Archive for the ‘Cakes / Cupcakes’ Category

Too much candy… just the right amount of Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

November 2, 2010

Post party we had quite a bit of candy left over. I brought it in to work to get rid of it. Unfortunately all my co-workers had the same idea. I’ve spent the last two days swimming in Nerds and M&Ms. It’s becoming a problem. I think I’m due for a dentist appointment too. Shudders.

The PARTY was funnn. Thanks to everyone who stopped by. I think you had a good time, yes? At some point in the night I lost possession of my camera. I found things like this on it:

The next morning?

Poor skeleton. Partied out. For political reasons, I cannot show you the rest of the party pics. But maybe just one of the whoopie pies I made.  They were yummy.  Whoopie Pies are popular now, popping up at bakeries everywhere.  I like how portable and individual they are–way less mess than cutting a full cake, even easier than a cupcake.  And because it’s fall, and because I’m obsessed with all things pumpkin and maple, here’s another pumpkin and maple recipe…

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Adapted from Bon Appétit

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
6 Tablespoons butter (3/4 stick), at room temp
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk

1 cup butter (two sticks), at room temp
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 (7.5 oz) jar of marshmallow filling or fluff
3-5 teaspoons maple syrup, to taste
salt, to taste

For the cakes:
Preheat oven to 350° F

Sift together the first eight ingredients into a medium bowl. Set aside. Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Gradually add in oil, then the eggs, one by one. Beat in pumpkin. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the addition of the milk. Finish by beating in the the last half of the flour until just combined.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon desired amount of batter onto your pan. I used about 2 tablespoons per whoopie pie “half”, and spaced them about 3” apart on the pan. Bake 15-18 minutes until edges are just slightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Watch these because the bottoms will burn! Carefully remove the cakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting:
With a hand or stand mixer, whip together the butter and powder sugar. Add marshmallow filling and a dash of salt. Gradually add maple syrup to taste. I loaded up on the maple syrup and added another dash of salt to cut the sweetness.

Spoon 1-2 Tablespoons on the center of the flat side (pan side) of a cooled whoopie pie cake. Grab another cake and gently press together. Enjoy!

This recipe made about 24 assembled pies.

Advertisements

Miniature Evil

October 17, 2010

Today was my sister’s bachelorette spa party. The wedding is just a few weeks away now! Like my nails?  We had a blast at Juko Nail & Skin Rescue in Wicker Park. I highly highly recommend Juko for all your mani/pedi needs. The owner Oksha and her staff were so accommodating and so so nice.  We all felt pampered.

Annnnnddd I baked mini pumpkin cupcakes with maple cinnamon cream cheese frosting for the party.  Long description.  Tiny cakes. So good. Very Dangerous.  Someone come over and eat the three dozen leftover.  Yikes.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting


adapted from here and here.  Recipe makes about 60 mini cupcakes.

2/3 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground gloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin

1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
2-3 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons maple syrup
1+ teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt

For Cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prep mini cupcake pan with paper liners.

Add vinegar to milk and set aside.

Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a medium bowl and set aside.

With a stand or electric hand mixer beat together the milk, butter, sugars, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture until smooth and well combined.

Fill mini cupcake pan with batter and bake 12-14 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

For Frosting:

Beat together butter and cream cheese until whipped and well combined.  Gradually add two cups powder sugar.  Beat in maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon.  Add more sugar or cinnamon to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Frost cooled cupcakes and serve!  Be sure to refrigerate the leftovers.

The Shower

September 25, 2010

My sister Michel’s wedding shower was last Sunday, and it was a success! We had a lot going on, but everything came together, no one was hurt, and we all made it to work on Monday morning mostly unscathed.

My Dad grilled chicken. My Ma & I made this barley salad recipe. We made a lot of this recipe. We should have made more, but I don’t think we had a big enough pot. It was so hearty and tasty.

My aunts and cousins made salads and appetizers and pretty jello molds.

