baking beast

a suspicious creature has been lurking around the streets, leaving behind delights that dreams are made of. what's to become of this baking beast?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Cupcakes, my new addiction

Mmm.. I'm DEFINITELY buying into the whole cupcake craze right now... they are soooo darn good. And cute. And fun and easy to make. And great to share with friends. :)

So, for all of the above reasons, I made cupcakes recently! (Twice, actually) Both times, I used cupcake recipes from Julie Hasson's 125 Best Cupcakes. Coincidentally, they were on the two pages that were right next to each other! And actually, both coffee-themed. :) I only got pictures of my most recent ones, and these are the Malted Espresso Cupcakes. I made my own frosting off of the cream cheese frosting from More from Magnolia adding dissolved instant coffee to it. I doubled the recipe to feed plenty of happy mouths. (And have plenty of extras for myself!) I wasn't sure what the malted milk was going to be like in a baked good since I have never done that before...but it turned out great! The flavor isn't TOO strong but it's still there and matches with the espresso quite well.

The other cupcake I made was the Cappuccino Cupcakes and I made half the recipe for Coffee Buttercream in her book as well. Except I wasn't really thinking at the time so I thought the 1 cup of butter it called for equaled 4 sticks of butter so when I was halving it, I ended up using 2 sticks when 1/2 cup is only 1 stick of butter!! But no matter...the extra stick of butter was certainly not noticed and actually everybody loooveed the frosting, so that extra stick is staying there! I have to say, I like the Cappuccino Cupcakes was definitely coffee-packed but sooo good that way. It was quite moist and with the chocolate chips mixed in and the coffee buttercream on top... it was just way too good. But both cupcakes were FANTASTIC! :) I can't wait to make more out of this book... it is strongly recommended to any cupcake fan! I also can't wait until my most recent purchase... Cupcakes Year Round, comes! I'm all set to go to make batches upon batches of cupcakes and am now a cupcake addict.

Malted Espresso Cupcakes
From 125 Best Cupcakes
Makes 12 Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup malted milk powder
1/4 cup freshly brewed espresso or dark roast coffee
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together malted milk powder and espresso until smooth.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, butter and eggs until smooth. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and espresso mixture, making three additions of flour and two of espresso, beating until smooth.
4. Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

Cappuccino Cupcakes
From 125 Best Cupcakes
Makes 12 Cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp finely ground coffee
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp warm water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ground coffee.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together instant coffee and water.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil and egg until smooth. Whisk in instant coffee mixture and vnilla. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and sour cream, making three additions of flour mixture and two of sour cream, beating until smooth. Mix in chocolate chips.
4. Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

Coffee Buttercream
Adapted from 125 Best Cupcakes
Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

2 sticks unsalted butter (The original uses 1 stick), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp hot coffee (I just used hot water)
1 tsp coffee-flavored liqeuer, such as Kahlua

1. In a small bowl, using and electric mixer on low speed, beat together butter, sugar, and salt until well combined. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, beating until frosting is smooth.
2. In a small bowl, mix together coffee granules, hot coffee and liqeuer. Stir until dissolved and cool completely.
3. Add cooled coffee mixture to butter mixture, beating until smooth, creamy, and well mixed.
4. Spread icing over cooled cupcakes with knife or pipe decoratively.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Golden Almond Cake

I had low-fat sour cream I didn't use from Christmas cooking and decided to put it to some use in a nice cake before my brother left for Japan! So, from his choices, comes a simple almond cake with a buttercream frosting. I tried to fight off the buttercream choice as I have only made it once before and I don't feel like it is that easy to do yet, but he was pretty adament about it and persisted until I agreed and made a recipe from Martha Stewart. :) The cake is from Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible" and the frosting is from Martha's new Baking Handbook and also available on her website. It was originally almond buttercream but I substituted the almond extract for 1/4 tsp of Fiori di Sicilia flavoring I ordered from King Arthur Flour. It's like an orange dreamsicle all in a little flavoring oil..and it matched the almond cake really nicely. The texture of the almond cake was fantastic and was very flavorful. The buttercream was easy to make, which was nice considering how afraid of it I was! But it was the simple italian meringue kind, and not the classic French requiring whisking boiling sugar syrup into egg yolks, which I'm still afraid of since I screwed it up once. But! This was definitely a good step towards achieving buttercream mastery. The cake was light and refreshing and was enjoyed by all! :)

Golden Almond Cake

Orange Vanilla Buttercream

The Cake Put Together

A Simple Slice

Take a bite!

