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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes and Contest Winner Announced!


With school back in, I am going to be a very busy woman. Actually, I am going to be a much busier woman than I had previously thought. I am enrolled in only one class: Advanced Italian Oral Communication, which is going to be quite a bit of work, but I am also doing an Internship at an art museum near my university: 8 hours a week in the exhibitions department with a written log of what I do and a short research paper on an issue in museum studies, I might be training to become a docent at the museum to give tours to school kids, and I am completing my thesis this semester. Previous to Friday, I was working on a regular ol' thesis: minimum of 25 pages to be completed by the end of the semester. Now, however, I am doing an honors thesis, which is considerably more intimidating, which much more demanding deadlines and due dates, and much more strict requirements, as it will be bound and published. I will have a committee of three professors to work with, and at the end, I will have to present my paper and do a defense in front of said committee. Double Eep! The first draft is due November 7. !! November 7th! That might seem like that gives me a lot of time, but no. Its right around the corner. Luckily, I'm one of those people that generally need pressure to perform well. If I am given an entire semester to complete a paper, I might be a tad laxadaisical about getting it done, but knowing there are deadlines approaching and committees awaiting rough drafts, I will hopefully be more disciplined about getting it done. So if anyone out there knows about how portraits of women in Augustan Rome communicate his ideas on social reform, please leave me a comment and we'll chat. On top of all of this work, I will still be putting in a few hours per week at the store, making the cupcakes of the week, and attempting to become a substitute teacher in this county, going to Europe for a week and a half, and a cruise for Dan's sister. I have no idea what I've gotten myself into. If you start seeing pictures of cookies shaped like Augustan coins, you'll know I've completely lost my mind and succumbed to the pressure of school.

Ok, enough stressing out. Its time for this week's Cupcake of the Week! I don't particularly like the Chocolate - Mint combination, but many many people do, and these cupcakes aren't for me. We had a bunch of packets of Chocolate-Mint hot cocoa lying around, so I decided to make use of them. Here is the recipe:


Chocolate Mint Cupcakes makes ~16 cupcakes
3.5 eggs, separated
1/2 C sugar
1/6 C oil
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 c flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 C + 2 tablespoons mint hot cocoa mix
1/4 C warm water
1/8 C sugar
4 egg whites

Preheat to 350.
In a small bowl, combine the flour and and next three ingredients and stir to combine, and set aside.
Beat 3.5 egg yolks together with 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. When it starts to thicken, add 1/2 tablespoon of warm water and beat until fluffy again.
While still whisking, pour in oil slowly, beating until combined.
Add the flour mixture to the yolk/oil mixture and beat until just combined - don't over beat.
Add the rest of the water along with the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add 1/8 C sugar and mix until combined.
Pour the fluffy egg whites into the batter and fold in gently.
Pour batter in to *paper-lined cupcake tin* (or else they will not come out until they are about 3/4 full. Bake 15 - 18 minutes. Remove from a toothpick inserted comes out with just moist streaks.
Note: We filled these with batter a bit higher than we normally fill our cupcakes because we wanted a little lip at the top. These cuppies have a tendency to shrink a lot when coming out of the oven, and the lip that sticks to the top of the cupcake tin prevents that a bit.

Chocolate Buttercream from Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
Makes enough to frost 12 really nice and fluffily, with a tad left over
2 sticks unsalted butter, soft
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon milk (use this as you need it, you probably will not need it all if you don't want it to be too wet)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate [though I used 7 oz], melted and cooled until lukewarm (cooled about 15-20 minutes after melting on low in top of a double boiler for 10 minutes)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy - about 3 minutes. Add the milk as you need it, and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat well. Add vanilla, and beat for 3 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and beat until you reach your desired consistency. Garnish with chocolate chips.


Ohhh, the CONTEST WINNER, right. It was a tough, tough choice. I liked a lot of the ideas, and I weighed the pro's and con's of all of them before making a final decision. After taking appearance/impression on customer, price per piece (including shipping costs to get the packaging to me), ease of use for both me putting the cupcake in and the customer getting the cupcake out, no large quantity needed for purchase of containers, be able to be closed and not totally destroy the frosting, I decided to go with...
Pam! Her entry was... "Sam's Club - Hefty® Hinged Lid Containers 6 x 6 x 3 in.- 250 @ $13.08 or $.05232 each
ct" Thank you Pam! I went to my local Sam's club yesterday and purchased them! I brought them to the store, tried them out, and they worked like a CHARM!!!!
Unfortunately, Pam... you're Blogger profile says "Profile Not Available The Blogger Profile you requested cannot be displayed. Many Blogger users have not yet elected to publicly share their Profile."
So, PAM, if you are OUT THERE! - Comment on this post to get me your contact info so I can get your prize package sent to you!! And I have this user's IP address logged, so please don't try to pull any fast ones and claim you are Pam.. I'll know if you are or aren't. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookie Topped Brownies


