Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oreo Cupcakes for Mom

My mom had been gone for nearly two weeks.  Her oldest sister has been sick for a long time now.  She flew home to be with my aunt for some surgery.  And the surgery didn’t go well.  So she stayed.  In the end, after a long fight, my aunt died.  That was last Monday. 
All last week, I was thinking that I needed to cook something for my mom upon her return.  Something simple, something delicious, something that will help her remember we love her.  Something dessert-y.
I went on a search.  I went through all my cookbooks (I have grown quite a collection in just one year!), the computer, and asked some friends.
I decided Oreo.  Oreo-something.  My mom loves Oreos.  Oreo cheesecake?  No, I just made a cheesecake.  And that is not simple.  Homemade Oreos?  Hmmm…maybe.  But I couldn’t find a recipe that sounded like something I wanted to do.  Oreo. Oreo. Oreo.  Oreo cupcakes!  Yes! That is it!
The Oreo on the bottom!
I found several Oreo cupcake recipes that sounded intriguing.  Now, I just had to narrow down my search.  I settled on one from Annie’s Eats, mainly because of the cute Oreo on the bottom.
These cupcakes would not be simple.  They would be fun.  But certainly not simple.
Now, there were a few issues that needed to be taken care of before making these cupcakes.  I would need a frosting dispenser.  I would need a cupcake carrier.  With frosting dispensed, not just smeared on, I would need a way of safe transport so as not to mess up the tops.  Oh, and there is a cookie on top!  Carrier is necessary.
Mom was coming back on Sunday night, so I would be able to make them over the weekend and take them to work on Monday.  I decided to break up the cupcakes into two days, Saturday for shopping for ingredients, the dispenser, and carrier; and Sunday to make them. 
Supplies on hand, I woke up Sunday morning with an excitement, ready to go!  After getting the puppies fed and myself showered, I ran up to Starbucks to get this day off to a good start.  I was feeling like I didn’t want to cook in silence, as I usually do.  I wasn’t feeling music.  I wasn’t feeling spacing out to the Game Show Network.  What could I put on that would continue through the whole process of these cupcakes, something I could fade in and out of, pick up on when it was time to sit down and wait, or ignore without consequence?
The hardest part.
Not eating these.
Great Scott!  I know!  Back to the Future!  And when one was over, I could just put in the next disk.  My sister and I have a habit of reciting movie lines to each other. I think it started as a way to pass the time on the long road trips we took as children. But it has evolved into just a random comedy routine now. As a result, I can recite most movies from the 80s front to back and then some. Back to the Future and the two that follow are definitely in my head. Forever.
Movie in, I ventured into these cupcakes, following every instruction. The first, and possibly most difficult (aside from not eating the entire package) was splitting the Oreos, ensuring that all the cream stayed on one side.

Once that task was tackled, I moved through the recipe like an old pro. One thing I am noticing as times goes on, is that the process becomes more familiar. I like this. I like the feeling of knowing that I am doing what is right, as if almost by instinct.

The same with the movies.  It is almost by instinct that I can yell "Great Scott!" at precisely the right time.  That I can tell the story of exactly how Doc Brown came to invent the Flex Capcitor, and even tell you that he did not invent the time machine for financial gain, he invented the time machine to travel through time.  All this without looking up at the television.  All this only by barely paying attention.

It is these instincts, this sense of the familiar, that cooking is slowly bringing to my life.  As I continue, things become routine, and I barely have to look up anymore.  While I know I still have a long way to go, I feel as though I am getting there.  I mean, seriously, Back to the Future has been part of my life for 26 years now.  Of course I know it.  In the very same way, a year has passed since I entered the kitchen, and I am beginning to feel as though I know it, as well.

Practicing with the
Frosting Dispenser
As for the frosting dispenser I bought for this cooking project, it is pretty basic, very cheap; however, effective and very cool. I have not really had a chance to play much with all the different designs, but I am completely motivated now to make more desserts that require frosting! I played around with it a little, just to get the motion down.

The cupcakes turned out beautifully. I was proud to take them to work on Monday for my mom. But more than that, I was honored to have the feeling of loving someone, of wanting to show someone that love, and bring a little bit of joy to someone who has not had much lately.

Oreos, inside and out!
After all, if Oreos can't cure you, nothing can.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
24 Oreo halves, with cream filling attached
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (I quarter them)

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. heavy cream

For garnish:
Oreo cookie crumbs
24 Oreo cookie halves 


Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line the wells of two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners.  Place an Oreo halve in the bottom of each liner, cream side up.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients.  Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Blend in the vanilla extract.  Beat in the confectioners' sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired.  Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs and garnish with Oreo halves.   


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