Friday, November 13, 2009

Baking Challenge #9: Pumpkin Cookies

Here's a really simple and fast pumpkin cookie recipe from Better Homes and Gardens: Homemade Cookies Cookbook. The cookies turn out ultra soft and delicious.

Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
1 16-ounce can pumpkin
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
2 cups raisins
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Preheat oven at 350˚ F.
Cream Shortening and sugar. Add pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, next 5 ingredients, and salt. Add to batter and mix well. Stir in raisins and pecans. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Makes about 6 dozen or if you make your cookies bigger, it makes about 3 dozen.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baking Challenge #8: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

WHOOPIE!!! This recipe comes from the book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. This recipe was OH so yummy! The only snag that I ran into was with the cream cheese filling. It was a bit too runny even after adding some more powdered sugar to thicken it up and being chilled in the fridge. The evidence is in the lovely photo I took. However it still tasted amazing. If you have a cream cheese or vanilla frosting that you like that is thicker, try using that instead.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
with Cream Cheese Filling

Makes about 12 Whoopie Pies

Ingredients for the Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies:
3 cups all- purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs ginger
1 tbs cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the cream cheese filling:
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together and set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar and oil together until combined. Add the pumpkin puree and mix to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.

Sprinkle the four mixture over the pumpkin mixture and mix until completely combined.

Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. See Ex. 1. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just cracking on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cookie comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

For the cream cheese filling, sift the confectioner's sugar into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.

Add the confectioner's sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to over beat the filling or it will lose structure. Cover the bowl tightly and put in the refrigerator.

To assemble the whoopies, turn half of the cooled cookie upside down and drop a dollop of filling onto the cookie. Then place another cookie on top. Place the whoopies in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.

****These are also great as cookies without the filling. Beware, it is mighty hard to eat just one.

Schubert's, San Francisco

521 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118

Cakes tried: Princess and Neopolitan

Overall Reaction: Really hard to pick out a cake because they all look so amazing!

They have been making the Neopolitan cake since 1911! The cake was made up of layers of chocolate cake, white cake, raspberry whipped cream and topped with chocolate ganache. The cake was light, airy and fluffy and the raspberry whipped cream was wonderful. The fancy embellishments on the top made the cake slice extra special.

I was immediately drawn to the Princess cake with its lime green pistachio marzipan icing. Perfect for a tea party, the cake was layers of white cake, whipped cream and raspberry and kirsch custard filling. All the flavors worked harmoniously together and the textures were lovely throughout. Every bite was delicious!

My words of advice: If you are looking for a great place to get a cake (besides from me of course), look no further. All the cakes are decorated wonderfully. Also, most of the cakes you can buy just a slice, which is what I did, perfect for the afternoon sweet tooth or take home for later to share with that special someone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall Weddings

I had two weddings back to back this fall. One was for my dear friend Pearlin. Her and John were married September 26th at a winery in Temecula. Their wedding was Indian themed inspired and very beautiful.

The second wedding was for Annie and Sean who were married in Napa on October 2nd at Harvest Inn. Four different types of cupcakes were on the menu for their wedding along with a small cake for them to cut during their reception.