Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Delicious Wannabe

Once more, cupcakes have helped me through my lack of candy and ice cream. The celebration Pheobe's cupcakes my boyfriend got were devoured quickly, so even the remains were no longer in sight. Yet, my second cupcake was a little less exciting than my first.

First, take a look at my boyfriend's second choice. To the left is a mint chocolate chip cupcake. I decided to wait and post these cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day because they both felt very Irish-y. Not exactly Irish, but look at the green! We giggled about it and were excited at first since the wrapper didn't reveal the green at all beforehand. There it was once it's wrapping was pulled away - a green tint. It looks a little moldy in retrospect - so it might not be the best presentation, but I was originally so started I thought it was fun. He was very thrilled by the mint, the mint butter cream, and the chocolate chips all mixed together. I think he also loved that the cake was yellow and not chocolate. So he wasn't eating a Thin Mint cupcake or a wannabe Ande's. Instead it was minty and chocolate chip focused. He was thrilled.

I, on the other hand, may have been more thrilled when I first picked up my cupcake than by the time I finished it. I felt like the cupcake itself was kind of a mystery. Mine was a Chocolate Toffee Stout cupcake (as seen on the right). It is describe as "chocolate cake filled with Stout toffee topped with brown sugar butter cream and toffee drizzle." The toffee drizzle was thrilling, although it looks a little sloppy on the top. If on cupcake wars the design of the drizzle would be frowned upon, but the taste of it was wonderful. In addition, I was addicted to the brown sugar butter cream. Sometimes frosting is hard for people to deal with, especially when it is swirled on top of a cupcake and you can get more frosting than cake in one bite. Yet this frosting felt soft, sweet, and almost like it would melt in my mouth. I loved that feeling. The cake was also a delightful chocolate comparison with it. But my biggest question is: What is Stout toffee?!

Originally I was concerned about getting this cupcake, since I'm not a beer fan. But the toffee aspect intrigued me and I thought that if it was in the center it wouldn't be too beer-y or scare me that much. The strangest part was I didn't taste it at all. The middle part had a different texture than the cake. It was no longer this moist, springy, solid instead it felt a little liquid-like. But looking at the cake there was nothing dripping out, like the marshmallow in the Snowball cupcake, and the coloring wasn't very different. There was only a slight sheen. I tried biting just the cake. The texture was prominently different without there being frosting in the mix. When the frosting was there, you would have had no idea this cupcake was supposed to be filled with something.

I now understand a little more when on Cupcake Wars they say they don't get all the flavors that are mentioned. It happens. There was no stout or real toffee besides the frosting. Although good, I left my wrapper in the trash confused and unsure what to think. Of course my sweet tooth enjoyed the chocolate, but my inner foodie searching for something new and exciting was let down. I'd suggest trying a different Irish inspired cupcake - I hear Guinness are yummy and much more beer flavored for you beer lovers out there.

So Happy St. Patricks Day! Eat, drink, and be merry!

- Mollie

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Snowball Anxious for Spring

Yesterday I was informed that I have received an independent contractor position with K. Grace.
Meaning, I have a new job! This is especially exciting because I am now able to have a changing schedule that works with me and my hopefully upcoming internship. As well as I can do family things and plan my schedule ahead of time and not a few days before. To say the least, I was giddy. I wanted cake. I wanted celebration.

So that's what I did.

My boyfriend and I walked down Broadway to good ol' Pheobe's cupcakes to pick out delicious little cakes to enjoy on the special day. It was actually more difficult than usual. For those who have read my previous Pheobe's blogs, they tend to have a very similar menu with only a few rotating each time I go in. Yet this time we were greeted by quite a few delicious newcomers, including Key Lime Macadamia Nut, Chocolate Toffee Stout, Irish Coffee, and Green Snowball. I spent my first minute or so that I entered drooling over their giant cinnamon rolls (which I didn't know they had!) before realizing that I came in for cake and I had plenty of options. We came home with this bountiful supply of baked goods:
I was thrilled by the fact that I could get two cupcakes that had chocolate and didn't break my lent promise. No candy, no ice cream, no cookies. Cupcakes are just the trick for my lent season.

