Last Tuesday, I had a visiting chef at my home. She is all of 11 years old and the daughter of a friend that I have known since Eighth Grade, not my Eighth Grade, my friend’s Eighth Grade. My friend is considerably younger than I. This sweet young chef, Emma, will be coming to cook or bake with me every so often. I thought I would be teaching her some techniques but really she has enough expertise to get around the kitchen pretty well. The plan is for her to chose a recipe and we, then, get together and chat, stir and sample our way to a yummy dish. Her choice this week was Cookies and Cream Cupcakes. She is a lover of Oreo cookies, so this recipe was a perfect beginning.
Emma brought a Martha Stewart recipe over and we spent a few hours deciphering the directions and putting them into practice. She moved around the kitchen knowing what she was doing. I just observed. I did step in when we were using the food processor to crush the Oreos. I had originally thought of having her smash the cookies in a plastic bag with a rolling pin until I saw the quantity of cookies – 22! That’s when I took out the processor. The only other time I stepped in a little was with the Cookies and Cream Buttercream which begins with a bain Marie and that can get a little treacherous, plus whisking for a few minutes is tiring.
The cupcakes are a nice batter made of buttermilk and cocoa with an Oreo cookie surprise in the middle. I didn’t try one, although I sampled everything, taking licks from the spatula and mixer paddle in the end. Emma was a little disappointed when she first bit into the cupcake and found that the cookie doesn’t keep its crunch. That makes sense but my first reaction was the same as Emma’s – What???
The frosting was a recipe I had never done before. Whisking egg whites and sugar in a double boiler and then beating them until glossy was something I had never encountered in a frosting recipe. When you add the butter and vanilla, the frosting curdles, or at least that’s how it looks. I freaked out that we had done something wrong but if you keep mixing it, it will eventually come out smooth and creamy. And there is lots and lots of frosting. The original picture shows a cupcake with as much frosting as cake. So, pile it on.
I hope that you invite a young one into your kitchen to cook this week. I found it so enjoyable and I am sure you will, too.
1 cup Unbleached Flour
1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 cup Sugar
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Egg plus 1 Yolk, lightly beaten
2 Tbls. Unsalted Butter, melted
1/2 cup Buttermilk
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Hot Water
22 cream-filled Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Cookies and Cream Buttercream Frosting
4 Egg Whites
1 cup Sugar
pinch of Salt
1 1/2 cups Unsalted Butter, softened
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 cups finely crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies ( 20+ cookies)
This recipe makes 22 cupcakes. Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine Flour, Cocoa, Sugar, Baking Soda, Baking Powder and Salt. Add Eggs, melted Butter, Buttermilk, Vanilla and Hot Water. Whisk until smooth. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spoon 1 Tablespoon of batter into each muffin tin. Use only 22 cups. Press a cookie firmly into each cup until batter comes up sides of cookie. Divide remaining batter evenly among cups. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until cupcakes are puffed and set 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Meanwhile, In a heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, combine Egg Whites, Sugar and Salt over a pot of simmering water (bain marie). Whisking constantly, cook until sugar and salt dissolve and the mixture is warm to touch (about 160 degrees).
Remove from stove, using the whisk attachment, beat mixture on low speed and gradually increase to high, beating until mixture is stiff and glossy, 10 minutes or so.
With mixer on low, add Butter a bit at a time, then whisk in Vanilla. (Here is where the batter looks curdled).
Using paddle attachment, beat buttercream until mixture is smooth. Gently fold in crushed cookies.
Put buttercream in a large piping bag fitted with 1/2 inch plain round tip or snip a ziplock bag to make a 1/2 diameter. Pipe onto cupcakes and sprinkle with some additional crushed crumbs.
It is a time consuming recipe but worth it. Definitely a great treat for a young person in your life.
As I always say, eat well, drink well, and live well. Until next time.