Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Petite Apple Crisp

Here I am again, five days later and no post! Well between getting busy at work (in front of a computer all day) and coming home to troubleshoot my poor Macbook, I just want to step away from the computer! I need a techie break, well except my iPhone because that doesn't count. Luckily I am on the horizon of a new iMac and a corrupt free Macbook! The lovely people at the Apple store will hopefully be recovering my stuff and I can get back to my posting schedule.

On the bright side, I am happy to be in the kitchen and cooking away. With the last of the apples I picked in New York I decided to make an apple crisp.

If you don't have one of these, they are super fun! It will core, peel, and slice apples evenly and quickly. It also works for potatoes! For this crisp, I diced the apples into fourths since I wanted to make petites. 

I have been loving individual sized dessert lately, the little ramekins are just so darn cute and easy to serve. 

This crisp topped with some vanilla bean ice cream can cure any computer woes...as long as they last that is!

Petite Apple Crisp

6 small tart apples, (4 cups)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
ice cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 6 individual ramekins and set aside. Peel, core, and slice apples and arrange in bottom of ramekins. Combine brown sugar, flour, oats, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix till crumbly. Sprinkle topping over apples and bake for 20-25 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with fork. Serve warm with ice cream. 

This weekend I am off to another wedding in Outer Banks, North Carolina. Thanks to Brown Eyed Baker I think I am all set as to where to go when we get some free time. Any last minute recommendations are always welcome!

Lastly I wanted to wish everyone good luck in the Project Food Blog Challenge, there have been some great "getting to know you" posts and recipes! I am excited for the next round of postings!

Happy Baking!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pumpkin Cake Pops

Did you think I was done with pumpkin for the week?


I made some extra pumpkin whoopie pies and decided to crumble them up and turn them into these super cute cake pops. I have made red-velvet cake balls before, but never pops. With Bakerella's new book coming out, I couldn't stop thinking about them!

People at work were thrilled, most didn't know what cake pops were, but everyone loved them! At my work we tend to use food as bribery to get people to come to our meetings. They'll be back for sure now!

Pumpkin Cake Pops

Baked Pumpkin Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting
Lollipop sticks
Brown (chocolate) melting wafers
Orange melting wafers
Green melting wafers
Styrofoam block
1 Ziploc Bag

Line a baking sheet/cutting board with wax paper and set aside. Crumble the baked and cooled pumpkin cake in a large bowl. Add in cream cheese frosting and mix until incorporated. Form quarter size balls and place on lined baking sheet, repeat with remaining cake/frosting mixture. Melt a small amount of the brown or chocolate melting wafers as according to package (I use a glass measuring cup in the microwave on high, stirring every 30 seconds till smooth). Dip a lollipop stick into melted chocolate then stick into cake ball, only going halfway into the cake ball. Repeat with remaining cake balls and place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Once cake balls have chilled, melt orange wafers. Dip cake pops into orange coating, leaving a small amount of the chocolate stick (the pumpkin stump) showing. Gently tap the pop on the side of the dish while rotating the pop to remove any excess candy coating. Turn upside down and place into Styrofoam block. Repeat with remaining cake pops. Once candy coating has cooled and solidified remove from Styrofoam block and place back on lined baking sheet. Melt a small amount of green melting wafers and pour into Ziploc bag (or piping bag). Cut a small hole at the tip and pipe pumpkin leaves around the edges of the Popsicle stick. Let leaves cool, solidify, and serve them up!

I actually used leftover chocolate bark instead of chocolate melting wafers. I also only bought vanilla melting wafers and used an oil dye kit to create the orange and green colors. The dye worked pretty well actually, I did have to use about half of the orange gel to get the right pumpkin color. Just to clarify as well, you cannot use regular food coloring in these melts, it has to be oil based. Also, if you are making more than one batch I recommend buying the orange wafer melts to maintain a consistent coloring.

For the Styrofoam block, I found it easier to poke the holes in the block in advance so I wasn't struggling with getting melted candy coating all over the place. That of course didn't happen to me! To pour the green candy coating into a Ziploc, place bag inside of a small cup. Turn the top of the bag over the edges of the cup and pour the melted candy inside. Gather edges and twist to create a small cone of melted candy. I also use this method for filling frosting bags!

I also made some plain chocolate dipped cake balls with Halloween sprinkles. Both the pumpkin and chocolate cake balls are perfect for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or any time you are trying to lure people to your meetings at work!

And then there were four!

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Who is excited about pumpkin season?

I am! I got in the mood for some pumpkin cookies about a month ago. I searched all over for pumpkin and nobody had it yet. Last week, there was no messing around. I decided I wanted to make pumpkin whoopie pies for a BBQ and I was determined to find the pumpkin. I almost talked the hubbie into heading into Houston, because I knew Central Market would have pumpkin. I love Central Market, they have such different products than any of the grocery stores near me and they always have fresh, beautiful flowers just waiting to be taken home!

