Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dulche de Yummy.

UPDATED: 5/7/18
Not that there's anything wrong with the recipe below, but it's like...750 calories for one slice of pie. I love dulce de leche more than the next guy (especially since we're living in Floribama now where Mexican food and dessert doesn't exist), but I wanted to lighten this pie up for Cinco de Mayo. The following updates take this down to only 262 calories a slice:
-Reduce the amount of dulce de leche to half a can, using 4 TBS in the pie filling, and another 2 TBS melted and plopped on top of pie mix (wait to do this until after you've put the pie filling in the pie shell. Use a knife to gently swirl the dulce de leche into the pie filling in a swirled pattern).
-Use 1/3 fat cream cheese at room temp
-Use 1/4 cup Swerve confectioner's sugar in place of regular powdered sugar
-Nix the heavy whipping cream and sugar, instead using 3 cups of Cool Whip Free in the pie filling, and another 1/2 cup to garnish/decorate


I live in an area of the country that once was aptly named the “Great American Desert.” I guess the powers that be decided a moniker like that wouldn’t exactly have people chomping at the bit to up and move there, so it is now called the “High Plains.” Conjures up lovely images of gentle breezes (of 40 mph) sweeping over green (brownish) plains (flatlands) doesn’t it? Yes, it is a giant lie. Deserts are not known for their accommodating weather, either. Google haboob, tumbleweed apocalypse, and Winter Storm Goliath if you’re interested in a play-by-play of the seasons here. It’s hot in the desert during the spring, summer, and fall. No kidding, the desert is hot, you say? The ocean is also wet and Britney Spears is also a national treasure…these are all just known facts. But with the heat comes a changing of the taste palette. Clearly I believe in seasonally appropriate desserts. Pumpkin spice belongs in the fall, peppermint in the winter, and mint in March. The only dessert I will eat year round is Blue Bell. My Texan heart wants what it wants. But since the cool temps are quickly vanishing and giving way to what I call “UV Level: Sunburn Inferno,” I wanted a dessert that was going to make me forget I live in the desert. Something light, something cool, something sweet (duh)...essentially, something that would give me brief reprieve and make me forget I live in the armpit of America. What dessert in the world could be that powerful? Pie. The answer is pie.
Of the cream variety.

Doesn't it look like a delicious caramel-y cloud? That's because it is. Well, specifically, it is a dulce de leche cream pie. This pie would be insanely easy to make if you can get your hands on a can of dulce de leche. We're about to take a turn into sob story territory here...I scoured the aisles at my commissary, but I can't say I was all too surprised when I couldn't find a can of dulce de leche, even when I live within walking distance to the Texas border. I could find La Lechera sweetened condensed milk, and a cursory Google search told me all I needed was a can of condensed milk to make my own dulce de leche. 'How hard could that be?' I thought to myself with a foolhardy, devil may care attitude. Anything not to have to go to our seventh circle of hell (Walmart) in town. So when it came time to make pie, I followed the instructions found here. This honestly wasn't the worst process in the world, but three damn hours to make some caramel? I had caramel sauce in the fridge and nearly decided that would work when we entered hour two. Coincidentally, this is also when I decided I was done literally watching a pot of water simmer (still better than going to Walmart), so I removed my can of condensed milk and let it cool.
At least the rest of this is a piece of cake. Or pie, I suppose.
While my science project was cooling, I got my ingredients together and my pie crust ready. I decided since I was making my own dulce de leche, I'd let the good folks at Pillsbury take care of my pie crust for me. Solid choice. Here's the total breakdown for this recipe:
  • 1 room temp pie crust
  • 1 can of dulce de leche if the baking gods love you, or a can of sweetened condensed milk simmered for two hours
  • 1 block of cream cheese at room temp
  • 1/4 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • Optional: a tub of Cool Whip for topping, additional caramel sauce for topping ...and by optional, I really mean you want, nay, need these things for the best pie possible. This isn't like the optional add ons every car salesman in the world will try to sell you. These final two ingredients are functional AND aesthetic.
Fluted and hole-poked. Ready for action!
Start by cooking the pie crust following package directions. Usually for a single-crust pie you want to bake it for 10-12 minutes at 450. Place the crust in the fridge to cool off after it is cooked. In your stand mixer, blend the cream cheese, half the can of dulce de leche, powdered sugar, and vanilla for a few minutes until fully incorporated. Scrape this out of the bowl into another bowl and cover up. Wash out the mixing bowl, dry it, and place it in the fridge to chill for a few minutes. Once it is cold to the touch, get it back out and dump in the heavy whipping cream. Start to blend on low for a minute until it thickens up, then blend on high for several minutes until the cream is nice and fluffy. Add in the sugar and give a final mix. Then dump in the bowl of cream cheese/dulce de leche mix you set aside earlier and give a good blend. Pie filling complete!
Ha! Tricked you into a photo montage. Take out the pie crust once cooled.
Then dump the remaining half a can of dulce de leche into the bottom of the pie crust.
Then spread in the pie filling. No need to get pretty if you heeded my advice (smart cookie) and got Cool Whip for topping.

