Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Fruit mince tarts

A fact about me- Up until a year or two ago I thought fruit mince pies contained fruit and minced meat, gross. It was boyfriend who finally taught me the truth about fruit mince tarts, oh how very silly I have been. In an attempt to get said boyfriend excited about Christmas time I made him some fruit mince tarts. My plan didn’t really work but at least they were yummy.

I was short on time and ingredients so used a ready made fruit mince instead of making my own. I was impressed with the store bought filling, I added a little bit of vanilla extract and cinnamon but the fruit mince is tasty enough on its own.

For the pastry-

2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup icing sugar
150 grams butter, chopped
1 egg, separated
1 tablespoon cold water
1 Tablespoon white sugar

To make the pastry- in a bowl, rub together flour, icing sugar and butter until mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add water and egg yolk and mix together to form a soft dough.

Cover with cling wrap and chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.

To make the Pies- preheat oven to 180 degrees c. lightly grease a standard size muffin tray.

Roll the pastry dough between two sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick.

using a circle cutters cut out 10 larger circles for the bases and 10 smaller circles for the tops. Re-roll the remaining pastry and cut out a star for the top of each tart.

Gently press the pastry into the muffin pans.

Fill each tart with a heaped a heaped tablespoon of fruit mince filling.

Lightly brush the edges on the pastry with egg white. Cover each tart with a pastry top, gently pressing together at the edges.

Brush the top of each tart with egg white, place a pastry star on top of each tart and sprinkle lightly with sugar.

Bake tarts for about 25 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked and just golden.
Cool the tarts in the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a tray to cool completely.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

It’s so nice to get back to baking after so long, I have missed my little kitchen. While I was away I picked up a number of new cookbooks, one of them being Whoopie Pies. I have wanted to try making some whoopie pies for some time, especially after seeing lovely pictures on a number of other blogs.

For my first time making whoopie pies I decided to try out the classic Chocolate whoopie with marshmallow fluff filling. The flavour of the pies was intense chocolate and very yummy but I wasn’t super happy with them, no matter how high I piled the batter my whoopies came out a bit flat. Because I only brought home one tub of marshmallow fluff I decided to save it for some whoopies I am happier with and whipped up some vanilla buttercream instead.

I will definitely be trying them again, and other recipes from the book.

Oh and just because I’m getting very excited about Christmas, these whoopies decided to dress up.

Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pie

(from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell)

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temp)
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

To make the whoopies- Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 190 degrees c. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into a bowl.

In a second bowl, beat together butter, shortening and brown sugar, on a low speed until just combined. Increase the beater speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla essence and continue beating for another 2 minutes until very light in colour.

Add half the flour mixture and half of the milk to the butter and sugar and beat until just combined.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, add the remaining halves of the flour and milk and beat until completely combined.

Using a spoon, drop around 1 tablespoon of batter onto the baking tray, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.

Bake the whoppie pies one tray at a time for about ten minutes, or until the whoppies bounce back when lightly poked.

Remove the whoopee pies from the oven, let them cool on the trays for at least 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Spread or pipe buttercream onto the whoopie pies with buttercream and sandwich together.

For the Vanilla Buttercream

3 cups icing sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (at room temp)
3 to 4 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

To make the Buttercream- In a bowl, beat together butter and sugar on medium speed for about 1 minute until mixture is crumbly. Add the cream, vanilla and salt and beat on high until frosting is smooth, about 3 minutes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Philadelphia and Washington

Philadelphia was food heaven! We were very lucky to be staying right around the corner from the Reading Terminal Market, the range of foods was so very exciting.

Flying Monkey bakery in the market had some of the yummiest treats we had on our holiday.

If you go to Flying Monkey the pumpkin whoopie pie is yum yum yum.

The 4th Street Cookie Company in the Reading Terminal Market. The cookies here blew my socks off! A great snickerdoodle and the double choc chip, swoon worthy.

Everyone can stop searching, I think I found the best choc chip cookie in ever! The crispy edges tasted like a cookie I had when I was little and have been searching for ever since and the insides were soft and super full of choc chips.

The puppy dog selection in the Philly Cupcakes shop was super cute. I got a yummy carrot cupcake and it being halloween weekend, it was served to me by spiderman.

The capital building in Washington.

Red Velvet Cupcakes, Washington. Boyfriend is so proud of himself for pointing out this little shop to me, they were his favorite cupcakes. They were beautiful looking little cakes and had a number of unusual flavours.

