“Black” and White Cookies

"Black" and White Cookies

I must admit, I am a total magazine junkie. I have like 10-12 subscriptions going at a time. Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country, Taste of Home, Taste of the South, All-You, Simple and Delicious, Woman’s Day…..As if I have time to read them all. I usually keep them in a stack on my nightstand and try to read one before bed. I was flipping through Good Housekeeping recently and I saw this recipe for “black and white” cookies. I have made true black and whites before, but the spring colors on these really caught my eye.  Why didn’t I think of this?  There is no chocolate frosting, much to my husband’s delight.  Instead you have half white and half a pretty pastel or whatever color you choose. How cute!

Justin was gone all weekend coaching his high school team in the national scholastic bowl tournament, so I decided to bring the kids to my parents for the day.  When I show up with all 3 kids, I feel like I need to bring some type of baked good as peace offering. 🙂 So, I got up super early and started these cookies. They were all baked and I was just starting to frost them when my 3 year old son and 7 year old daughter woke up. Oh boy. Now, I had to work quickly and so sorry, the frosting job isn’t the best. I let my daughter frost the last few cookies while I took pictures and left those home for Justin, taking the rest to my parents. When I got home, I just walked in the door and Justin was asking “Where are the rest of those cookies?!  They are like bakery quality!”  I was glad to hear that because when I first made them, I was disappointed when I tried them..too powder sugary. Ugh, the wasted time and ingredients. But, after they set for about 6 hours or so, the flavors combine nicely and they were just delicious. They are super soft, cake-like actually. And the frosting is thick and sweet, with a pretty sheen. These cookies are quite a PITA kind of project, but given Justin says they are the best thing I have made all year, I believe I will be making them again soon.  Father’s Day perhaps??

“Black” and White Cookies
Yield: 36 cookies   I only got 24 cookies, but I think I made them too big

For the cookies:

2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk, well shaken

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a cookie sheet(s) with parchment. I prefer to bake cookies 1 sheet at a time.
In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt with a whisk.
In the bowl of your KitchAid, on medium with the paddle, beat butter and granulated sugar ~3 minutes or until fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time.
With the mixer on low, add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk. Begin and end with the flour mixture.  I did 3 additions of flour, separated by 2 buttermilk. 
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheet(s).
Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until golden, rotating the sheet(s) halfway through.
Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack- bottoms up.

For the glaze:    (or this one)

1 pound powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons of milk   (not nearly enough, I added 6 tablespoons total)
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
Assorted food colorings   Americolor is best

In a bowl, with your hand mixer or KitchAid on low, beat the powdered sugar, corn syrup, milk, and salt until smooth.
Start with the 2 tablespoons milk called for in the recipe and add 1 tablespoon at a time until you get the right consistency. You want it spreadable, but not thin.  I added 6 tablespoons total.
Keep 1/2 of the icing white in the mixing bowl.
The other half of the icing can be divided into bowls and dyed with food coloring as desired.
Spread the icing on the cookie’s flat sides. I did the white first, then the colored side.
Let set 30 minutes.

Source:  Good Housekeeping, Note: the online recipe left the milk out of the glaze.

 

 

 

 

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

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Hello everyone!  I feel like I have been gone forever.  We have had a terrible cold virus taking us out one at a time.  First it was my daughter, then baby Alex got croup, then me and now my husband.   Somehow, only Jack was spared, knock on wood.

This month, my friend Eva at Eva Bakes picked pumpkin and sweet potatoes as the theme for What’s Baking.  I am so grateful for the support Eva has always given me and my blog.  Us bakers stick together!  So, if you get a chance, head over to Eva’s wonderful blog and check out her oh so fabulous looking desserts!

As I have said before, my husband is a super picky eater.  But surprisingly, at least to me, he loves sweet potatoes.  I have never baked with them before because I am not really a big fan.  So, I decided to go with pumpkin instead, since we both like it.  I made pumpkin bread a few weeks ago and it was delicious.  But, I wanted to do something different.  I came across these pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing and thought…pumpkin, spices, brown butter, frosting?  Umm..yum!