I put my Cool Whip into a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip...arguably the most versatile of decorating tips! I then just piped stars around the top of my pie.
And I finished up by drizzling more caramel sauce on top.
Once you've gotten to this step, now comes the hard part: put it in the freezer to set for two hours. So if you're like me and had to make your own dulce de leche, you get to bookend this pie with two more hours of waiting and staring a wall, pretty much. Once I set it in the freezer, I literally told this pie it better be the best damn thing I eat all week or it was dead to me. I'm not in the habit of talking to desserts (really), but I'm glad this pie took my not-so-thinly veiled threat seriously. After doing demanding work around/on the house all day (Hi spring break, you were made for hard labor), getting all sweaty and gross, this pie was my ultimate reward for a long day of home improvements and exceedingly warm dog walks. I imagine eating a cloud would taste very similar to eating a slice of this dulce de leche cream pie...a cloud lined in caramel. It is so light but packs the perfect amount of sweetness thanks to the dulce de leche in the filling and the extra layer of it on the bottom of the pie (okay, it was worth the time). It's like the cotton candy of pies, I guess. Melts on the tongue, but won't ever make you feel uncomfortably full. This is an important quality I look for in a dessert because I pretty much eat them nonstop. I've got seven more slices of this pie left, and I'm gonna need them to fuel my remaining spring cleaning. Considering it's so windy outside that everything is pretty much just getting re-covered in a thin film of dirt after I clean it, this pie is going to soothe my frustrations and lamentations. Pie: cheaper than therapy. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
You make me happy when skies are brown...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cresting the Hill...