Of course, the boyfriend got his usual Very Vanilla. He tells me that vanilla to him is like chocolate to me. I don't think he understand the capacity his love must be for vanilla to meet that equation. Or maybe he does and I just can't seem to fathom how vanilla can ever compete. Either way, I just enjoyed his cute festive sprinkles. To the right you can see the color and the cute topped shamrock. Although St. Patty's is still a week away, it made me smile and wonder what they'll do next week.

He also got a mint chocolate chip and I got a Chocolate Toffee Stout for later in the week - by which I mean they will be devoured quite quickly in my frenzy of finals.

My celebration cupcake made my heart leap like joy. To the left stands the Green Snowball. Again, festive which always brings joy to my heart. Yet the implication of it being similar to a Hostess SnoBall made my decision that much easier. I fell in love with SnoBalls at a young age and have missed them since I've started eating healthier. So this cupcake was the answer to my childhood memories.

The chocolate cake was soft and springy topped with a beautiful buttercream. I loved the coconut shavings, but my boyfriend and others might be terrified of the stringy nature it has. The green was a little light on my cupcake and I wish if they were calling it a Green Snowball to put a brighter pop of color into it - instead I decided it was anxious for spring. The green is starting to come in - hinting at St Patty's Day and the soon to be green trees and grass.

Yet what really took the cake (pardon my pun) was inside. A nice bite revealed to me a gooey, beautiful center of marshmallow creme. Not marshmallow fluff or a marshmallow peep, but beautiful cream. Just enjoy it for a moment with me:
That is what I'm talking about. The beautiful cream flowed out of the cupcake and into my mouth. The only issue with this beautiful brimming marshmallow is that it wanted to flow faster than I could eat it (SHOCK!). It was one of the few cupcakes where I grabbed a plate and began to dig in with a fork. For me it was enjoyable still because I could be sure to get all the cake, buttercream, marshmallow, and coconut in one bite and I felt fancy eating a little cupcake on a plate. Yet for others this could be a drippy, sticky mess.

If you want to try this cupcake, be warned, the inside will drip on you. I would suggest not trying to walk and eat with it. As well as don't try to talk or do other things with it, because it will catch you off guard and leave you with a questionable white spot. Otherwise, this is a delicious cupcake that would only intrigue me more if the frosting was also marshmallow based. yummm.

- Mollie

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

After fasting for 40 days and nights, he was hungry.

Those of you who are religious and those who are not may know that today, Ash Wednesday, marks the first day of Lent. This year is my first official Lent, which sounds strange since I've lived through how many other, but it is the first one that I am celebrating as a Catholic. This means I will not eat meat on Fridays and I am going to give up something that is a worldly distraction or keeps me away from my relationship with God.

The hardest part of this will be that I am giving up cookies, ice cream, and candy.
Oh yes, you heard me right.
I am a little bit obsessive about having some kind of cookie, candy, or ice cream in the house so I can have it when I'm in a mood, to celebrate, or just because I feel I need it.
So to challenge myself I am giving up all three of these delicious parts of my life. That means you will probably hear me whine on my blog about it, or that I will start baking more. I didn't give up any other baked goods besides cookies (unless there is candy or ice cream involved in them). This means I will still be writing and you can journey with me during my Lent discovery of what else I can find to satisfy my ever constant sweet tooth.

- Mollie

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet Sugary Love

Dear blog,

I sincerely apologize for not having been to see you or write to you recently. It has caused much anguish in my heart that I've been laboring over papers, essays, tests, and books rather than mixing together sugars, butter, flour, and creating something delicious to write to you about. Or even having time to go out and eat a delicious dessert. Instead I have been hard at work, stuffing spoonfuls of cookies and cream ice cream into my face in my moments of chocolate cravings.

But, the good news is I have something fun to write about.

Although it was quite a while away now, I baked delicious cheesecake for Valentine's day. When I found the recipe I knew it was perfect, especially with the heart shaped pans I have. So, although it's almost a month late, revel in the delicious cheesecake goodness.

Double Decker Oreo Cheesecake

Ready in about 6 hours. So prepare ahead of time.
Difficulty: 3   - Not so hard preparation, but there is a knowledge in baking Cheesecake that I had no grasp of when I started.

