Saturday, December 24, 2011

December's Cupcake Of The Month: Dark Chocolate and Peppermint

I hope you are all having a lovely December so far. Earlier this month, I was knee deep in work, tutoring, and finals, so of course, I welcomed my break with open arms. And even though I can't say that I've been particularly productive this break (what with my long to-do list of reading two book series, going back to the gym, and other miscellaneous tasks that I've been putting off), I have been enjoying the time I've spent with my family and friends. There's just something about the simple things in life like staying in for the night and watching a movie with my brothers or spending hours catching up with a friend over coffee that makes me so grateful for what I have. It's actually making me a little teary-eyed right now just thinking about it. But anyway... 

On a less serious note, another thing I'm really grateful for is chocolate. Especially when it's paired with almonds or mint. So I decided that, as a birthday present to myself, I'd center this month's cupcakes around chocolate and peppermint! I used the same recipe for the cupcakes as my chocolate and Chambord recipe and for the filling and frosting, I made a super simple whipped cream, flavored with peppermint extract and candies. I hope you enjoy this recipe! Cheers and happy holidays!

The Ingredients (makes about 2 dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-recipe can be found here
For the filling and frosting:
-2 cups heavy cream
-4 tbsp powdered sugar, or to taste
-2 tbsp peppermint extract, or to taste
-1/2 cup finely ground peppermint candies

The Directions:
1. Bake cupcakes as directed.
2. When cupcakes are cool, cut out the center of each cupcake.
3. Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
4. Slowly add the sugar, and then the extract and whip until firm peaks form.
5. Gently fold in the candies and then fill and frost cupcakes.
6. Consume and enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins Using Only Two Ingredients

All this recipe calls for is one box of yellow cake mix and a couple of cups of pumpkin puree. Can it get any easier than that? You don't even need eggs or oil, and you can spice it up (figuratively or literally) any way you want! I added some pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and chocolate chips to mine and they were delicious!

I don't have any pictures for this recipe, but everything is straightforward. The batter will come out pretty thick, but I didn't find it too problematic just mixing by hand with a rubber spatula. The consistency of the batter is more along the lines of a very sticky cookie dough but once it's baked off, the muffin will still have that cake-like texture. And if yellow cake isn't your thing, I've seen others use spiced cake mixes and even chocolate and devil's food cake mixes as well!


Ingredients (makes about 2 dozen):
- one box of yellow cake mix
- 2 cups pumpkin puree
Optional ingredients:
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chocolate chips

The Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your cupcake pan(s).
2. Mix the cake mix and puree together until consistent throughout.
3. Stir in the pumpkin spice and cinnamon, and then fold in the chocolate chips.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before storing.
5. Consume and enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

In all honesty, I made these because I made some more pumpkin cupcakes for dinner with my family and that left me with some leftover pumpkin puree. And also because I love chocolate chip everything.

And I'm going to keep this post super short because I've got to run back and finish baking, but if you have any pumpkin puree leftover from your Thanksgiving dinner, make these cookies. Seriously, I'm not a very big fan of pumpkin things, but these are probably my second favorite cookie that I make, right after my cranberry and dark chocolate oatmeal cookies.

The Ingredients (makes 1 dozen):
-1 cup all purpose flour
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/8 tsp salt

-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

-1/4 cup butter, softened
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/4 cup brown sugar

-1 egg
-1/4 cup pumpkin puree
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup chocolate chips

The Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice together and set aside.
2. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Then mix in the egg, puree and vanilla one at a time, mixing after each addition.
3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. The dough will be very sticky.
4. Drop the dough by the tbsp onto a lined baking sheet and flatten (like you would with oatmeal cookies) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Consume and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vegan Brownies

Another recipe for National Vegan Month! And another recipe proving that just because no animal products were used, it doesn't mean it's going to taste bad! I'm not vegan myself (obviously), but I don't like that people jump to the conclusion that just because something's vegan, it's going to taste terrible.

Anyway... these brownies are more cake-like than fudge-y, but they still have that rich chocolate-y goodness brownies are known for. Perfect with a cup of milk or soymilk!