There's nothing quite like trying to age gracefully (and quietly) while your loved ones refuse to let that happen. This is precisely why my 29th birthday was the final celebration to ever be held on record for the rest of my life (I refuse to acknowledge January 7th from here on out. Find me in the bottom of a wine cask when the next one rolls around). There does seem to be a bit of a double standard with age. Ladies, say goodbye to your looks, gravity-defying cleavage, and ability to wear leggings as pants (I would argue this isn't acceptable past age 6 anyway). Gentlemen, say hello to becoming a silver fox, getting to wear suave suits, and having young hot blondes with daddy issues heading your way. If I can't come back as a man in my next life, I'm at least going to aspire to break the standard and age a la Helen Mirren or Jessica Lange. Most birthdays are anticipated, especially the big ones: 16, 18, 21, 25 (what, being able to rent a car is legit). An inevitable ball starts rolling really freaking fast after 25 though. I'm now beginning to regularly celebrate all my friends turning 30. And here I am still thinking a decade ago is 1996. Since I can't turn back time, I guess I'll slather on the wrinkle cream, look up Botox costs, and continue to celebrate the slow decline to death with all my friends. You can take my wrinkle-free skin, but you can never take my cake.
Caution, old man off-roading!
So the first of many triple decade survival parties kicked off this past weekend, and I was commissioned to make the cake. This celebration was actually for my husband's husband, who is quite jovial and young at heart (read: a pilot). I'd like to make note here that his girlfriend actually requested the hot pink Jeep. I'm a huge fan of sarcastic cakes, so naturally I jumped at the chance to make an off-roading-gone-wrong cake for an old man and Jeep enthusiast...but that's probably a redundant descriptor. Of course I made the Guinness cake, but since everyone's Irish around Saint Patrick's Day, I couldn't find regular Guinness anywhere. People really like chewing their beer this time of the year, I suppose. I had no choice but to try this cake out with what I assume is an even thicker, chewier (think taffy-like) Guinness: Guinness Extra Stout. I smelled this stuff and immediately did not regret the decision to skip drinking for Lent. But since cake is something you actually are supposed to chew, I was hoping for promising results.
Pictured: Ingredients. In their final form.
I know, I always take a photo of my ingredients, and technically I have done just that. Follow the link above for the full recipe and instructions. Know to make a 9x13 cake that you will need to double the recipe for the cake and line your pan with Parchment paper sprayed with Pam (this is a heavy cake, and you want to remove it easily from the pan without breaking). In this case, I substituted the regular Guinness with the Stout Guinness. This COMPLETELY altered the taste of the cake. I honestly didn't think such a small change would make such a big difference, but it really did. The regular Guinness yields a nice and milk chocolatey cake. The Stout Guinness yields a nice and DARK chocolatey cake. I have to go on record here and say dark chocolate is the most underrated of chocolates, and it is a damn shame. Milk chocolate is sweet and willing to please everyone like a doormat. White chocolate is a total imposter. Dark chocolate is suave and sophisticated like the James Bond of chocolates--he's mysterious and sexy, but not for everyone. Everyone still ate the hell out of this cake whether they liked dark chocolate or not, so credit the complimenting and ever-so-sweet Baileys frosting for doing its job.
Speaking of frosting!
I made a LARGE amount of frosting since I knew the cake was going to need several different frosting colors. If you're also making a crashed Jeep cake to poke fun at your friend's failing eyesight due to the aging process, gather up the following ingredients and laugh at what a strange and unlikely coincidence this is:
  • 1 1/2 sticks of room temp butter
  • 1 cup of Crisco
  • 6 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of CLEAR vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons of Baileys (either regular or caramel)
Once your cake is cooked and fully cooled, cream the butter and Crisco together for a few minutes. Then add in 3 cups of sugar, the extract, and 2 tablespoons of Baileys. Blend on low for a moment until the sugar mixes in and bump up the speed. Scrape the bowl then add in the remaining 3 cups of sugar and 2 tablespoons of Baileys. Crumb coat your cake and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. While that's taking place, prepare for the crappiest of photo montages!!
I needed quite a few colors and tips for this cake. My friends better be glad there's nothing I won't do when it comes to cake.
  •  I used open star tips to decorate my Jeep. I used a small amount of frosting dyed hot pink and placed in a bag with a #16 tip. I used a small amount of black dye and placed in a bag with a coupler and a #18 tip. You'll also need a small round open tip to write which is why you need a coupler. I used a #3 tip for this.
  • For my smoke and boulder, I dyed frosting gray using a small amount of black dye into the plain white frosting. The boulder frosting is on the far right. I used a 1A round tip for this and a #12 tip with a coupler for my smoke cloud. I used a #16 tip for the Jeep windows, so the coupler is needed here.
  • I left a small amount of frosting dyed blue for my sky in a bowl and set aside.
  • I left a larger amount of frosting dyed tan for my ground and sides of the cake in a bowl (Tupperware, whatevs) and set aside.
  • I finished up by dying my remaining frosting green and placing in a bag with a grass tip. I believe mine is a #239.
Once my crumb coat was frozen, I SLOWLY and carefully frosted my backdrop: blue sky on top, tan ground on bottom. I placed in the freezer for 30 more minutes to set. Then I used the paper towel trick to smooth out the tops and sides of the cake. Be careful when smoothing in the middle so the colors don't bleed onto each other.

In all my years (two of them) of cake decorating, I have found the most versatile of cake decorating tools is the toothpick. I used one to draw out the grisly scene: hot pink Barbie jeep meets boulder. I also decided the wheels needed to be made of Oreos! I know, I'm brilliant. They're nice and nubby and mimic a Jeep wheel while not wasting any of my limited black frosting. Kate Bakes Cakes: cutting corners since 2014. If ever I make business cards...

You'll notice I sketched this cake out in advance. Quite obvious I'm an English teacher by day now, isn't it?  I started off by piping the outline of my Jeep. I worked backwards since I'm a lefty and the world is against me.
Which makes piping messages suck super hard! I traded my open star tip for my #3 tip for this. I also used the open star tip to give the Jeep some tiny rims.

Then I filled in the fuschia!
I finished up the Jeep by tinting the windows. This way Ken, Barbie, I mean the birthday boy, wouldn't be seen crashing his beloved hot pink Jeep. The things we do for friends.

