There is plenty of time to post if you haven't already.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
There is plenty of time to post if you haven't already.
Monday, February 22, 2010
I was so intrigued by the Hershey's Hug in the center of the cupcake picture Tina posted that I decided to use the recipe it came from, courtesy of Woman's Day.
24 chocolate Hershey’s Kisses or Hugs candies
1 11/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp (1 oz) liquid red food color
2 tsp white vinegar
2 1⁄2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1. Heat oven to 350°F. You’ll need 24 regular-size (2 1/2-in. diameter) muffin cups lined with foil liners. Put 1 candy in center of each.
2. Batter: In a large bowl with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla 2 minutes until creamy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until blended. Stir buttermilk, food color and vinegar in a 2-cup measure until well blended. With mixer on low speed, beat in flour in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, beating just until blended. Spoon a scant 1⁄4 cup batter over candy in each cup, keeping candy in center.
3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes, then remove from pan to rack. Cool completely.
It turned out I didn't actually have two tablespoons of red food coloring in the house...those little bottles deceived me, and I had about half of that. Here's the batter, though, looking suitably red:
Kisses in the cupcake wrappers, ready to have batter added:
I baked the cupcakes for a full 25 minutes, which is pretty typical for my oven. It always needs the upper end of a cooking time range. Even baked, the red color is very prominent. A deep red, to be sure, but definitely not the reddish-brown some people were getting. Maybe less cocoa is used in this recipe?
I actually used my mother's cream cheese frosting recipe, which differs from the one that came with the cupcake recipe. It has a lot less butter and a bit less sugar. This is a very dense frosting which essentially tastes like a slice of cheesecake on top of your cake. Yum!
1 lb cream cheese
1 tbsp butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Just, blend. That's all there is to it. I used an electric mixer to get it nice and smooth, though I think Mom always did it by hand.
Mostly, I'm very happy with these. The cupcakes themselves came out very tasty and rich, and of course I already knew I loved the frosting. My only quibble? That Hershey's Kiss in the center! Not nearly the greatness I had hoped for. The kisses stay hard, and you can't really take a bite of cupcake-and-kiss. Especially once they've been in the fridge, which is a necessity with cream cheese frosting. After the first one, I just started popping the kiss out the bottom first thing, eating it, and then eating the rest of the cupcake. Next time, I'll skip this bit.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Unofficially, I have joined Sweet Melissa Sundays. When I post my first recipe, I will be official. A few weeks ago, the group baked a Classic Red Velvet Cake and here we are baking red velvet. You will now discover how smart I am. I baked the same recipe for both. Cheers for me.
Susan has beat me to this and as brand new member, got here first. Welcome Susan. She is a first class baker and the nicest person. Check out her photography at her baking blog.
I knew, there was no way, my family was going to eat this cake. Remember, the frostless gang....my guys. Some of the married ones might eat it but then they will look at the red and want to know what mistake I made.
As a result, I made plain red velvet cupcakes and gave them to my class. I made 8 cupcakes, 1/3 of the recipe and we cut them up to share. Even, I got a piece. Actually, it was very good. I would have liked the frosting and so would have the boys. They are lucky, I didn't make them gluten free.
This was an easy recipe. The only challenge, I think, was how to get it to the right red. Mine look brownish red although my photos came out real red. Go figure. I have one that looks like the true color.
For the Cake
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp best-quality unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp red food colouring
For the Classic Cream Cheese Filling and Frosting
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
Before you start
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line cupcake tins.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
In a small bowl, whick together the Rice Milk and vinegar and vanilla.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip attachment, cream the sugar and oil. Add the eggs and beat well. Add the vinegar and food colouring and mix to combine.
Add the flour mixture to the batter in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Mix well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat well for 10 more seconds.
Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake tins. Bake for 25 - 30 mins or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 mins before turning out onto a wire rack to cool .
Monday, February 15, 2010
Today Sam and I made sandwich cookies...our fingers are red and stained from the food coloring, but we had a blast!
First we mixed the butter and sugar together with our stand mixer, then back away as the machine spits out sparks and then smokes. Toss cheap proctor silex mixer into the trash and proceed to mix in the egg whites, applesauce, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring by hand. I added lots more food coloring to the mix, as I wanted a dark red.
Make circles of batter on parchment paper-lined pan..2 tablespoons each.
Bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees or until set. Place cookies on cooling rack and cool completely.
For the filling, mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, vanilla, milk and confectioners sugar...this stuff is EXCELLENT for spoon licking, just leave some for the cookies!
