Cookies n’ Cream Layer Cake

There is a tangible difference in food that’s been made with care and love versus food that’s been made without them and don’t you let anyone tell you there isn’t. Anyone who says there isn’t has never had food made for them with love, and that’s truly unfortunate. When I was younger, I thought it just boiled down to some people were good cooks and some people weren’t–now that I’m older and that I’ve learned how to cook and bake rather well myself I understand that it’s a bit more complicated than that.

I’ve eaten in swank restaurants where the food was both expensive and undoubtedly delicious, but given the choice I still would’ve rather been in my grandma’s house eating a dish of her smothered steak and gravy.  I would take her Lemon Pound Cake over the most pricey, fancy souffle from the best pastry chef in the world ANY DAY.

Know why? Because regardless of whether or not the fancy food tastes delicious, I know for a fact that there is more love for ME personally in her dishes than anything a chef that doesn’t know me from Eve can put into his food, no matter how technically flawless it is. It may sound corny, but for me, food made with love tastes like home; the taste that gives you the ‘itis’ where you’re full, satisfied, and want to take a nap afterwards, then wake up and have a little bit more.

The only thing more gratifying for me than eating food made with love is being the one to make it for my loved ones, especially when it’s a special request/favorite of theirs. Because I know them, I know exactly what they want and how they’re going to want the food to taste and that knowledge makes me all the more determined to put as much care and consideration into what I’m doing to make sure the food meets their anticipation for it. My fellow food bloggers/cooks out there will know the immense feeling of satisfaction that comes with watching someone you love eat and rave over their favorite food and know that YOU were the one to make it for them. It’s a wonderful thing.

My twin sister came out to visit us a few months ago. There’s little to nothing that I don’t know about her, including the fact that she loves practically ANYTHING cookies and cream flavored. The Cookies and Cream flavor is best described as that of the Oreo sandwich cookie: a sweet vanilla base mixed with chocolate. She mostly eats ice cream, and we very well could’ve just got a pint of it to keep in the freezer but when she booked her flight to come out here I decided to make something that was bit more special than ice cream to surprise her with.

This may be the easiest layer cake I’ve ever made. Unlike most others that have lengthy ingredients and complex instructions this cake is so simple it doesn’t even require a standing or hand held mixer. If you’ve got a large bowl, a whisk (or even a fork), you can make this cake and have it baking in the oven in less than ten minutes, no joke. The recipe that I included does give instructions for making whipped cream from scratch. However. In the case that you don’t have a standing or handheld mixer….lean in closer. A little bit closer. Little bit closer.

*whisper*  You can buy pre-made cool whip that you thaw and it will still work out fine.

The finished product is what is probably the most “Cookies and Cream”-y thing I’ve ever seen or tasted. Normally I’m not even a huge fan of chocolate cake, but the combination of the cake with the cookies and cream whipped cream filling just really works. The cake texture itself is very moist, the chocolate flavor isn’t overwhelming and there’s a fluffiness in the whipped cream that adds lightness to the cake that cuts some of its richness. Then again, I DID make it with lots of love. That was bound to have an effect on the tastebuds.

Sharing this cake at this week’s Fiesta Friday #180  co-hosted this week by Tracey @ My Baja Kitchen and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Cookies n' Cream Layer Cake

Recipe Adapted from Serious Eats

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Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 cup plus two tablespoons sour cream (or plain yogurt)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Whipped Cream

  • 50 Oreo cookies
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9 inch cake pans with cooking spray, then line with wax or parchment paper; spray the paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt with a fork or wire whisk and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla and beat with a fork or a whisk. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones and mix thoroughly.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and place the pans on a large sheet pan. Bake in the oven until cake separates from the sides of the pans and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Allow cakes to cool in pans for about ten minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely on wire racks.

Take a knife and cut 10 of the Oreos in half and set aside. Put the rest of the cookies in a Ziploc plastic bag and use a rolling pin or the bottom of a glass to crush into crumbs.

In a mixing bowl beat the heavy cream in 2 batches, 2 cups at a time until the cream has stiff peaks. Beat the vanilla and powdered sugar in with the second batch, then combine them together. Reserve about 3/4 cup of whipped cream in a small bowl in the fridge.  Gently fold in all but about 1 cup of the crushed Oreo cookie crumbs with a spatula.

Level both cakes so that they are flat on the tops. Line the edges of a cake platter with strips of parchment paper to keep the platter clean while you assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on the platter.  Spread about half of the Oreo whipped cream onto the cake, then place the second cake layer on top. Use a spatula to cover the tops and sides of the cakes with a thin layer of the cream, then refrigerate for about 1 hour until the layer is firm, to allow a crumb coat to form.

