Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Officially entering this recipe in 52 Kitchen Adventures' Chocolate Chip Cookie Challenge! Join us on Twitter on August 15th with the hashtag #3CChallenge and submit your favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe!

This weekend, a friend of ours celebrated a birthday.  It's a well known fact in our circle that this particular friend loves a good cookie cake, but he had requested that I bring cupcakes to the barbecue!  So it was an easy decision for me to figure out a top notch recipe for cookie dough cupcakes.

The recipe I went with wound up being absolutely amazing!  I made the executive decision to do these cupcakes two ways: one with a cookie dough frosting and chocolate chips and a version with a decadent chocolate buttercream with a mini cookie garnish.

They key to a decadent cookie dough cupcake is being able to find that flavor all throughout the cupcake.  The way I like to do this is baking the dough right in the center of the cupcake!

Before you start, you'll want to determine your favorite cookie recipe, forming small balls with the cookie dough and freezing them about 24 hours before you bake the cupcakes. This is a great way to ensure the dough will stay, well, doughy as it bakes inside the cupcake! It makes for a completely delicious surprise when you bite into your cupcake.

Here's what you'll need for the cookie dough:

1 stick of butter, room temperature
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 c. flour
2 tbs. milk
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. mini chocolate chips

In a mixer, cream your butter then add both sugars and mix until smooth.

Beat in the egg and mix until well incorporated, then beat in the milk and vanilla.

Add the salt to your flour and gradually mix in about 1/4 c. at a time.

Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula and roll the dough in to small, nickle-quarter sized balls placing them on wax paper on a cookie sheet.  Place 24 of the balls in the freezer overnight.  If you have leftover dough, form them into equally sized balls and bake them for 11-14 minutes at 375.  You can use these for a cupcake garnish if you'd like!

Here's what you'll need for the cupcakes:

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 c. brown sugar -- packed
1/4 c. sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbs. vegetable oil 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line two muffin pans with 24 of your favorite liners.

In a medium bowl, combine your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt -- set aside

In a large mixing bowl, cream your butter then add in your sugars just as you did with the cookie dough.  Add your eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition.

Gradually add your dry mixture, about 1/4 c. at a time, alternating with the milk, sour cream and vegetable oil until all of the ingredients are incorporated, then finish off with the vanilla.

The key to consistent baking is filling your tins very evenly.  Using an ice cream scoop is a great way to ensure each of your tins are filled to the same level!  Remember, you'll want to save a bit more room in your tins than normal for these!  Once your tins are filled to the same level, add a frozen dough ball to each tin and bake for 18-24 minutes.

Here's what you'll need for the buttercream(s):

Each of these recipes should make enough icing for about 12 cupcakes -- this way you can use a different frosting for each half of your cupcake yield.

Cookie dough buttercream:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream your butter and brown sugar until smooth, then begin adding powdered sugar, 1/4 c. at a time.

After you've added half of the powdered sugar, beat in 1 tbs milk and salt, then continue adding the powdered sugar until your frosting reaches a desired consistency.  If you want it to be a bit stiffer, you can add more powdered sugar. If you'd like it to be a bit creamier, add another tbs. of milk!

After you've reached your desired consistency, beat in the vanilla.

After you've frosted your cupcakes, sprinkle more mini chocolate chips on top for added flavor,  texture and decor!

Decadent Chocolate buttecream:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3 oz. dark chocolate
1/4 c. cocoa
3 tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream your butter and brown sugar until smooth, then begin adding powdered sugar, 1/4 c. at a time.

In a small bowl, melt your dark chocolate and 2 tbs. of milk in the microwave.  Stir in the cocoa and mix until smooth. After you've added about half of the powdered sugar, add the chocolate and another tbs. of milk.

Then add in the rest of the powdered sugar (to your desired consistency) before mixing in the vanilla.

After you've frosted your cupcakes, add one of your small extra baked cookies as a garnish!

So the next time you're looking to please a cookie lover by making cupcakes, I hope you'll give these recipes a try!  I absolutely loved both versions of this cupcake.

These recipes were adapted from a bit of guidance from Kevin & Amanda and have been Cookie-Monster approved.

My First Wedding Cupcakes!

A little less than a year ago, a close friend of ours approached me and asked if I would be interested in making 100 cupcakes for her wedding.  I was pleased as punch!  It was very flattering to have someone invest that amount of faith in something you love to do that they would ask you to do it for all of the guests at their WEDDING!

But the best part about all of this was the story that I get to tell because of it.

I started planning the moment I accepted, batting around recipe after recipe and trying to remember which flavors the bride and groom had praised at past events. After a few midday and late night conversations with the bride and a house-warming tasting party at the couple's new house...

 ...we decided on a Key Lime cupcake

a Chocolate Chunk and Peanut Butter cupcake

and a Raspberries and Champagne cupcake.

100 cupcakes didn't feel too intimidating -- only 8.5 trays worth of baking!  I knew I could do it in a cinch. Except for one thing.... this wedding was 2,500 miles away in Sandpoint, Idaho!

I certainly had my work cut out for me in terms of planning and processing how we were going to accomplish this trip. Her parents had recently built their beautiful new home themselves in the middle of gorgeous farm lands.

They unfortunately did not have a standing mixer for me to use so I knew I was going to have to make the batter and buttercream here in Pennsylvania.  But how was I going to get it there? I managed to secure a Styrofoam shipping box and four 24-hour ice packs so I had originally planned on shipping everything!

After a few dozen phone calls to shipping companies galore, I realized that shipping overnight to a remote location such as Sandpoint was going to cost me upwards of $500!!!!!! Neither the bride nor I were prepared to absorb that cost (understandably so!) so I had to start the wheels turning again.  I made a few more phone calls and wound up on a three way conference call with a wonderfully pleasant woman from Southwest Airlines and an equally helpful woman from TSA.  They conferred and told me that my cupcake batter would be considered a "non-flammable gel" and that I would be welcome to check it on my flight.

And so, very early in the morning before our 3 p.m. flight, I got to work! I purchased 10 large tubs of tupperware and painters tape and filled each tub with a different batter, labeling each with what was inside. I was completely relieved to see that the tubs fit just perfectly inside my shipping box, so I sealed her up and headed off to the airport!

I was so shocked at how easy it was to get through security.  I checked it in (for free! thank you Southwest!) the oversized baggage section and the officers asked me a few quick questions.  When I told them it was batter and buttercream, they seemed more excited than concerned!  When we arrived, after one transfer, in Spokane, Washington, the box showed up with the rest of our luggage with one or two dings, but no substantial damage.

I decided not to open the box until the next morning when I started baking. I didn't want the batter to go bad at all and I wasn't quite sure how everything fared during the flight. Turns out I probably should have opened it up to let it air out much earlier!  The batter and buttercream were both frozen nearly solid!  I was most worried about my Italian Meringue Buttercream which is a very specific menu that is nearly impossible to create without a stand mixer. It curdled quite a bit during the freezing and unfreezing process, and I freaked out just a bit.

I thank the lord that I had my friend Lindsey by my side to help calm me down and assure me that everything still tasted and looked great.  I'm not sure I could have done it without her there. She gave up a day of her vacation (while PID and her fiance were at the beach with our other friends) to help me with the chocolate design, the baking and the frosting.  It was a blessing!

After about 4.5 hours of baking and decorating, we finished all 102 cupcakes and put them in the refrigerator for the next day's wedding.

It was a lot of hard work, but I was really pleased with the results!  And the wedding?  By far the best and most beautiful wedding I've ever been to.

Congratulations to the brand new Mr. and Mrs. and thank you so much for the opportunity to try my hand at baking for a wedding!