Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Margarita Cupcakes

What do I hate? TEQUILA! So what am I gonna do? Bake with it!!!

Sounds logical to me. Baking makes all flavors better right? And it is less likely that I 'll go swimming fully clothed in Canaan after eating a cupcake.

Actually, Robin needed something to take with her to the end of the season bowling shindig. And what better to take to a bunch of booze loving ladies than a liquor soaked baked good?

Margarita Cupcakes:
9 oz Margarita mix
3 oz tequila
3/4 oz Grand Marnier (I used Triple Sec)
White Cake Mix - GASP! (No-pudding mix works best)
3 egg whites
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs lime zest

Lime Buttercream:
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbs lime juice
Food Color

Mix together the margarita mix, tequila, and Grand Marnier (Triple Sec) in a large glass or spouted bowl. You actually only need 1 1/4 cup of this for the cupcake mix. Put the remainder in the fridge to chill and then use how you see fit.

In a stand mixer, add the cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, lime zest, and 1 1/4 cup of the margarita mixture. Mix on low for about 30 seconds and then increase to medium speed for two minutes (the batter will still be a bit lumpy).

Spoon the batter into a prepared muffin pan (fill the cups somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 full) and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and cool 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Add the butter, powdered sugar, salt, food coloring, and lime juice to the stand mixer and mix on low using the paddle attachment until combined. Turn the speed to med-high until the icing is fluffy. Add the icing to a pastry bag or use a spatula/knife to frost the cupcakes.

You will have to track down some who actually ate one of these get a review. I tried one and didn't really like the texture and I was a bit disappointed with the lack of margarita flavor in the cupcakes, it seemed to all be in the frosting.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chocolate Pepper Cookies

Wow. I'm not sure who the target audience is for these cookies, but it certainly wasn't me or anyone else I could sucker in to trying one. Oh wait! My grandmother, the one, who can't drink coffee after 4 p.m. liked the pepper cookies.

Chocolate Pepper Cookies
The recipe here from Cookie Madness.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (Dutch Process) (1 oz)
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 scant teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tbs golden syrup/white corn syrup
1/3 scant cup vegetable oil
½ tsp vanilla
3 1/2 tbs water
1/4 cup chopped up dark chocolate

350 degrees F

Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, black pepper, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, syrup, oil, vanilla and water.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until almost mixed, then add chocolate and stir until flour mixture is fully absorbed and chocolate is distributed.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.

This recipe yields between 12-18 cookies and trust me, that will be plenty.

I used less than half of the pepper called for and these were still tooo peppery for me. Seriously spicier than I have ever known that simple black pepper could be.
Give them a shot if you would like. I'm sure they are someone's cup of tea. The texture and actual composition of the cookie was god, so if you can get on board with the flavor, they would be tasty I'm sure.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

Out of all of my friends' parents, I've probably spent the most time with Jeff's. Scott and Sarah put up with me during most of high school when I really didn't even want to put up with myself. I didn't see them as much during college and now with Jeff gone, I haven't seen either Scott or Sarah except for brief sightings at the store.
So I wanted to make them cupcakes. I decided that this recipe would be a place to start. The recipe is from Sweet Treats Baking Blog. It sounded like a good idea, peanut butter cupcakes with a chocolate frosting...a delicious Reese's cup in cupcake form.

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

1/4 heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside

In a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add egg. Mix. Add vanilla. Mix for an additional minute or until smooth.

Add the flour mixture in 3 portions and the milk in 2 portions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.

Fill each liner with a generous 1/4 cup of batter, to about 1/3 inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and are lightly browned about 25 minutes. There will be cracks on the top. Cool.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and butter over low heat until the cream is hot and the butter is melted. The mixture should form tiny bubbles and be about 175 degrees F on a thermometer. Do not boil.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the milk chocolate and let it sit in the hot cream for 30 secs to soften. Add the vanilla and whisk the glaze until it is smooth and all the chocolate has melted. (Return the glaze to low heat if necessary to melt the chocolate completely, whisking constantly.) The glaze should be thick enough to hold its shape when spread over the cupcakes. If it is too liquid to spread, let it sit at room temp for 5-10 minutes. Glaze cooled cupcakes.

