Monday, October 31, 2011

Chocolate Mummy Cupcakes

       Happy Halloween! Happy Haunting! Happy Eat-So-Much-Candy-You-Get-Sick Day! Whatever you do today, I hope it's happy. I enjoyed my Halloween excursion a little early this year and went out last Saturday, it was just easier that way. These cupcakes, however, are not from Saturday. They are from the Thursday before (the 27th). Every Thursday night this semester I have a two hour class called "Visionaries of the Past" where we discuss the great minds of old. (Don't worry, I won't go into depth about the discussions.) Being that the 27th was the last Thursday before Halloween it was only right to bring something "spook-tacular". Since in this class we discuss old, dead people, mummies were the natural choice. I remembered looking at various people's mummy cupcakes last year and decided it was my turn to give 'em a go. I think they turned out kinda nice, what do you think?
       I chose chocolate cupcakes for two reasons: we hadn't eaten anything chocolate yet in class (I know, right?) and I liked the symbolic aspects, like darkness, death, and evil. Because I didn't have much time to waste--darn homework pile--I just chose a cupcake recipe that I had seen a couple days earlier on a blog I sometimes follow called Annie's Eats. It was a pretty tasty cupcake, though I felt it was somewhat crumbly. I followed her recipe exactly except for one thing: I used unsweetened cocoa powder instead of Dutch-process cocoa powder. Honestly, I did this because I only had the unsweetened cocoa powder. What is the difference? Instead of my gabbing, I'll send you here. The author of this blog did some investigating so we don't have to, and she gives the facts in a clear and concise way. I like that.
       For the frosting I used a recipe (at the bottom of the page) that i am baker used, so I figured it had to be good. Well, if I was only frosting a flat layer of cake then the frosting would have been delicious. But because I had to add more powdered sugar to make a stiff frosting, I found it to be a bit too much on the sweet side for my liking.  I will consider using this recipe once more just to make sure my observations were correct, but the search for my favorite buttercream frosting--that I can pipe with--is still underway.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Annie's Eats

Yield: 24 cupcakes

  •  1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used unsweetened cocoa powder)
  •  1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
  •  2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus one tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

--Preheat your oven to 350˚F

--Combine the butter and sugar in a saucepan, over medium heat, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir occasionally.

--Once thoroughly combined, transfer your butter/sugar mixture to your electric mixer and stir on medium-low speed until cooled.

--While the butter/sugar mixture is combining and/or stirring, line your cupcake pans with some cute cupcake wrappers.

--In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot water until smooth.

--In a separate (medium) bowl, get your dry ingredients ready: whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

--By  now, your butter/sugar mixture should be cooled. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, mixing well after each is added.

--Mix in vanilla and coca mixture until smooth.

--On low speed, add the flour mixture and sour cream, alternating between the two. Be sure to start and end with your flour mixture. (ex: 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 sour cream, 1/3 flour mixture, rest of sour cream, last of flour mixture) Mix until just incorporated. You will have a nice, airy batter.

--Using a scoop, fill the cupcake wrappers approximately 1/2 - 2/3 the way full. Just try and have all 24 cupcakes to have the same amount of batter for even sizes.

--Bake 18-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out almost completely clean. (A famous pastry chef once said if it comes out completely clean you risk having a dry cake. So one crumb or two small crumbs is okay.)

--Let cool a little bit before removing the cupcakes from the pans. Let completely cool before icing.

Vanilla Buttercream
As used by i am baker

Yield: enough for 2-9inch cake rounds, or approximately 24 cupcakes

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6-8 cups powdered sugar (Tasted really good with only 5 or 6, but 8 was too sweet)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (if you have lesser quality vanilla, add a little more)

--Place softened butter and 4 cups powdered sugar into mixer bowl, stir until somewhat combined

--Add milk and vanilla

--On medium speed, mix until creamy

--Add remaining sugar, a little bit at a time, until icing is at desired spreading thickness. You may not use all of the called-for sugar.

--Keep at room temperature for use

--Can be stored for up to 3 days, in an airtight container

To create the mummy look, use a basket weave tip (smooth side up) to pipe random strips of "bandages". For the eyes, use m&m's, and piping gel for the pupils for a more realistic effect. I only used red because the store was out of black, but I still like the "evil" effect it gives.

