Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blue Velvet Cake Pops - Baby Shower Favors!

Today I am the proud auntie of Musa, born at 10:45 AM, 7 pounds and 19 3/4 inches long. He already has so many that love him, mA. I brought these to the hospital to share. Ibraheem (18 months now!) doesn't usually like cake, but he devoured one. I think he just liked eating something off a stick. These are my first real cake pops. I have only made them with oreos before. 

Make sure you use chocolate bark that tastes good. I thought I didn't really like cake pops in the past, but actually I just don't like that artificial waxy candy coating. I used Wilton Candy Melts in Light Cocoa flavor, which tastes like real chocolate but this formula hardens beautifully.

I'm thinking I could make these for a friend's baby shower next month. She's expecting a boy and I love that vibrant blue color! These would be cute shower favors.

I was originally inspired by this recipe to make these cake pops. But I read a few blogs and most mentioned to just make a boxed cake mix. Make it easy on yourself since cake pops are time consuming, and you are just going to crumble it up anyway so you don't need a cake that comes out with a gorgeous texture.

Speaking of babies, I also wanted to share the blanket I crocheted for my nephew. Pinterest inspired, and made with love. The center grey color is a basket weave stitch and the edges have a cute shell border.

Four more tips: 1) Be sure to dip the sticks in the chocolate before inserting into the cake balls and then freeze until firm so they are secure. This helps prevent the stick from falling out when you dip them. 

2) Melt the chocolate bark in smaller portions, about 6-8 ounces at a time, since its easier to work with when its hot.

3) Don't add too much frosting to the cake! Less is more. It should still look alittle crumbly, but moist enough to roll. You want these to taste like you're eating fluffy cake when you bite into them, not like a soggy mess.

4) Lastly, don't make the cake pops so big. They get heavy and could fall off the stick when you are dipping them. Alittle larger than a tablespoon should be good.The picture above is a good size, it fits into the mini cupcake liner. The picture below shows a huge cake pop, flattening the mini cupcake liner.

Blue Velvet Cake Pops
Recipe adapted from Bakerella
Yield: about 40 cake pops

1 box blue velvet cake mix (or your favorite cake flavor)
1 can (16 oz.) cream cheese frosting 
24 oz. of chocolate bark (I used 2 packages of Wilton Candy Melts in Light Cocoa flavor) 
parchment or wax paper
40 lollipop sticks, optional (you could just do these as cake balls instead of pops)
40 mini cupcake liners, optional
Disposable rubber medical/exam gloves (non-powder)

Bake the cake as directed on box for a 13 X 9 cake. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl. Add 5 tablespoons of cream cheese frosting and while wearing gloves, mix thoroughly with your hands. Mixture should still look alittle crumbly but moist enough to roll into balls. You can add more frosting if needed, but don't add too much. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and freeze for 20-30 minutes until firm.

Melt 8 oz. of chocolate bark in microwave per directions on package. I melt the chocolate bark in three small portions at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot. Dip lollipop stick into chocolate and then insert into cake ball. Freeze for another 10 minutes so that the stick is firmly secure. 

Dip cake pops in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. You could use a spoon to roll cake pop in to tap off extra chocolate.

Friday, March 28, 2014

No Bake Peanut Butter Oreo Truffles

I made these for a great night with the girls to see our Zignat. Thanks for visiting us! Wish you were still in SA because we love seeing you!

I used Wilton Peanut Butter Candy melts which were really good. They taste natural and very peanut buttery. How can you go wrong with this flavor combination.

No Bake Peanut Butter Oreo Truffles

16 oz. Peanut Butter Oreos
5 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (use 3 oz. if making cake pops)
2 tbsp. peanut butter, optional (use if you buy regular oreos)

12 oz. bag of Wilton Peanut Butter Candy Melts
30 lollipop sticks, optional (you could just do these as cake balls instead of pops)
mini chocolate chips or chocolate sprinkles, optional

mini cupcake liners, optional

Dump the entire package of oreos in your food processor. Process until they are fine crumbs. This is optional but if you want, add the peanut butter. Then add the softened cream cheese and blend until its all mixed together. 

