Monday, October 29, 2012

Rootbeer Float Cake

My mother frequently laments that I never bake anything whenever I come home to visit. Because my brother is a rootbeer fanatic and veritable expert on all things root beer, I resolved to actually bake something on my last trip home and decided to try this Rootbeer Float Cake I'd seen on The Great Satan Pinterest as an homage to the end of summer.

For any of you who have attempted any recipes, sewing projects or, God forbid, DIY home improvements from Pinterest, you may be familiar with the infamous "Pinterest Fail" in which nothing ever comes out quite as pictured. Case in point, this will be the best chocolate bundt cake you've ever had. It will not taste like root beer.

Despite using rootbeer in both the frosting and the cake, there was unfortunately no discernable rootbeer flavor in the end product. However, this is BY FAR the moistest bundt cake I've ever had. Even after a couple of days the cake was still moist and fudgy, and I wouldn't hesitate to make this again to serve for any chocolate fiends. Similarly, the cake was awesome paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, but just not what I was looking for.  If I made this again, I might try it with rootbeer extract instead to try to capture that summery flavor.

Alas, back to the Pinterest drawing board.

Rootbeer Float Cake
     from Brown Eyed Baker
2 cups root beer (do not use diet root beer)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1¼ cups granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

Rootbeer Fudge Frosting
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2½ cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F*. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, or butter the pan and dust with flour, shaking out the excess flour; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy, which is okay. Do not overbeat it, as it could cause the cake to be tough.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.

6. To make the Root Beer Fudge Frosting, put all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and satiny, scraping the sides of the food processor a couple of times. (If you don’t have a food processor, simply throw it all into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl using a hand mixer and mix on medium-low until combined and satiny smooth.)

7. Use a spatula to spread the fudge frosting over the cake in a thick layer. Let the frosting set before serving. Store leftovers wrapped well or in an airtight container at room temperature.
*Note: If you are using a dark, nonstick pan, heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Oatmeal Cream Pies

If you're like me, you might think that there's no way that a homemade recipe could ever rival the taste of a true Little Debbie oatmeal cream pie.  Fortunately for both of us, we're both totally wrong.

When I first started seeing oatmeal cream pie recipes popping up across the interwebs, I was incredulous that anything I could make in my kitchen could achieve the moist, soft cookie or the signature filling flavor of the oatmeal cream pies of my childhood.

And, to be honest, the cookie is great but not exactly the same. But the filling...oh, the filling. It is amazing. It is perfect. It is Little Debbie without all the scary chemicals and preservatives. I did debate for awhile on which type of cookie recipe to use. Specifically, whether to go with one that would result in a puffy cookie that would make the sandwiches "look" better, or a flatter cookie that would better emulate the real deal. Clearly, you can see which I chose.

I used a Martha recipe for the cookies and, while it specifically calls for rolled oats rather than quick-cook oats, I only had quick-cook and all the other recipes I found called for this type as well. I didn't notice any issues, but can't say how they would have come out differently. Let me know if you try it!

The recipe also calls for using 2 Tablespoons of batter per cookie, which results in monster-size oatmeal cookies that are popular at bakeries these days (who eats that much cookie??) Anyway, I found 1 1/2 tablespoons to be much better and if you want 20-24 sandwiches, go ahead and reduce it to 1 Tablespoon.

A couple of notes: If you're smarter than me and already have a small cookie scoop, this would be the time to use it! Otherwise measuring out 1 1/2 Tablespoons of batter gets pretty messy.

Oatmeal Cookies
     slightly adapted from Martha Stewart 
     makes 13-18 sandwiches
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups rolled or quick-cook oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown and granulated sugars, and molasses on high, scraping down bowl, until light and fluffy, 4 minutes. Add vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl after each addition.

2. With mixer on low, add flour mixture and beat just until combined. With a rubber spatula, stir in oats. Drop dough in 2-tablespoonful mounds, 2 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until cookies are just set at edges and slightly soft in middle, about 11 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets, 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

Oatmeal Cream Pie Filling
     from Baked Perfection
2 teaspoons hot water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow cream
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
While the cookies bake prepare the filling. In small bowl, dissolve the salt in the hot water. Set aside and allow this to cool.  Combine marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl; mix on high until fluffy (3-4 minutes).  Add the cooled salt water and mix well.  Spread filling on flat side of one cookie, press 2nd cookie on top.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Martha Monday: Ginger Pumpkin Bread

Let the ubiquitous pumpkin recipes begin!! I have to confess that I'm a complete sucker for all things pumpkin. My favorite holiday is Halloween, and I can't get enough of the pumpkin spiced lattes, ice creams, pancakes, breads, pies and everything else that abound this time of year.

Like zucchini and banana breads, you might think that's there's not really much that can be done to revamp the traditional pumpkin bread. However, this might actually be my favorite pumpkin bread, and my new go-to recipe. I was somewhat surprised because, being a Martha recipe, it's actually surprisingly easy. For example, you don't need to peel, seed, and roast your own pumpkin. Who has time for that? Nope, this recipe just calls for scooping out pre-pureed pumpkin from a glorious can. Also, I love that this recipe isn't overly sweet. I'm used to pumpkin breads that essentially taste like pumpkin pie, but this loaf isn't overwhelmed with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice--but only a slightly spicy hint of ginger that complements the pumpkin perfectly.

Ginger Pumpkin Bread
     from Martha Stewart
     makes 2 loaves

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (1 3/4 cups)
3 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch (6-cup) loaf pans; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugars, pumpkin, melted butter, and eggs; add flour mixture, and stir until just combined.

2. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaves comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; invert pans and transfer loaves to a wire rack to cool completely. Glaze, if desired.

Sugar Glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

1. In a small bowl, mix confectioners' sugar with 2 to 3 tablespoons water until mixture is smooth but thick. Place waxed paper under rack for a quick cleanup. For easy pouring, transfer glaze to a liquid-measuring cup, and drizzle over loaves. Let dry 15 minutes before serving. Makes enough for 2 loaves.