Monday, December 19, 2011

Cupcake crazy!

Seems the cupcake craze is here to stay. It's what I get the most requests for, so of course I comply. They ask so sweetly.

Here are a couple of recent requests. Chocolate cupcake with peppermint buttercream. The frosting tastes like those butter mints your grandma puts out.


This second one is so simplistic. Moist decadent vanilla cupcake with a vanilla bean buttercream. In the words of my taste tester, "it tastes like vanilla ice cream."


Monday, November 21, 2011

chocolate cupcake and mocha buttercream

Moist delicious cupcake and creamy chocolate buttercream with a touch of coffee. The two go perfectly together.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Matt, #7!

These little Pikachu cupcakes and cake are for Matt. He turned 7 this week and he chose Pokemon. He's a chocolate lover so it's a simple chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream.



Sunday, October 30, 2011

nuts and caramel

The weather is pretty crummy out. I should be getting my 9 miles in as my race is soon. I probably still will. First I decided to get some shopping done and get some other things made. A version of Ina Garten's Chipolte & Rosemary Roasted Nuts and some salted caramel. See here for the recipe. These nuts are not too sweet, salty or spicy. A great snack and will disappear quickly. A double batch is a must. Note, a double batch will not fit safely on one pan. It will make a big mess.



Delicious nuts!
(adpated from Ina Garten's recipe in Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That)

Vegetable oil
2 cups whole roasted unsalted cashews (14 ounces)
2 cups whole walnut halves (7 ounces)
2 cups whole pecan halves (7 ounces)
1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts (5 ounces)
1/2 cup whole almonds (3 ounces)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder (others I know have had a hard time finding this. I found it at my local grocery store)
4 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves, divided
4 teaspoons Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush a sheet pan generously with vegetable oil. Combine the cashews, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice, and chipotle powder on the sheet pan. Toss to coat the nuts evenly. Add 2 tablespoons of the rosemary and 2 teaspoons of salt and toss again.
Spread the nuts in one layer. Roast the nuts for 25 minutes, stirring twice with a large metal spatula, until the nuts are glazed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with 2 more teaspoons of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of rosemary.

Toss well and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking as they cool. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature.

You can use whatever nuts you like. I love hazelnuts, had some and wanted to use them.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

chocolate cupcake, touch of coffee & caramel


Things are a bit crazy at work. My team loves sweets and I love baking for them. This is a chocolate cupcake, with a little coffee in them, some caramel buttercream, dash of fleur de sel and shaved bittersweet chocolate on top.

I'll get the recipe out, but the buttercream is usual and you can add a bit of coffee (instant or brewed) to any chocolate cake recipe and it will be pretty close. As you can see it's late and I should be in bed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

pumpkin cupcake with maple buttercream and a sugared pecan

What says fall better than pumpkin? I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin, but this cupcake isn't too much pumpkin and the maple buttercream goes perfectly. I love pecans so what better to top it with, than one cooked in sugar?



Pumpkin Cupcake
(adapted from the joyofbaking.com)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup solid packed, canned pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ground spices, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then with the mixer on low add the pumpkin puree and flour mixture in three additions. Begin and end with the flour mixer. (I wasn't paying attention so I added the pumpkin then the flour mixture and they turned out fine).

Fill the muffin cups evenly with the batter using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. I used a 4 tablespoon scoop. Bake in the oven and bake for about 20 - 22 minutes or until firm to the touch. I checked them at 18 and they needed at least 21 minutes. When a toothpick comes out clean they are ready. Cool on a wire rack.

Maple Buttercream

One recipe Epicurious vanilla buttercream

I used 3 sticks of butter (instead of 4) and 1 tsp vanilla and added 1 - 2 oz of Grade B Maple Syrup. This is to your taste.

Sugared Pecans

1 large egg white
1 T water
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Heat oven to 350 F.

Butter a rimmed baking sheet.

Beat egg white and water until frothy, add brown sugar and beat until dissolved. Mix in the pecans. Spread the pecan mixture on baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 20 - 25 minutes. Watch these closely, if your oven is running hotter reduce the temperature. These will burn. Stir a few times while baking to ensure even browning and no burning.

Once the pecans are done and crisp, cool completely. Eat for a snack or top these cupcakes with them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

caramel, bananas, peanut butter

I've been away for a week or so. It's been so busy with PTSA, work, kid homework and everything else that happens in between. I have been itching to get in the kitchen. The Nutella Brownies that were made last week were only little baking fix.

It was a blustery rainy day today and that didn't stop into the night. I made a quick dinner and relaxed a little before starting on the evenings sweet treat. A long day smoothed over with an evening in the kitchen. How all evenings should be.