Frost flat side of cookie with frosting, then top with another cookie...enjoy!
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp red food coloring (more, if necessary)
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the egg whites, followed by the applesauce, buttermilk, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add additional coloring, if needed, to reach desired color. Keep in mind that the color will dim slightly with baking, but I try to shoot for a burgundy/brown color. Stir in flour mixture until batter is smooth and no streaks of flour remain.
Drop batter two tablespoonfuls at a time onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 2-inch in diameter rounds.
Bake for 10 minutes, until set but not browned. Cookies should spring back when lightly touched, like a cake.
Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely
4 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract (vanilla paste is even better)
1 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Spread filling between pairs of cooled cookies.
Makes about 20 sandwich cookies according to Baking bites, but I may have made mine too big as the recipe only made 8 sandwich cookies.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
After missing the challenges for December and January due to the holidays and family illnesses, I was excited to get back to baking with this month's challenge (good choice, Tina!). I had to take a risk this month, because my high-altitude cookbook did not contain a recipe for this type of cake. So, I went with Paula Deen's, which seems similar to most of the recipes other bloggers have posted this month.
To adjust for the altitude, I added a couple tablespoons more oil than called for, and a tablespoon more flour. (Don't ask me why - I just vaguely remember these being some ideas presented in the high-altitude baking class I took a few years ago.) I was pretty weirded out by the final batter. It was very gelatinous. In fact, it looked like I'd melted down Gumby's old pal Pokey and spooned him into some cupcake tins.
I stuck the cupcakes in the oven, came back 22 minutes later, and voila! Or not. Something was very, very wrong. The cupcakes smelled like ass. I'd forgotten to add the sugar. Yeah - there's no excuse for forgetting to add sugar to cupcakes. I was simply trying to get the batter mixed as quickly as possible, before Piper melted down in her exersaucer, and didn't read the ingredient list closely enough. So, into the trash goes the first batch of cupcakes.
I tried again on, appropriately, Valentine's Day morning. My husband and baby were sick all last week, and the last thing anyone in my house wants to do this year is make a big production of Valentine's Day, so it was agreed my husband would cook a heart-shaped pizza and I would give these cupcakes another go.
This time I was very careful to add the sugar first thing. Alas, Paula Deen's not-high-altitude recipe failed me anyway. All of the cupcakes fell in the middle.
Also, they came out a bit greasy, probably because of the extra vegetable oil. Dorrie, you need to get back to baking so I can just steal your high-altitude recipe each month! I probably should have added an extra egg and/or cut the baking soda by 1/4 teaspoon. I'll post an update later this month if I get the time to try again. For now, there's nothing a bit of frosting can't fix! But, Piper is still not impressed.
We only had to bake these until for 20 minutes before they sprang back to the touch and were ready to come out of the oven. Most of them rose up beautifully. I'm not sure what happened to the one little runt.
I added the scrapings of a fresh vanilla bean to the frosting to give it a little something special. It's subtle, but you can see the lovely little vanilla specks in the picture below.
We added two full bottles of red food coloring to the batter, and as you can see the cupcakes came out as a reddish-brown. I can't imagine how much more food coloring we would have needed to make these bright red.
Overall, I'd call these a success. The cake was moist and tasted great. The frosting came out very sweet. As someone who absolutely loves frosting, it's hard to say this, but the cupcakes were best with just a thin layer of icing on top. The cake is too easily over powered by the sugary-sweetness with anything more.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 fluid ounce red food coloring
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 12 cup muffin pans or line with 20 paper baking cups.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; stir into the batter just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter and frost with desired frosting.
- 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 5 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Frosting DirectionsIn a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk. Beat at high speed until fluffy, adding an additional 1 tablespoon milk if necessary.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I am on top of it this month! Yesterday I baked up the Have the Cake February challenge: Red Velvet Cupcakes.
Now I will admit, I recently tasted a red velvet cupcake and I was not impressed. I had one of the cupcakes from Starbucks and it was not that great, so I was a bit worried about making my own. I mean, what was I going to do with a whole bunch of cupcakes I didn't care for? So I figured I would give them a try when they would coincide with an event: playgroup. That way I wouldn't be stuck with 24 cupcakes, which isn't a good idea even if they taste wonderful.
Anyway, again this month the recipe sounded good but was given in metric and I didn't have
the patience the tools to convert. So I hunted down another Food Network recipe. This time around it was from Paula Deen. Hmm... Now I used to watch a lot of Food Network and there are cooks I like and those I can't stand. Paula falls into the second category. I don't care for her personality, her cooking style or her choice of recipes. But, she was the only one who had a recipe for cupcakes and it was similar enough in ingredients to the posted one so I figured it couldn't be all bad.