Place the rest of the cookie cream on top and on the sides of the cake. Take the reserved cookie crumbs and press evenly onto the sides of the cake with your fingers. (This may get a little messy so you can place a layer of foil or wax paper underneath the cake to pick up any of the spare crumbs.) Take the Oreos you’ve sliced in half and press onto the top of the cake. Remove the bottom strips of parchment paper. Take the reserved whipped cream and pipe small rosettes in between the sliced Oreos and along the bottom of the cake to form a border. You can also place one whole Oreo in the center of the cake and pipe rosettes around that, if you like.

Refrigerate for about 1 hour to allow whipped cream to set before slicing and serving. Keep cake refrigerated when not eating.

Red Velvet Cookies and Cream Shortbread

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I’m not an artsy person. I wish I was….but I just am not.

When I was growing up in elementary school Art Day was one I viewed with apathy at best and dread at worst, because I knew that my creation wasn’t going to be particularly pretty to look at. Most times I just hoped it wouldn’t be the worst of the worst.

I can’t really draw. I can’t paint. Sculpting with clay and the like never really produced much more for me than misshapen blobs.

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I don’t really have much of an artistic eye or decorating skills either, which is why I feel like sometimes my pictures on the blog suffer from not being ‘styled’ as pretty as I’ve seen them on other sites. Maybe I should take a class or something.

In the meanwhile, I do what I can to make art, ‘my way’. I’ve found that way to be through cooking and baking. I get to be creative with many a recipe canvas, and I’d say that on the whole, my results aren’t too shabby.

Case in point, today’s recipe.

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I view shortbread as a blank, albeit delicious canvas. It’s a great thing all on its own, but to be at its best, I think it’s largely dependent on what you can do to elevate it so that it’s your own artistic creation.

The possibilities of elevation really are endless: Herbs. Citrus. Chocolate. Nuts. Cheese. Tea. I’ve even seen booze flavored shortbread recipes. There’s something out there for anybody and any occasion.

So, naturally it makes sense that there should be one that’s geared towards a particular occasion coming up this week, right? You know which one I’m talking about.

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Last year at about this time, I did a riff on Red Velvet cupcakes that I flavored with the Oreo Red Velvet Cookies and Creme sandwich cookies. It was a big hit that got a lot of traffic, with admittedly, for good reason. After a little bit more brainstorming, and some more experimenting I’m pleased to announce I’ve found yet another way to take these yummy flavored Oreos and use them to flavor another great dessert: shortbread.

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Shortbread is, I think, a fail-proof recipe for baking. It’s almost impossible to mess up because there are only two things you have to get right: properly creaming the butter and pricking the holes in the finished dough just before baking. You get that right and you’ll have perfect shortbread every time, guaranteed. Because of that, it was relatively easy for me to see how it could be adapted into a Red Velvet flavor without compromising on the original very much. I took about 12 of the flavored Oreos and blitzed them in my Ninja until they were a very fine reddish powder; it made about 1/2 cup’s worth. I took that and incorporated it into a base recipe for regular golden shortbread, then also added vanilla and a bit of almond extract to that dough.

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I thought about maybe scraping the filling out of the cookies before crushing them because of the moisture affecting the dough, but ultimately decided against it. I’m glad that I did. The filling I think really helps that Red Velvet/Cookies and Creme flavor really come through in the finished product. To solve the issue of the filling adding too much moisture/pasty-ness, I added about 1/4 cup extra flour, which I think easily solved that problem.

I decorated half the shortbread with a simple white icing and some leftover crushed cookie crumbs, but as you can see I left half plain for the simple reason that I think it tastes pretty darn good all on its own without needing it.

Side note, didn’t the red cookies add such a pretty pink color to the dough? I love that. I love this recipe. It makes me feel like in spite of being artistically challenged with a paint brush or modeling clay, I just may be an artiste in the kitchen after all.

Happy Fiesta Friday #158 (co-hosted this week by Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Petra @ Food Eat Love.). Also, Happy early-Valentines Day to all of you who will be doing something special with a significant other. Have a good steak and some chocolate, or something.

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Red Velvet Cookies and Cream Shortbread

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour, plus 1/4 cup if needed
  • 1/2 cup crushed Red Velvet flavored crème sandwich cookies (about 10-12), plus more for decoration (optional)

For Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two nine inch cake or tart pans with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or  using a large bowl with a hand held mixer, cream together the butter, powdered sugar and extracts until light and fluffy.

Add 2 cups of the flour, 1 cup at a time. Then fold in the crushed cookies. The dough should be able to hold together if pressed with your fingers. If it still seems too sticky, you may add the extra 1/4 cup of flour.

Divide the dough in half. Using your hands, press each half into a pan, using a spatula to smooth out the surface. Prick holes evenly across the surface of the dough. (This will keep it from bubbling up during baking.)

Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, until deep golden brown at the edges.