I did find some near me and I bought twice as much as I needed, just in case you know?

I brought these pies to a BBQ/party and they were nearly gone in seconds. I guess everyone else was excited about pumpkin season too! I was told they tasted like pumpkin roll, which I have never had. What I can tell you is that the cake/cookies were moist and VERY pumpkin tasting. The cream cheese frosting was a perfect twist with the pumpkin, not too sweet like some other cream cheese icings can get.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup of canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 and 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

4 tbsp butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 /2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl sift together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; then, set aside. In a large bowl, beat melted butter and brown sugar till smooth. Add in eggs, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and mix till well combined. Slowly add in flour mixture, stirring only till combined. Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until springy to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack till completed cooled.

To prepare frosting, beat together butter and cream cheese. Add in the confectioners' sugar, pinch of salt, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed till sugar is incorporated into butter, then beat on high for 2-3 minutes.

Once cake cookies have cooled, find each cookie a soul mate (one that is similar in size) and pipe or spread frosting onto the smooth side of one cookie, then sandwich cookies together. Repeat with remaining cookies and frosting.

The frosting could have been thicker, as I kept having to chill it while trying to pipe the icing. So I recommended 1 and 1/2 cups of confectioners' sugar in the recipe. When making mine, I only used 1 cup. I prefer a lighter frosting for cupcakes, but the thicker frosting is needed here to hold the shape of the whoopie pie.

This recipe was adapted from the Rachel Ray magazine.

In addition to getting y'all pumped about pumpkin (haha), I wanted to point out some yummy looking fall recipes, just to make sure we are all on the same page here. You know, the "I am so freaking excited for fall to come" page.

-Joy the Baker: Fried Apple Cakes, in case you are running out of ideas on what to do with all those apples you got picking last weekend.
-Good Things Catered: Big Mama's Chicken Pot Pie, because nobody knows pot pie like big mama!
-Baking Serendipity: Caramel Corn, this reminds me of those big bags you buy at the church carnivals, YUM!
-The Way the Cookie Crumbles: Butternut Squash Mac'n'Cheese, the ultimate cool weather comfort food paired with one* of the season's favorite squash.
-Veggie by Season: Homemade S'mores, something about sitting around the fire while roasting marshmallow's sounds so dreamy right now.

Happy Baking!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Apple Picking and Baked Apple Cider Donuts

I told you all I was going to Syracuse for a wedding this past weekend, well I had a blast! I LOVE the Northeast!

I am not a native Texan, I am a midwest girl who misses the cold!

I miss the crisp fall weather and all the leaves changing colors. So, needless to say a trip to New York in September was like heaven to me, I got to break out my scarves (which I didn't reaaaallly need) and my cute fall sweaters. I wanted to be outside every minute I could to breathe in the fresh air and watch the leaves turn before my eyes.

The day of the wedding we decided to go apple picking at a place just south of Syracuse called
Beak and Skiff. We also visited their winery and vodka distillery and were lucky we flew Southwest so we could stuff all the apples and wine we could into our bags! The apple orchard had a tractor pull us out to the part of the orchard that we could pick from that day and supplied us with bags and ladders. We were able to pick JonaMac which is a cross between Jonathan and McIntosh apples.

Once we got back we weighed in our apples and headed to the store for some hot apple cider and donuts. These were THE best apple cider donuts ever! I wanted to buy all of their supply and hoard them in my freezer until I could return again next year. I refrained and opted to try and make them at home. After all, I got this donut pan for my birthday back in June and haven't used it yet!

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple, finely chopped (I used JonaMac)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup plain yogurt
3 tbsp vegetable oil
cinnamon and sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two donut pans and set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Chop apple into small pieces or use food processor to puree and set aside. In a large bowl combine egg, brown sugar, apple, maple syrup, apple cider, yogurt, and oil. Mix until well blended. In small amounts add in flour mixture and beat until just moistened. Spoon dough into donut pan, be careful not to overfill pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

While donuts are baking, prepare a shallow bowl with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Once donuts have finished baking, immediately place donut in cinnamon sugar bowl and spoon mixture over donut until it is completely coated. Repeat with remaining donuts and serve warm. Preferably with a cup of hot apple cider!

Look at that naked apple, I love peeling them in one long loop.

These donuts were delicious! You could tell the difference between the baked and fried version, but I liked knowing that mine were a healthier donut and the recipe used whole wheat flour.

Next up apple pie!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chocolate Chip Scones

Not to make excuses (although that is pretty much what this is), but I am having some serious computer issues here. Luckily it is not as bad as poor Ree at Pioneer Woman who seems to have lost BOTH her iPhone and her iPad in one weekend. I just don't know where I would be without my iPhone!

