Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins

Once again, Dorie has blown me away. These muffins were easy and delicious! I substituted mini chocolate chips for the raisins and a pecan pie glazed pecan for the topper. Those pecans are a one for you/one for me kind of treat. Yummo!
The recipe says it makes 12 but I got 19 muffins which is good since I made them for my daughter's Daisy Scout troup and I would be sad if there weren't extras for, um, tasting. Yeah, I have to taste them to make sure they're edible! You can find the recipe on Kelly's site. It says bake at 400 for 25 minutes but luckily I read the message boards and saw that most were done in 17 minutes. My glazed pecans still got a bit burnt but the flavor was still good and it gives the muffins a sweet, crunchy bite. I omitted the ginger and allspice since I didn't have any. I'm actually sitting here, eating one as I type and wow. Rush out and make some today! I just might make another batch tonight, just for us.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Lovely Husband Cooks!

Chuck makes so much fun of me taking pictures of just about everything. I've whipped my camera out in restaurants for a pretty plate and he about dies of embarrassment. So this weekend when he made some pretty amazing stir fry, he called up to me, "Aren't you going to take a picture of this?!" And so I did!
Ladies, there is nothing sexier than a man who can cook! These shrimp were to die for! And the meal is pretty simple. We love the Sesame Garlic marinade by Iron Chef and do almost all our stir fry with it. Chuck also sauteed up some onions and chopped portobello mushrooms. Then he threw the cooked rice in to fry in some sesame oil and soy sauce. Our house smelled like Chinese food for 2 days and I did not care!
Note how he plated it so nicely, placing the shrimp delicately on top of the bed of rice? That comes from watching all those Top Chef episodes with me that he claims to not like and yet it's the one reality show where he does not make me change the channel.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TWD: Lenox Almond Biscotti - I mean brownies :(

Um, I'm an idiot and forgot this week. Totally forgot! I was planning on spending Sunday afternoon making these but then got invited to my father-in-law's for dinner and completely forgot about the biscotti until....oh, about 9pm last night! Oops. For what the other bakers did, please click here.
Otherwise, enjoy this photo of the amazing Lady's Brownies I made. Recipe from Paula Deen's Lady & Sons cookbook. It is so simple, no mixers and just one bowl! I added about a cup of toffee chips just for fun!
2cup sugar
1 cup veg. oil.
4 eggs
6 tbs cocoa
1tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup self rising flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans ( I omitted, nuts take up valuable chocolate space in our mouths) ;)

Preheat oven to 325, blend together sugar, oil, eggs, cocoa, and vanilla. Add flour; mix. add nuts (or in my case, toffee chips); spread into greased 13x9 baking dish, bake 25-30. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Chuck said they were the best brownies he has ever had! I must say, I baked them for the full 30 minutes and they were incredibly soft and gooey: a perfect brownie texture, if you're of the people who prefer gooey over cakey brownies, which we are.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Caramel (half)Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

You know how some recipe are dubbed "One Bowl whatever"? This cake is "Four Bowl Cake". Four. Bowls. And one pan. As someone who loathes doing dishes, this was not ideal. Although I was happy that I didn't have to lug my big heavy KitchenAid from under the counter. This cake was very simple to put together. See the recipe on Tammy's site since she is the master mind behind choosing this fantastic recipe!

The caramel topping was time consuming but again, not difficult at all. I think I overcooked it a bit but it still tasted amazing. I have the world's pickiest husband who did not want peanuts on his so I did just half with peanuts. That was tricky since the cake fell so much in the middle. I think I may have undercooked it but when my timer beeped, the oven turned itself off so I couldn't add more time because the temperature had gotten too low. It certainly didn't affect the taste though. The cake was moist and delicious and the caramel was rich and creamy and the peanuts gave it a little saltyness and crunch. A perfect combination. Tastes best with a glass of cold milk!

Apple Spice Cupcakes w/ White Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing!

Wow is all I can say about these cupcakes. So wow infact, that I have no photo. They went too fast. Everyone loved them from my hubby to my 2 year old. The 2 year old wouldn't even wait for me to take off the paper, she was willing to eat that they were so good! The perfect start to the fall season. These cupcakes were moist, light, a wee bit spicy, and just delicous!

