Posted in dessert, eat something cute, recipe

Pumpkin Pecan Whoopie Pies

About two weeks ago, one of my coworkers was having a pretty crappy day at the office. I knew I would be seeing her later in the week, so I decided I would make her a treat to help cheer her up. Because who doesn’t love a whoopie pie?

I never pass up the opportunity to brighten someone’s day with something delicious.

The whoopie recipe is Martha’s (with an adjustment or two), but the filling is all mine. Some flavors I love in the fall (besides pumpkin) are maple and bourbon, and I almost always incorporate the two in any of my autumn treats. A little monotonous perhaps, but mama loves her bourbon.

Maple-Bourbon Buttercream. So good it’s a proper noun. I’ve made buttercream frosting so many times that I could do it in my sleep, so I the recipe that follows below *might* not be exact, but it’s  close enough that some simple adjustments (a little extra sugar here, a touch more bourbon there) will get you where you need to be.

I added pecans to the cake for a little texture. I should have either added more or omitted them altogether, but Pumpkin Pecan Whoopie Pies has so much more panache than just Plain Ass Pumpkin.

Oh, alliteration. You make my soul sing.

I used a mini ice cream scoop (2 oz) to scoop the batter for the cakes. This made an incredible amount of mini whoopies – almost three dozen.

No worries, none of them went to waste. I should have flattened them out a bit before baking with a spatula or something. These were a bit…rustic.

Yeah, rustic. That’s what I’ll call them. Also, moist, tender, pumpkin-y bundles of deliciousness. The perfect cure for a bad day, or the perfect ending for a good one.

Pumpkin Pecan Whoopie Pies with Maple Bourbon Buttercream 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 TB ground cinnamon
  • 1 TB ground cloves
  • 2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and set aside. Whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla. Incorporate wet ingredients into dry and stir to combine. Add pecans (if desired). Scoop batter onto lined cookie sheets and bake approximately 12-15 minutes (touch center of cookie, if it springs back it’s done). Allow to cool while making frosting.

Maple Bourbon Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar (watch your consistency & volume)
  • 2 tsp maple flavoring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (4 TB) bourbon (or to taste, it will mellow out overnight)
  • 3-4 TB  cream (or milk)

Beat butter in a stand  mixer until creamy. Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, incorporating fully after each addition. Add vanilla extract, maple flavoring, and bourbon & mix to combine. Add cream a little at a time, stopping when frosting is desired consistency.

Spoon frosting into a piping bag with a large plain tip (or use a spatula) and frost half of the cookies with approx 1-2 tablespoons of frosting. Top with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (to allow to set) and serve. The whoopies keep nicely in the fridge for three days, but they won’t last that long.

pumpkinwhoopTrust me.

Posted in dessert, eat something cute, food porn, recipe, Uncategorized

Margarita Whoopie Pies, Yes Ma’am.

I have a confession: I’ve never eaten a Whoopie Pie. Well, I don’t think I have. And it’s a damn shame, too. Two dense, moist, cakey chocolate cookies filled with fluffy frosting? Amazing. I think I always passed them over in favor for something else – a cupcake, or a lemon bar. As of now I’m officially adding whoopie pies to my list of favorite sweet treats. If you’ve never had a whoopie pie, or are only familiar with the chocolate version, perhaps you’ll add these to your list, too.

It started about two weeks ago, when I saw this recipe on Pinterest and decided to make them just to try them out. Instead of raspberry jam in the filling I added pureed fresh blackberries. They were fantastic, and  I immediately began brainstorming different flavor combinations for the basic recipe. I immediately thought of Key Lime Whoopie Pie, and I might give that a shot down the road, but for some reason my thoughts went more adult.

Not THAT adult, cheeky monkey.

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The Hello Kitty glass just screams “Grown Up”, right?

This adult. I love margaritas when they’re made properly. Good tequila, on the rocks, NO SALT. Keep my margarita simple. Don’t bruise my Patron in a blender, and for goodness sake, don’t drench the edge of my glass in extra salt.

Of course, I won’t fault you for how you enjoy your margaritas, but I will fault you if you choose not to make these.

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Margarita Whoopie Pies

Recipe adaptation from a basic version featured on Annie’s Eats. Yields approx. 24 2-inch cookies.

For the cookies:

8 TB unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp lime zest

21/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

2-3 TB White Tequila

For the filling:

4oz. cream cheese, softened

2 1/2 TB unsalted butter, softened

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tsp lime zest

2-3 TB White Tequila (to taste)

Optional: Sprinkle of fleur de sel

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Making the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer) cream together butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add in egg, then egg white. Be sure to scrape down the side of the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla, lime zest, and tequila and blend completely. Reduce mixer speed and alternately add in dry ingredients and buttermilk until just incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (I use a Wilton 1A), and pipe small rounds onto the parchment, not more than 2 inches across. Bake 7-10 minutes, rotating halfway through, until cake is puffed and just set. The tops of the cake should not brown, but will not yield when tapped with your finger. Remove from oven and let cakes cool on the baking sheets for ten minutes, then remove and cool completely. Match up cookies, matching according to size before filling.

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For the filling:

With a mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla, lime zest, and tequila (you can add more or less to taste). On low speed, slowly incorporate sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired consistency and beat at medium high speed until smooth. You can add food coloring if desired. For this filling I added a few drops of neon green food coloring.