The Ingredients:
-2 cups flour
-2 cups unbleached cane sugar
-3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-1 cup water
-1 cup vegetable oil
-1 tsp vanilla extract

The Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease (make sure to keep it vegan!) and flour your baking pan.
2. Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt together.
3. Pour in the water, oil and vanilla and mix will until well combined.
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is no longer shiny. Rotate the pan halfway through to ensure even baking.
5. Allow to cool completely, then run a knife along the sides and flip out onto a cutting board. Cut into squares.
6. Consume and enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November's Cupcake Of The Month: Super Chocolate-y Vegan Cupcakes

Oi, almost another month gone already. All this time flying by has made me realize just how much I procrastinate. Seriously. My original plans for November were to get my hair cut, dye my hair again, bake two goods for National Vegan Month, catch up on reading, and respond to an invitation to meet up with a friend. So far, I've baked these cupcakes and kind of responded to the invitation. And by kind of, I mean, I told him the days I would be available in hopes that he would set a date because I'm indecisive as hell, but instead he said "whenever" is fine with him... Well, guess what, you can't spell "whenever" without "never" so I guess we can't be friends. Just kidding, I'll see him in a couple of weeks. 

But anyway, with Thanksgiving less than a week away, the holiday season is upon us! And for all of you Game of Thrones fans out there, winter is coming! So make sure to come back soon to check for more holiday-inspired goodies. And if you love the combination of pumpkin and chocolate, be sure to visit before Thanksgiving!

Now, finally, on to the cupcakes. You would never be able to guess that they're vegan just by tasting them. They're super moist and the super easy frosting makes them the perfect little animal product-free treat. Since I don't have a vegan recipe of my own, I borrowed this one from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World," written by two wonderful vegan bakers. And if cupcakes aren't your thing, they have other vegan cookbooks as well, including "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar" and "Vegan Pie In The Sky". Hope you enjoy these as much as I did! 

The Ingredients (makes 1 dozen):
For the cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World):
-1 cup plain soy milk
-1 tsp apple cider vinegar
-1/2 cup unbleached cane sugar
-1/3 cup canola oil
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup all purpose flour
-1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-3/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-a pinch of salt
For the frosting:
-1/4 cup unbleached cane sugar
-1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-about 1/3 cup warm water

The Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your cupcake pan.
2. Whisk the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside to allow it to curdle.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
4. Add the sugar, oil and vanilla to the soy milk and beat until foamy. Then add the dry ingredients in increments, mixing until smooth and combined and scraping the bowl between each addition.
5. Fill cupcake cups and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
6. Combine the sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl and whisk in a tablespoon of water at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Stir until smooth. If you're having trouble getting the sugar to dissolve completely, you can stir the mixture over a pot of simmering water.
7. Frost your cupcakes.
8. Consume and enjoy!
Jordan, my assistant for the day, picking out his reward

Monday, October 10, 2011

October's Cupcake Of The Month: Pumpkin Cupcakes

It's finally starting to feel like autumn now! Well, at least where I live. Last week, we had our first rain of the season, and after so many months of 90+ temperatures, it was really nice to be able to put on a jacket and a scarf. I didn't really appreciate that it rained two days after I washed my car though... but that always happens to me, so I don't really know why I'm surprised anymore.

In other news, I start my volunteer work with Reading Partners tomorrow! It's a program in California, New York, and Washington, D.C. that offers free tutoring to elementary school children who are behind in reading or are reading below grade level. I'm going to be tutoring twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays, and I'm so excited! I have two students and I'm going to meet both of them this week. I'll only be spending an hour a day though so that means I'll only see each student once a week. But hopefully, my time spent with them will make a small difference. 


These cupcakes came out way better than I expected. They were moist and soft, even after spending a night in the fridge! And they smelled heavenly while they were baking. The cream cheese frosting that I made to go with it paired perfectly too. Sweet cinnamon with a slight tang from the cream cheese, and then this rich spicy goodness from the cake. Mmm... autumn at its finest.

