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)!