• What Have I Done For You Lately…

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta

Baking is Science for Hungry People: Be Mine Cupcakes

Hello Baking Fiends — I mean Friends!

I am back with a collection of recipes that I made last night for my Valentines — I mean my guinea pigs — I mean my coworkers. Whew! That took a minute to get straight! I had asked a few of my coworkers yesterday what they wanted me to make and I got back Orange-Orange, Chocolate-Vanilla, and Chocolate-ChocolateMousse.

Now sadly I ran out of time and energy, and a working stand mixer (I’ll get to that later), and so couldn’t do the mousse. I could barely do the frosting, though thankfully my neighbors either didn’t hear my loud mixer or they at least didn’t call the cops on me. Could’ve gone either way, let me tell you, as the silly thing was loud and obnoxious to the Nth degree.

So I researched and gathered my ingredients, and made my plan of attack for the baking. I wanted to do the Orange first as that was a brand-spanking-new recipe from top to bottom.

Using a recipe that I followed almost to the letter, that I took from the TechnicolorKitchenInEnglish Blog, I mixed up my Clementine Cupcakes. Let me stop us all right here and say that I think these would have been great if I had baked them for a little less time, or added in more cream, as they came out a little dry the way I did them. I don’t think this was the recipe, but me adapting it to cupcakes a little less-then-perfectly. However I have been told the flavor of it is spot-on, and the frosting helps the dryness. Whew!

Okay for the Clementine Cupcakes, mix a little under a 1/2 stick of unsalted butter with a rounded 3/8 cup sugar in your stand mixer until creamy. Add 1 egg, beating well, and then add in a rounded 3/4 cup flour and 5/8 tspn baking powder, mixing well. Add in 1 tbspn milk (I will do 2 tbspn next time), the zest and juice of 1 clementine, and mix until smooth. Spoon the mixture into cupcakes and bake for 16-18 minutes at 350°F, until just set. Remove from oven and let cool, covered for overnight. ***Makes 12 cupcakes***

For the frosting, I beat 4 oz whipping cream into submission, added in 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 tspn vanilla, and the zest & juice of 1 clementine. Mixed that until it was fully incorporated and then refrigerated it overnight to harden it up a bit. In the morning, I topped the cupcakes with the frosting and then 1 slice of a clementine. ***Makes frosting enough for 48 cupcakes (whoopsies!)***  Observe the masterpiece!

Clementine Cupcakes

 Next up, the Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes. I totally cheated on these, I will not lie, and since I was using the same recipe for both, with minute changes, I mixed the full batch up to split later. So, that said… 🙂 Let the fun commence again!

Cream 3/4 cup unsalted butter and 1 cup sugar. Gradually add in 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 tspn baking powder, 1/2 tspn salt, 1 tspn vanilla and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Mix well. Add a little extra heavy cream by the dollop if needed if the batter is too thick. Now, take out half of your batter and set aside.  ***Will have 30 cupcakes total depending on splits*.**

To the half still in the bowl, mix in 1/4 cup cocoa powder(quite thoroughly, then another 2 minutes’ worth for giggles, trust me!). Now you have your chocolate cupcake batter! Bake these for 20 minutes at 350°F, remove from oven, cool, and cover overnight.

To the other half, pour into the (rinsed) bowl, mix in 2 tbspns vanilla extract, and mix it really well. Now you have your vanilla cupcake batter! Bake these for 20 minutes at 350°F, remove from oven, cool, and cover overnight.

For the frostings… Caramel Frosting for Chocolate Cupcakes. Strawberry Frosting for Vanilla Cupcakes. Yum.

First make a caramel sauce (recommend doing this while you are cooking the split cupcakes). In a small saucepan over low heat, combine 5/8 cup brown sugar with 1/8 cup heavy cream, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Wooden is key, trust me. Once it starts to bubble lightly, add in a little over 1/3 stick of unsalted butter and stir until fully melted. Let sit (still over low heat), stirring occasionally, until starts to bubble again. Let it bubble for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool.

Once caramel sauce has cooled, add to 4 oz of beaten-to-submission whipping cream, and mix with 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Put in airtight container (or place saran wrap directly against the frosting to form a seal-like ‘top’ and let sit like that), and refrigerate overnight.

For the strawberry frosting, beat-to-submission 4 oz of whipping cream, add in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 tspn vanilla, and 1/2 cup frozen (thawed) strawberry pieces. Beat this mixture up really well until the strawberry pieces are fully incorporated into the frosting. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Once the Chocolate Cupcakes have been topped with Caramel Frosting, top each cupake with 1 chocolate chip (I use the larger chips, works better, plus it’s more chocolate!), and observe the beauty!

Chocolate-Caramel Cupcakes

Once the Vanilla Cupcakes are topped with Strawberry Frosting, top each cupcake with a pinch of red sprinkles (or fresh sliced strawberry if you have it, which I didn’t). Yum!

Vanilla-Strawberry Cupcakes

Once I brought them into work, look how pretty they traveled! 🙂

Work Delivery 1

Work Delivery 2

Sprinkle bottle was used to keep them from sliding, just ignore that, haha…

I really really liked them all, thought the Clementines definitely needed improvement in the cake alone, but thought they all were equally delicious! Until later, though, please let me know what you think of these!

Craft you later!
~ Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Mini Fruit Tartlets

Happy Friday! 🙂

I personally am very grateful that this work week is hours from being over. To celebrate this, I got baking last night! Okay fine, it was partly for stress relief as well, but I also wanted to celebrate TGIF, I swear! 🙂
I saw this wonderful recipe for French Tart Dough earlier this week. And I am not going to lie, the fact that the blogger, David Lebovitz, was learning this from a French cooking instructor, Paule Caillat, was a draw. But then she said as her instruction for adding X amount of flour “Oh…you know, enough to make it right” — and I was sold on this recipe. A cooking instructor who cooks like me without really measuring, but eyeballing and going off of looks, smell and experience?!?! Ding!Ding!Ding! We have a winner. And thus I decided I needed to make a tart, a French tart. But not be one, of course… 😉 Teeheehee, you know you laughed a little inside, so don’t even try to act like you didn’t.