The Ingredients (makes about 2 dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-2 cups flour
-3 tsp baking powder
-2 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-2 cups sugar
-1 1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp vegetable oil
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 cups pumpkin puree
-4 eggs
For the frosting:
-16 oz cream cheese, softened
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
-2 cups powdered sugar, or to taste, sifted
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp ground cinnamon

The Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your muffin pan.
2. Sift together the flour, powder, soda, salt, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon and set aside.
3. Combine the oil and sugar in your mixing bowl. Blend in the vanilla and pumpkin. Then the eggs one at a time.
4. Add in the dry ingredients in increments, thoroughly mixing and scraping the bowl between each addition. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Rotate the pans halfway through to ensure even baking. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
5. Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth and combined. Mix in the vanilla and then slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, add in the sugar. Then add the cinnamon.
6. Frost cupcakes and garnish.
7. Consume and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September's Cupcake Of The Month: cà phê đá (Vietnamese Coffee)

I can't believe it's the end of September already! It's crazy how fast time is flying by. Since my last recipe post in August, I've been busier than ever with school, babysitting and trying to keep up a social life so it was nice to finally be able to take some time out this weekend and not think about anything else but the recipe at hand. 

Now, it's been quite a while since I've attended school full time, so this fall was definitely a big change for me. At first, it was a little difficult keeping my dates for appointments and such in order, especially since I have the worst habit of never writing anything down or forgetting to write things down by the time I have a chance. I started mixing up dates or forgetting certain details, which at the end of August, completely threw me for a loop.

Someone had ordered a dozen and a half cupcakes from me for the first weekend of September but somehow when I went back to write it in my calendar, I wrote them down for the last weekend of August! And I didn't realize my mistake until I was standing there in my kitchen, with all the cupcakes ready to be frosted. Needless to say, I was pretty mad at myself. Mad that I had written down the wrong date, mad that I had gone so far into the cupcake-making process before realizing my mistake, and mad that I now had two dozen cupcakes to find homes for (which is actually harder than you'd think). Luckily, I know some of the most awesome people in the world who graciously ate multiple cupcakes just for me. 

Now to find people to eat these...

Overall, these cupcakes weren't bad, but they could have been better. As you could probably tell from the title of this recipe, these cupcakes were inspired by Vietnamese coffee. Unfortunately, they lacked that strong, distinct coffee flavor. That was mostly my fault, though, because I was lazy and used normal coffee instead of espresso or Cafe du Monde coffee. But if you don't have either of those on hand, I'd strongly recommend making some of the coffee syrup from my tiramisu cupcakes and doing the same thing I did in that recipe. The cupcakes also came out really fluffy, which I like, but they were also dry, so I added a tbsp of oil to the recipe below.

And again, I have no process pictures. I have this other bad habit of getting bored very easily. After about the hundredth time of taking pictures of the same thing (i.e. the batter making process), it starts to become repetitive, and not to mention, very time consuming. So I've decided that the only process pictures I will be taking now will be of techniques or steps I've never mentioned before, unless I have extra time and the steps aren't time sensitive.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this recipe and of course, if there are any questions about this or any other recipe, past, present, or future, feel free to email me! I will be more than happy to answer them!

But seriously, the next time you're making Vietnamese coffee (or even just normal coffee) at home, try Cafe du Monde. You won't be disappointed.

The Ingredients (makes about one dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 1/2 cup flour
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/8 tsp salt

-3 eggs
-1 tbsp vegetable oil
-3/4 tsp vanilla
-3/4 cup espresso or very, very, very strong coffee

For the frosting:
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
-1/2 cup vegetable shortening
-1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, or to taste
-2 tsp vanilla
-pinch of salt

The Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your muffin pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl and set aside.
4. Add eggs, vanilla and oil one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition.
5. Add 1/3 of the dry to the wet, then 1/2 the espresso and alternate until you run out of both. Make sure to mix thoroughly and scrape the bowl, especially after adding the dry ingredients.
6. Once batter is smooth, bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
7. Cream the butter and shortening until well combined.
8. Slowly add in the condensed milk, scraping the bottom of the bowl to make sure nothing settles at the bottom.
9. Once the buttercream is sweet enough to your tastes, stir in the vanilla and salt.
10. Consume and enjoy!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

Let me start off by saying that I am not a big fan of pie. At all. Don't ask me why, I'm just not. So having said that, it's no surprise that this is my first time making banana cream pie. Normally, I wouldn't have even thought of making a pie, but it was my dad's birthday and this is one of his favorite desserts so I thought "why not?" Now, I love him and all, but serving him anything I make is probably one of the most nerve-wracking things for me to do. Even if he doesn't say anything, I can't help but feel that way. As you're reading this, you probably think I'm just being weird and overly paranoid, but I have reason to be, honestly!

