Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Baked Goods Galore

Let me just begin by saying that the bake sale was a smashing success! Just Austin alone raised over 11 thousand dollars :D
Some of the volunteers
For my contribution, I decided to go with cookie dough stuffed chocolate cupcakes and the classic magic bar with a little twist. For the cupcakes, I used my favorite cookie dough ball recipe, combined it with my favorite chocolate cake recipe and experimented with a NEW vanilla frosting to top it all off.

I simply froze tablespoon sized cookie dough balls overnight and then added one to each cupcake before baking. The idea is that the frozen cookie dough ball shouldn't bake a whole lot because it is so cold and that the cupcake batter will bake up over the dough ball. The end product is a cupcake with a unforeseen surprise inside that is almost raw cookie dough (is bakes a little but not enough to be cookie-like yet).

The biggest problem you can run into? Not freezing your dough balls long enough so that they are rock hard. I froze mine overnight but that wasn't long enough. Since this was the day before the bake sale I had no choice but to go ahead and proceed despite their softness.
Instead of sinking to the bottom and being enclosed with cupcake batter as they should have, the dough balls stayed at the top and since they were not rock hard frozen they baked quite a bit. Definitely not what I wanted!
At this point I was pretty mad because I thought that my huge batch of cupcakes for the bake sale was ruined but I just continued on, hoping for the best.

For the frosting, I used a frosting recipe that I have been eying for quite some time. Its a not-so-sweet icing that is very light and sets up well. The interesting part about it is that it uses a flour and milk mixture that is heated on the stove top until very thick and then added to the other ingredients.

I used this recipe, which has the aforementioned flour and milk mixture, 1 cup of both butter and powdered sugar, and vanilla.
However, the directions were unclear (I didn't know the flour/milk mixture had to be cooled completely) so my frosting turned into a soupy mess.
I attempted to resurrect the frosting by cooling it in the fridge and whipping it again, but then it just turned into a separated soupy mess.
Tasted good...looked disgusting. And in no way functional as a frosting. I hate wasting ingredients but this whole thing had to go straight into the trash! Such a bummer.

Okay so picture this. Its 9 o' clock at night and the bake sale is the next morning, you only have two more sticks of butter and the cupcakes have to be frosted tonight. You had your sights set on making a highly acclaimed frosting and you could make it again, but there's the chance the frosting could turn out the exact same way and you would be left with no frosting, no butter, and no open grocery store. What do you do?

Well, I decided to use a slightly different flour frosting recipe that ups the proportion of flour by a couple tablespoons, uses granulated sugar, and tells you to cool the milk/flour mixture completely before proceeding. It was risky, but to me it was worth the risk!

I used this recipe, and made sure to do everything perfectly.
Now that's frosting! Light and fluffy, almost like whipped cream, but sets up just like any other sugar filled frosting yet it is only lightly sweet. Perfect!
Good frosting v. bad frosting:
Combine the frosting fiasco with the fact that my cupcakes didn't turn out as planned AND that it was getting  late, it would be to suffice to say that I was pretty burned out. And then to make it all even worse, my piping bag sprung a leak and in the process of transferring the frosting to another bag a good half cup found its way onto objects that were not the bag I wanted to transfer it to. Think frosting all over the cabinets and all over me and you get the picture.

Despite the setbacks I made some pretty cute cupcakes!
I topped each one with a couple mini chocolate chips.
The frosting starts out really soft but set up nicely after an hour or so.
Since I've never made these before, I had to do a taste test before I distributed them out to the masses.
Even though the cookie dough was a little too "cooked" for my liking, these turned out really great! I honestly can't remember much about their taste because I only had half of a cupcake and I was pretty burned out at that point (and had way too much sugar that day) but I do remember them being very good and the few leftover from the bake sale were eaten by my family and I know they loved them. I need to make these again (the right way!) so I can get a good taste of them! I do know, however, that this frosting recipe is a keeper. Especially since I don't like way sweet frostings, this one is perfect.

I packaged them individually in little punch cups that I topped with plastic wrap.
Oops..looks like I left a finger print!
I could have made it look prettier with some cellophane bunched up at the top with a bow tied around it but then buyers wouldn't be able to see the product!
Clear as day.
Besides making cupcakes, I made magic bars which is a bar that usually contains some combination of "chips" (chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch, etc) coconut, a type of nut, a graham cracker crust, and a can of sweetened condensed milk that holds it all together.
Since I knew these have a tendency of being a little on the sweet side, I used unsweetened coconut. For the chips I used half bittersweet and half milk, and for the nuts I used toasted pecans. I also used non fat evaporated milk and no one was the wiser (:
Instead of using some generic store bought graham crackers, I decided to go all out and make my own!

I've made graham crackers before, and they tasted very good but were definitely missing something. But these ones, these ones were amazing! I used an Alton Brown recipe that I knew would yield great results. I loved that the recipe was in all weight measurements; its so much harder to mess up that way! The only thing I did differently was used half honey and half molasses instead of all molasses (I definitely recommend this). I think what really made these was that little pop of kosher salt!
THIS is the recipe to use if you want out of this world graham crackers. Don't even attempt any others. They won't be any where close to as fantastic as these guys!

Anyway, the magic bar recipe is pretty generic, you can find it anywhere, but it basically goes like this:
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter
1 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups chips (peanut butter, white, dark, milk, butterscotch, etc)
1 cup toasted nut of choice
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (can use non fat)

Mix together the crumbs and the butter, press down into a 9x13 pan, top with rest of the ingredients, pour the milk evenly on top. Into the oven at 350 for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Oh, and make sure you cool completely before cutting; it really helps.
The whole sweetened condensed milk thing may sound weird at first, but it caramelizes in the oven and turns into a caramel that sticks everything together. SO GOOD.

I packaged these by just wrapping them in plastic wrap and putting the label on the back so people could see what they were looking at.
It was my first time making these as well, so I'm glad they turned out pretty much amazing.

Everyone brought so many amazing things! There were mini pies on a stick, muffins,cake pops, cupcakes, cookies, macarons, sweet breads, pies, donuts, brownies, and bars galore.
Here's some of my bars and cupcakes out for display. A lot of companies donated baked goods, too.
And of course, we even had a dedicated section for vegan and gluten free items (:
We had a never ending supply so that whenever there was a free space on the table, another treat was put out.
There's a sign I made...and my attempt at drawing a cupcake that actually looks more like a piece of turd :/
And here's me posing with my treats!
Photo by Nathan Russel Photography
Not only did they have treats for humans, but they also had a couple treats for dogs too!
I thought these were real cute-
Little bite-sized pizzas. The ingredient list was something like flour, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, oregano, tomato sauce, and baking soda. So simple; I love it!
And you can bet my dogs loved them too-
Tyson and Missy
The dogs had a blast and so did my sister, Devon. She came by with the dogs and my dad to get some treats.
Felt like 90 degrees and she's wearing a scarf..
She's really into Japanese culture, so she loved all the Japanese inspired treats and the origamis.
Am I a bad sister for putting this up? (:

Not only did I like doing something that will help the people in Japan, but I also got to bake up a lot of goodies and meet a bunch of local bloggers!

So... when's the next bake sale? :P

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