For the cupcake, I used my go-to vanilla cupcake recipe that is Amy Sedaris':

1½ sticks of unsalted butter
1¾ cups of sugar beat well
Add 2 large eggs beat in one at a time
2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla beat again
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk
Then I added 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, mixed it all up and then folded in one diced Fiji apple. Fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. You should get 24. I made 12 regular and 24 mini cupcakes.

For the icing, I had made a huge batch of white chocolate cream cheese icing for some strawberry cupcakes that are a best seller at the coffee shop. So I just took the leftovers and added cinnamon to taste, about a tsp. or so.

The pieces of apple in these cupcakes keep them so moist and give little pops of flavor that have you begging for more. I had to hide them from my daughters. I can't wait to hear how they sold at Get Coffee.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie - Tea infused Creme Brulee!

OMG, this was sooooooo good. I stressed myself out a bit about it was it was completely worth it for the end result. Thanks to Mari (you can find the recipe on her site) for chosing this week's recipe. It was a lot of fun to make and gave a surprising amount of room for creativity. I infused mine with some Mate Vana tea my sister Erin gave me for Christmas. It gave it a wonderful flavor. Both Chuck and I had a blast (literally!) with the blow torch. I did the first one for my daughter who was home sick and she thought it was the coolest thing ever! Dorie gives several ways to spice this dessert up and I can't wait to try them all!

Tea leaves seeping in milk. The recipe said to line a strainer with cheesecloth which I did not have so I used a coffee filter to strain the milk. Worked perfect.

Frothy custard. Dorie instructs you to "rap the bowl on the counter" to settle the bubbles but no amount of rapping could eliminate the bubbles for me. I guess I whisked too quickly?

Fire! I lucked out and found a Creme Brulee set at Linen's & Things for $15, blow torch and all. Hooray for businesses going down the crapper and having awesome sales.

Yummy, crunchy, creamy creme brulee!
Layla approved!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes 2 Ways

A few weeks ago I made some toffee topped chocolate cupcakes for Get Coffee. Apparenlty they did pretty well so they requested more. I decided to do half the batch of chocolate cakes with the toffee chips and half with a little minty surprise inside. I put a Three Musketeers Mint Mini in each one. Wow! Baking the candy made them kind of chewy which made for a delicious little treat. I topped the toffee cakes with "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting recipe from the back of the Hershey's Cocoa Powder box. The minty cakes I topped with some Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I can't wait to see how these sell because I loved them both.

For the cupcakes I used the Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcake recipe from Dorie Greenspan's
Baking: From My Home to Yours: (this is the original recipe, I doubled it to be able to make a pan of mini cupcakes also)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa pwdr
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted & cooled

Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking pwdr, baking soda, and salt.
Use the paddle attachment on your mixer and beat the butter at med. speed until soft & creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until is is bledned into the butter. Add the egg, then the yolk, beating for 1 min after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then reduce mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear. Add the buttermilk, mixing until incorporated, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Add the melted chocolate and mix it in with a rubber spatula. Bake cupcakes for 22-25 minutes.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting:

1 stick butter
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa pwdr
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency. Add more milk if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla flavor
1/4 tsp pepermint flavor (more if you like it strong, do 1/4 tsp. at a time b/c peppermint is sta-rong!)
Put egg whites and sugar in a double boiler over simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (easiest way is to get some on your finger and see if you can still feel the sugar granules. Pour heated egg mixture into a clean bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes (It's very important to beat it for the whole 6 minutes). Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears soupy or separated after all butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in extracts. Reduce speed to low; beat 2 minutes to eliminate air bubbles. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Dimply Plum Cake

I wasn't feeling the plums while shopping. I regret that. I chose white peaches instead and they were not nearly as soft and juicy as I had hoped. I don't know if that was the choice of peaches or if they weren't completely ripe yet. Chuck thought they weren't ripe enough but since I've never had white peaches, I had no way of knowing. It still turned out well enough, just not fabulous. I prefer fabulous when it comes to baking. I do love how the fruit gives the cake a very moist texture around each piece.

