Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Making Woopie

Pies!  Whoopie Pies!  get your mind out of the gutter!  this is a wholesome blog.

Word on the street is that whoopie pies are making a comeback and are the "new" thing.  I don't know about that... I didn't grow up with whoopie pies, so as far as making a comeback - its a first for me.  Some may even argue that I'm way behind the trend wagon, which may be true, but how's a girls supposed to keep up with boutique doughnut shops and cake pops?!    

Lets get started!  

Whoopie Pies - thanks Epicurious

For cakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg

For filling

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow cream such as Marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Make cakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.

3. Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.

4. Spoon 1/4-cup mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 buttered large baking sheets. 

5. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool completely.

Make filling:
Beat together butter, confectioners sugar, marshmallow, and vanilla in a bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.
• Filling can be made 4 hours ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

Assemble pies:
Spread a rounded tablespoon filling on flat sides of half of cakes and top with remaining cakes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lazy baking weekends

Remember when I made all of those peanut butter cookies a few weeks ago? Yeah it was that time that I told girl scouts to watch out (don't worry... i love girl scouts. I actually wound up buying 6 boxes of cookies from my colleagues daughter the next day- I caved in).

Well my fellow bakers, you know that the title of this post is not entirely accurate. You see, although baking can be very relaxing, it requires a fair amount of prep, concentration, skill, and then clean up! Making goodies from scratch is not lazy at all!

What IS lazy is taking pre frozen dough balls out of the freezer and throwing them in the oven for a quick treat instead!

Remember that I used the new mini scoopers to scoop out all of those perfectly measured dough balls? Well, while one of the sheets was baking, I scooped out half of the dough onto a parchment lined cutting board- here you don't need to be concerned with spacing, just so long as they  don't touch.  Then, I placed the board with all of the dough balls on it in the freezer, and went back to baking the rest of the cookies, pulling out the drying rack, making a fresh pot of coffee (because coffee and pb cookies taste sooooo good together!) Cleaning up my tools and my work zone, taste testing each batch - baking is a lot of work! After all that was done (about an hour later) I pulled the dough board out of the freezer, pulled the frozen balls off the paper and plopped them into a plastic freezer bag. For good measure, I wrote the date on the bag. You don't want these to be in The freezer too long.

When you are ready to bake one of these pre-made treats, place the frozen dough on a cookie sheet as you normally would, spacing a few inches apart. Then turn the oven on to 350 and let the dough come to room temperature. Once dough has softened, you can make hatch arms with a fork. Bake for 12 minutes turning half way. Let cool and eat!  Easy peasy. And perfect for a lazy weekend!

Monday, January 2, 2012

baked... year 2

I can hardly believe another year has gone by!  It really doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I was sitting in Filter cafe on a cold January morning typing away last years new years reflection.  Last year's post celebrated the recipes, the process in making delicious things, and the dedication it takes to keep up with it - not in a way that is a chore - doing things you love should be fun.  But we all know that other stuff: family, work, friends, relationships (life) sometimes gets in the way of us getting to do the things we LOVE the most.  Last year we celebrated that Baked held us accountable to come back and do the things we love.
chocolate truffles from Katherine Ann Confections, Chicago 

This past year has been no different - 2011 has been just as busy, if not more so than 2010: I moved into another new apartment (2 years of moving in a row-whoa!). Started a new job.  Went away for 8 weeks of training for said new job. Picked up where I left off last winter with my knitting- this time selling mittens, bears and pillows at a small sale more on that here.  Traveled to see family in far and distant places like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio - And have loved every minute of it.   2011 was a little more on and off with the posts- a few lulls in the summer (really who wants to turn the oven on when its 100 degrees outside?!).  2011 also experienced a lull in making treats because this sugar baby needs to watch her sugar intake.  tTrust me I'm still figuring out how to do this without cutting out everything delicious entirely (more to come on this).   2011 brought more posts about yummy treats I have encountered while out and about. 2011 had me revisiting my own posts, referencing favorite recipes to re-create (and noticing typos and some incomplete descriptions-sorry about that).  2011 connected me with you, the reader - to my continued surprise, you are reading and following along and trying out the recipes yourself!  thanks for the photos you have shared, keep em coming!  2011 also was all about appearances - Baked has gone through many visual transformations in the last year - and no doubt there will still be more!