So I was thinking about what kind of treat I wanted to make into a tart, but I was leaning heavily towards Kiwi-Strawberry-Banana incorporated somehow. And then I read a comment from David’s blog about using a pastry cream and fresh berries to top the tart. So I found a very awesome blog about “How to Make Pastry Cream”, which I’ve never done before, and decided that I would make Mini Fruit Tartlets! Woohoo!

Keep in mind, please, that I absolutely loved the dialogue from David’s blog in his learning from Paule, so I was definitely channeling that in my cooking of the French Tartlets!

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Browned Butter


First I preheated the oven to 410. Then I put 3/4 stick unsalted butter, 2 quick shakes of salt, 1.5 tbspn sugar, little under 1/8 cup water, and about 1 tbspn of canola oil into a glass baking dish. Put in the oven for 15 minutes (set your timer!), until the mix is melted and browning on the edges.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cream & Sugar


While the butter browns, pour 2 cups/16 oz of heavy cream into a heavy saucepan on medium heat. Add rounded 1/2 cup sugar and 1 dash salt, whisking occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Keep on heat until simmering.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Yolk For You


While the cream is heating, separate 5 eggs, reserving the whites for later, and whisk egg yolks with 1/8 cup sugar until the sugar dissolves, about 15-20 seconds. Then add in 1/8 cup flour (not cornstarch, yes I was out and decided to improvise, don’t be too shocked!) and whisk until fully incorporated. You should have a light yellow creamy mixture by now.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Frothed Milk


Once the cream has started to froth & boil, remove from heat (don’t turn off), stirring constantly for 1 minute, and then slowly pour into the egg mixture whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Milk & Eggs


Once the cream & eggs have been combined and whisked to creaminess, pour the mix back into the saucepan and set back on the heat. Whisk continuously until starts to bubble a bit, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat immediately.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Vanilla Butter


Once removed from heat, add a half stick butter (I broke mine in half, but 4 pieces would be quicker to melt) and 2 tspn vanilla extract. Okay, okay, I did more like 2.5, you caught me. 🙂 Stir this with a spatula occasionally to help this incorporate the butter and vanilla evenly.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Browned Butter + Flour


About this time, your butter should be fully melted in the oven and slightly browned. Remove ***will be hot and splatter a bit*** from oven (keep the oven on) and let cool on the side for 1 minute. Add in 1 1/2 cups of flour, or just a little under, and stir until pulls away from sides and is a buttery sticky ball. Let sit and cool. I learned the hard way – remove the ball from the bowl and let cool on a surface that wasn’t just in an oven. 🙂 I used the butter paper wrapper. 🙂

Mini Fruit Tartlets: That's A Wrap of Pastry Cream!


Once your butter and vanilla have been fully incorporated, and your mixture has cooled some, pour the pastry cream into your egg-mixing bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the cream, which will keep a skin from forming on the cream. Fridge this at least 2 hours, or overnight. I did overnight.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cupcake Dough


Once your dough has cooled, pinch off pieces and drop into greased (Pam to the rescue!) cupcake foils and spread evenly along the bottom of the foil/paper cups.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Stick A Fork In It


Once the dough is evenly spread in the holders, poke a fork in the bottom of each so that it just is vented. Don’t make holes, just a slight, light poke with the fork in each cupcake. Bake (still at 410) for about 12 minutes, turn the oven off and let sit in the oven 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: A Loaf Of Leftover


I actually had enough dough leftover for a small loaf pan to have on the bottom as well. I poked the fork in the bottom of this dough as well, but didn’t go too overboard. Bake this same as the cupcakes. 🙂

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Baked Tartlets


Once baked, the tartlets will be slightly browned (like our butter earlier), and I will say – the foil cupcake wrappers browned way quicker then the silicone-and-paper-wrapper tartlets. Just so you know. Also, since I was going to assemble in the morning, I covered the tartlets with a towel (okay fine, I used my baking apron that I rarely actually wear, cuz it is longer than my dish towel) and let sit overnight.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cream of the Tart


When you are ready to assemble, stir your pastry cream a few times, then drop dollops on top of the tartlets. Once they are all covered (and the excess on top of your loaf pan tart if you have that), let sit while you slice the fruit. I did a veritable rainbow of fruit…

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Green Fruit


I sliced 1 peeled kiwi into tiny pieces. Placed in a bowl.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Purple Fruit


Then I quartered about 1/2 quart of blackberries and added to the kiwi.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Red Fruit


Then I sliced up 1/2 a quart of topless strawberries and added those to the mix. Ooh la la.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Yellow Fruit


Finally I sliced a banana (halfways, then halfways again, then diced), and topped that on the fruit mix.

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Sweeten the Deal


Finally, I added in 1/4 cup of brown sugar and mixed that evenly with the fruit, until well mixed but not abusing the fruit.

And last on the list – topping the tartlets with the fruit!

Mini Fruit Tartlets: Fruity Tart Loaf


Mini Fruit Tartlets: Side View of the Loaf


Mini Fruit Tartlets: Cupcake Tartlets, assembled!