Now, if you can tell from the heinous picture, I did not use the chocolate glaze recipe. I used the chocolate buttercream recipe from the Earth Day Cupcakes

Chocolate Buttercream
Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup butter @ room temp.
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3-5 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla

These cupcakes did end up tasting alright. But, they just weren't something I was willing to take to someone else. The cupcakes were dense and the liners kept peeling off the cupcakes making it look like someone had molested them. For taste they get a 7/10; but for appearance and ease to work with they rock out around a 3/10.

Sooo, I'm still looking for something to bake Scott and Sarah. Maybe I can just make something cutesy and give it to her for mother's day.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy ANZAC Day!

Today is ANZAC Day. Otherwise known as Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day. It honors members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I. Anzac Day is also celebrated in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga.

It is a fabulous random holiday I decided to celebrate instead of Arbor Day, which I actually adore thanks to a former arborist and girl scout leader who I adore too!

The ANZAC biscuit or cookie was reportedly created because any food sent to the soldiers was carried via the Merchant Navy to the soldiers, the transportation of said food would take upwards of two months. The basis of the recipe was rolled oats, then utilizing other ingredients that did not spoil easily. One notable omission from any ANZAC biscuit recipe is that of eggs. This was due mostly to the scarcity of eggs.

This particular recipe comes from A Cookie for Every Country.

1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
4 oz butter
2 tbs golden syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix oats, flour, sugar and coconut together. Melt syrup and butter together. Mix baking soda with boiling water and add to melted butter and syrup. Add to the dry ingredients while it is still foaming.

Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Place spoonfuls of the dough (approx. 1 tbs each) on baking sheet approximately 2" apart. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and remove from baking sheet to racks to cool.

I baked mine for about 15 minutes and they didn't turn into little coconut rock piles as I got the impression that they would. Instead they were golden and crunchy on the outside and just a bit chewy inside. I'm not sure how they are holding up 24 hours later as far as consistency goes. In case you don't know this about me, I wouldn't touch anything with coconut in it with a 100 foot poll. The only coconut ridden item that I have ever consumed is a Samoa and I tend to think that is because the coconut is shredded smaller and is smothered in chocolate to obscure the taste, not to mention it is toasted first.

Wheezy wants to play fetch...

This is what P.D. Wheezy does while I bake.

He either harasses me wanting to play fetch with his stuffed bear or creepy mice toys or he and Princess Potato commence a rousing competition of "lay around and do nothing but get in the way."
He usually wins.
He is better at flopping on the floor and being fat and sassy than Princess Potato is.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Orange Pecan Sugar Cookies

Orange makes another appearance...and this time, it is kinda, well bland.
These were a little too on the cakey side for my personal preference. Overall, not a bad flavor, just not something I would really go out of my way to make again, not when there are so many other fabulous things you can do with orange. I ended up adding some mini chocolate chips to the batter for about half the recipe and that improved them a bit.

This recipe came from Technicolor Kitchen who acquired the recipe from Baking Bites.

1 medium orange
1/2 cup butter @ room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
optional: 3/4 cup dried cranberries or milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
Zest orange and add zest (about 1 tbsp) to butter mixture, along with 3-4 tbsp fresh orange juice (squeeze from remaining orange).
Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, blending it in at a low speed until no streaks of flour remain.
Stir in pecan pieces and optional cranberries, etc., if using.
Drop dough onto prepared baking sheet in rounded teaspoonfuls (1-inch balls), leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until edges of the cookies are lightly browned.
Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
I ended up with about 4 dozen cookies. 2 dozen without anything and 2 dozen with chips.

If anyone tries these, I'd be interested to know if they turned out as cakey as mine did. I think I'd prefer these with a little less flour and a little more butter. The flavor of the pecan is almost lost in the orange/sugar cookie.

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

Oh. Wow. These are like tiny flavor explosions. Almost painfully so.

I had some issues with this recipe. I think I used too many strawberries and that maybe I didn't let them cook long enough on the stovetop. Interestingly this was my first attempt at making a pastry crust from scratch and that worked out pretty well. Almost better than the actual tart-ish filling.