"I like that boulder. That is a nice boulder." -Donkey, probably. To make the boulder and smoke clouds, outline the area and then go back in and pipe large mounds inside the outline. Come back in and use the round tips to blend and give texture by simply swirling them around.

I piped a grass border around my entire cake with the grass tip. There's really no right or wrong way to do this. I came back in and piped some random grassy patches on the top of the cake as well. I had a small color bleed between the blue and tan border, so this was effective in hiding a mistake!
Okay, let's talk rock candy. Negative, let's talk candy rocks (this made a huge difference in my Amazon search for obvious reasons. Rock candy search results actually yielded Breaking Bad meth candy). These little dudes (the candy rocks, not the meth) are amazing! I bought a bag of these, and they are so tasty. Like an M&M in the shape of a rock! I don't know why this is so groundbreaking to me, but it is. I used them to complete my border.

Like so!
And there you have it: one snarky birthday cake made with a ton of love. Love meaning time and patience in this case. But the end result is always worth it to me when I see the face of the person receiving the cake. The moment the cake comes out of the box is pure gold to me and worth every hand cramp. Plus, I'm a compliment-gathering hussy, and a cake is a damn good way to garner some ego-boosting material. Because you know a cake is good when a room full of boisterous drunk people get really quiet while eating it. One party goer even waited until cake was served before he went home. Dedication! A few party goers discussed the regular vs. Stout Guinness cake varieties...there was a veritable debate for several minutes to decide which one was better. The ultimate verdict cannot be reached until I make a half Stout/half regular Guinness cake. I think my friends may be using me for my cake baking skills. It's good to be needed. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!!
Even the candles scream Barbie Jeep.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Day for Frey!

I live my life in a constant state of being bookended by two dogs. Sitting down to watch TV? Thing 1 and Thing 2 are either by my side or at my feet. Taking a shower? Hank is sitting guard while Freyja licks the shower door glass (she's special). Crawling into bed at night? You betcha, they're there. Although they never leave me any leg room, so I'm starting to think they might believe I'm also a Corgi mix too, so clearly I don't need any. I can't even remember the last time I was awoken by an alarm clock and not a cold doggy nose or licks. I love my dogs as much as Kanye loves himself. Maybe even more. I mean, I treat my dogs better than a lot of people treat their children; they get regular exercise, plenty of playtime, togetherness, hell, I'd even make them little sack doggy lunches if I wasn't convinced they'd eat the bag, too. Basically what I'm trying to say is I'm not a crazy dog lady, I am the crazy dog lady. And the crazy dog lady definitely celebrates furbaby birthdays. And today is a day all about Frey(ja)!
And with a face like that, she earned it. I swear she knows how to smile on cue.
I have only two problems with my dogs. One: no matter how many times I ask them to live as long as I do, they have yet to verbally acquiesce to my demands. Two: since they're both rescues, we really have no idea when they were born. But since I live my life by the adage that a dog need not be pure of breed to be pure of heart, this is something to be expected with the shelter pup. I know my dogs are eternally grateful for being rescued, and they love they show me is unconditional. I may have to ask them daily to get their crap together, but I would run into a burning building for my dogs. And although my kids may be furry and occasionally eat poop, I'm pretty sure that kind of love is what parenthood is all about. And what parent wouldn't bake treats for their kid's birthday?! I mean, aside from the poop eating thing, my dogs really love treats.
When did they stop making tiny applesauce cups?!
So we decided that March 17 is Freyja's designated birthday, and I was ready to celebrate with some super easy to make cheddar apple pupcakes. From start to finish, all you need is 40 minutes to ensure your dog loves you even more than they originally thought possible. Trust me, I make my own dog treats, they just know. To make these cheddar apple pupcakes, you need a few household ingredients and some extra "help" in the form of doggy Hoovers in case you "drop" some ingredients. This recipe makes six pupcakes. You could easily double to make more and have an entire puppy party, but even the crazy dog lady draws the line there. Gather up:
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBS of veggie oil
  • 1 TBS of honey
  • 1/2 cup of cheddar
  • 1/4 cup of applesauce
  • 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 TBS of Quaker oats
Start by preheating the oven to 350 and lining your muffin tin. In your stand mixer, blend the egg, oil, honey, cheddar, and applesauce until well blended. While this is happening, get a medium bowl (I used a salad bowl) and combine the flour, oats, and baking powder. Dump this dry mix in with the wet stuff and mix until fully incorporated.
At this point, I'm really not jealous of the dogs.

