Sweet 16(+10)

Yesterday was my 26th birthday. It started off pretty rough since I fell in the drive way on the ice, but things started to get better once I got to work. Surprising, no? Well I was greeted with 2 sweet treats from one of my bosses, Julie. She actually was traveling but made them the night before and my studio director presented them to me. It was so thoughtful since they both were personalized and she tried a new recipe for me. I loved it since it was loaded with almonds, which I love. And another great thing… no singing!!!! I escaped the thing that I (in recent years ) have been hating so much… the all eyes on you mumbled singing. Score! It made having cake for breakfast so much better.

And then my over the partition co-worker, Mai, made cupcakes for my birthday too. Not just your run of the mill birthday cupcakes but… Guinness Bacon Chocolate cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting. Holy Crap they were amazing!!

My day was also brightened when my Mom sent me tulips at work. They are stunning and bright. They are definitely helping me get out of the winter blues whenever I look at them. Plus, my flipcam accessories arrived from my Dad. Very excited about that so I can continue to document life without having to worry about batteries.

Every year Price and I make pizza on my birthday but I was in a pissy mood for thinking I messed up the dough, so we decided to get our favorite pizza instead. This would be perfect…keep this pizza theme alive and have a pizza we had not had in ages, but the place was closed! It is under new ownership and, I’m assuming, their idea of running a place involves having a closed restaurant when people want to eat. Genius! What place in a city closes at 9pm? What pizza place anywhere closes at 9pm? So after some quiet thinking/angry time in the car, we headed over for some sushi, for me just to change my mind and get falafel instead.

This birthday had it’s ups and downs, but I got through. Onward and upward.

Thanks for visiting. Please leave me a comment to provide some feedback. I appreciate all the comments I receive.

Advertisements

Snowman Cupcakes

I have not been the holiday mood this year. We don’t even have a tree. We just have a simple advent calendar I made but it keeps falling down. Go figure. The only ornaments I have up are at my office on my cube. (I do love looking that them all day- Thanks Erin!)

So I have been a bit Grinchy lately and I decided that I had to get out of this by making something fun. What’s better than cupcakes? Cupcakes topped with snowmen! I’m not a big fan of the cucpakes that are filed high with frosting so I decided to use marshmallows for the snowmen. And I’d use chocolate covered pretzels as twiggy arms. hehe

So began my baking at 5.45am on Wed morning. I prepped the night before but I did not feel like baking then so I just decided to make them in the morning. I made a chocolate cupcake with an eggnog frosting. The chocolate was the frozen ground, frosting was the fresh snow where the happy snowmen sat.

These little guys were well received in my office. We were totally maxed out on sweets with a lot of furniture vendors giving us brownies, cookies, candy, cake, and pie, but some people made room for them or brought them home to their kids.

Snowmen Cupcakes

recipe makes 24 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcake

1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa power
3/4 cup of coffee
1/2 cup of cold milk
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 /2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 large eggs
6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, melted.
 

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 12-cup cupcake pans with liners.

Combine the first 4 ingredients together in a small bowl, set side.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt together, set aside.

Using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.

Add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture one at a time. Beat in the melted chocolate, mix thoroughly.

Add in the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the liquid ingredients.

Mix all until thoroughly combined. Divide the batter evenly into the 24 cupcake liners.

Bake 16-20 minutes, or until a toothpick is cleanly removed.

Once the cupcakes have cooled frost them and decorate.

 

Eggnog Frosting

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup eggnog
approximately 1 1/2 pounds of confectioners sugar
 

With a mixer, beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla  extract and continue to beat it.

Add in 1/2 the eggnog and then add in small batches of confectioners sugar. As the frosting begins to combine, add in the rest of the eggnog and then add enough sugar to reach the desired consistency.

 

Snowmen

12 10″ skewers, cut in half
72 marshmallows (2 packages)
Black and Orange- foodoodlers, gel icing, or markers
24 chocolate covered pretzels (1 package of Flipz is enough)
 

Using a scissor, cut all dowels in half to get 24 “spines” for the snowmen.

Put 3 marshmallows on each skewer. Do not pierce the end of the top marshmallow since it is the head.

Draw face on top marshmallow.