Contest Update: No, I have not forgotten about the contest. I'm still weighing the options you all have presented - comparing pricing, trying out different methods - It is a much longer process than I thought! There are many good entries and lots of feasible options, so I have to really think about which method would be best for my intended use. But I promise, I will arrive at a decision soon and let you know. For now, entries are still being accepted, so continue to submit if you wish. Please - if you left a comment/entry on the contest post, and you do not have a working blogger account and did not leave an email address, please leave it either on that post, or email me with which comment was yours. Or else if you win, I won't be able to contact you to send you your prize! :)

Now, on to the Peanut Butter Cookie Topped Brownies - brownie on the bottom, peanut butter cookie on top. As you may or may not have heard, Central Florida has been suffering from the intolerably slow-moving, water-drenching Tropical Storm Fay. We had some strong winds, but the real bad news was in the amount of rain it dumped on us here on the East Coast. Fay moved so slowly (and sometimes not at all), so for a few days, she just sat on top of us and showered us with inches and inches of water. Well... were quite flooded. There have been fish caught in driveways and parking lots, and communities became newly lakeside over night. I did not want to tempt the fates by bringing my petite little Mazda, Mrs. Moneypenny, out into the high waters, so we have been stuck in the house. Needless to say, the entire house is spotless, there is not a speck of laundry left to be done, I've started reading for my thesis, and thank god for exercise TV on demand! When all that was over... there was still more time to be bored, and unfortunately, with no one leaving their homes, there will be no Cupcake of the Week needed this week, so I didn't even get to bake that to take up some time! My baking fingers were itching! Daniel wanted brownies to go under his ice cream, and I wanted to make peanut butter cookies. How to reconcile these differences? Do BOTH... together! A while ago, I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Topped Brownies, so I used this same basic concept, with a slight spin. On to the recipe!

Ok, maybe mine were a tad undercooked, but I didn't hear any complaints about that!

Mocha Brownie Batter adapted from Epicurious
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 unsweetened chocolate
3/4 Stick of butter
1 Cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 Cup flour
1/6 Cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 Cup Ricotta
Slightly less than 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 Teaspoon milk

Non-stick spray an 8x8 baking dish, line it with parchment paper, and then non-stick spray the parchment.
In a small saucepan on low, stir chocolates and butter together to melt. Let cool to lukewarm. While this is melting, combine the flour, cocoa, espresso and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Beat the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy - about 5 minutes. While this is mixing, combine the ricotta, milk and lemon juice and set aside.
Next, add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, beating just until combined.
Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in the ricotta mixture, and pour into the baking dish.

Peanut Butter Cookie Batter
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy - whatever floats your cookie boat
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp milk
1 egg
1/8 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat over to 365.
In an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, butter, and sugars together. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
Add the milk, vanilla and eggs and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
Drop the batter in teaspoon sized amounts over the top of the brownie batter. It will take a lot of drops of dough to cover the top of the 8x8 dish. When all the cookie dough has been dropped on top, gently use your fingers to spread it. The brownie batter doesn't have to be completely covered, just do as best and you can. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, with just moist streaks on it.




The brownie came out nice and moist, with a little hint of espresso... and a little gooey thanks to being taken out of the oven a few minutes early (oops). The peanut butter cookie portion is nice and chewy, not crunchy and is subtle compared to the brownie flavor, but definitely noticeable. Definitely a would-make-again.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes and GIVEAWAY!

This week's Cupcake of the Week did not go off without a hitch. Fortunately, though, things eventually panned out. The idea was to bake a ball of cookie dough right into the center of a cupcake. I elaborated on the chocolate chip theme and decided to add chocolate chips in to the cupcake batter, and also to sprinkle some on the frosting for decoration. The issues began there. I thought mini chocolate chips would look and taste better in cupcakes than the regular sized chocolate chips, which might overwhelming the taste of the cookie dough ball. First, I drove back and forth between 2 stores several times to get Mini Chocolate Chips. After finally finding them and bringing them home, I found out upon cutting open the bag that someone had mistakenly put a bag of regular chocolate chips in the mini chocolate chips section. ::sigh:: Oh well, I decided to go with it anyway. First, while the butter was softening, I took some frozen prepared Chocolate Chip Cookie dough that I made a few weeks ago out of the freezer to thaw a bit, until it was soft enough to roll into little ballies, then popped 'em back in the freezer.


