4th of July Baked Goods

America’s birthday is once again upon us. The weather seems a little unstable out here in Brooklyn. My dream of seeing the Macy’s fireworks show may be dashed again.

If the weather is threatening to rain on your parade, here are some 4th of July baked goods you can whip up to celebrate indoors.

Stars in Your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie

Nothing is more American than apple pie, so try your hand at the Stars in your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie. It’s one of my favorites.

Marzipan star

If you have a vegan in your life, you could try the Red, White and Blue cupcakes I made a couple summers back. They have marbled interiors and cute marzipan decorations on top.

Googling “Fourth of July” baked goods will bring you many results, but here are a few of my favorite from around the Web.

The Busty Baker’s Red, White and Blue Cake is gorgeous…

as are her Firework Sugar Cookies.

There’s the classic Berry Flag Cake.

This one’s been making the rounds on Pinterest in various forms: Red, White and Blue layered drinks.

I hope these links have given you some ideas for your own Fourth of July yummies. Have a great holiday, don’t forget the sunscreen (or umbrella) and Happy Birthday, America!

Buckeyes Recipe and Ohio Pride

Buckeyes

Buckeyes. Technically they’re nuts. But “Buckeye” is also an affectionate name Ohio residents call themselves, the football team at Ohio State University (the mascot is even an anthropomorphic Buckeye named Brutus), and of course, that most Ohioan of confections– a ball of peanut butter and powdered sugar rolled in chocolate.

That little candy has the ability to make former Ohioans very nostalgic for their homeland. Just this week I visited the Meadowlands Fair in New Jersey and passed a stand selling various deep fried goodies and was surprised to see that the Buckeye had made its way over.

Deep Fried Buckeyes

Today I made the first batch of Buckeyes I’ve made in years. They were typically a Christmas treat in my house (along with No Bake Cookies and Potato Candy). Today, however, the candies were requested by my friend Steve Slaybaugh, another Ohio ex-pat, to give out to attendees at one of his monthly mixers tonight.

Steve decided to create a space for those of us who made the 500-mile trek from our homeland. OhioNYC is a website that gathers news relevant to our kind. He also hosts the above-mentioned mixers at Park Slope bar The Owl Farm. These mixers are typically DJ’d by an Ohioan and prizes are given out, including OhioNYC t-shirts and coupons for Jeni’s and Graeter’s ice cream (which all good Ohioans know are the numbers one and two ice cream in the world).

Tonight, my husband Robert Duffy will be DJing and I will be providing the Buckeyes. If you’re in the area and would like to sample a Buckeye (and also maybe get a discount on beers!), the event starts at 8:30.

If you’re not in Brooklyn and would prefer to make these rich little bites at home, please see the recipe posted below. I decided to alter a key ingredient and dipped my peanut butter balls in melted dark chocolate candy melts rather than melted milk chocolate. I prefer dark chocolate anyway and candy melts keep the Buckeyes from becoming a big melty mess.

Buckeyes

Buckeyes
Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups Peanut Butter
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar
24 ounces dark chocolate candy melts

Process

Cream the Peanut Butter, butter and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined and mostly lump-free. Slowly add the powdered sugar; mixture will look dry and crumbly. Using your hands, roll the mixture into one-inch balls and place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Place a toothpick in each ball. Once all the balls are formed, put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Once the balls are frozen, melt half the candy melts in a shallow microwave safe bowl for about one minute. Remove the bowl and stir. If the candy melts are not smooth, continue to microwave in 10-second increments, stirring after each increment, until the mixture is smooth.

Remove the balls from the freezer and using the toothpick as a handle, dip each ball in the chocolate mixture, leaving a small circle of peanut butter uncovered to mimic the look of a real Buckeye nut. Let the excess chocolate drip off and put the ball back on the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Repeat until all balls are dipped, adding and melting more candy melts as needed.

Put the cookie sheet back in the freezer for a few minutes to let the chocolate completely harden. You can then remove the cookie sheet and transfer your Buckeyes in a single layer to an air-tight container. If the chocolate spread when you put the balls on the cookie sheet, you can pretty easily snap off any excess around the bottoms (or use a knife if you want to be really precise).

Keep the Buckeyes refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

Whoopie Pies: Here, There and Everywhere

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Cookie Dough/ Marshmallow Fluff Filling
Chocolate Whoopie Pie with Cookie Dough/Marshmallow Fluff Filling

I love a good Whoopie Pie. My sister-in-law’s husband’s sister (got that?) gave me a Whoopie Pie pan a few Christmases ago and it’s been a pretty amazing tool. It ensures that all my cookies turn out the same size and I don’t have to fiddle with tablespoon measures trying to figure it out.

The recipe for these Whoopie Pies came from (of course) “The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook”. This may be the first cookbook that I bake my way through. I think I’ve done about half the recipes at this point. I would like to point out that the author states that the recipe will make 20-24 whoopie pies, but she obviously was not using the pan I used, as I was only about to get nine-and-a-half out of the recipe. No worries, I had enough ingredients on hand to double the recipe and ended up with 20.

If these whoopie pies look tasty to you, you can try the Neapolitan Whoopie Pies I will be baking next Wednesday, June 12th for the Largehearted Lit event at Word Bookstore in Greenpoint. This event will feature the debut novels of two authors: Alina Simone, whose first novel “Note to Self” was released on Tuesday, and Julie Karkissian, whose novel “Dear Lucy” was published in April.