Golden Almond Cake
The Cake Bible

2 large eggs
2/3 cup (150 ml) sour cream
1 tsp (5 ml) almond extract
1/4 tsp (1 ml) vanilla
1-2/3 cups (400 ml) sifted cake flour
1/3 cup (80 ml) (finely ground) unblanched almonds
1 cup (225 ml) sugar
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
12 tbsp (175 ml) unsalted butter (must be softened)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 C.).
Grease one 9 inch cake pan, line bottom with waxed paper or parchment, and then grease again and dust with flour.
In medium bowl, lightly combine eggs, 1/4 of the sour cream and almond extract.
In large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining sour cream.
Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high if using hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth surface with spatula.
Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until wire cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Loosen sides with small knife and unmold.
Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, fresh fruit, or a light buttercream frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Martha Stewart
Makes 2 cups

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1/4 tsp fiori di sicilia flavoring (or 1/2 tsp extract of your choice)

1. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer, combine egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and whites are hot to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, mix on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed, until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.

3. With machine running on low speed, add butter to egg whites, beating until smooth. Add flavoring, and continue beating on low speed to get out the air bubbles.

Friday, November 25, 2005

SHF: Cookie Exchange!! - Browned Butter Crisps

I couldn't pass up this SHF! I LOOOVVEEE making cookies for christmas... last year my favorites were Rose Levy Beranbaum's Chocolate Dipped Melting Moments... mmmm. I made these cookies yesterday to bring to my hostess for Thanksgiving... they were easy to make, especially since I HATE waiting for butter to soften!! That's one reason why I don't like making cookies sometimes... waiting for the butter to soften is something I'm usually too impatient to do. The recipe was quick enough to make to be able to get them done and ready for Thanksgiving .. giving! They have the delicious flavor of cinnamon everyone knows and loves.. with a subtle background tone of the cardamom.. all swimming in browned, nutty, butter! Delicious! The texture of the cookie is also delicious... crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. They may seem like a plain cookie.. but that is why they're so great. They seem ordinary until you find that you can't stop eating them!! :)

Thanks for hosting this, Jennifer! It was a fun SHF to participate in and I can't wait to see all the other cookie entries! I plan on making tonnnsss of cookies this year.

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!!

a close-up of the spicy buttery rounds

Browned Butter Crisps

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 tsp salt

1. In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter and continue to cook until it browns. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn. Let cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl, mix browned butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg and mix until smooth.

3. Stir the flour and spices until spices are distributed evenly; add to butter mixture and mix until blended thoroughly.

4. Drop by teaspoonfuls on parchment lined cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, or until edges are turning golden and the tops have begun to crinkle.

5. Let cool on the sheets for a few seconds, then remove and cool completely.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Souffle Cake in the Pink

So I haven't posted in quite some time.. again!! And I never did reply to that food tag event.. sorry!! I've been busy and not really in the mood for blogging much. But I wanted to participate in the In the Pink event hosted by la dolce vita for breast cancer awareness. This is a usual molten chocolate cake kind of dessert, and although they are called fallen chocolate cake, mine didn't fall much. But they were delicious anyway... and I accompanied them with a cheating strawberry sauce. I melted some vanilla gelato from Trader Joe's and mixed it with strawberry puree. The dessert was very tasty, although I thought the recipe was going to turn out something more of a dense, chocolate cake instead of the molten in the middle, airy on the outside, kind of cake when served warm. But it was still delicious! I tried it this morning when it was all cool and it is more of the texture I was looking for... So maybe when reheated it'll keep that denser texture and be even better. Experimentation will follow. In any case, this dessert was definitely pink! (I baked them in mini brioche tins for a more exciting shape) Thanks for hosting this event, Emily... It was a lot of fun to participate in (And I am glad I actually found out about this event in time to participate in it!! Hopefully I'll be able to do the same for the next SHF) and I can't wait to see all the other pink desserts that are promoting breast cancer awareness.

Individual Fallen Chocolate Cakes

You can substitute 5 ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate for the semisweet if need be, but you'll also have to increase the sugar by 6 tablespoons, for a total of 7/8 cup. To melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave oven, heat chocolate alone at 50% power for 2 minutes; stir chocolate, add butter, and continue heating at 50% for another 2 minutes, stopping to stir after 1 minute. If chocolate is not yet entirely melted, heat an additional 30 seconds at 50% power.

Serves 8

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), plus extra for ramekins
8 ounces semisweet chocolate coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour plus extra for ramekins

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter and flour (or use cocoa powder) eight 6-ounce ramekins or Pyrex custard/baking cups; tap out excess flour and position ramekins on shallow roasting pan, jelly roll pan, or baking sheet. Meanwhile, melt 8 tablespoons butter and chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of almost simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from heat. (Or melt chocolate and butter in microwave oven. See instructions above.)

