Monday, March 9, 2015

Baking Monday – Birthday Cupcakes

Cupcakes this week for a friend's birthday! Sadly, she was under the weather and couldn't enjoy one until a couple of days later. These cupcakes were inspired by this chocolate layer cake ... that chocolate cake plus pink icing just looked like the perfect birthday combo.

I do have a go-to chocolate cake recipe, but am always happy to try something new, and this one was great! I wanted to do a gooey, soft icing but didn't have the ingredients for the cream cheese icing in the original post. After flipping through The Complete Book of Baking, I decided on Seven-Minute icing. It seemed so quaintly old-fashioned, like the kind of icing my grandma would have made. 

This icing is more time-consuming than buttercream, but SO satisfying! (BTW, I should clean the hand mixer, maybe?) It's smooth and glossy, and just when it seems like I've been mixing waaaaay too long ...

BAM! Peaks! We've got icing! This icing does look pretty and is very sweet, though not as flavorful as buttercream, and has an interesting bubbly texture. Even though it wasn't exactly the icing I was hoping for, I did enjoy trying something new. (And one recipe made more than enough for 26 cupcakes, so I may have to make another batch this week to use it all up.)

Here's the big question ... sprinkles or not? I preferred the look and taste of plain, but the kids voted for sprinkles. We ended up with some of each for everyone. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Baking Monday – Peanut Butter Toffee Bars

I've had this recipe saved for awhile, it was originally found in Family Fun magazine. Sometimes I plan ahead for Baking Monday and will purchase specific ingredients, sometimes I find a recipe that works with whatever is on hand. My pantry is usually pretty well stocked with the basics, but somehow I ran out of flour (FLOUR!) this week while the kids were home on break. Shocking, right?

I had bought a bag of toffee chips for last week's bar cookies, so decided to make this recipe with the leftovers. I assumed there were two cups of chips in the bag (like chocolate chips!) until I went to make these, and realized the bag only contained one and a third cups, one which I used up last week. Whoops, time to go through the baking chip bin (yes, I have a bin of baking chips) and find something else small and crunchy to fill in the gap ... mini M&M's!

Which, are admittedly not my favorite, but worked in this case. These bars have a really great peanut butter / shortbread with a little bit of oatmeal crust, spread with a thin layer of chocolate. I didn't measure out how many chocolate chips went on top, but it was way less than the three cups recommended in the recipe, I think that would be way too much. I sprinkled enough just to cover the surface once melted. The rest of the recipe is good as is! Bake in a parchment-lined pan for easier cutting.