honestly, there aren’t too many recipes I make more than once because there are just so many I want to try.  But, I see more of these cookies in my future. So delicious and pretty too.

Soft red velvet sugar cookies with crea cheese frosting

Soft Red Velvet Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Soft red velvet sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting

February is my month to host the group, What’s Baking.  With Valentine’s Day and all, I thought red velvet would be appropriate.  I don’t think I have ever made anything red velvet. I’m really not sure why. But, it’s been on my baking to do list for a long time, so let’s cross this one off.

I had a hard time figuring out what to bake. Brownies, cookies, cake, cupcakes?  So, many to choose from. But, if you’ve been here before, you know my family’s love for soft, frosted sugar cookies. You know, the Lofthouse style ones? I finally came across these red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting and immediately knew they were it.  Have you ever visited the blog Cooking Classy?  If not, you totally should.  Jaclyn’s pictures are just beautiful and everything she bakes looks amazing.  I can’t tell you how many things I’ve pinned.  Now, I just need to find the time…

These cookies were easy enough to make.  But, I think I should have used regular cocoa versus the Dutch processed.  The color would have been more red and a bit less muddled. But, I guess that’s just aesthetics and I need to get over it. For Jaclyn’s cookies, it looks like she frosted them by hand. I can never make my cookies look nice that way, so I chose to pipe them instead.  I pulled out like 10 different colors of sprinkles, but I loved the white against the white frosting.  Then, I decided white sprinkles weren’t enough, so I added some disco dust for sparkle. Disco dust…say what?  I have never heard of it before either. It’s edible glitter and it will make your cookies look beautiful.

The verdict? My husband and kids absolutely loved them. I had 21 cookies yesterday and only 4 today.  These cookies are really soft, with just a hint of chocolate which pairs perfectly with the sweet cream cheese frosting.  If you haven’t made anything red velvet, or you have and you’re crazy for it, make these cookies. You’ll love them. Promise.  Another keeper for me.

Stay tuned for the round up of all the yummy red velvet desserts….I can’t wait to see what everyone made!

Whats Baking Badge

Soft Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield:  16 cookies ( I got 21)

Cookies:

2 1/4 cups cake flour

3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder    I used Valrhona Dutched

2 tsp cornstarch

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup softened unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable shortening  I like Crisco sticks- more accurate and less mess

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract   (I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp vanilla paste)

1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar

Red food coloring   I used ~ 1.5 tsp of AmeriColor Super Red Gel Paste

Sprinkles,  if desired.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened (I used unsalted and added a pinch of salt)

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder and salt until well combined.  Although the directions didn’t say, I sifted the mixture because my cocoa was lumpy. Set aside the flour mixture.

In the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer, blend the butter, shortening and sugar with the paddle attachment until light-colored and fluffy, ~ 3 minutes.  Mix in the egg, then the egg white, vanilla, vinegar (or lemon juice) and food coloring.

With your mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to make sure every last bit is incorporated.

Cover your mixing bowl with plastic wrap. Chill x 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Shape the dough into ~ 3 Tbsp balls. I got 8 cookies per sheet. Grease or lightly wet your hands and press the dough down to about 1/2-inch high.

Bake ~9 to 11 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through the bake time.  Remove the sheet from the oven and cool the cookies on the baking sheet ~2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

In the bowl of your KitchenAid, with the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese and butter until light-colored and fluffy.  Blend in the vanilla. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, blending until well combined and fluffy. I added about 1 tsp half and half to thin the frosting out a bit to make piping easier. 

