Monday, March 23, 2009

On a Personal Note: Skin Cancer Product; Bethesda Suncreen Soap

Hi friends! I wanted to share this wonderful product and company which is making strides for not only skin cancer protection but cancer patients. I recently learned about Bethesda Skincare. I cannot remember where, but I am certain it was in a small blurb in a magazine at a doctors office. I went home and Googled the name. I was delighted to see what a nice website I had been directed to! The more I read, I could identify with how this company was formed. As with most companies, they are created out of necessity. The owner, Jamie Doss, created many products out of necessity due to family health issues. I like how Bethesda Skincare was created to heal a family and bring "healing" to your body through your skin - the mission for Bethesda is "to heal." They have spent over twenty years providing a valuable product.

As you know, my skin cancer battle continues. I am still crazy about slathering myself in suncreen, but I have to admit, there are days when even I get tired of rubbing it in and making sure I cover all of my exposed areas. It can be a chore, and sometimes it is a bit sticky...

Several weeks ago I bought several bars, around $8.00 each. I have used the soap every day and cannot recommend this enough! I have found the scent to be absolutely delightful. The soap is creamy and leaves your skin feeling very soft and supple. I like knowing I have SPF 10 protection IN THE SHOWER! It makes one less step when I am getting ready in the morning. The soap is a pretty sage green color and the scent is so light and clean smelling, almost citrusy! It does not get very bubbly, but it is very soothing and moisturizing.


Bethesda Suncreen Soap is a combination of healing and therapeutic properties that moisturizes as it protects the body from the harmful rays of the sun. The soap leaves behind an unnoticeable protective layer that provides daily sun protection.

In honor of Melanie, Jamie's sister who is fighting stage 4 colon and liver cancer, Bethesda Skincare is offering a FREE bar of soap to cancer patients! If you know of anyone who is suffering with cancer please send the name, address and the recipient's condition to store@bethesdaskincare.com and be sure to reference The Melanie Policy. Because chemotherapy and cancer treatment depletes the skin of it's nutrients and causes it to become fragile, Bethesda Sunscreen Soap was created with a combination of healing and therapeutic properties to strengthen, restore and protect the skin.

Please spread the word on this product! Maybe there is someone you know who is going through cancer treatments and can benefit from a special skin care treat. I can tell you my skin feels very good and best of all, protected from the sun with SPF 10. I know $8 is a bit pricey, but you really are doing yourself a favor with extra protection and you are worth every penny!

I hope this finds you well!

Best!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Week 25: Ahoy Mates! Rum Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Dollops and a Dark Rum Glaze and Piourette Straws

Hi friends! As I am sure I have mentioned before, I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I have many wonderful memories growing up there. The constant sunshine, the beach and the rainforest. As a kid, who could ask for more? I am sure growing up on an island is where my insatiable need to be near the water and always searching for seashells came from. Ironically enough, my third grade teacher is today my son's Spanish teacher in the third grade, here in New York. Talk about a small world!!

I have an early memory of when I was in the second grade, my school had a class field trip to the Bacardi Rum Factory. I am certain we did not get "samples" but I seem to remember we all got little bags filled with samples to take home to our parents.

It was commonplace to eat rum cake around the holidays. I always remember how moist and dense the cake was with a slight crunch from toasted pecans. It was not until a few years ago when one of my co-workers began making it at Christmastime that it rekindled the lost memory. I recently made a batch of rum cupcakes for my aesthetician, Ruthie, who absolutely loved them! She contacted me before Valentine's Day and asked me to make a special batch for her.

Naturally, I have added a Cupcakery twist to the traditional Rum Cake recipe. It seems to be a hit. If you are not a fan of alcohol, remember the alcohol will evaporate in the baking process and you are left with the wonderful flavor of what rum truly is made of, and that is distilled sugarcane juice or sugarcane molasses. The most common raw material to make rum is black molasses which is a by-product of the sugar making process. When you make the glaze, you can make the buttered rum glaze and add the rum before taking it off the heat and allow the alcohol to evaporate. You will still be left with remaining flavor, alcohol free.

The finest rums in the world are produced in the West Indies but many of the best rums come from Cuba and the islands of Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Most of the factors responsible for making a good whiskey are common to making a good rum. These factors may include the type of yeast used for fermentation, temperature maintained, maturation process, and the blending skill that only years of experience can perfect. The result is often spicy rums, dark rums or the more popular flavored rums available today.

I have made this rum cake recipe so often, each time I think of a slightly different variation of how I would like to use it the next time. For example, when the rum cake is made in a Bundt pan which is a traditional way to bake the cake. I then re-created the cupcakes topped with butter rum glaze, vanilla buttercream dollop drizzled with remaining glaze and a vanilla pirouette. But how delicious would the leftover Bundt cake taste thinly sliced and served as French toast for breakfast with cinnamon syrup, or with a dollop of whipped cream? Or perhaps chunk the cake and add fresh whipped cream, fruit and create a trifle! The possibilities are endless, but so flavorful. Maybe you are looking for a recipe to send in a care package, look no further! Wrap it up in a double layer of plastic wrap and it will ship very well.

