The Mad Cake Batter

sweet treats and savory deets


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Frosting Cookies

cookies1After the Valentine’s Day macarons, I had a lot of leftover frosting. I know I could have made another batch of macarons, but I was looking for something a little bit easier. Maybe a little cake or something. And if they turned out horribly, oh well at least I tried?

This recipe is from the Cupcake Project’s blog. These cookies were simple and fast. Perfect, and perfect for my coworkers who were about to get an unexpected treat this past Thursday. Since I had a shit ton of frosting, I doubled the recipe. They weren’t the best looking cookies ever, but they taste good and that’s what matters.

INGREDIENTS:

  • cookies31 cup frosting
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well incorporated. Scoop cookies on a  lined baking sheet (parchment paper or silpats). Bake for about 13 minutes or until the edges start to brown.


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Strawberry Champagne Macaron Hearts

I was really hesitant to write this post. When I was making these, I thought that this was the end I will no longer an excuse not to make macarons. I was always under the impression that macarons are time consuming, little delights that need the upmost care and attention. Then I came across BraveTart.

hearts1She completely changed my view of the macaron world. I also love her spunk and candor. She makes macarons on the reg and has multiple posts on macarons like the Ten Commandments and Macarons Mythbusters. After reading through all her posts, I was ready to try out her recipe. It cuts down the entire process to just a couple of hours. Insane right? I have everything in grams below since that is what I use on my scale, but she does have the ounces if that’s what you prefer.

MACARON SHELLS:

  • 115g almond flour
  • 230g powdered sugar
  • 144g egg whites
  •  72g sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

heart4STRAWBERRY CHAMPAGNE FROSTING:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3-4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup champagne

So for this recipe, forget about preparing the egg whites a week before in order to loose elasticity. Bravetart suggests that it is irrelevant, and they don’t even need to sit out until they are room temperature!

Preheat oven to 300F. Measure the almond flour and powdered sugar. Sift together into a large bowl and set aside. In a standard mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, add the egg whites, sugar, salt and scrappings of a vanilla bean. Beat on medium (level 4) for three minutes. Increase speed to a level 6 for another three minutes. Then increase the speed to a level 8 for another 3 minutes.

heart5I was always afraid of over working egg whites. I was always under the impression there was a thin line between good egg whites and just a liquidy mess. These egg whites came out perfectly. They were a completely stiff meringue. Since i was adding color, this is the point to add it, and then beat the meringue for another minute at a level 8 to mix in the color.

Fold in the egg whites to the flour mixture to break down the egg whites. Put the batter in a pipping bag and pipe on a prepared baking sheet. I decided for Valentine’s Day to try making heart shaped shells. I normally free hand my shells and I came to realize its much harder to match shells. Either way, the shells do not need to sit out. However, Bravetart does say to pick up the sheet and hit it hard against the counter. Turn 90 degrees and rap it two more times. This will break up any air bubbles in the shells.

Bake for about 18 minutes. I never used my own oven to make shells because it is usually hotter. I haven’t had the time to calibrate it yet, but I guess I should do that soon. I had to lower the temp and the shells cooked in about 14-16 minutes. You have to know your oven and keep an eye on the shells.

heartsOnce out of the oven. Allow the shells to cool on the pan before putting them on the cooling racks. To make the buttercream, start by using the food processor to break down the frozen strawberries to dust. In a standard mixer using the paddle attachment beat the butter on high until it becomes light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides using a spatula and add the strawberries, champagne and 1 cup of powdered sugar. Mix until well incorporated. Add each cup one at a time until the buttercream starts to take shape. The strawberries and champagne will make the frosting pretty liquidy so you may need to use more powdered sugar. Fill the pipping bag once more with frosting and pipe the frosting onto the shells. Place macarons in an air tight container in the fridge. If you can, wait to consume at least a day. The frosting will soften the shells a bit and they taste so much better.


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Black Bottom Cupcakes

These were for a birthday potluck. It was a last minute thing that I agreed to. So I starting running through some recipes to see if there is something I could make with ingredients I already had at home. These were perfect. I pinned them forever ago. The best part was I could make them the day of and all I needed to buy was some cream cheese. Done and done.

chco3The recipe is from Annie’s Eat’s blog. I was able to make about 16 cupcakes and they were all gone before the day was halfway over. These cupcakes are not overly sweet since it calls for bittersweet chocolate which is why I think they went over so well. Annie used vegetable oil instead of coconut but I am a creature of habit and never miss an opportunity to use coconut oil.

CREAM FILLING:

  • 8 oz cream cheese (1 package)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

choc2 FOR THE CUPCAKES:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 5 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 TBS cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:choc1

Preheat oven to 350F and have a lined cupcake tray prepared. In a standard mixer, beat the cream cheese, egg and sugar until smooth. Add the chocolate bits until just combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, brown sugar, salt, cocoa powder, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, combine the coconut oil, cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring just until smooth.

Spoon a few tablespoons of batter into the liners about 1/3 full. Top the cupcakes off with a couple tablespoons of filling ontop. These cupcakes do rise a bit so be careful not to have the cupcakes filled to the top.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown. Allow cupcakes to cool and enjoy!


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Baking Bread

Though this is still a baking post, I am shifting gears to a bit to talk about BREAD! Yes, bread. The kind that has the hard crunchy exterior and the soft chewy interior. My roommate bestowed me bread1with this bread baking book for my birthday earlier this month and we were finally able to give the first recipe a whirl. This process is so incredibly easy, it is just time consuming; you need to strategically plan it out.

This book is called, my bread, and the author, Jim Lahey, created a different way to make bread where no kneading is involved. That’s right… NO KNEADING! You do, however,  need a dutch oven or a cast iron skillet that can go in the oven.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cup cool water
  • wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dustingbread2

In a medium bowl, stir in the flour, salt and yeast. With a wooden spoon, mix in the water until you have a wet, sticky dough. Make sure it is super sticky and cover the bowl with a plate, linen towel or plastic wrap. Set aside in room temp out of the line of sunlight for about 12-18 hours. The dough should double in size and the surface should be bubbly.

Dust a work surface with flour and use a bench scrapper or spatula to scrape the dough on the floured surface in one piece. The dough should cling to the bowl in long, thin strands and it will be sticky (do NOT add more flour). Lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

Place a linen or cotton towel on the work surface and dust the cloth bread3with the wheat bran, cornmeal or flour. Gently lift the dough onto the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top with the cornmeal, bran or flour. Loosely fold the ends of the towel over the dough to cover and place it in a draft-free spot for 1-2 hours. The dough will double in size once more.

Thirty minutes before the end of the second rise, preheat oven to 475 degrees with a rack in the lower third position. Place a covered dutch oven (at least 4.5 to 5.5 quart) in the center of rack. Using potholders, carefully remove the pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and lightly dust the dough with flour. Lift the dough from the towel and place it seam side up in the pot. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes. — Be very careful, the pot is super hot and if you hold it for too long your potholders may start to melt or leave burn marks!bread

Remove the lid and continue to bake for 15-30 minutes longer, until the bread has a dark chestnut color, but not burnt. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully transfer the bread to cooling racks. Don’t slice the bread right away. As difficult as it may be, it needs to be cooled at least an hour.