The batter of these cookies is simple to put together, but then Martha recommends piping the dough onto a cookie sheet.  Well, for 6 dozen cookies, that sounded like it would take forever.  I thought the batter was definitely thick enough to use a cookie scoop for portioning.  They may end up looking a bit nicer Martha’s way (doesn’t it always?), but I thought my way turned out just fine and was a heck of a lot faster.  Although these are called cookies, they have a cake-like texture, more like a whoopie pie.  If you have never made brown butter before, it’s really easy.  You just melt butter in a pan until, you guessed it, it is brown.  You just have to be careful to not go to far and have the bits turn black.  Then, I’m sorry, you will have to start over.  The addition of brown butter to the frosting, instead of the usual softened butter, gave it almost a butterscotch flavor that was crazy delicious!  When I was done frosting the cookies, I let Jack and Sammie eat the last bit of frosting in the bowl while I cleaned up.  All I could hear was Mmmm….Mmmmm  and when I took the bowl away it was almost clean enough to put back in the cabinet.  Sammie didn’t even want to taste the cookies because she hates pumpkin, she says.  Yet, after some convincing, she ate two before I cut her off.   Jack kept saying “These are so good mom”, baby Alex kept pointing to the container to ask for more, and all Justin could say was “Oh.My.God”.  So, yeah, I think my family liked them okay.

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Yield:  6 dozen  (I got 4 dozen)

For the cookies:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 ounces)   Almost a whole 15 oz can

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the butter and brown sugar on medium until pale and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Mix in eggs one at a time.  Reduce the speed to low.  Add the pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix until well blended, ~ 2 minutes. Note:  The mixture will look curdled, don’t worry.  Add flour mixture and mix until combined.  It shouldn’t look curdled anymore.

Martha says:  Transfer 1 1/2 cups batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (such as Ateco #806) and pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 1 inch apart. I used a cookie scoop and it worked great.  Bake the cookies, rotating sheets halfway through baking.  When done, the tops should spring back, ~ 12 minutes. Cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the brown butter icing:

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon evaporated milk    Save the remaining milk to thin the frosting out if it thickens too much while frosting all the cookies

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract     I used vanilla bean paste….I love those specks!

Measure the confectioners’ sugar and put into a large bowl.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Cook the butter, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, ~ 3 minutes. Watch carefully, you want brown bits, not black.  Immediately pour the browned butter into the bowl of confectioners’ sugar.  Make sure to scrape any browned bits from sides and bottom of pan.  Pour in the evaporated milk and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Spread about 1 teaspoon icing onto each cookie. If icing stiffens, stir in more evaporated milk, a little at a time.   Let sit for a few hours to set before packing up for storage.  Make sure to place wax paper in between each layer to prevent sticking.

Source:  Martha Stewart

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

As usual, I got a little overzealous buying bananas.  I mean, the baby likes bananas and all, but come on.  I don’t think I really needed twenty.  Although, this time it isn’t entirely my fault.  My parents gave me some when they visited last week.  Alex ate a bunch, but I still had 8 brown bananas to contend with now.  In the past,  I made some super delicious banana cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  But, they start with a box mix.  So this time I wanted to try to make a cake from scratch.  However, I don’t always have such great luck with homemade cake.  They can often be really dense and dry.  But, I figured with the bananas and sour cream, it should be okay.  So I pressed on… I was determined to succeed after a major cinnamon roll coffee cake fail this morning. 😦

The cake batter was easy to put together and it baked up perfectly.  Oh, this was looking promising!  After letting the cake cool, I mixed up the frosting.  Just 4 ingredients, but holy cow, this frosting is crazy delicious!  I almost said forget the cake, let’s just eat this frosting.  But, against my better judgment :D, I went ahead and frosted the cake.  Yeah, then it would have been a good idea to refrigerate it for a bit to cut perfect slices.  Did I? Of course not.  I just had to taste this cake.  The cake is so soft and tender and just bursting with banana flavor.  The frosting is thick and creamy, with a pleasant tang from the cream cheese and just the right amount of vanilla.  Wow!  I don’t know what else to say.  Hands down this is the best banana cake I have ever had.  I still have 6 brown bananas left.  Heck, I just might make another one….

