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TasteSpotting: Food Is Amazing

Hello Friends,

I apologize profusely for the radio-silence of the last week. Some things were going on that just made me go “hmmm” and hunker down to think. I promise you, though, that will be made up for this week!!!

I have found a new site that I am absolutely in love with, possibly even more so than Pinterest (I know!!!!). TasteSpotting. Memorize this name!!!! No, seriously.

Be forewarned, upon finding this site you will cease being productive. For at least 2 days. Maybe more.

You will also be very hungry. Non-stop. For at least 2 days as well. Maybe more, again!

Here is a snapshot of a Tastespotting search for “honey wheat”, whereupon I was trying to find a honey wheat bread recipe, or something equally yummy and inspiring:

tastespotting taste spotting honey wheat searches food foodie

Tastespotting View of “Honey Wheat” Hits

So one thing that I like better here than on Pinterest is the fact that when you click on a picture it takes you directly to the website (usually a blog) from which the item originates. I like this better because it allows only 1-click instead of up-to-15 (max for me!) to get to the “how do I make this?!?!!!!” instructions. I so far have seen only 1 picture lead to a photograph-only link, and considering how much I’ve been clicking, that is a good percentage for Tastespotting! 😉

So go explore and let me know what you think of this humdinger of a food-fan-dream site!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Oatmeal PB Pie

Hello Baking Fiends,

I have another creation that I think you’ll enjoy! I had another birthday at work (yes, apparently Summer was the time to be born to work in our group!) and was requested to do something with oatmeal or peanut butter for them as a treat.

Of course, I was thinking about doing an array of cookies, and then decided that this was the perfect opportunity to expound out and try something new. So… I found peanut butter pie recipes, and decided to use an oatmeal cookie crust instead of graham cracker for the base!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Pie, Oh My!

My inspiration was this Peanut Butter Silk Pie recipe, however (surprise!) I changed a couple things around quite a bit to make this one happen!

CRUST LAYER:
I took a box of basic Oatmeal Cookies and crushed 18 of them to make the crust. The box had 24 cookies, and they were each about the size of an average palm – to give you a reference. Anyways, my Magic Bullet Blender was my friend to crush these to smithereens, and ended up looking like this:

How The Cookie Crumbles!

Next, I added 1/3 cup of sugar to this mix. Now, instead of using the expected butter, I recently came into possession of (aka I purchased) some Butter Flavored Olive Oil. Smells and tastes like butter, and it’s geared towards substituting for real butter even. So of course I had to try it here! I used 1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon of Butter Olive Oil in lieu of 1/2 cup of melted unsalted butter. YUM!

It’s Crust Magic!

Finally, for the crust, I patted the crust into a sprayed-with-Pam 13×9 baking pan, in this case of the aluminum foil variety for easy travel. Bake this for 8 minutes at 375 to set the crust so it won’t completely crumble on you. Remove from oven and let cool completely – I put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Crust Complete!

FUDGE LAYER:
While your crust is cooling, remove your 17.75 jar of hot fudge sauce from the fridge and let come to room temperature. I used the Smuckers Special Recipe Hot Fudge one, and you will use all but 2 tablespoons of this for the 13×9 pan just as a heads up for you…

Once your crust has cooled completely, and your fudge sauce has gotten pretty soft (you can microwave it for 20 seconds if need be), stir it up good and then spread it all over the crust layer until you cannot see anything but fudge sauce! Stick this back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, until chilled (fudge will harden up a bit)!

Warning: The fudge sauce may be tacky and put up a fight with you about laying down on the crust, so just know that you WILL win the battle, and conquer the hot fudge!

MMMM Fudge!