Word of warning though – once you remove the paper holders from the silicone, I recommend you be careful because, as one victim — **ahem** coworker — found out, they are slippery like oysters if you’re not careful picking them up! 🙂

So that is my Mini Fruit Tartlets, and I must say, my coworkers really seemed to enjoy them. Even the ones who don’t like sweets, or didn’t like the idea of fruit on top of a custard-tart. And they made me, personally, a fantastic breakfast, too! 😉

So let me know if you like these if you try them out. Until then…

Craft You Later & TGIF!
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Oatmeal Currant Cookies

Well hello again friends, nice to see you again. Twice in one week, I know, you are impressed that I am actually back in it again, aren’t you? 😉 Gotta love baking weeks. Well, okay, at least I love them. I chose some new victims — I mean taste testers — for this week. A friend’s family graciously volunteered. Okay, that may be over-stating it. A friend volunteered their family. There, that is more accurate. I would hate to mislead you, really. So I made the Banana-Ganache Cupcakes and was actually in the mood to bake more. So I thought “Hey, why not some cookies too!”, and was trying to decide what kind to make when I saw a red box in the corner of the kitchen. Perfect! California Raisin time – woohoo! So yes, we now have a decision: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, yay! 🙂

Now about this time, you are probably thinking “Oatmeal Raisin? You said ‘Oatmeal Currant, so what is  this crazy madness talk you are going on about?” Alright, I will enlighten you. Feel lucky. So I mention that red box that we all know and love for the California Raisins, right? Yeah, turns out when I actually grabbed the box out of its hiding spot, it was a box of Zante Currants. Same brand as the raisins, so I was fooled by packaging and branding. Darnit. But that is okay, I am nothing if not adaptable, right?!? Sure, we’ll go with that. Just nod and smile for me, that’s it, I promise I won’t be upset.

So now to make the Oatmeal Currant Cookies. Are you ready with me? Are you excited? I know I am. Join me in the fun, why don’t you?

First off, we need to make our base for cookies. Now one thing you need to know about my cookies is that I do not use eggs, and it is the one time I prefer margarine to butter in baking. And yes partly because of cost-effectiveness I won’t lie. Tubs of margarine seem so much cheaper and better deals when you’re using cups of the stuff at a time, don’t you agree?

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: A Cookie Base Beat

Take 1 cup of margarine and melt it in a microwaveable mixing bowl, usually about 45 seconds works for me. Once you have the margarine nice and melted, add in 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and half a 3-oz package of instant-sugar-free vanilla pudding mix. Mix well, and make sure it is not clumpy.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Brown Sugar, Sugar

Next add in 1/2 cup of brown sugar, again mixing well so there are no lumps.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Oats In The Mix

Next add in 1 cup of oatmeal and, you guessed it, make sure it isn’t lumpy. I am sure you are tired of hearing that, but I promise the cookies taste much better if they are evenly mixed. I wouldn’t lie to you about this, I promise. It is all about baking a great cookie, right? Go cookie team!

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Flour Power!

Now we get to the binding of the cookie mixture. Add in around 2-3 cups of flour, make sure the dough is not sticky but not too dry either.
Like this:

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Plump Your Currants

Once you add the flour, set the dough aside, and pour the currants (about 1 1/2 cups worth, or half a bag) into a small bowl half filled with water. Let soak for roughly 5 minutes until they start to get a little plump. You can also add in about 1/8 cup of sugar to sweeten them up a bit while they soak. Drain the water from the currants, now they are ready to make cookie-able!

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Currant In The Cookie

Gradually add in the currants to the cookie dough, mixing until evenly distributed.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Scoop of Cookie

Now take small scoops or pinches of cookie dough like above and roll into balls to place on a greased cookie sheet. While doing this, preheat your oven to 375 F.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Cookie Sheets

I personally prefer baking my cookies on greased sheets of aluminum foil, as they seem to work better to get the cookies cleanly off in the morning. Now if you have air-bake cookie sheets this should be unnecessary. But just in case, you are forewarned.

Oatmeal Currant Cookies: Voilà Finished Cookies

Bake the cookies for 7 minutes 25 seconds (yes, I have it precisely down, have no fear, though cooking times may vary by oven about 15 seconds either side). I take them out of the oven and let them sit on the cookie tray for another 2 minutes, where they continue to bake. Then I remove to a cooling rack for the last few minutes of cooling. Now, all that is left is to enjoy!

Let me know how you like these, and until then…
Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Banana-Ganache Cupcakes

Hi Everyone, it’s been almost a week since my last post. I have been bad, and not done much crafty or cook/bake-y in the last few days. Okay, wow, that was shades of a Catholic confession there, ha-whoops! Anyways, I was looking around my kitchen Tuesday morning for breakfast and saw I had one banana left from the bunch. That one banana was in the stage of either-make-me-into-banana-bread-or-throw-me-out mushiness, and I really didn’t want to make a loaf of banana bread. Because then I have to eat it. And while I adore banana bread, I didn’t think I’d eat an entire loaf by myself this week. Plus I am trying (emphasis on that word, please) to eat healthier. Though I will say, personally I believe if it has banana in it, and not more sugar in ounces than your personal weight in pounds, then it has to be healthy….right?!? Okay, fine, WORK with me here people, just nod and smile and let me believe it, okay?!?!

Alright, moving along from my healthy-banana delusion… Upon further review of my fridge, I saw that I had some eggs, heavy cream, and a whole bunch (and I do mean a LOT) of  chocolate ganache left over from my Salted Caramel Lava Macchiatto Cupcakes last week. Hmmm, those ingredients plus one lonely aging banana?!? That seems obvious, does it not: BANANA-GANACHE CUPCAKES!!!! Okay, I’m chilling out, I promise. I just got super excited though. I looked up some basic cupcake recipes, just to see what all was used most commonly proportion wise. Then I pretty much used those as the thinnest-veiled-reference imagineable and made up my own recipe. I am sure you are shocked, really.

So here we go, with pictures illustrating the steps:

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Cream that butter!

1) Cream 2 sticks unsalted butter with 1 cup sugar. Add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Continue to cream them, and sometimes it helps to sing Prince’s “Cream” along with the mixer just to get your boogie on (quick soundbite here)!

