Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Welcome to another hump day, which on a happy note, happens to be the last one in the month of May for the year 2012. I have been a busy bee lately. Work has consumed me as of late and when not working I will admit I am just too darn tired to do anything else. I do have some side projects currently in the works which have also consumed much of my free time. Keep your fingers all crossed that those do work out. But for today I will be sharing with you some delicious cookies inspired by one of my favorite sundaes I used to eat as a kid from the fast food chain… Culver’s (a chain located in the Midwest). In fact they also do resemble another childhood favorite of mine, the thumbprint cookie with the jelly/jam filled center. I used to make them in my Easy Bake Oven and speaking of Easy Bake Ovens I just realized how old I’m getting lol. Definite 80’s born baby here. So basically these cookies are a mishmash of Turtle Sundae meets jelly filled thumbprint cookie and let me tell you I love the duo. These got devoured so fast I forgot I had made them and hence why I have yet to post on the blog for such time. Even my boyfriend who isn’t the biggest fan of sweets managed to polish off more than the usual one try taste test. Great thing is they are also rather simple. If you are not a big fan of pecans you can of course skip them but I prefer them as it makes the cookie look a bit more exotic and hides any flaws of cracked cookie underneath… even though you know my cookies are just perfectly smooth under that layer of pecans I’m just giving you the heads up. Our little secret ūüėČ

Just a few technical notes before I send you off to the land of baking. The caramel filling is easily prepared by melting caramel candies however you can prepare homemade if you are that ambitious. I chose not to as the shortcut method tasted just as good and saved so much time and pulled hair. I like to keep every strand of hair I can and caramel isn’t one to spare me much luck. Also, I preferred to use a decorator’s squeeze bottle to portion just the right amount of caramel into the cookies. It made for easy dispensing, less sticky mess and a more clean cookie. However if you are not quite sure how much caramel to place in the center and are afraid you may run out before you reach the end, then use a¬†¬Ĺ tsp. measure and fill the indentations with that amount of caramel. If you have any leftover caramel you can look over your cookies and see if any centers need a bit more or be like me and eat the rest. How can you resist fresh caramel… I sure can’t ūüôā Happy Baking!!!

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
  • ¬ľ tsp. Salt
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg, separated
  • 1 Egg White
  • 2 tbsp. Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Pecans, chopped fine
  • 14 soft Caramel Candies
  • 3 tbsp. Heavy Cream

Formula:

  1. Combine the flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl. With mixer on medium-high, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture until just combined. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least one hour.
  2. Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions.¬†Heat the oven to 350¬į.¬†Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk egg whites in a small bowl until frothy. Place pecans in another small bowl. One at a time, roll the dough into 1 in. balls. Dip each ball into the egg whites and then roll in the pecans. Place the balls 2 in. apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using a tsp. measure, make an indentation in the center of each ball. Bake until set, 10 to 12 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time.
  3. While the cookies bake, place the caramel candies and heavy cream in a bowl. Microwave the candies until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes, and making sure to stir occasionally. Once the cookies are removed from the oven, use the tsp. to gently press into the existing indentations. Fill each indentation with about¬†¬Ĺ tsp. of caramel. Cool 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.¬†

Special Thanks To:


Robin Evans

Peter Mendoros ‚Äď Photography


All remaining content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012

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Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Happy Tuesday everyone. Sorry for the momentary disappearance from my blogging recently but I have just acquired a new job and have been dedicated to learning my training. Let me tell you it took too much out of me and whenever I would come home it was way too much to even think about looking at a computer screen, let alone writing all night. So on my day off, my gift to you is a post on Pumpkin Spice cupcakes. My mood was feeling simplistic and this is the result. It probably would have been better to post this around Halloween or Thanksgiving perhaps…well at least the fall season, but of course me the procrastinator waited until almost Spring! Oh well, as the saying goes better late then never.