I’m excited to give these Neapolitan Whoopie Pies a try, as I’ll be going off book. I recently attempted a Black and White Cookie version and it was okay, but I’m eager to apply the same principles (and a fresh strawberry filling!) to this new recipe! I hope to post the recipe next week!

Peanut Butter Blossom Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Blossom Cupcake

Recently I was given a copy of “Bake it in a Cupcake”, a cookbook based on the Bake It in a Cake blog. I’ve always admired the photos from that site, but have wondered about the taste of said baked goods. How good can an already-baked cookie or mini pie taste when nestled in cupcake batter and then baked again?

The answer: Delicious. Why am I always skeptical of popularity?

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I am a big fan of the Peanut Butter Blossom cookie. It’s one of the staple things I bake around Christmas and it’s so good. So when I saw a recipe for a cupcake with a Peanut Butter Blossom cookie inside, I had to go for it.

I was worried that the Hershey’s Kiss on top of each cookie would just melt into a pile of goo once it went back into the oven with the cupcake batter, but I shouldn’t have worried. Once the cupcake was cooled and frosted (with an AMAZING Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting), a cross-section revealed that everything stayed exactly where it was supposed to.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cupcake

How beautiful is that? And topped with that frosting, it was a perfect one-two-three punch of chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla.

I’m now eager to try other recipes from the book, including the cupcakes that contain mini pies. I’m very skeptical of those, so I can’t wait to be blown away by how good they taste.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cupcake

Spring Wrap-Up

Here’s a quick photo wrap-up of a few things I’ve done in the past months!

Devil's Food Birthday Cake

This is a Devil’s Food Cake I made for my father-in-law’s birthday. I don’t want to tell you how many sticks of butter went into the frosting on that beast. Let’s just say I’m surprised we didn’t have heart attacks!

Devil Dogs

I’ve been baking a lot of homemade versions of packaged treats these days and I gotta say, the Devil Dogs are probably the tastiest. These are from the “Baked Elements” cookbook and feature a malted filling. They are so good and even better as mini versions. It was nearly impossible to stop eating them.

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I’ve mentioned how much I love “The Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook” previously. Seriously, everything I’ve made from this cookbook has turned out perfectly. These ice cream sandwiches were a perfect example. I made the cookie dough, the ice cream and the cookies and the final result was soooo delicious. My brother-in-law suggested I set up a lemonade-style stand and sell these on the street corner while he stood next to me eating one and just saying, “Mmmmmmm.”

Hello Kitty Cake

The most stress-inducing thing I’ve made recently was this birthday cake. A co-worker wanted a birthday cake for his girlfriend, so he asked me if I could make a sheet cake. I bravely took on the challenge, having never made one before. I’ve also never worked with fondant, so in the days leading up to baking this cake, I was a wreck. I shouldn’t have been worried though. Marshmallow fondant is super easy to make and work with and I was actually able to cut out Kitty’s face freehand and do my decorating. The only problem I had was that my black food coloring refused to actually turn my white frosting black. I’ve since learned that I should have used chocolate frosting to begin with. Oh well, lessons learned. I’m just impressed that I got the thing made and transported to work (on the train!!!) and it didn’t end up a huge mess. I’m eager to work with fondant again!

This month’s Largehearted Lit

You love books, right? And of course you love baked goods. If you’re in the area, stop by Greenpoint, Brooklyn’s Word bookstore this Tuesday, March 26th for the latest in the Largehearted Lit series.

This month’s event will feature Michelle Orange and Teddy Wayne and will also feature Pink Lemonade and Chocolate Stout cupcakes by yours truly!

For more information, click here.

Summer Wrap-up

I’ve been gone way too long. But summer is coming to an end (hallelujah!) and my baking responsibilities will be picking up again, so I thought I’d do a quick photo-heavy wrap-up of what I’ve been baking this summer.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies from The Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook. This is definitely my new favorite cookbook. I’ve made so many things from it (there will be photos of more in this post) and everything so far has turned out great.

Megan's Bridal Shower dessert table
Have I mentioned my sister-in-law is getting married on Friday?!? In June, the other bridesmaids and I threw Megan’s bridal shower and her maid of honor and I baked everything but the cake for her dessert table. I brought chocolate-dipped merengues, spiced sugar cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles! The truffles are from The Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook and are quite possibly the most addicting and delicious thing ever. And there’s no baking at all!

Cocktail-Inspired Cupcakes
Last month, the other bridesmaids and I threw Megan’s bachelorette party and I baked cocktail-inspired cupcakes. The party was great! We even got upgraded to the Presidential Suite at the Roosevelt Hotel! The cupcakes looked so at home in that lavish suite.

Mojito Cupcakes
Mojito Cupcakes

Old Fashioned Cupcakes
Old-Fashioned Cupcakes

White Russian Cupcakes
White Russian Cupcakes

Moscow Mule Cupcakes
Non-Alcoholic Moscow Mule Cupcakes

Screwdriver Cupcakes
Non-Alcoholic Screwdriver Cupcakes

Red, White and Blue Cupcakes
July 4th Red, White and Blue Vanilla Cupcakes

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-Stuffed Cupcakes
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-Stuffed Cupcakes (Can you guess where this recipe is from?)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-Stuffed Cupcakes
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough-Stuffed Cupcakes innards

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Thumprint Cookies
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Thumbprint Cookies (Again, from The Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook)

And that’s it! There have been a few other items that I didn’t photograph, but I’m getting back in the swing of things now. I’ll be providing baked goods for the first Largehearted Lit event of the season at Word bookstore in Greenpoint on Wednesday, September 19th. The book/music event is free, so come check out some great authors, music and cookies!