Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD - Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

This week, Clara of I Heart Food4Thought chose Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes .... wait ... is that too much chocolate? Nope! No such thing! Actually, these chocolate cupcakes weren't too chocolaty at all. They were wonderfully flavored and the ganache frosting was a to die for! The only problem I had with these little gems is that they were a little on the dry side.

I had decided to take these chocolate cupcakes to work for a birthday celebration so I made a double batch and ended up with 24 regular sized cupcakes and 10 minis. The cuppy's looked beautiful when they came out of the oven; perfectly done with nice flat tops right at the top of the liner.

I made the ganache and quickly became concerned. Is this it? Is this all the frosting I get for all of these cupcakes? I rechecked the recipe and went over the steps in my head. I had definitely doubled it so it must be right so I began frosting away. Typically, I prefer my cupcakes topped with a big giant mound of scrumptious frosting, however, this ganache was so rich and decadent, a little went a long way.

The minis had a greater frosting to cupcake ratio and they instantly became my favorites!

These are the perfect grown up cupcakes served just the way they are but with Halloween just around the corner, I couldn't resist playing around with some spooky decorations. I wanted to keep it simple and non-cutesy so I chose the spider web route. I used melted white candy melts in a squeeze bottle and hand drew spider webs on wax paper. When they hardened I attached the webs to the cupcakes with a little dot of melted candy. At first, I was a little disappointed that the webs looked so messy, but then I realized that they were supposed to be spiderwebs and I needed to get over it!

Overall, these were great little cakes and I would definitely make them again using some of the "added moistness" tips I picked up the from the TWD folks. Thanks for choosing a super recipe Clara!

My six year old son asked to try one of the mini cupcakes. He took one bite and looked a little puzzled. He asked me "What flavor are these?" I told him chocolate. He then "accidentally" dropped it on the floor. I tried to initiate the 3 second rule but he was having none of it and the entire thing ended up in the trash.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD - Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins! As my boy likes to say ... "Yay! Hooray!" I love all things pumpkin and was so excited to see this week's "Tuesdays with Dorie" recipe was chosen by Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp. I began by roasting some pumpkin that I picked up at the pumpkin patch, but unfortunately, at the end of the cooking process my fresh pumpkin was dry and stringy and I had to start the process over with a new pumpkin.

As luck would have it, I was caught in the act of butchery by my seven year old son, who shreaked "What are you DOING to my pumpkin?" To which I replied, "I'm going to EAT it." He was not happy with this response and eventually left the kitchen sulking. My second attempt, yielded a tender, tasty pumpkin, suitable for baking with!

I followed Dorie's recipe pretty closely, except that I omitted the nuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds ... ok maybe, it wasn't so "close"! I used dates instead of raisins and subbed fresh roasted pumpkin seeds for the sunflower seeds. These muffins are fabulous! So fabulous in fact, I'm getting ready to make another batch!

Bake another batch after my son goes to bed that is! No need to further traumatize the youngster by consuming his precious pumpkin!

Thanks again for a great recipe selection! Don't forget to see what the other TWD bakers are up to this week!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TWD - Lenox Almond Biscotti

Lenox Almond Biscotti was chosen by Gretchen of Canela & Comino for this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. We'll start with a confession of sorts - I have never baked biscotti! Sad, but true and it sounded easy enough so I thought I'd give it a whirl. On the heals of this confession I need to post a WARNING .... the following photos are quite graphic and may be unsuitable for viewing by experienced biscotti bakers. Consider yourselves warned and continue reading .... if you dare!

Since I was biscotti newbie, I followed the recipe (ok, I followed the ingredient list) exactly as written. When it came time to form the cookies for the first baking, I deviated from the written instructions and I made two short loaves instead of two long loaves.

After the first baking, this was the result ..... please avert your eyes if you have delicate sensibilities.

Wow! They spread out A LOT more than I anticipated! My first instinct was to throw them away and start over but after careful consideration, I decided to forge on and see what would happen. These cookies were SLIM and experienced quite a bit of breakage when I sliced them and stood them up on the cookie sheet. I'm not sure what Dorie meant by standing them up "like a marching band" so this what they looked like before they went into the oven for a second baking.

I like the rustic look of my cookies! I had a hard time getting them to stand at first but I found that if I sliced the cookie, left the knife in place, and lightly pressed the slice against the knife, I had one fairly flat edge to stand the biscotti on. Here is the final result.

Not too bad looking and they tasted awesome! Now for confession #2 ... my coworkers are usually the beneficiaries of my baking forays but I only shared these gems with a few close friends! I ate a few (ok, perhaps many) and gave the rest to my official taste tester because he really really enjoyed eating them! I also dipped half of these in bittersweet chocolate but they disappeared before I was able to photograph them!

Thanks for choosing a great recipe Gretchen! Don't forget to check out the other TWD Bakers!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TWD - Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

This weeks recipe for Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake was chosen by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy. I decided to make this cake for a coworkers birthday but the first problem I ran into was the springform pan - I had a 6" pan; I could only find a 9" pan in the stores, and the recipe called for a 8" pan. I opted to go with the 9" pan but rather than fool with the recipe and perform complex mathematical operations in order to get a cake of the proper thickness, I followed the directions as is.

The cake turned out fine except that it sank A LOT in the middle! When I looked at it after cooling, I was afraid that the center portion of the cake would be paper thin but that was not the case. The caramel topping gave me a little bit of trouble as it took 15-20 minutes to reach a deep amber color but my patience paid off and it was delicious! Because of the larger diameter of the cake, I ended up using more peanuts and almost all of the caramel. In order to get full peanut coverage, I put the peanuts on the cake first and then poured the caramel over the top of everything.

This cake was a huge hit at the office and I will definitely be making it again. As a matter of fact, I later found 8" springform pans at JC Penney of all places! Check out the other TWD bakers here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

My son likes chocolate chip cookies. Not peanut butter. Not oatmeal. Chocolate chip and only chocolate chip. No substitutions please. I wanted to make some cookies for him to take on an outing with a friend but I didn't have a "to die for" chocolate chip cookie recipe. Yes, six year old children need "to die for" cookies. For real.

I decided on Alton Brown's "The Chewy" and guess what .... they were not "to die for", but they were pretty darn tasty! This recipe intrigued me because a.) it calls for melted butter and I never have softened butter when I really need it, b.) it calls for kosher salt, and c.) it's a chewy cookie. The cookies turned out nice and soft but not really "chewy" per se. I followed the recipe pretty closely except that I used milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet and I made small cookies instead of large ones. All in all, these cookies are a keeper!