Archive for October, 2012

Pipe Dream #14: To Be Little Debbie, Revisited – Homemade Ding Dong Cupcakes

I don’t know if I’ve told you about my obsession with marshmallow creme. Cream. Whatever. I may have alluded to it with these Oatmeal Creme Pies, the other Little Debbie-esque recipe I posted. If not, let me just tell you.

I am obsessed with marshmallow creme. Slash marshmallows in general. Add marshmallow creme into whatever proposal you are trying to swing, and I’m there.

Some Examples of Proposals That Are 100% More Effective With The Addition of Marshmallow Creme:

– “Lauren, will you peel, core and slice 1000 apples by hand for me? I will spoon feed you marshmallow creme the entire time.”

-“Lauren, will you spend the day wallowing in a pool of self-doubt, despair and misery in order to save the rainforest? I’ll swirl in some marshmallow creme, no charge.

-“Lauren, will you marry me? I am a marshmallow creme maker. I live in a factory of marshmallow creme production.”

Now, you may think I am exaggerating.

And you are right. I am exaggerating. But I do love marshmallow creme. I would eat it with a spoon.

These cupcakes are kind of food blog trendy, so I’ve had the idea in mind for some time. Because they are so trendy, you could google this and come up with 1000 blogs with similar recipes, all of which look prettier than mine. For me, these are more about getting to eat marshmallow creme.

I toyed with the idea of making my own marshmallow creme for them in the form of a 7-minute frosting, hearing that it was “marshmallow frosting.” Given that I was going a bit psycho/lazy on a Saturday baking extravaganza, I tried to make this meringue frosting in a bowl that was, ahem, less than clean, and it didn’t whip up quite the way I wanted. At that point in the day, however, I was too fatigued to care, so really, what you see is what you get with these guys.

I have such issues with meringues. Meringues 3 Lauren 2.

Oh, but did I mention they were delicious?

Oh look! Friends! P.s. Guess it’s Halloween today. Hopefully someone gives you one of those chocolate covered marshmallow deals.


Homemade Ding Dong Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

I used this basic one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart. I’ve used it loads of times, and you can find it on my blog here. My only tip on this is DON’T OVERFILL THE LINERS. Bad news.

For the filling:

7-Minute Frosting

From Martha Stewart Living

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In the heatproof bowl of a VERY CLEAN electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine sugar, corn syrup, 1/4 cup water, and egg whites. You could use a double boiler for this part, or just a metal bowl, and then transfer the contents to a mixer bowl when ready. Be careful not to get any water from the double boiler in the mixing bowl if you go that route. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.
Attach bowl to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat mixture on high speed until glossy, cool and doubled in size, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Use immediately.
Alternately, you could use a marshmallow fluff/powdered sugar mixture to fill theses babies. That would be yummy.
For the topping:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
Melt the butter and chips in the microwave, stirring every twenty seconds or so until melted. Don’t let the stuff burn.
Alternately, you could use chocolate ganache to top these. In retrospect, I should have done that.
To assemble:
Set aside a bit of the 7 minute frosting in a piping bag fitted with a small circle tip. This is for decorating the cupcakes later. A nicer alternative might be a royal icing, but I was too lazy to make some.
Remove cupcakes from liners (or don’t) and cut out a circle of cake from the top of each. They call this “the cone method.” I always reserve the very top of the piece I cut out to put back on top of the filling. Fill each hole with 7 minute frosting and replace the cake piece over the hole. Swirl each top with melted chocolate and let set for a bit. Using the reserved frosting, pipe the classic Hostess swirl on top of each cupcake.

You Should Just Know…

…that because of having a real job, Saturdays have turned into baking day. And I kind of go crazy after not baking for days. And this is what happens.

Be on the lookout for:

-Frangelico Nutella Cupcakes

-Homemade Ding Dong Cupcakes

-Brownie Oreo Earthquake Cupcakes

They are coming your way soon.




Pipe Dream #147: To Have An Edition of Something- Homemade Cream Eggs

A few Saturdays ago, I made three different recipes with one 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree. It was like Saturday: Pumpkin Edition, except the days of my life don’t have titles like that. It was just a Saturday, and I had ruminating on all the beautiful pumpkin bakes on other blogs all week. After a solid week of thinking about pumpkin cinnamon rolls, you might go crazy too. Hm. Maybe it should be Saturday: Pumpkin-Craving Edition.

Anyway, seeing as Halloween is coming up, I purposely placed this candy-making post today. Not that it will do you any good. It’s not like you can hand these out from the front door as a frugal substitute for a fun size Butterfinger Bar. Everyone knows that the houses who hand out homemade stuff are weird, and they probably poisoned the candy. My family used to sift through our bags at the end of the night and check for suspect goods, opened wrappers, that sort of thing.

I had trouble taking the Tootsie Roll pop with a Kleenex taped over it to make it into a little mini ghost from the house in the cul-de-sac. Thoughts from my 10-year-old mind:

1. Where has this Kleenex been? Gross.

2. I am trying to ignore the fact that this is like, a heathen holiday. Why are you reminding me with this ghost? I just want to gorge myself on candy and skip the church “Harvest Fest” Halloween replacement party, ok?

3. I wonder how these candy poisoners poison candy? Probably they have to inject it through the wrapper so that no one notices.

Don’t ask my why I was puzzling over the best way to poison candy. I don’t even think I’ve ever heard of that happening.

So this is the Halloween edition of my blog that is actually not a Halloween edition. It is more like the Easter edition of the Halloween candy that will be completely useless to you. Except for eating, of course. Or giving to your sister, who is addicted to Cadbury Cream Eggs.

And p.s. This recipe is particularly good for those of you who have recently moved back to the U.S. from England, where Cadbury is abundant in all its forms and Cream Eggs are sold year-round. Can you even imagine a more perfect world?

