Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Valero Pumpkin Whoopie Pie

I was only returning a redbox at Valero when a pumpkin whoopie pie sign and "limited time only" started all this.Their's was pretty good - the cake was incredibly soft, and lightly spiced with cinnamon but the cream cheese filling was overly sweet. Time to replicate.

I did consider Bobby Flay from his whoopie pie throwdown but he made ginger and I wanted pumpkin. Martha Stewart's recipe had a ton of good reviews and had pumpkin.

I smelt the strong aroma, but decided to overlook it. I should remember this from now on... if you grind your own spice, use less. We only had whole cloves so I had to grind it myself (using the blender) - and there were some bits that didn't grind up to a fine powder so the cake came out spicier than I expected. If it was cinnamon, I would have liked it, but cloves are strong for my taste.

Also, I kept debating whether to use the dark brown sugar. Next time trust my instincts. Dark brown sugar tastes alot like molasses and even though I decided to go with half dark and half light, it still came out strong. The whoopie pies tasted alot like gingerbread cookies, overwhelming the pumpkin flavor.

Over all, the cake is very moist. I put the batter in the fridge to chill and they baked up in great shape. They become even more moist over night.

For the filling: I tried two. Marshmallow vs. cream cheese. First I made the marshmallow and thought it was incredibly fluffy and flavorful from the maple syrup. Then I made Martha's cream cheese filling and added 4 tablespoons of maple syrup.

Because my cookies were quite spicy and molasses-y, the cream cheese was a better pair. It gave it that extra sweetness needed to balance the cloves.

I made these again for a UTSA MSA bake sale, making a few adaptations. I used 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (already ground). I also used light brown sugar. Now, I can taste the pumpkin. 

You can taste the butter in Martha's frosting, so for the UTSA pies, I used only 1/3 cup butter because I like to taste the cream cheese alittle more.You need to double Martha's frosting recipe. It says it makes 12 whoopie pies but when using a rounded teaspoon to drop the batter, I got 86 cookies (43 whoopie pies).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

I finally made these, Zignat! They were scrumptious! Soft, pillowy spiced pancakes with cinnamon swirls and cream cheese icing.

So, follow the recipe and put the cinnamon brown sugar filling in the plastic bag and let it sit while you make the pancakes. You could even put it in the fridge to sit. It comes together like a paste after a while and is easier to pipe.

Again, follow the recipe and make the icing first. It also comes together better after it sits on the counter for a while - letting the butter come completely to room temperature so that your final mix is smooth and creamy. 

This recipe made alot of pancakes! It made me 20 four-inch pancakes!

I opened the back door while cooking this morning - 30 mph winds drafted in and kept me refreshed as I stood over the stove.

What a beautiful, breezy day :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ginger Spiced Cupcakes

I waited pretty much all year to make these. It had to be October for pumpkin month. They looked so promising. But this recipe deceived me! They said pumpkin pie cupcakes with a large layer of it on top of a gingernut cupcake base. Well, I followed the recipe and it's only a ginger-spiced cupcake.

So no pumpkin pie at all - but a tasty glaze that gives the spice cake a caramelized flavor. The spice cake is a decent recipe... not bursting with awesomeness or with chocolate or anything, so I probably wouldn't make it again.

I was really excited about the frosting because pairing cream cheese and marshmallows sounded like a great combination to top off a pumpkin pie cupcake. The marshmallows made the frosting beautifully shiny but that's about it. I couldn't really taste marshmallow, only cream cheese. It was fluffy and creamy right when I made it, but the next day, the frosting sets up kind of rubbery.

Caramel Glaze

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1-1/2 tsp rum imitation
1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup fresh pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin puree
1/8 tsp ground ginger

1. In a heavy medium size saucepan melt the sugar over a low heat. Leave the sugar undisturbed until it has completely melted, swirling the saucepan occasionally until it is a deep caramel color.
2. Stir in the corn syrup until it is combined well.
3. Add the rum and the butter and allow to for 1 minute.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool until it stops bubbling and easy to touch
5. In a bowl whisk the egg and the vanilla extract.
6. Slowly add the syrup mixture in a stream, whisking the egg mixture until well combined.
7. Add the pumpkin and ginger and whisk until well combined.
8. Set aside to cool while you make the cupcakes.

Ginger Spiced Cupcakes Yield: 24 cupcakes

2/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/3 all-purpose flour
1/2 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs, (about 12 gingersnap cookies)
3 tbsp shredded/flaked coconut, (add it to the gingersnap cookies when you process them)
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Line two muffin trays with cupcake liners.
3. Beat oil and sugar on high speed for 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds after each addition.
5. Whisk together flour, cookie crumbs, shredded coconut crumbs, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
6. Measure out milk and vanilla extract together.
7. Alternately add the flour mixture to the oil/egg mixture and beat to combine with the milk in three lots, starting and ending with flour.
8. Evenly divide the batter into the cupcake liners, filling a little less than half way.
9. Layer about 1 tablespoon of the caramel glaze on top of each cupcake batter.
10. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out almost clean.
11. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before adding cream cheese marshmallow frosting.

Cream Cheese Marshmallow Frosting
Yield: frosts 24 cupcakes

2-1/4 cups marshmallows (mini are easier to melt)
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
6 oz cream cheese

1. Stir marshmallows and milk in a small saucepan over low heat until marshmallows are melted.
2. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and salt.
3. Cool marshmallow mixture to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
4. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese on high speed for 2 minutes.
5. Fold the marshmallow mixture into the cream cheese.
6. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese marshmallow frosting onto each cupcake.
7. Put cupcakes in fridge for about an hour to allow marshmallow to set

Monday, October 10, 2011

Peach Blackberry Crisp

I made this because it was quick and easy - a variation of this recipe. I love the brown sugar and oat crumble on top. And blackberries are a great pair for peaches.

The peaches I used were quite firm and I wanted to hurry up because Naven was coming over, so I sliced the peaches 1/4 inch thick so they would cook faster. But then I wasn't thinking and still cooked them for the full time over the stove (10 minutes). So, I overcooked them. You should only slightly soften them over the stove. More yummy if they still hold their shape - and remember you're going to cook them more in the oven. Next time I should just cut them thicker.

If your peaches are already ripened and sweet, you can skip the sugar, and even skip the first cooking process if you don't mind leaving out the star anise. Just put the cinnamon in the crumble mixture and bake for slightly longer in the oven, about 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.

Peach and Blackberry Crisp
4 large peaches
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4 star anise
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp cold water mixed with 1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup blackberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oats (one minute cooking oats)
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in cubes
vanilla ice cream, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Peel, cut in half to remove the seed, and slice the peaches so they are 3/4 inch thick.
3. Combine peaches, sugar, water, star anise and cinnamon into a large saucepan. Make sure the star anise sits in the water at the bottom of the pan. Cover and bring to boil.
4. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until fruit is tender but still holds its shape.
5. Add cornstarch mixture and cook for a minute until it thickens.
6. Discard the star anise, and pour into a 8x8 inch baking dish.
7. Sprinkle the blackberries over the pears.
8. Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and butter in a bowl. First use a fork to mix and then use your hand to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
9. Sprinkle over the fruit, then bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
10. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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