Banana Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 13 x 9 pan of bars, about 16 pieces

For the bars:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp banana extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas  Totally smooth or a little chunky..your preference

For the frosting:
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar    I didn’t sift and it was fine
1 tsp vanilla extract          I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

To make the bars:  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter or spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch metal baking pan.  Place 2 pieces of parchment perpendicular to each other, with overhang, and spray/butter again. (This makes it easy to remove the bars from the pan for nice cutting.) In a large bowl: whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer,  with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and stir in the sour cream, vanilla, and banana extract by hand with a spatula.  Fold in the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold in the mashed banana.  Scrape the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Tap lightly on the counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles.  Bake for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Mine took more like 28 minutes.  Transfer the whole pan to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar.  Mix on low until combined.  Add the vanilla and mix again. Spread carefully on the cooled banana bars.  I found it easier to frost with the bars removed from the pan (by the parchment handles).

Source: Allrecipes  via Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwich Cookies

A few days ago, my sister-in-law was wonderful enough to take all three of my children so my husband and I could spend a day in the city kid-free!  I ♥ her.  We went to Bleeding Heart Bakery for a late breakfast and after looking at cases upon cases of delicious looking cupcakes, cookies and other sweets, I chose a broccoli quiche.  My husband couldn’t believe it.  But, with all the desserts that I bake, I really wanted something savory and it was delicious.   My husband chose a giant whoopie pie, but was disappointed that it wasn’t nearly as good as mine.   I tasted a bite and couldn’t help but agree.  😀 After breakfast, we had time before the movie, so we decided to browse some at Barnes and Noble.  Of course, I made a beeline straight for the cookbook section.  It is there that I came across the book The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook, flipped through a few pages and decided that I needed it.  But, it is so hard for me to buy books at the bookstore, when I know I am able to get them so much cheaper on Amazon.  So, somehow I restrained myself and noted the title so I could order it that night.

When the book arrived, I was flipping through it and  I knew that I had to make the chocolate chip cookie dough filled sandwich cookies immediately.  I mean, are you kidding me?  My favorite cookie, sandwiched together with cookie dough filling, which I may like even more than the cookie itself?  Now, that is genius!  The cookie batter comes together easily, just like any other chocolate chip cookie dough.  The cookies bake up flat, and a bit crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle.  The cookie dough frosting tastes so much like cookie dough, I had a hard time not eating it all right out of the bowl.  Okay, I admit it.  I ate some.  But, I still had enough to fill the cookies…well, most of them anyways.   Filled or not, these cookies are simply delicious.  As if there was any doubt.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwich Cookies

Yield: 20 to 24 sandwich cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips

For Cookie Dough Filling:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugars until no lumps remain, 1-2 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract, scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and mix until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll chilled dough into smooth, tablespoon-size balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Flatten balls slightly into 3/4-inch disks.  Arrange about 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. These flatten and spread quite a bit.  I suggest baking 9 cookies/sheet for your first batch so you can gauge size and spacing.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until cookie edges are lightly golden. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare the cookie dough filling, beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in flour, powdered sugar, and salt on low speed until incorporated. Slowly add heavy cream and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

To assemble, sandwich 1 heaping tablespoon of filling between two cookies. Press cookies lightly until filling spreads to the edges. Repeat with remaining cookies.  Sandwiches can be stored refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.  Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Source:  The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook

Cook’s Country Ultimate Cinnamon Buns

I love anything by America’s Test Kitchen, especially Cook’s Country Magazine, so I have every issue.  Why do I love them so?   Well, first off, the recipes always work and the nerdy pharmacist in me enjoys reading the science behind the recipe.  Unlike Cook’s Illustrated (which I also love), it has colored pictures and recipes for everyday food that fits my family’s tastes (well, at least sometimes).  Every once in awhile, I pull them out and flip though them and last week I came across this recipe for Ultimate Cinnamon Buns.  They looked amazing, just like the crazy expensive Cinnabon cinnamon rolls.  I usually don’t make something so involved, not because I don’t like to.  Unfortunately I just don’t have the time or I choose to sleep instead. 😀  But, the recipe said I could prep them the night before and bake them in the morning.  So, I decided to make them on Saturday night after the kids went to bed for Sunday morning breakfast. But, when I went to make them at 9pm, I forgot you have to wait 2 hours for the dough to rise. So, I didn’t finish making the rolls until after midnight!  Not my brightest idea…I just hoped they were worth it.

In the morning my daughter asked me what was for breakfast and I was so excited to tell her homemade cinnamon rolls.  Sammie says “Can’t I just have my regular breakfast?”  Your regular breakfast is cereal, so no.  Geez!  This is another reason I don’t usually make something more labor intensive. 😀  But she ate it and my son did too, mostly because they loved the frosting, eating off the top off the rolls and leaving the bottoms.  Oh, well, I’ll take it.  My husband inhaled it and I thought it was delicious, very reminiscent of a Cinnabon roll. The bun is really tender due to the cornstarch and packed full of gooey cinnamon flavor due to double the amount of filling compared to most recipes.  So, while this may not be a recipe for everyday due to the time and let’s face it, calories, it would be a delicious special treat for a holiday breakfast.

Dough
3/4 cup warm whole milk (about 110 F)  Check temperature with a thermometer
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) rapid rise or instant yeast
3 large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

Filling
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Glaze
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Put rack in middle position and preheat oven to 200F.  When the oven reaches 200 F, turn it off.  Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, allowing excess to hang over edges.  Grease or spray the foil with cooking spray

Combine the warm milk and yeast in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup and whisk until the yeast dissolves.  Whisk in the eggs.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt.  Mix briefly to combine.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the warm milk mixture in a steady stream and continue mixing until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.  Increase the speed to medium and add the butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated.  Continue to mix until the dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.  (If the dough is still wet and sticky after mixing 10 minutes, add flour, 1 T at a time (up to 1/4 cup), until the dough releases from the bowl.)  Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead to form a smooth ball.  Transfer the dough to a large greased/sprayed bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the warm oven.  Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

To make the filling: Whisk the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt together in a small bowl.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into an 18-inch square and spread it evenly with the softened butter.  Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and press gently.  Starting with the edge nearest you. roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch lightly to seal.  Cut the cylinder into 8 equal pieces (or 12 if you want smaller rolls) and transfer the pieces, cut side up, to the prepared pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Make ahead:   After transferring the cut rolls to the greased pan, the buns can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.  When you are ready to bake the rolls, let them sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking as below.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Bake the rolls (minus the wrap) for 35-40 minutes, or until they are deep golden brown, the filling is melted, and they are cooked through. While the buns bake, make the glaze by whisking the soft cream cheese, milk, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and top the rolls with 1/2 cup of the glaze.  Let cool for 30 minutes then top with remaining glaze and serve. No way we could wait this long, so we ate them after about 15 minutes.  I think they are best warm anyways…

Source:  Cook’s Country Dec/Jan 2009

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I have been tagged by Choc Chip Uru to play a game of getting to know your fellow blogger friends.  Go Bake Yourself has to be the cutest name and her blog is just as cute.  Thank you my fellow baker friend for the opportunity and your support!

The Rules:
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself in the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.  12 is kind of a lot, so you can do 6.
5. Let them know you’ve tagged them.

