Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mini Halloween Dreams

Again, the most requested cupcake - white with marshmallow buttercream - made for our annual Halloween Bash.

Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes - OMG (TWD)

I did it! I finally made it on time for a Tuesdays with Dorie post! Here they are - Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes. These are my idea of the perfect chocolate cupcake. Moist and not too sweet. Of course, I filled mine with Nutella, which I think made them taste even better. The topping is the perfect chocolate ganache - the perfect topping to any chocolate cupcake. Sin-credible!

A Chocolate School Bus Driver turns 51

My sister-in-law recently celebrated her 51st birthday. So of course I had to bake her some cupcakes. She is a chocolate fiend, so I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate fudge buttercream. And, since she is a school bus driver, I topped them off with some handmade chocolate school buses. Happy Birthday!

Everbody Wants Something

For some reason, these cupcakes seem to be the crowd favorite. They are white cake (very moist, very delish) with marshmallow buttercream. I get a lot of requests for them. These were for the birthday of a co-worker. Cute and simple and SoGood!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Old-Time Favorite

My mom has always been a great baker. But one of the best things she always made was caramel corn. She would make (and still does) big tubs of caramel corn for Thanksgiving and it would be gone by the end of the day. So last weekend, when my friend was visiting, I decided to whip up a batch. And believe me, it was gone the next day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Am Rude Because Oprah Says So (TWD)

I was watching Oprah the other day and the topic for the day was rudeness and civility. Let me say, I do not consider myself to be a rude person at all (ok, only when necessary or when I'm really tired). However, there was a quiz in which you answered certain yes or no questions to determine how rude you are. The first question was: Are you chronically late? *sigh* As much as I'd like to deny it, I am chronically late, therefore, I am rude.
And that is why, once again, my TWD is late. I know it was supposed to be posted yesterday, and I baked the pumpkin muffins yesterday, took pictures, and loaded them onto the computer. However, I am waiting for my husband to upload them to the internet before I can get them on here. But in the meantime, you have my explanation, and at least an indication that yes indeed, TWD Pumpkin Muffins are coming to SoGood CCM very soon!

Cranberries and Pumpkin, Again?

Before I made the Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies, I never thought of putting pumpkin and cranberries together. But, I am now convinced that it is like putting peanut butter with jelly, ham with cheese - it's just meant to be!
I made two Pumpkin Coffee Cakes recently, the only difference being one made with walnuts and one made with pecans. Both were absolutely delicious.
*Note: Pictures coming soon (as soon as my husband uploads them onto the internet!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My First Time

So I joined the Tuesdays With Dorie blogroll and I'm so happy I did. Each Tuesday we all make the same recipe from, what I refer to as "My Baking Bible," Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. This week was my first Tuesday, and unfortunately I am posting one day late. I seem to have a hard time getting my pictures uploaded quickly, which is why I often do several posts in one day. But from this point forward, I think I will bake on the weekend so I can post on Tuesday like I'm supposed to.

Anyway, the first recipe was Lenox Almond Biscotti and it was awesome. I've made biscotti many times, but the difference in these is the batter contained yellow cornmeal. The cornmeal added the nicest extra crunch and texture that I've ever tasted in a biscotti.

I will definitely be making theses again, especially since my husband has declared biscotti as his new favorite dessert. I think next time I may dunk the finished product in some chocolate for a chocolate covered biscotti - how could it be bad?

I Heart Chocolate Cuppycakes!

The other recipe I decided to try from I Heart Cuppycakes blog (see post below) was a Mexican Chocolate cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese icing. I made these for a friend's birthday, and again, a big hit! Again, I made minis because they go farther and people seem to prefer them.

The cupcakes were a delicious dark chocolate - not too sweet and just enough chocolate. The icing was a cream cheese with cinnamon that was too die for! I think this might be my new favorite cupcake!

Serioulsy?!? Crunkcakes?!?!

One of the many blogs that I visit nearly every day is I Heart Cuppycakes. She always has some really interesting cupcakes recipes on her site, and I've been dying to try several of them. This past weekend I finally tried two - the first of which was Caramel Appletini Crunkcakes. Crunkcakes because they contain apple vodka. The vodka and martini lover in me could not resist. In fact, the idea behind the cupcakes is that they taste like a caramel appletini (which, if you've never had one, I highly recommend trying one).
The cupcakes were soooo good too! They were basically an apple spice cake, but instead of just adding apples, I sliced up some granny smiths

and roasted them,

then peeled the slices and mashed up the roasted apples in my food processor. The roasted apples really added a beautiful flavor and texture (I left it kind of chunky). The icing was basically a brown sugar buttercream, but instead of milk or water, I used the apple vodka. (Although the recipe called for a little milk, I just kept adding vodka!)

