A Southern Grace: 2011

December 28, 2011

i'll have a blue(berry) christmas without you

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Well, Christmas is over. Back to the grind.


I hope you each had as lovely a holiday as I, with plenty of rich foods and reminiscing with friends and family.

This latest batch of cupcakes has nothing to do with anything, but I liked the title post that popped into my head and it just blossomed from there. They came about as a last minute choice. I made the brown sugar cupcakes and upon seeing a dusty old bottle of blueberry-flavored schnapps (random!) on the shelf, decided that a blueberry filling and frosting might be a nice addition. They were.



The cupcakes are quite sweet and soft, with a far-from-subtle brown sugar taste. I made the filling by reconstituting dried blueberries I received from Oh! Nuts (they have EVERYTHING!) in hot water and a dash or two of the schnapps. Warning: Take care not to use too much liqueur in the frosting--the blueberry flavor is far from authentic and easily overpowering. If, like most normal people, you don't keep blueberry schnapps on hand, a bit of the pie filling would probably mix in nicely while also supplying a bold blue hue!

On to New Year's...and those dreaded resolutions!

Brown Sugar Bloob Airy Cupcakes
(makes about 2 dozen)
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk
blueberry pie filling, either homemade or bought

Blueberry buttercream:
2 cups (16 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons blueberry-flavored schnapps (I used Dekuyper)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and brown sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full.
Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
To make the frosting, with an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and liqueur, and beat until frosting is smooth.
To fill the cupcakes, carve out a cone-shaped hole (and immediately eat the cone)(after adding frosting to it, of course) and carefully spoon the pie filling inside. Apply frosting generously to cupcakes and devour.

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December 20, 2011

what a gem!

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I often take issue with the names of the baked goods I make, but in this instance, the creators were spot-on.


Do you not think of a giant red ruby when you look at these beauties? On top of its lovely appearance, these cookies are a knock-out in the taste department too. Crunchy, tangy, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth buttery, they make the slightly elaborate preparation completely worth the effort.


Morsels like these stand out on any holiday cookie tray, and they're amazing enough to make to serve totally on their own as well. Make them! Eat them! Don't you dare save them for Santa! Most importantly, have a delightful holiday season!

Gems of Unparalleled Taste (or GOUT)(ho ho ho)
from Cookies: Food Writers' Favorites
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
strawberry jam

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese, egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon zest until well blended. Mix in powdered sugar, then flour to make a stiff dough. Refrigerate dough. Shape chilled dough into 30 small balls. Beat egg white until foamy. Dip balls in egg white, then roll in nuts. Place balls on lightly greased baking sheets. Press an indentation into the center of each ball; fill with a little strawberry jam. Bake 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown on the bottom. Let cool.


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December 13, 2011

leftover leftovers?

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If, on the off chance, you still have some cranberry sauce hanging around from Thanksgiving, you're a)a slacker, and b)much like me.


I've mentioned before that I find expiration dates to be mere suggestions, and that goes for weeks-old cranberry sauce as well. In looking for an inventive way to use the stuff, my thoughts immediately turned to cupcakes, as that's obviously my obsession right now. My first question to myself was what flavor cupcake base to use, and having always enjoyed the cranberry-orange combination, I decided that was the way to go. Then, I fondly recalled my maple buttercream and chose to use that as the finishing touch.

These were what I would call outrageously good. I added pecans to the cupcake batter for a little contrast in textures and it was a nice component. The sauce was superbly tart against the oh-so-sweet frosting, and the orange in the cupcakes was subtle but appreciated.


If, like most normal people, you took care of your cranberry sauce leftovers long ago, I think it's worth it to make it all over again just for these cupcakes.

Leftover Cranberry-Orange Cupcakes
(based on these)
(makes 12)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, chopped
about 1 cup of leftover cranberry sauce
maple buttercream frosting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Cream butter, sugar, and orange zest until pale and fluffy. With mixer running, add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl.
Combine cream, orange juice, and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with cream mixture, ending with flour; beat until just combined.
Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until testers inserted in the centers come out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Undecorated cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 1 day (or frozen for up to 2 months).
To fill the cupcakes, carve out a cone-shaped hole (don't you dare let it go to waste!) and carefully spoon the sauce inside. Apply frosting generously to cupcakes and, after giving the components a few minutes to get to know each other, devour.

