Category Archives: Baked Goods
I hope everyone had a fun and sexy Valentine’s Day. I’ve been single for basically forever, but for some reason, I find that I’m not usually too down as one would expect a single to be on Valentine’s Day. Sure there are years when it seems that everyone is coupling up or getting a date leading up to the day, but the sliver of optimism in me seems to show itself every February 14th. Being a hopeless romantic and thinking that everything will work out for the best, I have to spin things in my favor to make the best of the holiday as I see fit. Working at an awesome company with an awesome boss and co-workers definitely helps too. In summary, there was a building party, 2 team parties, an office party, I got video conferencing to work with my boss in our Chicago office and I got to have dinner with a friend at a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try. This year was probably a top 3 of all time.
Last week, a friend at work decided to organize “Eat Your Feelings Day,” and I agreed to make… wait for it… Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies. In addition to that gem, someone on a team that I’m suppose to be transferring to in the near future asked if I was planning on doing anything on V-Day (like how I put together a Sweets Exchange during the holidays). Hence, “Ray Wu’s Lonely Hearts Club” was added after the “Eat Your Feelings Day” celebration. We booked a conference room and brought our laptops to work while we gorged on sweets, listened to love jams and put a crackling fire up on the projector. I even stayed late at work one night to make a corny flyer.
Overall, it was a pretty big success with a steady flow of people stopping in to grab some treats. In addition to the red velvet cheesecake brownies, I made coconut macaroons with a caramel drizzle, peanut clusters, and some origami flowers for decoration. Let’s just say that the commute that morning sucked, but it was all worth it.
Coconut Macaroons, Caramel and Origami Flowers
Coconut Macaroons with Caramel Drizzle
Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
So next year, if you’re feeling down on Valentine’s Day, just get cookin’ on something delicious. And if you are a lady, ask me out on a date. Either or.
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
It’s been a while since I graced this blog or coworkers’ bellies with yummy treats. I know I’ve said it before, but baking is so therapeutic. It’s precise, like culinary chemistry, and the payoff is usually something delectable.
This past week, my team had an intern whose last day was Friday. I told him he could pick his favorite flavor and I’d come up with a cupcake for him and the team. Strawberry shortcake he said — so strawberry it was!
- 2 1/2 cups AP flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups of chopped strawberries
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, around 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Then add buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix until just combined. Add chopped strawberries, folding to avoid mushing the fruit.
- Fill lined cupcake pans 3/4 of the way with batter.
- Bake for 20 minutes and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
- Frozen strawberries, pureed with sugar (to your taste depending on how sweet the strawberries are)
- 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 4 cups of confectioner sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Beat in 1/3 cup of the strawberry puree and vanilla extract. Add the confectioner sugar one cup at a time beating until well combined. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with fresh strawberries.
The frosting is nothing short of amazing. It literally tasted like ice cream… and I would know! I licked the spoon the night I made it. Did I feel guilty? NO I DID NOT. Make these cupcakes, you will run right down to Boston to give me a big hug and kiss.
This fall has been somewhat disappointing weather wise going from unseasonably warm to cloudy rainy weather to freak October snow storm. The weather has played apart in delaying my pie making, but today, I’m going to bring back fall with an apple pie. My first apple pie in college was a success, followed by a mediocre pie during the holidays. For every pie that succeeded, there was a failed pie and today was another attempt to break the curse. I consulted Smitten Kitchen to try an all butter crust recipe, because the crust is always the biggest player in pie. This also gave me an opportunity to use my pastry blender, which had been collecting dust (cleaned before use? Yes). In recent years, I’ve been making use of a food processor for my pie crust needs. Fast and clean, but more clean up required.
A Call to Arms
Double Pie Crust (because a single layer pie crust would be cutting corners)
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1/2 cup + a few extra tbsp very cold water
Blend flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add cold cubed butter and mix with pastry blender until pieces of butter are smaller than a pea and texture of mixture is crumbly. Add 1/2 cup water and bring dough together with 1 hand. Add additional tbsp cold water until dough comes together. Separate into two portions, flatten into a disc shape between plastic wrap and cover completely with the same plastic wrap. Place dough into fridge for at least 2 hours.
For the filling, I used Food Network Kitchen’s recipe since my best pie post college used this recipe
Apple Pie Filling
3 lbs. peeled baking apple slices (7 to 8 apples, I used Golden Delicious)
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
2 tbsp butter melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 3 tbsp AP flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1 egg plus 1 tsp water
sugar to sprinkle
Toss the juice of 1 lemon with apple slices, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large pot, melt 2 tbsp butter and cook apple mixture on medium high heat until sugar mixture starts to bubble, lower temperature to medium low heat and cover pot. Cook until apples are tender (about 15 minutes). remove from heat and add vanilla and flour. Mix and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough from the fridge into 2 circular layers 11 to 12 inches in diameter. Place 1 layer into 9 inch pie tin and mold along the edge. Fill with apple mixture and top with cubed butter. Take egg and mix with a little water to make egg wash. Brush egg wash along the edge of the pie. Place second layer of pie dough over the top of the pie. Press edges of the pie until the crust is sealed. Cut off access dough 1 inch from the edge of the pie tin. Fold the 1 inch of access dough under the edge of the pie so the it rests on top of the edge of the pie tin. Flute the edges of the pie. Cut 6 slit above the pie to let steam come out as it’s baking. Brush egg wash over the pie and top with sprinkled sugar. Place pie on foil covered cookie sheet in case of overflowed filling. Bake for 15 minutes and reduce temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake an additional 50 minutes. Let cool and serve warm.
My pie turned out butt ugly so the streak of unfortunate pies shall continue. At least I’m positive that the crust is flaky. Let’s hope it tastes good.
In sales, this is called “Rustic”