Spectacular Speculoos Cupcake -butterscotch cupcake generously filled with cookie butter, frosted with cookie butter mousse and drizzled with more cookie butter. Price available upon request.
cookie butter confessions
Back then, I was not familiar with cookie butter and would wonder why people were raving about it. I saw countless Facebook posts extolling its virtues. I noticed most people are particularly addicted to the Trader Joe’s variety. Since they can only be bought online at that time, I never bothered to find out what the fuss was about. I was happy with my Nutella.
I first tasted Trader Joe’s Crunchy Cookie Butter on a trip to the US last May. My nieces were habitues of the store which is just a few minutes drive from their home in Staten Island, NY. The taste was unique and I liked it maybe because it has all sorts of spice and crunch. I even attempted to make a ganache, mixing it with cream and chocolate but its distinct flavor was lost. On the eve of our departure, my sister asked me what I would like to have for breakfast and I said pandesal filled with cookie butter, please. On our trip home I brought two jars. No, no, no, I wasn’t turning into a cookie butter junkie.
Only when I got home did I find out the extent of the Pinoy’s addiction to this popular spread. According to US-based Pinoys as well as balikbayans, this particular cookie butter is the most sought after item in Trader Joe’s that shelves would become empty and when re-stocked will be wiped clean in minutes. I heard that they are now limiting the number of jars one can buy. One friend relayed that a Pinoy behind her in the checkout line offered to buy one of her jars and then charged it to his credit card along with his other groceries. Goodness! Blame it on the Pinoy’s penchant for reselling “imported” stuff back home.
Because of its popularity here, Rustan’s supermarket began carrying another brand, Vermeiren. I also spotted Lotus, the mother of all cookie butters, in Metro supermarket as well as in Landmark in Makati.
Comparing the three, I found Lotus to be the most flavorful. Lotus and Vermeiren are creamy while Trader Joe’s is thick. I admit I haven’t tasted the original biscoff cookies that inspired the spread but I imagine that they taste a lot like the Lotus brand. After all, the spread was originally an invention of one tv contestant winner in Belgium using speculoos cookies and Lotus Bakeries later partnered with the winner to commercially manufacture the spread. More on this later.
I’ve always wanted to make a cupcake version of this. I found one recipe that incorporates the cookie butter in the batter. I baked it and I wasn’t impressed. So I just used my butterscotch cupcake recipe and filled the cupcakes with a generous amount of cookie butter. The frosting is cookie butter mousse drizzled with more cookie butter.
I liked the results. Now I don’t have to worry about where to get the cookie butter because local supermarkets are stocking up on these. I used Trader’s Joe in my test but I will be switching to Lotus from hereon.
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cookie butter wars*
Did you know that the popularity of the spread has spawned a lawsuit? Lotus Bakeries, who produce speculoos cookies served in Delta Airlines partnered with a reality show winner who came up with the idea of making a paste using speculoos cookies. The result was Lotus Biscoff Spread. Seeing its popularity, rival companies manufactured their own spreads and Lotus sued claiming it obtained a patent for the paste. The court later nullified the patent, allowing the others to continue producing their versions.
For more, read the story here.
source: New York Times
November 9th, 2013
Boo! - cupcake topped with floating and totally edible and delicious ghost. Price available upon request.
Halloween is something I am not excited about. Maybe because it is not really part of Filipino culture. But I do know that there is a practice in the provinces called “pangangaluluwa.” This is equivalent to Christmas caroling but done on the eve of All Saints’ Day. Children and even adults go house to house from 10 pm onwards dressed as the dead singing this tune:
Kaluluwa’y dumaratal, sa tapat ng Durungawan (The souls have just arrived, across your window side)
Kampanilya’y tinatantay, ginigising ang may buhay (Bells are ringing, waking up the living)
Kung kami po’y lilimusan, dali-dalian po lamang (If you will spare us some alms, please hurry up and give us some)
Baka kami mapagsarhan, ng pinto ng kalangitan (The heaven’s gate will close in time)
Kaluluwa kaming tambing, sa purgatoryo nanggaling (We are the lost souls, from purgatory we arose)
Palimos po! (Alms!)
I am not sure if this is still done today. Truth be told, this is one tradition that I would like to see live on.
Back to the cupcake! After several failed attempts, I finally got the topper right. The ghost is made of white chocolate paste (white chocolate + corn syrup) and is draped over a marshmallow. Similar toppers call for a lollipop to prop up the “sheet” but I wanted a soft interior so I used a large marshmallow impaled on a toothpick to make the ghost float. I, too, felt like floating when I saw my accomplishment and I must say this is one ghost that I would not mind crossing paths with.
*sources: Pangangaluluwa, Halloween, Filipino-style
October 31st, 2013
Hello Kitty Cupcake – topped with the beloved Sanrio character made of chocolate. Price available upon request.
a tale of two kitties
I wasn’t such a fan of Hello Kitty back when it was so popular during my teenage years. I remember getting Little Twin Stars ponytail holders and convincing my father to buy me a red My Melody wallet. My youngest sister was an avid collector of Hello Kitty stuff. An aunt once gave her a Hello Kitty doll that can be given a bath and when you do, the doll changes color.