I substituted nutmeg for the cardamon to get a more cobbler taste. That was a good decision and it was a very nice, spicy cake. Next time I'm using yellow peaches. Chuck suggested cherries also. Since I made this at night, we topped it with some vanilla ice cream & caramel sauce. Yummo!

Thanks to Michelle for chosing this week's recipe. It's definitely one to play around with, I may even brave the plums one day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie - Chocolate Chunkers

There is no better title for these babies. With only 1/3 cup of flour, they are almost entirely chocolate. The batter is melted chocolate and cocoa powder and there two different types of chocolate chunks throughout the cookie. The recipe called for raisins but when I discussed this with my husband he said "why don't you just put some a** in it too." With all the comments from other bakers of the turd-like appearance of the cookies, he wasn't very far off. We also left out the nuts, mostly because we just weren't in the mood for nuts. So we have chocolate chocolate chocolate chocolate cookies and they are good! It doesn't hurt that I'm a total chocoholic! They are better the 2nd day, after refrigeration. Very rich and chewy. Delish!

This week's recipe was chosen by Claudia. As much as I enjoyed these cookies and the Whopper ones, and the granola ones from several weeks ago (which I did make but did not post for some reason), I am ready to move on to a different type of baked good. I'm looking forward to next week's Dimply Plum Cake.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Coconut Key Lime Cupcakes

These were fantastic! I didn't want to sell them but my Avon deadline is quickly approaching so I've gotta bake bake bake to get that money in! I adapted this recipe from Cupcakes! By the Cupcake Doctor. She uses cake mixes in her recipes and I prefer from scratch so for the cupcake, I used Amy Sedaris' vanilla cupcake recipe:

Amy Sedaris' Vanilla Cupcakes
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups of sugar
Beat well, then add:
Add 2 large eggs
2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla (I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp coconut flavoring)
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk
I also added in the zest and juice of one lime to the batter, next time I will do two limes for more flavor.
Beat well, fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. You should get 24. I made 12 regular and 24 mini cupcakes.

For the filling, I mixed one can of sweetened condensed milk with 3/4 cup key lime juice, 2 drops of green and one drop of yellow food coloring. Once the cupcakes were cooled, I used a piping bag to fill each one with the key lime filling.
For the icing, I made coconut swiss meringue buttercream:
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
2 teaspoons coconut flavor

Put egg whites and sugar into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm (about 160 degrees). Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low, add butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add coconut flavor and continue beating 2 minutes to eliminate air bubbles.

After icing, I topped them with more lime zest! Sublime on a hot day!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops

Yes, I'm well aware that it's Friday. I'm off to an inauspicious beginning here with this project. I actually baked these on Sunday but then my camera died and I have a whole series of excuses to go with that but I won't bore you with them.
This week's recipe was Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops or Chocolate cookies loaded with more chocolate and candy! In Dorie's cookbook she describes these cookies as something Willy Wonka would make. I have to agree. They were sweet and gooey and much better on day 2. Fresh out of the oven, they were a little cakey.

I had some toffee chips left over from a batch of cupcakes so I did half of the batter with the Whopper candy and half with the Heath Bar chips. I have to say, the toffee chips faired better. When baking chopped up Whoppers, the candy melts and then becomes very chewy and a bit tough.
Also, we had some Breyer's Heath Bar ice cream and intended to make some delectable sundaes with the cookies but they didn't last that long. It wasn't my favorite cookie recipe but you'd never know it by how fast they were gone!

Thanks to Rachel who chose this week's challenge. The recipe is posted on her blog here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Everyone loves S'mores!

As I showed below, I am now getting special requests for my cupcakes and that is the biggest boost to my ego! I won't lie.
Luckily I had a half day at the office yesterday so I had time to whip up the two different types of cake requested. Even so, I was still up until 10pm baking but I did take a break to fix some bad ass hamburgers for dinner. I even skipped Project Runway to get this stuff done so I hope they're appreciative! (don't tell them I have a DVR and can watch it today)

Look at that lovely. It tastes as good as it looks too. One day I will find a light and fluffy marshmallow icing recipe but this is the 2nd one I've tried and it turned out the same as the first - a bit runny and VERY sticky.

