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Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Birthday Cupcakes

Hello All,

Another friend at work had a birthday, so I decided to make her some cupcakes. I had some leftover Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting, so I decided to whip up a batch of Bittersweet Chocolate Buttercream Frosting  and use a basic Vanilla Cupcake (recipe below) to host them both.

Birthday Cupcakes!

So to make these yummy treats, I started with creaming 1 cup of unsalted butter with 1 cup sugar until fluffy. Gradually add in 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tspn baking powder, 1/4 tspn salt, 2 tspn vanilla and 3/4 cup skim milk.

Vanilla Cupcake Batter!

Once your batter is completed, pour it into cupcake liners and bake for 18 minutes at 350. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the bakeware. Set in the refrigerator overnight or for 4 hours for best effect. Once they are fully cooled, frost with your frosting, top with a bittersweet chocolate chip or a salted peanut or a piece of Andes Mint or an M&M candy.

Vanilla Cupcake with PB Buttercream!

Vanilla Cupcake with Bittersweet Chocolate Buttercream!

Basically, have fun with toppings and frosting combinations! You can make  some great combinations and make it look beautiful as well, so play with frosting colors too! Enjoy!

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: Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

Hello Baking Fiends!

I had shared a Chocolate Cupcake recipe earlier this week, and while I had served some of them without frosting of any kind, I had also made a Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting for them that. Was. HEAVEN. Not to brag, but I literally was sitting there with the wooden spoon after I’d bagged the frosting, and just licking the spoon clean – I refused to let any of that yummyness go to waste! Have no fear, I didn’t lick until after it was all done… that would just be gross (but delicious still)…!

Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting!

So, for the frosting, here is what you’ll do:

Cream 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter in a stand mixer until incredibly creamy but a bit sticky.

Add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter.

Cream the pb+butter mixture until very thick and, well, creamy.

Gradually add in about 2 1/2 cups of powdered/confectioner’s sugar and continue beating on low-medium until well combined.

Frost to enjoy to maximum deliciousness!

Frost your cake, cupcakes, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or wooden spoon — and enjoy! 😉

Charlotte Beer Babe leader enjoying a snack!

Witness, Charlotte Beer Babe leader Tracie enjoying a Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting at a recent Charlotte Beer Babes event! 🙂

Let me know how you like this frosting, would love to hear feedback from y’all, as always!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Chocolate Cupcakes

Hello Friends and Baking Fans,

I have made a slight modification (**gasp**) to my chocolate cupcake recipe from  Valentine’s Day. I think I’ve improved upon it slightly, but I may be slightly biased on that. I found it a little smoother tasting and better as a stand-alone, but… You tell me!

Chocolate Cupcakes

To make the cupcakes, I started with 1 cup (sticks) of unsalted butter. I added 1 cup of sugar to this in my stand mixer, and creamed the butter out of it! (hehe, you laughed a little admit it!) Anyways, from there, once creamed really well, gradually add in 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 tspn baking powder, 1/4 tspn salt, 2 tspn vanilla, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup whipping cream. Mix really well.

Chocolate Cupcake Batter

Now this ooey gooey sticky deliciousness is ready to bake! I used these fun baking cups from Hobby Lobby, which (YAY!) don’t need muffin pans to bake them in – just stick the filled cups on the cookie sheet and bake away! Woooo!

Cupcake Batter To Bake!

So pour your batter into your liners and bake at 350 for around 20 minutes. It may be a little more or less, but mine came out to like 19:48 or something like that. Hence 20 minutes… I’d hate for you to have to time it that exactly! Yeesh.

Chocolate Cupcakes Done!

Once they have turned out and cooled, you can serve them with or without frosting or toppings. I stuck mine in the freezer for about 15 minutes to cool them quickly, since I was getting ready to leave… BUT I served with and without frosting, and they went over really well both ways! So let me know how you like these cupcakes, and I hope you enjoy this yummy chocolateness amongst all this heat out there! Maybe dipped in cool whip if you don’t want to make frosting… 😉 Mmmm! Anyways…

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Snickers Brownies

Hello again baking fiends!

