Category: Recipes from the Cookbook “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking”


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

November 9th, 2010 — 7:24am

phpgzww0ipmOver the weekend I attended a chili party at my friends Beth and Adam’s house. I wanted to bring a dessert, and since I’m still on a bit of a pumpkin kick, I decided to whip up Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream-Cheese Filling.

The recipe I used is from Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, authors of the cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. The process seems slightly daunting at first glace, but it was actually relatively easy. And well worth the effort. The resulting whoopie pies were impressive in every way. The mix of spices give the cake-like cookies great flavor intensity. And the cream-cheese filling is rich and creamy. They were a big hit at the party. I’m excited to explore other varieties of whoopie pies – chocolate, red velvet…the possibilities are endless.

For the pumpkin whoopie cookies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cream-cheese filling:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
3. Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
4. Make the filling: Sift confectioner’ sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)
5. Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

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Kim’s Sweet and Salty Cake

July 15th, 2010 — 5:48am

Early last month, a few friends a I celebrated my friend Kim’s birthday with a festive dinner party. It’s become somewhat of an annual tradition…my best friend and I cook dinner for Kim and I bake an elaborate cake. Last year, I made a Malt Ball Cake. This year, I chose a recipe from the same cookbook (Baked: New Frontiers in Baking), the Sweet and Salty Cake. According to cookbook authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, the cake is their “signature creation, most loved cake, and most requested recipe.” They describe the cake as “an indulgent but sophisticated adult cake: The perfectly salted caramel contrasts beautifully with the rich chocolate layers, giving the cake balance and character.” Definitely sounded like a dessert I needed to try. And what better occasion than Kim’s birthday?

The recipe is more than a little daunting with 24 separate ingredients and a long list of directions that kept me busy for several hours over the course of two days. The directions include steps for making the three layers of classic chocolate cake, the salted caramel filling, the whipped caramel ganache frosting, as well as directors for assembling the cake. Instead of including the full text within this post, you can check out the recipe here.

Our birthday dinner was another great success and I think Kim very much appreciated and enjoyed the cake. I really thought I would love it, too—normally I’m a big fan of the combination of sweet and salty. But I have to admit, the cake was almost a little too salty to me. I did love the chocolate cake and the chocolate ganache, though. Luckily Kim and her husband Matt agreed to take the rest of the cake home—maybe they were just trying to be nice, but they sure made me feel like it was the greatest cake ever. If I make this cake again, I’d definitely ease off the salt just a bit.

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Almond Green Tea Cupcakes

January 3rd, 2010 — 1:18pm

december-070Ever since purchasing the cookbook “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking,” I’ve been lusting over the recipe for Almond Green Tea Cupcakes. New Years Eve finally seemed like an appropriate occasion for these “fortune cupcakes.”

I’m not gonna lie—this recipe was very time intensive. Many ingredients and many steps. The biggest issue I encountered was not being able to locate matcha powder, except online. I went to three local grocery stores and searched in vain, ultimately settling for a liquid version. As a result, I had to tweak the frosting a bit, and I’m not sure I got it right. Seems like the matcha flavor and green color should have been more pronounced. december-0581december-066december-068

Regardless, I think the the cupcakes were stunning. And delicious! And my friends were super excited about the fortune cookies on top. Next time I whip up a batch, I’ll have to find a way to track down some elusive matcha powder.

For the Almond Cupcake
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
1 large egg
1 cup ice cold water
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

For the Green Tea Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. unsweetened matcha powder
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

To Assemble the Cupcakes
4 oz. (3/4 cup) white chocolate, coarsely chopped
24 white-chocolate-dipped fortune cookies (technique follows)

Make the almond cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds until they are a find powder. Put the powdered almonds in a small bowl and set aside.

Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in to a large bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the egg, and beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Fold in the powdered almonds.

Fill the cupcake liners about three quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on the rack to cool completely.

Make the green tea Frosting: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar, flour, and matcha powder together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla and continue beating until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put it in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then mix it again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and mix again.december-078

Assemble the cupcakes: There are many ways to frost a cupcake. If you have a pastry bag, simply fit the bag with the largest tip, fill the bag with frosting, and pipe enough frosting to cover the cupcake. If you do not have a pastry bag, use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop the frosting and dispense it onto the top of the cupcake. You can also use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes. Top with a fortune cookies.

How to dip fortune cookies in melted chocolate: Melt the white chocolate. Dip half of a fortune cookie in the melted white chocolate. Remove the fortune cookie from the chocolate and let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place the fortune cookie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once all the fortune cookies have been dipped, place the sheet in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or until the chocolate sets. Use immediately.

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Baked Brownies

September 3rd, 2009 — 1:03pm

home-030Earlier this week I finally tackled the recipe for Baked Brownies from the cookbook Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I say finally, because it’s probably the most popular recipe from the entire cookbook. In fact, the recipe has won the hearts of critics everywhere, garnering top brownie honors from America’s Test Kitchen, the Today Show, and Oprah’s O Magazine.