Drop the dough into your lined muffin tin. These don't expand much, so you can fill them rather full. They don't change shape a lot either, so if you want a smooth top, you're going to need to take a knife to these and smooth them out (my condolences on having a dog with OCD if this step is necessary). Bake for 16 minutes or until things are firm and pass the toothpick test.
I have a sudden craving for Cheddar Bay Biscuits
They smell good. They look like Red Lobster's crowning achievement. I kinda wanted to try one...but I resisted the urge. The sacrifices we must make for our children...
Like I'd let these go without frosting.
So after Derek deployed, some really awesome friends of ours with their equally awesome pup sent our dogs a couple Bark Boxes to cheer them up. The last one came with some duck treats the dogs just cannot get enough of...and since I only make veggie-based treats like pumpkin biscuits I let them have these bagged treats. Every good parent has to draw the line somewhere, and I draw mine at grinding up a duck, nature's most versatile of animals, to make my dogs' treats. But I will top some pupcakes with adorable ducky-shaped treats. As far as "frosting" goes, my go-to is just a tub of whipped cream cheese. Sometimes I mix a little peanut butter in, but I didn't want to make these too rich for those sensitive little doggy stomachs, so plain it was.
Look! I have my ducks in a row. ...if that didn't incite at least a small chuckle, know you've hurt me deeply.
You can top these however you like really. But my 1M tip was already out since I just used it for my Baileys Salted Caramel and Mint Whoopie Pies I made a few delicious days ago, so I just loaded it into a piping bag and frosted with the standard swirl. You will want to refrigerate these so the frosting does not spoil. But I promise you, your dogs will be drooling the whole time you make these pupcakes. When you're ready to serve them, be sure to unwrap and break up into bite-sized pieces for your pooches.
Candle purely for looks. I don't generally allow my dogs around an open flame. Call me a helicopter parent when it comes to safety.
How do I know my dogs loved the cheddar apple pupcakes? These were finished in easily under one minute; I'm not entirely sure they even chewed? But I'm happy to do anything that's going to make my dogs understand their crazy, overly affectionate human mom wouldn't last a day without them. I am also really hoping as we venture into Freyja's next year of life that dogs don't get the terrible twos. We had a terrible two times she ate the satellite TV remotes, but that's been the extent of her devilish ways around here. I'm not sure if she was acting out against my choice in television programming or the buttons just tasted good, and we'll never know. What I do know is on March 17, a day I'm already clearly very fond of, I get to celebrate a couple things I really love: my father's birthday, an aunt's birthday, Saint Patrick's Day, and now Freyja Day. We chose to give Freyja a day to share with some really stellar and important people. She's right up there with 'em. You really never know what you're gonna get when you bring a shelter dog home, but we somehow managed to hit the jackpot twice with these dogs. Freyja came home near the end of March last year, and I had no idea how much she was missed until the moment she arrived. Hank has a little sister to boss around (and who he refuses to do just about anything without), and our complete little family is a ragtag bunch of really ridiculously good-looking creatures with some killer appetites. Thank God for pupcakes! 'Til next time, my fellow eaters! 
Haha...ducks in a row. Dammit I'm hilarious.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

