Saturday, April 3, 2010

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Spring is here!

And I finally got a new cord for my camera so we're back in business! To celebrate the come of warm weather and the return of updating this blog, I thought I'd get some spring-y flavors in the oven!

These are three flavors I've put together before and though they worked well, I knew I could do it better. Also I wanted to experiment with some better photography techniques in hope of getting these recipes up on TasteSpotting and FoodGawker.
I went a little overboa
rd in my methods but I couldn't help it! Yesterday at the supermarket I overheard a young girl and her mother panicking over the fact that on their shopping list was "chocolate ganache" but it wasn't something they could buy in a can. The daughter cried out "I don't know what to do! This is what she wanted on her cake and I don't want to disappoint her but I have no idea what I'd need to make it!" I decided it was my duty to save this young girl and stepped in, "All you need is butter, heavy cream and whatever chocolate you want to use" I said with a smile on my face. The two were delighted I'd stepped in, the mother even called me a baking angel! And by that, I justify today's overboard tactics.

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes (Makes 12 cupcakes)
1 1/4 Cups Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (not soda, there is a difference! I'll tell ya what if you're interested.)
3/4 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter at room temperature
1 large egg and 1 large egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1 carton raspberries
1 square white chocolate

1 tbsp lemon juice (I think... I just squirted some in there.)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add egg and egg white one at a time and beat well on low after each addition, then beat in vanilla and lemon juice. Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions. Mix on low speed until no traces of flour remains. Finely chop one square of white chocolate and mix in.

Here's where I started going crazy... set aside 24 raspberries, 12 should be perfect cupcake topping specimens and the other 12 don't rea
lly matter. Crush the remaining berries and throw in a sauce pan on medium with 2 tablespoons water and little sugar. Once the juices start to come out (about 3 minutes) remove seeds, I did this with a coffee filter, it required a little squeezing but worked like a charm. Return juice to sauce pan and add a little more sugar. Bring to a boil until syrup is thickened (2-3 minutes). Allow to cool and mix into batter.

Divide batter evenly between cups. Take your 12 not-so-perfect raspberries and cut into thirds and place on the top of each filled cup. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Lemon Glaze
Lemon juice
Confectioners' sugar

Mix the two ingredients until desired consistency is reached. Poke a fork in the top of each cupcake. Lightly spread about a 1/4 tsp of glaze over each cupcake after cooled.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
12 oz Cream Cheese at room temperature
6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar
4 Squares White Chocolate

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy (I added a little lemon juice here). Melt the white chocolate and mix in here. Gradually add the sugar and mix thoroughly to combine. It's really soft if you use it right away which I did, next time I would definitely refrigerate it for about 15 minutes first.

The Perfect Garnish
To top it all off, I melted the remaining white chocolate placed it in a plastic bag, cut a tiny hole in the corner and filled those 12 perfect raspberries that I set aside. The result, perfection.

The final product is pretty and super full of spring time! I makes me wish I'd saved a few raspberries to make some lemonade with. Well I hope you enjoy this recipe and the pretty pictures I took. Leave a comment if you love me and cross your fingers I can get this on TasteSpotting or FoodGawker!

Happy Spring Everyone!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My New Favotite Frosting (Italian Meringue Butter Cream)

Unfortunately I have no pictures because I still have no cord for my camera and no matter how hard I look I can't seem to find a new one! It's awful but I haven't posted in so long that I figured it was due.

So recently I decided to man up and try a frosting that has been terrifying and fascinating me for a while... Italian meringue butter cream! I was so nervous about the process because it involves egg whites and every recipe I looked up said that the egg whites had to be at a specific temperature, but I say f*** that, in fact I've made some (I think) improvements to the recipe!

The first time I tried this my adorable baking partner and I decided to try coffee flavored and... it didn't go so well. We used brewed coffee (as the recipe directed) but I now know espresso powder is the key! This first failure scared me but I have overcome my fear and have conquered this recipe! so without further ado, I give you, Italian Meringue Butter Cream!

Ingredients (This frosting makes enough for 12 cupcakes)

3 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar (the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup but trust me on this one)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
A few table spoons of powdered sugar


separate egg whites into a metal mixing bowl or double boiler type situation. Add the granulated sugar to the egg whites and place bowl over but not touching simmering water. Vigorously stir mixture until all sugar is dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch. You'l find that the mixture is not warm, then not warm, then not warm, then VERY WARM really quickly so make sure you're paying attention, this should be around 2 minutes but it can hapen really quickly or take quite a bit longer, just be patient and be aware.