My grandmother made a billion cookies. By the time we were cleaning up my Aunt’s place post-party, they were all gone. She’s a pretty great baker.

We made chocolate caramel cupcakes. A bit of a frosting mishap, but still super good.

I made nectarine sorbet and served it with a drizzle of red wine and strawberries.

Too much food!

I wish I took more pictures.

But it was busy!

Anyway, if you have cute pics from Michel’s big day, please email them my way. And… here’s the cupcake recipe…

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes


from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

makes 20 cupcakes

3 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (half cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup milk, room temperature

1 stick (half cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar
sea salt for garnish

For the cupcakes:

Preheat your oven to 350° F and prep your cupcake tins with paper liners.

On low power nuke the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  Stop the microwave to stir every thirty seconds until chocolate is smooth and melted.  Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Using a hand mixer, cream 1 stick of butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla and eggs, then the cooled chocolate.

Add the flour mixture to the batter in four parts, alternating with the addition of the milk.  Beat until just combined.

Pour batter into cupcake pans.  Bake 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.

For the frosting:

In a heavy-bottomed 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in brown sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Reduce heat to low but maintain boil for 2 minutes and continue to stir the caramel.

Carefully add 1/2 cup of the milk to the caramel.  Return to a boil, and then remove from heat.  Cool for 30 minutes until caramel is lukewarm.

Transfer cooled caramel to a mixing bowl.  With a hand mixer, gradually incorporate the powdered sugar and milk.  Beat 3-4 minutes.  Chill frosting in fridge until ready to frost cupcakes, at least 1-2 hours.

Whip frosting with mixer to a spreadable consistency.  Add sugar or milk if necessary.  Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with sea salt.

Mascarpone Love

September 7, 2010

While very common, tiramisu is not “old school” Italian fare by any means. A quick wiki search shows that the layered dessert is maybe thirty, forty years old max. Which means that when my Gram and I decided to make this, we did not have a family recipe to refer to. Based on everyone’s feedback, I think we managed just fine with Gale Gand’s recipe. It’s ridiculously good. Coffee, whipped cream, chocolate, mascarpone, KAHLUA… I mean how can you go wrong? And the best part is, you don’t even have to turn on your oven. Just get you hand/stand mixers ready. Make this for people you really REALLY like.
Tiramisu
Recipe barely adapted from Gale Gand’s for the Food Network. WARNING, this recipe uses RAW eggs, and lots of ’em. You MUST splurge on the pasteurized, salmonella-free eggs at your grocery store. No poisoning people, K?  Also, the gelatin won’t add any flavor to the tiramisu, but it will help your mousse set, so don’t skip it!

7 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin powder
4 1/2 Tablespoons water
3 egg whites
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 1/4 cup, cooled espresso or strongly brewed coffee
1/4 cup Kahlua
20-24 ladyfingers
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2- 3/4 cup dark chocolate shavings

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the egg yolks and one cup of the sugar until color pales and “ribbon stage” is reached.  This is at the point in beating when a spatula drawn through the yolks will leave a trail that lasts a few moments.  Add mascarpone and mix until combined, set aside.

In a small heat-safe bowl combine gelatin and water.  Let sit for 15 minutes.  The gelatin will firm.  Fill a slightly larger, microwave-safe bowl with an inch or two of water.  Heat in microwave until water is boiling, about two minutes.  Remove from microwave, placing smaller bowl with gelatin in larger one, creating a double boiler.  Stir gelatin well.  Gelatin will begin to soften, and then liquefy.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks and then mix in 1/4 cup of sugar.  Slowly add gelatin.  Whip egg whites to stiff, glossy peaks.  Gently fold in whipped cream, and then the egg yolk mixture until combined.  Now you’re ready to assemble your tiramisu.