Source:  Cooking Classy

Soft red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting

Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate M&M Cookies

Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate M&M Cookies

My daughter loves to bake with me. Last weekend, she asked if we could make some cookies. So I pulled up my Pinterest cookie board and told her to pick one.  She is a total chocolate lover like her mom, so these were an easy choice for her.  Chocolate + cookies + M&Ms? It doesn’t get much better for a 6-year-old.   We set to work, her measuring and pouring and then her aunt called.  She is crazy about her aunt, so the cookie idea was quickly abandoned for girl talk.  She was sad that after her 20 minute phone call, I had finished the batter and had a sheet in the oven.  Well, the type A in me could not leave cookie dough unfinished.  But, no worries. All was forgiven when she tasted this cookie.  Sammie said “I have to say, my taste buds went on a yummy trip”.  I love this girl!  And I have to agree. These were some delicious cookies. The cookie base was very brownie-like and chewy. The M&Ms gave a nice pop of chocolate flavor and just look adorable anyways.  This one is definitely a keeper. A good lunch box cookie for sure. 

Soft and Chewy Double Chocolate M&M Cookies
Yield: 24 cookies.  I only got 18.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder   I used Valrhona Dutch Processed
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini M&Ms   I used 3/4 cups:   1/2 cup for the dough and 1/4 cup to press into the top of the dough

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper.  I never bake more than one batch of cookies at a time.

In a medium bowl, sift the following together:  flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.  I almost never sift, but when cocoa powder is involved, I do because it is always so lumpy. In the bowl of your KitchenAid with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium until light and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla.  With the mixer on low,  add the dry ingredients a little at a time, beating until just combined.  Stir in the mini M&M’s by hand with a rubber spatula.  I would add about 1/2 cup to dough and reserve 1/4 cup to press into the top of the cookies after they are portioned. They look prettier this way.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Press the reserved M&Ms into the top of each ball. About 5 or 6 should do it. Bake for about 8 minutes (rotating your cookie sheet(s) halfway) or until the edges of the cookies are set.  The centers may look a bit underdone – but they will finish baking on the cookie sheet. Please do not over bake! No one likes dry, burnt cookies.  Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets.  Remove the cookies from the sheets and allow to cool completely, if you can wait, on a wire rack.

Source:  Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Blueberry lemon cream cheese coffee cake

Blueberry lemon cream cheese coffee cake

Cream cheese coffee cake has been the most popular recipe on Just Baked, by far.  Again, thank you Mother Thyme for a wonderful recipe.  Every time I make this cake, everyone says it is the best coffee cake they ever had and asks for the recipe. It really is delicious with the buttery cake, cheesecake-like filling, streusel and sweet glaze.  As good as it is, I decided to change it up this time by adding lemon and blueberries.  Don’t you just love how lemon brightens the flavor of blueberries?  The changes were simple. I added lemon extract to the cream cheese filling, subbed lemon juice for milk in the glaze  and added lemon zest to the cake.  I pressed about 1/2 pint of blueberries into the cream cheese layer. With a great, basic recipe like this, the flavor possibilities are endless.  I brought the cake to work as a treat for my coworkers and came home with an empty pan.  Empty pan = success.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Yield: 13 x 9 cake

For the filling:

Two 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened (light or regular)   I used regular

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/4 tsp lemon extract  optional

For the cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon

1 cup sour cream (light or regular)

For the streusel topping:

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup flour

3 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed

For the glaze:

¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 to 1 T lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease/flour or spray a 9 x 13 cake pan. Set aside.

Make the filling:  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla and lemon extract (if using) on medium-low speed until creamy.  Set aside for the filling.  (If you have 1 bowl and paddle, you will need to put this mixture in a separate bowl, and wash them to use to make the cake batter)

Make the cake batter:  In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-low speed.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add the vanilla extract and lemon zest.  Slowly pour in the flour mixture alternating with the sour cream until it is all combined.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared cake pan with a spatula.  Spread the cream cheese filling evenly on top. Arrange as many blueberries as you like, I did about 1/2 pint, on top of the filling. Top with remaining cake batter and smooth with a spatula.  Using a butter knife, gently swirl in the batter.

Make the topping:  Add the sugar, flour and chilled butter in a small bowl.  Stir using a fork or pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle the streusel on top of cake batter.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a rack.

To make the glaze:  In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until it is the right consistency for drizzling.  Drizzle over cake.