Once the mixture hits the very warm moment remove it from heat and immediately begin to beat the mixture with an electric mixer. Continue to beat mixture until it becomes an opaque white and holds a soft peak. Again, this could happen in 3 minutes and it could also take 10 minutes, it's frustrating but I promise the reward is worth it. Once the meringue is ready it's time for butter, butter and more butter!

Cut the butter into table spoon sized pieces and add to the meringue a few pieces at a time, beating all the while until it is all mixed in. I will tell you right now I prefer not to use all the butter or else the frosting just tastes like sweet butter but it is your call. If the frosting doesn't seem to be setting up and seems separated, continue beating and add powdered sugar as you'd like (the powdered sugar also help combat the butterness of the frosting). If you can't get the texture you want try adding a few ounces of melted white chocolate, it's a very subtle flavor and makes the frosting silky smooth.

And Abracadabra you have incredible frosting! It pipes perfectly and has a really light consistency, sort of the consistency of yogurt that obeys and stays put, but refrigerated (which I prefer) it becomes the consistency of... well... butter, go figure, and is absolutely decadent! It doesn't get crusty like normal butter cream and it doesn't have to be super sweet, it's perfect.

Give it a shot, I don't think you'll be disappointed!
Let me know how it goes.
Hopefully I'll have my camera back soon but I'll try to keep posting without pictures.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Crumb cake muffins and yet another career idea!

So here's my question for you... say you've been feeling a little down and have begun considering going to a few group therapy sessions, or you've recently lost a family member and you've been thinking of joining a support group, or you and your lover have been fighting a lot and want to give couples therapy a try... would you want to sit in an office, or worse, an empty classroom after hours with a therapist who wants you to introduce yourself so that the rest of the group can echo "hi Frank!" or would you prefer to pay a little extra money to have the session in a kitchen, so that after everything is out in the open, and you've used the chopped onions as the excuse for your tears you can have a great meal with new found friends, a bond created through kitchen nightmare and creating something together? (holy hell that was on heck of a run on sentence.) For me, nothing feels better than cooking a great meal, and it's not even the satisfaction of eating it that I love, it's the process, and for me, the process is made better by cooking something to be enjoyed by others. For me, cooking is therapy and I think it could work for a lot of people. Start by cooking, something that people bond over, because no recipe comes out right without cooperation. Choose recipes with long cooking times so that there is a time for the "therapy" aspect of it, and then end the whole session with a happy light hearted dinner with your new friends! Gosh darn it I am a GENIUS!

Now onto a recipe which I had decided to make because I was driving from Pittsburgh to State College with some water polo girls and I wanted to make friends and nothing makes friends better than food! (see? therapy!) I went nuts and made three dozen muffins; one dozen blueberry, one dozen chocolate chip and one dozen of these babies! So this recipe was not as hard as I thought it was going to be (maybe because I used boxed cake mix because I was stretched for time... please don't judge me...) Well here it is!

Crumb Cake Muffins

Enough yellow cake batter to make 12 muffins (I used boxed cake mix. If you're going to do this, replace the amount of water called for on the box with the same amount butter milk. Now a boxed mix will make 24 muffins, I made 12 crumb cake and 12 chocolate chip.)

For the crumb topping (makes enough topping for about... hmm... 18-20 muffins?):
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons salted butter (one stick) melted and still warm
1 3/4 cups flour

For the crumb topping, mix granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter together in a bowl. Add Flour and mix until it forms a dough. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Make your muffins! Assuming you're using a boxed cake, I'm not going to tell you how to make it because you have a box with directions on it... If anyone really wants a good from scratch cupcake recipe, let me know I'll be more than happy to post one for you!

Once you've divided the dough evenly between the muffin cups. Break the now cooled crumbs up into small pieces and divide between the muffins, feel free to use a generous amount, even up to 1/4 cup of crumb per muffin (but if you do this there will only be enough crumbs for 12 muffins) Sprinkle a little cinnamon over the muffins and bake around 18 to 21 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown and a tooth pick comes out clean.

