Friday, October 28, 2011

Deep Chocolate Cupcake with Raspberry Frosting

I was debating what cupcakes to make for my husband's bowling team (properly named Cupcake Massacre) and was talking with some friends about recipes. I wanted to do something new. I haven't done a new recipe in a while, and the fall/winter season is a great time to add spices to cupcakes and work on different frosting flavors. My friend, PaTrice, suggested a cupcake recipe found here and the frosting recipe found here. After looking through my pantry and the recipes, I had to alter the recipes slightly. The cupcakes came out very complex, but rather tasty (or so I was told). I topped them with my own raspberry frosting and Halloween Peeps for the Halloween season.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Homemade Butter!

Butter. It's one of those magical foods that's tastes so good you can forgive and forget the few extra calories it adds (okay, many - who's counting anyways?). There's nothing simpler, or more pleasing, than a slice of bread with butter spread across it - and let's not forget that cupcakes would be nowhere without butter!

If you can't tell I'm a fan of butter. A big fan. At my house we joke that bread is a "butter delivery system". So how could one possibly improve upon an already pleasing and versatile food like butter? Make it yourself.

While homemade butter might conjure images of bonnets, churns, and Little House on the Prairie, you have nothing to fear. Homemade butter is easier than you could ever imagine!

Butter is made from cream. Ever over whipped your cream for frosting and it turned grainy? Well you were on your way to making butter! You'll get about a 2:1 ratio when making butter. Meaning, 16oz of cream will make about 8oz of butter. (Also said, a pound of cream will make half a pound of butter.)

Now, it should be noted that butter can be whipped up in your food processor or stand mixer, but since I own neither of those, I made mine via shaking.

Things you'll need:
Elbow grease (or a partner or older child you can pawn the labor off on)
A jar with a secure lid (I used a mason jar)
Heavy cream (quantity up to you!)
A strainer or steady hand
A spatula or butter knife

Pour the cream into the jar and secure the lid tightly. This is where elbow grease comes in. You will need to shake the jar vigorously. For a while. Stick in there. This is a great chance to work out your biceps! (Or teach the value of hard work to the person you talked into shaking for you).

The amount of time you need to shake the jar depends on your strength; anywhere from 10-20 minutes. After a few minutes the jar will start to feel dense and heavy. You will no longer be able to feel the cream move from top to bottom. It will almost feel like shaking a solid object; very brick like. Keep shaking.

The next stage you'll reach is whipped cream. Yes, it is possible to stop here and top some strawberries with this deliciousness, but if you're hoping for butter it's important to (say it with me) keep shaking.

After a few more minutes the whipped cream will start to separate and look sort of grainy. The curds will start to separate from the whey (Little Miss Muffet anyone?) and that grainy looking mass will start becoming more identifiable clumps. At this point you should see liquid in the jar as well. This is buttermilk! I personally kept shaking a bit past this point, just to be sure, but it's not necessary.

Place your strainer in the sink (or if you'd like to save the buttermilk for pancakes or the like, place the strainer over a bowl). Open your jar and and pour the entire contents into the strainer. In my case, my handsome boyfriend, who also made butter with me, didn't feel like getting the strainer out and just carefully tilted the lid in a manner that allowed him to pour out the liquid without dumping the butter curds into the sink.

In either case, once the buttermilk is removed from the jar, rinse the butter curds with a small amount of water and drain the water as well. This is to ensure you've removed all liquid. Then using the spatula or butter knife, scoop the butter curds into a container of your choosing. Use the spatula to smooth and press the curds together to create a nice buttery texture.

Note: you can add salt to your butter, but I prefer to leave my butter unsalted. We did try our butter on a piece of bread with a tiny bit of salt sprinkled on top and it was very tasty too!

Tada! Pat yourself on the back and let out a solid "HECK YES!". You've just made butter. Use on or in any product you like!

<3 Tanya!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

My husband absolutely adores pumpkin treats. He can't get enough of the Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes. I was recently asked by one of the bowlers at the league if I would make a dozen Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes. I said yes, of course, and we agreed on a price! I do believe I have my first paying client in Minnesota! 

