Whoopie Pie Quest

Wow, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve posted!  I’m so sorry about that!  The holidays got busy plus I’ve been transitioning into a new position at my company, so that’s taken a lot of my time.  But I’m back, so let’s get down to my latest adventure!  A few weeks ago my parents went to a food truck “meet up” in Phoenix. (AZ is a little behind on the food truck craze).  My dad called me after saying he just had the best whoopie pie he’s ever had and that I need to start making them.   I’ve never made a whoopie pie before so I decided to try.

I found a recipe on Epicurious and decided to start there on my quest to find/create a great recipe.  They were good, but I wasn’t too thrilled with the way they looked.  Here’s the recipe…

Whoopie Pie Cakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl until combined. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.
  3. Beat the butter and brown sugar together in an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined.
  4. Reduce speed to low and alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix until smooth.
  5. Spoon 1/4 (or less for smaller cakes) cup mounds of batter onto a baking sheet.  Bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching the position of the baking sheet halfway through, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, about 11 to 13 minutes.  Transfer to cooling rack.

Whoopie Pie Filling

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow cream (Marshmallow Fluff)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Beat the butter, confectioners sugar, marshmallow and vanilla in an electric mixer until smooth.  Add more confectioners sugar to make the filling not as “sticky”.

Assembly

  1. Spread a rounded tablespoon of filling on the flat side of the cake.  Top with another cake.  For this step, I pipped the filling onto the cakes which allowed me to place the filling where I wanted it with ease.

 

The thing I didn’t particularly like about this recipe was that the cakes were very rounded on top which made the cakes tip over when assembled.  They still tasted great, but I’ll most likely try a different recipe next time.  Stay tuned in my quest to make the best whoopie pie!

 

 

January 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm Leave a comment

40th Birthday Cake

Awhile back one of my friends asked me if I would make her 40th birthday cake.  I jumped at the chance and was so excited for the opportunity.  For weeks I had ideas running through my head and couldn’t wait to get started.  The birthday girl only had one request for her cake which was that she wanted a salted caramel buttercream frosting.  Other than that, she told me to have fun and do whatever I wanted.  Since it was my first two-tier cake, I wanted to do something simple and not go too crazy.  I decided to do a yellow butter cake with the salted caramel buttercream as the first tier and a chocolate chocolate chip cake with a vanilla buttercream as the top-tier.

The yellow butter cake is something I’ve made many times and its one of my favorite cakes.  I found both the chocolate chocolate chip cake and the salted caramel buttercream on my friend Kat’s blog.  Her cakes are beautiful and always taste amazing, so I knew I could trust her recipes!

In the week leading up to my friend’s birthday party on Friday, I had different tasks for myself.  Tuesday night was devoted to baking the yellow butter cake.  Wednesday was for baking the chocolate chocolate chip cake and making the fondant.  The fondant needed to sit for at least 6 hours before it was ready, so I decided to make it Wednesday and let it sit overnight.  Thursday night was the most stressful since I had to make both frostings, assemble and decorate the cake.  I started working on it around 6 p.m. and wasn’t done until around 11:30.  I ran into a few problems, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  One problem I ran into was that I realized one batch of the salted caramel buttercream was not enough.  I ran out just by filling the layers when stacking the cake.  Luckily I had enough ingredients to make another batch and it worked out fine.

I created a new Recipes page on my blog, so go check that out for the cake and buttercream recipes!  I also made a batch of fondant for this cake which I had never done before.  I used Michele Foster‘s recipe for Fondant and it turned out great!

November 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Peanut Butter and Chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations.  And these cookies combined those flavors perfectly.  I was looking for something to bake this week and I really wanted to bake a cookie.  A while back my mom had given me an old recipe book called “Biggest Book of Cookies” so I decided to look through it.  As I was flipping the pages a picture caught my eye.  It was a picture of these cookies and I knew I just had to make them!  My coworkers also really enjoyed these cookies!