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December 6, 2011

not my gumdrop buttons!

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I love the Shrek movies. Granted, much of the humor is aimed at kids, but there are some lines here and there that are totally meant for and appreciated by adult ears only.


One of my favorite parts of the first movie is the scene with the Gingerbread Man (aka Gingy) and Lord Farquaad. "Do you know the Muffin Man?" "The Muffin Man?" "THE MUFFIN MAN!" So clever. They made a short Halloween episode, and one part that made me laugh out loud also involved Gingy--be sure to wait for his moment:


Did you not giggle at least a little? Okay, maybe I'm just easily amused.


In honor of Gingy, I was inspired to make some gingerbread cupcakes. They have all the flavors of a yummy cookie but with the soft, pillowy texture of a great cake. Plus, there's a pile of cream cheese frosting and crumbled cookies on top. Winner, all around.

Gingy-bread Cupcakes
(you guessed it)
(makes about 15)
1 cup water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup unsulphered molasses
2 large eggs, room temperature
cream cheese frosting
gingerbread cookie crumbs, to garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper baking cups, and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. In a bowl, combine boiling water and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, spices, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
In an electric mixer, cream the butter until light. Beat in the brown sugar until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping as needed. Beat in the molasses, baking soda mixture, and flour mixture. Mix well.
Fill the cupcake papers three-quarters full, making sure that the batter is divided evenly. Bake cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center of them comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cupcakes cool a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

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November 28, 2011

no holds barred

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Fact: I prefer bars over cookies (as evidenced by the fact that I have twice as many bar posts as cookie posts). Clearly, this isn't because I make 50 batches or so a week for my job--if anything, that's a deterrent!


No, I like a)their simplicity in making and baking, b)the fact that just about any typical cookie dough can be pressed into a pan and turned into a bar, and c)you can cut each bar as large or as small as you feel you need at that moment.

These beauts are an example of cookie-inspired bars. When one examines the macaroon (my definition of it, anyway--many variations exist), one finds coconut combined with egg whites and sugar and baked in little blobs that often get dipped in chocolate after cooling. Ground nuts are sometimes involved.


The similarities between these bars and coconut macaroons begin and end with the presence of coconut, chocolate, and nuts. I think these are more like short and squashed Mounds or Almond Joy bars, and that's thrilling to me. The filling is something I can see myself using between cake layers or as a slightly sinful snack. My next plan of attack is to double the filling, cut them into long, thin rectangles, and pour chocolate such that it drapes over the sides and the end result is more candy-bar-like. Who would ever want a dinky little cookie after that?

Mounds-ish Macaroon Bars
(from Hershey's)
2 cups oreo cookie crumbs
6 tablespoons (3 oz) butter or margarine, melted
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
3-3/4 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup almonds
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup vanilla or white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
Combine crumbs, melted butter, and powdered sugar in large bowl. Firmly press crumb mixture on bottom of prepared pan. Stir together sweetened condensed milk, coconut, and almonds in large bowl, mixing well. Carefully drop mixture by spoonfuls over crust; spread evenly.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until coconut edges just begin to brown. Cool.
Place chocolate chips and whipping cream in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Cool until slightly thickened; spread over cooled bars. Sprinkle top with white chips. Cover; refrigerate several hours or until thoroughly chilled. Cut into bars.

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November 21, 2011

it's the great pumpkin, charlie brown!

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I'm defying tradition and doing something completely unexpected by posting something pumpkin-y for Thanksgiving.


Yeah, you can go ahead and say it--I'm a truly radical rebel.

Although I'm anti-pumpkin, I feel that the presence of some rich and luxurious frosting can right any wrong, and that's the case here. The fairly unpleasant cupcake (in my oh-so-humble opinion) is made marvelous by the smooth and decadent maple buttercream.

The cupcakes are a breeze to make (no mixer required!) and the frosting isn't difficult either. You can add more or less maple syrup to your own tastes--I like more, but then again, I have a sweet tooth which cannot be sated.


