Friday, March 30, 2012

A Sugar Addict's Love Affair

Hi. My name is Bleu and I'm addicted to sugar. 

Like so addicted that it's one of the first things I think about when I wake up. And also one of the last things I think of before sleeping.

And like so addicted that I spend most of my time researching recipes, testing recipes and EATING recipes in which sugar is in the first three ingredients. And usually right next to butter and flour.

I wish I could blame this compulsion to play with sugar on someone else (family, friends, readers), but deep down I know who to blame. Correction: what to blame...

Oh, yeah. The Whoopie Pie. That perfect ratio between moist cake-y goodness and sweet creamy bliss. The perfect little pocket cake.

These Amish treats lead back to the days when the women would send them with farmers as a lunch treat. When they would find them in their lunches, they would shout "Whoopie!"  

I know I would shout if I found one of these delicious treats in my lunch. 

Just look at all that yummy, gooey, chocolatey perfection.

Moist chocolate cake.

Marshmallow cream filling.

And so easy to make, you have no excuses not to join my sugar addiction.

Whoopie Pies
adapted from Betty Crocker

1 box devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons brewed coffee, room temperature
1 box (4-serving size) chocolate instant pudding mix 
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups marshmallow cream
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  
2. To avoid a mixer, combine water, oil, coffee and eggs in a small bowl until well combined. Add to dry mixes using a wooden spoon. Stir by hand approximately 2 minutes. Mix will be VERY thick and requires lots of muscle to mix. (Alternately, you can just combine everything with an electric mixer for about a minute)
3. Using a disher, scoop approximately 1/4 cupfuls onto baking sheets two inches apart. (I fit 6 cookies using true half sheet pans). Flatten slightly with the back of a clean spoon.
4. Bake for 13-16 minutes or until set. Allow to cool on pan for 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
For Filling:
1. In bowl of stand mixer, combine butter and marshmallow cream until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes.
2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix on low to combine, then on high for another 2 minutes.

To assemble:

Using the same disher, scoop filling onto center of one cookie and fit another cookie on top, pressing slightly. 

It's going to look like too much filling, but trust the expert...

You're going to love this sugar rush.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Baking with Ice Cream

I LOVE ice cream. 

I mean with the full on "I could survive on nothing but ice cream and be a very happy (albeit somewhat rotund) camper!" love. 

It's hot in Texas. Some people hate that, some love it. I'm more of the "I'll tolerate it" Texan. Mostly, I find it's just more of an excuse to eat ice cream year round. During the winter, one of my favorite desserts is a big bowl of vanilla ice cream with hot caramel sauce.  And a blanket to keep me warm while I chow down.

But that chill can get me no longer! I have found a way to harness the deliciousness of ice cream with out ANY of the chill. I introduce to you, Toffee Crunch Ice Cream BREAD.

Notice how I called that "bread" and not "cake"? There is a method to my madness, I swear.

When I first came across this page, my interest was piqued. Okay, I shouldn't lie... I was obsessed with finding a chance to make it. I didn't waste much time buying ice cream. I went for an easy favorite, Toffee Crunch. It's a simple ice cream with a bit of caramel swirled through it and chunks of chocolate.

I had read that it wasn't sweet, but not really believing that, I figured I'd make it really decadent and use some homemade caramel sauce and some extra mini chocolate chips to liven it up.

After it was all baked, slightly cooled on my table, I had to dive in. I was really surprised. I didn't believe it, but this is NOT a super sweet bread.

It's texture is reminiscent of a pound cake or pudding cake, but it's chewy like bread. And still warm... with a smear of butter... It's perfect!

 You have to try this!

{insert flavor here} Ice Cream Bread
recipe from In Katrina's Kitchen

1.5 quart of your favorite ice cream (full fat! no skimping on calories!)
3 cups self rising flour 
Mix-ins of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Liberally grease a 12 cup Bundt pan. (It will fit in a 9 cup pan- just know that it will rise over the top.)
2. Soften the ice cream at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
3. Using a stand mixer, combine ice cream with flour. Mix for 2-3 minutes to get the chewy bread texture.
4. Add any mix-ins and fill Bundt pan. Smooth top with a spatula. Bake for 35-45 minutes.
5. Allow to cool slightly in pan, then invert, and allow to cool on a baking rack.