For the Cupcake:
I had some sweet German Chocolate in the pantry and just used the recipe for Sweet Chocolate Cake inside the box. You want to talk about light and fluffy, this cake batter is it! I could eat it out of a bowl it is so delicious!

1 pkg Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup water
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine (I always use real butter)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs separated
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk, put 1 Tbl. white vinegar in the milk and let sit for about 5 min. I had to do that and it turned out just fine!)

Preheat oven to 350F. Microwave chocolate and water in microwavable bowl on High for 1-2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after each minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. (I sifted mine b/c I get great satisfaction from sifting ingredients into a nice, neat pile.) Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electri cmixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in chocolate mixtures and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well belnded after each addition.

Beat egg whites in a separate bowl with electrix mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently sir into batter.

Pour into cucpakes pans (an ice cream scoop works perfectly) and bake for 20 min. (Note: b/c these were S'more cupcakes, I put a bit of crushed graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of each cupacke liner)

For the icing, I used Paula Deen's Marshmallow Icing recipe:

2 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 Tbl. cold water
2 Tbl. light corn syrup
1 cup mini marshmallows

Cook egg whites, sugar, water, and corn syrup over a double boiler and beat for 5 minutes. (this too me WAY longer than 5 min - close to 10). Stir in marshmallows until melted.

I then beat the crap out of that icing with my hand mixer for another 10 minutes to cool it down and try to stiffen it up. Of course with only 2 egg whites in it, there wasn't much stiffening to be done.

I will never work with marshmallow icing in a piping bag again. It is a sticky mess and no matter how tightly I held that bag, it was more than determined to sneak up and out and all over my hand. I used the filling tip and filled the cup cakes with the marshmallow mixture and then filled in the top of the cupcake. It helped that mine were a litte undercooked and therefore sunka bit in the middle creating the perfect marshmallow bowl! I then sprinkled some graham cracker crumbs on top and added a square of Hershey's chocolate and Viola! S'more cupcakes!

Happy Birthday Couture Girl!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

To the Kitchen and pronto!

So last week I was in a CPR training class for three days and at the end of each day had to pick up my girls and do all the motherly duties of course and was in no mood for baking cupcakes. Little did I know that my public demands them! Today I received this e-mail:

Hi. I have a special cupcake request. First I was wondering if you could make cupcakes for the shop. I am getting lots of requests for them especially the strawberry and the caramel. I do have one very special request for this Thursday. There is a young lady that works at Winnie Couture up the street from the shop and she lovvvvess your cupcakes especially the strawberry. Her birthday is coming up and her staff has asked if I could order some for her. Would you be able to make the following and deliver this Thursday?:
3 strawberry (along with a batch for the shop if you could)
3 s’mores

Oh Lordy. She hasn't replied back yet but I really hope she means 3 cupcakes and not 3 dozen or else I'm in trouble! LOL

So I need to thank Cassie of How To Eat A Cupcake once again for introducing me to the most popular cupcakes I have made so far. They are selling like mad and in doing so making lots of money for my Avon Walk for Breast Cancer! So HOORAY for caramel!!

Stay tuned for my next post on the S'more cupcakes! The only good thing about my CPR class is that it gave me some comp time so I'm off of work early tomorrow to bake bake bake!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The best cupcake you will ever eat!

This is my absolute favorite cupcake ever! And that is saying a lot coming from a complete chocoholic since this cake has zero chocolate in it. I must use what little creativity I have to alter this recipe for other flavors because it is perfectly moist and spongy. What I'm talking about is the Caramel Cupcake and Thank You Cassie for introducing us to it! (I hope you clicked on that link because her site is totally adorable!) The only change I made was not making them salted.
Folks, let me tell you, Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a very intimidating icing. I recognize that. But it is worth every ounce of work that goes into it. And once you get into the habit of making it often, it's really easy. Everyone who has tried these has told me that it is the best icing they have ever tasted!

For those of you who are all, we don't need no stinking links, here is the recipe which I stole borrowed from Cassie who got it from one of her cookbooks in her ever growing collection of which I am a teensy bit jealous.

