Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Samoas Cupcakes

I can guarantee that I'm not the only one who secretly loves Girl Scout cookies. My favorite?...Samoas! I love the wonderfully rich vanilla cookie and the chewy chocolate coconut coating. I think what really makes it is the chocolate coating and drizzle. It just ties everything together and makes the cookie oh-so delicious.

There are a lot of bloggers who have already made their cupcake version of the popular cookie. At first I wanted to make the recipe from Top with cinnamon. Izy is only 16, but her food looks so sophisticated and delicious. However, after thinking for quite some time, I decided to make my very own original recipe. I was building on recipes. I used Magnolia bakery's vanilla cupcake, chocolate ganache, and Rosie's caramel swiss meringue buttercream from Sweetapolita. You should check out both blogs. They're absolutely wonderful. 

These cupcake took some time, but mostly because of cooling time. There are a lot of different parts to the recipe, but overall it's not a difficult cupcake to make. It consists of: vanilla cake, whipped chocolate ganache filling, chocolate ganache coating, toasted coconut rim, and caramel buttercream.

Samoas Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes


1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. 

chocolate ganache:
adapted from Sweetapolita
4 oz milk chocolate
4 oz dark chocolate (I used 60% cacao) 
1 cup heavy cream
In a heavy saucepan, heat the cream until it's gently simmering. Once it's simmering, pour it over the chocolate. Set aside until room temperature and thickened. 

caramel buttercream:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup  heavy cream
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan to a boil over medium heat. Brush down the sides of the pot with a dampened pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Stop stirring and cook until caramel is dark amber, gently swirling from time to time. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, whisking by hand until smooth. It will be splatter, so be careful. Whisk in sea salt and vanilla. (I left out these two ingredients) Let cool.

Place butter in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed, until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer clean with lemon juice, and place egg whites and remaining sugar into bowl over a pot of simmering water (not boiling–you don’t want to cook the eggs). Whisk occasionally and gently until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160° on a candy thermometer.

Remove the bowl from heat, and place back onto the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form (about 5-6 minutes). Once the bottom of the bowl is neutral and no longer warm to the touch, reduce speed to medium-low, and add beaten butter, one cup at a time, whisking well after each addition.

Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add cooled caramel, and beat until smooth (about 3-5 minutes).

Toasted Coconut:
Spread 1 cup of shredded coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 300F for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to make sure that the coconut browns evenly.

Using a small paring knife, or cupcake corer, core out the middle of the cupcake and either discard or eat. Fill the core with 1/2 of the ganache. (I took the amount and chilled it, then whipped it slightly.) Dip the cupcake into the remaining ganache. Rim the cupcake with toasted coconut. Let the ganache set for about 25 minutes. Once the ganache is set, top the cupcake with the caramel swiss meringue buttercream. (I used an Ateco #827 tip.)

These cupcakes are definitely bake-sale worthy. I think you could even fool people into thinking you bought them from a bakery. I really hope you do try this recipe. You'll absolutely love it! 

Happy Baking! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

For the longest time, I've been searching for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. I've tried countless recipes, each better than the last. For a while now I've declared Deb's recipe from Smitten Kitchen the best chocolate chip cookie ever. Well I'm sad and happy to say that I've found a new recipe that is by far the greatest chocolate chip cookie I've ever had and made. Where did I find this recipe, you may ask? I found it from the most boring place you could look for.....the New York Times. Me being your average teenager, I find the newspaper to be extremely boring, especially the NYT. Never would I have expected to find such a fantastic recipe from a newspaper.

What makes these cookies so special is that they require both cake flour and bread flour. They're two ingredients that most people don't have in their pantry. Luckily I did have KAF bread flour hiding in my pantry. As for the cake flour, it was nowhere to be found. However, you can easily substitute cake flour with AP flour and cornstarch*. I bet you could just use AP flour but I don't think the cookies would have the same texture or shape. They just wouldn't be as delicious.

I decided to put on a little experiment. I wanted to see how the cookies were different after different intervals of chilling the dough. According to the recipe, this dough can be chilled for up to 72 hours. I baked off my cookies after 1 hour, 24 hours, and 48 hours.

I baked this cookie after chilling the dough for only 1 hour. It tasted delicious, but wasn't amazing. It was just missing something.

I baked this cookie after 24 hours. The texture was chewier than the 1 hour-chilled cookie. There was also a much richer flavor, but it still seemed like it was missing something.

This cookie was the winner. It had a wonderful crisp exterior and delectable chewy interior. It had the best color and the texture was out of this world. Chilling for 48 hours is definitely the secret to this recipe. 

You can just see the difference in the three cookies. The 48 hour-chilled cookie is much darker and the edges are more defined. It was just so much more delicious. I weighed out all these cookies and baked them for the same amount of time. They were all 5.2 ounces. I made all the other cookies 3 ounces. I even packaged some of them for my teachers for the last day of school. 

Here's the recipe!

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 18 very large cookies or 31 smaller cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (I used sea salt)
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
20 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
extra chocolate chips, optional
sea salt (optional)


Sift together the dry ingredients (flour through salt). I just scraped mine through a fine strainer/sieve since my sifter isn't all that great. Set aside.

Use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugars- mixing until the mixture is very light, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low, add the dry ingredients and, mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. Place the dough in an airtight container and refrigerate a minimum of 24 to 36 hours before baking (and up to 72 hours).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats. For 5-inch cookies, scoop six 3.25 ounce mounds of dough- giant golf ball-sized (I rolled mine into balls) onto a baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Don't try to fit more on the sheet or you'll end up with cookies baking into each other. Dot some extra chocolate chips on top, if desired. Sprinkle each ball of dough with a small pinch of sea salt, if desired.

Bake until the edges are golden brown and the center is lighter and soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a rack and let them cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.

I really do hope you try making these cookies. The recipe itself is extremely simple. The only "tough part" about this recipe is the waiting period. As I always say, the wait is well worth it. These cookies are fantastic! I highly recommend you try making these cookies. You won't regret it.

Happy Baking!

*For every 1 cup of AP flour, take out 2 tablespoons and replace those 2 tablespoons with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.