Even I must admit that the cupcakes aren't bad--they're moist, and the aromatic spice blend is grand. I'm really partial to the maple buttercream too, for obvious reasons. If you happen to have maple extract rather than maple syrup, it'll do the trick too; I just don't know a lot of home cooks who keep it in their cupboards.

Have a happy toikey day, everybody!

Maple Buttercream Frosting with Pumpkin Cupcakes
(heeeeere's Martha!)
(makes 18 cupcakes)


Buttercream:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons maple syrup, room temperature
2-3 tablespoons milk, room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

To make the frosting, beat the pulp out of the butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes. Add the maple syrup and milk and briefly blend. Add the powdered sugar gradually until frosting is thick enough to spread easily. You may not use all the sugar. If the frosting is too dry, add additional milk until desired consistency is reached.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.
Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

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November 14, 2011

strawberry fields forever

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That's right. I refuse to believe that the time for juicy, tasty strawberries is over. Even though I can see with my own two eyes the boxes containing 20% molding and festering berries, 15% yellowed and nowhere near deep-red berries, and 45% flavorless berries, I'll deny that it's not worth a couple of bucks for that last 20%.


Those 5 berries are great.

There will come a time, though, when there are no berries at all to be had. At that point, I'll express my gratitude for the strawberry jam and strawberry pie filling that's sitting atop my shelves right now. I like apples and pears and other autumn and winter fruits (as evidenced here), but they just don't hold the same appeal as strawberries.


As far as I'm concerned, this is another super-successful cupcake creation. The cupcakes themselves are soft and flavorful--you've done it again, Martha! The sweet, oozing pie filling is a happy surprise and the subtle strawberry taste in the frosting is just right to finish. These aren't the neatest of all cupcakes, that's for sure--you might want to don a bib, or at the very least, be prepared to have strawberry goo running down your chin.


Almost Season-free Strawberry Cupcakes
(from
Ms. Stewart--you know it!)
(makes a mega-batch of 34)

Strawberry cupcakes:
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour, sifted (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups finely chopped strawberries
strawberry pie filling, either homemade or bought

Strawberry buttercream:
2 cups (16 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and white, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Reduce speed to low. Combine milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl. Fold in chopped strawberries. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
To make the frosting, with an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and jam, and beat until frosting is smooth.
To fill the cupcakes, carve out a cone-shaped hole (and immediately eat the cone)(after adding frosting to it, of course) and carefully spoon the pie filling inside. Apply frosting generously to cupcakes and devour.

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November 6, 2011

meringue? muh-wrong.

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Have you ever been to a diner and ordered a slice of pie? More often than not, it comes topped with a mountain of meringue, and I find that unfortunate. I recognize that it complements some pies better than a heaping portion of whipped cream, but I find it tasteless and a little bit gross.


I hope I didn't offend anyone with that statement; to each her own. I simply prefer a blanket of sweetened cloud-like cream--it adds a touch of decadence to even the most basic of pies.

Proper proportions?  I think so.

Some pies, however, don't need a touch of decadence. Case in point: Coconut cream pie. Lusciously velvety and oh-so-flavorful, with contrasting textures from the custard to the crust and toasted coconut on top, this is show-stopper of a dessert. So, while it doesn't need whipped cream to achieve delectable status, I figured it certainly wouldn't hurt.


Whether by accident or subconscious choice, I ended up with equal parts filling and whipped cream. It was magnificent--dense custard and soft cream melting together in the mouth. The small bit of crunchy coconut on top was the perfect ending touch. I would really recommend this pie, topped with as much or as little whipped cream as you please. Or, if you insist, meringue.

Pie of Creamy Coconut and Creamed Cream
Crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces (do it!)
4 tablespoons (or more) ice water

Filling:
1-1/2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided use
4 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Topping:
2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut, for garnish
1 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

To make the crust, blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening; cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic. Chill 1 hour.
Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 14-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold overhang under. Crimp edges decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust all over with fork. Freeze crust 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil. Bake until golden and set, about 10 minutes. Cool. (Crust can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature.)

