Sugar Sweets Festival

Sugar-Sweets-Poster-web

This Sunday, October 6th, City Reliquary will be hosting its 4th Annual Sugar Sweets Festival. The City Reliquary is a not-for-profit community museum and civic organization located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Through permanent display of New York City artifacts, rotating exhibits of community collections and annual cultural events, the City Reliquary connects visitors to both the past and present of New York. The Sugar Sweets Festival is a family-friendly celebration of New York’s bakers and sweet-makers. The festival will feature a bake sale– which supports the museum and civic organization– as well as a blue ribbon baking competition, demonstrations and entertainment.

I will be participating at this event as a judge (!) and will be providing a few dozen candy Buckeyes. I’ve also been asked to sit a spell at the Ask the Baker table, where I will be answering (or at least attempting to answer) baking-related questions.

This year’s event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free and baked goods will range in price from $1 to $4 apiece. Goodies will be provided by A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn, Betty Bakery, The Blue Stove, Momofuku Milk Bar, Peter Pan Donuts, Salties, Steve’s Key Lime Pies, Treats Truck and other home bakers and sweetmakers. Coffee will be provided by Olso Coffee.

There will also be music, apron decorating, raffles and more entertainment!

Blue ribbons will be awarded to non-professional bakers in the following categories: Best Vegan/Gluten-Free; Best Fall-Flavored; Most Creative Cupcake; Chocolatastic (this is the one I’ll be judging!); and Best in Brooklyn.

For more information, go to sugarsweet.org or cityreliquary.org. You can also contact the organizer Jeff Tancil at jeff@cityreliquary.org or by phone at (718) 782-4842.

The City Reliquary is located at 370 Metropolitan Avenue at Havemeyer, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For those taking advantage of public transportation, take the L train to Lorimer St. or the G train to Metropolitan Ave.

Recipe: Whiskey Apple Pie Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

cupcake

We are deep in the thick of apple season. I’ve been dining on apple pie and drinking apple cider seltzers (1/2 apple cider, 1/2 club soda) like crazy. This is the start of my favorite food season. It starts off with apple, moves into pumpkin, takes a left turn at mashed potatoes and biscuits and finally ends at cookies. What’s not to love?

I believe Whiskey Apple Pie to be my signature dish. And what better dish to introduce myself to my new coworkers than a more mobile, more easily shareable version of that pie?

Oh, yeah, I have a new job! Everyone in my department was laid off back in June. I spent a month unemployed but fortunately found a new gig pretty quickly. I worked from home for 10 weeks over the summer until finally joining other human beings back in an office. The good news is that I have sick days again! The bad news is that my day starts at 6 a.m. I’m slowly adjusting. Anyway, as I have learned, baked goods are the quickest way to make friends at a new job. I think I did pretty good with these. As soon as the word ‘whiskey’ passed my lips, people were clamoring for a cupcake. One guy told me they tasted like Christmas.

These turned out really quite delicious. You can make them non-alcoholic if you’d like, but I think it adds a really nice flavor.

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Whiskey Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Makes around 18 cupcakes

The Ingredients:

For the Apple Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP baking soda
1 TSP salt
2 TSP cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 TSP vanilla
2 cups grated apples
(2 Granny Smith, 1 Fuji or comparable pairing)

For the Whiskey Apple Pie filling:
3 apples, finely chopped
(2 Granny Smith, 1 Fuji or comparable pairing)
1 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP light brown sugar
1 TSP lemon juice
1/4 TSP cinnamon
1/2 TSP cloves
1 TSP ginger
1 TSP nutmeg
2 TSP Whiskey

For the Cinnamon Frosting:
1 cup butter
at room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar
2-4 TBS milk
2 TSP vanilla extract
1 TSP cinnamon

The Process:

Make the whiskey apple pie filling first by placing the chopped apples, butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, whiskey and spices in a medium pan and cook over medium heat until the apples are tender and most of the liquid has cooked off, about eight to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool while preparing the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients– flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla and whisk. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. It will get harder and harder to stir this mixture and you may find that you need to get your hands involved and knead the dough a little bit. Don’t be concerned about how dry the batter is. Work the grated apples into the batter and you will see that the mixture moistens up nicely. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full with batter and bake for anywhere from 18 to 24 minutes. My cupcakes needed a longer bake time. Remove them from the oven when a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, use a paring knife to remove a ‘cone’ of cake from each cupcake. Fill each hole with enough pie filling to be flush with the tops of the cupcake.

Beat the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until it is light and creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and beat to combine. Add just enough milk to make the frosting easily spreadable/pipeable. Frost the cooled cupcakes.

The New York Times Pie Issue

Stars in Your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie

Lovers of pie, The New York Times has got you covered. Check out today’s Dining & Wine section for a variety of articles about pie, including 20 summer pie recipes, a pie debate and an amazing graphic to teach you how to build a better apple pie.

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