Roll into balls the size of a tablespoon and place on a plate lined with parchment paper. Stick them in the freezer for 20 minutes. 

Melt your candy coating in microwave according to instructions on bag. Take the end of the lolipop stick and dip it into the melted candy coating, about 1/4 inch up the stick. Insert stick into the center of a truffle, be careful not to go all the way through the other side. If not making into cake pops, simply dip them into the chocolate and use a spoon to tap off the extra. Return truffles to the freezer for about 5 more minutes so that the coating can firm up.

Put some of your melted candy coating in a short cup or mug and dip the truffle pop to coat all sides. Garnish with mini chocolate chips or sprinkles on top or on all sides and allow to set up on a plate lined with parchment paper or place onto mini cupcake liner.

Refrigerate left overs.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Softbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

 I was looking for a soft chocolate chip cookie recipe to sandwich between cookie dough frosting. I decided to try these off my pinterest board because they have a new ingredient which I have not tried in cookies. Cream cheese. They did bake up soft and fluffy, but I don't know if that had much to do with the cream cheese or more with the cake flour.

For some reason these weren't very sweet. I thought it would turn out well with the frosting I was planning to make. Unfortunately we forgot to buy corn syrup so I didn't get to make it. At least I added extra chocolate chips because without a bite of chocolate, I found these kind of plain. I prefer the New York Times recipe or this brown butter sea salt recipe.

On a side note, refrigerated place and bake Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies are really good sandwiched with Ben and Jerry's cheesecake ice cream. Ooh.

Softbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Averie Cooks

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened (use cream cheese in a block or spreadable, don't use fat-free, light or whipped)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose cake flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (I used 1 cup chips and 1 1/4 cups chunks)

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well-creamed, light and fluffy, about 5 minutes (or use an electric hand mixer and beat for at least 7 minutes).

Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, optional salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.

Add chocolate chips and chunks, and beat momentarily to incorporate, or fold in by hand.
Using a medium 2-inch cookie scoop, form heaping mounds (I made 28). Place mounds on a large plate, flatten mounds slightly with your palm, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days, before baking. Do not bake with warm dough because cookies will spread and bake thinner and flatter.

Preheat oven to 350F, and place mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart (I bake 8 cookies per sheet). Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just beginning to set, even if slightly undercooked, pale and glossy in the center. Do not bake longer than 10 minutes as cookies will firm up as they cool. They have chewy edges with soft, pillowy centers. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling.

Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, so consider baking only as many cookies as desired and save the remaining dough to be baked in the future when desired.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Good Housekeeping's Fudgy Brownies

We were browsing through a half priced book store where I snapped a couple of pictures of recipes from cupcake and brownie cook books. That's where I got this recipe. 

These were some pretty good brownies, and I was amazed to hear my brother say they were the best brownies he ever eaten. He's been on a diet for the past few months though (haha). I think these would be the best brownies ever if I added about 1/3 cup cocoa powder to deepen the chocolate flavor and then maybe add some mini chocolate chips to make them sweeter and richer (to balance the cocoa). 

Though If you love bittersweet chocolate, these are the brownies for you. The flavor of the ghiradelli chocolate that I used really shines through. These are really good the next day as they get chewier.  

Good Housekeeping's Fudgy Brownies
Yield: 24 brownies

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter or margarine (1 ½ sticks)
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease 13” by 9” baking pan with shortening or butter.

In small bowl, with wire whisk, stir flour and salt.

In heavy 4-quart saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened and semisweet chocolates over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth. Remove from heat.

With wooden spoon, stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; stir until well mixed. Stir flour mixture into chocolate mixture just until blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake until toothpick inserted 2 inch from edge comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. When cool, cut lengthwise into 4 strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 6 pieces. Makes 24 brownies.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

I LOVED these cupcakes! And they aren't even chocolate! Or lemon! But they do have salted caramel

Believe it or not, these apple spiced cupcakes are both so warm and comforting as they are refreshing and clean tasting. The raw green apple cubes in the batter bake softly, but still have alittle crisp to them which gives these a fresh feeling. The cinnamon and nutmeg spices warm you up like a cozy sweater.