Source: Mother Thyme; Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Snickerdoodle Bars

Snickerdoodle bars

Yes, you guessed it, another Pinterest find.  Whenever I see the word snickerdoodle and it’s not a cookie, I am immediately interested. Why? Well, because it’s my husband’s favorite cookie.  But, you can only have so many snickerdoodle cookies.  Or, maybe not, if you are a die-hard snickerdoodle fan.  I have seen quick breads, cupcakes, muffins, even pancakes.  All are worth trying because who doesn’t like just about anything covered in cinnamon sugar?

It was Thursday night and I was supposed to make these snickerdoodle bars for a coworker’s last day in my department.  But, my husband is back coaching volleyball, so by the time I fed and bathed the kids, and then prepared everything for school the next day, I was way too tired.  My husband gets up for work at 5am and I couldn’t go back to sleep.  I don’t start work until 9, so I got up to make the bars.  Let me warn you, the first layer of batter is really hard to spread.  The problem is sticky batter and a well-greased pan are not conducive to spreading.  But, by dolloping and a lot of patience, something I didn’t have much of at 5am, it will spread.  The rest is easy. You just cover it with a generous layer of cinnamon sugar and dollop on the remaining batter.  Luckily, there is no more spreading. You want to see that cinnamon peaking through.  After the bars bake and cool, you drizzle them with a quick vanilla-scented, powdered sugar glaze.  That’s it.

Everyone at work was raving about these bars. I had to grab a small piece, you know, for quality control.  How else could I tell you how they taste?  And, I must say, they taste pretty amazing.  Hands down one of the best things I’ve baked in a while. So, good in fact, I made a another pan for my husband the very next day because I just couldn’t keep the deliciousness of these bars from him.  Justin proceeded to eat 6 bars for dessert, stuffing himself until he was sick.  These bars are so good, he went ahead and did the same thing at breakfast. I guess they’re worth it.

Snickerdoodle Bars
Yield: 13×9 pan

2 1/3 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cinnamon filling

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 tsp of melted butter  Optional   (Note tsp not tbsp)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray the bottom only of a 13×9-inch baking pan with Pam. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your KitchenAid, beat butter on high until creamy. Beat in both sugars.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Beat in the vanilla.  On low, beat in dry ingredients until combined.

Spoon half of the batter into pan by the dollop.  Spread evenly. It takes awhile to spread the batter since it is sticky and the pan is slick. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar evenly over batter.

Dollop the remaining batter by the teaspoon evenly over cinnamon-sugar

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown, turning the pan at 10 minutes.  Test with a toothpick inserted in center. The bars are done when the toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, ~ 1 hour.

In small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle.  I put the glaze in a Ziploc bag, cut off the corner, and drizzled over the bars.

Source:  Betty Crocker

Cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls

Ahhh…cinnamon rolls. One of my most favorite breakfasts.  But, I don’t make them too often mostly because of the time they take to prepare. You know, all the waiting for the rising, makes cinnamon rolls more of a brunch fare. We usually have a light breakfast, while waiting for the cinnamon rolls. But, when I do make them, the time we wait is always worth it.  These rolls are the big, Cinnabon-at-the-mall-style cinnamon rolls.  I  always have a hard time passing them up, but they are so expensive usually I leave with just the Mochalatta chill.  I mean, one can only have so much willpower. Besides, I need the caffeine. So I tell myself anyways.

So, I started these rolls at 7:30am and we sat down to eat them at 10:30am.  This explains why the photo is of a half pan of rolls. NO ONE was going to wait any longer for photos. My husband, Justin, and I loved them.  But, my kids wouldn’t eat them.  They only eat the ones in the blue can, but with my homemade frosting only.  Even they have standards.  I’ll admit, I like those too. I’m no food snob. They are great in a pinch and something I know everyone will eat when I don’t feel like fighting the please-eat-something fight.  Ugh, oh well, more for me.  I ate one for breakfast everyday that week and they were delicious, just 1 minute in the microwave.   These cinnamon rolls bake up tall, with a crisp exterior and tender interior.  The cream cheese frosting is just plain amazing.  It is really thick and cheesecake-like. In fact, my daughter Sammie, after not eating her cinnamon roll, took the frosting bowl and was about to eat it like oatmeal before I grabbed it from her.  This is the same kid who only eats the frosting off her doughnut. Who does that?

Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 large rolls

1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Warm the milk in a small saucepan until ~105 degrees F.   I used the microwave

Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer.   Add the yeast and a pinch of sugar.   Stir into the milk.   Let stand until foamy, ~5 minutes.

Add the sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour.  Mix well.  Knead with the dough hook on medium for ~4 minutes, or until the dough is smooth.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a bowl.  Cover with a damp towel.  Let rise in a warm place ~1 hour or until dough has nearly doubled in size.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Mix well with a spoon, spatula or even your hands.

Lightly flour your work surface (I used a pastry mat) and rolling-pin.  Roll the dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle,  ~1/4 inch thick.

Brush the dough with 1/3 cup melted butter.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the butter.

Roll the dough up starting with the longer side.  Cut into 12 rolls.   I cut the log in half, then each half in half.  Then you have 4 even pieces to cut into 3.  This way you get even sized rolls.

Spray a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with Pam. Arrange the 12 rolls in the dish.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

While the rolls rise, pre-heat the oven to 350F. Bake until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.

While the rolls bake, make the frosting.  Beat together the cream cheese, soft butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread the frosting on the rolls while they are still warm.

Source:  Cate’s World Kitchen; originally from All-Recipes

Sprinkles Cookies

Sprinkle cookies

Hello!  I’m sorry to have been gone so long.  I’ve really missed you and my blog….and I just had to share these sprinkles cookies from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.  I was scanning through Pinterest and the cuteness of these cookies caught my eye.  You know I’m always a sucker for sprinkles. Reading through the recipe, I was intrigued by the buttery sweet dough emulsion it called for.  Have you ever heard of this?  No?  Me neither.  Kristan said you could find it at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, but I could not.  And, while she said the ingredient was optional, it was not going to be for me.  I get my mind set on something and that’s it, it’s happening.  So, I just ordered it on Amazon and thank goodness with Prime I only had to wait 2 days.  Was it worth it?  Yes!  I loved the flavor it gave the cookies.  It’s the flavor of bakery cookies, you know the one you just can’t put your finger on and can’t seem to replicate? This is it.

At first, I thought these cookies were too sweet and I was disappointed. But, I swear, overnight some magical transformation took place and they were just perfect.  The cookie is buttery and soft.  The glaze hardens, adding sweetness and serving as glue for all those crunchy sprinkles.  My kids and husband went crazy for these, eating a fistful at a time.  I got about 50 adorable cookies, but that was not nearly enough. These cookies barely made it a day in this sugar-cookie-loving house.  Note to self: double recipe next time, okay?

Sprinkles Cookies

Yield: ~ 3 dozen ( I got 50)

Cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp buttery sweet dough emulsion  optional

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Glaze:

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 tsp almond or vanilla extract  – clear if you want white glaze

3 oz jar rainbow nonpareils

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of your Kitchenaid, beat butter and sugar, on medium, until light and fluffy, ~ 3 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and buttery sweet dough emulsion, if using. Beat until combined.

On low, slowly add the flour mixture. Mix until a smooth dough forms.

Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour minimum.  I took the dough out of the bowl, shaped it into a thick rectangle and wrapped it in Saran Wrap.

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness on lightly floured counter or pastry mat. I found this dough to be crazy sticky- be liberal with the flour.  

Cut using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter. I used a 2 1/4 inch scalloped cutter.  Place on baking sheet ~1 inch apart. They don’t spread so you can fit a lot of cookies on a sheet.

Bake for 6 minutes. Watch carefully. There should be little to no color.  Remove and let cool completely on wire rack.

