Ambition above reality

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In much the same way as people’s eyes are often bigger than their stomachs, my baking ambitions often far outstrip my capacity to deliver.

That said, my current ambitions for the big intro bake of autumn include (potentially):

Shortbread
Carrot-sandwich cookies
Anzac biscuits
Dark chocolate hazelnut mini tarts
Cranberry-pistachio biscotti
Tart cherry, blueberry and toasted pine nut biscotti
Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies
Smil-filled chocolate cookies
Samoa cookies
Nanaimo bars
Mini cheesecakes with Oreo crust
Oatmeal lemon cream bars*
Caramel apple crumble bars*
Kahlua coffee cupcakes*
Malt chocolate cupcakes*
Brown sugar cupcakes with maple frosting and candied bacon*
Carrot pineapple spice cupcakes*

* means this will be a new/experimental recipe for me
I might also make the tired “normal” cookies, such as M&M cookies and white chocolate macadamia cookies. Perhaps something with peanut butter because I seem to have a lot of peanut butter on hand right now … but want to do something different than just standard peanut butter cookies. I will think about it.

Oreo overload (not overlord – but maybe!), part one

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One of my Oreo-laced concoctions this past week involved plopping a whole Oreo cookie into the bottom of a cupcake liner, topping that with rich chocolate cake batter, baking it and frosting it with a cookies-and-cream (vanilla frosting and crushed Oreos, of course) frosting and topping it off with a cute miniature Oreo cookie. I always think, with much love, of my dear friend Nina when I make these. When she lived here, she loved it the one or two times I made them. Oddly, until now, I had never made anything like it since. This is the first time I committed real Oreo overkill, actually. My old approach was just standard chocolate cake batter and cookies-and-cream frosting. The Oreo crust was just a new experiment.

In the past I have always used a standard, go-to chocolate cake recipe, but the idea of taking all the steps required in my normal recipe (separating eggs and beating the whites separately from the rest of the cake) sounded like way too much of a hassle when I was already separating a million eggs for Swiss meringue frosting and baking 11 kinds of cupcakes and 9 kinds of cookies. Could I really be bothered? No. I found a slightly simpler, more straightforward chocolate cake batter to use.

Chocolate cake recipe
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 175C. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, then vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together, mix them in alternately with the milk in three rounds. (For extra Oreo overkill, you could also mix more crushed Oreos into the cake batter.)

Fill cupcake liners (after you have put your Oreo in the bottom!) in cupcake pan and bake 15-17 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

Cookies-and-cream frosting recipe
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used a 200g container)
1/2 cup softened butter
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the cream cheese and butter together well, add vanilla, then beat in the powdered sugar slowly until well blended and the appropriate, spreadable/pipeable consistency is reached. Mix crushed Oreos into the frosting. Frost your cupcakes after they are cooled and decorate with mini Oreos, if desired.

Notes from the Wolf Eel Bakery: Making fast work of the baked gods

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