Livin' in the Kitchen

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Dear Whoopie Pie, if only…

In Cookies, Uncategorized on November 28, 2010 at 3:54 am

I’ve discovered there are some people in life that you want to write a letter to to say all the wonderful things you think about them, but would never say aloud. And then there are those letters you want to write that send the familiar reminisence of that correctional bar of soap your parents used to try to scrub away the words they didn’t want to develop into your vocabulary.

Ok, so my mom and dad never scrubbed my mouth with a bar of soap. Even when I decided for a short period of time to experiment with parts of the English language that weren’t exceptable for fourth graders. It was great fun learning to incorporate them into my everyday sentences, believe me. But once I realized that I wasn’t really getting a reaction, the words washed themselves from my mouth.

That’s how I felt with these Whoopie pies. I had mixed feelings about them. After my success with the sugar cookies, people bought these purely because I was the one who brought them. They were good, but not my favorite.

After all the hard work I put into these all I wanted was to bite into them and be able to MMM and AHH! Too bad it didn’t happen. After a solid hour and a half of making these, and no wowza! Effect, I was ready to get out a bar of soap for inspiration, pen and paper. Me, choosing to fight against the impulsive being I am, waited to swallow. And that’s when the salty peanut butter and banana flavors melded! And boy was it good!!

Everyone I’d seen, like me, finished their whoopee pies, so I guess they couldn’t have been too terrible. But even after the last bite I wasn’t jumping to write any letters of recommendation over these. Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose. I melded different recipes to make these since I hadn’t found any like what I wanted online. But I think with adaptation, these things could be really good!

Here’s the recipe if you want to try them or further adapt them…

Thoughts: these are sort of like a spongy banana cakes that are sandwiched with salty peanut butter frosting. The flavors went really nicely and the peanut butter taste surprisingly didn’t overwhelm the banana.
Tips: The last kinds of Whoopie Pies I made, I’d left them in too long and they became dry. I think I took these out too fast because they were still a little soft and the tops peeled. Even adjusting the baking time from what I post may make this recipe a keeper. – Piping the frosting onto one side of the Whoopie pie looks a lot cleaner than spreading with a knife.



Banana Whoopie Pies

Slightly adapted from Marth Stewert recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup mashed banana (about 2 normal sized bananas)

½ cup sour cream

1 stick butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light-brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into separate bowl

Combine banana and sour cream in a separate bowl

Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high until creamy

Add egg and vanilla, beat until incorporated

Add banana mixture in 2 additions, alternate between flour mixture

Use a spoon or pastry bag to pipe balls-however small or large you want the cookies-onto parchment paper

Bake about 12 minutes, until edges are golden*

*-Do not leave out.

Now for one of my favorite frostings ever. It’s peanut butter so it was bound to be. Between my addiction to peanut butter and the amount of salt I pile on my popcorn at the movies, this was a sure match for me.

Salty Peanut Butter Frosting                                                                                                                         

Adapted from “Whoopie Pies”

1 cup peanut butter

1 ½ sticks butter

1 cup confectioners sugar

½ teaspoon salt

Beat peanut butter and butter in mixer until creamy

Add sugar and salt on low, increase to medium and beat until fully incorporated. *

Put into a piping bag and pipe a large amount onto the middle of the pie and lightly press the top onto it.

*If you like your frosting heavier, reduce the amount you beat it. If you like it really light, go crazy and beat the heck out of it!!- consistency wise this goes for all frostings.


Sold Out Sugar Cookies

In Cookies, Uncategorized on November 28, 2010 at 2:26 am
Junior high to high school is a huge step. Let me tell you. The first few weeks I went to school I almost slipped into cartiac arrest looking at the rows of bake sale items outside the lunch room. But as the weeks wore on, my constant need for sweets wore out.

I noticed though, that every time I passed the bake sale tables and saw something cute or colorful, I’d twitch for that nonsexistant dollar in my pocket. I knew that I didn’t need any more sweets than I already had in my life, especially with a broken treadmill. But still, the cute things always got me!