I can’t,


Homemade Cadbury Cream Eggs

Makes about 2 dozen. Adapted from here.

1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
red and yellow food coloring

1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening

Combine the corn syrup, butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Beat well with an electric mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar, a little bit at at time and mix by hand after each addition. Mix until creamy.

Remove about 1/3 of the sugar mixture and place in a small bowl. Add a bit of yellow food coloring (like, three drops), then a drop or two of red food coloring. Mix well. Cover both mixtures and chill for at least 2 hours or until firm and workable.

Roll a small, marble size from the orange filling. Wrap a small amount of the white filling around the orange. Form into the shape of eggs and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Chill for at least 4 hours, or until set.

When the centers are firm, combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a double boiler or ceramic bowl. Melt, stirring gently, until mixture is smooth. Dip each center into the chocolate with a fork, shake to remove drips, and place back on the baking sheet. I touched up my eggs a bit with some leftover chocolate. They looked spotty. Let set out or stick them in the fridge until the chocolate is set.

Favorite Shots: Saturdays

“Wades, there is extra marshmallow frosting. Just eat it. Eat it.”



Pipe Dream #146: To Like Babies

Not all babies are cute. It is just a fact of life.

Ha. Bet you weren’t expecting that one. Sometime if you talk to me in person and you are interested in knowing, you can ask me about the time I made fun of a baby and what happened after that.

If you don’t care, that’s cool, but will you look at this child? I won’t even pretend like I’m a good baby photographer (like Hanni Go) or that these shots are the best. But I couldn’t resist. This baby is actually cute. Looks just like her mum.





Guest Recipe: Rachel’s Frangelico Float

My friend Rachel is so jamming. My family had guests, and she came over and helped me make drinks and dessert. And even brought a recipe because I was maxed out. And then she helped me clean up. Best evening of the week, easy.

And! Best kitchen knowledge learning trick of our day: I guess that bartender trick of creating neato swirls in glasses is actually attainable in real life! Cool!

This “drink” is so rich that it’s really a dessert in a glass. It’s a bonus after-dinner drink/dessert combo. And it includes chocolate and hazelnut. Could life really get any better? (P.S. I often ask myself this question during the in-and-outs of my  oh so glorious days, and the answer is usually along the lines of, “Yes, it could be better, if I had a plate of homemade pasta in a truffle cream sauce next to me and the trump was resounding,” but that is a whole ‘nother story.)

To be cute, we toasted up some hazelnuts to get them in the nude. Inappropriate.

And then we whipped up some heavy cream. No, this is not Cool Whip.

And then we enjoyed the evening.


Rachel’s Frangelico Float

Makes 4 drinks

4 cups vanilla bean ice cream

5 ounces Frangelico

4 ounces creme de cacao

1 cup milk

4 ounces chocolate syrup (we used Hershey’s brand)

1 cup heavy cream


Toast hazelnuts on low/medium heat until the skins loosen. Remove nuts to a paper towel on a plate, rub them down as best you can and remove the flaky skins. Give the hazelnuts a rough chop and set aside for the garnish.

Whip the heavy cream in a stand mixer until it holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor and mix until blended.

Drizzle four glasses with chocolate syrup, then pour in the drinks. Garnish with whipped cream and hazelnuts.

Pipe Dream #145: To Use Any Excuse – Apple Crisp Cake

Wades, what kind of cake do you want for your birthday this year?”

“I don’t care, something apple-y cinnamon-y fall. Like apple crisp.”

“So you want apple crisp for your birthday cake this year?”

“Yeah, that sounds really good.”

“No. Please let me make you a birthday cake. I want to make a cake.”

“Lauren, just do what you want.”

“Ok, it’s your birthday. Let’s compromise.”

“Get out of my room.”

And so I made this cake. I started with a vanilla cake recipe and doctored it up a bit with apples (duh), cinnamon, and a brown sugar streusel topping (which, by the way, felt really sugary–you should reduce the sugar a bit when you make this). I also decided to invite some cinnamon cream cheese frosting to the party. It just felt rich and right.

IT. WAS. SO. GOOD. It was like apple crisp in a cake, which made for a happy ending to our little domestic tiff-that-wasn’t-really. We ended up eating it kind of warm-ish. Which was the best way. Good thing I didn’t take this cake out, because the frosting was so melty that they layers would have slid right off.

I just.

Go make this.


Maddie’s Apple Cake

by me

For the cake:

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 scant tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) butter, softened

1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk

5 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 large apples, peeled, 1/2 diced, 1/2 grated

For the streusel topping:

1 cup flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 stick butter

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (pecans are cool too)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter two 6-inch round cake pans and two 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition, and then fold in the diced and grated apples. Divide the batter into the pans (I just eyeballed the amounts), and smooth the batter.

To make up the streusel topping, mix together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Mash in the butter with a fork until the mixture is crumbly, then stir in the walnuts. Sprinkle evenly over the four cake pans, and lightly swirl it in a bit with a toothpick.

Bake for 15 minutes and then check the layers. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Because the layers are different sizes, however, the 6-inch rounds will probably be done earlier than the 8-inch rounds. Or whatever size you choose to use.

Turn the layers out onto wire racks by placing a rack on top of a pan, inverting it, and lifting off the pan. Peel off the paper liners and let cool completely. Invert onto a cardboard round or cake plate, and fill layers with cream cheese icing (see recipe below).

For the cream cheese icing:

8 ounces cream cheese

1 stick (1/2 cup, 113 g) butter

4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place butter and cream cheese into mixer bowl. Cream 1 minute on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar 1 c. at a time, mixing on medium speed, scraping down bowl between additions. Add vanilla and cinnamon, then beat on high speed 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.

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