For filling:
To make the filling, heat the milk, cream, and 1/4 cup of sugar until a thin skin forms on top. Meanwhile, viciously whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and egg yolks. Add in the flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix well. Temper in the very hot milk mixture, whisking well. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly with a spatula for 1 minute (filling will be thick). Add the butter to the custard and let it sit for 15 minutes before folding it in, along with the vanilla and coconut. Pour the filling into crust, cover the surface of the filling with wax paper and cool completely, about 4 hours.

For topping:
Toast coconut in heavy small skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Cool completely.
Using electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, and coconut extract in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream all over top of filling. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut.



For another creamy treat (and one that's even MORE decadent), check out my bete noire on the Key Ingredient blog!

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October 31, 2011

happy candy day!

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Happy Halloween, folks! If you think gingerbread is tasty, check out my skeletons over on Key Ingredient!

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October 25, 2011

ross and brody need not apply

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Am I the only one who's sick of the whole blending-of-names thing? Bennifer? Blah. Brangelina? Gag. Thanks to them, I can never date a fella named Ross (Gross!), a dude called Brody (Grody!), or any Hispanic studs known as Jaime (Grimy!).


When it's applied to food, though, I don't mind the name-blending so much. Case in point: Banoffee pie. Part banana, part toffee, and total treat, this creation never fails to satisfy. As I'm currently in full-blown cupcake mode, I used the banoffee pie as inspiration for my latest batch. Banana cupcakes formed the base, a glob of dulce de leche was squished into the middle to form the filling, and smooth, rich caramel buttercream topped things off. I also sprinkled toffee bits over the frosting, just because I could.


The resulting cupcakes are magnificent--subtly sweet from the banana and blatantly sweet from all the dulce de leche. Yeah, banoffee has a nice ring to it. Grody? Not so much...

By the way, I'll bet most of you have read about The Fairy Hobmother at some point. Guess what--she dropped in on me after I left a comment on this post. If you leave a comment here, you may be next!

Banoffee Cupcakes
(makes 28 cupcakes)
Banana cupcakes:
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 very ripe large bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:
1 cup dulce de leche

Caramel buttercream:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup dulce de leche
toffee bits, for garnish

To make the cupcakes, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.
Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the banana mixture and ending with dry, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.
Once cool, carve out a cone from the top of each cupcake; fill the hole with dulce de leche.
To make the frosting, with an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy. Add vanilla and dulce de leche, and beat until frosting is smooth. Pipe onto cupcakes and sprinkle with toffee bits.

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October 19, 2011

proper proportions

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It's all about proportions for me. I like 2 parts frosting to 1 part cake (and no, I didn't accidentally write that backwards). I like 3 times more chocolate chips in my cookies than what's called for in a typical recipe. When it comes to apple pie, there exists a perfect bite, consisting of 45% innards, 20% crust, and 35% vanilla ice cream.


As far as cheesecake goes, I'm more a fan of the crust than the actual cake. That's one reason why this particular recipe appealed to me so much. Another reason is that it makes use of yogurt, which has come to be one of my staple refrigerated items.


Of course I like to eat yogurt as a snack, either on its own or mixed with granola (17%) and fruit (23%), but I've recently come to appreciate it more as an ingredient in things like muffins and quick breads--it tends to add a moistness and flavor that buttermilk and sour cream can't seem to contribute.


Right now, my yogurt of choice is Chobani. It's thick, it's natural, it's healthy, and the people behind it are passionate and dedicated to bringing us the best possible product. They make many flavors of both fat-free and low-fat Greek yogurt, and I've yet to be disappointed by any.


The original recipe for this luscious caramel cheesecake called for sour cream, but on a whim, I used Chobani's plain 2% Greek yogurt instead. The resulting cake was so smooth and rich and decadent, I have no need to try it again with sour cream for the sake of comparison. When something this close to perfection is made, why mess with it?


For me, the ratio of crust to filling is just right, especially since the crust is laden with toasted pecans. The cherry on top is the amazing caramel sauce that gets added at the end, assuming you have any left after taste-testing one time a few times repeatedly and without end.

*This post is sponsored by Chobani.


