Saturday, September 27, 2008
I'm back from my trip, and back in the blogosphere! The trip was beautiful. Venice, Bari, Olympia, Mykonos, Santorini, Athens, Croatia, and home. We had wonderful weather, tremendously enjoyable excursions, and outrageously good food. And now, we're back in the land of dollars instead of Euros, homework instead of guided tours, and peanut butter sandwiches instead of 6 course european meals. Ehh... its...good.. to be home? I'm joking. It was a great trip, but it is nice to be back in our house with our beloved puppy. Unfortunately, life is still chaotic and busy. Thesis deadlines are rapidly approaching and I need to continue doing some serious intensive work on it for the next few weeks. But, I still found time to make cupcakes.
This week's cupcake of the week, the Banana Fluffernutter Cupcake, is... really ugly. In my head, they looked quite adorable. Once executed, however, the cupcakes appearance proved to be less than cute. But oh well, they still taste good. I just don't know how well they will sell. This week's flavor combo was inspired by that amazing Fluffernutter sandwich from childhood, (or adulthood if you're a child at heart like me and still eat them) made from Peanut Butter and Marshmallow Fluff spread on bread. With the addition of banana, the flavor combo is a total winner. Banana cupcakes, topped with peanut butter frosting, and then some homemade marshmallow cream and crunchies for a garnish (an attempt to make them look a little less ugly... didn't help.)
Banana Fluffernutter Cupcakes
The Banana Cupcake recipe was the same one I used as my Hound-dog Heaven cupcakes, and the Peanut Butter Frosting is the same one I used here in the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes (except this time I made the mistake of skipping the step of food processing the Peanut Butter... so it is much clumpier and MUCH drier...NOT cute). For the Marshmallow Cream frosting, I used this Epicurious Recipe scaled down.
Marshmallow Cream Frosting
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
1 Lg egg white
1/8 teaspoon Cream of tartar
2 tablespoons Water
1/2 teaspoon clear Vanilla extract
Tiny dash of salt
In large metal bowl, whisk together water, sugar, egg white, cream of tartar, and salt. Set bowl over pan of barely simmering water and mix with handheld electric mixer at low speed. Gradually increase speed to high, beating until mixture holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
Transfer bowl from pan to folded kitchen towel on counter and continue beating until mixture is cool and billowy, about 2 minutes more. Beat in vanilla. Cool piped frosting on to cupcakes.
Ehh, I told you they were ugly. The marshmallow frosting was pretty easy to do, and had a great consistency for piping. Very much like marshmallow fluff. I will definitely use this recipe for frosting again.
BUT THATS NOT ALL. That's right! There's a bonus recipe this week! Tonight, I have a little get-together with the girls from my Italy abroad trip. For the occasion, I whipped up some mini-vanilla cupcakes topped with nutella frosting, in honor of the delicious hazelnut spread we ate daily during our time abroad there. The cupcake recipe is my usual one, scaled down to 1/4 of the original, so that it only makes 24 mini-cupcakes (approximately 7 or 8 regular sized cupcakes). But its the frosting thats the star of these cupcakes.
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons nutella
1 1/2 cups of sifted confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Little sprinkling of salt
4 teaspoons milk
In a small bowl, In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat softened butter, nutella and vanilla until well mixed. In a small bowl, mix sugar, salt and cocoa powder until its thoroughly mixed. Gradually, add this dry mixture to the butter mixture, adding milk as needed to get a creamy frosting-like consistency.
I got JUSTTTT enough out of this to pipe frosting on to 24 mini-cupcakes. It is very, very good if you like nutella.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Yes, its that time again. Today, me, Dan, and the dog are off to NY. And on Saturday, me and Daniel leave for Europe. Ahhhhh, bellissima. So posting will have to be put on hold while I cruise through a cruise leisurely through the Mediterranean, making stops in Italy, Croatia and the Greek Isles. Mi dispiace. Mi mancherai! I shall be back in a little over a week. I leave you with this:
Wine served in glasses made of chocolate?
Fino ad allora,
Wine served in glasses made of chocolate?
Fino ad allora,
Posted by Stephanie at 7:28 AM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Until recently, I think I had been a bit ahead of the cupcake-game in the Central Florida area. In New York and LA, every turn you make you are met with another sweet shop, filling their cases with various cakelets topped with towering mounds of fluffy frosting. But here, not the case. For the most part, you can only find cupcakes mass-made at your local Publix... until recently, that is. On July 3rd, 2008 Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly, cupcakery and frozen yogurtery, celebrated their opening in the Waterford Lakes Town Center in Orlando, right down the block from UCF. Since you get a free cupcake when you sign up for their mailing list, I had no excuse not to go check it out and do some "research".