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Creamed Egged Banana

2) In a small bowl (or if you want to cheat like me and use a cup, that is fine too!), beat together 2 eggs, 1 mashed banana (must be uber-ripe), 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1 tspn vanilla extract. Make sure it is smooth.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Flour Power

3) In another small bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, 1/2 tspn salt, 1 tspn baking powder and 1/2 tspn baking soda.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Mix It On Up

4) In the creamed butter mixture, turn the beaters back on to low, and gradually add in half of the egg mixture, then half of the flour mixture. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream to the remaining egg mixture (in the cup) and mix well. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture to the creamed butter, and then finally the remaining flour.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Make It Creamy

5) Once this is done mixing it was a bit dry-looking, so I added 1/4 cup of skim milk, just to moisten it up some. Make sure this gets mixed completely, no lumps, totally smooth. You will also smell banana strongly enough you will not believe you just used one banana!

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Pour It On Out

6) Now pour batter to about 3/4 full into your greasedcupcakes – either tin or the individual silicone cups like I used here. I also used cupcake papers because these are going to a group of people that don’t know me well enough to want my germs all over their cupcakes. Plus it keeps the frosting in better (later step, yes I’m getting ahead, but jeez hang with me!)… 🙂

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Baking Strong

7) Bake cupcakes about 20 minutes at 350 F, until tops start to lightly brown.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Fully Cooked!

8) Remove and let cool on top of oven for about 5 minutes before removing from silicone or cupcake pans.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Top It Off!

9) Once cupcakes have cooled significantly, top with the Chocolate Ganache we made last week that has been sitting in your fridge (covered) just waiting for the next project! Microwave the ganache about 80 seconds, and stir until evenly softened. I use a normal teaspoon to spread this, but I spray it with Pam first, and that works wonders for going on smoothly! Oh and if you didn’t make ganache with me last week (shame on you, I hate to bake alone!), then I would just make a 1/3 or 1/2 batch unless you really want a surplus of ganache.But let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a surplus of ganache?!?

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Voilà

10) Voilà we have a lovely batch of Banana-Ganache Cupcakes to Enjoy! 🙂

So that is it for today, I hope you all enjoy these. Side Note: I also toyed with topping each cupcake with a dried banana chip, however wasn’t sure how banana-y that would make it, so left that for another attempt. I’m sure this will be something I do weekly in some variation, so I have faith my ideas will all be implemented…..eventually. 😉

Please let me know if you try these and how you like them. I love feedback – lets me know that a) I’m not just talking to the internet-ether, and b) whether I need to improve or change anything for public consumption. I also like guinea pigs, and you guys make perfect ones, muahahaha! Okay enough with the creepy self-sound-effects. Until next time!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Salted Caramel Lava Macchiatto Cupcakes

Well hello again. So I have a confession to make. I altered the recipes the other night and hadn’t yet made the stuff. **blushes** I know. I know. That is so awful of me. BUT I had bought all the ingredients! Surely that has to count for something, right?!?! Okay fine, how about the fact that I made them last night, and brought them in for my victims—- I mean coworkers— to try out…? Does that redeem me in your eyes? Even just a little? Okay FINE, then how about these pictures? And don’t hate on the deliciousness, clearly I have shared the path to it with you and cannot be held accountable for any drool on your keyboard. So there. 😉

Macchiatto Cupcakes - Give Me Three Steps

1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Cream 3/4 cup butter & 1 cup sugar together in a large bowl.
3) Brew 8 oz cup of cofee and mix with 1/4 cup cold milk, 1 tspn cinnamon and 1 tspn nutmeg, in a small bowl.
4) Mix together 2 1/2 cups floud, 2 tspn baking powder and 1/2 tspn salt in medium bowl.

Macchiatto Cupcakes - Mix It On Up

1) Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/2 of the coffee mixture to the blender. Mix well.
2) Add 1/3 more of the flour mixture and 1/2 of the coffee mixture to the blender. Mix well.
3) Add in the last of the flour mixture and 1 1/2 tspn instant espresso powder (okay, fine, yes, I used 2 tspn instead) and mix well.

Macchiatto Cupcakes - Fill

1) I used my silicone baking cups but regardless, line your cupcakes with the papers and spray with Pam.
2) Fill baking cups 3/4 full (I used a spoon to divvy the dough.) Bake for 18 minutes at 350, until just a little soft still. Remove from oven.

Salted Caramel Sauce: Prep

1) In a saucepan (I recommend NOT using a large one like I did), combine 1 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup heavy cream. I may have used an extra tablespoon of heavy cream, but SHHH! don’t tell! Have this warming over a LOW heat, gently stirring with a wooden spoon until it starts to boil (read: bubble) lightly.

Salted Caramel Sauce: Butter Makes It Better

1) Once boiling over low heat, add 3/8 cup (almost a full stick) of unsalted butter. Stir occasionally.
2) Bring caramel to a boil (read: bubble) again and let it boil (read: bubble) for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Macchiatto Cupcakes - Thumb It!

1) Once removed from oven, immediately put a ‘thumbprint’ indentation in the middle of the cupcake. Make sure it is just an indent, about 1/4″ deep should work, but don’t break it in half or anything!
2) Let cool while you finish the caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Sauce: Salt Attack!

1) Once caramel sauce is removed from heat, add in coarse sea salt, about 1 overloaded teaspoon worth. Okay, you caught me: I just shook the container 3 good times, but it’s about 1 overloaded teaspoon, I swear!!!
2) Keep stirring the caramel for about 2 minutes to ensure the salt mixes in well. If you don’t like salted caramel, just omit this whole little section aside from the last caramel step, below.