Wait for about 2-3 minutes, then turn shortbread out onto a plate. Using a pizza cutter, bench scraper or sharp knife, cut into desired shapes. (Note: you HAVE to cut the shortbread while it is still warm. Cutting it when it’s cold will only cause it to crumble and fall apart).

Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

If decorating, combine the powdered together in a small bowl. If the glaze is too stiff, you can add more milk, teaspoon by teaspoon; don’t add too much though, or it will become too runny to set on the shortbread. Dip a fork into the glaze and allow it to drizzle off the tines and on top of the shortbread in desired design. Sprinkle the crushed cookie crumbs on top. Allow to sit for about 20-30 minutes until glaze hardens.

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Oreo Fudge Brownies

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Am I the only person that has weird food quirks? You know, the habitual things you find yourself doing with various foods that you may or may not be slightly embarrassed about? As a cooking addict and food enthusiast, I’ve definitely got my fair share. I’ll tell you guys mine, if you tell me yours, deal? Sweet….and guys? Please don’t judge me.

  • When I eat meat proteins, I always want some kind of sauce to dip it in on the side. Mostly, my favorite combination is barbecue sauce and honey mustard. Quite a lot of it.
  • Ruffles Potato chips dipped in ketchup is one of my oldest and favorite snacks. Don’t knock it til you try it, cause I’m telling you, it’s DELICIOUS!
  • I make it a special point to always eat the crust of my pizza first, then the rest of it.
  • Whenever I eat a burger and fries I take a bite of the burger, then a bite of fries so that I can ‘meld’ the taste of the two foods together in my mouth.

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  • When eating french fries, I sub-consciously pick them up in pairs that are relatively the same size. I don’t know why, or even how I do it, but I always just do.
  • Whenever I eat dessert, I use a small/dainty fork or spoon rather than a normal size.
  • I like my scrambled eggs cooked in sausage grease, to the point where they’re almost rubbery. I can’t STAND soft or runny scrambled eggs. I like mine firm and stained dirty with sausage grease.
  • When I eat bread on the side for dinner, I make sure that I eat it in equal, moderated proportion to the amount of meat and veggies on my plate so that I finish them all at about the same time.

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  •  I like potato salad, but other than application, I cannot eat anything else with mayo or miracle whip in it- not sandwiches, not cole slaw, NOTHING. Even if it’s been scraped off a burger if they get my order wrong in a restaurant or drive thru or something, I won’t eat it. Isn’t that weird?
  • Similarly, I love pizza, but I don’t eat cheese on my burgers, tacos, sandwiches, or much of anything else that features cheese as a chief ingredient- like mac and cheese or cheese sticks or grilled cheese sandwiches. Pizza is the only way I’ll really eat it.
  • When I was younger I used to make sandwiches out of two slices of bread and a stack of crunchy potato chips. That was it- just the bread and chips. And it was delicious. There was just something about the saltiness and crunch of the chips, contrasted with the familiar flavor and softness of bread that I just loved.
  • The smell, taste, and very idea of Ranch dressing makes me gag. I literally have no idea how people can eat that stuff.

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What do food quirks have to do with this post? Well, I’ve got a method for eating Oreos that some may call quirky. I call it brilliant, but that’s just me. I don’t just pick one up and take a bite. That would be doing it wrong. After years of practice, testing and thoughtful consideration that only a kid can dedicate to a chocolate cookie, I’ve reached the conclusion that there is but one correct way to eat an Oreo, and you guys are in luck because I’m willing to share with all of you:

Gently (ever so gently) pry the two cookie halves apart, being careful not to crack them in pieces. Take the ‘clean’ cookie side and eat it in two bites. Then, take the side of the cookie that still has the icing on it, and lick the icing, savoring the taste of it for as long as you can. Keep licking until there is a thin, but still sturdy layer of the icing left on the cookie half. Then, pop the whole thing in your mouth, letting the blend of the icing and cookie flavors meld in a final medley of deliciousness. And that my friends, is how eating an Oreo the right way is done.

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Or you could just eat it however the heck you want. Your choice.

But my way IS  better. Just sayin.

I recently had a weekend at my house where I made a bunch of brownies. Lots of them. Everyone wanted different kinds of brownies and rather than compromise, I just decided to make everyone the kind that they wanted. My twin, Jas asked me for Oreo brownies so I made a pan just for her. I gotta say, I love how they turned out. You would think that since both Oreos and brownies are primarily chocolate that the Oreos would be left tasting boring and one-note, but they’re really not. You can still undeniably pick their flavor out of the brownie, and it really just adds to the complexity of the chocolate-y goodness going on in the brownies, while the vanilla chips give it that complimentary sweetness without being too overpowering. Cookie and Cream lovers are gonna love these brownies, guaranteed.

So you guys…I wasn’t kidding. Tell me your food quirks so I don’t feel like a lame for spilling all my guts to you about mine. Don’t be shy. No shame in our game, right?

