Monday, February 13, 2012

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

The Kitchen Holiday
Happy Valentine's Day! While I don't usually participate in a lot of the "traditions" associated with the holiday, if you know me at all you know I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to make festive baked goods for my friends.  In the midst of these dark winter days, a sugary treat can be just the thing to perk you up.  I decided to try something new for a "Pink & Red" party (read: excuse to drink red punch and wear silly outfits) this weekend, and it was a big hit.
The Kitchen Holiday
These red velvete cupcakes whoopie pies were the perfect combination of cakey-frosting goodness.  Think cupcake, but better, and less messy to eat (does anyone else have a horrible time eating cupcakes without making a mess??) 

While making these delectable desserts, I learned some interesting things about red velvet:
  1. Red velvet is just chocolate with red food coloring. Am I the only one who has been missing this all these years?? Does the red cause some flavorful/optical illusion that detracts from the chocolate?
  2. It requires a LOT of red food coloring to achieve the color.  As in, a whole bottle. This actually shocked and bothered me a bit since I try to avoid artificial coloring, but I guess it's worth it for a special occasion.
If you're looking for a sweet treat to make on this special day, these are a winner!  They'll be sure to look like this in no time -

The Kitchen Holiday
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Adapted from Gourmet Live, January 2011
Yield: 26 pies

Cake ingredients
2 cups flour
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk (or sourmilk*)
1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring (2 tablespoons)

Filling ingredients
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups confectioners' sugar

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, oil, and sugar with an electric mixer until light.  Beat in the egg, vanilla, and vinegar and beat for 2-3 minutes longer.  Alternating between each, mix in the flour and milk in batches, starting and ending with the flour. Finally, mix in the food coloring and mix well.

Drop the cake batter onto a greased cookie sheet in 1 tablespoon measurements, keeping them as round as possible.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from cookie sheet and let cool completely. 

While the cakes are baking, make the filling.  Beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, salt, and confectioners sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Once cakes are completely cooled, spread filling evenly on one round and place a second on top to form a sandwich.

* If you don't have buttermilk (and I never do), you can substitute sourmilk by mixing 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice with enough milk to yield the desired measurement.  Let it sit for 2-3 minutes before using.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Green Monster Smoothie

Since completing the cleanse, life has been a balancing act between healthy eating and getting caught up in the rush of working late, outings with friends, and fun recipes.  Now, this isn't really so much a dilemma as a blessing, since it means pizza at the Mellow Mushroom, breakfast at Founding Farmers, nutella calzones at 7th Hill, and Choco-Lattes at Pitango.

To make up for these culinary treats, I've been whipping up my go-to Green Monster smoothie for breakfast a few times a week.  Since Angela created this concoction a few years back, it's gotten a lot of attention, but this smoothie is just so good it's worth showcasing here!
The Green Monster is a great way to start my day.  It's chock full of fruits, veggies, and nutrients, which gives me lots of energy.  No matter what else I eat throughout the day, I don't feel as guilty, because at least my breakfast was healthy!

One of my favorite ingredients is the flax seeds; they might be small, but they bring a huge nutritional kick. They're a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, have anti-inflammatory benefits, and are easily absorbed when ground.  You can either buy them already ground, or grind them yourself in a coffee grinder. Just two tablespoons contain:
  • 200% daily value omega 3 fatty acids
  • 23% daily value vitamin B1
  • 23% daily value dietary fiber
  • Only 112 calories!
The Green Monster is infinitely adaptable, but the basic smoothie usually includes dark leafy greens, like spinach, flax or chia seeds, banana, frozen fruit, and a liquid, like almond milk. Here's how I've been making mine lately:

Baby spinach, kale, banana, pineapple, mango, ground flax seeds, and almond milk. 

First, tear the spinach and kale into small pieces and add to the blender.  Next, add the banana, broken into pieces as well, and sprinkle with flax meal.

Toss in the pineapple and mango, and pour the almond milk over everything.

Blend for several minutes at high speed to make sure everything is blended. No one wants to be chewing kale with their morning smoothie!  Some blenders aren't strong enough to properly blend kale, so you may want to omit it if this is happening to you.  That being said, my blender is by no means top of the line and I haven't run into this problem, so maybe you won't either. 

Pour into a glass and enjoy! I sometimes pour mine into a water bottle and bring it to work to drink there if I don't have enough time at home in the morning. Alternatively, I've heard that you can make smoothies ahead of time, pour into a freezer bag, and freeze until you're ready for it.  Just pop it in the refrigerator the night before you want to drink it and it's ready for you in the morning! I can't vouch for this method because I've never been productive enough to make more than one smoothie, but it sounds like it would be a huge time saver.  Let me know if anyone tries it!

Green Monster Smoothie
Adapted from Oh She Glows

1/2 cup raw spinach
1 leaf kale
2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
1 banana
1/4 cup frozen pineapple
1/4 cup frozen mango
1/2 - 3/4 cup milk

Add all ingredients to a blender and mix well.  Blend on high speed for several minutes or until all ingredients have been processed.  Serve immediately.
site design by designer blogs