I was browsing around Pinterest the other day and found a link to this Snickers Brownie recipe from Jasey’s Crazy Daisy!

Holy droolfest. I love Snickers. To my mind, it has chocolate which is good for your mental state, caramel which is good for your stress levels, nuts which are good for your health, and nougat which just makes it all taste good. (I don’t care what you say, that is my story and I am sticking to it!!!!) And make it into a brownie? Ambrosia!

Snickers Brownie Heaven!

After tricking my coworkers into the Fudgy Black Bean Brownies a few weeks ago, I had to swear on my life that there was nothing ‘weird’ in these ones. I didn’t have time for weird, this brownie had a LOT going on of its own!

Disclaimer: while I stuck mostly to the Jasey recipe, I did make a few changes. Shocking, isn’t it?!? 😉

First:
Take a box of Betty Crocker Fudgy Brownie mix and mix in 2 eggs, 1/4 cup water, 2/3 cup canola/blended oil and 1/4 cup (or thereabouts) of Hot Fudge Sauce (y’know, the ice cream topping stuff? yeah, that.) that is at room temperature. Mix well.

Brownie Batter!

I baked 2 8×8 pans, wanting one for work and one for home. That said, I baked these for 24 minutes, then turned the oven off and let them sit for 3 minutes then removed them from the oven to let them cool completely. Perfecto!

While that is baking, make your peanut butter nougat filling! Take out a saucepan over medium heat and melt 1/4 cup (half a stick) of unsalted butter. Once that’s fully melted, add in 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup (2 oz) evaporated milk, stirring until fully incorporated. Next add in 1 1/2 jars of Jet Puffed Marshmallow Crème (7 oz jars), and stir constantly (this will bubble, so the stirring is key). Gradually add in 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. (This differs from the recipe greatly). Stir until completely smooth. Remove from heat and keep stirring. After about 2 minutes of cooling time, pour this into a small mixing bowl, stirring every 3-4 minutes.

Peanut Butter Nougat!

Now make your caramel sauce. To do this, put that saucepan (rinsed out) back on the burner set at medium-low (more low), and pour in 1 14-oz can of Sweetened Condensed milk. I typically use the reduced fat or fat free kind. Add 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, and stir every few minutes. This will take about 25 minutes to complete. It should start to gradually boil, and you will need to stir it more for about the last 8 minutes. Taste as this will let you know when it’s perfect. WARNING: It WILL be extremely hot!

Homemade Caramel Sauce!

As your brownies have cooled, and your caramel is going, top the brownies with the peanut butter nougat, spreading evenly. Put in the freezer for 15 minutes to set it.

Peanut Butter Nougat Topping!

Once the 15 minutes is up, your caramel should be about ready. Remove the caramel from the burner and let sit about 3 minutes, stirring once. Take your brownies out of the freezer (nougat will be slightly spongy but firm) and top with a thin layer of caramel sauce, spreading evenly. Stick back into the freezer for another 15 minutes.

Caramel Topping!

For your chocolate topping, rinse out your saucepan again and then set it on medium heat with 10oz bittersweet chocolate chips and 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter in the pan. Stir occasionally until this is a smooth and creamy blend of yumminess, then remove from heat and let sit 2 minutes.

Caramel Topping!

Remove the brownies from the freezer and top with an even layer of the chocolate topping. Cover and put in the fridge overnight, or at least 2 hours, to let set. Keep cool as this will melt and it’ll already be super gooey when it’s just out of the fridge! 😉

Finished Snickers Brownie!

Minus one slice!

Disclaimer: this is VERY thick and VERY sweet, so smaller pieces are best for serving….with a drink handy! Everyone LOVED them at work, though the consensus was that these are high enough in sugar to put you into a sugar coma easily! Hope you enjoy, though, and let me know if you try them, and what you think!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Quick Scratch Mac-N-Cheese

Hey Cooking Friends!