Then I set off to make the cupcake batter. Usually for the Cupcakes of the Week, I make 1/4 of a batch, so I only get about 8 cupcakes. This week, Daniel requested I make a slightly larger batch of the beauties so he could bring some to work. So, I prepared a half batch of my favorite vanilla cupcakes. The only difference was that I added 1/2 C of semisweet chocolate chips to the batter. After spooning the batter into 15 non-stick sprayed cupcake wells until they were about 2/3 full, I plopped a little frozen cookie dough ball right on top, and then stuck them in the oven.




Look cute! But upon removal from the pans.... well...


Slightly less than perfect results I'd say.

Of course. Figures. The one time I make more cupcakes than usual, its a total disaster. The problem? It was the chocolate chips. I never really use cupcake liners for the cupcakes of the week, because I like people to be able to see the cake. But in this case, some of the chips sank to the bottom and, in effect, glued my cupcakes to the liner.

Oh well, you live you learn. ROUND TWO: After seeing the broken remains of the cupcakes in the bowl, I decided it looked like too much chocolate, and that it might taken away from the beautiful ooey gooey ball of cookie dough hidden inside. So, this time, I omitted the chocolate chips in the batter altogether. And though there were no chocolate chips in the mix this time, I still decided to use cupcake liners... just to not tempt the wrath of the cupcake baking gods. Luckily, I made extra balls of frozen cookie dough.


The results this time?


Cupcake perfection!! Successo! I used my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting recipe, and garnished with some Nestle Crunch Marble Mix-Ins, which kinda taste like crunchy chocolate cookie bits.

You can even see the little ball of cookie dough!!

Mm, bellissima.


** NOTE: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Thank you for your entries! **

Oh right. Now for the GIVEAWAY!!!! I suppose its not so much as a giveaway as it is a contest, because I'm asking something from you. I'm asking you to solve my problem. You see, I need a very cost effective way to package single cupcakes for sale. I need it to be extremely affordable, as I only sell my cupcakes for a very small price... if I have to spend 40 cents per package, I'll barely break even. These are for sale in a small store, so the packaging method needs to be done at a moment's notice, and needs to be presentable. I also need it to effectively hold the cupcake to protect its perfectly piped frosting from squishing. In addition, it needs to be easy to use - easy to get the cupcake in, and easy to get the cupcake out without destroying it. I have tried using chinese food take out containers like these, but found that its nearly impossible to fit your hand/fingers in there to get it out without ruining the frosting. Even putting the cupcake in seemed to be a problem as it kind of needed to just be dropped in - sometimes resulting in a tipped, and as a result, destroyed cupcake. Also, it is important that the solution does not involve me buying 5,000,000 pieces. Many places offer packaging, but they have a minimum order of a million pieces. And lastly, it needs to be close-able, and have some sort of lid or way to cover it. And
So there it is! You need to come up with an idea and solve my Cupcake Packaging Problem.
1.) Be very very cheap (I'm talking no more than 20 cents a piece, but ideally, they'd be even less)
2.) Effectively protects the frosting from utter destruction
3.) Easy to get the cupcake in and out
4.) No large quantities required for purchase
5.) Be close-able
6.) Be an effective way to package cupcakes for sale, and make them take-home-able
7.) EDIT - To clarify, this packaging method is for store bought cupcakes. I sell them at a small store, and need a way to package them quickly, effectively and presentably.

Thats it! You can post your idea here in the comments, or you can email it to me at I'll announce the winner when someone puts an amazing idea up here!!

What do you win?

