Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Last week, my son’s daycare had their Valentine’s Day party. I always get excited for these parties because it gives me the perfect opportunity to make themed desserts. The first thing that came to mind were these whoopie pies. I have been wanting to make them for ages, but never had the opportunity. I mean really, valentine’s day just shouts red velvet! (Sorry it’s after the holiday!)

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

These were DE-licious. Just a hint of chocolate while still boasting the red color. And don’t even get me started on the cream cheese filling. Perfection! It’s my favorite. These are the perfect treat to make, well, any time of the year!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Yield: about 18 sandwich cookies

For the cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  •  red food coloring

For the frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  Mix in the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  Blend in the food coloring.

Scoop the batter with a small cookie scoop onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before frosting.

To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip. (Alternatively, spread with a flat knife or spatula.) Pair the cookies up by shape and size. Frost one flat side of each pair. Then sandwich the cookies together and gently press down until the filling reaches the edges. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Source: Annie’s Eats, cookies originally adapted from Better Homes and Gardens 2008, and frosting adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Has everyone made their Valentine’s Day plans?  What do you all do?  Stay in? Go out?  Do something romantic?  As I’ve said before, my husband and I don’t really celebrate the day. We generally exchange cards, but that’s as far as it goes.  I’m not saying I wouldn’t mind going out to eat! But, with three kids and one of them exclusively breast feeding, it’s a lot of work to find a sitter and pump enough milk. And, I’d rather dote upon my husband on his birthday, the day before (today!) instead.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies2

My daughter’s kindergarten class has a Valentine’s Day party today. Of course I offered to make something sweet. These chocolate sugar cookies came to mind immediately.  Royal icing brings cookie decorating to the next level.  How cute are those hearts!  Why have chocolate sugar cookies not become a really popular thing? Or maybe they have, and I missed it. These cookies are incredibly simple, but still delicious. Chocolately, buttery yumminess. These cookies make a great treat for Valentine’s Day. Or any time of the year, really. You still have time to decorate with royal frosting if you make these today! If you need an awesome tutorial for royal icing decorating, check out Annie’s Eats.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies3

Chocolate Sugar Cookies4

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies when using a larger cookie cutter

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt, set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the eggs and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated and no streaks remain.  Form the dough into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness.  Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters and place cut outs on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes, just until set.  Let cool on the baking sheet about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate as desired.

Source: Annie’s Eats, via Martha Stewart

Raspberry Cobbler with Dark Chocolate Biscuits

raspberry cobbler with dark chocolate biscuits

With Valentine’s Day coming next weekend, we can’t forget about a few dessert ideas!  My husband and I tend not to celebrate the day. It’s the day after his birthday, which I like to celebrate more.  But, that doesn’t mean I can’t bake a few Valentine themed desserts! Hearts make everything cuter, don’t you think?

raspberry cobbler with dark chocolate biscuits

Chocolate and raspberries are one of my favorite combinations. Well, that and chocolate with orange. Something about that fruity taste with chocolate makes me super happy. This cobbler is no exception. The “biscuits” are super chocolatey, with the slightly sweet raspberries. Topped with vanilla ice cream and we are in business! This is the perfect treat to whip up for that loved one in your life. Or, maybe just for yourself!

raspberry cobbler with dark chocolate biscuits

Raspberry Cobbler with Dark Chocolate Biscuits

Yield: 6 servings

For the filling:

  • 24 oz. frozen raspberries
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoons vanilla extract

For the biscuits:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 oz. coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  Lightly grease a 2 to 2.5 quart baking dish. In the dish, combine the raspberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla.  Fold together gently with a spatula until evenly mixed.  Transfer to the oven and bake 10 minutes without the topping.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt.  Whisk to blend.  Toss the butter pieces in with the dry ingredients until coated.  Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture is crumbly and the largest butter pieces are the size of small peas.  Stir in the buttermilk and mix gently with a fork until a dough begins to form.  Knead together gently, just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Gently fold in the chopped chocolate.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat down into an even layer about 1 inch thick.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out heart-shaped biscuits, re-rolling dough scraps if needed.

Add the biscuits to the warmed fruit and return the baking dish to the oven.  Bake about 15-20 minutes more, until the fruit mixture is bubbling and the biscuits are just set and baked through.  Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Source: Barely adapted from Annie’s Eats

Meringue Hearts with Strawberry Whipped Cream

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I apologize for being so quiet around here lately. We had been battling a long siege of sickness that seemed to spread like wildfire through the family. The kids were sick for several days, but it seems like I was out of commission the longest. I mean like, bed ridden out of commission. It was rough. Thank god my husband didn’t get hit with it very hard so he managed to take care of the kids. Now that my tastebuds are back and I am feeling normal again, cooking is back on! I must say that I am thoroughly sick of rice, toast and chicken noodle soup.

Luckily, I made these meringues a few weeks ago to share with all of you, just in time for Valentine’s day! What is everyone doing for the “big” day? Dinner date, stay home and watch a movie, alone? My husband and I don’t do anything special since his birthday is the day before. We aren’t big holiday celebrators.