12 Things You Didn’t Know About Me:

1.  I have a pug named Walter Payton.  Named by my die hard Bears fan husband.

2.  When I was in college, I worked with a serial killer. So scary!

3.  I love horror movies.  I am always looking for the scariest movie ever, but I have yet to find one that really scares me. So, the search continues. 😀

4.  I married my high school sweetheart.  Awww…

5.  If I wasn’t a pharmacist, I would have either been a pastry chef or a forensic psychologist.

6.  I love true crime shows!

7.  I am Top Chef obsessed. I have probably seen every episode at least 5 times. Embarrased smile

8.   I don’t like nuts in any dessert

9.   My husband is crazy about sports.  I hate them, though I wish I liked them.

10.  My first concert was New Kids on the Block.

11.  I think I am one of the only people in the world that doesn’t like Nutella.

12.  My goal right now is to find a new job that I love….well, at least like.  I’ll take like.

Choc Chip Uru’s Questions:

1. Why do you blog?  I love to bake and I just really wanted to share some of the amazing recipes I have come across with others so they can enjoy them too.  Also, I have a huge cookbook collection that really needs to be put to use! 😀
2. Are you a social butterfly or do you like solitary weekends?  Solitary weekends with my family.
3. What is your dream job?  Pastry chef
4. If you could have any kitchen superpower, what would it be?  To wiggle my nose and have a dinner on the table that everyone would eat.  I love to bake, cooking not so much.
5. What is your most prized cooking possession?  My Kitchen Aid.  When it was broken for a week, I really missed it!
6. ‘When in doubt turn left’ – do you believe this?  No.  I check my GPS or pull over and get directions. 😀   I get anxious when I am lost, so I avoid it.
7. If you were stranded on a tropical dessert and had the choice 3 dishes to eat for the rest of your life, what would they be?  pizza, my mom’s homemade chicken pot pie, Portillo’s chocolate cake.
8. What is your worst kitchen nightmare?  Burning myself.  I never forgot the time in junior high when I made caramel and stuck my finger in it to see if it was done. I got so burned because the caramel was so hard to wash off. So not smart, but I was 12.
9. Do you think the Oscars were deserved this year?  Before kids, I used to have a party with tons of food and an Oscar pool.  But this year, I didn’t even know they were on until I was flipping through the channels. I didn’t watch because I didn’t see any of the movies.  My how things change..
10. What is your dream car?   I don’t really have one, but what I would really love is a driver.  I hate driving and then maybe I could get a bit extra sleep?
11. Name one wonderful childhood memory involving food :).  Making Christmas cookies with my mom.
12. If you could travel to anywhere in the universe, where would you go?  The Mediterranean.  For our honeymoon, my husband and I went on a Mediterranean cruise and we would love to go back.

My Questions:

1.  What is your favorite thing to bake?

2.  What is your signature dish?

3.  What is your biggest regret?

4.  What have you done that you are most proud of?

5.  What would be your last supper?

6.  What do you find most difficult about having a blog?

7.  If a movie was made about your life, what actor would you want to play you?

8.  What food will you never try and why?

9.  What is your profession?  Do you wish you were doing something else?  What?

10.  If you could eat at any restaurant, where would it be?

11.  Who do you respect the most and why?

12.  Who is your favorite celebrity chef?

Who am I tagging?

Most of the blogs I tagged I discovered through The Nest.  The blogs on the Nest are so amazing and were the inspiration behind me starting a blog of my own.  Thanks ladies!

