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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chocolate chip cookie dough truffles

OccasionallySometimes.  Often when I bake, I don't have an occasion that I'm baking for.  Last night was yet another example of that.  Yesterday I came across a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles, but this particular recipe called for an egg-less cookie dough.  While I am not opposed to eating raw cookie dough (raw eggs and all!), I don't know that serving it to others is a good idea.  Nor do I think making them ahead of time and letting them sit (in the fridge) with raw eggs is a good idea, either.  So this recipe appealed to me.  The fact that it did not involve baking was also another drawing point, since my apartment is already pretty hot and turning on the oven would just exacerbate it.

Then I went searching for wooden popsicle sticks, since the recipe I found had served them on popsicle sticks.  You would not believe how hard it is to find wooden popsicle sticks on the Upper West Side of Manhattan!  Bed, Bath, and Beyond didn't carry them.  Nor did the several grocery stores or drug stores that I went to.  Luckily for me, working in a doctor's office finally has it's perks...and I settled for tongue depressors cut in half lengthwise.
What is better than balls of homemade cookie dough, you might ask?  When said cookie dough is then dipped into chocolate, allowed to harden, and a truffle is formed!  However, while these might just be the best summer dessert to make (no oven/baking), I doubt they're the best summer dessert to eat, since the dough and chocolate would get soft and runny if left out in the heat too long.  Best bet is to keep them in the fridge and then remove them a few minutes before serving.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
chocolate coating
popsicle sticks, cut in half (or you could use tongue depressors....I know, it sounds weird)


In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
Mix in milk and vanilla.
Add flour and salt and mix on low until combined.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Chill dough in refrigerator for about 30 minutes until firm enough to roll or scoop into 1-inch balls.
Place rolled balls on a wax paper lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. (I kept mine in the fridge overnight and they seemed to be fine when dipping them)
Melt candy coating following instructions on the package. Remove a couple of balls from the freezer (or fridge) at a time and insert the cut stick into the ball. Dip in candy coating and let any extra coating fall off back into the bowl.
Add small sprinkles (or mini chocolate chips, or none of the above) on top and place on wax paper to set.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.

*If you check out the link above, you'll see the cutest little chocolate squares that she used.  I WANT those squares, but alas, I don't have them, so if you don't either, you can use mini chocolate chips on a few or just leave them "naked"*

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Garlic parmesan pull-apart bread

Think of this bread as savory Monkey Bread.  Granted, I've never made monkey bread before, but I imagine that this is it's savory brother.  It's a homemade yeast dough rolled into balls, coated in a garlic-parsley butter, and layered into a bundt pan, with layers of grated parmesan (or, in my case, romano) cheese.

This bread would be great as an appetizer served with marinara sauce or as a side dish for an Italian dinner in place of traditional garlic bread.  I've only tasted it fresh out of the oven, but I imagine that that is the best way to serve it.

I made this recipe for my sisters.  One, more than the other, but simply because she LOVES garlic in an almost-unhealthy way.  But both of my sisters are not big fans of sweets.  Abnormal, right?  So when I saw this recipe a while ago, I knew I had to make it for them.  Savory baked goods are right up their alley.  See if you can find where I snuck a piece to taste.

A few thoughts/notes:
1. DOUBLE the butter-garlic-parsley mixture. Or, at the very least, 1.5X it. Do it at the beginning, too. I found having to mince garlic twice to be annoying.
2. You may think that you don't have enough dough when you're layering it. Do not worry. When you let it rise a second time, and then bake it, it more than rises and fills the pan!

Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread


2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups barely warm water (I used hot tap water that had been running for a few minutes)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or bread flour, according to the recipe, but I used all purpose)

Coating (I recommend 1.5 or doubling this recipe):
1/4 cup butter, melted (I used unsalted, since there is a good amount of salt in the dough and the cheese is quite salty, too....oh, and I only have unsalted butter in my fridge for baking)
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Romano cheese, since that is what I had - and prefer.  Romano cheese is a bit more salty than Parmesan)


In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the yeast and water, and let it sit for 5 minutes until it is foamy.
Mix in flour, olive oil, and salt.
Using the dough hook on the mixer, knead the dough for 5-6 minutes until elastic.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel.
Allow the dough to rise for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, parsley flakes, and minced garlic.  Set aside.