¬†So to start these simple Pumpkin inspired cupcakes, you can do one of two things based upon your skill level or your alotted time needed. You can either make the cupcake batter from scratch or you can buy a boxed spice cake mix and build on it from there. I suggest for the best results to make the batter from scratch but as always sometimes we have short notices and we all have lives and it is often hard to spare enough time for kitchen matters. Completely understandable. Regardless they will turn out delicious, impressive, and best of all… simple. If you choose to make the spice cake batter from scratch you will need a handful of spices on hand. For the most important spice, Cinnamon, I chose to use a certain variety for in this formula.

Although it is not required that you use China Cassia or Ceylon Cinnamon as I did, I do recommend using either as it does add an exoticism to the flavor of the cupcake. Some of the other spices you will need is Allspice, Nutmeg, Ginger, Mace, and Cloves. This combination of spices provides a perfect compliment to the Pumpkin and gives rich flavor to the cupcakes without overpowering the pumpkin flavor, only enhancing. Keeping in mind not to overpower the pumpkin or spice flavoring of the cake itself, I chose a Simple Buttercream formula for the frosting, flavored only with a hint of vanilla as not to detract from the cake but rather enhance it with a smooth creaminess up top. With the theme of pumpkin in mind, the frosting is tinted orange. For this I used Wilton’s Orange dye to achieve a light pastel orange that remains soft and elegant on the eye. You don’t want it to be the actual color of the pumpkin which is much darker and brighter as it will take away from the sheer elegance and look more like a store bought kid’s party cupcake, which is fine for your child’s birthday but for this particular formula we want adult, classy cupcakes here ūüôā One the pastel orange color is mixed, grab your decorator’s bag and a star tip (I used #843). You can choose to decorate the tops in any way that you wish however. I have provided you two simple examples. The first and perhaps easiest is simply piping the typical swirl topping around the entire surface of the cupcake. I did two sweeps around to give height to the cupcake then topped it with some prepared nut topping anyone can find in your local supermarket near the packaged nuts of your baking aisle or near the ice cream toppings. The other option is to use a small star tip and gently press down and lift to create mini stars across the entire surface of the cupcake. These look fancy but are extremely simple to create. I suggest you do some of both to add contrast to your presentation. Now for those who do not like pumpkin, you can also leave out the pumpkin puree and solely have a spice cake. Both are delicious!!!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

*Cake*

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Spice Cake Mix or the following…
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ginger
  • ¬ľ tsp. Allspice
  • ¬ľ tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. Cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. Mace
  • 1 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened/room temperature
  • 4 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin Puree

Formula:

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350¬į. Line two 12-count cupcake pans with paper liners. Grease lightly with cooking spray. In a bowl, either prepare the spice cake mix according to package directions, stopping before proceeding to the step asking you to fill the cupcake tin with batter…or sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and mace together.¬†
  2. In another bowl, mix together the sugars, butter, and eggs. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. If using the homemade version or the box mix, be sure to add the pumpkin puree now. If making a spice cake without pumpkin, proceed to step 3. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until combined and smooth.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling each no more than halfway. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, being sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Prepare the buttercream frosting.

*Buttercream Frosting*

Ingredients:

  • ¬Ĺ cup¬†Vegetable Shortening
  • ¬Ĺ cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 4 cups Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp. Milk

Formula:

  1. In a bowl, cream the shortening and butter together until smooth. Add vanilla. Gradually add the sifted Confectioners’ sugar until all sugar is added and combined. The mixture will appear dry. Add milk and whisk well until smooth and creamy. Add a few drops of orange food color until desired pastel color is achieved.
  2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a large or small star tip. Pipe along the top of the cooled pumpkin spice cupcakes in a circular motion, building up a round height or gently press down and gently pull up and away creating mini stars all across the surface. If not piping the mini stars, sprinkle some nut topping or your favorite chopped nuts on top. Serve.

Special Thanks To:

Peter Mendoros ‚Äď Photography


All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012

Creamy Walnut Fudge

Ahhh candy making… the most delightful idea to the home baker because we all¬†know how¬†yummy candy is and how great it would be to make it whenever you crave it and make it exactly how you want it without having to conform to the candy¬†aisle options at the local¬†supermarket.¬†Sadly, candy making adventures for most end up a sticky scorched mess rather than that dreamy homemade snickers bar or in this case… fudge. Of course there are always some tricks of the trade out there which can make things a heck of a lot easier.