Each little mini cupcake was then frosted and rimmed with green sugar crystals - just like a martini glass - and drizzled with some melted caramels. They were a big hit!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vivian's Groovy Strawberry Tart

As you may have noticed from my sidebar, I have joined a few baking challenges. The first of which is "Do You Want Pies With That?" Every month, a new theme is chosen and the challenge is to create a pies based on that theme. This month's theme is, "I Love That Movie!" Pick a movie you love and bake a pie based on that movie. Of course I love a lot of movies, but I really love "Pretty Woman."
Remember the scene early in the movie, when Edward (Richard Gere) takes Vivian (Julia Roberts) to his hotel room for the first time, and he orders champagne and strawberries? Vivian looks confused on what to do, and Edward tells her the strawberries bring out the flavor in the champagne, to which she replies, "Oh. Groovy."

So this pie is based on that scene. It's a strawberry tart with champagne whipped cream. I made a sweet tart crust (recipe from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan),
slathered the bottom with excellent quality strawberry preserves, and poured fresh strawberries on top, (all of this based on a recipe from the above Dorie Greenspan book - but I can't remember the name of the recipe right now - sorry!).

I used about 1 cup of champagne and put it on medium heat, letting it simmer until it had reduced to about half. To be honest, I'm not sure this was necessary, but it did seem to get rid of the bubbles (of course), and concentrate the flavor. I think you could easily use champagne flavoring, if it's out there (which I'm sure it is in the candy making world - I just didn't have time to look for it).
The only problem with this method is I was forced to drink the rest of the bottle of champagne so it wouldn't go to waste (maybe that's not really a problem).

To make the champagne whipped cream, I combined heavy cream, (about 1/2 pint), a little vanilla (about 1/2 teaspoon), and the reduced champagne (about 2 tablespoons) in my new whipped cream dispenser, and voila!
I will say it looks lovely, and tasted fantastic. My husband absolutely loved it. I'm sure if Vivian could taste it, she would think it was really groovy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ooey Gooey Caramel

I had a special request for caramel cupcakes for the belated birthday of a partner in my law firm. I attempted a caramel cake recipe, but was not impressed with the result. So I made yellow cupcakes instead - mini, because everyone loves the minis.

Finding a caramel frosting recipe that wasn't stiff or similar to old-fashioned penuche candy was not so easy. So I took matters into my own hands and made a simple butter cream frosting recipe, but instead of adding any liquid, I added a jar of caramel sauce. The result was a gooey, sticky frosting with a sweet hint of caramel - and a total hit with the birthday boy.

The Right Stuff

I'm a big advocate of using the right ingredients and the right equipment when baking, but sometimes corners can be cut. One thing I have found that is very important, however, is an oven thermometer. I recently purchased one from, where else, Williams-Sonoma for $18. I was surprised to find that my oven is off by about 10 degrees. In other words, the recipe I was making called fro 350 degrees, but when I set my oven at 350, it was only 340 degrees. I had to turn it up to 360 degrees to get a true 350 degrees inside the oven. So please, if you're really passionate about baking, or you just want things to come out right, invest in the right stuff.

Pumpkin, Spice and Everything Nice!

Struck with my love for the flavors of Fall once again, I decided to bake some pumpkin cookies. I can't seem to get enough pumpkin flavored things in the Fall, and although I've made pumpkin cookies in the past, I've never made anything pumpkin and cranberry. The combination is fantastic, and I'm looking forward to making a Pumpkin Cranberry Coffee Cake very soon!

Cranberry-Pecan Pumpkin Drop Cookies (from "A Harvest Of Pumpkins And Squash" by Lou Seibert Pappas)

3/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves (I left this out because I don't like cloves)
Pinch of salt
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.Spread the pecans in a small baking pan and bake until lightly toasted, 8-10 minutes. Chop coarsely.
In a large bowl, using electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the brown sugar, beating until fluffy. Add the egg, pumpkin, and vanilla and beat until smooth, In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the cranberries and pecans.
Drop the batter in rounded teaspoons onto the prepared pans. Bake until golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool. Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Oh Oh Oatmeal!

Yet another delicious recipe from Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking - Old Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Big, moist, chewy and bursting with raisins!