By comparison, Baked is still a baby blog and I love that it is this way.  It still feels personal.  When I do sit down to type out these posts, I have so many ideas: topics to write about, products to review, how-to videos to record, more family recipes to make and share, family bakers to interview, favorite dessert spots around town.  If I were a full time blogger there still wouldn't be enough time!

In 2012, I hope to post more often, the goal is once a week.  In 2012, I hope to try more new recipes from loved ones AND get the stories that are made alongside the recipes. In 2012, I hope to learn more about you, the reader, and what you like to bake.
2012 is about doing what you love.  Recognizing what it is that you are most happy doing, and making time for it.  Of course it is still a lot of work, but it is worth it because you are doing it for yourself.  We are all so busy these days. That's not going to change, but it's important to jam in some "love to-do's" on our ever growing to-do list!

Macaroons from Alliance Bakery, Chicago

Watch out Girl Scouts!

I found a recipe for peanut butter cookies that are just as good as your peanut butter cookies and now can have them whenever I want... not just the one time of year when i order from you and eat the whole box in one sitting!  HA  Take that!

Wow.  Where did that come from?  in all of the cookie excitement crazy me came out.  Ok.  lets go back and take away all of the snarky comments about girl scouts.  they work hard.  But I am still excited about this new to me peanut butter recipe.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment.  In a large bowl, mix together peanut butter, sugars, eggs, baking soda, salt until smooth. 

 2. Shape the dough into balls ( about one tablespoon each) and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Using the tines on a fork, press into dough to make a hatch mark.

I love using my scoopers for this.  they create perfectly measured round balls of dough without getting your hands totally gooey. 

use your favorite fork, i prefer using wider forks to cover cookie surface area.  Press and drag. 

Holy big cookies Batman!  these were scooped with a slightly bigger scooper... about 1/4 cup in size. 

Scooper size as it relates to cookie size. 

seriously delicious.  Seriously moist.  Seriously... i ate 5 of them fresh out of the oven! (Shhhhh.  dont tell Daniel... he says i need to watch my sugar!)

Best.Peanut. Butter.Cookie. Recipe. EVER.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Pop Pop Pop!

Happy New Year!!!!

I don't know about you, but the last few days have been amazing!  I have been busy catching up on all of the tasty recipes i have been dying to try (more on that to come).  I think I was cruising through the December issue of Real Simple when I can across this recipe for Pop Overs.

Now, I had never made anything like this before, but the name sounded so good, and it kind of reminded me of a starter we had at this super tasty restaurant here in Chicago, The Bristol. So after a quick glance at the ol pantry, I was thrilled to see that I had all of the ingredients needed to make these treats!   Let the baking begin!

See the Bucktown Apple Pie contest mug? 

Popovers (thanks Real Simple Dec 2011, pg.270)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan (i melted 4 tbs)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 1/2 cups whole milk 
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Brush the cups of a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin with melted butter.
I don't know if my muffin pan is noon stick, but this seemed to do the trick. 

also using a silicone brush to spread the butter in the pan seemed to be a pretty good way to go.

 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, eggs, butter and salt until only a few lumps remain, but do not overmix.
Make sure all of the flour is mixed in and doesn't settling to the bottom all goo-like.
 3. Divide batter among the prepared muffin pans and bake until puffed and deep golden brown, 30 - 35 minutes.  Do not open oven door before 30 minutes  or the popovers will collapse.  Remove one to see if the underside is browned. Serve immediatley.

No joke, these things grew like this in the oven - spiral and shell-like.

ta da!

Aren't they beautiful?!

One more pic to show just how tall they grew.

Now here is the part where I admit that these actually tasted totally different than we had expected them to... Honestly, I thought they would be more bread like, and maybe taste like a croissant.  But of course with that many eggs, it would taste more like eggs than it would bread - and im not saying it was bad, it was actually quite good (I ate three).  Just different than I had originally imagined they would taste.  That happens sometimes.  Recipes turn out different than you imagine they should.

Daniel added jam to his popover.

I added Daniel's left-over BBQ.

Oh glorious BBQ.  it tasted sooooooooo goooooood!
This would be such a fun treat to make for a New Years day brunch, guests could graze and enjoy pulling these apart.  Good finger food.  Maybe its time to have some visitors!