For all of you out there that are either cooking for one or two people, and absolutely hate trying to scale down this delicious recipe or that, I have a recipe for you. It is literally 4 ingredients, and takes about 10 minutes. I promise you’ll really enjoy this one! Especially if you like cheese!

Quick & Easy Scratch Mac-N-Cheese! Mmmm!

So I was really in the mood for macaroni and cheese the other night, but I didn’t want it out of a box, and I didn’t want to make a huge thing and bake it – as that takes awhile. So I decided to try my hand at a combo concept of those two styles.

First, I boiled about 1/2 cup of raw elbow macaroni in about 2.5 cups of water (with a dash of salt), on medium-high. I cooked these until right between al dente and mushy, which is how I like my mac-n-cheese. This took about 8 minutes or so, and my visual cue is always that the pasta starts to turn the water a little cloudy. Once it’s done to your liking, turn off the burner, drain the pasta, and return the pasta in the pot onto the still-hot burner.

Immediately add about 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Stir a bit around to keep the sizzle down. Add about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and stir until that melts fully. Now for the cheese. You can use whatever you have on hand, however I used the finely-shredded 4-cheese blend and added about 1/3 of a cup into the pasta, stirring constantly until fully melted. Once that was done, I added just under 1/3 of a cup again, and stirred until it became a nicely cheesy mound of pasta. Yum.

Now pour the pasta into a serving dish, add a pinch of cheese as a garnish on top (not mixed in), and voilà! You have a quick and easy, and delicious, homemade macaroni and cheese dish! If you’re eating alone, this will be plenty. If you’re feeding more than that, just double, etc, accordingly.

If you need more than this to eat, you can take an unshucked ear of corn and microwave it for 4 minutes. Once done, peel the husk and strands off and enjoy that with your mac-n-cheese! I think next time, I’m going to make up a piece of bacon and add that to the mac-n-cheese, along with a dash or 2 of fresh ground pepper. Just to try some variety and add in some protein!

So that is it:

1/2 cup macaroni pasta, boiled to taste
2 tbspn heavy cream (can substitute milk, I just didn’t have any!)
1 tbspn unsalted butter
2/3 cup cheese of your choice, evenly divided (shredded does work best)
dash of fresh-ground pepper, if desired
1 slice of prepared bacon, if desired

1. Boil pasta to desired tenderness.
2. Add remaining ingredients, in order, and mix until well combined.
3. Serve and enjoy!

Servings, with quantities as listed above: 1

Let me know what you think of this quick and easy meal!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Little Snowballs

Hey again Baking Friends!

One of my favorite series of books to read is the Hannah Swensen Mystery series by Joanne Fluke. I like that it’s murder mystery style books, with a lot of the every day monotony thrown in that most books leave out, and then the best part is the recipes! I have tried lots of Joanne’s recipes, and have yet to find one that I don’t like. One of these days I will try her coffee trick, I swear, but I need a huge batch of coffee drinkers to do it.

Anyways, a few years ago my work did a Cookies for Civil Servants thing around Christmas where everyone brought in bags of scratch-made cookies, and volunteers distributed them to Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, Fire and Medic stations across the county. I had made some extras for my co-workers, small samples of the 4 cookies that I made, and one of my friends LOVED the Little Snowballs that I made. Think similar to a Wedding Cake Cookie.

Little Snowballs!

Since her birthday is at the end of June, I decided to make her a batch of cookies for a snack. Hee. Birthday cookies will get you every time! Muahahaha.

So anyways, here is the recipe, and hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

What You’ll Need:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted (3 sticks)
3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus 1/4 cup for coating
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (walnut chips and sliced almonds are my go-to choices for these cookies!)