P.S., I’m looking to get involved in some additional recipe link up parties. Right now I’m only posting in Fiesta Friday (which is totally awesome in and of itself, I hope you all are participating….you’re crazy if you don’t), but I would like to branch out even further. So if any of you guys are currently participating in other recipe link ups on other days of the week, just let me know in the comment section so I can try to join in. Thanks guys 🙂

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Oreo Fudge Brownies

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups crushed Oreo cookies
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2 inch overhang. Coat the foil with cooking spray.

2. Melt 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips and 1 stick butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring. Off the heat, whisk in 3/4 cup each light brown sugar and granulated sugar; cool slightly.

3. Whisk in 4 eggs, one at a time, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in 1 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

4. Fold in the crushed Oreo cookies and white chocolate chips. Spread in the pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted 3 inches from center comes out clean, checking frequently towards the end of baking.

Cookies and Cream Popcorn

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Scandalous Day 1

I am SOOOO excited to be kicking off yet another themed series on Cooking Is My Sport. This one I’ve decided to dedicate to a special little television show that (hopefully) you all may have heard of, called Scandal.

Created by the brilliant Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy anyone?), Scandal centers around the life and career of the incomparable Olivia Pope (played by Kerry Washington), boss of a crisis management firm that primarily represent political figures in the public sphere, and handle their embarrassing crises and problems (and subsequently make them disappear).  Olivia is supported by a team of employees- the ‘Gladiators’- that help her smooth out and ‘fix’ the lives of her clients. However, Olivia’s own personal life is more often than not filled with more than its own share of drama and crises and the conflict of the show centers around how she handles (or doesn’t) all of that for herself.

I sincerely hope that I’ll be preaching to the choir for what I’m about to say here. It hardly needs further explication, but I’m gonna say it anyway. Just in case.

Scandal is the show, guys. And I do mean THE show.

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This series on the blog I’ve decided to do is a result of my extreme impatience/excitement/celebration/anticipation of February 27th…the day we’ve all been waiting for: the premiere of the 2nd half of season 3 of Scandal. The food that you guys’ll be seeing over the next few days was in some way, inspired by the show and its characters- some of those ways will seem obvious, while others may not seem so obvious. But don’t worry- as is the case with Scandal, nothing is ever ‘random’ or by ‘coincidence’, and I’ll be giving my explanation for the inspiration behind all the food- and hopefully we can get some lovely Scandal-ous discussion going here as well. (Because the only thing more fun than watching Scandal is talking about Scandal. Right? Of course right.)

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I don’t know about you guys, but in my house every time Scandal comes on, a bowl of popcorn is made. Apparently I’m not the only one who considers this a must. The combination of Scandal, popcorn and red wine is one that many a Gladiator swears by: the shows delivers the thrills and suspense, the popcorn delivers the cure for the munchies, and the wine has the job of mellowing out the viewer from the hour of intense drama that they’re about to see. This is all well and good for most people, but I happen to be one of those freaks of nature that just doesn’t enjoy alcohol that much- even wine. I don’t know why really, but all of it just ends up giving me a stomach ache. And stomach aches during Scandal is a no-go. So yeah, I just don’t ‘indulge’ when it comes to booze. My great secret revealed: I’m a light weight.

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However, I have absolutely no problem with putting away some popcorn. Especially this popcorn. My inspiration for including this recipe in the series should be pretty obvious. Cookies and Cream is a combination of something white/vanilla with added black/chocolate cookies to it. I’m sure that this sounds pretty familiar to Gladiators, right?

Let’s just imagine that the cream and white popcorn in this recipe represents President Fitzgerald Grant III before his election to office. He wasn’t too bad by himself, but Fitz still needed something more to get him to that next level. We all know what that ‘something’ was for Fitz. Olivia Pope. Once he had Olivia, Fitz just went to a whole new level (literally). In the same way, once this popcorn gets the Oreos added to it, it’s just out of bounds. You’ll be lucky if you can actually put it down or want to share with anyone.

And now that I’ve beat this metaphor to a pulp, let’s just let this recipe be called the ‘Olivia and Fitz Popcorn’ and leave it at that.

Any ‘Olitz’ fans? Where do you think their relationship will be going in the second half of the season?

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Cookies and Cream {Olivia & Fitz} Popcorn

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white popcorn kernels, plus 4 seperate kernels.
  • 1/4 peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups lightly crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos)

Directions

1. Pour vegetable oil into a large wok or pot over medium heat.*

2. Heat the 4 separate kernels in the oil until one pops. Add the other 3/4 cup  of kernels and cover the pot. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally until the popping stops. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Warm sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Drizzle over the hot popcorn.

4. Toss popcorn with the crushed sandwich cookies. Spread onto a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Allow to sit until fully dry, about 30-40 minutes.

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