Basically my poor little Macbook is overloaded with photos and has decided to stop backing up to my external hard drive. So uploading my photos from this weekend in upstate New York is on hold, booooo! Anyone with some techie advice?

On the upside, before I left I made some chocolate chip scones and really do need to share them. Any recipe that lets me eat chocolate in the morning is a definite must in my cookbook, remember the chocolate chip coffee cake?

I was a little apprehensive to make scones, as they have had a bad reputation in my head for being stale, hard, and too dense. Not these babies, they were very fluffy and moist right out of the oven and for the few days they lasted in my pantry.

Chocolate Chip Scones

3 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp and 1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
2 tbsp butter, melted
additional granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Add in your choice of chocolate chips and stir till combined. Stir in heavy whipping cream until flour is moistened and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Dough will be sticky so flour your hands and knead gently until dough forms into a ball, about 2 minutes. Separate into 3 smaller balls and roll-out each ball into a 7-inch circle and cut into 8 triangles.

Transfer triangles to prepared pan, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or store in air-tight container.

You can also prepare these the night before, by placing triangles onto pan and wrapping in plastic wrap overnight. Remove from fridge in the morning and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Thank you to
Brown Eyed Baker for a great introduction to scones!

Besides being able to make these in advance, I think the best part is how easy the recipe is. No nonsense, one bowl, one pan, woohoo! What is your favorite scone recipe? Has anyone baked lavender scones before?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Toffee and Pretzel Brownies

Oh I love these brownies!

The hubbie had his fantasy football draft party last weekend so I decided I just had to make something, even though he insisted pizza was fine. Like you, I am sure, I take every excuse I can to bake something, eat one (notice the missing one below, gulp), and send them out of the house. This is a great method, except when you really like what your sending away!

So I started thinking about football and boys. Boys like brownies. Boys like Pretzels. And just to change it up instead of chocolate chips I wanted to use toffee chips.

I was a little worried about the pretzels getting soft while baking, so I added pretzels to the top just in case and they look super cute this way (not that boys care what brownies look like). Nothing to worry about folks, the salty pretzel surprise added just enough crunch to the rich chewy brownie! The toffee chips melted slightly inside the brownies giving a sugary compliment to the salty pretzels.

I might just have to make these again, especially since I still have a bag of pretzels and an slowly disappearing bag of toffee chips.

Toffee and Pretzel Brownies

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bar, chopped

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup and 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup toffee chips
1 cups pretzels, broken

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper and butter sides, set aside. In the top of a double broiler, or in a bowl over simmering water, combine together chopped chocolate bar and butter pieces. Melt and stir till smooth and set aside to cool till room temperature. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Once chocolate mixture is cool, add in brown sugar and vanilla. Add in eggs and mix well. Slowly mix in flour mixture, beating till combined. Stir in toffee chips and pretzel pieces. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove and cool before cutting.

If you want to add pretzels to the top, after pouring batter into prepared pan gently press 16 whole pretzels and bake as directed.

Have a great labor day weekend! I am off to Syracuse for a wedding, so let me know if anyone has suggestions on where to eat?!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting

The other day I wrote about my failure with my attempt at Carnival's warm chocolate melting cake and you all were more than supportive. I think I have some good leads on what recipe to try next time, so thank you all!

This weekend I tried to make a special type of cake (well known to other St. Louis locals) into cupcakes. I failed again and ended up with hybrid yellow cupcakes.

I wanted to just toss them out, but my hubbie pushed me to make some frosting and press on. I know he had an ulterior motive, but he was right I shouldn't waste perfectly yummy cupcakes.

I needed a success. I needed some spice for the plain yellow flavor. I dreamed of chocolate (what's new). So out came the idea for a Cinnamon Chocolate frosting.

And it was a success, it did add spice, and it was the creamiest chocolate frosting I have made!

In the spirit of the Emmy's...I would like to thank my hubbie for motivating me and my kitchen aid stand mixer for all that beautiful whisking!

Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp milk

In a double broiler or in a bowl over bowling water, melt unsweetened chocolate. Remove from heat and set aside to cool until room temperature. Beat butter in a large bowl on medium speed until fluffy. Add in vanilla and room temperature melted chocolate and mix well. Sift in cinnamon and confections' sugar in small amounts, beating thoroughly after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in milk and whip frosting till light and creamy at least three minutes.

When I made this frosting, I used the whisk attachment for the stand mixer. For decoration I used the Wilton 1M tip. To make the swirl, check this out, to make the ripple effect I started with holding the pastry bag and 1M tip perpendicular to the cupcake. Starting at the edge of the cupcake move the pastry bag around in a clockwise motion, moving up and down to form ripples. I formed a large circle of ripples on the rim and eventually worked my way swirling into the center of the cupcake to finish.

Hope you enjoy!
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