How To Make Them:
1.
Preheat over to 350 F. Melt the butter in microwave for 2 minutes.
2. Add in 3/4 cup powdered sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and salt, and mix well. Add the flour and mix throughly. Stir in the nuts until evenly distributed.
3. Form the dough into one-inch balls (just pat them into shape with your fingers), and place them on an UNGREASED baking sheet.
4. Bake them for 10 minutes, until they are set but not brown. Remove from oven.
5. Let the cookies cool for 2 minutes, then roll them in powdered sugar. (You must do this while they’re still warm.) Place them on a wire rack and let them cool completely.
6. When the cookies are completely cooled, roll them in powdered sugar again. Let them rest for several minutes on the rack, and then store them in a cookie jar or a covered bowl, or a large freezer ziploc bag! Enjoy them with friends!

Yield: 90-100 cookies (Nutrition Information: 47 calories per cookie, 2.9g fat, 4.2g carb, 0.6g protein, 8mg sodium, 7mg cholesterol)

So there they are, try it out, enjoy, and please let me know what you think! YUM!

I will say, I do intend to try a few variations on this cookie throughout this summer: substituting butter for Butter Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil, adding lemon juice + lemon rind to make Lemon Snowballs, substituting butter for applesauce + canola oil, substituting nuts for dried fruit, substituting macadamia nuts + coconut for the nuts, and finally doing the original recipe around a jumbo chocolate chip. I will, of course, keep you all posted on how these all turn out!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Strawberry-Lemon Icebox Pie

Hello Baking Fiends!

I had a special request from a friend to make a Lemon Icebox Pie for dessert. So I looked up a bunch of recipes and found these three that I really wanted to base my pie off of: AllRecipes’ Lemon Icebox Pie III, Emeril’s Lemon Icebox Pie, and Papa’s Lemon Icebox Pie.

So, typical me, I basically combined some elements from all of these recipes, added a Strawberry twist of my own, and came up with my own creation! Shocked? I figured you would be!

Strawberry-Lemon Icebox Pie!

What you’ll need:
1 box of Vanilla Wafers (you’ll use all but maybe 12 wafers)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 quart of fresh de-stemmed strawberries, divided
3 lemons
zest from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 8oz package 1/3-less fat cream cheese, softened
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 8×8 cake pan or 9×9 pie pan (preferably with a lid)

What you’ll do:
First, using a food processor, a blender or a rolling pin (and some repressed anger or frustration), make the wafers into a cookie powder-like mulch. You laugh or cringe now at that description, but just do it, I dare you. Dump the cookies into a bowl.

Next purée about 5 of the small strawberries (should be a small handful in total) until it looks like a smoothie. While that is going, melt your butter in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Dump the strawberries and butter in with the wafers.

Making the crust….

Once this is mixed together really well, and it will look more like cookie dough at this point, dump the crust mix into your sprayed-with-Pam pan (I used an 8×8 cake pan), and spread it out evenly along the bottom and up the sides.

Crust to bake….

Bake your crust at 350 for 15 minutes, remove from oven and pat the bottom down (spreading it back out evenly) if needed, then bump the oven up to 425 to bake for an additional 8 minutes. Turn the oven off and remove, letting it cool.

While that is baking, in a bowl (I just used the crust bowl again) dump in the softened cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, condensed milk, juice of 3 lemons, zest of 1 lemon, and the pulsed (not fully puréed) remnants of another 5 small strawberries. Mix really well with a whisk until fully incorporated.

Making the filling….

And now pour the filling into the crust and spread it evenly all up the sides. Slice the remaining 4-5 strawberries into quarters, and place on top of the filling. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Enjoy!

Voilà: Strawberry-Lemon Icebox Pie!

Verdict on this was “delicious” across the board. This was definitely very lemony, so if you don’t like as much lemon, I would maybe only juice 2 lemons instead of 3. However I was impressed with how well the crust turned out, and think it would be fun to try other fruit purées in them, maybe even in place of the butter! Hmmm. Mmmm. 🙂

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Fraiche Strawberry Shortycakes

Hello Baking Lovers!