I started with making salted caramel sauce. Easy, delicious and relaxing. Once you make your own, you won't want to buy it ever again.



Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse sea salt (or to taste) I generally don't have salted butter so I used to a little more fleur de sel.

Steps:

1. Spread the sugar in an even layer in a large metal Dutch oven or casserole, at least 6 quarts (6 L). On moderate heat (about medium) and cook without stirring, until the sugar near the edge just starts to liquefy.

2. Using a wooden spoon or silicone heat proof spatula, begin gently stirring, pushing the melted sugar around the edges toward the center and delicately stirring up any sugar melting on the bottom as well. The sugar will start to look pebbly as it cooks, but keep going; it will melt completely as it gets amber.

3. Keep cooking until the sugar turns deep brown and starts to smoke. (Don’t worry about any large chunks of caramel.) The darker you can cook the sugar without burning it, the better the final sauce will taste. It’s ready when it’s the color of a well-worn penny, and will smell a bit smoky.

4. Take the pot off of the heat and quickly stir in about a quarter of the cream. The mixture will bubble up furiously, so please wear an oven mitt over your stirring hand. Whisk in the remaining cream, to make sure it’s smooth. Stir in the butter and salt. Serve warm. If you like your sauce a bit thinner or less rich, add 1/4 cup water.

Caramel will last about a month or so in the fridge. Warm it in a small sauce pan or in the microwave to use.




I used this caramel to top a moist banana cupcake that was topped a second time with a light peanut butter frosting and drizzled with more caramel.

Banana Cupcake
adapted from Epicurious

* 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon dark rum
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1 large egg
* 1 large egg yolk

Preheat to 350°F. Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Mash bananas with fork in another medium bowl until smooth. Mix sour cream, vanilla and rum into bananas.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (generous 1/4 cup for each).

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 20 - 25 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.

The cupcakes sink a little in the middle. Perfect for adding some of the caramel.



Lastly, whip up some peanut butter frosting to pipe on top of the banana caramel goodness.

Peanut Butter Frosting

• 1 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1 cup creamy peanut butter
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

This will frost about 20 cupcakes. I used a large star tip.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

peanut butter chocolate cookie sandwiches

Cookies are one of those things that are crowd pleasing and simple to put together. I get a craving for chocolate chip cookies every so often and soon after that, they are available for consumption. There are so many varieties and variations of chocolate chip recipes. Since peanut butter and chocolate go perfectly together, I decided to make a peanut butter chocolate sandwich cookie. A buttery peanut butter cookie with chopped milk chocolate. They melt in your mouth. I piped a milk chocolate peanut butter ganache into the middle and voila! Perfect little snack to curb the cookie craving.

You will be able to get these sweet little cookies at SAVOUR in Ballard. I'm honored to be supplying them with another treat this week. So stop by if you are in the neighborhood or make a special trip if you're not. They are located at 2242 Market St. in Ballard.


Cookies, adapted from Epicurious (makes about 2 dozen, depending on the size of your scoop)

* 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
* 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup powdered sugar
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (use regular peanut butter, not natural or fresh)
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 large egg
* 8 ounces milk chocolate chopped

Filling
* 3 ounces milk chocolate, chopped. Chocolate ranges in price so pick the one
you like.
* 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
* 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
* 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
* 6 tablespoons whipping cream

Make the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, banking soda, kosher salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar, dark brown sugar, and butter in large bowl to blend.

Add peanut butter; beat until creamy. Beat in vegetable oil and vanilla extract, then egg. Add the dry ingredients; mix just until blended. Stir in chopped chocolate.

Drop cookie dough by level tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies until puffed and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly BEFORE transferring to a cooling rack. If you transfer too soon the cookies will fall apart. They need to set for a minute or two.

Make the filling:
Place chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and kosher salt in medium bowl. Bring whipping cream to boil in heavy small saucepan. Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture; stir until mixture is melted and smooth. If the mixture isn't getting smooth (due to bigger chunks of chocolate) put the mix over a pan of simmering water to get it melted. Chill until filling is thick and spreadable, about 1 hour.

You can spread the chocolate between the cookies with a spoon. I used a piping bag with a small start tip to pipe it onto one cookie and topped it with another cookie. The filling melds with the cookie and it's a wonderful combination of cookie and ganache.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

chocolate pecan tarts




Fall is here. It swooped in and put a chill in the air that makes me want to head for the oven and bake a pie. I love pecan pie and chocolate. Together they bring comfort. There are multiple palate pleasing textures; buttery crust, a caramelized top that forms from bubbling in the oven and a creamy middle. These rustic little tarts are perfect for a cool fall day.