Madeleine Cookies with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

A few years ago, I was at Williams Sonoma and I picked up a madeleine pan.  I’m really not sure why, as I’ve never had a madeleine and the pan has been sitting in my cabinet for at least 3 years, unused.  I have a terrible habit of doing that- buying all kinds of crazy baking pans and one use kitchen gadgets, I just had to have, but then don’t use.  I came across a recipe for madeleines with vanilla bean buttercream frosting and I decided it was about time I finally use that pan.  Now I am sad that it took so long, because I discovered that madeleines are delicious!  They look really time-consuming and impressive.  But, the batter is really easy to make and then you just spoon it into these molds.  What you get is a buttery cake, that has a slight crust to the outside and a tender inside, in the cutest shell shape.  If that isn’t delicious enough, you then spread it with vanilla bean buttercream.  I just love to see those black specks in contrast to the white frosting.  There is just something about it that makes me happy.  😀

Madeleine Cookies with Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Yield: 48 madeleines (I got 36)

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter, melted and cooled

Optional: I added 1/2 of a vanilla bean scraped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour a twelve well, 3-inch madeleine mold and set aside. (I used Pam Baking with flour)

In a large bowl combine eggs and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed for 4 minutes. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat about 5 minutes or until mixture is thick and satiny.  Remove the bowl from the mixer stand.

In a small bowl stir together flour and baking powder. Sift about one-fourth of the flour mixture over egg mixture; fold in gently. Repeat, folding in remaining flour mixture by fourths. Gently stir in melted butter. Spoon batter into prepared molds, filling each mold about three-fourths full.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden and tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in molds on wire racks for 1 minute. Using a knife, loosen edges of cookies from molds. Invert cookies onto racks; cool. Frost with Vanilla Bean Buttercream.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream:

1/4 of a vanilla bean, scraped

1/2 cup butter, softened

3 cups powdered sugar

3 – 4 tablespoons milk

Scrape out seeds from vanilla bean with the tip of a small sharp knife. In a large bowl combine vanilla seeds and butter. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in milk to make of spreading consistency.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Helpful Hints:

  • Store the cookies at room temperature for up to 3 days- in an airtight container, with wax paper between layers
  • They can be frozen up to 3 months
  • The buttercream can be stored in the fridge up to 1 week, or in the freezer for 3 months.

Vanilla Whoopie Pies

Whoopie pies (or gobs) are a popular treat in the Northeast, supposedly originating with the Pennsylvania Amish.  If you ask most people here in the Midwest what a whoopie pie is, unless they are a foodie, you’ll probably get a huh?  Basically it is a small cake, in the shape of a cookie, sandwiched together with a sweet, creamy filling.  What’s so fun about whoopie pies, besides the name :D, is that there are so many different flavor combinations of cakes and fillings.  So far, I’ve made chocolate chip and chocolate cakes and marshmallow and buttercream fillings.  But, how about lemon with lemon mascarpone cream or banana with salted caramel or mocha with tiramisu filling?  So many different whoopie pies to try…. Ahhh, I guess those are for another day.  But, I’ll be sure to share. 😀  Today I made vanilla whoopie pies with the traditional marshmallow filling.  I have been making a lot of chocolate desserts lately and I thought it was about time I make something that my husband would enjoy.  I decided to roll them in some red, white, and pink nonpareils to dress them up for Valentine’s Day.  It’s right around the corner.  Are you ready?   If not, here is a super cute, delicious, little hand-held dessert that you can make for your Valentine. I can bet they’re gonna love it!  Mine did!  Red heart

Vanilla Whoopie Pies

Yield: 24 whoopie pies

Whoopie Pie:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 tablespoons vegetable shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from a vanilla bean (I added about 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste with the extract. Can’t have too much vanilla!)

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.  Sift onto a large piece of wax paper.

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle, beat the butter, shortening and both sugars on medium speed until light and creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs and buttermilk and beat until combined. Don’t worry if your batter looks curdled. Mine did, but then came together when I added the rest of the ingredients.

Combine the milk, baking soda, and vinegar in a small measuring cup.  With the mixer on low, add the milk mixture to the batter along with the flour mixture.  Beat just until everything is combined.  Add the vanilla and beat on medium for 2 minutes, until completely combined.

