Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate Whoopie Pies

These chocolate whoopie pies, or blackmoons as my family calls them, were an experiment. I was headed to my friend Michele's house to watch the movie "Water for Elephants" (I had actually just finished reading the book, which I thought was amazing) and I had texted her to ask if there was anything I could bring. She texted back to bring any sweets I had lying around :)

I actually didn't have anything in the house, but I wanted to try chocolate filled whoopie pies so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give them a whirl. I have an adaptation of these in mind to go with my son's first birthday theme, but I don't want to say any more about that and give away the surprise!

I have made the run of the mill white creme version of these (my Mom's recipe) many times, but have never done them with chocolate filling. Since I was altering the recipe I thought I had better give them a test run. I was also using a whoopie pie pan and had only used it one other time. Since I was going for a smaller whoopie pie this time, I wanted to make sure the pan would work and I also needed to figure out if I would have to adjust the baking time (which I did).

Michele brought these into work with her the next day and was kind enough to send me her teams' reviews of them. The chocolate filling was a hit, but they were also deemed a bit dry. I adjusted the baking time down to 8 minutes from 10 to remedy that, though I do find whoopie pie cake to be a bit dry anyway. So overall,  I think I am on the right track! I will be sure to post the final results after the combined birthday party we are hosting for our son and daughter in March. Yes, we have 2 kids with birthdays less than a week apart. There are lots of birthday cake pictures coming up in the near future!

Chocolate Chocolate Whoopie Pies

For the cakes:

2 cups flour
1tsp salt
6 tbsp shortening
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk

Sift flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa together. Cream shortening and sugar together in a small bowl and then add to the dry ingredients. Also add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix until just combined.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, or whoopie pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes if using a whoopie pie pan and 10 minutes if using a cookie sheet.

Remove the whoopie pie halves to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before filling.

For the filling:

6 Tbsp shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T
6 Tbsp marshmallow fluff
2 tsp evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
4oz bittersweet Ghiradelli baking chocolate melted and cooled

Using a mixer, blend all ingredients together at medium low speed except for the melted chocolate. Once blended slowly mix in the chocolate at low speed. Once the chocolate is combined return the mixer to medium low speed for 1 minute.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Butternut Squash Macaroni or Healthier Macaroni and Cheese

Yes, this is a caking and baking blog. Yes, the picture above does not include a cake or baked good. I do apologize if I am disappointing anyone. It's just that, like many of you I am sure, with the advent of the New Year I have resolved to serve healthier foods to my family.

It's not that we were eating badly before. Even though I bake so much, we don't eat cake for every meal, believe it or not! However, we are sometimes more indulgent than we need to be. For example, a few months back when Cadence BEGGED me, her big blue eyes so serious, for mac 'n cheese I immediately consulted Google for Paula Deen's recipe. While making it and serving it I realized, that while it is delicious, Paula's is a recipe best reserved for special occasions.

So I thought I would start there with my vow to serve healthier options: mac 'n cheese. I found this particular recipe while browsing Food Gawker. It comes from "Daily Unadventures in Cooking". Now, I normally would shy away from a recipe like this because I would assume that substituting a vegetable for tons and tons of cheese would be setting myself up for a massive fail. However, I took a chance on this recipe for some reason, and it was quite good!

I had to make a few tweaks to the recipe according to what I had in the house. I used shredded Parmesan and Romano instead of the blue cheese and dried rosemary instead of fresh sage. I also did not have whole milk so I used skim and it did not seem to impact the thickness of the sauce at all. I also omitted the chili flakes.  Despite the substitutions, my husband, my 10 month old son, Trevor, and myself really enjoyed this. The squash lends the dish a creaminess and the rosmary, garlic and onions give it a nice flavor. Cadence, well, she wasn't fooled, and she did say she didn't like this kind and she wanted the "other" mac 'n cheese. It didn't take too much coaxing to get her to eat a decent sized portion though. I would say 3 out of 4 aboard the eating healthier train is not bad!

Butternut Squash Macaroni
adapted according to what I had in the house from Daily Unadventures in Cooking

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 onion, grated
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tablespoon flour
2 1/4 cups skim milk
2 cups butternut squash puree
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups dried macaroni (I used elbow)
3 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
1 cup shredded Parmesan and Romano cheese
Put a big pot of water on to boil. While you are waiting for it to boil, start your sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add onions. Sweat over low heat until sweet and tender. Add the garlic and dried rosemary and continue sweating until garlic is softened, stirring regularly.

