Monthly Archives: January 2015
“Eat Dessert First.” Good words to live by, if there ever were any. A cocktail party can’t survive on savory stuff alone, and for good reason. The holidays are bursting at the seams with fabulous dessert flavors like gingerbread, egg nog, cocao and peppermint, just to name a few. For my cocktail party I opted for the latter, combining chocolate and peppermint in a miniature whoopie pie rolled in crushed candy cane pieces. I made 21 whoopie pies and they were gone before the party was halfway through, disappearing off the tray as quickly as I could bring them out!
Here’s how you make the Whoopie Pies. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for Day #2 of Holiday Appetizer Recipes: Mini Mac & Cheese Cups!
Chocolate Peppermint Whoopie Pies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (see Note), sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- One 7.5 ounce jar Marshmallow Fluff
- 3 drops peppermint extract
- 1 cup crushed peppermint for rolling (gourmet versions available at Surfas, Sur La Table & specialty stores)
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In the large bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment (or use a handheld electric mixer), beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients and milk in three alternating additions; scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
|Combine dry & wet ingredients|
Using a tablespoon, scoop 12 level mounds onto each baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake the cakes in the lower and upper thirds of the oven for about 16 minutes, until risen and firm; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the sheets to racks and let the cakes cool completely. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar, peppermint extract and vanilla seeds until fluffy. Beat in the Marshmallow Fluff. Scrape the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe the filling onto the flat sides of half of the cakes and close the whoopie pies, pressing to evenly distribute the filling to the edges.
|Use a tablespoon to drop mounds of batter on each baking sheet|
|Bake for about 16 minutes|
|Beat filling ingredients in bowl of a standing mixer until fluffy|
|Using a piping bag and large star tip, pipe filling onto one half of each whoopie pie|
|Top with other half of whoopie pie and press gently until filling reaches edges|
Pour the peppermint pieces on a plate (or wide bowl) and gently roll the edges so the pieces stick to the filling. If the filling isn’t all the way to edge of the cake, gently sprinkle the peppermint pieces on the filling with the your fingers. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve. Note: If your party is especially warm, consider freezing the pies so the filling doesn’t melt and run out of the pies. The pies are equally delicious frozen, like a giant peppermint Oreo!
|Gently roll in crushed peppermint pieces|
|Refrigerate or freeze on tray until ready to serve. Transfer to serving platter and enjoy!|
‘Tis the season for holiday cocktail parties! Bryan loves Summertime where he can be master of the grill, but I go crazy for entertaining during the holiday months. Since Bryan and I just moved into our first house a few months ago, we knew we wanted to throw a housewarming party during the holidays. Next thing we knew, our “Ho-Ho-Housewarming” party was born! Bryan handled the bar like a pro and my responsibility was (no surprise): THE FOOD.
|10 Days of Holiday Appetizers, Starting Tomorrow!|
I wanted to make about 10 bite-sized appetizers; a variety of sweet, savory, hot and cold finger foods that could survive the evening and wouldn’t require a ton of maintenance on my part. So last month, I started scouring cookbooks and my favorite foodie sites, compiling a list of contenders. After much deliberation I settled on 10 fantastic appetizer recipes that I want to share with you as my “10 Days of Holiday Appetizers.” So starting tomorrow, get ready for ten days of deliciousness! My list is vegetarian-friendly, beginner-friendly, budget-friendly and will satisfy the sweet and savory lover in all of us. If you’re hosting your own holiday party, consider these apps. Best of all, each of them can be made ahead so you can get out of the kitchen and enjoy your own party.
See you tomorrow for Day #1’s recipe: Miniature Chocolate Peppermint Whoopie Pies!
|Recipe Coming Tomorrow: Mini Chocolate Peppermint Whoopie Pies|
|Falafel Salad: Fresh, Fast & Flavorful
Photo Credit: Clean Eating Magazine
In the Bishop household, summer means dining al fresco, all the time. We’ve outfitted our back patio with some comfy chairs, a small table and, of course, a grill. On any given weekend — morning, noon or night — Bryan and I can be found on said patio, coffee/cocktail/water in hand, enjoying the sunshine and prepping our next meal. While he’s working his grilling magic on our main course, I slip away to the kitchen and throw together a quick and easy side. One of my favorites is this Mediterranean-inspired falafel salad, which only takes 20 minutes start-to-finish and is packed with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, hearty bulgur wheat and Middle-Eastern Za’atar spice. It’s the definition of a fast and easy meal that will get you back to dining al fresco in no time.
Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine
Hands-on Time: 20 minutes
- 1/2 cup fine bulgur wheat
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Zest 1 lemon, plus juice half lemon
- 1 tsp Za’atar (Za’atar is a Middle-Eastern spice mixture that includes thyme, sumac, marjoram and sesame. Find it in the spice aisle or in the ethnic food section of your supermarket.)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 plum tomatoes, finely diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 small field-grown cucumber, peeled and finely diced
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15-oz BPA-free can unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Make the Falafel Salad: In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Stir in bulgur, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 10 minutes, until tender and water is absorbed. Meanwhile, prepare dressing: In a small bowl, combine garlic, lemon zest and juice, Za’atar and salt. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, kefir and bulgur and toss to combine. Drizzle dressing over top and toss to coat. Top with feta cheese crumbles. Serve immediately or refrigerate until cold.
Sean, Kim and I were at Dim Sum for over two hours. Just when we thought we couldn’t fit anymore in our tummies, Sean grabbed a warm egg custard tart dish for dessert, and that was pretty much the end of it. I’m not a huge dessert fan (ironic, I know), but this was amazing. It was warm, straight from the oven, with a flaky crust. Sean and Kim said they preferred them when they were room temp, but I thought they were lovely as is. And with that, we were done. Thank goodness for the ten block walk back to the hotel!
The cardboard convertible is gone and the hotel is now under new management, but the food at the Palm Terrace is still one of grandma’s favorite fine-dining establishments. Yesterday, Bryan and I went with my parents and brother to take my grandparents out for an early Christmas brunch. Boy, was it good and the presentation was fun. Best of all, the entire hotel was beautifully decorated for the holidays, completely with a giant tree, garland, poinsettias and even a “Newport Beach” gingerbread town.
Here are a few fun photos of our visit to the hotel and meal. Enjoy!