For the glaze:

In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, water and vanilla extract until smooth.  You may need to add water to get the glaze consistency you want.

Dip the cookies in the glaze face down, letting the excess drip off.

Place the dipped cookies on a wire rack set over wax paper and sprinkle liberally. Let set for about an hour before serving.

Source:  Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Sprinkles cookies

Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie

My good friend Eva, from Eva Bakes, and I thought it would be fun to tackle something off of our baking bucket lists together.  We would both make the same thing, choosing our own recipe, and then post the results.  First up? Boston cream pie.  Funny, I think I have only made about 5 layer cakes in my whole life.  Layer cakes to me are kind of fancy.  I am more of a cookie/brownie kind of girl.  But, I certainly have never turned cake down.  I love a challenge.

So I got up early Saturday morning to tackle this multi-step cake.  Unfortunately, my husband didn’t sleep well the night before and went back to sleep when I got up.  Let me just say, making this cake with baby Alex was not an easy feat.  He only took out the fire extinguisher, almost dumped a newly opened jar of cornstarch all over the floor,  shook salt onto the table, spilled a glass of water, and put a cup of dog food into the dog’s water. Ugh, I think that was it.  Given the circumstances, I think my cake came out pretty darn good.

Honestly, the cake really isn’t hard to make, it just takes a few steps.  To make the cake, you need to separate eggs and beat them in separate bowls, finally folding them together with flour. While the cakes bake, you make the pastry cream on the stove.  You then have some wait time for the cakes to cool and the pastry cream to set in the fridge.  After assembling the cake, you make a quick chocolate frosting to pour over the cake.  So, all easy…it just takes time.  You know the hardest part? Transferring the finished cake from the cooling rack to the serving plate.

The verdict? I thought that cake was delicious. You have a spongy buttery cake, filled with smooth, vanilla scented pastry cream, topped with thick chocolate glaze. How bad could it be? (I love Ina!)

So, one down, so many more to go. Thanks for baking with me, Eva! I can’t wait to see your cake!

Foolproof Sponge Cake

½ cup (2 oz) cake flour

¼ cup (1 1/4oz) all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

3 TBSP milk

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

½ tsp vanilla

3 large egg whites, room temp

¼ tsp cream of tartar

¾ cup (5 1/4oz) sugar – DIVIDED

3 large egg yolks, room temp

2 large eggs, room temp

Place oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350F. Grease and flour two 8in or 9in round cake pans (ATK recommends 9 in) and line with a circle of parchment. Grease the paper.

Whisk together the 2 flours, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter together on low until the butter is melted.   Off the heat, stir in the vanilla. Cover to keep warm.

In a large bowl, whip 3 egg whites and cream of tartar together with an electric mixer, on med-low until foamy, ~ 1 minute.  Increase speed to med-high and whip the egg whites until soft, billowy mounds form, ~ 1 minute.  Gradually whip in 6 Tbsp of sugar, ~ 30 seconds. Continue to whip until until shiny and form soft peaks, ~ 1 to 3 minutes.  Do NOT overbeat.

In a separate large bowl, whip the 3 yolks and 2 whole eggs with an electric mixer on med-high. Gradually add in the last 6 Tbsp of sugar, ~ 1 min. Continue to whip the mixture until very light in color and voluminous, ~ 4-6 minutes.

Gently pour the thick, yellow egg yolk mixture on top of the soft peaked egg white mixture.  Sift the flour mixture on top of that.  Now you have a white layer on the bottom, yellow yolk mixture in the middle and flour on top. Very gently, fold everything together with a rubber spatula, just until combined, ~ 12 folds. Pour the warm milk, in a steady stream, against the side of the bowl. Continue to fold until evenly combined and there are no streaks of flour, ~ 8 folds.

Immediately scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake until lightly brown and a toothpick in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, ~ 12-18 minutes. Do NOT rotate cakes while baking.