One Last Chance at Mint Madness

Full disclosure: I've never made whoopie pies before. I've never even eaten a whoopie pie before. Mostly because every time I hear someone say the words "whoopie pie," I think "whoopie cushion," and the last thing I want to be reminded of when I'm trying to eat dessert are fart noises...just kinda brings the mood down. But I don't know, maybe you're in to that sort of thing, you wonderful weirdo. But let's face it, my list of possible mint and chocolate coupled desserts is running pretty low considering the blogging madness that occurs here every March. I've already given you the Shamrock Shake formula, the solid Shamrock Shake in cupcakey form, Baileys mint cheesecakes, mint chip cookies, and one of my classic favorites: mint swirl brownies with mint buttercream frosting. So you see, I've exhausted all my possible avenues of mint and chocolate (there was some swirled fudge in there somewhere, but that was for Christmas, so it doesn't technically count). I knew this week would be my last possible chance to mix one of my all time favorite flavor combinations for the calendar year (I really like theme desserts, what can I say), so I had to go out with a bang. Or in this case, a whoopie cushion pie. Once my infantile giggling from using the word whoopie subsided, I then realized I also had one last chance to add Baileys to something without seeming like a total booze hound because hey, it's Saint Patrick's Day, and I'm told the Irish drink Baileys. See? Theme dessert to the rescue. And where there's a will there's a way. Or in this case, where there's a Kate, there's chocolate and Baileys.
Don't worry, this really is the last minty dessert for awhile, but isn't it adorrraabbblllle?
Ok...after making these, I have to say wow. Just wow. How can a cookie be so light? And yet so flavorful and the absolute perfect compliment to the caramel and mint buttercream filling? I can't believe I've never eaten these before just because the name gives me the giggles. It makes me wonder what other things I haven't tried because of the name. Dutch babies? Spotted dick? Spam?! Aside from desperately needing to immediately fire whoever named these things, they could all be delicious. I'm not hedging my bets with the Spam though. I also can't believe I never actually combined mint and caramel before. Sure mint goes great with chocolate (that's the reason we're here afterall), and we all know caramel and chocolate are like the ketchup and mustard of the dessert world. But could a sweetness trifecta be achievable? I'm happy to report complete victory with these whoopie pies (teehee).
Okay, so I mainly just tried the Salted Caramel Baileys because I didn't have enough regular Baileys, but happy accidents do occur.
I found a relatively simple base whoopie pie recipe here and adapted it to fit my Saint Patrick's Day needs. These are quick to throw together, even quicker to cook in the oven, and barely take any time to assemble. Yet they look so fancy and well put together! To make these Baileys Salted Caramel and mint whoopie pies, gather up:
  • 1 stick of room temp butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 room temp egg
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 3/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup of Salted Caramel Baileys (mix this is with the buttermilk. Both should be near room temp)
Start by preheating the old oven to 350 and greasing a cookie sheet. Cream the sugar and butter together for 3-4 minutes until fluffy. While this is mixing, in a medium bowl blend the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda and set aside. Once the butter/sugar mix is done, add in the egg and vanilla extract and blend well. Scrape down the side of the mixing bowl and add a third of the dry mix and blend. Then add a third of the milk/Baileys mix and blend. Scrape the bowl and repeat this process two more times until the dry mix and Baileys mix is all used up and totally blended.
So, not really attractive at this point.
Take the batter and use a cookie scoop or tablespoon and plop 12 globs onto the greased cookie sheet. Things will be quite sticky and totally uneven, but that's okay, we're gonna fix it! Also, these really puff up (much like a whoopie cushion), so leave plenty of space between each mound. I sprayed my hands with Pam and then rolled my globs into pretty and even little mounds. You really shouldn't skip this step so that when you assemble them later things are nice and even. Let my OCD be your guide... Pop the tray into the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes. You want things soft and springy to the touch.
Whabam! Told you, they puff. Honestly, it really does look like a brown whoopie cushion, so I totally get the name now. Although they are originally from the Amish, and I doubt they had whoopie cushions, so who knows. It would be pretty damn funny if they did though, and you know it. They don't have the internet, so I assume that's one way to pass the time.
Give these just a minute on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooling rack. Spray the cookie sheet again and repeat the dough and cooking process for another 12 pies. If you have two cookie sheets, you can prepare them all at the same time, but do not bake at the same time. Overloading the oven is a good way to get unevenly cooked pies.
Yeah, I reupped my green dye stock.
While the pies (I hate calling them that..they're cookies, let's be real here. Whoopie cookie even rhymes, so this is a gross injustice in the naming system) are cooling, make the filling. Gather up:
  • 1 cup of room temp butter
  • 1/2 tsp of mint extract
  • 5 cups of powdered sugar
  • 4 TBS Salted Caramel Baileys
  • 12 drops of green food coloring
Cream the butter for a couple minutes before adding two cups of powdered sugar, the mint extract, and two tablespoons of Baileys. Blend well, scrape the bowl, and add two more cups of sugar and two more tablespoons of Baileys and blend. I like a stiffer piping consistency, so I added another cup of powdered sugar after this. Finish up by adding the green dye.
Then gather up two piping bags with tips of your choice and some green sprinkles if ya got 'em. I used a 1M tip and a 1A tip. You could also just spread the filling with a knife if you're not worried about precision, but this would haunt my dreams so don't tell me if you do.
Filling using the 1A tip.
Once the whoopie cookies are completely cooled, partner those babies up. Find mates that are relatively the same shape and size. This is where the dough rolling from earlier comes in handy--you will most likely have no trouble pairing these up since we made them uniform in shape (it pays to have debilitating mental issues sometimes).  Grab one of your pairs, and take one cookie. Start by piping filling in the center of the cookie and swirl around until you have filling covering the entire top of the cookie.
Hello, gorgeous.
Then take the other cookie and gently place on top of the filling. You could leave things be here, but if you have green sprinkles, dump a bunch in a bowl and immediately after assembling a whoopie pie, roll the edges in the sprinkles to get a snazzy effect:
Feel free to "ohh and ahh" at my decorating prowess.
 This recipe makes 12 whoopie pies total, so I did 6 more with the 1A tip and sprinkles.
As for the other six...
I used my 1M tip for the rest by starting with a glob of frosting in the middle of the bottom piece and swirling around outward. It does create a pretty rose that I hated having to cover up, but once assembled it looked really clean and precise with the swirled edge:
Like an ice cream sandwich minus the dripping.
And there you have it! A perfect treat for the big day Thursday. And BONUS! You'll probably have a half a cup or so of leftover filling. I put mine in an airtight container to save for later. I figured Baileys Salted Caramel and mint filling would go really well with the leftover Baileys hot fudge sauce from last week's cheesecake shooters. Eating them together might also help me realize I'm simply trading one vice for another...good thing we're getting near to Easter and the end of Lent, eh? But seriously, caramel and mint is one of those unexpectedly delicious treats like deep fried Twinkies or chocolate with bacon that sounds weird in theory but is delicious in practice. You get hit with caramel at first and end up with a cool mint aftertaste. And it's all served on a chocolate platform, so there's literally nothing to complain about with these whoopie pies other than their inappropriate name. I hope you all enjoy celebrating the Feast of Saint Patrick this week. Wear green, eat green, drink green, be green, and have fun. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Seriously, if we can all agree to start calling these whoopie cookies that'd be great.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Saint Patrick's Day Is so Close I Can Taste It!