In a small bowl, combine Kahlua and espresso.  Quickly dip both sides of the ladyfingers into the espresso mixture and arrange in the bottom of an 8″x10″ pan in a single layer.  Ladyfingers should be close to each other, using 10-12 in the first layer.  Cover the ladyfingers with half of the mascarpone mixture.  With a sifter, dust the layer with 1/2 cup of cocoa powder.  Then create a second layer with 10-12 more espresso soaked ladyfingers and the rest of the mascarpone.  Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Chill in the fridge 2-3 hours until the layers have set.

Sooooo good.  Thanks Gram for making it with me!

In Celebration!

August 20, 2010

In celebration of Meagan’s birthday…

Vanilla Caramel Fudge Cupcakes from Sugar Bliss. Yum. It’s their flavor of the week, get there before this Sunday to enjoy! Next week’s flavor? Mint Chocolate Chip. Now you know!

Happy Birthday Meagan! All the best this year. You’re the most wunderest True Blood/sometimes-gym buddy a girl can ask for.

XOXO

The Cupcakes

August 7, 2010

Sooooooooo.

90° Kansas City weather and vanilla rum buttercream just don’t mix. Things get a bit drippy. Melty. Runny. But still delicious. I brought these cupcakes for my bestie Jennie’s bachelorette party in KC. I talked about my super fun/fattening visit in my last entry. Did you read it? You should. I have adorable friends.

Anywho, these cupcakes were transported from house to hotel to restaurant. It was hot, I was worried. For a bit, anyways. Then at some point I forgot about them. I think it had something to do with our tequila-only margaritas at dinner, but I wasn’t complaining. Then Roomie L (who can hold her margaritas by the way), was like, “Cupcakes! Let’s pass them out!” or something. And so she did. And they were pretty dang good. Then I danced like a loon to Prince in 4” heels. Recipe now:

The Lime Rum Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart & a bunch of other recipes. There’s quite a bit of adjusting you can do with instructions below. The coconut is very subtle, so if you’re interested in having more of a Coconut Lime flavor you could toss in some coconut extract or shredded coconut. I loved the recipe as is… I think it’s my new favorite.  Note, the glaze recipe as listed below makes enough for 2 batches or 48 cupcakes. You can save the syrup for up to a month in your fridge though, or feel free to halve the recipe.  The cake recipes makes 24 cupcakes.  I had a little extra batter for a mini cake mold.

The CAKE
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup light coconut milk (not sweetened)
3 teaspoons lime juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons lime zest

The GLAZE
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons spiced rum

The FROSTING
1/2 – 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 – 4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup spiced rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 350° and prep your muffin tins with liners. Stir together the first three ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

With an electric stand or hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until combined and fluffy. Slowly add the vegetable oil, coconut milk, and lime juice.  Add the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in lime zest.

Pour batter into muffin tins and bake in preheated oven 18-20 minutes. Cupcakes will be very lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean when done. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water for the glaze over medium-high heat, until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add the rum. Let the syrup cool completely.

While the cupcakes and glaze are cooling, whip up your buttercream. Start with 1/2 cup butter and add a cup of powdered sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until combined and fluffy. Continue to add powdered sugar, a bit at a time, up to 3 1/2 cups.  Add your rum and vanilla extract. Take a taste. Add rum, powdered sugar, salt or butter until you reach the desired sweetness and consistency. I ended up using 4 full cups of the powdered sugar, but adding an extra dash of salt and an extra Tablespoon or so of butter as it was a bit sweet for me.

Time to assemble the cupcakes.  With a pastry brush, slowly dab on the rum glaze. Allow time for the cake to absorb it as you brush. Frost with your AMAZING buttercream, then zest a lime directly onto the frosted cupcakes. This gives the frosting an additional tang. Enjoy! I love citrus. And I love zesting.

The end.

Lazy, lazy.