Set aside to cool, top with a little powdered sugar if you'd like (I didn't) and enjoy! And I promise you will enjoy them! They are pretty freaking fantastic if I do say so myself. I may never make normal crumb cake again! Not that I've ever made normal crumb cakes...

Now it may be a little while before I can post again unfortunately. I seem to have misplaced my camera chord and until I can find it I wont be able to post again with pictures. Any how! I hope everyone had a great break (or are still having a great break)!



Sunday, December 20, 2009

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Hey guys, I know it's been a while since I posted anything but it's winter break now so I can catch up! There's a lot I want to post on but first thing is first. If you do not make the cupcakes I'm about to show you, you are a FOOL! I repeat. MAKE THESE CUPCAKES!

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes! Chocolate Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's ganache and butter cream! The Guinness makes the cake super moist and everyone loves some Irish cream so what do you have to lose? Nothing! Make them! Do it! Or just come over to my place next time I have the ingredients around...

Ingredients This recipe makes 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes

1 cup Guinness
2 sticks of butter (I use salted, but if you use unsalted, add 3/4 tsp salt)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Combine the stout and butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Get out two bowls, or a mixing bowl and your stand mixer if you have one (don't you hate it when you don't get this in recipes and you mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then realize that you need the large bowl for the wet ingredients because you will be adding the dry to the wet and not the other way around? I hate that and I always end up in a pickle... in fact I did just that when making these cupcakes so don't do what I did!) In the smaller of the two mixing bowls *wink*, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the larger bowl with an electric hand mixer or the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend.

Add the stout-butter mixture to the eggs and sour cream and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to ¾ full.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. I suggest checking them around 12 minutes then every 2 minutes after because I like my cupcakes super moist.

For the Ganache

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (you can use chocolate chips but use good quality and know that the chips don't melt as well so you'll have to be on your whisking game!)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter at room temperature
2 tsp Bailey's Irish cream (we used more than that...)

1 stick butter
3-4 Cups confectioners sugar
4-8 Tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream

Ganache is easier than you think! know that going in and it wont be so scary.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just simmering (watch it very closely so that it does not boil), then pour it over the chocolate. Whisk the chocolate and cream until smooth. If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave (15-20 seconds). Add the butter and Baileys and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick, almost like mouse but more dense. (You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.)

Cut a cone out of the center of each cupcakes to prepare for the ganache filling. Once the ganache has cooled you can begin to fill. If you want to be fancy, by all means pipe it into the cupcakes, but if you're like me, just spoon it into its hole and smooth the top.

For the Butter Cream

1 stick butter (at room temperature)
3-4 Cups confectioners sugar
4-8 Tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream (we used 6)

Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium until fluffy, gradually mix in sugar a half cup at a time. Once frosting is at the right consistency, mix in Irish Cream until you've reached your desired potency.

Frost, and enjoy!

I'm serious when I say that you absolutely must MAKE THESE CUPCAKES!

Now that break is here, hopefully there will be more activity but I can't promise anything. But I so want to get my bake on it's not even funny!

Happy Holidays!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Homemade Slice and Bake Cookies

I don't think I'm alone when I say that I love cookies, and cookie dough, especially when it's easy, but do you ever feel a little dissatisfied eating cookie dough out of a tub? Well maybe not. How about sometimes you're in the mood to make cookie dough but not in the mood to back, or necessarily in the mood for cookie dough. So what do you do with all that cookie dough? Roll it up and save it for a time when you are in the mood for cookies but not in the mood to go through all that trouble.
It's simple!

Step One:
Wait until you're in the mood to make the dough and go for it.
My favorite cookie recipe is the one on the back of the Hershey's chocolate chip bag. In case you don't have a bag handy, you can find the recipe on the web site or just click here. Don't be afraid to mess around with what you put into the cookies, this time I used M&Ms, but my favorite is chocolate chips and pretzel bits! Sweet and salty is oh-so-good!

Step Two:
Put the dough in the refrigerator for an hour or so to make molding easier. Divide the dough in half and sculpt each half into a log like the slice and bake cookies you'd buy from the grocery store (Wegman's if you're lucky)! Wrap each log in a bunch of saran wrap and trow them in the freezer for that not so distant day when you have those cravings for cookies!

Step Three:
Easy. Slice and bake.