Candidly, I don’t make brownies all that often. And when I do, I usually opt for a simple and fool-proof box mix. I’m not even sure if I’ve ever attempted brownies from scratch…

But what a difference! Baked brownies=brownie perfection. I’m talking intense chocolate flavor and the most magnificent balance of cakey and dense textures. Wow. These brownies definitely grabbed my attention. home-016

As a general rule, Baked cookbook authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito preach the use of the most high-quality ingredients and recommend following recipe directions to a T. I think their advice is particularly sound for this recipe. Otherwise your brownies may end up too cakey, too dense, etc.—essentially indistinguishable from your standard Betty Crocker mix. And then, really, what’s the point? 

So the bottom line—no short cuts allowed. Suck it up and buy chocolate with 62-70% cacao, let your eggs warm to room temperature, and do not over-mix the batter. It’s gonna take a little money, patience, and restraint…but the end result will be well worth your while.

And my last piece of advice? Everything tastes better a la mode.

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Root Beer Bundt Cake

August 27th, 2009 — 10:41am

home-024I’m sure you’ve noticed that the cooking and baking posts have been pretty sparse lately. You can blame it on Ironman training. Luckily earlier this week I was finally able to spend some quality time in the kitchen. I was most excited to return to my favorite dessert cookbook—Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. As you may remember, I made a goal for myself to cook as many recipes as possible from the book by the end of the year. I’m not doing so well…I think I’ve gotten through 11 of 94. At least I have a few more months left in the year…home-040

In celebration of the final days of summer (to which I am so desperately clinging) I decided to try the Root Beer Bundt Cake recipe. It’s authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s attempt at “a cake that approximates the flavor and the lazy summer pleasure of a root beer float.” I think I’ve made it pretty obvious how I feel about root beer floats. And a cake version? Sign me up.home-018home-036home-019

 I thought the cake was amazing—especially served a la mode. Because what’s a root beer bundt cake without ice cream? The cake was moist, and the frosting was like creamy fudge. It was definitely more chocolate-y than root beer-flavored, however. There were a few bites during which I could taste the root beer, but most not so much. The recipe does feature a side note from Lewis and Poliafitio that recommends adding root beer schnapps to the recipe (if you can find it) for a more pronounced root beer flavor. Perhaps next time.

This recipe is definitely a keeper. And I think it’s a great party cake. Because who wouldn’t be excited about a Root Beer Bundt Cake? It’s so fun.

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Kim’s Birthday Dinner

June 4th, 2009 — 10:46am

kims-b-day-0101

Last night Karen and I co-hosted a birthday dinner for our close friend Kim, and her husband Matt. I’ve known Kim for almost two years. She interviewed for a job in our office and from that very moment I knew we would be great friends. Luckily, Kim got the job and we started hanging out her first week in the office…the rest is history. She’s fun, enthusiastic, kind, genuine, and such a great person and friend. I also love her husband, Matty, and was thrilled to be apart of their wedding last month. n585642924_2595904_8217839

 

 

 

 

 

 

See, doesn’t she just look fun? Anyways, Karen and I planned an outdoor barbecue dinner, and luckily the weather was perfect. Karen grilled chicken breasts, and I brought Broccoli Slaw and a Malt Ball Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting. The dinner was simple and very tasty, if I must say so myself. And of course, I always love hanging out with Kim, Matty, and Karen.

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I found the recipe for Broccoli Slaw at one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. It’s the perfect side salad to bring to any summer barbecue or picnic. It’s got a great light buttermilk dressing. I also love the crunchiness of the broccoli and almonds, and the flavors from the red onions and cranberries. kims-b-day-005It’s a keeper.

 

 

 

 

And the malt ball cake was an interesting project…I found the recipe in the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook. I love malt balls, so I thought, why not? Faced with a lack of time this week, I stayed up late and woke up very early the following morning to get ‘er done. It’s a three-tiered cake that is meant to mimic the flavors and consistency of a malt ball. The cake tasted pretty good—you could definitely taste the malt flavor in the cake, and the frosting was chocolate wonderful-ness. I wasn’t much impressed with my lack of attention to building and frosting the cake. It sort of looked like the leaning tower of malt balls, and I thought the frosting looked messy (I really need to take a cake decorating class to learn proper technique). I found the cake-topping malt balls (both dark and milk chocolate) in the bulk bins at a local grocery store. They were a nice final touch, although quite the tease. By the end of the night, we had plucked most from their comfortable resting spots.

Happy Birthday, Kim! And cheers to summer barbecues.

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Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie

May 7th, 2009 — 1:10pm

This recipe for Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie was also one of my favorites from the derby party. I found the recipe in the cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I love pecan pie, but especially when there’s a layer of chocolate in the mix. When I was in Louisville last year for the derby, my friend Regina’s mom served the most delicious pecan pie with freshly whipped cream, to which she added just a touch of bourbon. Although I didn’t have time to whip up a batch at my party, it would make a nice touch. This recipe makes one 9-inch pie. The dough recipe follows.