Here’s the recipe…

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • Granulated sugar
  1. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter, the ½ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and the ¼ cup peanut butter with an electric mixer until combined, scraping sides of the bowl occasionally.  Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer.  Stir in any remaining flour mixture with a wooden spoon.
  3. Shape dough into 1 ¼ inch balls (should have 32); set aside.
  4. For peanut butter filling, in a medium bowl stir together powdered sugar and the ½ cup peanut butter until smooth.
  5. Shape mixture into ¾ inch balls (should have 32).
  6. On a work surface, slightly flatten each chocolate dough ball and top with a peanut butter ball.  Shape the chocolate dough over the peanut butter filling, completely covering the filling.  Roll dough into balls.
  7. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Lightly flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar.  Note: So sugar will stick to the glass, first dip the bottom of the glass in the cookie dough.  Next, dip it into the sugar.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes or until just set and surface is slightly cracked.  Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

October 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm 1 comment

Pumpkin Cheesecake

For most holidays these days, I’ve been asked to bring dessert.  Wonder why?  Haha, just kidding.  Even when not asked, I usually bring some type of dessert just because it gives me an excuse to bake and try out new recipes.  For Yom Kippur (a Jewish high-holiday), I was asked to bring dessert over to a friend’s house where we were breaking the fast.  I was at a loss and didn’t know what I wanted to make.  I reached out to my twitter friends and asked for suggestions.  One friend came up with Pumpkin Cheesecake.  I thought it was a brilliant idea.  I love pumpkin flavored desserts, as do a lot of people around this time of year.

So, I searched my cookbooks and the internet for a good pumpkin cheesecake recipe.  All of the recipes I found called for a crust made of flour, brown sugar, butter and chopped pecans.  I’m sure it would be great, but that’s not the type of crust I wanted to use.  I decided to use a graham cracker crust, so I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com.  Then I used the pumpkin cheesecake recipe I found on Taste of Home.com.  Here are the recipes…

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  1. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and cinnamon until well blended.
  2. Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie pan. (I used an 8-inch square pan)
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 minutes.  Let it cool before use.
Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Beat in the pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice.  Pour over the crust.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Cool on a wire rack.
  4. I cut the cheesecake into squares which yield about 16 bars.
The cheesecake will come out of the oven looking inflated, but that will collapse as it cools.  You just want to make sure the cheesecake isn’t too “jiggly” when it comes out of the oven.  it will jiggle a little, but too much means it’s not fully cooked.
One thing I realized too late was that these bars would be really great with some homemade whipped cream.  I didn’t have the time to make it though, which kinda bummed me out.  But this dessert was already requested by my sister for Thanksgiving, so I’ll have the opportunity to make the whipped cream then.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

October 9, 2011 at 4:19 pm Leave a comment

Apple Pie in a pinch

This past weekend a few friends and I went to Galena to relax and get away from Chicago for a little bit.  For those of you outside the Chicago area, Galena is a cute little vacation town about 3 hours west of the city.  One of my friends’ aunt and uncle have a house there that they graciously let us borrow.  While we were out there we went horseback riding and wine tasting which were a blast.

We also decided to make dinner Saturday night.  Our dinner turned into a huge feast with food covering every inch of the dining room table.  I was tasked with making dessert.  Oh who am I kidding, I jumped at the chance!  The only problem was that I didn’t think ahead and didn’t bring any recipes with me.  It wouldn’t have been a problem if we had cell service, which we didn’t.  I was able to get on the internet on my phone for about 5 minutes to find a recipe and write it down.  I decided to make apple pie which seemed appropriate because we were out in the country.  I made the crust from scratch and ran into a ton of problems doing so.  I didn’t have a mixer, so the flaky pie crust wasn’t made very well and kept falling apart.  I didn’t even have a rolling-pin so I used a wine bottle.  (hey, you do what you can and get creative, right?)  And yes, there are pictures somewhere.  I ended up just pressing pieces of the pie crust together into the pie pan.  It turned out fine and no one could tell the difference.  I was able to roll out enough dough for the lattices on top though.

The recipe I used basically only called for apples, cinnamon, sugar and butter.  I recruited a few “sous chefs” to peel and slice the apples and toss them in the cinnamon sugar while I was working on the crust.  All I did then was pour the apples into the crust and top it with butter, then lattice the crust on top.   The recipe also called for milk to be brushed on top of the crust before baking.  Afterwards I realized that an egg wash (mixture of eggs and water) would have been a lot better and would have made the crust a shiny golden brown.  But oh well!  It came out great anyways.  Plus we had some vanilla ice cream to serve with it!

Even after our dinner feast, the pie was devoured.  The next day there was only a tiny slice left, which was gone by the time we left to go home.

It doesn’t look too appetizing in this picture, but it was delicious!