Ta-Da! You have cookies!
Simple, fun and easy.
Let me know what you like to mix in your cookie!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Delicious Chicken Tenders and Apartment Pictures

So those cookies I said I was making... apparently the meeting isn't until next week so I'll post that later, but for now I thought I'd share with you a recipe for one of my new favorite dinners and finally show you what I've done with my little apartment!
As for the recipe it is for delicious spicy basil chicken tenders which are easier and more fun to make than you're think! There's also a recipe for a basil dipping sauce for said chicken tenders.
These measurements are not exact, just an estimate, I pretty much just throw in ingredients and hope it turns out well, but hopefully these measurements will help! The recipe makes enough for a very hearty dinner for one.

Spicy Basil Chicken Tenders
5 Chicken tenders
1 cup breadcrumbs (-ish This is probably more than you need but air on the safe side)
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour

Basil Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350F You'll need three bowls for this.
Bowl One: Flour seasoned with salt and pepper
Bowl Two: 2 eggs beaten
Bowl Three: Bread crumbs, dried basil, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (go light on the cayenne if you don't like spicy food), salt and pepper to taste.
Drench each chicken tender in the flour, move to the egg and roll in the bread crumbs and transfer to a cookie sheet (you may want to cover it in aluminum foil).
Bake tenders for 12-15 minutes, flip once half way through.

Mix all ingredients for dipping sauce and serve with fresh veggies!

Now I've been talking forever about putting up pictures about my weird little apartment and I've been cleaning all day so now I can shamelessly post some! Now I just need to figure out what to do with the blank walls... unfortunately the one big wall is concrete so I can't drill and I don't want to paint that much, if you have any suggestions please share!

Have a great weekend everyone!
You'll hear from me soon!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Tailgating with Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

So this weekend I decided to go home when my mom reminded me that it was that time of year again! Time for the Genesee Valley Hunt, a tribute to the days when fox hunting was the it thing to do, with horse races, the running of the hounds and of course, fancy tailgating! The tailgating competition is something that my mom does every year and has always come home with a ribbon, this year was no different.

Since I was tagging along I decided to contribute to the menu, and what better for a chilly fall tailgate than hot chocolate? Hot chocolate cupcakes that is, with delicious whipped cream frosting!

I cheated a little with the cupcakes because I was short on time, but it would be easy to make them from scratch!

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
1 package Vanilla Cake Mix (or vanilla cupcake recipe of your choice, enough for 24 cupcakes)
3/4 cup Rich Chocolaty Ovaltine
2 tablespoons Hot Chocolate
Hint: If you're using a cake mix, make sure to replace the amount of water called for on the box with the same measure of Buttermilk.
Mix together ingredients (This amount of Ovaltine and hot chocolate will make your cupcakes barely chocolate, you may wish to add some unsweetened coco for a more chocolate taste.) Follow baking instructions on box or as called for by your choice of recipe.

This frosting has definitely become my new favorite. I have a lot to improve on but it's a less sweet alternative to butter cream and is increadibly tasty. I need to figure out how to make it thicker and will surely try again, but for now here is how the wonderful hot chocolate topping was made.

Almond Whipped Cream Frosting
1 (8 ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar (I used more like 1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (imitation is fine, the real stuff is too expensive)
2 cups heavy cream
1 package gelatin powder

Mix together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and almond until smooth. Continue mixing at medium speed and slowly add in cream, occasionally stopping to scrape the bottom. Once all cream has been added and frosting is fluffy and holds a peek, continue to mix while adding the package of gelatin (this will help the whipped cream stiffen)
Frost and enjoy!

As for the tailgate, it looked amazing! You would never know from the pictures that this was all served out of the back of a car! My mom is genius when it comes to presentation. Now maybe you can all understand the incredible amount of pressure I feel being a tad on the uncreative side with a mother who uses pottery tools to carve designs into pumpkins in about 30 seconds flat. Maybe someday I can pull this off on my own, but for now, my mom is creative god.

Here's the Menu:
Tenderloin Sandwiches on a fresh baguette with mock boursin cheese
BLT mini quiches
Beet, pear and goats cheese tart
Mini Carrot cake cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting
Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Almond whipped cream frosting

We took home 3rd place for best overall food out of about 30 tailgaters! But we're going for 1st place next year!

I think I'm going to make some cookies or something for a water polo meeting on Wednesday so it shouldn't be too long until you hear from me again!
Until then!