Fancy Valentine’s Dinner

I know it’s a little late, but I forgot to write about our fancy Valentine’s dinner we had last week. My whole suite plus a few other friends got together Sunday night and had a lovely dinner full of fancy food. We had chile, pasta, mozzarella skewers, lox pastry puffs, strawberries and more. It was a lovely way to end our Valentine’s day. Having these little dinner parties are one of my favorite parts about living with other people. Everyone always has something unique to make and we are never lacking food.

I decided to make red velvet whoopie pies that I had seen and stored away in my recipe tab weeks ago. While they seem complicated to make, they are actually quite simple. Having some basic piping skills is a plus, but is not necessary. This recipe could easily be done for other holidays if you wanted to color the batter a different color and make different shapes – perhaps green for Saint Patrick’s Day or any other dark color that can mask the cocoa powder. It required a whole heck of a lot of red to achieve the right color, I think I achieved the proper Valentine’s Day color red. The frosting between the two layers was just a basic cream cheese icing. They are a little time consuming, but a fun and colorful accompaniment to any Valentine’s Day dinner.

RED VELVET WHOOPIE PIES

(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

INGREDIENTS:

cookies:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 oz. red food coloring

frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.

2) Using a heart template cut out from card stock, trace evenly spaced hearts onto pieces of parchment paper sized to fit two cookie sheets.  Place the parchment on the cookie sheets so that the side you have drawn on is facing down; set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

4) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla.

5) With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated.  Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  Blend in the food coloring.

6) Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip.  Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper using the heart tracings as a guide.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.

7) Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack.  Repeat with any remaining batter.  Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.

8 ) To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

9) Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip.  Pair the cookies up by shape and size.  Flip one cookie of each pair over so that the flat side is facing up.  Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear.  Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges.

10)To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.

11) Enjoy!


Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Sunday night. What a night. I always feel like the world is converging on me on Sunday evenings. All the work that I have procrastinated on over the weekend finally must be done and the impending doom on Monday morning looms near. This is my final week coming up. I can’t believe it. Time has flown by. I guess in a sense that is good, but I also love being here so much and all the people that I have met that I don’t ever want it to end. I’m definitely looking forward to a nice big break though. I don’t think much sleeping will be happening this week given the amount of writing and reading that has to take place before Friday (which is case you forget is also the first night of Chanukah! woot woot!) This all being said, I thought this evening would be a perfect time to take a break, well kind of since there was still some work going on, and bake!

I have a group project due in one of my classes tomorrow and instead of making it a strictly study session, my lovely friends and I decided to join the prospect of baking and learning altogether to create a quite enjoyable evening. As we worked and discussed on our project – which I’ll have you know has clips of an almost naked Brad Pitt – we whipped together some peanut butter whoopie pies.

The first batch of cookies I took out of the oven was a complete disaster – tasteless, cakey, sticky – all parts of a horrible cookie. I almost threw the batter out, but instead forged on and decided to bake the next batch a little longer. It was a good idea, because even just two more minutes of baking and they turned out so much better. With two huge whoopie cakes enveloping peanut butter frosting, it was almost impossible to finish a whole one. The last time a I made whoopie pies, they were much denser whereas these were light, but “satisfying knowing that you only have to eat half of it to get a good dose of dessert.” (Charlotte)

I would definitely make these again and now plan on having all my future study session combined with baking parties!

PEANUT BUTTER WHOOPIE PIES

(Adapted from Marth Stewart’s Cookies)

INGREDIENTS:

  • For the Cookies:
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, not Dutch-process
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 1/3 cups natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar (I added a bit more to finish the box)

DIRECTIONS:

1) Make cookies: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl; set aside.

2) Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

3) Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

4) Slowly add dry ingredients until well combined.

5) Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies spring back when lightly touched, about 10 minutes.

6) Let cool on sheets on wire racks 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks using a spatula; let cool completely.

7) Make filling: Put peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on high speed until smooth. Reduce mixer speed to low.

8 ) Add confectioners’ sugar; mix until combined. Raise speed to high, and mix until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.

9) Assemble cookies: Spread 1 tablespoon (I’d say more) filling on the bottom of 1 cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Cookies can be refrigerated in single layers in airtight containers up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.