Cupcake Gift Package
Contents Include:
(1) 6.4 oz Betty Crocker Easy Flow Decorating Icing in Red
(2) Signature Brands Marble Mix-Ins: 1 in Nestle Rainbow Chips and 1 in Nestle Butterfinger Crunch
(1) 7.8 oz Betty Crocker Praline Crunch Topping
(3) 2.3 oz Betty Crocker Decorating Decors Flavored Sugars: 1 blue raspberry, 1 watermelon, 1 green apple
(1) small black and white decoratively shaped sprinkles
(1) 12 pack of Cake Mate Cupcake Picks, 6 balloon and 6 Let's Party
(1) 8 pack Cake Make Squiggle Candles
(1) Disney Picture Perfect Cake Topper
(1) Pack of 4 Betty Crocker Easy Writer Food Decorator Pens
(1) 6 oz Betty Crocker Hollyberry Decor Sprinkles
And maybe a few surprises

Good luck!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Results of Cupcake Shipping Experiment #2

So I think I have reached a temporary Cupcake Shipping method. It works, don't get me wrong, but I'd still like a better one. For now, I'm going to be sticking with the method I used for my sister's birthday cupcake shipment. This involves sealing up the cupcake that has been baked in a jar, and shipping the frosting separately in a Zippy bag that the recipient will snip the corner off of and turn into a piping bag.

This is how it looked pre-shipment:

And after it arrived in New York:

Hmm, the cupcake is remarkably amazingly similar, no??

Then Jenn took her zippy bag of buttercream, and piped away:



This works, right? Looks good to me! And according to Jenn it was! The only reason it is not THE shipping method for me yet is because A.) Jenn said that the frosting was de-aired a little bit. The light and fluffy aspect of the frosting dissipated a bit from its travels in a sealed zip lock bag. Though it tasted good, she reported, its not quite the most perfect result. B.) I haven't decided HOW much THIS particular aspect matters to me yet, but I still like the idea of being able to ship it with the icing already prettily piped on there. Cupcakes lose a bit of their appeal when they are not AS cute as they should be. I take pride in my piping skills, and Jenn doesn't get to experience that when she globs it out of a ziplock bag. Though it is nice she can control how much frosting she wants on her cupcake (all of it, I assume), and I don't have to worry about the cupcake getting soggy from the frosting sitting on top of it, it would be nice for the recipient to receive their cupcake with an adorably swirly dollop of buttercream. So anyway, I'm still looking for a new method, but this'll do for now.

And of course, Jennifer has to feed some frosting to the kitten.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The End All Be All of Blondies


I have found that photographs do not do blondies justice. Or brownies and other bar cookies for that matter. Maybe I just don't know how to photograph them, but their super satisfying delicious flavor does not come across in these photos at all and i have four different taste testers that can attest to this. This has been voted the hands down best blondie recipe ever. I know, quite a hefty statement, but its possible... these blondies might just be the one(s). Even Al Roker calls them "Platinum Blondies". Ok, that might be because of the light color, but I like the think that its named as such because of their equal in jewelry materials. Or the place they would come in in a competition. Because of the great reviews, I made the recipe word for word, besides the omission of pecans and substituting chocolate-caramel swirl chips for the white chocolate chips (and reducing the amount of them). I suppose you can use whatever chips you like, but with these, they were utter perfection.


Platinum Blondies from Food Network
3/4 C + 2 Tblspn Packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 Tsp vanilla extract
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/8 Tsp salt
1/2 C Nestle Swirled Morsels in chocolate/caramel

Non-stick spray an 8-inch square pan. Beat the sugar and egg together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and butter and beat to mix. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, & salt, and add to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Do not overmix! By hand using a spoon, stir in the chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and use spatula to smooth the top. Bake for 22 to 30 minutes (mine were done at 22, before the 25-30 that the original recipe said), until the top is dry and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached (not wet, but not perfectly dry). Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Twinkies Gone WILD!

Have you tried the cupcake of the week? No? Not yet? Oh, you don't know the flavor? Well... brace yourself. Are you ready? This week's flavor is...

Golden yellow cake filled with a generous amount of pastry cream, topped with swirls of vanilla buttercream and garnished with a slice of chocolate covered twinkie.

Yes thats right! I've improved on the American classic by taking the tasty treat out of its plastic wrapper and 903823 month shelf-life into a Gourmet Homemade Cupcake Creation. An enormously delicious guilty pleasure. Come on...everyone likes twinkies, whether they like to admit it or not.

I searched for twinkie-clone recipes and decided to go with my own take on a recipe from the talented Joy the Baker, which she adapted from "Gourmet Cookbook". Below is my scaled version:

Twinkie Clone Cupcakes
1 Cup Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/8 Teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons butter, soft
1/2 C Sugar
1 Large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/16 tsp almond extract
1/2 C Milk

Preheat to 350.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well.
Add the extracts and beat. On low, alternately add the flour and milk to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Don't overmix!
Spray cupcake tin with non-stick spray and fill up 8 of the wells evenly with the batter.
Bake for about 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with only a few moist crumbs.
Remove from oven, let cool in the pans for about 2-3 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely while you prepare the Pastry Cream.