While the caramel cools, and the cupcakes continue to cool:

Whipped Cream Frosting: Before

1) In your large mixing bowl from creaming the sugar above, now cleaned out, combine 2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Okay, yes, you got me here again – I used about 3/4 cup of powdered sugar instead. Yeesh you guys are good.
2) Once soft peaks form, add in 1-2 tspon of vanilla extract. Yes, I used 2 tspn here. Keep the mixing going this entire time as well, and then it will look like this, below:

Whipped Cream Frosting: After

3) Refrigerate until ready to build your creation, and cover it with aluminum foil.

Salted Caramel Sauce: To Go Please!

1) Now that your caramel sauce has cooled to not-boiling-piping-hot status, took about 15 minutes right?!?, you can do like I did and pour it into a “decorator bottle” with a normal tip, like mine from Pampered Chef.
2) Tip: use a funnel to get the sauce into the bottle from the pan, and I highly recommend spraying said funnel with Pam spray to keep it from sticking.
3) Note: I was able to fill the bottle twice which worked out nicely – once for the next step, and again for the final steps upon creating the final vision.

Salted Caramel Lava: Before

1) Take your bottle with nifty spout, and pour caramel sauce into your cupcake indentations, just until level with top of cupcake. Do not overfill.
2) Once completed, you will have very pretty cupcakes indeed:

Salted Caramel Lava: After

And now for the Ganache, the final ‘ingredient’!

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache: Double Boil Me!

1) In a double boiler (or if like me you just wanted to keep reusing the same pans [cleaned of course!], you can clean out your caramel pot and fill it halfway with water, and use a small saucepan for the inner pan), combine 1 bag of semisweet chocolate chips and half a bag of bittersweet cacao chips (I used Ghiradelli for both), with 1 cup of unsalted butter.
2) Stir occasionally, and make sure the heat is set to Medium. This is key, as it will keep a) the water from boiling over into the chocolate, b) the water from using you for target practice, and c) you from having a huge mess to clean up, with a possibe ER visit from burns.

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache: Sugar!!!!

1) While the chocolate is melting, combine 5 cups of powdered sugar with 1/4 cup instant espresso powder and 1/2 tspn of salt.
2) Whisk until evenly distributed.

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache

1) In a mixing cup, combine 1 cup of milk and 2 tspn vanilla extract.
2) Add the milk mixture to the powdered sugar and whisk until mixed together (read: sticky).

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache: Chocolate Rules

1) Once the chocolate has melted completely in the saucepan, and no butter chunks are left anywhere, and the entire thing is nice and smooth, remove from heat and remove chocolate pan from water pan if you’re doing like I did. Let sit about 2 minutes, then brave it.
2) Pour the chocolate mixture into the sugared milk mixture, and whisk until fully blended. Then whisk it about 2 minutes more.

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache: Now We Drool

1) Refrigerate chocolate ganache 20 minutes until slightly firm, or overnight.
2) If compiling everything the next morning/day, you will need to microwave the ganache about 2-2:30 to get it smooth and distributable.

When Ready To Make Salted Caramel Lava Macchiatto Cupcakes Come Alive:

Cupcakes Come Alive: Ganache

Top your cupcakes with a layer of Ganache.

Cupcakes Come Alive: Whipped Cream Frosting

Top your Ganache with a dollop of Whipped Cream Frosting.

Cupcakes Come Alive

Top your Whipped Cream Frosting with a drizzle or three of Caramel Sauce. **Note: If you are assembling the next day, remove the top from your bottle and microwave caramel sauce in the bottle for 20 seconds on half power to get it pourable.

Voilà the final creation!

Cupcakes Come Alive: DONE!

One final note… I had enough cupcake batter leftover that I made an 8-inch round cake of this as well. I had enough caramel that I poked about 15 holes in the cake, just like the cupcakes, after it baked, filled them with caramel sauce, and topped the same as the cupcakes for the final creation. I still had about 1 cup of whipped cream frosting and 2 cups of ganache leftover, with just about a teaspoon of caramel sauce, most of it stuck in the bottle! Here they are, all of my creations together:

Cupcakes Can Be Cakes Too

Whew, that was a big project, but according to my victi—coworkers, it was a delicious, albeit slightly heavy, coffee sweet treat! I look forward to trying these again, though, because they got a “holy delicious” from me as well! Let me know if you try these and if you like them!

Also, disclaimer: “Baking Is Science For Hungry People” is from my favorite comic Questionable Content, and is one of my all-time-favorite shirts as well.

Craft You Later,
Beth

Splish, Splash, Caramel Lava Cupcake Making A Blast!

So I was bad and took this weekend off of blogging. I know, tsk tsk on me. But I promise it won’t happen again…for awhile at least! 😉 Anyways, I was feeling like a bum this morning because it was 25 degrees out, and so I decided to work from home. The wonders of the current age of business – we have such nice options like working from home, using cell phones as main lines, and having home internet speeds that compare nicely with work internet speeds. It is a wonder, for sure! But anways, I was sitting home, and read my friends’ blog post for today, and there was a great article on DIY Pumpkin Spice Lattés, courtesy of her husband. Which then made me crave a coffee drink myself, so I drove my craving over to Rocky River Coffee Company (my closest non-chain), whom I love because of their motto: Friends don’t let friends drink corporate coffee.

The little places seem to have way better coffee selections for those of us (**ahem**) who don’t like just a plain ol’ cup o’ joe all the time. Yes I enjoy fancy schmancy coffee, and yes I enjoy trying the weird combinations that people at coffee shops imagine, and yes I enjoy paying $4 for said imagination. Okay maybe ‘enjoy’ isn’t the best word for that last part, but “accept that this is the cost and ingenuity doesn’t come cheap, so at $4 we are still in the realm of okay-I-will-pay-that-amount” is a little long, no?!? Well anyways. I got my Caramel Macchiatto (no, this did not taste like Starbucks’ version, and yes it was delicious, and yes I had it made with soy milk for extra protein) to go, and came back home to sip and work, and sip some more. Deeeeelicious! Yum. So then I started thinking that I really need to post more on my blog. And I had no idea what to post today, but I wanted to do something baking-craft.

