cookies & creme cupcakes

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tomorrow is the last day of my univ100 class so i decided to make cookies and creme cupcakes for my students.  searching online there are a variety of different cookies and creme cupcake recipes.  some actually have cookies in the cupcakes either broken up or on the bottom of the cupcake, but i decided to just make simple ones.  i just used devil’s food cake mix for the cupcake part.  a quick tip: use a large ice cream scoop to scoop the batter into the cupcake cups.  so easy!!!

then i made my own cookies & creme frosting.  i used the basic buttercream frosting recipe i’ve used before and added some oreo cookie crumbs (i made my own crumbs using a food processor).  then, i used mini oreos to decorate each cupcake.  i think they turned out pretty good.  i hope my students like them!

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honey wheat rolls

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this afternoon i made honey wheat bread rolls.  i just used the recipe for portuguese sweet bread and replaced 1 cup of all purpose flour with 1 cup of whole wheat flour and sugar with honey.  it worked really well and they turned out yummy.  i’m going to use them to make little sandwich sliders for lunch this week.

here’s a couple tips that i found were really helpful:

tip #1: proof dough in the microwave: baking bread in the summer was a lot easier because i could just leave the dough out covered with plastic wrap on the balcony to proof where it was nice and warm.  but since it’s getting a bit colder it is certainly too cold to put the dough on the balcony and it doesn’t seem to be quite warm enough for bread to proof in the apartment.  so i found a great tip online: microwave a cup of water for 1 minute.  then put the bowl of dough into the microwave and leave it to proof.  it is the perfect warm, humid environment for dough to proof in.  i used this technique today and it worked perfectly.

tip #2: get a dough scraper: my mom sent me a couple dough scrapers she recently got and today i used them for the first time.  they are awesome!  it’s great for getting sticky dough out of bowls, dividing dough, and cleaning up flour/dough from the counter.  if you do a lot of baking, i would definitely suggest getting one.  i think we got ours for free but i did a quick search online and found that they are really inexpensive.

tip #3: use an oven thermometer: our oven is terrible.  i knew that it was hotter than it was supposed to be but i didn’t realize how bad it was.  this past week, we got a oven thermometer.  i used it today and found out that our oven is off by 50 degrees!  yikes!  this is very good to know so i don’t burn more bread/cupcakes/desserts/etc.  thankfully i took out the rolls 5 minutes early or they would have been burnt.  now i know to just set my oven 50 degree less than what the recipe calls for and hopefully it’ll be okay.  but if you are having some trouble with your oven, i would definitely suggest using an oven thermometer because they will save you from a lot of burnt baked goods.

cheerilee cherry tarts

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today chris’ niece, elizabeth and i made cheerilee cherry tarts for her mom’s birthday.  the recipe actually came from a my little pony coloring/activity book.  crazy!  they are pretty much mini cheesecakes with cherry pie topping.  they look really good but we’ll see how they turned out tonight after birthday dinner.  it’s super fun cooking with kids.  elizabeth did almost everything from measuring to mixing.  she did great!

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baking for travel

this past weekend my boyfriend and i came to maine for thanksgiving.  i knew i wanted to bake something to bring up but i wasn’t sure what would hold up during traveling.  after doing some research i found that cookies and brownies are best.  so i decided to make chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies and peanut butter swirl brownies.  i packed up the cookies in the garretts tin that i got from chicago and just put the brownies in a tupperware.  make sure to cushion everything with wax paper so the cookies/brownies don’t have room to move around.  fortunately everything make it to maine safely with no broken cookies and minimal crumbs.  yay!!!


mini cheesecakes

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we actually don’t have any november birthdays in my office so we couldn’t really have a november birthday celebration.  instead since thanksgiving is coming up with had a “be thankful celebration!”  so last night i made mini pumpkin cheesecakes and mini cheesecakes with raspberries.

it was quite an adventure making the cheesecakes last night.  i found that it is actually better to make cheesecake by hand instead of using the kitchen aid and it is very important to make sure that the cream cheese is a room temperature (if you rush it like i did, you’ll have lumpy cheesecake.  sad day).  after making lumpy pumpkin cheesecake and over baking a batch of regular cheesecake (stupid oven!) i was quite the sad panda.  i made another batch of regular cheesecake and just prayed that the pumpkin cheesecakes still tasted good even though they weren’t so pretty.

oh well, despite all the craziness, i have to keep in mind that i have so much to be thankful for since i made these for our “be thankful celebration.”  so i am thankful for wonderful co-workers who will hopefully forgive the lumpy cheesecake, a loving boyfriend who calms me down when i have failed baking adventures, an awesome family and amazing friends.  i am one lucky girl.

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