First off, be smarter than I was. Go here and read article on making Cheesecake. It will give you all the tips and tricks that I didn't have. This means you will not have cracks in your cheesecake, you will not idle near it worriedly as I did, and the edges will not be a little crispier than you expected. I had a few problems since my pan sizes were different than they were, which led me to be edgy and leave it in longer than I needed since I wasn't sure how to check for Cheesecake. The thermometer is so clever it didn't even cross my mind. So be sure to read up just to keep your cheesecake beautiful and soft.

Now, the Ingredients:
  • 1 package of Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies. (try not to eat most of them if you are making the whole 16 serving recipe, it was hard for me)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 packages of 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 squares (1 oz) Semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Now remember if you're a little health conscious, like me, you can use reduced fat cream cheese and sour cream and margarine. It's still just as delicious. So don't worry about eating a few extra slices.

You begin by heating the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. This is where you should also get your pan ready, whether it be springform, cupcake, regular cake, or heart-shaped. While I just greased mine up with baking spray, I like the idea of lining it with parchment paper, it may make for a lot less of a mess in the end. Especially with this multi-layered cheesecake. In addition, if you are using a springform or anything that might let water seep into it, cover the outside with the tinfoil to keep water from getting in and ruining the texture of your cake.

Now is the fun part. Whip out your food processor (this was the first time I got to use mine!), throw about 30 cookies in there, and grind until fine. I really enjoyed this part. Perhaps a little too much. Then add the butter (either in your processor or another bowl) and mix well. This will be your crust so carefully press into the bottom of your pan, covering each part equally. They recommend a 13x9 for this recipe, so be sure you do conversions to make sure you don't have too much extra crust like I did - unless you enjoy eating cookie crumbs and having them fall into your blouse. oops!

In a large bowl, beat all your cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until well blended. Add in the sour cream and mix it all up. Add your eggs one at a time, beating after each one until just blended. Over beating, which I have often done, will let more air into your batter causing for a higher chance of cracks on the surface.

Then we deviate from the recipe a little. I enjoy reading the comments on each recipe on allrecipes, because they will always clue you into little slip ups in the overall structure. Here you should split the cheesecake batter in half. In one half of the batter stir in the melted chocolate. Hopefully you split it in half exactly so it's not too chocolately (where you can always add more plain batter) or not chocolatey enough (where you're just sad). Pour the chocolate batter into the cheesecake pan first, spreading it across the pan. Then pour the regular batter on top of the chocolate batter. This is a lot easier to spread on top of another batter because of the softness it has without the thick chocolate. Then have fun sprinkling the remaining cookies on top, either by crumbling them with your hands or chopping them up.

Now comes the meticulous part. Place your cheesecake pan into another pan (whatever it fits in that has high sides) and use a teakettle - or some other kind of pouring device that won't get the liquid into your cheesecake - to pour hot water in the outer pan. Then bake for 45 minutes or until the center is 'set'. I'm not 100% sure what set should mean, but I know it shouldn't be too brown and it shouldn't be still that soft batter. It will be 160-165 degrees F. if you are smart and use a thermometer. If you aren't smart and don't have one (like me) then you can use a small knife in the center, like a cake, to see if it comes out clean.

After baking it will need to cool completely. After that run a knife around the edges to keep it from sticking, like most of mine did, and let it refrigerate for around 4 hours. I dug in too fast, but if you look to the right at that beauty, how could you resist?
Okay, so it's not that beautiful. The edges are a little more brown because I didn't adjust the time exactly for my smaller pan, the top is a bit cracked since I didn't put it in a water bath, BUT it was still yummy. The cookies, chocolate, and cheesecake layers all blended together nicely and I couldn't resist eating it every day for dessert for quite a few days.

All in all, it was a good learning experience. Cheesecake does take a lot more thought than just following a simple recipe and throwing stuff together. I think I like it that way. Maybe I'll try it again soon.

But, until then, I still have lots of papers and work to do. Stress baking or stress eating will commence soon.
Don't worry. I'll tell you all about it.

- Mollie