September 20, 2009

So it has been awhile since my last post, which I really do feel bad about.  I could list a bajillion reasons why this is so, but really it’s probably because I’m just a bit lazy these days.  And now I’m in Reno!  Yes, beautiful, Reno.  I’ve actually only really seen this…

hotel parking lot.  And the view through a shaded shuttle window on a five minute bus ride from airport to hotel.

Reno is… well.  I don’t really like casinos. And I’m sort of stuck in a one.  When I checked in, they gave me these vouchers for gambling credits which I won’t be using.  And a coupon for a free topping when I buy a scoop of ice cream in the lobby.  A free topping?

I wish I was in Tahoe.

Anyhow, I’m not going to hate on Reno.  Yet.  I’m actually in a pretty good mood.  After work/traveling, I spent the evening eating hotel room service and watching Benny & Joon on Hulu.  And now I’m being “soothed”  by the sound of a Sharper Image radio clock rain setting.  All good things, right?  Right!

Well, maybe I’ll have some good Reno food moments to share, but for now, I NEED to tell you about these banana cupcakes I baked before I left.  They were totally delicious, super moist & the perfect amount of banana-y.  I topped half of the batch with an espresso chocolate buttercream, which seemed to go well.  They were still awesome frost-less, for those who are coffee adverse or would like to pretend these are healthy breakfast muffins.  No judgment.  Ta Da!  Recipes….

Banana Cupcakes with Espresso Frosting


For the cupcakes, a simple but delicious Martha recipe. I got 16 cupcakes easy out of this.  The buttercream recipe is from Pie in the Sky, posted on epicurious.

for cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (equals about 4 medium bananas)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for frosting:

1/2 cup (one stick) butter, at room temp
6 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 Tablespoons instant espresso dissolved in 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk if needed

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a regular-sized muffin tin or use paper liners.

Mix together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda, and salt.  Add melted butter, bananas, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir until just combined, do not overmix.

Pour batter into muffin tray and bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Remove from tray and cool on a wire rack.  Frost with espresso buttercream…

To make the espresso buttercream, beat butter with mixer until fluffy.  Beat in half of your powdered sugar.  Mix-in your remaining ingredients.  Add more powdered sugar, coffee, or milk to reach desired consistency.

Happy Birthday Meagan!

August 21, 2009

And only one day belated! These cupcakes are for you. Can we all pretend that my buttercream is not grainy and these are beautifully decorated–worthy of a Happy Birthday? Please? I promise they’re delicious.

Really, really. I made them yesterday after work and I couldn’t resist the buttercream. My evening turned into frosting for dinner and Gram’s chicken cacciatore for dessert. It was a great evening.

So the Salted Caramel Cupcakes! It only took me a few weeks to get my act together. They actually are vanilla cupcakes with browned butter & salted caramel buttercream. I didn’t want a super dense cake, so I went with the Joy of Baking recipe below. The Caramel Syrup is delicious and adds a bit of depth to the frosting. On half of my batch I soaked my cakes with the syrup as noted. I think I liked them better sans syrup with this cake recipe, but it depends on how sweet or caramely you want your cupcakes. Give ’em a go…

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

part Joy of Baking, part Flo Braker (posted by Shuna fish Lydon)

For Cupcakes:
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

For Syrup:
2 cups granulated white sugar
1/2 cup water, plus 1 cup for “stopping”

For Buttercream:
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
4-6 Tablespoons heavy cream
4 Tablespoons caramel syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Kosher salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 and grease or line a 12 cup muffin tin.

Cupcakes: Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in your eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Beat in vanilla extract.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add half of flour mixture into the creamed butter, then add the milk, and finally add the other half of the flour mixture.  Beat just until well combined.

Pour into the prepared muffin tin.  Bake 18-22 minutes until golden brown.  Mine took closer to 22 minutes to bake.  This recipe makes 12 decent-sized cupcakes.

