I had three baking appointments last week - woo hoo!
Here's the rundown:
A cookie tray for a post-season little league get-together. The request was for 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies and 3 dozen brownies. I decided to make these chocolate chip cookies and Brownie Buttons from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours Cookbook. I covered the brownies with a chocolate ganache glaze flavored with espresso powder. After baking 4 dozen, I realized they were a little difficult to get out of the pan, so I lined the rest with mini muffin cups - much better! (see the recipe at the bottom of this post)
Here's the cookie tray all filled. My friend, Susie, said there was not a crumb left on the tray. She especially loved the chocolate chip cookies and insisted I must have some secret of getting them to taste so good... but really, I just follow my own recipe!
Another friend has a daughter who was turning 13 and was having a slumber party to celebrate. She ordered a dozen vanilla cupcakes and a dozen vanilla-filled "hostess" cupcakes. The birthday girl loves pink... so I tinted the vanilla icing a pale pink,
and used some hot pink foil cupcake liners for the hostess cupcakes.
And finally, Job #3:
My soul sister at Joy Beadworks needed a birthday cake to celebrate 5 October birthdays in her family and needed to feed about 20 people. She wanted a tiered cake with all the names and the dates their birthdays fall on in October. The bottom layer is an 8" square triple layer chocolate cake (I omitted the cinnamon) with vanilla buttercream filling. The top layer is a 6" square triple layer vanilla buttermilk cake with chocolate buttercream filling. The icing all over the outside is vanilla buttercream. Even though my piping skills could use some refinement, the cake got rave reviews. But considering it was my first tiered cake, I'm pretty dang proud of it.
If you're interested in learning how to construct a tiered cake, look to Martha Stewart's directions in Baking with Julia in her recipe for Wedding Cake. The method works.
One year ago: Mint Brownies (a favorite!)
from Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 16 (I tripled the recipe)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
Ganache glaze for topping (recipe below)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter two miniature muffin pans, each with a dozen cups, and place them on a baking sheet. (Or line mini muffins cups with paper liners.)
Whisk together the flour and salt and set aside.
Melt the butter, chocolate and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so nothing overheats or burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two.
Stir the vanilla and egg into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. You should have a smooth, glossy batter.
Spoon the batter into 16 of the muffin cups, using about a teaspoon of batter to fill each cup three-quarters full. (I used my smallest cookie scoop.)
Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the tops of the buttons spring back when touched. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 3 minutes before carefully releasing the buttons. Cool to room temperature on the racks. When the brownies are completely cool, glaze with chocolate espresso ganache.
Chocolate Espresso or Mint Ganacheadapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Polafito
6 Ounces / 170g Dark Chocolate (60 to 72% Cacao), coarsely chopped
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp espresso powder or 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk together the cream and espresso powder (omit espresso powder for mint ganache) in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes before gently mixing the chocolate and cream together until completely smooth. For peppermint ganache, stir in the peppermint extract once the ganache is smooth.
2. Let the ganache sit for about 15 minutes.
3. If the ganache has cooled enough to become solid, microwave (for only a few seconds) or gently heat the ganache until pourable.