Chocolate Candy Cane Whoopie Pies

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These mini chocolate cakes in cookie form filled with a minty buttercream and rolled in crushed candy canes will bring a smile to even the worst drab winter day.

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If you have never been introduced to whoopie pies, well you have been missing out. It is like a hand-held cupcake sandwich, or an incredibly soft and cakey sandwich cookie, or a 1UP to the Asian choco-pie.

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The batter is basically a thick cake batter. That is then scooped out onto a cookie sheet to make cake-like cookies.

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The best part about whoopie pies are the hundreds of different flavor combinations. You have your cake flavor, then the frosting flavor, fillings (think fresh fruit, candies, chopped up cookies or brownies, or caramel), rolling in candies or sprinkles, outer coatings (chocolate ganache, dipping in white chocolate or more) and whatever you want to dress up your whoopie pie with.

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Oven Temperature: 375˚F
Baking Time: 10-12 minutes
Makes: 24 whoopie pies

Ingredients:

Whoopie Pies
1 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
4 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup milk

Frosting
2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
3 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Crushed candy canes for garnish

Directions:

Whoopie Pies
Preheat oven to 375˚F and line a baking sheet with silicone mat (or parchment paper).

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer bowl, beat together the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add half of the flour and half of the milk and beat on low speed. Then add in the other half of the flour and milk and beat until just incorporated.

Use a small ice cream scoop or a spoon to dollop the batter onto the cookie sheet. Try to make an even number of little cakes. But if there is an odd number, that’s just a little snack for the chef. 😀 Space them about 2 inches apart because they will spread.

Then bake for 10-12 minutes or until the pies spring back when lightly touched.

Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before placing on a cooling rack to cool completely. While you wait, make the frosting.

Frosting
In a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Then gradually add in the powdered sugar on low speed until combined. Add the milk, vanilla, mint extract, and salt, and beat on medium speed until smooth.

Sandwich two mini cakes with the buttercream and then roll in the crushed candy canes. Enjoy!

Recipe from the book Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell.

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Apple Pie Snickerdoodles

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On the outside, these cookies look like your average snickerdoodle – slightly puffy and covered in cinnamon sugar. But, when you take a bite, you are in for a very pleasant surprise. These cookies are filled with cooked apples – sweet, cinnamony with a hint of tartness.

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This apple pie filling is extremely simple to do – just throw everything into a saucepan and cook until tender. It’s not just delicious but also smells amazing. Your whole house will be filled with the aroma of cinnamon and apples. Just thinking about it makes me hungry!

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Despite the fact that I haven’t posted in a while and this was made during the fall (as you can see by the maple leaves in the photo that are now nonexistent in the bare tree branches), warm apple cookies will be appreciated in any season.

Oven Temperature: 350˚F
Baking Time: 8-10 minutes
Makes: 20 cookies

Ingredients:

Apple Pie Filling
1/2 Tablespoon butter
1 apple
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice (or to taste)

Cookies
6 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons milk
6 oz. white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
10 ounces flour

Cinnamon sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Directions:

Apple Pie Filling
Finely dice the apple.

In a saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Cook until the mixture has thickened and the apples are soft.

Cool apple filling in the fridge while making the cookie dough.

 

Cookies
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat (or parchment).

Mix oil, milk and sugar well. Then add in vanilla, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda. Crack in an egg and whisk until smooth. Fold in flour.

In a shallow plate, mix together the white sugar and cinnamon for the cinnamon sugar.

Roll dough into a 1 1/2 inch ball. If the dough is too sticky to do this, add a little more flour.

Then, make a well in the center of the dough ball and spoon in a teaspoon of apple pie filling. Close the cookie dough around the filling.

Roll the cookie dough ball into the cinnamon sugar and place on the cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. Repeat for the rest of the dough and filling.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Enjoy!

Tiramisu Cake with Mocha Macaron

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Today is a special day! TheChenKitchen has reached 50,000 views! And to celebrate this awesome occasion (and also a very happy belated birthday to my mom), I have a new cake recipe that is simply heavenly – it has coffee, chocolate, tiramisu cream, macaron, ganache…what else could you possibly want on one dessert?