Clearly you all know by now that shots have been on my no fly list since the start of Lent. Naturally I've been looking into Lenten loopholes with all these boozy cupcake recipes and prefacing of not drinking booze for Lent because eating it is essentially the food equivalent of a near beer...it's in there alright, but you'd have to consume an alarming and potentially heart-attack inducing amount to do anything. It's easy to create dumb logic when you're a Catholic that's given up one of your favorite past times...don't even get me started on the Lent I gave up Taco Bell. I used a packet of Taco Bell hot sauce with some homemade tacos and was almost certain I would burst into flames. Thankfully I did not, and I've continued to skirt around Lent with near flawless idiot mojo since. But it's like reallyreallyreally close to Saint Patrick's Day and I'm absolutely positive I might die if I don't get to drink Baileys. How else am I supposed to pretend to be Irish like everyone else? I'm told it's not appropriate to dress up like a drunk leprechaun (something about gross misrepresentation of Irish heritage blah blah), so I was running out of ideas. And then I remembered: if I add the Baileys to a food served in a shot glass, I would be both satisfying my craving and keeping true to my promise to abstain from drinking alcohol during Lent. Oh Catholicism, on print, you're really quite the conundrum. Obviously this was a job for dessert shooters.
Delicious, alcohol-laden dessert shooters.
But not just any dessert shooters...Baileys mint cheesecake with homemade Baileys hot fudge. What? Are you tired of mint desserts? Well too bad because this is my blog and this is my third favorite holiday, so I'm milking this mint theme for all it's worth (for those of you wondering, Halloween and New Year's Eve rank 1 and 2 respectively...I covet all major drinking holidays). I learned last week with the Baileys Shamrock shake cupcakes that Baileys + mint = get out of my way I want another cupcake. So I figured that I could recreate the magic with cheesecake as well. And boy was I right. Being right is also one of my other favorite past times, but don't expect it to be one I give up for Lent anytime between now and my inevitable demise. I assume my death will be caused by either being sarcastic at precisely the wrong time ("What are you gonna do, stab me?") or because my lifelong dream to spend a day rolling around with puppies comes true and causes me to die of sheer delight. Anywho, back to shot glasses full of cheesecake.
I ran out of green dye after this. But if you think this means I'm done with mint desserts, you're dead wrong.
This is a simple recipe that I found and made numerous adjustments to (namely, the addition of booze), but it is quick, easy, and tasty. Literally the hardest part of this process is deciding whether or not you've used the proper amount of green food coloring. So gather up:
  • 12 ounces of cream cheese softened to room temp (you can use light, but I question your life choices)
  • 3-4 TBS of sugar (I love SWEET cheesecake, so I used 4. Go for 3 if you're not interested in early onset heart attack symptoms)
  • Half a tub of Cool Whip
  • 1 TBS of vanilla extract
  • 1 TBS of Baileys
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp of mint extract (go for 3/4 tsp if you're obsessed with mint flavor like me)
  • Several drops of green food coloring
  • Several mint Oreos
  • Homemade Baileys hot fudge (recipe below)
  • Reddiwhip for when you run out of Cool Whip for topping
Start by creaming together the cream cheese and sugar for 3-4 minutes in a stand mixer until nice and fluffy. While this is happening, crush up 9 or 10 mint Oreos. You can use a blender, food processor, or if you're like me and have had a particularly rough week, smash the crap out of them with a rolling pin. You will feel better instantly. Set this aside. Add the Cool Whip, vanilla, Baileys, mint extract, and green food coloring to the bowl and blend until well mixed. Cover and place in the fridge while you make the hot fudge sauce.
No judgement if you just sit down with a spoon and go for it at this point.
Just save some cheesecake filling, we've still got boozy chocolate sauce to make!
Totally didn't think chocolate sauce could get any better than the store bought kind. This is one of those rare instances when I was completely in the wrong but not too proud to not admit it. For life-altering chocolate fudge sauce (with Baileys of course) gather up:
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 TBS Bailey’s Irish Cream
In a medium sauce pan, mix together the heavy cream, syrup, sugar, salt, cocoa, and half a cup of the chocolate chips. Bring this to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring frequently to avoid scorching the chocolate. Burnt chocolate tastes like coffee to me, and that's disgusting. Once boiling, turn down to low heat and stir constantly for three minutes or until the sauce thickens up a bit. Turn the burner off and add in the butter, vanilla, Baileys, and other half of the chocolate chips. Stir until completely mixed. Set this aside to cool for 20-25 minutes and finish thickening. Once it has set up, now comes the real fun...mostly because you're getting super close to eating the booziest of cheesecake shooters.
Start by adding as much filling as you deem necessary for one or two cheesecake shooters into a piping bag. Add the remaining half of Cool Whip to a piping bag as well. If you want to get fancy, use a 1M tip for a pretty swirl. You can also just spoon the cheesecake filling into the glasses, but since it has set a bit in the fridge, piping it is just easier.