Happy Baking!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Butterscotch Blondies

       I've decided something. I would like Halloween a lot more if we could subtract the skulls, gore, and increasing number of scantily clad women. Personally, gore, skulls, demons, and the like disturb me. I can't even do scary movies. Now don't get me wrong, I love Halloween, but I prefer seeing cute pumpkins, happy witches, and Casper-like ghosts. Furthermore, why are all of the costumes available to females of all ages over thirteen hooker-esque? Costumes are meant for disguing, not revealing. Besides, it is my personal opinion that any young teenager should not be flaunting anything, even if there was the microscopic change she even had anything to flaunt. Anyway, what about all the modest, true disguise seeking costume lovers out there? Or what about the girls who feel insecure and can't even consider wearing the tight fitting pleather? Well, I think there are two options: one, make your own costumes, or two, eat these Butterscotch Blondies I made to make you feel better and then wear some ratty, torn up clothing used for outdoor work for your costume. Voila! A content bum. Or, pour red goop all over yourself (while wearing the ratty clothes), paint your face white or green with dark circles around your eyes, and commence moaning. Voila! A satisfied zombie. Satisfied because there is a "blondie" in the belly. (By the way, not all zombies are equal. Please don't be too gorey or scary (I don't care if you think that is the point of Halloween) because it will scare me. If you scare me, I won't share my blondies, so there.)
       Speaking of Butterscotch Blondies, these are really delicious. I was rummaging through my freezer and discovered multiple bags of butterscotch chips and multiple bags of white chocolate chips. Though I was seriously craving something chocolatey, I persuaded myself that spending more money--that I don't have--was silly and I should use up what I already had. I argued for a little while, but then I came across this recipe and realized I was fated to use my butterscotch and white chocolate chips to make these bars. Let me tell you why these turned out better than expected. First of all, the recipe only uses brown sugar (as opposed to granulated sugar, or both). Because of this, the butterscotch is toned down by the molasses and isn't overpowering. I was afraid of biting into a bar that was basically one large butterscotch chip--way too potent--but my fears were for naught. The white chocolate chips (which is why we can call these bars blondies) added a nice creaminess to the treat, and complemented the not-too-potent butterscotch remarkably.

Recipe from Cookies & Cups
Butterscotch Blondies

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup (dark) brown sugar, packed (If you don't have the dark brown, don't sweat it.)
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips


--Preheat your oven to 350°F.

--Line an 8x8 pan with foil or parchment paper. If using tin foil, spray lighlty over with cooking spray.

--In a medium bowl, combine baking soda, salt, and flour. Set aside.

--In your stand mixer, combine the brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and melted butter.

--On low speed, incorporate the melted butterscotch chips, stirring until smooth.

--Gradually add your flour mixture to the mixing bowl and stir until just combined.

--Add in the white chocolate chips, either by hand or by mixer. Incorporated evenly.

--Spread batter into the prepared pan, the texture will seem like cookie dough, and place in oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. Keep in mind ovens and pans varry, so you may even need to go longer than this, or shorter.

--Once golden brown and seemingly crispy, remove the bars from the oven and let cool for a little bit before cutting them into squares. If they happen to be underbaked (or intentionally doughy), cooling is especially important so the dough has time to set.

--Try to only eat one.

Happy Baking!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Glazed Apples

       Pancakes are something of a weekend tradition at our house, but mainly the buttermilk blueberry variety.  I have pretty much perfected them, so much so that I grew bored with the little blue orbs in the sea of pillowy batter.  So I took a break from pancakes and made eggs and bacon.  Oatmeal and raisins with fresh cream.  Smoothies and peanutbutter toast.  The weekend was just not the same without pancakes so I pulled out the whisk and went back to work, this time with fall and all of its culinary possiblities on my mind.  Enter Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Glazed Apples!! Not quite your typical buttermilk pancake but they ended up being absolutely airy and delightful.  The apples, recently purchased by the bushel and begging to be devoured, helped to project the pancakes to another world by becoming deliciously coated with sticky, maple goodness.  One bite into the stack piled with apples instantly brought pancakes back to our weekend.  Now just to figure out how to make the weekend last seven days and not two....

Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Glazed Apples
adapted from

Maple Syrup Apples
-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-3 Large Golden Delicious (or other baking apple) about 1 1/2 pounds)), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2 in-    thick slices
-1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1 cup all purpose flour
-2 Tablespoons yellow cornmeal
-2 Tablespoons(packed) brown sugar
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1 cup buttermilk (I used vanilla Kefir-which for those who don't know it's like a runny yogurt    with a bit more tang and a slight effervesent taste.  Highly recommend you check it out!)
-1 cup whole-milk yogurt (I didn't have yogurt either, but subbed in some cultered sour cream)
-1 large egg
-1 1/2 Tablespoons unslated butter, melted
-Additional unsalted butter
-Additional pure maple syrup
      *OKAY, I cannot stress the importance enough of using actual maple syrup! Not the high fructose   corn syrup ladden garbage that comes in cute little glass jars shaped like a southern house maid. Pay the extra money for the real stuff, that actually comes out of the tree, into a jar, and to your breakfast table. 

Back to the breakfast. 

For the Maple Glazed Apples:
Peel, core, and slice the apples.  Heat a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat, melt the butter, and add in the apples and the tablespoon of syrup.  Stir the apples a few times, giving them a chance to caramelize a bit, for 3-5 minutes.  Once the apples have softened, stir in the remaining syrup and sprinkle on the cinnamon and allow it to thicken a bit around the apples.  Now you can set it aside and thanks to the cast iron, it will stay warm for you until your pancakes are complete.

For the pancakes:
Combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
Nothing new here folks, combine dry ingredients in one bowl, combine the wet in another, and then put it all together later.  Makes sense....and more dishes to wash.  But it's important. 
Whisk together the buttermilk, yogurt, and egg in a medium bowl. Mix to blend and add to dry ingredients and mix until just blended, batter will be slightly lumpy.  Gently mix in 1 1/2 Tablespoons of melted butter.

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Rub some butter over the griddle to coat, and then working in batches, drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle. Cook pancakes until brown on bottom and bubbles form on top. This, bonappetit said, would be about 3 minutes, I let mine sit for about 5 minutes (my griddle was at 350 degrees). Flip them over and cook until bottoms are brown and they are barely firm to touch. Transfer to plates. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter to griddle as needed.

Put two or three pancakes on a plate, pile on some glazed apples, and try not to eat them all before your family gets to taste.  Sharing is caring. :)

-Homemade is better!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Personal Cardamom-Apple Pies

       Look what I got! Then made! The other day my rather wonderful significant other bought me some new apple-shaped ramekins. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked and didn't have to think long about what I would make first in them. Since I got them as a gift from my-rather-wonderful-significant-other, I immediately decided I should try making personal-sized pies in them, being that his favorite thing ever is pie. I had to make an apple pie, specifically, for two reasons: I still have tons of apples on my apple tree and the ramekins are apple shaped. I briefly considered being ironic and making a different sort of pie, but the fact I had free apples won.
       Now to be perfectly honest I have only made pie two times in my life before making these. Meaning, I don't have any "go-to" recipes. So I searched online to see who had "the perfect pie crust". However, I had stipulations: there was NO WAY I was going to use any shortening in my crust. Butter all the way, baby! It makes the world taste better. Well, I got to searching and virtually all the recipes contained either only shortening, or a mixture of both. I didn't want that. So, instead of searching for "perfect pie crust" I searched for a "butter pie crust". Right away one of my favorite blogs popped up (go-figure (now I really know it's a good blog if they have an all butter pie crust  (and yes, it is legal to keep doing parentheses like this as long as your end parentheses match the same amount as your opening parentheses (which sometimes can be hard to count if you start doing a lot)))). <---See? =) Hehe, sorry for my digression. Anyway, smittenkitchen has an amazing pie crust recipe. Seriously, I refuse to even try any other recipes because I love this one so much! It was sooooo delicious--you could eat it on its own. Super flaky, full of flavor, and ahhhhh "perfect". Even if you already have a favorite pie crust, do me a favor and at least try this one once.
       Well I believe I have my love of buttery pie crust covered, so I'll move on to the filling. I wanted to do more than just have cinnamon and sugar on my apples, so I thought to myself, "Self, you have a little jar of cardamom sitting in your cupboard waiting to be used. Why don't you add that to the filling?" Instantly realizing the awesomeness of my idea, I quickly browsed the web for an apple pie recipe that included cardamom. This is what I found. I liked the looks of it, and also the name (I have a lot of Scandanavian blood in me) so I decided to give it a go. I was pleased. In the future, though, I may consider using more cardamom. Or use some freshly ground stuff. After all it is named a "Cardamom" Apple Pie, and I think if cardamom's going to be included in the name it should be tasted a little more. Overall, though, it was delicious.