For those of you in the Seattle area, you can taste one of these sweet treats at SAVOUR in Ballard this week. These tarts are the perfect finish to a long day or a nice break in the middle of a busy one. Grab a cup of tea and a tart and enjoy. Stop in and check out everything SAVOUR has to offer.



For the tarts (adapted from cbsop.com)

Makes 8 4 - 5 inch tarts. I used these tart pans.

Ingredients:

* 1 recipe Pate Brisee.
* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
* 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
* 3 large eggs
* 1 cup sugar
* 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
* 3 T bourbon vanilla
* 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
* 1 1/2 cups pecan halves


Preheat oven to 350°F.

You can use whatever pie crust recipe you like. I like the Pate Brisse. Make the pie dough first and refrigerate for a half an hour. After the dough is chilled, pinch off dough rounds a little bigger than a golf ball. Roll out the individual pie crusts and gently fit them into the tart pans. I used the edge of the tart pan to cut the overhang of crust off. You can also use pre-made tart shells.

I then par-baked the crusts for about 20 - 25 minutes to get a little bit of a crisper crust. I've made these without par-baking and the crust was a little more doughy. It's all to your preference. To par-bake the crusts you'll need to put foil or parchment into the shells and fill with pie beads, dried beans or rice. Whatever you have on hand. This will keep the crust from puffing up and sliding down the sides of your tart pans.

Once the dough is pressed into the tart pans or while you are par-baking them, make the filling.

Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let cool.

Beat the eggs in a large measuring cup or mixing until frothy and blend in sugar. Stir in syrup, bourbon vanilla, salt and melted butter. Mix until well blended.

Pour the filling into your prepared pie shells. Leave a quarter of an inch of dough showing. The filling puffs up and you don't want it to overflow. (though it's okay if it does)

Gently lay the pecan halves around the outer edge of the tart working your way in. This is how my grandma made her pecan pies and I do the same. You can also put the halves in the bottom of the pie shell and pour the filling on top. I love the pretty look of the pie once it's cooked with the pecans laid on top.

Bake the tarts for 30 - 35 minutes. Test doneness by inserting a thin knife or toothpick in the center of each pie. If blade comes out clean, the pie is done.

Transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool. Once you can safely touch them, pop them out of the tart pans and cool completely before serving.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Personal chocolate pies


My son Grant loves chocolate pie with a graham cracker crust. I made these tonight at his request. The filling is chocolatey and the graham cracker crust speaks for itself. They were gobbled up and someone said it was the best dessert he'd ever had. I'll take that compliment. Stay tuned for some exciting things coming up this week!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

School is in!




I spent the last couple of days baking 150 cupcakes for an Ocean Shores fundraiser to support scholarships for high school students. I also baked a cake that was raffled off. Everything went over really well according to my mom as I couldn't stay for the fundraiser dinner.

I made the infamous Margarita cupcake that I absolutely love and also a Smore's cupcake that is equally delicious.

Special thanks to the Ocean Shores Elk's Club for allowing me to use their kitchen and to my mom for getting all of the ingredients!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mini Peanut Butter Pie Cupakes



These aren't really cupcakes. Just mini peanut butter pies that I plopped into a cupcake paper and tin to help them keep their shape. These are little sugar delights with cream cheese, whipped cream, peanut butter, chocolate on the bottom and top.. I made these for my awesome teams at work. They have been working their behinds off as usual. They were made special for them!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pie and pie



I've made a few pies this weekend and today was the second of two apple pies. It's so simple and delicious and there are always apples around. This pie is made with Gala and Granny Smith's. More Granny's to cut the sweetness of the brown sugars. The crust is brushed with cream and sprinkled with Turbinado sugar. I like it when it gets a little too brown. The toasted sugar is delicious. I can't wait to dig in with friends this afternoon for a BBQ. I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And the business cards...



Again, many thanks to Lani for designing my logo and business cards. You are an amazing artist! They will be here from Moo.com on Monday.

Refreshing lime...



The first day of school is tomorrow! My little baby will be in 5th grade. Yeah, he's not a baby. The PTSA threw a back to school lunch for the staff and it was Mexican themed. These are one of my favorite cupcakes, great texture and refreshing lime flavor. I hope they loved them!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And the new logo is.........



Thanks Lani for creating the artwork and business card logo!

S'mores in a cupcake...


These will be on the menu at an upcoming function at Ocean Shores or something similar. Not sure about this frosting still, it is good, but will it last? Not sure yet. The graham flour and honey in these make them delicious on their own with the chocolate ganache or marshmallow frosting.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Krissy!



These are for my cousin Kristin. She turns 17 next week and I got to make her cupcakes. They turned out great. Pink and pink and pink. Just what she wanted. Love you Krissy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Goofing off with vanilla and finally have THE recipe.



