Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes

I help out with activities for the 8-11 year old girls at my church, and last night we had a daddy/daughter pumpkin carving night.  All the girls and dads came dressed in costume and we had a great time carving pumpkins, giving out prizes, wrapping the dads up like mummies (and then watching them hop around in a mummy parade), and eating some scary food.  There were deviled eggs that looked like eyeballs, breadsticks that looked like bones, and dip that looked like spiderwebs.  My contribution?  Vampire cupcakes and slime-filled cupcakes.  They were both absolutely delicious, and the vampire cupcakes are by far the best cupcake I've ever made.  It's a light almond vanilla cake with marshmallow frosting filled with cherry pie filling.

They even bleed when you bite into them.  The slime-filled cupcakes were also wonderful.  Vanilla cake with a simple frosting, but the filling really made these cupcakes.  A tangy and surprising lime curd.  They were both fabulous and the girls just ate them up.  Having a Halloween party this weekend?  Whip up a batch of these cupcakes!

Vampire Cupcakes

2 cups cake flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 large egg whites
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins (you will need 18 cups total) with paper liners and set aside.  Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar and blend, using the paddle attachment.  Cut butter into 4 or 5 chunks and drop into the bowl with the flour mixture.  Blend on low speed until mixture looks sandy and no large chunks of butter remain, 1-2 minutes.
In a large measuring cup, combine eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat lightly with a fork until combined. With the mixer on low, pour 1 cup of the buttermilk mixture into the bowl. Turn speed up to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed back to low and pour in the rest of the buttermilk mixture. Continue to beat at low speed for an additional 30 seconds, until liquid is fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a few more seconds, if necessary.
Divide evenly into prepared muffin tins, filling 18 cups as equally as possible.  Bake for 16-20 minutes, until cupcakes are light golden and a toothpick inserted into their centers comes out clean. The cake should spring back when lightly pressed.  Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes 18 cupcakes.

1 can cherry pie filling

Puree cherry pie filling in a food processor until fairly smooth. Very small pieces of cherries are ok.
(A photo how-to of the assembly method can be found on the Baking Bites blog.) Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside and repeat this process for all the cupcakes.
Take the cherry filling and spoon about tablespoon or so into each cupcake cavity, filling it almost to the top with filling. Top off with the flat circle of cake you just removed to seal the hole and hold the “blood” filling in place. (On these cupcakes the cake was too soft for me to keep a circle to put back on top, but they turned out fine anyway.)

Marshmallow Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup water
2 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk sugar, egg whites, 1/3 cup water, light corn syrup, and cream of tartar in large metal bowl to blend. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch simmering water). Using handheld electric mixer, beat on medium speed until mixture resembles soft marshmallow fluff, about 5-7 minutes.  Increase mixer speed to high and beat until mixture is very smooth and thick, about 3 minutes longer. Remove bowl from over simmering water. Add vanilla extract and continue beating until marshmallow frosting is completely cool, about 5-7 minutes longer. (I don't have a hand mixer, so my husband and I switched off whisking this by hand.  It took a little bit longer, and was very tiring, but worked just fine.  We used the whisk attachment on our Kitchen Aid for the last 5-7 minutes.)

Using a butter knife or a small offset spatula, frost each cupcake with a layer of the cooled marshmallow frosting by placing a dollop of icing in the center of the cupcake (on top of the cut out circle of cake) and spreading from the center to the sides of the cupcake.
Dip a wooden toothpick or skewer into some leftover cherry pie filling and poke two fang-holes, about 3/4 inch apart, in the frosting on one side of the cupcake. Dribble a little extra filling from the holes for effect.
Repeat until all cupcakes are frosted and decorated. You will probably have frosting leftover for another batch if you are baking more.

Slime-Filled Cupcakes
also from Baking Bites

Slime (Lime Curd) Filling:
2/3 cup strained fresh lime juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
10-12 drops green food coloring

In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, dissolve sugar into lime juice.
Lightly beat eggs in a small/medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly trickle hot lime/sugar syrup into the eggs. Beat for about 1 minute, until well combined, then transfer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until curd starts to bubble and is thick. Stir in the food coloring while the curd is cooking. Remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.  Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Vanilla Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk (low fat is ok)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  In a medium bowl, whisk together cooled, melted butter, eggs, vanilla and milk. Pour into flour mixture and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain.  Distribute batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 16-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack before filling and frosting.  Makes 12-cupcakes.

