Bake Sale Success?

Another year, another great bake sale for the San Diego Food Bloggers. I participated last year, but I wasn’t there to see all of the action. This year I was able to watch it transpire. It was fun to see so many friends and random people filling grocery bags full of desserts. Awesome job!! I’m still waiting for the final amount raised for Share Our Strength‘s No Kid Hunger campaign.  However, the sale isn’t officially over.  You can still make a donation on-line.  If we raise the most money, Duncan Hines will donate an additional $10,000 to our total!  Atlanta has been winning this bake sale every year, and we, the San Diego Food Bloggers, would love to put an end to that streak!  If you can, please go to http://join.strength.org/goto/SDFBBakeSale2013 and make a donation. Thank you so much for all of your help!!!

This year I opted to make Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies. Choosing what to make is a daunting challenge. I wanted to make something that would appeal to the most people, and something that can be consumed on the spot or in a couple of hours. Chocolate is always a big hit, and once I saw a preliminary menu of what other bakers were planning to bring, I made the decision to make Whoopie Pies. Sadly, I’d never made them before. I looked over various recipes, and decided upon one from Good Housekeeping, February 2012.

Whoopie Pie 2013

Here’s the recipe (any changes are noted with **):

Chocolate-Banana Whoopie Pies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 6 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg

(** The recipe states to fill the sandwiches with marshmallow crème.  You could do that, but that didn’t sound exciting to me.  I found a recipe that I liked better which is below.  Also, I made another batch of these that I didn’t sell.  I added cinnamon to the batter, and I wish I had done that to the bake sale batches.  I love cinnamon!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  From bananas, mash enough for 1/2 cup; finely chop remaining, and reserve.  (**I mashed 1 banana, and I chopped 1 to add to the filling.)  In another medium bowl, mix mashed banana, sour cream, and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until well combined.  Beat in egg until well blended, scraping bowl occasionally.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until batter is smooth, scraping bowl occasionally. (**Don’t over mix! That’s probably the biggest mistake when baking.)
  4. Drop 1 rounded measuring teaspoon batter onto prepared sheets. Repeat with remaining batter, spacing 2 inches apart.  With wet fingertips, flatten tops of balls to form rounds. (**I tried making rounds with a 1/4 measuring cup, and I baked for about 10 minutes.  I got about 7.5 cookies (sandwiches) out of it.  They were really large, especially when you consider it is 2 cookies and filling.  It made my belly kind of hurt after eating one.  The next batch I used a tablespoon of batter, and I cooked them for about 8 minutes.  I was able to get 15 sandwiches out of the batter.  It was a much more reasonable size, and it is that size I sold at the bake sale.)

Banana Crème Filling

  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening (**I used Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening Non-hydrogenated.)
  • 1.5 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow crème
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 chopped banana
  1. Whip first 4 ingredients together.  Fold chopped banana into filling. Fill sandwiches with as little or as much as you like, or just eat by the spoonful.  It’s all good.  I preferred the pies after they had been refrigerated.  In general, I would suggest to keep the pies refrigerated.

Whoopie Pie 2013(2)

On another note, it was my brother’s birthday on Monday.  Brian turned 50 on Monday.  A HUGE “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!’ goes out to him.  Even though a few miles are between us, I’m thinking of you!!  I hope this is a great year for you, Brian.  The photo below is from my dad’s 80th birthday last year.  I picked the photo below for 2 reasons: 1) Brian was looking quite dapper and 2) for all of the special people present in the photo.  The best birthday wish is to be surrounded by people you love.

Family

Take Care and Happy Eating (and Please Consider Making a Donation)!

Go Ahead – Make Someone’s Day!

It’s Thursday! The past few days have been busy! I’m sure everyone is feeling the same way. On top of everything, it’s August!? Yesterday, I sent a text to my sister asking when that happened?? Commercials for back to school, talk about football on the radio? Is Summer over already? I haven’t even gone to the beach yet! I did get a chance to take a 2 hour wave runner tour over the weekend. I highly recommend it!!! I went through Seaforth Boat Rentals at their Mission Bay location (http://www.seaforthboatrental.com/). What a blast!  AND . . . (drum roll) August is “Eat Your Dessert First” Month! Who’s with me??