Punch down the dough. 
Tear off small pieces of dough (about the zise of the bowl of a medium spoon) and coat in the butter mixture.  Place the coated balls of dough in the bottom of a (nongreased) bundt pan.
Repeat until you have one layer of dough balls.
Cover with 1/3 of the cheese, sprinkled over the layer.
Continue layering the dough balls and cheese until there are 3 layers.
Cover the pan with a clean towel and allow to sit until the dough has doubled in size, 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.
Serve hot with a side of marinara sauce.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tiramisu (mini) cupcakes

I'm sure you've all heard by now that JulieBakes has it's own facebook page.  The other day, I posted a question on the facebook page asking you, the faithful JulieBakes readers, what I should bake this weekend.  The Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake (a two layer red velvet cake with a layer of cheesecake in the middle) was the quick forerunner, but these Tiramisu Cupcakes (mini, naturally) snuck in at the end and beat out the cake by a mere 4 votes.

I have to admit that I wanted to make BOTH the cake and the cupcakes, but I didn't want to bake a cake without an occasion or event to bring it to, and the BBQ that I'm going to on Memorial Day isn't the best venue to bring it to.  And I couldn't turn it into cupcakes, since the cheesecake layer would be hard to sandwich between two layers of cupcake.  So, thank you JulieBakes fans, for choosing these cupcakes instead.  But rest assured, I will make that cake!

By now you should also know that I love everything miniaturized.  Which means these tiramisu cupcakes are mini tiramisu cupcakes.  The orginal recipe says it makes 18 cupcakes, but I got 72 mini cupcakes (plus enough batter for about 6-8 more, but I didn't bake those last few).  When making mini cupcakes from a regular cupcake recipe, you usually need more toppings, since the surface area of the mini cupcakes is much greater than that of the regular sized cupcakes made from the same amount of batter.  Sorry for getting all scienc-y and math-y on you, but it's a good rule of thumb for your future baking endeavors (in this case, it comes to about 1.5 times the amount for the regular-sized cupcakes).

These cupcakes are like soft lady fingers.  Then they're topped with a little bit of a coffee-liquor syrup, covered in a mascarpone-whipped cream icing, and lastly sprinkled with some cocoa powder.  I thought about using some chocolate shavings, but it was too hot in my apartment and they would've melted.

These cupcakes are time and dish intensive - but well worth it, if you ask me.

Tiramisu (Mini) Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:

1 1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
3 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar

For the Coffee-Marsala Syrup (you may or may not run out of this mixture - I doubled it and had a LOT extra):

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
1 ounce marsala (I used rum, since I didn't have marsala, and the last time I made tiramisu, it said to use rum; I halved the amount of alcohol as I assumed that rum is stronger than marsala)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Mascarpone Frosting:

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line muffin tins with paper liners.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
Heat milk and vanilla-bean pod and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter until melted, and let stand 15 minutes. Strain milk mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, and discard vanilla-bean pod.

With an electric mixer on medium speed (I used my stand mixer), whisk together eggs, yolks, and sugar.
Set mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk by hand until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm, about 6 minutes.
Remove bowl from heat.
With an electric mixer on high speed (I used a stand mixer), whisk until mixture is fluffy, pale yellow, and thick enough to hold a ribbon on the surface for several seconds when whisk is lifted.

Gently - but thoroughly - fold flour mixture into the egg mixture in three batches.
Stir 1/2 cup batter into the strained milk mixture to thicken, then fold milk mixture into the remaining batter until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full (I used a mini scoop to fill them evenly).
Bake, rotating tins halfway through (I didn't rotate), until centers are completely set and edges are light golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

Make the syrup: Stir together coffee, marsala, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

Brush the tops of the cupcakes evenly with coffee syrup; repeat until all syrup has been used (I drizzled the syrup on the cupcakes individually, since I was afraid of making my cupcakes too soggy).
Allow cupcakes to absorb liquid 30 minutes.

Make frosting: With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or cream will be grainy).
In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated.
Use immediately.