Twinkie Pastry Cream scaled from
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 C Milk
1/4 Stick butter, soft
2 Tablespoons shortening
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1/8 Tsp salt
2 C Confectioner's sugar

Combine flour and milk in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until mixture thickens to about the consistency of condensed milk. Remove from heat and put in the frig while you prepare the 2nd part.
Beat the softened butter and the shortening together with an electric mixer. Add in vanilla and salt, and combine.
Add the chilled flour/milk mixture. Gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar. Continue beating until it reaches desired consistency.

I tried a different method of adding a filling to cupcakes since the cream was the right consistency to do so. This time, I filled a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the cream, and inserted the tip into the center of the cooled cupcakes. Gently squeeze the pastry bag while pulling out the tip. Stop squeezing before removing the tip.

The frosting covers up the little dot of pastry cream nicely. As usual, I went with my tried and trusted Buttercream frosting recipe.

Then, to finish it off... take a twinkie, stick a popsicle stick in it and stick the whole thing in the freezer. When its firm enough, dip it in melted milk chocolate and put it back in the freezer until the chocolate sets. When the chocolate has hardened, use a sharp knife and cut slices to garnish the top of the cupcakes. VOILA! You got yourself one handsome twinkie cupcake! :)


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Medieval Baking Co-Blog Event


A few months ago my sister Jenn, author of the illustrious Per Omnia Saecula, a blog of all things medieval, asked me if I would be interested in doing a joint blog event from time to time. This would involve me baking a medieval dessert recipe, the results of which would be featured on her blog as well as mine. So today, I decided to do the first installment!!

I decided on "Shrewsbery Cakes" which I found at this site. Below is the original recipe, along with my own.

Shrewsbery Cakes
2 c. flour
4 oz. (1 c.) sugar
6 oz. (3/4 c.) butter
2 T rosewater (or vanilla extract will do)
1/2 t. nutmeg (I used half nutmeg and half cinnamon)

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in cold butter as you would do for a pie crust (this can be done very easily in a food processor using the plastic dough blade). Add the vanilla and pulse to combine. It will look like pea-sized crumbly ballies. Then, you'll need to work it the rest of the way with your hands until a dough forms. Roll out between two sheets of parchment to 1/8-1/4 in. thick. Cut with a round cutter ca. 3 in. in diameter, and bake on parchment at 325 15-20 min., until done, but not browned.

These "cakes" are really cookies. From what I read on the subject, in the period, they didn't have "cookies" as we call them. And there was no baking soda or powder either, so rising is minimal here. But, I'm not the medievalist here, for more info on that, go to Jenn's blog. She's the medieval scholar, I'm the hungry baker. These were very thin and chewy, and had a nice simple flavor from the cinnamon and nutmeg.

To see the recipe in its original medievally format, more pictures and the little story I created about the Sweet-Toothed Asp, make sure to visit Jennifer's site!!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sugar Cookies galore, Chocolate Chip Cookies, & Cupcake Shipping Pt 2


As I mentioned in an earlier post, it was Jenn's birthday recently. I had a few things to send her, so along with her gifts, I sent a goodie box. I made two different kinds of dough, and got 5 different kinds of cookies out of it. For the first type of dough, I went with a Sugar Cookie recipe from Martha Stewart, except I scaled it down and changed it a wee bit. The original is on her website here, but below is what I did:

Sugar Cookie Dough
1 C Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp salt
1/8 Tsp baking soda
1/2 stick of butter
3/4 C sugar
1/2 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 C Ricotta
1 1/2 Tsp Milk
1 1/2 Tsp Key lime juice

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together. Add the half an egg and vanilla and mix. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, milk and key lime juice. With the mixer on low, add 1/2 of the flour mixture, then the ricotta mixture, followed by the rest of the flour. At this point, the dough may be too stiff to mix with the mixer and might have to be done by hand with a wooden spoon.

Note: The key lime juice doesn’t add any flavor to the dough. I only used it because Martha’s recipe called for sour cream and I didn’t have any. I googled for a substitute for sour cream, and a mixture of ricotta, milk and lemon juice came up. But as I had no lemon juice either, I used what I had – Key lime juice. Worked like a charm! Consistency was very similar.

