Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

It seems as though the news is filled with nothing but negativity – anger, distrust, fear.  But I have seen kindness.  I have been the recipient of friends’ kindness – these friends who drove my kids at a moment’s notice or made a playlist of songs to remember my uncle or wrote a long, heartfelt, handwritten thank you note.  It reminds me not to allow the negativity to impact me; to make time for others; to show kindness because it does make a difference.  

Elizabeth and I had some girl time and she asked to make some pumpkin bread.  Let’s make pumpkin cake instead (because that involves frosting)!  Oooohhh wait – David and I were at a fun party the other night and the Cousins Maine Lobster food truck (yep, we watch Shark Tank and yep, it was delicious and packed full of lobster meat (although I make a pretty good lobster roll too)) was serving whoopie pies.  Since TBM has already posted a classic whoopie pie, how about we make a pumpkin whoopie pie?  She was game so the research began.  This is the one that made us say “whoopie!!”

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For pumpkin cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices in a bowl.

Whisk together sugar, oil, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla in a separate large bowl until well combined, then stir in flour mixture.

Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or a 2 tablespoons measuring spoon, drop a scoop's worth of batter onto a lined baking sheet to form 1 mound. This recipe should make at least 32 cookies (or 16 completed sandwiches).  Arrange them 2 inches apart (although they don’t spread out too much).  You should be able to make about 16 cookies per baking sheet.  If there is batter leftover, make more cookies – no one will complain.

Bake until springy to the touch, 12 to 18 minutes. Transfer cookie-cakes to rack to cool.
Form and bake remaining batter on the other parchment-lined sheet.

For filling:
While cookie-cakes are baking, beat cream cheese, butter, and salt in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add confectioners' sugar and bourbon and mix on low speed until smooth.

Chill filling until firm enough to hold its shape when spread, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

To assemble whoopie pies:

Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of filling each on flat side of half the cooled cookie-cakes, then top with other half of cookie-cakes. If necessary, chill whoopie pies just long enough to firm up filling again, about 30 minutes.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Raspberry Muffins

The children are fighting.  “How many have you had?”  “I’ve only had 2.”  Then they uncover the potential for the discrepancy: “Mom, how many have you had?”  This time – 3.  Usually – 0 (because they won’t share).  Who raised them??? 

This goes against everything that David is: it comes from a box.  It is the best kitchen hack for me right now.  I have tried other berry muffin recipes and I have (yet) to find a replacement to the box.  If you have one, save my marriage – send it!

  • 1 box (16.9 oz) Betty Crocker Wild Blueberry muffin and quick bread mix
  • 1 cup raspberries (note: I typically use frozen raspberries and break them into smaller pieces with the smooth side of a meat mallet/tenderizer so the smaller raspberry pieces are “everywhere” in the muffin)
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs

Follow the directions on the box, except you don’t use the can of blueberries.  Mix the muffin mix with the water, vegetable oil and eggs.  Once that it blended, pour in the cup of raspberries and fold them in gently.  Line your muffin pan with paper liners.  Scoop about ¼ cup of batter into each muffin cup. 

Bake at 425 (or 400 for dark or nonstick pans).  Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.

This recipe will make 12 muffins (which means 4 per kid in our house – unless the mom sneaks one, or 3, to make it even).

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Creamy Cole Slaw

A true friend is one where you can pick up exactly where you left off and the time and space between you doesn’t seem to matter.  Sing.  Sing a song.  Sing out loud.  Sing out strong: “I’ll Be There.”  “Lean on Me.”  “That’s What Friends are For.”  “With a Little Help From My Friends.”  “Thank You for Being a Friend.” 

I’d like to be friends with Bobby Flay.  Among other things, he has this great recipe for creamy cole slaw.  (If you prefer a vinegar based cole slaw, be sure to revisit this recipe for Carolina Cole Slaw).  As a side or as a topping to David’s pulled pork from the Big Green Egg (now you're going to want to be friends with David), this dish is a great sidekick.

  • 1 head green cabbage, finely shredded (or 1 bag of Fresh Express Angel Hair Cole Slaw*)
  • 2 large carrots, finely shredded, optional
  • 3/4 cup best-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp grated Spanish onion (or ½ Tbsp onion powder)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper 

*If you use a bag of cole slaw, cut the other ingredients in half.  You can always add to it if you want more creaminess.

Combine the shredded cabbage (and carrots) in a large bowl.  Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture.  Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning.  Add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Pound Cake

I’m all about the slogan.  It’s the marketing genius that sticks with you.  "Betcha can’t eat just one."  Correct – the Lay’s potato chip and I are good friends.  "Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like Sara Lee."  Enjoy a slice of their pound cake while working your way through all of those double negatives which somehow cross-cancel into a positive statement.

If you have the time, make a pound cake from scratch.  This recipe from Southern Living is titled “Classic Southern Pound Cake.”  This might be southern but not sure about “classic” as most pound cake recipes do not include cream cheese (although no one is complaining around here about the smooth, moist result).  Paula Deen and some others use shortening; Ina Garten uses buttermilk; another used sour cream; the purists are straight butter.  The Mann family taste testers do agree that the cake tastes better with a topping of fruit.

“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” – Alka-Seltzer

Happy Labor Day!

  • 3 C granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ C (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • ¼ C half-and-half
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 300ºF with oven rack in center of oven. Grease and flour a 10-inch (14-cup) bundt pan.

Beat sugar, butter, and cream cheese with an electric stand mixer on medium-high speed until very fluffy and pale in color, 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggs,1 at a time, beating on low speed just until yellow disappears after each addition. Add egg yolks, half-and-half, and vanilla, and beat on low speed just until blended.