So thats all from my trip, a condensed version of my food adventures. I've decided to give scrapbooking a try, to put together all the photos and bits and pieces I collected.

Just one last photo. I was so happy to get home and see this little miss, we got her a present from the Sanrio store in Times Square, she loves her new Hello Kitty friend.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New York

I couldn't visit New York and not visit Magnolias. I didn't love the red velvet but the vanilla very much lived up to the hype.

The day wasn't pretty, but Miss Liberty was.

Wow! the cupcakes from Crumbs are massive, at least twice the size of a regular cupcake. There was a store three store up from our hotel, lucky me.

See I told you Crumbs was close.

Central Park

Hotdogs in central park. Maybe it was because I was super hungry, but these hotdog cart hotdogs were delicious.

We had intended to visit Bubby's Pie Company, but being a Sunday morning there was a line out the door. So we headed over to Billy's Bakery and were happy to find a large range of cupcakes and also a display full of tasty looking pies. The apple pie made a very yummy breakfast and the cupcakes a tasty take home treat. I wish I had a chance to try the peanut butter pie.

The pumpkin cupcake from Billy's was my favorite of whole the trip and the vanilla was definitely up there too.

Toys R Us on Times square. This store was all kinds of crazy, four levels of the most amazing toy displays I've ever seen. Other than the ferris wheel there was a life size Barbie house, a giant t-rex and 2 candy departments!

Me with my take home cupcakes, being a spaz in the toy store.

I spent a long time gazing at this lego display, in the Lego store in Rockefeller Plaza. It was such a detailed replica of the ice rink just outside the shop.

I use to be soo excited when my Mum got us Poptarts when we were little, but then we stopped getting Poptarts in Australia, sad sad times. Imagine my excitement when I found poptarts world just off Times Square. This very cool machine inside Poptarts world held so many flavours I had never even heard of.

A rainbow wall of MMs inside the MMs store on Times Square.

After a hard day hitting the museums we stopped for lunch at a cute retro diner, Lexington Candy Shop. I had the best malted milkshake!

This little strawberry shortcake cupcake from Buttercream Bakery was another favorite of the trip. It had a shortbread biscuit for the base and decoration ant was filled with strawberry jam. Yum.

One more holiday post to go and I'm back to baking, except I don't know where to start, should it be macarons, whoopie pies, cupcakes, cookies? Gosh I'm happy to be back in my kitchen!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Boston, Providence and New Haven

I'm home, I'm unpacked and I'm having a bit of trouble getting back into the swing of things. My kitchen seems alien to me, I've been back a week and haven't had the urge to bake anything. Maybe i have forgotten how to make cupcakes, I sure can remember how to eat them thought. Perhaps I haven't felt like baking because I've spent the last month eating yummy treats all day everyday.

I don't really know what to say about my holiday, except it was fantastic! It was four weeks of non stop sightseeing, exploring and adventures. At the end of each day m feet and legs were so sore I could hardly move.

I took alot a photos, nearly 2000, but will just share a few mostly of the tasty treats I was able to sample. I decided to split my holiday pictures into three posts, here are some photos from our first destinations, Boston, providence and New Haven.

I don't know how local people feel about squirrels, but I love them, perhaps am even a tad obsessed. They are just too cute, this little guy was one of the first I saw.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston. Every single food stall looked delicious, we came back to this market a number of time.

My first ever whoopie pie and a really really good black an white cookie from Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Sweet Cupcakes, Newbury Street Boston. This was such a pretty store, all pink and white with big display jars of sweets.

My caramel apple cupcakes was beautiful, filled with apple pieces and topped with caramel buttercream.

Cute duckies in the Boston gardens. The gardens in Boston were amazing we spent a lot of time there. Most breakfasts during our Boston stay equalled a coffee and donut on a garden bench, it was perfect.

The very pretty Provindence.

Cupcakes from Nancy's Fancies, Providence. The smores cupcakes was yummy, but the raspberry frosting was dreamy! I loved that you could choose your flavor and they iced the cake in front of you.

The store front of Nancy's Fancies. This store not only had cupcakes but a huge range of cupcake themed goodies, I bought some cute measuring spoons. Even the table tops were decorated to look like they were frosted, it was well worth the getting rained on on the walk home.

We visited a number of universities on our trip, Yale was my favorite, very impressive and pretty.

Over our holiday we ate a lot! of burgers, this one from Educated Burgher in New Haven was my favorite.

Another delicious burger at Loui's Lunch, New Haven

Just two more holidays post and I'll be back to baking, I promise.