Sister Solidarity (and Dragons)

Today marked a proud and momentous occasion in history: a multi-national women’s march in peaceful protest of human rights. In true Sarmie Sister fashion, we baked about it.

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Digestible declarations disappear upon consumption, but it’s our hope that these words echo to the generations who follow us. We applaud the millions who spent their Saturday roaming city streets in the name of dignity and respect for all humans.

In honor of the women’s march, we thought we’d share a bakeoff-winning recipe with a strong presence– one inspired by Game of Thrones’ Danaerys Targaryen, a nasty woman in her own right. We present our “Mother of Dragons” cupcakes, a chocolate sponge filled with ancho chili ganache, salted caramel, and adorned with vanilla bean buttercream flames and a piped chocolate dragon. Enjoy a touch of heat, paired with the emblem of the Khaleesi herself.

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Admittedly, this recipe requires plenty of steps; but then, so did today’s march (see what we did there?). For these cupcakes, our base chocolate cake recipe is adapted from the tried-and-true King Arthur Flour recipe, with a few tweaks. Without further adieu, here’s the recipe:

Mother of Dragons Cupcakes
Yields approx. 24 cupcakes

Special Items Needed:

  • Candy melts
  • Food color spray in orange and red (we use Wilton Color Mist)
  • Wax or parchment paper
  • Chocolate wafer cookies
  • Dragon wing, tail, head template (draw your own or print 1″ copies)

Chocolate Cupcakes:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 4 large eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix in the butter at low speed until smooth, then spoon in the oil.
  4. Stir the vanilla, buttermilk, and coffee together in a liquid measuring cup, then the liquid to the batter. Mix for at low speed, stopping to scrape the sides until combined and smooth (should take one to two minutes).
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well at medium-high speed between additions.
  6. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl, and mix for one minute more.
  7. Spoon the batter in 1/4 cup portions into the cupcake liners.
  8. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. The cupcakes are done when the top springs back when very lightly touched in the center.
  9. Place on a rack to cool.

Ancho Chili Ganache:

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Place chocolate into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with ancho chili powder
  2. Over low / medium heat, scald the heavy cream. You should see bubbles on the edges of the surface. Do not boil.
  3. Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for a minute.
  4. Using a whisk or fork, gently mix the chocolate and cream until shiny and smooth.

Salted Caramel Filling:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Directions:

  1. Heat granulated sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly (but gently) with a high heat-resistant rubber spatula.
  2. Watch closely until the sugar turns into an amber-colored liquid. Be careful not to burn.
  3. Once completely melted, drop the butter into the pan. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture bubbles rapidly,but be careful not to burn your hands.
  4. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.
  5. Slowly drizzle in heavy cream while stirring.
  6. Allow the mixture to boil for one minute.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting (dyed yellow for design)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3  Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 2 drops yellow gel coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter, salt, and shortening until pale and voluminous. This will take about five minutes.
  2. Add sugar one cup at a time and mix, alternating with a spoon of heavy cream (NOTE: add cream as needed).
  3. Once the mixture is nearly smooth, add the vanilla and continue whipping until smooth and airy.
  4. Add yellow food coloring and whip until desired hue is achieved.

Instructions for final assembly:

  1. Using either a cupcake corer or butter knife, cut a well into each cupcake. Pipe the ganache into the center, followed by the salted caramel (see below):

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  2. Pipe the butter cream on top of the cupcakes in teardrop shapes to resemble little flames.
  3. Lightly spray the tips of the buttercream “flames” with color spray until desired flame effect appears.
  4. Heat the candy melts. Place template images of wings and dragon body underneath the parchment paper so template is visible. Pipe chocolate onto parchment, tracing the images. Allow to harden.
  5. Place the wafer cookie into the center of the cupcake so a half-moon protrudes from the center. Arrange the dragon body parts around the wafer to assemble the dragon.

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Hope this recipe empowers you to take on something ambitious!

 

 

 

Dream Big, Little One

There’s something special about baking for children. When taking on these projects, one of our favorite parts of the creative process is talking to mothers gushing enthusiastically about their beautiful babies. Even if we haven’t met the celebrant, we catch a glimpse of the hopes and dreams parents have invested into each child. We learn what interests their kids and how each one has developed a personal and unique style. We see parents letting their child’s imagination run wild with possibility.

We’re all for letting children be who they want to be, and that often translates into how we personalize treats. If your little girl aspires to be a superhero like the kids of PJ Masks, why not celebrate her courage and desire to do good?

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And if she gravitates toward the dreamy world of Disney princesses, celebrating her inner beauty and sweetness will show her the magic of being a positive and influential force among her peers.

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Speaking of inner sweetness, we’re happy to share our recipe for princess brownie pops.