We hope you have been able to relax these past few days, maybe you even had a few days off!  Have you tried any new recipes?

Friday, December 30, 2011

An Attempt at Aunt Lou's Molasses Cookie Recipe

If you are a loyal reader of baked, you know that this blog is less about stoner food, and more about celebrating desserts, and honoring loved ones and the recipes they have shared with us.  I suppose if you do find yourself reading while influenced by a certain substance, you are welcome to be inspired and enjoy these recipes too - though i may not recommend operating an oven!

Right before Thanksgiving, I found myself reflecting on desserts, and then the desserts that i have learned from my family, i mean the recipes that my mom has shared with me, and many of those are recipes that she was taught by her mother (Honeybunch) or Aunt (CioCia Katie).  I got to thinking about all of the tasty treats that i have inhaled throughout my lifetime that reminded me of my loved ones, and suddenly realized that there is a major void when it comes to the tasty treats from my dads side of the fan!  All credit goes to mom when it comes to creating these tasty treats, but it was my dad who taught me that you can never have too many cookies and milk.

While i was home for Turkey Day, I asked my dad about the recipe that i remember the most: Aunt Lou's Molasses Cookies.  Funny because i was fairly young when i had these treats, though the memory is so vivid!  I had to have been three years old when we would go and visit her at the farm house in Adrian, Michigan.  Her kitchen wasn't fancy by todays standards, but it always smelled good! and hidden behind the pantry door where she kept a bunch of stuff - but most importantly was the jar of cookies!  she only had molasses cookies.  i hadn't had them before, and i haven't had them since, So when my dad brought out his moms recipe box and we found Aunt Lou's Molasses Cookie recipe in there, i was totally geeked!

Here goes the first attempt, er two.  not exactly what i remember... but its a start.  And in true baked form, we are sharing the successes and the flops with you:

don't you love a recipe card?!?!?  until you actually start to read it and try to follow it.  holy molasses, this ones going to need some time to figure out!

all ingredients lined up and ready to go!

Sour milk!? yes.  pour 1tbs on lemon juice into measuring container, and then fill to the 1/2 c. line with milk 


molasses + sugar

molasses + sugar + sour milk

.... + dry ingredients

mix it all together

add butter and blend.
no i don't think it is supposed to look this way.
or smell this way.

poo,  i think i did something wrong.  cookie dough is not supposed to look like this.  
start over.... with all the same ingredients, though this time we are only going to do a half recipe.  AND we are going to use all of the common sense we have from years of cookie making that says you are supposed to CREAM the butter and the sugar together, and then add eggs and spices, and then alternate flour and milk.
this is what it SHOULD look like!

though, the recipe card didn't say how much flour to add... read it again... " enuf flour for soft dough - roll out".
and with Molasses being a thick sticky viscous substance, with butter and lots of milk, this was a very moist batter.  so i started adding flour in 1/2 cup increments.
after 4 cups, the dough still looked like this, but common sense said stop.  

because they are supposed to be roll out- sugar cookies style cut out cookies, we had to refrigerate the dough.
and because i have been traveling all over the Midwest for work during the month of December, hosting a HUGE work event, preparing for a huge work related exam, AND speed clicking through online shopping this year, this dough didn't get made until 2 hours before we were supposed to leave the windy city for t-town.  call me a procrastinator.
its a good thing the dough needed to be chilled..
though in reality this dough really was chill in in the trunk of the honda civic.  

and now to the fun part!  roll out dough.

select favorite cup (in lieu of 3.5" diameter circular cookie cutter)

place cutouts on cookie sheet

sprinkle sugar on top

add more sugar... memory says these were crusted in sugar!
wah wah... ok so the picture doesn't make them look all that bad.  they were more cakey than we remembered, and they were too light in color.  BUT their flavor brought back memories!

round 2.  instead of rolling our dough, we rolled them into balls and then rolled them in sugar, and then pressed with our fingers to flatten

they came out like this... not the right caramel color, but they started to get the cracked surface.... we are getting somewhere!

couldn't have upset dad though... he loved having them.  or at least he said he did. :)

the search continues.... I'm determined to find a recipe that gets me closer to the cookies we ate 25 years ago.

got a molasses cookie recipe to share?  id love to hear what you are baking!