Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kenny's 16th Birthday!

This is my sister, Kenny, and I.

This year, my little brother asked me to make his birthday cake.  I was flattered! When asked what kind he wanted he replied "Cheese cake, no wait, red velvet, no, ice cream cake!  Wait, a cake with a layer of each!"  To which I questioned his sanity.  Much discussion later, we came up with the idea for a red velvet cheese cake layered cake.

Red Velvet Cake
(Adapted from the Red Velvet cake Minis Recipe from Sprinkle Bakes)
makes two, thin 8 inch rounds

4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vinegar
1tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp red food coloring
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease, flour, and line with parchment paper in two 8 inch rounds.
Beat the eggs in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes.  Slowly add the oil and sugar.  Add the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and red coloring.  Sift the remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add slowly to the wet ingredients, beating until combined.  Mixture will be runny.
Pour into cake tins and bake until springy to the touch, approx. 25 minutes.

Vanilla Cheesecake
(Adapted from Philadelphia Classic Cheesecake Recipe from Kraft Philadelphia Best-Loved Book)
makes one 8 inch round

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 pkg cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix crumbs, 3 Tbsp sugar and butter; press into the bottom of the pan.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low until just blended.  Pour over crust.

Bake 55 minutes or until center is almost set.  Turn off oven and leave in until center is completely set.  Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.  Store in the fridge.

Chocolate Buttercream
makes about 2 1/2 cups

1/2 cup shortening
1 stick of butter
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa
4 cups powdered sugar
approx. 3 Tbsp milk

Cream the shortening and butter together.  Add in the cocoa and vanilla.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar one cup at a time.  Then add milk until you reach your desired consistency.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Today, time was on my side.  I didn't have anything I needed to go to or attend after school, so I went home and leisurely began making these wonderful cupcakes.  I first saw these on the post from Sprinkle Bakes.  Don't they look glorious?  Well mine turned out like this

Not bad ehh?

So with all this time, I took my time, making sure the butter was softened and the eggs were at room temperature, the only thing that could possibly get in my way was Grey's Anatomy.  By now, you can probably tell that I am obsessed with this show.  It's on every Thursday at 9 on ABC.  So Michelle was coming over, like usual, and I figured I would have plenty of time to finish the buttercream and make the sugar toppings.  Seems reasonable enough, right?  
Because the buttercream calls for you to homemake the caramel before you add it to the butter and sugar.  And the sugar creations on top call for way more sugar and water than the buttercream so when you think  to yourself that "Oh, this won't take long, the caramel for the buttercream didn't," you, my friend, are wrong.  So while I missed the first 20 minutes of the two hour special!!, I did end up with these beautiful cupcakes that disappeared within 22 hours.  I'd say that was time well spent.
So first you make the cupcakes and let them cool.
Then, you cut out the middle and fill with the caramel filling.

Then you make the caramel for the buttercream.

Make sure you let the sugar concoction brown enough because otherwise, your frosting won't look caramel-y at all.
And make sure the cream is heated as well because other wise the sugar will seize up and stick to the spoon and your hand and you will almost ruin the pan if you didn't have powerful dish soap around.  Not that it happened to me...

Then, you make the sugar toppings.

Also, have a bowl of ice water on hand for right after the sugar becomes a deep amber color.

While your waiting for the ginormious pot of sugar-water to boil, 

you can frost your cupcakes!

Look how pretty they turned out!

And then you can make your sugar topping by drizzling it on a parchment covered rolling pin and let dry.

Or drizzle them into small discs.

And then top them! 

Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes
makes approx. 20 cupcakes


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated.  Add vanilla.  Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full.  Bake for about 25 minutes. When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

Salted Caramel Filling:

1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons salted butter cubed
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature

Melt the sugar over medium  high heat in a large pot.  Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. Add the butter and stir it in until melted. Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  

Cut a small round piece out of the tops of each cooled cupcake and pour in 1 teaspoon of caramel.  Replace the cake piece and set cupcakes aside.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick salted butter
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color.  Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth.  Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined.

Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel.  Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes).  Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration.  If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny.  If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. 

Top caramel-filled cupcakes with frosting.

Candied Salted Caramel Rounds

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup water
2-4 tablespoons of large-crystal sugar

Lay out a large piece of parchment on your work surface and spray with cooking oil (such as canola). Fill a large tub (or your sink) partially full of ice water.

Put sugar, salt and cold water in a heavy pan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat and bring syrup to a boil.  Lower heat slightly and swirl the pan once or twice as the syrup caramelizes so it will color evenly; do not stir.  When the caramel is deep amber, plunge the base of the pan into ice water for about 2 seconds to stop further cooking.