My early Hello Kitty topper was a freehand drawing using chocolate.
Because I get numerous inquiries regarding Hello Kitty-themed cupcakes, I searched high and low for a chocolate mold. Luckily I found one here. The company is Hong Kong-based and when I inquired how I can order, I was surprised but very glad to learn that they have a local supplier in a nearby mall. The chocolate mold is pricey, partly because it is made of silicone and partly because it is Hello Kitty. Hello, what can you expect? I was so taken with the one with the crazy eyes that I just had to get this. Totally hypnotic.
I have never worked with silicone before because all my chocolate molds are the basic ones made of clear plastic. The candies release easily but you have to make sure they are set before unmolding. Translation: patiently wait for extra time or else the details will be marred. But I love how they turned out. Who knew that Hello Kitty had a dark side. Just look at the one with the crazy eyes!
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Hello Kitty bio
• Designed by Yuko Shimizu for Sanrio Company
• The character first appeared on a vinyl coin purse in 1974
• She is now 39 years old
• Has a twin sister named Mimmy who wears a yellow ribbon. You can tell them apart by the way they wear their bows.
• Height: 5 apples; Weight: 3 apples
• By 2008, Hello Kitty was responsible for half of Sanrio’s $1 billion revenue and there were over 50,000 different Hello Kitty branded products in more than 60 countries
• Product range now include dolls, stickers, greeting cards, clothes, accessories, school supplies and stationery to purses, toasters, televisions, other home appliances, massagers, and computer equipment.
October 18th, 2013
Spooky Spider – cupcakes with spiderweb design topped by a chocolate spider. Price available upon request.
sticky web of deliciousness
I already have two cupcakes with feathered designs on their frostings and yet they are not for Halloween. And now it’s October and I was thinking of new additions to my Halloween-themed cupcakes. Naturally, spiders came to mind. I saw a cupcake topped with a spider made of a single Malteser so I made my own spin on it. The legs are also made of chocolate. I already took several snapshots and was ready to post the photos in my Facebook page. I took one last look online to compare my spider to real spiders when I found out my placement of the legs were wrong. I never really paid any attention to the details of a spider’s body parts because I tend to shy away from arachnids when I see them. So to make my edible spider look realistic, I rearranged the legs and took another photo.
My nephew P._ remarked that the spider look creepy. Well, anything with eight legs look creepy! But he also told me he cannot wait to eat them. Apparently, Maltesers are among his favorite candies. I think the Maltesers are really appropriate for this decoration because they are crunchy as I imagine eating the real spiders would be, imagine being the operative word.
October 17th, 2013
“Pardon My French” Cookies – inspired by the cookies baked by the mother in “How I Met Your Mother” tv show.
I am a huge fan of “How I Met Your Mother” and now that the mother has been revealed, the only way to go is for the show to end. After.Nine.Hilarious.Seasons. This is clearly my second favorite comedy show after Seinfeld.
On the first episode of the final season, the “mother” and Lily met on the train and bonded over future Mrs. Mosby’s homemade cookies. Cookies that were so awesome—”there’s chocolate, peanut butter and caramel”— Lily dubbed them “sumb*tches”, which was how “the mother” actually calls them.
When I saw the recipe online, I decided to try it at once. We didn’t have the chocolate covered caramel candies here (Rolo candies) called for in the recipe. I found some dark chocolate covered caramels in one of the candy stalls in a mall but they didn’t taste caramelly. Kraft caramels were also out of stock. My hunt led me to my neighborhood Korean convenience store where I found these:
I didn’t follow the recipe I saw. Instead I used my reliable chocolate chip recipe and just mixed the add-ons: chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups and the caramels. I didn’t put too much because I feared they would become toothache-inducing treats. There was also a recipe by People magazine but it was more of a peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips and caramel. For some reason, I don’t care much for a peanut butter cookie although I love Reese’s and PB&J sandwiches. But I’m sharing the recipe below.
I was set to pick up my nephew from school but I squeezed some time to bake the cookies. The result? Legen—wait for it—dary!
PS. The cookies pair well with milk that after I took the photos, I ended up having a snack—and this was minutes before lunch!
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Here are the recipes circulating online. If you have a go-to chocolate chip recipe, it will work well with the add-ons. The cookies I baked were a bit crunchy; I will convert them to chewy ones the next time I bake them.
Sumb*tches Cookies v.1 (from People Magazine)
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
36 bite-sized chocolate caramel candies
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat first four ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until blended.
2. Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients in a small bowl. Add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
3. Shape a 2 tbsp. dough around each mini candy bar, using lightly floured hands, and roll into balls. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased or parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
4. Bake for 13 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks.
Sumb*tches Cookies v.2 (from Pop Sugar), 36 cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup each chocolate chips, chocolate-covered caramel candies, Reese’s peanut butter cups (quartered)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray two baking sheets with non-stock cooking spray.
2.Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugars until fluffy Add water and vanilla; mix on low until combined. Add eggs and beat on low until combined.
4. Add flour mixture and beat on low until well combined.
5. Fold in chocolate chips, peanut butter cups and caramel candies.
6. Scoop tablespoon-sized cookie dough pieces onto baking sheets and leave 2 inches between each cookie.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
October 5th, 2013