So then it hit me. Caramel Macchiatto Cake!!! WOOHOO! We have a winner! But how to make this delicious-sounding craved treat?!? So of course – google to the rescue! I found a couple really fun blogs, that I am going to try to meld their versions into something of my own. Because let’s be honest. Following just one recipe for the entire creation just isn’t quite as entertaining as watching someone (else) attempt to meld three recipes into one master creation. Right?!? So here are the three recipes I am going to combine. Once you look them over, I will share what I am actually doing in my own recipe. Because, yes, I am going to let you all sit back, relax, and watch me be a fool in the kitchen. Because there are fewer places I am a better fool then in the kitchen! 😉 And I am a-okay with that! 😀

Cupcake Inspiration courtesy of MyButteryFingers.

Frosting Inspiration courtesy of JavaCupcake.

Additional Inspirations courtesy of WarningSugaryGoodness.

Final Production Recipe:

Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour                                2 tspn baking powder             ½ tspn salt                   
¾ cup strongly (cool) brewed coffee            ¼ cup milk                                  1 tspn each, nutmeg & cinnamon
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened                     1 cup sugar                                  3 eggs                    1 ½ tspn instant espresso

  1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F.Place paper liners in muffin tin.
  2. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Combine coffee, milk, cinnamon & nutmeg in a cup and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat eggs in one at a time.
  4. Reduce speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the liquid mixture. Scrape down sides, then beat in another third of flour mixture, then the rest of the liquid, then the remaining flour mixture. Mix in the instant espresso.
  5. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full. Sprinkle on cacao nibs if using. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely and remove from the pans.  Rather than excavate the middle out of the cupcakes to fill with caramel.  Just push the cupcake down with the bottom of a clean ice cream scoop. Fill with Caramel filling below.

Caramel filling and drizzle
1 ¼ cup light brown sugar            ¼ cup heavy cream            3/8 cup unsalted butter, softened            1 tspn salt

  1. To make the caramel, put the sugar and cream in a heavy bottom saucepan set over low heat.  Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon as it comes to a boil. Once it is boiling, add the butter and stir. Bring caramel back to a boil let it bubble gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Take the caramel off the heat, add the salt, and stir vigorously to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed in. Let the caramel cool and then fill cupcakes. Reserve some of the caramel to drizzle after chocolate ganache frosting layer, set this caramel aside

Chocolate Ganache Frosting infused with Espresso
4 oz bittersweet chocolate       2 oz unsweetened chocolate   10 oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup butter unsalted                 ¼ cup espresso powder             5 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt                                    2 tsp vanilla extract                     1 cup whole milk

  1. Melt chocolates and butter over double boiler.  Slowly stir constantly, until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Sift powdered sugar, espresso powder, and salt into a bowl.
  3. Combine milk and vanilla. Add milk mixture to sugar mixture. Whisk until incorporated. Add melted chocolate mixture to milk mixture. Stir until smooth.
  4. Chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so, whatever it takes to get it thick enough to frost.  Frost the cupcakes once the frosting is thick enough.  Keep unused portion in the refrigerator covered tight for up to one week.

Whipped Cream Frosting
2 cups heavy cream            ½ cup powdered sugar            1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. In a standing bowl mixer whisk heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar, to taste (not too sweet)
  3. Mix in vanilla extract.
  4. Pipe Frosting onto each cupcake & then drizzle with caramel.

Pictures to come later, but for now: g’night all!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Christmas Duck, Duck, Hot Potato!?

So for Christmas Day this year, for the first time in many a year, it was just the four of us plus my brother’s girlfriend. Normally there is some combination of relatives and friends joining us, so it was kind of nice, and odd at the same time, to just have our immediate family. Because it wasn’t 20 people, Mom and I were trying to think up something simple to do for dinner. Filling, yet not too much food. Tasty, yet not Ham or Turkey (as we both JUST finished our leftovers from the previous few weeks), and not Chicken Parm since we did that for the work party Friday night. Choices choices choices. The only thing we knew we were doing for sure was Mom making her Twice Baked Potatoes. Yum.

So we are minding our business, going through the grocery store, and Mom spies a duck. Hmmm, this could be good. It’s a small critter that won’t make us keep eating it for days after, it’s tasty, it’s enough for 5 people but shouldn’t take days to prep and cook… I think we have a winner here! 🙂 So we got a 5 pound Whole Duck to decide how to cook. YAY! I get to be creative with a new food, WOOHOO!!!! (No, I was not at all excited about this prospect, I swear!) 😉

Then we had to decide what to make with the Duck. Dad loves Duck but hates it à l’Orange. So that helped eliminate one thing. Mom voted no on Maple Syrup as the main flavor. Another one bites the dust. And brother Drew voted yes on Duck. Isn’t he just a helpful thing?!?  So I started looking up recipes on my handy dandy Evo Design, and saw a repetition of “Red Currant” across the recipes. So I decided to run with that. And keep running. And running. And finally smell something yummy (or so I hoped).

When prepping a duck, I highly recommend buying a frozen one that looks similar to a Thanksgiving Turkey. Why, you ask? Because it does the giblets and nasty innards  the same way as a Turkey – frozen and easy to remove. Just the way I like them, where I don’t have to play “Operation: Turkey Bird!” without the red nose. So first you remove the innards and icky stuff. Then thaw the bird in cold water for about 90 minutes (~5 lb. Duck) sitting in a pan. If the innards were stuck, they should still be gunked together but more easily removed after 90 minutes. Discard if you’re like me and think they’re gross, or reserve for later if you think they are delicious and functional. Either way, now you rinse the bird with cold water, make sure any excessive chunks of fat and “extras” are removed, and pat the bird dry. Set Mister Duck in a pan that is just larger than the bird, then prep the sauce.