2. Beat eggs, yolk, vanilla, salt, and sugar at highest speed in bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment until volume nearly triples, color is very light, and mixture drops from beaters in a smooth, thick stream, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, beat for 10 minutes using a hand-held electric mixer and large mixing bowl.) Scrape egg mixture over melted chocolate and butter; sprinkle flour over egg mixture. Gently fold egg and flour into chocolate until mixture is uniformly colored. Ladle or pour batter into prepared ramekins. (Can be covered lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to eight hours. Return to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.)

3. Bake until cakes have puffed about 1/2-inch above rims of ramekins, have a thin crust on top, and jiggle slightly at center when ramekins are shaken very gently, 12 to 13 minutes. Run a paring knife around inside edges of ramekins to loosen cakes and invert onto serving plates; cool for 1 minute and lift off ramekins. Sieve light sprinkling of confectioners' sugar or cocoa powder over cakes to decorate, if desired, and serve immediately with optional whipped cream.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

SHF #10: Oh Honey, You Shouldn't Have!

so for this shf, (the first one i've been able to or remembered to participate in a long time!) i made these honey bunches from the foodnetwork site. they are extremely simple to make and in little time you get little bunches of honey, nutty goodness! we enjoyed these but i think it was a bit too sweet so maybe reduce the honey to just 1/2 cup or so. and my oats were a little tough still so maybe after adding the honey and butter let it sit for a while so the oats could become a bit softer.. other than that, these are easy to make and pretty tasty! the honey flavor really comes through, i think. i actually even forgot about the shf this time until this morning when i saw a post for it on esuriente's blog! so i quickly scrambled to find a recipe and made these.. and now here i am, posting. so although i participated in this all on saturday, hopefully it will still be able to be part of the shf fun that i have missed!! looking forward to future ones.. thanks for hosting nic! :)

SECOND DAY VERDICT: i tasted one of these again today... i think they are a lot better the next day! the sweetness has mellowed out to the right amount of sweet and the oat is a bit softer i think.. so now these bunches are delectable!

Honey Bunches
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 24 cookies or more

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup honey
24 walnut halves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 2 mini muffin tins, or use 1 tin and bake in 2 batches. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut, walnuts, and flour and mix. Stir the honey into the melted butter and bring to a boil, stirring often. Add chocolate chips and pour the butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Press 1 heaping tablespoon of the mixture into each mini muffin cup. Bake until just beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately press a walnut half on top of each honey bunch. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

savannah chocolate chewies

these were the chosen cookies for the fourth of july party my friend hosted. i have been wanting to make these for quite some time and, even though they have no blue red or white spirit, were happy additions to the party. they have a nice crispy skin, but on the inside is all moist fudginess with nut goodness. try them! they're easy to make (you dump everything in a bowl and beat for one minute) and they're very tasty. no exotic ingredients, but a great cookie. mine made more than just 12 cookies.. i toasted the pecans before using them but i didn't chop the pecans up as much as maida had indicated for. they were fine that way though.

oh and i was nervous about making these before because they are supposedly best the day they are baked. but i had a cookie today and it is still delicious. maybe even better. ;) so don't hesitate to make these! they come from gottlieb's bakery and it is their number one best-selling cookie.

Savannah Chocolate Chewies
Maida Heatter's Cookies
12 large cookies

The cookies are large, very dark, very chewy, and since they have egg whites and no yolks (and no butter) they are a sort of meringue; a decidedly chocolate meringue.

8 ounces (generous 2 cups) pecans
3 cups confectioners sugar
2/3 cup unsifted, unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably dutch-process)
1 tsp powdered instant coffee or espresso
2 tbsp unsifted all-purpose flour
Pinc of salt
3 egg whites (they may be whites that were frozen and thawed)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Line cookie sheets with parchment or with aluminum foil shiny side up. Pecans should be chopped rather finely. No pieces should be larger than a green pea, set aside.
2. Place sugar, cocoa, coffee or espresso, flour, salt, egg whites, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat slowly at first until the dry ingredients are moistened, and then beat at high speed for 1 min. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the nuts.
3. It is important now to spoon out the cookies as soon as possible. Once they are spooned out they can wait before baking, but if they remain in the mixing bowl for any length of time, they will not be beautifully shiny when baked. Use a tablespoon for spooning out the cookies (not a measuring spoon) -- make each cookie one rounded tablespoon of the dough -- and use another spoon for pushing off the mounds of dough. Place the cookies at least 1 inch apart on the prepared sheets.
4. I think these bake best if you bake only one sheet at a time. Bake for 15 minutes, reversing the sheet front to back once during baking to ensure even baking. When done, the cookies should be dry and crisp on the outside, wet and chewy inside.
5. If you have used parchment paper the cookies may be removed from the paper with a wide metal spatula as soon as they are done, and transferred to a rack to cool. If you have used foil, the cookies will have to stand on the foil until they can be lifted easily with your fingers (or, if you have trouble, peel the foil away from the backs of the cookies). Store these airtight.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

