Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lemon Curd Filled Blackberry Cupcakes

I almost forgot to post about these!  The holiday baking and planning has consumed all other thoughts.  Surprising though, seeing as how I was SO obsessed with how the color on these cupcakes came out.  Obsessed.  They are such a rich, deep shade of  purple/blue that you'd be SURE that there was food coloring involved in the batter. I mean the batter looks dyed right?

But I assure you that there was none.  Just perfectly ripe blackberries that made perfectly plump cupcakes.

That were immediately cored.

And filled with yummyness.  Oh, and the contrast between the blue of the berries and the yellow of the lemon curd?  So pretty.

These were part of the dessert table I blogged about two weeks ago.  Because of the unique color, people actually thought they were chocolate unless they took the time to read the signs. (The adorable signs made my pandippo that you can still download here.)

I used purple polka dotted liners to match the theme and they were placed on top of bright blue jelly bellys.

The recipe I used was a modification of the Lemon Blueberry cupcakes that I made a few months ago.  Birthday Girl had gotten to eat those, and requested the same for her party.  Unfortunately, blueberries are out of season and were nowhere to be found.  So I made do.  Although similar, the taste of the two is very distinct.  Give them both a try, I say.  :)

Blackberry Sauce

1 conatiner washed blackberries
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water

1. Take blackberries and place them in a saucepan with sugar and water over medium heat.
2.  Stir blackberries occasionally to prevent from sticking to pan, with a potato masher, mash berries until mixture starts becoming a sauce.    
3. Puree blueberries in blender.
4. Strain to remove large pieces and set aside to cool. 

Blackberry Cupcakes
makes 12, bake at 375* for 18 minutes

3/4 c flour
3/4 c sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter 
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup blackberry sauce
1.5/4 c buttermilk

1. Beat together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a stand mixer.
2. In a separate bowl combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a third bowl or cup combine sauce and buttermilk.
4. Add flour mixture and sauce mixture to the butter/eggs mixture in five additions, alternating between the two, starting and ending with flour.
5.  Scoop batter into your muffin pan and bake.
6. Core cupcakes and fill with lemon curd (see below)

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter
1 cream cheese brick
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1. Beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy and smooth.
2. Add lemon zest.
3. Add 1/2 a tablespoon lemon juice.  Add 1/2 a cup powdered sugar.  Alternate the two until you get the desired consistency and flavor.

Lemon Curd recipe can be found in this post here.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's officially Christmas season.  You may now put antlers and red noses on the outside of your cars.  It's acceptable now, promise.  Are you getting ready for any cookie exchanges?  Cuz if so, I've got some easy peasy, super yummy  must haves for you. It combines two of the best things in this world. Gingerbread and chocolate.  In case you are not aware of this yet, I am definitely off the pumpkin band wagon and riding inside the gingerbread wagon.  This wagon is better because it's made out of freshly baked cookies you can eat on your way.  Obviously.

I made these a few days ago to test out the recipe before I make them for this year's batch of Holiday cookies.  I say they're a winner because I will definitely be remaking them.  Last year I did white chocolate but I wanted to try regular chocolate this time around.  Good decision, self, good decision.

Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 30, bake for 8-10 minutes at 325*

3/4 c butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 c white sugar
1 beaten egg
1/4 c molasses
2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz chocolate chips

1. Beat egg separately and set aside.
2. In a new bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt.
3. In stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
4. Stir in molasses and beaten egg to the sugar mixture.
5. Add in dry flour mixture by the 1/2 cupful until fully combined.
6. Fold in chocolate chips.
7. Scoop out dough onto cookie sheet to bake.
8. Bake for 4 minutes.  Turn cookies sheets around in oven to ensure even baking.  Bake for another 4-6 minutes - until edges of cookies start to brown.
9. Remove from oven, let cool on rack.

I loved these cookies.  Real talk.  I usually give away a lot of what I bake, but I totally kept a good amount of these for me.  I like cookies, okay?  I wrapped them up all pretty and shared them, scouts honor.

This will not be the last time you see gingerbread and chocolate here on the blog.  That is my promise to you kiddies.  As in, expect to see it very very soon.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon Walnut Almond Streusel

Good Morning all!  Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving.  I did.  Three Thanksgivings under my belt, one more to go next week!  The season of gluttony has arrived. And in case you have not already, don't forget to set your scale back five pounds to resolve the guilt from over indulging.  :)

But are you stuck with left overs you aren't thrilled about eating?  Then I have a pretty present for you.   If you have some baked sweet potatoes make this bread. If you don't have any, go bake or boil some right now.  Yes, sweet potatoes, the orange ones.  Trust me.  This tastes so good with a cup of coffee in the morning.  Exactly what I am eating now. While in bed. Squish squish. 

I was going to make my usual pumpkin bread, but decided to replace the pumpkin with some extra sweet potatoes I had.  And then I remembered my left over roasted walnuts too from last week's cupcakes.  And this delicious thing was born. 

You can make full sized loaves (makes 2).  Or mini ones.  Because everything mini is cuter right?

Sweet Potato Bread
Makes 5 mini loaves, or 2  9x5 loaves. Bake at 350*  for 40 - 60 min depending on pan size.