Using a small cookie scoop (1 tbsp) , drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between cookies.   (I got 16 cookies per sheet.)   Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 10 minutes (start to check at 7 minutes) , or until they are set and just beginning to brown.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Marshmallow filling ( I used Martha Stewart’s recipe because I prefer butter in the filling to shortening)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 jar (7 1/2 ounces) marshmallow Fluff

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add Fluff and vanilla and continue mixing until well combined.  I put the filling into a large Ziploc bag, and cut off the corner, so I could easily pipe the filling onto the bottom cookies.

Source:  Vanilla whoopie pies from Whoopie Pies: Dozens of Mix’ em, Match’em, Eat’em Up Recipes and the marshmallow filling from Martha Stewart

Flour’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Crispy Magic Frosting

Cupcakes! Oh, how I love cupcakes! But, I guess really who doesn’t?  There is just something about those thick swirls of frosting, covering a moist, delicious hand-held cake that is completely irresistible.  I have heard great things about Flour Bakery ever since Joanne Chang’s Sticky Bun Throwdown with Bobby Flay.  I chose to make her chocolate cupcakes mostly because I was intrigued by the name of the frosting- Crispy Magic Frosting.  And oh my gosh, this frosting is indeed magic.  With all the baking I do, I have somehow never made a cooked frosting.  I guess I was a bit intimidated, but it was so much easier than I thought.  First you make a meringue and then add butter, three sticks of butter to be exact. I almost had a heart attack when I read that.  It is amazing to me, how a frosting with so much butter could still taste so light and airy.  I just don’t get where the crispy comes from though. I guess it is supposed to develop a thin sugar coating as it sits, making it crispy.  But mine never did and from the reviews I read, I am not alone.  But, honestly, that really doesn’t matter, because this is hands down the best frosting I ever had, crispy or not.  And then, you pipe this delicious frosting onto a rich and moist, deeply chocolate cupcake.   Well, wow!  That’s all I can say.  My sister said she would trade one of her children for another cupcake. Now that’s one heck of a cupcake!! 😀  I think she was only half kidding Winking smile

Flour’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Crispy (?) Magic Frosting

Yield: 12 standard size cupcakes

2 oz (56 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine (I used Callebaut)

1/4 cup (30 gram) Dutch-process cocoa powder- I recommend Valrhona

1 cup (200 grams) sugar

1/2 cup (one stick/114 grams) unsalted butter

1/3 cup (80 gram) water

1/2 cup (120 gram) milk

1 egg

1 yolk (Tip:  Save the white for the frosting)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup (140 grams) flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Line your muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners. In a large heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and cocoa powder.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the sugar, butter, and water, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves (3 to 4 minutes) . Pour the butter mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Let cool slightly and whisk the milk, egg, extra yolk, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until combined.
In a bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together until blended. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.  Let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour to thicken.  Or, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F.  Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling until at least 3/4 full.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip and they pass a toothpick check. I would start checking at 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Frosting
2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
2  egg whites
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) of room temperature butter, very soft, cut into 2 inch pieces.  Yikes!!
1 2/3 cups (230 grams) confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
In a heatproof bowl, whisk the sugar and egg whites into a slurry.  Fill a saucepan about 1/4 full with water and bring to a simmer.  Set the bowl over the water but do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the water.  Whisk for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is hot to the touch. It will thin as the sugar melts and becomes more white in color.

Pour the mixture into a mixer bowl or with a hand mixer, whip on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and white like meringue and is cool to the touch.  At medium speed, add the butter a few chunks at a time, beating for 3 to 4 minutes or until it is all incorporated.   Add the powdered sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until smooth and satiny.  You should end up with 3 1/2 cups of frosting- way more than is needed for 12 cupcakes.  If not using immediately, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Or, you can store it up to two weeks in the fridge, allow it to soften at room temperature and then beat in the mixer for a few minutes until smooth.

Source: Flour: Spectacular Recipes From Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe

Helpful Hints:

  • Use scale measurement!
  • I had a lot of extra frosting left over- enough to frost at least 6 more cupcakes.
  • Save your extra egg white that is not needed in the cake batter for your frosting.
  • Use high quality chocolate for the best results.


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