Caramel Pecan Cheesecake, Chobani-style
Crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and finely-chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup butter, softened

Filling:
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups light or dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt (Chobani is oh-so-nice, and conveniently, the perfect size!)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Sauce:
5 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup pecan pieces
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup heavy cream

Wrap the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with 3 or 4 layers of heavy-duty foil. To make the crust, combine ingredients and blend until a uniform dough is made. Spread to the edges of the pan. Prick all over with a fork, then bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. Allow to cool.
Heat oven to 450°.
To make the cheesecake, beat cream cheese until smooth and fluffy; beat in brown sugar until light and well-blended. Slowly beat in the eggs, then the yogurt and vanilla. Beat just until well-blended. Pour into the prepared crust. Place the foil-wrapped pan in a large, shallow roasting pan. Place in the oven and add about 1/2 inch of hot water.
Reduce heat to 325° and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cheesecake is firm around edges but still slightly jiggly in the center. Turn oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for 30 minutes to an hour longer. Place the cheesecake on a rack to cool to room temperature. Remove the pan sides.
To prepare the sauce, first heat the 5 tablespoons of butter and pecan pieces in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the butter is lightly browned and pecans are aromatic. Add the brown sugar to the butter and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cream until thoroughly mixed.

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October 13, 2011

two for the price of one

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Do you ever find yourself staring at a dessert table, forced to choose between digging into a big pile of cookies or tackling a tree of cupcakes? Cookies deliver a nice, satisfying chew, while cupcakes, if they're done correctly, combine a soft, fluffy cake with a smooth, creamy frosting. But what if I want the best of both worlds?


Luckily, I can have it, all in the form of an oatmeal raisin cookie cupcake. It begins with one batter that gets split into two portions, one which becomes the cupcake, and one that gets combined with coconut and more oats to turn into the cookie-like topping. It's wholly satisfying, bringing chewiness as well as cakey-ness all in one bite. Further, there's plenty of aromatic cinnamon involved, so you know I'm happy.


Speaking of two for the price of one, I'm putting up two posts today--this one, and another over on The Back Burner, the blog for the awesome site called Key Ingredient. I'll be writing about a new sweet treat every Thursday, so feel free to visit early and often! Today's feature is a caramel apple pie cupcake, and as I mention in that post, it's the best I've ever made!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookcakes
(Martha did it again)
(makes 30)

3 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup oat bran
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Whisk 2 cups oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, bran, and cinnamon in a medium bowl; set aside.
Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Mix in sour cream. Stir in raisins with a rubber spatula.
Transfer 2 3/4 cups batter to a small bowl, and stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups oats and the coconut; set aside. Spoon 2 1/2 tablespoons plain batter into each prepared muffin cup; top with 1 1/2 tablespoons oat coconut batter. Bake until golden and a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.

These make fun minis, too!

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October 5, 2011

a lisper's nightmare...

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...but this foodie's best friend.


No, I'm not talking about the song 'All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.' (Incidentally, it's WAY too early to be breaking out the yuletide tunes. You know who you are. Take note.) I'm talking about the word streusel. It's tricky.

I think about words a lot, if you haven't noticed. In fact, if I wasn't a scientist, I'd probably be an etymologist (which is, itself, a fun word). I found a site listing a bunch of commonly mispronounced words and phrases, and actually discovered that there are a few things I've been saying incorrectly all these years. (Cardsharp? Really?)(Spit and image? I feel foolish.)



Back to my original word: streusel, German for 'something strewn.' The 'something strewn' atop this batch of tasty, moist pumpkin bread is loaded with oh-so-buttery clumps of cinnamon-scented oats. If you're going to strew something, strew that. I like the golden raisins in this, too--they offer a nice, sweet chew to complement that which I strew. It's true.

Meet my new neighbor, Squirrel Haggard. ('Squirrel' is also a troublemaker of a word, both to spell and say.)

Ah, words. For the record, I'm a misocapnistic mumpsimus who suffers a bit from tachyphagia, is a proud logophile, and practices autotonsorialism. Also, beginning next week, you'll be able to read my words in another forum--I'll share more info soon!

