Friday, July 22, 2011

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins


Netflix is slowly taking over my life.

It started out innocently enough with two seasons of 24. Halfway through the third season, I realized that I'd rather stab myself in the eye than endure another forty-three minutes of Jack Bauer almost dying. And the Allstate guy? Just plain distracting.

So, I moved on to Grey's Anatomy. I was sucked in immediately, and I managed to cram seven years of Meredith and McDreamy into six short weeks. Not to mention the same aerial shot of I-5 and the Seattle skyline over and over... and over.


My current obsession is Desperate Housewives. I've already been warned that this show spirals downward fairly quickly, but for now I can't stop watching it. I'm enthralled by the suicides, the infidelity, the arson, the murders, the blackmail, the alcoholism, the hostage situations... and of course, the muffins.

Anytime someone new moves onto Wisteria Lane,  Bree Van de Kamp brings them muffins in a cute little basket. Actually, now that I think of it, any time Bree Van de Kamp goes to anyone's house for any reason, she brings them muffins. In a cute. little. basket.

Why hasn't this ever happened to me? We moved into our condo almost a year ago, and we have yet to receive a single muffin. Which is why I've had to resort to making my own. And you can bet that if I'm going to make muffins, I'm not going to mess around with blueberries or poppy seeds. My philosophy regarding muffins is that they should be as close to cupcakes as possible, while still being passable for breakfast food.

And so, dear readers, I bring you double chocolate chip muffins. You're just going to have to imagine the cute little basket.


Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from Alton Brown

2 cups all-purpose flour (9.5 oz)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (3.25 oz)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/4 cups sugar (9.5 oz)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, butter, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk just until the batter comes together. Do not overmix; the batter does not have to be smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Each cup should be completely full.

4. Bake on the center oven rack for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center muffins comes out clean. Immediately turn the muffins onto their sides to allow steam to escape from the pan. This will prevent the bottoms of the muffins from getting mushy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Funfetti Whoopie Pies


Because nothing says, "Happy Belated 1st Birthday!" like funfetti.

That's right. If you read my last post, you're aware that my blog is now approximately 13 months old. As promised, I've made something to celebrate the occasion; better late than never, right? Think about this: There are 12 months in a year. A dozen months, you might say. And everyone knows that a baker's dozen is 13. And my blog is 13 months old. So really my belatedness is kind of fitting, isn't it?

Nevermind. Back to the whoopie pies.

What's the deal with funfetti? It's really kind of mysterious. You'd think it's just vanilla cake with little blotches of color, BUT IT'S NOT. It's better somehow. And what are those blotches of color, anyway? I used sprinkles in this recipe, but I really think there's more to it than that. Andanotherthing! What distinguishes funfetti from rainbow chip?

Suspicious. I want answers.


In true nonpareil baker style, the making of these whoopie pies did not go smoothly. The batter spread way more than I expected, and the end result was disastrously huge un-whoopie-pie-like blobs. But I wasn't about to let that ruin my blog's birthday party, so I performed some surgery and got everything under control. They're not perfect, but they're much cuter than what was coming out of my oven a year ago.

Also, in case it doesn't go without saying, these are ridiculously delicious. You're going to have to try really hard not to eat a bunch of cake batter... and frosting... and the edges that you have to cut off during whoopie pie surgery... and a whole whoopie pie on top of all that. It doesn't do your stomach any favors. Especially if you do all of the above, and then try to compensate by running 3 miles. It just makes things worse.

On another note, did you notice that the photos in this post are ridiculously better than any of the other photos I've posted on my blog? You might think it's because eating funfetti whoopie pies instantly makes you better at photography. But you would be wrong. What's really happening here is that my friend Effie is an amazing photographer (without the help of whoopie pies), and she was kind enough to take a few pictures for me! Of course, in return I gave her the priceless gift of a whoopie pie sugar coma. No big deal. If you want to check out more of her photos, I encourage you to visit her blog or facebook page! Thanks again, Effie!

Also, do yourself a favor and make some whoopie pies. You could use more sprinkles in your life.



Funfetti Whoopie Pies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 cup unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
4 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles, like these

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, salt, vanilla, baking powder, and sugar at medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Reduce the mixing speed to low, and alternate adding the flour and milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until combined. Add the rainbow sprinkles, and continue mixing about 30 seconds more.

3. Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets in portions of about two tablespoons. Wet your fingers, and flatten each mound of dough into a circle about three inches across. Leave at least two inches between each mound of dough to allow room for them to expand. I dropped the dough in 1/4 cup portions as suggested by the original recipe, but clearly that was way too much!

4. Bake for 11 minutes or until the cakes are barely set on top, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. The tops will not begin to brown at all. Cool on the pan for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Funfetti Buttercream

1 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 cups powdered sugar (20 ounces)
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

Cream the butter, salt, and vanilla in a stand mixer at medium speed for about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low, and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once the sugar is incorporated, add the milk. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer, add the rainbow sprinkles, then continue beating at medium speed for 1-2 minutes.

To assemble:

Pair up the cakes according to size. It doesn't have to be perfect, but try to match them as closely as possible. Spoon about 1/4 cup of frosting onto one cake in each pair. Place the unfrosted cakes on top of the frosted ones and press down gently to sandwich the frosting. I got about 9 whoopie pies in all, but you should get more if you scoop the dough into smaller portions.