Note: if your filling seems a little “loose”, allow to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so until it firms up. I neglected to do this because I was eager for ERMAHGERD WHOOPIE PIES and I ended up regretting it, because my filling was a little gloppy and all over the place once I assembled the whoopie pies. 

Assembly: Transfer filling to another pastry bag filled with a smaller plain tip and pipe filling onto one half of each matched up pie, topping with the other half. Add a small sprinkling of fleur de sel to the outside of one quarter to one half of the filling if desired. (This step really makes the pies taste margarita-y, but you can certainly skip it.) Allow your whoopie pies to rest in the refrigerator over night before serving, if you can. Enjoy!

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I love these so hard. I still have a few in my refrigerator. I’m trying not to dive head first into the container.

Posted in daily, dessert, eat something cute, food porn, recipe

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes

I know. Let’s just get right into it, shall we?

I love baking. I have since I was a kid. Every time my mom needed to make a box cake, she would let me take care of the mixing, baking, and frosting. It kept me quiet and gave me something to focus on besides the television or my latest issue of Tiger Beat magazine. I liked getting out the big mixing bowl and measuring cups, greasing and flouring the baking pans, mixing up the batter, and frosting the final product as prettily as possible (not all that pretty, actually). There was also the added bonus of getting to lick the batter remnants off the beaters. Mmm. Cake batter. It’s the holy grail of girl food.

Even though back then they were “only” box cakes and I’ve since moved on to baking mostly from scratch, I loved those cakes. They were tender, moist, and perfect.

So it was a bit upsetting when I started baking from scratch that my cakes were…just okay. To me, anyway. Adequate. Not as moist or as tender, no matter how I baked them. There was something missing, some key to making the perfect (in my eyes) cake.

Not flavor wise so much, if I must say myself I’ve come up with some great combinations — Pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting and banana ‘cakes with salted caramel buttercream have been my favorites. But when I bake the scratch cakes, even when the flavors are great, there’s something about the texture of the cake that seems…off. They get dry, the cake just isn’t as tender, and I am disappoint.

I worked out that (duh) it’s because box cakes use oil, instead of the butter that’s in most (okay, all) scratch cakes. Now don’t get me wrong, I love using butter in anything and everything. The flavor it imparts in baked goods is second to none. But I’ve noticed that the things I bake with butter are a bit…drier than those that I’ve used oil or shortening in.

(Side note: This is why my chocolate chip cookies are made with butter flavored shortening [Gah, yes, shortening, the root of all evil. Whatever. My chocolate chip cookies are AH MAH ZING and have gotten me everything from money to marriage proposals], because they have the flavor of butter and the soft, gooey moistness from shortening. Mmm, cookies. ::Homer Simpson noise::)

ANYWAY. I wanted to make cupcakes today for a coworker who’s been out on medical leave for a while and finally came back to work this week. He’s a huge fan of anything blueberry, so I searched and searched on the web for a blueberry cupcake recipe. I wanted one that was a yellow cake, not too dense, not too muffin-like. I wanted a box cake texture with scratch made flavor. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a recipe that used both oil and butter in which to achieve this. Being the OCD rule follower I am, I was a little nervous at the prospect of fooling with a recipe but it soon seemed as if I had no other choice.

A quick Google search for baking substitutions later and away we go. I used this recipe for the cupcakes from the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book, just substituting a small amount of vegetable oil for some of the butter. Instead of the whipped cream frosting I made a basic cream cheese frosting with lemon. The tang of the cream cheese and the sourness of the lemon balances nicely with the sweetness of the blueberries.

The butter/oil substitution worked out nicely, by the way. The cakes have a great flavor and are soft and moist, just like I was hoping for. I might mess around with the butter/oil ratio in the future in the search for “perfection”, but these were close. I hate to toot my own horn, but these cupcakes are pretty fantastic.

And I’m not all that crazy about blueberries.

Blueberry Cupcakes (Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 TB baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs, room temperature

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature

Zest of one lemon.

2 cups fresh blue berries, tossed with an additional 2-3 TB flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcakes tin with paper liners, and spray the top lightly with cooking spray (so the tops of your cupcakes don’t stick!!). Sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.

Cream butter and sugar together with mixer until pale and fluffy. Add oil and beat again. Add eggs one at a time and beat until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla.

Working in alternating batches, add flour mixture and milk to batter, beating until combined after each addition. Beat in lemon zest. Add blueberries to the batter (toss the blueberries with flour so they don’t sink in the batter while baking!) and fold in gently by hand.

Scoop batter into cupcake liners using an ice cream scoop. Bake until pale golden brown, approximately 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes so the cakes don’t over cook. You can rotate pans at the halfway point to ensure even baking. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting. Makes approx. 30 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

(Note: I make cream cheese frosting so often that I don’t really use a recipe, I just kind of throw it together, so if you have a cream cheese frosting recipe you prefer, feel free to use that instead and just add lemon for these cupcakes.)

2 12 oz bricks of cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

zest of one lemon

juice of one lemon

Beat together cream cheese and butter. Add powdered sugar, 1/3 cup at a time, until fluffy and desired consistency. (You might not use the full 4 cups of sugar, you might use more. Just roll with it.) Beat in vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice (I used about 1/2 of the juice that I had, add it sparingly until you achieve the flavor you want). Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Frost or pipe onto cooled cupcakes and garnish as desired. (I used colored decorating sugar and fresh blueberries)