So maybe four test recipes isn't goofing off, more like serious business! These are light, but a little dense, moist, velvety white cupcakes. I love it. It's exactly what I was looking for. The decor is a surprise for the birthday girl so these are topped with a delicious chocolate buttercream and a bit of chocolate drizzle.

THE White Cake. I shortened up the cooking time for cupcakes to about 18 - 20 minutes. Check them at 15 and go from there. If you forget to bring your milk, eggs and vanilla to room temp, just put measuring cup in a sink of hot water until it's cool to the touch.

Ingredients

• 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting pans
• 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
• 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
• 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 3/4 cups sugar
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon table salt
• 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
Instructions
• 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, dust with flour, and tap pans to remove excess flour. Mix milk, egg whites, and vanilla together in 2-cup measuring cup.
• 2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl of electric mixer at low speed. Add butter and beat at low speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
• 3. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
• 4. Divide batter evenly between three prepared cake pans and using rubber spatula, spread into even layer. OR OR OR Put them in 24 cupcake liners. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on upper middle and lower middle racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 21 to 25 minutes.
• 5. Rest cakes in pans 3 minutes, then loosen from sides of pans with a knife. Invert onto large plate, reinvert onto wire racks. Cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Vanilla cake recipe testing.


My cousins birthday is this Saturday. She requested vanilla cake with hot pink vanilla frosting. I tried two cakes today. One with buttermilk and one with sour cream. My 10 year old is trying them and we'll see which one he likes best. I'll give them both a try too. The hot pink frosting and decor for her cupcakes will be a surprise. I decorated these with peanut butter buttercream and a little salted caramel drizzle left over from the weekend.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cupcakes for poker by Lani & Jana




Poker tonight. Lani made a Banana cupcake with a salted caramel filling, caramel buttercream and I've got a chocolate stout cupcake with chocolate ganache and some colored sprinkles.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A pie for Mikey and those you've lost....don't wait another minute to love.



Jennie Perillo, a blogger, recently lost her husband Mikey to a completely unexpected heart attack. She made this pie for him. This is my second in a week. The first was for him. She said if you want to do something, make this pie and eat it with someone you love. I'm posting the second one because the person I should be sharing this with was taken unexpectedly 6 years ago last week. We never got to say goodbye. If you love someone, tell them, go right now, don't wait one more second. You should not waste anytime wondering and you shouldn't make them wait for your love. Wear your heart on your sleeve, tell them right this instant.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Birthday baking...



Happy Birthday Shanah and Skylar! While Skylar requested a Star Wars cake, Shanah wanted a pie. Knowing that everyone wouldn't want Blackberry Pie (who I have no idea),I also made a Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with a malted milk chocolate frosting.

Both desserts were loved. The malted milk buttercream frosting wasn't too sweet, medium consistency and melts in your mouth. The cake was moist and went perfect with the frosting. Garnished with a few chocolate crunch balls I picked up in Las Vegas at Max Brenner's restaurant.

The Blackberry Pie was most sought after. Fresh blackberries, lemon, lemon zest, brown sugar and a classic pie crust with a touch of sugar for sweetness. It bubbled over which made it even more mouth watering. Guests couldn't wait to dig in.

The party was great. Thanks for the fun!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Brown Butter Banana Muffins



These are so easy and delicious. All you need is bananas, agave or honey, egg, butter and self-rising flour or all-purpose with the correct amount of baking powder. I added pecans also. I've made the before and I'll make them every time the bananas are not consumed in a timely fashion.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Homemade butter....



I made homemade butter this morning. The wonderfully delicious idea came from Not Without Salt . I also watched the YouTube video they posted. Best science lesson ever. I recommend trying this at home again and again. So versatile and tasty. Add fresh fruit, honey, herbs whatever you want to make the type of butter you desire.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

More of Lyla's Birthday...





The birthday girl's mom sent me some photos of Lyla's birthday treats! Angie is a much better photograher than I am. Happy Birthday Lyla! Perfect day for a party.

Happy Birthday Lyla!



These cakes are for Lyla. She's turning 2. Sunflowers and Daisy's. I'll get pictures of the daisy cupcakes and post those as well. Not bad for hand piped flowers. Chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. Vanilla buttercream,chocolate frosting and jimmies for the middles.

Lyla immediately attacked the boxes when I arrived. Good thing she's off to get balloons. She wants that cake!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mexican Chocolate and Tequila Lime cupcakes


It's going to be a weekend of parties and more parties. These cupcakes are for Friday night. Mexican food is being made so I thought Mexican chocolate cupcakes and a Tequila Lime cupcake. These are really tasty. I sampled a little of each. Don't want to sample too much since I'm training for a marathon. The Tequila Lime is very refreshing and might be my fave of the two.