Summer Treats

It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I’m not sure I still remember how to do it. Sorry I’ve been missing so long. I’ve been baking, just not posting. I’m going to rectify that today with a few desserts that are perfect for July or any time you’re craving something sweet.

First up are Fourth of July Cupcakes. These are just plain ol’ vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting; the secret is the tri-colored batter! All you have to do is divide your batter in halves or thirds and mix in some food coloring. I of course went with red, white and blue, but you could do whatever colors you like.

Fourth of July Cupcakes

I created the two-toned frosting by filling two small piping bags with red and white frosting respectively and then forced them into one larger piping bag with a large tip. Squeeze frosting out until you see both colors, then pipe away!

The second dessert is a tart treat and perfect for a warm summer afternoon barbecue– Key Lime Pie! Though technically, I just used regular limes, so I guess it’s a Lime Pie. Either way, it’s incredibly tasty and incredibly easy. You can find the recipe I used here.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

This pie is so easy to put together and holds up nicely in the refrigerator. I recommend making it the night before you want to eat it and waiting until a few hours before consuming to make and apply the whipped cream topping. It’s so delicious! Creamy and lightly tart with a really wonderfully simple graham cracker crust.

I’ve been baking so many things out of a new cookbook and I will post about it soon. I just have to make a few more things because I’ve been eating them before I can even take a picture!

After Eight Cupcakes

After Eight Cupcakes

Last weekend I got a hankering to bake. Sometimes when I have a rough week at work, baking is the only thing that restores my sanity. It doesn’t always make me happy (especially when things burn or don’t go right), but it does make my world make sense again and gives me some balance.

I decided to make something I’d never made before and so consulted my copy of “Cupcakes Galore”. I’ve made a lot of cupcakes from this book, but I’d never made the After Eight Cupcakes, so I settled on those.

These are basically chocolate mint cupcakes. The cake itself is a basic chocolate cupcake with a little mint extract added in. The frosting is Mint Buttercream, which I tinted green. I topped it with a dark chocolate ganache.

After Eight Cupcakes

These were good, though if I make them again, I’m going to amp up the mint flavor. I
felt like it was a little too subtle, when I was going for more of that intense Andes mint flavor.

Cookbook Giveaway

Cake-Pops-Book

Hey everyone! I am doing my very first giveaway and wanted to invite you all to participate!

I’m giving away cookbooks to three lucky winners. Two people will receive a copy of “Cake Pops” by the talented Bakerella and one person will receive “Whoopies!” by Susanna Tee.

To enter this contest, all you have to do is “like” The Brooklyn Baker on Facebook! Already like it? Then you’re already entered to win! Want two chances to win? You can get an extra entry by sharing this post on your own Facebook page. Just hit the “Share” button under the post to post it to your own Facebook page.

Contest will end Friday, April 27th at noon EST. Three winners will be selected at random and will be notified Monday, April 30th via Facebook. The winners will also be announced on this blog. The books will be mailed out the following week.

Carrot-Ginger Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcake

Last week I had another Largehearted Lit event at Word bookstore in Greenpoint. It had been awhile since I made Carrot Cake Cupcakes, so I busted out my trusty copy of “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook” and whipped up a batch of her Carrot-Ginger Cupcakes.

This is hands down my favorite Carrot Cake recipe. I omit the raisins (I am of the opinion that raisins do not belong in cupcakes), and what’s left is just fantastic.

Carrot Cake Cupcake

I attempted to make a pretty orange and white swirled frosting, but I realized too late that I had run out of large piping bags. When I do swirls, I fill up two small piping bags with different colored frosting and then insert both of them in a much larger piping bag to create a dual piping bag of sorts. I shuffled through the mountain of piping bags I have only to discover that I was out of the large ones. So I tried to wing it and just put the two frostings in a small bag, but it didn’t *quite* work. Ah well. Lessons learned.

I’ll be back at Word on May 22nd for another Largehearted Lit event. My plan is to make Vegan Root Beer Float Cupcakes and non-vegan Creamsicle Cupcakes. Stop on by!

Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cake

This Easter was a difficult one for me. In February, my husband and I joined Weight Watchers. We’ve had incredible success (I’m down 23 pounds so far!), and while we are able to eat whatever we want as long as we plan for it, it’s sort of frowned upon to eat nothing but dessert and candy, which is pretty much what I eat at Easter.