The recipe I found from Something Sweet who acquired it from Nook & Pantry, who adapted it from a Cook's Illustrated recipe.

7/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
a pinch of salt
6 tbsps unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2 in cubes

Lemon Filling
2 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsps flour
1/4 cup lemon juice, from 2 lemons
2 tsp lemon zest, from 2 lemons (I only used one and had PLENTY.)
2 tbsp milk
A pinch of salt

Strawberry Puree
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 to 2 tbsp granulated sugar (I used 1 1/2 tbsp)

Mix the chopped strawberries with sugar and set aside to macerate for about 30 minutes.

Add the flour, confectioner’s sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a food processor. Blend the ingredients together for a few seconds to mix evenly. Then add the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and looks like coarse cornmeal. If you don’t have a food processor you can use a fork, a pastry blender, or even your hands to cut the butter into the flour. Cook’s Illustrated recommended freezing the butter then grating it into the flour and using your hands to rub the pieces between your fingers.

Line a 8 x 8 in baking pan with a sheet of parchment. Press the crust mixture into an even 1/4 in layer in the pan bottom and about 1/2 in up the sides. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When you finish making the crust the fruit should almost be done. Blend the strawberries in a food processor (for a few seconds) or mash with a fork until there are no large chunks. Cook over medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes until thick. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350º F and after the crust finishes chilling, bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

You can prepare the filling while you bake the crust. Whisk the eggs, sugar, flour and salt in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Then whisk in the lemon juice, zest, and milk.

Reduce the oven temp to 325ºF, pour the filling into the crust. Drop spoonfuls of the strawberry mixture on the surface. Use spoon or knife swirl/swish the strawberry puree into the filling.

Bake for about 20 - 22 minutes, until the filling feels firm when touched lightly. (I had to bake mine for 40 before it even appeared to be set. I checked my oven temp and it was correct so I have NO idea what the difference was.)

Cool to room temp, dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

Holy heck, I'm glad these finally set up. I was soo worried all those dirty dishes were going to be for nothing. I'd probably try this one again and cut back on the amount of strawberries I used and on the amount of lemon zest too. They tasted pretty good, but it was like they were fighting for attention and it was a bloody fist fight that your mouth might possibly end up being the casualty of. But a willing casualty because it really loved strawberries and lemon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Harold Cookies

No. I don't have a friend named Harold. No. I don't know anyone named Harold. No. These aren't inspired by some random actor named Harold. Nor are they a tribute to either Harold & Maude or Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. To be perfectly honest, these are named Harold because Chocolate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal and Pecan Cookies it too dadgum long for me to type repeatedly or to say efficiently. So, Harold it is.

These were just alright. Nothing spectacular. To be candid, they tasted exactly like a baked version of no bake cookies, if you added pecans. There really didn't seem to be a middle ground while baking, they were either too done or not done enough. Also, I know it was just me, but I felt like I could taste the slight molasses flavor from the dark brown sugar. Again, I know that was just my psycho little brain telling me that, because dark brown sugar isn't molasses and absolutely no one else mentioned anything other than chocolate and pecan in reference to their flavor.

The recipe came from Coconut & Lime.

4 tbs butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tsps vanilla
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup semi-sweet choc chips
1/2 cup crushed pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. (Thanks again Katie!) In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla and sugar. Add the egg, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and oatmeal. Mix until well combined. Fold in chips and pecans. Place heaping tablespoons of dough on the lined cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart and bake for 12-14 minutes or until they look "set". Carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

I ended up with about 20 cookies from this recipe.

The original recipe didn't include pecans, but the people around here tend to be nut fiends, so I added those just for sh ... just for giggles.

Over all Harold was just kinda...average...which is kinda what you expect from something named Harold.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Cupcakes!

Happy Earth Day!
Nobody loves the Earth more than a bunch of worms digging around in it, plus I didn't have the time or inclination to make tiny world cupcakes:-)

These were tasty. Exceptionally tasty in my opinion. I don't usually go for Chocolate Overload desserts, but man, these were delicious. And I don't often think that. The chocolate cake was fairly moist and the icing turned out with a really deep chocolate flavor closer to dark chocolate than anything else. Woo. Dark chocolate.