2 eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
1/3 c vegetable oil
1/2 c cold water
1 cup mashed sweet potato (plain, baked or boiled)
2 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
3.4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla

1. In one bowl, mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
2. In stand mixer bowl, add wet ingredients and stir until well combined.
3. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, 1/2 c at a time and mix on low until well incorporated.  
4. Pour batter into two well sprayed loaf pans or into five mini pans.  Do not fill over half way. 

Cinnamon Walnut Almond Streusel 
2/3 c roasted walnuts
1/3 c roasted almonds
1/2 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbl melted butter

1. Mix together nuts, flour, sugar and cinnamon.
2. Melt butter and pour over mixture. Knead together.  Mixture should be clumpy.  Sprinkle mixture evenly over loaf pans filled with batter.  And bake.

This was my first time making a streusel!  Look how lovely it looks! 

I think i may actually like sweet potato bread better than pumpkin bread! It rises up fluffy at fat.  It browns perfectly.  

If you slice it down the middle, its firm but moist.  And if you shove it in your mouth its delicious.  Not overly sweet, but still sweet enough for me.  What's not to love?

If you make lots of mini loaves they'd make excellent holiday baking presents too.  

Or an excellent gift for yourself because its the Holidays and you deserve to stuff your face guilt free. (Okay, set the scale back ten pounds back...)


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Walnut Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone!

The holidays are well under way and I've already gained my obligatory five pounds of winter squish.  A little early this year because I just came back from a 7 day cruise to Mexico where I ate my face off, yes, but also because I just had my first of at least four Thanksgivings.

Yes you read that correctly.  I am having at least four Thanksgivings this year.  And of course I will be baking for all.

The first thing I've baked so far are these very autumn themed Walnut Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes.  After two or so years, I think I have finally perfected my pumpkin spice recipe.  I'm very excited about that.  I'll be adding nuts each time I make it now though, that's for sure. But I am also very happy with the aesthetic of how they came out.  (That means I think they're prettyyyyyy.)

At first I was not even excited about making these.  Until I made a basic pumpkin spice cupcake my own, of course.  Add walnuts.  Add a ginger molasses cookie crust.  And more walnuts on top.  Done.

But I also wanted them to LOOK like fall.  I had done leaves before and I loved how they had come out but they needed something more.  And then I remembered the teeny tiny little leaf shaped cookie cutter that I had bought almost a year ago in a set of cookie cutters at Sur La Table.  I bought it for the star to use on my red velvet cupcakes, but the pack contained a leaf too.  I searched about the grocery store until I found some type of candy I could roll out and settled on gum drops because of the added sugar sprinkle flare. They're quite easy to roll out once you get the hang of it.  But until you get the hang of it, it's a sticky mess so beware.

Gum Drop Leaves
Large Pack of Large Gum Drops/Spice Drops
Small Leaf Cutter

1. With a rolling pin and medium pressure, roll on top of gum drop. Turn gum drop 90* and roll again.  Flip gum drop over and repeat until gum drop is mostly flat, about an 1/4 inch long.
2. Press cutter over gum drop and remove excess gum drop from sides before pushing out the leaf.
Tips:  The reason you are are slowly rolling out the gum drop is because if you apply too much pressure and roll it out flat at once, you will make a sticky mess.  You want the gum drop to retain the sugar on top so that it not only looks pretty, but also so that you can still work with it.  Once it's too thin you won't be able to use it anymore.

Initially I wanted to use ginger snaps.  Unfortunately I couldn't find them at the two stores I went to and it was pouring rain so I ended my search and bought molasses cookies.  I spiked them heavily with ginger instead.

Ginger Molasses Crust  (optional)
1 package (10 medium-large) of molasses cookies
2 tsp ginger
1/8 c butter, melted

1. Crush cookies with rolling pin and place in bowl.
2. Add melted butter to cookies, add just enough to make the crumbs workable.
3. Add ginger. Spice to taste.
4. Place one tablespoon of crumbs at the bottom of a lined cupcake tin and press down.
5. Bake in oven for 3-4 minutes at 350* and set aside to cool.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Makes 15, Bake for 350* for approx. 15 minutes

1 1/8 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbls baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. oil
1 egg
1 c. pumpkin
1/3 c. sour cream
1/3 c. roasted walnuts

1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, all spice, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
2.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, stir two sugars, egg, oil, pumpkin and sour cream until combined.
3.  Slowly add in your dry ingredient mixture to the wet mixture, beat on medium speed.
4. Fold in roasted walnuts.
5. Scoop batter onto the top of the ginger molasses crust and bake in oven for 15 minutes or until done.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

1. Cream butter and cream cheese in stand mixer until smooth.
2. Add in vanilla.
3. Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time and beat until fluffy.
4. Frost cupcakes.

I can't say how much the walnuts added to these cupcakes.  Really.

That and the fact that they bake up super fluffy and full of moisture.

Actually I think it's the combination of the spice and the walnuts and the ginger crust that makes these so good. When people first bite into the crust, they know it's good but they aren't even sure what it is except that they like it.

It's all the flavors of fall (dressed up with a bow of course) in your mouth all at the SAME time. Awesome.

Let's see what else I end up making this week.  Hopefully you fill your kitchens and your bellies with something wonderful.