September 22, 2011 at 11:45 pm Leave a comment

Wedding Shower Cupcakes

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to make cupcakes for a friend from work’s wedding shower.  A few of us took her and her fiance (a former coworker) out for dinner Friday night.  My friend loves vanilla cake while her fiance loves chocolate cake.  Since I wanted to please them both, I made both chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with a simple buttercream frosting.  One of their wedding colors is purple, so I colored the buttercream purple.

The chocolate cupcake recipe I used was the same one I made for my sister’s birthday cupcakes.  My version of vanilla cake is a yellow butter cake.  It’s one of my favorite cake recipes because it’s moist and delicious.  I also tried a new technique for piping on the frosting which I think worked out pretty well.  Instead of my usual swirl design, I tried a smooth “blob” look.

I loved the look of the cupcakes, but I knew they needed something on top.  They looked a little plain and slightly naked.  To dress them up a bit I placed an M&M on top.  I wish I thought ahead and had time to find purple M&Ms, but I did what I could at the 11th hour.

When we were done with dinner and getting up to leave the restaurant, we had a few cupcakes left over.  There was a couple sitting at the table next to us, so as I got up I asked them if they wanted a cupcake.  At the exact same time they both shouted, yes!  We all couldn’t stop laughing.  They told me they had been eyeing the cupcakes and had dared each other to ask for one.

September 11, 2011 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Mother’s Day Cake

As I haven’t had time to bake anything this week, I decided to share something I did a few months ago.  Awhile back I made my mom a Mother’s Day cake.  It was the first cake I did outside of school so I was really excited to do this.  The cake was a yellow butter cake, which is my version of white cake.  I love this cake because it’s so moist but at the same time dense enough to stack and decorate.  The frosting was Italian Buttercream.  Italian Buttercream is so smooth and tastes amazing, however it’s not great for decorating.  I also made a little batch of regular buttercream to make the roses.  Regular buttercream holds its shape a lot better than Italian buttercream.

I threw a lot of different elements onto this cake.  There are two types of borders (rope border and shell border), swiss dots along the side, buttercream roses and text.  What can I say?  I went a little overboard.

Not only was it my first time making and decorating an entire cake from scratch, it was also my first time transporting a cake.  That was one stressful car ride.  Every bump in the road (and as we know, there are a lot of bumps and potholes in Chicago), I would check on the cake even though it was safely taped into my cake carrier.  It was the most nerve wrecking car ride I’ve ever had.  The cake made it safe, which was a huge relief.

 

August 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm 1 comment

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Birthday Cupcakes

For my sister’s birthday, I decided to make her some cupcakes.  I gave her two options; Oreo cream cupcakes or chocolate and peanut butter swirl cupcakes.  I knew what she would pick, but I wanted to give her the option anyways.  As I guessed, she chose the chocolate and peanut butter swirl cupcakes.  I found the recipes in a book called “Crazy about Cupcakes” that was sitting on my shelf.  To make these cupcakes it required a chocolate cupcake recipe as well as a peanut butter cupcake recipe, then swirling both batters.  Mid way through I realized I could have halved each recipe to make one full recipe, but instead I made a full recipe of each and wound up with two full batches.  Now, this isn’t a bad thing or necessarily a mistake, but there were a TON of cupcakes in my apartment when I was done.  My coworkers benefited from that little snafu!  Since I had so much batter, I decided to have some fun and make some mini cupcakes.

Here are the recipes I used;

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 2/3 cup (4 oz) bittersweet chocolate (I used semi-sweet chocolate and it worked just fine)
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
  1. Place the cocoa in a small bowl.  Pour the boiling water over cocoa and whisk until dissolved.  Add the bittersweet chocolate to the cocoa paste and stir until melted.  Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy (3-5 minutes).  Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition.  Add the vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until integrated.  Add the yogurt and mix well.  Add the remainder of the dry ingredients.  Add the chocolate and mix until blended.
Chocolate Frosting
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  1. Cream the butter and vanilla together with an electric mixer.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the confectioners sugar and cocoa powder.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the cream mixture until fully integrated.  Slowly add the milk to the frosting until you’ve reached the desired consistency.  Beat well until creamy.
Peanut Butter Cupcakes
  • 6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter (I used creamy)
  • 1 1/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  1. In a mixing bowl cream together the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy (3-5 minutes).  Add the eggs and beat well.  Add the vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl combing the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to cream mixture, alternating with the milk.  Mix well.
Peanut Butter Frosting  **Make this frosting right before you frost the cupcakes
  • 12 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups packing brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 1/3 cups creamy or crunchy peanut butter (I used creamy)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  1. In a saucepan over high heat, bring the butter, brown sugar and water to a boil.  Continue to boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Decorate the cupcakes while this frosting is hot.  The frosting will thicken as it cools.
Cupcake assembly
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place cupcake liners in the cupcake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly swirl the two batters together.
  3. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely before decorating.
  6. Pipe the Chocolate and Peanut Butter frosting on the cooled cupcakes.
  7. Garnish the cupcakes with a peanut and piece of chocolate.