Dirt cupcakes (with worms!)
Martha's One-Bowl Chocolate Cake Recipe
via The Bumbling Baker
2 1/2 cups ap flour
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 1/4 tsps baking powder
1 1/4 tsps salt
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 1/4 tsps vanilla
1 1/4 cups warm water

Preheat the oven to 350.
Sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add all the egg (including the extra yolk), milk, oil, vanilla and water, and beat with an electric mixer on low until smooth and combined. (2-3 minutes)
Line and fill muffin tin. Cups should be about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes.
The estimated yield is 24 cupcakes. I ended up with 2/4 cupcakes and a 9" round cake.

Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup butter @ room temp.
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3-5 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla

Blend butter and cocoa on low until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar, 3 tbs milk and the vanilla. Blend on low until incorporated and then switch to medium until fluffy. Add additional milk a tbs at a time if too stiff.
(This recipe would be perfect for a dozen, but double it if you are making the full 2 dozen as I did.)

Crush 15-20 oreos. I used a mix of regular and golden for a little more color in my dirt. I also crushed mine with the food processor, but it is easily done with a ziploc bag and any some hand crushing action.

Ice the cooled cupcakes. (It doesn't need to be pretty, you are covering it up anyway.) Then roll icing in the oreo mix making sure to coat everything so you don't have any mud showing.

Now you could just put the worms on top, but I used a wooden spoon to shove the worms inside the cupcake like they were going in or coming out of the ground. I"ve seen people cut the worms in half and shove them into the icing to get a similar affect as well.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nutella Cupcakes/Muffins

Oh wow. Do I love Nutella. Yes. Yes. I do. A chocolatey hazelnut butter spread? What could every possibly be wrong with that?

These from Baking Bites.

I read fairly decent reviews of them online. I heard fairly decent reviews of them from the break room at work. I just didn't think they were all that. And, honestly, if you are using nutella, shouldn't they be? I mean the stuff is freaking amazing on a spoon. Shouldn't a cupcake version be just as fabulous if not more so?

I really think that the type of cupcake needed to support the nutella being stirred into it leaned this recipe to a lack of deliciousness. The cupcakes were dense and dry and not at all tasty. And just swirling the nutella on top left you with the bottom half of the cupcake dry and absorbing all the moisture out of your body. The top photo is the recipe exactly as written on Baking Bites. The bottom photo is after mixing the nutella into the batter and then swirling additional into the top as well. The latter were definitely preferable over for original recipe.

I think if I ever want nutella cupcakes again I'll just go with a tasty vanilla cupcake recipe topped with a nutella based buttercream.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Banana Bread

I'm really surprised that this is the first time I've baked banana bread since we started this blog. Besides chocolate chip cookies, it's probably the thing I bake the most. I don't even have the recipe anymore because I bake it so much it's almost committed to memory. I do have the list of ingredients just in case, but I could seriously make it in my sleep. And I'm sure my mom has the recipe somewhere should I ever forget.

Those lucky people who have ever gotten the chance to live with me know that I say I'm going to bake banana bread a lot. I really don't like the taste of bananas once they go brown. After that, they only thing they are good for is banana bread. But sometimes (ok, a lot of the time), I get lazy or busy and forget to make the banana bread. Then we have super ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl. So I say, "Don't worry, I'm still going to make banana bread." Then finally, when I still haven't baked any bread, the roommate gets fed up with the smelly bananas and throws them away (or eats them, if said roommate is Steve). This is a common cycle in any household that I am a part of.