Working quickly, dip a spoon in the caramel and let it fall onto the parchment paper in a drizzle.  Move the spoon in a circular motion as the syrup falls from the spoon. Repeat 15 times.  When caramel has hardened (it will still be sticky) sprinkle on the large-crystal sugar.  Remove from paper and adorn cupcakes.


Recipe Courtesy of Sprinkle Bakes Blog.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Coffee-Break Muffins

What do you do when you can't leave your house because your snowed in and your boss told you that you don't have to come in today?  First, you watch the newest Pioneer Woman show, my new favorite show by the way, and then you make some muffins for your co-workers.  That you will see. Tomorrow.  Not today.

I found this recipe in Dorie Greenspan Book, Baking: From my home to yours.  I received this book as a gift from my mom last Christmas and this is the first recipe I've been able to try.  And let me tell you, I'm hooked.

The recipe I found was perfect, because tomorrow morning I had to be up early for work, and we could all use a little extra caffeine.

Coffee-Break Muffins
makes about 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp instant espresso powder ( or 2 pkgs of Starbucks Via)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup strong coffee (cooled)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin.  

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. 

 Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. 

 In a large glass bowl, whisk the coffee, melted butter, egg, and vanilla until well combined. 

 Pour the mixture in the dry ingredients and stir to blend.    

Don't over mix the batter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.  

Cool on a wire rack.


Recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan from her cookbook, Baking: From my home to yours.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cupcakes-SC #10

I had just gotten home from the basketball game, and I was in the mood for something just a little bit chocolate-y.  But the only thing I could find, was chocolate chips!  I flipped through the Scrumptious Cupcakes book and found this recipe.  This is great if you just want a little chocolate, not like triple chocolate cookies or anything.  I added an additional 1/4 cup of chocolate chips because the 1/2 cup looked lonely.  I did find that this recipe's batter isn't quite thick enough because most of the chip sunk towards the bottom.  This might have been my fault because I added more, but the flavor is still great.  Also, I made it truly jumbo by baking it in a 6-hole cupcake tin that has giant holes, perfect for these cupcakes.  Just make sure you watch the time as it will be a little longer than the regular size.

Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
makes 8

7 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line your muffin tin size of choice.  

Place butter, sugar, eggs, and flour in a large bowl and beat together until just smooth.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon the batter into the paper liners.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Recipe courtesy of Parragon Books Ltd.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Apple Streusel Cupcakes-SC #9

First of all, YUM.  These cupcakes are so moist and apple-y and just amazing.  I would be content making these for the rest of my life because that's how enjoyable they truly are.  They are just the right combination of apple and cinnamon and streusel that makes your mouth water for more.

Please, if you do not open your oven to any other recipe on this blog, try these.  You will love me for it.  Trust me.  The recipes in this book are very simple and quick to make, but this recipe is the hidden gem inside.  Feel free to add a little more cinnamon than it calls for because it will bring out the apple flavor even more.

Apple Streusel Cupcakes
makes 14

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup raw brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
3 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 tsp baking soda
10 oz applesauce
4 Tbsp butter, softened or soft margarine
1/2 raw brown sugar
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffins tins with 14 liners.

First, make the topping.  Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Set aside.

To make the cupcakes, add the baking soda to the applesauce and stir until dissolved.  Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the egg.  Sift in the flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and fold into the batter, alternating with the applesauce.  Spoon the batter into the paper liners.  Scatter the reserved topping over each cupcake to cover the tops and press down gently.

Bake for 20 minute, or until well risen and springy to the touch.  Let the cakes stand for 2-3 minutes in the pans before serving warm, or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Recipe courtesy of Parragon Books Ltd.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Macaron Madness

Today, I had my first attempt at macrons.  I know, scary right?  I've read my fair share of disasters on one too many blogs and I was very nervous!  But, I followed the instructions to the T and was crossing my fingers that they would turn out ok, and they did!! They are perfectly beautiful!!

Aren't my babies beautiful?  Here is the army that one batch yields.

Don't worry, those are the bottoms, no the tops.  This recipe is a plain vanilla macron and I paired it with a Nutella Buttercream in honor of Sunday, World Nutella Day!

Feel free to pair this delicious buttercream with your favorite vanilla or even chocolate macron.  

Nutella Buttercream

Beat one stick of softened butter with 3 cups of powdered sugar (add 1 cup at a time).  Beat in 1/4 cup half and half or whole milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  Add 1/2 cup more powdered sugar and beat on high for a few minutes, until its fluffy.  Soften 1/4 cup nutella in the microwave) and beat into the frosting.  If the frosting's not stiff enough, add another 1/2 cup powdered sugar.