And it just might be the way I happened to cut this cupcake in half, but it was not muffin-looking at all. These had a great cakey crumb so I would definitely make them again.

The buttercream was needless to say, absolutely delicious. 

Apple Spice Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream 
Cupcakes adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction
Yield: 23 cupcakes

23 cupcake liners
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (135g) brown sugar
2 extra large eggs
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups (190g) cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely chopped into 1/4 inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two muffin pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together in a medium bowl until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.

Gradually mix in the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, until combined. Add the vanilla. Fold in the apples.

Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters of the way full with batter. Bake for 21–23 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Nora's Salted Caramel Buttercream
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 packet of Dream Whip
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons caramel sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer down to low and gradually add the powdered sugar, dream whip, and salt and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Then mix in caramel sauce and vanilla. Pipe onto cupcakes.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Oreo Cupcakes with Cookies 'n Cream Cheese Frosting

I've been in a cupcake craze lately. So many flavor combinations out there to try and baking up a little cupcake is a perfect way to sample them all.

I went with this white cake recipe because it claimed to be the best white cake ever and she tried and tested her recipe several times. And her cake looked absolutely beautiful. I halved the original recipe, and it gave me exactly 24 oreo cupcakes. But when I looked at the original recipe, there was only 1/2 teaspoon baking powder to 3 cups flour. That didn't look quite right so I added some more baking powder. 2 teaspoons total. Unfortunately, that was too much. My cupcakes were baking up gorgeously in the oven, and I was singing to them through the oven door as they were rising, but then... just after they reached their beautiful climax... they sank. Flat. Even before I took them out of the oven. I googled that means they were over leavened. Opps. They couldn't climb any higher in their cupcake liner so they sunk and formed crusty, crackly edges. (That sounded like it should be in a Dr. Seuss cook book.) 

It seems though, I was on the right track with adding more baking powder. I revisited the recipe's blog, and they have now revised the measurements after too many complaints that the cake doesn't rise. I thought I lost my mind at first after seeing the changes and looking back at my printed copy of the recipe. Too bad they didn't update it before I baked these! All the necessary adjustments will be posted below so don't be afraid to try these out! 

Oreo Cupcakes with Cookies 'n Cream Cheese Frosting
Cupcakes adapted from: Add a Pinch Frosting adapted from: Chef in Training
Yield: 24 cupcakes

24 cupcake liners
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk or buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 oreo halves with the cream side

15 whole oreos, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Place an Oreo half in the bottom of each liner, cream side up. Reserve the other half of cookies with no cream for the frosting (save about 16 cookie halves). 

Cream together butter and shortening until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Slowly add sugar, making sure to fully incorporate after each addition. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding another.

In a separate bowl, sift and whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour the vanilla into the milk measuring cup and whisk together with a fork. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Gently stir all ingredients until well combined. Stop mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, making sure to have all ingredients mixed well.

Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated.

Evenly distribute cake batter in cupcake liners and place pans into oven. Bake for 23 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool slightly in cake pans for about 5 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

Cookies 'n Cream Cheese Frosting
Yield: frosts 24 cupcakes

2 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
8 Tbsp. butter softened
1 tsp. salt
2 packages Dream Whip dry
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Oreo crumbs, (process reserved oreo halves in blender)

Beat softened cream cheese and butter until smooth and blended. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well incorporated. Add Dream Whip and mix well. Add the powdered sugar and beat well. Lastly, add in the Oreo crumbs and beat until well incorporated. If the frosting is thin, allow to chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes before piping. If the frosting is a bit too thick, add 1 tablespoon of heavy cream. Pipe frosting on top of cupcakes and enjoy! Store any left over in fridge.
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