Personal Cardamom-Apple Pies


For the crust

Since I'm a pie crust newbie, I'm going to send you over to smittenkitchen for the directions. Her's were wonderful. =)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very cold butter
Note: smittenkitchen says that this recipe makes one double-crust pie crust, or two single-crust pie crusts, "regular" sized.

For the filling
Recipe from theweekinfood
  • 6 cups apples--peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup  sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Note: This filling is enough to fill two ten inch pies.

--Preheat your oven to 350°F.

--Make your dough, according to smittenkitchen's directions.

--Combine sugar, spices, and apples in a large bowl, making sure all the apples are covered equally.

--Once you have your dough ready, place in the prepared ramekins.

--Fill the bottom part of the crust with apples, creating a little bulge on top, if desired.

--Roll out your dough again for the tops of the pies, tucking the top layer of dough under the bottom layer for sturdy edges. Make sure they're pinched together tightly so extra juices don't run out while baking.

--Cut slits in the top layer of dough for air vents. Don't want that pie to explode on us now do we?

--Place ramekins on a baking sheet, just in case excess juices run over.

--Bake for 30-40 minutes.
         *If you are using regular pie pans, try 20-30 minutes first.

--Once the crust is golden brown, remove from oven and let them rest for a little bit. They're piping hot!

--ENJOY! =)

Happy Baking!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

       "Ooh eeh, ooh ah aah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang! Ooh eeh, ooh ah aah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang!" Yes, it's true. Monkey bread makes me sing. =) It's just so fun! I mean, how can you not love something called "monkey bread"? And truth be told, that's the only reason why I decided to make it for our second post. I wanted to make something that would make people smile, because everybody deserves a little happiness in their life.  So when I came across Sugarcrafter's Pumpkin Monkey Bread recipe, I felt a little giddy inside...mainly because I haven't thought about monkey bread in forever. Shame on me. Anyway, I thought something pumpkin sounded tasty, but then I just wanted something really spicy. As in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. spicy. Not hot spicy. (Is there an easier way to explain that? I get so confused...) So I ended up adjusting the recipe a bit, and it was scrumptious. However, because I did add so many extra spices, I really couldn't taste a whole lot of pumpkin. So next time I want something pumpkiny, I'll just make the recipe "right".  

Recipe slightly adapted from Sugarcrafter
Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread


For the dough
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (about 110°F)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110°F)
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 ounce active dry yeast

For the coating
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 stick butter, melted
Note: Because I "super coated" my dough I used double this. Also, the smaller the pieces you make, the more coating you need because you'll have more surface area to cover.

--In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and spices.

--In a separate bowl, pour in warmed milk and water. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the liquids and let sit for a few minutes, until the top is nice and frothy. (If you don’t get the froth, you either have bad yeast or you killed it, so start over.) Then mix in the pumpkin purée, melted butter, and sugar.

--Pour your liquid mixture into your flour mixture, a little at a time, stirring gradually until it is all combined.

--Once combined, knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Then place the dough into a bowl which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with a clean, moist cloth, and let the dough double in size. This will take about an hour.

--When the dough has risen, stir together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Melt the butter in a separate microwaveable dish.

--Spray your Bundt pan with cooking spray.

--Remove the dough from the bowl and press it into a rectangle. Don’t bother with using a rolling pin since you’ll be cutting up the dough anyway.

--Using a sharp knife, or a pastry scraper, cut the dough into equal-ish pieces and roll said pieces into balls. How big you want your pieces will determine how many balls you get. I wanted small balls, so I ended up with sixty pieces.

--Once you have all your pieces rolled, dip them into the butter, shake off the excess, and roll them in the cinnamon-sugar. When I did this, I put several pieces of dough in the butter at a time, but took them out one at a time to roll in the sugar. I also made sure I had an excessive amount of coating on the balls. This way, I didn’t need to make a glaze at the end of baking because I’d already have a delicious sticky mess when I was done baking. Note: If you decide to do this, you will end up needing more cinnamon-sugar. Place the coated balls in the Bundt pan as you go.

--Once you’ve completed coating, cover the Bundt pan once more and let the dough rise for one more hour.

--Finally, before that hour is up, preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

--Let cool for a little while before flipping your pan onto a serving dish.

--Serve warm and enjoy =)

Happy Baking!