Nothing has changed. We had ripe bananas sitting around and I kept saying I was going to bake banana bread. Then one day, I finally did. I also stole some ripe bananas from Rob so I would have enough to bake two loaves. I gave a loaf to Steve for his birthday (Happy birthday, Steve, btw!) and half a loaf to Rob, and we kept half a loaf for ourselves. Breakfast is looking pretty good the next few days :-)

High Five Cupcakes Part 2 -- Lime Coconut

The second batch of cupcakes I made for NH5D were Lime Coconut. Dan was looking over my shoulder while I was browsing Coconut & Lime and saw a recipe for Lime Coconut cupcakes and forced me to make them. Seeing that he had just bought a bag of key limes that needed to get used, he didn't have to try too hard :-)

These cupcakes were nothing short of amazing. I seriously could not stop eating them. The cakes were nice and fluffy with a light lime flavor, but the icing really packed a punch of lime flavor. And the coconut... oh, the coconut! I'm tired of people talking smack about coconut, I love the stuff! Especially on cupcakes, yum! Originally I was just going to put some coconut on the edges of the cakes, but I decided instead to just dip them in it completely. I'm glad I did because the coconut really made these awesome! So boo on you non-coconut people! (ahem, Xian)

High Five Cupcakes Part 1 -- Lemon Strawberry

This past Thursday was National High Five Day, so naturally I felt the need to bake something to celebrate. I decided cupcakes would be a lot of fun! Although the flags were not my original idea of how to "high five" up my cupcakes, I really like the way they turned out.

The first cupcakes I made were Lemon Strawberry. Last summer I had made lemon cupcakes with whole blackberries in the middle, so I thought I would do something similar. I came across this recipe from the blog Coconut & Lime that used whole strawberries instead of blackberries and thought I should try it.

The cupcakes before baking -- so pretty!

The cake was very lemony and not super sweet like lemon cake mixes generally are. I liked the flavor the strawberries gave, but I don't think they held up in the oven as well as the blackberries I've used in the past. I used the cream cheese/lemon zest icing as Rachel suggested, and it was so tasty Holly said she wanted to just eat it with a spoon!

Triple Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Once again, a recipe from Bake or Break. We are nearing the end of my list of stuff I really want to make from that site, I promise. At least for now.

I used a combination of Ghirardelli baking bars for the recipe. I used what they was available at Kroger, which happened to be their white chocolate, semi-sweet and 60% cocoa bars. There is not much of a selection around here as far as chocolate goes. I also didn't like the idea of using whole pecans to top the cookies. Personally, I just don't like biting into a whole pecan on top of anything. Personal preferance I suppose. So I rolled the cookies in crushed toasted pecans with a little bit of sugar.

Here is the recipe:

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, not quite softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 oz. white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups of toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 375°.

Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter until creamy, about 1 1/2 to 2 mins.
Add dark brown sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes.
Add granulated sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.
Add vanilla and beat for about 30 seconds.
Gradually add dry ingredients.
Stir in chocolates.
Roll dough into balls then roll in crushed pecans. Place on baking sheets (ungreased or with Silpats) about 2-3 inches apart. They will spread.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until tops are just set and the edges are lightly browned.

To be perfectly honest, I was less than impressed with these. For all that chocolate they just weren't all that tasty. I'm sure they are fabulous, but I hate. loathe. detest. abhor. despise. white chocolate. And I'm not a huge fan of semi-sweet/milk either. The darker the better is my motto. I like my chocolate like my own personality...dark and bitter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Black and White Cupcakes

What to say about these? I've seen the recipe popping up lately on all kinds of baking blogs so decided I wanted to jump on that bandwagon too.

The recipe is from Bake or Break. In case you can't tell I've been looking at that blog a lot lately. She claims her version came from the cookbook Buttercup Bakes at Home by Jennifer Appel. This may very well be true, but I have also seen a variety of unattributed and differently attributed recipes out there that are identical to this one.

* 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
* 1 large egg, at room temperature
* 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
* 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
* 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup warm water
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Beat cream cheese, egg, and 1/3 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
Make a well in the center, and add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
Mix just until blended.

Fill each muffin cup one-third full with the chocolate batter.
Top with a spoonful of cream cheese mixture, until cups are about two-thirds full. Bake 22 to 28 minutes, until the tops spring back lightly when touched.
Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 24 cupcakes.