Cut 2 pretzel arms from each pretzel. Using a paring knife or scissor, cut 2 deep slits on each side of the middle marshmallow. Insert each arm into knife slit, marshmallow will “self heel” around pretzel arm.

Insert 1 snowman into each cupcake.

**If you don’t have edible food markers (aka foodoodlers), or forget your stuff at home like me, just use a marker and warn people about the top marshmallow.**

Apple Cupcakes with an Apple Butter Buttercream Frosting

From the first time I flipped open my October 2010 issue of Every Day with Rachel Ray, I knew I would be making the apple cupcakes in there. I love fall because of apples. Apple pie, apple donuts, apple cider, candied apples, caramel apples, apple and cheddar omlets… the list goes on. so when I saw apple cupcake I knew I would be trying these out.

The cupcakes sounded great as they were described in the magazine, but I decided to give them my own twist. I had spent the day prior to making the cupcakes canning various things, including apple butter. I loved spending the day in the kitchen, esp surrounded by the sweet smells of  fruit cooking down into jam and butter. Our whole place smelled like an intense apple pie for the whole day while the apple butter was cooking down. Once it was complete I canned some and left some for us to use immediately. And by use immediately, I mean eat right out of a bowl. Since one can only do that for so long I decided that I would need to eat it on toast for some ‘real’ substance and add into some recipes. Which resulted in the development of the apple butter buttercream frosting.

The cupcakes are really easy to make. I loved it since I did not need to make the mixer dirty for that. Just use 1 whisk for the cupcakes and you are all set. The recipe called for peeling the apples, but I did not think that was necessary, so I just grated them as is, and ended up with great results. Laziness can pay off.

I wanted my cupcakes to stay really moist so I slightly under baked my cupcakes by a minute or so. I tested the cupcakes with a toothpick and it came out pretty clean so I stopped it at that point. (You will note the toothpick in one of the cupcakes… Price was marking his because he felt that one looked the best. I couldn’t help but laugh at him.)

I typically store cupcakes in the refrigerator or in a cool place because of the milk in the buttercream. However, this frosting does not have milk in it so you don’t have to rush them into the big chill. That is one thing I really like about this frosting since I really dislike harden butter cream frosting. That being said, don’t leave them by your warm stove or you will have a frosting disaster on your hands.

Apple Cupcakes with an Apple Butter Buttercream Frosting

 -makes 24 cupcakes-
 
 

 Ingredients

Cupcake

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 baking apples (about 2 pounds), shredded
   
Apple Butter Buttercream Frosting
 
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5+ cups of powered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup of apple butter
  Process
  1.  Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar until smooth. Whisk in the oil and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture until just combined. Add in the shredded apples.
  5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and until almost full.
  6. Bake for 25- 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack.
  7. Prepare the frosting by: Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar in batches, mix completely. Add in the vanilla and apple butter and mix completely. Add more powdered sugar until reached desired consistency.

Hummingbird Cupcakes

I previously wrote about Price’s birthday and how great a day it was. Well, the one thing that was missing was a birthday cake. I had originally planned on leaving early that day so I could make the cake before dinner, but that did not work out. Then, I intending to make it after dinner since I’m used to baking pretty late, but we drank quite a bit so that was scraped and we just went down the road for a little piece of cake. No worries, it all worked out but I still owed Pricer a cake. So the birthday cake became a First-Day-Of-Work cupakes. (I realized I left my can pans in CT in August for my dad’s Bday)

Back to Price… I told him to pick out a cake for me to make. So he picked out a few of my cookbooks and went to work. He picked a Hummingbird Cake from The Baking Bible: From the Oven to the Table. We had never heard of this cake before. I wanted to know why it is called a Hummingbird Cake, so I did a little research. My research yielded that the reason behind the name is unknown. It is suggested that is has to do with how sweet the cake is, being that hummingbirds eat nectar. The cake has Southern origins, but word spread about this cake when it was featured in Southern Living in the late 70’s.

The cupcakes were easy to make and produced a great result. The cupcakes were rich a moist- from the oil in the cake. While I like {cup}cakes with butter in them I appreciate baking with oil since I don’t have to wait for the butter to come to room temperature. And without having to cream butter and sugar together I didn’t need to use a mixer for the cake portion. The pineapple also made for a moist cake. However, the banana flavor was much more dominate than the pineapple flavor. I admit that just mashed up bananas and figured ‘close enough’… this just goes to show that measuring is really important! The frosting is a basic cream cheese frosting and it tied the whole thing together.