Pumpkin Bread with Topping (it's lisp-friendly!)
(makes 2 loaves)

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup golden raisins

Streusel:
1/4 cup butter, cold
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350º F. Grease and flour the bottom of two 8″ loaf pans. To make the topping, mix together all the topping ingredients using a fork or pastry cutter until combined thoroughly.
In a large bowl or mixer, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and mix until incorporated. Stir in pumpkin puree.
In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk together until no lumps remain. Add half of the flour mix to the pumpkin mix, blending well. Beat in buttermilk. Add remaining flour mix and beat lightly until smooth. Fold in the raisins.
Pour batter evenly into the two prepared 8″ pans. Cover each with half of the topping mix. Bake at 350º F for 70-80 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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September 27, 2011

all aboard!

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I may have missed the cupcake train, but never fear--I hopped aboard a jigger and finally caught up.


My cupcake guru, so it would seem, is Martha Stewart. Specifically, I've been very much inspired by one of her books and find myself wanting to make the majority of the recipes. I've done her snickerdoodle cupcakes, coconut cupcakes, and hummingbird cupcakes, and have had no beef (in both senses of the word) with any of them.


Here are two more creations from my Cupcake Bible, one of which was far more successful than the other. The first is a take on the good ol' peanut butter cup--chocolate cupcake and peanut butter frosting. Simple, but oh-so-satisfying. The second batch was blueberries and cream, which seemed to give me lots of problems, not the least of which was that all the blueberries sunk to the bottom. The batter seemed stiff enough to hold them up, but it just didn't happen. As my standards with Martha's cupcake recipes go, this one was a disappointment.

I hope you don't mind that I was late to the party--those jiggers are hard to maneuver!

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes (I love redundancy!)
(tweaked a bit from here and here)
(makes 12 cakelets)

Cupcakes:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

Frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners. Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.
Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool in pan 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar with a mixer on medium speed. Add salt, then peanut butter, then vanilla. Whisk cream until soft peaks form, and then fold into peanut butter mixture. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Blueberries & Cream Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (there it is again!)
(more Martha)
(makes 30 standard or 60 mini)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature
2 cups fresh blueberries, plus more for garnish

cream cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard or mini muffin tins with paper liners.
Whisk together both flours, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each. Fold in blueberries by hand.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until pale golden, about 25 minutes for standard and 15 for mini.
Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

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September 20, 2011

calorie shmalorie

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I read somewhere that one of the most calorie-laden beverages at Starbucks is the white chocolate mocha. Naturally, it's one of my favorite drinks there.


I'm the kind of person who would rather eat her calories than drink them, so that smooth, rich, luscious drink was the inspiration for my latest cake creation. Here's my end result: The base consists of thinnish layers of soft, fluffy chocolate cake moistened and enriched with a Kahlua-flavored simple syrup. This was tasty on its own, but it was made even more decadent with the addition of a velvety white chocolate mousse between each layer. This was so easy to make, it almost seems unfair that it was so incredible to eat. To finish things off, I brought back my current favorite frosting, a coffee-tinged cream cheese pile of heaven.

With these components combined, I modestly state that I've left Starbucks in the dust. Now, if only I can come up with some way to make it in less than 5 minutes. Also, some sort of drive-through experience might be nice as well...

Double Shot White Chocolate Mocha Cake
one recipe of your favorite chocolate cake

Kahlua simple syrup:
6 oz sugar
6 oz water
4 oz Kahlua coffee liqueur

White Chocolate Mousse Filling:
6 oz white chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar

coffee cream cheese frosting

Prepare your chocolate cake and bake it in two 9-inch round pans. Once cool, cut each round in half horizontally.

To prepare the simple syrup, combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring it to a boil, then remove it from the heat. When cool, stir in the Kahlua.

To prepare the mousse, carefully melt the white chocolate and set it aside. Place the heavy cream and sugar in the well-chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the chilled whisk attachment. Whisk on high-speed until stiff peaks form. Remove the bowl from the mixer. By hand, whisk to combine 1/4 of the whipped cream into the melted white chocolate until smooth and completely incorporated. Add the combined whipped cream and chocolate to the remaining whipped cream and use a rubber spatula to fold together.

Prepare the frosting and set it aside.

To assemble, liberally brush the four sides of exposed cake with the simple syrup. Slather the mousse between the halved and syruped layers (stacking as you go), then frost the sides and top in a decorative fashion. Chill for a bit to let things mingle, then slice and serve!