Anyway.

Moving on to these meringues. This was the first time I have ever made meringues, and boy, they were delicious! Light, airy and crisp. I made a little sandwich of meringues with the whipped cream and chopped strawberries, and it was to die for. Like, I couldn’t wait to each lunch just so I could eat a meringue. These would be perfect to whip up for a loved one in your life for Valentine’s Day, or just for yourself if you’d like. And they don’t have to be made into hearts if you aren’t into that sappy stuff.

Meringue Hearts with Strawberry Whipped Cream

Yield: 12 meringues or 6 sandwiches

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup superfine white sugar (I put mine in a blender and processed until finely ground)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Strawberry Puree

  • 2 cups chopped strawberries (frozen and thawed or fresh)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

Strawberry Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup lightly sweetened strawberry puree
  • Fresh Berries (optional)

Directions

For the meringue hearts: Preheat the oven to 250º and place racks in upper and lower third of your oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside. Have ready a 4 inch heart-shaped cookie cutter for a guide if desired.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and  beat on medium the whites until it holds soft peaks.

Add the sugar, a little at a time, and beat on high speed until the meringue holds stiff peaks. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip.

Pipe 12 heart shapes of the meringue onto the prepared baking sheets, using the heart cookie cutter as a guide. (Alternatively, pipe into 2 inch rounds.)  Smooth with an offset spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 60-70 minutes, alternating the baking sheets half way through. The meringues are done when they are easily released from the baking sheets. When the meringues are done, turn off the oven, open the door slightly and let sit for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the strawberry puree and whipped cream. To make the puree, combine the chopped strawberries into a small bowl with the sugar. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to macerate. Place the strawberries in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set in the fridge until ready to use.

To make the whipped cream: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the heavy cream, vanilla extract and confectioners sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in 1/2-3/4 cup of the strawberry puree.

To assemble: Pair the meringue hearts according the size. Spoon desired amount of whipped cream onto one side of each pair, place fresh berries on top of whipped cream, if desired, and top with remaining meringue. Serve immediately.

Store leftover meringues in an air tight container at room temperature for up to one week, assembling right before serving.

Source: Meringues from Joy of Baking

Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast

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Do you ever see a picture of food or think of something you have seen and want it now? Yeah, that has totally been happening to me lately. I will browse my newsfeed of blogs or be looking around the internet for goodness knows what, then I will see a picture of food that looks absolutely amazing and feel as if I should make it right now. So, I go running into the kitchen to see if I have all the ingredients, or what I can substitute if I am missing something. If the fridge and cupboards look like they do right now (end of the week, before grocery shopping, bare as a bone), then I will dream, drool and non-stop think about that recipe that-I-need-to-have-now. Pregnancy obsessions anyone?

Well, this recipe was one of those complete spur of the moments. Like, I ran up to my mom’s and borrowed cream cheese from her just so I could make a version for myself for lunch. (One kid was at pre-K and the other was napping, is that selfish?) I had two-day old Tinderhearth french batard that needed to be used up and fit the ticket perfectly. Oh my, it was one of the most satisfying lunches ever. I got to cook and eat in peace while little man napped away, and as any parent knows I am sure, that is a very rare occasion! I sat and enjoyed my I-don’t-care-it’s-unhealthy lunch, savoring every bite. This is a wonderful breakfast for the whole family, or maybe that special someone on Valentine’s Day. Or maybe for your loved one to wake up to breakfast in bed? Now that’s what I am talking about!

Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast

Yield: 2-4 servings, depending on what kind of bread you use

For the filling:

  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries (or frozen)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened

For the toast:

  • 4 thick slices bread, or bread of choice*
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • unsalted butter
  • Maple syrup, powdered sugar and additional strawberries for serving
Directions

To make the filling, combine the sliced strawberries and sugar in a medium bowl.  Mix well and set aside to macerate for about 15 minutes.  Stir in the cream cheese until well blended.

To prepare the toast, carefully slice a pocket into the center of each slice of bread, taking care not to cut all the way through to the other side. Alternatively, use two slices of bread to create a sandwich of sorts. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  In a shallow baking dish or pie plate, whisk together the egg and milk.  Whisk in the melted butter and vanilla extract.  Stir in the flour, cinnamon and salt and whisk until smooth.  Fill the pocket of each slice of bread with some of the filling mixture, or spread on one slice of bread and press the second piece on top.  One or two at a time, place the filled slices of bread in the egg mixture, soaking about 30-40 seconds per side.  Remove the bread and allow the excess batter to drip off.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining bread slices.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the heated skillet and swirl to coat.  Add the filled slices of toast to the skillet in a single layer.  Cook until light golden brown and crisp, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Repeat with the remaining slices of bread, adding more butter to the skillet as needed.  Serve immediately with maple syrup, powdered sugar and fresh strawberries as desired.

*I have used all sorts of bread for this recipe. I have used regular-old sliced sandwich bread, or day old batard. Whatever you have on hand will work, just make a sandwich instead of stuffed.

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Williams Sonoma and The New Best Recipe