I chilled mine for about a day because this was part of a bakestravaganza for Jenn’s birthday. I prepared the dough when I had time, and planned on baking at the very last minute before shipment to ensure they’d be as fresh as possible.

When I was ready to bake it, I removed the dough from the frig, put it in some parchment, shaped it into a log and popped it in the freezer for about 30 – 45 minutes (while I baked another dough for Jenn’s birthday-bake-box). After chilling until its firmer, remove the log from the freezer and slice with a sharp knife into 1/4 inch slices. I made my cookies considerably smaller than Martha’s – hers were 3 Tablespoons worth of batter, mine were probably about 1 1/2.

While waiting for the oven to preheat to 350, I did a few different things with the cookies… With some, I dipped the top half into regular white sugar.

Other cookies were dipped in turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw).

With others, I rolled the log into rainbow sprinkles before slicing.

And finally, I rolled some in cinnamon sugar for snickerdoodles.

Put slices on parchment lined cookie sheets. Baking times are essential here! My smaller sized cookies with pre-chilled dough only needed to bake for about 15 minutes. Overbaking these guys will kill them! Remove them when they first start to brown. Remove to wire rack to cool.

These cookies were good when they were baked the appropriate amount of time and not overdone. They were crispy and chewy, but they were not THE sugar cookie recipe... I still haven't found that yet. They were a bit on the thin side and not as soft as I'd have liked.

I also sent her some chocolate chip cookies using this recipe, except I chilled the dough for 36 hours as is so popular to do these days. I honestly liked these cookies better not chilled for 36 hours, they flattened out far too much this way. But they were still good. Quite chewy and had a great taste due to the rest time in the frig.

Bagged up for freshness & ready for shipment!

Also to go in this birthday-bake-box, I gave Cupcake Shipment another shot. The first attempt was semi-successful...I guess. Well, it got there. In my second attempt, I wanted to improve on the aesthetics of the delivered cupcake. This time, I stuck with the baking in a jar technique. I found much smaller jars so there wouldn't be as much wiggle room available for the cupcake.

Instead of frosting the cupcake and then sending it on its way, I let the recipient-birthday girl do that. This way, the frosting wouldn't get the cupcake squishy, it wouldn't melt and ooze and mess up the cupcake, and Jenn could control how much frosting she wanted on her cupcake. I put a blob of freshly prepared frosting in a ziplock bag with instructions telling her to snip the corner and pipe the frosting onto her cupcake.

All ready for shipment!

I taped everything very securely to the inside of a shoebox to avoid as much shaking, jiggling and cookie-crushing as possible

And then I filled the rest of the box with tissue paper for added protection. How were the results, you ask? Well, I don't have a picture from New York yet because Jenn is in the middle of preparing for her upcoming play, but the word is that it was SUCCESSFUL! This time she actually new it was a cupcake upon looking at it, and said this might be a winning method for cupcake shipment! I am also pleased to report that the cookies arrived there safely as well.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Turtle Brownie Cupcakes


This week's cupcake flavor? Turtle Brownie Cupcakes! They combine the magic that is Brownies, Cupcakes, and Turtle Candies (chocolate, caramel and nuts, if you are not familiar). For the cupcake recipe, I saw good reviews on this one from Epicurious so I decided to go with it. Since they really are supposed to be cupcakes, and since I intended on smothering them in buttercream frosting, caramel, chocolate shavings and almonds, I didn't want them to be SO rich. I altered the recipe as such:

Brownie Cupcakes
3/4 stick of butter
1/2 C Semisweet Chocolate Chips (reduced from 1 1/4 c!)
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 C Packed light brown sugar
1/3 C Granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 C A.P. flour
1/4 Tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 350. In the top of a double boiler, melt the butter, and two types of chocolate together. Stir until smooth and lumpless. Remove the top of the double boiler from heat, and whisk in both types of sugar, then whisk in the eggs one at a time. Whisk in vanilla, flour & salt. Divide into 10 wells in a non-stick sprayed cupcake pan (or paper-lined cupcake pan). Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean with only moist crumbs. Mine took about 22 1/2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool.


For the frosting, I went with my usual (simply because I had some made already... or else I may have attempted a caramel frosting). But the vanilla buttercream complimented the rich chocolate brownie nicely.



Then, I swizzled some melted caramel from some caramel bits I picked up. It was easy to melt in the microwave (which I usually do not do), and easy to use.



Then, to top it all off, some chocolate shavings & almond slivers. VOILA - amazing. They taste way better than they look.



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