Tag Archives: cream cheese icing

Love and Whoopie….Pies

Red velvet whoopie pies with a raspberry marshmallow center. Does that say Valentine’s Day or what? I finally decided to jump on the Valentine’s Day band wagon and make something with red velvet.  It is one of my favorite cakes, after all, and I’ve had red velvet on my To Bake list for, oh, a year maybe?

And at this point I am retyping my entire post, minus the paragraph above, since WordPress was so kind to crash and not register my last save! Don’t you just hate it when technology doesn’t do exactly what you want it to do?

There, just saved. Still good.

I think I said something along the lines of every day is special, no need to just use Valentine’s Day as an excuse, and yada yada yada. Maybe I was being too mushy and WordPress decided to intervene? Well, hmph.

And just saved again. Still good.

These are really tasty “cookies” with an identity crisis (I mean, they are essentially small cakes, with pie in the name, and we consider them cookies?). Chocolatey, cakey, and yummy. What more could you ask for in a cookie? Oh, that they are easy? Done. (Save).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies modified from Epicurious

Yield: about 2 dozen

Time: about 1 hour, including bake time

Difficulty: Easy

One Year Ago: Granola Bars

Cookie (Cake)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup  unsweetened (natural) cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring (2 tablespoons) OR 1 tsp gel food coloring dissolved in 2 TB water
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Sift your cocoa powder, then whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
2. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until combined well and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg, scrape the bowl, and then the vinegar.
3. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour until combined.
4. Add the red food coloring and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
5. Spoon 1 tablespoon mounds of batter 2-inches apart on lined baking sheets.
6. Bake, switching positions of baking sheets halfway through baking, until rounds are puffed and set (check with a toothpick), 8 to 10 minutes.
7.  Spread about 1 tablespoon of icing (two choices below) on flat-side of half the rounds; top with remaining rounds, flat side down, to form whoopie pies.

Marshmallow Icing from Smitten Kitchen

This is the one I used. No refrigeration needed. Made a lot, so you could cut the recipe in half.

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract OR chambord
  • pinch of salt

Combine icing ingredients in a metal or glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Add food coloring if desired. Use frosting the day it is made. It will still be good the next day, just won’t be as fluffy.

Cream Cheese Icing from Epicurious

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Beat together cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and sugar until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes.

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It’s the Great Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll, Charlie Brown

It’s pumpkin season. Need I say more? This time of year I love to make Pumpkin Brioche. It can be sweet or savory, it makes the best french toast, and it is just darn tasty. And for a long time now I’ve been suspecting that it would also make excellent cinnamon rolls.

I was right. It is so sweet being right. Literally.

These are better than traditional cinnamon rolls. And I’m not just saying that because I made them.  The hint of pumpkin really adds to the whole cinnamon roll experience.  You still get the cinnamon roll flavor and the cream cheese icing. Add in the pumpkin and it is a match made in tummy heaven.

Now for the slightly bad news. Something that tastes this good does not happen quickly. The brioche requires an overnight starter, then a rise for an hour or two, depending on how warm your house is, then the cinnamon rolls need to rise for another hour. Then bake, then eat. So, if you want these for breakfast, make them the day before, which actually means starting two nights before. I know. I know! But after all your hard work will be the best cinnamon roll you have ever tasted. I promise.

You can find the full pumpkin brioche instructions here. I’m just going to do the basic below. You will have enough brioche to make two 10 inch round pans of rolls, and then leftovers. I just shaped mine into rolls. They are tasty like that too.

Yield: 2 10 inch pans of cinnamon rolls plus six plain rolls

Difficulty: Advanced

One year ago: French Four Spiced Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

Pumpkin Brioche

Biga

  • 312 g bread flour
  • 190 g milk
  • pinch of instant yeast

Mix all together and knead until smooth. Let rest for 12 to 24 hours.

Pumpkin Brioche

  • 500 g bread flour
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 7.5 g instant yeast
  • 25 g milk
  • 11.5 g salt
  • 375 g pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp clove
  • 65 g sugar
  • 50 g honey
  • Biga
  • 125 g butter

Warm liquids to 68F. Cut up your biga into small pieces. Add everything except the butter into the mixer. Mix on speed one for 5 minutes with a dough hook. Scrape the sides if necessary. While it is mixing, make your butter pliable. After the 5 minutes, increase to speed 2 or 3, depending on what your mixer can handle. Add the butter a small amount at a time, fully incorporating before adding more. After all is added, mix until a gluten window is formed. This part will take 10 to 15 minutes.   Let rest in lightly oiled bowl for about 90 minutes. Do one set of stretch and fold after 45 minutes. After doubled, move on to cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon Rolls

Filling (enough for two pans of rolls)

  • 6 oz unsalted butter (soft)
  • 4 oz brown sugar
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 1 TB cinnamon

Make sure butter is very soft, but not melted. Mix all ingredients together.

Cream Cheese Icing (enough for two pans)

  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 4 oz butter, room temp
  • 7 oz powdered sugar
  • 6 oz water

Cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar. Mix until combined. Slowly add water until a thin, but not watery, consistency is achieved. This may take more or less water. Do this step  a few minutes before the cinnamon rolls are finished.

Making the rolls

Lightly butter your pans, including the sides, so they remove from the pan easier.

Scale out two 20 ounce balls of brioche. Set remaining brioche aside for another use.  Roll out each ball into a rectangle. Spread filling leaving about one inch on the edges.