Before my parents got married, my dad worked as a chef here in California, in Arizona and in Puerto Rico. But once my parents settled down and started our family, my dad changed careers in order to avoid the long hours and be able to spend time with us. So obviously, growing up, I was surrounded by good food all the time (if you've read my "About Me" page, you'll also know that my grandma was quite the cook as well). My grandpa though, my dad's father, was probably one of his biggest fans as my grandpa used to brag to all his friends about how well his son could cook. He would say something like, "you haven't had eggs until you've had the eggs my son can make." So, now can you see why I'm so intimidated by my dad when it comes to making food for him?

Anyway, making this for the first time wasn't too bad. It came out sweeter than I had intended (I've adjusted the recipe accordingly) and my crust wasn't exactly the definition of crumbly goodness but that's what I love about baking! Figuring out the ingredients and what amounts and whatnot because once you find the perfect combination, you get that awesome blow-your-own-mind-and-tastebuds feeling. Or is that just me?

P.S. August 27th is Banana Lovers Day!

The Ingredients:
For the crust:
-1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed
-1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/3 cup flour
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 cups milk
-3 egg yolks, beaten
-2 tbsp unsalted butter
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 to 4 bananas (depending on the size of your pie and how much you want), sliced
For the whipped cream:
-1 1/2 cup heavy cream
-1/4 cup powder sugar, or to taste, sifted

The Directions:
1. Combine all the ingredients in the crust and until all the crumbs are coated and start clumping together.
2. Turn out into your pie tin and use your hands to push the crust down and up the sides. Set aside.
3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, salt and milk and heat until a gentle boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. While whisking, add half the yolks and mix until combined, then add the remaining. Put the saucepan back on the heat and cook for an additional 2 minutes, while constantly stirring. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla and stir until smooth. Set aside to allow to cool.
5. Line the crust with the sliced bananas and then pour the pudding mixture over the top. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes then allow to cool before chilling in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
6. Whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Then slowly add in the powdered sugar. Top the pie with the whipped cream.
7. Consume and enjoy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

August's Cupcake Of The Month: S'mores

Happy early National S'mores Day! Yup, you read right. There's a National S'mores Day and it falls on August 10th.

To celebrate this classic campfire treat, these cupcakes were made with graham cracker crumbs, filled with rich chocolate ganache and then topped with a marshmallow-type frosting. And because I wanted to make the cake even more graham cracker-y, I substituted some of the sugar with honey as well. I'm very happy with the results, even though my cake didn't come out tasting exactly like the crackers. But that was mostly due to my laziness. My house already had a box of graham crackers but they had a dusting of cinnamon so instead of going out and purchasing a new box of crackers that I knew I probably won't eat, I used what I had on hand instead. My friends told me the flavor of the cake almost resembled carrot cake, but it still went well with the melted chocolate filling and fluffy marshmallow frosting.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any process pictures for this recipe either. I recently got a new camera and it's one of those big fancy ones and, frankly, it just takes too much time for me to set everything up all pretty like. Especially when I have things that are time sensitive. I know, I know, excuses. But everything in this recipe is pretty straightforward. There aren't any steps that are advanced nor things that I haven't done before, just a lot of making sure things don't burn.

So anyway, make these cupcakes and invite your friends over to celebrate National S'mores Day! Or save all the cupcakes for yourself and let your friends enjoy the treat the old fashioned way instead. I won't tell.
The Ingredients (makes 1 dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-1 cup graham cracker crumbs
-1/2 cup flour
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/3 cup butter
-1/4 cup honey
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 eggs
-1/3 cup milk
For the filling:
-3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
-1/4 cup heavy cream
For the frosting:
-3 egg whites
-1/2 cup sugar
-torch (optional)

The Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your muffin/cupcake pan.
2. Combine the cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
3. Cream the butter, honey and sugar. Mix in the vanilla then add the eggs one at a time.
4. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the wet, then 1/2 of the milk, another 1/3 of the dry, etc. until you run out of both. Mix and scrape between each addition!
5. Fill cups and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Rotate pans halfway through baking to ensure even baking. Allow to cool completely before filling and frosting.
6. While cupcakes are cooling, melt the chocolate chips and heavy cream together in a double boiler.
7. Using a paring knife or a melon baller, cut/scoop out the centers of the cupcakes and fill with the chocolate filling.
8. Beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.
9. Frost the cupcakes and slightly toast the top. You can use a torch if you have one or you can set the cupcakes under the broiler for a few minutes. If you're using the oven, make sure you watch it!
10. Consume and enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

July's Cupcake Of The Month: Butterbeer

When the Harry Potter series ended, it really felt like my childhood was ending. I mean, c'mon, Harry and I practically grew up together (practically... okay, maybe I'm just being dramatic)! And now the movies are coming to an end too! I'll admit it, though, I don't really love any of the movies. Yeah, there were some good ones, but then there were some really bad ones too (i.e. the sixth movie).

But with all that aside, as soon as I started doing the monthly cupcakes, I knew I had to make special ones for the last movie. And I figured, what would be more Harry Potter-ish than butterbeer cupcakes? Yeah, I could've just made the drink and called it a day, but c'mon, it's me. Cupcakes are always inevitable.

Unfortunately, I haven't gone to Harry Potter World yet, so my friend and I decided to try and make some of our own. We found a recipe here and set out to make this magical concoction. To be honest though, when we first started preparing the drink, it was a little off-putting. So much sugar and cream and butter... it was a little much for a girl who enjoys her bittersweets to take. And what I'm about to say next is probably going to make a lot of Potter fans hate me, but I really did not enjoy the butterbeer. Okay, that's a lie. I enjoyed the first few sips, but after that, the sweetness of the drink just kind of coated my mouth in a very unpleasant way. Now, I'm not saying that I won't ever drink butterbeer again... I mean, when I finally go to Harry Potter world, best believe that I'll be in line for one of their souvenir steins. But until then, I think I can do without.

So for the cupcakes, I tried my best to keep that butterbeer flavor but minus all the extra sweetness. If I made them again, I think I would've added a tsp of butter flavoring to the cake, but other than that, I'm pretty happy with what came out. If you want something a little sweeter, you can always make extra butterscotch sauce and fill the cupcakes with it. 

Anyway, hope you all enjoy the cupcakes!

The Ingredients (makes 2 dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-3 1/2 cups flour
-1 tbsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
-2 tbsp vegetable oil
-4 eggs
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup cream soda
For the butterscotch sauce:
-1 cup of butterscotch chips
-1/3 cup heavy cream
For the frosting:
-1 cup unsalted butter, softened
-1 cup vegetable shortening
-1 cup butterscotch sauce, or to taste

The Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line your cupcake pans.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar until the butter is fluffy and everything is combined.
4. Add the eggs one a time, mixing until each one is just incorporated. Then add the vanilla and oil and mix well. In a separate bowl/cup, combine the cream soda and milk.
5. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture to the wet and mix until just combined. Then add half the cream soda and milk, mixing well, then another 1/3 of the dry, the second half of the soda/milk, and then the remaining flour. Make sure to scrape after each dry addition to ensure that everything gets mixed in.
6. Fill cupcake liners between 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up and bake for about 15 to 17 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
7. Combine the butterscotch chips and heavy cream in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir until smooth. Put aside to cool. If you don't feel like making your own butterscotch sauce, you can always grab a jar of it at the grocery store. I won't judge!
8. Whip the butter and shortening together until combined and fluffy.
9. Add the butterscotch sauce, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until well combined. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl or some of the butterscotch will just sink to the bottom. Frost cupcakes.
10. Consume and enjoy!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

June's Cupcake Of The Month: Lemon Meringue

Inspired by the cupcakes one can find in San Francisco's Cako and pushed by my love for all things citrus-y, I decided to finally make some of my own!

Since lemon meringue is one of the very few desserts I actually crave, I have a feeling I'll be making these often. After all, I'd much rather spend a couple hours in the kitchen than I would spending a couple hours driving somewhere just for some cupcakes.