To finish, place frosting onto cupcakes (I used a pastry bag with a large circular tip).
Keep in the fridge up to overnight in airtight containers.
Dust generously with cocoa powder just before serving (I got overzealous and did that part tonight for the pictures, and I'm hoping they'll last).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mini blueberry muffins

I signed up for my first 5K this weekend.  I'm part of a team, and we're meeting before the race (and I use the term "race" loosely, as it's more of a walk/run, where I'll be doing the former), getting our team t-shirts, and heading over together.  Since the meeting time is scheduled for 8:45 a.m., I decided I'd be "team mom" (really the only title I'll ever hold on an athletic team, since I lack any athletic ability) and bake some homemade (mini) muffins.

I have to admit, I've been making this blueberry muffin recipe for years.  It originally had the title of "To Die For Blueberry Muffins," but I copied it and never wrote down where I got it from, so I can't give the proper person credit for the muffin recipe.  It is so simple that anyone can make them, and it only takes 1 bowl (for the muffins, a second bowl for the crumb topping) - and I literally mix it with a fork.  No fancy mixers needed!  (This also happens to be THE recipe that I bring to bridal showers when I get asked to bring a recipe card for the bride-to-be.)

To Die For Blueberry Muffins



1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk (you might need a little more....see below)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries (in a bind and can't find fresh blueberries?  Frozen work well, too...I used frozen in this batch)

Crumb topping:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed (and softened ever so slightly - it makes it easier to mush to make the crumbs)
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease or line muffin cups (I think the recipe makes 8-12 full sized muffins, however I made mini ones today and got 40.  Yes, I have 40 mini blueberry muffins in my kitchen right now).

2. Combine dry ingredients for muffins.  Place oil into a 1-cup measuring cup and add the egg.  Add enough milk to fill the cup.  The original recipe forgets to tell you to add the vanilla.  I put it into the measuring cup after I've added the milk, and add all the wet ingredients together.

3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

4. Fold in the blueberries.

5. Fill muffin cups right to the top (I didn't fill the mini muffin cups completely....I honestly don't remember what I do when I make them full-sized, since it has been a while).

6. Make the crumb topping: mix together all the ingredients for the crumb topping, mixing it with a fork to break up the butter cubes.

7. Sprinkle the muffins with the crumb topping.

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes (for full-sized, 10 minutes for mini), or until done.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pretzel, potato chip, chocolate chip, and toffee blondies

My friend K's birthday was a few weeks ago.  She had a party and a friend of hers brought these blondie-brownie creations.  They had chocolate chips and pretzels, and I was informed that they also had potato chips (I didn't quite taste them), but what I did taste the AMAZINGNESS that they were.  I asked K to get me the recipe, and she told me she asked her friend.  But it's been over two weeks, and the recipe hasn't come.  There was only thing I could do: try and figure out a recipe myself. 

First, I searched for a blondie recipe.  No surprise that I found one on smitten kitchen.  And no surprise that her recipe is "infinitely adaptable" - perfect for the baker who wants to add her own add-ins!  Then, I did some searching to see if there was an already-published potato-chip-and-pretzel blondie recipe, and came across one (which, not surprisingly, used the same smitten kitchen blondie base).  That recipe called for white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips, but I'm not a huge fan of either of those, so I went with the original chocolate chips that were in the blondies I had originally.  Just for fun, I added some toffee chips (which I had in my kitchen cabinet).

And, very unlike me, I doubled the recipe (instead of my usual halfing it).  I have a few events I'd like to bring them to over the next few days.  I slightly underbaked them, since no one I know likes overbaked blondies or brownies.


Use the smitten kitchen base linked above. 

When adding the mix-ins, add:
1/2 cup crushed potato chips (I used ridged ones)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed pretzels (I wanted to use mini pretzels, but the store was out)
1/4 cup toffee bits (optional)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.  I am, of course, working.  Since I wanted to spend some time with my mom, I went home today to take her to lunch and spend time together.  I also brought home dessert for tomorrow - since I can't be there, at least some of my baked goods can be!

My mom and my aunt love banana cake with chocolate icing.  Though not my flavors of choice, I know that it's quite possibly their favorite.  Seeing as it's their day, I figure I should make something that I know they'll love, so I went with banana cake-chocolate icing cake pops and chocolate covered Oreo pops.

