Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birthday. Show all posts

Friday, May 25, 2012

S'mores Cookies

S'mores cookies

Today is the birthday (and a special one at that) of one of my favorite people in the whole world - my mom.  I think a lot of people probably say this, but I am completely convinced I have the best mom in the whole world.  A lot of moms have trouble finding the balance between being a friend to your child, letting them make their own decisions, and teaching them to make good choices, even if that means acting strict at times.  My mom (and my dad for that matter) were able to find this balance really well, and I think it helped me to become the person I am today.  I am lucky to always be able to call my mom for advice and trust her to guide me when I have trouble making decisions on my own (even if it's just silly things like picking a moving company). She really is the best!!

In honor of my mom, I wanted to share this recipe for cookies in her favorite variety - s'mores.  Anyone who has ever been near a campfire (or even just a charcoal barbecue) knows my mom loves s'mores.  Mom isn't even a big dessert eater, but there are a few trips to Sebago Lake where I remember her eating quite a few s'mores.  The Monkey Scientist and I are headed to the beach this weekend, so I wanted to bring some s'mores for a beach snack.  This recipe was the perfect way to think of my mom all day at the beach!  Happy birthday, Mom!

This batter, by the way, is ridiculously tasty.  I definitely spoiled my dinner by tasting the dough.  You know, to make sure it wasn't poisoned.  Plus, look how cute the cookies came out!

S'mores cookies
S'mores Cookies
slightly adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark but the original called for light)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows (approximately, I didn't exactly measure how many I used)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (a beater blade is great here), cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and beat just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-9 minutes (I did 1 tray at a time), then remove from the oven and quickly, but gently push a few marshmallows into the top of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the edges are set.
5. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cadbury egg cookies

PS - don't worry, I brought some cookie variety to the beach.  I also used my last bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs stored over from Easter to make Cadbury Mini Egg Cookies.  YUM!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Graham Cracker Torte

graham cracker torte

One of my absolute favorite blogs is Eat, Live, Run.  I feel like I know Jenna from reading it all the time.  Jenna's photos are wonderful, her comments are witty, but more importantly her recipes are awesome.  I've reviewed many an ELR recipe here on yelleBELLYboo - kicked up meatloafratatouilleturkey burgers with spinach and feta/goat cheese, blackberry and orange zest muffins, and whole wheat fig newtons to name a few - and for the most part I've enjoyed them all.  But since Jenna is a baker by trade, I needed to try more of her baked goods.

graham cracker torte
whipped egg whites

Recently, Jenna challenged herself to bake through her great-grandmother's recipe box.  I've enjoyed seeing all the interesting 1920s recipes she's trying, and was especially intrigued by this graham cracker torte, which her grandmother apparently had written up on multiple recipe cards.  I've never made a cake that actually doesn't have any flour - I had to give this one a shot.

graham cracker tortegraham cracker torte

Last year, I tried to make birthday cakes for everyone on my team at work.  It got to be a little too much work and I haven't done quite as well this year.  However, one of my coworkers has always been so nice - bringing me treats from the potato chip factory, getting an ice cream cake for another coworker's birthday, bringing me the coupons every week - so for her birthday another coworker and I decided to bake her this cake.  She's not a huge chocolate person (much like myself) so this cake seemed like something she would enjoy.

caramel for graham cracker torte

I have to admit, this cake isn't the easiest thing to make.  At one point, I had to use both my standing mixer and my hand mixer (maybe I should buy a 2nd bowl for my standing mixer?) and the steps seemed endless.  When I went to get the cakes out of the tins, it was an utter failure.  I wish I had lined the bottom with parchment.  In the end, once I added the whipped cream, you couldn't really tell what a mess I had made, but it wasn't exactly the gorgeous torte that Jenna assembled.  Plus I definitely cooked and curdled the eggs in the caramel and had to strain it, but I don't think it mattered too much in the end.

graham cracker torte

So even though this was absolutely not the prettiest cake I've ever made, the taste was outstanding.  The cake is somewhere between a sponge and a meringue, but nutty with a nice crunch.  The whipped cream made a perfect frosting to counteract the sweet caramel.  The birthday girl loved it and said she'd be making it again.  Our office finished it in record time - less than half an hour until the serving plate was licked clean.  Absolutely a hit!  I think I'm getting quite the reputation for making the best-tasting ugly cakes of all time - a reputation I'm just fine with!

graham cracker torte

Graham Cracker Torte
from Eat, Live, Run

for torte:
6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (a little less than two sleeves of graham crackers)

for caramel sauce:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 well beaten egg
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar

for assembly:
1 pint heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Beat egg yolks until light and frothy (I used the whisk attachment of my standing mixer). Add sugar, baking powder and vanilla and continue to beat until very thick and pale in color. Set aside.
3. Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into egg yolks and then fold in the nuts and graham cracker crumbs.
4. Divide batter into two WELL GREASED 9-inch cake pans (I recommend putting a piece of parchment on the bottom of the pans as well) and bake for 35 minutes. Let cool before turning cakes out of pans onto plates or a counter top.
5. To make the caramel sauce, combine all ingredients in a saucepot and bring to a boil whisking the whole time. Don’t stop whisking or the egg will cook and curdle, which isn’t the end of the world (just strain the caramel through a mesh strainer after it cools) but it can be prevented by whisking constantly until the sauce is very thick and boiling. Remove sauce from heat and let cool completely.
6. To assemble the torte, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Spread whipped cream between graham cracker layers and over the top of the torte. Pour on the cooled caramel sauce and it let drip down the sides.
Keep the torte in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

23 Years [Guest Baker: Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Malt Frosting]

Twenty-three years ago today, I was born. Which, I suppose, makes today my birthday.

