Sunday, February 24, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Cookies

As much as I enjoy the rich, indulgent, comforting baked goods that come along with wintertime and the holiday season, I have to admit that winter is wearing on me and I'm already aching for spring and summer.  

If you're also yearning for a taste of warmer temps, these supersoft, almost cakelike cookies are like a summer flashback in every bite.

For some reason my cookies didn't really spread out much at all. I know the temperature was accurate thanks to FINALLY getting an oven thermometer and realizing just how out of whack my oven is. So I plan to replace my baking soda and see if that helps. Just a warning in case your cookies come out flatter than mine--that's how they're actually supposed to look :)

These cookies only had the slightest hint of lemon, which was fine with me, but if you're a huge citrus fan you may want to increase the lemon zest or juice.

A couple of notes: Be extra careful when you're mixing in your blueberries, trying not to squish any if possible. Obviously they'll still taste great, but it kind of spoils the look and mouthfeel when you don't get that burst of fresh berry. Also try to distribute the berries evenly throughout so you don't end up with a bowl full of berries and no batter by the end. Not that that happened to me...

Blueberry Lemon Cookies
     from Baker Bettie  
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
3¼ cups cake flour
1½ cups blueberries

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, and beat after each addition.  Add the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and beat to incorporate. 

2. In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  With the mixer on slow speed, slowly add the dry ingredients into the batter.  Scrape down the bowl as needed and mix until incorporated.  Fold in the blueberries gently as to not break them.  

3. Allow the dough to cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to overnight.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use a small scoop (about 1 tbsp size) and place rounded mounds of dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or foil.  Bake for 11-14 minutes until the bottoms look slightly browned (the edges should not brown).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Twisted Sisters Cupcakes, Virginia Beach

On my last trip to Virginia Beach I happened upon Just Cupcakes by a happy accident, and after seeing Norfolk's Carolina Cupcakery featured on TLC's Cupcake Wars, it inspired me to seek out just what other cupcake hotspots I could find on my latest trip to the beach.

While I didn't make it to Carolina Cupcakery, I did happen upon The Sweet Shack--a cupcake haven run by Twisted Sisters Cupcakes. The brains behind Virginia Beach's Best Cupcake of 2011 and 2012, The Sweet Shack is the storefront location of the Sisters' popular cupcake truck.
The Sugar Shack

In addition to a varied selection of cupcakes, The Sweet Shack also offers lunch service and is a great place to stop off for a sandwich, but good luck trying to make it out of there without trying a cupcake...or two...or four (don't judge me).

Part of the adorable lobby where you can enjoy your cakes

As for the cakes themselves I was definitely impressed. That day's selection featured candy bar-inspired treats like Snickers and Heath Bar cupcakes, and I chose an Almond Joy cake along with a Tiramisu and the Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple seasonal flavors.

I have to admit that the Tiramisu wasn't my cup of tea, as it's possibly the only cupcake I've had to scrape frosting off of in order to finish. The texture was simply too butter-heavy for my taste. BUT that seems to have been just one off note, as the other three cupcakes were delicious. The Almond Joy had actual flakes of coconut in the frosting, and the Pumpkin Spice was to die for with a creamy spiced filling.

It's easy to see why these sisters were voted best in VA Beach, and you should definitely make a stop off next time you're in town to sample a few of the 70+ rotating flavors. Also be sure to follow them on Twitter to get the low down on all their cupcake truck stops!

If you go
The Sugar Shack
2408 Princess Anne Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23456