I bought some terra cotta planters, styrofoam semicircles, and fake moss at the crafts store.  I also had two different length lollipop sticks, so I made a few on each length.  I placed the styrofoam into in the planter, then arranged the cake pops and Oreo pops, and finally covered the top of the styrofoam with the fake moss.

I think the final product turned out very nicely....now hopefully they'll all enjoy the treats tomorrow!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mini cakes

A few weeks ago, a friend of a friend asked me if I'd be willing to make cakes for a baby shower she was co-hosting this weekend.  She wanted a few mini cakes, yellow cake and red velvet cake, in a lavender and white theme.  We discussed flavor options, decorations, and everything in between.  The final decision: yellow cake with lemon buttercream and red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.  I've been using my red velvet cake recipe for years, but I was in search of a good yellow cake recipe, so a few weeks ago I tried out the cake and icing recipe (these mini cupcakes were the result of my testing out the recipes).

I made four 6" cakes and four 4" cakes (2 of each flavor in each size), and assembled them into 4 tiered cakes.  In my opinion, the only icing acceptable for red velvet cake is cream cheese icing, so I made that for the red velvet cakes.  For the yellow cakes, the request was for lemon buttercream.  My friend wanted one of the red velvet cakes to have lavender icing for the mother-to-be, and she ordered the flowers for that cake from someone on Etsy.  Sticking with the lavender and white theme, I purchased lavender flowers for the rest of the cakes.

And, with the leftover batter, I made some cupcakes.  I included this surprise cupcake for the mom-to-be, as well.

Yellow Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)
Made two 4" and two 6" cakes, plus 6 cupcakes

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter cake pans and line with parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Or, use paper cupcake liners, or you can use a cooking spray. I used Pam for baking and was very impressed with the results.)

Sift together the dry ingredients EXCEPT for sugar in a medium bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla.
Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled).
Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Bake until golden on top and cooked throughout (the mini cupcakes took about 10 minutes, give or take a few).

Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan.
Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp lemon zest (fresh)
2 Tbsp lemon juice (I went with freshly squeezed)

Mix the butter, lemon zest, and vanilla together until smooth.
Add milk, and quickly cream it into the butter mixture.
Mix in the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time.
Once the sugar is all in the bowl, cream on "high" for two minutes.
Mix in lemon juice.

Made two 4" and two 6" cake layers, plus 10 cupcakes
**Be forewarned...this recipe is great, but you use TONS of dishes**

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 Tbsp red food coloring (I only had gel food coloring, and last time I used a full 6 Tbsp, my cake was VERY red and so were my fingers, dishes, and sink....this time I used 4.5 Tbsp and it was definitely red enough)
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda


Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour three 9- by 2-inch round cake pans (I just used Pam for baking), then line the bottoms with waxed paper (and I skipped the whole waxed paper part, too).
In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk.
Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour.
With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.
In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda (use a bowl a bit bigger than you think you'll need, as this bubbles and rises....think first attempt at an elementary school science fair volcano).
Add to the batter and mix well.
Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans.
Bake for 30-40 minutes (for the 9" circles; cupcakes take about 20 minutes), or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour.
Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Icing
I'm pretty sure I found this recipe on epicurious years ago, and I can't find it anywhere.  It's a good thing I have it committed to memory!

3 8 oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick of butter, at room temperature
Vanilla to taste (I usually end up using between 1 1/2 and 2 tsp)
3-4 cups of powdered sugar (again, to taste...I think the original recipe called for 4 cups, but I found it too sweet) 

Blend cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer. 
Add vanilla to taste. 
Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until desired sweetness.

I split the batch and used some purple gel food coloring to make the lavender icing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy anniversary

Yesterday was my friends' second anniversary.  On May 1, 2010, my friends L & J got married.  L asked me if I would be willing to bake cupcakes for them for their wedding, and I was honored and excited to do so!  Three different cake flavors, three different icing flavors, and 5 different cake-icing combinations later, I had 5 cupcake carriers filled with 168 cupcakes!

One thing about having cupcakes as your "wedding cake" means that you don't have a frozen, likely freezer-burned top tier of your wedding cake in your freezer to eat on your first wedding anniversary.  In my opinion, that was not OK, and so last year, L & J got a mini cake to eat on their anniversary!

Happy 2nd Anniversary, L & J!