Stir together flour and salt in medium bowl; gradually add to butter mixture in 3 batches, beating on low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Remove bowl from stand and scrape batter. Using a spatula, stir batter once by hand, scraping sides and bottom to incorporate any unmixed batter. Spoon batter into prepared pan, and gently tap pan on counter to release any large air bubbles.

Bake in preheated oven until cake is golden and a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour and 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes (note: mine took closer closer to 1:40/1:45). Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove cake from pan, and cool completely on wire rack before slicing and serving, about 2 hours.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Willy's Wisdom

We said our final goodbyes to dear Uncle Willy.  He and I shared a passion for food and a belief that the dinner table is the most pure and authentic place for family and friends to gather and be.   Uncle Willy is the most prolific contributor to The Baker’s Mann and the links to his recipes are below.  I will continue to cook and share the recipes that I find in his binders. 

With much love, Uncle Willy, I also impart some pieces of your wisdom about sharing, money and investing, and visiting.  And with this, The Baker’s Mann is off hiatus and returns to sharing recipes.  I think it would make Uncle Willy proud.

Sharing: One day Uncle Willy and I were having lunch at a cute little restaurant in the Houston museum district.  On the menu was a bread pudding.  I asked him “do you want to share dessert?”  He replied “No!  Get your own dessert!”  Uncle Willy was a generous man – he shared his time, his home, his dinner table, and more, but do not ask him to share dessert.

Money and investing: When I graduated from college, Uncle Willy shared his wisdom on managing my finances.  What was the secret of this wise CPA and CFO?  He drew a tic-tac-toe board and wrote “market cap” on the x-axis and “risk” on the y-axis and then advised me to select mutual funds that fit into each of the spaces.  He was a simple and straightforward guy who sent out emails to the family congratulating himself and informing others when his Kroger or Randall’s had Blue Bell on sale AND he had a manufacturer’s coupon.

Visiting: Uncle Willy rarely traveled without some sort of gift of food (that he usually baked himself).  And his visits were always too short.  I would ask: “Why don’t you stay longer?”  He would reply: “You don’t want to overstay your welcome.  Leave on a high note so that it makes them want more.”  As always, even this last time, you got your way. 

May his memory be for a blessing.


Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends who are in Houston, Corpus Christi, and other areas impacted by the hurricane and surviving the flood waters.

Monday, March 14, 2016

S'mores Pie

S'mores Pie
My favorite day of the year – just behind birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Fat Tuesday – is… Pi Day.  Pi, as you know, is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter which is approximately 3.14159… so March 14 (or 3/14) has become Pi Day and it gives me an excuse to make and eat pie (as if I’ve ever needed an excuse to make/eat dessert!).

We have eaten some memorable pies over the years:

This recipe has made the rounds: Gimme Some Oven who adapted it from Pastry Affair who adapted it from How Sweet It Is who adapted the chocolate filling recipe from Tyler Florence.  Next time, I’m going to try milk chocolate morsels vs semi-sweet – just for giggles (and more pie!).

  1. Graham cracker pie crust (or make your own with 2 c graham cracker crumbs + 1 stick of butter – baked for 8-10 minutes in a 9-inch pie pan)
  2. 3/4 C heavy cream
  3. 3/4 C milk
  4. 10 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  5. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  6. Pinch of salt
  7. 2 eggs, whisked
  8. 20-30 large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 325.

For the pie filling:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together cream and milk. Warm over medium-low heat. Add in chocolate and stir until chocolate has completely melted and is smooth. Mix in a little of the warmed milk to the whisked eggs to bring up their temperature.  Slowly add in vanilla and whisked eggs to the milk + chocolate and whisk until smooth.

Pour chocolate filling into (store bought or baked) pie crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes (mine took more like 25-30 minutes), or until chocolate filling is set and does not jiggle when pie is lightly shaken. Remove from oven.

Cut marshmallows in half. Place halves in concentric circles over the top of the pie until covered.

Lower oven rack to the middle position, and set oven to the lowest broil setting. Place pie on the rack and lightly toast the marshmallows.  They will brown very quickly.

Let the pie cool a bit then chill it in the refrigerator to set for 2-3 hours.

When serving the pie, spray your knife with Pam so it doesn’t stick to the marshmallow topping as you cut the pie into individual slices.  Consider warming each slice in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Drizzle with chocolate sauce if desired.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Blackberry Cobbler: a repost

I believe.  
Blackberry Cobbler

I believe that nice guys finish first.
I believe in fate and destiny.
I believe in luck.
I believe in purpose.
I believe that life is a marathon.
I believe in paying it forward.
I believe in you.

Happy 19th anniversary, David, and congratulations on closing your next deal!

This is an oldie but a goodie (kind of like David) so worth repeating.  Plus, the s'mores pie that I made wasn't blog worthy.

  1. 4 cups of frozen or fresh blackberries (or mixed berries)  
  2. 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  3. 1 large egg
  4. 1 cup flour
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6.  6 Tbsp butter, melted
  7. Ice cream or whipped cream, optional
Preheat oven to 375F.

In an 8x8 pan, pour in the blackberries and sprinkle the lemon juice on top.  In a separate bowl, combine the egg, flour and sugar until it resembles a course meal.  Sprinkle the flour mixture on top.  Pour the melted butter on top. 

Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

Scoop it out and serve in individual ramekins (apparently you could bake in the ramekins as well).  Top with ice cream or whipped cream, if you like.

PS - no one would complain if you chose to double this recipe and baked it in a 9x13 dish.