Immediately run a knife around the edges of the cakes and flip onto a parchment lined plate. Peel  off the parchment bottom and flip the cakes right side up onto a wire rack. Let the cakes cool completely, about 2 hours.

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk

6 large egg yolks

½ cup (3.5 oz) sugar

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup cornstarch

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch until pale yellow and thick, ~ 30 seconds.

Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture to temper, then return the mixture to the saucepan and cook on medium heat. Whisk constantly until thick and glossy, ~ 1.5 minutes.  Remove from heat. Whisk in the butter and vanilla. Transfer the pastry cream into a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly pressed onto the surface, to avoid skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled and set, ~ 2 hours.

Chocolate Glaze

2/3 cup heavy cream

¼ cup light corn syrup

8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped fine

½ tsp vanilla     

Put all the ingredients into a medium bowl. Microwave, stopping frequently to whisk.  Continue until all melted and smooth, ~ 1-2 minutes. Let the glaze cool, uncovered, until thick but still pourable, ~ 20 minutes.

Assembly:

Line a large baking sheet with parchment and place a wire rack on top. Place one of the cake layers on the rack. Spread the pastry cream on top of the cake, right to the edges. Place the other layer on top and press lightly to adhere.

Pour the chocolate glaze on top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Refrigerate uncovered, until the chocolate sets- at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.  Before serving, transfer to a serving plate/cake stand and let warm up to room temperature, 30 to 60 minutes.

Source: The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Dahlia Bakery’s All-American Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Dhalia Bakery's Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Wow. I finally found myself a pocket of time and my head was swimming with ideas of what to bake.  I’m sure you are thinking, with all these ideas, why did she end up making chocolate chip cookies?   Well, to be honest, I just really had a taste for them.  When I was flipping through The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, of course, the chocolate truffle cookies caught my eye first. But, the chocolate chunk cookies were a close second.  There isn’t much better than a big, chewy chocolate chip cookie and a tall glass of ice cold milk.  And these looked like my kind of cookie.

Most chocolate chip cookies have essentially the same ingredients, just in different proportions. If you are looking for a special ingredient, I hope you aren’t disappointed that there isn’t one in these cookies.  Why are they so good then? It must be that the ratios are just right.  The cookie tastes just as it should, of butter and brown sugar.  It has a very slight crispness to the edges, but is perfectly chewy throughout, and they stayed chewy for three days.  At Dahlia, Tom Douglas uses a mixture of milk and bittersweet chocolates.  I used all semisweet cut from a Callebaut bar, as unbelievably, I was out of milk chocolate.  I also used only 14 oz of chocolate (only??), instead of the 19 oz called for in the recipe. As much as I love chocolate, with too much, I believe you can’t taste the deliciousness of the cookie.

As you probably know, I don’t make many recipes more than once.  But this one is a keeper.  I’m looking forward to trying the two chocolates next time or M & Ms or Reese’s cups or……

Dahlia Bakery’s All-American Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Yield: 24 to 26 cookies (I got 24 big cookies)

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 tsp pure vanilla

3 1/2 cups (482 grams) all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 cup plus 5 tablespoons  (10.5 ounces/298 grams) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (25o grams) packed, moist brown sugar

1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups (9 ounces/255 grams) milk chocolate chunks

1 1/2 cups (9 ounces/255 grams) bittersweet chocolate chunks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line your cookie sheet(s) with parchment.

In a small bowl, break the 3 eggs, add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. Set aside.

Into the bowl of your Kitchen-Aid, add the butter and both sugars.  Cream on medium-high, with the paddle, until very light in color and fluffy, ~ 4-5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Beating on medium, pour in half of the egg-vanilla mixture and beat until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides again and add the rest of the egg-vanilla mixture.  Beat briefly to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of the electric mixer, beating on low until evenly distributed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and mix just 10 more seconds.  Don’t overmix.  Add the chocolate chunks and mix just until combined. Remove the bowl from the stand and using a spatula scrape the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is mixed in.

