Monday, June 29, 2009
We have European explorers like Vasco de Gama to thank for the possibility of spices available in our pantry. The combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves transforms one's imagination to distant, exotic lands.
It's amazing how toasted nuts can bring out the flavor in a recipe. To begin, I toasted a 1/2 cup of pecans, which the recipe called for and 1/2 cup of walnuts which are my favorite in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Make sure nuts cool completely before adding to batter.
Whisked all dry ingredients and added them to the wet in Magnolia (pink Kitchen Aid mixer). You know how I am about cutting corners so
Mott's unsweetend applesauce fulfilled the requirement purchased at Walmart for $2.88 a six pack. Baked cupcakes for 10 minutes, rotated and baked for 8 more.
Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting:
Never had frosting like it before and this will not be the last. I loved it! Simple, sweet, and tangy to match the spiciness of the cupcake.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Very easy to make! Does not require fancy ingredients and very straightforward. Did not have a WOW factor for me, but Anna thought it was scrumptious! This comes from a girl who is picky about her desserts. She rarely eats her mom's homemade treats and prefers crappy, store bought sweets, and discards the frosting off any cake. Maybe because yellow cakes have never been my favorite and I need more umph in a dessert, this cupcake did not deliver.
I usually get in a zone when I bake and require silence and solitude but my good friend Sally came to visit and I actually could bake AND be part of a conversation. Watch out Martha Stewart, I'll be hosting my own baking segment soon. This recipe makes a lot of cupcakes and is recommended if you have a large number of people to feed.
Used my reliable sieve for both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. I don't know anyone in this day and age who uses a sifter. I was lucky to find cake flour on sale at Star Market for $3.75 a box. Otherwise, I pay close to $5 per box in paradise. I am constantly on the lookout for sale ingredients and buy most staples from Costco such as butter, extra large eggs, and sugar. Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa, (a kitchen goddess) says she always uses extra large eggs even if the recipe calls for large eggs. You get slightly more egg per dollar than any other size and her assistant claims her baking got better. I greeted Magnolia, my pink Kitchen Aid Mixer before starting the recipe and began to cream butter and sugar.
I just love the sound of butter and sugar being mixed, so sensual. Baked for 10 minutes, rotated, then baked for 7 more minutes.
Fluffy Vanilla Frosting:
So simple with only 3 ingredients and honestly too sweet for me!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Who knew vegetables could taste soooo good! Growing up, I never liked carrot cake. It all changed on my 20th birthday when my sweet sister Judy had one specially made for me by the Hyatt Regency pastry chef. I was forced to eat it. I've enjoyed it ever since. I appreciate a recipe that does not call for fancy ingredients, nor fancy gadgets. I didn't even need my electric mixer, just a regular whisk to mix all wet and dry ingredients.
I began the morning preparing to make these cupcakes and scanned the recipe to see that it asked for one vanilla bean. Have YOU ever purchased a vanilla bean? They are outrageously expensive, so I settled for 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. In this economy, I am not paying an arm and leg for one vanilla bean. I enjoyed whisking the dry ingredients because of the spices, a nice blend of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. I used an ice cream scoop to fill the liners 3/4 full which makes it so easy to insure cupcakes are all the same size. Baked for 25 minutes and forgot to rotate due to chores.
I made sure to do a double batch of this frosting when I made the Red Velvet. This tangy, creamy frosting complimented the light, not too dense, spicy cupcake.
I have always raved about Magnolia Bakery's carrot cake, but this recipe takes the cake.
My cousin Rose always asks for Red Velvet cupcakes. In honor of her 43rd birthday, I baked a batch. It is common for these to be served as the groom's cake at southern weddings. We're not from the South but I do love southern things-BBQ,Gone with the Wind, and Kip Pardue-(so HOT as quarterback Ronnie "Sunshine" Bass in the film Remember the Titans).
The recipe instructs you to whisk cake flour, cocoa powder, and salt but I recommend you to sift them together to get rid of the lumps from the cocoa. You can never go wrong with Italian Pernigotti cocoa powder-expensive but so worth it. It gives me an excuse to make a trek to Ala Moana's William and Sonoma. I always purchase at least 3 cans because they always run out. I had too much canola oil on hand, so I substituted canola for vegetable oil. No problems encountered. Batter is wet, so I had to use a ladle to fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Baked for 16 minutes instead of the recommended 20 minutes. Remember, once you insert a cake tester and it comes out clean, it's done. Plus, cakes continue to cook in pan when you remove from oven.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
This has always been my favorite frosting! Make sure butter and cream cheese are at room temperature. Also, sift powdered sugar to make the process easier and enjoyable. I used a fancy pastry tip to frost the cupcake, to make them even more special for Rose. Happy Birthday!
Friday, June 19, 2009
Pleasurable morning of baking a light, sweet, airy cupcake! I used my designer cupcake liners from Fancy Flours to kick off the project!
Dark Chocolate Frosting:
I halved the recipe because I could not see myself using five cups of frosting that required 4 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter and 1 1/2 pounds of semi-sweet chocolate. I am too cheap to buy the best quality semi sweet chocolate, so I just used Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips. It worked out just fine according to compliments from friends and family.
Scott, my handsome and loving husband of 14 years prefers his desserts to be cold. I put his cupcake in the freezer before serving. He exclaimed after the first bite, "This is unreal, it tastes like candy!" "Whoa...the cupcake broke da mouth!" Pidgin (Hawaiian creole) translation: Very delicious!