Friday, January 31, 2014

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Hello everyone!
What do you do when you have too many Oreo cookies on hand, and want to eat cake? Use it in a cupcake, of course! That was basically the logistics of making these puppies this week. They turned out so good though, I'll definitely make them again in the future. What a great recipe from Annie's Eats!
To make 36 cupcakes (a recipe and a half of the original recipe), I basically used up ~60 Oreo cookies (or generic cream-filled chocolate cookies) between the bottom of the cupcake, the filling, and the toppings. The few extras are because some cookies "broke" in the process and therefore were too "ugly" to use, and had to be "disposed" (aka into my mouth)... one of the perks of being the baker, right? :)
Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
Makes 36 cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line the wells of three cupcake pans with 36 paper liners. Place an Oreo halve in the bottom of each liner, cream side up. 
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on lowest speed, beat in a third of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add half of the milk and beat just until combined, then mix another third of the dry ingredients, add the other half of the milk, then finally add in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.
4. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

1. Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla extract.
2. Beat in about 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, then add  the heavy cream and add 2 more cups of the confectioner's sugar and beat until incorporated (if consistency is still too "runny", add the other cup of confectioner's sugar).
3. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

1. Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs and garnish with Oreo halves.

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Happy New Year 2014! 
Man, it's been too long... so much has happened... we are expecting #3 this coming June (hence the lack of posts - so hard to want to cook/bake when you are nauseated all the time...), while #1 and #2 have been keeping us busy growing up and thriving :) But can't complain, life is good!!!
Okay, so now with most of the nausea gone and most of my energy coming back to "normal", cravings are starting to kick in. One of my old-time cravings kicked in this last week... red velvet cake! But I was feeling too tired to bake at night after the kiddos were in bed, so I cheated and went to the grocery store to buy some. Got to the bakery section, and was told that red velvet is a seasonal item for Thanksgiving/Christmas time only! WHAT?!!!!! Ok, now the craving had been kicked up a notch, and I just couldn't let it go. So I decided to bake it... but then thought that I'd kick IT up a notch and make it the cheesecake style. I found this recipe from Recipe Girl and just had to try it. 
I've never made a cake/cheesecake combo before just due to the time-consuming aspect of it: more components = more time-consuming. This time though, I took a deep breath and dove in to the baking. And despite the different components, it wasn't as time-consuming as I had anticipated. Made the cheesecake one day, let it freeze it overnight, then made the cakes next morning, let them cool, made the icing and voila! Not too bad :)
 I figured I'd have it tonight with my family after dinner, but just so I could take pictures of the layers (and ONLY for that reason, not because I wanted to eat it already...) I cut into it. Baby's verdict??? Two thumbs up!

 Supper yummy! I actually increased the cheesecake layer by 150% from the original one just because I wanted to have more cheesecake. If you prefer to have an even look to your layers, then you may want to do the original recipe.
And to make the cake pretty (because everyone eats with their eyes first), I made "roses". Here is a tutorial  on how to make these beauties. Super easy!

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Three (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the oven. Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Wrap a layer of foil inside the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you want to seal it so the water from the water bath doesn't seep into the pan). Spray the inside of the foil with baking spray.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan into the roasting pan in the pre-heated oven. Carefully pour the hot water from your kettle into the roasting pan (it will fill the pan surrounding the cheesecake). Pour enough water so that there is about an inch of water coming up along the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. This can be done in several hours- or overnight.

Red Velvet Cake:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1-ounce (usually one bottle) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add a 9-inch round parchment paper cutout to the bottom of each of two 9-inch round metal baking pans. Grease paper and sides of pan with nonstick baking spray with flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt - set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Once blended, add the flour mixture with liquid mixture in thirds, making sure each addition is well mixed in. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp heavy cream
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).

Assembling the cake: 
Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan and open foil wrap. Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as your cake layers. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

Frosting the cake: 
Apply a crumb coat layer to the cake- use a long, thin spatula to cover the cake completely with a thin and even layer of frosting. Be sure to wipe off your spatula each time you are about to dip it back into the bowl to get more frosting (this way you won't be transferring any red crumbs into the bowl of frosting). Don't worry at this point about the crumbs being visible in the frosting on the cake. When your cake has a thin layer of frosting all over it, place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to "set" the frosting. Once the first layer of frosting is set, apply the 2nd layer. Start by adding a large scoop of frosting onto the top of the cake. Use a long, thin spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the top and then spread it down the sides of the cake too. Because you applied a crumb-coat layer, you shouldn't have any red crumbs floating around in the final frosting layer. Decorate, as desired. Keep this cake refrigerated.
Recipe adapted from Recipe Girl