The Ingredients (makes 1 dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-recipe can be found here
For the filling:
-1 egg
-1 yolk
-juice of 1 lemon
-1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup sugar
For the frosting:
-3 egg whites
-1/2 cup sugar

The Directions:
1. Bake cupcakes as directed by the recipe.
2. Beat the egg and yolk in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Then beat in the juice, butter and sugar. Stir over medium heat until it reaches the consistency of pudding. Set aside and allow to cool (curd will thicken as it sits).
3. Beat the sugar and the egg whites until the sugar is completely dissolved and firm peaks form.
4. Using a paring knife, cut out a small hole at the top of your cupcake and fill with the lemon curd.
5. When you are ready to serve, frost cupcakes with the meringue and
...if you have a torch: lightly torch the top of the meringue.
...if you are torchless: turn on the broiler to medium-high heat and put the cupcakes under the broiler for a minute or two. Do not walk away from it!
6. Consume and enjoy!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tiramisu Cupcakes

These cupcakes were baked for a baby shower after I found out the mommy-to-be's favorite cake was tiramisu. I tried to find a way to incorporate the sponge biscuit part of the classic tiramisu but unfortunately, I couldn't figure anything out. But nonetheless, I got a lot of compliments about how much the cupcakes tasted like the cake so I'm still very happy with the outcome. 

Originally, I planned on just doing a simple garnish with cocoa powder but little chocolate E's (for baby Elise) look a lot cuter, no?

And no process pictures this time! My mind was somewhere else while I was baking and I completely forgot about taking pictures. But in the meantime, enjoy the couple of shots I was able to take while at the shower.

The Ingredients (makes 2 dozen):
For the cupcakes:
-recipe can be found here
For the sugar syrup:
-3 tbsp instant coffee or espresso powder
-1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
-1 1/2 cup water
-1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp dark rum or amaretto (optional)
For the frosting:
-2 cups heavy cream
-1 lb mascarpone cheese, softened
-1 cup powdered sugar, or to taste, sifted
-unsweetened cocoa powder or other garnish (optional)

The Directions:
1. Bake cupcakes as directed.
2. Dissolve the coffee powder and sugar into the water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the alcohol. Set aside to cool. 
3. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a fork to pierce the tops.Then brush a generous amount of the syrup over the top, but no more than 2 tbsp per cupcake. The cupcakes will need at least 30 minutes to fully absorb the syrup.
4. Whip the mascarpone, heavy cream and sugar together until everything is smooth and combined.
Tip: If you are planning on dusting with cocoa powder, do not do so until maybe half an hour before serving or the powder might dissolve into your frosting.
6. Consume and enjoy!

Sugar Cookies With Royal Icing

Not going to lie, shaped sugar cookies are probably one of my least favorite things to bake. All the rolling and cutting and re-rolling and cutting... it can get repetitive. I'm also not the best at decorating them either... but with all of that aside, these cookies came out pretty cute! Learning how to make royal icing definitely made life easier too. Seriously, you should try it.

The Ingredients:
For the cookies:
-4 cups all purpose flour
-1/2 tsp cream of tartar
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking powder

-1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
-2 cups sugar
-2 eggs
-2 egg yolks
-5 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:
-2 tbsp meringue powder
-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
-6 tbsp warm water plus any extra for diluting
-food coloring

The Directions:
1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cream of tartar, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
2. Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Then add in the sugar and beat until well combined.
3. Add in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition. Then stir in the vanilla.
4. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet, mixing until just combined.
5. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least one hour.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, roll it out and cut out desired shapes. Place dough on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a rack before decorating.
Tip: If you have warm hands like I do you're going to want to work with a bit of the dough at a time and keep the rest in the fridge. If the dough becomes too soft to work with, place it in the freezer for a few minutes.
8. Place all of the icing ingredients into your mixing bowl and beat on low until smooth. Color as desired and decorate cookies.
Tip: To color the royal icing, I strongly recommend using gel or paste food coloring as liquid would dilute the icing too much. But if you do need to thin out the icing, add a half teaspoon of water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Also, be sure to keep your icing covered when you're not using it or it will start to harden and become grainy.
9. Consume and enjoy!