1 ball of Classic Pie Dough (1/2 recipe; below), chilled
2 cups pecan halves, toasted
3 large eggs
¾ cup light corn syrup
3 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp. bourbon
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Dust work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Unwrap the ball of chilled dough and put it directly on the work surface. Roll out into a 12-inch round. Transfer the dough to a pie dish and carefully work it into the pie dish, folding any overhang under and crimping the edge as you go. Wrap and freeze the crust until firm, about 2 hours, or up to 3 months.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Coarsely chop ¾ cup of the pecans. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until combined. Add the corn syrup, sugars, butter, salt, vanilla, and bourbon. Whisk again until combined. Stir in the chopped pecans and set the filling aside.

Spread the chocolate chips evenly along the bottom of the frozen pie shell. Slowly pour the filling on top of the chocolate chips. Arrange the remaining 1 ¼ cups pecan halves on top of the filling.

Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, then cover the edges of the crust loosely with the aluminum foil and bake for another 30 minutes. Test the pie by sticking a knife in the center of the filling. If the knife comes out clean, the pie is done. If the knife comes out with clumps of filing sticking to it, bake for another 5 minutes and test again.

Cool the pie on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature. The pie can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 2 days.

Classic Pie Dough
Yield: 2 balls of dough, enough for 2 (9-inch) single-crust pies or 1 (9-inch) double-crust pie

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. fine salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
¾ cups ice cold water

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt together.

Cut the cold butter into cubes and toss the cubes in the flour mixture to coat. Put the mixture in the bowl of a food processor and pulse in short bursts until the pieces of butter are the size of hazelnuts.

While pulsing in quick, 4-second bursts, drizzle the ice water into the food processor through the feed tube.

As soon as the dough comes together in a ball, remove it from the food processor and divide it into two equal balls, Flatten to a disk and wrap each disk first in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the disks until firm, about 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.)

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Rasberry Crumb Breakfast Bars

March 30th, 2009 — 8:03am

2821165027_d33cd2632dLast weekend I made my 8th recipe from the Baked Cookbook. The recipe is sort of an outlier from those I’ve chosen so far, in that it doesn’t contain chocolate. The bars were fruity and chewy, and different  from any crumb bar I’ve tried before (especially since they weren’t so crumby). The bars were pretty good, definitely best straight from the refrigerator. My mom loved them, but my dad hated them. Me? I think I was somewhere in the middle—I enjoyed a few, but probably wouldn’ t make them again since I have so many other recipes to try.

For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the raspberry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. (Note: The book suggests you reserve one cup only. My gut told me that was too little, and I upped it. I wanted to make sure the top of the raspberries were mostly covered, at least for packing purposes, and was glad I had changed it.) Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.tapas-043

Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

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Pistachio Cherry Biscotti

March 9th, 2009 — 12:25pm

home-0381Over the weekend, I made Pistachio Cherry Biscotti, using a recipe from my favorite cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking (my 7th of 94 recipes). The recipe calls for the same base ingredients used in the Hazelnut Cinnamon Chip Biscotti I made about a month ago, while omitting the cinnamon, and replacing the hazelnuts with 1 cup pistachios and the chocolate chips with 1 cup dried cherries.

I love biscotti because they’re the perfect morning coffee dippers. I also love how biscotti keeps fresh for so long–about 2 weeks in a sealed container. I also think they’d make the perfect gift, boxed up with a simple ribbon and card.

I enjoyed the unique taste combination of the pistachios and cherry (the color combination looks wonderful, too), but of the two recipes, I really preferred the hazelnut chocolate combination.  There’s just something about chocolate and coffee…I’m sure the coffee drinkers out there know what I’m sayin’.

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Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks

February 24th, 2009 — 7:44am

austin-tx-012Although vacation has slowed progress in my quest to bake as many recipes from the Baked cookbook as possible in 2009, I made my 6th (of 94) recipes on Sunday evening. This time I chose the Peanut Butter Cookies with Milk Chocolate Chunks. The end result was quite tasty, but different from any other peanut butter cookie I’ve tasted before. As authors Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito note in the introductory text to the recipe, “our cookie is nether too dry and crumbly, nor too moist and characterless; rather, it is the perfect balance of crispy and chewy.” I couldn’t agree more. Enjoy.

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 oz. good milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Baked Note: We know there may be some temptation to replace the milk chocolate chunks with semisweet chocolate chips, but don’t give in. Semisweet chips taste almost bitter against the peanut butter, while the milk chocolate is a natural and delightful combo.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. The mixture will look light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until just incorporated.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, very gently press each cookie down so it forms a very tall disk shape. Do not press too hard and do not press it flat. 

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with granulated sugar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the tops of the cookies just begin to brown.

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 Working my way through the Recipe Index…slowly, but surely.

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