Well, its an adorable little place. A minimalist, happy, cheerful interior. I walked up to the counter to check out what they had. They have "Breakfast Cupcakes," (muffins... cute.) "Original" cupcakes for $3, and slightly smaller "Classic" cupcakes for $2.50. They have a menu of certain cupcakes they feature every day, and other flavors that rotate daily. The friendly cupcake dude at the counter handed me my free Original Cookies and Cream cupcake and I went home to do the real experimentation... Eating it!
Its a pretty decent sized cupcake - more than enough for me and the boy to split. We cut it into 4 slices and prepared our very critical, cupcake-expert tastebuds. It was a very tasty cupcake - the cake part itself was very good. Moist, but not too moist, and held together very well. And the frosting? Also very good, but me and Daniel both agreed it tasted rather commercial, like it came out of a Betty Crocker can... which of course is delicious, but not what we were expecting. It even had the same thick-ish, dry, sturdier texture of frosting from a can. Not as wet and squishy as home-made frosting. (How DOES one achieve frosting with that kind of consistency with home-made frosting? If anyone knows of a recipe, let me know! I think stiffening my frosting consistency will be my next baking quest, so that they are better suited for transport home in a little take-out box. I'd love to achieve that texture frosting but with the taste of my home-made frosting.) Though, theirs is probably closer to the flavor of frosting people grew up knowing, as most parents probably didn't send cupcakes with home-made buttercream frosting to elementary school with their kids for their birthday. It just wasn't as "Gourmet" as we expected it to be.
Not until the cupcake was 3/4 gone, did we realize that there was an ooey-gooey cookie-ish filling:
I apologize for the less than appetizing picture, but thats as good as I could get in a hurry (we wanted to finish eating it). So, overall it was a very good cupcake. Though Dan said he didn't really get a "cookies and cream" flavor from it. But I think I'll have to do some more "research" of the other flavors before I reach a final conclusion. :) That key lime cupcake did look quite good...
Saturday, September 6, 2008
It is absolutely amazing how fast the week flies by when you are trying to accomplish 9,000,000 things every day. Another week has gone by, and I feel like I have accomplished none of the work I planned on getting started on. ::sigh:: I can only hope that I'll actually be able to get it all done by the due dates. I'm getting quite nervous. And next Friday I leave for Europe for a week... oy vey. I thought your senior year, last semester was supposed to be easy??
Anyway, in between making my Italian presentation on Restaurazione D'Arte in Italia for Tuesday and NOT getting any more work done on my thesis, I was able to whip up this batch of Cupcakes of the Week. I must say, I'm more than happy with the results. A few days ago... well maybe it was more like weeks ago... I'm not sure... but I saw a little blog snippet of Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cookies. How amazing does THAT sound? Combining the amazing-ness of Cinnamon Sugar with Chocolate?! Count me IN. I decided to try to make the Cupcake version of that.
For the Chocolate Cake, I went with this recipe for Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Epicurious. It had a good number of good reviews, and I really wanted a rich, deep, chocolatey, moist cake to be my base. I scaled it down and played with it as such:
don't they look soo dark and chocolatey?
Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes adapted from Epicurious
Makes 17 cupcakes
1 1/2 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
3/4 C Hot brewed Coffee
**EDIT: 1 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 C Flour
3/4 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (not Dutch Process)
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 Eggs (I know, I'm so annoying!)
1/4 + 1/8 C Oil (I used olive oil, its fiiiinneee)
3/4 C Buttermilk
1/4 + 1/8 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
Preheat to 300, and line your cupcake pans with 17 liners.
Put the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup, and the hot brewed coffee in another glass, microwave safe measuring cup. If your coffee is not super hot, I recommend making it so with the help of your trusty microwave. Pour the hot coffee over the chocolate and let it melt. Give it a stir every couple of minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs until they are slightly thickened and a light, opaque yellow color.
Slowly add the oil, buttermilk and vanilla to the eggs. Then add the melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined well.
Next, add the sugar mixture and beat on medium until combined well.
Pour batter into cupcake liners until they are about 3/4 full. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
Place cupcake pans on cooling rack and let sit for 5 minutes. Then, take a knife and gently separate any cupcake-tops that may have grown and stuck to the pan. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.
Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups confectioners sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until light, fluffy and creamy. Then, add the vanilla. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and ground cinnamon. Then, add slowly to the butter mixture. Beat on high for about 5 minutes, until it reaches desired consistency.
I would definitely use this chocolate cake recipe again, it was easy, and came out very moist and chocolatey. And the cinnamon buttercream... great. In both the cake and the frosting, the cinnamon was noticeable but not overpowering. It had a good balance of rich, intense chocolatey-ness, and spice from the cinnamon.
And before I go, I would like to share two things with you. One is silly and one is exciting. Ok, the exciting one first:
LOOK, I got on Cupcakes Take the Cake! I was so excited! Theirs is one of my favorite blogs, so getting on there was a very cool thing for me :)
Ok, here's the silly thing:
How cute is Ernie taking pictures of his chocolate cuppycakes? He'd be a good foodie blogger.