Sprinkle the flour on top and stir it in. Stir the flour mixture over medium heat for 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk 1/4 cup at a time, waiting until it starts simmering before stirring in the next batch. Whisk in the squash. Season with salt and pepper to taste, approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a gently simmer, stirring occasionally. Turn on oven to 375F.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, undercooking slightly. Drain. Fold the pasta, tomatoes and grated parmesan and romano into the sauce. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake for 10 minutes to let the cheese melt. Serve hot.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Easy Sugar Cookies: My Favorite Recipe of 2010

The cookies pictured above are classic, delicious, and come together quickly with just 7 ingredients. I don't even want to admit how many of these I can eat warm and right out of the oven. However, the cookies pictured above almost did not make the blog. So why, you ask, am I now posting them as my favorite recipe of 2010? Well, that my friends, involves a story and a bit of a sappy one at that. Those of you reading this, who know me well, know I am a story teller, and a sap. For those of you who are just getting to know me, here I am, all sappy and telling a story.

The story begins a few evenings before Christmas Eve 2010. I had wanted to make some sugar cookies to leave out for Santa Claus with my nearly 4 year old daughter, Cadence as my helper. In the before-Christmas-rush I had forgotten to pick out a good cookie recipe. So at the last minute I searched Google for easy sugar cookie recipes. I needed something I could make fast! I ran across the recipe for these cookies on and everything worked out great. The cookies mixed up and baked quickly so Cadence didn't get bored and wander off to do something more interesting. They come out wonderfully soft with just a hint of crispiness..not bad for an easy sugar cookie recipe. Cadence sure was proud setting out the cookies she made for Santa on Christmas Eve and that would be the end of the story...but...

My very good friend Michele had decided to have a Christmas Cookie Club party at her house on December 30th. Somehow, we were just as busy after Christmas as we had been before. I finally sat down to hunt for a recipe for the cookie exchange and came up with some kind of chocolate dipped coconut shortbread recipe. It was 9pm on December 29th before I was able to shop for the ingredients and after 10pm before I sat  down to REALLY read the recipe and lo and behold those suckers had to set up in the refrigerator for at least an hour before they could be baked! I felt defeated. Then I remembered the easy sugar cookies! I went to bed and whipped up a batch the next morning before my kids woke up.

I took Cadence with me to the cookie exchange the next day. Sampling many different kinds of cookies in one sitting was one of her dreams come true. At the party, each person got up, told any history behind their recipe and presented their cookies for sampling. Everyone did such a good job! We tasted Ginger Rounds, Cutout Sugar Cookies, Cream Cheese Lemon Wreaths, Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterchotch Cookie Bars, Cookie Biscotti Sticks and more! I felt a little bashful about about my easy sugar cookies, but when we passed them around Cadence was just as proud as she could be. When we sat back down, she wanted to taste one of our own cookies. When she bit into it she let out and exaggerated , "MMMMmmmm," then she said, "Mommy, you made the BEST cookies!"

Mine certainly were not the best, but I believe to her they were, because they were more than just a sugar cookie. To my daughter, those cookies held the memory of her and I making them together for Santa Claus. They held the memory of her waking up to find the jolly old guy had enjoyed those cookies down to the last crumb. Those simple cookies held in them, the joy of being a child at Christmas. At the time, her comment melted my heart for sure, but it really didn't sink in until days later that these cookies are my favorite recipe of last year. They earn that title because the intentions I had in making this recipe were perfectly realized in the end product. With this recipe we made a memory. I hope for myself, and all of you, that we are able to do the same many times over in 2012.

Wishing you all a belated, yet wonderful and prosperous 2012!

Easy Sugar Cookies


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

2.In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3.Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hello Kitty Birthday Cake and Cupcakes

We've had some more girly birthday cake fun going on at KT Kakes Bakery! My most recent custom cake request was for this Hello Kitty birthday cake and matching cupcakes. The cake and cupcakes were made for a 4 year old little girl's birthday. The cake was yellow cake with vanilla buttercream filling and the cupcakes were chocoalte with vanilla buttercream frosting tinted pink.

The birthday girl made a fun request that the cake be tinted pink!

I had so much fun making this cake and cupcakes! This one did hit a little close to home since my own little girl will turn 4 in just over a month. I hope little Miss H had a great 4th birthay!