Chocolate malt frosted cake

I have to admit, this year has been a pretty amazing one.  I am so lucky to have the most wonderful, loving, and supportive family I could ask for, incredible and reliable friends both here in DC and around the country - who I love like family, a pretty spectacular boyfriend, a job I enjoy, my health - which I realize every day is an amazing gift, and, as a result, so much happiness. I'm so grateful for all of my good fortune. 

I can only help that this next year is as wonderful as the last!

photo by Amanda Farr
Speaking of incredible friends - my coworker, Amanda, was so nice and made me a beautiful birthday cake. It just so happened to be exactly what I wanted!  I purchased malt milk powder a few month's back with the hope of trying to make malted chocolate chip cookies, but I just haven't gotten around to it.  When I saw this recipe, I was really hoping Amanda would help me out by giving it a try. What am I going to do when she leaves DC!?

photo by Amanda Farr
The only recommendation Amanda had was to use a little more malt powder, as you couldn't really taste it.  It tasted amazing - like pound cake with chocolate frosting - and I was so excited to get to celebrate my birthday with my amazing coworkers.

photo by Amanda Farr

Tonight I'll get to celebrate with many of my friends in DC and in a few weeks I can celebrate at home with my family!  Thank you to everyone for a great year and many more to come!


Basic Yellow Butter Cake

2 3/4 cups flour (I used all-purpose)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, room temperature (I used salted)
1 cup milk, divided
4 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Lightly whisk together first 4 ingredients; flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.
Add butter and 3/4 cup milk and beat together until just combined. Stop to scrape sides down a couple of times. Do not over beat.
In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, remaining milk and vanilla extract together. Gradually add to flour/sugar/butter, and mix until just combined. Again, do not over beat.
Divide batter into two greased and parchment lined 9 baking pans.
Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Malt Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter (again, I used salted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder
7 tablespoons milk

In a mixer, beat butter and vanilla extract together until smooth.
Add in powdered sugar, cocoa powder, malted milk powder, lightly mix.
Gradually add in milk, one tablespoon at at time until smooth.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Easy Caramel Cake

It's a blizzard in DC!  It isn't very often that we get to say that and it is a HUGE deal that it's happened more than 1 year in a row.  People are totally freaking out!  But that doesn't mean we can't have cake!

I have become the official birthday cake baker in my office.  And also when people have big anniversaries with the company.  I've been going through lots of sugar lately.

I never make the same cake twice.  I've made a big variety since I started baking for everyone in September.  I never made the same cake twice!

First, I made the best chocolate sheet cake ever with the best frosting I've ever had courtesy of tasty kitchen.  Not too sweet and really good - but the frosting was hard to make.  Then the white chocolate cake that was supposed to have the best frosting I've ever had on it, but due to a major disaster (the frosting broke) all of the frosting had to be thrown out and it was instead covered with store bought lemon curd and toasted coconut.  Still, it came out really good and was enjoyed by all (even my coworker who hates coconut).  Then, for said coconut-hater's birthday, there was a chocolate meringue cake that despite being unable to open the hazelnuts and therefore omitting them AND accidentally using unsweetened chocolate, was the biggest hit to date.  Lots of emails in the following days asking for the recipe.  And, although it looks very impressive with the meringue on top, it really wasn't that difficult!  Most recently, for a 5th anniversary with the company of my coworker who makes the best korean pork I've ever had, there was a lemon loaf cake.  I halved the recipe and only made one.  It was very yummy but I was too lazy to force all of the syrup into it so it was a little dry.

And now, for another coconut hater, I decided to try an Easy Caramel Cake that Perry's Plate just posted last week.  And it really was easy!

The frosting made a lot more than I needed to cover the cake.  My roommate and I ended up taking spoons to the extra and now I have a bit of a tummy ache.  But that frosting was goooood!

Everyone in the office seemed to like it.  People did think it was a little sweet (gee, it only had like 3 BOXES of sugar in it) but still enjoyed it.  Even the big boss happened to be in town and popped into my office to say he enjoyed it.  I think it would be the perfect cake for a kid's birthday party! (especially a kid who wasn't a huge chocolate fan)

Easy Caramel Cake

For the cake:
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces and softened

For the frosting:
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces and softened
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered (confectioners') sugar, sifted

To make the cake: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla in a large measuring cup (or small bowl). In a large bowl (or the work bowl of a stand mixer) mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat in the butter, one piece at a time, until only pea-sized pieces remain. Pour in half of the buttermilk mixture and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Slowly add the remaining buttermilk mixture to the bowl and beat until incorporated, about 15 seconds.

Divide batter between prepared pans and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool the cakes for about 10 minutes, the turn out onto wire cooling racks. Allow them to cool off completely, about 1 hour.

To make the frosting: Heat 8 tablespoons of butter, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan, 4-8 minutes. Whisk in the cream and cook until a ring of bubbles reappears, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Allow frosting mixture to cool slightly (about 5 minutes), then transfer to a mixing bowl (or work bowl of a stand mixer). With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar until incorporated. Increase speed to medium, and beat until the frosting is pale brown and just ward, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 4 T of butter, one piece at a time, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

To assemble the cake, Place one cake round on a cake stand or platter. Spread 3/4 cup of frosting over the cake, top with the second layer, then spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Serve.

Makes about 12 servings.