Hello, Autumn!

Farewell, summer: today is the Autumnal Equinox!

Summer may be the season all kids (and teachers) love, but as an adult I personally love Fall. Hell, even as a kid I loved fall!

Autumn is when the leaves change to shades of pure warmth.

Summer may be s’mores season, but Autumn is Mallomars season!

Some of my favorite holidays are in the Fall season: Rosh Hashannah/Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, and [topping the list…] Halloween!

Every Sunday (and sometimes Monday) in the Autumn season involves me yelling at the TV, with the assumption that my beloved Giants can hear my cheers.

Autumnal fashions of fingerless gloves, skinny jeans, and Toms Botas.

The best day of Autumn is November 1st, of course *ahem*mybirthday*ahem*

Fall treats truly are the best: pumpkin spice lattes, candy corn, caramel apples… oh my!

Or, if you’re up for the true Autumn experience, picking your own pumpkins and apples from your local farm!

Speaking of which, I came upon some local apples that are about the size of a softball. I had just one left earlier this week and decided to use it to make something for my coworkers.

I bake something to bring to work about once a month, at most. I used to do this more often, but I definitely spoiled them to the point that they’d get upset if I didn’t bring something in every Monday morning! I’ve got to pace myself…!

So, what to do with a huge apple? I like the nontraditional. I like blowing people’s minds (especially with food). I like trying new things… obviously… so I decided to bake something I’d never attempted before: whoopie pies.

I’d never heard of whoopie pies until I moved to Boston for college. Apparently New England claims they created whoopie pies first (though Pennsylvanians disagree), so many families, supermarkets, and bakeries have their own secret recipes for this awesome treat. The first one I had was traditional: marshmallow cream in between two chocolate cakes, made by my college friend’s older brother. Ahhhhmazing!

But, how do I go about making these with a humongous apple? When in doubt, ask Google. Using the cookies from this recipe and a modified version of the cream from this recipe, my problem was solved!

Apple Cinnamon Whoopie Pies

Apple-Cinnamon Whoopie Pies
Yields about 13 sandwich cookies + some leftover icing.

For the cookies:

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup grated apple, peeled first (one huge apple was enough!)

For the filling:

  • 3/4 block of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, cream the softened butter and brown sugar. Add vanilla and egg. When combined, add all remaining ingredients except the apple. Once dough is thoroughly mixed, reduce speed, add the mixing attachment, and add apple. Cover dough and refrigerate for about 45-60 minutes. (I refrigerated mine for about 50 minutes.)

During your wait, make the frosting. In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, combine cream cheese, coconut oil, and vanilla. When completely smooth, begin adding powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments. Add nutmeg and cinnamon, whisking until combined. Refrigerate until use.

When your dough is done in the fridge, preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Drop balls of dough onto your lined cookie sheet using a heaping teaspoon or a cookie scoop. Flatten each ball slightly using the back of a spoon, trying to keep each round about the same size.

Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine were done at 12 minutes exactly) or until golden around the edges. Keep cookies on the cookie sheet for at least 2 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

Once completely cooled (I recommend letting them cool in your refrigerator), put a heaping tablespoon of filling in between two sort-of-equally-sized cookies.

Needless to say, these disappeared in record time when I brought them to the office. Nobody knew what a whoopie pie was, so I had to actually draw an illustration explaining what each component was! Regardless, they were enjoyed by all and definitely a great way to welcome Autumn into our lives.

Yeah, I’m the best coworker ever. 🙂


Thoughts on Labor Day Dessert

Labor Day weekend is a mere day away (or, if you’re lucky, you’re taking today off from work or school and are already enjoying your vacation!) which means one thing for me: figure out what to bring to my friend’s barbecue.

My friends know me for my desserts. The interesting thing is that I’ve always preferred cooking over baking. The reasons?

  • With cooking you can adjust as you go along. This is perfect for screw-ups those like me who do trial-and-error more often than not. If you add too much cayenne pepper to chili, just add sugar. But if you add too much cinnamon in your oatmeal cookies, you have to scrap it and start from scratch.
  • You eat more savory things than sweet things on a daily basis… or at least you should…!
  • So much waiting is involved when baking! You have about 10 minutes of excitement when mixing everything together… then you just wait… and wait… and wait. Then you take it out of the oven and wait, wait, wait for it to cool. No fun!
  • People are more willing to eat and comfortable in indulging in an extra helping of stir-fry over an extra slice of cake. The former makes you seem like you’re hungry, while the latter makes you look a bit gluttonous!

Cooking is more of an art while baking is more of a science. But, science is fun! I soon learned that despite the fact that I’ve failed at baking more than anything else, I have fun with it because I want to fix the errors and learn from them. (You will continue to see how I can make anything dorky.) I decided to learn some new baking recipes to get involved in the kitchen in a new way.

Now I love baking! I still hate waiting the 15, 30, 60 minutes for things to bake and then wait [again!] for things to cool before I can frost them. I still hate when I have to scrap an entire batch of cookie dough because I grabbed mint extract instead of vanilla extract. But, there are so many good things about baking!

  • People love sweet stuff. Period.
  • Some desserts are used to celebrate things like birthdays, births, anniversaries, housewarmings, St. Patty’s Day, or my favorite “holiday” — Just Because!
  • Desserts generally look prettier and can be decorated in ways savory meals can’t. (I mean, you could make some mashed potato roses to top your meat loaf, I guess!) Tell me that looking at these cookies I made last summer doesn’t make you excited and happy…

Well, not only is this weekend Labor Day weekend, but I recently discovered tomorrow is also a friend’s birthday. What was originally going to be a simple dessert will now be transformed into a delicious and awesome-looking (I hope!) birthday treat for the man of the day.

Anytime I make desserts, I usually make two: one that is somewhat decadent, and one that won’t give you a heart attack or diabetes. This weekend, I think I’m going to take a stab at this (for the latter):

Broken Glass Jell-o

I’ve never made this in my life, nor have I even eaten it! I’m excited to give it a go because if it comes out right, it’ll look absolutely awesome and probably confuse the hell out of my friends.

For the decadent treat, I definitely want to make something I know the birthday boy will like. Originally I wanted to make cheesecake because it is a cool desert perfect for a hot day (it’s supposed to be around 97 degrees the day of the bbq!) but I don’t know if the birthday boy likes cheesecake! He’s not much of an eater in general… in fact, I wish I had his appetite! Hopefully his fiance will text me back and let me know what desserts he actually enjoys.

If he likes cheesecake, I’ll go with my original idea of making a strawberry-lime cheesecake… possibly making mini-cheesecakes so we don’t have to cut them or even use forks, for that matter!

Be prepared for posts about what the final decisions were! Any suggestions are welcome, too, of course!

Have a safe long weekend my US and Canadian friends!