MAKES 12 CUPCAKES (I actually got 12 cupcakes and 16 mini cupcakes out of this)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk


Caramel Drizzle
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
Pinch salt

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature (I only used 1 1/2 sticks butter)

For the cupcakes:Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugars and butter together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk in 2 additions, beating on low speed until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20-22 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour.
For the frosting:In a heavy-bottomed, high-sided saucepan, cook the sugar over medium-high heat until it begins to melt around the edges, about 5 minutes. Stirring with a clean wooden spoon, continue to cook until the sugar is melted and has turned golden amber, about 3 minutes longer. Carefully pour the cream down the side of the pan in a slow, steady stream (it will bubble and spatter), stirring constantly until completely smooth. Stir in the salt. Pour the caramel into a small heatproof bowl and let cool completely before using. (The caramel can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week; bring to room temperature before using.) In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160°F on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 minutes (It always takes about 5 minutes for me). Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature, and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more. Add the caramel drizzle (I only added about 1/2 cup) and beat until combined (or almost combined for a swirling effect), scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Frost the cupcakes with the buttercream. (The frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days - if they last that long; bring to room temperature before finishing.) Top each cupcake with a caramel candy, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt (which I omitted), and serve. I topped each cupcake with leftover caramel that I put into a plastic sandwich bag and snipped a very small corner off to "pipe" the caramel in pretty spirals. So good!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brownie Buttons, getting ready for Dorie

Yesterday I signed up for Tuesdays With Dorie, a blog roll of bakers working their way through Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. All the recipes in this book look amazing and since I didn't really know where to start, I decided to let my fellow bloggers guide me and see what I could come up with. But since I joined on a Tuesday I have to wait until next week to do the first challenge. So for practice I chose my own goody to start with. It seemed only natural to crave brownies while watching completely svelt swimmers and divers performing for the world so that's what I decided to make. After perusing several of Dorie's brownie recipes I found one that I had all the ingredients for and only took 15 minutes to bake.

Brownie Buttons:

Grated zest of 1/2 orange (optional, I opted out)
1 tsp sugar (optional, again, not me)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbl all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tbl) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used semi-sweet, same difference, right?)
1/3 cup light brown sugar (I used brown sugar Splenda)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

For the glaze:
2 oz. white chocolate

Preheat oven to 350. If you're using orange zest, combine the zest and sugar in a small bowl, rubbing them between your fingertips to blend; set aside. Whisk together the flour & salt.

Melt butter, chocolate, and brown sugar in a meduim heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low hear, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so nothing overheats or burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from heat and cool for a minute or two.

Sir the vanilla, egg, and the zest, if you're using it, into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. You should have asmooth, glossy batter.

Spoon the batter into 16 buttered mini muffin cups, using about a teaspoon of batter to fill each cup three-quarters full. Put 1 tsp of water in each empty cup.

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the tops fo th button spring back when touched. Cool for 3 minutes and then transfer out of the pan to a wire rack to cool fully.

OptionalGlaze (these were awesome w/out it by the way, I have no patience for glaze)
Melt chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over a saucepan of water. Stir constantly adn don't leave chocolate unatended as white chocolate scorches very easily.

One by one, dip the tops of the buttons into the chocolate, twirling the buttons so that you get a little swirl at the centrer of each one and excess choc. drips backintot eh bowl. Refridgerate for 15 minutes to set teh glaze (ha!) I must note that it is important to let the brownies cool completely before dipping in the glaze. My impatience led to big pieces of brownie tops getting stuck in the glaze but that just meant that I needed to take a big spoonful out and eat it so I was ok with that.

Since my hubby is not so much a white chocolate fan as a peanut butter & chocolate fan, I melted 1/4 cup peanut butter chips and 1/8 cup chocolate chips together in the microwave and glazed them with that. They were awesome, perfect little brownie bites. Very moist with a rich chocolate flavor. Chuck loved them too. I made 18 last night and there are only 4 left this morning.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Double the fun - Tiramisu and Strawberry Cupcakes

Big event at Get Coffee this weekend with live music. Extra cupcakes were requested. I wanted to make three but time kept me to just two. I thought I'd give the adults a treat with some alcohol soaked Tiramisu Cupcakes and my previous Strawberry Cupcakes did very well so I did a reprise of those.