(A photo how-to of the assembly method can be found on the Baking Bites blog.)  Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside the circle and discard (or eat) the rest of the cone. Repeat this process for all the cupcakes.
Take the slime filling and spoon about tablespoon into each cupcake cavity, filling it almost to the top with lime curd. Top off with the flat circle of cake you just removed to seal the hole and hold the “black lagoon” filling in place.  Once all the cupcakes are filled, they can be frosted just as ordinary cupcakes.

Swampy Vanilla Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk
green food coloring

Cream butter with an electric mixer until soft. Add vanilla and gradually add in sugar until most has been incorporated. Mixture will look a bit sandy. Add in milk as necessary (start with 2 tbsp), along with any remaining sugar, until frosting reaches a thick, but easy-to-spread consistency. Add green food coloring until desired green color is reached. Add in a few drops of red with the green for a brownish color, or a drop or two of blue to deepen the green.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Eggs Blackstone

Eggs Benedict has always been one of my favorite breakfast dishes, but I never get to eat it.  Hollandaise sauce is notoriously difficult to make correctly.  My first attempt at making it was when I was dating my husband - so 5 years ago.  It was disastrous.  I was in a little teeny college kitchen and was still perfecting my cooking skills.  I think I was a bit ambitious.  Needless to say, I was scared to try again, but now that I am a more confident cook I decided to go for it.  Not with Eggs Benedict though - with Eggs Blackstone.  And holy cow, they beat out Eggs Benedict.  Instead of ham, they use bacon and a tomato slice.  Yum!  My hollandaise, although imperfect, did not break like it did on my last attempt, so I have improved!  Watch out for the temperature on your double boiler.  Mine was too high, so the eggs yolks cooked a little bit too much, which gave the sauce a mildly eggy flavor.  It was still magically delicious though.  The sauce will take a few tries to get right, but hey, better start now so I can enjoy it more often!  NOTE: I just used regular fried eggs instead of poached eggs, but I will include the poaching directions for you.

Eggs Blackstone with Meyer Lemon Hollandaise

For the sauce:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (I used regular lemon juice)
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons boiling water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 slices thick bacon, cut in half lengthwise
1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice (once again, I used regular)
8 eggs
4 English muffins, halved and toasted
8 heirloom or regular tomato slices
Freshly ground pepper

To make the hollandaise sauce, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Remove from the heat and keep warm.  In a small nonreactive saucepan over low heat, warm the lemon juice.  Place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl or in the top of a double boiler and set over (not touching) barely simmering water in a saucepan.  Heat the yolks, whisking constantly, until they begin to thicken, 3-4 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon of the boiling water and whisk until the yolks thicken, about 2 seconds.  Add another 1 tablespoon of the boiling water and whisk until the yolks thicken, about 2 seconds.  Repeat twice, adding 1 tablespoon of boiling water each time.  Whisk in the warm lemon juice and remove the bowl from the heat.  Whisking constantly, very slowly pour in the melted butter.  Whisk in the salt and cayenne and continue to whisk until the sauce triple in volume, 3-4 minutes.  To keep the sauce warm until serving, set it over (not touching) hot water in the saucepan and whisk occasionally.
Preheat a broiler (grill).  Arrange the bacon slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the broiler about 6 inches from the heat source.  Broil (grill) the slices until browned, about 3 minutes.  Turn and broil until browned on the second side, about 2 minutes longer.  Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
Pour water to a depth of 2 inches into a large frying pan and add the lemon juice.  Place over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer.  Break 1 egg into a small bowl or cup.  Hold the bowl so it is just touching the simmering water and slide the egg into the water.  Quickly repeat with the remaining eggs, one at a time, keeping them about 1 inch apart.  Adjust the heat to keep the water at a gentle simmer.  Cook until the whites are set and the yolks are glazed over but still soft, about 4-5 minutes.
About 1 minute before the eggs are done, place 2 muffin halves, cut side up, on each warmed plate.  Top each half with 1 tomato slice and 2 bacon slices.  Using a slotted spoon, lift each egg from the simmering water, letting the excess water drain into the pan.  Trim any ragged edges of egg white with kitchen scissors.  Top each muffin half with 1 poached egg and sprinkle with pepper.  Spoon 2 tablespoons of the hollandaise sauce over each egg.  Serve at once.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Toasted Coconut Gelato

I promised this recipe quite a while ago.  Since the pictures of my pumpkin pie french toast didn't turn out, here it is!  It's somewhat summery, but that's no reason to skip it now!  It's delicious and creamy and very tropical.  It smells like the beach.  In a good way.  Don't be scared of making ice cream.  Ice cream is your friend.