August 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm 3 comments

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

This week I was looking for something that I could bring into work to share with my coworkers.  The first thing that came to mind was brownies!  However, I wanted to do something a little different from just plain brownies.  I was debating between peanut butter, caramel and mint brownies and eventually landed on peanut butter since I absolutely love pb and chocolate together.  I searched around the internet for a while trying to find a recipe that I liked.  I noticed a lot of the recipes called for brownie mix out of a box.  Maybe its the culinary school in me, maybe I’ve become a baking snob, but I HATE making baked goods out of a box.  It takes away all the fun!  Plus, boxed stuff never tastes as good as from scratch.  I finally found a recipe I liked on GoodHouseKeeping.com.

Brownie Recipe

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13 by 9 inch baking pan.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Melt the butter and both chocolates in a saucepan over low heat until melted, stirring frequently.  Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the sugar. (at this point I transferred the chocolate mixture to a larger bowl.)  Add the vanilla and eggs and stir well.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended.

Peanut Butter Swirl Recipe

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the peanut butter, sugar, butter, flour, vanilla and egg until well blended
  2. Spread 2 cups of the chocolate batter in the greased baking pan.  Top with 6 large dollops of the peanut butter mixture. 
  3. Spoon remaining chocolate batter over and between the peanut butter dollops.  With the tip of a knife, cut and twist through the mixtures to create the swirled effect.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the edge comes out almost clean.  Cool in the pan.  Cut into desired shapes when completely cooled.

While I was in the middle of making these brownies, I noticed that I only had about 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate left.  I debated running out to the store to get more but decided it wasn’t worth it for one ounce.  So instead I used the 3 ounces of unsweetened and 5 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate to compensate.  The brownies still turned out great and you couldn’t tell the difference.  I wouldn’t suggest using all semi-sweet chocolate though since that would make the brownies overly sweet.


August 9, 2011 at 8:20 pm 1 comment

Butter Tea Cookies

Butter tea cookies are one of my favorite types of cookies to make.  The recipe is so easy and quick.  Plus these are piped cookies so you can play around with shapes.  I’ve made these many times since they are also one of my mom’s favorites.  Which is the reason why I made them this week.  My parents are moving out of Chicago this week and heading for the desert (Arizona).  They’re moving out there full-time for a few months, but will eventually come back to find a place in Chicago.  The drive out to Arizona takes about 2 days, so I wanted to make something that they could take with them and snack on in the car.  I thought these cookies would be perfect since they’re bite size, and wont melt like a chocolate chip cookie would.

Since I pipe the cookies out really small, the full batter makes a TON of cookies.  I halved the recipe this time and it still produced more than enough cookies.

Here’s the halved recipe…

  • 6 oz Butter
  • 3 oz Granulated sugar
  • 1.5 oz Powdered sugar
  • 63 grams Eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 9 oz Cake flour
  1. Soften the butter in your mixer.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar and add it to the mixer.  Add the granulated sugar.  Add the eggs and combine.
  3. Sift the flour and add it to the mixer.  The batter will be thick, but that’s what you want.
  4. Choose the type of tip you want (I used a star tip), then put the batter into a piping bag.
  5. Pipe a small amount of batter under the corners of the parchment paper onto the cookie sheet.  This will help the parchment from moving when you are piping the cookies.
  6. Pipe the batter into rosettes on the parchment.  
  7. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the cookies are slightly brown on the edges.
These cookies go perfectly with tea or coffee, plus they’re not too sweet even though they’re mostly sugar.  Hopefully my parents will enjoy these on their long car trip!  Let’s just hope the dog doesn’t eat any!

August 2, 2011 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

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