¬†The¬†most obvious but¬†often overlooked is the simple task of stirring the fudge constantly to prevent scorching. I know how easy it is to give in¬†to that female¬†desire to¬†multitask but it never ends well.¬†You¬†stir the pot¬†and walk away for what seems like two seconds¬†only to return to¬†a scorched sticky mess glued to the bottom of the pan and smoking up the kitchen. No matter how tempted…DON’T let the fudge leave your sight while it is over the heat. Second trick is in the filling. Many recipes will call for heavy cream but the problem with heavy cream is its susceptibility to heat. In the matter of seconds, if the cream becomes too hot, it will separate and then there is no going back and waste is never delightful in this day and age. The trick is to use evaporated milk, which is more stable over heat and it especially caters to the home baker¬†who isn’t exactly sure of the warning signs when cream is too hot, well¬†until it is too late and already separated…¬†we all know how it¬†goes. It has happened to us all, professional or¬†hobby enthusiast.

The final problematic aspect to fudge¬†is achieving the¬†fluffy, light texture. For most, fudge either finishes too loosely or is to dry and flaky…never just right. The secret, believe it or not, is Marshmallow Fluff. Marshmallow Fluff is cheap, provides the necessary light and fluffy texture without having to beat the fudge into submission and cause a sore arm for the rest of¬†the day. Another added perk of the fluffy white stuff is its prevention of the sugar crystallizing, which if allowed to happen,¬†would turn that dreamy smooth texture into a gritty¬†mess reminiscent¬†of a day at the beach.¬†Grit is never good even at the beach, and especially not in your fudge! To ensure that all of this cautiousness results perfect fudge far better than store-bought… I suggest you invest in an instant read candy thermometer. Much of the problems involving fudge and its wide range of bad¬†results¬†really begins with¬†the question of¬†when to remove¬†the confection¬†from the heat. Many home bakers judge by eye¬†because they either don’t own a thermometer or ¬†the formula is vague and never mentions a proper temperature. With any candy making venture, I always prefer to leave ego aside and¬†grab that¬†trusty thermometer for good measure. The candy thermometer is like another pair of eyes. When you’re not sure the thermometer is there to monitor the situation and give you the go ahead for¬†the proper time to remove¬†the fudge¬†from¬†heat.¬†If undercooked, the fudge will never solidify. If overcooked, the fudge will turn crumbly. There is a very¬†small window¬†between the two extremes and the happy number to look for is 234¬į-235¬į. When the mixture hits that number, pull it off the heat as fast as you can then let it cool slightly before adding the chocolate. If you don’t wait to add the chocolate until it has at least cooled to about 200¬į, you run the risk of separating the chocolate.¬† Despite all of fudge’s possible complications, nothing is sweeter than producing your own favorite flavored fudge. Although the following formula adds walnuts, don’t limit yourself to the possible flavorings you could add. You could try other nuts, such as pecans¬†if you don’t prefer walnuts or maybe you’re a oreo fanatic. Fudge doesn’t discriminate…so play with your favorite flavors and enjoy!!!

Creamy Walnut Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 (12 oz.) can Evaporated Milk
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cups Walnuts, toasted & coarsely chopped
  • 1 (8 oz.) jar Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 12 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
  • 8 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate, chopped

Formula:

  1. ¬†Line a 13×9 in. pan with aluminum foil. Bring the sugar, milk, and butter to a boil in a large pan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is light tan in color and registers 234¬į-235¬į on an instant read thermometer.
  2. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the walnuts, Marshmallow Fluff, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Allow the mixture to cool to 200¬į.
  3. Once slightly cooled, mix in the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and refrigerate, uncovered, until firm, at least 4 hours.
  4. Once set, remove the fudge from the pan and cut into uniforms squares or desired shapes. Fudge can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one month.

Special Thanks to:¬†Marshmallow Fluff ¬ģ¬†&¬†Diane Unger-Mahoney

(Mentions of Marshmallow Fluff¬ģ are ¬©2011 Durkee-Mower Inc.)

All remaining content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2012