My third period class and every other third period class in the high school are raising money for families for the holidays. Just about everyone is selling sweets for the bake sale and I decided that I needed a game plan. Yes a game plan. I decided that whatever I was going to make had to fall under these criteria:




Easy to Eat.

Sure these cookies required a lot of love and attention. But it’s like my assignment notebook. Even when I finish my Spanish homework in class, I have to write it in my assignment notebook anyway so that I can cross it off. What can I say? I like crossing things off lists, and if a few extra hours put into cookies meant I could cross more off of a list, why not?

I sold these for a dollar. GASP! A dollar?! Yes. One whole dollar for a bake sale item. My list must have worked because I came home with an empty basket and a lot of happy people who wanted to know what I was bringing next.

Thoughts: these were soft and had really nice frosting for two reasons: nice consistency to work with, and the saltier taste really complimented the sweet cookies! Everyone loved them. The color is what drew them in, but the taste is what got people to buy more. One guy bought four bags and one for his friend!

Tips: If you only have one tip and you want to swirl all of the cookies with that one color and then change colors, don’t. The frosting with dry sooner than you think. If you only have one tip, use it for the main color and put your other colors in ziplock baggies with one edge trimmed off. Do one cookie at a time. Then take a toothpick and run it from the edges to the center for a flowered look. For a webbed look, run a toothpick from the center to the edges.

Sugar Cookies

Recipe adapted from the Hungry Housewife

2 sticks butter, soft

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

3 cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar together

Beat in the eggs and vanilla

In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt

Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and slowly mix until combined

Divide dough into two separate balls, place between parchment paper, roll until desired thickness and put in fridge for 2 hours

Preheat oven to 350

Remove dough and cut to desired shape.

Bake cookies on an un greased cookie sheet and bake 8-12 minutes

Cool on sheet for 2 minutes before taking them off*

Cool completely before frosting

* – Do not miss this step

Now for the frosting… this definitely made more than I needed, even with decorations, and I loaded on the frosting. I’m not sure exactly how it would pan out, but I’d say you could get away with doubling the cookie recipe and using this frosting recipe as is to have the perfect amount of each.

Royal Icing Cookie Glaze

¾ warm water

5 tablespoons meringue powder

1 teaspoon cream of tarter

2 ¼ pounds of powdered sugar

~If the meringue powder doesn’t have vanilla flavor in it, you can add a teaspoon of clear vanilla. If you don’t have clear vanilla and don’t want an offset color, I’d just omit the vanilla completely. I did, and you couldn’t even tell the difference.

In mixer, pour in the warm water and meringue powder, whisk for 30 seconds until foamy

Add cream of tarter and whisk another 30 seconds

Pour in all of the powdered sugar, pulse until combined

Mix until thick and creamy. With this frosting, when in question, keep mixing!

Go decorate!! Any kind of food coloring should be fine, I used Americolor.

