Valentine’s Day Whoopie Pies

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I became obsessed with making heart-shaped whoopie pies after seeing them in Martha Stewart Living. I love whoopie pies and they just looked too cute to pass up!!

For those of you who have been missing out :)… Whoopie pies are two small (soft & tender) sponge cakes filled with fluffy vanilla icing. The icing recipe I used even incorporates Marshmallow Fluff- I couldn’t believe that I bought it! (either could my kids, who were THRILLED) I made heart-shaped as well as standard-shaped pies. My sponge cake recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I modified the filling used because the raspberry filling suggested in the original recipe seemed like it may become too wet. The fluffy (Marshmallow Fluff) filling was terrific; the recipe was from Cranberry Island Kitchens, via Martha Stewart Living. Such a treat.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Yield: Makes about 1 dozen sandwiches

For the Sponge Cakes:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fluffy Filling (recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. Line two baking pans with Silpats (French nonstick baking mats) or parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  3. For standard-shaped pies: Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, place cookies onto lined baking pans, 12 per pan. Bake for 8 minutes (on convection) to 12 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. For heart-shaped pies: Pipe a 3″ x 3″ “V” onto the parchment paper. As the cookie bakes and rises, the heart shape is formed. IMG_7612
  4. Spread 2 tablespoons of filling onto each cookie. Sandwich together with remaining cookies.
For the Fluffy Filling:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 1/4 ounces Marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add Fluff and vanilla and continue mixing until well combined.

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One Year Ago:

Minecraft Enderman Cake

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An Enderman is a character in a video game called Minecraft. My son and his friends LOVE Minecraft. It is the “LEGO” of the video game world, building worlds, etc. I think that my son is drawn to the Enderman character in particular because it has the ability to teleport in order to avoid danger- how cool! 🙂

My son- who was also an Enderman for Halloween this year- requested an Enderman cake for his 9th birthday party at Lazerland! (For those of you without a young boy in your household Lazerland is Laser tag.) I realized that this cake could have used an additional layer to make it more “Enderman-esque” (more of a cube) but I didn’t have a large enough crowd to warrant a 4-layer cake. I made two layers of Classic Yellow Cake (almost a pound cake- my son’s favorite) with a “Busy Day Chocolate Cake” in-between. I had to weigh the batter in order to split in in half (weight below) because I only have one 9-inch square pan. I used vanilla buttercream as the filling between the layers (twice the recipe), and chocolate frosting on the outside- because an Enderman is black (close enough…). The chocolate frosting was very fudge-like and decadent. The cake was HUGE and delicious.

I made the eyes when making our family’s traditional Number Cookies, sugar cookies cut into the number of the birthday being celebrated.  I didn’t need my number “9” cookie cutter to make Number Cookies for my son’s birthday this year– he decided he wanted Roman numerals!! 🙂 We gave the cookies to our birthday party guests with an explanation: IX = 9! 🙂 He is a character.

For the Classic Yellow Cake: 

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

Yield: Makes 2 layers or 2 square cakes (each half of the batter weighs 2 lbs 8.5 oz)

  • 4 1/4 cups (530 g) cake flour
  • 1 T plus 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups (560 ml) milk
  • 1 1/2 T vanilla extract
  • 20 T (2 1/2 sticks / 315 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  1. Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
  2. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the 9-inch square cake pan(s).
  3. To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla; set aside.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) and spread the batter evenly. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the enter comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan(s) to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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For the Chocolate Frosting:

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

  • 8 oz (250 g) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (I used Trader Joe’s 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/3 cups (345 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (375 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  1. To make the frosting, in a heatproof bowl set over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan, melt the chocolate; let cool to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth, creamy and slightly fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to evenly distribute the chocolate.

To Frost the Cake:

  1. Place one Yellow Cake layer, top side down, on a serving plate. (I place pieces or parchment paper around the edge of the cake to keep the serving plate clean.) Using an icing spatula or a knife, spread half of the vanilla buttercream frosting evenly on top. (The recipe was doubled.)
  2. Place the “Busy Day Chocolate Cake” on top. Spread the other half of the vanilla buttercream evenly over the top.
  3. Place the final Yellow Cake layer on top, top side down. Spread the chocolate frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Remove the protective parchment paper, if using.
  4. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting. (I refrigerated the cake overnight.)

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One Year Ago:

Fancy S’more Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

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I am calling these cupcakes fancy s’mores. I have been wanting to make them for over a year and needed an excuse! When my family was invited to a party through my husband’s job over the weekend and everyone was asked to bring an appetizer or dessert, I knew exactly what to make…. finally the perfect opportunity. 🙂

These are chocolate cupcakes with a graham cracker crust (which has melted dark chocolate on top) and toasted “marshmallow” icing. The meringue “marshmallow” icing is incredible. It looks beautiful too, especially after it has been toasted. The graham cracker and chocolate crust gives the cake a surprising crunch; graham cracker crumbs and chocolate are sprinkled over the top as well. Pretty amazing. They were a big hit. This recipe was adapted from Jennifer Shea, owner of Trophy Cupcakes, via Martha Stewart Television. It is important to heat the meringue icing until it is warm and the sugar is completely dissolved in order to prevent it from breaking down after it is whipped.

Yield: 16 cupcakes with extra frosting

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 squares)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)

For the Frosting:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with 16 cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. Sift 1 cups plus 1 tablespoons sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together on low speed.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine; set cake batter aside.
  4. Put graham cracker crumbs, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl; stir until well combined.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use the bottom of a small glass to pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Reserve remaining graham cracker mixture for topping.
  6. Place 2 teaspoons chocolate in each muffin cup. Transfer muffin tins to oven and bake until the edges of the graham cracker mixture is golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and fill each muffin cup three-quarters full with cake batter. Sprinkle each with remaining chocolate and graham cracker mixture. Return to oven and bake, rotating pans halfway through baking, until tops are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely.
  7. Make Frosting: Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately.
  9. Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round or French tip (such as Ateco #867 or Ateco #809). Pipe frosting in a spiral motion on each cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the frosting, taking care not to burn the cupcake liners. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container, up to 2 days.

Busy Day Chocolate Cake

This is the easiest cake I have ever made, and it is delicious.  The recipe is from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s “Mad Hungry” cookbook, via Everyday Food.  I used a 9×9 pan and the cake was done after 25 minutes on convection.  I used my favorite buttercream recipe which is from Food and Wine.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup cold water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and coarse salt.
  2. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add vegetable oil, pure vanilla extract, white vinegar, and cold water. Whisk until well combined.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 25 minutes (for a 9-inch square pan on convection) to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

For the Buttercream Icing:

  • 6 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 2 T heavy cream or milk
  • sprinkles, for garnish, optional
  1. Mix the butter on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
  2. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix until combined.
  3. Add cream and mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Garnish with sprinkles, if desired.

Note: One batch makes 12 standard cupcakes (sunflower version below). Bake for 17 to 18 minutes.

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