Daring Bakers: Whoopie Pies- Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Buttercream Filling

It’s that time of the month again!  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers and non-bloggers who are assigned a “secret” challenge at the beginning of each month.  The 27th of each month is the “reveal” date, in which those who blog can write about their experiences and recipes for the challenge.

The December Daring Bakers’ Challenge had us all cheering – the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavors we chose… What else is there to say but “Whoopie!”

I was so excited for this month’s challenge! I don’t know why, but lately I had been in a baking rut.  When the challenge was posted in the Daring Bakers Forum on the 1st of the month, I made the whoopie pies the very next day!  While I hadn’t seem them very much while I lived in California, I do seem them around quite a bit here in the Midwest.  I decided to make a Chocolate Whoopie Pie, with a recipe provided by our hostess (which is a King Arthur favorite), and instead of the traditional Marshmallow filling, I opted for a light buttercream.  The recipe for the buttercream filling is courtesy of Annie’s Eats, and it truly makes a wonderful contrast against the deeply chocolate cookies sandwiching it.

My son, husband, and I absolutely loved these! This month’s challenge was definitely a home run, and I can’t wait to try other flavor combinations in the near future (banana whoopie pie with a cream cheese or caramel filling is going to grace our home soon)! 😀

ChocolateWhoopiePiePic

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

With Buttercream Filling

Yield:  1½ to 2 Dozen Pies

Ingredients:

For Whoopie Pies:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup cocoa, sifted
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk

For Buttercream Filling:

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions:

Make Whoopie Pies:

Preheat oven to 350˚F and set aside two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, espresso powder (if using), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.  Add egg and beat until smooth.  Add cocoa and stir to combine.  Add all-purpose flour and milk alternately, and stir until thoroughly combined.

Transfer batter to a piping bag and pipe 1-tablespoon sized mounds onto the baking sheets, being sure to keep at least 2 inches of space between each mound.  With a damp finger, lightly pat the tops of the cakes to flatten and even them out.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cakes are set and firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make Filling:

In a large bowl, whip butter over medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Add powdered sugar and salt and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Mix in vanilla and heavy cream on low speed until just incorporated, then increase speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes, making sure to stop a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Transfer filling to a piping bag.

To assemble the cookies, match them up in pairs by size.  Pipe filling onto the flat side of one cookie, and then place the second cookie on top to create a sandwich.

Leftovers may be refrigerated.

Daring Bakers: Chicken Pot Pie

It’s that time of the month again!  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers and non-bloggers who are assigned a “secret” challenge at the beginning of each month.  The 27th of each month is the “reveal” date, in which those who blog can write about their experiences and recipes for the challenge.

Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

I was particularly excited for this month’s challenge because I have never had good experiences with chicken pot pie in the past.  I rolled my sleeves up and got to working on my handy pie crust recipe, which also happens to be the same one that I use for Apple Pie (without the sugar), and got to chopping vegetables.  I used a filling recipe from Brown Eyed Baker because I’ve always had wonderful results with her recipes.

The verdict?  The pie was great!  The crust was flaky and perfect as promised, and the filling was hearty and flavorsome, as it should be.  Give this a shot and I promise you and your family will be very happy 🙂

ChickenPotPiePic

Chicken Pot Pie

Yield:  4 Servings

Ingredients:

For Pie Crust:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, very cold, diced
  • ½ cup water, very cold
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

For Filling:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup peeled and diced carrots
  • ½ cup sliced white mushrooms
  • ½ cup peeled and diced potatoes
  • ½ cup peas
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Make Pie Crust:

Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Add diced butter and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is pea-sized.  With the machine running, slowly add water and vinegar, pulsing until the dough begins to form a ball.  Transfer dough to plastic wrap, form into a ball, wrap completely and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Make Filling:

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture smells fragrant and nutty, 1 to 2 minutes.  Slowly add the broth, whisking until smooth, and bring to a boil.  Add thyme, bay leaf, onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, peas, chicken, salt, and pepper and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow the filling to cool slightly.  Discard bay leaf.

Assemble Pot Pie:

Preheat oven to 425˚F and set aside 4 individual sized ramekins/baking dishes.

Divide the dough into two portions.  Divide each half into 4 portions (totaling 8).  Roll 4 of the balls of pie dough on a lightly floured surface into a large circle, big enough to fit inside the individual baking dish.  Transfer and fit each crust to the baking dishes, lightly brush with egg white, and freeze for ten minutes.

Roll the remaining 4 balls of pie dough on a lightly floured surface, large enough so that they cover the tops of the pies.  Set aside.

Remove bottom crust from freezer, brush once again with egg white, add filling, and add top crust.  Crimp edges if desired. Lightly brush the tops with remaining egg white. Cut a few slits into the top to allow steam to escape during baking.

Bake until the pies are golden brown and flaky, 30 to 45 minutes.  Allow the pies to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Daring Bakers: Mawa Cake and Bolinhas de Coco

It’s that time of the month again!  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers and non-bloggers who are assigned a “secret” challenge at the beginning of each month.  The 27th of each month is the “reveal” date, in which those who blog can write about their experiences and recipes for the challenge.