However you create it, rest assured, this is a crowd pleaser and you will certainly serve up a smile with this delicious confection!

Best!
Rum Cupcakes

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1 18-1/2 ounce yellow cake mix
1 1-3/4 ounce (4-serving size) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup cold milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup dark rum

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Sprinkle toasted pecans on the bottom of liners.

3. Combine all cake ingredients in a large stainless steel bowl. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer.

4. Pour batter into prepared cups.

5. Bake for 27-29 minutes or until toothpick comes out of center completly clean.

6. Cool on a cooling rack. Prick top of cupcakes with toothpick.

7. COOL CUPCAKES COMPLETELY, then dip cupcakes into Buttered Rum Glaze.

Buttered Rum Glaze

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum


1. Melt butter in saucepan.

2. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Be very careful when adding the rum, it will cause steam, so you do not want to brn yourself on this step!

Buttercream Frosting

1 package(s) 16 ounces, confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp milk, plus up to 2 tablespoons more, as needed

1. Before starting, place your stainless steel bowl and the arms for mixer into the freezer, for about 5 minutes. The cold bowl and arms form stiffer peaks in your frosting.

2. In large bowl, with mixer at medium-low speed, beat sugar, butter, vanilla, and 4 tablespoons milk until blended.

3. Increase speed to medium-high; beat until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

4. Beat in more milk as needed for easy spreading consistency.

5. Once the cupcake is glazed, a dollop of of buttercream frosting added, drizzle remaining glaze over the top of the buttercream and insert a vanilla filled Pirouette cookie.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Week 24: Café Chocolada Cupcakes with Orange Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting Topped with a Heart Shaped Brownie

Hi friends! I believe Mother Nature must have been reading The Cupcakery Blog since my last posting. Perhaps I made a slight complaint about the weather we have been having in New York. The month of March came in like a lion and we experienced yet another blast of winter weather! The storm which came through the Hudson Valley dumped over 12 inches of snow and you can guess what that meant.... more shoveling, more scraping ice and LOTS more hot drinks! More than ever dear friends, I am very much "over" this winter weather!

I was disappointed a blizzard decided to hit on the same weekend my Aunt and Uncle celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary. The roads were not condusive to travelling, so I had plenty of time to experiment and come up with a batch of cupcakes for their special occassion.

Now, for those of you who read The Cupcakery blog often, you already know I am going to be in hot water for posting the picture above, but I know I am forgiven for coming up with such a wonderful cupcake for such a special day. At least I hope I am!

You might wonder where I came up with all the flavors for this cupcake, well here is my train of thought: I was remembering a trip to Barcelona, Spain. I made a side trip to the Museu de la Xocolata to soothe my sweet-tooth. A museum dedicated entirely to chocolate. I had the Museums famous hot cocoa in which you can stand a spoon because it is so thick! I could not get enough of the Catalonian café con leche in Barcelona either. I love chocolate and I love coffee. Their creamy flavors gave me inspiration for this cupcake. When you take your first bite each taste bud will tingle with flavors then you will be amazed at how moist they are.

How to top them? Well, I am also a fan of a citrus and chocolate combination. I have been curious about pairing these two favorites with mascarpone cheese and a whipped cream frosting. I added orange zest and fresh squeezed orange juice resulting in a tangy, creamy, not too sweet, just a perfect frosting. Next time I will add more juice because I prefer to have a bit more zing in my frosting which was very refreshing. To top off this treat I added a heart shaped brownie, because who doesn't love a brownie on top of all this goodness?

Some shaved chocolate would be lovely too, or shaved "chocolate orange" candy which has the essential components of this theme, but I did not have any in my pantry so I opted to use chocolate jimmies. You might think with this much chocolate it could be overwhelming, but it is not. In fact, it is quite a delightful dessert and you will savor every mouthful. Just be careful, you might want seconds!

Best!

Café Chocolada Cupcakes

24 cupcakes

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 large egg


1) Preheat to 350°F and line cupcake pan with liners.

2) Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3) In a seperate bowl combine milk and brewed coffee.

4) In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

5) Add the egg and beat until combined.

6) Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the coffee mixture, ending with the flour mixture.

7) Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

8) VERY IMPORTANT to let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

Orange Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest

*This is the original recipe, but I doubled the recipe for a most zesty, orange flavor.

1) Before starting, put your stainless steel bowl and arms for the mixer in the freezer for 5 minutes. Cold stainless steel makes the mixture form peaks faster.

2) In the bowl, stir together the mascarpone cheese and orange juice until smooth.

3) Add the cream, powdered sugar, and orange zest.

4) Whip until the cream has soft peaks, about 1 minute.

5) Pipe topping onto the cupcakes.

6) Makes enough to top 16 cupcakes.

Bake a pan of brownies using this recipe. Cut out using a heart shaped cookie cutter. Ensure brownies have cooled completely before topping Orange Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting. Sprinkle with chocolate jimmies.