While shopping for ingredients, my husband eyed a "pre-made, ready-to-go mix" for Pumpkin Spice Cookies. I told him I would make some for him from scratch, and picked up another can of pumpkin. Unfortunately, pumpkin is the only ingredient I do not use fresh. I did a little searching and found the recipe here. I quickly got to work and came out with a beautiful batch of cookies!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 24 large sized cookies

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C butter
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Mix butter, sugar, pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract until completely mixed.
4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated.
5. Use a tablespoon to drop dough onto wax paper on a stone cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
7. Cool on a baking rack until completely cool before frosting.

2 C powdered sugar
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

1.) Mix all ingredients together.
2.) Drizzle over cookies.
3.) Let frosting dry before moving.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Raspberry Swirl Frosting

This was a request from a friend of a friend at the bowling alley. I attempted to make my own jam and it turned out horribly. I ended up using the "jam" in the frosting. I wanted to fill the cupcakes with the homemade jam and also use the jam in the frosting. But everything about this recipe just went horribly wrong. I'm not going to even post the exact information for the jam because I can't quite remember what I did. All I know is I heated up sugar until it was a liquid, then put in the raspberries, wich shocked the sugar into cooling to be rock hard. I continued to heat the mixture and eventually tried to reduce it. When the substance cooled it was verrrrrrry sticky. I used a strainer to get rid of the seeds, and using the back of ladle, I squeezed the mixture through the strainer. What I ended up with was a.) a very messy strainer, and b.) very little jam. The jam was a little thicker than normal jam but tasted amazing. I decided I would just make lemon cupcakes and do a raspberry frosting and lemon frosting swirl. This came out rather well. 

Hamburger Cupcakes

Hamburger Cupcakes.... They are not as you'd expect. It is a vanilla cupcake with a chocolate cupcake in the center with some tastefully colore and arranged frostings.

I used my vanilla cupcake recipe that I've been falling back on recently. I added almond extract to make it taste a bit like a sugar cookie. I baked the cupcakes in a muffin tin WITHOUT wrappers and just use cooking spray on the tin to make sure there was no sticking.

I used my chocolate cupcake recipe found here. Such a great flavor and texture for the "meat" of the cupcake! I baked the cupcakes in a 9x13 pan like you would with brownies. For a dozen hamburger cupcakes, I used one batch of cupcakes.

I used store-bought frosting tubes in yellow, red, and green. I was short on time and did not feel like rushing such an art.

Vanilla Cupcakes:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 12 cupcakes

1 C plus 2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/2 C milk
sesame seeds
12 decorated toothpicks

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners. **** SKIP THIS STEP FOR HAMBURGER CUPCAKES
3. Mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
4. Mix the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, butter, vegetable oil, and milk in a mixing bowl.
5. Add the dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated. A higher speed may be required to make sure there are no clumps. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary.
6. Fill the cupcake liners with batter to about 2/3 full.
7. Bake for 10 minutes.
8. Open the oven and gently sprinkle the sesame seeds on the tops of the cupcakes.
9. Bake for another 8-10 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
10. Let the cupcakes cool completely.

I used a Pampered Chef Mini Measure-All to cut the chocolate cupcakes into "hamburger patties". It worked rather well! I cut the vanilla cupcakes horizontally in the middle to resemble hamburger buns. On the bottom half of the "bun" I squirted yellow, red, and green frosting around the top of the cut cupcake. I did 1/3 circles around, so the frostings touch end to end. If you cover the top of the cut cupcake with frosting, the cupcake will be extremely sweet. Use your instincts and best judgement. Place the "hamburger patty" on top of the frosting, and top it off with the top half of the "bun". Stick a decorated toothpick in the center to hold it all together and give the illusion of hamburger sliders!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes

This recipe is one of my husband's favorites. I made 3 dozen total, so he took some to work and to bowling. Everyone loved them (as usual)! I even had someone say "I don't usually do pumpkin, but I couldn't resist the smell. It was great!" These would be the exact same cupcakes that my husband did a taste-test against the competition and mine came out on top! The recipe can be found here. Just a couple of pictures for you, along with a great photo of the fall colors! Fall with color-changing leaves is new to me. Growing up in Southern California, I had only ever seen fall leaves on TV or in a picture. I must say, the real deal is soooo much more beautiful in person!