Friday, October 22, 2010

Mashmallow Fondon't

A friend of mine has commissioned me to bake cupcakes for an "Airplane" themed baby shower. Oh, and do I have grand ideas. How does this sound? Cookies and cream cupcakes with white chocolate cream cheese buttercream (perhaps a mousseline or a neoclassic tinted baby blue) and marshmallow clouds for decorations! The "airplanes" will be a different project. There are two ways I’ve thought to make these clouds. The first of which is a piping marshmallow cloud, rolled in white or silver sanding sugar. The second is marshmallow fondant (MF) shaped into clouds, which brings me to last night's, uh, adventure.

Last night I made MF for the first time ever because everyone claims it is a dream to eat compared to the regular kind. I haven’t had much experience with eating the stuff, and absolutely none with making it.  I know everyone's into fondant covered everything, but I never really cared to work with it. But I do love a challenge. How hard could it be?


Let me tell you.  Melted marshmallows could probably be used in interrogation tactics or the by defense department. You’re supposed to knead this stuff - this ridiculously gooey, strong, mastic-like substance between your fingers. Fingers that are supposed to have the tensile strength of 500 pounds per square inch. I felt like I was being punished. I felt like one of those poor critters stuck on a sticky trap. At one point, I was pacing my kitchen, bound by my marshmallow trap, trying to figure out how I would ever get it off.  I was willing to call it a day and would have used all my strength and certainly some momentum to fling the mass at the wall just to regain my hands and my freedom…. But it wouldn’t have come off.  Seriously. I'm picturing a Japanese comptetion game show...

After much frustration and barking at family members passing by to hand me this or pour in that, I finally, FINALLY, got a ball I could properly reconcile. Oh, I was happy to knead. The exertion of kneading was a pleasure compared to the sticky nightmare that preceded it.  I greased the ball, wrapped it up and resentfully threw it to the back of the fridge, where we wouldn’t face each other again until we both cooled our heels.

In all fairness, I got myself into this one by, once again, making all kinds of assumptions. Grease it. Everything. The bowls, the spoons, your hands! And don't try to be clever and use Pam. Use butter. Or *gasp* shortening! Use a stand mixer, with a dough hook. And grease that too. And have plenty of extra powdered sugar on hand...

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cookies Fully Loaded

These fully loaded cookies always make me feel good. And by fully loaded, I mean cranberries, walnuts, white chocolate chips, flax seed and some whole wheat flour (so you can pretend it's a "healthy" cookie in spite of the buttery goodness).  Oh yes, and the oatmeal.  Yes, even with the flax, the whole wheat and the oatmeal, these cookies are decadent.

I dare you to stop at one cookie.  I always triple or quadruple the recipe, bake enough to fill the cookie jar and freeze the rest of the cookie dough.

Fully Loaded Cookies
Makes about 48

2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons roasted flax seeds
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Whisk flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugars and beat until well combined. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Fold in oats, white chocolate chips, walnuts and cranberries.

Drop batter using a cookie scoop onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 14-16 minutes. Cool on sheets 3- 5 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.
To freeze these for later use, line a cookie sheet with wax paper and drop batter close together onto the sheet. Place in freezer and allow to freeze completely. Transfer the scooped portions into a freezer bag and store (I've stored these up to two months with great results).
Adapted from Epicurious