Gently roll the edge (long way) into a long roll. Cut the ends off to make it neat. Still bake the ends though, they are good.  Cut the roll in half using either a sharp knife, a dough cutter, or floss. Floss takes a long time, but gives you a nice cut. I used a dough cutter. After you cut it in half, cut each half in half, and then repeat. You should have eight rolls. Place into a 10 inch pan (or whatever size you decide to use will work fine) nice side down. Press down lightly.

Cover loosely with either a towel or plastic wrap and let rise about one hour. Repeat with the second dough ball.

Meanwhile, heat your oven to 350F. Once rolls are puffy, bake until golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then flip over onto a plate, platter, a sheet pan, whatever will hold the rolls. Pour half the icing on each pan. Let cool long enough so you don’t burn your tongue, grab a cup of coffee or milk, and eat.

These will keep for several days, but may dry out a bit. Just pop in the microwave for about 30 seconds and you are good to go again. Yum. Worth the effort, right?

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Red Velvet Cake

Cake is not one of my favorite things to make. I much prefer cupcakes.  I stress and stress about making a perfect cake every time.  Considering I only make full cakes a handful of times of year, it’s probably unreasonable to expect perfection each time.  But each time I do, and each time I disappoint myself with my errors. Of course, most people will not notice the little imperfections that us perfectionists notice. They will notice a delicious, homemade cake. And that’s what matters.

Red Velvet is the one cake I’ve struggled with not just on the decorating side (that’s with all cakes) but with the cake itself. But as they say, practice makes perfect and I’ve certainly had my fair share of practice with this cake!

The first time I made red velvet it was brown (I ran out of food coloring), dry, and really not all that great. The second time I used a different recipe. Again, it came out average. The third recipe I tried was Smitten Kitchen and finally felt I was on to something. The first time I did this recipe though, it didn’t turn out perfect, mostly because I strayed from the recipe! Tsk, tsk! I try not to do that the first time using a recipe, and I did and suffered! It seemed so minute, how could it cause me problems? She clearly states “1 tsp red gel coloring dissolved in 6 TB of water.” Instead, I simply dumped gel food coloring into the cake until it was my desired color. I think that affected the end result. Maybe not the only thing, but the second time I made the cake I dissolved the gel and the color was not only better, but the cake was better! Who knew?

Finally, the third time, this most recent, the cake turned out so wonderful. Yes, my piping was just average. But the cake, oh my god. So yummy. This time I used King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour. I love this flour! Thankfully, it is now sold at Publix. And, it isn’t bleached. I still don’t understand the need for bleaching flour. Extra chemicals? No thanks. But this flour was soft and delicate, and I’m certain it contributed to the wonderful, moist cake. Did I mention how good this cake was? I wish there was some left.

As noted, you should use non-dutch process cocoa powder. I have tried dutch process and it doesn’t work well. If you aren’t sure if it is dutch process, just look at the ingredient list. Straight cocoa will just say cocoa. If it says anything else, it is dutch process. Also, DON’T forget to sift your cocoa powder! For most everything else you can get by with just whisking but with cocoa powder you are almost guaranteed to have lumps! Lumpy cakes are no good!

The pictures aren’t great for this post, but well, we were busy devouring the cake. We had a lot to celebrate! I’m sure you understand.

I followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe exactly, except I made two 10 inch cakes instead of three nine, and I added the flour/buttermilk in three batches instead of two.  I also used her cream cheese icing but modified it slightly. I tripled it (yes, triple. I like my icing) and used one part mascarone and two parts cream cheese.

As you may notice in the first picture, I did multiple layers. The easiest way to do this is to use cake boards and a turn table, both of which can be bought for relatively cheap at your local craft store, particularly if they offer coupons! Second, you should use a serrated knife. Make small sawing motions while turning the cake and slowly work your way through the whole layer. Do not do this in large motions – it won’t work as well. Once you are done, use a cake board to help flip the layer you won’t be using right away. Load up on the icing, then top again with the layer. Repeat.

Before doing the crumb coat, you may want to take your knife around the entire cake and even it out. This is easy, only takes a second, and will really improve the appearance of your cake. Also, if you are really a perfectionist like me, you will also level out the top since cakes often bake with that “bump”. Then, you can enjoy the crumbs! After the cake is all level, do a thin layer of icing and chill for about 30 minutes. Then put another layer until the desired thickness. Smooth the icing and you have a beautiful cake!

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing from Smitten Kitchen

Red Velvet Cake

Yield: 3 cake layers

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups granulate (room temperature)
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Be sure to sift your cocoa powder first!!

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in three batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine. Always end with the flour mixture.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Cupcake variation: The yield is approximately 35 cupcakes, with the liners filled only 3/4 of the way, and the baking time should be between 20 to 25 minutes, but check in on them 2/3 of the way through in case your oven gets the job done faster.

10 inch cake variation: I figured it would take longer to bake 10 inch cakes, but it didn’t. They only took about 30 minutes, but this could just be my oven. The lesson here: keep a close eye on your cakes! Another way to tell if your cakes are done is when they pull away from the side of the pan.

Cream Cheese Icing

Adapted from several sources

Makes 6 cups

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Note: as mentioned, I made this recipe times three, and used eight ounces mascarpone and 16 ounces cream cheese. I like the texture the mascarpone provides.

 

 

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