Best eaten day baked, but wrap leftovers well and refrigerate to keep longer.

oh, please try this!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Birthday Overload

Birthdays always require dessert.

Sometimes it's a colorful dessert.

Sometimes it's a simple dessert.

But sometimes... sometimes it requires a Peanut Butter Overload.

These cakes might sound really complicated but they really aren't. I made two batches (without doubling the recipe), filled and frosted them in about 4 hours. I ended up with almost 5 dozen cupcakes. But don't worry, you will want extra of these beauties. 

I admit I'm not always a "from scratch" baker. These cakes start with a doctored up cake mix. I decided to go this route because I'm still hunting for the PERFECT chocolate cake recipe. I needed these cakes to be moist and hold up for a day or two before delivering them.

Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffle Filling and Peanut Butter Buttercream

Part I: Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffle Filling
adapted from Crazy for Crust

1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk

Mix everything together until smooth and dough-like. Roll teaspoon size balls between your palms. Place on a cookie sheet and chill in refrigerator until needed in Part II.

Yield approx 5 dozen teaspoon sized balls

Part II: Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cupcakes
unknown origins, used by many

1 package Devil's Food cake mix (with or without pudding in the mix)
1 package instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pans with paper liners.
1. In bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. 
2. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients (minus chips). Whisk until smooth and no longer separated (3).
3. Add to dry ingredients and combine until just mixed, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and stir for an additional 2 minutes.
4. Scrape bowl sides and stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.
5. Using a disher (#16 or #20)for even cupcakes, scoop into prepared pans. In the center of each cupcake, place one truffle (from Part I). Push into cupcake until at least 3/4 covered in batter. Drop pan on counter to settle the truffle and help remove any large air bubbles.
6. Bake on middle rack for 15-18 minutes. Check with a toothpick being careful not to insert into the truffle.
7. Allow to cool for 2 minutes in pan before inverting and allowing to cool on wire racks.
yield approx 18-20 cupcakes based on size of disher used.

Part III: Peanut Butter Buttercream
adapted from My Baking Addiction

3 sticks (1.5 cups) butter, room temp
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
6-8 tablespoons heavy cream

1. In bowl of stand mixer, combine butter and peanut butter on medium speed until pale and creamy (2).
2. Add entire amount of sugar. Mix on low (it will create a dust cloud if you go too fast) until combined (3).
3. Add vanilla and 4 tablespoons cream. Turn speed to medium and mix for 1 minute. 
4. Add more cream, tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency. 
5. Beat on high for 4 minutes. Put in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (Ateco 808).
6. Pipe a generous swirl of frosting on each cake. If using sprinkles, make sure to put them on quickly as this frosting does crust.

This little baby cake is really a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Miniature topped with a swirl of Peanut Butter Buttercream. I <3 edible toppers.

Happy Baking!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ladies Night Out

So, how many new moms do you know? 

My best friend had her baby boy five months ago. That's five months that she's been at home, learning to be the best new mommy and talking baby talk. She thought she needed a night out. 

We all agreed.

And who doesn't like Funfetti Cupcakes?

These were perfectly moist, super fluffy. My only complaint was that I was out of confetti jimmies. So I used nonpareils. They totally smeared their colors... Don't worry though. That didn't stop them from being eaten!

I used Sweetapolita's Funfetti Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting. I didn't alter her cake recipe except to make it into cupcakes. I use an ice cream scoop disher- it's aproximately a #20- but it can be VERY uneven in dishing out batter. (I've got a few on my wish list and my birthday is coming four months) Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes. I think one tray took 18, so check them with a toothpick if you are worried.

I also used Sweetapolita's Frosting. However, I altered a bit, so I've listed my version here for you.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
adapted from Sweetapolita

3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3.5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla bean paste 

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale & creamy.
2. Add sugar and cream and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 4 minutes.
3. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix on high speed for 2 minutes. Frosting should be light, fluffy and very creamy. 

This frosting is great for piping. Just use a spatula to remove any air bubbles before putting in a piping bag. 

Cupcakes are best stored at room temperature, in a caddy or covered dish. If you need to refrigerate, bring them to room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.  
 Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!