Use an ice cream scoop to portion the cookies in 2.5 ounce portions (~ 1/4 cup), placing them evenly apart, 6 cookies per cookie sheet.

Bake until mostly golden brown on the edges but still pale in the middle, ~ 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time.  If you are baking 2 cookie sheets at a time, also rotate them between racks.  Do not overbake.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before using a spatula to remove the cookies from the sheets.

Source:  The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle

Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Chocolate truffle cookies.  That was all I had to read before I decided I had to make them immediately.  I’m not sure if it is just me,  but I honestly don’t get it when someone says a dessert is too rich or too chocolately.   There is no such thing.  The more chocolate, the better.  And these cookies have a trifecta of chocolate:  bittersweet, cocoa powder and chips.   Sounds like perfection to me.  Besides, I have heard wonderful things about the famed Dahlia Bakery and I already love Tom Douglas as a Top Chef guest judge.  Though, I have to say, Top Chef has been pretty disappointing this season.  I am a huge fan, but Seattle is almost as bad as Texas, I’m afraid.  But, I keep watching anyways.  I think I just love Tom :D

These cookies were easy enough to make.  I wouldn’t even bother with the double boiler. I have always had good luck melting my chocolate in the microwave.  I just melt it on defrost at 15-20 second increments and mix before putting it back in the microwave.  Just be careful to not melt until totally smooth or it will be overdone and bitter.  There should still be small chocolate chunks and the residual heat will melt the rest.  Make sure to beat the batter after you add the eggs for several minutes so you get the pretty shiny tops.  When you add the flour, fold lightly just until combined and your cookies will be tender.  As they bake, the smell of chocolate is intoxicating.  I love how the top cracks, hinting at the dark, delicious fudgeyness underneath.  These cookies were so good, I immediately ordered the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook.  I have a feeling that these cookies are just a hint of the deliciousness to come…..

Dahlia Bakery Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Yield: 30 cookies, 3.5in diameter

1 1⁄4 cups (7 1⁄8 ounces/205 grams) all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (3 ⁄4 ounce/20 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder     I used Valrhona

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 pound plus 4 ounces (567 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped        I used Callebaut

1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1⁄4 sticks/5 ounces/140 grams) unsalted butter, softened

2 1⁄4 cups (1 pound plus 1⁄4 ounce/460 grams) sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips   I used semisweet mini chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder.  Stir in the salt. Set aside. Place a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan filled with about 1 inch of water.  Heat the water until very hot but not boiling.  Put the chocolate in the bowl and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl of chocolate from over the water and cool for ~ 5 – 10 minutes.    I melted in the microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring in between.

Combine the softened butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle.  Cream on medium until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time.  Mix on medium until the eggs are incorporated.

Increase the speed to high and beat for a few minutes until the mixture is very light, creamy, and pale in color. Scrape down the bowl as needed. This is what gives the cookies the shiny, cracked tops. Add the melted chocolate and  vanilla. Mix just until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula. Do not overmix or the cookies with be tough. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Start scooping the cookies as soon as the batter is made. The batter is very soft and sticky at first.  But it starts firming up quickly as it sits, making it difficult to portion. The easiest way to portion the cookies is with a 2- oz ice cream scoop. Pack the scoop 3/4 full. Or use a scant 1 ⁄4 cup or 1 1 ⁄2 ounces of cookie dough for each cookie.

Scoop the cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment, about 2 inches apart.  Flatten each mound of dough slightly with a dampened hand.

Immediately after scooping the batter, place them in the oven. If baking in batches, don’t refrigerate the scooped dough.  Instead, leave them at room temperature. They will not spread properly if the dough is chilled.

Bake until the cookie tops are evenly cracked and they are soft set, ~14 to 16 minutes. Rotate the pan at ~ 7 minutes. If you have 2 pans of cookies in the oven at the same time, also switch them between the racks.

Remove the pans from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely before removing them from the baking sheets with a metal spatula.

Source: The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook via In Sock Monkey Slippers

Dahlia chocolate truffle cookies

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