Sunday, January 30, 2011

Perfect Icing for Piping

Last weekend, I was looking for a new kind of icing to do the lettering on the Chocolate Layer Loaf Cake. I was hoping to find a knock-off recipe for the icing used on Mrs. Field's giant cookies online. However, no one seemed to have one. The closest I came was an icing that was used for sugar cookies.

So I decided to come up with my own idea. Instead of adding milk, cream, or water to the icing, I used a dollop of Cool Whip. The result was just what I wanted! A yummy icing that pipes letters and borders beautifully and dries to a semi-hard finish--strong enough to hold its shape, but not as rock hard as royal icing. You can see the result on the finished Chocolate Layer Loaf Cake below.

Perfect Icing for Piping

4 tablespoons butter
2 heaping tablespoons Cool Whip
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. Then add the Cool Whip and stir until combined. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Add food coloring, if desired.

As with other icing recipes, feel free to add more powdered sugar if the icing seems too thin. If it's too thick, add more Cool Whip.

Icing will start to harden fairly quickly (faster than normal Wilton icing recipe but not as fast as royal icing). If it hardens on you, stir until it softens again. You might try a few seconds in the microwave, too.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chocolate Layer Loaf Cake

The inspiration for this came from the Kraft foods website. The original recipe was for a cake roll. However, when I attempted it, I ended up with a mess that fell apart in my hands.

Now if you’ve followed my blog since last October, you know I’ve made one cake roll before (the Pumpkin Cake Roll), and that one turned out great. So when I had difficulty with this one, I went to the online reviews for the Kraft Chocolate Cake Roll. Although a lot of people said it tasted great, they also had problems rolling it.

So for attempt #2, I decided to forget rolling the cake. Instead, I layered it into a very yummy, chocolatey, loaf cake.

Chocolate Layer Loaf Cake

6 squares semi-sweet chocolate
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup water
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
3 cups of Cool Whip, thawed (You'll need to buy two tubs.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a jelly roll pan (10 x 15) with cooking spray. Line the pan with waxed paper, and then spray it again.

Microwave three of the chocolate squares and the 6 tablespoons of butter in a medium bowl for 1½ minutes. Butter should be melted. Stir until chocolate is also melted and well blended. Add white sugar and mix until no lumps remain.

In large bowl, beat the four eggs about 3-4 minutes on high speed until thickened. (I recommend really making sure you have the eggs thickened before proceeding.) Beat in the chocolate mixture.

Add the baking soda and ¼ cup of the flour. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Then alternate adding in some of the water with the rest of the flour. Beat well after each addition. Spread evenly into prepared jelly roll pan.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly.

As soon as you’ve removed it from the oven, sprinkle it with ¼ cup of the powdered sugar. Place a piece of nonstick aluminum foil over the pan and immediately invert onto a cooling rack. Remove the pan and slowly peel off the wax paper. Allow cake to cool completely.

When the cake is cooled, cut into three equal pieces (about 10 x 5 inches).

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and the remaining ½ cup of powdered sugar. Gently fold in 1½ cups Cool Whip.

Place one slice of cake onto your cake plate. Spread one half of cream cheese mixture evenly onto cake. Place second slice on top. Spread remaining filling on this layer. Set final cake piece on top.

In medium bowl, microwave remaining three chocolate squares about 1½ minutes on high. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Fold in 1½ cups Cool Whip until thoroughly blended. Frost top and sides of cake evenly.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Leftover Christmas Candy Cookies

It's time to start emptying the home of any leftover Christmas candy--for some of you, this may also include Halloween candy. :)

These cookies don't look like much, but they're pretty tasty. They have a nice chewy consistency that one of my taste testers said made them rather addictive.

Leftover Christmas Candy Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups of cut-up leftover Christmas candy

Preheat oven to 375.

Make sure your candy is cut into small pieces. You can leave M&Ms as they are.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking soda.

In a large mixer bowl, beat together the butter, both kinds of sugar, and the vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly. Slowly, beat in the flour mixture. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the Christmas candy. Drop by tablespoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for three minutes before removing to wire racks.

Warning: If you use candy with caramel in it, the cookies may stick to your cookie sheet some. Don't allow to harden on cookie sheet for too long.

If this recipe looks familiar, it's because it's basically a chocolate chip cookie dough with candy pieces instead of chocolate chips. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Some friends helped me test these this past weekend. The cake part received mediocre reviews--good but not great--however, a couple friends wanted the recipe for the frosting so they could eat it by the bowl! :) (See below for frosting recipe.)

I have to say the peanut butter frosting reminded me of the peanut butter balls my mom used to make for Christmas. Yummy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

½ cup milk
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1 ¾ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the milk and the lemon juice. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add in the eggs and vanilla.

Alternately fold in the flour mixture and milk mixture. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Spoon into muffin cups lined with baking cups and bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Yields: 16-18 cupcakes

Peanut Butter Frosting

Stir together 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons peanut butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add 2-3 tablespoons of milk until desired consistency is achieved.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

King Cake

I made this for a New Year's Eve party, but many people make it for Three Kings' Day or Mardi Gras. From the research I did online, most people hide a plastic baby in the cake. Whoever finds the baby receives good luck, becomes king or queen for the day, and/or has to throw the next party.

I found the plastic baby in the baby shower department of a craft store. They come six in a pack, so I guess I can still make plenty of King Cakes.

King Cake

Ingredients for cake:
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
4 tablespoons white sugar (these two amounts are used separately)
1 egg
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 3/4 cups flour

Ingredients for filling:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup pecan chips (or chopped pecans)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Ingredients for icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons milk

Heat the milk over medium-high heat until small bubbles form around the edge. Do not let it get to a full boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of butter. Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

Warm 1/3 cup water to 110-115 degrees. If you get it too hot, just give it a minute to cool. Pour the water in a large bowl and dissolve the yeast with 1-1/2 teaspoons of white sugar. Let stand about ten minutes.

When the ten minutes are up, the yeast mixture should look dreamy and a little bubbly. Add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the egg. Stir in the 4 tablespoons of sugar, the salt, and the nutmeg.

Transfer this to a large mixer bowl and beat in the flour one cup at a time. When the dough is all combined, turn in out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it for 8-10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl. Turn the dough over once so that is it coated in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for two hours. The dough should double in size.

After the two hours is over, punch the dough down. Then roll it out to a large rectangle, about 10 x 16 inches.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling. Mixture should be rather crumbly. Sprinkle the filling over the rolled-out dough. Then roll like a jelly roll, starting at the wide side. Bring the ends together to form an oval shape.

Place the ring on a cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. Let is rise for 45 minutes.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. While the cake is baking, make the frosting by combining the ingredients listed above. After you take the cake out of the oven, push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm. Sprinkle with green, purple, and yellow sugar crystals for that Mardi Gras look.