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September 13, 2011

i've been aunted!

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Yes, just as Sean Connery became Sir Sean Connery and Judy Dench became Dame Judy Dench, I shall henceforth be known as Aunt Grace Gigglebottom. (No, that's not my real last name, but wouldn't it be fun?)


My brother and his wife recently added a little, itty-bitty girl to their family, naming her Lydia (wait for it) Grace. Lydia Grace! Isn't it a lovely name? Apparently, my sister-in-law had been fond of the name long before she even knew my brother or me, but I'm still flattered and thrilled.


Some of you may be unfamiliar with the story of Lydia from the Bible. She was, among other things, a seller of purple. So, in honor of Lydia Grace, I made some cupcakes and topped them with glorious purple frosting (and sprinkles!). Yes, more cupcakes. Specifically, more banana cupcakes. This is a different recipe, though, and in my opinion, a better one. The crunch and flavor of the toasted pecans is marvelous, and the cake is much more tender than that of the one making use of roasted bananas. The rich, smooth, outstanding caramel buttercream certainly didn't hurt, either. Another win, Martha!


Banana Pecan Cupcakes with (Purple!) Caramel Buttercream
(twists and tweaks to this recipe)
(makes 28 cupcakes)

Cupcakes:
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 very ripe large bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Caramel Buttercream:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the cupcakes, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.
Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the banana mixture and ending with dry, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Stir in the pecans by hand. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.

To make the buttercream, first bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Wash sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, undisturbed, until caramel is dark amber. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, stirring with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool.
Beat the butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place the whites and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Remove from heat, and attach bowl to a mixer. (Isn't the stand mixer a marvelous invention!?!) Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, and add beaten butter, cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla.
Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add caramel, and beat until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Use immediately, or cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

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September 6, 2011

roasting in more ways than one

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We seem to be experiencing one last push of summer's heat here in good ol' southwestern Virginia, and I'll gladly take it, as I'm not quite ready for a complete cool-down yet.


I ask you, though--what rational person cranks up her oven to full force when it's 90 degrees outside and already 85 degrees in her kitchen? Well, I never said I was a rational person, particularly when it comes to food. I decided I wanted to make roasted banana cupcakes, so I did.

I've never roasted bananas before, and to be honest, I couldn't tell that doing so made the flavor any different. It was fun to blacken the peels, though, and I liked how the innards became all pressurized and liquefied. It's the little things.


Although I didn't set out to do so, it seems I'm baking through Martha's book of cupcake recipes. So far, I've not been let down. I didn't use her honey-cinnamon frosting (contain your shock--I put my cinnamon in the batter), but instead opted to go with my latest obsession, a cream cheese frosting flavored with coffee and rum. Random? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely. I guess it's a bit like an addict's dream--caffeine and alcohol!

Roasted Grace's Roasted Banana Cupcakes
(based on a recipe from this book)
3 ripe bananas
2 cups cake flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To roast the bananners, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place 3 whole unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. The peels will darken and become very, very taut. Remove from oven and allow to cool before peeling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Line a regular muffin tin or two with 16 paper liners. Sift together cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add roasted bananas and beat to combine. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of sour cream. Beat until just combined after each. Beat in vanilla.
In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks; fold one-third of the whites into the batter to lighten. Gently fold in remaining whites in two batches.
Divide the batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
4 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4+ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon rum
4 to 6 tablespoons strong coffee

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until well-blended. Beat in the powdered sugar. Beat in the rum and then add the coffee a bit at a time, until the right consistency is obtained.

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August 31, 2011

cream of the crop

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I didn't tell you guys at the time, but I decorated my first wedding cake this summer. No, not the cake for my own first wedding--that has yet to occur. My friend, being suitably impressed with my mad skills (she says halfway facetiously), asked if I'd be willing to take on the challenge for her big day. I was indeed willing, for she's a great friend (and not at all prone to bridezilla behavior).