Since I was in the mood for using Red Currant on my Duck Sauce, I compiled a group of ingredients that I thought would go spectacularly with that flavor profile. I used half of a jar of Red Currant Jelly (about 1/2 cup), 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, an overflowing 1/8 cup Cherry Creek Montage (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chancellor Noir wines),  2 tablespoons Maple Syrup, 1 teaspoon Majoram, and about 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Mix these together with 1/2 of a stick of Unsalted Butter, softened and sliced into small pieces.

Once these are mixed completely, use a baster and cover your Duck in the sauce, as well as inject it into the breast and legs of the Duck. Make sure you have some sitting in the inside of the Duck as well, to keep the flavor cooking fully through the Duck later on.

Voilà, raw Duck à la Courant Rouge (hehehe, French play on words, weeee!):

To cook the Duck, I let it simmer (re-basting with extra juices every 45 minutes) in the oven for about 2 hours at 350. After it’s been sliced off the bone by Master Cutter Dad:

Then we add in the sides:

Mom made her Twice Baked Potatoes. She bakes potatoes sliced in half for about 45 minutes at 350. Then once the insides are tender, she scoops the potatoes out, being careful to maintain the shape of the potato skins, and adds 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup shredded cheese. She mixes this up well, then scoops the mixture back into the potato shells. Then bakes the potatoes for and additional 25 minutes at 350. Easy peezy.

I made Parmesan Asparagus and Roasted Butternut Squash. These are super easy. I rinsed the asparagus, placed it in a 9×13 pan that was sprayed with Pam, and then sprayed the asparagus with Pam as well. Then I sprinkled the asparagus with grated Parmesan cheese, added small slices of cut-up unsalted butter, and sprinkled a tiny bit of Dill Weed over the entire thing. Baked for about 18 minutes at 350, until tender. For the Butternut Squash all I did was slice the squash into 6 pieces (scooping out the few seeds) and topped with cut-up unsalted butter. Baked this for about 40 minutes at 350. Then you are done! 🙂

While Mom thought the Duck was a bit too fatty, everyone else thoroughly enjoyed it. I had recreated the ‘Duck sauce’, minus the butter and olive oil, using the remaining Red Currant Jelly directly in the Jar, and heated it up for about 45 seconds in the microwave. Everyone dipped the Duck in the sauce. This also, according to my Brother, tasted delicious over the leftover Prime Rib (from Friday night’s Catering Party). So it was a raw-meat-less sauce that can be re-used with other meats, woohoo! 🙂

If you do not like fatty and gamey meats, I do not recommend eating Duck. Mom is proof. But if you do like those kinds of meats (or just any thing spelled m-e-a-t) then this is something fun to try for a smaller group of adventurous eaters! 🙂

As the final piece, we also made a Blueberry Pie, which I am shamed to say I did not take a picture of, particularly shamed since Drew & Alicia helped out! (I missed a perfectly good blackmail picture moment, darnitall!) For the pie, it is very simple. Buy 1 box of Jiffy Pie Crust (the kind you just add water to), 1 can of blueberry filling, and chopped pecans. Then just make sure you have brown sugar, flour, sugar, rolled oats,  cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, unsalted butter and almond extract in the house!

Beth: mix the Jiffy Pie Crust mix with about 1/8 cup of water, mixing with a fork until doughy. Spread out on floured surface, adding flour as needed, and rolling (I use my hands not a pin, to each their own) out the crust until it will fit your pie dish (Pam-sprayed!).
Drew: mix 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/8 cup chopped unsalted butter (chilled but not hard); mix ingredients until well blended and not too lumpy. Add in 1/2 cup well-chopped pecans, and mix well. Set aside this topping.
Alicia: in a bowl mix togther the jar of blueberry filling, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract. Mix well.
Beth: Take the pie dish that you’ve put your crust in, and spray the crust with Pam. Then take a fork and lighly poke the bottom of the crust until you have about 4 sets of prongs along the bottom. This will keep the dough from baking with a bubble crust look. While it’s cool to see, it’s difficult to add your filling to it! Bake the crust for about 15 minutes at 375, until just starting to harden.
Alicia: Remove the pie crust from the oven, let cool 5 minutes. Then add the blueberry filling mixture.
Drew: Top the blueberry filling with the oat-and-pecan streusel topping, until completely covers the pie filling. Spray with Pam for good measure. Bake for 30 minutes or until top of streusel is browned, still at 375. Let cool & enjoy!

Let me know how you like anything/everything! Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Still Cooking Away,
Beth

Come get it while it’s hot!

So in my immediate family, if you are going to do a party with food, there is a certain rhyme to the reason. Beth (me) is the plotter, cooker & baker; my brother Drew is the sous chef (aka my workslave) & taste tester; my Dad does the meats, and is backup sous chef & taste tester; and Mom buys the groceries, then does all clean up. It is a well oiled machine. With occasional hiatuses (hiatii?) into either the insane or the hilarious.