So this year, I did some research and determined that Angel Food Cake is actually a pretty Weight Watchers-friendly dessert. For those counting Points Plus, Alton Brown’s Angel Food Cake recipe is only 6 points a slice if you cut the cake so that you get 10 slices (which is incredibly easy to do). I even mascerated my strawberries in a little of the free sample of Truvia I recently got to further reduce Points.

Angel Food Cake

This was my first time baking an Angel Food Cake, so not only did I get to try a new recipe, I also got to buy a new toy– a tube pan. Win-win situation!

I was very intimidated by this recipe and was worried that the egg white mixture was NOT going to fluff up. I shouldn’t have worried. Ol’ Trusty the KitchenAid Mixer took care of it. The cake puffed up just like it was supposed to and even released from the tube pan with minimal effort.

The cake was a hit at Easter dinner where at least half of it was polished off after dinner. The strawberries and Truvia lent a perfect amount of sweetness and the cake was light and airy and tasty! I used lemon extract in my cake and the lemon and strawberry flavors were delightful together.

If you’re looking for a lighter dessert, I would definitely recommend this cake and Alton Brown’s recipe. Also, make sure your eggs come to room temperature before you whip them, or it will take an exceptionally long time and you’ll start to think you royally screwed up.

Book review: “Marshmallow Madness” by Shauna Sever

You might think you know marshmallows. Those big, puffy white pillows that come in a Jet-Puffed bag or those tiny, crunchy blue stars and red hearts in a box of Lucky Charms. Think again.

Shauna Sever (of the blog Piece of Cake) brings you a myriad of delicious and delightful marshmallow recipes in her new cookbook “Marshmallow Madness”. The recipes range from classic Vanilla Marshmallows to boozy Margarita Marshmallows to fruity Key Lime Pie Marshmallows (rolled in crushed graham cracker crumbs)!

I set out to try one of the recipes and settled on Root Beer Float Marshmallows.

Root Beer Float Marshmallows

These marshmallows are made with actual bottled root beer. Root beer is mixed with the gelatin and it’s also added into the sugar/corn syrup mixture, which gets whipped along with the gelatin to within an inch of its life.

Shauna’s recipes are clear, concise and easy to follow. I was skeptical that the liquidy mess I was pouring into the bowl of my KitchenAid mixer would turn into marshmallow, but sure enough, it tripled in volume and became a gooey, sticky, delicious confection. Wary of getting a spatula coated in marshmallow, I simply coated my hands with cooking spray and scooped the marshmallow goo into a greased 8×8 glass pan by hand.

The hardest part of the whole marshmallow-making procedure is waiting six hours for the marshmallow to cure and set up. But set up it does! These marshmallows aren’t anything like those Jet-Puffed ones; they’re light and airy but with a little bit of jiggle. The people who tasted these marshmallows compared their appearance to tofu or flan, but I think that had more to do with the slightly tan color that came from the root beer.

I only had two issues with my marshmallows. The first was that the root beer flavor was just a little too subtle. Shauna writes that root beer extract is optional if you’re using a high-quality root beer. I went with Virgil’s, which is an amazingly flavorful root beer, but the intensity of the flavor just didn’t carry over. When I make these again (and I will make them again), I will definitely add the root beer extract for the added oomph of flavor.

The second problem was that my marshmallows seemed to absorb the powdered sugar and cornstarch coating that they were dusted with. The coating helps to keep the marshmallows from sticking together, but my coating just got absorbed. I’m not sure if I should have dusted them and then laid them all out single file on a baking sheet instead of throwing the in a Tupperware bowl (which is what I did). I will play around with this coating in my next few marshmallow attempts until I get it right.

Root Beer Float Marshmallows

There are so many wonderful recipes in this book that I can’t wait to try. I’m especially looking at the aforementioned Key Lime Pie marshmallows and the vegan ones for my sister-in-law.

And, just in time for Easter, Shauna has linked a couple of videos on her blog that will teach you how to make your very own Marshmallow Peeps! I’m already committed to bringing an Angel Food Cake to my family’s Easter dinner, but those Peeps were second on my list!