I started out by mixing my dry ingredients: flour, sugar, soda, cocoa powder and salt. Then I read they had to sifted. Ugh.
Onto the wet ingredients. This is where I started making it up. First, I never buy buttermilk. It just goes bad (bad-der?) in my fridge after the initial use, which never uses up the whole big thing you have to buy. So I sour my own with skim milk and vinegar.
Second, we are cooking egg free since finding out my son is allergic and we want him to be able to enjoy what we do. A lot of people have suggested using egg beaters but I don't care for the taste or texture of those so for baking I discovered you can use a tablespoon of flaxmeal mixed with water and you have a healthy egg substitute.
Alright, so I started adding the wet ingredients into my mixer when I discovered I only had a cup of oil and it was a mix of safflower and olive. Since one and a half cups seemed like a lot of oil I just dumped in what I had. So then in went the milk, "eggs", vanilla and vinegar. I was getting ready to add the food coloring when I discovered I only had a few drops of red left. However, I had a full bottle of pink and I figured that's a valentine color too so in it went. After mixing in the dry goods I had a bunch of pink batter.
Into the cups and into the oven. Since I only have one muffin tray I had to bake in two batches and I realized that letting the batter sit for a bit seemed to produce smoother tops on the cupcakes.
The ones on the left were straight from the bowl after mixing while the ones on the right sat in the bowl for 30 minutes while the first cooked.
After they cooled I whipped up some buttercream and it was time to frost.
And there you have it.
Oh, and if your wondering, they taste great. I am glad we shared at playgroup because not only were the mommies excited for treats for them, but my waistline is happy there are no more left in my house to tempt me. And they were surprised to find that something baked that was egg free could taste so good.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I've read and reread my notes. Outlined. Underlined. Circled. Starred.
I even broke out the multi-colored highlighters (that's how you know I mean business).
And the conclusion that I come to is always the same.
Matters of the heart. Are. Complicated.
My physiology textbook would have you think otherwise. It says. Quite succinctly. The heart is a pump whose function is to distribute blood and air throughout the body.
Yet simple. Comprehensible. As. It. Should. Be.
But then when you think you finally have a grip on the whole thing? (Left atrium to left ventricle to body to right atrium to right ventricle to lungs. And then you've come full circle. Could anything be more satisfying?)
They start throwing terms at you. Hazy mysterious things. That seem to have no concrete meaning. (At least to you. They might mean something to a cardiologist. Or to that guy on the operating table who's have the quadruple bypass. He probably thinks they're pretty important.)
Stroke volume. Contractility. Ejection fraction. Total peripheral resistance.
(Now these. These sound kind of romantic. In a very HBO late night kind of way. But maybe that's just because I have little to no idea what they actually mean.)
And yet. They don't even begin to scrape the surface.
Which begs the question.
What about love? Where does love fit into all of this?
Is it hidden somewhere between diastole and systole? Encoded in the firing pattern that tells the SA node to either speed up or slow down its propagation of action potentials from right to left atria?
And then. Even more complex. What about unrequited love? Love that wants to be. Could be. But isn't.
Is that somewhere in the misfires? An arrhythmia of some kind? Is that why it hurts so much - because it is a precursor to congestive heart failure. Cardiac arrest.
Take off the leads. Game. Over.
So many questions. So few answers. Except for one.
The heart is simplest. Easiest to understand. When it is sitting atop a red velvet cupcake. In the form of cream cheese frosting.
And if that isn't love (easy, carefree, requited love) then I don't know what is.
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 24, adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 container of neon pink food coloring
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp white distilled vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
8 oz light cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. In a bowl, mix together the cake flour, cocoa powder and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the oil and sugar together with an electric mixer until well-combined. Add in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the vanilla and food coloring.
4. Add the flour mixture to the liquids in three batches, interspersing each flour batch with 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Mix until just combined.
5. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and vinegar (they will foam). Mix this into the batter until just combined.
6. Pour into cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Let cool, in tins, on a wire rack.
8. For the frosting - let cream cheese come to room temperature. Beat with butter and vanilla until smooth. Add in the confectioner's sugar to taste (I like mine tarter than most people). Ice the cupcakes however you so desire. I chose to make hearts but smothering frosting all over the top in a to-hell-with-it kind of way is highly recommended.
This is my entry for this month's Have the Cake!