I did end up with 24 of these, just as the recipe predicted. I would recommend using a small scoop or melon baller or something of the same ilk to place the cream cheese in/on the chocolate mix. I think you could manage a much prettier cake with a little judicious shaping and care when placing the cream cheese mixture. I also baked mine exactly 22 minutes at 350 (according to my oven therm.) and they were well and truly done by then.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chocolate Chunk Peanut

Another foray into the world of peanut butter and chocolate for our dear friend Jack at work. These were pretty tasty, but I'm just beyond tired of the whole peanut butter and chocolate thing right now. One note about this recipe is the addition of a bit of cinnamon. It makes a world of difference in the flavor of the dough, but don't overdo it or you will end up with cinnamon flavored chocolate chunk peanut cookies.
This recipe came from Southern Living via Bake or Break

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
1 (11.5-ounce) bag chocolate chunks

Beat butter and shortening at medium speed until creamy; add chunky peanut butter and sugars, beating well. Add eggs, beating until blended.
Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Add to butter mixture, beating well.
Stir in peanuts and chocolate chunks.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Flatten slightly, and place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pan 1 to 2 minutes.

The original recipe claims that it yielded 28 slightly larger cookies, I made mine a more average size than they indicated and ended up with 4-5 dozen cookies. I also used half a cup of extra chunky and have a cup creamy peanut butter... Why? you may ask. Because that is what I had and I wasn't about to bring even more peanut butter into my life.

On a note entirely unrelated to the actual recipe. I baked these on my new-to-me Silpat baking sheets.
Those obviously aren't mine, but a stock photo I theieved from, whom I know nothing about. Anyway, mine actually came from my dear friend Katie who loved me enough to not want me to have to scrape pans incessantly and thus donated these dears to me. Thanks Katie! I heart you and thanks for letting me visit last weekend and have adventures in baking with you!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fruit 'Pizza'

My babysitter Cindy used to make the most amazing fruit pizza. It had (from what I recall, at least) a sugar cookie crust, with a cream cheese icing, and then fresh fruit on top. I think the kiwi was always my favorite part. Dan and I decided to have a pizza party Saturday night, and I thought this would be a great dessert! Oddly enough, I ran into Amy and Tyson at Target, where Amy asked if she could bring a fruit pizza! Great minds really do think alike! Since I already had the ingredients for the crust and the icing, we split the duties and Amy brought some fruit to put on the pizza.

It didn't really end up looking like a pizza -- I don't really have a pizza pan, just a pizza stone, so I put it on a cookie sheet. We ended up having a large semi-rectangular cookie with cream cheese icing and everyone put their own fruit on their slice. We had kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, and mangoes. There was quite a bit of cookie left over, so Dan and I have been eating it plain. But I bought more fruit tonight so I could keep on making it the real way!

Oh yeah, and happy 100th post! Woot!

Bacon Chocolate -- Professional Style

Dan told me last week that Blu Boy, our favorite Bloomington chocolate shop, is now selling a goat cheese truffle, which definitely sounded interesting. However, that was not as interesting as their other new item -- BACON CHOCOLATE!

I still had the Mo's Bacon Bar from Vosges that I had bought at Sahara Mart awhile ago, so we decided to have a bacon chocolate tasting!

Here's a synopsis of the two bars: Blu Boy's was a dark chocolate bar with some bacon crumbled on top (or on bottom, depending on how you look at it), whereas Vosges' was a "deep" milk chocolate with bits of bacon throughout.

I definitely liked Blu Boy's better, probably because I am partial to dark chocolate. I liked the crispness of the bacon, but Amy got a chewy piece and didn't like that so much. I think it would be better if the bits were smaller and only the crispiest parts were used.

Amy and Dan liked the Vosges' bar better. The chocolate was so smooth and melty but a bit too sweet for me. And it was twice as expensive as Blu Boy's. I guess I know where to satisfy my cravings for bacolate ;-)

So I was thinking about this -- how many people do you think have tried 3 types of bacon chocolate? Not many, I suppose. The way I see it, I'm almost a bacon chocolate expert. Now I just need to fiddle around with some other recipes to cement my place in the bacon chocolate world. Next up, candied bacon ice cream!

Derek's Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut Almond Tasties

Derek, our favorite Baltimore friend, had his 24th birthday last weekend, so I sent him some cookies. He said he wanted something with maybe some chocolate or coconut or almonds, so I made him cookies with all three! I found this recipe after a quick google, and it had good reviews, so I decided to try it.