Toasted Coconut Gelato
from The Culinary Chronicles

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons whole milk (I used 1% which worked, but I think it would be better with whole)
1¾ cups coconut milk (this is roughly 1 14-oz can)
1 cup loosely packed toasted unsweetened coconut flakes, plus additional for garnish
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch salt

In a heavy sauce pot, add 2 cups of milk, coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Bring to a low boil on medium low heat. Be careful not to scorch. With the remaining milk, add corn starch to make a slurry. When milk and coconut milk come to a boil, add the slurry and extracts. Cook on low and whisk often so that clumps do not form. The mixture is cooked when you can run a line on the back of a spoon without the mixture coming back together. Cool the mixture to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 12 hours.
Add the mixture to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. When half the time has elapsed, slowly add the toasted coconut allowing it to be thoroughly incorporated in the mixture.
Transfer to a storage container and freeze until desired firmness. Before serving, allow the gelato to sit on your counter for a few minutes for a better texture and because its easier to scoop. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

These are the most delicious pumpkin muffins ever.  EVER.  They are super easy, but because you have to layer the muffins, they do take a little bit longer than your average muffin.  They really taste more like a cupcake than a muffin.  The cream cheese layer is wonderfully creamy and tangy to offset the sweetness of the pumpkin, and the streusel gives a great crunch.  These need to go on your fall baking list.  I'm so glad I was in a Halloween mood yesterday and put this recipe to use.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
5 tbsp. flour
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 1½-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours.
To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)  Makes 24 muffins.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These treats are the essence of fall and taste like Halloween to me.  I've made them twice already this month and will probably make it again before Halloween comes our way.  This is by far the best recipe I've ever had.  They have the perfect blend of autumn spices and they will just plain make you happy.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream together:

½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup puréed pumpkin
1½ teaspoons vanilla

Mix together in separate bowl:
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg (fresh is best)
½ teaspoon ginger
A pinch of cardamom
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder

Combine the two mixes completely.  Add 1 cup of chocolate chips.  Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes on greased baking sheets.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Lemon Yogurt Cake

I love when I just happen to have all the ingredients for something I want to make.  It's a lovely feeling.  I'm hoping that as I get older and my grocery budget increases (maybe that's wishful thinking) I will have moments like that much more often.  I will always have plain yogurt on hand, or peanut butter chips, or heavy cream, or any other number of spices and baking mix ins that would make my life even more delicious and fattening than it is.  Case in point, I actually had yogurt and lemons to use up, so I immediately thought of this cake.  Make this cake, if for nothing else, for the crack.  It's all about the crack.

The lemon syrup and lemon icing ooze into the cake and make that crack (excuse my repeated use of that word in reference to food) moist and sticky and lemony and to die for.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup lemon juice (please use fresh)

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Grease and flour the pan. (I only greased the pan.  I didn't do the other two steps and it turned out fine.)
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.  Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan.  (I would recommend lining the sheet pan with aluminum foil so you don't have to clean it later.)  While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.  Cool.
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicken Parmigiana a la The Husband

My husband is a pretty awesome guy.  He works hard and provides a good life for me and our children.  He loves us and is always thinking of us.  And he cooks.  Yeah, you read that right.  And not only does he cook, but he's good at it.  Recently, even with his busy work schedule (he's in the Coast Guard and works 48 hour periods) he has offered to cook dinner once a month.  He gets ambitious too, which usually turns out deliciously for me.  In fact, he made me Pioneer Woman's Chicken Parmigiana.  It was amazing.  I love my cooking husband.

Chicken Parmigiana

4 whole (up to 6) Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Trimmed And Pounded Flat

½ cups All-purpose Flour
Salt And Pepper, to taste
½ cups Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped (he left this out, he hates them)
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
¾ cups Wine (white Or Red Is Fine) (he used chicken broth)
3 cans (14.5 Oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Sugar
¼ cubes Chopped Fresh Parsley (he left this out)
1 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 pound Thin Linguine

Mix flour, salt, and pepper together on a large plate.  Dredge flattened chicken breasts in flour mixture. Set aside.  At this time, you can start a pot of water for your pasta. Cook linguine until al dente.
Heat olive oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and oil/butter mixture is hot, fry chicken breasts until nice and golden brown on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove chicken breasts from the skillet and keep warm.
Without cleaning skillet, add onions and garlic and gently stir for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan, getting all the flavorful bits off the bottom. Allow wine to cook down until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.  Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 30 minutes. Toward the end of cooking time, add chopped parsley and give sauce a final stir.
Carefully lay chicken breasts on top of the sauce and completely cover them in grated Parmesan. Place lid on skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is thoroughly heated. Add more cheese to taste.
Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce. Place chicken breast on top and sprinkle with more parsley. Serve immediately.
Related Posts with Thumbnails