Friday, June 22, 2012

Whoopie Pies

My name is Julie, and I'm a Whoopie Pie Snob.

{Hi Julie}

For real- this is serious business.

My mom grew up in a small town in Ohio, directly adjacent to Amish country. My grandparents still live in said town, and, consequently, I grew up on a steady stream of high quality, delicious, Amish recipes. What does this have to do with Whoopie Pies, the sandwich cookie/cake confections run rampant in American bakeries and enjoyed by the masses since the trend took hold a few years ago??? Oh, LET ME TELL YOU.

(Read as: Put in your earplugs, Julie is a-goin' on a rant).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

It appears to be a bit of a right of passage for a baking blog to feature a cookie dough cupcake recipe. I've staked a number of them on pinterest, (like this one and this one and this one), and they came in two varieties-- the kind that stuff with dough post-baking and the kind that freeze the dough and bake it inside. I opted to go the route of freezing the dough, so that it really goes in the middle and so that you can get a little in every bite. Consequently, I also went about deciding how to make my favorite cookie dough egg-less, as the dough stays doughy and I have no desire to send anyone into the grips of Salmonella, or any other brand of food poisoning. This post by The Girl Who Ate Everything gave me the idea to substitute the egg with sweetened condensed milk, which worked perfectly. I combined my newly egg-less dough with my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, doctored up a little vanilla butter-cream to hold a more cookie-like flavor, and DONE. They are delicious.

You'll notice that this vanilla cupcake recipe is the same one I've used as a base for a lot of recipes. I like it because it is consistent and easy. I have a few other recipes I'll bust out for you at another time, but I specifically chose this one for these cupcakes because the batter is thick. It's the same one I use as the base for my cupcakes with Oreos baked inside. You need a thick batter when you want something to bake in the middle-- this helps prevent the stuff in the middle from sinking to the bottom.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Photo by Donya.

This lemon cake recipe originated from a recipe in a magazine given to me by a friend. I have no idea what magazine it was, as the clipping given to me did not identify a title and I've googled to no avail. That being said, I've made enough adaptations over the past couple of years that I'm comfortable blogging it here as 'mine', but would very much like to give credit where credit is due! If you happen to recognize this as being something similar to something you read in a magazine, let me know!

The first thing we need to address before we get to the recipe is that this cake is finicky. So is the icing, for that matter. (See note about refrigeration in the icing instructions). The cake is sensitive to movement in the oven and, if irritated, falls in the middle. Luckily, if it comes out ugly, it still tastes good, but, the point is, if this is your first metaphorical rodeo, this is not your metaphorical horse. Or bull. Or whatever it is one rides at a rodeo. If you have not baked a cake from scratch before, start somewhere a little more straight forward, such as here or here. I don't mean you need to be an expert, I just wanted to give you fair warning that this is not the most simple of cakes. It is sensitive enough that it baked differently based on the color of cupcake paper I used (lighter worked better, FYI.) It is, however, delicious.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cheddar Jalapeño Corn Muffins

My fantastic friend Layla is becoming one of my tried-and-true baking buddies. We have spent many an evening elbow deep in flour making a mess of her otherwise immaculate apartment, ('cause I'm a messy real.....,) creating long lists of delicious confections. Seeing as I have a sweet tooth, I was equal parts fascinated and excited when Layla suggested we create  Cheddar Jalapeno Corn Muffins. It went like this:

Layla: I was thinking something with cheddar and jalapeñ maybe a corn muffin.

Me: {Confused face}

Layla: Don't you think that sounds good?

To myself, while face still appears confused-- Where is the SUGAR or CHOCOLATE in this idea??? Muffins that are not sugar or chocolate?? IS THIS POSSIBLE?? Wait-- it's totally possible...and totally delicious. 


Both of us: Let's get some wine. (This has nothing to do with the recipe, but it totally happened.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ultimate Chocolate Cake + Decorating Tutorial

So, I have a fantastic friend named Susan. Susan lives in Boston and whenever we find ourselves in the same city, we base our entire agenda around visiting as many bakeries and chocolate shops as possible. We, along with another friend, once did a side-by-side formal tasting of cupcakes for six different Chicago bakeries.

Let me back up-- this goes all the way back to college. Somewhere in the early 2000's, Susan and I met on a summer program that was hosted on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, where there was no chocolate. It was like a bad social experiment that ended in one of the program staff stealing us chocolate chips from the kitchen pantry to quiet our withdrawal. Bonding over stolen baking morsels has led to the years of bakery/chocolate themed touristing noted above, as well as the idea that we should someday open a bookstore/cafe/bakery called "The Cookie Bard," where all the treats are ironically named for a writer or literary character. So, like, the menu would have things like Nick Caraway twists; Miss Maudie's Lane Cake; The Curtis Brothers' Special would be chocolate cake and scrambled eggs; The Hemingway will appear on our coffee menu, but is nothing but a solitary mug of cheap gin; etc. You get the idea. {...........and you think it's AWESOME, right??}

All this back-story is leading to this-- Susan's birthday cake. Even though Boston is about 1000 miles outside my delivery range and she would never get to eat it, Susan an I thought it would be fun for me to design a cake for this occasion. Clearly, this cake needed to be covered in chocolate. Like, it needed to be a chocolate fortress, with a WALL of chocolate keeping the chocolate from leaking out. The best part? This decor looks cool and it's super fast and easy.