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I’ve also noticed that a lot of people are giving back and are doing so in creative ways.  That’s one awesome way to spend one’s Summer!   I have a friend, Jeannine, who is running the Nike’s Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in October. She works with patients who have been diagnosed with Lymphoma and Jeannine loves to run.  What did she do?  She joined The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training.  She’s about half way to her goal of $3200, and she’s been coming up with interesting ways to raise money.  She poured beer at an Oyster Festival in June – from the pictures it seems like most of the beer went on her.  Jeannine even got Rubio’s in Mission Valley on board to help her raise cash.  She was able to hand out flyers so that on a particular day a percentage of a customer’s bill, who had the flyer, went to Jeannine’s cause.  I had to take advantage of that!  Hey, it’s for a good cause!  Check out her site: http://pages.teamintraining.org/sd/nikesf12/jeannineshively  Her next fundraiser is on August 25th at Rubio’s (http://www.rubios.com/ 2075 Camino de la Reina San Diego, CA 92108).  It will last all day and night.  Jeannine will be at the Mission Valley location starting at 4pm with flyers in hand.  This event only pertains to the Mission Valley location!!  So grab a flyer, a fish taco and a Stone Brewing Co. IPA.  Like I said before, it’s for a good cause!  Last time I went, I ordered a Carnitas Burrito that had a good meaty flavor and was a decent size.  I’m used to my favorite local taco stand that makes a burrito that’s pretty hefty, but Rubio’s was large enough to satisfy me.  I love checking out their salsa bar, too.  There’s a small outdoor patio area as well.  What better way to spend a Saturday?  Prior to August 25th, I’ll post a link so you can print one out before you go.

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Another cool fundraiser going on right now: http://reciperenovator.com/cookies-for-cody/  A fellow blogger, Stephanie Weaver of The Recipe Renovator, is raising money for her nephew, Cody, who was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. If you go to her site, you can bid on cookbooks signed by the authors, desserts, gift baskets, and kitchen items.  The bidding ends at 5pm (Pacific Time) on August 5th, so you still have time to check out the items and place a bid.  It’s a fun way to raise money!  Good luck!!

At times, it seems like there are too many amazing causes to help.  Where do you start?  When do you stop??  I have two organizations in which I feel strongly and support:  NAMI San Diego (http://www.namisandiego.org/) and San Diego Humane Society and SPCA (http://www.sdhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home_page).  I think it’s good to find where you are passionate and direct that energy towards a particular group or person.   Having said that, it’s fun to find these various fundraising tactics and give a little, if one can.

Now if fundraising for major organizations just isn’t your thing, I love doing small things like baking for others.  In June, Amanda of I Am Baker took this idea to the next level and asked her readers to nominate someone who deserved baked goods delivered to his or her house.  She had over 160 nominations (I nominated my parents.).  Then she threw out the request for volunteer bakers so that every nomination could receive a delivered treat.  She received over 400 volunteers!  My parents received a box of wonderful Mexican Wedding Cookies from The Urban Baker (http://www.theurbanbaker.com/an-old-favorite-mexican-wedding-cookies-gluten-free/).   My parents were so happy to be nominated, and they couldn’t believe how professional the cookies and packaging looked.  So if you know someone who’s having a tough day or week (or year!), drop off a little treat.  If you don’t bake, stop by a local bakery and pick up a couple brownies.  If the person doesn’t like sweets or is watching their weight, pick up some veggies or flowers at a Farmer’s Market and surprise your friend or family member.  A little act of kindness can really make a difference in someone’s life.  I know you all know this, but it’s good to get a reminder!

I made one of my favorite brownie recipes the other day for someone’s birthday.  There are about as many brownie recipes as there are fundraisers!  I have a handful of recipes I go between, but I like this one because it’s more fudgy than cakey, and the brownies are a little on the thinner side.  Thinner in terms of thickness, not in terms of calories!   Add a dollop of ice cream, and you are good to go!  Another great thing about this recipe, you don’t have to worry about bringing the butter to room temperature.  You just melt the butter!  The original recipe is from Bon Appetit (September 2004), but the recipe below is with my adjustments.  I have another fav brownie recipe that is SUPER fudgy!!  It’s best to make them the day before they are consumed.  They need a day to rest.  And you’ll need a day to rest after eating a couple!  I’ll have to share that one another time.

Heath Bar Brownies

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks for faster melting

3.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 2/3 cup sugar (I use vanilla sugar that I make.)

3 large eggs (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup Heath English toffee chips

1 cup nut pieces (whichever you prefer – I like walnuts or pecans), toasted and cooled (If you hate nuts, leave them out.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch pan.  Stir butter and chocolate in a heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth.  Cool to lukewarm.

Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl until thick and billowy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in chocolate mixture, then flour mixture.  Make sure not to over mix!  Fold in nuts and Heath English toffee chips.  Transfer to pan.

Bake brownies until puffed and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 28 minutes.  Cool pan on rack.  Store at room temperature.

Take Care and Happy Eatings!