Hummingbird Cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes
Cake
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1  teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sunflower oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup pecans, finely chopped, plus extra for decorating
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2-3 bananas)
3 oz/85 grams canned crushed pineapple (drained weight)
4 tablesppons pineapple juice from can
Frosting
6 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
4 tablesppons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or line 2 12 cup cupcake pans.

Sift together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda in a large bowl, set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the wet ingredients together. Incorportate the wet ingredients and chopped pecans into the dry ingredients. Mix throughly with a wooden spoon.

Divide the batter into the cupcake pans. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean

While the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting by combining the soft cream cheese and butter. Add the sifted sugar and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, frost with the cream cheese frosting. Top all with chopped pecans.





Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

I made mini pineapple upside down cakes in a cupcake pan. I like turning full cakes into cupcakes, since they are fun to give out, it’s a perfect portion, and really cute. Well making a pineapple upside down cake into cupcake pan is really easy. So make them and you will happily enjoy some cake, as well as easily share with a friend.

 

I have this thing for pineapple. Love it. I put pineapple on my pizza. Love pineapple in fried rice. I always cook pineapple chunks with baby carrots. ( I learned it from my aunt and have done it like that since). Sliced pineapple is pure tart, sugary joy. Pineapple juice is great to start a mixed drink. My only beef with pineapple is how if I consume too much I quickly get canker sores. Damn you! Well, one of the standards is pineapple upside down cake; which I have never had before. How you ask? No idea but I decided I would need to have it before National Pineapple Upside Down Cake (today-April 20th) to understand the fuss. I now get it. Pineapple upside down cake is moist, sweet, sugary, and delightfully sticky. Sure you can avoid the stickiness of eating the cupcake  by using a fork but then you don’t get to lick the carmely brown sugar from your fingers.

 

 Now the standard is making this in 1 pan so you might be wondering about getting these cupcakes out. Well, don’t freight about getting them out of their cups- not really different than the standard cake. Instead of putting a plate on top of your pan and then flipping it, you use a cutting board and in 1 swift move flip it over. Ta-da, done. Don’t wimp out now. Give it a try and you will be happy you did.

 

 I used the pineapple upside down cake recipe from Ree Dummond’s cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Since getting this cookbook there have been quite a few nights sitting on the sofa while I flip through it and think how great it would be to make buttermilk biscuits, sunriser eggs, meatloaf, etc but I have finally made the jump and made her pineapple upside down cake. I divided the recipe in half to make the cupcakes, which perfectly equaled 12 cupcake, plus a tiny bit of extra batter to lick off the spoon. The only reason I made half the recipe is because I only had 1 egg in the house and I did not feel like going out for more eggs- ha! So feel free to make 24 cupcakes by doubling the recipe below. Ree has such a great book full of mouth-watering recipes. Can’t wait to try another thing in there.

 

 Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons of butter, divided into 2 and 4 tablespoon pieces
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 oz of chunked pineapple* (half of a 20 oz can), reserve 2 tablespoons juice (drink the rest)
12 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar
6 Marcschino cherries, halved (optional)

To make the batter, cream the 2 tablespoon portion of butter and shortening with the granulated sugar. Once they have been combined add the eggs and vanilla. Alternate the addition of the flour with the milk. Mix until all are gently combined.

In a small pan melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted divided it into the 12 nonstick cupcake cups. Add a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar to each cupcake cup. Add 2 pieces of pineapple* and cheery half (optional) to each cup. Divide the batter evenly, fill each cup just under the top of the edge. These don’t rise much but don’t do over the edge since they will rise a bit and make removal difficult.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until your toothpick is inserted and is removed clean. Run a knife around each cupcake to allow for easy removal. Take a cutting board and place over the cupcake pan. In one swift motion flip the pan over to invert the pan for cupcake release.  The cupcake generally invert easily, if you have any problems gently tap the tin for release. It is best to serve these warm, but don’t rush it and burn your mouth!!

If you happen to prefer, or have it and don’t feel like going to the store for anything else, crushed pineapple over chunks then use a bit of  that. Just do what makes you happy.