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

Our guidelines this month were to make the Mawa Cake and one of the two given cookies.  Mawa is the Hindi term for milk that has been cooked down to the point all of the liquid content has been evaporated and all that is left is milk solids.  The Mawa in Mawa Cake results in a deliciously dense and caramel-y flavor that is reminiscent of pound cake.

Of the two cookies, I chose to make Bolinhas de Coco, which are semolina and coconut cookies.  Although crispy and light on the first day, the cookies failed to retain their texture from the second day onwards.  The recipe for these cookies can be found at Aparna’s site.

BolinhasDeCocoPic

The Mawa Cake, however, was amazing!  I made it for Eid because we were expecting lots of guests and I thought that it would make a nice addition to our spread.  Boy, was it a hit!  Everyone enjoyed the cake and asked for seconds!  This cake will definitely be made over and over again in our home.  Thanks Aparna for the fabulous challenge!

MawaCakePic

Mawa Cake

Yield:  1 Cake

Ingredients:

For Mawa:

  • 4 cups whole milk

For Cake:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup crumbled mawa
  • 1¼ cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Blanched or sliced nuts to decorate

Directions:

Make Mawa:

Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed pan and bring it to a boil, stirring often to prevent burning.

Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the milk has reduced to one-fourth of the original quantity.  Stir often to avoid burning.  Reduce heat to low and allow the milk to cook a little longer.  Stir regularly until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance.  There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist.

Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool.  Once completely cooled, mawa can stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.  Allow to come to room temperature before using.

4 cups of milk yields approximately ¾ to 1 cup mawa.

Make Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside a greased 9-inch spring form pan (or 8-inch baking pan that is deep).

In a large bowl, beat butter, crumbled mawa, and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated.  Add milk and vanilla and mix well.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cardamom powder, and salt into the batter and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated.

Pour the prepared batter into the spring form pan.  Lightly smooth the top.  Decorate with nuts.

Bake for about 1 hour, until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil.

Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan.  Remove from pan and cool completely.

Daring Bakers: Pies- Apple Pie

It’s that time of the month again!  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers and non-bloggers who are assigned a “secret” challenge at the beginning of each month.  The 27th of each month is the “reveal” date, in which those who blog can write about their experiences and recipes for the challenge.

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!  I was so excited when I found out what this month’s challenge was, because I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make apple pie at home for what seems like an eternity!

The recipe that I always go back to whenever I make apple pie is one that a good friend shared (Muni, haaaaay girl!).  The piecrust is an Ina Garten creation, but has been adapted to replace the shortening with additional butter and a few other changes that my friend suggested.  The resulting piecrust is buttery, flakey, and perfectly browned when baked.  The apple filling is pretty basic, and more spices can be added for an even more flavorful pie.  I personally love the combination of apples and cinnamon, so I leave other spices out and let these two work their magic 😉 but feel free to add or subtract whatever your heart desires!

That's my little boy trying to steal a bite while I was trying to take pictures!

That’s my little boy trying to steal a bite while I was taking pictures!

Apple Pie (Double Crust)

Yield:  1- 9”Pie

Ingredients:

For Crust:

  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, very cold, diced
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup water, very cold
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

For Filling:

  • 5 – 6 baking apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Make Crust:

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Add diced butter and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is pea-sized.  With the machine running, slowly add water and vinegar, pulsing until the dough begins to form a ball.  Transfer dough to plastic wrap, form into a ball, wrap completely and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into two portions.  Roll each portion on a lightly floured surface into a large circle, big enough to fit inside the pie plate.  Transfer and fit one crust to the pie plate, lightly brush with egg white, and freeze for ten minutes.

Remove from freezer, brush once again with egg white, add filling, and add top crust.

Make Filling:

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Combine all ingredients for filling, making sure to mix well so that all of the apple slices are coated.

Pour filling over prepared piecrust, add top crust, and lightly brush the top with remaining egg white.  Sprinkle additional sugar over the top crust.  Cut a few slits into the top to allow steam to escape during baking.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 375˚ and continue baking for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top of the pie is golden brown.

Cool completely, and refrigerate any leftovers.

Daring Bakers: Hidden Veggies- Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

Eeek I’m so excited! I finally joined Daring Bakers after months and months of procrastination!  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers and non-bloggers who are assigned a “secret” challenge at the beginning of each month.  The 27th of each month is the “reveal” date, in which those who blog can write about their experiences and recipes for the challenge.

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!  I was excited for this month’s challenge because I had set my sights on a Chocolate Beet Cake that I was planning on baking as cupcakes.  Unfortunately I was left disappointed because the interior of the cupcakes were dry and not to my liking.  After a few days of wondering what I would experiment with next, I decided to go ahead and bake my trusted Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake (adapted from King Arthur Flour).  And my, oh my, was I glad that I did! The zucchini isn’t  noticeable at all, and it also aids in keeping the cake rich and moist.  A win-win, wouldn’t you say? 😉

ChocolateZucchiniBundtCakePic

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake 

Yield: 1 Bundt Pan

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream or yogurt
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, optional
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F and set aside a greased bundt pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until smooth.  Beat in eggs.  Stir in sour cream or yogurt, alternating with all-purpose flour.  Add cocoa powder and espresso powder (if using), and mix until smooth.  Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.  Transfer batter to bundt pan.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Cool in pan for ten minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before applying glaze.