I baked some test cookies first using 1/4 c. dough like the recipe says, but they didn't turn out so well. I definitely think the smaller cookies are better. Dan and I also tasted them with and without sea salt on top, and of course we went with the sea salt. I love the sweet and salty mix! However, I think there may have been a bit too much coconut, even for me, because the almond flavor was overpowered by the coconutiness. I've been eating the cookies I didn't send to Derek, and while they are still quite tasty, I think they are best right out of the oven with a cold glass of milk!

Happy late birthday, Derek! I hope you enjoyed your cookies!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cinnamon Roll Heaven

I went to visit Katie and Jason over the weekend. I wanted to escape Madison and I was so super excited for them (Their offer was just accepted on a house! Yay! Their first!) that I wanted to visit them and Maizy, Bella and Lola in their current abode.
After Katie's delicious Saturday morning breakfast which you should see here soon. She and I decided to embrace our mutual love of The Pioneer Woman by cooking her legendary Cinnamon Rolls.

We didn't get started until 3:30 or 4 and we finally finished around 9:30 or so. Neither of us had ever made anything with yeast before so this was a learning that we both learned from, but that turned out pretty well for a first attempt. Our other lesson was in the cinnamon realm. These were good, but Katie and I both agreed that we used too much cinnamon, so much so that we ended up with an almost spicy/salty aftertaste.

Here is Katie icing away with our maple coffee glaze. (Ours was more like icing to be perfectly honest. We used a two pound bag of powdered sugar because that is what I read in the comments section on the original website, seems that probably wasn't the orignal amount, but it worked out well for us.

The Pioneer Woman's recipe calls for a big strong man to mix the glaze. She had Marlboro Man. We had Jason. So we ended up using Katie's KA. :-) Teasing Jason. He could have stirred that stuff into oblivion if we had asked him too.

Ta Dah! Cinnamon roll heaven. In the back left you can see the remnants of our taste testing. I told Katie that I wanted to try the middle one like a brat and she quite easily popped that one out for our sampling.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Chocolate Cherry M&M

Oh. Dear. These were tasty and delicious. Robin's new favorite cookie. Has anyone else tried out the new Wild Cherry M & Ms? Yum. Robin is in love. For Valentine's Day...several bags were procured...and according to RObin, cookies just HAD to be made. The m&ms themselves were much larger than a normal m&m and therefore some crushing was involved. My thumb still hurts just thinking about it. I tried a variety of crushing methods and that thin candy coating just wasn't giving up. I eventually ended up crushing them all up by hand with a wooden spoon. Seriously. Ouch. The cookies were coated in sugar and lightly crunchy on the outside while maintaining an ooey gooey center with just a hint of cherry.

They were good warm...but the cherry flavor became more pronounced after a day or so.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened baking chocolate
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsps vanilla
1 package M & M Wild Cherry M&Ms, crushed
Additional sugar

Combine flour and baking powder; set aside.
In saucepan over medium heat combine 2 cups sugar, butter and chocolate, stirring until butter and chocolate are melted. Remove from the heat. Gradually stir in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until well blended. Chill mixture. Stir in M&Ms. Chill again.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment/foil. Roll dough into balls and roll into additional sugar. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. The recipe yielded about 3-4 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Orange Dream Cupcakes

I heart orange. This comes as a surprise to no one. Especially not Rich or Jeanna or Jill or Heather or anyone else that was around during the great orange attack at u of i. There wasn't much great about it other than the fact that I thieved a bunch of oranges from food services ate them all...then went and stole an orange from Rich...then later on harassed Jeanna for hers too. I made myself a little sick. Citrus overload. But I still love orange.