Syrup:  You can get started on this while your cupcakes are baking.  If you’re not using the syrup to soak your cake, you can half this recipe as you won’t need much for the frosting.  In a medium saucepan combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water.  Cook on high until the syrup is amber in color and you have a lovely, rich, burnt sugar smell happening.  CAREFULLY, ever so carefully, pour 1 cup of water into your caramel syrup.  The mixture will bubble up, so make sure you’re wearing long sleeves and have an emergency bowl of ice water handy in case caramel splatters on your skin.

Have I scared you?

Once the sputtering has stopped a bit, whisk your caramel syrup over medium heat until it has reduced slightly.  Coat a spoon in the syrup and let cool, then test some between your fingers.  Once done it should be slightly sticky.  Remove from heat and cool.

Buttercream:  In a small saucepan, brown butter.  Remove from heat and pour through sieve to remove solids.  Let cool.  Pour browned butter into mixing bowl and gradually beat in your powdered sugar.  When your frosting is looking lumpy, add a bit of your cream or syrup, and continue adding powdered sugar until it’s all incorporated.  Add your vanilla and the desired amount of salt.  I used 1-2 teaspoons.

Assemble:  For a sweeter cupcake you can use the syrup to soak your cake.  Remove the cupcakes from the tin, the paper liners will help hold them together for this part.  While still warm, carefully poke holes with a toothpick or chopstick into the top of your cupcakes.  A lot of them.  Dip a pastry brush in the syrup and slowly paint the top of the cakes, giving it time to absorb the syrup.  Do this a few times to saturate the cake.  Let cool and frost with buttercream.

OR, just cool your cupcakes and frost.

Either way, sprinkle some salt on the top.  Ammmazing!

I kind of already want to bake more, especially since I have some leftover buttercream.  Meagan, can you have another birthday?

First Post!

July 25, 2009

The problem with wanting to start this little food blog is having to write a first entry. I couldn’t decide what deliciousness it would be about. And I worried what people reading it would think. Then I realized that “people” = my mom, roomie & boyfriend…

Hi Guys! Kisses!

So with first time blogging anxiety cured I started dreaming about Salted Caramels. Which has been happening a LOT lately. Especially since I found out about these…

Salted Caramel Cupcake

… the Salted Caramel Cupcakes from Phoebe’s in Lakeview. Seriously yum. The caramel cake was super moist with the perfect amount of sweetness and the buttercream frosting, also caramel, was delicious. Balanced with an occasional crunch of sea salt and I was in bakery heaven. So go to Phoebe’s Cupcakes. And if you don’t live in Chicago, don’t worry! City Tart‘s Quest for the Perfect Salted Caramel Cupcake Recipe is definitely on. Sounds epic, doesn’t it? I’ll keep you posted on all my adventures and ultimate triumph(?) with cake and caramel and fleur de sel, but until then, let’s try candy making…

Fleur de Sel Caramels

adapted from Gourmet

A few things about this recipe. The actual making of the caramels is quite simple, but the cutting and wrapping can be a bit time consuming. If you’re making them in warm or humid weather, you may need to refrigerate them as cooling to firm them up a bit. But it’s all worth it! These caramels are buttery and very rich in taste.

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons fleur de sel
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

Line an 8” x 8” pan with wax paper and lightly grease or oil.

In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, butter, and fleur de sel. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then remove from heat.

In a 3-4 quart saucepan (no smaller!) bring the sugar, corn syrup, and water to boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. At this point, stop stirring, but swirl the pan every once in awhile to decrease crystallization on the sides of the pan.

When the sugar becomes a light caramel color, CAREFULLY pour in the cream mixture. Do it slowly, as the the mixture will bubble up. Stir frequently as the mixture simmers. Monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer, and when the mixture reaches 248° F remove from heat. This took close to 15 minutes for me.

Pour caramel into prepared pan. Cool for two hours or overnight. Sprinkle with a bit more fleur de sel. Remove from pan, and cut into desired sized pieces. Wrap individually in wax paper.

Enjoy!

Now I have to go de-caramelize my dining room table…