Case in point today (Friday the 23rd). I ended up basically catering a work dinner party for my mom’s team & their families. Sans mon frère, insert sad face…

So mom & I go grocery shopping at 8:30am (on my day off mind you), and find everything on our list except Andes Baking Chips. As in Andes Mints, made into chocolate chip sized morsels of deliciousness. So we call my dad, who asks me “andes chips, what are they like potato chips or something?”. I don’t know what was more funny: a) my expression at this (mom lol’ed), b) the cashier dude trying not to comment, or c) the fact that dad was in fact serious inhis question. So like a good daughter, I not only repeated it back to him like 3 times, I also broke it down for him real simple: “andes, like the chocolate mint, in chocolate chip format, in a greenbag, in thebaking aisle, that say ‘Andes’ on them, and ‘baking chips’, too. Love you.” Apparently this got it through. At this point, pretty sure option b above was winning the match. 🙂 I love my family. We are definitely a special one, too…everywhere we go. 😉

So after the groceries are all bought, I start cooking. Mom wanders into various rooms setting up ‘the scene’ for the party, while making sure I don’t need any help. I answer these inquiries with a daughterly-loving response of “Doing fine, now out of my kitchen!” Side note: we are in my parents’ house, however I claim all ownership of the kitchenwhile here. Hey, mock if you want, but trust me, we are all happier this way… 😉 Anyways back to the food. I start making my Pizza Dip. My new favorite appetizer. Cream cheese, shreddedmozzarella & italian spices get blended together, spread evenly in a dish, topped with a jar of pizza sauce, then the remaining shredded mozz. Fridge until 5 minutes from eating then zap it for 5 minutes. Voilà, presto, it’s done.

image

Easy pizza dip

So next I decide to make the Mac & Cheese. Make 1 pound of shells al dente style, and while that is going, combine (& beat) 1 stick unsalted butter, 1/4 cup milk, 12 oz ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, and 6 oz sharp shredded cheese.

image

Mac & Cheese 1

Then I add another 1/4 cup (or so) milk, and 6 oz sharp shredded cheese and blend some more. It will look like this:

image

Mac & Cheese 2

In a greased (Pam!) baking dish (13×9 works), pour your drained al dente noodles, then mix in really well your cheese mixture. Make sure every shell has a good amount of cheese coverage. Then top it with sliced cheese until all the dish is covered. I used CoJack cheese, andhalved the slices to distribute, since I was using an oval dish.

image

Mac & Cheese 3

image

Bake at 325 for about 20-25 minutes and it will look like this (and smell deliciously cheesy!):

image

Baked Mac & Cheese

Next up, Imade maple-bacon-wrapped water chestnuts. Wrap bacon around whole water chestnuts, stick a toothpick in each to hold the bacon, then drizzle maple syrup on them. Bake about 30 minutes at 325. Here is the final result:

image

Bacon Water Chestnuts

Next up: lemon-pepper and coconut shrimp dishes! Use raw shrimp, thawed in cold water, trust me! Peeled and de-tailed the lil’ buggers (and one stabbed me the little meanie!), rinsed them again, ghen divided into 2 groups. Half went into a boiling pot of water with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 teaspoons lemon pepper. Shrimp float and are bright white & pink when they’re done. Takes about 30 minutes or so. Serve those with basic cocktail sauce (yes, I cheated on that sauce). The other half got complicated. Beat 3 eggs in one bowl, then mix well with the shrimp til they’re all coated well. In another bowl mix 1 cup Panko Crumbs with 3/4 cup coconut flakes. Bring a deepset saute pan filled with 1 inch of canola oil to ‘hot’ over medium-set heat. To test, drop a piece of coconut in, if it sizzles and starts to brown, you are good to go. Take the shrimp and coat them in the panko mix, then carefully, carefully ace in the hot oil. Let brown about 2 minutes then flip, let brown again about 2 minutes, then remove to a pan covered in paper towel. This lets the grease drain. I used 51-70 count sized shrimp, and did about 15 shrimp at a time in the pan, and roughly 5 pan-fulls. After the next batch was flipped, then I would transfer the done shrimp to aplatter from the paper towel. Seemed to time okay. Meanwhile your sauce. Mix together 1/4 cup coconut flakes, 1/3 cup orange marmalade, znd 1/4 cup french vanilla coffee creamer (liquid only). Let this sit in the fridge a few hours, it will taste so good with the coconut shrimp!

image

Coconut Shrimp pan

image

Coconut Shrimp!

Next on the list is Chicken Parmigiano. Dad was doing Prime Rib, too, but this was my entrée contribution. Use breast tenderloins to alleviate slicing & pounding needs… Dredge chicken in flour so fully-but-lightly coated. Place in greased pan, close together. Top with spaghetti sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese, with a dusting of grated parmesan on top. Bake about 40 minutes at 325.

image

Chicken Parm

Next up is mashed potatoes. Microwave rinsed and speared (fork stabbed into both sides of tater) a bag of red potatoes for 25 minutes. These will be hot so be careful. In a bowl, mix/beat the potatoes with 2 sticks unsalted butter, 1/2-2/3 cup milk, and 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper. Best until desired consistency, I like mine thicker so useless milk.

Finally, the mixed veggies. I put about 1/8 inch of olive oil in the bottom of a baking pan, then added sliced zucchini, yellow squash and broccoli (small branches), baked for about 20-25 minutes at 300, until nice and soft. Serve as is, or you can drain thd olive oil. Oh and I did a salad too, iceberg lettuce, baby tomatoes, drained quartered artichoke hearts & cut up bsby corn (asian food section, the stalk looking corn). 🙂 Whew! Dinner for 16 (9 kids, 7 adults) is now done!

Here is the final production (done in a total of 4 hours, not counting reheats):

image

Appetizers

image

Dinner 1

image

Dinner 2

For dessert, I actually made a chocolate cookie, then had 8 of the kids decorate them for me before we baked them. Easy peezy lemon squeezy cookie recipe, too. Melt 1 cup margarine, mix with 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 of a 3 oz package of sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix. Then add in 1/2 teaspoon each salt, baking soda, baking powder, and 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix well. Then add in 2 cups (or so) flour, until mixture is thick and hard to stir. Shape dough into balls, flatten on cookie sheet, then decorate with sprinkles, chocolate chips, and the infamous Andes baking chips! Observe the pros below!

image

Sprinkle attack 1

image

Sprinkle Attack 2

That is all for today, hope you enjoyed, and Happy Christmas & Merry Holidays!

Craft You Later,
Beth

%d bloggers like this: