Monday, April 28, 2008

Week 17: Earth Day; Ginger Pear Cupcake with Lingonberry Filling Ginger Whipped Cream with a Fresh Poached Pear and Mint


Hi friends! I made this spectacular cupcake last week for Earth Day, April 22nd. I am just now getting an opportunity to post the recipe and pictures before I get started on this week's cupcake!

I had so much fun coming up with this flavorful combination. The essence of the cupcake is zesty and fresh. The crispness of the pears gives this cupcake a bit of spiciness. I filled the center with Scandinavian lingonberries and topped them with fresh ginger whipped cream, a poached pear and mint. Not only is this a pretty cupcake ~ but it tastes fabulous!!

I was asked several times "What in the world is a lingonberry?" When I lived in Illinois, I was introduced to this versatile fruit. I have tasted lingonberries on turkey sandwiches, in many desserts, in beverages such as lemonades and limeades. It is truly one of the most versatile fruits. If you have a chance to try this recipe, I believe you will enjoy it very much. Once you taste it - you will wonder where it has been all your life! A lingonberry is a small red berry, very much like a cranberry, but sweeter, not quite as tart. It is often called a "cowberry" and is a member of the cranberry family. It grows mainly in Scandinavia but can be found in parts of the United States in Maine and also in Canada.


I was able to find jars of lingonberries in the jelly aisle of Adams Fairacre Farms Grocery. I absolutely love this grocery store as they have so many wonderful varieties of specialty jams and jellies; their combinations often inspire me. The earthy combination of ginger and pears is delicious. The Cupcake Hero April theme is "Earth Day" I made it a point to use fresh grated organic ginger, organic buttermilk and for a twist I added some organic pear juice which gave some bite to the zesty flavor of the batter. I also made it a point to begin using environmentally friendly baking products in The Cupcakery. There is a line called IF YOU CARE® which has an entire line of baking products dedicated to helping bakers save the environment from additional pollution. I used the large baking cups, which are made from 100% unbleached, heavy duty greaseproof paper and can be used without a muffin pan. No greasing is needed! The baking cups are microwave-safe and will not affect the taste of the baked goods. They not only reduce the amount of chlorine in the environment, they also are landfill safe and non-toxic when incinerated. We can all do our part to "go green" - I even used a touch of green food coloring in the ginger whipped cream! It is divine!!

Happy Earth Day friends!
Best!

Ginger Pear Cupcakes

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. peeled, grated ginger
3 eggs, from vegetarian fed chickens
2/3 cup molasses
3 cups 100% organic, unbleached all-purpose flour (Recommend King Arthur)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup organic pear nectar

1. Preheat oven 325° degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.

2. Cut butter into 1" pieces and combine with brown sugar in large bowl. With a stand mixer (or electric mixer) cream on medium speed for 6 minutes. Butter will become smooth and pale.

3. Add the grated ginger and mix for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and add pear nectar.

4. Switch mixer to low speed and add eggs one at a time making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

5. Add the molasses until completely mixed in. (The mixture will look like it is falling apart but it will come apart when the dry ingredients are added.)

6. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl, and toss together with your hands.

7. Add flour mixture and buttermilk to the batter, mixing with rubber spatula just until dry ingredients are absorbed. Be careful not to overmix.

8. Divide batter among paper liners. Bake 17-21 minutes or until toothpick comes out of the center clean.

9. VERY IMPORTANT to cool completely before piping Lingonberry Danish Spread into the center of cupcakes and frosting with Ginger Whipped Cream.


Lingonberry Danish Spread

1. Fill piping bag and fit with tip to pipe the lingonberry spread into the center of completely cooled cupcakes.

2. Once you have filled cupcakes set aside and top with ginger whipped cream, freash, poached pear and mint.

Ginger Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger
Wilton Gel "Willow Green" Food Coloring

1. Combine ingredients in a cold stainless steel bowl. Mix with an electric mixer with whisk attachment, on medium until soft peaks form. Be careful not to overmix as your whipped cream could turn buttery.

2. Add Wilton gel food coloring to achieve desired pastel color.

3. Once your soft peaks form, transfer whipped cream to piping bags, carefully, and pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.

4. Top with freshly sliced, poached pear and sprig of mint.

CONTEST! Mother's Day Memory Give Away!

Hi friends! Mother's Day in America is Sunday, May 11, 2008. My favorite place to be is in the kitchen with my little guy. I think we put so much of our heart into baking... with this in mind, I decided to sponsor a contest for Mother's Day! Tell me a little bit about your favorite memory of being in the kitchen with your Mom. Mom can be anyone who is your Mom or like a Mom to you. It can be your Aunt, Sister, Niece, special friend or maybe a new memory with your own little person! Anyone can enter; I just want to hear about a favorite "Mom" related memory in the kitchen! Winners will be randomly selected May 7, 2008.

Leave me a comment with your email address! I have three (3) prizes to give away - two of my favorite cookbooks (below). Good luck friends!

(1) One hard cover copy of The Lady & Sons Just Desserts by Paula Deen:


(2) Two soft cover copies of Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook by Leslie Mackie:

Best!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Housekeeping: Apologies to Zahirah from Cupcakes D'Lights

Hi friends! I want to share with you something which was brought to my attention yesterday and something which I need to talk about with you; my readers. If you remember I had a picture which was in The Cupcakery header; it was an image called "Feathers and Roses" and was courtesy of Cupcakes D'Lights."

When I first began my blog in January of this year, I was looking for pictures of cupcakes to use on my site. As most of us do, I used Google and began perusing the many, many images of cupcakes which are out in cyberspace. I ultimately found two pictures I liked very much. I used one of the pictures on my header and the second on my profile. Little did I know they were both created by the same baker. When I decided on the two pictures, I noted there was no copyright and also no name associated with the photographs.

It was brought to my attention yesterday by Zahirah from Cupcakes D'Lights that I was using her pictures with out permission. I had no malicious intent to neither deceive nor to discredit the hard work and imagination of the person who took the time to bake, frost, decorate and photograph these beautiful cupcakes. In addition to baking; setting up the shots, photographing and downloading the pictures onto the internet is a time consuming process.

I would like to apologize to Zahirah who has had a spot on my Blog Links since I started my blog. Zahirah is the one responsible for this lovely cupcake which has been on The Cupcakery header since I started my blog. I decided to use my own cupcakes for my profile and the header, but I wanted you all to know I would not purposefully begrudge someone their due credit.

Thank you for continuing to read and come back to my blog. I appreciate your continued support and I look forward to more cupcakes!

Best!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sweet Caroline Hope: Angel Food Cupcake with Vanilla Whipped Cream and a Mango Tango

(Caroline Hope - 1 year old)

Hi friends! I have a delightful story to tell you; one which is sure to touch your heart as much as it has mine! And naturally, a cupcake is involved. I hope you are as eager to try this recipe as I was to come up with it!

This story begins with my dear friends, Amy and Brent, who have received a blessing of love in their life. A precious, beautiful family with three children Jackson Brent [11], Avery Grace [5], and Savannah Reese [2] which was not yet complete has finally closed the loop on a heart with a sprinkling of angel dust and an answering of prayers. For the past year and seven months, Amy and Brent have been in the process of adopting a baby from Russia. Finally after much praying, long days of waiting, making several lengthy trips back and forth to Russia and to the orphanage where Caroline Hope was waiting patiently for her family to come and get her; on March 30, 2008, the whole family was brought together in the United States.

The way I know to mark such an exceptional event is to create a unique cupcake! I knew I wanted this cupcake to be extra special and not overly complicated to assemble, so I pulled out my trusty Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook which always delights me! I decided to use Jennifer's Angel Food Cake recipe because it is first and foremost, easy! As many of you might think when you look at the recipe, do not be intimidated by the amount of egg whites required [2 cups]. A short cut which has worked for me in the past and one which I would encourage you to use should you be short on time (or eggs); is the egg whites which come already separated. I have relied on those in the past and have not been let down.

Secondly, this recipe will work best in a stand mixer, but do not worry, a hand mixer will work just as well should you not have a stand mixer available! Since we are moving into the warmer Springtime weather, if you can find farmers markets with luscious, juicy peaches and nectarines; as well as some plump, tart blueberries to mix together with ripe, succulent mangoes, you can then drizzle a lovely mango tango over the creamy homemade vanilla whipped cream. Most large grocers should carry mangoes through out the year. The key is to look for mangoes which are more red than green.

Spring is about new beginnings. If I had to put Springtime in a cupcake, this would be it. What better way to have a new beginning for Sweet Caroline than with her new and very loving family! The weightlessness of this cupcake is what I imagine angels wings to be like and the wispy, light sweetness of fresh vanilla whipped cream, topped off with a glorious golden mound of mango tango. Fresh mangoes, white peaches, nectarines, and blueberries; finished off with a fresh sprig of mint! Need I say more? Enjoy this recipe and wishes of a lifetime of happiness to my dear friends. They are tangible proof of the saying "Good things happen to good people!"

Best!
This is what "joy" looks like!

Angel Food Cupcake
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
13 or 14 egg whites (2 cups)
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375° degrees. Line cupcake pan with papers and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour with one cup of the sugar. Sift these together three separate times. Set this aside and place remaining sugar in a separate cup for later use.

3. Place the egg whites in a standing mixer bowl and, using the whisk attachment, turn the mixer at the lowest speed.

4. After 1 minute, add the cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt.

5. After another minute of beating, turn the mixer to medium speed and gradually add the 1/2 cup of remaining sugar. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula whan all the sugar is added. Resume beating until the whites are stiff but moist. (This should take about 3 to 5 minutes.)

6. Transfer the egg whites to a large bowl. Sift the flour-sugar mixture over the whites and gently fold until all the dry ingredients are mixed in.

7. I used a small ice cream scooper (2 scoops) to fill the cupcake liners and it was the perfect amount. The cupcakes baked for 9 minutes but each oven varies, so watch your baking times. I would say no longer than 10 minutes as the bottoms may burn.

8. Cupcakes will be done when a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Remove cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting with Vanilla Whipped Cream and drizzling with Mango Tango.


Vanilla Whipped Cream
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp. confectioner's sugar

1. Combine ingredients in a cold stainless steel bowl. Mix with an electric mixer with whisk attachment, on medium until soft peaks form. Be careful not to overmix as your whipped cream could turn buttery.

2. Add some Wilton gel food coloring to achieve desired pastel color. I used yellow, but any color will complement fresh fruit.

3. Once your soft peaks form, transfer whipped cream to piping bags, carefully, and pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.

4. Drizzle with Mango Tango and garnish with fresh mint just before serving.

Mango Tango

1 or 2 medium, ripe mangoes, pitted and chunked
2 or 3 large, ripe white peaches, pitted and chunked
2 large, nectarines, pitted and chunked
2 oz. fresh blueberries

NOTE: If you have never cut a mango before, see directions below on "HOW TO CUT A MANGO"

1. Once Mango, Nectarines and Peaches are cut, combine in a large bowl and add Blueberries.

2. Drizzle over cupcakes frosted with Vanilla Whipped Cream, just before serving.

HOW TO CUT A MANGO
1. Wash and peel your mango. Be careful after peeling the mango as they can become very slippery!

2. Hold the mango firmly with one hand. Starting from the outside slice downward cutting 1/2 inch slices towards the center with your opposite hand.


3. Once you reach the pit (you will see a long white pit in the center) turn the mango and repeat the steps.

4. Continue this process until all the fruit has been cut off of the mango.
5. After all the slices have been cut; cut the slices into chunks, place in a bowl to be mixed together with white peaches and blueberries for the "Mango Tango" to be drizzled over the top of the fresh vanilla whipped cream and angel food cupcakes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Holy Smokes! Serrano Chili Cayenne Pepper Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcake with Cinnamon Cayenne Pepper Chocolate Ganache Frosting


Hi friends! This cupcake began as an experiment on my behalf after a friend told me about the Dagoba chocolate bar with chilies and nibs. Yum! I know the trend, for a while, has been to include hot peppers in chocolates and I will admit to be one of the many followers of this phenomenon! I love it! There are many talented bakers who have already experimented in their own special way with powders and chocolates, peppers and candies. This is my attempt to "join the popular kids" with the peppers and chocolates.

If you love foods with a little bit of heat or anything spicy ~ you will absolutely devour this cupcake! There are two wonderful parts to this cupcake 1) While it may seem complicated, this is such an EASY recipe and 2) The ingredients are SURPRISING. You can actually determine how hot you like this cupcake temperature by the amount of pureed Serrano peppers and ground Cayenne pepper you add to the chocolate batter. The Cinnamon will accentuate the peppers and add depth of flavor which reaches new heights with every bite. The chocolate ganche with cinnamon and cayenne has an unexpected but delightful sensation which leaves a fun tingle after you are finished eating. Somehow that sounds naughty, but it is quite good!

I received mixed reviews on this cupcake; but I love to hear both sides! Some people told me the "heat" felt like they just ate salsa with out getting the benefit of eating the chips. While others who tried the cupcakes, grabbed two and three at time because they loved it so much. I had a cadet sing me Luciano Pavarotti in the most glorious voice you could imagine, in the hallway of my work, he brought tears to my eyes he was so good! He then scampered off with a cupcake; with a mouthful he told me how much he loved it. I suppose it depends on the taste buds of the eater.

Either way, this is not your average cupcake. You will enjoy the reaction from your friends when they exclaim "What did you just say this is?" It's priceless!

Best!

Serrano Chili Cayenne Pepper Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
9 Tbsp. Cayenne pepper, to taste
1-2 Tbsp. Serrano chili peppers, pureed, to taste

NOTE: The Cayenne and Serrano Chili peppers are adjustable ingredients, so add them to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with cupcake papers. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.

4. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

6. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Then add the cinnamon, Cayenne pepper and Serrano pepper puree.

7. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

8. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full.

9. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

10. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Cinnamon Cayenne Pepper Chocolate Ganache
2 cups (about) bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup cream
4 Tbsp. Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tsp. ground Cinnamon

1. In a double boiler, melt bittersweet chocolate pieces and cream together until smooth.

2. Add Cayenne pepper and Cinnamon until combine.

3. Put mixture in the refrigerator until cooled, then pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Week 16: Spring Flowers: Vanilla Cupcakes with Almond Buttercream Frosting


Hi friends! This has been a busy week in The Cupcakery kitchen! Birthdays, Cupcake Challenge and an extra special event which I created a special cupcake for. I will post the "Sweet Caroline" cupcake tomorrow along with the story which will really touch your heart; just one more day, I promise! I predict you will love this cupcake and it really is worth the wait!

Below is a cupcake I brought in to work this morning. A Vanilla Cupcake with Almond Buttercream Frosting. From the first bite, your lips will be wanting more! The cupcake is very moist and the Almond Buttercream has just enough "zing" to make you think of creamy Pavlovas. They really are a dream and if you look closely at the pictures, I could float away on the clouds of fluffy frosting!

Best!

Vanilla Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with cupcake papers and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.

4. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.

6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

8. Cool the cupcakes for 15 minutes. Remove from the muffin pan and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Almond Buttercream Frosting

8 oz. (2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. whole milk
3 tsp. pure almond extract
2 Tbsp. plus plus 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and salt for about 30 seconds.

2. Add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

3. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar, almond extract, and lemon juice. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again.

4. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.

5. Continue beating on high speed for 3 minutes.

6. It is preferable to use the frosting on the same day you make it, but it can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days if tightly wrapped. Make sure and stir the buttercream well before using to get the air bubbles out of the frosting and then pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Housekeeping: A New Mixer at The Cupcakery

Hi friends! Sorry I have not posted in a few days. You won't believe the baking tragedy which has befallen me! I was making the frosting for my cupcakes on "Cupcake Tuesday" and my mixer b-r-o-k-e! End.Of.The.World. I really could not believe it; the timing was awful and I knew I had to act quickly before the end of the week. I went over to the Williams-Sonoma store yesterday and then I could not decide on which color mixer to get! I am certain it took me more than an hour. There were so many delicious colors to choose from!! Oh gosh, this has been some week. I finally decided on the Metallic Chrome model pictured below. I do love it!
(Available at Williams-Sonoma)

I posted the recipe and pictures yesterday of the lightest, fluffiest cupcake which was so tasty and delicious [Vanilla with Pink Lemonade Buttercream Frosting]! I was unfortunately not able to make the whipped cream filling I had planned on ~ still this unlucky event has enabled me to get a really awesome mixer! I am so excited to use it! I am looking forward to making some divine concoctions. Stay tuned!

Best!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Week 15: Vanilla Cupcakes with Pink Lemonade Buttercream


Vanilla Cupcake Batter

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with cupcake papers and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.

4. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.

6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

8. Cool the cupcakes for 15 minutes in the tins. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.


Pink Lemonade Buttercream Frosting
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and salt for about 30 seconds.

2. Add half of the powdered sugar and the milk to the butter and beat again until combined. Scrape down the bowl.

3. Add the remainder of the powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl again.

4. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy.

5. Continue beating on high speed for 3 minutes. Add "Red" food coloring in small amount to achieve desired pastel pink color.

6. It is preferable to use the frosting on the same day you make it, but it can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days if tightly wrapped. Make sure and stir the buttercream well before using to get the air bubbles out of the frosting and then pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Cupcakery Around the World!

Hi friends! Since I began blogging about the goings on in the kitchen at The Cupcakery in January, I must tell you how amazing it is to me, to see the number of people who have taken the time to not only look at my cupcakes, but to give my recipes a try, comment on my creations, send me emails and list me as "favorites" on their own blogs and websites.

I see every single one of you who clicks on my website through the listing on the bottom of my page. I have learned the names of new towns from Texas and Montana, South Dakota, Louisiana to California and Maine, our friends to the north in Canada, and all the way across the oceans to New Guinea and tiny islands in Thailand. From Colombia and Botswana, to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Cyprus and Romania. Jordan, Turkey, France, Central Europe and New Zealand. I see all of you and we are united by cupcakes! To each and every one of you from all around the world in countries I could only imagine; Thank You for taking the time to see what I am cooking up! It means so much to me you have peeked into my world and you keep coming back to see what I am so passionate about.

For those of you who do not know this about me, I live and work at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the Hudson Valley. Thank you to all of my co-workers who must endure my endless cupcake chatter from week to week; thank you to my cadets whose loyalty and enthusiasm keeps me going; thanks also to all the baking enthusiasts out there who continue to inspire me and finally thanks again for coming to my website and reading what I have to say! This has been so much fun for me and I continue to look forward to "Cupcake Challenge" each week and what I will come up with! I will be writing for the Mad About Martha blog, so check that out as well.

Best!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey; Desserts For The Serious Sweet Tooth


Hi friends! I would like to share the latest addition to my cookbook collection. Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey; Desserts For The Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O'Connor and published by Chronicle Books. This is not a new cookbook and it is not exclusively about cupcakes, it is however, a new cookbook to me, and the title is everything I daydream about (well, just about)! You will not only be inspired by the pictures but there are all sorts of luscious recipes to try.

I was in Barnes & Nobles last night perusing the cookbook section as I normally do. As if I did not have enough cookbooks already. But me thinks one can never have enough of a good thing. My aunt is part of this "problem" since she continues to feed me Martha Stewart Living magazines by subscription. Only she does not give me one magazine at a time; she will give me about 3 or 4 months! Her claim is "Oh I forgot to give it to you the last time I saw you!" Truth be told, I am certain I was talking about something during our visits and distracted her to where she did forget to give me the magazines upon my departure... but now I have about a year and half worth of Martha's lovely magazines, Real Simple, InStyle among others to go through. This is a problem! You will agree, it is a delightful problem to have!

If you have time, check out this book here. The pages are brimming with such spectacular and fanciful recipes which can be made with things already in your pantry! In addition to the darling descriptions and fun layout; this book is full of stripes and polka dots in the international colors for cupcakes - pink and brown. So cute!

Best!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Week 14: Resplendent with Flavor; Chocolate Fudge Frangelico Cupcake with Banana Cream Center and Peanut Butter Frosting


Hi friends! Just wait until you try this cupcake! Oh my, it is such a treat I am not sure what to describe first! I am delighted each time I create a new recipe. I love each part of the process; from the mixing, baking, scooping, cooling and frosting to the very best part when you finally get to unwrap the foil cupcake wrapper in anticipation of the very first bite. The scent of fresh baked chocolates and brown sugar, melded together with buttermilk and chocolate chips is heavenly. The surprising twist of Frangelico in the mix lingers and plays with your senses and is only momentarily forgotten when you taste the deliriously tangy peanut butter cream cheese frosting which is nothing short of exquisite. The very best part of this cupcake is the fabulously rich banana cream pudding center. You will want to sit down when you eat this because you simply might get weak in the knees from this flavorful combination.

I believe we all eat with our eyes well before food reaches our lips. We decide what looks good and tempting to us; much in the way we decide what is appealing to us in our every day life! Cupcakes are a little gift. They are the perfect size and have the perfect surface to decorate and experiment on.

This recipe is a tantalizing taste bud experience which combines the basic elements of chocolate, peanut butter and banana ~ and as I usually do, I have given the recipe a Cupcakery twist, all of this in a lovely foil wrapper!

Enjoy this delight and have a happy week!
Best!

Chocolate Fudge Frangelico Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (see Note)
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Frangelico
12 oz. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

(Note: To melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for approximately 5–10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from the heat and let cool to lukewarm 5–10 minutes.)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

6. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated.

7. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.

8. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.

9. Fold in Frangelico and mini-chocolate chips.

10. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

11. VERY IMPORTANT: Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Banana Cream Pudding
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 (3.4-ounce) package instant banana cream pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
3 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla

1. In a small bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Add vanilla, beat again to incorporate.

2. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Beat the butter, peanut butter, salt and cream cheese on medium speed with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy.

2. Slowly add the confectioner's sugar and continue to mix until the frosting is smooth.

3. Mix in the milk and vanilla, continue to mix until frosting reaches a good spreading consistency.

4. Pipe onto completely cooled cupckaes with large star tip.

The Taste of Sweet; Our Complicated Love Affair with Our Favorite Treats


Hi friends! I recently received a copy of this rich and thoughtful book, The Taste of Sweet; Our Complicated Love Affair with Our Favorite Treats from Random House. I would be remiss if I did not tell you upfront how fascinating this book is! Sweet, the word alone is used in so many ways. When it comes to the way we eat, many people consume too much of the "sweet". It is an attention grabbing topic, especially in the midst of our culture which struggles with sugars and sweets. Along with our individual relationships with desserts, Ms. Chen challenges you to understand what you thought you knew about the topic. I read in the preview (and it did stick out to me) the author points out how Americans think of sweets as a guilty pleasure when other cultures simply indulge in them. I find this so fascinating. We still continue to overindulge in those sweet confections and Ms. Chen analyzes through her scientific methods the link between taste buds and brain signals; what allows us to overindulge even though we have had enough.

Ms. Chen shows all the "pleasure junkies" out there about the bond we have built with our fondness of childhood memories and how our brains processes this information to how we truly feel about the sweet things in our adulthood. Trying to satisfy those is remarkable! After reading this book, you will never look at desserts or any other sweets the same! The book is available at any major bookstore near you or you may purchase this clever book from Random House online today!

Take The TASTE OF SWEET Quiz and find out if you are a "Super Taster" "Non-Taster" or a "Medium Taster." Your results will surprise you!

The author, Joanne Chen, is an editor and writer in New York City. Her work has appeared in Fortune Small Business, Life, Vogue, Health, Food & Wine, and the New York Times.

Visit her website at www.thetasteofsweet.com. You can purchase the book, read about the author and other news related events, get recipes and soon there will be some "fun stuff" for fans!

Best!