These are very orange. I came across an orange creamsicle cupake recipe at 52 Cupcakes. I went with that "recipe" for the cake. A box of Duncan Hines Orange Supreme cake mix plus a box of vanilla pudding. (Incidently I didn't know an orange supreme cake mix existed prior to this little adventure.) I didn't like the seven minute frosting idea though so I went with an extra creamy version of the magnolia buttercream. Bright blue buttercream of course, I can't leave anything alone.
The cake mix was a little bit too orangey for a creamsicle by itself, but combined with the very vanilla icing it really did taste very similar.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Splenda a.k.a. Satan Cupcakes

These cupcakes, as you can tell from their placement in my trash can, were not worthy of the cupcake name. They were dense little nuggets of pain.
The recipe came from the Splenda website directly. I thought that might mean that it had been tested. Apparently I was wrong. If for some reason you want to take a shot at these yourself: be my guest.
I really just don't know how to describe these. They were drier than anything. They didn't taste remotely like chocolate and the Splenda/sweetener taste was incredibly overpowering. Even if they had tasted like chocolate...that artificial taste would have obliterated the chocolate anyway. They weren't even worth icing. I think a half splenda/half sugar recipe would probably be the way to go. I'd recommend avoiding these little beasts unless you are retaining water, they very well might absorb all of it.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Jello Cupcakes?

Mom #2 had been talking about her love of the jello cake for a long time when I ran across this at All Things Edible. Now the whold point of my recent baking adventures is to bake things from scratch...and these cupcakes are as far from "scratch" as one can get...Virtually everything in them comes pre-packaged in some way.

My particular flavor combination ended up being a lemon cake with raspberry jello drizzled into it and topped with a raspberry white chocolate whipped topping. Also, the whole thing with using the foil cups stopping the jello from leaking out...LIES! The wrappers were covered in jello, and that was with me putting in less than the two tablespoons recommended from the recipe. People ate them. They were a funny kind of adventure and much tastier than the splenda cupcakes I made yesterday. (I may post about those little bits of Satan soon.)

If I ever make them again I would probably double up the liners and not use lemon cake, at least not from a mix. That stuff is just not for me.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Root Beer Float Cupcakes

I've done root beer float cookies...they were one of the first things I posted on here. Late last week I decided to attempt, at the prompting of Patti, root beer float cupcakes. The original recipe came from Yum SuugarFAIL! They exploded. It was hysterical. I'm not sure what was off with the recipe or me, but I thought they looked a tad runny...and 'lo and behold they were. Those tiny little freaks bubbles up all out of their mini-cupcake pans and went everywhere! Jerks! So I threw them away and moved on for a couple days. Last night I attacked them again, and added an additional cup of flour. The recipe also claimed that you should fill them almost to the top so they will puff up appropriately. Round these parts, filling the liners to the top results in a mess...I put about a tablespoon and a half of batter in each cup and they came out just to the top and rounded. The finals worked out pretty well all things considered.

The batter had quite a bit of root beer in it but by the time you baked them the taste had pretty much baked right out. After baking I spooned root beer over top of the cakes and then dipped the cool cupcakes into a root beer flavored glaze. Then topped with a marshmallow vanilla frosting that I already had made up. (At 11 p.m. I was getting lazy and I needed to free up some refrigerator space for food stuffs other than extra icing.)

Overall, not bad, but next time I'll probably stick to using root beer extract instead of regular root beer.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Reddish Velvet Cupcakes

Allen and his roommates Beth and Eric enjoyed the baked goods Xian and I brought on our road trip so much that we left them begging for more! Lucky for them, I had another trip to Chicago planned to see Jens Lekman (thanks, Allen!), so of course I brought tasty treats!

Cupcakes aren't very mail friendly, so since I was driving I decided I would make some this time since I have a trusty cupcake carrier to keep them safe. I wasn't sure what kind to make, but Eric suggested red velvet, so I went with it. I have never made a red velvet cake (or cupcakes) before, but I found a recipe from Paula Deen. Oddly enough, there was no butter in this recipe! (There was in the frosting, of course!) I did double the chocolate because I like my red velvet to be more on the chocolatey side, but other than that I stuck to her recipe. I don't think I used enough food coloring because they turned out more of a reddish pink than the bold red you usually see in a red velvet, but that may have been because I was using a paste food coloring and not the liquid kind. I like them pink though, they match the sprinkles better that way!

By My Computations You Be Owin' Me Some Scratch

So way way way back in January I baked a bunch...and I mean a bunch of cookies for a group of people to take to a conference. And they gave me money. Woot for them.
Don't believe me? Think this is an April Fool's joke?


The first check written to That's Fabulous Baking!