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…a layer of sponge…a good dose of coffee syrup…mascarpone coffee cream…a dusting of cocoa powder…chocolate shavings…and that times 4!

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And on top, there are mascarpone cream swirls, chocolate ganache in the middle, and more chocolate shavings…nom nom nom

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To make it super-extra-special, this cake is topped with mocha macaron with espresso shells dusted with cocoa powder and a filling of mascarpone cream and chocolate ganache…

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Ahh this cake just makes me happy! ^-^

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And to make this cake just that much more awesome, these macaron are made with the Italian method – but don’t use the stove! You can make the cooked sugar mixture in the microwave and the results are just as good.

 

Mocha Macaron

Oven Temperature: 285˚F-315˚F
Baking Time: 10-15 minutes
Makes: 20 macaron

Credits for recipe: Cookpad Japan

Ingredients:
70 grams almond flour
70 grams powdered sugar
25 grams egg white

65 grams granulated sugar
20 ml water
25 grams egg white
1/2 grams dehydrated egg whites or meringue powder (optional)

cocoa powder

Directions:
Prepare a baking pan (preferably thick bottomed) with parchment or a silicone mat.

Sift together almond flour and powdered sugar. Mix in 25 grams egg whites with a spatula. The mix should be pasty and thick.

In a microwave safe container, stir together the 65 grams granulated sugar with 20ml water. Heat at 600W in a microwave for 80-90 seconds. Stir. Then heat for another 50 seconds or so (just until you see the syrup start to bubble).

In a bowl, beat the other 25 grams egg white with a mixer (add meringue powder here if desired to make process easier). Slowly drizzle in the cooked sugar mixture as you beat. The meringue should become opaque white and glossy. Mix for ~5 minutes or until the meringue has stiff peaks.

Then, dump all of the meringue into the almond and sugar paste. Fold gently with a spatula until the batter resembles molten lava – it should fall off the spatula in chunks when lifted.

Then transfer the batter into a piping bag with a round tip at the end. Pipe the macaron batter in 1.25 inch rounds.
OR
Use a small (teaspoon sized) cookie scoop to make rounds onto the baking sheet. Use a toothpick to make the cookies more circular.

Use a sifter to dust cocoa powder on the macaron batter before resting.

Let the macaron rest for 30 minutes before baking to develop a skin on top.

Now preheat your oven from somewhere between 285-315˚F. Each oven is different. If you’re not sure what will work, try 300˚F as a happy medium and figure out where to go from there.

After the macaron are done resting, bake for about 15 minutes, or until the shells are firm and do not collapse when lightly tapped. The feet around the macaron should be dry and stable.

When baked, let the macaron cool completely before removing from the parchment or mat. ***tip – I use a thin spatula to remove the macaron so they don’t break.

Fill with leftover tiramisu cream and chocolate ganache from the cake.

Tiramisu Cake

Oven Temperature: 350˚F
Baking Time: 25-30 minutes
Makes: one 6 inch cake

Credits for the recipe: Sugar & Everything Nice

Ingredients:

Cake:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk+3/4 teaspoon vinegar)

Chocolate Ganache:
4 oz. heavy cream
4 oz. dark chocolate

Espresso extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water

Coffee syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar

Filling:
1 8-ounces mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
chocolate shavings (take a chocolate bar and use a vegetable peeler to create shavings)
cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions:
Cake
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray two 6inch cake pans with cooking spray.
In a stand mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat again. Then add eggs one by one, and lastly the yolk, beating well after each addition. Mix in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.

Alternate adding flour and buttermilk into the batter – starting and ending with flour, making sure to mix on slow speed.

Then, divide the batter between the two 6inch pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on the counter for 15 minutes before removing from the cake pans and refrigerating for an hour or so (until the cake is easier to work with for cutting).

Coffee syrup and filling
While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate ganache, coffee syrup, and filling.

To make the ganache, heat 4 oz. of cream until just simmering. Then, pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then stir with a spatula. Let the ganache cool down until it is room temperature.

Then, make the espresso extract by mixing together the espresso powder and water. Set aside.

To make the syrup, in a small saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. On medium-low heat, bring to just boiling and then turn off the heat. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract.