To make a long story short, I have a new appreciation for wedding cake decorators. This particular creation was three tiers of lemon cake with lemon-flavored swiss meringue buttercream, and it was quite an undertaking. There was a lot of recipe testing and tasting, for both the cake and the frosting. (That part was not a struggle.) I also learned all about proper support and transportation and symmetry, which I'm sure will be useful for future endeavors. I had big plans for the designs on the side of each cake, but when the day came around, time and amount of experience were not on my side. The end result was still lovely and the bride was pleased, but I was exhausted, a little disappointed, and a lot more admiring of you professionals out there.

My friend wanted deep purple calla lilies to accent her cake--aren't they a gorgeous color!?!
Another lesson learned: Adding lemon zest to the frosting makes it IMPOSSIBLE to get a perfectly smooth application.

Speaking of wedding cakes, I'll bet most of you are familiar with the classic Italian cream wedding cake. It's chock-full of pecans and coconut, and it requires the separation of eggs and some white whippage to produce a lighter, more tender crumb. It's delicious and full of great textures (and coated with cream cheese frosting), but because of this, I don't think it's a cake of which you'd want multiple tiers. That's just asking for a cake collapse.

Eye-talian Cream Wedding Cake
(based on this classic)

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups butter, softened
5 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
cream cheese frosting

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease up three 9-inch round cake pans.
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Into another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture in two batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in vanilla, coconut, and chopped pecans.
Beat egg whites in another bowl until they just hold stiff peaks and fold into batter gently but thoroughly.
Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops, and bake in upper two thirds of oven, switching position of pans in oven halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cake layers in pans on racks 10 minutes and invert onto racks to cool completely.
Fill and frost lavishly with cream cheese frosting. Decorate as desired.

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August 22, 2011

ore-oh no, she didn't!

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I'd like to thank the maker of muffin cups, who brilliantly made the base the exact size of many types of cookies--Oreos, 'Nilla Wafers, and the like. They're the perfect ready-made crust for many treats.


So by now, you probably don't believe me when I tell you I don't like cheesecake. That statement (be it true or not) is irrelevant in this case, as these cakes really taste nothing like cheesecake at all. What they taste like to me is an Oreo cookie that's been dipped in milk until it's reached the point of perfect sogginess softness. In my opinion, that's all kinds of yummy.


This recipe comes from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, which has yet to steer me in the wrong direction. If you want a cool, creamy bite that's quick and easy to make and tastes everything like Oreos and very little like cheesecake, give this one a go.

Oreo Cheesecake Cups
from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
 

42 cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 30 left whole, and 12 coarsely chopped
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.
With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.
Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.
Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

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August 14, 2011

break out the lederhosen

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German is a fun language--from what I can tell, there's a lot of phlegm-rattling and that's always a good time. Plus, some of their words are ridiculously lengthy. Try saying whoppers like vergangenheitsbewältigung and schwangerschaftverhütungsmitte five times fast.


I like their food, too--I'll take all but the worst of the wursts, the warm potato salad, the spaetzle. Good stuff. I was all set to list German chocolate cake among those, and then I found that its conception wasn't German at all--it's named after an American man called Sam German. Oops!

Regardless of its origins, I love the flavors combined in German chocolate cake. The chocolate itself is subtle yet just rich enough, and the frosting, which consists of toasted coconut and pecans swathed in a custardy goo, is hard to resist simply eating with a spoon.


These cookies include all of those aspects (save the custardy goo), and they are an absolute pleasure. They're hearty and thick and full of crunchies and chewies and tasties. Be sure to toast both the pecans and the coconut--it changes the texture and flavor completely!

Das schmeckt gut!

German Chocolate Coconut-Pecan Cookies
from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett

2 1/4 cups shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1 4-ounce bar German's sweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray
Spread the coconut and pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 9 minutes, or until lightly browned; be careful not to burn. Let stand until cool; set aside.
In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, with a electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the brown sugar and butter until very well blended and light. Beat in the egg, corn syrup, vanilla, and coconut extract until well blended. Beat or stir in the flour mixture, then the pecans, coconut, and chocolate, until evenly incorporated.
Drop the dough onto the baking sheets by heaping measuring tablespoons, spacing about 3 inches apart. Using the tip of a table knife, spread out the cookies to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 6 to 9 minutes, or until lightly browned all over and slightly darker at the edges. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled.

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