Baileys...Baileys did not sponsor this post. But they should have. It should come as no surprise someone that uses Baileys for just about everything except medicinal purposes has Baileys low ball glasses. Gather up a couple low ball or small wine glasses (hahaha..those don't exist). Remember those crushed Oreos from a million years ago? Sprinkle a thick layer on the bottom of the glass.

Then use a spoon and some precision to pour a small ocean's worth of Baileys hot fudge over the Oreos.

Then pipe or spoon a hearty amount of cheesecake filling on top of the fudge.
Pipe away with the Cool Whip...you could also use Reddiwhip here. I have an extra can for future shooters.

Then add more chocolate fudge because you're an adult dammit, and this is what adults do.
Of course, don't forget to add sprinkles for extra festiveness. This in no way alters the alcohol content, I promise.
I'm gonna warn you about the Baileys fudge sauce. Once you have one spoonful, you're gonna want to put it on everything. Got a donut? Needs Baileys fudge. Got fried chicken? Adds some Baileys fudge. Got a glass full of Baileys? Don't even play, just add the damn fudge. It has been so long since I've had booze that I actually got the hiccups for a minute after sampling this fudge/cheesecake combo. There are no words for how good these two are together. It's like Brad and Angelina...they look pretty together and you know there's a lot of alcohol involved. But in all seriousness, mint cheesecake can only be further improved with the addition of Baileys fudge sauce. The sauce is rich and decadent while the cheesecake is light and minty. And everything has that delicious Baileys aftertaste we've all grown to love after all my Baileys-laced blogs. Just call me the Boozy Baker. One day I hope to open a bakery for ages 21 and up (don't lie, you'd love to spend an hour in a child-free restaurant), where all the treats are full of life's most wonderful ingredients: sugar, love, and lots of alcohol. 'Til next time my fellow eaters!
If only every shot tasted this good.