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While we generally try to make all components edible, we couldn’t pass up the perfect little princess printable templates (courtesy of Etsy vendor chicaandjo) we used on these pops and the cupcakes. Once you have these, it’s smooth sailing on the assembly front. Now for the recipe:

Princess Brownie Pops
Yields approx. 25 – 30 pops

Items needed:

  • Lollipop sticks
  • Candy melts or almond bark
  • Styrofoam board (optional) or waxed paper-lined cookie sheets

Instructions:

  1. Make our favorite brownies and let them cool. If doubling recipe, cook for 30 min.
  1. Crumble brownies with a stand mixer using the paddle attachment (or by hand in a large bowl). The brownies should be moist enough to bind together without the addition of icing as you do in traditional cake pops. You should get a consistency similar to dough.
  1. With a cookie scoop, scoop balls of “brownie dough” and hand roll them until smooth. At this point, you could make them into round balls, or create any shape you’d like.
  1. Place brownie balls into fridge and let chill for at least 1-2 hrs (or overnight if you can!)
  1. Take brownie balls out of the fridge. Melt small amount of candy melt, place end of lollipop stick into melts, and push about halfway into brownie ball. Repeat for each ball. Let them sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  2. Melt candy melts or almond bark in the colors of your choice (we prefer Ghirardelli candy melts or ChocoMaker, which you can find at WalMart. Wilton melts come in wonderful colors, but the consistency of the melts is variable. They can be thinned out with shortening). Dip each brownie ball into the melts, covering thoroughly, and tap the lollipop stick on the side of the bowl to let excess drip off.*If you are making princesses with skirts as we have done here, or pops that are meant to stand with the brownie side down, put the dipped brownie pop, ball side down, onto a cookie sheet covered with waxed paper.

    *If you are making round pops, place the brownie pop, stick side down, into a styrofoam board.

    *If you are decorating with sprinkles, be sure to put them onto the dipped pops immediately after dipping (while melts are still wet).

    *If you are adding stripes of candy melts onto the dipped pops, let them dry first, then drizzle more melts over them.

  3. For the princess toppers, download the princess template, print the images onto white card stock, cut them out, and tape them to the lollipop sticks after the candy coating dries completely.

Happy baking!

 

 

Statement Pieces

Sending a message with food is nothing new. A heart-shaped cake can be a profession of love. A piping hot bowl of soup can say ‘welcome’ at the first waft of steaming broth. We were once asked to mass produce an edible invitation to a “cookie throw down” event–one guess as to what food item we used as our platform (because obviously).

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Whatever message you’re trying to convey–an apology spelled out in pepperoni atop a pizza, for instance– there’s something disarming about using a platform as comforting as food to do it.

When tensions surrounding the centuries-old debate concerning vaccinations peaked in the past week on social media, we felt compelled to chime in. Vaccines, after all, are a matter of life and death, and it’s Cilla’s job as a pediatrician to keep children healthy.  Not surprisingly, strangers hurling insults left a bad taste in our mouths. If social media exchanges have taught us anything, it’s to not feed the trolls. But with so much negativity, why not approach the conversation with some positive (and literal) food for thought? With that, we submit a simple PSA:

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Now that’s one smart cookie.

In case you’re interested, here are some links with scholarly studies that address common concerns about vaccinations and their administration:

For more information, please consult your physician (not some hokey website with too many capital letters. Please.).

Thanks for listening!

New Year, Old Favorites

Happy 2017, friends!

In the first week of the new year, we’ve already seen cool, crazy culinary feats taking the internets by storm. Magical unicorn desserts are having a moment, and the Sarmie Sisters want in. Of course we do.

While we aim for creativity and innovation with each new baking project, it’s the standby  classics that hold a special place in our hearts. Consider the chocolate chip cookie: a humble, no-frills treat that has never waned in popularity since its arrival on American plates in the 1930s (yes, we looked it up).

One of our first from-scratch endeavors as little girls in the Sarmie household was the Toll House recipe. Back then, as eight- and nine-year-olds, we didn’t have the fancy gadgets we rely on today–no KitchenAid stand mixers, cookie scoopers, piping bags, or the enviable collection of cookie cutters that drive our husbands crazy when scattered about in our cupboards. Hey, we need them to live! But we digress…

With just a couple of mixing bowls and spoons, sweet chocolate chip goodness can be achieved. Not unicorn magic, but magic nonetheless.

Peep our recipe!

Sarmie Sister Sweets Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Ingredients:

  •  1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 package dark chocolate chips (we use Ghirardelli)
  • Coarse sea salt
  1. Over the stove, heat butter in saucepan over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, until it turns light brown. Turn off heat, let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix sugars and butter together.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing throughly after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Slowly mix in dry ingredients. Place bowl in fridge for 30 min to chill.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes (until edges of cookies are golden brown).
  7. Sprinkle with sea salt immediately.
  8. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire racks.
  9. Enjoy!