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.......