St. Valentine

February 16, 2010

St. Valentine,

I have attended Catholic religious schools for the past  10 years of my life, and still do not precisely know who you are or why such a day filled with tacky drug-store manufactured cartoon cards, or chalky and suggestive heart shaped candies has been named after you.  However, I want to, in the most sincere tone of course, thank you for creating a holiday which makes all singles feel like total loners.  Amen.

Ok maybe that was harsh, but Valentine’s day sucks.  There, I said it.  Now I’m not trying to delve too much into my personal life, but I’ve never had a entirely ‘successful’ Valentine’s day, and my mom’s polite badgering of  any recent love interests only makes matters worse… ugg. Out of pity, she invited me on to join her and my father on their candlelit dinner date.  Ok, now I’ve reached an all-time low.

Well, then again I can always drown my hum-drum self-absorbed Valentine’s day sorrows in…. Did somebody say BAKING!?

Yes, I get excited for every opportunity I can bake, especially when It’s something as tacky and festive as Valentine’s day.  Even better.

Now I wanted to make something exciting and different.  I’ve been doing a lot of self evaluation of my baking and let’s face it, I’m a boring at-home baker.  Sure the pictures are nice, but I usually stick to what I know in my own kitchen: pies (from scratch…whoohoo..), layer cakes, cupcakes, and tons and tons of drop cookies.  My pal Elissa at 17 and baking prompted my need to be adventurous;  she does the daring bakers challenge and lately has so much variety on her blog (doughnuts!).  So I’m totally on a bread baking obsession, and even though I still have never attempted it at home, I’m in the mental preparation state. (haha, more like I haven’t found a minute to get yeast at the store!)  Quick Fact and Backround:  I do an internship at Orson Restaurant and Citizen Cake Bakery in San Francisco. (:D) And though I haven’t earned one pay check I get to be a totally adventurous baker, going off the whimiscally fabulous recipies of Elizabeth Falkner.  There, I’m able to make  filo wrapped date cigars, ficcocia, green apple sorbet, date pudding, cheddar bacon scones ( I had to use a deli slicer as the restaurant cures it’s own bacon; so crazy and intimidating after I saw what happened to  Mickey Rourke in the Wrestler! Luckily I escaped with all 10 fingers),  blueberry maple cheesecakes and the alfajores that are to die for. As a pronounced chocoholic, I maydare to say that it is  perhaps the most incredible cookie that I have tasted (although David Chang’s momofuku milk bar’s cornflake cookie is a contender).

That paragraph was totally all over the place now that I read it over, but in conclusion, I had to make these whoopie pies because I died when I say them on Annie’s Eats.  They were too, too cute (Bakerella Status).  I guess I stepped a little out of the box because I never have made whoopie pies before….  (boringggggg)  They turned out cakey and soft just like I imagine they are supposed to.  When I brought them to school, one of my friends raved that they tasted like pancakes. (In a good way I guess).  I cured my own buttermilk substituion (milk+ 1 tablespoon lemon juice+ 5 minutes= buttermilk :D).  I also used a marshmellow frosting which I added 2 tablespoons of sourcream to get that tangy flavor,  I didn’t have any of the ingedients for the cream cheese frosting.  The sour cream ended up deflating my frosting a bit, so I wasn’t able to achieve towering and fluffy whoopie pies. My mom’s reaction was “those are pretty ugly”… so  I left suggestions to prevent this down by the frosting recipe.

Please enjoy!

Adapted From Annie’s Eats

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
For the 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 (I used a few teaspoons)


Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.

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.

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

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.  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.

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.

Adapted from Tracy’s Culinary Adventures


1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
4 teaspoons dried egg whites, reconstituted according to package directions(equivalent to 2 egg whites)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To Make the Frosting:

Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Combine 1 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl and set it over the saucepan. Heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 7 minutes. Take off the heat, dd the egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt to the bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is glossy and thick, 5-7 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the heat and continue beating for 1 minute to cool the frosting. Add the vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and beat on low just to combine. I added a few tablespoons of sour cream, but the frosting started to get flat so I would suggest taking a third of the frosting out, mixing it with some sour cream, and folding the mixture back into the frosting.

Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip.  Pair the cookies up by shape and size.


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