Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Got Milk for My Oreos?

I was never much of a gadgets person. I was never into the latest technology and my mobile is such an old model that it doesn't even have a camera in it. But my love for food inspires me to learn more about food styling and photography. It is where I find the most pleasure and comfort in life, when I am most happy. The marriage of cooking food/baking and photography brings out my creativity,  patience and passion.

About a few years ago, when I started baking again, I bought a Panasonic Lumix camera on sale. I love my old cheap camera. All the old photos you see in this blog before this post were taken with it. It may not be anything fancy but we've gone a long way and traveled to different places together. That camera had been reliable even when things got a bit messy around me when I was taking photos of food. But I was never completely happy with its photos even after tweaking them. On days when there wasn't enough light inside the house, the photos came out dark, sad and gloomy. Maybe it is high time for my old camera to take a vacation.

Last December, I got only one present but it was the best present anyone has ever given me for Christmas, a new camera. I took one photo with it and thought I had died and gone to heaven. I can practically hear the angels singing "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!Halleelujaaah!". I felt like doing cartwheels on the spot. The photos on this post were taken with the new Canon 550D and what a huge difference it makes! The camera with all its features intimidates me a little but I am slowly learning how to use it. I love it so much! I can tell that this new baby and I are going to have a very long and happy relationship!

This blog post is for all the wonderful fathers out there and to my dad, who has given me so much in life. I can never thank him enough for everything he has done for me. He is truly the best dad in the world!

There was a pack of Oreos lying around at home waiting to be eaten or used so I googled a recipe for Oreo cupcakes. Lots of chocolate Oreo cupcakes popped up but I wanted to follow something different. Then I found what I was looking for. At first, it looks deceivingly like a simple vanilla cake on the outside but you take a bite then you realize it has chunks of Oreos in the cake. The best surprise that makes you feel like a kid again is finding the Oreo cookie at the base. It was like eating Cookies and Cream ice cream.

I came across this recipe at Annie's Eats but I decided to go along with Dorie's recipe for the Perfect Party Cake after seeing this which was quite similar except with the addition of chopped Oreos. However, I had to do the recipe three times before I was happy with the results. When I followed the original recipe, I ended up with cupcakes that are a little dry and hard to swallow, the kind that makes you wish you had a glass of water nearby. The cake was also dense, which was confusing because other bloggers said they had light and airy cupcakes while others said that their cakes were dense like mine was. I have no problem with dense crumbs as long it is moist. The secret solution? to beat the egg whites separately to soft peaks and then lastly folding it with the rest of the batter. A simple sweetened whipped cream frosting is perfect for these cupcakes.

recipe inspired by Annie's Eats and adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 cup and 2 tbsp cake flour
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp of whole milk (3.5 % fat) ( add 1 3/4 tsp of white vinegar to the milk to make buttermilk )
2 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 whole Oreo cookies, cut into quarters
12 halves of Oreo cookies, with the filling attached

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners. Put the Oreo halves, filling side up in each of the liners.

Let the milk and vinegar stand for 5 minutes before using. 

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy at medium speed for about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly blended. 

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the sugar and beat until soft peaks form. 

At this point, using a hand whisk, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and gently stir until just combined. Stir in 1/2 of the milk to the batter and then add the half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk. Beat in the rest of the flour mixture to the batter until incorporated. Always stir gently and only until just combined. Make sure not to overbeat it to avoid getting dense, rubbery cupcakes. Stir 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to the batter to lighten it a bit and then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites until incorporated. Then gently fold in the chopped Oreo quarters.

Divide the batter among the liners. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until they are well risen and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or only has a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

1 cup of heavy cream, chilled overnight
1 1/2 cups of sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
finely crushed Oreo cookies (for topping)
mini Oreos or whole Oreos (for topping)

Beat the cream with a mixer at medium speed for 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, then the vanilla extract and mix well.  Increase the speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form. Frost the cupcakes with your desired piping tip and top with crushed Oreo cookies and a mini Oreo.

mmmmmm........soft and moist crumbs with chunks of Oreos!