cake and a cheesecake/custard fusion

this cake is from maida heatter's cakes. i wanted to make something with mace or cardamom because i bought these two spices a long time ago but i haven't used them that much and i'm afraid of their losing their flavor. so! i looked through maida heatter's books for a good recipe to use and i chose this one as i had currants i also wanted to use and it included lemon and orange rind so i would have a chance to try out my new orange and lemon oils from king arthur! :) i soaked 1/4 cup less of currants than she calls for in rum instead of her called for water. and instead of caraway seeds on top (i don't have any), i used pearl sugar, also from king arthur.

this cake was simple to make, and the flavor is great! i really enjoyed the oils. i probably needed to use a bit more mace though, i think it's already losing its flavor! the currants were a delight. i thought my brother, who hates raisins, would not enjoy the currants either because they are the same idea of a dried fruit. but apparently he (and everyone else) really enjoyed this cake. i refrigerated this overnight as called for in the recipe, but i think after that you need to take it out again because it tastes better at room temp. enjoy this cake!

i made this cheesecake flan from i used a full 8oz cream cheese instead of 7oz called for because i wanted to use the entire block and not have 1oz left. this might have been a mistake since the texture was a bit more cheesecakey than i would've hoped for. but either way, it was very delicious. it was my first time making individual flans. it was fun, though! (and the recipe is extremely easy. just throw everything into the blender! that is a custard i can love to make.) popping out those cute little flans and seeing the caramel run down the sides is a treat. plus, if it's individual, you can keep the rest in the refrigerator and still have a lovely presentation each time you serve it.

Mrs. O'Shaughnessy's Cake
From "Maida Heatter's Cakes"
1 8 1/2 inch loaf cake

"This is an Irish loaf cake with a generous amount of currants that don't sink. It bakes with a richly browned crust, a nicely rounded top, and a mild lemon-orange flavor. It is delicious, easy to make, keeps well, and is lovely to wrap as a gift."

5 ounces (1 cup) currants (I used 3/4 cup which I thought was a good amount)
Boiling water (I used dark rum)
1 3/4 cups (7.75 oz) sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mace (a bit more if your mace is starting to lose pungency)
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup minus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons (I used 1/2 tsp lemon oil)
Finely grated rind of 1 orange (I used 1/4 tsp orange oil)
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (I used pearl sugar)

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.
2. Cover the currants with the boiling liquid and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain in a strainer and turn out onto a paper towel to absorb excess liquid. Let stand.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and mace. In a large bowl, beat the butter until it is soft. Cream with the sugar. Add the vanilla (and oils if you are using them). Then add the eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed after each addition.
4. On low speed add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Gradually add milk and beat until smooth. Then add the ramining dry ingredients and beat only until smooth.
5. Remove from the mixer and stir in the grated rinds and currants. Spread in the pan, then, with a rubber spatula or the bottom of a spoon, form a slight trench (about 1/2 inch deep) down the length of the loaf. That will keep it from rising too high in the middle.
6. Sprinkle the caraway seeds all over the top. Bake about 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean and dry. Let the cake stand in the pan for about 10 min, then remove it from the pan and cool on the rack.
7. If you can wait, wrap this and refrigerate it overnight or freeze it for about an hour before serving.

Cheesecake Flan

·3/4 cup sugar
·1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
·3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons softened cream cheese (7 ounces)
·3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
·1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
·1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half
·3 large eggs
·1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·Boiling water
·Whipped cream and fresh berries, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 275°. In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the
sugar and lemon juice and cook over moderately low heat until an amber
caramel forms, 6 to 8 minutes. Immediately pour the hot caramel into
six 1-cup ramekins, swirling them to coat the bottoms.
2. In a blender, combine the cream cheese with the condensed and
evaporated milks, half-and-half, eggs and vanilla and blend on medium
speed until smooth. Refrigerate the custard for 10 minutes, skim off
the foam and pour the custard into the prepared ramekins.
3. Set the ramekins in a small roasting pan; add enough boiling water
to reach halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake the flans for about
1 1/2 hours or until they are set and a toothpick inserted in the
centers come out almost clean. Remove the ramekins from the water bath
and let cool, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight
before serving.
4. To unmold each flan, set the bottom of the ramekin in a pan of hot
water for about 1 minute. Run a thin blade around the edge of the flan
and cover with a plate. Invert the plate and shake once or twice; the
flan should release easily. Serve with whipped cream and berries.