Peanut Butter Filling (two versions):
Okay, so through trial and feedback, I wanted to give you two options for this filling. If you like super-sweet, creamy, and thick fillings, follow the way I did it. If you prefer lighter, airier, and not as heavy – then substitute ONE of the cream cheese packages for ONE Cool Whip “No Sugar Added” container. Trust me on this! 😉

Okay, so back to business. Here is what I did for the filling:
Combine 2 8-oz packages of 1/3-less fat Cream Cheese (softened) with 1 cup Whipped Peanut Butter. Once this is fully mixed, add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Mix until fully combined. To this next add, one at a time, 1 8-oz Cool Whip Free (thawed) container, and 1 8-oz Cool Whip Extra Creamy (thawed) container! You will mix this until your arms are in pain, but it will be worth it!

Peanut Butter Filling!

Once this is nice and creamy, take your crust-fudge layers out of the fridge and spread this topping evenly over top of it all.

Peanut Butter Topped Dessert!

Once it’s spread evenly, I would make little waves in the topping, just for fun, like this (with a spatula):

Peanut Butter Waves!

Now crumble up 3-4 of the leftover cookies from your box of Oatmeal Cookies from the crust, and sprinkle those evenly over top of the waves of filling.

Oatmeal Crumble Topping!

Finally, take the leftover fudge sauce in the jar, add 1 teaspoon of milk, and microwave for about 40 seconds until nice and thin. Drizzle this over top of the oatmeal crumbles, and you will have a gorgeous dessert! Refrigerate this at least 2 hours, preferably overnight though, before serving to let all the flavors soak in!

Beautiful Fudge Drizzle!

Let me know how you enjoy this, and which version you use!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Bittersweet Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Hello Frosting Fans!

I made another frosting recently that I think you’ll enjoy! This one I used food coloring to dye a green, to go with my friend’s Birthday Cupcakes, since that is her favorite color. But that part is definitely optional!

Bittersweet Chocolate Buttercream – YUM!

To start, if you do want to use food coloring, I highly recommend you get this from Hobby Lobby, or this one from Michael’s, or something similar from whatever crafting store you frequent! I prefer the Wilton Icing Color Set, but the Duff’s will work just as well!

Wilton Green Icing Color

So to make this delicious and pretty confection, I started with the basics for any self-respecting buttercream frosting: creaming 1 cup of slightly softened unsalted butter with 2 tspn vanilla extract and 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder until nice and smooth. Once this is smoothed out, add in 2 cups of powdered sugar and another 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder and mix on high speed until well blended. Once this gets to a smooth state, IF you need it a little thicker, then add in another 1/2 – 3/4 cup of powdered sugar by 1/4 cup increments, and blend until smooth.

To color: Take a fresh toothpick, swirl it in your food coloring until you have a pretty good and thick layer on your toothpick, and ‘wipe it off’ into your frosting. I basically took the lower half of a toothpick and got a gob of green on it, had the mixer still going and so swirled the green into the frosting as it mixed in, literally wiping off the frosting on the toothpick (with the extra coloring included) to keep mixing it. I ended up doing this process 3 times – I used one toothpick on either end, plus one side of another toothpick, to get the desired color which is pictured above. Store in a bag and let it cool for at least 2 hours, or overnight. If it’s solid, just let it sit for 5 minutes and come to room temp before putting onto your cupcakes or cakes!

Frosted and delicious!

NOTE: You don’t want to keep dipping your toothpick end you’re using into the color repeatedly, because it will leave behind the frosting residue, which could cause bacteria and contamination on future uses for other frostings!

The flavor of this frosting comes out very bittersweet, but still incredibly chocolate-deliciously. It is not overly chocolatey (though adding more chocolate would fix that), and it’s not overly sweet, but it’s just a perfect meld of bittersweet chocolate. I hope you enjoy this, and please let me know you’re

Craft You Later,
Beth

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: 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

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Mac & Cheese 3

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

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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:

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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!

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Coconut Shrimp pan

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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.

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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):

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Appetizers

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Dinner 1

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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!

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Sprinkle attack 1

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Sprinkle Attack 2

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

Craft You Later,
Beth

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