Both came out really well and the leftovers were taken to my father-in-law's bday party. The Stawberry ones were gone firts - the kiddos took care of that. I think I ate more of the Tiramisu that anyone else but I didn't care. They were amazing! Definitely a repeater! Bonus is the Kahlua White Russians I bought to soak them is one of my favorite drinks so I had some fun while I baked.I found the Tiramisu Cupcake recipe at Wycked Sweets. I only made a few changes including using the Kahlua White Russian mixed drink instead of vanilla liquor and brandy. I only used 1Tbs of syrup over each cake and for the minis, just 1 tsp. I felt they would be impossible to handle if I used more. As it was, they got pretty soggy so I told the coffee shop to display them in the courier I delivered them in so they wouldn't fall apart! Then she had the brilliant idea of serving them in short, fat wine glasses! Cute, right? I thought so. If you make these, be very careful not to overfill. I used generous scoops with an ice cream scooper and they overflowed a bit. A little extra icing covered it up but I'm a bit of a perfectionist w/ my baking so I wasn't happy about the mistake. The mini's came out perfect. See them soaking up the delicious syrup:
Insides filled with syrup and marscapone icing! YUMMO! I topped each one with a chocolate covered coffee bean.For the Strawberry cakes I used Dorie Greenspan's recipe for the Pefect Party Cake with a few additions. Here is the recipe:

2 1/4 cups cake flour (I used all purpose flour and they came out just fine)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt1
¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I used buttermilk)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (I omitted this)
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract ( I substituted vanilla extract)
Also I added a package of strawberry JELLO to give it that pretty pink color and a cup of diced strawberries.

Sift together the flour,JELLO, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant (omit this step and just put sugar and butter into mixing bowl). Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Pour batter into baking pans. Bake for 20-22 minutes (minis for 12), or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.

I topped these goodies off with some White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing:

8 oz. cream cheese
4oz. softened unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
6 oz. melted white chocolate

Whip cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add sugar 1c. at a time until well blended. Add melted and cooled chocolate and beat until it's a good consistency. Add more sugar if you need to.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Brewed Chocolate - Review Part 2

Ok, tried it this time with some milk. About 1/4 cup added to a full cup of hot water and 2 tsp. of the Brewed Chocolate. Much better! It definitely gave the chocolate a more defined flavor which I'm still trying to decide how exactly to define. It's a whole new way to experience chocolate. It's very mellow. I can't tell if it's the time (10:30pm) or the drink but I am feeling nice and relaxed and sleepy. It goes very well with Caribou Coffee Chocolate Mocha Granola Bars.

Next up - baking with Brewed Chocolate. Stay tuned.......

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brewed Chocolate - my review Part 1

One of my must read cupcakes blogs is Cupcake Project. Stef has perhaps the most unique cupcakes I've seen such as BBQ Cupcakes w/ Corn Cream Cheese icing. She's kind of my cupcake hero. Very recently, she has started a new site where she interviews food business owners, creators, chefs, bakers, etc. This is where I discovered Brewed Chocolate. What a concept! There's a whole new way to ingest the most perfect food! And as luck would have it, I won a jar of my very own. Thanks again Stef!!
Ok, so in this Part 1 review, I made the brewed chocolate as directed - add 1 tsp chocolate to 4 oz. hot water. If you can imagine what chocolate tea would taste like, this is it. It's a very light flavor, not your typical chocolate richness, but in the middle of summer, it's perfect. It was very similar to tea that hadn't been steeped long enough, like it need something a bit more. So perhaps next time I will add an extra 1/2 tsp. of the syrup. Then I got to thinking, well I love cream in my tea so maybe this would be better and more flavorful with some cream or milk. So stayed tuned for Part 2 for that result. Once I've gotten a feel for the taste of it, it's on to putting it into my cupcakes!

The way to a man's heart (finally a new post!)

It's been over a month. I've been baking. Lord knows, I've been baking. Just so tired from the baking, parenting, working, beaching, and blogging that I've neglected my poor baking site. So to the 2 people who actualy read this, I apologize.

So a couple of weeks ago I made chocolate cupcakes with Reese's peanut butter cream cheese icing. It was very nostalgic to make something with Reese's because I contribute my husband's proposal to said brand. Well, it played a big part anyway. He was in school in Texas and I sent him a package for Halloween including a big bag of miniture Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. We were actually broken up at the time but "still friends" whatever that meant. He told me when he opened that package, he knew he was loved. One month later, he came home for Thanksgiving, told me he loved me, and the very next day, asked me to marry him. Talk about getting back together! So these cupcakes are dedicated to Chuck, the best thing that's ever happened to me.

I got the recipe for the cupcakes from Couture Cupcakes. She totes it as the "Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe" I beg to differ. It was a little dry for my taste. The chocolate taste was divine but I'm a big fan of the moist cake. The first step is to melt unsweetened chocolate and cocoa powder in a bowl with some boiling water. This makes the most tempting bowl of chocolate which I kept forgetting was unsweetened so everytime I went to lick some off my fingers, I had to run for my Diet Coke.

For the icing, I just melted one cup of Reese's Peanut Butter Chips and added it to a basic cream cheese recipe which is as follows:
8oz. cream cheese (room temp)
4oz. unsalted butter (room temp)
Beat these two together until smooth. Then add powdered sugar, one cup at a time until you reach the desired sweetness, beating after each cup. Then I mixed in the peanut butter chips and got a beautiful, creamy peanut butter icing. I topped it all off with some mini chocolate chips just for fun! The leftovers went to work with Chuck and I heard they did not last very long.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Triple threat

Whew! I stressed myself out a bit last night. It's Get Coffee's Grand Opening this weekend and I am going camping! So when she asked for three different kinds of cupcakes for her big day, I was under the gun to get them knocked out before I leave this afternoon. On Wednesday, I made orange cupcakes using Amy Sedaris' vanilla cupcake recipe but substituting one teaspoon of orange extract for vanilla and adding a package of vanilla pudding and a drained can of mandarine oranges. It was late at night when I made them so my only reviewers were myself and I think they are amazing and Chuck who said "I don't like Dreamcicles but if I did, I would like these because they taste just like them." So basically, mission accomplished! Put those bad boys in the freezer to stay fresh for Ms. Durenda.

Last night we met up with my wonderful MIL who was in town from Texas and had a bunch of stuff to lend us for our camping trip! So we didn't get home until 9pm and I still had two types of cupcakes left to bake! I made the lemon cupcakes since I still had some Swiss Meringue icing left from the last batch and then whipped up some chocolate malted cupcakes, again using Amy's vanilla recipe but adding a package of chocolate pudding and a cup of sour cream just for fun!

While those baked, I did a batch of Swiss Meringe Buttercream and split it in half. It was kind of goopy - I don't think I whipped the eggs & sugar long enough or my butter was too soft or a combination of bost. But it was tolerable and it was too late at night to try again. To one half I added vanilla extract and to the other half, some vanilla and some orange extract and food coloring. Then I realized I had only small pastry bags left so struggled to keep the two separated to make some cool Dreamcicle-like icing on top. I didn't do too badly really and after some time in the fridge, they set nicely.

Got up way early this morning to make my chocolate malted buttercream and iced the chocolate and the lemon cupcakes before getting the girls up and ready for the day. WHEW! I am exhausted and we're supposed to leave for the campsite at 5:00 today! Did I mention that we haven't packed yet? Pray for me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Worth it! Lemon Meringue cupcakes

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) is the scariest frosting I have ever made in my life. I had nightmares about it all last night knowing I had to get up early to make it this morning. It's the only icing recipe I've seen that comes w/ a warning that says "it will look like crap, but it'll come together eventually. You ARE doing it right." Really? Am I? Because I'm not sure. I watched two videos on the subject before tackling it just to be 100% certain I could handle it. Let me tell you, it was worth every ounce of stress. It is delicious and light, perfect on a hot summer day.

About a month ago I bought several Frey chocolate bars at my local Super Target. In that bunch was a bar called White Lemon & Lime.
I've been dying to make a lemon lime cupcake but my DH is not a fan of the citrus flavored desserts. So now that I have this Get Coffee gig, I can make whatever I want and he won't get upset b/c he's not eating them anyway. So there.

