Hooo doggies! I have been super busy in the kitchen this past week!
It began last Sunday when my craving for Tagalongs hit hard. Tagalongs are the peanut butter/chocolate/shortbread cookies you can get from Girl Scouts. Unfortunately, there are no Girl Scout outposts in NYC where you can buy the cookies. You have to KNOW somebody. And my connection at work left last year for a new job, so I was jonesin’ for those cookies BIG TIME.
The recipe came from Baking Bites, a great baking blog. The woman in charge has made a lot of bootleg Girl Scout cookies and people love them.
My cookies turned out all right. The next time I make them (and believe me, there will be a next time), I’m going to do two things differently.
For starters, I’m not going to put a ‘thumbprint in the cookie and then pipe the peanut butter filling in the middle like the recipe suggests. I’m just going to spread the peanut butter filling with a knife across the top of the cookies, leaving just a bit of the cookie showing around the edges. Put the peanut butter in just the middle essentially formed a lump in my cookie and when I covered them in chocolate, it looked a little weird. Plus, you didn’t get that nice even layer of peanut butter. It was a nice surprise, but I wanted it in every bite.
Secondly, I’m going to use chocolate candy melts to coat them. Using regular chocolate proved to be a little bit of a disaster because as soon as you touched a cookie, the chocolate started to melt. I know, I know, I could have tempered it or done something to it to prevent that, but why bother when the baking gods have provided us with candy melts???
Other than that, everything turned out great. They were a hit. If anyone happens to have a recipe for homemade Lemon Chalet Cremes, please share. I am craving those right now too.
Thursday night, we went to see a live taping of the WTF Podcast with Marc Maron at the Bell House in Brooklyn. We saw another live taping a few months ago and noticed that a ton of people gave Marc food. And he’s constantly tweeting about all the goodies people give him. So Rob suggested I bake something, and we settled on sugar cookies decorated to look like his feral cats.
I tried in vain to find a cat head shaped cookie cutter on short notice, but no luck. So I had to draw a template and freehand those cookies! I used chocolate candy melts in a tiny squeeze bottle to do the decorations (and managed to slice my thumb in the process – no worries! A Band-Aid took care of everything.).
Before the taping started, Marc came out and asked if anyone had brought gifts. A lot of people had, but when I gave him the cookies, he looked at them and said, “Oh, look at those!” He asked my name and shook my hand. He disappeared backstage for a bit and then came back out and said, “Cat Cookie Lady, what’s your name again?”
At the top of the podcast, he thanked people who brought him gifts, and held my cookies up for the audience to see and said, “Cat cookies from Kiesha!”
He even Tweeted about them, complete with a photo of the cookies on what appears to be his pillow!
Winning! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Saturday night, we hosted a game night here in our apartment in Brooklyn. We invited over my sister-in-law and her fiance and her fiance’s sister and her husband (got that?). Since Megan (my sister-in-law) is vegan, I knew I needed to make a dessert she could eat. And Michael’s (Megan’s fiance) sister Amanda’s birthday is in a couple of days, so I decided to bake a small cake for her.
For Christmas, Megan got me Pocket Pie Molds. I got an apple shaped one and one to make lattice-topped pies. They are super cute, so I figured I could make some vegan pie dough and fill them with my Whiskey Apple Pie filling.
It took some work to figure those molds out, and, because they were vegan, I couldn’t use egg wash to seal the two pieces of dough together before crimping. But with a little creativity, I finally figured it out and produced seven pocket pies.
They turned out really good! Megan really enjoyed them, as well as the non-vegans in the crowd. They were especially good for breakfast the following day.
I also got a new cake tin at Christmas, from Amanda and her husband Jim. It’s a tiny little pan – six inches across. I figured I would use it to bake a little two-tiered cake that would definitely feed the five non-vegans. I swore to Megan to secrecy and we determined that Amanda’s favorite flavor of cake is chocolate, so I consulted Martha and found a Devil’s Food cake recipe that looked really good.
Amanda loves the ocean and most anything you would find in the ocean, but she really loves sharks. For Christmas two years ago, Megan and Michael adopted a shark in Amanda’s name, and when she opened up the framed certificate, she screamed like a little kid. So I went online and started searching for shark cake ideas. I nearly went with the Twinkie Shark from “Hello, Cupcake!”, but ultimately decided I’d try to do something like this:
It was a bad week for cookie cutters, as I also couldn’t find a shark one. So I had to freehand that as well! It took a few tries to draw something small enough to fit on the side of the cake, but I think I did okay:
We hid the cake in our fridge pretty well, doing our best to keep Amanda out.
“Oh, do you need another beer? No, no, no, I’ll get it, you sit right there!”
She was very excited.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re planning to make your own two-tiered six inch cake using Martha’s recipe for Devil’s Food Cake with Mint Chocolate Ganache (I skipped the ganache and just made vanilla buttercream), know that you’ll end up with enough extra batter to bake EIGHTEEN cupcakes. Yup. Probably should’ve halved that recipe, but I didn’t. So I made the cupcakes, which we proceeded to distribute to our neighbors in the building, send home with our guests AND eat for breakfast. I think there’s probably still one or two left.
So, yeah, a crazy busy baking week! And this week isn’t any easier. I baked a pie today to take to work tomorrow for National Pi Day (March 14th…3/14…3.14…get it?) and I’ve got a really intensely alcoholic cupcake planned for St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday. Check back for posts on those next weekend!