To make the filling, whisk together the mascarpone, sugar and vanilla. In a stand mixer or with a hand blender, whip the cream until it has stiff peaks – make sure not to overbeat or you will have butter! Then, stir in a scoop of whipped cream into the mascarpone. Then, fold in the rest. Pour in the rest of the espresso extract and mix gently.

Assembly
When the cake is cooled, use a serrated knife to level the tops and cut each layer in half. Then, building on a cake board or cake plate, place a little bit of ganache on the bottom and then place the first layer of cake. Brush the coffee syrup liberally onto the sponge. Then, fill with mascarpone cream, dust with cocoa powder, and top with chocolate shavings. Repeat until there is one cake layer left. Place the top layer of sponge on the cake. Then, place the rest of the mascarpone cream into a piping bag with a star tip. Pipe an even number of rosettes onto the cake. Make sure there are no gaps in between the swirls. Then, pour ganache into the center. Top with more chocolate shavings.

Place filled macaron on every other swirl. Enjoy!

Chocolate Nutella Mochi

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I am a self-professed mochi addict. It’s chewy, sweet, filling and simply delicious. The traditional mochi is usually filled with a paste made with red beans and is soooo good. But, some people aren’t as open to eating sweet beans. If that sounds like you, maybe Nutella would be more up your alley.

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Even if you’re a die-hard red bean fan, I have to say, everything is better with Nutella. It’s like hazelnutty ganache in a jar! What’s not to love?

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This version of the classic is just as good (especially if you’re also a chocolate addict like myself). It’s just as chewy, but with a delectable creamy, chocolatey twist.

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This is a spin on our classic mochi recipe, which you can find here –> Mochi

Makes: 16 mochi

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup cornstarch mixed with 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (doesn’t have to be exact measurement)
Nutella

Directions:

First, make the Nutella dollops to fill the mochi. To do that, take out a plate or some other dish that will fit inside the freezer. Line it with parchment. Then, spoon teaspoon sided dollops of Nutella onto the parchment. A small ice cream scoop helps a ton if you have one. Then, freeze for 15 minutes.

While the Nutella is freezing, in a microwaveable safe container, mix together the glutinous rice flour, cocoa powder, sugar and water. Cover and microwave for 2 minutes. Then, stir the mixture as much as possible (yes it will be very sticky). Microwave again for a minute or so until the mochi inflates in the microwave.

Sprinkle a cutting board with the cornstarch+cocoa powder mixture to prevent the mochi from sticking to your hands. Dump the cooked mochi onto the surface and cover with the cornstarch+cocoa powder. If the mochi is too hot to touch, leave it to rest for ~5 minutes. Then, cut the mochi into 16 pieces.

Now, working quickly, take the Nutella dollops out of the freezer and wrap each one with the mochi. If the Nutella starts to melt, put the dollops back in the freezer for a few minutes to harden up again.

After filling, the mochi are ready to eat. Enjoy!

Lemon Sorbet

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I absolutely refuse to believe that summer is coming to a close. I will continue to eat ice cream on the porch, run around outside like an idiot and belt out summer tunes – even when it’s 60 degrees outside, because I can. Yeah that’s right – no pumpkin or pecan or apple. Deal with it.

And so, now I present you with a sweet treat that screams summer – lemon sorbet. It’s creamy, cold and the only thing you need when it’s 80 degrees out (or 60).

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I have always loved sour things – get rid of those sweet mangos and peaches because I’m gonna go for the fruits that make your mouth pucker – hand over the lemons, kumquats and sourest of oranges. If you’re with me, then you have got to try this recipe. Go full out with all 4 lemons and you will not be disappointed.

If you’re the person who adds extra sugar to your lemonade, you might want to scale back on the acidity. Try this recipe with 2 lemons and go from there.

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Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of Water
1-1/4 cup of Sugar
juice from 4 lemons or to taste
zest from all lemons used
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

Directions:
Heat water and sugar on a stovetop on low heat until sugar dissolves. Add in lemon juice and lemon zest. Whisk together until homogeneous.

Strain out the lemon zest. Then whisk in the condensed milk.

Refrigerate overnight (or go ahead and churn it because you want ice cream now; but, it might not be as creamy yadda yadda yadda).