It's hot as hell outside so I wanted a light and fluffy cake and icing. I decided to try the SMBC even though I was scared. I went to myfavorite cupcake site for inspiration, guidance, and most importantly, the recipe. She did not let me down and I managed to make a perfect bowl of Lemon & Lime SMBC! I followed the recipe for Chocolate SMBC, used my White Lemon & Lime bar instead of chocolate, and left out the vanilla.

For my light lemon cake, I used this fabulous recipe. It only made a dozen cupcakes and the icing recipe makes a lot of icing so you'll definitely want to double this:

1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbl butter
2 eggs
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbl buttermilk
1/4 cup lemon juice

Beat butter & sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. Alternately stir in dry ingredients (I sifted them all together first) with the milk. Mix until combined. Stir in lemon juice. Bake at 350 for 15-18 min.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My labor of love

Emphasis on labor. I've been baking like a mad woman and I'm sorry to say, don't have a lot of photographs to show for it b/c I get them out the door just about as soon as I'm done. Today's photos were taken in my car on the way to Get Coffee. Yep, that's how good a time manager I am!

The Taste of Chamblee was awesome! We had thousands of people there and I heard nothing but rave reviews of the event. I never had time to check but I was told that my cupcakes were a hit. I decided on 2 kinds of mini cakes for samples - Banana Muffins w/ Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting and Bailey's cupcakes with Mint Chocolate Buttercream frosting. Earlier this week I made some Strawberry & Cream cupcakes w/ Vanilla Cream Cheese frosting.

Yesterday I made these babies:

A reprise of the Chocolate Malted Cupcakes. I modified the icing a bit from the original recipe and it came out much tastier I think. Recipe is as follows:

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes:

1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1 3oz package instant chocolate pudding

Blend butter until smooth, add sugar and mix well. Add all other ingredients and mix until smooth (it helps to sift the flour & pudding mix together, otherwise the pudding forms lumps.) I've found the best way to fill the cupcake pans is w/ an icecream scoop - the kind w/ the flip handle to push out the batter. It's awesome! (thank you http://howtoeatacupcake.blogspot.com/)

For the icing - blend one stick of room temperatur butter with 3 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 5 Tbl malted milk powder and I added 2 Tbl cocoa powder to cut back on the sweetness. Mix well and ice your cakes!

If you want to sample any of my delicious cupcakes, remember you can find them at Get Coffee on 5336 Peachtree Rd. in Chamblee!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hooked on Cupcakes worked for me!

Today I am officially a commercial baker! I make an innocent comment about how I put my leftover cinnamon cream cheese icing on cinnamon rolls and bam! I'm selling cupcakes at the new local coffee joint! Get Coffee will now feature cupcakes by Lovely Baker! And until October (much to the dismay of my husband), I am donating the money made from my mad baking skillz to my Avon Walk.
If you're in the Chamblee area this weekend, stop by our Taste of Chamblee event to sample my goodies at the Get Coffee tent! I will be featuring the very cinnamon cream cheese icing that got me into all this topping the famous Campbell banana bread recipe! This is a very secret recipe and will not be featured on this or any other blog. I was only able to procure it from my mom a couple years ago when I stole it out of her recipe box and copied it into a notebook! Can't make it to the Taste? Well stop by Get Coffee and get cupcakes!German Chocolate Cupcakes (recipe to follow)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Red, White, and Blueberry

Today is my daughter's very first swim meet! They have a theme for each meet and today it is Red, White, and Blue. I'm playing the role of the supportive parent and baked mini cupcakes to sell at the concession stand. Well, the cheese side of me just HAD to go with the theme so I made RED velvet cupcakes with WHITE chocolate BLUEberry cream cheese icing. I topped each one with a fresh blueberry and let me tell you, that little blueberry bursts in your mouth at precisely the right moment!

I used Paula Deen's Red Velvet Cake recipe and I have to say it's pretty darn tasty.

And look how pretty they are!

I used 3 bars of Frey Supreme White Blueberry candy found at Target for the icing. Here's the recipe.

Melt White Chocolate in the microwave.
Whip 8oz cream cheese with 4 tablespoons of butter. Blend in chocolate. Stir in 3 - 3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and then wisk until you reach a good icing texture.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!