Today we are having Fraiche Strawberry Shortycakes — à la Beth. I have a coworker who not only is allergic to chocolate (oh the HORROR of it!), but absolutely LOVES Strawberry Shortcakes of all kinds. His birthday is this weekend, so I decided to start our long weekend off right at work and make him (and the rest of my taste-tester victims) some sweet treats to make the day more enjoyable.

Fraiche Strawberry Shortycakes!

I was looking at my favorite Strawberry Shortcake Recipe, which is courtesy of the book Strawberry Shortcake Murder, a Hannah Swensen novel, by Joanne Fluke. Unfortunately, I didn’t have 48 hours to let the Pound Plus Cake sit before serving, so I decided to shop around some more for quicker recipes.

In my search, I happened upon this nice blog site unsophisticook, and found some great stuff! I found what would be the basis for my Shortcakes, and a great Bisquick baking substitute for not having to buy the boxed product as well!

To start, I didn’t alter the Bisquick Substitute recipe. Contain your shock, I know it has your jaw agape, but please…miracles do happen! So to start the whole process off I knew I would only need 3.5 cups of the substitute, so I halved the recipe from the above link. I didn’t want extra since it is so easy to whip up!

Step 1: Whisk together 3 cups flour, 1.5 tbspn baking powder, and 1/2 tbspn salt until thoroughly blended. Add 1/4 cup cold sliced butter and, using a pastry cutter or two knives or a whisk, mix in the butter until fully incorporated and no lumps remain.

Step 2: To the flour, add 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, and stir completely until dough is lumpy and dry.

Step 3: Add in 1/2 cup sour cream and mix dough well: this will moisten the dough and make it sticky.

Step 4: Drop spoonfulls of dough onto a cookie sheet, mine is lined with foil, and sprinkle with granulated sugar, Bake for 14 minutes at 425 F (preheat your oven first!). NOTE: You want the dough balls at least the size of a hacky sack, otherwise you won’t have enough cake for the full effect!

Step 5: Slice up 2 lbs of fresh de-stemmed strawberries and put in a bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup sugar over top (distribute evenly).

Step 6: Combine 2 tbspn lemon juice and 1/3 cup cold water. Pour mixture over strawberries & sugar. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours, or overnight.

Step 7: To make the Crème Fraiche, put 2 cups heavy whipping cream in a stand mixer on high for 1 minute. Add in 1/2 cup sugar and let whip for around 10 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Then add in 1/2 cup sour cream, switching the speed down significantly (on mine went from 10 to 3).

Now, I made all the stuff, refrigerated the crème and strawberries, covered the shortcakes (left on top of the cooled stove), and went to bed. You could do this immediately after everything has cooled, but it worked out great overnight for me!

Assembling the Fraiche Strawberry Shortycakes:

Step 8.1: Split the cooled cakes in half horizontally.

Step 8.2: Place the bottom half of the cake in a cupcake holder (easiest way to keep them together AND transport them, I promise!).

Step 8.3: Place a dollop of crème fraiche on top of the cake bottom.

Step 8.4: Place 3 slices of strawberries on top of the crème. NOTE: you probably want to drain the juices from the strawberries before starting this process. I drained into a glass & enjoyed a yummy strawberry juice, with a few slices slipped in!

Step 8.5: Place top of cake on top of strawberries, dab a small dollop of crème on top, and sprinkle with a tiny bit of brown sugar. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving, as this will enhance the flavors immensely!

Step 9: Serve and enjoy!

So that is the easy peasy lemon squeezy way to make these cute, individual sized Fraiche Strawberry Shortycakes! Let me know how you like them – so far everyone at work has absolutely loved them! Have a great rest of your Friday, a great weekend (for those in the US – HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY weekend!), and until next time…!

Craft You Later,
Beth

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