My Top 10 of 2011!

Wow! Where did 2011 go?  Seems as I get older the years just fly by.  This year  I did a lot of baking, most were good, some were amazing and a few were total flops!  There were some  new recipes and others were tried and true favourites.  The Daring Bakers took me way out of my comfort zone as I was truly dared with some amazing recipes.  As for the “flops” I posted them too, not everything can turn out well.  I thought I would end the year with a “top 10” list of my favourite recipes of the year.

 10. Perogi Day

Perogi Day was a day I will never forget! Mom, Etta, Jen and myself were at it for almost 12 hours.  We made 9 different flavours, used 25 pounds of potatoes, 7 tubs of sour cream, almost 2 bags of flour and a lot of bacon, cheese and onions.  We ended up with, get ready for it……471 perogies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They were delicious, not sure I will be able to go back to the frozen ones from the store.  It was a great day and the results were amazing! We all agreed that we would definitely do it again, just not anytime soon…

9.  Apple Sauce Muffins

These Apple Sauce Muffins were something I stumbled across when visiting Gramma one afternoon.  They were hot and fresh and delicious!  You can’t really taste the apple sauce, they are a little bit sweet and have an amazing texture.  I think I have made them at least 6 times since then.  A wonderful recipe with simple ingredients, Thanks Gramma! 🙂

8.  Baklava

This one was special for me.  I was asked to be the host of the June Daring Bakers Challenge!  Being host meant that I was able to pick any recipe and have all the members make their variations. I had always said, way back when I joined, that if I ever got the chance to host I was going to pick Baklava.  It was amazing to see the different variety of baklava that were made.  I was a little daring (mean) and had everyone make their own phyllo dough.  Some people enjoyed the process, a lot did not, but all in all it was a wonderful experience.  It was a true honour to be picked to be the June 2011 host.  My baklava was delicious.  I will definitely be making it again but, like many other members, I will probably use pre-made phyllo!

7.  Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow was new for me, I had never even heard of it.  Jen had come over to do some Christmas baking and she brought all the ingredients for Puppy Chow…hmmm.  I was pleasantly surprised!  Unlike the name this is a wonderful treat!!!  Very simple, cereal, chocolate, butter, peanut butter and icing sugar.  It is very addicting!  It was a great gift to give away in little Christmas sacks.  Thanks Jen for a great recipe that I will be using for many years to come.  I may have to come up with a more appealing name….

6. Cupcakes, Cupcakes and more Cupcakes!

This was a scary one! Making 130 cupcakes for Kris and Selena’s Wedding!  I had never done anything like this before.  I mean I had made cupcakes but never 130 in one day!  I was a nervous wreck, as I think the wedding cakes is a huge deal.  Sadly it’s the food aspects that people remember more at a wedding then the actual ceremony.  I thought if they don’t turn out I’d have people thinking “god, their cake was horrible”.  Thank goodness everything went smoothly and the cupcakes were a hit!  So much so that there was not near enough 😦 If there is a next time, I will know people will eat more than one! Thanks Kris and Selena!

5. Bachlorette Cake

When Coralee asked me to make Chrissy’s Bachlorette Party cake I was thrilled!  I had just recently taken the Wilton Fondant course and figured this would be the perfect opportunity to give my new skills a try.  For my first try at creating a formed fondant covered cake, I think it turned out pretty good.  I hope to make more in the future.  Unfortunately I fell ill that night and was unable to make the party, so I didn’t get to try it.  Hope it was good!

4. Wedding CakeS!

No, I did not make a typo in the title I meant for the ‘S’ to be big!  This was by far my biggest baking event ever, let alone in 2011.  I was asked to make the cakes for Jen and Martin’s Wedding.  At first I was terrified and think I even tried to talk her out of it, as I mentioned above, the wedding cake is a huge deal!  When I calmed down I was truly honoured and accepted the challenge.  Jen had a wonderful idea of having a cake on each table.  The cake would then be “the wedding cake”, centre piece and dessert.  It really was a good idea.  It was a ton of work but I enjoyed every minute of it and would do it again in a heart beat!  Thanks Jen!!

3. Povitica

This recipe was from the October Daring Bakers Challenge hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk.  She introduced me to something I had never heard of.  Povitica?? I could barely say it let alone make it.  As it was a bread recipe I was very hesitant in even trying it, bread and I do not get along well.  I was pleasantly surprised, it was an amazing dough and so versatile.  I was able to make both savory and sweet loaves out of the recipe.  They were delicious!! This one rang in on my top 3!  I will be making this a lot more in years to come.  Thank you Jenni!!

2. Whoopie Pies!

I was a little late jumping on the Whoopie Pie ban wagon.  Not sure what rock I had been living under but I just heard about these in July.  Apparently they were quite the craze a while ago.  There is even a “Whoopie Pie War” with two States as they both say they are the founder of the Whoopie Pie.  Well, I don’t care who came up with the idea, I’m just glad they did!!  These are little pieces of heaven!  Surprisingly they are not sweet, they have a lovely light texture and a wonderful marshmallow filling.  I have only made the “Classic Whoopie” but I have a book and plan on making many different kinds.  What a wonderful find!

Drum roooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllll…………………….

1. Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

Without question this was my favourite recipe of the year!  I mean look at at…it’s not only the best tasting dessert bar ever, it’s also a thing of beauty!  This recipe was not even intended for me, haha.  When Jen came over to do some Christmas baking, it was for her to take to her baking exchange.  I had one bite and almost had to sit down.  It is one of those treats that after your first bite you have to stop before you start chewing and your eyes grow twice their normal size as you cant believe this piece of magic in your mouth.  It then turns into an eyes closed slow chew as you take in all the textures and tastes, and then it hits you…the salt!  Your taste buds jump into high gear.  It is like no other dessert experience I have ever had.  Don’t believe me, Try them!!!  Thank you Jen for my FAVOURITE treat of the year!  This recipe will remain at the front of my recipe book to be made time and time again!

I would like to thank my many followers for stopping by throughout the year to see whats up in my kitchen. When I first started this whole blogging thing, I really didn’t think anyone other then family would read.  I was shocked and so happy to see when I had over 20,000 hits!

Thanks again and Happy New Year!  Please come back to see what’s baking in 2012

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Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies, ever heard of them?  Apparently they were all the craze a while ago, I just now am jumping on the Whoopie Pie bandwagon.  I tend to waste A LOT of time looking at baking blogs, too much time really.  I love to see what people create and find things to add to my “Bucket List of Baking”.   In the last little while I have seen a lot of these little treats.  At first I mistook them for those horrible French Macaroons, but they could not be further from that, they are Whoopie Pies.

I dove right in, looking all around trying to find out just what a Whoopie Pie is. I even went to Chapters and got their very last copy of “woopie pies” by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell.  This is what I found.

Whoopie Pies apparently originated in Maine and in Pennsylvania as  “Gobs”.   The classic Whoopie Pie is made up of a wonderful fluffy marshmallow filling sandwiched between a chocolate cake/cookie.  Now days there are many varieties of whoopie pies such as lemon, pumpkin, red velvet…the list goes on.

According to food historians, Amish women would bake these desserts (known as hucklebucks at the time) and put them in farmers’ lunchboxes. When farmers would find the treats in their lunch, they would shout “Whoopie!”

As for the Pennsylvania Gob it is believe that Miners used to take these inside out cakes in the mines with them, and they looked like lumps of coal that were referred to as Gobs.

I have read the book cover to cover and the next day started my very first Whoopie Pie!  I was quite excited but nervous at the same time because I didn’t even know if I would like them.  How could I go wrong, if I like them I’ll have many resipes to try and if I don’t like them, well its a cute book to add to my recipe collection.

Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pie

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 tbsp butter, room temperature

4 tbsp vegetable shortening

1 cup brown sugar packed

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven 375 F and cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper,

2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt on a sheet of parchment paper

3. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed mix the butter, shortening and brown sugar, just until combined

4. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes

5. Add egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes

6. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated

7. Add the remaining flour mixture and the rest of the mil and beat until completely combined

Just look at that batter, how amazing does that look?!?!  I tasted it and it was fabulous 😉

8. Using a spoon, drop about one tbsp of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart.  *next time I would use a level spoon, they were a little big*

Before Baking

9. Bake for 10 minutes

After Baking

10.  Let cook 5 minutes on the pan then transfer to a cooling rack until cooled completely

It was late so I decided to pack them up and finish them the next day.  Putting them back on the pan and tightly wrapping them with plastic wrap worked perfect.  The texture was still as good the next day, still very fresh.  Now before I packed them all up for the night you know I had to try one! haha.  They were delicious!!! the texture was amazing.  It is denser than a cake, but softer then a cookie.  I referred to it as a “Cakie”.  Seriously at this point I could have just sat down and ate them, forget the filling….but we only had one, well 2 because then the numbers were uneven 😉

Classic Marshmallow Filling

As much as they insist you must use “Fluff” I could only find “Jet Puffed”.  To me it is all the same

1 1/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff (or Jet Puffed)

1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening

1 cup icing sugar

1 tbsp  vanilla extract (I used clear to keep it nice and white)

*I only made half of this recipe, I halved it*

I forgot to take pictures of this process, to be honest I was a little excited to get them done **hangs head in shame**

1. Using your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the fluff and the shortening, start on a low setting then increase to medium mixing until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes

2. Lower speed back to low and add vanilla and icing sugar

3. beat on low until incorporated

4. increase to medium and beat until fluffy, about 3 more minutes

I was trying to get as many tastings as possible out of one batch so I halved the marshmallow cream and made a batch of classic butter cream.  I split the butter cream into 3 bowls, added peanut butter to one, mint extract to another and kept the 3rd as butter cream

Assembly

You can spread the filling on but as the pictures suggests it looks a lot nicer when you pipe it on

1. Fill piping bag with your chosen filling

2. Pipe as much filling as you like on your whoppie, as the book says there is no wrong amount

3. place another “cakie” on top and press down gently

The Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pie with Marshmallow

Classic Whoopie with Peanut Butter

Classic Whoopie with Mint

Classic Whoopie with Butter Cream

The verdict? WOW these were delicious!  My favourite so far is the Classic Whoopie with the Marshmallow,which I refered to as a “Gourmet Jo-Louis”,  but I can’t wait to play around and come up with different combinations.

This one was only on the bucket list for 2 days before successfully completing it. I am hooked. I can see why they are a huge craze.  I will definitely be making more of these. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea that I bought the book…..