Buttermilk Pound Cake and Strawberry Buttercream nails it

In Cake on November 21, 2010 at 5:15 am
The ToolboxI went to hear Rick Tramonto, a very famous chef who’s appeared on The Food Network, currently owns three popular restaurants, and has seven published cook books, speak a few weeks ago. He said a lot of things, but one thing he said that will always stick with me is “It’s about the music, not the lifestyle.” You know those larger than life quotes people give you, where you understand what they’re supposed to mean, but they feel too broad for you to have experienced them? Yeah, that’s about how I felt. This man had so many more struggles to conquer. And here I am in a good home with loving parents, wondering where the heck I‘m going with my life. These questions played in my mind as I made my friend’s dad’s surprise birthday cake.
Friday afternoon rolled around sooner than I’d thought. Luckily I’m an expert in the field of last-minute-dessert-making, probably because I have such great practice from my last-minute-projecting-doing; now who told you school teaches you nothing?
My first mistake was with the cake. I was stubborn. I now realize the cake will always win. When the cake says fluffy in the title, what it really means to say is: don’t try to carve me, I’ll crumble and crush your hopes and dreams. Another genius plan I’d formed so that I could get a few extra hours of sleep was to use long glass tins to bake the cakes in. Only problem? The cake wouldn’t come out and when it did, it came in a hundred cracked pieces. Leave glass tins to brownie making! That left me with two useable pans and no cake recipe. When I found this recipe, I squeezed my eyes shut, crossed my fingers, and prayed that after 70 minutes of baking, it would be good. It was so good that I stayed up to go an extra 2 rounds of baking with my two pans!
Best Buttermilk Cake
3 sticks of butter
3 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 graulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vailla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk *  recipe below
Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.
In mixer beat butter and slowly add sugar, beat well.
Add eggs, one at a time
Scrape down sides, add vanilla extract.
Slowly add a third of the flour mixture, mix until combined. Add a third of buttermilk, mix until combined. Continue until all combined.
Grease and flour pan before pouring.
Bake 75 minutes at 300 degrees, or until toothpick comes out clean.
* Buttermilk
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
Let sit 5-10 minutes
Thoughts: This is a great cake that is delicious alone. If you want to add extra something, add frosting! The cake itself isn’t way too sweet and goes really well with frosting.
  Tips: Make sure to bake until it’s golden on the top or slightly pulling away from the pan. 
The clock was rolling around to two in the morning, my kitchen was a mess, and I realized my biggest mistake yet. When giving my friend and her family the samples of the frostings, I was making up recipes off the top of my head. I didn’t measure anything out or write anything down. Maybe people are most creative at night, or maybe I just knew I couldn’t mess this up, but after trying all different measurements this was the recipe I chose.
Stawberry Buttercream
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon strawberry imitation
2-4 large strawberries diced and thrown in (leave a little on the end to squeeze into bowl as juice)
Mix butter and powdered sugar until creamy
Put mixer on low, add strawberry imitation
Wash strawberries and dice, leave about 2/4 inch of red on the end and save. Throw in diced straberries and mix on high for 11 seconds.
Squeeze the juices of the tops into the bowl and mix on medium
After rocking out to Nickelback for fourteen hours I hit the hay at 2 a.m. with a carved and dirty iced cake. The next day I ended up covering the cake in fondant and adding details for an additional five hours. I handed my friend a nineteen hour cake and she handed me fifty dollars, minus thirty that went to my mom for ingredients.
 I sat on my stoop, smiling. It might have only been twenty dollars, but somebody was paying me to do what I loved. And when I looked down at that twenty dollars in my hands, bolstering with satisfaction, I knew this is what I wanted to do no matter what I got paid. And that’s when I understood: It’s about the music, not the lifestyle.

Crumbly Peanut Butter Cookies

In Cookies on November 19, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Protein deprivation is a funny thing. It makes you crave all sorts of weird things you never would have eaten before. For me, protein deprivation has opened up the world of peanut butter.

My life will never be the same.

I started eating peanut butter on everything. Seriously, everything. It went on tortillas, fruit, my Halloween candy, pizza, and of course into the things I bake! That’s how I stumbled onto these fabulous cookies! And you’d be surprised how drastically the weird-ed out looks reduced when I brought a bag of peanut butter cookies to math class instead of a bag of peanut butter!

Thoughts:  this is a great take on oatmeal cookies. These cookies are crumbly, absolutely delicious, and perfect for a night with friends to watch the new Harry Potter movie!
Tips:  Before baking, make sure to press down into the shape you want or you’ll get two and a half sheets of cookie balls that aren’t cooked right, make sure you bake these until they’re golden on top.
 Crumbly Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup of sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Skippy peanut butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 ½ quick-cooking oats

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Cream together butter, sugars, and peanut butter. Add egg and vanilla.

3. Blend in dry ingredients, then oats.

4. Roll into balls and press down with a fork.

5. Bake 13 minutes or until golden brown.