Churn in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, try this recipe –grapefruit gelato– and switch out the grapefruit for lemon.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Macaron with Caramel Buttercream

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Macaron are such cute little cookies, but they sure do pack a big, flavorful punch. The crisp meringue softens over a day or two as it soaks up the moisture and flavor from the filling. Biting into a macaron is like a pillow of sweetness. It truly is delicious, and a must-try if you haven’t eaten one before.

This particular recipe melds together a rich sweetness from the caramel with a slight chocolate flavor – mhmmmmmmm

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Many cooks shy away from macaron because they do have a reputation for being a bit tricky. But, this recipe hasn’t failed me yet. Most recipes use a French meringue method where the dry ingredients are folded into a beaten egg white mixture. I’ve tried the French method twice – both with less than desirable results. But, this recipe uses an Italian meringue – the egg whites are beaten with cooked sugar to create a very stable base. That is then folded in with a paste of almond flour, icing sugar, cocoa and egg whites.

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Oven Temperature: 285-315˚F

Baking Time: 15 minutes

Makes: ~40 1 inch macaron (these are mini sized xD)

Ingredients:

150 grams almond flour

125 grams icing sugar

25 grams cocoa powder

110 grams egg whites ***divided in half***

35 grams water

150 grams granulated sugar

Directions:

Prepare a baking pan (preferably thick bottomed) with parchment or a silicone mat.

Sift together almond flour, icing sugar and cocoa powder. Mix in half (55 grams) of the egg whites with a spatula. The mix should be pasty and thick.

In a separate (heat resistant) bowl attached to a mixer (or not if you want to go the hand beater or elbow grease methods), pour in the remaining half (55 grams) of egg white.

In a sauce pot, mix the water and granulated sugar together. Use a candy thermometer to heat until the sugar is at 240˚F. Once the mixture is at the right temperature, immediately take it off the heat and begin pouring it slowly into the bowl with the egg white. Whisk the egg whites and sugar constantly as you pour the sugar in a thin stream. Once all the sugar is incorporated, continue beating until the bowl is not hot to the touch. This is an Italian meringue.

Next, take a scoop of meringue and add it to the almond paste. Fold it in. Then dump the rest of the meringue into the almond paste and carefully fold it in until the batter falls off your spatula like molten lava. The batter should be thick and not fall completely smoothly in a stream – the batter will fall intermittently.

Then transfer the batter into a piping bag with a round tip at the end. Pipe the macaron batter in 1.25 inch rounds. Let the macaron rest for 30 minutes before baking to develop a skin on top.

Now preheat your oven from somewhere between 285-315˚F. Each oven is different. If you’re not sure what will work, try 300˚F as a happy medium and figure out where to go from there.

After the macaron are done resting, bake for about 15 minutes, or until the shells are firm and do not collapse when lightly tapped. The feet around the macaron should be dry and stable.

When baked, let the macaron cool completely before removing from the parchment or mat. ***tip – I use a thin spatula to remove the macaron so they don’t break

Prepare the filling:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

4 cups icing sugar

2 Tablespoons milk (or as needed to reach desired consistency)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup caramel (you can either use homemade caramel, or melt down some soft caramel candies and cool until at room temperature)

Directions:

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add milk as needed. Mix in the vanilla and caramel.

Sandwich the filling between two cookies. Macaron are best eaten a day or two after filling. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookies

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Have you found yourself holding a jar of peanut butter in one hand and a spoon in the other? I know I have. If you have, this recipe is for YOU. Though it seems like peanut butter can’t get better than a dollop straight from the jar, this recipe trumps even its purest form. Soft and chewy, these peanut butter cookies will have you reaching for more.

Oven Temperature: 350˚F

Baking Time: 8-9 minutes

Makes: 20 3inch cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Melt peanut butter and sugars over medium heat on a stove. Stir in salt, baking soda and vanilla.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes and then whisk in the egg (so the egg doesn’t cook).

Then stir in flour.

Roll dough into 1.5 inch balls and place on a baking sheet. Using a drinking glass/measuring cup (or your hands) flatten dough to 1/4 inch thick.

Bake for 8-9 minutes, just until edges start to turn golden. Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to racks to cool completely. Enjoy!